Equality and Diversity: promoting good practice in library work Tuesday 17th November 2009

This one day CILIPS practitioners Conference, ably chaired by Evelyn Kilmurry, Partnership and Information Manager, Edinburgh City Libraries, was the idea of Margaret Forrest, CILIPS President 2009, who worked with CILIPS and JISC staff to put the programme together.

Over 50 delegates gathered in the fabulous setting of the Mitchell Library to consider how recent legislative and policy developments have encouraged a growing emphasis on community engagement and more involvement with groups affected by issues relating to race, disability, gender, age, sexual orientation and religion or belief.

First up were Marion Huckle and Ayub Khan of CILIP who discussed diversification of the workforce and the positive action employee scheme, Encompass introduced by our professional association.
Following a lively question and answer session we heard from Paul McCloskey, from Edinburgh City Libraries on what constitutes good inclusive practice in libraries. Issues of particular relevance to ‘inclusive services’ include cultural diversity, digital exclusion, freedom of information, joined-up provision, licence restrictions, lifelong learning, strategic alliances, the 24-hour society and virtual environments. Paul discussed various initiatives in Edinburgh including the Reading Champions Project, services to prisons and Bookbus.
Then it was time to consider the effect on higher education of the Government policy of encouraging growing numbers of overseas students in our universities. As the number of international students and staff rise within the UK higher education sector, institutions are becoming increasingly reliant on them for their income and academic development. In an enlightening presentation, Professor Andrea Nolan discussed this issue in the strategic context of globalisation and with particular reference to Glasgow University, her own institution.

Over lunch delegates had the opportunity to discuss the issues raised in the morning sessions and engage with exhibitors from Dolphin, The Scottish Information Literacy Project , Humanware and Common Knowledge Twenty of us also took a tour of the Mitchell Library Resource Unit for the Visually Impaired to learn more about the services on offer there from Ann Hamilton and her team.

In the afternoon John Kelly from JISCLegal guided everyone through the Equalities Bill, which aims to roll all the previous legislation up in one Act as well as abolish the mandatory retirement age.

This was followed by a marvellous exposition from Margaret McKay of JISC RSC Scotland SW JISC RSC Scotland SW on the award winning AccessApps initiative which provides portable solutions to support writing, reading and planning as well as sensory, cognitive and physical difficulties.

In the final part of the day we learned that there is good clinical evidence to show that books can be just as effective as other forms of therapy – and with the advantage of having no side effects. Claire Scott from East Renfrewshire Libraries discussed the Healthy Reading scheme which gives people access to high-quality psychological self-help materials in a partnership approach between libraries and health trusts. Claire Elliot from Renfrewshire Action on Mental Health explained how her organisation made use of the reading recommendations with their clients in a supportive and safe environment.

CILIPS President, Margaret Forrest, in her closing remarks, spoke for everyone when she emphasised how enjoyable and enlightening the day had been.

All the presentations can be accessed at: http://www.slideshare.net/scottishlibraries


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