Friday, 6 January 2012

Librarians of the world, meet up and speak

Things 15 and 16 are about events and advocacy respectively.

2011 has been a great conference year for me. I have attended the CILIP Umbrella conference for the first time in my young life, as well as making the trip to Library Camp UK and paying a visit to the North East CILIP Mini Umbrella. I decided to go to Umbrella by my own means: I knew it was going to cost a lot, but I wanted to go, I wanted to learn, I wanted something to happen in my professional life, I wanted to see what it was like and I wanted to meet other members of the library and information world. I am only a humble library assistant: I do not get to go to trainings or conferences - however, my institution was kind enough to let me go on my work time. Apart from the learning objective, going to Umbrella was also a way to challenge myself: I was going somewhere I didn't know anyone and where everyone would most likely be more experienced than me! Well, I survived, and I did not regret going at all: I did hear some inspiring talks, I did learn about what colleagues in other fields were doing and I met some great people.
Library Camp UK, in Birmingham, was a different experience: it was smaller, less formal, and I probably enjoyed it more. I especially liked the "discussion" rather than "presentation" format and how good-natured the atmosphere was. I have to admit, all those cakes made it easier to socialise!
Finally, I went to the NE CILIP Mini Umbrella for the second year in a row, and I am already planning to attend again next year...

I have thoroughly enjoyed all the conferences I have been to, but I am not considering speaking at such events just yet. I have nothing against presenting, but I feel I have not done enough (yet!?) in my professional career that would be worth formally speaking about.
I have never organised a conference, but I might contribute a little in organising one in France. My friend Aude (what a coincidence!) is on the committee of the Ile de France (wider Paris) group of the ABF (Association des Bibliothécaires de France, i.e. the French Library Association) which is organising the association's national conference this year. I did offer my services for this if needed, and also more specifically to help organise the Groupe Ile de France's study trip in case they choose to come to England!
Oh, and on my "conference wish list" this year is, obviously, the Congrès ABF 2012... It will focus on showing the authorities how useful libraries are to society - a theme that, incidentally, makes a good transition to Thing 16 and advocacy!

I firmly believe that it is essential - but not always easy - for libraries to show or prove their value, to society in general but more specifically to the authorities, be they local, national or institutional. I am amazed at what is currently happening in the UK: public libraries user groups taking local authorities to court, CILIP's involvement, the support of the WI and of high-profile authors and celebrities, the creation of the Libraries All Party Parliamentary Group, National Libraries Day, etc. I am not aware of as many things happening in France, for example - but maybe it is because the situation is not as bad? The ABF is however working on a manifesto in view of the coming presidential and parliamentary elections, similar to what CILIP did last year. I hope they will be looking to this side of the Channel for ideas, and that we will be able to get support from them too...

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