This is the ninth in a series of posts about my experience of IFLA WLIC 2016. Other posts can be found here.
The conference is over and it's almost time to go back to reality. I've had a great time and learnt a lot but I can't deny that it will be nice to have a break.
Knowledge Café: Continuous Learning in Libraries and their Communities
The Knowledge Café is a guided discussion session where you move round to cover three tables/different discussions. This was a last minute session change for me but I'm glad I went as it proved one of the most useful sessions of the whole conference for me.
The first table I joined was discussing Learning strategies for staff. I got some great tips here which I can apply to my own role. A lot of the discussion focused on how to prepare staff when they first start in a role. This included ideas from traditional induction programmes to in-depth training where people take time out of their work to visit other departments and get a real feel for the organisation. We also talked about knowledge management in an organisation. Too often someone leaves an organisation and takes years of knowledge with them. You can avoid this problem by scheduling a formal exit and handover process. It sounds simple but often doesn't get done as there are other priorities. However taking the time to do this can really save time in the long run and works well for the organisation. Finally we discussed skills assessments. One institution carries out both a self and management assessment of the employee's abilities. These are then compared, discussed and used to inform a personal development plan. We are looking at both our induction and appraisal processes so this was valuable advice.
The next table discussed Team building and team leadership. Having just completed the CILIP Leadership programme this really appealed to me. We mainly discussed the concept of trust and how fundamental this is to building a successful team. The team needs to trust each other and their leader but more importantly the leader needs to trust the team. It's important to remember that not everyone will want to be best friends with people on their team. Some people are there to get the job done and then go home and it's important to respect that rather than trying to force them into something. This way you will earn their trust and keep them happy in their role.
The final table looked at Sharing innovative programs. One of the best ideas to come out of this session for me was the Organisational Citizenship programme being planned at McGill University. This both supports and rewards staff for being good citizens in the workplace and for developing their skills, for example learning to communicate effectively in meetings. I really like this idea and I'm already thinking about ways to adapt it for Cambridge.
Evaluating our Worth: How Can we Quantify the Value of Libraries and Information Centres
I've done some research into impact so I know how complicated it can be. The room for this session was standing room only which shows how popular the topic is.
I was pleased to see that the discussion focused on both qualitative and quantitative measures of impact as I think both are important in their own way and incredibly powerful when they are used together. In the session libraries were described as a merit good which means that even though their value cannot easily be quantified they should be kept open by governments. If someone could tell the UK government this I would be very grateful!
The session also looked at the lack of understanding over what impact actually is and how libraries should be valued. We were told that we need to make a shift in our mind-set from thinking about a return on investment to looking more at ways in which libraries change the lives of our users. I know that this kind of impact can work wonders with stakeholders and I think it's a lesson we can all take on board.
The Role of Libraries and Librarians in Scientific and Technological Data Management and Archiving
I regularly teach research data management to both librarians and researchers so I was keen to attend this session. The most relevant part of the session for me was Mary Ann Kennan's talk on Knowledge and skills required in research, scientific and technical organisations. Kennan has carried out research into the skill sets needed to work in this area and identified several gaps that need to be filled. As well as the obvious topic related knowledge, people who work in this area need to develop their soft skills. They need to be good at communication in order to put together presentations and get the message across and they also need to be comfortable with change as the area is quite fluid. Kennan described the role as a "librarian with more" - something I am trying to create in Cambridge. She also talked about a new specialist course which has just been launched in the area at Charles Stuart University, something I will be following up on.
The highlight of the closing session was the review of the Columbus Conference and the look ahead to next year in Wroclaw in Poland. There was also the announcement that IFLA WLIC 2018 will be held in Kuala Lumpur which led to some celebration from our colleagues form that part of the world. The session also featured the closing address by IFLA President Donna Sheeder. She urged us to keep working as libraries were changing lives all over the world for the better.
Overall the conference was great fun and I've learnt a lot. It will take some time to process everything and think about how to fit what I've learnt into my work. Although today was the last day of the conference tomorrow features the post-conference visits. I'll be going to Cleveland to visit the public library and the Rock n Roll Hall of Fame Archive and it's safe to say I can't wait. I'll be blogging about the visit before I take a little break from blogging for a while. Stay tuned for the last onsite IFLA report tomorrow!
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