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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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Introducing… quick guides to social media and searching tools

Readers of this blog may be aware that our Library has been providing links to our course materials via our blog since it launched back in July 2012.

We’re delighted to announce that we’ve now developed quick guides to a range of social media and search tools used in the Scottish Government, including collaborative tools and guidance.

So visit our Quick Guides page and get started on any social media or search tool listed.  Good luck!

Paul Gray
February 6, 2014

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The trouble with technology?

Firstly, a bit about me.  I’ve a job of two halves.  I’m part of our busy enquiries team, and when I’m on the enquiries rota I get to answer the more complex enquiries that requires a librarian’s eye, and conduct research (literature searches) on behalf of Scottish Government staff.  But I’m also interested in information literacy – teaching Scottish Government staff to do it for themselves.  So I work with Jenny Foreman and the rest of the library team on developing information skills courses and training, which all the librarians in our enquiries team deliver on a training rota.  You’ll find links to these course materials on the right of this page or via the menu at the top of this page.

Therefore my job is less about issuing books and more about using technologies to deliver services to our users.  In fact, I haven’t issued a book in years and there’s very little I can do in my job that doesn’t involve technology.  That’s been a huge shift for me over the last 10 years.

I’d like to talk about that for a bit.  ‘Librarian needs technology to do job!’.  OK.  So far, so what?  But what if I tell you I don’t like technology.  It’s true.  OK.  Let me qualify that.  I don’t like technology – I like what it can do.

My jobs in libraryland have always been about purpose.  I’ve just used the tools available to achieve the purpose as efficiently as possible.  As my jobs have changed so have the tools.  As I’ve been required to learn the job, I’ve had to discover and learn the right tools to do the job well.

It just so happens that now almost all of these tools are technologies, and increasingly, social media technologies.  Nothing I can do about that – they just are.  So, I’ve had to find them, learn them, and yes – it’s been in turns easy, difficult, enabling, frustrating, wonderful, time consuming and time saving.

They’ve made it possible for our Library to launch whole new services (check out some at Library on the Web) and they’ve also led me down dead-ends as I hit various workplace IT problems. 

The trouble with technology?  Technology isn’t always easy.  I’ve had to spend time finding and learning every tool I use.  But I tell you, we couldn’t have done what we have for our users without it.

Paul Gray
August 13, 2012