CILIPS Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals in Scotland
Navigation Close

Stories of #CILIPS22

Category: Blog, News, Professional Development

A microphone beside a laptop with the CILIPS logo showing.

by Robert Allan and Brenda Collins, City of Glasgow College Library

The Year of Scotland’s Stories was celebrated at the first in-person CILIPS Conference for 3 years – a varied programme, lively debate and a chance to network and share our library achievements and challenges.

Two sessions were especially relevant to practice in our FE library, Kirsten Watson and Pia Singh’s Virtual Study Sessions at Strathclyde University and Jill Leishman’s The Heart of the College? Why FE Libraries are Essential to Health and Wellbeing

Strathclyde University Library staff developed their virtual study sessions (VSS) during the Covid pandemic. This was a direct response to student isolation, inability to visit the physical library, and no options for group study. Creating an online study environment, which evolved into an online community, proved to be a successful way to support students. Positive outcomes included increased confidence and connections with other students and with library staff, as well as new knowledge about library collections and services. These 2-hour, twice weekly online study sessions are facilitated by staff from across different areas of the library team, allowing students to get real-time help. Small groups are the nature of these sessions, with feedback showing the service is highly valued in terms of motivation, encouragement and accountability. ‘Invisible’ students became visible, time management skills have increased, suggestions for library improvements were heard and acted upon. This award-winning initiative aims to make a VSS Toolkit available through Strathprints in autumn 2022, and to further develop and expand the service. An inspiring example of collaboration and knowledge sharing across the library team has filled a gap in student need and enabled a process of reciprocal learning – Kirsten stressed just how much library staff have learned from the VSS attendees!

Jill Leishman delivered an informative session on library health and wellbeing initiatives at North East Scotland College and West College Scotland. It was interesting to see that many of the initiatives we run at City of Glasgow College Library are mirrored in FE libraries across Scotland – reimagining spaces and redefining services are important aspects of evolving library provision. The Covid pandemic brought health and wellbeing very much to the fore – NESCOL have invested in light boxes to combat seasonal affective disorder, increased fiction issues by 62% by promoting reading for pleasure, and will launch ‘Wellbeing Hubs’ this autumn with comfy seating, plants, book displays, colouring books, board games and jigsaws. A successful SLIC-funded project ‘Stories, Crafts, Creative Adventures’ involved 10 staff and 10 students meeting monthly to take part in author talks, crafting sessions, creative writing and book discussions – a truly holistic approach to library support, with positive feedback on the benefits to mental health and reduced social isolation. West College Scotland Library have developed their Wellbeing collection, hosted drop-in events and book giveaways, and use Wakelet as a platform to curate content that goes beyond traditional subject guides. Their ‘A Book and a Blether’ group is hosted on Teams and has been a successful way of connecting with students and staff across the college.

Sessions on The Archive of Tomorrow project (Joseph Marshall, National Library of Scotland) and Curating Discomfort (Zandra Yeaman, The Hunterian Museum) continued the theme of stories. The former aims to capture web content from a wide variety of sources before these stories are lost, revealing misinformation and fake news in the process; the latter challenges museums to make critical assessments of collections and displays to widen participation and ensure stories are representative and told from multiple perspectives.

As CILIPS President Amina Shah put it, the event was a fantastic opportunity to “celebrate the range of roles that libraries have in empowering individuals and communities and to underline the importance of telling our own story about the value of our services”. As keynote speaker and President of CILIP Kate Robinson stated we often don’t shout loudly enough about the positive impact we make – we are ‘scene-shifters’, ever-evolving but often invisible, working away in the background. Conference provides an opportunity to showcase that it’s not simply all about the books…

Thank you to Robert and Brenda for sharing such in-depth and inspiring reflections on how the content of CILIPS22 will support the excellent work of City of Glasgow College Library and FE libraries across Scotland.

For more on the CILIPS 2022 Annual Conference, including speaker slides and recordings coming soon, please click here.

Skip to content