14 Apr 2014

LAI/CILIP Ireland Joint Conference 2014: Seizing Opportunities, Leading Change - Thursday 10 April - report

This year's joint LAI/CILIP Conference title Seizing Opportunities, Leading Change took place in Waterford. I attended both days. This is my subjective report back from the Thursday. A report on the Friday sessions can be found here.

The Official Opening was by Waterford City & County Manager Michael Walsh. It was good to hear a city manager say that public officials must not see libraries just as another overhead. He pointed out that libraries are more important than ever to communities and people and it is essential that they be funded. Libraries are a key site of cultural interface.

The Keynote speaker was Peter Doyle, a consultant in Strategy Marketing & Change and lecturer at NUI Maynooth. Peter's paper was  Lessons in Strategic Change Management  and dealt with the issue of managing change in our organisations. It was an entertaining paper told through the use of many fable like stories, and many aphorisms that amused the audience whilst getting a serious message across. The overall message is the stark one that change happens and we need to accept that fact but we can affect how the change will happen. He offered advice on how to handle change from the managers and the employees perspective, He looked at how change is perceived by the people it impacts. He offered advice to managers on how to manage change in their organisation - much of this advice seemed to call on the work of a diverse range of thinkers. An author he explicitly referenced was  Spenser Johnson and his well known book Who Moved my Cheese. Other authors he touched on included Malcolm GladwellRichard H Thaler & Cass R Sunstein and the work of Dave Logan.

Fionnuala Hanrahan, Wexford County Librarian was next up with her paper Fortune Favours the Brave: Challenges within 'Opportunities for All', the national strategy for public libraries, 2013 - 2017. In this paper she looked at what the new strategic plan means for public libraries. This was an interesting paper and much of it was new to me as I, working in an academic library, have not read this document. It was an impassioned overview of where this document will take public libraries in the next number of years. We need to take a look at our sacred cows. And get rid of them. Change is coming. We need to accept this. And we need to direct this change. And very importantly libraries seriously need to start thinking about succession planning and leadership training for existing staff.

The next speaker was Rebecca Davies Pro Vice-Chancellor, Aberystwyth University and her paper was titled Competent and Confident! Entrepreneurial approaches for personal development  She examined what she calls an entrepreneurial approach to developing our competencies so we can thrive in what is a very fast and dramatically changing library world. Change was a big aspect of this paper - as Rebecca said, we live in an 'era of edgeless sprawl'. (Bradwell. 2009) We are now dealing with changing users; they have expectations rather than gratitude. As individuals and as a profession we need to be taking risks, and trying new ventures and new things. This trying new things is what Rebecca means by the Entrepreneurial Approach. We need to share our experiences with colleagues and our networks - physical and real. We also need to borrow from other professions. Get outside our comfort zone. As librarians we need to be making a difference and more importantly to be seen to be making a difference.

The afternoon was composed of break out sessions.
The first session I attended was Rebecca Davies Library & Information competencies further explored. This session was very much a follow on from her morning session and looked at what competencies were required of the librarian of today. She began by asking us a question - what have each of us done in our work that we would see as outside our job description? The replies ranged from singing Twinkle Twinkle Little Star whilst wearing a sock puppet to cleaning out a house used by heroin addicts. We do so much stuff that non librarians would be surprised at. We should use social media to promote what we do - Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest Blogs, YouTube etc. We need to promote everything that we do.
She also asked: if we were starting a Library module from scratch what topics or subjects would we include? Answers included: crisis management, budgeting, demographics, counselling, psychology, reflective practice, event management, presentation skills, metrics, health & safety, politics, law, marketing, career guidance. Our competencies in the library of today range very far, and very wide.

Peter Doyle presented a session called Delivering Successful Strategic Change Programmes and Niamh O Sullivan presented Recessionista Research Revisited: Utilising Quality Free Web Resources to enhance your library service

The second workshop I attended was hosted by Alison McKenzie, Dean of Learning of Services Edge Hill University and her workshop was The Changing Role of librarians: Is this what the future looks like?  In this session she looked at the impact that the digital environment is having on content, services and staff.  This presentation presented some interesting case studies from her co-authored work Mastering Digital Librarianship a book that looks worth checking out for all librarians.

The other sessions parallel to this session were Simon Edwards Identifying, Developing & Gaining recognition for your Knowledge and skills using CILIP's knowledge and Skills Base and Neil MacInnes Sharing Services - Libraries, Archives and Museums - Learning together

If you would like to see a record of the event there were a number of people live tweeting the event over the two days. For full access check out the hashtags #laicilip14 or #laicilip2014.
The full presentations should be up soon on the LAI Site  but in the meantime the full programme and abstracts can be found here.


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