CILIP Conference 2019 : reflections on #CilipConf19

Earlier this year we publicised our bursary to attend the 2019 Cilip Conference. We were delighted to award it to Claire Back, Development Manager with Plymouth Libraries. In her winning blog entry Claire discussed her favourite tech tool Canva. Claire has now blogged her impressions from the conference and highlighted those themes which she found most significant.

It’s hard to believe that it’s been over a month since the CILIP Conference in Manchester. Rather than a chronological write up, this blog post is more a reflection of my thoughts on the conference; what I enjoyed the most, what I took away from attending and what I’m still thinking about one month later.

Major themes

For me there were two major themes that came up repeatedly. The first, diversity and inclusion ran throughout the two days. From Kriti Sharma’s excellent opening keynote on bias and ethics in AI to Hong-Anh Nguyen’s powerful day two keynote Questioning Diversity: A call to action for everyone working in the profession to make a positive change. There was also the BAME Network allies’ breakfast which unfortunately I couldn’t attend but I have since signed up as an ally on the website.

Demonstrating impact was the second major theme for me, probably because it’s something I’ve been thinking a lot about recently. It was clear listening to stories from 25 years of Libraries Change Lives that being able to demonstrate the difference these initiatives made was a key to their success and recognition. In Glasgow’s Mitchell Library we saw the positive impact that moving the Citizens Advice Bureau into the library had on both users and staff. Jan Holden from Norfolk Libraries shared their vision for ensuring that libraries change lives every day through a range of health and wellbeing activities. I liked their plan on a page which was simple and effective. It was also good to hear Jan say that it’s sometimes hard to get people to listen and understand what libraries can do, and how important it is to have confidence in the service and be willing to have the same conversations again and again.

It was also interesting to hear Kay Grieves from the University of Sunderland describe how they are using an engagement and impact model to drive service design and I enjoyed seeing their experiments with data visualisation, something I’m keen to do more of.

Public Libraries are awesome

I know this, I work for one, but it’s good to be reminded sometimes and the Innovation in Public Libraries highlighted some of the great work going on. This included Archives+ at Manchester Central Library who have been documenting the history and stories of the LBQT community in the city and I loved that they invited a couple of the volunteers, a vital part of the project, along to hear the talk. I’m always slightly in awe of the work being done by Leeds Libraries on 100% Digital Leeds, ensuring that everyone in the city has the same options and choices when it comes to digital inclusion, so it was useful to pick up some tips on how they are doing it from Amy Hearn.

Best slides

A special mention to Dave Rowe from Libraries Hacked who illustrated his talk on open geographic intelligence with library data solely with images of dogs (and a single cat) on mobile libraries.  Dave’s current project to improve the state of mobile library data makes me wish we had a mobile so we could get involved.

What I missed

There will always be the problem of clashing sessions at a conference, but I was really sorry to miss the Diversity in the Profession Panel.

Overall I really enjoyed my couple of days in Manchester. I felt it helped me to reconnect with the wider profession and I’m very grateful to MMIT for the bursary.

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