Alistair Gaw, Executive Director for Children & Families, Communities & Families.
Alistair qualified as a social worker at the University of Edinburgh in 1988 and began his career in Strathclyde Region. He has post-qualifying awards in practice teaching and child protection and has an MBA from Napier University Business School. Alistair is currently acting as Executive Director for Communities and Families at the City of Edinburgh Council. His responsibilities include children’s social work, schools, early years and community learning and development. He has worked for four local authorities holding specialist posts in children and families and criminal justice social work. Alistair was a member of the Social Work Services Inspectorate and worked on care standards, the regulation of care, adoption policy and the national review of child protection. As Head of Workforce and Finance in the Scottish Executive he was responsible for workforce development across the social care sector. He was Depute Chief Inspector at SWIA, responsible for local authority social work and criminal justice inspections and has led serious case reviews. Alistair was Head of Children and Families and Criminal Justice Social Work in Fife Council for 4 years before joining the City of Edinburgh Council as Head of Children’s Services in September 2011. In recent years he has been active in the work of Social Work Scotland and CELSIS. Alistair is the immediate past President of Social Work Scotland.
Melanie Huggins is the executive director of Richland Library in Columbia, SC, which received the 2017 National Medal for Museum and Library Service, the nation’s highest honor.
Guided by the “Library as Studio” approach, Melanie’s team is currently leading renovations and expansions funded by a successful 2013 bond referendum. The twelve renovations and new building projects include a joint-use, project based learning high school paired with a 30,000 SF library branch and the renovation of 240,000 SF of library space at the Main Library that includes artists’ studios, a theatre, film and media production labs and a maker space. Melanie was named a 2018 Woman of Distinction by the Girl Scouts of South Carolina – Mountains to Midlands for her lasting impact in the community. She was recently named the recipient of the Stephen G. Morrison Visionary Award which honors the best combination of vision and leadership, applied to arts and history and the entire cultural foundation of the City of Columbia. Her work is influenced by her belief that libraries are uniquely positioned to make communities more livable, resilient and inclusive. Melanie served as Director-at-Large for the Public Library Association from 2014-2017 as well as the Urban Libraries Council Executive Board from 2010-2016. She was named the 2012 South Carolina Outstanding Librarian by the South Carolina Library Association. She is a South Carolina Liberty Fellow, member of the Aspen Global Leadership Network, and a member of the Spring 2018 class of the Riley Diversity Leaders Institute. Most importantly she is the harried, forgetful mom to Adeline, Lila and Shepard and concert-going buddy to her super-smart husband, J.C.
Ilona Kish – Programme Director, Public Libraries 2030 , The Netherlands
Ilona Kish is a library avenger. As Director of the Public Libraries 2030 (PL2030) project team in Brussels, she leads a network of pioneering librarians from across Europe who are dedicated to the transformation of society through community engagement. PL2030 works to raise awareness of the immense potential of Europe’s 65,000 public libraries among EU policy makers; PL2030 works towards building stronger EU communities. Ilona is a proud trustee of the UK Society of Chief Librarians and is currently serving on the Governing board for the Coalition for Digital Jobs and Skills hosted by the European Commission. As the former Secretary General of Culture Action Europe (an association promoting European arts and cultural associations), Ilona has extensive experience in European Arts actions, EU advocacy and campaigning, as well as a thorough working knowledge of both the operational and political functions of the EU institutions.
Peter Barnett – Head of Libraries, Advice, Health & Information, Coventry.
Peter Barnett has led Coventry’s Library and Information Service since 2014. As well as being responsible for libraries, he leads on the Council’s work in migration and commissions Healthwatch and external advice services. Having worked at the Council since 2003, Peter’s previous role was as manager of the Health Development Service which focused on lifestyle and behavioural change and combatting long term health inequalities through the promotion of healthy eating and increased levels of physical activity. Prior to relocating to Coventry, Peter worked for Middlesbrough Council and North Yorkshire County Council. His background is in support to elected members, policy development and scrutiny. Since 2014 he has led the transformation of Coventry libraries as part of the wider Connecting Communities programme. Coventry became one of the first authorities to respond to the refugee crisis in the Middle East in 2014. To date, the City has received almost 600 refugees. The Council works in partnership with local voluntary sector agencies to meet the housing, health, educational and social needs of some of the most vulnerable refugees fleeing from conflict and seeking a place of safety. Stimulated by the success of this work, Coventry has been successful in securing EU funding for the MiFriendly Cities project and the CMF-funded Building Bridges project. Together, these initiatives celebrate the contribution refugees can make to their new homes, helping them develop and broaden their skills whilst also promoting dialogue and shared understanding with established communities.
Leo Appleton – PhD student, Centre for Social Informatics.
Leo Appleton is in the final stages of a PhD in the Centre for Social Informatics at Edinburgh Napier University. He has been conducting a longitudinal study into the value and impact of UK public libraries. When not involved in research Leo is the Director of Library Services at Goldsmiths, University of London, where he has strategic and operational responsibility for all library, collections, research support and academic support provision. He has held a number of senior leadership roles at several university libraries and his professional interests are in performance measurement of library services and library space design and planning.
Jesper Klein – Digital Library Developer, Senior Consultant Crio Partner, President DAISY Consortium.
Almost two decades of experience as a leader in digital reading, inclusion and development of online library services, I have a big passion for topics like digital transformation of reading and publishing, universal design, inclusion and library service design. Currently I am at the National library of Sweden assessing the preconditions to build a digital public library service for Sweden. Looking for lots of opportunities for international exchange of ideas with other pros in the field.
Henrik Jochumsen – Associated Professor at the Department of Information Studies, University of Copenhagen.
Henrik Jochumsen is associated professor at the Department of Information Studies, University of Copenhagen. He has written several books and articles on the public library. As a cultural sociologist, he is interested in how the library is influenced by the development of society in general and vice versa. In his research, he has special focus on library spaces, partnerships between the library and the surrounding community and development of new competencies among librarians. Within the last two years, he has been engaged in the European research-project: ALMPUB – Archives, Libraries and Museums as Public Sphere Institutions. Henrik Jochumsen does also participate as a consultant in connection with library-projects and new library buildings. He has been giving numerous lectures on the public library and its role in urban development.
Catherine Stihler – Chief Executive Officer, Open Knowledge International
Catherine has represented Scotland in the European Parliament since 1999. In this time she has held many and varied roles from Deputy Leader of the European Parliamentary Labour Party (EPLP) to the Editor of the Parliament Magazine. Over the years, Catherine has been recognised as an ambassador for accessibility, consumer and citizen rights. Currently Vice-Chair of the Internal Market and Consumer Protection Committee, she works on digital policy, prioritising the digital single market, digital skills, better accessibility of digital products for the disabled, as well as citizen online data protection and privacy. This has seen her write a number of influential reports and opinions; calling for libraries to be included in copyright exceptions available to formal educational institutions and introducing exceptions to protect access to works allowing for private study and research. As leader and founder of the All Party Library Group she has promoted and advocated for the importance of libraries and how libraries can remain relevant in the new digital age. Catherine takes over as Chief Executive Officer of Open Knowledge International in February 2019.
Gemma Williams – Library Manager, HMP Norwich
Gemma Williams has been the library manager at HMP Norwich for just over six years. A former Mental Health Nurse with a special interest in supporting older people, Gemma is a passionate advocate of the rights of people living with dementia and a member of Norfolk County Council’s Dementia Friendly Library Group.
Louise Graham – Lifelong Learning Strategic Development Officer (Libraries)
Louise has nearly 20 years’ experience working in school and public libraries in Scotland. She worked in Stirling for 12 years – first as Community Librarian for Dunblane Library, then in 2010 as Librarian for Children and Young People. In 2017, Stirling Libraries undertook a restructure exercise to reflect the growing demand for library strategy to promote and support digital participation and Louise was appointed then as Digital Services Librarian. Louise is passionate about libraries’ role in providing equality of access to information, opportunity and culture. She brings a commitment to keeping libraries at the heart of strong thriving communities in her new role as Strategic Development Officer with Edinburgh Libraries.
Billy Agnew – Chief Executive of Viarama.
Viarama is Scotland’s first virtual reality company, and the world’s first virtual reality Social Enterprise. We use the innovative power of VR as a force for good within our communities, and we work to specifically improve the quality of life of schoolchildren, senior citizens, and 18-24 year olds. We work in many sectors including education and healthcare, and we are committed to training and employing 18-24-year-olds to deliver VR to our schools, nursing homes, hospices, and respite centres. We are also working on a variety of exciting and innovative VR projects in partnership with government and industry, and all of our work has a strong focus on improving quality of life. Viarama allows people of all ages and all levels of physical ability to enjoy the best virtual reality experiences available in the world today.
David Stoker – Manager Central Library & Archive, Liverpool
David has been an Archivist and Library Manager for over thirty years in several local authorities. He returned to his home city of Liverpool in 1995 and played a key role in defining the vision, aims and detailed plans and requirements for the major redevelopment of the Central Library & Archive, which was completed in 2013. This included close involvement in the competitive dialogue process, decant and temporary services, and direct oversight of the recant, reopening and operation of the building and all of its services. He is Manager of the Central Library & Archive, which has doubled its visitor numbers to over 800,000 p.a. and massively increased visitor satisfaction. There has also been a notable increase in use by children and teenagers and the building is a great success as a tourist destination in its own right. An enormous variety of events, activities and exhibitions has been delivered on a minimal budget, mainly thanks to the library being open, welcoming, flexible and at times risk-taking in its approach to working with a wide range of partners. David is also a Director of the St George’s Quarter Community Interest Company and plays an active role in promoting this important Cultural Quarter of the city.
Professor. Dr. Frank Huysmans – Professor of Library Science, Media Studies, University of Amsterdam
Frank Huysmans (1970) studied sociology and communication science at the University of Nijmegen (NL) (1987-1992) and completed a PhD in social sciences in 2001 on media use and the temporal organization of daily life in families. From 2001-2010 he worked as (senior) researcher at the Netherlands Institute for Social Research (SCP), a leading government policy advisory institute. Since 2005 he holds a special chair in library science at the faculty of humanities of the University of Amsterdam. He worked as program manager in research and knowledge sharing at the Netherlands Institute for Public Libraries (SIOB) before becoming an independent researcher and policy advisor at WareKennis, The Hague. He is advisor on library matters for the Dutch Council for Culture, which advises the Dutch ministry of education, culture and science in its cultural policy, and the European Commission. He has (co-)written over 10 books and publishes in both academic and trade journals in library and information as well as communication science. He is member of editorial boards of several scientific and professional magazines as well as columnist and blogger about public information provision and policy (https://warekennis.nl).
Dr Kirsty Ross, Science Communicator, University of Strathclyde.
Dr Kirsty Ross is a microbiologist by training and is now a full time science communicator at the University of Strathclyde. She has worked with very diverse audiences (from the under 5s to those currently in prison, teachers and young people to the general public at science festivals), sharing her passion for science and research with anyone willing to listen!
Dr JC Denis, Outreach Officer for the School of Physics and Astronomy, University of Edinburgh
Dr Jean-Christophe Denis works at the University of Edinburgh as Outreach Officer for the School of Physics and Astronomy, after a career as a researcher. He is passionate about raising science aspirations of children from all backgrounds and their families, as well as supporting teachers with science and encourage researchers to engage with the public, through a variety of activities, from school visit to drop-in stalls in shopping centres. As a Harry Potter fan, he developed Harry Potter focused science activities in partnership with the Edinburgh City Libraries, which were very successful for all parties and really enlightened the many benefits for academics and libraries to work together.
Martin Hamilton, Futurist at Jisc
Martin lead Jisc’s Future and Emerging Technologies team, generating and channelling new ideas, and building partnerships to bring them to fruition. I’m particularly interested in the societalimplications of ubiquitous robotics and artificial intelligence, and humanity’s emergence as a trueinterplanetary species.