Let’s get to know our committee! The CILIP SW blog will be featuring profiles of the South West Member Network’s committee. This week Nicky Stavrinides reflects on the trials and joys of being the Committee Secretary.
I became Secretary to the CILIP South West Members’ Network Committee in March 2014. After six years as a Library Assistant at the University of Bath, I’d enrolled to charter in the previous month and was scouting for ‘developmental opportunities’. It has certainly delivered!
I’d anticipated a fairly sedate involvement in meeting preparation and minute-taking. However, it soon became apparent that, in addition to work on the quarterly Committee meetings, the role of Secretary was a daily commitment that required good knowledge of Committee roles and plans from the outset. One of my immediate duties was to respond to e-mail queries from CILIP members across the South West. Notwithstanding the great support of the Chair, Lizz Jennings, this was an intimidating responsibility for the first few months, as I tried to build up an understanding of how the Committee worked, and the schedule of events planned. This was a task made more challenging by the fact that, as is typical of library and information work, I had to decode scores of acronyms before I had any clue who or what was being discussed.
A few weeks into my tenure as Secretary, I was introduced to Communicator, my nemesis. Communicator is the official CILIP platform for the preparation and circulation of Member Network Bulletins. When you receive the monthly e-mail from CILIP South West, listing news and events it has been dispatched through Communicator. Communicator, I discovered, is one of my responsibilities as Secretary. It is an efficient way of ensuring consistency of communication across all of CILIP’s Regional Member Networks, and is great when I can get it to work. Doubtless, the fault was with me and not the system, but on the days when it took eight tries to change the font from Arial to Calibri, I might have given a different analysis. Committee members, particularly, the Local Event Liaisons were brilliant at providing me with ready-prepared copy about upcoming events that could be lifted into the bulletin directly. That said, I do feel I have spent the last 18 months touting for content every couple of weeks. Filling Communicator is a relentless task.
One of the key duties as Member Network Secretary is to work with the Chair to organise the AGM and Members’ Day. I’ve learnt a huge amount about event-planning this way. This sums up the experience of being Secretary for me, and I think is true of involvement in the majority of the CILIP Committee roles in the South West. The only requirement to get involved is commitment and enthusiasm; you’ll gain the experience on the job. Before becoming Secretary, I had never used Eventbrite, or compiled a bulletin. It didn’t matter. There’s a lot to learn, but there’s a lot of support and there are opportunities to practice. It took me about six months to work up the confidence to accept that if a bulletin looked right to me – it was fine. I was unlikely to bring down CILIP over the misuse of italics.
My work on the CILIP Committee has corresponded with my undertaking the MSc in Information Management at the University of the West of England to qualify as a Librarian. I would attribute equal credit to both for providing me with the professional skills and, frankly, the confidence necessary to move into a professional role post-qualification.