Wednesday, 19 July 2017

CILIP Conference 2017: 'The Possibilities are Endless' - Thoughts by Erica Brown

For the opening keynote of the CILIP conference I was careful to take an aisle seat in the lecture theatre as I knew I would have to leave early for a telephone interview. This had an unexpected benefit.

To my surprise and delight Dr Carla Hayden, Librarian of Congress, was making her way up the steps, chatting with delegates as she went.

When was near me, she called out “Any students here?” My hand went up! She came over and asked me what I was going to do – I told her I had a telephone interview that morning. She smiled warmly and told me “You’ll be fine!” and not to worry about slipping out.

Keynote speakers are supposed to set the tone for the rest of the conference, and Carla Hayden did this in her walk up those lecture theatre steps. Her warmth and supportive attitude were shared by all people I talked with over the two days of the conference.

In my previous career as an academic I have attended many conferences. They are usually a mixed bag – some people are friendly and collegial, some are not; some presentations are lively and engaging, some are not.

At the CILIP conference all the sessions were either practical or inspirational or thought-provoking or all of these at once.

Whilst I value all the practical learning from the conference, I think the most important thing I got out of it was a sense of the sheer range of inspirational work taking place in the library and information sector.

Before attending the conference, I expected to work in a university, because of my academic background. The conference has helped me to think beyond this. To borrow the slogan of Manchester Libraries, I left feeling that “the possibilities are endless”.

I would encourage anyone entering the profession to try and attend the conference. Conferences can be very expensive, so my thanks go to the University of Sheffield Information School for the bursary that enabled me to go.

Erica Brown
MSc Digital Library Management student

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