Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Library Camp 2011

On Friday 7th October I made my way up to Birmingham after work to attend Library Camp on the Saturday. Meghan Jones and I managed to get lost at 11.30 pm but eventually we made it to our lodgings and to the camp the next day. As many of you know by know - it wasn't in a library and there was no camping involved, however it was full of people passionate about libraries (note I don't say librarians!)

It was a fantastic day and I met lots of great people, many of whom I'd already connected with on Twitter. Due to the amount of people, I didn't get to speak to everyone I wanted but did manage to have conversations with a fair few which I hope will continue. I'm just going to cover the main things which stood out for me:

The Venue: was a fantastic place with rooms large enough to hold the conversations in and to keep mingling without being trapped in a corner. I think the sessions worked better where the chairs were in a circle so discussions could happen more naturally.

The Organisation: all occurred far better than I was expecting. Because all the ideas had been pitched at the beginning, people could decide what to go to. Occasionally, they clashed but I think this is always going to happen at whatever type of conference you attend, unless repeat sessions occur. I guess at next year's session, more people will want to propose discussions and there will need to be a fair way of deciding who gets what, for example, not letting people pitch for several. I also think that sessions should be pitched prior to the event via the wiki so more time could be spent on the day discussing the topics.

Session 1: Transliteracy: bridging the transition from school and further education to higher education - led by Jo Alcock and Jean Allen

I found all of the sessions fascinating and have taken away ideas from all of them. A lot of people referred to Further Education (16-18) as school, presumably because they were used to 6th forms. Once I realised this I felt I understood things much better! The session reminded me to not assume that everyone has a PC and to speak the language of academics. I was interested to hear that the University of Brighton and UWE have an information literacy module for teachers. I think this would be a good resource to put in our intranet pages for teaching and learning. I'm also going to look at the research report by Jane Secker and Emma Coonan have completed looking at information literacy.

Session 2: Cutting services while maintaining them 

I though this was incredibly relevant considering the cuts to the sector. The session focused mainly on public libraries but it did give me some useful tips, for example, to check what students are saying about our service on social networking sites and find ways of demonstrating professional activities before they become too watered down.

Session 3: What libraries can learn from retail - led by Jo Alcock and Anna Martin.

 Many of the details of the session came from this post on Jo's blog. I have already ordered the books mentioned and I'm looking forward to reading them. My institution has already put into practice many of the suggestions mentioned but there are some simple things we can still do, for example, leave the returns trolley out and deliver some training on how to spot different characters. Jo Alcock is going be researching this area and I think I will pay close attention!

Session 4: The Higher Education experience in a Further Education environment - led by me!

 Despite there being quite a few shouts of approval when I pitched, there weren't a great many attended, however, this did mean it was much easier to chat (I think they all attended the embedding session which I really wanted to go to as well but thought it would not to turn up to my own!). I wanted to find out how people were creating the Higher Education experience for HE students in an FE setting and people had a variety of experiences to share. For example, some institutions are focusing on open source databases rather than subscription ones for their HE students, some had different opening hours for students depending on whether they were HE or FE and there was much discussion over licensing agreements and the different types of study spaces available to each group. The overall consensus was that it was difficult to please two very different types of stakeholders! I've got a lot to do regarding this subject and no doubt you will hear from again regarding it.

Session 5: Challenges facing academic libraries and collaboration with other sectors - led by Liz Jolly

There was a lot of discussion at this session regarding cross community collaboration under one roof, the Hive at Worcester, is an example of this practice. While I can see it saves money and may increase the interactivity amongst the community, I am a little wary of it - are students paying £9000 a year really going to accept sharing their resources with a member of the public, even if they have paid their council tax? I'm concerned that all this amalgamation might lead to the watering down of services, however, I'm willing to be proved wrong on this matter if it's all good for society!

Overall, Library Camp was definitely worth attending to. I was able to take part in some illuminating conversation and being in a room with so many passionate people has helped to increase my motivation just at a time when it was needed - so thank you Library Camp organisers and attendees. I hope to see, hear and read more of you in the future!

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