Tuesday, 21 February 2012

The Body of Professional Knowledge

I recently completed a CILIP consultation survey on the value of a Body of Professional Knowledge (BPK). The consultation is one stage of CILIP's Future Skills project - a project which will "review CILIP's qualifications and ensure every member gets the recognition they deserve from their employers and society for a unique suite of highly valuable, relevant and endurable skills." (CILIP, 2012) The existing BPK came out in 2004, just after I had begun the second year of my BA library degree. One of our tutors was involved in its creation so it was discussed in a lecture (and I think we may even have had a small assignment on it). Its aim has been to establish "the unique knowledge which distinguishes library and information professional from other professional within other domains" (CILIP, 2004). For anyone who hasn't seen it you can view a copy here.

When I first saw it in 2004 I found it very hard to understand. Visually I found it hard to relate the description with the diagram of the core schema because of the way they had chosen to emphasise certain words. Some were in italics, some were in bold and there is no clear connection between how these are chosen and the key words/phrases from the diagram. Having studied it since during my chartership, and again now, I find it easier to comprehend. However, when the first question of the consultation survey asked "What does the current BPK mean to you?" I'm afraid I ticked "hard to understand". As a general overview of the areas involved within the profession it's not bad, but I wouldn't recommend it to someone new who wanted to see at a glance what knowledge and skill-set is required.

The second question in the survey asks "What are you looking for from CILIP BPK?" The existing BPK identifies the following areas of knowledge:
  • information organisation, e.g. classification schemes, taxonomies and subject indexing
  • information dissemination through publishing
  • information generation controlled by information need and user behaviour and facilitated by operations such as metadata, hyperlinks, abstracts, tags, etc.
  • information resource management including acquisition, cataloguing, storage and disposal
  • information service provision including information retrieval and portal/website design
  • profession-related policies, laws, codes of practice, etc.
  • generic/transferable skills of computer and information literacy, research, interpersonal skills, marketing, management, training and mentoring
It is time for the BPK to be updated - there are new skill-sets relating to information technologies, digital literacy and web2.0 that have since developed and the main areas outlined above can be teased out more. I think the BPK needs to be multi-purpose. It should outline the key areas but then be more specific so that individuals, organisations and employers can use it as a basis for the specific skill-set a professional requires. That way it can then be accessible and useful to those within the profession and be used as an advocacy tool to promote what we do.

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