The UKSG Forum has been up and running for four years now. It’s a dynamic and popular event for those in the world of scholarly communications. Falling just before the festive season, the event supports their mission ‘to connect the knowledge community and encourage the exchange of ideas”. And, I would say that it did that and more. The event was held in the aptly named Grand Connaught Rooms. It was a day jam-packed with the exchange of ideas, networking opportunities and delicious refreshments.
Each year the Forum has a particular focus. This year, all eyes were fixed on “The innovation game: breaking the rules”. The organisers (including our own Deputy Director of Services, David Summers) had engaged in a spot of imaginative innovation themselves, choosing to theme the event around a football match in recognition of the venue being the site on which the Football Association was founded in 1863. Delegates were invited to attend regaled in football strips and scarves, and plenary chairs were stylised as ‘referees’ – equipped with whistles, and yellow and red cards; which they weren’t afraid to use when presenters ‘lightning talks’ overran. All in good fun!
During the day there were 8 plenary sessions, each lasting half an hour with no two sessions being held in the same room. This was great, it kept us moving and you could select a pick-n-mix assortment of attending plenaries, taking refreshments, networking and visiting exhibitors. Each plenary grouped three lightening talks together around topics such as Systems and Technology, Data, Library Interaction and at 12:00 the all-important Library, Engagement and impact session (…our’s).
The title of our lightening talk was ‘Inspiring evolution: changing the working culture of the library through innovative practice’. So what did we have to say? Well, we shared our experiences about how we’ve taken a transformative approach towards embedding innovation into our culture and how this has seen us achieve so much more than just solving problems. We spoke about how our group was formed from across all grades and teams and we described how a flat hierarchy has enabled us to foster an inclusive ethos of collaboration. We shared the good and the bad; the initial stumbling blocks we encountered to the wider shift in staff engagement and participation to the positive impact on the users experience.
Our talk culminated with a visionary statement:
“Our Innovation story is not techno-centric it’s people-orientated. It is a story about unlocking the creativity and talent within our workforce. It is time to challenge the status quo, to move beyond tradition. It is time to view things through a new looking glass, to dream, to experiment, to take risks, to foster the forward thinking innovative culture that will create the libraries of the future. ”
…. and breathe
There were so many refreshing lightening talks throughout the day. Rebekah and I had three personal favourites. Firstly, Sarah Pittway’s which evaluated the significance placed by hiring managers on whether a candidate for a post holds a library qualification. A case in point; Sarah doesn’t hold a specific library qualification. Alternatively, she holds a PhD, PgCert, MPhill and a BA (Hons) – although modestly, she only mentioned her PhD. As a Team Leader: Academic Services, University of Worcester Library, she brings a wealth of education, practical experience and insight to her role. Her talk demonstrated convincingly that library and information qualifications are, and should be widely respected but hiring managers should also seriously consider the inclusion of the phrase “or equivalent experience” in job advertisements, capturing the atypical but perfectly capable and talented candidates… a phrase, which I’m proud to say, our library already includes.
Secondly, we loved Andy Tattersall’s (University of Sheffield) talk on Research Hacks – a series of short animations which he narrates with a signature sense of humour. They’re aimed at teaching academics how to share their research and work smarter. Topics so far have included Google Drive, Mendeley, Apps for referencing, early morning productivity hacks, and many more. He explained that anybody can replicate his efforts using relatively inexpensive equipment, software and a simple formula; an old idea, reframed in a novel and engaging way.
Last but not least, Wendy Morris (Kingston University) and Leo Appleton (University of the Arts London) delivered a thought provoking and motivating talk. They suggested that we should break the mould and start to view the library and information sector through the lens of the comic book world. We were all asked to consider where we felt we fit in on the ‘Superhero scale of professional pride’; from Ant man, to the Incredible Hulk. They encouraged us all to celebrate our successes – to take pride in our work and the positive difference we make.
UKSG Forum, it was a pleasure. Until next time!