Helen Michaels with  Audrey Marshall and Prof Miltos Petridis.

Helen Michaels with Audrey Marshall and Prof Miltos Petridis.













Monday was celebration day. In the morning, we had the School prize-giving, where Helen Michael was awarded CILIP’s Henrik Jones prize. This is awarded annually to a student who has excelled in information retrieval. Helen conducted a search for Richard, a colleague in Computing, on a very complex and specialised subject. It was fitting that Richard was also at the prize-giving and he was delighted at Helen’s success.

Antony Groves and Julia Worley

Antony Groves and Julia Worley


In the afternoon, we had the Graduation ceremony at The Dome. Pictured here are Antony and Julia just after the ceremony, both looking delighted.






Congratulations all!

It’s a while since I managed to get to Umbrella but I made it this year and I enjoyed it immensely. I found the quality of the sessions to be really high and I thought the format of the Focus and Spotlight sessions was really good. The plenary sessions I went to, which included keynote addresses and debates, were broad-ranging and stimulating. I was there as a speaker in one of the Spotlight sessions on Future Skills and Future Roles. Abi Luthmann and I were presenting an overview of the Public Library Skills programme we developed and ran last year and are continuing this year. Abi is Equal Access Manager with East Sussex Library and Information Service and she talks very eloquently about the success of the programme in East Sussex. Abi is also a former student, an added bonus! It was great to see former and current students at Umbrella, as delegates and speakers, and although I managed to catch only the tail-end (train delay!) of Ka -Ming Pang’s presentation on #uklibchat, I could see that it went down very well. If you want to follow up the Public Library Skills work we’ve been doing check out the July issue of Update (p40-41).

Sally Ann Clarke and Mandy Williams were the proud recipients of CILIP’s Henrik Jones prize this year. The prize is awarded to the student(s) who demonstrate the best performance in an information retrieval module. The photo shows Sally Ann and Mandy after the ceremony in the Huxley Building, with myself and Marion Huckle from CILIP.

I officially took over as Chair of the CILIP SE Branch at the AGM on Thursday 26th May. I took over from my colleague Juliet Eve, so we’re keeping things in the University of Brighton family. The next year is going to be one of change, with CILIP’s review of Branches and Groups currently under way – but we’re up for the challenge. The speaker at the AGM was Phil Bradley, CILIP vice-President, but speaking to us more as future-watcher. He sees the future as one of opportunity for information professionals – if we’re prepared to grasp it and adopt the role of thought leaders. See more of Phil at

I gave a talk last week to CILIP Sussex based on a book I am writing for Facet Publishing. The slides and my talk are below:

… is re-connecting with the authentic and passionate parts of your self, and communicating that to others. Advocacy was the theme of this year’s CILIP South East Branch AGM, held jointly with CILIP in the Thames Valley at the Town Hall in Reading on May 4th. About 30 of us, from a very diverse range of libraries, participated in a workshop run by Linda Constable. Linda is Chair of the Judging Panel of CILIP Libraries Change Lives and Vice-Chair of CILIP Community Services Group. She has a wide range of experience in the library and museum sectors at national, regional and local authority level and is an activist working with CILIP to advocate the value of librarians and libraries. Linda provided a user-friendly introduction to advocacy, covering the:

What? campaigning, communicating, championing, marketing

Who? all of us, at whatever level

When? for 2 minutes, for 2 hours

Where? ‘like Martini’ – anywhere, anytime

How? face-to-face, email, twitter – whatever is appropriate to your audience

We then role played an ‘elevator pitch’ – what would you say if you had 2 minutes in the lift or at a work social event to promote yourself and your service to a chief exec, or any kind of colleague (frame your message; what is important to them; how do you contribute to the organisational goals; ask them what they want!). Linda then introduced us to the CILIP Campaigning Toolkit, and flagged up the CILIP Manifesto, and we participated in group discussions by sector on ‘telling the library story’. We had a lively and useful afternoon, finishing up with suggestions as to how the South East Branch can take some of the issues around advocacy further in the work do across our five sub-branches.

… this and other related issues were discussed by myself and a group of enthusiatic participants at a CILIP in Sussex event held at University Centre Hastings on Tuesday 20th April. The workshop was on Doing research in your own organisation; as well as covering the basics of getting started on a research project (writing a proposal, selecting methods, putting it in the context of the literature), we discussed the pros and cons of carrying out a research project where you work, the merits of different methods and the need for more creativity in library research (diplomatic speak on my part for my ‘ban the questionnaire’ campaign!!). It was particularly nice for me to see some former students from our MA Information Studies course, as well as one who started my ten week Research Methods module today.

lizI was very pleased to see one of our ex-students being profiled in the CILIP Gazette recently (to read the profile from this link go to the penultimate page). Liz Strachan graduated with an MA in Information Management in 2006 and is currently Librarian at the William Harvey Hospital. Liz is honest about the effort involved in balancing academic, work and family commitments but her interview offers some useful advice for anyone thinking of going back to college to improve their professional skills.

Liz is very positive about her experiences as a student at the University of Brighton. textextract

It’s always good to see our alumni doing well. If you are one of our ex-students please get in touch and tell us how you are getting on.

On Wednesday, 6th May 2009, I attended a CILIP East of England Information Sevices Group seminar entitled ‘Digital Native or Digitally Naive: Library and Information Services for the Next Generation’ – the focus of which was ‘What is the role of libraries when people already have access to everything?’ The day was very similar to the cpd25 event I attended last week (and topic of my last post), in that questions of relevance to ‘users’ (learners/customers etc.) and the role of the library and the librarian were the key focus. A number of very similar issues emerged: in particular, that of confidence and advocacy – how do we not only shout loudly about the added value we bring, but work strategically within our organisations to contribute to the delivery of that organisation’s wider agenda? Alison Wheeler, a Strategic Commissioner for Suffolk County Council (and former Head of Development for their library and information services), introduced and chaired the day. She spoke of the ‘moral imperative’ we have to provide services that:

  • connect people with their communties;
  • assist choices about healthcare;
  • help people find ways to work, learn and spend their leisure time;
  • be part of their community.

Libraries’ – and library staff’s – role in this will be as trusted intermediaries who signpost good and valid information, help people find and understand that information, and support marginalised people. Alison and a colleague visited us here at the University the following day, and it was fascinating to hear examples of the way Suffolk is already doing this in practice. For example, Suffolk were quick off the mark in establishing a ‘Credit Crunch Suffolk‘ website, with advice ranging from benefits to energy to free or cheap activities. Their Felixstowe library is also the first to have set up a Baby Cafe.

I was expecting the day to be more focused around the specific issue of the ‘Net Gen’ question (i.e. the digital natives/naives of the title); though this came up in a numebr of presentations (with mentions of the ‘Google generation’ study of 2008, and the recently commissioned study into the research behaviour of ‘Generation Y’), discussions were more general, about the possible role of libraries and librarians in the future (and, in fact, in the now).

The highlights of the day for me were the contributions from the four ‘new’ professionals, particularly Colin Higgins’ amuisng but insightful ’10 Reasons why Facebook and libraries don’t mix’ – ranging from its unreliability, to ownership of copyright to the simple fact that already, Facebook just isn’t cool any more… The discussions during the sessions and at the end of the day were also lively and interesting, covering the importance of library as physical space (this theme of libraries as social learning spaces is being addressed in a half-day seminar organised by CILIP in Kent on 27th May – details on the Kent pages of the CILIP South East Branch site); censorship and surveillance and the issue of school libraries. Earlier, Caroline Moss-Gibbons, Leader of CILIP Council (and a keen Twitterer) had outlined the role of CILIP in contributing to these ongoing debates about professionalism, and suggested that we need to adapt or face extinction (again, echoing themes from the Future of Libraries event last week). She welcomed suggestions and contributions to be sent to her or other members of Council – it seems to me that CILIP could usefully focus on school libraries in the future, now that they have proven themselves willing to intervene in the issue of public library closures such as those proposed in the Wirral.

IMG 3688

In my capacity as Chair of CILIP South East Branch, I attended the CILIP in Hants and Wight AGM on 25th March. Over 30 people attended the AGM, which included a talk by Michael Martin from CILIP about the Framework of Qualifications. This was a very useful overview of the different levels of qualification offered by CILIP – from ACLIP to Chartership, to Fellowship. For those of us needing to get our heads round these different levels, and to have an idea about how the process works, Michael provided a clear and concise outline. For anyone going through or contemplating one of the qualifications, his tips on building portfolios, including how to reflect and evaluate, were highly useful – especially since he has recentlly revalidated his own Chartered status, so could give some first -hand examples and advice. He mentioned some potential changes to the Framework, namely the possiblity of introducing compulsory revalidation, which I think in principle a good idea, although subsequent questions brought up issues like lack of employer support/lack of money for training as potential barriers to gaining an initial qualification, let alone revalidating. I look forward to the debate which will inevitably follow! Michael’s session went down very well, and was followed by a lively set of questions ans answers, which had to be cut short due to time running out. It was great to see the conversations continuing over tea after the AGM business was concluded. Photos from the event can be viewed on the South East Branch flickr site.


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