Central Issues Inside this issue: Autumn/Winter 2011
The Umbrella 2 pilgrimage: perspectives from first-timers CDG WM spon- 5 sorship for conferences CDG Summer Quiz a success!
CDG WM Com- 7 mittee Meeting Vacancy Bulletin
CDG WM “Christmas” Dinner
The Career Development Group is a special interest group of CILIP, The Chartered Institute of Library & Information Professionals. Registered Charity Number 313014.
Editorial Welcome to this Autumn/Winter edition of Central Issues, and as the nights draw in, we are reminded of sunnier times with our two feature articles on Umbrella 2012. CDG WM sponsored two first-timers to attend Umbrella in Hatfield in July and you can turn to page 2 to read about their experiences. We’ve also got a report on the CDG Summer Quiz on page 6, so you can find out who won and how much money we raised for the CDG International Projects. Finally, on page 7, we are introduced to Gill Colbourne, Web Editor for CDG WM and if you want to get involved with the committee, you can find details of our next committee meeting and current vacancies on the following pages. I hope you all have a very Happy Christmas and a relaxing break before returning to work in the New Year re-invigorated and re-inspired. Georgina Hardy Newsletter Editor
Planning your New Year’s Resolutions? If you’re resolving to get more involved, professionally, in 2012, this newsletter is full of ways you can connect with CDG: 1. 2. 3. 4.
Meet CDG WM members informally at our “Christmas” Dinner on 26th January (see page 8). Come along to our next Committee Meeting on 15th February (see page 7). Write an article for the Spring 2012 issue of Central Issues (copy date 9th March—contact me on firstname.lastname@example.org) Take on a Committee Role (see page 8 for vacancies).
The Umbrella pilgrimage: perspectives from first-timers In July this year, CDG WM sponsored two members to attend Umbrella for the first time. Emily Clark and Angela Wright tell us about their experiences. I was fortunate enough to be sponsored by CDG West Midlands to attend this year’s Umbrella conference, held at the University of Hertfordshire’s impressively new and modern De Havilland campus. Arriving at the conference alone and not knowing anyone was rather daunting, but I soon found that many other delegates were also first time attendees in the same position. I began Tuesday by heading over to the auditorium for the keynote speech by Gerald Leitner, Secretary General of the Austrian Library Association. Leitner spoke of the need to create a European library policy that will help libraries overcome the challenges created by the financial crisis and the rise of e-books. Leitner believes that libraries will be unable to compete in the e-book arena unless copyright legislation is updated to encompass electronic formats. Suitably inspired by this speech, I chose to attend a breakout session on ‘Libraries and e-books’. This was a panel discussion including librarians and a publisher. It was interesting to hear how publishers actually make all e-books available in a standard format, and it is the device manufacturers who tweak the format to ensure their systems remain proprietary. This makes it difficult for libraries to offer e-books that can be read on any device. After a first timers lunch, in which I had the opportunity to speak to other delegates who hadn’t attended Umbrella before, I went to my second session of the day ‘Big Society or Big Con?’. The speakers in this session looked at whether the government’s Big Society concept offers genuine opportunities for community involvement or whether it is simply a smokescreen for massive public sector cuts. Unfortunately, they seemed to conclude it was the latter. My final breakout session of the day, titled ‘Librarians as Citizen Reporters’, demonstrated ways in which libraries could facilitate community websites and forums that focus on local issues. I was not aware of these sorts of websites and was amazed at the innovative work some library services are involved in. Tuesday night ended with a delicious three course gala dinner at Sopwell House, where we were addressed by author Bonnie Greer. Greer read extracts from her latest novel and spoke passionately about her lifelong love for libraries. Wednesday began with a session about the ‘Future of Libraries’, a question and answer session in which delegates had the opportunity to put their thoughts to a panel that included CILIP chief executive Annie Mauger. I followed this with a session on ‘Volunteers in Libraries’, where we heard presentations by staff from library services who had deployed volunteers in various ways. I
came away with a strong idea that volunteers can be great for helping with extra activities, but caution should be used when allowing them to take on the core activities of staff, particularly in times where councils are looking for savings. After lunch, I attended my final session which looked at various ideas that had arisen from authorities who have participated in the ‘Libraries Change Lives’ awards. This was a great way to end the conference and inspired much admiration for the things that libraries can accomplish with a bit of imagination. I thoroughly enjoyed my first Umbrella conference and hope it won’t be my last! Emily Clark is Service Development Librarian for Stock at Dudley Public Libraries
To begin - A Confession. Despite a strong belief in continuing professional development and persistent reminders to colleagues that CPD doesn't end in Chartership, I'm an awardwinning procrastinator in the field and rarely follow my own advice, hence needing something to kick me off on the road to revalidation and at least an attempt at setting a good example for a change. I'm also of the opinion that it’s a myth that the Big Society and funding cuts have created the first real crisis for libraries - in my career (mostly public and education libraries) ‘do more with the same or less’ has been a pretty much constant mantra, though probably never as widespread as now. As many employers now seem to disregard the value of professional library qualifications I’m coming to the view that to be effective advocates it’s essential to drive even harder towards gaining our ‘badges of honour’ as indicators of skills and frankly outstanding talents in the field that really can’t be replicated by any twit with access to Google and Wikipedia. But having done very little since Chartering (well it took a long time to get round to it and my brain hurt afterwards), where to start?
Never having attended Umbrella before I jumped at the chance to apply for a sponsored place through CDG WM, and jumped even higher when the email came with the news that I’d been successful - more than the chance to attend a variety of panels and presentations I was really looking forward to spending time making connections with colleagues for ideas sharing, good practice and a wider perspective on what’s happening in other libraries. It felt a bit like a pilgrimage to be honest - closeting myself off for a couple of days in the exclusive company of other library folk - and on reaching the de Havilland campus of the University of Hertfordshire, discovering the accommodation was, though comfortable, spartan enough (wot no telly?!) reinforced the impression of separation from the rest of society in order to focus utterly on one’s professional soul. Piecing together the various sessions and presentations into a coherent whole is a pretty mammoth task - in trying to pick a path through the multiple options it helped that sessions were categorised into one of six themes: Skills and professionalism; Promotion and advocacy; Technologies and access; Libraries in the Big Society; Digital inclusion and social change; and Workshops - tools and techniques. With the exception of workshops I spread myself pretty evenly across the themes with the aim of widening my perspective and seeing what tips I could pick up from sectors other than as well as my own. In between there were lots of opportunities to network and view exhibitors’ stands. From two days of frantic scribbling, some highlights for me were often little ‘lightbulb moments’, such as Suffolk Cooperative Library System’s Library Use Valuation Calculator (referenced in Christine Rooney-Brown’s Methods for demonstrating the value of public libraries in the UK: a literature review) - rather than the tired old valuation of a library service based on cost per visit, services were allocated a value so that the actual benefit of the service could be assessed (in this case $3.87 of direct benefits for each $1 invested). And if you're ever planning a burial at sea, it's useful to know that there are only 2 places in the UK where these are considered to be safe, and they're both off the Norfolk coast (from David Smith's Transparency in the public sector). Apparently human bodies are classified as toxic waste… Shining light of Day 2 was the presentation of the Libraries Change Lives Award. Personally I won’t be happy until Libraries Change Lives isn’t confined to a professional environment but gets a primetime slot on the BBC (campaign anyone?) - it’s unbelievable that there isn’t more shouting from the rooftops about all the ways in which these comprehensive and still ALMOST ENTIRELY FREE services genuinely empower people. Kent Libraries and Archives ‘Making the Difference’ project was a worthy winner for affording development and opportunities adults with learning disabilities, such as undertaking mystery shopper exercises to support in evaluating the library service. If I was asked to choose just one event from the conference that sums up for me not just my own attitude but also something I would ask anyone considering their place in this profession, Bonnie Greer’s speech at Tuesday night’s Gala Dinner romps into first place. Bonnie’s talk was brief but powerful and beautifully thought out, rounding off a terrific and sociable evening by reminding us very simply of why so many of us do this job - to navigate the information maze, provide the resources and guidance to help people make the most of their lives (apologies for the fact that this issue of the newsletter doesn’t come with a free sick bucket). To quote Ms Greer: ‘Everything I learned, I
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learned from libraries - you gave me the confidence to come to this country, because of libraries.’ It’s having the chance to get together with others from this profession, to empathise, sympathise, show off a bit (which to be frank is what some of the presentations are all about ‘we did something a bit good and we want to tell everyone!’), to cheer on author and library campaigner Alan Gibbons in receiving his unexpected and well-deserved Honorary Fellowship, and Jackie Fishley proving that you don't have to have been in the profession for 10 million years to attain Fellowship, a fantastic achievement for someone who appeared to be about fifteen - and generally home in on all the brilliant things Central about what we do that make Issues conferences, particularly Umbrella simply because of its cross-sector scope, still a hugely Page 5 important feature in professional development. If you’ve never been to a conference, regardless of how long you’ve been working in libraries, I strongly urge that you give Umbrella a go as an ideal jumping-off point for gaining an overview, updating knowledge, having a really good gossip with friends and colleagues old and new, or rediscovering passion for the profession. What Umbrella 2011 did for me:
opened my eyes again - recently I’ve been focusing so much on local stuff I’ve been forgetting the wider picture outside my own authority, and barely even flicking thorugh Update each month let alone other professional publications; there’s a huge amount going on in libraries and information of which awareness can spark off inspiration for similar or related activities - ‘can I make something of this?’;
kicked off my motivation to get on with Revalidation rather than Procrastination;
being sponsored gives the extra motivation of having something to do after the event, i.e. write this article - so I don’t just go home, type up my notes to cascade to my library service and forget I ever went - the additional focus of digesting the experience into a few hundred words means I’m picking up things again and really looking to see what I can take into work for the aforementioned ‘can we make something of this?’;
as I was leaving the venue a thought popped into my head - ‘why don’t I think about putting a paper together for presentation at a future Umbrella?’ Which had never even occurred to me before - so as a result of this conference I’m going to work towards being more of an active presence in future. Who knows - maybe in a few years a lucky sponsorship recipient will be writing up their experience of the worst Umbrella presentation ever!
Angela Wright is Library Manager at Redditch Library, Worcs.
CDG WM sponsorship for conferences We try to offer sponsorship for members to attend conferences, such as Umbrella or the CDG National Conference, whenever funds allow. Sponsorship normally includes reasonable travel and accommodation expenses. To find out about sponsorship opportunities from a range of organisations including CDG WM, subscribe to LIS-AWARDS.
CDG Summer Quiz a success! This Summer, CDG WM ran a Summer in the City photo quiz, raising £33 for CDG International Projects. Did you enter? CDG undertakes international projects in support of libraries and information professionals in the developing world. These projects are funded through donations and fundraising, and current projects include: Sri Lanka International Co-operation Project Partnerships in Health Information (phi) See http://tinyurl.com/6k49wpy for more information The winner of the £25 Amazon voucher was Alison Lobo, and she lets us in on some of the techniques she used to find the answers. I love quizzes and the chance to do one on weekend city break attractions was a sure temptation. “This will be easy”, I thought, glancing at the first few pictures; I instantly recognised Bristol, York and London. But then I was stumped! Where would you find a city sight that included such obscure windows? This involved some serious research skills and a long spell on the internet! I was able to find a few more and then my searching with keywords came to a halt on the last picture number 10. I thought I would ask my university student daughter to think of some more search terms as she has a different approach to the internet than me. Between us we came up with the “Beehive” Wellington only for her then to say “so that’s why it’s called the beehive, because of its shape” ... she’d only driven past it recently on her summer visit to New Zealand and hadn’t recognised it from her tour of Wellington! I was delighted to win the prize of a £25 voucher to spend on Amazon. I’ve been planning a trip to Barcelona and I have been able to spend the money on a budget-airline-approved-size suitcase and a guide book for our visit... Now, does anyone fancy a quiz on obscure sights of Barcelona? Alison correctly identified Wellington , New Zealand as the location for this photo!
Alison Lobo is an Information Assistant at Aston University, Birmingham.
Committee Profile Gill Colbourne Website Officer I was a late starter in the library world, starting as a very casual library assistant working a few hours a week and now, eleven years later, I am working full time with two part time roles, strategically as Business Development Librarian (BDL) and operationally as Divisional Operations Supervisor. On the way I have worked as a library assistant at Rugby Library – this involved the new library building with Rugby Art Gallery and Museum and the first days of People’s Network. Then I went to work at Southam Library as a Senior Library Assistant and started my five year part time degree in Information & Library Studies at University of Central England. Later I became Principal Library Assistant (PLA) for the South Warwickshire division and became responsible for staff in ten libraries of varying sizes and in a variety of styles of buildings from traditional 1960s to historical buildings. Two years ago I took on two different roles which I enjoy for different reasons. The BDL role has led to me being involved with projects such as the installation of self service kiosks in libraries in Warwickshire, production of a short film promoting Warwickshire Libraries, consulting the public on the latest Warwickshire Library & Information Service transformation, working on the branding and promotion of the service, and Get it Loud in Libraries coming to Rugby Library for some gigs. My role as Divisional Operations Supervisor (PLA) is interesting as it is working with customers and staff. I enable the staffing of libraries, plus HR work, recruitment and selection, and the many other things that crop up with the day to day running of the division. When I decided to charter for personal development I thought I would attend a committee meeting of the West Midlands Career Development Group and decided I would like to be involved. I am now the Web site Editor for the group and I have learnt a lot about presenting the web pages and have ideas for developing them. This has been a new skill and all thanks to West Midlands CDG!
Do you want to join Gill on the CDG WM Committee? Come along to our next committee meeting to find out what it’s all about! Contact email@example.com or just turn up: Date: Wednesday 15th February 2012 Time: 6 — 8pm Venue: Aston University Library, Birmingham (15 mins walk from New Street Station) — for directions see http://www1.aston.ac.uk/about/directions/
Vacancy Bulletin Getting involved in your professional organisation is a very rewarding way to contribute to your profession and can provide you with plenty of opportunities to address skills gaps in your CV. CDG WM currently has three vacancies on the committee — if you would like to find out more, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or come along to our next committee meeting (see p. 7). CDG WM committee roles are flexible and can be fitted around your work and home commitments. Committee meetings are usually held four times a year on a Wednesday evening (6-8pm) but if you would find these difficult to attend, we would still like to hear from you! We believe that committee involvement is about more than attending committee meetings, and are always happy to receive a written report from those unable to attend in person.
Events Officer While all CDG WM committee members get involved in organising events, the Events Officer ensures that this is as straight-forward and consistent as possible. This might involve maintaining lists of venues, speakers and ways to effectively publicise events, as well as ensuring quality by correct use and application of the CILIP Seal of Recognition.
Candidate Support Officer (CSO) Support You will be assisting the CSO in offering advice to registered Chartership, Revalidation and Certification candidates by telephone, email, letter, or in person, and in arranging and publicising events (such as those reported on pp. 6-7) relevant to the Framework of Qualifications. For further information on this role, please contact our CSO, Sabelo Mapasure: email@example.com.
CDG WM “Christmas” Dinner Cheer up the dark days of January and meet CDG WM members in a fun and informal setting at the CDG WM “Christmas” Dinner. Contact Anna Brown (firstname.lastname@example.org) for more details and to reserve your place. Date: Thursday 26th January 2012 Time: from 7pm Venue: Chez Jules, Ethel Street,, Birmingham see http://chezjules.co.uk/ for directions and menu CDG members from outside the West Midlands are welcome!