Review of Development Opportunity – CILIP Conference 2019

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 Sharma

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!!

Hong-Anh Nguyen

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.”



A Training Day with Nicola Morgan

By Gareth Evans, School Librarian based in Chippenham.

On Friday 29 March the CILIP Youth Libraries Group South West of England hosted a one-day training event run by internationally acclaimed author Nicola Morgan, author of around 100 books. In 2005 Nicola wrote her award-winning book, Blame My Brain, which explains to teenagers, teachers and parents what goes on inside a teenager’s head during adolescence. Since then Nicola has written several wellbeing books for teenagers, covering a range of topics like stress, friendships, bullying, social media and life online. The theme for the day was young people, mental health and reading. The event was attended by 80 professionals from school, university, health and public libraries.

The day was divided into three sessions. In the first session, Nicola discussed the development of a teenager’s brain, how this explains the behaviour and emotional problems teenagers have during adolescence. Nicola then went on to explain how we as adults get stressed and how this can relate to teenagers as well. Finally, she discussed the side effects of over-using screens & social media, and the impact on our concentration, self-esteem, mental health and lifestyle.

In the second session, Nicola went on to explaining her 6 strategies for supporting teens’ wellbeing. Some of these strategies we can adopt into our daily lives as well. Nicola’s first strategy touched on how to deal with stress management. She discussed the importance of understanding the biology of stress, and shared breathing tactics and empowering daily relaxation by doing activities that help you to relax or take your mind off your worries. The second strategy is building resilience, by being able to accept failure and setbacks, manage stress, to compartmentalise bad things and dare to try again. The third strategy was to support and value introverted people through understanding and discussions – giving introverts the time and place to be alone, but also encouraging them to practice extroverted skills and value their personality. The fourth strategy was about educating ourselves and teenagers about sleeping better. Nicola highlighted that sleep is important for our health, wellbeing and learning. She recommends that we improve our sleep hygiene by creating a routine every day that will wind down our heart rate and switch off any screen devices before going to bed. The fifth strategy is managing our screen time when using our computers, tablets or mobiles. She suggests that we switch off our phones or block social media messages when doing any major task. Removing the temptation of checking our phones means we can focus our energy into the task we are doing. In addition to this, for teenagers who feel bad about themselves, Nicola suggests switching off from using social media. Another great tip for teenagers is to remind them that not everything online is true. We should all balance our time on screen by spending more time on sleep, exercise, reading and doing other activities such as making friends and supporting each other.

The final strategy was covered in the last session of the day, which was to encourage people to read for pleasure (R4P). The Reading Agency has done loads of research looking at benefits of R4P. It has been highlighted that R4P involves people’s self-esteem, increase life expectancy, increases empathy, stress, academic results and much more. To encourage teenagers to enjoy R4P, let them choose their own books to read and not judge them for what they are reading. Create a positive reading culture in school, for example whole class reading (including adults), have book boxes in each class and share and discuss books as a class or in groups.

The three main things I have learned from the training day with Nicola:

  • I now have a better understanding of how the teenager’s mind works and the issues teenagers face with their well-being in their daily lives. I would highly recommend that all teenagers, parents, teacher, school support staff and health workers read Nicola’s book “Blame My Brain”.
  • How to introduce and develop a R4P culture in school and speak to your school senior team about the benefits of R4P.
  • How to promote and build a collection of reading materials around wellbeing for teenagers to have access to.

Finally, here are some websites and books with useful information about teenagers’ wellbeing and Reading for Pleasure:



  • Creating Readers: A Reflective Guide for School Librarians and Teachers by Prue Goodwin
  • Positively Teenage – A Positively Brilliant Guide To teenage Well-Being by Nicola Morgan
  • The Teenage Guide to Life Online by Nicola Morgan
  • The Teenage Guide to Stress by Nicola Morgan
  • Blame By Brain by Nicola Morgan
  • Read To Succeed – Strategies to Engage Children and Young People In Reading For Pleasure Edited By Joy Court
  • Reading by Right – Successful Strategies To Ensure Every Child Can Read To Succeed
  • Getting The Buggers To Read: 2nd Edition by Claire Senior




Robert Giles – winner of the Harry Galloway Award

CILIP SW are delighted to present this year’s Harry Galloway Prize to Robert Giles. Here are Robert’s reflections on his work and studies and on receiving the award:

“I began working at North Somerset Council as a library helper in 2013. The job changed a lot over the three and a half years I worked there. I started off working at the distribution centre, moving books from one crate to another and doing shelving at Clevedon library. By the time I left I was mostly a handyman and van driver. It was at that time I realised I had to either stick with libraries or I had to change career, so I applied for the MSc Information Management at UWE. I’ve been in a variety of different roles in North Somerset libraries since then, which has included visiting nurseries as Bookstart Bear, definitely a career highlight.

My dissertation has the pithy title of “An Investigation into the Digital Literacy and Inclusion Skills of Library Staff working at Libraries within LibrariesWest”.

The inspiration for this project came from my own experience as a brand-new library assistant. I found I was providing more help with ICT queries than any other aspect of the job. I was surprised at the variety of requests for help from library users and the apparent lack of support in terms of training.

The research took the form of a cross-sectional survey and employed a mixed methods approach. A questionnaire was sent to the seven library authorities who form LibrariesWest and semi-structured interviews were conducted at one Somerset library to collect information on the current digital literacy and digital inclusion skills of library staff.

The research discovered that most library staff already have the abilities and attitude to carry out digital inclusion. However, there are some gaps in staff knowledge and some members of staff who require additional support. One area that requires attention is the provision of e-books and e-audio books.

I’m now a Business Intelligence Analyst for North Somerset where I use the skills I learned during my MSc in a new context. However, I’m a librarian at heart and I’d like to think that one day I’ll be back in libraries in some form.

The MSc is challenging and rewarding. My experience of library and information work was narrow at the beginning of the course and it was an eye-opening experience to see not just how big the profession is but also the value that it brings to the services it supports.

I had applied for the course hoping to get through with a pass. I was completely stunned to hear that I won the Harry Galloway Prize. I’m incredible proud to be this year’s prize winner.”

Here is Robert with Catherine Chorley, Chair of the CILIP SW Members Network, who presented him with the award:

Cataloguing for Beginners: RDA and (a little bit of) MARC

Carol Price, Information Librarian at MIDIRS, reviews the training she attended on Friday, 5th April, led by Anne Welsh (UCL) and Kate Whaite (House of Lords):

“My work-related reason for attending this course was because at MIDIRS ( one of our main activities is compiling a subscription reference database. Making sure our digital records are findable is key for our customers. We also have a small collection of pamphlets filed by accession number and I was wondering whether subject classification might be feasible and, if so, how to go about it.

Cataloguers are cool

My non-work reason was my conviction that cataloguing, and cataloguers, are cool: ever since I picked up a set of fridge magnets ‘Metadata, the most dangerous weapon of the 21st century’ from a Cataloguing and Indexing Group stand, I’ve been intrigued.

I’m pleased to report that this training event only increased my general fandom. Course leaders Anne Welsh and Kate Whaite are star performers – excellent teachers, clearly filled with enthusiasm for their subject, super-qualified and, best of all, funny.

Practical cataloguing vs the aboutness of cataloguing

Before the course I was painfully conscious of MIDIRS’ lack of a respectable LMS – we use an embarrassingly old version of Lotus Notes – but my concerns were allayed. The focus of the course was core principles and key fields, irrespective of system, and that’s exactly what was covered. The ‘aboutness’ of cataloguing took second place to its practical application.

“You need to be comfortable with degrees of wrongness

The training focused on RDA within the MARC format but it was stressed that “There’s no such thing as the same as everyone else”. Local variations to cataloguing practice are standard – even if you are using the same system. And everyone has to make allowances for their own system depending, for instance, on what characters it recognises. Knowing your own system is key – so one of the first things I’ll be establishing back in the office is exactly what quirks lurk within our ancient Lotus Notes.

“Never panic about cataloguing – you can always go back again

I’ll be paying closer attention to past records too. Cataloguing is about interpretation not just blindly following a fixed set of rules:  it’s hard to be 100% right about any cataloguing decision – but if you make consistent cataloguing decisions it’s hard to be wrong. It’s important, not a sign of weakness, to check how similar items have been catalogued previously. And you can always return to a record with fresh insights.

Discovering ‘thinginess

Cataloguing is descriptive (what’s in front of you or “the thinginess of the thing”) and also enables access (how to find the thing). Think about what fields are important for your users: basically, if you get the author and title right your item will be discoverable.  In my work, access is all important for the reference database but ‘thinginess’ is also relevant for some of our historic pamphlets.

Go up a level

The down-to-earth definition of subject cataloguing offered was “the best you can do to describe something so as to decide where to put it on a shelf”.  Classification, assigning a number from an accepted system such as the Dewey Decimal, means picking the category that best represents what the item is about. There are lots of ways of doing this, and lots of information you can use to make a decision, including the cover and the publisher’s blurb. Doing the examples in class was fascinating!

An important point for anyone considering this course is that understanding the principles of classification is potentially useful for everyone. As a cataloguer, if something doesn’t fit neatly into one category you sometimes need to ‘go up a level’.  Similarly, someone on the front desk can use this principle to help a customer find something in the library catalogue.

Go if you get the chance!

As you can probably tell, I loved this course. As well as the useful workbook that accompanied it I’ve got lots of website links for expanding my future knowledge – and loads of ideas for reviewing our record fields and establishing a classification system. If you get the chance to go on this training make sure you take it!”

Beginning Cataloguing: an Itinerary

Image from pexels

Friday 5 April 2019

University of the West of England, Bristol


Following their successful “Introduction to Cataloguing” training day in Exeter in 2017, Anne Welsh and Kate Whaite return to CILIP South West with another day for those brand new to cataloguing (or those whose cataloguing training is so far in the dim and distant past that they don’t mind starting from scratch again).

The focus is on core principles and on analysing a wide range of examples to identify the key fields we would create, including author(s), title, publisher details, physical description, notes and a little bit of subject analysis. You don’t need computer skills, or to know MARC coding, but you will leave knowing how to navigate RDA, MARC and some basic Library of Congress Subject Headings, and with handouts giving you crib sheets for the main fields, the main jargon, and where to go to keep your new skills up-to-date.



10:00 Welcome

10:10 Introductions: If you can, please ask someone (a cataloguer, or your manager, or a colleague who has been there longer than you have) at your work which Library Management System you use to catalogue, which standards (e.g. AACR2, RDA) you use, and if you download from and / or contribute to any consortia. Don’t worry if you can’t find out – it will just help you to orientate your learning on the day with the practices in your home institution if you can find out.

10:30 Beginning Cataloguing – physical description and publisher details

11:15 Tea break

11:45 Title, author, other access points

12:30 Lunch

13:30 What do we do about ‘aboutness’? Subject analysis; notes; local practices

15:00 Tea

15:30 More practice

16:00 Close

A Day In The Life Of…Catherine Chorley

“A Day in the Life of…” is a new thing for the blog. We’d like to turn the spotlight on a different member of the committee each month – first up is Catherine Chorley, the newly appointed Chair, who shares a bit about her day…

“Join me, if you will, for ‘a day in the life’ of a university library assistant. I warn you now, though: you will need to set your alarm for 05:45 (though, in truth, I frequently fumble for the ‘snooze’ button. Twice).

This early start is a rod I have made for my own back, choosing as I do to commute between my home and Oxford, where I work as a Senior Library Assistant at St Anne’s College. My role is part-time, spanning four full days, which makes the journeying bearable, if a little tiring during the dark spells and chills of the winter months. There is a reliable but infrequent bus service between home and work, which means I have no choice when I arrive at and depart from the library. I count down the days until school vacations, when the drastically lightened flow of traffic means I breeze in with time to draw breath before the day commences, rather than sidle in guiltily on the stroke of 09:00, bleary-eyed from my bus-nap and cursing the A40 while making a bee-line for the kettle.

Despite these travails of the (almost) daily commute, I value the time I have en route to and from work to read, or plan my day, or relax with a podcast after the working day. Every job comes with its own challenges and potential inconveniences, and I count myself fortunate that those I have found with my own are not actually products of the work itself. Ever since being offered the position in 2017, I have marvelled at how lucky I am to work in such a convivial and supportive environment in a profession that I whole-heartedly feel is my personal ideal. Any stresses or tests of patience (which, to be fair, are always going to arise no matter how well-suited you feel to your work) are rendered inconsequential by the gratitude shown by those you help, and the enjoyment you get from seeing regular faces going about increasingly familiar study routines.

Many aspects of my own work are routine: the bread-and-butter parts of my role. Circulation, shelving, processing, and answering enquiries: these staple tasks never, as some might assume, become monotonous, as the continual flux of readers and visitors around you make each day subtly different, with new enquiries to pursue and familiar tasks in alternative contexts to complete. Also, on a day when my head feels somewhat mashed from whatever life may have dumped on me, there is nothing more soothing than roaming the familiarity of our two libraries, headphones on, rehoming each book ready for the next reader. (That said, the capacity of books to self-replicate on the shelving trollies when nobody is watching beggars belief.)

What I enjoy the most about my role in one of the University of Oxford’s College libraries, rather than the larger network of University Libraries, is the sense of community. Our readers are often students living in College accommodation, meaning our work is literally a central part of their day-to-day experience of higher education, as well as (I hope) a figurative equivalent in their intellectual and academic domains.

I also have the chance to perform a wide range of duties that might instead be distributed across specific teams within a larger organisation. While working at the enquiry desk I might process recent acquisitions to make them ‘shelf-ready’ (partly a glorified sticky-backed plastic job, à la Blue Peter of old) or I could be called away to help a student navigate the library class mark system that, to the uninitiated, can seem impenetrable. I deal with periodical subscriptions and take part in longer-term projects; each week I contribute to the social media output, and periodically I curate materials for reading room displays. I also get to tangle with catalogue records on a regular basis, enriching them with provenance data or amending according to current protocol. This latter work I hope to pursue more fully during a subsequent stage of my career.

While there are staple tasks for term-time associated with the greater numbers of students around, the pace rarely slackens even outside the formal teaching periods when student numbers dwindle. We become a different kind of busy. Every vacation gives us the chance to inventory the collections and keep track of what we have, what has gone missing, and which of us can scan the most barcodes before either scanner or each of us needs recharging (whichever comes first).

Several times a year the College hosts visiting programmes, which are opportunities to meet and engage with a smaller cohort perhaps more intensively, in some instances, given the limited duration of their stay. Over the summer, introducing one such group of students to the Library, its resources and the services on offer, can give a chance to refine our induction process and the efficacy of our initial orientations in advance of the onslaught of the Michaelmas term. Every new library user is a chance to see things from a fresh perspective, and unfamiliar queries sometimes identify where we could improve, or what strikes our users as the most useful, interesting or baffling. The self-issue machine, and its ability to ‘read’ multiple book barcodes from some hidden nook, is a frequent source of wonder.

Overall, though parts of my working day are routine, a series of snapshots across a selection would demonstrate enough variety and opportunities for new experiences and learning to keep anyone engaged. I continue to value the opportunity I have been given to work in my current role, and look forward to the next stage of my professional life (especially if it affords a longer lie-in…)”

Written by Catherine Chorley, Senior Library Assistant at St Anne’s College, Oxford and Chair of CILIP SWMN, amongst other things!



Dates for your diaries – Cataloguing for Beginners, Friday 5th April and AGM/Members Day, 10th April 2019

CILIP South West Members Network are hosting two exciting events in April – more details to come but here’s what we know so far – save the dates!

Title: Cataloguing for Beginners: RDA and (a little bit of) MARC

Date: Friday 5 April 2019

Venue: University of the West of England (please inform of any access requirements

Event type: Full-day interactive, workshop-style training for those who have never used RDA or who would like to refresh their knowledge (though please note that the course is designed for beginners unfamiliar with RDA). Attendees with be provided with handouts and activities to complete on the day, and will be emailed a short ‘quiz’ beforehand – to be completed in advance – about their existing knowledge of cataloguing using RDA and how it is used in their own workplaces. Attendees should bring along their completed quizzes on the day and be prepared to contribute examples to group work and discussions.

Attendees are welcome to bring their own computing devices, though PC access is not required for the course.

Further detail: This training is aimed at people who know nothing about cataloguing (or who have forgotten everything they once knew long ago). In a range of activities, you will find out what cataloguing is and why we do it; have a go at doing some basic cataloguing using the current international standard (RDA) and exchange format (MARC21); and leave with some resources you can use to keep up-to-date with your newly-gained cataloguing knowledge.

Learning objectives: To understand the basic principles of cataloguing using Resource Description and Access (RDA) and how these are expressed when inputting information into cataloguing fields. A small amount of information about MARC will also be covered.

Schedule: 10:00 – 16:00 (full programme details tbc)

Refreshments: Morning and afternoon tea/coffee; lunch (please inform of any dietary requirements)

Programme leaders: Anne Welsh (lecturer in the Department of Information Studies, UCL; and Katharine Whaite (UCL).

PKSB elements covered (for those undertaking professional registration): 1.5 Cataloguing and resource description (Creating descriptions of information resources, based
on standard rules and formats). Certificates of course attendance will be available afterwards. Please contact if you wish to receive a certificate.

Maximum number of attendees: Up to 20 (though up to 22/3 would be manageable if there is a small amount of over-subscription)

Cost: CILIP member £40; non-member £50 (prices inclusive of VAT and refreshments/lunch catering)

More details to follow.


Title: AGM and Members Day

Date: Wednesday, 10th April 2019

Venue: Glass Box, Taunton Library (; please inform of any access requirements

Schedule: Registration/coffee on arrival from 09:30 for a 10:00 start. AGM (including the award of the Harry Galloway Prize) will be first in the programme (following Chair’s Welcome/Housekeeping). There will be mid-morning and mid-afternoon refreshment breaks and a lunch break, during which attendees will have the option to tour/view the technologies in use at the Glass Box Library. The day will conclude around 16:00. Full programme schedule and speakers’ details tbc. Please inform of any dietary requirements.

Theme: Facing and Embracing Change in the Workplace

PKSB sections covered (for those undertaking professional registration): Section 10 Strategy, Planning and Management (sub-sections 10.8, 10.9 and 10.10 in particular). Certificates of attendance will be available after the event for those wishing to document their participation. Please email if you would like to receive a certificate of attendance.

Speakers: Alison Wheeler*, Emma Wellard (North Somerset Libraries), David Stewart (CILIP President – tbc)

Cost: Free to CILIP members; non-members £30 (including VAT)

Capacity: 40 people (approx.)


Full programmes and booking instructions for each will be confirmed in due course. Watch this space!