CILIP South West Member Network AGM and Members’ Day 6th April 2018: Exploring Data and Open Data

Harry Galloway Prize Nicola Turner

Thirty library and information professionals from across the region attended the day held at the University of Exeter Old Library. The Chair, Emma Wellard, welcomed everybody and read out her report. She highlighted the professional development events that were run last year including 3 Library Safaris and visits to Britannia Naval College and National Meteorological Library and Archive. The Treasurer, Andrew Hutchinson, then gave his report and emphasized that 88% of all expenditure supported member interests. Catherine Chorley was voted on as Vice Chair and welcomed to the committee. Emma then presented the Harry Galloway Prize to Nicky Turner for her dissertation on the role of the school librarian in improving information & digital literacy skills in Secondary Schools and the transition to HE. You can read more about Nicky’s research here –

Dr Beverley Hawkins Unlimited Value Project

Dr Beverley Hawkins from the University of Exeter Business School was the first speaker with her dynamic presentation about the Unlimited Value Project. The project is a collaboration between Libraries Unlimited, University of Exeter Business School, Open Data Institute and Real Ideas Organisation. The project is looking at how to capture the social value of libraries, connect social impact to financial value and how library leaders can best respond to working in a more socially enterprising way. One strand of the project is Technology and Data Analytics – using data to develop a better understanding of service user patterns and mapping onto other data sources for wellbeing, literacy etc. The second is Staff Development to empower staff to lead change around social value.

David Ball Open Data and Research

After an enjoyable networking lunch David Ball, independent consultant, gave an informative presentation ‘Open Data and its significance for the research process’. He described the changes from the subscription journal model through to Open Access, Open Science and Open Peer Review. This change has accelerated knowledge developments and made data available to researchers in less affluent countries who don’t have access to funding.

David Rowe Using Open Geographic Intelligence

The final speaker was Dave Rowe, a Geo-spatial Software Developer with Carto and a Libraries West Library Systems Officer, who gave an absorbing presentation ‘Using open Geographic Intelligence with library data’. He explained geographic information, location, coordinates, geo-spatial data and geocoding. He gave fascinating examples of using geographical data and assured us that data that includes geography and libraries is always fun. Examples ranged from distance from a library and Environment Agency open data to Global Book Map which shows the books set in the local area (65 books were set in Exeter).

I came away from the event with not only a better understanding of open data, but with the confidence to explore data sets to find out more about library users and the local population and therefore improve my support of the community. It was great to meet up with people from such a diverse range of library and information sectors and discuss the differences and similarities of our work.


CILIP SW Visit to Bristol Zoological Gardens Library, Archive & Education Centre

Bristol Zoological Gardens

On Tuesday 30th October 2018 a group of 11 of us met up for the visit organised by Valerie Bearne, Retired Members Liaison for CILIP SW. Siobhan Klaus, Librarian/Administrator took us over to the Conservation Education Centre. The Centre has two parts; education facilities for schools and college visits and a Higher Education Campus. I had expected facilities for school visits but not the higher education role of the zoo and therefore the large role that the library has for this. An unusual extra to the normal housekeeping introduction was what to do if an animal escaped!

Dr Daphne Kerhoas

Our first session of the day was an overview of conservation, the HE teaching programmes and field research with Dr Daphne Kerhoas, Lecturer in Conservation Science. We are used to the ever changing field of library and information and it was interesting to hear this is also happening for zoos. She explained that the approach to conservation is changing from the original focus on species conservation to ecosystem conservation. This includes reaching out to people to try and get them to change their habits. The zoo is now a more immersive experience with people entering the animal enclosures. Entering the ecosystem of the wildlife should encourage people to care more about wildlife. Bristol Zoo is involved in conservation research and projects across Britain and around the world. The projects try to address problems by involving the local population and finding solutions that help both them and the wildlife.

Bristol Zoo offers a range of Foundation, BSc and Masters conservation degrees in collaboration with the University of the West of England (UWE), the University of Bristol and the University of Gloucester and South Gloucestershire and Stroud College (SGS). The facilities include 2 lecture rooms seating 70 and 120, seminar and classrooms, library and laboratory. It is part of the Librarian/Administrator role to book the rooms for the courses. She also teaches in the level one module ‘Professional Work Skills’ and level two module ‘Research and Work Skills’. Lecturers also signpost students to her for help as she is the most accessible member of staff; the lecturers’ offices are further away and only accessible by bell.

Bristol Zoo Library 2

The next session was with Siobhan Klaus, Librarian and Administrator. The present library is in the Conservation Education Centre built in 2015. It is staffed by one full time librarian, a volunteer one afternoon per week and 2 research students. The library has 4,500 books and 2,500 journals. The main users of the library are the 300 students, but staff, volunteers and visiting researchers also use the library. I found the cataloguing system intriguing. The books are catalogued by letters then a number eg. Ec-H-W number = Ecology – Habitat – Woodland + next number of when added. The large BBC Wildlife collection has been donated to the zoo. It had been catalogued using the ZSL (Zoological Society of London) classification, so some books have both labels. Some of the physical stock is purchased and owned by SGS whereas UWE purchases eCopies for their students. The librarian meets partner librarians 2/3 times a year. She also attends monthly department meetings and asks for suggestions for purchase.

The advantages that the librarian finds of working at the zoo library are that the collection is quirky, historic and important. The challenges are that it is a balancing act being the administrator for HE in addition to being a librarian, it is mainly lone working and the budget is small but academic texts are very expensive. The Bristol Zoo Archive is now stored at the Bristol Archives and some is in store at the Pavillion at the zoo. It is not catalogued apart from being grouped by a couple of PHD students. The next challenge is to catalogue and digitise the archive to make it accessible. Bristol Zoo is fundraising with Bristol Archives to achieve this.

Dave Naish with cockroaches

The last session was with Dave Naish, Education Manager. In 1981the Zoo Licensing Act specified conservation and education as requirements to be licensed as a zoo. In 2015 the Secretary of State’s Standards for Zoo Practice went further to include to stimulate pro-environmental behaviours. Bristol Zoo employs a psychologist on the team to advise on campaigns and projects to encourage behaviour change. The informal learning is supported by the rangers, volunteers and a variety of signage around the zoo to appeal to the different types of visitors eg explorers, facilitators, professional/hobbyists, etc. There are interactives round the zoo and the zoo Olympic trail of 10 stations where children can compare themselves to animals.

40,000 children per year receive formal learning at the Conservation Education Centre. The themed classrooms, such as the rainforest classroom, are designed to feel completely different from school. A good learning experience should be relevant, accessible, engaging, hands on, inspiring and memorable. Dave then demonstrated this using the handling of Madagascan hissing cockroaches, a boa snake and items seized by customs. The session was accessible to people whatever their learning style, eg visual, aural, physical, etc. The centre started adult evening classes 3 years ago to let people find out about behind the scenes. The classes have experts from different parts of the zoo eg vet taking sessions and also live animals at the classes, so increasing the connection of people to wildlife and conservation.

We then had a chance to explore the zoo and see the immersive experience in practice. We all enjoyed this very interesting and informative visit. To find out more and look at the catalogue see

Though the Bristol Zoo Library and Education Centre are very different to my library it has made me look at the library a little differently and given me lots of ideas. Now my challenge is to bring a more immersive experience in to my library. In my first year as Library Supervisor at my new library I have organised the first Harry Potter Night, Fun Palace, Local History Day and Storywalk for my library which is a step in the right direction. First thoughts are that I am going to organise more handling sessions of collections and make the holiday trails for children more interactive. I am going to look at class visits activities to make the visits more inspiring and memorable. I am going to design a book review template so that customers can leave book reviews for others to read so increasing their connection with the library. My signage is branded but there is still room for variation for different users so I am firstly going to add pictures to the junior non-fiction dividers and a simple Dewey classification sign for adult non-fiction.



Visit to the National Meteorological Office Library and Archive

National Meteorological Library

CILIP SW organised the visit to the Met Office Library and Archive on 15th November 2017. Sarah Pankiewicz, Library Manager, showed us round the Met Office Library which is used by both Met Office staff and the public. The 6 library staff come from a variety of backgrounds; library and information, astrophysics, Met Office scientist, etc. Their roles include cataloguing, procurement, journal management, book scanning, branding and tailoring the public facing catalogue, helping at the Met Office Archive and answering 150 – 200 enquiries per month. The team have had to transform the way they work due to increasing efficiency and natural staff reduction but this has also led to more integration between the library and archive.

Met Office Library 4

The library has Met Office records, journals, records from organisations across the world, books, computers and displays of historical met office equipment and material from the archive. Old journals are being scanned either on site or sent out for digitising when the budget allows. This helps preserve the material and is more accessible for the public and researchers. The library has books on meteorology, physics, climate, expeditions, etc but also has begun to concentrate on eBooks over the last couple of years and these are being accessed well. Reducing physical stock, lowering shelf height, making the library more user friendly, increasing access, etc all resonate with the direction my sector, public libraries, is going.

Met Office Library 8

Next was the visit to one of the supercomputer halls. There are 5 supercomputers which rank the Met Office as the 15th largest in the world. The halls are rows and rows of IT along with 20 air conditioning units to cool them. There are dual systems, automatic backing up of data and backup diesel generators to ensure no data is lost due to power failure.

Then we visited the Operations Centre which is a 24/7 environment with staff working 12 hour shifts. I was struck by the size and amount of monitors the staff were using and the atmosphere of quiet concentration. The centre is made up of different units: forecasting, global, flood forecasting, hazard, aviation, IT, media and customer service. The centre not only monitors the weather and makes forecasts but looks at trends, probabilities and impact.

The central part of the Met Office is an internal street. It is covered in slate paving slabs, has street lamps, a stream running through it, cafes, seating areas, etc. It will be a challenge to think of ways to bring across this social space into a library. We ate in the cafeteria decorated with clouds hanging from the ceiling!

Archive material

The Met Office Archive is by appointment only and situated in Great Moor House, a few minutes’ walk from the main Met Office building. It shares the building, public search room and staff workroom with the Devon Heritage Centre, but has separate strongrooms. Catherine Ross, Archivist, took us for a tour of 2 of the 4 Met Office strongrooms. There are fire shutters, fire doors, buffer corridors and gas suppressant systems to protect the stored material. An air curtain starts up as you enter the strongroom to help keep the temperature at 15–18°C. Tabulated data (information written in numeric form) and autographic data (the original data) are kept. There are also collections of historic equipment, expedition diaries, etc. It was fascinating to hear how the Met Office evolved, see the first synoptic chart 1859, the 5th June 1944 meteorological chart relied on for planning D-Day, Admiral Beaufort’s diary with original Beaufort Scale and by the 1807 diary the revised 12 stage Beaufort Scale and much more. Digitising records is ongoing, though reliant on funding, to help preservation and to improve access for the public and researchers.

I would recommend a visit and also having a look at their online resources. I explored their website and checked out the weather on the day I was born when I got home!

CILIP Conference 2017

Dr Carla Hayden, Librarian of Congress

I successfully applied for and am very grateful that I gained a place at the CILIP Conference 2017 funded by Libraries Unlimited. It was great to network and collaborate with people who work in such a range of library and information roles and to listen to inspirational speakers. The core of Librarian of Congress Dr Carla Hayden’s session was that accessibility and engagement should be the driving force behind your library whether inner city or Library of Congress. Professor Luciano Floridi, University of Oxford, stressed that information is power, that the rapidly changing digital world is changing access to information and the importance of the role of library staff in supporting digital engagement and information literacy. Neil Macinnes, Strategic Lead – Libraries, Galleries and Culture, Manchester, again stressed accessibility and engagement and that the library should be the city’s living room, a flexible space and a trusted place for people to meet, learn, share and explore. I am refining my notes and resulting ideas and devising a plan to increase accessibility, engagement and digital support at my community library.

The Arup Future of Libraries Briefing was probably the workshop that had the most impact on me. The findings of the report will definitely be part of my planning for the future. When it came to group work and choosing the trend we thought most important to discuss we all agreed to choose access and affordability, even though my group came from very different libraries including a digital only library. The ideas we came up with to improve access and affordability I will adapt and use in my library.

CILIP conference workshop

The Impact and Evaluation workshop concentrated on identifying your stakeholder priorities and delighting your stakeholders. The hints and tips from the presentation and the ideas which evolved when working in pairs or groups sessions will inform my stakeholder engagement and planning. The Health and Wellbeing seminar explained the background to the new direction of the way NHS doctors work with patients and the increasing support role libraries will have with online information and provision of the Reading Well Books on Prescription. This information I will cascade to staff and give them time to explore the different trusted websites. The Literacy and Learning seminar explored the engagement of parents/carers in increasing literacy in children including Booktrust. The copyright workshop involved lots of thought provoking scenarios to work on in groups.

The conference was a great experience that I would highly recommend. I have developed my skills and knowledge, formed lots of ideas to pursue for my own library and service, made lots of new contacts and have come away enthused by this inspiring event.

Visit to Manchester Central Library 12th July 2017

Manchester Central Library

While in Manchester for the CILIP Conference 2017 I took the opportunity to book a tour of the Manchester Central Library, the second largest public lending library in the UK. The library was closed in 2010 for refurbishment and reopened in 2014. The library was altered so that 70% was accessible to the public and 30% non-public access, a reverse of the previous only 30% publicly accessible. Its aim to change from a library used by students, academics and researchers but few residents to an inclusive space with greater appeal has seen it move into the top ten Manchester visitor attractions on Trip Advisor.

The library is a wonderful mix of old and new. It now has modern glass lifts, a new Business and Intellectual Property Centre with 3D printer and the new Archives+ Centre with interactive interpretations and viewing stations for film archives and a British Film Institute (BFI) Mediatheque where visitors can watch over 2500+ BFI National Archive film and TV for free.

Virtual Archive

The original library on this site opened in 1934. The imposing domed circular Reading Room, Shakespeare Hall with stained glass windows and ceiling decorated with heraldic shields and the Chief Librarian’s office now meeting room with false bookcase doors and 1930s furniture all give it a sense of history. The Reading Room was well used and very quiet. The Henry Watson Music Library retains its traditional look but also contains a Dj mixing desk, pianos, drum kits, guitars and ukeles for people to play. Groups of people were using the musical instruments. To give room for the new Archives+ Centre the stacks have moved into the basement, in place of a theatre, and are kept in temperature controlled strong rooms with electric rolling stacks.

Reading Room

Across library walk is the town hall extension which now houses the City Lending Library, Children’s Library, Media Lounge, Race Relations Library, Children’s Centre, Tourist Information Centre and One-Stop-Shop Council Customer Service Centre including Job Centre, Citizens Advice and Job Club. The Children’s Library is designed as a secret garden with digital interactive screens and interactive floor projections. It appeared small for such a large library but touring at 6.30pm at night didn’t allow for seeing how it is used by children.

The library has 3000 – 5000 visitors per day, 4.1 million since it opened. The staff now work in open plan offices with and open plan staff room. There are workrooms for staff, volunteers and partners to work on archive. The drive to be more inclusive still continues. Funding has been found to employ a Communities Officer and Learning Officer. The Communities Officer goes out to deprived areas to break down the barrier of the library appearing intimidating. The Learning Officer goes into schools.

The library was impressive and further photographs can be found at The incorporation of interactive digital and use of outreach staff need further investigation as they would be great to integrate into Exeter Library and Exeter Stack to increase awareness and inclusion.

Libraries Data Discovery Day 19th March 2017

Library data day

30 people from libraries, councils, university, tech companies, etc came to Exeter Library for the first Libraries Unlimited Data Discovery Day. The day was run by ODI (Open Data Institute) Devon and was part of an Arts Council England funded two-year research project being carried out by Libraries Unlimited and the University of Exeter Business School to understand the impact of libraries on local communities in Devon.

Luke Burton from Newcastle Libraries shared their journey to releasing their data for anyone to use but explained that they aren’t yet at the stage of looking at outcomes and return on investment. This was followed by group discussions about the data we have, data we want, people and organisations we want to link with, equipment and what are the major questions we want the data to answer. The discussions really widened the scope of what we could do with so many possibilities of positive collaboration to discover health, economic, etc impact.

Beverley Hawkins of the University of Exeter Business School gave a presentation on organisational data and ethical enquiry. She gave an overview of the issues but also gave the advantages of consistent ethical practice. Lots of further discussion will need to follow and an open data policy to be devised. Gemma John, Architecture Anthropologist then talked about her project ‘Designing libraries in 21st century – lessons for the UK’. She explained about the types of data she collected from libraries across 2 continents and the data she collected from the surrounding areas. She used the data to show how people interact with library services and spaces. She gave me a copy of her report which I am looking forward to looking into in more depth.

This was followed by more group discussions and trying to amalgamate information into areas to try to discover the most important themes from the day. In discussion with Luke it appears that he and his colleague Aude Charillon are the staff involved in Newcastle’s Libraries open data project so to have 15 library staff from across Devon involved in Libraries Unlimited open data project is a very positive development. He felt that staff buying into the value of data is key. Other key themes that stood out were

  • Use the resources to achieve the best value so choose 3 or 4 things from the complexity of library data
  • Start small, experiment, put it out there, see what feedback you get and develop the culture of open data
  • Important to work out how to capture anecdotal evidence and use it.

It was a very interactive and collaborative day which I left feeling excited about the early visualisation of the data sets and further involvement in the project.

Effective Networking MOOC (Massive Open Online Course)


I am studying the Open University MOOC Effective Networking. I joined the MOOC because networking is an important part of my work but I feel awkward networking at events. The course is not just about lots of useful networking tips and how to prepare your elevator pitch, the course encourages you to evaluate yourself. Self-awareness – knowing your own emotions and Self-regulation – managing your own emotions have made me step back and think. I already know that I am going to be anxious and feel awkward therefore I just need to manage those emotions. Making the encounter about the other person, who are they and how can I help them, instead of about me is going to improve my networking.

The course continues on from face-to-face networking to look at online networking, particularly LinkedIn and blogging. All the preparation on the elevator pitch I found useful to improve my LinkedIn profile. Looking at my blog I see that I wrote 23 blogs in the 1st 2 years, around 1 blog a month. However this then rapidly dwindled, partly due to taking the time to complete 8 MOOCs. I am learning so much of use to me for my work but I need also to spend more time on reflecting on my learning. I chose the photo of Spring flowers as the course has energized me to look afresh at face-to-face networking, LinkedIn and blogging. I unequivocally recommend this course.