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Information Scotland

The Journal of the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals in Scotland

ISSN 1743-5471

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February 2009 Volume 7(1)

Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals in Scotland

President's Perspective

Time to reflect and develop

Margaret Forrest introduces her key themes as the new President of CILIPS.

It is a great honour to be elected as President of a professional association and represent the interests of over 2000 people working in the library and information community throughout Scotland. I feel very humbled to be following in the footsteps of a long line of distinguished men and women who have held this office over the last 100 years. I would particularly like to thank my predecessor, Alan Hasson, for his hard work and dedication to the profession during 2008.

In this, my first President’s perspective for Information Scotland, I’d like to introduce myself, tell you something about my history, interests and the key themes which I hope to explore as President of CILIPS.
Anyone who is familiar with Aileen Paterson’s Maisie books will have an inkling of the suburb of Edinburgh where I grew up, went to school and joined the local library. My gap year between school and university was spent working in the Undergraduate Reading Room of Edinburgh University Library, a wonderful introduction to the library which I would be using for the next few years as an undergraduate student. A postgraduate year of library studies at Strathclyde University followed and it was during this time that I read and was greatly influenced by Mona Going’s book, Hospital Libraries and Work With the Disabled in the Community.

Over the next 25 years I worked in a wide range of health care libraries, starting with the Medical Library of Edinburgh University at the Western General Hospital and later moving on to my first professional post as Hospital Librarian of the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh where I was responsible for library services to patients in addition to a number of departmental libraries. During a brief ‘career break’ when I was at home looking after my two daughters, I began working freelance for a number of health educationalists. By 1991 I was working for the Health Education Board for Scotland (now NHS Health Scotland) and became Library Services Manager there in 1994. A highlight of my time at HEBS was working with a winning library team which gained Charter Mark, the Government’s award for excellence in public service in 1998 and 2001.

I moved into higher education in 2003 when I took up the post of Fife Campus Librarian at the University of Dundee. At this university I was privileged to work with some very inspiring people in learning and teaching and it was there that I completed my Certificate in Teaching in Higher Education. Last year I was delighted to return to Edinburgh University, to take up my current post of Academic Liaison Librarian for the School of History, Classics and Archaeology.

Throughout my career I have benefited from the networking and collaborative activities of library and information professionals, the most recent of which is SHEDL, the Scottish Higher Education Digital Library, which was highlighted by Jill Evans in the last issue of Information Scotland. Professional networking and collaboration is the first theme I would like to explore this year as President of CILIPS. I would like to encourage members who usually shy away from collaborative activities to become more involved and tap into the support available from CILIPS’ advocacy services.

Another theme I would like to pursue is disability awareness. As a deaf librarian I have a vested interest in the improvement of services to people with disabilities. Since the Disability Discrimination Act of 2005, much good work has been achieved, but I believe we still have a long way to go in making our library services truly accessible, not just in terms of the physical space, but also in staff knowledge and skills in supporting disabled people.

Finally, I am interested in the use of reflection in professional development. During last year I was a member of CILIP’s Assessment Panel and was privileged to be given the opportunity to review many excellent portfolios for both ACLIP accreditation and Revalidation. However, one area which many applicants appeared to find hard to demonstrate was their evaluative and reflective skills. Partly in response to this and partly as a follow up to an article [1] I had read in Health Information and Libraries Journal, I contributed a brief article to the same journal on becoming a reflective practitioner.[2] One of the hallmarks of reflective practitioners is taking the time to write about and reflect on personal experiences relating to their practice. Something I would like to encourage CILIPS members to consider is that writing (especially for publication) can be an important tool in professional development.

This last theme links in well with the title of CILIPS Annual Conference which takes place 1-3 June this year at Peebles Hydro, ‘Inspiring Excellence: yourself, your service, our future’. My favourite part of the conference has always been Branch and Group Day, a great opportunity to network, meet colleagues and be inspired by like-minded professionals.

As President this year, I’m keen to meet as many of you as possible and visit as many library services as I can. I am particularly interested to see examples of good practice in collaboration, accessibility and professional development. I look forward to hearing from you! 
Margaret Forrest e:

1 Grant, M.J. ‘The Role of Reflection in the Library and Information Sector: a systematic review’. Health Information and Libraries Journal 2007, 24, 155-66.
2 Forrest, M.E.S. ‘On becoming a critically reflective practitioner’. Health Information and Libraries Journal 2007, 25, 229-232.

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Information Scotland Vol. 7(1) February 2009

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Last updated: 24-Jul-2009