Thursday, 25 July 2019

CILIP Conference 2019, by Librarianship Student Elle Codling

On the 3rd and 4th July this year, I attended the 2019 CILIP conference in Manchester. In return for representing the Information School on the exhibition stand and talking to delegates about my experiences as a student, I got to attend a full programme of talks, presentations, and panel discussions about the world of libraries and information in the UK.

Me at the Information School’s stand, looking excited to get going! (Photo by Sheila Webber: https://twitter.com/sheilayoshikawa/status/1146166213657145347)
I’m particularly interested in school libraries, so the panel session on ‘Great school and college libraries’ by Lucas Maxwell (a former School Librarian of the Year), Corinne Walker (CoLRiC), and Alison Tarrant (School Library Association) was a highlight for me. There were some great tips for engaging both teachers and students in the school library (coffee and doughnuts is apparently the key to getting other staff members on board!), and Alison shared some fascinating findings from the recent #GreatSchoolLibraries campaign survey. I felt pretty inspired and enthusiastic about the sector I’m about to enter!

Tweets from the conference (https://twitter.com/bookish_fish/status/1146725618358394881
I also attended session on a range of other issues across the different library sectors, including ‘Don’t be afraid of social media’ for advice on using Twitter and other platforms personally and professionally through your career. A panel on ‘Diversity, books and reading’ also stood out, as it raised a lot of issues in the current children’s publishing industry. Did you know that in 2017, only 5.58% of children’s book creators were people of colour? It was great to hear about what is already being done to change these statistics. Overall, the broad range of topics discussed at the conference really helped expand my awareness of all the different things our profession is currently working on and struggling with. Diversity – both in books and in the profession – was a really big theme at this year’s conference in particular, and there don’t seem to be any easy solutions, but knowing that people are working together and sharing knowledge is really important.

Outside of the lecture rooms, I also really enjoyed meeting lots of new people. As I’m soon going to working in a school library (which can be quite a lonely experience), it was great to meet a lot of other school librarians, many of whom gave me some great advice and tips for my future job! I was also able to meet other students on similar courses to my own, including distance learning students, and we had a lot of fun sharing our experiences. Working on the stand for the Information School gave me a chance to talk to lots of people and expand my network of librarian contacts. I also met some people I’ve followed on Twitter face-to-face for the first time, including the amazing Jo Wood, creator of the Librarians with Lives podcast. Listen out for me on her special conference edition of the podcast!

In summary, the CILIP conference was a great experience because of both the fascinating range of topics discussed in sessions, and the chance to meet members of the library and information community. Everyone I met was really friendly and had lots of advice and support to offer. If you ever have the chance to attend the CILIP conference, it will definitely give you a lot to think about, as well as some great new experiences and a whole load of useful contacts from across the library world.

Elle Codling
MA Librarianship student

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