Making Connections at Library Conferences


I’m off to Dundee to lead a reader development session at the Chartered Institute of Library Information Professionals Scotland (CILIPS) conference tomorrow. I’ll be telling people about what we’ve been doing here in Leith Library since my residency started.

My presentation includes hula-hoop dancing, parrots and a Christmas badger. It’s mostly about how libraries can encourage reader development using social media. It’s all about people (and animals).

The Edge

While I’ve been preparing for tomorrow I’ve been thinking back to the first library conference I ever attended. It was called ‘The Edge‘ and it took place in Edinburgh earlier this year. I wasn’t speaking at the edge, I enjoyed it as a participant.

The Edge completely changed my view of libraries. It opened my eyes to the potential of libraries being places that can and do change lives in so many different ways.

A few things that stuck in my memory:

  • Libraries in Glasgow teamed up with Macmillan cancer care to offer advice and support to those effected by cancer.
  • Teenagers at Skipton Library in yorkshire started ‘Rewind’, a song writing club and ended up winning a national award. Watch the video on Youtube here.
  • Examples of innovative library interior designs from all around the world:

20130228_114937 (1)

  • Dyslexia support delivered through libraries to children and parents.
  • Libraries helping people to engage with new technologies at e-book cafes.
  • Books on prescription to help with mental health along with pick me up books (reader recommendations to help you feel better).

We discussed how people need places to go to where they can get impartial advice and support. We saw how libraries can meet this need with models of libraries that are also community centres and housing offices (like Leith Library).

There was beer tasting too. This beetroot beer tasted like drinking beer while eating salad. I made sure I tasted every beer.



Library conferences are a great place to meet people. Here’s our Bookbug project worker Helen catching up with the Bookbug project worker from Muirhouse, Brenda:


I caught up with James Murdock, Director of Multimedia Content at New York Public Library after his talk about networking communities.


He ended up coming to visit Leith library the very next day. I think it helped that two weeks before I’d visited his library in New York and had written a blog comparing our two libraries but that was before I’d known he was speaking in Edinburgh so really it was one of those brilliant coincidences.

We’ve now established a link between our libraries and I’m very much looking forward to a guest blog from their brilliant blogger Anne Royer. They’re going to be sharing our upcoming teenage podcast on their blog too so our teenagers will get feedback from teenagers in New York, amazing!

If you’ve not been to a library conference I’d totally recommend it.

Tomorrow’s conference is sold out but you can follow the day online on twitter using the hashtag #CILIPS13. The next Edge Conference takes place in Edinburgh in February 2014. Find our more here


About auntyemily

Screenwriter (CBeebies), science communicator, storyteller, author, podcaster and poet. @auntyemily on twitter (:
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