CILIP has been forced to defend a blog post allegedly aligning the body with Conservative Party policies following an outcry from members on social media.
CILIP published a blog post entitled "Libraries, equality and the turnaround decade" following Prime Minister David Cameron's speech at the Conservative Party Conference on Wednesday (7th October).
In the post, CILIP chief executive Nick Poole, said: "Public libraries provide equal access to information and knowledge that underpins the drive for equality that the Prime Minister calls for…. It is our professional skills that will unlock the transformative potential of this economy.
“In many ways, [Cameron] presented a more inclusive and liberal narrative than might have been expected from a Conservative government that came to power with a strong majority."
He added: “For those of us engaged in advocating for the interests of library and information professionals, the speech is an opportunity to look at what we are already doing that can help the government deliver on these key agendas.”
CILIP also tweeted that that: "Every day public libraries support @Conservatives vision of a 'greater Britain made of greater expectations'."
Following government budget cuts, many libraries have been forced to close or be downsized and CILIP's blog and tweet has prompted a stong reaction from some members on social media. One, Charlotte, tweeted: "CILIP super out of touch. We’ve done so much advocacy and so much work to 'prove' to the council how much we are worth..."
Another user, Mike Stores, tweeted: “Shocking, ill thought out comments by CILIP. Done a great job of uniting the profession. Against them.”
Ned Potter, academic liaison librarian at the University of York and trainer at the British Library, tweeted a statement saying he had cancelled his CILIP membership. He said: “The recent attempt to align CILIP with David Cameron’s policies is just too much, so I no longer wish to be a member.
“Yesterday’s statement feels so out of step with the political climate, where we finally have a leader of the Labour party who won’t take the nonsense the Tories serve up, and who give us hope and energy by not taking the safe option or just being Conservatives lite.”
He added: “Now is not the time to suck up to a government who are not indifferent to the plight of libraries, but actively hostile towards them and openly hastening their demise, like they are with so many other valuable public services.”
In response to the "significant discussion and debate" on social media from its members in reaction to its blog post, CILIP issued a clarification statement. The body said: “CILIP is non-partisan and politically-neutral and welcomes opportunities to work with all parties to promote the interests of our professional community. The post and our tweets do not support or endorse Conservative policy, but rather seek to demonstrate how, if it is to be delivered, we need to secure a commitment to invest in libraries, information management and the knowledge economy."
CILIP added: "We are well aware that many of our members are experiencing significant pressure as a result of the current cuts and changes to public funding. We have a duty to represent the broad range of interests of our membership, which include the promotion of information literacy, information management and the contribution of libraries to the knowledge economy as well as to social justice."