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CILIPS East Sponsored Conference Report 2019: Abigail Kleboe, Royal College of Nursing Scotland

Branch: East Branch | Category: Branches and Groups

CILIPS East Branch awarded Abigail Kleboe a sponsored place at the 2019 CILIPS Conference held in Dundee, and are most grateful for the insightful and enthusiastic report she has shared with us:

“Look at me!
Look at me now!’ said the Cat.
‘With a cup and a cake
on the top of my hat!
I can hold up TWO books!
I can hold up the fish!
And a little toy ship!
And some milk on a dish!
And look!
I can hop up and down on the ball!
But, that is not all!
Oh no,
that is not all…”

Dr Seuss, The Cat In The Hat.

I’m starting my write up of the CILIPS Conference in Dundee with how Yvonne Manning, our CILIPS President, finished up Day 1. And for me, it encompassed how I felt about attending the conference for the first time. She made the point that often in our day-to-day work we are juggling lots of tasks and attending the conference helps to give us time out of our busy working lives to reflect, network and get ideas for future projects. It’s a much needed pause in our busy professions. I was lucky enough to win a sponsored place at the conference through the CILIPS East branch and I would encourage members to apply next year, as it was such a fantastic opportunity that I otherwise would not have got.

CILIPS Conference 2019 theme was ‘Courage, Laughter and Innovation’ and I came away having experienced all those feelings at some point during the day. Since this was my first time, I took the opportunity to drop in at the ‘First-timers’ networking event before the conference began. This was a great chance to meet new people and alleviate some nerves of not knowing anybody. They also had a networking bingo sheet to fill in, where you had to find someone at the conference who had ‘run a marathon’ or was ‘left-handed’ or ‘owned a pet other than a cat or dog’, etc., which lead to some interesting conversations, such as chatting to a woman who used to own chipmunks! The point though was that it was a good conversation starter for talking to new people, and it made me feel very welcome.

The conference programme was jam-packed with three Keynote speakers and a variety of breakout sessions in between to suit everyone from all library backgrounds. I particularly enjoyed Sue John’s Keynote on the making of Glasgow Women’s Library. It started as a voluntary project in 1991 and has expanded exponentially, leading to its first librarian employed in 2005 and first archivist in 2009. The library has its own bespoke feminist classification system and I love the idea that you can sponsor a library shelf and dedicate it to a woman of your choice – And it’s not just books, they are also involved in the ‘Mapping Memorials to Women in Scotland’ project, which locates and records memorials, such as statues, plaques, street signs, bridges or buildings, to women in Scotland. You can find out more about this fascinating project here: I have certainly been inspired to take a trip to Glasgow and visit the library and I particularly want to take my daughter to show her the collective achievements of women in Scotland!

Erwin James, a convicted murderer and now contributor and columnist for The Guardian, told us a powerful and emotional story about his life and how books helped to turn it around. He thanked us all for the work that librarians and information professionals do to encourage and promote reading and learning and, although 99% of the time we don’t realise the impact we may have made to someone’s life, he was evidence that we can change people’s lives in remarkable ways! I’m now eager to read his prison notebook, ‘A Life Inside’.

The breakout sessions I attended were on Health Literacy, Using Wikimedia to Leverage Libraries, and Diversity and Inclusion in the profession. All were very thought-provoking and I’ve come away having a new respect for Wikipedia and how it can work with libraries to promote our collections. Wikipedia has such a large share of the internet audience, being the 4th largest website in the world, that the impact can be huge. For example, Jason Evans, the National Library of Wales Wikimedian in Residence, told us that since having the National Library of Wales image collection on Wikipedia, they have been viewed 830 million times! It’s worth noting that images are ranked higher in Google image search if they are in Wikipedia too. So it’s another opportunity for us to engage with a wider global audience.

Overall the conference was a great experience for me both personally and professionally and opened my eyes to different ways of doing things. It also showed me how resilient we are as a profession despite funding cuts, and how we can continue to support and encourage one another to face the challenges of the future and keep up with all that juggling like the Cat in the Hat!

Abigail Kleboe
Information Specialist at the Royal College of Nursing Scotland.

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