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CILIPS East Sponsored Conference Report 2020: Chloe Elder, St George’s School for Girls

Branch: East Branch | Category: Branches and Groups

CILIPS East Branch awarded Chloe Elder a sponsored place at the 2020 CILIPS virtual conference.  We would like to thank Chloe for writing the following report about her experiences:

Never was anything so apt as this year’s CILIP Scotland Conference 2020 theme ‘Disrupters and Innovators’.

As attendees we were well aware, this was no ‘normal’ conference. Like much else in 2020, the CILIPS Conference went digital and hosted the event on Zoom. Nametags were swapped for named tiles on a computer screen, and the coffee was all home brewed. Still, CILIPS’ own Sean McNamara kept the conference vibe alive with a highly suitable Zoom background of last year’s audience.

Normal or not, I was excited to join for my first CILIPS Conference. And thanks to the online format, I was able to attend not just one but both days. I combined a sponsored place thanks to CILIPS East Branch with a place in return for volunteer help with conference Zoom administration as part of my role with the CILIPS Students and New Professionals Community. With no need to travel anywhere but to and from my kitchen, it was easy to take advantage of the full conference. (And as a total introvert, I don’t need persuading to stay at home!)

In the first keynote, Reaching Out: The New National Library of Scotland Strategy, Dr John Scally pointed out that the National Library of Scotland has recently seen widening engagement through online events. It seems there are more like me who given the chance to learn and engage from their couch will jump at the opportunity! It was also noted by several speakers how apt the title was, not only for our current times but also as a perennial sentiment for libraries and library professionals.

Examples of innovation shone throughout the conference’s presentations.

Rebecca Kennedy from Playlist for Life demonstrated how to evoke ‘that flashback feeling’ for dementia patients through personal music playlists and explained why libraries are the perfect help points for this goal. Clare Hemsworth (who this year won Library and Information Professional of the Year) and Bernadette McGarvey exhibited their impressive digital initiatives (‘now with extra digital!’) with Renfrewshire Libraries, with coding games and even an invisibility cloak. And Chris Leslie from the Scottish Book Trust demonstrated the emotional impact of digital storytelling.

Speakers also used our online format to innovate on their presentations – making use of digital tools offered by sharing screens and logging in to online polls.

I was mesmerised by the videos of ballet shown as part of Ann Cameron’s talk on digitising the Scottish Ballet Video Archive – not to mention the process used to preserve them. With real-time word clouds generated by our input, Lewis Hou of Culture Palaces illustrated the gap between our definitions of ‘culture’ and activities we’re passionate about outwith work (baking, hiking, etc,). Our word clouds showed the latter is just as valid an understand of culture as ‘history’ or ‘art’. And the topic of fake news was the perfect mechanism within which to test our own gullibility with a quick pop quiz from the Scottish Government Library.

Throughout the conference there was a strong emphasis on how libraries can effectively connect with people and make real impact on their lives – digitally or otherwise. As a new professional, I personally benefited from feeling more connected with the network of Scottish library professionals through this conference. I enjoyed meeting people from all areas and sectors in breakout sessions, and I ended the two days feeling inspired not only by the content of the presentations but also the genuine enthusiasm of the speakers.

I would like again to thank CILIPS East Branch for my sponsored place, all of the speakers for their time and expertise, and I would also like to thank Sean McNamara and Elizabeth Carney for organising an excellent conference.

Until next year!

To book a place at the 2021 CILIPS Annual Conference, Reinvigorate and Renew, please click here.

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