UKSG Conference 2017 - Jo Alcock Consulting
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UKSG Conference 2017

UKSG Conference 2017

I’m currently on my way back from the UKSG Conference 2017 and am busy reflecting on what a great few days I’ve had. The tiredness has hit me harder this time (I don’t know if it’s because I’m getting older, the fact I’m not sleeping well at the moment, or because I was presenting a workshop on a different topic to normal), but despite the exhaustion it’s been brilliant. I’ve vlogged reflections during the three days, and have posted these to my YouTube channel and embedded them at the end of this post, but I wanted to share a few key themes emerging from the conference content and discussions as well.


My breakout session (co-facilitated with Sarah Durrant) was on values-based leadership so it makes sense that this would be one of the conference themes for me, but there were a number of other discussions about this in other sessions, in the conference dinner speech from the UKSG Chair, Kate Price (quite exciting getting your name mentioned in that!), and in a number of conversations I’ve had during the conference. Some of the exhibitors displayed their organisational values prominently on their stand, and others shared the values of their organisation during conversation. One thing that seems to be becoming increasingly important (which I for one am pleased about!) is not just what we do in the workplace, but how we going about doing it. By that I don’t mean in a procedural way, but in the skills and values we bring to everything we do. It was pleasing to continue conversations with attendees of our breakout workshop and learn that they plan to spend more time reflecting on their personal values and how they can make the most of these in the workplace. I notice from the tweets at LILAC (which this year was at the same time as UKSG) that values seemed to have been a theme there too.


There were a number of breakout sessions that focused on discussion about training and development, particularly in terms of where there seem to be gaps currently and how these might be filled. The UKSG conference and webinars are of course great examples of training for UKSG membership, but it was interesting to speak to some of the UKSG education subcommittee and consider some of the current training needs and how they may be met. As a trainer myself, I’m always interested to hear people’s thoughts about training and how I might be able to help. One particular highlight for me was Vicki McGarvey’s session on digital leadership. Vicki has created an openly available online course on Digital Leadership and Collection Management and shared her experience of this. I’m currently in the planning stages of a few different forms of online training, so this was really helpful for me – I’ve developed a number of online courses, and have participated in many, but things develop rapidly in this area and there are many different approaches so it’s always useful to hear other’s experiences. There certainly seems to be demand for more video material, and this is definitely an area I’ll be developing after my recent experiences with my research methods videos.


Something that was mentioned in one of the breakout sessions I attended was the value of coaching to support professional development and career progression. As I mentioned in a previous post on coaching, I agree it can be incredibly powerful and I know I’ve benefitted from this with discussion with my coach friends (and friends who are naturally excellent coaches). It’s interesting that others seem to be becoming more interested in coaching, both in terms of receiving professional coaching and also learning from coaching to apply some of the methods in the workplace; managers and leaders can use a coaching style to support others when appropriate. I had an interesting conversation about coaching and action learning sets whilst I was at the conference and I’m pleased to see these being utilised more.

Value of open communication

Through my conversations with people at the conference, I’ve learnt so much about lots of different parts of the library and publisher world. Some of these things have been what I expected, but others haven’t, and it’s highlighted to me the importance of open communication. I tried to be as open-minded as I could for the conference including any preconceptions I might have about certain topics or sessions, as well as being open-minded in my conversations. I’ve had some fascinating conversations and have really benefitted from this. I’ve tried to focus more on listening than talking (which isn’t always easy for me, and I haven’t always succeeded!) and have learnt lots from a variety of different people.

Bringing together different perspectives

For me, one of the greatest things about UKSG is the fact it brings together both librarians and publishers (and other related professions!). It feels very inclusive, and relatively equal. There are times when it seems more focused on one area, but this is to be expected with certain sessions where speakers are coming from a particular perspective. Overall though, I really like the fact that UKSG brings together a number of different perspectives. Some of the breakout sessions I attended had a panel which incorporated speakers from a variety of different backgrounds and it was fantastic to hear about the same topic but from a number of different perspectives.
Below are my vlogs from during the conference:

Day 1

Day 2

Day 3 

I thoroughly enjoyed UKSG conference this year, and hope to be able to attend again. I find it incredibly inspirational and always come away with lots of ideas of what I can do next to take things forward (for those who attended my values session you know this will float my boat as growth is one of my values!). I’ve already spent some of my journey home planning some ideas for training materials I’d like to develop and videos I’d like to create and am definitely leaving feeling invigorated and motivated (I will be needing to catch up on lots of sleep this weekend too though!). Thanks to everyone involved in making UKSG Conference so great – organisers, sponsors, exhibitors, speakers, and attendees. I hope to be back next year 🙂
    Posted at 07:22h, 14 April Reply

    Dear Jo. Its a rather intriguing video. Yes, such types of conferences are really a treasure-trove of information as one gets to know a lot. By the way, I would also like to attend one such conference or workshop whatever is feasible. Since, financial aspect remains a big hurdle for people like us from India, so I shall be much obliged if you can help me in securing a place in any of the upcoming conferences or workshops in UK with funding to pay for the travel and the accommodation. Given an opportunity, I firmly believe will stand by me in good stead throughout my professional tenure.

    A line in reply shall help.

    Warm regards,

    Arjun Sanyal.

    • Jo Alcock
      Posted at 13:45h, 14 April Reply

      There are a number of bursaries available for conferences (some of which I have benefited from in the past). I’d definitely recommend looking out for these – sometimes they are specific to a conference or sometimes they are more general bursaries than can be used to support attendance at any conference you wish to attend.

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