CILIPS Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals in Scotland
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Charlotte Dunn reports back from CILIPS Autumn Gathering 2019

Category: Branches and Groups

In October I was very fortunate to be awarded a sponsored place from ARLGS to attend the CILIPS Autumn Gathering in Perth.

I am currently working in a university library and there were a few sessions I was eager to attend. Being fairly new to academic libraries, I was keen to find out about the work of other librarians in the sector. Having previously worked in both public libraries and school libraries, I was also eager to hear about recent developments and current practices in these areas. Learning about the wider professional context is an important part of the Chartership process, which I have recently started working towards, and attending events such as the Autumn Gathering is a great opportunity to meet new people and hear ideas that you might not otherwise know about.

While all the talks I attended were fantastic in showcasing the work that library and information professionals are involved in, there were a few sessions that stood out. The first keynote was delivered by Catherine Stihler, Chief Executive of Open Knowledge Foundation. In her talk Catherine spoke passionately about her organisations aim for an open future. She stressed the importance of open access and making sure that not only people or organisations with money have access to publicly funded research – making it an issue of tax justice as well as freedom of information. A very appropriate session to start the day, seeing as it was Open Access Week!

The lunch break then gave me a chance to have a catch-up with my Chartership mentor. It was great to have this opportunity as we don’t often get to meet up in person, and I was able to ask her some quick questions about the Chartership process.

A highlight of the day was children’s author Joseph Coelho’s keynote about his Library Marathon – his quest to join a public library in every UK authority. Joseph spoke about the positive experiences he had with his library from a young age, and the sense of magic it instilled in him is obvious in his poem There are Things that Lurk in the Library. Joseph has joined an incredible 128 libraries so far, with the aim of encouraging people to use their libraries and highlighting their importance as community spaces. Even to a room full of librarians, his enthusiasm was contagious.

The next session was Instil Independent Learning – A Transitional Journey, co-presented by Laura Thomson (a transition teacher working between primary and high schools in Renfrewshire), Sheila MacPherson (a liaison librarian from UWS), and Robin Dunlop (a school librarian from Renfrew High, and former colleague of mine!). This session covered the role libraries have played in aiding pupil transitions from primary to high school to university, highlighting the importance of the library in nurturing a love of reading and developing research skills. The combination of the three speakers really highlighted how partnerships across different sectors can have benefits for all those involved.

The final breakout session was about the importance of kindness in the library profession. Catriona MacIsaac from Glasgow University spoke about the many ways they have tried to “make space for kindness” within the library, including the introduction of a lounge lab, prayer and reflection space, a family study area, and Mac the library dog! It was inspiring to hear of an academic library doing so much to support their students’ wellbeing and improve their learning experience.

Overall the Autumn Gathering was a really positive experience, and it was a great opportunity to hear about the fantastic work being done by libraries across the country and in different sectors. Thank you to all the speakers and to ARLGS for sponsoring my place!

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