#blogjune: post 25: A cardigan: lost property at a library conference #SLAYLG17

It was a first, I’ve never been to a library conference where the housekeeping announcement includes a lost cardigan! The lost cardigan was about the only thing that was to be as expected at this conference, given it was largely attended by librarians. I’ve never worked in children’s or school libraries so I looked forward to learning more about this world.

I was invited as CILIP’s President, and my badge said so! IMG_0541 Several people knew who I was & mentioned having read about me in Update; proof the magazine is a good communication channel.

This week has very much been Carnegie Greenaway award week. It started with the awards ceremony on Monday, & my introduction to the infectious, enthusiastic world of youth & children’s libraries. It ended with the Lightbulb Moments: Powered by Librarians conference in Harrogate. This was a co-produced conference organised by School Libraries Association – the other SLA in my life – (@uksla) and CILIP’s Youth Library Group (@youthlibraries) attended by 260 people. Mostly women, all avid readers, who do extraordinary work encouraging reading & info literacy skills in school age children.

The conference was over two days, with two dinners. I missed the first, with the theme of Harry Potter, & included a quiz. The second was attended by lots of authors & had honorary memberships announced. Always good to celebrate the sterling work done by members & supporters.

What I liked:
– The splendour of a big, Victorian hotel (the Majestic in Harrogate) faded in parts, but a glorious venue. Plenty of space, high ceilings and large rooms;
– The length of sessions, at least an 1 hour, was superb as it gave time to go into depth & really learn something especially when there was just one speaker;
– The mix of session format: some interview, plenary slots, others small group sessions.
– Mix of attendees: publishers, authors & librarians. I’ve never been to a conference where you can be a fan girl & interact with not one, but two children’s laureates.

What I felt could be improved:
– I didn’t get the impression there were many news professionals in the audience. This is something I’ve seen a lot at other conferences & would love to see here. It’s the main driver for succession planning for the profession. Does either SLA or YLG offer conference bursaries for those in the first five years of their career?
– Some people from outside the sector sharing their experience & case studies of how they’ve tackled questions like knowledge management & information literacy. I’m a firm believer in not re-inventing the wheel.

What I learnt:

  • Some great ideas from #amymckay14 on how to be a stealth librarian and get children into the library, examples included: accelerated reading club with millionaire club based on currencies around the world. KS4 story time club when you read picture books to them during exam time to relax them; for pupils joining the school visit them in their primary schools before they start secondary school and give them a book and activity sheet to complete over the summer; book quests -a great way to introduce information literacy skills such as using an index, skimming and scanning by giving questions to answer using books during library time.
  • There’s a place in schools for knowledge management. Darryl Toerien from Oakham School is doing sterling work on this by becoming the school’s curriculum expert. He’s mapping what is being taught in each subject by year group, and then ensuring there are suitable resources – in print and online- available to support the teaching. In some subjects information literacy instruction is becoming embedded in classes. It sounds very like work going on in academic liaison in higher education and in some workplace libraries. All very exciting stuff.

So all in all a great conference, in a stunning location of Harrogate, beautiful scenery on the journey there and fabulous architecture once I arrived.  Thank you to SLA and YLG for inviting me.



#blogjune: post 17: Effective awards that keep on giving ….

Everyone loves an awards ceremony. The recognition, kudos & lift you get as a winner is unbelievable. I loved watching the tweets from the Special Libraries Association (SLA) conference in Phoenix (#sla2017) over the weekend. SLA conferences open with an awards ceremony & there’s a lot of razzle dazzle as befits an American conference.

As chair of this year’s SLA awards committee I am thrilled that we had so many  nominees to choose from. I’m also pleased to have been able to make some – much needed – I believe, alterations to the awards process. Firstly, we re-jigged the timing, so nominations closed in mid-January, allowing people longer to collate nominations. Secondly, all the winners were told who had nominated them. This was a really important change I wanted to implement. Prior to this year, winners weren’t routinely told who had nominated them. That means those who nominated often went unnoticed. As both a former award winner, & someone who had coordinated several nominations, I know how nice it is to be able to thank people, & to the thanked. I’m hoping both of these changes will become
regular practice.

One of this year’s award winner’s, is Rising Star Marie Cannon (@mariegcannon), who just happens to also be President of my home chapter, SLA Europe. Congratulations Marie; you’re a star.

Marie won an SLA Europe Early Career Conference Award (ECCA) in 2012, which was co-sponsored by the Legal division. These particular ECCA’s are known in the Legal division as Paddington’s, thanks to @Librarysherpa.

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I can still remember the discussion in New Orleans in 2010, with Martha Foot & John DiGilio, Legal division past chair and chair elect, which resulted in the Legal division joining the units co-sponsoring ECCA places.

The SLA Europe ECCA programme was set up in 2007, based on a suggestion by Sylvia James and Barbara Robinson. Its aim is to raise awareness and encourage participation in SLA by those in the early stages of their career. Offering winners the chance to network and learn, while developing a pool of members to run SLA Europe in the future. The prize is an all expenses paid trip to the SLA conference in the US, and the chance for winners to participate in the conference and get the SLA bug. SLA Europe worked with several divisions to co-sponsor the awards. Since 2007 SLA Europe has worked with the following divisions: business and finance; insurance and employee benefits; academic; legal; science technology; pharmaceutical and health technology; leadership and management and competitive intelligence. Eleven years on 34 people have won the awards and the majority have become active with SLA, taking on unit positions and in Bethan Ruddock’s case being elected to the Board of Directors.

Now that sounds like a very successful awards scheme delivering on its aims. Long may it continue.


#blogjune post 13: Running for office: advice for SLA board candidates

My timeline is beginning to fill with #SLA2017 delegates getting ready for the Phoenix conference this weekend. I’m sad I won’t be attending in person this year. I will be watching from afar thanks to Twitter. SLA conferences have been an important part of my life since 2000 – the year of my first SLA conference. I’ve been to 12 of the last 17 conferences. Little did I realise in 2000 that I would get elected to the board twice & to serve as the first non-North American President in 2014. I’ve learnt so much from being involved in SLA & will miss the camaraderie of conference.

I’m also going to miss meeting the candidates running for 2018 board. Firstly, I’d like to say a big thank you to all of you for agreeing to run. You are incredibly generous people to say yes.

Having run for election twice, I know what it feels like: a combination of exhilaration, fear, excitement, fun, laughter & tears. All rolled into one & on display for four full days at conference.

Here are a few of my tips on surviving campaigning at conference:
– keep hydrated, drink lots of water;
– hand out business cards to everyone; you don’t want to take any cards home;
– to keep track of who you met when, remember to write on the back of business cards you receive,
date, time & venue. This is an important one you will thank me for it;
– hone your elevator speech on why you are running, & why someone should vote for you;
– get to know the other candidates, you will be spending a lot of time together. You will develop a bond;
– pace yourself over conference by trying to attend as many meet & greet events as possible. Talk to as many people as you can at an event. Ask questions and find out what is concerning members;
– choose a few must see sessions & try to ensure you attend for your CPD.

Post conference be sure to:
– contact everyone you met, & follow up on questions or comments;
– practice for your webinars, honing your message for why you’re a great candidate;
– keep up to date on current & emerging tends across all sectors – you don’t want to be caught out when asked about your thoughts on the impact of some news story;
– take every opportunity to interact with members;
– remember you’re doing this as a volunteer, you have to find a healthy balance between work, home life & SLA.

Enjoy the experience it’s really worthwhile. You learn lots about yourself, the organisation and how it operates. Plus you’re giving something back to the profession; for which we’re all thankful.

#blogjune post 7: Following a conference from a distance: the joys of Twitter

I’ve just returned home from the first of three conferences I’m attending (I was at #CILIPS17 and had a great time) over the next month. My head is full of ideas and thoughts, my inbox full of work things. And then I look at Twitter – a blessing and a nuisance all in one – and realise there are loads of conferences and meets ups taking place. As someone said yesterday why have we got multiple library conferences – for yesterday that was #CILIPS, #UXlibs, #Sconul2017; for today it’s #UXlibs, #Sconul2017, #BIALL2017 and @UKSCL – on at the same time?

It’s bewildering to keep up with all that’s going on and there are inevitable overlaps; makes Twitter lurking for CPD fun. What did we do in the days before social media could provide us with real time coverage of presentations and workshops? As I recall we waited to read write ups in blogs and before that in journals, which did at least mean you got a rounded view of a conference, admittedly one person’s reflection and experience. Now we can get lots of people’s views ranging from 140 characters to blog posts.

I often dip in & out of coverage of an event on Twitter. There is a definite art to tweeting a session. I’m appreciative of those who do it in a way that allows those of us not attending to feel like we are there. Even more so, if there’s a chance to interact in real time.

I had that opportunity, by chance, at lunchtime today. I came across the excellent #candocafe run by NHS East of England libraries. Thanks to Isla Kuhn for bringing this to my attention. It’s their second cafe this year; a practical example of sharing best practice between health libraries & the local public libraries.


You can read a Storify of #candocafe My favourite suggestion is to put staff expertise on the catalogue along with the books (#human library)! Such a simple idea, but with real potential in most organisations. Knowledge management meets information management.

Does anyone know of anywhere that has piloted this?






#blogjune post 6: ‘You get out of a conference as much as you put in’

I’m in Scotland at CILIP(S) conference (#CILIPS17). It’s day two so lots more sessions lined up: copyright; Macmillan Cancer Support in libraries case study, and fake news/alternative facts.

My mind is already buzzing with lots of ideas & thoughts: building digital capacity for changing roles; opportunities to do innovative UX activities; trying out incremental changes to refine and improve services.

I’ve been using my networking tips to reconnect with people & to make new contacts. I’m impressed with how vibrant the library profession is in Scotland. A good mix of attendees from a variety of sectors. Impressively there seems to be quite a few people moving from public libraries into academic sector. That’s wonderful news as it highlights how transferable our skills.

I’m now planning for post conference activities; these are equally as important as pre-conference preparation.

My next steps are:

  • writing up notes of the conference and sharing as a post;
  • considering what things to try out at work & discussing with colleagues;
  • following up with everyone I spoke with, via email, social media & Linked-in.

Does anyone have any other advice on getting the best from conferences?

Mild panic, it’s two weeks to SLA’s conference …

SLA 2015

I’ve got my packing to complete and my schedule to sort. I was relieved to see others on Twitter also expressing mild panic that the conference had suddenly crept up on them.

I won’t repeat my travelling advice post from last year. All I will say is the advice rings true and I speak now as a seasoned traveller having been around the world, quite literally last year, attending 11 conferences and 25 library vists.

I also wrote a post on preparing for SLA conference a couple of years ago. This has plenty of useful advice on what to bring and how to get the best out of conference. My three top pieces of advice are:

1081068_business_cardBring plenty of business cards (if you don’t have work cards, or are between jobs, get some printed up) make sure you include your contact information: LinkedIn profile, preferred email address, blog address etc. Give them to anyone you’re introduced to. As soon as you meet someone and get their card, make a note about where you met them and what you talked about on the reverse of their card. It’ll make it easier for you when sending follow up emails when you get home.

Pack comfortable shoes and bring layers – it’s always colder than you expect in convention centres.shoes picture


For effortless networking plan your introductions – you’ll be meeting a lot of people and will need a succinct and memorable way to describe yourself and what you do. You’ll be more confident if you’ve prepared your answers to questions such as where you work, what you do and what you’re aiming to get out of conference.

For the first time in three years I’ve not got a packed schedule with official SLA activities as I’m now SLA’s past president. So I can actually attend sessions this year. I’ve decided to approach my conference experience adopting some advice from Ian Wooler on getting the most out of attending a conference.

Ian’s checklist of tasks pre, during and post conference is really helpful. It stresses the importance of planning, having clear, measurable objectives and constantly reviewing what you’ve learnt.Plus of course planning how you’ll share your learning with others on your return. I’m hoping this year to do more blogging on what I hear, see and learn, so watch this space.