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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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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


CILIPS Autumn Gathering. 20th October 2016, Glasgow

Always a highlight of my work calendar, this year’s Autumn Gathering was a full and varied day with plenty of interest to this government librarian.  And of course a great place to meet those colleagues I’ve only worked with via phone or email over the year.

CILIPS has uploaded some presentations and photos from the conference and there was plenty of Tweetage to get a sense of what the hot topics were. Here are my key points from the day:

Keynote talk on ‘Library as Third Place’ – Diane Bruxvoort, University of Aberdeen Librarian and Director
Wikipedia defines Third Place as the social surroundings separate from the two usual social environments of home (“first place”) and the workplace (“second place”). Examples of third places would be environments such as cafes, clubs or parks.  Diane explained how the Sir Duncan Rice Library opened in 2012 has embraced the concept of a library as third place.

To achieve this the library is open 24/7, designed to be a low stress place and one of interaction. Staff have also redesigned some services such as inter-library loans to make them easier for students to access.  Unpretentious and playful and a home from home to a diverse population.  It also plays host to student societies and community groups.

Diane explained these changes are not revolutionary. They are attitudinal, cultural and pervasive and library staff must innovate and adapt to continue developing the library as a 3rd place.  Though it does represent a cultural change and challenge for library staff.

Free for all: open licensing at the National Library of Scotland – Gill Hamilton, Digital Access Manager, National Library of Scotland
Open licensing allows people to reuse your content and redistribute under the same licence you used.  The NLS has done this using Creative Commons licences.  Gill explained NLS’s approach to open licensing was ad hoc:

  • NLS content digitised by the Internet Archive  – licensed under Creative Commons
  • NLS out of copyright images made available via Flickr Commons
  • Europeana – NLS contributed content to these collections

There was inconsistency in metadata and licences and access, and moral issues around applying copyright on digitised works where the originals are out of copyright.  Legislation came in that helped remove barriers and improve access, and in 2014 NLS introduced a licensing policy and streamlined down to 3 Creative Commons licences.  The policy was introduced making content open to all, and now part of the role of the NLS Wikimedian in Residence is to push to make more content open.

Coding in Libraries – Dr. Martin Goodfellow, Coder in Residence, Glasgow Life
Martin gave a very interesting overview of this work from its start 4 years ago to date.  He began by explaining the process of coding can help you in other areas of life and recommended Algorithms to Live By: The Computer Science of Human Decisions.

This work is about teaching young people in Glasgow how to use technology in digital making classes through CoderDojo in 12 clubs in Glasgow. Held in public libraries and using libraries PCs. These have been very popular and have waiting lists.  Martin also assured us you don’t need to know about coding to run one. Just be enthusiastic and happy to work with young people.

Dojos cover basic programming languages Scratch and Python aswell as web technologies, cyber security, physical computing (equipment such as a Raspberry Pi).  Apart from the physical equipment all the tools used are open source and accessed through a browser.

Some of the initiatives include participating in National Coding Week on 19/9/16, the Hour of Code project, coding music using Sonic Pi as part of Celtic Connections, Wee write! – coding for creative writing and Build it Scotland using SketchUp and printing 3D models created on Minecraft.

Glasgow Life is planning to set up clubs in all Glasgow public libraries and introduce to school libraries.  However clubs do need volunteers to run them, but Martin explained the work he does talking and presenting about Glasgow Life’s coding projects encourages volunteers to come forward – especially from colleges and universities.

Decade of Commemorations programme – Ann Duffy and Linda Ming, Northern Ireland Libraries
Based in the Mellon Centre for Migration Studies this was a very powerful and fascinating insight into Northern Ireland Libraries programme – a decade of commemorations from 1912 to 1921.

Financed by the Together: Building a United Community fund it includes exhibitions, talks, displays, workshops, drama and music telling story of Ireland’s past and it’s shared heritage.  Bringing people together, creating discussion in an inclusive and respectful way.  Just one example of this is a reader development project – 2 cities 1 book. Bringing readers groups in Belfast and Dublin together.

I don’t think I’ve seen such a shining demonstration of the positive role libraries play in community life.  Anyone wanting to discover more about some of this work should check out The Library Men of WW1 and Living Legacies 1914-18.

Although acknowledging some political, cultural and religious barriers remain, Ann and Linda described how the programme has resulted in greater community engagement and increased footfall in libraries with communities talking together and opportunities for them to work together.  It’s good to hear another 5 years of commemorations are planned.

Information Literacy in Scotland – Cleo Jones and Jenny Foreman, The Information Literacy Community of Practice
The Information Literacy Community of Practice (IL CoP) 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.

This workshop introduced delegates to the IL CoP and how it is working to progress the Scottish Government’s Smarter Strategic Objective and SLIC’s strategy for Public Libraries in Scotland 2015-2020 focusing on 5 of the strategy’s strategic aims:

  • Reading, literacy and learning
  • Digital inclusion
  • Economic wellbeing
  • Social wellbeing
  • Culture and creativity

Delegates were then asked to provide examples of how libraries are helping to achieve each of these aims using a ‘speed dating’ format.  I have a declared interest here as a member of the IL CoP  I helped facilitate the workshop – and it was fast and furious with lots of examples for IL CoP members to collate.  It was personally really exciting to hear all the work libraries are doing to achieve these aims and we hope to share the results soon.  In the meantime please check out the workshop presentation.

Final keynote – Libraries, Scottish Book Trust and key national agendas – Marc Lambert, CEO, Scottish Book Trust
For me, a key message of the conference was how libraries underpin culture and Marc summed that up perfectly.  Starting with asking if the Chauvet cave paintings could be considered a library, then moving to Scotland’s first lending library at Innerpeffray before describing what the Scottish Book Trust is doing now through Bookbug and the First Minister’s Reading Challenge to contribute to SLIC’s strategy for Public Libraries in Scotland 2015-2020.

Marc pointed out these programmes are funded by the Scottish Government and national ambitions should motivate us to develop literacy skills.

Marc also stated the role of libraries in 21st century still needs to be addressed and asked what kind of collaboration between government, the Scottish Book Trust, SLIC and others will be needed in future to deliver programmes.

Paul Gray
October 23, 2016

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Making Connections – CILIPS Conference. 6th-7th June 2016, Dundee

The CILIPS annual conference is always a great networking event, with a great diversity of events.  This year was no exception and please do check out the conference presentations and talks.

I attended the conference on 6th June.  Here are my key bullet points from that day:

Keynote 1: Colin Cook, Digital Public Services and Business Transformation, Scottish Government

  • People have to overcome reluctance of using Internet to gain more of what is on offer – e.g. public services.
  • 82% of scots have Internet access, and highest level of digital skills in UK.
  • Scottish Government’s integrated digital strategy. Investing in infrastructure – super fast broadband to everyone in lifetime of the current session of the Scottish Parliament.
  • Invested in digital skills training. In future Librarians need to understand how to code inc. civil servants. We all need a high level of digital skills.
  • Participation. SLIC strategy for libraries highlights participation and the Scottish Government supports digital participation charter. Scottish Government should lead by example by ensuring its staff have a basic level of digital skills.
  • 3rd sector leading on this and this work is a vital part of tackling inequality – i.e. access to services. If we don’t, we reinforce inequalities. Michael Foreman has done research in this and has written about role of libraries to support this.
  • How libraries fit in – public wifi access, help accessing Internet and digital skills and information literacy and building confidence. Libraries need to role model digital skills.
  • Digital world has implications for everyone. Digital ecosystem – identifying common processes for digital services so we can spend more resource adding value at the front line.
  • Digital skills important for democratic engagement i.e. independence referendum campaign.

Stewart Bain, Orkney libraries. Twitter Tips @orkneylibrary

  • Orkney has 2 libraries and a mobile library
  • Joined Twitter in June 09
  • Tweets should have a Human voice – don’t be dull
  • Library users used Twitter to ask Orkney libraries questions
  • Use what you have and get staff involved. People like to see behind the scenes.
  • Hard to judge what will be popular
  • Be culturally aware, and aware of what’s on the news to get users’ interest
  • Friendly rivalry with Shetland Library – Orkney’s Twitter account was verified before Shetland’s
  • Use polling and emojis
  • Promote library events – gets people in and they discover what else you do
  • JK Rowling followed Orkney Libraries on Twitter, then came to their book club. 2.9m impressions on Twitter when she came.
  • Other authors came for Scottish Book Week
  • Finally, Snapchat and Whatsapp aren’t quite mainstream in libraries yet. A good time for a Library to start doing something similar with these.

Jenny Peachy, Senior Policy Officer, Carnegie UK Trust
Carnegie Library Lab case study – Digital Toybox

  • Carnegie UK is re-engaging with libraries
  • Library lab – funding package to start an innovative project in your library.  Now on second cohort

David Hayden, Acting Partnership and Information Manager, City of Edinburgh Libraries

  • Digital toyboxes in Edinburgh Central Library
  • Applied for £12k to run this, plus mentor support, online learning and collaborating with partners.
  • Inspiration from Makerspaces
  • Develop stronger links with high schools
  • Each bit of equipment easy to use and found staff to engage with it. Contents needed to be different, never seen in the library before and capture kids attention. Staff had to learn how it worked – using the toolkit – and mentor meetings.
  • Pilot sessions – rolled it our as 6 boxes, each on a different theme. Rotating 4 week plan, but became a logistical challenge. The boxes contain:
  • Electronic bits – from
  • UP! Mini 3D Printer
  • Lego Mindstorms – for coding
  • Synth kits (music) from
  • Engaged over 500 kids in schools, clubs and various festivals. Mini maker clubs in 3 libraries and encouraged problem solving skills. Kids also encouraged to use BBC build it Scotland – inc. building landmarks in Minecraft.
  • Reflections – fear of freedom, required mentor support, image is important to kids as is personal development.
  • Check out the Ideas Box too. Used by libraries in refugee camps.
  • There’s also a static Makerspace in Edinburgh to develop innovation across Edinburgh libraries and expand knowledge sharing across Edinburgh.  The target age range is 12-16, mostly 12 and 13.

Tesco Bank Summer reading challenge Scotland

  • An initiative from Tesco Bank and supported by the Reading Agency.
  • Literacy levels of children improved, sometimes outperforming peers after taking this 6 book challenge. Solus provided an app to deliver this which is launching this year.

Keynote 2: James Robertson – The news where you are: culture and libraries in Scotland in the 21st Century

James’ closing keynote was very insightful and entertaining.  One stand-out point he made was as newspaper circulation crashes, more than ever people need skills to appraise the information they see from other news sources.

Paul Gray
July 20, 2016