Saturday, 26 November 2011

NE CILIP Mini Umbrella, 23rd November 2011

I wasn't going to write a blog post about the Mini Umbrella. I didn't take that many notes and I knew others there (with more followers!) would be writing about it anyway. Instead, my plan for tonight was to get on with Thing 13 of the 23 Things for Professional Development programme and try out Dropbox. But something happened: I was inspired - by reading louiselib's own blog post about the event. So here we go!

The Mini Umbrella was organised - for the 3rd year running - by the North-East England branch of CILIP and Northumbria University, at Northumbria University in Newcastle-upon-Tyne. It is called "Mini Umbrella" after the biennial CILIP Umbrella conference, which is THE conference for library and information professionals in the UK. This year, it was a half-day conference, running from 12-5pm. It started with a buffet lunch and time to look at the stalls at the back of the room representing some local library services and CILIP groups.

  • Keynote by Isabel Hood, CILIP Trustee
Isabel gave us an update on CILIP: its mission, as set out by its members in a recent big survey, its organisation and the changes it is undergoing. [Also in my notes: "Check eHustings + sort out ballot paper." Gloups. I guess it's too late now... In my defense, CILIP and I have had a slight misunderstanding as to what is my current address; in their defense, I should have sorted it earlier. Erm, let's move on...]
  • Rachel Steele : NHS Clinical Librarian project
 I do not know very much about working for a firm or in the health sector. Therefore, I am always curious to hear about librarians in those areas. Rachel described the role of the Clinical Librarian as keeping up-to-date with research in the particular medical fields of health professionals she works with, and in this way facilitating their access to the latest breakthroughs. She also undertakes literature searches, evaluates information and is involved in user education and training. To me, it sounded a lot like being what we'd called in French a "documentaliste" applied to the health sector.
  • Mark Freeman (now Stockton Libraries) and Kathryn Armstrong (South Tyneside) : Tyne2Seine2 
Tyne2Seine2 is a programme between schools and libraries in North and South Tyneside and in Epinay-sur-Seine, in the suburb of Paris. It all started with Epinay-sur-Seine, which is twinned with South Tyneside. There was a school project in the French town which involved pupils in creating stories that were then made into books that were then made into... gardens! This project was then shared with a school in South Tyneside and, thanks to a Comenius (European) grant, a link between schools and libraries, on both sides of the Tyne and across the sea, was established. For the children, the project included discovering the others' culture, activities based around reading, storytelling in a different language, author visits, ... Since the children themselves could not travel, it was the British and French librarians and authors who made several trips!
I have to admit, I was very interested - not least because I'm French. A couple of years ago, Newcastle City Library had a visit from representatives from twin city Nancy (in North-East France - where I have been to university!) Already at the time, I thought how great it would be to set up something in collaboration with the libraries there - even something as simple as gifts of books chosen by readers; something that would really link the residents of the two towns, open their minds to a different people, a different culture, a different language and share their own. I thought Tyne2Seine2 was a brilliant project - it's something the kids involved will always remember! - but unfortunately, it demands a lot of resources, and I guess it would not have been possible without the grant. 
  • Dilys Young and Christine Willoughby : Rising expectations - using customer feedback to deliver strategic objectives
Both from Northumbria University Library, the speakers shared their experience of using statistics to prove the service's value and set out objectives for improvement.
  • Sharon Reeve : Services for visually impaired users
Sharon talked about the North East Accessible Library and Information Services (NEALIS) project and presented the wide range of services available to visually impaired persons at Newcastle Libraries. [No notes for this presentation; I know all about it!]
An outline of the project, which was a finalist in the CILIP Libraries Change Lives award, can be viewed here.
  • Middlesbrough College LRC team : The new curiosity shop - what's on offer today?
The team from the Learning Resource Centre (LRC) at Middlesbrough College told us about their use of new technologies. This includes using free online resources for promotion (such as Prezi, Twitter, Inforgraphics) but also getting teachers to know about them via a newsletter. [They had some newsletters to give out... I was eager to grab one of course, but the angle is different from I write for our internal newsletter, so I won't be able to borrow/steal their ideas... Haha] They also admitted to resorting to the "wow" factor to engage pupils: part of the induction is a 3D film tour of the library (with 3D glasses and big screen), a quiz and a QR code tour. The QR code tour uses only coded text so it's quicker and it keeps pupils focused on following the trail: the text is a clue to the location of the next QR code, and leads them to all the different sections of the LRC.

Colin Raistrick, the chair of North-East CILIP, concluded the conference with, among other things, some funny anecdotes on good old-fashioned information users meeting new technology ones - and the suggestion that the Mini Umbrella's name should be changed to "Party under the Parasol"! Hehehe!
For my part, as always, I enjoyed meeting and talking with colleagues from other organisations and sectors, learning about what everyone is up to and going away with a couple of ideas...

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