Sharon Wright successfully applied for funding from the CILIP South West Professional Development Grant Scheme which allowed her to attend the CILIP Conference in Manchester this year. Here is her report:
“Earlier this year I began work in a public health library, alongside my existing roles as a library assistant in a public library and a final year student studying for a BSc in Information and library studies. I felt that this was an ideal point to focus on my career development and was lucky enough to be awarded a student bursary by the CILIP Community, Diversity and Equality Group to attend the CILIP annual conference in Manchester. The bursary, however, did not include my travel costs. I, therefore, applied for a grant from the CILIP SW Professional Development Grant Scheme to cover these and was very grateful to receive this as, without this help, I would have been unable to attend.
The conference brings together people from across all library and information sectors for two days of collaboration, debate, inspiration and networking. It covers a broad range of topics with a variety of different workshops and lectures which you can attend depending on your own interests and included four keynote speakers. I have outlined below information about some of the sessions which I attended and really enjoyed.
Kriti was the first speaker, opening the conference with her keynote speech exploring how the lack of diversity in technology and the creation of artificial intelligence (AI) has led to human bias influencing this technology. She spoke about the need for data ethics and ethical algorithms, sharing her vision of how AI might be used to create better, fairer societies if applied to solving the right problems. Her speech was both engaging and thought provoking – an ideal start to the conference!!
The second day began with another inspiring key-note speech, questioning diversity in the library and information sector. The theme of diversity and inclusion was a common thread running through many of the conference sessions and Hong-Anh spoke about the need to move beyond good intentions and strategies, towards individual and collective action to enable change, asking ‘what power do you have to change things?’. I learnt about the idea of ‘reverse mentoring’ – when a leader or manager is paired with a BAME (black, Asian and minority ethnic) colleague enabling them to see things from a different perspective and blinded recruitment panels, where details are removed from applications to remove unconscious bias. Both are ideas which I would like to consider further to ensure the library and information profession accurately reflects the needs of the communities that we serve.
Leaders Network career tips Panel.
This was a session which I chose to attend, with members of the CILIP leaders network sharing their experiences regarding one aspect of leadership. The panel came from a wide range of backgrounds with different job roles and I found the session inspiring. Some common tips included say yes and take opportunities when they occur, adapt to change and build your resilience, do things you are passionate about and retain a work life balance.
I would say to anyone considering applying for future bursaries or getting involved in future development opportunities to go for it! Everyone that I met was so friendly, willing to share their ideas and experiences and passionate about library services. I learnt so much, met so many new people and am extremely grateful to CILIP SW and their Professional Development Grant Scheme for enabling me to take advantage of this opportunity.”