I arrived in Harrogate with much trepidation having volunteered – after too much coffee and cake – to do a 3 Minutes of Mayhem presentation telling everyone all about HCLU Library Assistant Study Days and how much I had got out of them.
It was many years since I had attended a conference, and that was in my previous life in Public Libraries so I was full of nerves, although Lisa Jeskins networking and presentation webinars had given me some good strategies which had slightly calmed my butterflies! One of these was to look on the Twitter conference hashtag #itsgreatupnth beforehand and say hello to people who were also going along. The pre-conference meet up organised by Helen Kiely was also a great way of helping ease those butterflies.
My aims for going to the conference were to learn new ideas, develop my confidence and skills and enable me to share the good practice I have learnt on the library assistant study days. Over the two days I learnt so much and came away with so many notes and ideas. There was a good mix of time to talk and glean what others were up to as well as the timetabled sessions. I was particularly interested in hearing about the Death Café run by Northumbria Healthcare NHS FT and how books can contribute to changing culture in the NHS. I had never really considered that when I am answering enquiries that this could be considered as teaching so Katherine Smith’s poster on Pedagogy on the NHS library front desk was illuminating. Tracey Pratchett’s session on Using eLearning to enhance library search skills training enabled me to learn how the e-learning for healthcare library skills modules are used by other library services and how we could use them in the future.
Claire Bradshaw’s sessions on Everyday Mindfulness, Resilience and Street Wisdom were perfect for providing practical techniques which have a positive impact on our well-being and mental health. The Reservoir of Well-Being particularly struck a chord with me – what drains you out (bad day at work, arguing children, not enough sleep) and how to top it up again (physical exercise, thinking differently, social support) – and that one of the keys to being resilient is to know what your personal strengths are and your core values. The Street Wisdom session took place shortly after my presentation and calmed my mind and slowed it down beautifully.
Helen Bright from Macmillan talked about how information gives back freedom and control to patients, that the consequences of bad information are mistrust, loss of confidence, fear and anxiety. Information Literacy and learning for health and wellbeing were also the topic of the final keynote speakers Jane Secker and Lisa Jeskins. They described all the different facets of how information literacy impacts our lives and encouraged the idea of mainstreaming Information Literacy so children would learn about it at school along with reading, writing and arithmetic. We learnt about Carol Honore’ and the ’Slow Movement’ encouraging a world of reflection rather than reaction and Martin Seligman’s idea of Learned Optimism of thinking of our reactions to adversity in a new way, considering that what happened was an unlucky situation and really just a setback so we are energised and move forward. It was fascinating to listen to and fitted in with all that I had learned over the two days about the importance of information and knowledge in well-being and resilience and of slowing down and exploring mindfulness and contemplative practices.
What did I find most valuable?
The conference was a very supportive and welcoming environment where I felt able to talk to anyone and I made some new friends. I found the experience of giving a 3 minute presentation on the Friday morning was what I found most challenging and also most valuable. It has increased my confidence and has hopefully increased awareness of the value of the library assistant study days.
Attending the conference reinvigorated my interest in CPD so much that I had a conversation with Jo Cornish from CILLIP about becoming a Chartered Librarian in public libraries back in the dark ages of 1994 and about revalidating to bring it up to date!
What will I do differently having attended?
- Practice mindfulness – I used the one minute quiet down which Claire Bradshaw used with us before my 3 Minutes of Mayhem to quieten my thoughts and concentrate.
- Investigate the e-learning modules for learning library skills
- Share what I learnt with the others in the team and see if we can adopt some of the ideas
- Consider more about the idea of teaching at the enquiry desk
- Use the techniques I learnt in the resilience and street wisdom sessions to reduce my stress levels and anxiety. Looking at values was enlightening.
- Revalidate with CILIP to update my 1994 Chartership
I would recommend to anyone that has the opportunity to go to this conference in the future to jump at the chance!
Julie Potter, Learning Resources Assistant
JET Library – Mid Cheshire Hospitals NHS Trust