Traveling back from the fifth (best yet?) LILAC I am wondering where we go from here on many levels. With my committee hat on I’m asking myself where do we take the conference next year in terms of the location? Both Birmingham and Ireland have been suggested, but topping Cardiff as a city and hosting venue will be quite something. Organisationally, I’m asking myself where we go next year with the parallel sessions and is it time to try out a new formula with regards to the number and types of presentations? Certainly this year I felt the quality of the parallels was outstanding, but sometimes it just felt like there was too much to even make a reasonable dent in the programme. As for information literacy and where we go from here, I felt one theme coming out of this year’s conference was a clear message that we have to start talking to those outside the library profession now before it is too late. We have to get our message out there to the decision makers and funders, and we can do that sure in the knowledge that we have something hugely valuable to offer in terms of our skills and expertise.
I enjoyed all our keynotes, but the final session by Conor Galvin from University College Dublin, was the one that struck a real cord with me. I suspect he doesn’t usually attend conferences of librarians and I hope we entertained, educated and surprised him (if nothing else but because of the outrageous dancing!). Now we’ve got to start doing that to many, many more people who may have outdated or worse still no opinion of libraries, librarians and their role in the digital age. I’m going to watch with interest tomorrow’s debate at the Bodleian on Libraries of the Future. I know the sort of future I want to see for academic libraries, and it’s what several of our keynotes suggested, that libraries should be at the centre of learning, they should be providing programmes of support for our undergraduates, our postgraduates and researchers and even for retired members of our community. And those programmes need to be fully embedded within our institutions. Library colleagues at LSE have commented to me in the past that learning technologists seem to have good working relationships with academics. Why is that? I would argue this is because those in learning technology are truly engaging with the teaching and learning process in a way my library colleagues have struggled to. It’s not because librarians can’t do this, I just think somewhere along the way running a service and collection building has got in the way of really talking to people and understanding what they are trying to achieve and what our role is to support them. I for one am going to take from LILAC this year the importance of talking to people outside libraries about information literacy – whatever I call it. I’m determined to make a real difference by this year and we have a real opportunity to embed information literacy in our undergraduate curriculum. I believe collaboration with other training providers has to be the way forward and the future of the academic library is many things but most of all it is LILAC. But first I’m going to get some sleep!