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Event report: ARLG Conference 2016

Laura Williams was the winner of our bursary to attend the ARLG Conference 2016. She is currently Reading List and Collection Development Librarian at the University of Huddersfield. 

The conference theme was “Are you being served? Serving our learners in a changing climate” and was held at Aston University, Birmingham from 27-29 June. Here Laura reports on her experiences at the conference.

I was able to attend the ARLG16 Conference thanks to a bursary from ARLG North West, my first ARLG Conference and first ever ARLG event too.  The three day event was packed with excellent sessions. It would be a long read if I wrote about everything, so this conference report will pick out some of the key themes and main highlights.  I have created a Storify of tweets, featuring mainly my own tweets but also some from others, which provides an overview of the whole conference.

Overall Impressions

The conference was structured with morning and afternoon keynotes and then a variety of workshop sessions. There was a wide range of sessions to choose from in each time slot, meaning everyone had lots of choice about what to attend. I went to 9 different workshops, covering a range of topics from UX research, library spaces, customer engagement, and accessibility. Plus let’s not forget to mention the brilliant introduction to book folding from Cara Clarke and Fran Heap. Most of the sessions had a practical element to them which definitely enriched the learning experience. Practical workshops are not always easy in short 45 minute conference sessions however each group task or discussion was well planned and suitable for the timeframe. Getting to try a new technique or engage in a discussion in most sessions rather than watch a lengthy presentation was one of the best aspects of ARLG16.

ARLG Conference 2016 pic 1

Librarians attempt to journey map the process for doing the washing up during Susan Renshaw’s Customer Journey Mapping workshop (left); and a book folding display from Cara Clarke and Fran Heap (right).


Seven Deadly Sins of Librarianship: Jo Webb – Presentation Slides

Jo delivered a plenary talk focused our worst traits as a profession, the things that possibly hold us back from delivering the best services and achieving our full potential. Jo used the seven deadly sins as a framework for this talk, and explored the ways we are guilty of lust, gluttony, avarice, sloth, wrath and envy. Jo balanced her talk by looking at the seven heavenly virtues and we use these to underpin our professional practice.  This was an excellent talk because it held no qualms about admitting that we aren’t always the best we can be (demonstrating a virtue rather than a sin there!). At library conferences we often focus on celebrating positive achievements, talks are often an example of a ‘let’s all pat ourselves on the back’ attitude, rather than look an honest look at the problems we face. Jo presented a balanced view of what we do well and where we need to remember to not fall down, offering a refreshing look at the profession.

Customer Service Excellence: Neil Potentier – Presentation Slides

This keynote is one of my conference highlights; it was a fantastic insight into customer service excellence from a real life CSE assessor! I’ve not been involved in a CSE assessment myself so it was interesting to hear about working towards excellence from the other point of view.  Neil works with many different organisations, not just libraries, so brought an excellent external perspective to the conference. Every point Neil made was backed up by a story, illustrating the good and the bad when it comes to delivering customer service.  The talk emphasised how much we can learn from the customer service examples of other organisations.

ARLG Conference 2016 pic 2

A conference of hundreds of post-it notes; book hedgehogs, and sociable evenings in the conference hotel bar (where we all tried not to be too disappointed by the performance of the England football team). 

UX: Engaging and Involving Students through User Experience to inform library space design:  Sandra Reid and Tania Olsson – Presentation Slides

Quite a lot of the sessions I attended focused on using UX research methods to inform the design of library space.  Sandra Reid and Tania Olsson gave us an introduction to UX techniques, explaining some of the main methods and how these have been used at University of the Arts London. Methods shared included mapping, touchstone tours, love letters and reflective logs.  The practical element involved us working in groups to redesign the silent study area of the library, using data collected from focus groups and mapping to inform choices in space design.

“New Look?” Ensuring Leaner Needs are Met in Library Spaces: David Clover – Presentation Slides

Another enjoyable session about designing library spaces. First task was sharing ideas about methods for gathering user feedback before starting a library refurbishment project. Then we worked in groups to turn the feedback data into decisions.  Ideas for addressing the concerns of library users identified in feedback, and categorise as “how, now or wow”; How ideas are the big ideas which could be difficult to implement, now ideas are easy to implement, and the wow ideas are original but easy to implement small fixes.  Categorising our ideas in this way was a great method for organising initial ideas and thinking about how feasible a solution was.

A Personal Reflection

I wanted to attend ARLG16 to broaden my perspective on academic libraries, and learn more about what happens in other organisations. I’ve been working in HE for less than a year, after over 5 years working in the very niche world of media archives, as a result my knowledge and experience of the sector has many gaps. I’m also currently working on a very specific project so it was great to step away from all things reading list related and find out about other aspects of academic library work. I felt that for me personally at the moment, a conference like ARLG would offer a good solid academic library focus but still offer a wide range of insights. As funds and time for staff development are limited (and bursaries are scarce) I’m very grateful for the opportunity to attend a conference. If you can only attend one conference, it needs to be the right one for your professional development. I learnt a lot at ARLG16 and came away with lots of ideas to follow up on. Smaller focused conferences can deliver excellent value in the content of their programme, and that is exactly what ARLG16 delivered.  I came back raving about how brilliant the conference was to everyone in the office, and I definitely feel like I learnt lots of genuinely useful and practical things.

We’re really pleased that Laura enjoyed the conference and took away so much from her time there. She’s already disseminated her new skills by showing our committee member Michelle how to fold a book hedgehog! Watch this space for more bursary offers and announcements about the next ARLG Conference. 



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.

Event announcement: Making your message stick, with Ned Potter

CILIPNW Member Network and ARLG NW are delighted to announce this joint one-day event:

Making your message stick

Date and time: 16th October 2015 10am- 4.30pm
Location: Wolfson Rooms (situated in the Harold Cohen Library at University of Liverpool)

This is a hands-on, interactive workshop about presentation skills. The morning focuses on the golden rules of creating presentations, finding free to use (and legal to use!) images, and producing slides. Everyone knows about Death by PowerPoint, but it can be a brilliant tool when used properly; we’ll look at three different methods of creating slides to use depending on how much time you have and how important the presentation is. Although you’ll learn to produce beautiful slides, this will be a by-product of making EFFECTIVE presentations which help your message stick in your audience’s minds – everything in the course content is backed up by research into multimedia communication.

In the afternoon we’ll have more hands-on time to explore Prezi, a zooming presentation tool – we’ll look at what Prezi is, how it works, why you might want to use it and why you might NOT want to use it. We’ll discuss creating engaging Prezi presentations which don’t leave the audience feeling sea-sick.

The final session is about presenting itself: what works, what doesn’t, quick tips, and conquering nerves – but don’t worry, this isn’t the kind of training where you have to give a presentation at the end and be critiqued by your peers – it’s a pressure free environment for learning.

About the Trainer:
Ned Potter is an Academic Liaison Librarian at the University of York, and a Trainer for various organisations including the British Library and the Bodleian, as well as PiCS in Australasia. His book The Library Marketing Toolkit was published by Facet in 2012. Ned can be found online at and on Twitter at @ned_potter. You can see examples of his own presentations at

Feedback for previous versions of this workshop:

“Tips and tricks about perfect presentations – it was fantastic! Very informative, very attractive content of the course. I’d recommend it to anyone.” Bodleian Libraries 2015

“Ned was fantastic, and there was a great balance of practical exercises, and presentation of examples and tips.” CILIP NE 2015

“This workshop has undoubtedly helped to get me out of the rut I’m definitely in – my PowerPoints will be changed immediately! Thank you, I thoroughly enjoyed it.” LIEM 2015

Booking:  Please email Dawn Grundy –

Cost, including lunch, tea/coffee as follows:
CILIP/ARLG members – £15
Non CILIP members – £50
New professional (less than 5 years) – £5 (max. 3 places)

Maximum no. of places = 20

Additionally, we are also offering two Student award places to current students enrolled on an LIS course.
To apply for this please send a letter of application (no more than 250 words) to Michael.Cook@BOLTON.GOV.UK  stating why you would like to attend and what you would gain from this event. Deadline for applications is Monday 5th October 2015. The successful applicants will be asked to write a short report of the day for the groups, within a month of attendance. This report will be published on the ARLG NW Blog and in the CILIPNW newsletter.

ARLG NW Event announcement – November 2014

Brand and Deliver with Kathy Ennis

ARLG NW are pleased to present a practical session with Kathy Ennis – mentor, trainer, public speaker – and librarian.

A library ‘brand’ is the sum of perceptions users and non-users have of the service. The library staff are key to influencing what people think and say and represent an immediate, tangible perception that the public associate with the qualities and value of that service.

Put simply: You are the Library; the Library is You!

In this practical session, Kathy will help you explore how to leverage your personal brand for personal and professional development and use brand principles to create and deliver engaging, quality library services.

Refreshments will be available during the afternoon.


Where? Manchester Central Library

When? Friday 28th November from 2-5pm


£25 + VAT for non-members

£20 + VAT for CILIP members

Two FREE student places also offered on a first come, first served basis

To book your place, please email Dawn Grundy –  with the following details:


Institution (if applicable)

CILIP membership number (if applicable)

Name and address for invoicing

Access or support requirement

Please state if you would like a free student place – these will be offered on a ‘first come, first served’ basis.


Booking deadline: 20th November


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