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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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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