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CILIP Libraries and Information History Group annual conference

As soon as I saw the call for papers for this conference which was themed “Libraries and the Development of Professional Knowledge” I knew that the Mining Institute should be represented.  After all, it’s the focus of what we were created for back in 1852!

I applied and I was lucky enough to be invited to come and give twenty minutes on the MI and our collections.  It was hard initially to find a focus for a paper which was essentially an introduction but after some discussion with the organisers, I focused it around the men who created the collections and entitled it “In Lasting Remembrance” – a regular phrase from the Annual Reports.  If you would like to see my presentation, the slides are all on Slideshare and I’m also very happy to come and give this paper or versions of it at other events….  It was a lovely opportunity to do some research for myself rather than on a topic dictated by a researcher (recently this has been dust from coke ovens – 3000 pages of it….)

The other papers were very varied and initially I was worried that these papers were far more academic than mine!  Despite this I got a friendly reception from the other speakers and delegates and I hope some of them will call off next time they are in the North East and see it for themselves.  I was lucky that one of the other speakers, Martyn Walker, had not only visited but used our library in the past and he was vociferous in his support for our collections!

I particularly enjoyed John Tiernan’s talk on Librarians of the Mersey District which highlighted firstly how underpaid and undersung public librarians have always been and secondly how early women were involved at a very high level.  His description of their early meetings held in each Library and including a tour to show them off to their colleagues sounded very familiar even today….

The keynote speaker was Anthony Watkinson from CIBER talking about the history of journals and publishing.  I was intrigued to hear about the economics and the “80-20 rule” – only 20% of an academic publishing house’s journals will make any money – the rest will only break even!

I was also really enjoyed hearing Christine Chapman talk about “Building a Natural History Library” with the Willoughby Gardner collection including how they highlighted his collections beyond just supporting the work of the curatorial staff of the museum.

shelves at Pusey HouseThe location in Pusey House was beautiful as you would expect of Oxford, although smaller than I expected.  Our conference room was surrounded by shelves; many of which held boxes which read “miscellaneous pamphlets” – made me feel very at home!  Other elements were similar too – there was a confusing door entry system to rival my own in Newcastle and made me realise how offputting and confusing this must be to outsiders.

 

 

 

After lunch we got the tour of Pusey House including the beautiful Library:

PuseyLibraryWhich still runs on these:

Puseycards(Well, apart from a small selection of titles which have now been added to the main computerised Oxford LMS.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

At the end of the conference there was the option to go to the pub and chat, however I have to say that I got a better offer from Emma Jones who offered to take us round the Jesus College and see their Fellows Library.  I was very very tired (long trip, IBS plus 2 year old = 4 hours sleep) but I couldn’t resist.  I’m very glad that I went:

Jesus College Library Jesuscollege1  Jesusme

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NAG conference 2015

Conference comes round again so quickly!  September is also a hugely busy time for me with Heritage Open Days happening as well (498 visitors in 3 days since you ask, very good total for us…) plus another CILIP NE conference happening plus a CILIP LIHG conference happening the week after.  Never again will I agree to speak at three conferences in ten days!

NAG conference was additionally stressful in that it was firstly the biggest audience of the three but also, as well as speaking about the Seam Project and our Singer-Songwriter in residence, Gareth Davies-Jones, I was also singing with him.

Back when the Executive Committee had been planning this committee and someone said “ooh, Jennie, didn’t I read about your project in CILIP recently?” and I was destined to give a paper.  We then moved on to talk about the after-dinner entertainment.  We all agreed that the casino had been a great success last year and we wanted to do it again, but we would like to offer something to make it different.

casino table

[Thanks to @HeatherSherman for the casino pic]

So we added Gareth to the after-dinner programme to present some songs from The Seam project.  Now, I was delighted to be able to offer Gareth a (paying) gig, but I could see where this was going…  For the larger gigs as part of the project, Gareth had a backing band and even a choir sometimes but always a harmony singer.  I do sing in choirs and a band, however I do like some rehearsal time which, thanks to other problems and commitments, was a little lacking for this one!  I will admit that at the point where we performed, we had never sang “Practical Coal Mining” through together so I was very relieved that we made it to the end of the track successfully.  We did get to sing through the other songs once before dinner so that made me feel a little better!  I actually really enjoyed doing the Safety lamp song – Stephenson, Clanny and Davy – it’s a lovely harmony line.

I think a song as part of the paper was a great novelty for people – we certainly got some positive tweets about it – and it was certainly the best way to show off what the project achieved!   If you want to see for yourself, Gareth is touring with the Seam this autumn with gigs across the North – from Hett to Heighington and Newcastle to Stockport.  Get a free flavour of the tracks on Soundcloud or buy the CD (all of cover price goes to Library) on eBay!

people with pieces of string linking themOne huge bonus was that once the dinner was over, I could relax and enjoy day 2 of conference with the other delegates with no further pressures.  I really enjoyed Anne Welsh and Jenny Wright’s session on RDA – trying to explain the basics of levels and relationships to us courtesy of many cards and bits of string!  A really interactive workshop which was great.  I was also keen to hear from the Royal College of Surgeons Collections Review Project as it sounded like they were also dealing with a collection which included objects, books, archives and journals.  Their scoring system was really impressive (and detailed) and I could see it was impossible to achieve it in full without dedicated staffing as a project (as they are doing) but that elements of it, particularly in terms of measuring usage of an item, might be something I could take away and introduce into my work life.

 

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