Tuesday, 17 July 2018

CILIP Conference 2018: Highlights by Librarianship student Kathryn Aylward

I was absolutely gutted that I never quite got my application in for the LILAC Conference bursary, so when the opportunity to go to another, even bigger conference came up, I was determined to go – and I am so glad that I did! It was an action-packed two and a half days of fish ‘n’ chips, seagull attacks, fairground rides, and of course, lots of librarian shenanigans.

Brighton at night – taken from the pier on the way home from the Conference dinner.
Of all the sessions I attended over the two-day conference, there are three which really stand out for me. The first was the keynote by the Scottish librarian of the year, Sally Walker, who works as a children’s librarian for Orkney’s public library system. Her passion and enthusiasm for the job were so obvious that you couldn’t help but be swept up in it! Sally has achieved a lot whilst in the post, from introducing Code Clubs and LEGO/Minecraft sessions for the children, to working with disadvantaged families in the area to encourage their participation in library sessions. I came away from her talk feeling so inspired and energised by Sally’s great work, but also a little nostalgic for my first ever role as a library worker: I used to do children’s Storytimes, complete with books, crafts, and nursery rhymes, in a small branch library in York.

The second memorable session was the first parallel session of the conference, entitled ‘Networking for the rest of us’ and hosted by Jo Wood (host of the Librarians with Lives podcast – I appear on the CILIP Conference special edition!) and Michael Jones. This was part of the ‘Your Career’ track sponsored by Sheffield. I’m not a natural networker, but Jo and Mike made it so easy for us. First, they presented us with some simple but fool-proof tricks for successful networking, then they let us loose to practice! A stroke of genius on their part was providing us with board games and other activities to bond over – it meant that you had something common you were all doing and helped us stop overthinking things and just talk to each other. I feel confident in saying that this session was a roaring success for all involved, and I made some new friends which I continued to keep in touch with as the conference went on.

The end of the first day brought with it the conference dinner on Brighton pier – a perfect time to practice networking! We each received a fish ‘n’ chip dinner (or falafel for the veggies) and a wristband to ride the rides for free until 10pm. Riding a rollercoaster right on the edge of a pier, late at night, immediately after chips, is a surreal, exhilarating, mildly terrifying experience that I would heartily recommend to absolutely everyone.

The final session that really stuck with me was all about managing health information. It was presented by Steph Grey from Public Health England and Hong-Anh Nguyen from The King’s Fund, who talked about Health Information Week and Knowvember respectively. As someone with aspirations to join NHS Library and Knowledge Services, it was really interesting and useful to hear about the kind of campaigns that are being run within NHS libraries and the ways in which I could get involved in the future. Hong-Anh in particular was such a good presenter that I found myself getting really excited about knowledge management (for the first time ever)!

In addition to these three, I also attended parallel sessions on prison libraries, evidence-based practice, and information literacy, as well as keynotes from the House of Commons librarian Penny Young, journalist and broadcaster Samira Ahmed, and library activists John Chrastka and Patrick Sweeney. This shows how broad the range of sessions on offer at the CILIP Conference is – there is truly something for everyone.

In conclusion, I had a fantastic time at the CILIP Conference 2018, and I would not hesitate to recommend it to any future Information School students!

Kathryn Aylward
MA Librarianship student

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