For this year’s CILIP Cymru/Wales conference the key theme of leadership was interspersed throughout most of the sessions during the two days. Before I go into detail, most of the conference presentations are available on the CILIP Wales website.
Leadership was approached from various different angles during the conference, including personal journeys, a panel of speakers on leadership and advocacy, as well as workshops covering the first steps and the next steps in leadership and one on leading on campaigns for libraries (Voices for the Library and Public Libraries News). There was also a light-hearted look at leadership in the format of the Apprentice led by Annie Mauger.
There were also talks showcasing how Welsh libraries in different sectors (higher education, public libraries) are collaborating and leading on a number of projects, and a talk on the new central library in Birmingham which is a huge project with many challenging issues to overcome, including finding funding for a gap of £34m and losing staff. The library will open in late 2013 and will apparently be the largest public library development in Europe.
Keeping a learning diary was mentioned in a couple of the sessions (including one by colleague Denise Lavis who has some diaries available). It’s not something I’ve considered before although I have diaries for other aspects of my life! This is something I may look into.
On the whole, the key messages about leadership seemed to be:
- know yourself and be yourself
- stay true to your values/ethics and be authentic
- look for, and take, learning opportunities that arise in different disguises
- challenge yourself – step outside the comfort zone every now and again
- listen and engage with people
- be inspirational and confident in order to make people want to be led by you.
The various workshop sessions proved popular with some people saying they were torn between which ones to attend – the sign of a good programme!
I followed the tweets (#CILIPW12) during the conference and could see that many delegates were impressed by all the library activity going on in Wales – a point well made by the Minister for Housing, Regeneration and Heritage in his speech opening the conference. He highlighted libraries’ role in contributing to different strategies including child poverty, but also emphasised how libraries were a duty of government and will remain so in Wales. His supportive message seemed to go down well with the people tweeting!
The final session of the conference kept us on our toes given its technical content (on mashups and open + accessible data) but Owen Stephens explained things relatively simply. There’s definitely potential for libraries to engage with mashups (essentially when you take two different data sets and make a third – with added value), including one of his examples of a mashup of his family’s library borrowing record and the amount of money they have saved rather than buying the books. The interested may like to look at the mashed library conferences or the JISC work at Discovery with museums, archives and libraries.
The Welsh Books Council hosted their Tir na n-Og award for the English language book at an evening reception, held in Cardiff central library, with the award being won by Jenny Sullivan for her novel Full Moon.
My personal benefits
As always I like to catch up with people at events and conferences and it was nice to be able to do this again, including old and new friends and colleagues. I also took the step of chatting to some ‘Twitter friends’ – people I only know in the virtual world. There were many people that I saw but didn’t get chance to say hello to though. Longer breaks needed?
For myself I learnt the most from Phil Bradley’s session on personal learning networks and have several follow-up actions from that. I was also flattered when chatting to him afterwards when he said he learns things from me (part of his talk revolved around the fact that you can learn from people all the time, not just in formal training days). I think some people may have been over-awed by the range of his presence on social networks, but don’t forget that Phil is an Internet consultant – it’s his job to be on the Internet all the time! One useful piece of advice he gave was to not try to use all the social (learning) networks all the time to keep up with everyone. He gave the analogy that we don’t keep in touch with all our friends and families all the time – use different social networking tools to engage with different people at different frequency levels. He also said we can be cyber nomadic: move on if you don’t like a particular channel. And if you’re concerned about information overload, he emphasised that your personal learning network (the people you engage with) acts as a filter for the information.
For librarians the key for taking advantage of all this is that people tend to go to other people to ask them questions or find out something – librarians need to be in those places where people are asking the questions. And people are asking questions in their social networks.
Finally, I immensely enjoyed my 30 minute jog along the river Taff on the Taff Trail (a cycling & walking route) on Thursday at 5pm which helped clear my head after a day of talks and energised me for the evening and the next day. (I know, I’m just too virtuous.)
Regular CILIP Cymru/Wales conference attendees will have spotted that this year’s conference was not in Llandrindod Wells but in a glam hotel in the dizzy heights of the capital city of Wales, a stone’s throw away from the splendid Cardiff central library. The change in location worked well in some respects as more people could travel by public transport, more day delegates from libraries in the south could attend, and, it was attractive to people from over the border. The downside was that there were very few delegates from North Wales.
So a ‘well done’ to the CILIP Cymru committee who organised the conference and helped out on the day, and to Mandy Powell, CILIP’s Policy Officer for Wales, in particular. And if you want to see some pretty pictures from the conference check out the Flickr pages of Sarah Barker (for lighting and hotel fetures), Simon Barron, and the official set also by Sarah.