Wednesday, 16 November 2011

HLF conference report 1: in summary

I'm just back from the Historic Libraries Forum annual meeting, held at the Royal Asiatic Scociety in London.

First of all, a few words about the HLF.  
The HLF is great - it's free to be a member, they offer advice about libraries under threat, how to run a historic library and so on, they have great training courses, a newsletter, a mentoring scheme, and both of their conferences that I've been to have been interesting and friendly. Do spread the word!

They have a Facebook page (if that's your thing) and are thinking about getting onto Twitter.

And now down to business
My talk was about cpd23, and particularly about its usefulness for small libraries in hard times.

I was pleased to see that quite a few of the audience had already heard about cpd23 (although only two of them were active participants), and that a lot of them were keen to hear more about how social media could be relevant to them.

A few interesting points were raised in the questions afterwards.

One person commented that this was the 'sort of thing that CILIP should be doing'. Which is maybe true (though it's worth noting that 'CILIP HQ' did help us with publicity, and that local groups held cpd23 meet-ups), but I think the beauty and success of ideas like cpd23 is that they're spontaneously (and somewhat anarchically) organised by otherwise unconnected groups of keen people. It was also pointed out that 'CILIP is all of us'.

A question was asked about real-life examples of how the cpd23 Things are useful, particularly in a historic libraries context, or in my own extra-professional interest in library history. On the first, widening access via social media (blogs, Flickr, etc.) is a big draw (and this is something that was discussed later), as well as using productivity tools to make your working life more efficient. On the second, what would I do without Zotero?

The issue of time was raised: how do I time to get this all done? Personally, it's by having a wonky work-life balance, but participants could and did do the course in work time (as it's professional training after all), or in their own time. It isn't necessarily a huge commitment of time. This tied into a correction of my assertion that cpd23 and similar courses are 'free'. It was rightly pointed out that they don't cost anything in monetary terms, but that they do cost time (for participants and, especially, for organisers). But on the other hand, that time is often still cheaper than attending traditional courses. Especially for freelance people, or those without solid institutional backing, for whom professional development can often be costly, or ignored.

I'd like to thank everyone there for being so welcoming to the cpd23 idea - I hope that, if people try it out, they find something useful!

Plugs and things
The Hurd Library, an episcopal library housed in Hartlebury Castle, former Bishops' Palace for the Diocese of Worcester has a blog. The Hurd Library has had a tough time in the last few years, but a really superb group of people are fighting hard to keep it in its rightful place, to care for the collections, and to enable access.

Omeka is open source, freely-available, online exhibition software.

Alison Cullingford is working on the RLUK Unique and Distinctive Collections project and is happy, nay *keen* to go and speak about the project. Invite her to your conferences!

Notes on the other (fab) speakers to follow.


  1. Thank you for the write up! It was great to meet you yesterday.

  2. While I think you are quite right about cpd23 being best run as grassroots ventures, it would be good if CILIP really publicised them and encouraged librarians to get set them up. I'd love to see how they can be adapted to suit different groups in the profession. 23 things is such a good way to get people together - ideal for librarians working solo or in small teams.