CILIPS Autumn Gathering 2012

Carnegie Conference Centre welcomed a record 135 delegates to the #CILIPSAG12 event last week and still we had a waiting list to see and hear a varied programme of speakers!

The ‘literacies’ theme proved to be incredibly popular with our members as did each of the keynote presentations from Hannah Gore, Biddy Fisher and Dughall McCormick.

The parallel sessions were equally popular with Gordon Hunt crying out for more chairs to seat those who had turned up to hear Jennifer Jones discuss social media. The packed session meant that some of us (including me) had to be turned away.

During the course of the day delegates were encouraged to tweet their thoughts, impressions and photos and many did. Richard Hawkins of CILIP kindly created a twitter archive for us which you can view here. (just click ‘archive’ at the bottom to view. Thank you Richard!

Once again, our event was well supported by a range of exhibitors, for which we’re very grateful. There were prizes won too in an afternoon draw including champagne, chocolates and an e-reader.

CILIP CEO Annie Mauger hosted a #shoutabout table over lunch which gave school librarians an opportunity to discuss the sector landscape in Scotland in advance of the lobby taking place at the Scottish Parliament on 27th October.
Feedback is still to be analysed but it looks like most delegates enjoyed a useful and productive day where they were able to encounter and discuss new ideas, engage with suppliers and network with colleagues.


Grampian Information Conference

I travelled to Aberdeen’s Hutton Institute recently to attend the Grampian Information Annual Conference: Information: skills for learning, work and life.
The event was well attended with around 50 delegates turning up for the afternoon event.
The Team had put together a superb programme looking at information literacy initiatives in schools, universities and the workplace. So much was packed into a few hours it was hard to believe this was only a half day event. It even included parallel tours in between the presentations and I was able to enjoy a visit to The Reading Bus where I learnt more about this important initiative and also picked up a copy of their ‘Recipes for Loons and Quines’ (carrot and lentil recipe tried and tested by me last weekend – scrumptious!)
Delegates learned a little bit about SLIC’s initiative to bring the Scottish Information Literacy Framework information into its website and how we are working with John Crawford and Christine Irving to get this up and running as soon as possible and to extend its function to a Scottish community of practice using the model developed by the Scottish Government.  Christine Irving has blogged a  more detailed account of the event
Well done to all the GI team!

The age of new media

Scotland’s Festival of Politics, now in its sixth year, took place at the Parliament Building in Edinburgh last week running alongside other Fringe and Festival events. Last year I had attended to hear the recently retired John Prescott, look back on his career. Since then he has developed a whole new Twitter persona and has taken to tweeting  in a BIG way and is as prominent in the media as ever. This year’s  theme was renewing politics in the age of new media and there was much to interest and excite information professionals.

Scottish Parliament venue for the Festival of Politics

‘Has Twitter changed the world?’ was the specific question posed by the event. I wanted to garner tips and hints on how CILIP in Scotland/SLIC can better use new communication media to enrich the member environment.  And there were plenty of pointers on offer.

The story of how Kirk Torrance  and ICT guru  Ewan McIntosh   used social media tools to help take the SNP into Government for a second term is a case in point and a bluprint for others to follow.

However the highlight of the debate for me was listening to Dr Andy Williamson, the Hansard Society’s Director of Digital Democracy,   expound the importance of information literacy in creating a politically aware society, the key  role of libraries in encouraging information literacy and helping individuals to develop the tools for effective digital engagement.  Sadly, Dr Williamson is leaving his post soon .

The debate itself was inconclusive – but there are plenty of sites to help you make up your mind. Meanwhile I’m off to examine more closely event amplification using social media to enhance participation and debate around our conferences and seminars.

New look – school library services

I was just asked to consider how many school library services are merging with public library services and it made me reflect on the last 15 years and how much ping-ponging about there’s been for the sector. In the early part of the year, there were a lot of concerns about the posts of school librarians but this is more about squeezing every last fiver out of council budgets and also bringing like-services logically together to strengthen support.

School library provision is very different in Scotland, mainly due to reorganisation of local government and period of sustained growth and investment in the mid-70s. The Wheatley Commission, which made recommendations for local government reorganisation structures in 1974 resulted in the transfer of responsibilities for education services to regional Council, whilst public libraries were made the responsibilities of District Councils.

There was a period of rapid growth which saw the development or consolidation of Education resource Services and up to 93% of Scottish secondary schools had a professional school librarian, growing from 229 in 1985 50 over 400 in Scotland.

Local government reorganisation in 1996 saw the introduction of unitary authorities, bringing together the responsibility for the delivery of school and public library services, although not always in the same department. The COSLA School Library Standards development was initiated at this point by the Scottish Library and Information Council to highlight the contribution of school library services and alleviate pressure for mergers. Since that point, there has been pressure on school library services, and many of the support functions are now delivered differently through partnership or mergers with public library services. This is still happening but school librarians’ posts have been largely unaffected until this financial year.

Around 90% of Scottish secondary schools have a professional, chartered more often than not, school librarian in post.

The last year has seen a lot of changes, happening very rapidly. We have no examples of any business models where schools fund the service by ‘buying in’ services although one successfully sells value-added services to primary schools. Five local authorities have some integrated service provision where there are multiple joint school/public libraries; they also have stand-alone public libraries too. In rural Aberdeenshire the service structure is highly developed with Network Librarians based in schools and with a responsibility for a cluster of public libraries and this has worked very effectively.

Another two local authorities have some shared staffing/buildings they’re not as well-developed. Glasgow and Highland are the first 2 Trusts to bring in school librarians and this is very recent so it’s not clear how this will change service delivery but a positive move to explore new models.

In some case integrated management means that the public library service has a greater service involvement, others it’s just support for stock or training. Some public libraries have avoided taking on schools as they haven’t the resource to support them and no money came across when ERSs were deleted. Others are more likely to increase co-operation following the restructuring within Education Directorates; this may ultimately lead to mergers. Finally it’s worth mentioning that after years of gradual coming together, Trusts are in some cases busting services apart, with the schools library services remaining with Education Directorates and the public services go with arts/culture to Trusts.

What we do know is the value of school librarians and the impact they can have on learning. The Curriculum for Excellence offers libraries a great opportunity to change lives by supporting the development of successful learners and confident individuals. And, given challenges facing Scotland to achieve functional literacy amongst its population, new ways of working which help to continue to fund school librarians are very welcome.

Rhona Arthur
Assistant Director

Information literacy – context is all

CILIP in Scotland kicked off the 2011 Continuing Professional Development Programme last month with an event on information literacy held at the Mitchell Library, Glasgow.

‘Information literacy – what’s in it for you?’ sold out very quickly and  delegates were attracted to the event by a mix of presentations and interactive workshops.  Ably chaired by Christine Irving, who formerly headed up the Scottish Information Literacy Framework Project at Glasgow Caledonian University, the morning sessions featured a range of high quality speakers addressing the topic of information literacy across the sectors. Dr Mark Hepworth of Loughborough University did a brilliant job of  explaining why we all need to be information literate by contextualising information literacy  as a skill for citizenship (empowerment, participation, informed decision making, democracy and building social capital) and locating it as a ‘culture’ rather than a skillset .  He was followed by Alison McAllister from North Ayrshire Council who explored the importance of information literacy in schools with the roll out of the Curriculum for Excellence. Michelle Drumm and Ian Watson from IRISS picked up on the theme of context again as they explored information literacy in the workplace.  All the presentations are available to view here.

The afternoon sessions gave delegates an opportunity to engage with these ideas in an interactive way by playing the information literacy game with Lesley Thomson and Jenny Foreman of the Scottish Government and trying out the award winning PADDI app designed by Dundee College and the JISC Regional Support Centre Scotland North and East, part of the AccessApps suite of software.

What did delegates think of the event overall?

‘A perfectly balanced programme’


National Occupational Standards

This is, perhaps, not the most exciting of subjects, but since it defines what we do as a profession, it is of fundamental importance. The last set of agreed National Occupational Standards (NOS) was led by the Information Services National Training Organisation in 2000. In 2007 Lifelong Learning UK, the sector skills council, developed a revision of some 90+ competencies which were rushed through and failed to be adopted in Scotland. Recently an Expert Working Group was set a task to revise the 90+ and make them more manageable. The Standards should reflect the professional skills set and cross-refer to those already contained in other NOS.

The name of the NOS has been proposed has been changed to Library, archives and information management services (LAIMS, as opposed to LAIS). The timescale very tight, but a consultation meeting took place in Edinburgh on 9th November and there is still and opportunity to respond electronically at until 26th November 2011.

Some of the issues which might be of interest are the failure to mention of reading or literacy development, advocacy and promotion, content creation and lack of focus on performance management.

Other NOS which will be signposted to include Community development, Management and Leadership NOS relevant for marketing (but this doesn’t cover advocacy as we would understand it), NOS relevant for the management and conservation of collections (owned by the Creative and Cultural Skills sector skills council), Procurement, UK Workforce Hub (Skills for the Third Sector) – volunteers, Customer Services and NOS related to IT use and systems. There are currently 17 suggested Standards. Many have titles too long and this will cause issues for the development of qualifications later, use terminology inconsistently, and fail to adequately define the skills set in the overviews. There is a general approach of not specifying format/medium- digital/print, ICT/manual systems etc. It is important to have a full, agreed set of NOS so that qualifications and modern apprenticeships can be developed for the workforce needs of the forthcoming years, so please take time to respond.

Government launches Literacy Action Plan

The Scottish Government published its long-awaited Literacy Action Plan on Wednesday 27th October. It seeks to outline the next steps to further raise standards of literacy from early years through to adult learning. The Literacy Action Plan has its roots in the Literacy Commission set up by the Labour Party nearly 2 years ago and cross-arty support secured in a literacy debate held in the Scottish Parliament in January. The Plan is timely and does mention libraries as partners but disappointingly fails to reflect the extensive influence which all sorts of libraries can have on literacy; and the fragile position for many services as they wait for the impact of the Spending Review to emerge.

The Plan acknowledges the vicious web of connection between low literacy, poor health, poverty, unemployment and levels of participation in society and democracy. It sets a vision ‘to raise standards of literacy for all from the early years to adulthood’. Libraries have made significant progress in successfully delivering, with partners Scottish Book Trust, the original Bookstart, now the BookBug programme, integrating its objectives with existing Books for Babies, storytimes and Bounce and Tickle events. South Lanarkshire Libraries describe the impact well. The next stage of school and Curriculum for Excellence widens the involvement of the profession beyond public libraries to include school and college library professionals. Have a look at content on Glow or from CILIPS conferences to see the ways in which libraries can link their activities to the literacy outcomes.

In the sections on inclusion and adults, libraries reach across the age and ability range and work in partnership libraries to support literacy development with free books, information and learning. The Scottish Premier League Reading Stars links the Big Plus, libraries and Premier League sides to promote reading in a very successful partnership and the Evaluation Report shows the impact on reading.

Libraries work effectively and creatively with partners to offer opportunities for family learning and family activities like story and rhyme times; activities and programmes to encourage children and young people to enjoy libraries and reading in schools, colleges and communities; and activities and programmes to encourage adults to enjoy libraries and reading like reading groups, authors visits and book festivals. It seems all too brief to shorthand all this into ‘local libraries’ in the Literacy Action Plan but hopefully as the Standing Literacy Commission starts to report its findings, the contribution of libraries will be more widely recognised.