Penny Young, House of Commons Librarian – Wednesday 4 July

Penny Young is the House of Commons Librarian, overseeing: research briefings to MPs, the Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology; education and public engagement work, and Parliament’s visitor services operation. Penny believes that a thriving parliamentary democracy depends on impartial, high quality information, and the public having a strong voice. 

Previously, Penny was Chief Executive, NatCen Social Research: an independent social research institute conducting a wide range of research including the long running British Social Attitudes survey.  She has spent two spells at the BBC researching audiences and licence fee payers, most recently during the development and early phases of the BBC Trust. Penny spent five years as Director of Research at the campaigning and publishing organisation Which?  

The House of Commons Library: Our role in supporting a thriving parliamentary democracy

It’s 200 years since the first House of Commons Librarian was appointed. The fifteenth Librarian, Penny Young, will share something of the history of the Library; how MPs continue to value and use its services; and how we are changing. The public is sceptical about MPs, and may be surprised to find just how much MPs value the impartial and expert information provided by the Library.   The key note will illustrate the different facets of an MP’s life, and how information supports them to do their work as they represent constituents, scrutinise the work of government, and debate in the House. It will talk about how our work is changing: how we are embracing digital and social media, and how we are helping MPs analyse data for their own constituencies. It will also look at our current challenges: particularly in responding to increasing levels of demand, and further ahead to the Restoration and Renewal project, where everyone and everything will be decanted from the Palace of Westminster.

Sally Walker, Children’s Librarian Orkney Library & Archive and Scotland’s Library and Information Professional of the Year 2017 – Wednesday 4 July

Sally Walker is the Children’s Librarian at world famous Orkney Library & Archive, with almost 30 years’ experience of working in schools, universities and public libraries.  Sally was awarded Scotland’s Library and Information Professional of the Year 2017 by CILIPS, in recognition of developing and delivering library services for children, in a community spread over 20 islands off the North coast of Scotland.

My journey to professional recognition

In her keynote, you will hear about Sally’s journey through her career and work at Orkney Library to being awarded the honour of Scotland’s first Library & Information Professional of the year 2017. Sally will discuss some of the initiatives in which she is involved such as Bookbug, Lego & Minecraft and her work with schools. Find out how she engages with children, encouraging them and their families, to use the library. Inspiring others to believe anything is possible if you have a passion for your work and are somewhere you can shine.

John Chrastka, Executive Director, EveryLibrary – Wednesday 4 July

John Chrastka is executive director of EveryLibrary, the first nationwide political action committee for libraries.  Since 2013, EveryLibrary has helped 62 library communities with ballot measures for funding, operations, and buildings, winning 46 and securing over $220 million in funding on Election Days. A long-time library trustee, supporter and advocate, Mr. Chrastka is a former president of the Board of Trustees for the Berwyn (IL) Public Library (2006 – 2015) and is a former president of the Reaching Across Illinois Libraries System (RAILS), a multi-type library system. Prior to his work on EveryLibrary, he was a partner in AssociaDirect, a Chicago-based consultancy focused on supporting associations in membership recruitment, conference, and governance activities, and was Director for Membership Development at the American Library Association (ALA).  He is a current member of ALA, the Illinois Library Association (ILA), and the American Political Sciences Association (APSA). He was named a 2014 Mover & Shaker by Library Journal for his work with EveryLibrary.  He tweets at @mrchrastka.

Patrick Sweeney, Political Director, EveryLibrary – Wednesday 4 July

Patrick “P.C.” Sweeney is co-author of “Winning Elections and Influencing Politicians for Library Funding.” He is the former Administrative Librarian of the Sunnyvale (CA) Public Library and Executive Director of EveryLibrary California, a statewide initiative to support library propositions. He currently works as the Political Director for EveryLibrary, the nation’s first and only national Political Action Committee for Libraries and is a lecturer on politics at the San Jose State University iSchool.  He is a 2015 Library Journal Mover and Shaker recipient for his advocacy work in California and across the country. He can be found online as PC Sweeney.

Samira Ahmed, Journalist and Broadcaster, Presenter Radio 4’s Front Row and BBC1’s Newswatch – Thursday 5 July

Samira Ahmed presents Radio 4’s flagship culture programme Front Row and BBC1’s Newswatch exploring editorial decision making behind the headlines. She’s also a visiting professor of journalism at Kingston University and a member of the advisory board of the National Science and Media Museum in Bradford. Her documentaries explore the intersection of culture, politics and social change, often focussing on reassessing evidence in archives. They include such topics as Elizabeth, the wife of Oliver Cromwell, novelist Arnold Bennett, David Bowie, Westerns, and the Little House on the Prairie author Laura Ingalls Wilder. Samira is currently working a Radio 3 Sunday feature about the Egyptology collections and museums established by Victorian women from Northern mill towns. She’s worked as a reporter on Newsnight, the Today Programme and was the BBC’s Los Angeles Correspondent covering the OJ Simpson civil trial. Samira won the Stonewall Award for Broadcast of the year while a presenter and reporter at Channel 4 News for her film on so called ‘corrective’ rape of lesbian women in South Africa. Her website is

Who do we think we are? What the Windrush archive scandal reveals about modern Britain

We are a country obsessed with antique and genealogy shows. Which made it all the more shocking that the Home Office has destroyed hundreds of landing cards of Windrush era arrivals from the Commonwealth, provoking a national scandal about Britain’s ‘hostile environment’ policies for immigrants, benefit claimants and NHS patients. Samira is exploring the impact on Britain’s record keeping and sense of national identity, of a decade of austerity budget cuts, management policies about data protection and library closures.

Helen Dodd, Head of Data Governance, Cancer Research UK – Thursday 5 July

Helen is currently Head of Data Governance at Cancer Research UK, having previously been Head of Information Management at King’s College London. She has nearly a decade’s worth of experience of developing programmes, people and implementing change in the information governance sector, and is currently the subject matter lead for the CRUK GDPR programme.

GDPR- Driving cultures of Information Management through compliance programmes

GDPR has had a major impact on Information Management programmes in the past 12 months, with many organisation developing responses to reduce risk and ensure compliance. But compliance can be a first step in building cultures where information is valued: and GDPR could be just the first step in integrating information management practices into large organisations.

The presentation looks at the approach recently taken by Cancer Research UK, and looks forward to some of the opportunities GDPR presents Information Managers in the UK

Guy Daines, Head of Policy, CILIP
Thursday 5 July

Plenary session: Grexit; reflections of a ‘retiring’ librarian

As Guy Daines contemplates his personal Grexit from CILIP and the information profession, he will reflect on some lessons learned, changes observed and triumphs shared – without forgetting the fun times!