I’d never been to a CILIP Career Development Group conference before this summer, probably because I’m not a member of CDG so hadn’t paid much attention to their conferences before now; but this year their call for papers really resonated with the work that CLIC (Cardiff Libraries in Co-operation) does, and so in conjunction with Kristine Chapman from National Museum Wales I put in a proposal which was accepted.
The theme for the conference was ‘Together we are stronger’ and focussed on looking at opportunities for partnership and collaborative working. Collaboration could be between different sectors, within the same sector, between new and experienced practitioners, or working with academics, for example.
The event was held at a conference centre in Birmingham, and as to be expected from the theme, attracted attendees who were a mixture of new and experienced library and information professionals, and who worked in many different sectors. Librarians from the health sector were particularly prominent, alongside many from the usual higher education sector.
The conference was a mixture of plenary and parallel sessions; though with such a tight coalescing theme it felt a shame to have to miss sessions, as all sounded particularly relevant and interesting. The key note speaker for the day was Liz Jolly from the University of Teeside. Her presentation was entitled: ‘Developing our community of practice: learning together for a stronger profession’ and emphasised that professional practice needs to be underpinned by learning and research. She believes that we should all be life long learners and reflective practitioners; and noted that the more senior one gets one should still remember to ‘give back’ to the profession. Other tips she gave included the idea of networking with people who are different from you, and embracing a combination of continuity and change.
The first parallel session looked at ‘Sharing knowledge and experience’ and I chose to attend ‘Producing the evidence for effective evidence-based librarianship’ by Karen Davies (University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee). She introduced the topic of evidence-based librarianship (EBL) by explaining that in many ways it had emerged from the concept of evidence-based medicine – something which I expect all the health librarians were aware of, but which many others weren’t.
EBL is about looking at the best level evidence to inform decision making practice in librarianship. We should also critically evaluate and appraise the evidence we have.
If we can’t immediately find any relevant evidence we should try looking outside the traditional LIS area, for instance education, management, and marketing are three areas where we might find comparative research or ideas which could be applied to librarianship. If we need to carry out the research ourselves it is also worth considering collaboration – with someone from a different library, a different institution, or someone who isn’t working in a traditional LIS role (ie look again to education, management etc). You may want to utilise a student (someone who wishes to do some research for their dissertation), though be aware that their aims may differ from your own, and it is always worth consulting with their supervisor about the project. Even if you are doing the research yourself consider contacting a possible mentor, someone who is more used to the research process than you might be, and who can perhaps cast a more critical eye over your prospective survey or research plan, and offer you advice.
Davies also mentioned the Evidence Based Library and Information Practice journal, which is an open access, peer reviewed journal, and a good resource for research that has already been completed.
The next session was on the ‘Wider professional outlook’, and as one speaker had had to cancel we were all able to attend the presentation by Patricia Lacey (Dudley PCT) & Emma Gibbs on: ‘Developing your own skills network’ . Their talk was about the West Midlands Health Libraries Network which has a learning and development group who put on one day ‘Knowledge sharing’ events (ie staff development/training days). They have a wide pool of hospital libraries based in the West Midland, and are able to utilise a variety of staff to run these event, with sponsorship to cover refreshments and venues. They also have job shadowing opportunities available on their website – this is a list of libraries that are willing to participate, individuals make contact and arrange placement themselves. In addition to the main Knowledge sharing events they also have a paraprofessionals group which focuses on training that is practical for the job.
The following session was the first of the ‘Collaboration & partnership’ sessions, and I attended the ‘Collaboration to show impact of information sharing skills training’ by Stephen Ayre (George Elliot Hospital NHS Trust). His presentation was about a collaboration of NHS libraries in England (mainly Midlands) who have pooled together to create an impact survey which can be used across all participating libraries to create a larger pool of evidence. They have been looking at the impact of education training on NHS staff, based on the Kirkpatrick Hierarchy; and have developed an impact assessment tool.
The second of the ‘Collaboration & partnership’ was where myself and Kristine gave our presentation on CLIC and highlighted the benefits of cross-sectoral staff development events.
In the third and final session I listened to Rebecca Dorsett (Royal United Hospital Bath) talking about: ‘Shelving together: collaborative working through different library environments’. Her key message seemed to be that we should be aware of different practices in different sectors that could be used cross-sector. With her top tips being that we should explore other library environments, be willing to share resources, and work together to create unique projects.
In addition to these presentations there was also a workshop session, and an update on the CILIP future skills project. Overall it was a very interesting conference and left me with plenty to think about. I will certainly watch out for CDG events in the future.
All the presentations are now available on the CDG website.