CILIP Conference 2018: Highlights by Distance Learning student Katherine Burchell

I was fortunate to win a bursary from the Information School to attend the CILIP Conference held in Brighton. This was my first opportunity at attending a large-scale conference and to meet other likeminded professionals. Not only was it an opportunity to learn about all different topics, it was also a chance for me to meet other iSchool students at the iSchool stand and to also discuss the distance learning course to prospective students. I must say I was surprised at how many people wanted to discuss distance learning, and I am pleased to have been able to chat to them about the work and study balance.

With this being my first conference, I naturally felt nervous about the experience but I was immediately set at ease by how open and welcoming everyone was. This was something that CILIP were very proactive to alleviate and they set up a special “Welcome Zone” for first timers, a place where they could chat to each other, over a game of Connect 4. I had spoken to people online via Twitter before attending so I felt that these initial first conversations were a lot less daunting for me.

The conference programme was jam packed with four different keynote speakers and lots of breakout sessions, covering a wide variety of topics from library spaces to health literacy. There was certainly something for everyone. My favourite keynote speaker was Sally Walker, Scotland’s Library and Information Professional of the Year, who spoke of her journey to professional registration. Being very early into my career this keynote was perfect for me, as it gave me the confidence and drive to pursue my career and take opportunities given to me. Sally was so passionate about her job and the work she has done with Orkney libraries and the work she has done with children and their families.

My highlight quote from the whole conference had to be from Sally Walker when she said:

“I’m exactly where I should be, doing exactly what I should be doing. That is peace”

I’m going to be taking this with me wherever I go and remember this moving forward with my career. I really enjoy hearing career stories, as I find they are a great way of finding out about career paths I didn’t know anything about before, they always get me thinking of all the different jobs I could have in the future.

There was so much to see and hear at the conference, that it was a tough choice to choose which breakout sessions to attend. I will just discuss two of my favourite sessions that I attended.

The first session I chose to attend was “Blurring the boundaries: the reshaping of library spaces”. I chose this seminar session as it has very close ties with my dissertation, so it was a great opportunity to hear about what other libraries are doing with their spaces. I was particularly amazed by the work at The Hive in Worcester, they have a fully integrated library, in which they have both a public and an academic library. It was great to hear how there is a focus on being more than just a library, something which I think is extremely important to the future of public libraries.

The second session I attended was a “Professional Registration Café run by Jo Cornish and Sonia Ramdhian both from CILIP. The “Your Career” strand was sponsored by the Information School and this session gave practical advice about Certification, Chartership and Fellowship. It was an opportunity to hear what goes into a portfolio and the types of evidence you need for it. There was opportunity at the end of the sessions to get into small groups to discuss what stage you are at with thinking about professional registration. For myself, I would like to do either Certification or Chartership within the next couple of years, and it was a great session, which gave me a confidence boost about the experience I have and how it can be used for professional registration.

Overall the conference was a great experience for me both personally and professionally and opened my eyes to all the different opportunities available to me as I progress. I look forward to being able to put all the new knowledge I learnt into practice and I look forward to my future in such a rewarding and welcoming profession.
Katherine Burchell
MA Library and Information Service Management (Distance Learning) student


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