I was fortunate to be the person from CyMAL who went to the CILIP Scotland conference, held in Dundee 11-12th June this year. The theme of ‘enriching society’ featured throughout many of the talks and the keynote speakers were thought provoking and diverse. [NB presentations are available on the CILIP Scotland website.]
I particularly liked Rosemary Goring’s phrases that libraries are “tangible expressions of democracy in action” and that libraries are about “entitlement and enlightenment”.
Steve Wheeler also made several thought-provoking points. I think I agree with him about ICT residents and ICT visitors rather than ‘digital native’. This theory has been created by David White and reflects the fact that some people are happy to inhabit ICT all the time, whilst others just drop in every now and again. There are many children/teenagers/young people who aren’t confident with ICT so the digital native theory isn’t always helpful.
Even if the session wasn’t about digital inclusion, mobile devices or social media, these topics often popped up. There were several examples of libraries taking mobile devices (tablets etc) out to groups in the local community, often those who are digitally excluded (care homes, elderly homes, children in long term hospital units etc), and not only bringing the library to them, but taking the person into the wider world of email, the Internet and reading on electronic devices.
I also attended a couple of sessions on library apps – very apposite (sorry, couldn’t resist that) as the National Library of Wales is leading on a small project to research the potential for a cross-library sector app in Wales. Public libraries and academic libraries in Scotland are experimenting with apps and it’s interesting to see what features are used most, what’s innovative and different e.g. more than just linking to the catalogue, and whether they’re used much! If you’re interested in library apps have a look at the JISC mobile infrastructure project or the m-libraries project blog.
The Scottish forerunner to the Welsh Information Literacy Project was formally launched as a Community of Practice (CoP) at the conference – check out their new website (which collates the information from their previous websites) and sign up to be part of the CoP.
These ‘speed surgeries’ opened each day of the conference, and I liked the quick 15 minute introduction to a project or topic. It was enough time to get a flavour of the project, pick up contact details if interested in following up further, and meant you could get round three sessions in the 45 minute slot. As I wasn’t familiar with the people giving the sessions a name/project title flag or sign on the table would have helped though. Rhona Arthur was very good on the stopwatch and whistle!
Similarities with Wales
I was struck several times by the similarities between Scotland and Wales. For example, the further education college sector in Scotland will reduce in size, from 43 to about 12/13 colleges in the next couple of years. This is similar to what is occurring in both the further and higher education sector in Wales. And of course many of the library opportunities and challenges are similar.
And like Wales, this year the organisers trialled a different city, moving north to Dundee (whilst the CILIP Wales conference moved south). Both had record numbers of attendees. You can read some Scottish perspectives on the conference here and here.
The hotel was also a good conference venue and I was able to make the most of the spa facilities by enjoying an early morning swim one morning, and a revitalising Indian head massage after day one. It was also good to meet new and old Scottish colleagues, make some new Twitter connections and experience the serious (and slightly less serious) awards after the conference dinner.