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 )!


CILIP Wales Conference 2017 – Part 1 – Thursday

Warning – long blog alert!

The CILIP Wales Conference in 2017 was an excellent professional opportunity to meet fellow professionals, discover and engage with talking points, developments and ideas, all while enjoying the beautiful setting of the beach-side town of Llandudno. Here I’ll review my debut experience, highlighting the talks given, ideas developed and the value of such gatherings personally and professionally.*  With thanks to MALD for providing me with a sponsored place on day one, and Cardiff University for supporting me being able to attend the full two days, and a nod to all those involved in putting on this conference, including the caterers! Food for all meals enjoyed throughout the two days was delicious.

An Adventure Begins

Having enjoyed a breezy  and sunny morning walk along the promenade by the Venue Cymru I collected my welcome goodie bag from the reception area and was met by bright greetings from familiar faces from Cardiff – Helen Staffer and Tracey Stanley.  Less familiar or – rather completely unfamiliar faces soon followed as I slowly mingled about the hall,  whilst surveying the displays set up. They showcased all sorts of library related ideas. CILIP of course had their own stand, promoting membership, and skillset opportunities for development that come with it, not to mention parading many of the latest books from Facet Publishing.

Also present: thedesignconcept advertising their capability in library design, the Welsh Books Council / Cyngor Llyfrau Cymru–  supported by the Welsh Government as a focus for publishing and provision of associated services in Wales, distributing grants to publishers. They also actively promote literacy and reading in Wales too.

There was also Digital Communities Wales / Cymunedau Digidol Cymru – a project helping organisations to support people engage with computers and the Internet through training staff and and volunteers, and setting up digital volunteering initiatives, and Borrow Box Bolinda – who I learned provide audiobooks to libraries. It was interesting to know how many books are available on this service, which seems to me to be targeting the headphone generation successfully: providing free access to the best storytellers in audio format. Time to get out the library card and log on!

The Talks

Network, network, network! – Linda Tomos

Moving on to the key talking points of this conference, Linda Tomos – Chief Executive and Librarian at the National Library of Wales opened proceedings with a striking – and apposite speech emphasising the value of networking in the workplace. It’s centrality is exemplified in the success of campaigns that are able to reach out as widely as possible and to make all the right connections to allow us to not only understand who we’re serving but also to shout proudly about the success of libraries.  Within this we have to remember to celebrate the many great achievements – such as the ‘Every child a member’ scheme.

Such achievements are built on developing relationships that can deliver these services, and not only is it good for professional confidence, it’s also a boon personally. Drawing on Lord Matthews’ ‘bullying’ of Tony Blair regarding The People’s Network in the nineties, Linda emphasised the forceful need for action – the networking power is hard but vital – change has to be made to happen. It has led to many millions invested in libraries in the past, and it will need similar levels of networking and hard work to support and sustain the future we want for Libraries.

Social media is a great megaphone for advocacy and elevating our voice into the airwaves, and we now need to work towards a People’s network for the 21st century that is fit for purpose. WHELF, CILIP and SCL already doing good work in this regard, and let’s build on this relating to information sharing and knowledge management. The current concerns over fake news only emphasises this necessity – borrowing a Neil Gaiman quote – where google gives you 100,000 results, a Librarian gives you one correct one. Creating visibility in the profession is what we need, and she praises Alyson Tyler’s Love Libraries blog as an example of this.

The main themes of the talk were an exhortation to get out there, give proper self regard to the achievements reached, and continually engage and come up with solutions. Everyone knows the problems, but what we need – and what politicians want to hear most – is what can we do about it? Let’s find the solution, get creative with resources, and maximise those opportunities by networking and bringing our collective talents together to bear fruit.


David Teague – Regional Manager ( Wales ) at the Information Commissioner’s Office

After Linda’s passionate opening, David Teague zeroed in on the fast paced change in information management rights, and the importance of having up to date policies to cope.  He began by revealing a couple of indicative figures of penalties levied : £8,500,750 for breaches of the Data Protection Act, and a further £4,912,000 for nuisance callers. Not small change!

He then  nodded to a speech by Elizabeth Denham on the relation between information rights and democracy that can be seen here; appending this by providing a potted history of information rights, – emerging from the reaction to 20th century despotism within the Declaration of Human Rights. Articles 8 and 10 – illustrate one of the challenges – marking the Right to a Private Life versus that of Freedom of Expression. The protecting of these Articles has also had to take place amid the increasingly rapid (r)evolution of technology and the pace at which data is processed has required ongoing legal maintenance – through the Data Protection Act of 1984 through to the 1998 Act. This latest version expires next year – May 2018 –  to be replaced by the General Data Protection Regulations, an EU wide edict. The extent to which Brexit interferes with those plans is partially unknown, although the UK government has committed to have an Act that is at least equivalent to the EU provisions.

This latest development has come amid the age of The Internet of Things, the explosive rise of social media. The aims will be to focus on giving back control to the individuals. The key points include providing some statutory good practice regulations that will reduce the need for judgement calls to be made, and firming up accountability about what precisely will be done with the information – no more vague references to third parties. Fess for subject access to their data will be removed, whilst the act is also aiming to address the concerns over profiling – targeted ads, social profile algorithms, key in an age where we know so little about where our information goes – and more on the dangers of this were highlighted by Paul Pedley in Friday’s discussion on privacy – ( more on this in part 2! ) .

It is worth checking out the 12 steps to prepare for the GDPR published by the ICO last August. They are accessible here (pdf ). It was a very well received talk ( as they all were it must be said! ) and provided plenty to think on during a tea break!


Breakout Sessions

After the break – there were various sessions to choose from, including one on Marketing, and another in Disaster Manager  which both sounded really interesting  and were very well received – but I can only reflect on what I chose to see – and that was Alli Cingi, Library Manager Awen Cultural Trust and Rob Jones’ Library Assistant at Pencoed Library energetically enthusiastic presentation, ‘Makerspace’ a scheme developed in their local library .

It’s an excellent idea with fantastic advantages for kids ( and adults! ) that helps with their problem solving, numeracy and literacy skills and articulating expression through creative means. A personal visual connection to coding, that can light the imagination fires within youngsters, critical given our desperate need for STEM graduates.

Starting young with projects and schemes such as these, provides a firm boost to the children – not only for those longer term employability skills, but on a more immediate level it teaches them the social skills – working collaboratively and engaging with others for these little projects. In their library this has proved to be a really impressive scheme, positively received by the kids and the adults who help out!

Alli and Rob highlighted a plethora of support and creative options available online., Scratch, BBC Microbits, virtual pets, photo-editing tools such as Photofunia all provide these windows into personalising, manipulating ( in it’s most literal sense ) tools for creative exploration, including being a great option for story-telling too. Accessible and entertaining, it is schemes like this that can really help energise young people and give local libraries a further role to play in the supporting of a well-skilled community. Further suggestions include more graphic design options,  and it seems stop motion animation is another option that Rob was looking forward to trying too! We await more positive success stories in the future.


Lunch allowed for more mingling as I gradually got to meet more faces in the profession – all lovely of course – ( how can you not like someone who’s into libraries?! ) before the afternoon continued in the same vein as before with really fascinating talks.


Professor Neil Frude – Bibliotherapy – Reading back to health – ‘Shelf Help!’

Any thoughts of a post-prandial slumber, were -ironically – put to bed with another call to arms from Professor Neil Frude whose keynote speech advocated with energy and facts that matter – for the value of Bibliotherapy in it’s usefulness at intervening at a low intensity level at relieving mild to moderate sufferers of mental  illness’.  This is a key area where libraries can point to their role – or potential role – in providing some really effective ‘2nd step’ line of support to their communities, and help extol our worth – connecting to Linda Tomos’ message – we need to shout about this!

Prof. Frude was instrumental in establishing the Books on Prescription Scheme in Cardiff in 2003, and the subsequent history has been one of unanimous success, but only of late in England. It has fallen away in Wales and this – to everyone’s agreement! – is a situation well worth reversing when you consider the numbers of sufferers – approximately 1 in 6 of us have a diagnosable mental illness,  and the limited numbers of therapists – the ratio is roughly 1 therapist per 1000 patients, and that doesn’t include the estimated 55,000 children who suffer too.

Less than 1% of those who could benefit from Bibliotherapy ( and other psycho-social interventions ) do.  There is an over-dependence on the pharmacological approach  with Wales being the most medicated country in the UK, but it is often the ‘easiest’ solution when faced with limited therapist contact opportunities.

This requires remedying and help. Manualised self help  is supported by strong scientific evidence for it’s effectiveness for those who use it  but what we need to improve is the impact. Noting the ‘impact factor’- as the product of effectiveness x reach – there is clearly the potential for far more effective relief of symptoms among sufferers to be achieved. Prof. Frude illustrated the success of the programme through it’s global mimesis. It has been copied and expanded across the world, with the books being recommended from a pool of 50 professionals to ensure the wheat is sorted from the chaff ( consider the many thousands of books available under the ‘self-help’ banner.

Having outlined the history of Books on Prescription, Prof. Frude noted that the scheme had worked so well it had expanded into other areas.  The Reading Agency in England intervened to promote it with three recent schemes – Adult Mental Health (2014), Dementia (2015), Young People Mental Health, ( 2016) and to come this year ‘Self-Management of Chronic Physical Conditions’.

Early talks are under-way to get this back in business in Wales, and fingers are crossed. This is ultimately something we all can benefit from personally and professionally. We often are charged with looking after the shelves, so let’s now let the shelves look after us.


Breakout Sessions 2


The afternoon sessions continued in the spirit of before – and whilst Katrina Hall was unable to attend, the remaining sessions made up for this absence. Rob Owain – Wikimedia UK Manager (Wales) and Jason Evans – Wikipedian in Residence at the National Library of Wales gave a talk that focused on the advantages that working with Wikimedia can bring to libraries and their users, whilst Dr Andrew Eynon led a fascinating sessions exploring how FE librarians in Wales are devising impact indicators to help evaluate their library services. This involved a healthy amount of group work brainstorming various performance indicators. I must confess to being in LIS student sponge mode here – I sat and absorbed as much information as I could manage from the vastly more experienced attendees!


Dr. Einir Young: The Wellbeing of Future Generations Act – is it a blessing or a curse?

So after the final round of coffee breaks to digest this veritable information tsunami of ideas, proceedings were brought to a close by Dr. Einir Young, Director of Sustainability at Bangor University,  who spoke to us on the question of the Wellbeing of Future Generations Act 2015.

The Act, demands longer term holistic thinking from certain public bodies in Wales to ensure a sustainable future. Discussing this through the University prism, Dr Young asked us – in an interactive fashion! – what we understood by sustainability: and as many different adjectives and short descriptors were thrown up as there were audience members. The point being, like many abstract concepts it can mean many different things according to your perspective, and thus it helps if we focus on clarifying what we all understand by the term when we consider it in our own work places.

Einir drawing on her experience with Bangor, invited us to think differently: in terms of people, the planet, and resources. Economically, environmentally, socially – there are serious issues of inequality abounding and the question is how do we face them?

Joined up, interconnected thinking is vital to ensure coordinated activity -be it in corporate, social, or environmental outlooks. Drawing on the essentials of the Act – Dr Young framed the outlook from the libraries approach – deploying a memorable 1,4,5,7 approach:

One – sustainable development idea – our one future.

Four – pillars – economic, social, environmental and cultural well being

Five ways of working:

  • Long term thinking balancing the needs of now with the future;
  • Prevention is better than cure – how can we ensure future changes avoids errors?
  • Integration – how does library / university fit into wider community picture
  • Collaboration –  can we be better, sharing resources, time, money
  • Involvement – all key stakeholders should be included that are relevant

Seven well being goals:

  • A prosperous library
  • A resilient library
  • A healthier library – i.e. working with students to improve health and stress levels
  • A more equal library – improving access to information and technology, creating social safe spaces
  • A library of cohesive communities
  • A library of vibrant culture and thriving Welsh language
  • A globally responsible library  – developing international links – i.e. Bangor and Uganda where peer to peer learning helps level the access where the cost is higher.


It is a platform for libraries to work with, and aim towards. Let’s start local but look outwards and help create the library, community, country and world that we want.  We need to ask ourselves at work – what do we need to do? Do we have the right support? And what support would we like to see going forward?  Its time to put on the hard hat and get to work!

It was an ambitious and grand sentiment to close the conference for the day on, but fully in keeping with the spirit throughout – the value of networking, advocacy and action are essential attributes of a vibrant profession.


I found the whole day to be a really enjoyable affair, hearing a range of ideas, meeting plenty of professionals with a wealth of experience to draw on, and after a long day taking notes, it was a pleasure to be able to relax in the evening with a lovely evening meal featuring amusing poetic entertainment from Peter Reid and included some useful personal discussion of the Aberystwyth LIS course with fellow students. However normal my initial apprehension at ALL THE STRANGERS may have been, by the end, I’d met some truly spiffing and friendly characters, who’d really helped engender a sense of belonging at the conference: the benefits of networking immediately felt!  Fittingly for a day that began with an exhortation to celebrate CILIP’s achievements – it ended with individual recognition of the professional talents with the awarding of the Welsh Librarian of the Year Award – congratulations to Wendy Foster, and a lifetime achievement award to Thomas Hywel James – awards very warmly applauded and deserved.

All told – a busy old day – and more to enjoy on Friday – which will be posted in part 2.



* The slides from these presentations are available online. If you’re on Twitter I would direct you to @CILIPinWales for more details.