Monday, 15 July 2013

CILIP Umbrella 2013 Conference, Manchester, 2-3 July.

Umbrella 2013 Conference Discover. Connect. Achieve. 2-3 July, Manchester
I was fortunate enough to attend the CILIP Umbrella 2013 conference in Manchester, 2-3 July.
The two day event was attended by 600 delegates and there was a lot for us to take in. The packed programme was divided into four areas of interest
  • Future Skills and Future Roles
  • Information to Best Support Society
  • Beyond Information Matters
  • Partnerships for Progress

There was so much on offer that I can only give you a glimpse in the space I have here, but you can view the whole lot on the Umbrella web pages.

Roly Keating, Chief Executive, The British Library gave a keynote on the first day entitled Born digital? The British Library at 40. We were given a history of the organisation and heard how developments at the library had lead to a need to change the organisational structure, with a Chief Digital Officer and Chief Executive at its centre.
Surprisingly, only 1% of the Library’s enormous collection is digitized, and this is the reason why they have partnered with organisations like Google: the British Library could not afford to undertake wide scale digitization on its own.

Enterprising Libraries

Keating announced The Enterprising Libraries programme, a partnership between Arts Council England, the British Library and the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG). The aim is to “fund a number of projects in which libraries will use their role as community hubs to spark local economic growth and improve social mobility in communities across the country.”
You can find out more here

#uklibchat: instant ideas and collaboration + access to knowledge
Ka-Ming Pang, Online Support Librarian, St George’s University of London. @agentk23

#uklibchat runs regular discussions on library and information topics using tweets.
For those of you that already follow the discussions, you’ll know this is a useful way of keeping up to date with developments in the profession, as well as a way of contributing your own ideas.

Check out the website for more info

Create the job you want!

Janice LaChance, CEO, Special Libraries Association International gave the keynote speech on the second day of the conference. Without the use of slides or video, Janice thrilled the audience with her tales of working at the White House as part of Bill’s Clinton’s inner circle...she has flown on Air Force One (respect).
The theme of Janice’s speech was reinvention, she explained how she trained and qualified as a lawyer, and is incredibly proud of her degree, but she has never practised because her career took off in other directions.
The lesson Janice urged us to take from her experiences is that we, as library and information professionals, should not let our careers be defined by titles. We were encouraged to look for the jobs we want, in what Janice acknowledged as increasingly difficult times, by thinking about the skills we have and applying them to the needs of organisations.

 ‘If you think of yourself in terms of your degree or job title it will limit your opportunities.’ said Janice. ‘Align your role with the organisation and specifically with the senior executives. Look at the organisation’s needs and weaknesses and look at leaders’ goals. If you adopt this mindset you will become more integral to the success of the organisation, not just your team or department.’

Janice argued that the jobs of the future will not necessarily be in a traditional library setting, she suggested the profession needs to look at how skills can be transferred and used in the wider world. As library and information profession, we need to show potential employers what our skills will bring to a role and how we will contribute to the success of their organisation.
She added that employers also have a responsibility to change the way they recruit, to focus on ability and potential rather than experience.

Janice ended her speech with three pieces of advice
  1.  Look for opportunity where you wouldn’t normally look.
  2.  Take risks that stretch your abilities.
  3.  Believe you can make a difference, not just a living.

Avoiding information overload

Gary Green, Technical Librarian, Surrey County Council Library Service gave a great session on the benefits and drawbacks of automated information feeds. Gary talked us through using a tool like If That Then This (IFTT), which can connect over 60 online & messaging services and automatically feed information/data between channels.

I found this an especially helpful session because having just returned to work after 8 months, there is a lot to catch up with and there are so many channels of information, there is a danger of ‘Information overload’ . However, Gary gave suggestions for managing news feeds and avoiding bombarding people with too much information.
If you want to learn more, check out the link

An inspiring partnership

The session I found the most inspiring was called Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No, it’s a librarian! from Victoria Treadway, Clinical Librarian, Wirral University Teaching Hospital NHS Foundation Trust & Dr Girendra Sadera, Consultant, Critical Care and Anaesthesia, Wirral University Teaching Hospital NHS Foundation Trust.

Victoria showed us how, as a clinical librarian working in a library setting, she developed the role with the help and support of Dr  Sadera, to become a part of the critical care team in a busy hospital.
As  clinical librarian, Vitoria provides information to the critical care staff about patient health. Previously Victoria would have to return to the library to carry our information searches.

However, together she and Dr Sadera planned a 10 month pilot project, where she became part of the critical care team, actually taking part in the health assessment rounds on the ward, and with the use of a portable devise, was able to search for health information there and then.
The information Victoria searches for can determine the treatment of a patient, for example, if information about a drug or particular form of treatment is found, the health care team can make use of it straight away to inform the way they care for an individual on the ward.

It was a truly inspirational presentation because it showed the very real benefits of having an information specialist as part of a wider team.
There was much more to the session than I have space to describe, so please do have a look at the project and find out more.
I am always keen to encourage librarians to gather and use facts and figures to make their case, to prove their worth and this is an excellent example.

Mandy Powell, CILIP Policy Officer, Wales

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