CILIPS Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals in Scotland
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‘Looking forward to next year’: notes from #CILIPS22

Category: Blog, Professional Development

Scotland on Sunday editor and CILIPS Honorary Member Catherine Salmond addresses CILIPS22 delegates with a CILIPS banner behind her.

by Jenny Dye, Dundee Libraries

This was CILIPS’s first face-to-face conference in three years due to the pandemic.

I attended the event early to go to the AGM. CILIPS Trustee Board Chair Heather Marshall, Head of CILIPS Sean McNamara and CILIPS Honorary Treasurer Dr Francesca Baseby gave the reports and accounts for the past year. There was a short discussion of CILIPS’s work in expanding LGBTQ+ awareness in Scottish librariesAnti-Racism action#CILIPSGoGreen environmentalism, and #WINspiration, with even more coming this autumn. The CILIPS student awards were also given out (please see the first chapter of the recording below).

As the conference itself began, Sean McNamara welcomed everyone and gave a short talk about the exhibitors. He encouraged us to go and have a look. The exhibitors included Scottish Book Trust, the National Library of Scotland, Insight Media, Historic Environment Scotland, Better World Books, Bolinda Digital and more.


The first speaker was Catherine Salmond with ‘Stop the press – but never our libraries: the importance of media campaigning’.

Catherine spoke about how libraries are faring post-pandemic. She wants to make people aware of the sustainability of front line staff for councils and library spaces as community hubs for the future. The public need to access lots of services online and the only way to do that for many people is through their libraries. Many services are delivered face-to-face and some customers are looking for this e.g. Bookbug, jobshops, book groups and clubs. Lots of people are looking to get out more and become part of the community, which can be therapeutic. In Scotland, 1 in 2 people use their local library. So we have to think about who, what, where, when, how and why people do this.

With 1 in 7 living in digital poverty, libraries are essential spaces for providing access to local authority help and support with mental health issues, as well as for employment, physical wellbeing and tackling social isolation. Libraries support benefits help, grant applications, Macmillan cancer services, as well as encouraging reader engagement and for families coming to visit to engage and take part in activities.

How do we measure the success of libraries? Not simply numbers coming in and enquiries but also engagement with partnership programmes, new generations coming to visit, and funding being issued for projects.

The second speaker of the day was Gemma Cairney in conversation with CILIPS President Amina Shah.

Gemma spoke about her fact finding journey for her new book, The Immortal Sisterhood. She spoke about many women from ethnic minority backgrounds and the impact they have had on her and the women of Scotland. She also spoke of the way reading can bring empowerment and improve people’s mental health and wellbeing. It can ground you and bring you back to earth. She spoke about how communities come together in times like the pandemic and support each other. She talked about how minorities can impact on local communities and bring cultural diversity which is good.

During lunch, I spoke to many people from different local authorities. We spoke mostly about the cutting of budgets and how to manage with smaller staff. The pandemic is still having a significant impact on services and it’s always interesting to hear the different ways people are coping.

Parallel Sessions

Tanya Milligan – Autism Inclusion for Libraries

Tanya opened by saying to the group that ‘stimming’ was ok. This was great for me as an autistic person.

She went on to talk about what Autism is:

  • Seeing the world differently
  • Social, communication and sensory differences
  • It may be hereditary but tends to occur in family groupings
  • Not a mental health issue but anxiety and depression are common
  • Disabling as the world is not designed to meet autistic people’s needs
  • People don’t ‘look autistic’ as there is no look
  • If you meet one person with autism – you’ve met one person with autism

Tanya noted that disclosure is up to the individual and how vital it is to be aware of people’s confidentiality. The best response is to thank them for telling you and ask what we can do to help.  About 1 in 100 people are autistic and 1 in 25 have some form of neurodiversity.

Thinking about inclusion in libraries, we need to make some small changes. These would make a big difference to the person and the wider library community:

  • Autism awareness training for staff, including management
  • Myth busting literature from Different Minds
  • Clear communication and clarity of information
  • Access documents and pictorial prompts for users
  • Walk around videos of areas
  • Floor plans of the areas on social media
  • Provide accessible quiet places
  • Include literature recommended by the NHS
  • Seek out and value autistic feedback
  • Invite all staff to make up a working group
  • Cascade staff training
  • Weed out old stock that promotes ‘curing autism’

Time for Inclusive Education (TIE) and how libraries can support LGBT inclusive education (in association with the CILIP LGBTQ+ Network)

TIE is working with education boards to embed LGBT+ education in the school curriculum. In 1988, Section 28 became defunct. Since 2021, we have had the legal ‘expectation’ of inclusive education in the curriculum. With a proactive approach, by 2035 it should be fully in place. Schools have been given a step by step guide.

  1. Journey. All working towards inclusion. Starting with secondary schools and working back.
  2. Achievement. Recognition for schools and learning establishments that are outstanding.
  3. Excellence. Everything being inclusive on a day-to-day basis.

To make this more accessible is to ensure that pupils can feel safe and staff are seen to be more approachable. Working together, we can recognise gender stereotypes and understand the Equality Act. This makes it easier to recognise and highlight discrimination. We should recognise the diverseness of family groupings and celebrate differences. This can be done in a few different ways:

  • The celebration of different communities within your area
  • Sharing the history of LGBT+ rights and the equality movement
  • Highlighting LGBT+ figures and role models – past and present.

Walking Groups and Public Libraries – Inga Allan and Dr Perla Innocenti

This session highlighted SLIC’s ‘Health on the Shelf’ report from 2020, exploring Health and Wellbeing provision in public libraries and the links between libraries and the NHS. As libraries are seen to be part of the community and the face of the local council, they are often less intimidating places to attend than the local NHS facility or gym.

The emphasis of library walking groups is social and for mental health and wellbeing as well as physical health.

There was commentary on health benefits, social value, inclusivity, diversity, the National Walking Strategy, Paths For All and partnership programmes to be a Collective Force for Health and Wellbeing.

If your workplace is looking to start something like this, you would need to look to local data to pick themes. This could be balanced in-house with book displays and highlighting local services and partnerships. Practical concerns include marketing, insurance, health and safety, disability, access, finite resources, staffing and the weather!

Staff concerns should be listened to. These could include members that would be happy to host, but not run groups. Supervisors could attend briefings and gain pointers on how to proceed. To measure success, feedback could be obtained through a questionnaire or survey.

As we all came together again after the parallel sessions, delegates compared notes and listened to a final round up, the announcement of the competition draw winners and next year’s conference dates.


I enjoyed this conference. It has given me a lot of inspiration. I have been working with supervisors to make the libraries in Dundee more autism friendly. We have been reviewing our stock to make it more inclusive.

I have suggested that we promote some of the websites that were being shared during the conference. We love SCRAN and Canmore and use them with our History Group.

In conclusion, this was a great conference and I am looking forward to next year.

Thank you to Jenny for sharing these fantastic reflections – we’re looking forward to seeing you next year too! Discover more about our 2022 Annual Conference.

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