16 Aug 2023

Conul Conference 2023 Report: Brian Bredin

Post by Brian Bredin from the University of Galway Library who was awarded a bursary to attend the 2023 CONUL Conference. All the images featured in this blog post were captured by the author.

Shows a conference poster with the title UCD Library Outreach
UCD Library Outreach: Signs of Sustainability conference poster

I have just completed my second year of the LIM course at Ulster University, and it’s been bit of a whirlwind experience. I was about three weeks out from my final deadline when a colleague on the course mentioned the CONUL student bursary. Already in writing mode I applied, not thinking I’d hear anything about it again. So, I was really delighted to receive the fantastic news that I was lucky enough to be one of the recipients.

This year's conference was held in the Clayton Silver Springs in Cork, and what a fantastic first day it was to have a conference. Beautiful sunshine greeted the attendees, and a warm atmosphere surrounded the event. Lovely garden furniture on the lawn allowed old friends to catch up in the sun and the bright and airy event halls were lovely and cool settings for the talks and exhibitions.

This year's conference title was Sense and Sustainability: Environmental, Economic and Social Sustainability and what academic libraries are doing in these areas with some fantastic speakers and leaders in the field presenting their findings and information.

There were some excellent and very professionally produced posters in the entrance foyer for the poster competition, really excellent examples of some of the work being created by academic libraries around the country.

Shows a conference from Glucksman library with the title Inter-library loans and sustainability: not just good on paper
Inter-library loans and sustainability: Not just good on paper
Conference poster from Glucksman Library, University of Limerick
Fiona Morley and Sandra Collins gave their welcome speeches and introduced the event to those gathered, then introduced the first key speaker, Rebekkah Smith Aldrich. Rebekkah gave an incredibly engaging speech about the greatest challenge facing the world today, climate change, and what we all, especially librarians, can do to shift the balance. Rebekkah is obviously very passionate about sustainability, and she had the audience riveted with her laid-back style and the important message she delivered. She certainly got the conference off to a buzzing start and her thought-provoking presentation really got people talking.

There were several super presentations from academic libraries from around the country, the standout for me being from UCC’s Martin O’ Driscoll who spoke about some of the measures UCC library has taken in reducing its carbon footprint. It was a glimpse of what can be achieved with proper strategic planning and well-thought-out communication methods.

Day 2 started with another engrossing presentation, this time from Steven Gonzalez Monserrate, CONUL’s second keynote speaker. He detailed the impact data centres are having on the environment and communities. It was a subject I knew very little about and found some of the information both disturbing and enlightening.

Workshops and show and tells were ongoing throughout the second day as per day 1, but I decided to stick with the “Lightning Talks” in the main Tivoli suite. These consisted of 4 speakers giving 10-minute presentations each, and the quick turnover meant it was easier to stay engaged and focused on the content. Questions were always encouraged at the end of each session, and this led to some good discussions.

All in all, it was a great first conference experience for me. A well-run event that had the advantage of beautiful weather on its side, combined with the relaxed atmosphere, it felt more like a social event than a work outing.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank CONUL for allowing me to attend the conference through their student bursary, it was a fantastic experience. I would also advise any students of LIM to get applying for bursaries as they are great opportunities to get out there and see how the industry works.



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