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Learning Technologies exhibition. 12th–13th February 2020, London

I’ve been to many librarian focused events over the years – so when a colleague in the Scottish Government’s Finance training team invited me to join them to this free exhibition I went away to see what was on offer, especially the free seminars.  I was struck by how different the content was to the college and university focus of so many library events.  This was all about the workplace.  We’re a workplace library.  Ideal.

It was interesting to talk to some of the countless suppliers, and trying to browse all the supplier stands was almost too much to take in.  But here are my key takeaways from the exhibition and seminars over both days:

Power of learner feedback

  • Use
  • What questions should you ask? Open, answerable, objective, unique
  • Use
  • Introduce feedback early, make it a group activity
  • Ask a question about duration of course

What’s in the blend?

  • Give learners control over time, pace, path or space
  • Use repetition and application in the longer term to combat the forgetting curve
  • Digital good for generic content, self tests and self directed learning through micro learning
  • Classroom better for being more responsive and tailored and more easily changed

What Learning and Development can learn from marketing

  • Learners have short attention and less time.  Learning must be accessible at point of need and a delightful experience
  • Content should be engaging.  Use the FUBI model (Fun, Useful, Beautiful and Inspiring) created by Paddle Consulting
  • Also use nudge theory – positive reinforcement to encourage learners
  • Bite sized resources and interactive video. I.e. make it possible for learners to watch sections of a video. Also talking heads and standalone animations to deliver high impact learning experience
  • Money follows measurement. Prove the value of what you do and demonstrate return on investment

 Why viewers stop watching your videos

  • What is the purpose of the video?  Understand users learning needs
  • Almost half of people surveyed searched online for instructional videos
  • Users prefer 3-6 min videos
  • Choose a good thumbnail. Include info about content, type of video and branding. Sesame Street or Microsoft YouTube videos are good examples
  • Content must be relatable and easy to follow. Step by step instructions and video a speaker
  • How professional does it half to be? Most survey respondents didn’t mind.  Quality should be good enough.  But should have good audio, camera footage, hyperlinks and finish with some action
  • Use music sparingly. Music should not include words. Use as intro and outro.
  • What is important:
1. Clear goal and purpose
2. Think about your audience
3. Communicate the content, value and purpose of video
4. Clear titles and descriptions are important
5. Short be as short as possible but as long as needed
6. Good audio and speaker to engage your viewers

Learn like you live

  • On average it takes 8 clicks to open e-learning.  It should be 2
  • Why Youtube? It’s engaging, where the experts are, both a visual and audible means of learning, watchable anytime and anywhere, easily shared.  People tend to share videos rather than text.  And has an option to contribute your own content
  • Technology should help learners want to consume learning
  • Chapter your videos so learners can just watch the bits they need and include a question or comment feature
  • Learning saved as a video which can be shared vie email, embed code added to a learning management system

E-learning accessibility and standards

  • If you meet WCAG you probably follow most standards
  • Companies keen to meet standards as it meets their values – not just legal obligation
  • Think of screen readers, magnifiers (ensure text wraps) and colour blindness, colour contrast
  • All the below are free except JAWS
  • Also use Google fonts and default font size is 20, subtitles and closed captions. WebVTT compatible choice for subtitles
  • Don’t do drag and drop questions

Paul Schneider from Dominknow: screen readers Paul Schneider from Dominknow: screen readers

Learning not to forget

  • People forget 70% of what they learn within a day. People forget what do they don’t use
  • Only 12% of employees apply new skills learned in L&D programmes
  • Repetition can help.  Adopt Herman Ebbinghaus’ forgetting curve and the Leitner box system.  If you forget it goes back a box forcing you to review it before it can progress to the next box
  • Learners should learn at own pace – feedback should include a question asking the learner how long it took them

 Engage the Learner

  • Test/assess learning during/after training
  • If you do a task you retain knowledge
  • Make learners do something during a webinar – i.e. watch a video and submit feedback on what they thought. Share feedback via Chat as sharing is experiential

Joining the micro learning dots

  • There’s a risk micro learning can be surface level
  • To make it deeper make content engaging and include activities.  Content should be no more than 2 minutes
  • Be creative and build in experiences and encourage learners to apply information you’ve told them
  • Use sound and visuals in micro learning
  • Sets goals and nudges to help learners along
  • Use spaced practice – then ask learners to say what they learned over that time
  • When creating programmes consider how you learned something similar. What helped you learn?

Learning Technologies exhibition Learning Technologies exhibition

Paul Gray
March 1, 2020

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EBLIP10 – 10th International Evidence Based Library and Information Practice Conference. 17th-18th June 2019, Glasgow

I attended days 1 and 2 of this year’s EBLIP conference.  This was my first time at EBLIP and here are my notes from the day.  As with most library conferences speakers gave a wide variety of excellent presentations from academic (and a few public) libraries.  My notes focus on those things we can adapt and consider for the Scottish Government Library.

Conference programme and abstracts
A selection of conference tweets

  • The big takeaway for me was start collecting and publishing “impact stories” – case studies of how our Library adds value to the Scottish Government.  This will provide valuable qualitative data to the quantitative data we already collect.  One method could be adding a section to our Library’s literature search request form asking users what they intend to do with the results.  Followed up by a standardised telephone interview 3-6 months after literature search results were provided.
  • Record and publish short and clear “how to” videos to access our Library services.
  • Turas Learn is NHS Education for Scotland’s platform for learning and support resources.  Worth checking out and noting it includes open badges hosted by the Scottish Social Services Council (SSSC).
  • Try using Slido or Padlet to get feedback as surveys may provide a low response rate.
  • Project Information Literacy (PIL) is a useful resource which includes a fascinating report from October 2018 – “How Students Engage with News”.
  • Wall Street Journal blue feed, red feed activity tool.  Shows both liberal and conservative Facebook posts side-by-side.  Demonstrating both sides use the same tactics and approach to selecting information and everyone has a bias.
  • Librarians are expected to be project managers but they don’t tend to think about project standards.  Plus there’s not much literature on project management for librarians.  It’s important to estimate timescales and resources required and build a case for funding, and to measure and keep good records of time and resources spent, and what went right (and wrong).
  • Add questions about UX (user experience) to our surveys to give us better feedback on what users think of our services.
  • Don’t just communicate good news from the Library.  Communicate all news simply, clearly, openly and regularly.  Negative news can be turned round with an in person or group/team discussion if needed – a chance to say the Library will manage this, we know what we’re doing and how we’ll sort it or work round it.

Paul Gray
August 4, 2019

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CILIPS Conference 2019 – Courage, Laughter and Innovation: A Resilient Profession. 4th June 2019, Dundee

I attended day 2 of this year’s CILIPS conference.  Here are some useful summaries of the conference plus my notes from the day:

A last minute change of programme meant Jane Cowell’s presentation on innovation in libraries became day 2’s opening keynote.  Jane is the CEO for Yarra Plenty Regional Libraries near Melbourne, Australia.  For me, this was the highlight of the day and Jane has also blogged about her presentation.

Innovation: it’s a state of mind was Jane’s overview of how Australian public libraries should be embracing change.  I felt there was much in what she explained that could be applied to all libraries – include our own Library.  First up, don’t focus on technology when thinking of the library of the future.  Libraries always adapt to changes, so we already use technology.  Think about how to make the technology work for our missions and values.  But we need to focus on meaningful experiences.  How do we connect people to the information they need?

Librarians need to innovate, but innovation needs to solve a problem and a culture to support it.  Encourage lots of ideas till you get to the one that works.  Try something new and question every norm.

Of course there will be constraints on what we can do, but that can help us focus our ideas.  Jane found that management assumed staff were resistant to change.  That wasn’t necessarily true but staff should be encouraged to focus on what’s important rather than saying “I’m too busy”.

A point that stood out for me was that librarians need to focus on the user – it’s about them.  That’s why Amazon and Netflix are successful.  Convenience beats free.  Users would rather pay for Audible than get audio books from the library.


Our Library is planning to explore how we can use open access (OA) research more, so They Call it Open Research from Dominic Tate was very useful.  Dominic described the two main routes to OA are the green and gold routes.  The green route is where an author self archives their research in an OA repository (embargo periods may apply).  The gold route is where an author pays a publisher to make the research available on OA.   Though Dominic pointed out that research funders may have conditions on publishing.

Being free to the end user, OA offers wider access to research.  As the OA movement presses for increased OA publishing, SCURL is looking at the possibility of a Scottish university consortium for an OA Press.


The joy of digital from Kirsty Linstad was the second keynote of the day.  Kirsty cited Marie Kondo and encouraged us to declutter, leaving us only with things that bring us joy.  Digitising stock can help us declutter and make stock more accessible, though we must be aware digital is a different way to experience an item.  Also apply OCR as this will improve the quality of the data.

Kirsty echoed Jane’s keynote when she stated if students have no ‘spark of joy’ when finding information they may give up.  They are used to services like Amazon and Netflix.  Libraries have to learn from that.  Innovate and experiment to get it right.  It will take a lot of effort and time to give our users what they want, and not overload them.  Make it easy and a joy to use.


Louise Annan from University of Glasgow Library and Stewart Hardy from the National Library of Scotland had similar themed presentations on how libraries should use social media to communicate and engage with users, staff and the world.  Louise explained how she uses different tools for different reasons.  For example, using Hootsuite to schedule posts 3 months in advance.  Except Instagram as this is much more effective when used as a more personal, ‘real time’ tool.   Stewart also advocated the importance of putting personality into social and high engagement is all about the conversation.  This approach has increased numbers of followers on the National Library of Scotland social media accounts and increased engagement.

Stewart Hardy 'putting personality into social'

Stewart Hardy ‘putting personality into social’

As a workplace Library we have access to our workplace Yammer account.  Both these talks made me think about how we could more personality and engagement into our Yammer posts.

CILIPS President Yvonne Manning introducing final keynote

CILIPS President Yvonne Manning introducing final keynote

Paul Gray
July 6, 2019

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Supporting the Social Sciences. 13th May 2019, Edinburgh

We were delighted that the Scottish Government Library was invited to present at this ARLGS Supporting Social Sciences event at Napier University’s Sighthill campus.  The theme of the day was to build on attendee’s existing skills and knowledge on social science research methods; effective literature searching; realist reviews; and evidence based research to support social science research.

Morag Higgison and Paul Gray attended and gave an overview of the work of the Scottish Government Library.  You can can this and all the presentations from the day.  Here are my key takeaways to build on my own knowledge, plus some useful resources:

The CILIP PKSB self evaluation tool is a really useful resource to help librarians identify their professional strengths and weaknesses.

The Facet publication Being Evidence Based in Library and Information Practice was recommended and we’ll certainly consider buying this for our Library.

CILIP’s webpage on the value of trained information professionals provides a useful summary of the value we add to our organisations.

The point was made that quantitative research can easily be skewed, and we need provide evidence based information for policy.  In our Library we do this by guiding Scottish Government researchers to submit a good research question in a template, often followed up by a phone call for further clarification and again with sending sample results.

Lauren Smith made the point that discovery search tools many libraries now offer are limited.  Our Library has such a tool which we’ve branded as KandE (Knowledge and Evidence). When searched it discovers content in a single search from over 40 resources selected by our librarians that we feel best fit the research needs of the Scottish Government.  It’s an excellent starting point to quickly find good quality research, and if the results are too limited we provide and encourage access to additional research resources.

One action point for our Library is to investigate how to provide better access to Open Access research.  This would also help redress the bias towards 1st world white middle class publishing in peer reviewed journals.  It may also improve access to self-published resarch and grey literature.  This shouldn’t be underestimated as it still may be good research.  Peer reviewed research isn’t everything, and researchers risk drawing incorrect conclusions if using a non-universal evidence base.

Rapid realist reviews were also mentioned.  Though these are expensive and require a team to do and take a long time. They are used in social policy, so is something we’ll share with our research colleagues.  There is more information on this in Realistic Evaluation by Pawson and Tilley and Rapid Realist Review by Saul et al.

Paul Gray
26 June, 2019

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LILAC Conference. 25th – 26th April 2019, Nottingham

Morag Higgison and Paul Gray attended days 2 and 3 of this year’s varied, fun and informative LILAC conference.  Although the conference felt largely FE/HE focused to us, as a UK government library we’re all too aware of the need to develop information literacy skills in the workplace too.  We also enjoyed the spacious (if hilly) venue at the University of Nottingham:

University of Nottingham campus

University of Nottingham campus

In this post I’ll summarise some ideas on how we could put what we learned into practice in the Scottish Government Library, as well as mentioning other things I found particularly interesting.  But first, here are some useful conference links:

Thursday: Day 2

LILAC19 welcome

LILAC19 welcome

There were a quite a few things we took from Ruth Carlyle’s insightful keynote ‘health literacy: information for life’ that we could adapt for use in the Scottish Government.  One is to consider Nutbeam’s 3 types of health literacy (functional, interactive and critical) when we teach information literacy skills.

Ruth also advocated the use of ‘teach-back’ and ‘chunk and check’ (giving small chunks of information then checking understanding) in health information settings to ensure the patient has understood correctly.  These are techniques we’ll adapt and use in our social media and searching skills training sessions.

Like the health sector, the government sector can also be very jargon, acronym and initials heavy.  We do try to use plain English in our work, but we’ll check and see if we can improve on this.

The reuse of Open Access materials is something we often discuss in our Library.  The information literacy and open access panel discussion helped shed some light on this area.  The online documentary Paywall: the business of scholarship discusses how much money publishers make out of research.  The panel suggested copyright should be different for publishing than for movies.  At the moment the approach is the same.

With free (or cheaper) access to research more people would benefit from sharing quality information.  And academics are happy to share their work.  However, only 7% of Open Access materials have a reuse licence.  Plus in research, copyright on a work generally starts with the author but by the time it’s published most rights have been handed over to the publisher.

So there is a need for copyright education for authors to help them retain rights to their work.  Also for researchers to publish where they want, but it’s hard to break the tradition of publishing in peer reviewed journals for the reputation and kudos that brings.

Information literacy: necessary but not sufficient for 21st century learning from Darryl Toerien was a fascinating insight into FOSIL – an inquiry based learning cycle and framework for schools.  At its heart is the understanding information literacy needs to be taught from primary school to prepare pupils for university and life in general.  Of course in Scotland we now have a national strategy for school libraries.  But as the FOSIL inquiry based learning cycle and framework documents can be reused under Creative Commons it’s worth us sharing it here.

Friday: Day 3


Auditorium. Courtesy of LILAC with Creative Commons attribution

Stepping into the unknown by Lorna Smith and Anne Archer from Newcastle University Library was an interesting summary of how they transferred a face-to-face information skills workshop into a more meaningful, holistic online learning experience for students.  The online self-assessment is via an Information Skills Checker which measures the results from 12 statements on a Likert scale asked at the start and end.  Responses are anonymous (and subjective) with feedback given in results to say if students need to refresh any skills they scored low on.  Feedback has been positive with 89% of students appreciating learning at their own pace and 64% appreciating being able to revisit difficult concepts.

This is something our Library will consider adapting for use across the Scottish Government.

Allison Littlejohn gave the final conference keynote on the growing popularity of the MOOC in HE – the (un)intended consequence of innovation in HE.  A fascinating take that MOOCs are being driven by those who have no interest in them.  They are often seen more as a revenue stream.  Also MOOCS are usually linear and so have high drop out rates.  Students need to find their way through a MOOC.  We expect students to follow predefined pathways rather than finding their own.  However, Allison explains there are self regulated and non-self regulated learners.  They go through a MOOC differently.  Allison cited Kiron as a good example of a MOOC.  Kiron enables access to higher education for refugees.

Online learning tends to just replicate classroom learning, but courses need to reflect the workplace structure and how it can be applied.  Authentic learning activities motivate learners and context is important to ensure literacy is learned as an embedded practice.  These are things we should consider for our Library’s very own 10 Things MOOC.

As our Library has our own Fighting Fake News presentation it was interesting to see Jessica Long and Jennifer Hicks’ presentation on Fake News for the Masses and the Miami University LibGuide on evaluating news sources.  From the resources covered a few were new to us.  Of note are the Trump Twitter Archive and the tip to use a reverse image search (e.g. TinEye) to authenticate images.

The conference closing panel discussion stressed we should focus on the why rather than the how of information literacy.  It was noted this should include how to search for grey literature.

Paul Gray
June 22, 2019

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CILIPS Autumn Gathering. 24th October 2018, Glasgow

Paul Gray and Fiona Palmar attended the 2018 CILIPS Autumn Gathering.  Here are our reports from the day:

Paul Gray

It’s been 2 years since I last attended the CILIPS Autumn Gathering, so I was looking forward to dipping into this sample of the wide range of matters Scottish libraries are currently involved with, outlined in the programme. CILIPS has also uploaded the presentations from the conference and delegates were busy on Twitter providing a sense of what the hot topics were. Here are my key points from the day:

Poverty in Scotland 2018: trends, causes and potential solutions – Dr. Jim McCormick, Associate Director Scotland, Joseph Rowntree Foundation
This opening keynote gave a sobering update on poverty in Scotland. 1 in 5 Scots are living in poverty. But with very few couples in Scotland both not working, low paid insecure work is now the leading cause of poverty. JRF see the problem lies mainly with the job market – plus reduced tax credits and delays in universal credit payments. JRF has a vision of no one being in poverty for more than 2 years by 2030 and advocates springboards rather than safety nets for those in poverty.

Engaging Libraries and Science – East Dunbartonshire’s Intergenerational Brainworks Project. Lesley Tyler, Children and Families Coordinator, East Dunbartonshire Leisure and Culture Trust
Lesley described the many and varied sessions the Brainworks Projects runs with children and older adults to help understand on how the human brain works. However, Lesley happened to mention Second Life (a 3D social virtual world). I explored Second Life a few years ago when I was interested in its potential as a learning environment. Having felt it hadn’t really taken off it was interesting to hear about Dr Evelyn McElhinney’s thesis on the health literacy skills and practices undertaken by people who have accessed health information in Second Life, and the influence on their physical world health behaviour. Apparently most Second Life users are now over 40 with younger ‘griefers’ having left the site. I do recall this being a barrier to people taking Second Life seriously a few years ago.

My journey to professional recognition – Sally Walker, Orkney Libraries and Scotland’s Library and Information Professional 2017
I recall voting for Sally for “Scotland’s Library and Information Professional 2017” on the variety of initiatives she started in Orkney libraries children’s services. So in this second keynote of the day it was great to hear how winning that title had boosted her career – where she continues to innovate and develop Orkney libraries children’s services. Including acquiring microbits going out to schools teaching pupils how to programme them. And clubs for Lego, Minecraft and coding.

Information Literacy: A new definition and the role of library and information professionals. Jacqueline Geekie, Information Literacy and Learning Librarian for Aberdeenshire Libraries

“Information literacy is the ability to think critically and make balanced judgements about any information we find and use. It empowers us as citizens to reach and express informed views and to engage fully with society.”

This is the new definition launched at LILAC in April 2018. Jacqueline explained this is based on member survey feedback in 2016 and LILAC feedback in 2017, and it replaces the previous definition from 2004.

The CILIP Information Literacy Group website also includes details on the role of information literacy across a range of sectors including health.

Social media literacy and the new challenges to online debate – Dr. Jennifer Jones
This was the most relevant and significant session for me. Jennifer compared the new and optimistic social media landscape 10 years ago with how that has actually panned out 10 years on. From the expectation that organisations need to “digitally transform” to fake news and misinformation. Plus the rapid growth of user generated content.  To get a measure of this boom in content Jennifer explained 90% of all online data has been produced in the last 2 years.

To help manage these issues around social media literacy in 2018 Jennifer gave a taster of her 9 challenges for online discourse.

Health Information Pathways – the collaborative approach across public libraries, NHS and third sector, to support public library staff to develop their role in self-management, health literacy and shared decision-making. Marianne Brennan, Development Officer, The Health and Social Care Alliance Scotland
This session outlined that Ambition & Opportunity (the National Strategy for Scottish Public Libraries) is being updated – with Health Information Pathways focussing on strategic aim 4 (social wellbeing).

Marianne also discussed how The Alliance recognises that libraries help people’s wellbeing and has created a SLIC funded supporting self management toolkit as well as running a 2 year pilot to bring librarians into the multi-professional health care team.

Ethics and the role of the PKSB (Professional Knowledge and Skills Base) in research.  Paul Cannon, College Librarian Medical, Veterinary & Life Sciences, University of Glasgow Library
Paul described his research journey through his professional doctorate and drew a comparison stating the things required from librarians’ professionalism are similar to those of those in medical professions. Though he has found the demands of employer often come before those as professional librarian.

Paul uses 3 frameworks to counter ethical challenges:

However, PKSB frameworks can’t always be nuanced enough to be appropriate for all parts of the information profession. Paul also highlighted the lack of high quality research about the Library profession. CILIP is looking at an evidence based practice profession, and has organised webinars around research skills and has a Library and Information Research group. But these efforts aren’t joined up and the impact not known.

Libraries and Kinder Communities – Zoe Ferguson, The Carnegie UK Trust
In the final keynote Zoe discussed why kindness in communities is important. Kindness in delivering public services is something I’ve read quite a lot about lately, and this talk explained that it’s not about asking people to be kinder to each other. Rather, it’s what are the factors that help create kindness? Such as welcoming places, informal opportunities and the values of kindness. Though our attitudes to risk, regulation, professionalism and performance management can get in the way. For example, are libraries being pressured into contributing outcomes rather than being a welcoming community place?

Zoe concluded by stating kindness should be a key indicator when looking at performance measure rather than the more traditional measures.

Paul Gray
December 17, 2018

CILIPS Autumn Gathering 2018

Fiona Palmar

At only my second CILIP event ever, as well as thoroughly enjoying the networking opportunities and the exhibition I took a dip into some of the seminars to complement my own Governmental sector knowledge.

Memorabilia and Ephemera: Football programmes at the National Library of Scotland – Graeme Forbes, Associate Director of Collections Management
In an insightful seminar Graeme described the role of Football programmes in particular, and the larger collection of ephemera within the National Library of Scotland, in general as an insight into various aspects of Scottish social history.

Various aspects of the programmes were discussed:

  • The history of each club that has provided material for the collection
  • The rise of advertising, with adverts placed by local and national companies
  • Captions for photographs
  • Evidence of printing and typing technologies
  • Rule changes within the history of the game
  • Pitch diagrams and references to individual team members playing in any individual match

Overall a fascinating insight into a little known collection in the NLS, but the bit that stood out for me was the difficulty in cataloguing such a collection, given such a diverse range of aspects that an individual searcher may be looking for (both for family and social history aspects).

Librarians with Lives – Jo Wood
A very personal insight into her career within Librarianship, which particularly covered the areas of Health and Resilience within the profession in general and with specific reference to her career path.

Particularly interesting to me, were the subtopics of Employer support, Support Strategies and Support Networks.

Jo’s last section covered the creation and development of her Podcast: Librarians with Lives. In particular how it developed and how it fits into her (and our) CPD with references to the Networking opportunities that it provides.

As a result of this seminar I have subscribed to her podcast, and have thoroughly enjoyed the episodes that I have heard so far. I am also involved in learning all I can about Resilience tools and techniques towards supporting Mental Health in the workplace.

Marketing academic libraries and understanding student needs – Dr Sonya Campbell-Perry. Head of Customer Service, The Library, Glasgow Caledonian University
Sonya covered a variety of interesting points relating to knowing how we as service providers, can know what service users actually want, and how providers can supply this need in an ever changing digital environment.

One question that resonated with me in particular, was the question: “How do you manage expectations?” This is particularly relevant because service providers in all sectors are encountering users that demand flexible , easy to use, seamless services, but don’t often get the funding to do this!

I also found of use the idea of spending time on customer journeys, of identifying the pain points and limiting or eliminating them entirely. I hope to put this into practice in my own work practices.

Voice and Vision: essential issues around diversity and inclusion for school libraries – Jake Hope – Voice and Vision Book
Jake identified lots of national and local drivers of diversity and introduced some concepts of diversity that we had not personally thought of. He divided the room and used little groups to identify drivers that were local to sectors, or individual situations.

Some of the areas that emerged included how to include information in collections for users requiring:

  • Autism and Dyslexia friendly information delivery
  • Visual and mental health accessibility
  • Braille and Foreign language books
  • Wheelchair accessible furniture

As well as the usual diversity factors of Age, Disability, Gender and Gender identity, Race, Religion/belief, Sexual orientation, Social class and educational needs.

A real eye opener.

Fiona Palmar
December 17, 2018

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CILIP conference 2017. 5th–6th July 2017, Manchester

Morag Higgison and Paul Gray attended this year’s CILIP conference.  We both took alot of messages and thoughts back to the Scottish Government Library from this busy and excellent event.  Now we’ve had time to reflect here are some useful summaries of the conference plus our notes from the day:


Day 1
Keynote: Dr Carla Hayden, Librarian of Congress
Carla Hayden was sworn in as the 14th Librarian of Congress on September 14, 2016.  The first woman and the first African American to lead the national library. Carla gave a very engaging keynote where she explained that she was interviewed by President Obama for the post of Librarian of Congress. President Obama stated he wanted the Library of Congress to be more accessible to Americans.
Carla being a great believer in the rights of all people (not just researchers), to educate themselves, and in the importance of open access to information online, she went on to explain accessibility and engagement is what she wanted to achieve most of all.  After meeting with the British Library Carla was impressed by how the British Library had achieved this.
Once in post she found some resistance amongst some librarians to make the Library of Congress collections more open, but as they saw how other librarians worked with children and other visitors to explain the collections they started to come on board.

Rethinking Libraries – workshop run by Arup
Julian Diamond, Associate Director, Information Management, Arup
Elisa Magnini, Analyst, Foresight + Research + Innovation, Arup
Julian explained how Arup worked with various libraries to increase use. For example, introducing QR codes on metro systems to advertise a library. They also use a management tool to focus on measuring library use by community use rather than book issues. We then broke into groups for a workshop looking at key trends which will impact on libraries.

Spark not fluff – quick win marketing workshop
Terry Kendrick, Director of Executive Education, Leeds University Business School
Librarians are aware that marketing is far more than creating a set of leaflets for their marketing communications. Highlighting from the outset the need for a good marketing strategy. This interactive workshop demonstrated key things that any library marketing strategy must have if it’s to be successful: a simple, practical guide to the whole marketing planning process from goals to implementation of marketing strategies and communications.

Keynote: Professor Luciano Floridi, Professor of Philosophy and Ethics of Information, University of Oxford
Luciano Floridi’s keynote argued that questions are now the key to power, not answers. Internet connectivity has risen rapidly including the growth of the Internet of Things. Between 2003 and 2010 there became more connected devices than people and the last 2 years has generated 90% of all online data.
It also means the concept of ownership has changed. For example, you don’t own an eBook.
Luciano described the philosophy of information – its problems, approaches, and methods, explaining further that information as ‘an answered question’ and is about uncertainty.  Who controls the questions shapes the answers and who shapes the answers controls reality.  The role of libraries is to counter this power to control by providing answers – reducing uncertainty.  Read more at Power lies in controlling questions.

What makes a great communicator?
Claire Bradshaw, Director, Claire Bradshaw Associates
Whether we like it or not, when meeting someone for the first time first impressions count. Communicating is easy, but communicating well is a skill. Positive exchanges of information is something not everyone can do. Good communication habits come with regular practice.  Claire’s workshop offered a fast overview of what makes a great communicators. Starting by defining communication is the act of transferring verbal, written or non-verbal information. It is good to remember that different personality types tend to have preferred ways to receive information. For example, introverts prefer written information. Seminal research by Albert Mehrabian, Journal of Consulting Psychology, 1967 breaks down communication as:

  • Body language 55%
  • Voice/tone 38%
  • Spoken word 7%

Claire then explored the ‘mind-body’ relationship. How our bodies change our minds and our minds can change our behaviour and our behaviour can change our outcomes. For more on this watch or read Amy Cuddy’s TED Talk.
We then broke into small groups to explore our personality types. You can find a version of the personality type compass used in the workshop here. It can highlight issues such as if you don’t tend to ‘show off’ then writing a strong CV can be hard.
A key message here was we all have different personality types, and at times those differences can create difficulties and clashes, but if we understand the differences we can find ways to work together and the differences can become a strength.

End of day 1

Day 2
Keynote: Neil MacInnes, Strategic Lead-Libraries, Galleries & Culture, Manchester City Council
Neil gave a very positive background as to how Manchester Libraries developed and expanded services to enable and offer an up-to-date modern day library service to meet the needs of all Mancunians – all with no dedicated budget.
For example, by co-locating libraries with other council services and unifying services, targeting non-library users, providing services to older residents, relaunching the Manchester Libraries website and relaunching Manchester Central Library as a third space. Neil then explained there’s more to do and Manchester has published a public libraries skills strategy 2017-2030.

Digital play: Ways to enhance the library experience
Beyond the summer reading challenge: Using young volunteers to shape your year-round teenage offer
Paula Carley, Service Development Co-ordinator, Manchester City Council
This session looked at ways to engage with library voluteers, with a view to setting up a dialogue , listen to ideas and thoughts on how to best develop the service together. The workshop showcased the Imaginators, the young volunteers at Bolton Library & Museum Service, and how the programme has evolved over time.

Organisational Knowledge and Information Governance
Ceri Hughes, Director, Head of Knowledge Centre of Excellence, KPMG
Ceri explained that organisations need to prepare for the new General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) which will come into force on 25th May 2018.
Ceri also announced that CILIP and KPMG are working together to publish a revised and updated edition of Information as an asset: The board agenda, originally written by a committee under the chairmanship of Dr Robert Hawley in 1995. The updated report will be published in Autumn 2017.
Read more here.

Mobilising Evidence and Organisational Knowledge in the NHS
Sue Lacey Bryant, Senior Advisor, Knowledge for Healthcare, Health Education England
Louise Goswami, Head of Library and Knowledge Services Development, Health Education England, Kent, Surrey and Sussex
Sue explained how Lord Carter identified need for greater use of evidence to engage manager and clinical leaders and to improve the decision making process in using factual data and evidence. Healthcare evidence base depends on type of healthcare. For example only around 35% of osteoarthritis healthcare is evidence-based.
A million decisions is meant to encourage decision makers to use libraries to implement evidence based decisions. Healthcare information professionals have a measurable impact on NHS services and save the NHS money.
Louise described the board self assessment tool to enable NHS organisations to make better use of knowledge as an asset – covering leadership, culture, knowledge resources, priorities and planning. Also anyone can use the workforce development resources – learning zone to help skill up on knowledge management.

Information Management and Knowledge Management; the conjoined twin disciplines?
Nick Milton, Knoco Ltd
Nick discussed TD Wilson’s paper – the nonsense of knowledge management. This argues knowledge management is in our heads and as soon as it’s expressed it becomes information management. So ‘knowledge’ can’t be managed. He then discussed the confusion between knowledge and information management. He defines knowledge as uncodified information – but there is overlap.

The Intelligent Library
James Clay, Senior Co-Design Manager, Jisc
James spoke about the intelligent campus – taking advantage of technologies to improve the student experience, research and management of the campus. For example, using it to create a smarter campuses room management, student engagement, turning smartphones into educational coaches, predicting computer demand, expanding library as use increases and using RFID to track books. Having a deeper understanding of the utilisation of the library will allow for more effective and efficient use of space, even to the extent of having a flexible library that expands and contracts as demand for space in the library changes over the day or over the year.

Supporting citizens with protecting their privacy online
Aude Charillon, Library and Information Officer, Newcastle Libraries
Aude started by reminding us that all our technology collects data and recommended Data and Goliath to read more on this and how privacy is about choice – you’re making an informed decision about your privacy. Aude also explained how Newcastle libraries have privacy training and how all their digital skills programmes include this.

Learning from digital disruption and how it can help libraries
Dave Rowe, Geospatial software developer, CartoConsult
Dave defined digital disruption as changes by new technologies that happen so fast it effects models and ways of thinking. He cited Kodak and Blockbuster as companies which failed due to this. There are various responses to disruption – try to stop it, invest, keep customers, retreat.
Examples of disruptive technologies are 3D printing, eBooks, open data, APIs (such as the Open Data Institute’s visualing rail disruptor.
Dave stated that Libraries tend to have closed systems and closed data and use outdated technology. This needs to change. He also made the point if you don’t make information available via open data it’s probably FOIable anyway.

Increasing reach and access through Wikimedia
Lucy Crompton-Reid, Chief Executive, Wikimedia UK
Wikimedia have a vision of a more tolerant, informed and democratic society through the shared creation of and access to open knowledge.  Lucy manages the UK Wikipedia in residence programme and gave an introduction to Wikipedia, asserting that there is still a big gender bias in coverage and mentioned the 100 women and Art+feminism editathons and ways to address this.
Lucy also encouraged us to use Wikidata and plans to work with CILIP for librarians to engage with the #1lib1ref campaign from the Wikipedia library.

“No-one I know uses it any more”: the reasons used to cut libraries
Ian Anstice, Editor, Public Libraries News
Ian explained to campaign for libraries you need to understand everyone’s point of view. For example, quiet is important in public libraries – think about how you zone quiet spaces.  “More than a library” type promotions – what’s wrong with being a Library? Don’t denigrate your unique selling point – public libraries freely give equality of information.
He then launched into a passionate plea to protect public libraries. Starting with saying we all need public libraries as a safety net in society – so stop austerity and fund libraries. The investment will bring a return – other countries are increasing funding. Closing Libraries is a negative feedback loop.
It was suggested that joining the CILIP Publicity and Public Relations Group could also help.

Paul and Morag

Paul Gray and Morag Higgison
September 21, 2017

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Thinking of Blogging best practice

Writing blog content can be challenging

Recently on Saltire (the Scottish Government’s Intranet) my attention was drawn to a blogging course organised by Digital Communications. My experience of blogging was really very little and decided it needed improving!  On checking further I saw that the course on offer was full.  So what next?  It sounded too good an opportunity to miss and decided to make contact with the course organiser and ask if I could just turn up on the day. On the basis if you don’t ask?  I am so glad I did as  I was able to attend this structured, informative and practical session and given a great opportunity to discuss any experience (or not as the case may be!)  on blogging with other attendees.  I am now blogging using my notes, plus discussion hints and tips from our get-together. Guess the ‘proof of the pudding is in the eating’ as they say?

Where to start:

First of all we considered the question – “why blog?”, do people really need to know what we have all been up to? Is the content really going to be of any interest or relevance?  You don’t know until you try but it may help us to consider some of the following points before making a start:

  • Focus your blog on a relevant topic, subject or event that you know about and feel you can write confidently on
  • Use a headline that is informative and will capture attention
  • If your blog is too lengthy or wordy – it’s difficult to engage with readers – so keep check
  • At the same time make sure your blog post isn’t so specific that there isn’t enough people looking for that particular information
  • Know your research process – where and how are you sourcing your information
  • To write good content you must set aside the time to do so

Keep Writing relevant and topical content:

  • Consistency is the key to getting readers you’ve already attracted to return to your blog
  • It takes discipline for most of us to write – so stick with it
  • Informative posts can help answer questions & solve a problem – so think of your content and it’s value
  • The blogs that attract the most readers are the ones with frequent updates
  • Having a co-blogger/author can take some of the pressure off, especially if all contribute regularly
  • If you have a ‘comments’ on your blog, be sure to keep an eye on them – it’s an easy way to involve your audience and get valuable feedback

Maintaining your blog:

  • Plan your blogging activities including writing articles in advance – set aside time in the calendar
  • Take time to evaluate and consider what makes posts popular and more likely to be shared?
  • Usability – consider format so readers can quickly scan the content by using – bulleted or numbered lists, line breaks, bold fonts and images
  • Continue to keep your blog clutter free as it grows and develops – do not add too many links or images
  • Get a colleague to proof read your posts
  • When and where possible continue to promote your blog – use social media e.g. post on Twitter or Facebook

Putting in to practice:

Blogs are a great way of reaching users with information but it is also a good way of sourcing information. Working in the Library we often have to source information from online subscription databases and the internet. Generally we are looking for up to date information or anything published within specific time limits. This information can be used to answer enquiries, to help set up alerts or to help gather evidence for a literature search. Blogs can therefore be a useful and relevant tool to include in any search options.

You will find blog search engines out there and definitely worth investigating. May also be worthwhile to note that evaluation of what your source is important. Make sure any information you source via the web is fit for purpose as anyone can put information on the web!

Morag Higgison
August 8, 2017

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CILIPS Conference 2017 – Strategies for Success. 5th-6th June 2017, Dundee

I attended the conference on 6th June and helped to facilitate a workshop on fake news and alternative facts – the challenge for information professionals.  Here are some useful summaries of the conference plus my notes from the day:

Welcome from the President
Liz McGettigan @lizmcgettigan
A very positive address from the CILIPS President encourages the conference to shout louder about what we do, to work smarter and work together to show what a strong library network can do.

Keynote One – The Road to Copyright Literacy: a journey towards library empowerment
Dr. Jane Secker @jsecker
Senior Lecturer in Educational Development at City, University of London
Chris Morrison @cbowiemorrison
Copyright and Licensing Compliance Officer, University of Kent
Jane and Chris’ entertaining session on copyright literacy.  Copyright can sometimes seem to be one of the more daunting types of enquiry our Library receives.

I really enjoyed their use of Mentimeter to poll the audience on how copyright made them feel.  Top answer?  “Confused”!  Their simple message in response to the poll – libraries have to deal with copyright, we just need to deal with it and not to be afraid of it.  We need copyright literacy.  Without copyright literacy copyright issues go unsaid, advice tends to err on the side of caution which reduces the amount of information in the public domain.  Therefore the cost of accessing information can increase.

We also need to bridge the gaps between activists and practitioners, creators and consumers, rights holders and lawyers and libraries.  Copyright literacy requires:

  • Education not training – and rethinking copyright education for librarians
  • Balance between content and approach
  • Becoming comfortable with not always giving a simple yes or no answer

Following the Hargreaves Review of Intellectual Property (2011) the UK enacted a range of copyright reforms in 2014 that were intended to provide libraries, educational establishments and cultural institutions with greater freedoms. Jane and Chris also recommended the following resources:

Scotland welcomes refugees – the role of the library in resettlement and inclusion
Dr. Konstantina Martzoukou @Dinamartz
Post Graduate Programme Leader, Robert Gordon University – iSchool
Konstantina’s key message was we must rethink our approach to immigration in light of recent attacks, and then discussed the findings of New Scots: Integrating Refugees in Scotland’s Communities 2014 – 2017 Final Report. (2017).
These were:

  • How can public libraries help Syrian refugees (esp. women) access services
  • Refugees perceptions of what Scottish police and GPs do are different to their experiences
  • Older refugees didn’t use technology and relied on interpersonal skills
  • Refugees had health needs so families required support to develop health literacy skills
  • Refugees wanted to learn English quickly

Linked Data: opening Scotland’s library content to the world
Dr. Diane Pennington, University of Strathclyde @infogamerist
Diane explained what’s sometimes referred to as Web 3.0 is the semantic web, then described the importance of Resource Description Framework (RDF) and Unique Device Identifiers (UDIs) in increasing our ability to find information.

The Scottish Government is encouraging the use of open data with the Open Data Strategy (2015) and Realising Scotland’s full potential in a digital world: A Digital Strategy for Scotland (2017) which talks about how we need to use open data to be world leader in digital technologies.

Libraries have a big role here.  Libraries need to implement open data to help people find resources, and librarians need to make more creative and efficient metadata and cataloguing data.  However, Diane’s survey of Scotland’s libraries staff’s understanding of open data revealed most had a vague understanding and thought licensing restrictions could be a barrier.

Towards an information literacy strategy for Scotland
Dr. John Crawford
John gave an instructive overview of progress towards an information literacy strategy for Scotland.  Citing Spreading the Benefits of Digital Participation (Royal Society of Edinburgh, 2014) and a meeting with Fiona Hyslop (Cabinet Secretary for Culture, Tourism and External Affairs) with a focus on digital literacy.  John explained information, political and health literacies are also important and backed this up with examples of work in Scotland including refugees, older people, political engagement and health.

John explained what our information literacy community of practice in Scotland is doing to advance this work, including securing funding from the CILIP Information Group to survey information literacy skills in secondary school pupils. Information Skills for a 21st Century Scotland is an online community of practice which is open to everyone both within and outside the information profession, primarily in Scotland but also elsewhere. It is for anyone who is interested in information literacy and associated skills and competencies.

Hosted by the Scottish Library and Information Council (SLIC), Information Skills for a 21st Century Scotland also includes the Scottish Information Literacy Framework, information about the Scottish Information Literacy Project (formerly based at Glasgow Caledonian University 2004 – 2010) and a valuable archive of material, including the Project blog, built up over several years.

John referred to two key articles in the special issue of Library Trends in 2011 which informed the decision to create the Scottish Information Literacy Project (see above).  John stressed there is still a need to evaluate the impact of the community’s work, though progress has been made with the publication of Realising Scotland’s full potential in a digital world: A Digital Strategy for Scotland (Scottish Government, 2017).

Fake news and alternative facts – The challenge for information professionals
Jenny Foreman, Head Librarian, Scottish Government @jennyforeman
and The Information Literacy Community of Practice
Jenny presented an overview of online fake news then explored the response to fake news from the largest websites such as Google and Facebook before focusing on the response from library organisations.  This led into group discussions to explore the views and responses to fake news amongst those present.  An updated version of this presentation includes a summary of the discussions and you can read the full findings from the discussions here.

Fake News Workshop

Fake News Workshop

Keynote 2 – Securing the future: where next for our community in 2018 and beyond?
Nick Poole, Chief Executive, CILIP @NickPoole1
Nick wrapped up the conference by stating we’re a very broad profession and embedded in many organisations.  We have skills organisations will need in the coming years with a predicted increase in number of knowledge management jobs.  Though noted only 15% of English library and information science (LIS) staff are members of CILIP.

CILIP is aiming to put LIS staff at the heart of democratic society and encouraged the conference to be more inclusive when working with other information professionals.  Rather than Internet restrictions we need to create an information literate society to create a democratic society.  CILIPS will continue to work with Wikipedia and other partners.

Nick concluded by recommending the 10th anniversary issue of the Journal of Information Literacy and highlighted the following current campaigns and strategies:

Jenny Foreman, Paul Gray and Morag Higgison
July 4, 2017

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Scotland’s Digital Strategy

Scotland’s refreshed Digital Strategy was launched on 22 March by Cabinet Secretary for Finance & Constitution, Derek MacKay MSP at an event in Tontine House, Glasgow.

“The strategy sets out the Scottish Government’s vision for Scotland as a vibrant, inclusive, open and outwards looking digital nation and describes the actions we collectively need to take to ensure that Scotland anticipates and reacts positively to the changing opportunities the digital age presents.”

Information literacy per se may only be mentioned once (see extract below) but our take on the digital skills mentioned throughout the document includes not only being able to work online using technology, but also critical thinking skills, information search skills, skills to inform decision making as well as understanding privacy, security and keeping safe online.

“Digital allows information to be transmitted faster and further than ever before, enabling us to develop new communities of interest and opening up new opportunities for education, commerce, creativity, friendship and leisure. In doing so however, it raises new challenges around security, information literacy and privacy”.

Jenny Foreman
March 24, 2017