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CILIPS Autumn Gathering 2018 – Report by Victoria Shanks

Branch: North East Branch | Category: Blog

The following is a guest blog by Victoria Shanks.



Above photo is Rosaleen (fellow RGU ILS student) and me.

I was very pleased to attend the CILIPS Autumn Gathering which took place on the 24th of October at the Doubletree by Hilton Hotel in Glasgow. I had attended the first day of the CILIPS conference in Dundee earlier in the year as a full-time student of Information & Library Studies and felt inspired and enthused by the event. This time I was attending in my new position with Aberdeen City Libraries and I felt an even greater connection with my fellow librarians.

After a warm welcome and introduction by CILIPS President Margaret Menzies we listened to Dr Jim McCormick, Associate Director Scotland of the Joseph Rowntree Foundation who gave the first keynote talk. The title was ‘Solving Poverty: Twists and Turns in Scotland’. The Joseph Rowntree Foundation offered a vision of a Poverty-free UK, where by 2030 nobody would be in poverty for more than two years. It was a sobering start to the conference to be told progress on reducing child poverty has reached a turning point and poverty is starting to rise again. There are currently 113000 households on Universal Credit in Scotland and staff in public libraries are undergoing training to allow them to assist the public.

Vibrant Libraries, Thriving Schools is the title of the ambitious National Strategy for Scotland’s school libraries. Martina McChrystal, chair of the advisory group, spoke to the gathering about all the work that went in to create the strategy. Over 30 school libraries were visited across Scotland, Primary, Secondary and co-located. The group looked at a variety of service delivery models, listened to the librarians, head teachers, teaching staff and pupils as well as using working groups to develop the recommendations. One of the main things I got from this presentation was the need to raise awareness of the role of the school librarian and the crucial part they play in schools. The library is a real hub of most schools, a safe place, and they play a central role in helping children and young people gain essential skills.

Sally Walker, Scotland’s Library & Information Professional of the Year 2017, spoke of her journey to professional recognition, taking us through her career choices which have led her to her current position as Children’s Librarian at Orkney Libraries. Her obvious love for her job shone through as she told us of all the clubs and events she has organised, including teaching herself how to use a micro:bit. I found her inspiring and I appreciated her honesty when she spoke of


having ‘imposter syndrome’ something most people can relate to.

Another librarian with a similar work ethic but in a very different field is Jo Wood who is the creator of the Librarians with Lives (LWL) podcast. Jo also talked us through her career including positive life events such as marriage and children and negative ones including redundancy and periods of stress-related anxiety. She was very honest when telling us of her breakdown in 2016 when she had to take time off work and have therapy. She created LWL as an innovative way to build networks and promote resilience and to combat feelings of isolation which had impacted negatively on her mental health. LWL has helped others as well as Jo herself and continues to be a great way of gaining information about a wide range of fields librarians work in and reassuring people that they are not alone. I spoke to Jo after her presentation to thank her and got her card: 


The final keynote was the most relevant to my current position as a library assistant bringing books to housebound people in the community. The talk was on Libraries and Kinder Communities and it was given by Zoe Ferguson of the Carnegie UK Trust. She talked about the importance of kindness regarding wellbeing and empowerment of communities, what we can do to encourage kindness, and what gets in the way. It was a valuable reminder of the power of kindness and I will continue to try to connect with people and act in kindness in my job, as well as in my life.

I had a wonderful day at the Autumn Gathering chatting so many library and information professionals from all over the country and working in different sectors. Everyone was so friendly and welcoming, and it was a great experience. I especially loved chatting to Jo Wood and to Sally Walker. Thank you very much to CILIPS North East Scotland for sponsoring my place.



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