Wednesday, 19 July 2017

CILIP Conference 2017: Highlights by Hannah Beckitt

I was fortunate enough to receive a student bursary from the University of Sheffield to attend the CILIP Conference 2017 in Manchester. As a distance-learner I was excited to finally meet some iSchool staff and fellow students in person! It didn’t disappoint, and I really enjoyed talking to attendees on the iSchool stand, sharing my experiences of managing full-time work with intensive study.

The conference was crammed with interesting keynotes, my favourites were:
  • Dr Carla Hayden (Librarian of Congress) addressed us as her ‘British Peeps’ and described her job interview with Barack Obama. She was passionate about engaging the public with library services, particularly ones that are traditionally research institutions, and heralded the British Library as an example of getting this right. Dr Hayden called upon the younger and older generations of librarians to work together, bridge the gap and benefit from each other’s skillsets. 
  • Luciano Floridi (Professor of Philosophy and Ethics of Information at the University of Oxford) talked about the philosophy of information science and its relationship with ‘power’ in todays’ society. He advocates a more questioning society, and in the game of Q & A, we need a society where more questioning is allowed/ encouraged, but answers don’t always have to be given. We are not there yet. 

My workshop highlights:
  • Terry Kendrick’s popular workshop on quick-win marketing. It is important to know users in depth and not just at a superficial level, there will be different sub-groups within your users and marketing should be targeted accordingly. We need to get into their lives rather than their job – what is going to grab their attention and be worth their time? Marketing is not about telling users things, it is about getting their attention! Relationship building is key, and questionnaires are generally a waste of time. We aren’t good at communicating with various stakeholder groups. We need to prioritise and target specific groups rather than trying to cast our net wide and be available to everyone. 
  • The Breakfast seminar sponsored by Sheffield iSchool was full of lively debate. Helen from the New Library Professionals Network talked about why they set up the network and the views of NLP they have met. In general, I found much of the criticism did not apply to the LISM course at Sheffield and I kept wanting to stand up and shout defiantly! I politely tweeted my indignation instead! 
  • Listening to David McMenemy talking about ‘Our Common Values”, he deliberately raised controversial ethical considerations e.g. Ranganathan’s core values are western-biased; should we use learning analytics in universities to collect data through surveillance of students learning habits?; internet filtering - there was no debate, it just happened, and it is censorship. Apparently CILIP’s Royal Charter is actually very good and we should all read it! 
  • The Information Standard with Jane Fox and Jonathan Berry. (This is different to the ‘Accessible Information Standard’, which is a legal requirement to provide information in different formats if people need it). Organisations can apply to be assessed and awarded the Information Standard. 43-61% of working age adults do not understand the health information that we produce. The Information Standard logo gives confidence to consumers that the information provided is evidence-based, suitable for its audience, and has been through a quality assurance process. Most NHS organisations are following the 6 principles anyway so it shouldn’t be an onerous process to join the scheme. See www.healthliteracy.org.uk and www.healthliteracyplace.org.uk for curated resources. 

Thanks to The University of Sheffield iSchool for my bursary. I was able to network with colleagues old and new; be thoroughly inspired; and feel excited about embarking on a career in the library and information profession.

Hannah Beckitt
MA Library and Information Services Management student

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