CILIP Wales Conference 2017-Part 2 Friday

So with nerves abated, and the mind refreshed after the inundation of things to think about from the day before, time to enjoy day 2 at CILIP Wales 2017.

Now that I knew where I was going, I also elected to avoid turning up 90 minutes early this time, enjoying another seaside walk beforehand. Though I still ensured I collected another goodie bag – one can never have too many pens and bookmarks after all. Records of the presentations themselves should be available to view online. Searching Twitter for CILIP in Wales should head you in the right direction.

Dr. Jane Secker – Copyright!

Kicking us off today, Dr. Secker Senior Lecturer in Educational Development at City University gave us an engaging presentation on the relationship Libraries and Librarians should have with copyright – with an interactive feedback spell illustrating the frustration and confusion commonly felt by many! To help combat this she laid out the case for knowing more.

It is a fundamental feature of many of a library service – from ILL’s to digitization, access, preservation and general copying requests of users, and we are best placed to be able to educate others about good practice. We need to keep up – especially with ever changing technology and law: consider how intrinsic copying is to the Internet.

With global figures suggesting a reasonably high lack of confidence over implementation – just 57% surveyed across 14 countries reported a moderate level of confidence – and with such caution often leading to very risk averse decision-making, Jane asks – what is the solution?

More knowledge, more skills, more training? With the real risk of information overload – tailored critical copyright literacy she suggests is the way forward, marking a shift in mindset. By focusing on what we need to know we have the opportunity to be copyright educators via the broader information literacy role.  Developing more flexible approaches will hopefully lead to improved engagement and higher confidence in copyright.

To this end and in the spirit of gamification, Jane and her colleague Chris Morrison have promoted Copyright the Card Game, and The Publishing Trap to assist with copyright training and are aimed at academics, PhD students and researchers. They have been  trialed and showcased with success and you can find out more on both here:

Copyright the Card Game

The Publishing Trap

It seems to me a thoroughly appealing way of engaging the uninitiated with an accessible, fun but also important education in an arena where fear of infringement risks penalties ( I refer you back to the figures from David Teague’s speech in part 1! )

Breakout Session 1

The morning sessions were then divided up into three more groups. Paul Jeorett – University Librarian for Wrexham Glyndŵr University led a group exploring the LIS role in the Prevent agenda – an instructive and engaging look at what librarians need to know in the prevention of terrorism. Juanita Foster-Jones Development Officer (VLE ) with CILIP led a workshop exploring some of the communication and advocacy activities from the Impact Toolkit to practice working on the key messages we wish to bring out.  Liz Grieve – Head of Customers, Communications & Marketing at Denbighshire County Council gave us an “outsiders” view of how libraries could respond to the current climate, noting it is odd how there attitudes to libraries differ internationally – citing Russia and South Korea as examples where they are viewed more positively more widely. She suggests a local focus is more likely to see success – becoming more directly involved in communities whilst ‘leaning in’ to the important conversations. Suggesting less of a reliance on the statutory rights claim provoked some healthy debate afterwards too!  Though to be clear, she was not advocating, removing those rights, merely, as I understood it – not being overly reliant on the statutory rights as a weapon to defend itself with.  Perhaps, instead of defending this line from the Act, the focus should target on more specific positive areas that libraries can involve themselves with.


Paul Pedley – Protecting the privacy of library users

After another scrumptious lunch, Nick Poole introduced Paul Pedley who gave us a very thought provoking speech on the nature of privacy – and the interactions and responsibilities required between librarians and their users, and their users data.  Again, this is an area where the field is ever evolving alongside the ever changing technology.

Paul began by reminding us that we are members of one of the few professions that has privacy issues explicit to its code of ethics.  It is a part of Michael Gorman’s Eight Central Values, and librarians have access to substantial levels of individual personal data, but Paul poses the question of whether Libraries are simply to working to ensure their own lives are easier rather than the users, and suggests there are still struggles to keep up to date.

As Paul noted the privacy issue is inherent across many of the activities within the library service. Consider the details of users that are visible with self-service pick from shelf schemes and what information is printed on receipts. Card access to separate rooms still reveals information about the card user, suggesting that there will always be a difficult balancing act between giving up enough identifiable information to allow proper functionality v protecting the individuals right to privacy.

This is particularly evident with online databases, and personalisation tools, including personal searches, history of items borrowed and so forth. More broadly online how far do people actually monitor and understand privacy policies? Do they read agreements? It has been estimated it would take c.200 hours per year to read all the privacy agreements people sign up to!

Information is exploitable, and is exploited – again this connects with David Teague’s speech and we have to be very careful in the library profession how any data is communicated too – simple things such as telephone notification of reservations – leaving a message could reveal a sensitive book topic to an unintended listener.  Co-location of library services and Hubs often involve close proximity to conversations pertaining to sensitive personal issues.

Beyond these issues, Paul brought up the risks of blogging about the work life: where revealing the  behavioural idiosyncrasies can be considered just as informational as any other piece of data, and thus potentially identifiable. There are real life examples of this having consequences.

The talk contained reams of such examples, which was really interesting and quite concerning too. There are 400 CCTV cameras in the British Library. How far is this valid protection or unfair invasion?  Biometric data, online cookies, and commercial interests can create a confusing picture for anyone who’s not an expert in the area, whilst of greater concern, he notes, is the level of willful disbelief in the extent to which our information is taken from us without us knowing or understanding how it is being used.

Thus, what to do? Paul suggests going back to 1st principles and asking what role do we have as librarians in this: To defend, protect, be radical, revolt or be activist in attitude? Does responsibility lie with the individual user or the organisation or educator?

Perhaps then, the most important question is – if not us, then who? We are in a great position to activate, engage and educate about privacy in the digital age, and so now is the time to shift from walking to talking.

Breakout Sessions 2

After a really energising talk, the prospect of more, in the second set of Breakout Sessions was too tempting as Paul led a follow up Privacy workshop to zero in or more detailed concerns and allow for more tailored discussion.  Elsewhere Louisa YatesDirector of Collections and Research at Gladstone’s Library,  gave an inspiring workshop on some of the practical outreach models, that helped Gladstone connect with it’s community, transforming from a specialist scholarly resources into a thriving community and heritage hub for national and international visitors.

I have to confess Paul’s follow up talk instilled an immediate instinct to go back and wipe my entire digital footprint clear, though the fact I have taken to-rebooting this blog suggests pragmatism recovered itself eventually! Paul provided more direct details of applications, programmes and just general additional informational awareness to illustrate the extent of the general user’s ignorance,.

I wasn’t aware of the likes of Firefox lightbeam which allows you see which websites you’ve interacted with – often revealed many 3rd party visits you never knew had taken place.  I also didn’t realise how easy it was to leave your digital footprint – even the details you give for secret questions and answers contribute to your online profile. Whilst much of the rest of the room all nodded wisely in agreement when Paul asked if they used fake details for these questions, I took a quick note to immediately change my habits!

Whilst it is obviously impossible to go completely dark, the first steps to minimising it stem from awareness. There are two books that Paul flagged up as well worth a read if you wish to know more. Eli Pareser – The Filter Bubble and Cath O’Neill’s Weapon of Math Destruction – the latter of which I have since sought out and will be reviewing my thoughts on down the line here.

The nature of the algorithms and personalisation has consequences that people don’t fully appreciate, for instance using Google – a search request committed by several people scattered across the global would return a difference in results that is quite disturbing. In the age of the ‘echo chamber’ this is quite alarming.  There are alternative browsers and search engines that protect your privacy, and don’t track your search results – such as Duckduckgo.

The talk was replete with many more details that I simply couldn’t absorb all in one go – or note down legibly! Suffice to say I would fully encourage those looking to learn more to go straight to the source – Paul is on twitter @priv_lib and has a blog that naturally provides far greater clarity of his speeches and work than I could endeavour to sum up.

The key take-home is clearly to stay aware and keep up to date regularly! I have much to learn, and having noted down the many other sources to delve into later on, it was time for a much needed coffee .

Nick Poole – Closing Remarks

After a successful two days, full of idea-laden presentations, energetic conversation, good food, I won’t deny it, Nick brought an end to the proceedings with a vigorous call to arms, reminding us how important our profession is, and will prove to be mentioning the Million Decisions and Facts Matter campaigns that are currently among the chief issues to promote loudly and widely.  He suggests we are living through a revolution that may continue for the next 20-30 years as things change dramatically and the skillset involved in handling information is going to be crucial.

Further to this will be a vital alliance of skillsets across the professions – good networking again! – CILIP has a strong independent voice and it is vital to be able to have a voice that is able to get the message across and influence people – especially in government. We need to aim high, for those standards of diversity and equality, and we need to collaborate support each other and seek further support to build the economy we want!

And on that note – a very stimulating conference came to an end, much to think about, and personally I found it extremely instructive and heartening to begin my own professional journey meeting the pros with their vast experience to draw on! I look forward to meeting many more of you in the future, but on a personal note it was to nice to meet you, Nicholas, Mark, Gareth, Kathryn et al! (You’ll have to excuse me, after taking so much in, as is usually the case me ability to recall names is really quite horrendous )!


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