A conference of quotes

Picture of 5 women

Welsh Librarians of the Year, shortlisted candidates. Photo by Dan Staveley, on Flickr

Last month (already?!), I attended the annual CILIP Wales 2013 library conference, which was again held in Cardiff. This year the theme was collaboration although I would say the informal theme was ‘quotes’.

Many speakers used quotes* from inspirational writers/speakers/gurus etc in their presentations, and one phrase, by the first speaker, became the unofficial quote of the conference, picked up by other speakers over the course of the two days. This was Liz McGettigan’s phrase ‘digital by desire’. You can watch a video of her talk about Edinburgh public libraries on the CILIP Wales blog.

She sees the council [and UK government] approach as ‘digital by default’ as not very helpful, whereas the library view is ‘digital by desire’ and encouraging and helping people over time to want to engage digitally. The Edinburgh usage statistics are very interesting and show a dramatic increase in both virtual and physical use in the last couple of years since their increase in social engagement.

A few other blog posts have reviewed the conference (NLW person, WHELF, school librarian’s view and she’s also CILIP vice president), and some of the keynote speakers were recorded so you can see their talks on the CILIP Wales blog, and presentations from many of the sessions are also on the CILIP conference pages, so I won’t do a session-by-session review but try to pick out some of the highlights for me that hopefully you’ll find interesting and/or useful.

Maxine Melling said that it’s important to “get the little things right” when going into a partnership, merger or collaborative project, which in her case included overcoming different attitudes towards coffee break times and such like. I believe this is important in other aspects of work too. For example, good customer service of getting a person’s name right, remembering to ask about their poorly relative/pet (a relative who works on a check-out does this and it really makes people’s day that you’ve remembered something about them), ensuring that basic processes work (like the catalogue, or the self-issue machine). In conferences, it seems that if you provide sufficient fancy cakes almost everyone is happy with the entire conference! I believe that if we show our customers that we can get the small things right, they’ll trust us to be getting the bigger stuff right too. It seems counter to the phrase “don’t stress the small stuff”, so perhaps it’s not an excessive focus only on the small stuff.

Rebecca Davies talked about the ‘workouts’ we can do as information professionals to develop our career and entrepreneurial skills. She outlined three things: borrow from other professionals; challenge yourself and get out of your comfort zone every now and again; and do CPD things often not just once a year. Completing 23Things last year definitely kept my CPD up, but I wonder if I’m doing enough to challenge myself. I wasn’t thinking of a base jump necessarily (which this 102 year old has just completed), perhaps something more related to my work (and slightly less scary). Currently open to ideas! What things have you done/might you do to challenge yourself to develop your skills? (Some tips on embracing challenges are here.)

I liked Phil Bradley’s comment that some people are trying to use “web 2 tools with web 1 thinking”, in relation to the problems some library staff face in not being allowed to use social media (web 2) tools. He emphasised that we should focus on using something because it makes the library service better, not because you/the organisation want Facebook or whatever.

The conference also featured the usual mix of catching up with familiar faces and meeting new people, and finding out what’s going on in libraries across Wales. There was also the delights of the Tir na n-Og book award by the Welsh Books Council (photos on the Cardiff Central Library Facebook album) and the evening dinner with Welsh Librarian of the Year award. And the new Minister for Culture and Sport in Wales John Griffiths gave a brief speech before opening the trade exhibition and chatting to delegates. Pictures from the conference can be found on the CILIP Wales Flickr page.

Overall, it was a very well organised enjoyable conference, and I only wish I’d discovered the fruit/veg smoothies sooner!

*Some of the quotes used by speakers (I didn’t write all of them down):

  • ‘Stop lending and start sharing’ by R. David Lankes
  • ‘Think about the library in the life of the people/user, not the other way round’ by Wayne Weigand (paraphrased)
  • ‘Digital by desire’ (Liz McGettigan)
  • ‘Recruit for attitude, train for skills’ (was maybe someone from the floor during Rebecca Davies and Annie Mauger’s session)
  • ‘Shine as an individual – act as a team’ by Alan Sugar

About alysontyler

Civil servant, yoga teacher and former librarian.
This entry was posted in Awards, Careers, CILIP, Conferences, Libraries, Presentations / talks, Wales and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to A conference of quotes

  1. Neil Smyth says:

    Hi Alyson,

    Congratulations to Lori. Didn’t see her when I was in Swansea. I think she was travelling to Cardiff when I was travelling to Swansea.

    You and I must have been in Caridff at about the same time. Will have to write to you soon – a proper handwritten letter.



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