CILIPS Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals in Scotland
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CILIPS in 2020 – A Year in Review

Category: Blog

Photo by photographer Craig Stephen

2020 has been a strange and challenging year for all of us as we dealt with a global pandemic and had to very quickly get used to living and working in new ways. Like the vast majority of you, we at CILIPS have had an extremely busy year, replicating as much of our usual activities as possible virtually and developing new ways of supporting the profession. We have really missed interacting in person and our thoughts remain with you all.

As we come to the end of this very peculiar year, we wanted to take the opportunity to reflect on 2020 and look ahead to what is hopefully a brighter new year – read on to find out what we’ve been up to. 


Image provided by Stephen Leitch for Librarians During Lockdown

This year, we have written to a number of Councils to advocate for continued and ample support for public library services. In February, we wrote an open letter to the City of Edinburgh Council, which you can read here, regarding proposed changes to service delivery. Additionally, we wrote to Glasgow Life, City of Edinburgh Council, and Live Borders with regards to their re-opening plans for physical library services following the easing of lockdown restrictions. 

At this point, we would like to acknowledge the outstanding work that library and information workers have done this year. From providing services remotely, to developing click and collect and working tirelessly to ensure safe reopening, it has been inspiring to see. We have been delighted to share a number of Librarian During Lockdown blogs this year which are a great demonstration of this work and of the skills and resilience of the profession. 

#Library5 took place during Libraries Week this year

Libraries Week, the annual celebration of libraries, was largely online this year and we were sure to get involved. We ran #Library5 for the second year in a row, asking library services and workers to share content around different daily themes. The engagement this year was great with many libraries from different sectors sharing information about their services and demonstrating their value. We collated these Tweets to form a bank of evidence of the impact of library services that can be used for advocacy purposes. 

In 2020, we’re also run #HealthLibrariansAddValue jointly with our colleagues at NHS Education for Scotland (NES) Knowledge Services. This is all about advocating for the health librarian role and highlighting the broad range of skills and experience health librarians possess. Using case studies, we have been able to show that libraries are the perfect partner to help health boards make improvements to patient care. Read the case studies here

We are also passionate about supporting library workers, stakeholders, and the public to do their own library advocacy if they can. The collated #Library5 Tweets can help with this, as can the Guide to Advocacy & Lobbying on our website. This year, we were also delighted to welcome Stephen Wyber, Manager of Policy and Advocacy at IFLA, to host a webinar for us on doing library advocacy. This was very well received and a great opportunity to learn from a library advocacy expert. You can watch it here

Professional Development and Events

Our Conference took place via Zoom in October

One of our main aims each year is to provide professional development opportunities through various events training sessions, and workshops. Of course, in 2020, running in-person events was not possible from mid-March. As soon as lockdown hit, we knew we’d have to come up with new ways to provide professional development. We developed CILIPS Online Learning, a series of Zoom webinars that took place most Fridays between April and September. These covered a wide range of topics such as website accessibility and usability, Open Access,  implementing the school library strategy, and health literacy. This allowed us to explore a new way of delivering professional development and to stay connected to the profession. 

We also moved our Annual Conference, which had been all set to take place in Dundee in June, online this year. This was a big undertaking and running an event of this scale virtually was completely new to us. With the support and teamwork of CILIPS staff, our Trustee Board, volunteers, and of course our brilliant President Martina McChrystal, we were able to successfully pull it off on 26th and 27th October. Martina did a wonderful job of leading the two-days under her theme of Disruptors & Innovators and brought everyone together in the most challenging of circumstances. It was a really positive experience – all of our delegates and speakers were very engaged and, after such a tough year, it was great to be able to come together for this event. 

This year, we also ran a Professional Registration and Portfolio Building workshop online and held our AGM via Zoom, following which Martina McChrystal and Head of CILIPS Sean McNamara gave a talk on future service delivery. We were also happy to be involved with the delivery of the Health Librarians Add Value event with NES Knowledge Services. This was an accompaniment to the case study campaign and involved some brilliant talks from NHS Scotland librarians and stakeholders on recent work and future developments. 

The YLG Scotland committee ran a CKG Medals webinar this year

As well as our own events, our Branches and Groups have been doing a great job of staying as active as possible. A number of Branches ran virtual Meet the President events. There have also been, amongst other things, online AGM’s, a Carnegie and Kate Greenaway Medals webinar with Youth Libraries Group Scotland, a School Libraries Group Scotland online Quiz & Vent event, a Cataloguing and Indexing Group Scotland seminar, and a virtual Careers Workshop with our newly formed Students & New Professionals Community

It has certainly been a challenge to deliver events in the same way, but some of the positives of moving things online have been reaching people much further afield than we usually could and also being able to record events and make them available afterward. Click here to access these recordings.


We developed a hub of COVID-19 resources at the beginning of lockdown

To offer support at the beginning of lockdown, we added ‘COVID-19 – Information and Resources’ pages to our websites. These provided useful information for keeping informed, as well highlighting CPD that could be done from home, fun things to do to keep busy (including writing book reviews for our website!), and guidance on re-opening library buildings when the time for that came. These pages have been some of the most viewed on our website this year and we were glad to be able to provide a hub of information. 

This year also saw an outpouring of support for the Black Lives Matter movement which sparked conversation and reflection by people worldwide. CILIPS was no exception. We recognise the need to educate ourselves and support a move towards a more diverse and inclusive profession. We added an ‘Anti-Racism – Resources and Support‘ page to our website and were also delighted to facilitate an Online Learning session on the diversification of library resources. At CILIPS, we have set working towards diversity and inclusion as a priority for 2021 and look forward to implementing a relevant action plan. 

Edwin Morgan resources are available now on our website

We also worked with the Edwin Morgan Trust and the University of Glasgow Library to publish resources to mark the centenary of Edwin Morgan (1920-2010). A selection of downloadable and printable sheets that celebrate Morgan and his work are available on our website for any libraries who would like to make the poet a focus this year – we really hope you enjoy them!

Partnerships and other activity 

This year, we have been keeping up virtually with many organisations and groups we usually work closely with. We have been regularly meeting with APLS and have been involved in discussions about recovery planning for public libraries. Additionally, we remain in regular contact with SLIC and were delighted to attend the advisory meeting for the new National Strategy for Public Libraries. Furthermore, we’ve remained in regular contact with Literature Alliance Scotland, attending a number of their regular meetings, and also with SCURL to discuss CPD and re-opening libraries in the higher education sector. Finally, we were delighted to support the Carnegie UK Trust research into the role of libraries during the crisis, firstly through sharing the survey with our networks and then highlighting the results on social media and at our Conference.

Clare Hemsworth is Scotland’s Library and Information Professional of the Year

Another exciting development which has taken place this year is the creation of the new Public and Mobile Libraries Group Scotland, a Scotland specific division of the UK CILIP Special Interest Group. We worked with the UK Public and Mobile Libraries Group and interested library professionals to set this up and are looking forward to seeing how this group develops into 2021 and beyond! 

Finally, one of the happiest points of the year was being able to announce the shortlist for Scotland’s Library and Information Professional of the Year and subsequently reveal the winner of this as Clare Hemsworth at our Conference. This provided us with an opportunity to celebrate and recognise the work of members of our profession, something that we love doing. Well done to all of the shortlist, who you can read more about here, and a huge congratulations to Clare on a very well deserved win!


This year we held 4 Trustee Board meetings and 2 meetings of the CILIPS Council, with the majority of these being online. These meetings allow us to reflect on recent work, look ahead to upcoming projects, and to share and discuss key issues and priorities. You can view the minutes from these here and please remember to visit our Branch and Group pages to see what activities are happening and get involved.

Our Presidential Team for 2020

In January, we had our only in-person Trustee Board meeting of the year, where we welcomed Martina McChrystal to the role of President and presented Yvonne Manning with the Past Presidents medal. Martina’s Presidential year was impacted by COVID-19 but she has done a brilliant job of staying active and being a prominent figure and advocate for CILIPS and the profession. We’d like to thank her for all of her work and support this year! We also welcomed Cleo Jones to the role of Vice-President and look forward to working up Cleo who will be President in 2021.

Trustees Carole Gray and Anne Louise Anglim as well as Immediate Past President Yvonne Manning are all stepping down from the Board at the end of 2020. All three have provided many years of support to CILIPS and we thank them sincerely for their input. We are also delighted to welcome new Trustees Toni Velikova and Colin Sinclair to the Board from 2021 and Amina Shah who will be our Vice-President next year.  


The CILIPS activities were delivered this year by Head of CILIPS, Sean McNamara, and our Graduate Trainee, Elizabeth Carney, with the support of our Board, Council, Branches and Groups. After doing a tremendous amount of work for the CILIPS team Elizabeth is moving on to a new role and we wish her the best of luck!

We are currently recruiting for a new role of Membership Officer if you would like to join our small but busy team in 2021.

What’s next? 

Amongst other activitues, some notable priorities for us next year include: 

  • Delivering our Annual Conference at the usual venue in Dundee, all things being well
  • Working with our Board, Council and the wider profession to diversify our networks 
  • Advocating for the profession to key stakeholders particularly around the Scottish Parliament elections 
  • Continuing to feed into the advisory committee for the new National Strategy for Public Libraries
  • Working with key partners across various sectors in Scotland and with CILIP to deliver workforce development opportunities. 
  • Administering our Professional Development Fund, which will be open again in the new year as opportunities begin to pick up again, to our members to support their development. 

Hopefully, you have enjoyed reading about our 2020. We’d also love to hear from you – what have you accomplished in 2020? What are your plans for 2021 and how can we support you? Please get in touch with us if there’s anything you’d like to share.

We really hope that circumstances will improve next year for everybody. We look forward to hopefully being able to meet up in person again and to a busy and productive year ahead.  

Take care, 

The CILIPS Team 

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