Early Career Librarians: CILIP* Conference 2019

Earlier this summer, two of our colleagues attended this year’s CILIP conference in Manchester, and we asked them if they would be willing to share their experiences and thoughts. If you’d like to know some of the hot-topics in librarianship, get a feel for the personal and professional approaches of our colleagues behind the desk, or just want that reassurance that you’re not alone in experiencing first (or 101st) conference nerves, read on…

*CILIP: Chartered Institute for Information and Library Professionals (https://www.cilip.org.uk/

Initial thoughts

Tim Buckle, Acquisitions Co-ordinator, University Library and Collections

“This was my first time at the CILIP Conference, and this was possible thanks to a bursary from the Community, Diversity Equality Group (CDEG) and Durham University Library for allowing me the time to go.

It was the first time that I had applied for a bursary, which was a learning experience for me. It was also the first time that I was meeting some other librarians who up until now I only knew from Twitter and LinkedIn.

There was a huge range of sessions to attend, with keynote speakers, panel sessions and lots of opportunities to network with other library professionals. I’m sure I am not alone in thinking the whole networking experience can be quite daunting, but the atmosphere and welcome from the moment I arrived was very friendly and very relaxed.“

Kelly Hetherington, Repository Assistant, University Library and Collections

“I attended the CILIP conference on a student bursary from The University of Sheffield, where I am studying for an MA in Library and Information Management. “

CILIP Conference 2019 Manchester (Wednesday) Photo Credit: ©Martyn Hicks
CILIP Conference 2019 Manchester (Wednesday, Keynote Audience Pic) Photo Credit: ©Martyn Hicks

Opening Keynote: Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Ethics

Tim “Kriti Sharma’s opening keynote on AI and ethics was interesting. It was refreshing to hear about the positives of AI – not just the negatives aspects that we hear in the media! This also marked the start of the theme of diversity and equality at the conference. Whether it was through the challenges Kriti faced in her own career, or all of us taking responsibility for our actions and knowing that what we say and do has consequences – even in relation to AI. It was a great way to start the conference.”

[Kriti Sharma is the vice president of artificial intelligence and ethics at Sage, and has previously worked with Google and Barclays, as well as acting in an advisor role at both the United Nations and the UK Governments Centre for Data Ethics and Innovation]

Keynote: Librarianship and Identity: Professionalism in a Changing World

Tim “Liz Jolly’s Keynote ‘Librarianship and Identity: Professionalism in a Changing World’ was a real highlight, and if I’m honest it was the one that had the biggest impact on me. It made me realise I haven’t really stopped to look at my own career, how I got where I am and what I have learnt so far. Reflective learning is a skill I want to develop further, and this keynote made me recognise that my life experiences are just as important as qualifications and work experience. Liz talked about vision and values, and used phrases such as “finding your pole star” and “knowing your line in the sand”. Such phrases stuck with me and have helped me think about what my values are and where I want go with my career.”

[Liz Jolly is the current Chief Librarian at The British Library, and was previously the Director of Student and Library Services at Teesside University.]

Keynote: Equality and Diversity in Librarianship

Kelly “Reflecting on the conference, the main thing I have taken away relates to its focus on equality and diversity and that librarianship is overwhelming white… 97% of information professionals in the UK identify as white which is not representative of our society which is 88% (CILIP, 2017).  In her keynote speech, Hong-Anh Nguyen (@DeweyDecibelle) used a quotation from Ed Yong:

“I knew that I care about equality so I deluded myself into thinking that I wasn’t part of the problem. I assumed that my passive concern would be enough. Passive concern never is.”
“I knew that I care about equality so I deluded myself into thinking that I wasn’t part of the problem. I assumed that my passive concern would be enough. Passive concern never is.” Ed Yong. Photo Credit: Kelly Hetherington

This struck a chord with me – equality is important to me – but what do I actually do about it? It challenged me to return to Durham and think about how to start discussions about how we can be more inclusive.”

Tim “Diversity, equality and inclusion was a key theme to this year’s conference, and one of the main reasons why I wanted to attend. Running the University’s LGBT+ Staff and Post Graduate Network, I feel as if I have some experience with diversity and equality – but I am also aware that I am not an expert, and that there is more I can do. This keynote, which included information about the LGBT+ archive at Manchester Central Library, looked at diversity and what we are doing in our everyday jobs to be more inclusive. In addition, the Diversity and Inclusion panel looked at current issues in the profession and shared experiences from members. At times it was tough to hear (and I came close to tears) but I was grateful to all the panelists for making time to share their experiences.”

CILIP Conference 2019 Manchester.
CILIP Conference 2019 Manchester. “Diversity in the Profession Panel Session” Photo Credit: ©Martyn Hicks

[Hong-Anh Nguyen is the Information Centre Manager at The King’s Fund, with previous roles across public and academic sector library and archives]

Don’t be Afraid of Social Media

Tim “This first breakout session I attended was hosted by Mike Jones (University of Winchester) and Jo Wood (Cafcass). Social media is something we all think we know how to use, but at the same time we all have questions about how we use it. Finding the balance between personal and professional is difficult, and this workshop gave me more confidence regarding how I was using platforms to present myself, and how to use platforms better professionally.”

[Find Jo Wood’s podcast at https://soundcloud.com/joanna-wood-952735673]

Higher Education Developments Seminar: Knowledge Exchange and Open Access

Kelly “Working on the open access team, I was keen to attend the ‘Higher education developments seminar’.

CILIP Conference 2019 Manchester. Photo Credit: ©Martyn Hicks
CILIP Conference 2019 Manchester. Photo Credit: ©Martyn Hicks

Kate Robinson (University Librarian, University of Bath) discussed KEF (Knowledge Exchange Framework).  She didn’t seem to be advocating it, simply reminding us that… it’s coming… and it is perhaps an opportunity for libraries to be involved.

The Knowledge Exchange Framework is a Research England initiative to:

‘increase efficiency and effectiveness in use of public funding for knowledge exchange (KE), to further a culture of continuous improvement in universities by providing a package of support to keep English university knowledge exchange operating at a world class standard.’


“Ways we could be involved in the library include providing KEF metrics, open access for industry professionals without journal subscriptions and altmetrics.  There was definitely some cynicism about how this would work from the audience as one of the principles suggest that university research could benefit industry financially and that financial reward could then be fed back into the institutions – but will this work in reality?

Anne Rossiter (Executive Director, SCONUL) (@SCONUL) made a bold prediction that open access would have taken over from journal subscriptions in 10 years.  However, I think here in the Open Access team at Durham University, we recognise that it will not be a straightforward journey for scholarly communication to become fully open access. She predicted that the library would be involved in ‘pushing more research outputs’ in the future, and we would need to spend time on advocacy.  This is something we already do at Durham – one example being use of Twitter @DROdurham to promote the work of our academics and I am excited to be involved with this in the future!”

Take-home thoughts

Tim “Everyone takes away different things from a conference. For me, I have learnt to look at myself and what I currently bring to my work and profession and what I still have to bring. It gave me the confidence to start reflective learning – which is something I haven’t done before, but now can see the benefit of. It also gave me confidence regarding how I present myself in person and online. I realise it is OK to bring ‘all of myself’ to work, and the benefits that can bring to my work and those around me.”

Kelly “I felt really inspired by the “Library Carpentry: software and data skills for library and information professionals”.  This session was delivered by Jez Cope (The British Library) and Antony Groves (University of Sussex). I really believe that information professionals need to brush up their data skills, and library carpentry is a series of lessons that help do just that. There has been some early discussion about how we could facilitate some sessions here at Durham through the SDG and I am attending a session about creating a library carpentries network at the Northern Collaboration in September – so watch this space and please get in touch with me if you are interested in taking part. “

[A full programme for the conference can be found here]


Leave a Reply

Powered by WordPress.com.

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: