CILIPS Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals in Scotland
Navigation Close

CILIPS Annual Conference 2021

‘The main thing I took away from the day was the importance of libraries and how they matter to individuals and greater society.’

On 7th and 8th June 2021, CILIPS President Cleo Jones hosted 280 delegates for two full days of keynotes, workshops and talks on the theme of Reinvigorate and Renew: Emerging into a better, brighter, new world.

Taking place entirely online, this two-day event was the largest conference in Scotland for library and information professionals, bringing together colleagues from across the country and beyond to share knowledge and engage in professional development.

‘I liked the radical edge to the conference and its big bold ideas’

Our conference programme is now available to read as a website resource – click here to find out more about the 27 talented speakers who encouraged and inspired our conference delegates, as well as information about our generous conference sponsors and why CILIPS membership is the best step you can take to grow your career as a library, knowledge or information professional.

‘I was sceptical about a two day online conference, but it really was one of the best conferences I have attended either in person or online.’

Click here to watch our collection of video recordings from our #CILIPS21 keynotes and parallel sessions or here to read biographies of our 2021 keynote speakers. This series of blogs on the Scottish Library and Information Council website also features conference highlights from the seventeen delegates who attended #CILIPS21 thanks to SLIC’s generous conference bursaries.

‘First time attendee and recently moved to the UK. The conference gave me a great insight to Scottish libraries and their systems that I don’t know how else I would have gotten – especially because of the pandemic. Thank you!’



After a warm welcome from 2021 CILIPS President Cleo Jones and CILIP CEO Nick Poole, our conference delegates were moved and inspired by an impassioned opening keynote speech by award-winning author Kerry Hudson. ‘It’s genuinely no overstatement to say I don’t think I’d be alive today without libraries,’ Kerry shared with her audience, recalling how libraries had represented a place of warmth, safety and security during a difficult childhood, inspiring her ‘to smash apart the narrow horizons life had given’ me. With hope in their hearts (and a few tears in their eyes) delegates then moved into their first set of parallel sessions – with many noting on social media how hard they found the decision! Katie Edwards from NHS Education for Scotland shared invaluable tips and techniques for how to make online events engaging; Marilyn Clarke from Goldsmiths, University of London, and Dr Emma Bond, University of St Andrews, hosted a thought-provoking discussion on how to challenge the legacies of racism and colonialism; while Dr David McMenemy, Professor Ian Ruthven and Dr Elaine Robinson from the University of Strathclyde led a riveting session outlining their research into public library digital service use during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Post-lunch, delegates were once again faced with a tricky choice between three thrilling parallel sessions. Jade Koekoe sent greetings (or should that be G’Day?) from Australia with her timely ‘Being “Online” as a Library Professional’; Graeme Hawley from the National Library of Scotland had his audience in a spin (in the best possible way) with a discussion of accelerated change in the pre- and post-Covid world; while Duncan Wright and Chloe Elder from St George’s School Library in Edinburgh shared thoughtful, uplifting reflections on living and learning during the pandemic. Our #CILIPS21 community then came together again for a profoundly meaningful keynote speech by Dr Barry Houlihan, National University of Ireland, Galway. Dr Houlihan shared poignant insights from his team’s experiences of conducting oral history research into the dark, tragic history of Tuam Mother and Baby Home, encouraging our delegates to harness the power of activism in archives to ensure that those too-often forced to remain silent finally have their stories told. Our final keynote of Day One was equally fremragende (that’s ‘excellent’ in Danish!) as we welcomed Marie Østergaard, Library Director of Aarhus Public Libraries and Dokk1, Aarhus, Denmark. Sharing imaginative examples of the incredible work undertaken by her library service, Marie called on our delegates to conceptualize their libraries as democratic infrastructure – libraries definitely get our vote!

As Day Two dawned, the outgoing National Librarian of Scotland Dr John Scally filled the virtual conference room with smiles as he reminisced about the unexpected twists and turns of fate that led him to an outstanding career devoted to libraries and all that they do for our nation. Delegates were then treated to a fascinating keynote speech about Scotland’s highly anticipated new Public Library Strategy, led by Jeanette Castle, Chair of Strategy Advisory Group and University of the West of Scotland’s University Librarian. At that point, we briefly went our separate ways into another group of parallel sessions. A selection of case studies compiled by Eleanor Lochrie, Susan Cuthbertson and Christine Gallagher showcased how #HealthLibrariansAddValue; CILIPS Membership Officer Kirsten led a whistlestop tour of the CILIPS Equality, Diversity and Inclusion evolving resource collections; while Laura Cagnazzo delivered engaging, well-considered insights into the role of information professionals in the Research Excellence Framework.

Delegates returned after lunch for their final parallel sessions of the conference, an exciting and eclectic mix of the very best that our sector has to offer. Kelly Kanayama from the Scottish BAME Writers Network reflected on how to tackle systemic barriers and foster inclusivity in literature programming; school librarian Kathleen O’Neill brought out the playful side in delegates with a discussion of role-playing games in ‘Help! There’s a Dragon Loose in the Library’; while Dr Bruce Ryan shared his expertise with ‘The RIVAL Network: network building and the coronavirus’. Returning to the main virtual auditorium for our two concluding keynotes, delegates were galvanized by a powerful call to action by Bridget McKenzie, Founding Director of Climate Museum UK: encouraging us all to consider the part libraries can play in tackling the earth crisis by promoting creative conversation and developing information literacy. In the same spirit of highlighting why #LibrariesAreEssential to meeting the most pressing issues facing our modern world, broadcaster and openDemocracy investigations editor Peter Geoghegan then delivered an absorbing, impactful keynote on disinformation and the threat it poses to democracy if left unchecked.

#CILIPS21 was a wonderful celebration of all that library, knowledge and information professionals do to support society, inspire change and connect diverse communities with one another. Thank you so much to the speakers, delegates, sponsors and volunteers who came together to make it happen: we hope you’re all reinvigorated and renewed to continue championing the essential value of libraries now more than ever!




Our 2021 Sponsors

We were delighted that this year’s CILIPS Annual Conference ‘Reinvigorate and Renew’ was sponsored by SOLUS, Bolinda digital and Bibliotecha.

SOLUS is a Glasgow based technology development company, focusing on bringing new and leading edge products to libraries around the globe. Their products are designed for operational efficiency, patron engagement and to drive relevancy amongst digital first consumers.

Bolinda digital is an innovative market leader and expert in the library market, providing high quality eContent via BorrowBox: its unique, customer-branded digital solution and service, and the world’s first fully functional library app.

Bibliotheca work with 30,000 libraries globally, providing innovative technology that makes the library experience — physical & digital — seamless, intuitive & inclusive.

Thank you very much for your support! 


In This Section

Skip to content