Earlier this year, the PPRG committee invited applications for a Bursary Place at the CILIP Conference in Manchester. We were thoroughly impressed by the application from Sheldon Korpet: "An Innovative Marketing Plan for Sheffield Children's Central Library" which outlined a marketing campaign to boost childhood literacy and promote library services in collaboration with commercial booksellers.
We unanimously awarded the Bursary Place to her. She spent 2 wonderful days at the conference and has written up a brief report of her time at the conference.
CILIP CONFERENCE 2019 REPORT - BY SHELDON KORPET
One of the reasons I wanted to attend #CILIPConf19 was to find out what’s happening in the sector on technology and data. The conference gave me an opportunity to talk to others in the sector and attend sessions from special interest groups I wouldn’t normally engage with. Here are some of the messages and ideas I took away from #CILIPConf19.
GROWING DIVERSITY DIALOGUE AND ACTION
I suddenly realised while sat among professionals from different areas, with different roles and different concerns, how large and diverse* we are as a profession. However, we do have commonalities, similarities in our work and some shared challenges like communication, adoption of technology and a lack of diversity.
We’re not diverse as a group of people. The Library and Information sector isn’t representative of the society we exist within. A keynote by Hong-Anh Nguyen highlighted there were obviously structural issues at play.
97% of the workforce self-identifies as white.
Diversity brings new perspectives that improve our practise and there are ways for all organisations to be inclusive, to make pragmatic efforts (not just strategies) that aim to represent everyone no matter their gender, sexuality or race.
It’s not that we don’t have time - you make time for the things that matter and Hong-Anh highlights, we’ve been saving a lot of time by just not doing these things all along. Don’t think “I don’t have the power” - what can you do that IS in your power?
An idea as simple as raising awareness by collecting data to establish who the organisation employs - raising awareness is a start to influencing and make a conscious effort to make organisations representative. The BAME network was also launched this year.
I GAINED CONFIDENCE IN CHANGE BROUGHT BY TECHNOLOGY
Previously, I’ve felt frustrated by the sectors ability to adapt. I graduated from MSc Digital Library Management in 2017 and my dissertation aimed to focus on what kind of functions AI could undertake in a library. Recently, I was offered a place on an amazing programme called TechUp Women and I was beginning to worry I was unintentionally drifting out of the profession on a Data Science course.
However, the face of librarianship changing - from the session with Stephan Hollaender and Julian Schwarzenbach, I think the core skills of librarianship are still relevant but there's going to be an image revamp and terminology switch up. I think our core skill set will fundamentally be the same, but what we do will change - including more data work.
There’s always been a focus on data-driven decision making to some extent, but analysis of data sets can benefit from coding skills, taught by projects like Library Carpentry (represented at the conference by Jez Cope and Antony Groves). A lot of our existing information and digital literacy skills can contribute to the procurement processes of AI and responsible use of data in our services and society. Check out keynote Kriti Sharma’s TEDTalk to find out more.
I FOUND A SENSE OF BELONGING
Liz Jolly, Chief Librarian at the British Library, spoke about not being considered from the “right” background to move up in her work. She was “written off” at 18 for failing to go to a ‘proper’ uni and choosing to study Historical Studies at Manchester Polytechnic.
It was so affirming to hear a LEADER, of the British Library no less, say these things. It completely humanised Jo and suddenly more senior and experienced professionals started to come out of the woodwork to share their backgrounds. Suddenly I feel more connected to my profession, that I could work in this field and do well.
COMMUNICATING EXTERNALLY IS SOMETHING WE STRUGGLE WITH
Throughout the conference, communication was a key theme.
Patrick Lambe particularly emphasised the idea of working with and within an eco-system - what do we have that benefits other key parts of society? However, it’s not just about what we say, it’s also about our image.
Be visible - there’s no point in doing a great job if you’re sat alone in a room because no one will see it. But the people that are most important are the ones at the margins - “attend the margins of society because the centre can look after itself.”
THEN, AS SOON AS THE CONFERENCE STARTED, IT WAS OVER
The one thing I put straight into action was considering how I could communicate useful knowledge I had to someone outside my eco-system (academic and health libraries). As a result, I create an Open Access blog (no library jargon) aimed at your average person, teaching them how to find free peer reviewed information.
I released it during the start of TechUp, a programme aimed to get underrepresented women in tech. It went on to be shared by bloggers, a primary school, early career academics, a professor and of course, librarians. However, I think I’ve had some impact with my intended target audience.
Overall, #CILIPConf19 was a great experience. In the few days I attended great talks, felt inspired and gained enough ideas to keep me going for a while! I also caught up with old colleagues and hopefully gained some new connections I will be able to consider just as favourably as the latter in time.
HOW I FOUND OUT ABOUT THE BURSARY
One of the things New Library Professionals Network have always, always stated is that not enough people apply for bursaries. When they shared the bursary opportunity and, as a result of encouragement from my Chartership Mentor, I decided to put my marketing know-how to the test.
The bursary application was to create a marketing idea you would like to implement in your library. I’ve undertaken marketing work for academic library services before. Instead, I decided to have some fun creating a low-cost guerrilla marketing inspired campaign for Sheffield Children's Central Library, where I'm currently a Code Club volunteer.
I'm very grateful to PPRG for enabling me to attend #CILIPConf19!
ABOUT SHELDON KORPET
I’m an Information Officer and Capacity Management Assistant at the University of Sheffield. Currently, I’m working towards becoming a Chartered member of CILIP and I also volunteer with Code Club. I was recently chosen as one of the first 100 women to join the TechUp Women course and next month, I will begin working in Digital Library Services for Manchester Metropolitan University.
Prior to this all of this, I received an MSc in Digital Library Management in 2017 after undertaking a Graduate Traineeship at Manchester Metropolitan University. My undergraduate degree was in BA Business Management.