We are thrilled to announce our exciting line-up of keynote speakers for the 2018 conference.

Our opening session will be delivered by Penny Young, House of Commons & Sally Walker, Scotland’s Library and Information Professional of the Year 2017, showcasing the best of British Librarianship. Followed by John Chrastka and Patrick Sweeney from EveryLibrary. As the only national library organisation in the United States dedicated solely to securing the future of library funding at all levels of government, EveryLibrary has helped win over a quarter of a billion dollars (US) for public libraries in local elections and from local councils, has helped secure school library funding and librarian positions in dozens of local school districts across the country, and has activated nearly 300,000 Americans from all walks of life across a wide political spectrum about library funding through social media and digital engagement.

Day two will be opened by Samira Ahmed, Journalist and Broadcaster, Presenter Radio 4’s Front Row and BBC1’s Newswatch. Samira explores editorial decision making behind the headlines and her documentaries explore the intersection of culture, politics and social change, often focusing on reassessing evidence in archives. 

More keynote speakers to be confirmed soon!

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?  

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.

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 www.samiraahmed.co.uk

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.