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CILIP Conference 2018: Highlights by PhD student Catherine Hoodless

I was fortunate enough to receive one of the Information School’s student bursaries to attend the 2018 CILIP Conference, which this year was held in a very sunny Brighton. This was my first experience of the conference, which is one of the main events for library, knowledge and information professionals in the UK, and it certainly did not disappoint. The programme consisted of a variety of interesting sessions and keynote speakers that showcased some of the important and diverse work being carried out in the sector. Below are just a few of my highlights of the conference:


  • Penny Young, House of Commons Librarian, opened the conference with a fascinating keynote speech on the history of the Library and how it supports MPs by providing them with the information they require to do their work. Not only did it provide an intriguing insight into the workings and challenges of a Library I knew very little about, it also highlighted the important role information plays in democracy and how all libraries have a duty to equip the public with the ability to become active citizens.
  • Following directly on from this, Sally Walker gave an impassioned keynote speech, which focused on her professional journey to become Scotland’s first Library and Information Professional of the Year. From admitting to suffering from “imposter syndrome” for years, to the amazing work she does as Children’s Librarian for Orkney Library, her speech was inspirational. From the reaction on Twitter, the quote she ended with, from the children’s book Pax by Sara Pennypacker, clearly resonated with many individuals around the room – “I’m exactly where I should be, doing exactly what I should be doing, and that is peace.”
  • I found the breakout session “Blurring the boundaries: the reshaping of library spaces” particularly interesting because of its relevance to my PhD research. While my research does not deal specifically with changing library spaces, what stood out to me from this session was how professional roles and ways of working are having to change in order to complement new library designs. 
  • EveryLibrary, an organisation in the United States working to protect public funding of libraries, gave an extremely engaging and thought-provoking talk, which resulted in calls for a similar, targeted approach to securing library funding in the UK.
  • Finally, I can’t talk about my highlights without mentioning the drinks reception – riding the Crazy Mouse on the end of Brighton pier definitely made for a memorable conference moment!


Overall, I would highly recommend this conference to anyone in the library, knowledge and information professions and would like to thank the Information School for providing me with the opportunity to attend and represent the School. It is a brilliant opportunity to connect with professionals outside your area in order to hear what they are doing and see how the work you do fits in with the wider sector. It is a conference with a real sense of community!

Catherine Hoodless
PhD student

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