Lucy Whitmarsh
Lucy Whitmarsh
Marketing Manager, Wiley

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The UKSG 39th Annual Conference in Bournemouth this spring proved once again to be a source of insight, inspiration and project updates for the knowledge community. Here are six things we learned from attending.


1. Conversation is key.

Many of the sessions explored market research and how institutions are reaching out to their students to understand what they need from their library space. There was emphasis on the partnerships that can be built between librarian and user to influence change and innovation within academic libraries. One key takeaway for us was around finding students in their own space. Instead of surveying students who are already using the library, go out and about on campus and survey students as they move around.


2. Physical space can be a challenge.

Students and researchers are increasingly comfortable and confident in the digital world, but libraries are finding new challenges in ensuring their users are confident using the physical space. Research at the University of Birmingham showed students reporting experiences such as “used the library twice, got lost both times and left after five minutes”. There is a need to ensure students are confident in the physical as well as the digital. One suggestion for this came from Raymund Pun in his session on gamification, running things such as a ‘Murder in the Stacks’ game or International Games Day to promote the physical space.

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3. Libraries are always looking ahead

Who are the users that libraries will need to provide their services to in the future? Emma Mulqueeny’s insights into the digital child were fascinating. She talked about the top 5 things that make the 97ers – those born in 1997 and after – different to the generations before them. As the first generation to have grown up with social media it’s impacted how they learn, join communities and share their data. The knowledge community is looking ahead to what this might mean for the future.


4. Librarians aren't afraid to fail

In many of the sessions there was talk of new projects, pilot schemes and constant trial and error. This isn’t new – we know that the knowledge community is always searching for the next innovation. What stood out for us was the willingness to fail and learn from mistakes. Sarah Pittaway spoke of ‘The Hive’ at the University of Worcester and how student coordinators are encouraged to try new things. An acceptance of possible failure and the foresight to take it as a learning opportunity makes every trial a success.


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5. The importance of taking a break

With what feels like a full week of sessions packed into two and a half days, we weren’t the only attendees in need of a break. The Wiley mindfulness colouring wall filled up steadily over the first two days and delegates gave us great feedback on being able to switch off and not have to think for five minutes. With such a variety of new information to take on board, the ‘time off’ to process it all was invaluable.


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6. We definitely need new shoes.

In between all the tweets and chatter about the sessions came pictures of shoes. From boots, to sparkly silver shoes, to bare feet in the sand, #shoetweet attracted (and confused) many delegates. With suggestions that this will be the next big thing at conferences, it’s time we went shopping!

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