27 November 2015
Article by Elfyn Henderson, National Assembly for Wales Research Service
The Research Service was proud to host the annual ‘Inter-Parliamentary Research Network’ (IPRIN), conference at the Senedd this year.
Parliamentary researchers and librarians from across the British Isles gathered for two sunny September days in Cardiff Bay to catch up, compare notes and discuss new and improved ways of doing things.
It was a pleasure to welcome friends and colleagues from the House of Commons and House of Lords Libraries in London, the Scottish Parliament, the Northern Ireland Assembly, and the parliaments of the Republic of Ireland (the Oireachtas) and the Isle of Man (the Tynwald).
The conference theme was ‘engagement’. We chose this theme because the business of parliamentary research is changing. The information marketplace is full of facts, statistics and analyses that compete for the attention of politicians. It’s our job to present our Members with the information they need, in the most clear, accessible and timely way possible.
We had a fascinating couple of days of discussions, workshops, speed briefings and displays. We focused on how to keep our work interesting and prominent, sharing ways to evolve and innovate, and making best use of our resources.
Topics ranged from outreach and gathering evidence, evaluating Members’ experience and making the best use of dissolution periods, through to youth engagement, infographics and blogging.
We also had two fascinating key note speakers, and we’re very grateful to them for giving up their time to speak to us.
Simon Thomas AM, himself a former researcher and librarian, told us that having easy access to independent and impartial information was vital in helping to scrutinise governments. He also spoke about how important it was for parliamentary researchers and librarians to always keep the needs of their Members in mind.
Professor Laura McAllister, devolution expert, Chair of Sport Wales and former member of the Assembly’s Remuneration Board, spoke about improving digital engagement and how personalised engagement with customers will soon become the norm.
The conference certainly gave us plenty of food for thought. It’s an exciting time for researchers and librarians at the Assembly, and the Scottish Parliament, because we have our elections coming up in May next year.
We’re already planning and preparing for the transition to the next Assembly and our challenge will be to make sure we take account of what we learnt at the conference, so that we continue to improve the service we provide to our Members.
It will be interesting to see how things have progressed when we all meet up again next year in Edinburgh!