FIL @ BLSDSC Friday 16th March 2012
Posted by gazjjohnson on 19 March, 2012
This is going to be a somewhat briefer than normal entry for an external event, as I was hosting the day – thus not as much chance to make notes and have useful networking; more a case of a lot of running around and keeping multiple plates spinning in the air to keep everything on track, on time and running smoothly!
This annual FIL event at the British Library’s Boston Spa Document Supply Centre (where oh so many of the inter-library loans we obtain for staff and students come from) has been running for many, many years. While the format varies a little from year to year it always features some aspect of behind the scenes touring as well as an update from BL staff on plans and forthcoming activities. Given the recent roll out of the new BLDSS (Document Supply Service) here at Leicester and across the country, I along with many of the other delegates were eager to hear what was next.
I was there at 8.30am, and despite not being on the delegates list (heck, I’m only national Chair of FIL and running the day – why would I be on the list!) I still made it through security and to the conference centre. It had been at least 10 years since I was last on site and I was interested to see how much of the leafy campus had changed, and how much was still the same. The buildings do have a certain monolithic quality to them, as befits such a nationally recognised organisation – although there was less of a “bunker” quality to the place than I remembered.
Myself, along with fellow FIL Committee member from Newport Helen and local head of BL Customer Services Kate, spent the next hour arranging the rooms, stuffing delegate packs and arranging a selection of freebies around the room. Most of the delegates were coming by train and then transferring to a coach the BL had kindly organised. We were supposed to see the coach around 10am, but due to a slight delay in getting out of York (couple with I hear a scenic tour of the North Yorkshire countryside) it didn’t appear until almost the time we were scheduled to kick off. This meant I had to do some creative programme juggling with the aid of the morning speakers to keep us on track – and importantly give the delegates as much of an opportunity to talk to each other as possible. Experience sharing is at the heart of all FIL events, and so while the temptation to reduce breaks to make up lost time was there it’s not an option I’m ever keen to employ.
Following a warm up and introduction to the day from yours truly we moved onto the first two talks. First up Lucy Wilkins of Bristol University gave us an overview of her experiences at the big ILDS conference in the States late last year. Lucy had been sponsored by FIL to attend and it had clearly been a valuable and eye-opening experience for her. She was followed by Margaret Rowley from Worcestershire Health ICT Services who talked about the parallels and differences between the NHS and other interlending sectors. This was useful not just for the insight but also in attracting more health librarians to be in attendance than would normally be at the event. It really added depth I think to the exchange of experiences between the delegates during the day.
At this point half the group went off on a tour, while the rest listened to Andy Appleyard and Anthony Troman from the British Library. Andy did a marvellous impromptu slot when the slides for the session went AWOL for a few minutes, but we were soon back on track. I was very interested by a number of things the BL has coming down the line – electronic signatures, a greater focus on accessing BLDSC items on mobile devices and even lighter touch DRM than they currently use.
An excellent lunch followed, and then for those whom had been a tour a chance to hear from the BL guys. I went on the tour which took us around part of the operation that suppliers us books and journals; and included a few updates on the BLDSS. I would have liked to have seen the robots selecting books in the repository building itself, but sadly that wasn’t on the agenda for today. Maybe next time.
After a tea break we split the groups once more for two discussion workshops led by myself and Lucy (which ran twice so everyone could get involved). Lucy’s looked at the tips, resources and skills that we all use everyday – with a particular focus on what areas we need to upskill new entrants to ILLs with. This will be a useful output that will help shape some upcoming FIL training. Mine looked at the visibility and perception of ILL services within organisations and by their patrons; although it took an interesting detour in the second session to discuss charging arrangements for ILLs. Lucy and myself will be writing these sessions up for the FIL site in the near future (along with the slides from the event)
Finally Lucy and I shared some highlights from our workshops with all the delegates, and after some brief final discussions we packed everyone onto the coach – and I cleared up the rooms. Being FIL Chair gets you all the best jobs.
The feedback from the event was very positive, and there were some great ideas from the delegates for topics to tackle in future events. I’m even already thinking that maybe a FIL @BLDSC in the autumn might not be an unrealistic proposal…