CDEG bursary winners on their experiences at CILIP 2017 Conference Manchester, July 5-6
Information Services Assistant
IS Customer Services department
University of Strathclyde Library
I was over-joyed in securing a bursary place through the CILIP Community, Diversity and Equality special interest group to attend the annual CILIP 2017 conference in Manchester. As well as being a city which I had never visited, I was also keen to see the University of Manchester and the Museum of Science and Industry where the conference and the drinks reception were being held respectively.
During the first day I found Ailsa Howlett’s briefing, ‘Homegrown: Engaging new LIS professionals to advance the profession’, to be particularly engaging. Ailsa Howlett, Chairperson of the New Generations Advisory Committee within the Australian Library and Information Association, advocated that for LIS professionals to take a more pro-active approach in the wider profession they need to engage out-with their day job. She termed ‘shoulder tapping’ as a means to network with others in the profession who can help you get to where you want in your career development. She argued that ‘engagement’ is not solely a one-way process, but an exchange of ideas between LIS professionals through conversations and contributions. She drew on examples of both: conversations; blogging, Twitter, discussions at conferences, and volunteering with special interest groups, and contributions; blogging, conducting research, publishing research findings, and presenting at conferences. I felt her briefing was thought provoking as it generated ideas and enthusiasm, which re-kindled my drive for career progression.
Even though I am not working within public libraries and I am not based in England, hearing about CILIP’s new public library skills strategy proved to be interesting. Mandy Powell, Assistant Director of Workforce Development CILIP, briefed us on the nine aims and recommendations in order to place the library and information profession at the heart of a democratic society and to position library and information skills at the centre of service delivery to create a digital, creative, and cultural centre for excellence. It was noteworthy to hear that CILIP are currently working on and plan to implement a UK wide skills strategy that will encompass all library sectors. Mandy drew on evidence from the CILIP workforce mapping project which highlighted the demographic inequalities – the largely white profession with more women in the workforce but men occupying more senior positions, and 45% of the workforce estimated to retire by 2030 – which the skills strategy will help address.
I particularly found the briefings by James Clay from Jisc and Dave Rowe from CartoConsult thought provoking on how keeping abreast with and incorporating certain technologies could help rather than hinder libraries. James termed the research that Jisc are currently doing on examining the university campus space as the ‘smart campus’. For example, utilising facial recognition software could allow LIS professionals to anticipate and approach students looking lost or unsure before they ask for help. Or how using push notifications on smart phones could remind and encourage students to use the library; as they pass the library a message might come up on their phone saying something like ‘do you know that students who get a 1st in this course normally visit the library about 4 times a week’. James suggested tracking student’s library cards to find out the areas most used in the library, resulting in encouraging more use of disused library space. There is also the possibility, James proposes, to track library books that are discharged by students to discover more about their usage background. James emphasised the importance of ethics in obtaining consent from students in their details being used in this way, to gain more insight in how they use the library and how library services can be improved for them.
I found it handy to learn from the talk ‘An insider’s guide to Professional Registration’ of the workings of the CILIP VLE system for working towards either MCLIP (Chartership), ACLIP (Certification), or FCLIP (Fellowship). I was able to understand that I can choose to work towards any of these depending on my own assessment of my professional development meeting the three different criteria levels of personal performance, organisational context, and the wider professional context. I learnt how to improve upon my existing reflective writing skills as well as document evidence that can be used towards the awards.
Overall, I travelled back home to Glasgow with a renewed sense of belonging to a valued profession as well as an impetus to join CILIP and pursue my own professional development in working towards Chartership. Personally, I will take a pro-active approach to reaching out to others within my profession once I am a CILIP member and take any opportunities available to me which may arise. The key messages which I took away from this year’s conference are that partnership working, customer feedback, and embracing new technologies are integral to the success of libraries. I cannot thank the CDEG group enough for the opportunity to attend such a worthwhile conference.
Enquiry Team Supervisor (Equality & Accessibility)
Information Services, J. B. Priestley Library
University of Bradford
The first challenge [for me] was to choose from among the many interesting workshops and seminars on offer. I chose those which I felt were relevant to my role as a Disability Support Librarian at the University of Bradford, and which would offer the best CPD opportunities. These were the Future of Libraries Briefing, Developing the Workforce Briefing, the Loud Librarians session, the Information Literacy Seminar, and the Equalities Workshop. Once I’d selected these, I knew I was in for a packed couple of days.
Highlights included all three keynote speeches, starting with a very inspirational address from Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden. It was encouraging to hear her speak of starting out as a public and children’s librarian before progressing to the lofty heights of the Library of Congress, a role for which she was interviewed by then-president Barack Obama.
Hayden spoke with humanity and wit of the challenges facing librarians and how to promote your resources, particularly to those who may not use libraries; she emphasised the importance of accessibility, and how everything we do in libraries should centre on that.
Second keynote speaker Luciano Floridi gave a thought-provoking and sometimes challenging speech about where the power lies in information societies; his conviction is that libraries can counterbalance the prevailing power structures by giving people the power to ask questions.
On the Thursday the keynote was Neil MacInnes of Manchester City Council, talking about the recent successful refurbishment of Manchester Central Library as well as how Manchester’s libraries have changed with the times over the last ten years. His was a speech full of positive messages and a vision of how public libraries really can engage the whole community. Some delegates wondered how this success story could be conveyed to other parts of the country where the picture for libraries is less rosy.
This was a very full and thought-provoking two days. I welcomed the chance to benefit from the knowledge of others in the library profession and to to meet my fellow delegates with bursaries from the CDEG.
MA Library and Information Management Services student (Year 1)
University of Sheffield
This year’s CILIP Conference was my first, as a new LIS student, and although I was unsure about what I should expect, I was definitely not disappointed! The entire event across its two days was absolutely stuffed with enthusiasm, information and activity – the atmosphere was really buzzing!
I chose to attend a session on beginning a LIS career. This was a really valuable opportunity to run through the PKSB with the staff who are responsible for it – we really are lucky to have such an elaborate but clear progression framework.
Neil Potentier of ‘Customer Service Excellence’ inspired us to think of the front-of-house interactions we all make with patrons, because ultimately this is what keeps our image as public services alive. Mark Freeman of Stockton-Tees explained how the libraries he manages are assisting visitors with sight loss, and Julia Robinson of ‘The Word’ showed us the incredible new library building in South Tyneside – a real success story for library popularity.
After a busy day, we all regrouped for a lovely drinks reception, getting the chance to know each other and pool our panoply of LIS-related experiences – an inspiring end to an inspiring first day.
The next morning, again as a student I visited the ‘What I wish I’d learned in library school’ talk, which highlighted some of the potential gaps in LIS courses. For me, the most important lesson from this was to network, and seek assistance for any potential gaps in knowledge – don’t be afraid to ask!
After this, ‘Leapfrog’ of Lancaster University spoke with us about a range of tools for enhancing community engagement, a crucial topic in a world where communities are increasingly splintered.
In Emma Connan’s ‘Bookening HE: supporting transition and transformation at both ends of the curriculum’, she highlighted the importance of focussing on how young adults learn – academic libraries, she argues, should be at the heart of this question.
Finally, John Vincent facilitated a discussion in his ‘Equality and Diversity’ workshop, prompting thoughts about the state of librarianship within the UK and globally, and how it might reflect, despite our best intentions, some of the inequalities seen elsewhere in the modern world – a sobering but absolutely vital reminder that we must work for the betterment of all people, inside and out of the LIS profession.
CILIP Conference 2017 was, in my eyes, an uncompromising success, with vigour and passion everywhere one looked. It’s clear to me, as I take my first steps into Library Land, that I’m in for a wonderful, if at times uncertain, journey.