UKSG Conference Report: Amy Ward

In April UKSG held their 39th Annual Conference and Exhibition in Bournemouth. Amy Ward, a part time MA Librarianship student and Learning Facilitatior at Ashton Sixth Form College, reports back on the experience. You can find Amy on Twitter as @amywardz

I attended a free event hosted by UKSG back in November 2015 and all attendees had the opportunity to put their names into a prize draw to win an all-expenses paid trip to the 2016 UKSG Conference which was being held in Bournemouth. I was very lucky to be the winner of the raffle prize draw. I was very excited as this was to be my first conference and my first time in Bournemouth.

I was a little nervous about attending my first conference alone but UKSG were really supportive of first time conference goers. They organise a mentoring scheme where you are paired up with a seasoned delegate who can give you a unique insight into the conference. They also hosted a first timer’s webinar which was really useful. This outlined everything I needed to know about the conference and the venue and gave me an opportunity to ask questions alongside other first timers. I thought the UKSG events app was excellent, I really enjoyed using it and it definitely enhanced my conference experience. It made it a lot easier to choose which events to attend as there was a lot of choice.

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The hotel was lovely and I really cannot emphasise how appreciative I am of being able to attend this conference. The weather was fantastic and it was lovely being able to walk out of the venue and onto the beach. I thought the venue was well suited for the event with the larger sessions in a large hall and the “breakout” sessions in smaller, seminar rooms. I admit, I got a little lost at first but there was always someone nearby willing to help. I met loads of inspiring people and really enjoyed the social events which included a pub quiz and conference dinner. The conference dinner and funfair were so much more than I ever imagined. I still cannot believe that there was an entire fun fair (dodgems included) set up for us.

My favourite talks:

  • Meet the New Professionals – it was great to learn about their experiences whilst studying. There was an interesting discussion on the floor about how Library Schools are preparing students for the profession.
  • The Predatory Publishing Phenomenon: actors, bystanders, consequences – The massive growth in open access publishing has led to an increase in dodgy publishing practices, questionable marketing and peer-review processes. This was something I had never heard of before and I am really glad I went to this talk because, well now I know!
  • Search and discovery: defining user behaviour – simple changes can sometimes be the most effective. In their research they found that only 5% of users were using facets! How do they find anything!?

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  • Students, customers or partners? Ensuring the student voice is heard through effective market research – it is so important to find out what your users want.
  • Engaging students, shaping services: the changing face of student engagement at The Hive – I really liked how involved the students were in this Library and ‘The Bees’ is the best name ever for the student library helpers
  • International gamification of the Library – I cannot wait to play games during inductions next year. Raymond’s talk was great and I later found he was staying in my hotel so we were able to have breakfast together which was nice. It was fascinating to learn about his experiences of working in California and Shanghai and I think he was also very interested to learn about libraries here in the UK.

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It was also interesting to talk to the many publishers and service providers that had exhibition stands at the conference. I felt like I was talking to them as the student I am rather than as the Librarian representing my workplace. I am not sure if this was a confidence thing – they intimidate me a little bit. I don’t know why because they were all actually really nice and helpful. It was great touring the exhibitions, picking up sweets, bookmarks, tote bags and flyers, entering competitions and signing up to mailing lists.

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The little voice activated robot was at the conference and he was too cute!

 

A high point for me was feeling inspired, enthused and motivated by many of the talks. Another high point was the conference dinner and fun fair which involved my first ever attempt on a bucking bronco. A low point was feeling a little nervous before the conference but attending events alone is the best way to connect with other professionals, meet new people and build your confidence.

It was interesting to see the various participants of the knowledge community together in one place and to witness their discussions, their concerns and their thoughts and opinions. The conference also opened my eyes to the variety of roles that are out there for information professionals; one publisher asked why more librarians aren’t interested in the publishing profession as their skillsets are perfectly suited. I had not even considered this as an option and at the moment I am very happy to be working in libraries, but it is nice to know that the librarian’s skillset would be welcomed, should I decide to try something different in the future.

I left the conference feeling very happy and positive about the profession I am entering because there are just so many really nice people, the work people are undertaking is fascinating and there are many possible career directions. I would definitely recommend this conference, especially if it is your first one, as UKSG are very supportive and they put on a spectacular event.

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