This conference report is from Sumedhaa Hariram, who is studying MSc Information Science with CityLIS during the academic year 22/23. Sumedhaa won a CityLIS sponsored place to attend LILAC 2023, 19th-21st April at the University of Cambridge, and we are grateful to Metataxis for the original donation for student conference attendance. Thanks also to former CityLIS PhD student David Haynes for mediating the donation.
In April, I was given the opportunity to attend LILAC 2023.
This year’s conference was held at the University of Cambridge. So, on 19th April, I made my way to the university’s Faculty of Law building and was greeted by the many friendly faces of the LILAC committee, who were quick to get everyone registered, fed and ready to go. I was also thrilled to receive a custom LILAC notebook to add to my ever-growing collection of beautifully crafted notebooks.
I began my LILAC experience by going on a tour of the Law Library and got to check out some of the collections and learn how the librarians organised and classified the materials they carried in the library.
One of the first presentations I attended was, Breaking Through the Concrete Ceiling: Surviving a difficult start as a new professional. It gave me valuable insights into the difficulties faced by new professionals and how one could cope and grow as a new professional in the future.
Throughout the three days, I learnt about the challenges facing academic librarians when teaching information literacy online and how teaching is becoming more prevalent in the field. It was also highlighted that many library science degrees don’t provide adequate teacher training to their student librarians, and this is a gap that should be filled.
I also learnt more about the information behaviours of first year research students, the importance of building digital health literacy and how librarians play a part in growing digital literacy in general. A presentation about information literacy as a practice for survival saw an engaging debate on whether or not information literacy practices were important for survival. I also had the chance to discuss the pros and cons of this topic with other delegates.
The keynote presentation, Pivot Ponderings: Musings about one library’s role in support tech-enhanced learning, gave valuable insight into the different phases of digital learning, how the library coped during the pandemic and how it has introduced more hybrid learning since then.
One of my favourite presentations from the conference was The Information Practices of the Homeless. The speaker, Andy lacey, talked about the information behaviours of the homeless, how their information needs and sources vary based on the support systems available to them and the barriers to access they face. I had never considered how people who are homeless or displaced get their information and the ways in which they can combat misinformation in their everyday lives. It also highlighted how digital poverty can cause an even greater divide.
Being able to attend the LILAC conference at such a historic institution meant that we were also given access to some of their specialized libraries, and I was able to visit their music, medieval languages and English libraries in my free time. I was also able to tour the rare books collection at the main library and got to view some rare items in their collections.
No conference is complete without a few parties, and LILAC was no different. The first night of the conference saw us at the Museum of Zoology for the Networking Evening & Information Literacy Awards. Here we networked over drinks, canapes and natural history exhibitions. I even got to see the skeletal remains of an elephant-sized sloth! The evening also saw the presentation of several awards given to outstanding information professionals in recognition of their work in the field.
At the conference party I learnt that there ain’t no party like a librarian party. Watching a room full of librarians dancing their hearts out was such a treat!
Overall, I left the conference feeling inspired, rejuvenated and more assured about my choice to become an information professional. I thoroughly enjoyed my time at LILAC 2023 and look forward to attending it again in the future!