Alexandra Green, Achilles Information Ltd
Launch of the Knowledge and Information Management SIG at the CILIP Conference, Manchester July 2017
As a relatively new member of CILIP, I was very pleased to be awarded the Knowledge and Information Management Group bursary to attend the CILIP Conference in July. I was especially pleased that the conference was to be held in Manchester where I was at university. It was good to be back in the city, and catching the bus down the Oxford Road brought back many happy memories, although reconciling familiar landmarks such as the Main Building and the Whitworth Hall with the many new university buildings and facilities took a moment or two. The programme was packed full of interesting addresses, seminars and workshops, with something for everyone whatever their specialism in the information profession and whatever stage their career is at.
After the welcome to conference by Nick Poole, Chief Executive of CILIP, the first keynote speaker, Dr Carla Hayden, Librarian of Congress, described her career journey from starting as a children’s librarian to overseeing the world’s largest library, with 164 million items and shelf space stretching for 832 miles. Dr Hayden emphasised that one of her main objectives at the Library of Congress was to ensure that, despite its grandeur and role as custodian of collections of national and international importance, it was a welcoming and accessible place fulfilling a key role in public service.
‘Using Data and Information’ was the title of a seminar which I was particularly looking forward to, with speakers choosing interesting analogies to highlight the importance of data and appropriate ways to manage it. Caroline Carruthers of Network Rail described data as ‘the blood of an organisation’ – we don’t realise how important it is until it stops working. She applied the principles of CBT to help companies move away from hoarding information and changing their attitude to data. Jeremy Foot in ‘Big I, little T: Thinking information before technology’ used the example of a new filing system to illustrate that information is the reason why we employ technology, and problems are not solved by innovative technology; rather, they are solved by better information management. Jez Clarke and Nick Venn of Eden Smith data consultancy gave a roundup of the changing face of the data and information management climate and the skills which are needed for professionals in the area.
After a much-needed and delicious lunch, the second keynote address was given by Luciano Floridi, Oxford Internet Institute’s Professor of Philosophy and Ethics of Information, and an eminent writer and speaker in these areas. In a fast-paced and challenging session ‘Fostering the Infosphere’, Professor Floridi spoke about the power of information in a digital age and the place of information professionals in ensuring that access to information is not controlled by an elite. He finished his lecture saying ‘Library and Information Science does not just take care of the past for the present; it also takes care of the present for the future’.
‘Copyright: the card game’ https://copyrightliteracy.org/resources/copyright-the-card-game/provided a change of activity. Around thirty delegates played a truncated version of a game designed by Chris Morrison and Jane Secker as a teaching resource in the important but often dry subject of copyright. We were presented with scenarios covering the four areas of copyright: copyright works, usages, licences, and exceptions. Working in groups we applied the principles of a particular area to different types of works. Points were awarded and even prizes! It was a good introduction to what is an innovative and well-designed resource that is adaptable to a wide range of diverse types of staff and students.
These days, no event is complete without cake, and the official launch of the Knowledge and Information Management Group, as the newest of CILIP’s Special Interest Groups, was no exception. Specially decorated cupcakes, accompanied by personal accounts of the importance of knowledge and information management in members’ roles and careers, rounded off the afternoon session.
The programme continued into the evening with tours of the recently redeveloped Manchester Central Library and a reception at the Museum of Science and Industry, which was a wonderful opportunity to network although the acoustics of the cavernous former Liverpool Road railway station, where the museum has its home, sometimes made conversation difficult!
The second day of the conference was equally interesting and stimulating. Moving closer to home, the keynote address was given by Neil MacInnes, Strategic Lead – Libraries, Galleries and Culture at Manchester City Council. He spoke about the ambitious project to transform Manchester Central Library as well as the ambitious renewal programme for libraries throughout the city. He emphasised how the library service could be a force for good in encouraging social mobility, equality and diversity, and that small local libraries were an equally important partner in this as the flagship Central Library.
The Managing Information seminar gave a range of speakers the opportunity to speak about some recent work and forthcoming developments in this area, in the private sector, the NHS and standards and governance. Ceri Hughes, Director, Head of Knowledge Centre of Excellence spoke about the importance of inspiring and delivering a learning culture in organisations. It was announced that KPMG and CILIP will be collaborating on a revised and updated edition of Information as an Asset: The Boardroom Agenda, which was originally written in 1995 by a committee under the chairmanship of Dr Robert Hawley. The report recommended that senior executives treat information as an asset in the same way as other physical or monetary assets. In echoes of the Using Data and Information seminar the previous day, we were reminded that information science and information technology are different disciplines; technology is not the answer to managing information. Sue Lacey Bryant, Senior Advisor, Knowledge for Healthcare, Health Education England (HEE) and Louise Goswami, Head of Library and Knowledge Services Development, HEE, Kent, Surrey and Sussex presented the Knowledge Management framework and accompanying toolkit. They showed how adopting best practice in Knowledge Management can improve outcomes and efficiency in healthcare. Although designed for the NHS in particular, the goals and associated activities in the framework could easily be adapted to other contexts. Nick Milton of Knoco Ltd then led us through the dichotomy of ‘knowledge’ and ‘management’, through a spectrum which goes from ‘tacit knowledge’ to ‘information’, with a ‘grey zone’ where knowledge and information overlap.
There were many other sessions covering a vast range of topics, some quite theoretical, some sharing examples of best practice in various fields, and some immensely practical, offering solutions to specific situations from service design to careers advice. It was a very intensive two days, but a conference which reinvigorated my interest in information and its power in modern business and everyday life.
K & IM Refer 33 (2), Autumn 2017