Category Archives: Reports

Event report: LISDIS Conference 2015

Alison attended the first LISDIS (Library and Information Science Dissertations) Conference in Huddersfield on Saturday 14th November 2015. She’s kindly reported on her experiences for us. Alison is a new school librarian at Bolton School, known locally as “Hogwarts.”. She previously worked as a library assistant in the public sector, and prior to that in marketing. She’s on Twitter as @alisoncaller and blogs (mostly about chartership) at 

On Saturday 14th November I attended the first LISDIS – this included a variety of presentations by LIS graduates of their unpublished MA dissertations. I also had the opportunity to network with enthusiastic, intelligent, mostly new Librarians (and a couple of tutors). The tutor from UCL was surprised that I was neither doing a LIS degree nor a recent LIS graduate and said that he was impressed that I was attending as part of the Chartership process.

Actually I found the presentations very interesting and whilst I’m unsure that I can apply them all specifically to my work as a School Librarian, they did solidify some of my feelings about the profession.

There were several presentations about cataloguing and classification. The significant findings were to do with equality of access. Sarah Hume’s presentation ‘Wine, Witchcraft, Women, Wool:Classifying Women’s studies collections’ was about how Dewey/Library of Congress classifies women’s studies (primarily that it doesn’t have numbers to do so). The second presentation by Lizzie Sparrow was about ‘The Provision of Lesbian Fiction in Public Libraries in Scotland.’

Sarah Hume at LISDIS

The first presenter, Sarah Hume on ‘Wine, Witchcraft, Women, Wool: Classifying Women’s Studies Collections’.

On both occasions their findings demonstrated that not being recognised (either with a classification number or with a tag of Lesbian fiction) left the customers feeling less valued and was ‘extremely dis-spiriting’ (Lizzie Sparrow). Specifically, the latter thesis found being given an identity on the catalogue helped with ‘a sense of identity, validation, connection and learning about themselves and others’. It was particularly helpful for women/girls in the process of ‘coming out.’

I found a connection between these two presentations and a third about “La Femme Bibliophile”: women as book collectors in an age of bibliomania. This presentation by Lucy Saint-Smith gave a fascinating glimpse into the 18th century world of aristocratic ‘Lady’ book collectors. They were primarily ignored by male bibliophiles – indeed one dismissed his female counterpart as basing their collections upon ‘the decorative and sentimental.’

I felt that there was a correlation between the women’s studies’ lack of classification and the lesbians non-inclusion in the catalogues. These female bibliophiles were elusive but interesting figures now and excluded in their own lifetime.

Ian Clark’s presentation ‘To what extent do community libraries address the concerns of the digital divide’ was a very powerful and spirited session about the use of volunteers in community run libraries. Whilst I ‘know’ that volunteers are only helping because the see no other alternative to their local library shutting, Ian demonstrated exactly how pushed into a corner these people can be. It begged the question ‘Is it better to close than to provide a partial service?’

Ian Clark at LISDIS.jpg

Ian Clark presenting at LISDIS

He also passionately illustrated the differences (primarily socio-economic) between a volunteer library being run in a rural area and an urban one. He found that in the rural area the community group were expected to provide a business plan, they also received donations and money from their parish council and even had cash reserves. As a contrast, the urban library was in a deprived area where volunteers actually came from a distance to help. The lack of home computer access meant there were queues out the door at weekends by schoolchildren wanting to do their homework. They were completely unsupported by their local council who removed part of the computer suite and had told them that they had to find £70k a year in order to continue to run. Indeed, it was likely that they would have to charge for computer access in the future.

I found it easy to relate to both of these types of libraries as I worked in a partially volunteer run semi rural (and affluent) library and an urban library in a deprived area. Ian explained that his research showed that although the volunteers were doing their best, neither set were actually given training on using the computers and simply had to do their best with the skills that the volunteers already had. This mean that customers were left to muddle through when they did get to access the computers.

In all honesty, this both depressed and enraged me. The LISDIS conference was on the same day as the Speak up for Libraries conference in London and my twitter feed displayed similar tales of the dire straits that public libraries find themselves in. What interested me from the SUFL conference was that Kathy Settle CEO of the Libraries Taskforce (according to Twitter) stated “I have publically said it’s unacceptable to cut volunteers adrift with libraries”. It sounds as if this is what has happened.

The dissertation’s main topic was actually about how these community run libraries perpetuate the digital divide, particularly in areas of deprivation where fewer households than the national average have internet access. I believe this subject is extremely important to our role as librarians. Helping people access and use computers in order to make use of the wealth of information online (at a basic level to be able to fill in official documents such as benefits forms as well as for the economics benefits) is a key part our remit. Of course, the web offers far more than just economic savings; the opportunity for using it for education and socially is just as important and excluding parts of the population feels very wrong to me.

Having attended this conference I now know more about why having collection policies and why how subjects are classified is important. This understanding will be beneficial to me as a professional as I wanted to learn about our ethics and how I can be more ethical in the way that I work. I am going to discuss with my manager whether we should keyword LGBT books on our catalogue separately, although this may happen more naturally when we change LMS in the Spring.

I am also going to keep up to date with the information relating to library advocacy as it is a subject close to my heart as I disagree strongly with the way that so many public libraries are being shut or run by community groups.

Thanks to Alison for her thoughts on LISDIS, sounds like it was a very interesting and useful day! All presentation from the conference, along with Storify stories from the day, are available on the LISDIS website.

Photo credits: Laura Williams


Event report 2: Making your message stick, with Ned Potter

ARLG NW and CILIP NW offered 2 free student places for our October event, Making your message stick, with Ned Potter. We’re pleased to present write-ups from both students. We published the first yesterday, by Christine Tate. Today is Katie Nicholas’ turn. Katie’s a student at Manchester Metropolitan University.

Prior to this training I had a basic understanding of how to create a PowerPoint but Ned’s training introduced me to so many features I had never made proper use of, including picture formatting options and textbox features. Tips about using minimal space on the slide and the importance of fonts have already been incredibly useful for presentations I am delivering at university and for work.

Ned introduced us to a plethora of great websites where one can source images to create backgrounds without breaching any copyright laws or licenses. The time provided in the session to try each resource and experiment with PowerPoint meant I could ask questions whilst using the new tools. This meant I felt more equipped to use them on my own after the session. The training also gave advice on using these techniques in real-world situations such as working with organisational templates and branding.

The training offered advice on lowering the risk of technical issues by describing the anatomy of a slide and issues with projector alignment – for example not placing vital points near the top or bottom of a slide where they may be lost or obstructed by members of the audience or the projector screen. It is easy to forget about delivering a presentation for real when you are immersed in creating content, making the presentation aesthetically pleasing and remembering what to say so this was a welcome reminder.

The afternoon sessions gave an introduction to Prezi and an overview of presentation and communication skills. I was aware of Prezi but had never used it and was unsure how it worked. Ned effectively used a Prezi to explain the features, pros and cons and most importantly when not to use it. The main message I took away was that Prezi is great for specific kinds of presentations but should be used with caution. Practice is also a necessity! The interactivity and zoom in and out features are fantastic for dipping in and out of material or if you want a more holistic approach as the user sees the whole presentation from the start. Ned advised us to map out our Prezi before adding text and images in the online templates to create more cohesive end results – this was helpful as it is quite a different way of approaching presentations compared to PowerPoint where you can input a structure into slides and amend the visual features later.

By outlining the pitfalls and strengths of Prezi I felt more comfortable experimenting with the templates available and armed with enough knowledge to know when it may be appropriate to use.

The final session gave concise and cohesive advice about planning and preparing any presentation. The importance of researching, structuring and practicing your presentation was highlighted and tips like using the 3:3:3 approach will help organise my ideas in future. Tips on timing information on slides, rehearsing and familiarising yourself with the material and not just memorising will all help me deliver better presentations.

The day has given me lots of resources, tips and real-world advice that I am already venturing to use and has reminded me of the effectiveness and potential of PowerPoint when used in different ways.

Thanks to both Christine and Katie for their thoughts, and to Ned for hosting the workshop.

Event report: Making your message stick

ARLG NW and CILIP NW offered 2 free student places for our October event, Making your message stick, with Ned Potter. We’re pleased to present write-ups from both students. The first is from Christine Tate, a current student studying the MA in Library and Information Management at Manchester Metropolitan University.

I was pleased to receive a student place on the ‘making your message stick’ event by CILIP NW Member Network and ARLG NW. I am a full time student on the MA in library and information management course and I thought that this event would be a valuable opportunity to develop my presentation skills.

The workshop was led by Ned Potter and we started the day with a presentation on how to create Powerpoint presentations that would engage your audience and leave them thinking about your key message. Ned explained that your presentation should address the overlap between what you know and what your audience wants or needs to know. It is too easy to fall into the trap of using a presentation to express everything you know about a subject and therefore providing more information than the audience needs. Ned demonstrated how this could be done by formatting and presenting your slides in a way that helps people to learn, avoiding common pitfalls such as an over-reliance on bullet points and putting too much content on each slide. We were then given an opportunity to put this into practice when Ned provided us with three different methods to create effective presentations depending on how much time we had or what type of presentation we had to give. I thought the workshop was a good balance of theory and practice, we were given time to explore the resources and try out the new techniques.

After lunch we moved on to look at Prezi. Ned gave us a presentation on how to make the most of Prezi by utilising the useful features that it contains that Powerpoint doesn’t. Ned warned us that due to Prezi’s tendency to make some people feel seasick it is often best to only use it when there is a specific reason to justify its use. Through the presentation I learnt that Prezi does indeed have some unique content that distinguishes it from traditional presentations, the example that stood out the most was the ability to use Prezi to create an interactive map which could be used in a library setting to allow the user to explore the collection and seamlessly access tools and information on how to use resources. The day drew to a close by examining the practical aspects of giving a presentation. Ned gave us advice on how to deliver presentations and work with any nerves we might be experiencing.

It was encouraging to see the progress in the presentations I was able to create by the end of workshop compared to the basic Powerpoint and Prezi presentations I could make at the start. I am sure that the skills and techniques I developed at the workshop will be of assistance in my academic work this year and in any professional post I am able to gain after completing the course. I am giving a presentation in a few weeks time on special libraries in Manchester and I am excited to put my new presentation skills into use.

Thanks to Christine for her thoughts; tomorrow we’ll hear from the other student place winner, Katie Nicholas.

CILIP Conference – Part 2

ARLG NW offered a bursary to attend CILIP Conference 2015, held in Liverpool. Michelle Bond, Faculty Librarian at Liverpool Hope University, was the winner of our bursary. Her report on the conference appears in 2 parts, with the first part found here.

In my second post, I’ll cover a couple of sessions I attended that really stood out – one from each day of the conference.

Day 1

From Day 1, the highlight was Phil Bradley’s session on ‘Developments in Internet search’. Phil is always good value, as proved by the fact I had a front row seat due to the room being packed out! The last time I encountered Phil was when I was a graduate trainee way back in 2011 I think – at CILIP’s New Professionals Day, where I remember him exhorting us to be militant librarians and feeling mildly terrified at the end. This time, as a much more grown up new professional, I was really pleased to be able to update my knowledge of search (with Phil speaking much more quietly).

Phil started out talking about Google and how it’s dismantling its search engine, and starting to lose credibility. He mentioned the loss of synonym and reading level options as well as the limited advanced search options as reasons. In addition, he reminded us that Google are an advertising firm who just use search to make money. They want to give us information without us having to think, but this isn’t good – Phil used the example of searching “what happened to dinosaurs?

Phil moved on to discussing the pressures on Google search, of which there are many! These mainly come in the form of social media – Google is focussed on websites when the world has moved on to social, with the importance of the individual going up and the website going down. Social media provides a more personalised search, and allows users to turn to “experts” among their network rather than  asking Google and having to scroll through lists of results. Google has failed at social media (Google+ anyone?) and so cannot compete in this area.

Other Google problems include increasing competition from other search engines, competition from other sites (Twitter, for example is better at prediction and more up to date), and political issues such as the right to be forgotten and potentially contradictory laws from different countries that they will need to abide by. Google is attempting to fight back by giving us information before we know we need it in the form of Google Now, with Phil saying that search in future will be increasingly embedded into what we’re doing.

A few alternative search engines Phil recommended trying:




Social media search:

Social searcher




There are many more suggestions on Phil’s slides –

Day 2

Moving on to Day 2, my session highlight was Naomi Korn’s “master class in copyright compliance, management and strategy for your organisation”. Whilst I don’t have any responsibility for copyright in my organisation, it is one of my chartership areas so thought I might learn something new.

Naomi’s masterclass was, in a word, brilliant. She made a very dry sounding topic come alive and seem totally relevant. She started off by saying that copyright is now an intrinsic part of digital literacy – for people to be able to create, share, reuse, repurpose, etc. they need to understand copyright. There has been a huge cultural change since the 1988 Copyright, Designs and Patents Act was introduced – teens have a different attitude to materials, and feel they can do what they want with anything they like. Unfortunately, copyright law has not kept up with the pace of change.

Naomi stated that we need to be strategic with copyright, and manage risk, particularly with regards to the new introductions to law as no one is yet sure how far the boundaries can be pushed. Risk management involves confidence – and there is correlation between organisations having a copyright officer and their confidence in risk management. Naomi then spent time explaining why copyright is an essential issue for every organisation:

An information management issue – need to be sure you have somewhere to store licenses

A knowledge management issue – need to know what is in the licenses

A people management issue – making sure all staff know their roles and responsibilities

A policy issue – not abiding by copyright should be a disciplinary offence

A strategic issue

Essentially, copyright needs to be embedded into practice, and stopped treating as “other”. Core to this is staff engagement through policies and tools they can use (forms, summaries of key licenses, etc.). Copyright needs to be built into procedures and policy should be a living breathing thing.

The final thing I learned from Naomi was that being incredibly passionate about your topic makes a huge difference! Her half an hour talk was very engaging and she really made copyright come alive for me, fully convincing me to march out of the room and start making changes. A genuinely excellent talk.

Thanks to ARLG NW for supporting me to attend the conference. It was so valuable and I now have plenty to write up for chartership. All of the slides from the conference can be found from the conference programme at

CILIP Conference 2015 – Part 1

ARLG NW offered a bursary to attend CILIP Conference 2015, held in Liverpool. Michelle Bond, Faculty Librarian at Liverpool Hope University, was the winner of our bursary. Her report on the conference appears in 2 parts, today and Friday.

Sometimes it’s nice to travel to conferences; I’ve been to a few both in the UK and overseas. For a change though, it was nice to have a major conference on my doorstep, meaning I could stay at home and take the bus to work. Thus on the morning of Thursday 2nd July I rocked up to the gorgeous St George’s Hall, fresh and ready to engage with CILIP Conference 2015.

Rather than writing a chronological account of the conference, in this post I’ll write about a couple of my conference highlights – in the next I’ll write about a couple of really useful sessions I attended. You can view all of the conference presentations at the CILIP Conference website.

The Keynotes

Quite simply, the keynotes were fabulous and my number 1 highlight of the conference. From R. David Lankes to Erwin James, each speaker was thought-provoking and explored issues at the heart of what it means to work in our profession. One thing that really shone through all the talks, however, was the reminder that our work is all about people. Cory Doctorow reminded us that the Internet improves every outcome we value, from literacy to voting turnout; Stuart Hamilton talked about library involvement in sustainable development; Erwin James reminded us of the power of a book. Libraries serve people and make their lives better. Librarians serve people and, in the words of R. David Lankes, are “change agents”. For me this was most apparent in the presentation about the Ideas Box from Bibliothèques Sans Frontières.

Barbara from Bibliothèques Sans Frontières told us that a refugee spends approximately 17 years in a refugee camp; humanitarian organisations provide the basics like water and tents but not the things that make us human – like culture. The Ideas Box can be deployed anywhere – it doesn’t need electricity or internet. It has a strong focus on creativity and aims to create space for a vibrant community. The challenge for Ideas Box is the quality of content – they need help from librarians all around the world to curate the content of the Box and ensure it’s locally relevant. It was another great reminder that libraries, in whatever form they appear, make a huge difference to their communities.

R. David Lankes gave us all an action plan

R. David Lankes gave us all an action plan

The Exhibition

One of the many things I’ve learned from SLA (and specifically the awesome Library Sherpa) is that vendors are not our enemies! They really are people too (honest). So I made sure to spend some quality time getting my sticker sheet filled and having a chat with all the exhibitors. From saying hello to companies my university already do business with to finding out about exciting new developments (SeeSearch was one that particularly interested me) to picking up a stash of my favourite pens from Cambridge University Press, the exhibition hall was well worth the time spent.

It was well worth chatting to the exhibitors...not just for the freebies!

It was well worth chatting to the exhibitors…not just for the freebies!


The conference was really fantastic for networking – I got to catch up with some familiar faces and meet some new people too. My one small gripe about the conference was that it was so packed that sometimes catch-ups were too brief as I had to rush off to another session, but the sessions were also good so I can’t complain really! The reception at the Museum of Liverpool was fantastic, with delicious food, free drinks and the opportunity to explore the museum. I also got roundly beaten at giant Connect 4 by my colleagues!
As you can tell, my impression of CILIP Conference was very favourable! In my post on Friday I’ll discuss in more depth a couple of particularly valuable sessions I attended.

ARLG Conference 2014 report – Part 2

Helen Monagle won the ARLG NW bursary to attend the ARLG Conference 2014. Her report on the conference is in 2 parts – you can read part 1 here.

ARLG photo 3The five key messages from the conference were the importance of demonstrating your value and service; adapt; work collaboratively; direct involvement (leading from the front)/engagement is essential and that alignment is critical. Things to bear in mind:

  • Use statistics/analytics to show your value, impact and relevance.
  • Marketing your service is vital – Katherine Rose (Regent’s University London) asserted in her workshop that we need to push ourselves outside of our comfort zones into promotion whilst remembering “no communication should be without purpose”. Action words are used at The Keep to engage and to show that the service is alive and relevant! (Fiona Courage, Special Collections Manager & Mass Observation Curator, University of Sussex – fourth keynote speaker).
  • Student endorsements are great when trying to prove the library’s value to the university – Madeleine Lefebvre (Chief Librarian, Ryerson University – third keynote speaker).
  • Demonstrate your niche skills as a way of promoting your service e.g. reviewing data management plans.
  • Importance of direct contact e.g. Regent’s University London found that direct contact and engaging with academics rather than students is what delivered results when promoting their new discovery service. Getting staff on board (academic buy in) is vital and led to being invited into classrooms to provide instruction to students. They also found that promoting the service via emails and training via drop in sessions didn’t work as well.
  • Madeleine – taking responsibility for things bigger than yourself ensures that you get noticed e.g. the library was involved in building the website and providing metadata for Winnie the bear exhibit and have also pioneered apps for enterprise.
  • Remember to know your limits re involvement – we can’t do everything!
  • To be able to adapt Paul Jeorrett (Head of Library, Glyndwr University – third keynote speaker) informed us that we need to take care of ourselves in order to be in a state to work with others and make the most of the changes whilst being mindful of your values and trying to hold to them.
  • You have to aligned with the academic plan!
  • On the topic of working collaboratively the following was said: (Madeleine) helping others gets you noticed; faculty support can be won just by being willing to help; you never give things away by working with others, in fact you gain way more! Working together is so productive (Paul). All of the challenges of working with new people/collections turn into positives; we are stronger together than apart; “the whole greater is than the sum of our parts” (Fiona).

The conference provided a valuable insight into what other academic libraries are doing in terms of service provision e.g. reviewing data management plans and LibAnswers[1] and how they are safeguarding their service by demonstrating their value and promoting the service.

Presentations from the conference can be found here:

[1] An online reference platform that helps ensure that users get fast and accurate answers from their librarians and also provides detailed statistics.

ARLG Conference Report – Part 1

ARLG NW offered a bursary to the national ARLG conference. Helen Monagle, Principal Library Assistant at Manchester Metropolitan University was the winner of our bursary. Her report on the conference appears in 2 parts, today and on Monday.

The ARLG 2014 Conference entitled “Academic libraries the final frontier – to boldy go where you have never been before” took place over three days, 23rd – 25th June, at the University of Sussex. Without a bursary from ARLG North West branch I would not have been able to attend this conference; as such I am extremely grateful.

ARLG photo 1

Welcome to the conference!

I began my conference experience by taking part in a Taylor and Francis focus group discussion focusing on The Use of Social Media (SM) in the Library which will be used to inform the White Paper they are producing on the topic. The focus included Using SM Tools in Your Library; User Engagement & Perception of Your Use of SM in the Library, amongst other topics. This was a great start to the conference which allowed me to express my opinions on these topics, learn from others and to engage with some of the delegates before the conference officially began.

The conference programme was packed; four key note speakers, nine workshop sessions, a quiz and gala dinner. There were 45 workshops in total covering the following key topics:

  • Teaching and learning
  • Research support
  • Shared services
  • Learning spaces
  • Electronic resources
  • CPD

In order to gain the most from the conference I attempted to attend at least one workshop covering the above topics whilst maintaining a focus on electronic resources, as this is more suitable to my current role. Given the multitude of presentations over the course of the conference (I attended all four key note sessions and eight workshops) I will not be able to provide detail on all of them so I will aim to sum up the key messages of the conference.

The conference began with an uplifting welcome from Kitty Inglis, University Librarian at the University of Sussex, who informed us that despite the increasing pressure upon us to demonstrate our services, value etc. we are very well placed in the Higher Education arena as agile adopters of technology to make them our own e.g. shared services, students as co-creators, MOOCs, Open Access etc.

Kitty’s welcome was followed by the first keynote speaker for the conference, John Purcell from Durham University with his presentation “To boldly go…stretching the envelope and making us indispensable”. John continued in the inspiration vein by informing us that it was important to remember that librarians are in control (the slogan on his t-shirt read “Librarian in Control”), especially in a time where libraries are taking on new roles and fresh challenges. During his presentation John asked the audience to raise their hand if they had had their responsibilities increased in the last year – over half the room raised their hand; thus demonstrating the “stretching of our envelopes” as librarians roles are well and truly stretched. Why is this the case? John explained that are librarians are good managers, professional, confident, engaged, valued, provide a neutral service and have a strong understanding of users viewpoints; in summary we are indispensable to our organisations! In order for the profession to live long and prosper we must make sure we are engaged, aligned and relevant to our institutions or RAE:

  • Relevance (of provision) –delivery of academic services, teaching, content management –print and electronic, research support, user support.
  • Alignment (with strategy) – is about partnering and promoting across the institution whilst distinguishing students needs & wants; this is critical as we need to be completely aligned with our institution and students. We need to decide what activities add value and get involved by leading from front. However it is important to be careful who you align with in terms of your strategic positioning/partnerships.
  • Engagement (with everybody) –partnership roles e.g. JISC, SCONUL; internal & external projects; academic liaison; shared services; academic writing e.g. SCONUL Focus, CILIP Update etc; externality e.g. conferences, CILIP, SCONUL; benchmarking which is critically useful.

It is also about making choices – we can’t do everything so we need to bear in mind the mantra John uses “stop starting and start stopping”. In order to “future proof” and make ourselves RAE we need to use some of these techniques: SWOT analyses; process reviews; benchmarking against our competitors; institutional visits in order to learn from others; scenario planning; remain professionally engaged and aware[1]; take bounded risks; continue service development. John purported that the “best way to predict the future is to invent it”. We need to make ourselves indispensable and prove it:

  • Carry out skills analysis to identify what we are lacking and rectify it.
  • Be a willing change agent – lead the changes rather than being followers.
  • Be agile, responsive, creative and innovative.

John concluded his keynote by confirming that ‘it’s a great time to be a Librarian in academic libraries’. John’s keynote not only provided practical tips on how to survive during these challenging times but was also uplifting as it reinforced the notion that we are skilled professionals with a vital role to play.

[1] John suggested that Library Schools should enable us to dip in and out in order to keep our skills up to date – this would be great!

%d bloggers like this: