I have been a member of CILIP for so long, I can't remember how I first became involved with the organisation. I think I probably joined when I started my LIS distance learning degree (it was the Library Association back then!), signing up for the School Libraries and Youth Libraries Groups but a young family and lack time prevented much participation. This was in the days before social media when everything was done in person.
Chartership followed and a new job, this time in another county - Berkshire. And my family were growing up which meant I had more time so I joined the School Libraries Group London & South East committee, helping to arrange courses and events, delivering workshops and eventually becoming Vice Chair. I also became a Chartership mentor.
I was also able to attend more meetings and the Surrey, Hampshire and Thames Valley branches were all within easy reach so I chose those that were more relevant or interested me. It was at a Thames Valley meeting in 2012 that Phil Bradley suggested I put myself forward for nomination as CILIP Vice President and thus found myself in that position in 2013. This was only meant to be for a year but the review of governance changes was delayed so I found myself as CILIP President in 2014 and am currently Immediate Past President. As you can imagine, this has had a tremendous impact on my involvement with the organisation!
I also belong to the School Library Association (SLA) and the move to the new school in Berkshire coincided with contributions to that as well. There was a local group of school librarians meeting regularly which became the SLA Central & East Berkshire branch; I was secretary at the time and then became Chair. I am still on the committee but have had to step back a bit due to my CILIP committments.
So ... what have been the benefits of belonging to my professional organisations?
I have had support for developing and sustaining my professional development, up to and beyond Chartership, as well as access to resources to support my work as a librarian. Newsletters and emails keep me up-to-date with developments enabling me to feed these into what I do, and courses and conferences provide, not only training, but also chances to network. As the use of social media has grown, so too have the opportunities for being able to participate actively and widely in all aspects of my profession. I have been able to develop my writing and presentation skills, as well as gaining experience in events managment and as a public speaker. I recognise that I'm in a slightly different position because being CILIP President has been a fantastic opportunity; I have attended several events and conferences, and have met people from all sectors of the library and information profession, both within the UK and internationally. The position has required me to read widely and to remain conversant with current issues affecting the library world.
I would recommend that people actively participate in their professional organisations. I know that everyone has different personal and work commitments, and that sometimes it's not possible to do very much, but even a small contribution will bring rewards.