CILIP 2017 Conference, Day 1: a synopsis

Day 1 of CILIP Conference 2017 was thought-provoking and truly inspiring. I’m looking forward to sharing everything I learnt when I return to Melbourne, Australia. Working in a library on the other side of the world, Dr Carla Hayden’s words really resonated with me:

Librarianship is global. It’s mission is universal.

Here’s a quick summary of the standout things I saw and learned. My summary of Dr Carla Hayden’s keynote is here.

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Rethinking Libraries Julian Diamond, Associate Director, Arup

Arup ran an excellent workshop on key trends in public libraries, looking at the way these trends impact on library design, user experience and library operation.

Key drivers for libraries in the future:

Ageing population. There is also an increased expectancy of what a life well-lived means.
Adult learning is no longer on the margins and it can contribute to thriving communities.
The way people learn and access information is being changed by technology. There are new opportunities for sharing and learning.
Austerity policies are eroding public funding for libraries. Social platforms are introducing new funding models. This counteracts unsustainable top-down public funding.
There should be a strong emphasis on user-centric design.
Libraries must mirror needs of the community to ensure relevance.

Arup have compiled their extensive research into a booklet, Future of Libraries.  It looks at ways in which libraries can remain relevant to their communities, now and in the future.

Fostering the Infosphere Professor Luciano Floridi, University of Oxford

Professor Floridi gave a thought-provoking, sometimes brain-stretching, address on the role of Library and Information Services in a mature information society.
In short,
Question + Answer = Information.
There are three stages of learning: Information; Uncertainty; Ignorance

The Uncertainty stage (i.e. we have questions but no answers) is where power lies. Those who control the questions, hold the power. Our role in libraries is to help people navigate uncertainty and help them to formulate questions of their own.

Service Design Seminar chaired by David Lindley, Designing Libraries

David introduced the session saying that, when we ask users what they want from their libraries, they are constrained by their existing experience of libraries.
We should ask people what they want from their lives. Then we can determine how libraries can be best meet those desires.

Designing for excellent customer service Neil Potentier, Assessment Services Ltd

Neil identified the components of excellent customer service, considered how to engage and motivate staff and spoke about the Customer Service Excellence Standard.

Neil described the Kolb and Fry mindset and its application in training staff for customer service. Ideally, staff should be:
Professional, friendly, caring
Meet change positively
Reflect and continually improve

To conclude, Neil lay down the ultimate customer service challenge:
How can we continually improve the customer experience to get the wow factor?

Making service sight loss friendly Mark Freeman, Chair of Share the Vision

Around two million people in the UK experience sight loss. Share the Vision is an independent charity. It’s goal is to improve library services for those with sight loss.

Mark detailed the six steps that libraries can take to improve their services for those with sight loss. He also spoke about the Six Steps Promise course, offered via the Society of Chief Librarians. The course raises staff awareness about the challenges encountered by those with sight loss and helps vision impaired people get better access to reading and reading services.

The Word, South Shields Julia Robinson, South Tyneside Libraries

Opened in October 2016, The Word is a state-of-the-art library, cultural and visitor centre in South Shields. One of the main drivers behind the design of the building was to regenerate the town. South Shields has around two million visitors to its coast every year but very few go into the centre of the town. The building also provides aspiration for the working class residents. The library is the heart of the building and this is the area used the most by locals.

The original library was an uninspiring, dowdy brick building with low visitor numbers. Julia spoke about decisions they made about The Word and how they shifted attitudes that were deeply ingrained in the staff. They:

Got rid of their huge reference library.
Expanded local studies. It is now in heart of the library.
Removed large service desks. Now they have small staff pods.
Stopped print magazine subscriptions but kept the newspapers.
Divided children’s library into three zones: children’s, junior, teens.
Stopped DVDs completely.
Brought in staff uniforms.

When training staff, they took them off desk for a week and trained them in customer service standards. Staff were asked to think about what kind of service they wanted to provide in the new building.

Since the library opened:
New membership has increased x4, compared to last year.
There has been 800% increase in teenage membership.

Loans increases:
Adult fic 12%
Adult non fic 34%
Junior 10%
Teenage 232%

The Word also has a brilliant Writer-in-Residence program. The centre aims to become a home for writers in North East England.






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