CILIP ILG bursary place winner’s Umbrella report

Reblogged from Lorna Fairie’s blog.

A few weeks ago I had the privilege of attending the CILIP Umbrella Conference held at Manchester University. It was an absolutely brilliant experience and I gained so much from attending, not only from hearing so many new and innovative ideas but also from meeting lots of interesting people.

How I got my place
The CILIP Information Literacy Group advertised a bursary for a sponsored place to attend both days of the conference and the drinks reception and dinner. Applications were in a written format expressing why you wished to attend, what you would get from the experience and what you were currently doing to promote information literacy. After applying, I was really happy to receive the news that I had been awarded the place and would be attending the conference. So thanks very much to the Information Literacy Group for my place and the opportunity to attend. Thanks also to Lisa Jeskins for being my contact throughout the conference and looking after me. 🙂

Highlights – This year’s Umbrella Conference was based around the core themes of ‘Future skills and future roles’ / ‘Information to best support society’ / ‘Beyond Information Matters’ and ‘Partnerships for progress’. As there were so many workshops and talks to attend I’ve collated them down into my highlights – so sessions that really stood out for me and that I found the most useful.

Using Twitter to create an interactive information literacy lecture

This session was one that I had earmarked from the beginning as something which I really wanted to attend and it was great to hear such practical experiences of using social media in education discussed. Suzanne Tatham discussed how she revolutionises teaching information literacy by interacting with students in the classroom via Twitter. She enables students to respond to questions during her sessions which are visible to all. Examples included –

– Name as many sources of information that you have used
– What is an academic source? Using Tweets to inform discussion and pose questions
– Tweet how many clicks it took to get to a particular article

Preparation for the sessions include asking students beforehand to bring a laptop or mobile device and agreeing on a hashtag to use through the session. It also encourages reflective comments and is a useful way to inform discussion. It also allowed students to be more honest about their searching and answer questions that they wouldn’t normally have put their hand up for. Suzanne suggested that a good way to get everyone engaged right from the start was to have a very easy question at the beginning to get everyone tweeting in. I really liked the idea of using Twitter to engage students more in information literacy and can really see it being used well as a tool to increase participation.

Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No, it’s a librarian!

This session was the highlight of the conference for me and I came away feeling completely inspired and invigorated from what had been said. As it was the last session of the day, I hadn’t been expecting too much but I was completely wrong and was so glad that I attended. Everyone I spoke to after the conference mentioned this session and how inspiring it was and it seemed to stick firmly in everyone’s minds long after it had finished.

Victoria Treadway, Clinical Librarian and Dr Girendra Sadera, Consultant Critical Care and Anaesthia from Wirral University Teaching Hospital delivered a session together on an initiative they had been working on. Victoria, with the backing and support from Dr Sadera has become a part of the critical care team and joins them on their morning rounds in intensive care. Rather than being sat elsewhere in the library, she can now aid them at the point of need, by using an iPad she can deliver evidence searches on clinical questions within a very short space of time to the team at the bedside. She described how invaluable it was to have such a champion as Dr Sadera behind her and the huge impact it had had on her being involved with the wider team. This was such an inspiring session and really gave an insight into the ways in which librarians can really make a difference. It completely highlights the way that librarians can be involved at the root of their organisation and how much of a difference can be made.

For more information on this see the Wirral University Teaching Hospital website.

‘Tooling up : arming the librarian of the future!’ by Ben Showers JISC

Ben Shower’s session was another of the highlights of the conference and I found myself literally taking pages of notes about what he had to say. He discussed the opportunities that libraries have to redefine the user experience and continue to thrive in a ‘landscape where uncertainty and disruption are the norm’. The key themes to this were ‘participation, understanding and emergence’ or our ‘tools’ for the future.

Understanding – Quantitative understanding – what can data show us, do students do better on their courses if they go to the library? University of Huddersfield found correlation between visits and achievement. Also found that those that don’t use the library or use the VLE or online resources in the first six months are more at risk of dropping out of their course, so knowing this allows for intervention to be planned.

Ben discussed the idea of the ‘learning black-market’ where students are using social media in a sophisticated way for learning ‘out of view’ of their institution, to collaborate and exchange ideas and questions. Hotspots for this would be around exam time where students would be actively engaging together about their studying. Students are mixing their regular informal chat about going to the pub, shoes etc with study questions and more formal discussion. Ben raised the question about whether there was a role for the institution in this and whether it was something that we needed to be engaging with. He also discussed the idea that some students also wanted to ‘switch off’ at exam time as well and the need for areas where students don’t have to engage or the creation of ‘Lo-Fi’ spots where there was no Wifi.

Information Literacy and the Conference

Information literacy was discussed in so many different talks across the conference and it was great to see it having such a widespread effect. It was also really good to see so many people asking questions and inquiring at the Information Literacy Group Stall across the conference for a wide range of different sectors.

Both Peter Barr’s ‘Championing Information Literacy to the Royal Navy’ and Ruth Carlyle’s ‘Information Prescriptions’ for Macmillan were great examples of some of the work being done to spread the prevalence of information literacy skills in society.

The conference dinner and drinks

The conference dinner and drinks held at the Museum of Science and Industry (MOSI) was another highlight and was a great way to network and catch up on what had happened during the day. MOSI was a stunning place to have a conference dinner and was a really good choice of venue.

Our table was hosted by Aaron Hussey, CILIP’s Communication and Campaigns Manager who was a brilliant host and got everyone chatting and getting to know each other easily.


Overall the conference for me was an amazing experience and allowed to me to engage with the profession in a way that I would not have been able to do otherwise. I’ve learnt a great deal from attending Umbrella and have met many new contacts from doing so. I’ve picked up lots of new ideas and will be taking them back to use in my workplace.

Here are the full conference presentations available on the CILIP website.

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