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CILIPS Annual Conference 2023

Image of Dundee from the perspective of standing next to the tall ship. Image of Dundee skyline reflected in the water with blue dusk sky and orange clouds.

Looking to the Future

The CILIPS Annual Conference 2023

‘It was a fabulous conference – a wonderful, collaborative atmosphere and a willingness to tackle the big and difficult subjects without ever losing a hopeful outlook.’

It’s anely when ye’re in a room full o ither fowk sharin their ain experiences o the profession that ye realise these wee details – unseen, unkent – are aften whit adds up tae somethin mair than a career. A callin, likesay… Thanks tae awbody at the CILIPS conference for helpin me tae remember.’

The largest conference in Scotland for library and information professionals, CILIPS23 brought together colleagues from across the country and beyond to share knowledge, network and engage in professional development. Hosted by CILIPS President Richard Aird and taking place on 5th and 6th June 2023 at the Dundee Apex Hotel, our Annual Conference featured inspiring keynote speeches, impactful parallel sessions, a range of networking opportunities and much more.

‘It was marvellous. It really energised me and made me want to improve my practice. I loved networking with other librarians and sharing our experiences, and I gained some good professional contacts whilst there. I was inspired and renewed and really needed a face to face event after such a long time without them. Thank you.’

Our digital programme is available for download, as is our delegate information e-pack and the presentation slides. Please also scroll below to learn more about the keynotes and parallel sessions we enjoyed at CILIPS23:

CILIPS23 Keynote Speakers

‘This was one of the best CILIPS conferences I have attended due to the programme – topics covered were all of relevance and issues of current importance to the profession were addressed. At all of the talks I attended the speakers were very engaging and conveyed useful and practical information. I also thought the atmosphere was great – very relaxed, friendly and positive.’

Dr Nicola Millard – Principal Innovation Partner, Digital – BT

Dr Nicola Millard.

Once described as “human caffeine” on Twitter, Dr Nicola Millard injects a positive, people-centred expresso shot to innovation and future strategy. Half social scientist, half technologist, all academic, she uses techniques from disciplines such as design thinking, psychology, anthropology, computing, and business consulting to generate data, provocations and stories which can engage and create conversations from the board room, to the front line. No frothy coffee; just solid research.

In her long and varied career at BT – mostly based at Adastral Park in Ipswich – Nicola has done many jobs, including futurology, research, usability, customer service, marketing, and business consulting. She was involved with some BT firsts, including the first application of artificial intelligence into BT’s call centres, BT’s initial experiments with home working, and helping to develop BT’s “net easy” score, a new way of measuring customer experience. She currently looks at innovation in both employee and customer experience for BT’s large corporate and public sector customers.

Nicola got her PhD from Lancaster University in 2005 and has authored over 50 publications – including 1 book and numerous book chapters. She is an award-winning presenter, with 2 TEDx talks and hundreds of conference panel, chair and keynote sessions under her belt. She occasionally pops up on radio and TV around the world, including appearances on ‘Woman’s Hour’, ‘Tech Tent’, ‘The Media Show’, ‘The Genius of Invention’ and ‘Back in Time for the Weekend’ for the BBC.

She is a judge on numerous award panels, including the European Contact Centre & Customer Service, Institute of Customer Service, the CCMA & the Association of Business Psychology awards. In both 2020 & 2021 she was listed as one of the top 20 UK CX Influencers by Customer Experience Magazine.

Nicola spoke on Day One of the conference.

Dr Adele Patrick – Co-Founder and Co-Director, Glasgow Women’s Library

Dr Adele Patrick, photographed by Suzanne Heffron.

Adele Patrick has been developing innovative cultural projects rooted in equalities for over 30 years. A co-founder of Glasgow Women’s Library (GWL), Adele has had a leadership role in this change making organisation since 1991 and is currently a Co-Director. In 2022 she was awarded the Saltire Society’s Fletcher of Saltoun Award in recognition of her work at GWL and in other equalities focussed activities. A Clore Leadership Fellow (2018/2019), her Post Fellowship research has focused on feminist leadership. Adele is currently a Board member of the V and A Dundee.

Adele spoke on Day One of the conference.

Sabir Zazai – Chief Executive, Scottish Refugee Council

Sabir Zazai, CILIPS23 Keynote Speaker.

Sabir has been CEO of Scottish Refugee Council since 2017 and was previously CEO of Coventry Refugee and Migrant Centre.

Sabir arrived in the UK from Afghanistan in 1999, and his work draws from his own experiences and expertise in community integration and cohesion and refugee rights. Sabir graduated from Coventry University with a Masters in Community Cohesion Management and was awarded an Honorary Doctorate from the University of Glasgow and the Lord Provost award for human rights.

Sabir is Honorary President of City of Sanctuary and a Visiting Practice Fellow at the Centre for Trust Peace and Social Relations at Coventry University. Sabir currently chairs the Asylum Reform Initiative, and Together with Refugees movement.

In 2022, Sabir was awarded Fellowship of the Royal Society of Edinburgh and also received an OBE.

Sabir spoke on Day One of the conference.

Josh Sendall – Deputy University Librarian, University of Leeds

CILIPS23 Keynote Speaker Josh Sendall.

Josh Sendall promotes open knowledge, freely accessible libraries, and the role of equity, diversity and inclusion as essential elements of healthy, and resilient cultures and communities.  

He is Deputy University Librarian at University of Leeds Libraries. He leads three large-scale associate directorates: Student Learning and Experience, Research and Digital Futures, and Content and Discovery. He works collaboratively with the executive team to enable the strategic delivery of “Knowledge for all: Libraries’ Vision for 2030” in alignment with the institutional strategy: “Universal Values, Global Change”.

Josh is a Trustee for UKSG, connecting the knowledge community spanning the diverse interests and activities of academic librarians, publishers, intermediaries and technology vendors. 

His career in academic libraries started at Lancaster University where he held roles including Library Aide, Learning Zone Student Advisor, Information Assistant, Research Data Manager, and latterly Head of Open Research. He then joined the University of Nottingham as Associate Director for Research prior to his current appointment.

Josh spoke on Day Two of the conference.

Professor Melissa Terras – Professor of Digital Cultural Heritage at the University of Edinburgh’s Design Informatics in Edinburgh College of Art

CILIPS23 Keynote Speaker Melissa Terras.

Melissa Terras is the Professor of Digital Cultural Heritage at the University of Edinburgh’s Design Informatics in Edinburgh College of Art. She joined the College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences in October 2017, leading digital aspects of research within CAHSS at Edinburgh as Founding Director of the Centre for Data, Culture and Society (2018 -), CAHSS Digital Information Officer (2017-2022), as well as building digital capacity in the new Edinburgh Futures Institute as EFI Research Director (2018-2023). Her research focuses on the digitisation of cultural heritage, including its technologies, procedures, and impact, and how this intersects with internet technologies. She is a Turing Institute Fellow 2018-2023, and serves on the Board of Directors of Transkribus, the Machine-Learning infrastructure for Handwritten Text Recognition.

With a background in Classical Art History and English Literature (MA, University of Glasgow), and Computing Science (MSc IT with distinction in Software and Systems, University of Glasgow), Melissa’s doctorate (Engineering, University of Oxford) examined how to use advanced information engineering technologies to interpret and read Roman texts. Employed at UCL Department of Information Studies from 2003, she was made Honorary Professor of Digital Humanities upon her departure from UCL in 2017, and Honorary Professor in UCL Centre for Digital Humanities, which she directed 2012-2017. Melissa was previously Vice Dean of Research in UCL’s Faculty of Arts and Humanities (2014-2017). She had a Scottish Government Appointment on the Board of Trustees of the National Library of Scotland (2013-2022) and joined the UK Government’s Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport’s College of Experts in 2022.

Melissa spoke on Day Two of the conference.

Martina McChrystal, Cleo Jones and Amina Shah – CILIPS Immediate Past-Presidents

CILIPS Immediate Past-Presidents Martina, Cleo and Amina.

In conversation as part of the CILIPS WINspiration feminism for libraries series, our three Immediate Past-Presidents Martina McChrystal (2020), Cleo Jones (2021) and Amina Shah (2022) will be sharing reflections, insights and inspiration that draws on their exceptional collective expertise from across all areas of the sector.

After completing her BA in Library and Information Studies with Music, Martina went on to become Principal Library Officer for Music at City of Edinburgh Council, before being appointed Partnership and Information Manager in 2007. From 2013-15, she served as Edinburgh’s Libraries and Information Services Manager, the strategic lead for all aspects of public library provision in Edinburgh with responsibility for the direction, development and promotion of 28 libraries. Martina became a Trustee for Edinburgh UNESCO City of Literature Trust in January 2014, and in 2018 she served as Chair of the Scottish Government’s National School Library Strategy Advisory Group. Her current role is as Director of Library Services at the University of Glasgow.

Cleo is a senior Library Manager with a background in Schools and Children’s Libraries. In her current role as Lifelong Learning Development Officer, she has a wide remit that includes Children’s, school’s and mobile libraries. She is actively involved in Edinburgh’s Literacy Improvement Team and works hard to ensure that there are the best opportunities for all children and young people to develop their literacy to improve their life chances. She is also responsible for MacMillan @ Edinburgh Libraries and further health and wellbeing work in areas like Dyslexia, Autism and Hearing loss awareness. Cleo is currently chair of ELISA (Edinburgh Library and Information Services Agency).

Amina has more than 25 years of experience in the library sector, including in public and academic libraries. As Chief Executive Officer of the Scottish Library and Information Council, she led on the development of Scotland’s first National Strategy for Public Libraries, and as Director of Programme at the Scottish Book Trust, she worked to promote literacy and a diverse reading and writing community in Scotland. Amina has a strong interest in diversity and inclusion and in the role that libraries, literature and culture play in empowering individuals and communities. She became National Librarian of Scotland in October 2021, the first woman and the first person of mixed heritage to hold the post, and she will lead the Library as it celebrates its centenary in 2025.

Martina, Cleo and Amina spoke on Day Two of the conference.

‘It was a brilliant event and the keynotes and sessions were exceptional. I’ve definitely come away inspired.’

‘The speakers were excellent, as always. I thought the conference had a great buzz about it and felt like the library community in Scotland was very much back on course with the pandemic behind us!’

Parallel Sessions Day One:

  • The Scottish Universities Press – Innovation in Open Access
  • Engaging with the Deaf Community using the Archives of Historic Environment Scotland (in partnership with the CILIP Disability Network)
  • South Lanarkshire Libraries through a lens | using film to share our stories
  • Supporting primary school libraries to embed research into practice
  • Table top gaming in Dundee Libraries
  • How public libraries support healthy living: promoting positive parenting practices through Bookbug Sessions
  • Libraries in lockdown; Libraries supporting wellbeing; The impact of public libraries in Scotland on loneliness in communities – 3 perspectives
  • Relax and Renew: a year in review
  • Towards values-driven advocacy for libraries in Scotland: insights from the REVEAL project (CILIPS Research Fund project update)

Parallel Sessions Day Two:

The conference also included the presentation of our 2023 CILIPS Student Medals and Scotland’s Library and Information Professional of the Year to Jennifer Findlay. Congratulations Jennifer!

Sponsors and Exhibitors

Meet the sponsors and exhibitors who shared their expertise with our delegates at CILIPS23.

‘Thank you for an inspiring two days. It was great to really feel part of a strong and widespread group of professionals.’

‘I had a wonderful, inspiring time at the conference and the team made it look effortless, which I know it was not!’


‘I love the efforts to lessen the environmental impact. I think that this conference could even be used as an example to other conferences. Everything ran smoothly and was enjoyable even with changes that lessen the impact.’

‘I appreciate that this is being considered and the steps taken.’

‘There were a number of great visible efforts made to lessen the environmental impact.’

‘I really support the measures that CILIPS put in place.’

‘I think the lengths to which CILIPS went this year were commendable and truly in line with their sustainability values. Big kudos to the team for all their work in this area.’

Building on the framework provided by the CILIPS Carbon Neutrality Plan and the success of our steps in making last year’s conference, CILIPS22, as environmentally friendly as possible, we committed to ensuring that our 2023 Annual Conference went even further in being as sustainable as it is inspirational. Our plans included:

Learn more about how we lessened our environmental impact in 2022 and how every delegate made a difference to the conference achieving Carbon Neutral status.

Newbie Networking

‘It was my first time attending, but I thoroughly enjoyed it and hope to return next year!’

‘I had a great time, and everyone was very friendly, especially the conference volunteers. Thank you!’

‘Great programme, great networking opportunities and a very warm welcome from all involved.’

Welcoming new delegates is such a special part of the conference for the whole CILIPS team, but we understand that preparing to attend your first major professional event can be a daunting prospect. One week before the conference, our graduate trainee Leah led this friendly and informal online event, offering first-time attendees the opportunity to find out how a CILIPS Conference is run and meet their fellow delegates before arriving.

She shared what to expect when you arrive in Dundee, highlighted some of the sessions and activities tailored to new professionals, and above all brought new delegates together to chat about how to make their first (hopefully of many) experience at the CILIPS Annual Conference as memorable and enjoyable as possible. Well done Leah!

CILIPS23 also saw the return of our beloved Protests and Suffragettes networking game, playing with these #WINspiration-al fun feminist top trumps (designed with research support from many Scottish libraries) to help our delegates connect across the conference in search of their perfect match!

Every successfully matched pair who shared their photo with the CILIPS team were entered into a prize draw to win free places at next year’s conference. Congratulations Jill and Sarah – we’ll see you in 2024!

‘Fabulously well run – every detail taken care of, this was obviously a conference organised by Librarians!’


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