Tuesday, 31 December 2013

2013: Reflections and the year ahead

'Tis the season to reflect on the year gone past and 2013 will be no exception. Previous years available are 2011 and 2012. I haven't been writing annual reflections for very long (just the last two years - as you can see!) but I find them very helpful in highlighting where all my time has gone...

This time last year I was hoping to remain active in the library and information profession beyond just doing my day job and to stay motivated and committed enough to take up opportunities when they arose. I was concerned about my working future, as I was on a maternity contract, and I had my fingers crossed that I would have a calm, peaceful and enjoyable year.

Hmm...

Well it wasn't particularly calm nor was it particularly peaceful, although some bits were enjoyable. I stayed involved with the ARLG London and south east committee and halfway through the year become the web editor. This meant setting up the committee's online pages; I'd never done this before so it was a good opportunity to learn something new. I was also involved in the organisation of a few events for this committee as well as the Big Data conference for the London Information and Knowledge Exchange. This taught me to have a massive amount of respect for people who do organise events and has helped me recognise that I really don't like doing it! I'd much rather be attending and writing them up.

Taking part in these activities has meant that I've not had lots of time for the SLA Europe's committee roles and though I've helped out where I can with membership and event admin I do feel a little guilty. My working future is still in a state of flux although my contract has been extended, which is great. I was also encouraged to go for promotion which, although was unsuccessful, certainly taught me a few things about myself. Resulting time and money pressures meant that I only dipped in and out of the Library Leadership Reading Group but through it I became involved in a Lean-In Circle which has introduced me to some amazing women and a great support network.

I started 2013 intending to spend more of my time on life instead of solely on work and while this started well  - I got a distinction in my beginner's Spanish class, discovered RunKeeper and started running more regularly, read the Man Booker long list, started driving lessons, and booked a rare holiday weekend, it quickly became clear that these things weren't becoming well-established. Fear and a lack of money got in the way of driving and work commitments meant I had to quit the Spanish lessons. For someone who hates leaving things unfinished, this wasn't a great feeling. I've also been writing fewer book reviews and blog posts which is something I hope to rectify in 2014.

Some highlights of 2013:


From l-r: weekend away; shortlisted for nominated student award; free tickets to om yoga & gratuitous cat picture, minus ears

So for next year;

I'd like to go to some of the big conferences I've not had chance to go to yet - LILAC, Umbrella and ARLG. While attending conferences wipes me out, especially as usually I get to go because I've helped organise them, I do find them motivating and usually get a lot out of them. I've already made a start on this resolution as I've been accepted to speak, with a colleague, at ARLG.

All being well, I will be moving house in the next few months and I will have a garden - with an apple tree! I am really looking forward to growing vegetables, like you would never believe. I love being outside, sticking my hands in the soil, and listening to the birds sing. This is going to be outside of London so may have some impact on my attendance at London based events. Only time will tell.

I'm going to continue with running and yoga as it keeps my emotional, mental, and physical health in check. Once I've polished off the remaining Christmas mince pies, that is. If I'm feeling brave I may even enter a race. One highlight of 2013 was winning tickets to the Om Yoga show . It renewed my enthusiasm for the practice and when I was there I attended a lecture on using yoga in education. This has started me thinking about ways in which I can combine all the things I like doing.

Once I've passed my driving test and refreshed my Spanish knowledge, I want to have a little exploration of the FutureLearn and Coursera MOOCs. I've heard good things about them and I'm a big fan of lifelong learning as well as professional development. I'm tempted to refresh my knowledge of mythology or children's literature but am also intrigued by the psychology courses.

I've learned not to get too hung up on the schemes which don't work out as there's usually a decent reason for it and life has a habit of getting in the way of strict plans anyway. So, with that in mind,  I hope that mine and everyone else's plans, hopes and dreams for 2014 work out even if it turns out to be something quite different than what is expected. Happy New Year.

Sunday, 29 December 2013

LIKE 50: Collaborate or die

It's been so busy at work and in life recently that I've had little time to do any writing. However, here's a little catch-up of LIKE's 50th event - The Business case for Collaboration. To celebrate reaching this number, the group decided to coordinate their event with the Online Information 2013 conference and invite their keynote speaker Jacob Morgan, author of The Collaborative Organisation, to speak about collaboration and the way workplaces have to be willing to change to thrive in the future.

The evening was very much an interactive affair with him asking questions, inviting examples and so on, which kept it very much in the spirit of LIKE.

The main points which came out of the discussions were:

  • Millenials are very picky about where they work - they like to have social media available, have a flexible work/ life balance, are not necessarily in it for the money and are increasingly working for themselves e.g. portfolio working.
  • As job security no longer exists and if millenials choose flexibility and other criteria  over money then big companies may not exist in the future, unless they choose to adapt
  • With social media now widespread, workers are no longer tied to their organisations as they create personal profiles and reputations instead and find it much easier to talk to people in other organisations
  • The  downside of this is that they rarely switch off and the work/life balance can become skewed
There was quite a lot of conversation about whether universities will exist in the future. Jacob's argument was that as graduates leave with increasing levels of debt they will be working to just to pay the debt off and will become 'unengaged zombies'. There will be less of an incentive to pay for an education. There will also be less of a need as they will find it easier and cheaper to build up skills themselves through Youtube and MOOCs. While I do think the current government may be trying to hasten the closure of many universities, I don't think there are any silver bullets to take over just yet.

Photo courtesy of Matthew Rees
There was also a lot of discussion about social media and the use of text analytics - a few people gave examples of colleagues who had been fired because their Facebook profile didn't 'fit' their employees company profile.While others, myself included, thought that it was very shortsighted if a company didn't learn how to use it well.

Jacob emphasised that collaboration helps employees as well as the company's bottom line. It helps them be more effective in their jobs, encourages teamwork, breaks down barriers, and reduces stress BUT only if it is seamlessly integrated into working life, not 'yet another thing to do', is not micromanaged, is measured appropriately, and is taken seriously by management.

As a so-called 'millenial' I found myself both agreeing and disagreeing with much of what Jacob had to say. I use social media, save my work in the cloud, and consider librarians in other institutions my colleagues, however, I also think that while it's great to work for an organisation which is forward-thinking, offers flexible working and values individuals, much of the conversation was based on the top 10% (the Alphas in life) who are generally in a position to not worry so much about paying the bills. It will be interesting to see if companies change to benefit everyone else.

Sunday, 17 November 2013

LIKE 49: Raiders of the Lost Archives

It was a busy week, what with the Internet Librarian International Conference and my first Gurteen Knowledge Cafe. I wrapped it up with attendance at LIKE 49: Raiders of the Lost Archives. This was held in a different venue to the London Information and Knowledge Exchange's (LIKE) usual one and I found myself in a booth with a few people I had not met before but with whom I quickly developed a rapport, as is often the way with LIKE. The events regularly provide a mixture of old and new faces and no evening is ever the same.

Collection of old newspapers - Found on Flickrcc.net
Richard Nelsson, Information Manager at the Guardian and Gavin Fuller, Head of the Telegraph Library, introduced the audience to the way they create books out of their newspaper's archives. Both discussed the process undertaken to create the books; including the difficulties which ranged from some cuttings only being available on microfiche to trying to create a story out of them to increase the books' appeal. Richard mentioned how he gives context to the books by writing small introductions to each entry; I appreciated the dual result of adding value while simultaneously increasing and cementing knowledge of both the topic and the institution.

The two things I liked most about #LIKE49 was firstly, that it introduced me to an area of librarianship I really knew nothing about and secondly, provided a practical example of how libraries can be spaces of creation not just repositories. Adding value is always a must in whatever business you are in, from creating chutney out of apples to increasing students' grades by having a well-resourced library and teaching information literacy.

Libraries have always added value despite often being seen as an overhead rather than an income stream. But, if libraries and librarians are to move with the times, does this mean we need to change our ways? Should librarians be contributing more towards research, for example? Should we be bringing in the moolah, the cold, hard, cash or is it enough to focus on other areas of value which institutions consider important? Personally, I'm in the latter category, however, I know a number of people who disagree.

Tuesday, 12 November 2013

Surviving in the Google age? From the Gurteen Knowledge Cafe.

Straight after the Internet Librarian International conference, I headed over to my first ever Gurteen Knowledge Cafe at the British Library's Business and  IP Centre. For anyone not familiar with them, the Cafes start off with small groups talking to each other to discuss a topic; attendees then move around the tables to carry on the conversation until finally everyone sits in one large circle to finish the conversation.

David Gurteen told us he used this technique around the world and finds it successful because it takes away pressure and hierarchy. I could see how this sort of format would work well with people who generally don't like being in large groups. By the time you are in the large circle intimate and intense chats with small groups of individuals have already been had - perfect for introverts. The overall themes which stuck out for me were almost identical to the ones at the conference, presumably because some of the attendees had been heavily involved in organising it and also because they are real areas librarians and information professionals should be focusing on.

The topic

The topic up for discussion and introduced by Neil Infield was "What steps to do libraries and information services need to take to survive in the Google age?". We were asked to discuss the skills librarians were perceived to have before Google and those in the present day and to then discuss the slide below:


Relationship building

Relationship building as a strength was repeated regularly both in the small and in the large groups and, indeed, is exactly what the Business and IP Centre had decided to do too ensure its relevancy. Users there are considered to be clients rather than readers. With budget cuts and more information available online it was generally agreed that building trust and being the 'go-to' people in the institution was the way forward. This approach would save the time of the reader as they wouldn't waste it trying out tools which didn't work effectively or spend it looking for information which could be better found elsewhere.

Relationship building is a key part of my job which is why the word liaison is included in my job title. I make an effort to be visible and approachable in my subject areas and have become involved in delivering workshops on how to use social media in teaching and in research for new academic staff. These sessions weren't officially part of my remit, however, they've helped initiate lots of conversations which then helps me move onto the conversations I want and need to have, for example, regarding reading lists and budgets.


Strategic planning

Strategic planning is essential for all workers - if you don't know why you are doing something then how are going to convince anyone else? Alongside the themes of  building relationships and  establishing trust, this too cropped up during the evening. There was a lot of discussion about choosing small things and doing them really well and generating income instead of consuming and being seen as an overhead. There were discussions about business alignment and using the language of the institution which is something I would have previously presumed most places were doing already. I did like the idea of using the word 'solve' rather than the word 'help' to describe what staff do as it's a subtle and, I think, quite effective shift. As long as you do 'solve', of course.

Final conclusions

What I found most interesting from this event was the repeated emphasis on the themes I had just encountered in the ILI conference, especially that of building trust and creating and maintaining relationships  as I've always considered this to be an important part of my work.  I liked the format of the Knowledge Cafe as I prefer working in small groups and it did mean that despite there being a lot of people in attendance when we came to be one large group it didn't feel overwhelming. You know the type where everyone's trying to say their piece and not listening to each other. Although there are always going to be some elements of that happening there seemed to be less in this case.

Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Sharing, building & being present at Internet Librarian International

The Internet Librarian International conference is a place to share practical ideas and approaches to issues in the library and information sector. It is a place where people are not afraid to stand up and say "I did this and it didn't work". It was the first time I had attended this conference as its cost is far beyond my means and having been lucky enough to take an SLA Europe colleague's place who couldn't make it I was determined to get the most out of it.

After the keynote sessions, the conference was split into themed 'streams' which were jam-packed with speakers with most of them getting about 20 minutes each including time for questions. This meant it was very fast-paced and lots of notes were written and tweets tweeted, until I started running out of battery that is. I'm not going to go through every single session I attended at the two-day conference but just pick out some of the highlights and overall themes.

Relationship building

Relationship building cropped up as a theme time and time again throughout the conference. It started with the keynote on the first day by Peter Morville, President of Semantic Studios and author of a number of information architecture titles. Amongst many other topics, he spoke about Moocs, the Khan Academy, flipped classrooms and iPads in Ethiopia all being perceived as magic bullets yet aren't because the relationships between educationalists and technologists don't exist. He believes librarians can be the links that bring these two disparate groups together.

Ben Showers, Programme Manager at  JISC, also spoke about Moocs but in the context of them being a wake-up call to librarians to seriously consider how they engage with users online. He stressed the urgent need to better understand the behaviours and motivations of our users. In another session Paula Evans and Heather Lincoln, business librarians from Imperial College London, spoke of how maintaining relationships with course administrators meant they had 100% of module reading lists - something of a perennial problem for academic librarians.  Dr. Starr Hoffman, an academic librarian, emphasised that research is now even more of a conversation than it ever was  - the old style of academic conversing via academic conferences and print moving towards blogs and open access.

Relationship building and creating conversations, in my opinion, is becoming increasingly important for the library profession. This is generally what we are good at yet too often I see cliques and silos being created within departments and sectors. Although this is common when people feel threatened it doesn't help in the long term. Creating, strengthening and maintaining relationships between library staff, institutional staff, and users is crucial for identifying needs, putting us in a strong position to provide impact, and to remain relevant. The more relevant you are to the institution the more valuable you will be.

Phil Bradley taking part in a 'Search Slam' with Marydee Ojala (not pictured). I got lots of new tips for teaching students here.
Thinking strategically

Over the two days there was a lot of emphasis placed on behaving strategically, aligning your library's objectives to those of your institution, and paying careful attention to why things are done rather than just what is done. Karin Westerberg, in her session on change in academia, referred to using SWOT analyses and Gartner's hype cycles to decide which technologies to focus on. Dr. Staff Hoffman suggested analysing the institution's strategic plan to work out where librarians can offer support and build on what is already offered. She also emphasised the importance of being selective - focusing on strengths and not trying to do everything.

Ken Chad told us to start with our institution's strategic plans and look at what needed to be done, breaking problems users face into categories rather than the users themselves, e.g. undergraduates, postgraduates etc. Meanwhile, Elisabet Brynge, Ulla Solsmo and Ulf Holke from three separate Swedish public libraries spoke about using virtual conference technology in their book groups followed by Willie Miller and William Orme from IUPUI who outlined how they had used YouTube video games to educate users about library resources - both sets of speakers emphasising the need to focus on outcomes and to have a clear understanding of why projects are being undertaken.

It can be easy to forget why you do what you do sometimes, especially if you have been doing the same job for a long time. Sometimes a lovely comment from a student can bring it to the forefront of your brain, other times it can be attending a conference like this one. Creating annual reports, filling in Matrix forms and ticking boxes off the Customer Service Excellence Standard can all seem frustrating and tiresome but they often provide us with the opportunity to take a step back and really focus on the overall strategic objectives.


Being present

When I say being present I mean this in two different ways. The first way is being visible to others. Peter Morville advocated being where your users are, providing resources at the point of need, having a single search box and locating this in as many places as possible. Where I work we have Summon, a single search box, and we integrate this into our online library guides, some VLE courses and, of course, the Library homepage. We don't have the statistics yet to find out where users are searching most so it may be quite interesting to see the results.

Aase Andreasen from Politiken and Andy Tattersall and Claire Beecroft from the University of Sheffield discussed getting out there and being physically present. What resonated with me most though was Joe Tree, Blipfoto founder's keynote speech on how his creation helps people be present in their minds. His main argument was that while people thoughtlessly post thousands of pictures they are less present than those who were new to photography and who carefully annotated their memories. As a fan of yoga and using mindfulness in life and in the workplace I was very pleased with the connections this made between the various aspects of my life.

Final conclusions

I really enjoyed this conference and got a lot out if it and there are still lots of hints and tips and links I hope to follow up in the future. While I find constantly being 'on' during conferences - networking, chatting to vendors etc exhausting, I generally leave feeling motivated and pleased that I'm still doing the day job and this was no exception. I'll leave you with one of my first tweets from the conference.


Sunday, 1 September 2013

Why I love LIKE and why I no longer say I'm not a 'proper professional'.

LIKE is the acronym for the London Information and Knowledge Exchange and today I would like to extol its virtues.

What is it? 
LIKE is a community of Library, Information, Knowledge and Communication professionals. It meets regularly, usually monthly, to share stories, learn, and exchange knowledge in an informal and relaxed setting. Often a speaker delivers a presentation or a workshop which is then followed by dinner where members discuss what they have just heard or taken part in. Social events include visits and walks around interesting parts of London as well as the annual Christmas Dinner. During the last two summers LIKE Ideas conferences have also been held.


How I got into it?
I stumbled across LIKE in 2011 when I was browsing a LinkedIn profile and saw their group page. My first few experiences attending the events were rather daunting. As I walked up the stairs and encountered people who were dressed very smartly, seemed incredibly self-assured and generally oozed confidence, I felt like I didn't belong. I remember describing myself as someone who wasn't like the 'proper professionals yet' indicating the suited and booted people. I was immediately told to stop being so silly: I was here wasn't I and ready to learn just like everyone else in the room? Since then I've generally tried to take that advice on board and even when I really don't feel like I belong I certainly no longer announce it. After all, to rehash the line oft attributed to Woody Allen, eighty percent of success in life is in the showing up.

As I attended events on copyright, information literacy, coaching, knowledge transfer, and knowledge management, and much more; I began to realise that these were topics which affected library and information professionals across a vast array of sectors. It can be quite easy to become purely focused on the sector we are working in, however, by taking heed of the broader picture I think we can help each other by understanding the key issues we all deal with.

In 2012, a call was put out for volunteers to help put together the inaugural conference. I was interested in its topic (Social Media) and I thought it would be a nice way of saying thank you to the people who had organised the previous events so I offered my services. The conference was a great success and I thoroughly enjoyed the experience of working with a fantastic team of people to put it together so allowed myself to be roped in to the next one, on Big Data this time, the following year.

How it has helped me
I have learned a lot from attending individual events, which I always write about after attending, and I have received much more from my involvement with LIKE. This could generally, but with some cross-over, be organised into two categories - skills learned and benefits gained:

Skills learned:
  • Using Twitter more effectively -  archiving tweets, getting the tone right, using it to get information out as well as connect with members and stimulate conversation, live-tweeting events - learning from all of this and then putting it into practise again at the next conference
  • Asking people for sponsorship - I tried doing this for the first conference and I didn't raise a single penny. At the next one, I learned from the mistakes I made and managed to raise £400 and also generate a possible sponsor for the next conference too. I rarely feel comfortable asking for anything so I was very pleased with this result
  • Event amplification - learning to utilise as many channels as possible to promote a message and contacting people directly rather than using a scatter-gun impersonal approach. I recently received just such an email from a Special Libraries Association (SLA) Candidate for President-Elect and was very impressed so it does work
  • Gathering and analysing feedback - this is very important as you may think that everything went well and people were smiling when really they were all sweltering and unable to locate the bathroom. The problems may not be able to be solved there and then but you can ensure they are never repeated

Benefits gained:
  • Meeting lots of new people - due to the variety of the events and the tables usually being organised by food choices, I get to meet new faces as well as more familiar ones so the resulting serendipity regularly guarantees a great evening
  • Realising that conference bags don't stuff themselves - someone has to go to the effort of thinking of everything, from finding good speakers and arranging the order they present in a way which makes sense and flows well to finding a location which isn't too stuffy, has clean toilets, decent wi-fi and enough space to mingle. I now have a great deal of respect for anyone involved in conference organising
  • Being part of a close network - I have now met many lovely people from a range of library and information sectors through LIKE who I wouldn't hesitate to get in touch with if I needed to
  • Having the opportunity to pay it back and forward - attending planning meetings, writing up events I've attended for those who can't, offering ideas for events and having them accepted, and giving talented people I know the chance to present has meant that I've been able to both give back to LIKE and to develop the profession. It's a fantastic feeling.

What next?
LIKE is currently in the planning stage for next year's itinerary of events and would benefit from more volunteers. I'm taking a back step for now, especially from conference planning, as it is coming to a very busy period of work for me and I'm hoping to move house soon. If I have convinced anybody that LIKE is A GOOD THING (if anyone actually reads this, that is) then I hope you will consider volunteering or at least popping along to a future event and seeing what all the fuss is about. Just one tip - don't say you aren't a proper professional, because you most certainly are!

Sunday, 28 July 2013

A tweet experience


Over the last few years I have developed a strong attachment to Twitter. I look after several organisations' accounts and use it for promoting services; conversations, keeping up to to date, and what I most like using it for is to vicariously attend conferences via event hashtags.

A developing relationship
As much as I have always enjoyed reading event tweets, it was not until I volunteered for the task of 'official tweeter' for a conference that I fully appreciated the skill behind it. I have now completed this task for the two London Information and Knowledge Exchange (LIKE) conferences which have taken place and I have most definitely learned from the experience.

As the first conference was about social media, it was obvious that Twitter should focus quite heavily in the marketing so I tweeted social media related questions in the run up to the event to generate and maintain interest. Once I had got used to writing with an appropriate tone - professional, friendly and inclusive - it became easier to do this. The only downside was that it was quite time-consuming so I used to write them on my very long commute at the time to work and, unfortunately, this meant most people were still in bed. Had I discovered Hootsuite much earlier than I did, I would have used this to schedule a few tweets for during the day too.

Due to the nature of this first conference, it was expected that others would tweet too. I've heard of some events (not going to name names) where the speaker has specifically asked for attendees not to tweet. I think that a few years ago it would have seemed quite rude to have a phone or laptop during someone's presentation. Now it is expected and speakers are berated as being behind the times if they don't allow it. I can see both sides. I think that if speakers don't want their audience to tweet (perhaps because they like to see the front rather than the tops of people's heads when they are talking)  then they should make a real effort to make the session as interactive as possible so there isn't time to do it rather than announce a ban and face resentment.

I used to find it difficult to tweet while listening because, although it can encourage critical listening; picking out the salient points and formulating them into something short and pithy, I would find it difficult to carry on listening. I was able to write notes while absorbing further information but was unable to do this while typing. I tended to lose track of where I was and I think this is because I would never need to show my scribbled notes to anyone but tweets are there for all to see so need more care taken over them.

After that conference, I asked myself what I would have done differently. I would have:
  • asked who was following the tweets as I really don't see the point in just tweeting for the audience who are there anyway. I think mingling and networking are much more important for making connections at a live event
  • not spend too much time panicking about the quantity - I would have selected my words much more carefully. Quality over quantity
  • Sat closer to the action - I had sat near a plug in case my battery run out but this meant I ended up with rubbish pictures 
Fortunately I remembered my own advice so this time I was sat right at the front; I knew in advance that people were following outside of the event and I focused more on soundbites rather than recording everything word for word.  I also set up an Eventifier archive so I could share the collated tweets and images which was a nice way of amplifying the group and what it does. It all seemed to work and I felt much more relaxed about the whole experience. I have since tweeted at other events where people who couldn't attend have asked questions of the speaker so I have acted as a conduit for this, which I think is a lovely way to increase participation.

I now find it much easier to tweet and listen and regularly use my tweets as memory joggers to help me write up blog posts later on. I also tweet events much more often because I get so much out of it when I can't attend and others do so. I do wonder if attendance levels have fallen since people started doing this especially as the slides can often be found on Slideshare too; so far it doesn't seem to be the case. Personally, and where possible, I would always rather be in physical attendance. 


Sunday, 21 July 2013

Creating inspirational, motivational and insightful lectures

The purpose of a lecture is to inspire, motivate and offer insight.

University lectures are sometimes seen by both staff and by students to be a  form of knowledge transfer; students want to record their lectures to check facts or to refer to something they may have missed and I think they are missing the point. If you want to check a fact - you can refer to an encyclopedia, however, if you want to relive the experience of a lecture because it moved and inspired you and sparked off a creative process then great. I love the TED talks for this - I know some don't as they are cliquey and don't always get the facts right but I watch them on Netflix or Youtube avoiding the exorbitant charges and have a pinch of salt at the ready.

Found on flickrcc.net

On 11th July, I attended a staff development session from Kissing with Confidence's Russell Wardrop entitled Lecturing with Confidence. I like teaching but most of my experience has been with small groups with fewer than 30 students, so more of a trainer really than a public speaker. In my current job I now have to sometimes give lectures for up to 200 people at a time so I was after some tips.

Our first task, set by the witty, fast-talking Glaswegian, was to speak to someone we didn't know about what we most admired in a speaker - for me it was the self-confidence and the clear and strong articulation they used when presenting their ideas to huge audiences. Russell assured us (in his what normally is a 2 day session squashed into a half day workshop) that a lecture wasn't about the technical knowledge, as it should be a given that we have that already, but about the delivery. We should be aiming to make an emotional connection with our audience as it makes them much more likely to retain the information. I know I often remember things much more if it has strengthened a previous memory or is something which resonates inside me.

Some  practical tips:
  • personalise your message by using the words I, we and you in sentences - I use 'you' a lot but don't often use 'I' unless I'm saying I'm here to help
  • use metaphors and analogies to help people relate and understand more - I use this occasionally but could use it a lot more
  • use humour but don't start with this as you've not built up rapport yet - I use this when feeling comfortable with a group
  • using case studies/references/quotes implies a broader and deeper knowledge - I do use examples but have never used quotes, apart from once where I used a Woody Allen quote in an off the cuff thank you speech to the Leadership and Management Division of the Special Libraries Association. That was scary
  • use props; powerpoint, flipcharts etc but a word of warning: using video and audio will kill your lecture as it terminates the connection between yourself and the audience - I was quite surprised by this as I had thought that using these helps break up the lecture and provides a breather. I could see though that it also gives people the chance to be distracted 
  • structuring your speech around your powerpoint will kill it - I generally write my thoughts out on scraps of paper before organising it using powerpoint. I wouldn't be lost without my slides but might be if I didn't have the internet as I often have to refer to databases and webpages
  • Lectures should appear to be spontaneous - flipcharts are good for this - I don't and have never used flipcharts, something to consider but I would get through a heck of a lot of paper with the amount of sessions I do

The three components of delivery are:
  • Energy - if you give out vitality and passion you will get it back from every person there
  • Spontaneity - be responsive - if you stay in the moment, mindful of what's going on then so will your audience
  • Creativity - this will help the memory of your lecture be retained

Speaking in lectures:
Get the pace, voice, pitch, tone and pauses right. I like to speak fairly rapidly in my sessions as I feel it offers a sense of enthusiasm and passion, however, I am going to follow the recommendation of being clearer and slower at the beginning of the session as I can always ramp it up later.

Individually, we had to (very quickly) come up with the idea of a lecture, practise the first minute of it in front of the people we were seated next to and then receive feedback from them. This was a really interesting exercise; some started with jokes, some stood but stooped over their notes and some were so quiet they were difficult to hear.

The feedback I received was that they were not expecting to be able to hear me because in general conversations I have quite a soft voice but actually I was much louder than they expected. Also, I can sometimes wave my hands around a lot. I already know this and try, usually, to slow these down and not be all 'flappy hands' instead using them only to demonstrate key points. On repeating the exercise, after feedback had been received, everyone improved their performance.

Planning:
  • Analysis
    • why are the attendees there?
    • how many of them are there?
    • what previous knowledge do they have?
    • try to visit the room beforehand to give confidence
  • Brainstorm 
    • come up with your stories
  • Construct them into themes - there should be no more than five themes in a lecture and ideally just three
When I deliver lectures to large groups I often get them to talk in pairs and then small groups to encourage active rather than passive involvement, however, I occasionally struggle to get their attention back to the room. Russell's tip was to make it much snappier i.e give two minutes rather than five for people to talk and then call them back after a minute and a half. This will keep the atmosphere buzzing and alive. 

I learned about the preparation elements on my Preparation to teach course and don't have a problem with sticking to time, covering too much, or writing objectives. What I had hoped to gain were tips on making the delivery and style much more interesting and to increase my confidence in doing so; by the end of the session I felt I had definitely achieved this.

Three things I am going to try out initally in my future lectures:
  • use stories - this will be the most difficult I think. I use examples from previous students but generally don't give much of myself away. I'm willing to give it a go though, as all the best lectures I've heard have featured personal stories. I'll try to throw in a few analogies and metaphors too
  • get familiar with my book of quotations
  • use Russell's tip on pacing

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed the session, finding it very practical and easily applicable, and will most definitely be trawling through their website to pick up further tips.

Sunday, 14 July 2013

Effective influencing skills

The ability to influence is not just a management skill. It is a life skill. It means getting a result which meets the legitimate needs of both parties involved, changing a mindset in the process. It is a very useful skill to have.
I attended a day-long session on developing influencing skills on 10th July, led by Alan Richards from Metice. We were a small group of attendees, six in all, which gave us lots of opportunity to tell our stories, practise our newly developing skills and reflect on them. I attended this session, primarily, because I wanted some tips to enable me to encourage senior academic staff to get behind some reading list software we have introduced at the university, but also to help give me more confidence in doing so.

Influencing, we were told, is not about using Machiavellian techniques nor is it about being a bully. Using either of these styles when managing can often get things done but does not influence, does not 'bring people along' and often means the person in charge won't get the full picture of what's going on as people are wary of engaging in a full discussion. Influencing is much more about instilling trust and cooperation.

Throughout the day we took part in several exercises, below are three which particularly stood out for me:

The Push/Pull exercise - in pairs with palms facing each other, one person would push the other and then vice versa. Then both partners would push each other.  This exercise not only got us out of our seats moving around but demonstrated the push and pull flow in a conversation. To influence effectively, Alan explained, there has to be some push (stating what you want, expressing views, opinions and feelings and using pressures and incentives) and pull (actively listening, encouraging and questioning, being open to suggestions and building rapport). If both parties are being assertive, both pushing, then it is more difficult for progress to be made. I liked this exercise for its simplicity in making this point - it's easy to talk about it but when you're physically pushing against someone the process is instantly recognisable.

Some examples of language to use in these situations:

If someone is being too aggressive or assertive, say "can I just stop you there" . This will then give you space to be assertive in response

To build rapport:

  • "what do you need from me?"
  • "tell me a little bit more"
  • "what difficulties are you facing?"
  • "how can we work together?"
Active listening - in turn we listened to our partners speaking about a particular topic of interest to them and then had to relate it back to the room. I've done similar exercise before, most recently at LIKE 43, however, despite listening intently and caring I don't always remember the details. Active listening comprises:
  • giving full attention
  • reflecting data
  • reflecting feelings
  • interpreting
  • encouraging
  • summarising

While I tend to give my full attention, reflect feelings and encourage, I realised I could perhaps reflect, interpret and summarise a bit more. In the exercise, I was able to re-call quite detailed information, which I still haven't forgotten, so I'm looking forward to trying this out more often.

Found on flickrcc.net
Saying 'I want' and 'No' - Due to spending lots of time with my nanan and her friends when I was younger and because my family weren't well off, I was brought up to mind my ps and qs, to respect my elders, to do as I was told,  and to never ask for anything. So saying 'I want' and 'no' in the group sounded very impolite to me. However, they are direct, clear and decisive statements and don't need to be said aggressively - tone is important here. I often say 'I'd like', 'I'd be grateful if' or  'it would be really nice if' and while these are still the polite thing to say in a conversation, when I want to get a task done they are far too passive to use.

This all may seem very obvious to some people, none of it is revolutionary and I'm sure we've all heard it before at some point or another, however, how many of us actually do it? Despite attending this session for a specific purpose, I discovered tips I could use on a daily basis and it encouraged me to reflect on the way I communicate with people.


Sunday, 7 July 2013

LIKE Ideas 2013 - From big data to little apps

The full title of the second LIKEIdeas conference to be held was: 'From Big Data to Little Apps; How you can access, present and deliver information in the workplace' and this is exactly what the five speakers showed us over the course of the afternoon.

The keynote speaker, Dom Pollard from Big Data Insightannounced he was going to demystify big data & explain how to apply it in the workplace. He explained that big data is about volume, variety & velocity and it has become much more accessible to smaller companies due to cloud computing. Strong emphasis was given to the benefits of collaboration which can open up many new possibilities, some examples given were:

  • the pairing of Spotify and Songkick
  • retailers using Met Office weather data to boost bikini sales
  • the UK government potentially saving billions if it used social media data to prevent benefit fraud

Both Dom and the next speaker Michael Agar emphasised the importance of data analysis, stressing that it is important to ask the right questions, to not just do analysis for the sake of it and that data in and of itself is not useful until it has been interpreted. Michael's role was to help people visualise data and explore it in more detail through the use of infographics in order to tell a story. This led to questions from the audience about transparency as the sources are not always clear; infographics are being used quite heavily by marketers so it is becoming increasingly important to question and verify where the data originated from though this is not always easy to do.

Manny Cohen, told us what it was like to be a technological innovator, apparently this is difficult because no-one realises they need your creation! The technology is fairly simple to develop and, according to him, is generally the easy part; the most difficult aspect is changing social attitudes. This became clear when we were all asked to, in groups, consider the future of data in the next 5,10 and 15 years. There was a lot of optimism regarding technical advances and social adoption as we shared our answers, many of which were very similar focusing on better battery life, augmented reality, wearable technology and possibly revolting in 15 years away from all the technology as we realise it's taken over our lives. 

One thing which did vary massively was the time scales - there was a huge variation around the room regarding when we though the 'take-up' of these technologies might occur. And perhaps the revolt away from technology has already started as I have recently seen holidays advertised as being technology free and there seems to a proliferation of people returning to 'dumbphones'. In the future, maybe people will choose which side of the digital divide to be on. And, people will still be sharing picture of cats.

#LIKEIdeas attendees listening to Monique Ritchie's take on big data.

After we spent the break ruminating about the future of data, with a bit of networking thrown in for good measure, we returned to LIKE MIC, a panel of speakers comprising James Mullan, Monique Ritchie and Andrew Grave who in turn spoke about creating well-designed dashboards to create meaning from information within law firms, emphasising the importance of relationship building within the academic sector and ensuring academic staff are creating stable and secure places for their data, ie, not memory sticks, and finally, looking at how technology processes have changed in the last five years.


I went to this conference partly because I was helping to organise it but also because I wasn't quite sure I 'got' big data. It's a term which is used often and seemingly by everyone but which no-one seems to be able to succinctly explain. By attending the conference, I felt that actually, after all, big data is not a big deal. It's about information and people - something I am perfectly at home with.



The slides from the day can be found on the LIKE website.
The #LIKEIdeas tweets have been archived at Eventifier.

Sunday, 26 May 2013

Academic and Research Libraries Group: Members' Day

Last January two CILIP Special Interest Groups, Universities, Colleges and Research (UC&R) and Colleges of Further and Higher Education (CoFHE) merged to become Academic and Research Libraries Group (ARLG). I'm active in the regional branch of this group (London and South East) having become a member of the CoFHE London and South East committee in 2010 and now fulfil the roles of liaison officer, blog editor and web editor.

On Wednesday 15th May, ARLG held its first ever Members' Day - I was looking forward to attending this event as even though I had been involved at a regional level I thought it would be a great opportunity to find out more about the goings on at the top.

It was held at Regents University London in the beautiful surroundings of Regent's Park and the day kicked off with an introduction from its new Vice Chancellor, Professor Aldwyn Cooper. For half an hour, he calmly but passionately enthused about the institution, about its social responsibility, ethos, diversity, its focus on employability but most of all its collegiality. Tying in the ARLG theme of partnerships and collaboration, he expressed his pride in working with people who talk to each other across their departments.

Regents University London 

Straight after was a talk from Lesley Ruthven, a special collections librarian from Goldsmiths University. She spoke about the various partnerships she and her team are involved in from school visits to creating workshops for her academic staff. She referred to 'empowering' the subject librarians to promote the resources by breaking down the collections into subject categories. She works hard to preempt as well as to respond to enquiries and is working to ensure her role becomes a 'jewel in the crown' at Goldsmiths.

Lesley's slides.

Working with subject librarians came up at the Supporting Researcher's event I attended and it makes sense - we are the ones who know our academic staff, know who is receptive and willing to be involved and know who would benefit. The theme of the day was partnerships but if we aren't even talking to each other effectively then we can't realistically expect to get very far with others.

Next up was Abi Mawhirt from Dundee College speaking about the new learning hubs recently installed. They took on a headache inducing amount of projects at one go as besides creating the hubs they also installed RFID, installed a new library management system, migrated their Blackboard virtual learning environment to Moodle all while five campuses were being reduced to two. In each hub there is a focus on academic support and learning and despite initial misgivings from academic and library staff, feedback indicates that students feel more engaged, more capable of working together and the retention rates have improved. While all this sounded great, one thing which niggled was that the Library specified they wanted to get new staff who worked well with people so they purposefully didn't stipulate a library qualification. I can empathise with this in one way as I didn't have the qualification when I started out but did have tons of customer service experience which has always proven valuable, however, I would have expected that they would encourage staff to work towards it, plus it implies that librarians aren't people focused which is completely untrue.

Abi's slides.

After lunch and the Annual General Meeting, Ann Craig from University of Worcester told us about the development and the implementation of the Hive, a privately financed initiative to create a library for both university students and council services. They combine staffing and resources and their corporate plans are very similar. I'm still not sure about the Hive - on one hand it's great for the community as they get new facilities and access to a much wider range of materials but I just can't see what the students get out of it. Having seen how private finance initiatives have meant extortionate costs for the NHS, I can't help but be concerned that education will suffer the same fate if it follows the same path.

Ann's slides.

After a short promotion for ARLG bursaries, it was time for us to give back - in small groups we came up with and fedback answers to the following questions:

  • what topics would you like to be covered at the next conference?
  • what do we want from ARLG?
  • what should its objectives be?
I didn't catch everything that was said but there were a lot of people interested in access, including open access and disability access, and transition, including from school to further education to higher education and within higher education itself. Help with career decisions related to academic and research libraries such as chartership, teaching certificates and PhDs alongside online help, webinars, clear communication, advocacy and sustainability also featured heavily.

The whole process of merging the two special interest groups has not been without its challenges and suffered enormously at the beginning from a lack of communication, however, it does seem to be getting back on track and having a Members' Day is definitely a positive step in the right direction. It's a useful way to keep in touch, to share what we are up to and to strengthen the bonds within our sector and I sincerely hope they continue.

Sunday, 19 May 2013

Supporting Researchers: how librarians can support the REF, bibliometrics and data management

On Wednesday 8th May, I left work early to help set up and attend the Academic and Research Libraries Group (ARLG) London and South East event entitled Supporting Researchers: how librarians can support the REF, bibliometrics and data management. 

There was a good turnout to hear the two speakers talk about their experience of supporting researchers. First up was Andria McGrath, a Research Information Specialist at King's College London. She focused on internal library partnerships and discussed the importance of  working with IT and Research management as well as academics.

Andria's slides are available so I don't want to regurgitate everything she said, however, a couple of the main points that resonated for me were:

  • The relationship between the Graduate School and the Research Librarian is key. Andria mentioned that training is very important for supporting researchers but they only want to turn up to sessions on how to use referencing software. This is why it is so important that academic librarians, and especially research librarians, have a strong relationship with the Graduate School in order that researchers don't miss out on very useful and relevant workshops. This is definitely the case where I work and it was also remarked upon via Twitter that this was the same at other institutions.
  • Staff development is vital. Andria mentioned that she spent a week on a Centre for Science and Technology Studies (CWTS) training course in Leiden and this helped her to fulfil her duties enormously. While not all institutions value or support continual professional development, I think it is important that we take control of what we are able to  -  engaging in what we can and then taking the time to share it with others. Not only will it help consolidate thoughts but by 'paying it back' you are helping others to learn and grow too improving the situation for us all.
The second speaker of the evening was Monique Ritchie, a colleague and Research Librarian at Brunel University. She spoke about her new post supporting researchers, the Research Data Management Project and UKRISS. Monique helpfully listed 6 key skills needed to do her role; a useful list for anyone trying to decide if this could be for them, although I felt they could easily apply to my job too. The key skills were:

  • adaptability & flexibility
  • ability to prioritise
  • diplomacy and tact
  • a sense of adventure
  • ability to think strategically
  • networking - externally as well as internally 

Monique's slides are also available but a couple of items she mentioned stuck with me:

  • Always be ready to justify what you're doing. I've found that as budgets and time are both tighter and we are regularly expected to do more with less, justifying oneself is becoming a regular obstacle to overcome. If we always carry in the back of our minds the reasons behind what we are doing then it should make it that little bit easier to explain it to others.
  • Relationship building is a key part of the role. Research librarians need to work closely with subject librarians to embed support in departments, with the schools in the university, with research institutes and with other stakeholders. In all my various roles, librarian and otherwise, building relationships not only makes getting things done a lot easier but it helps make life more enjoyable too.

Unintentionally, this event on supporting researchers raised the theme of collaboration and partnerships. This topic is very prevalent this year; it was the theme for the ARLG Members' Day and features as a theme at the CILIP Umbrella conference. It has been recognised that in a recession or global downturn people become increasingly anxious about personal identity and therefore more protective and less willing to share (you've only to look round an office when supplies are limited - people become very protective of their staplers!)  I'm hoping that as this theme keeps cropping up throughout the library, information, education and research sectors that perhaps we are bucking the trend, which is certainly an optimistic thought.




Sunday, 28 April 2013

LIKE 45: Open Access

"By “open access” to [peer-reviewed research literature], we mean its free availability on the public internet, permitting any users to read, download, copy, distribute, print, search, or link to the full texts of these articles, crawl them for indexing, pass them as data to software, or use them for any other lawful purpose, without financial, legal, or technical barriers other than those inseparable from gaining access to the internet itself. The only constraint on reproduction and distribution, and the only role for copyright in this domain, should be to give authors control over the integrity of their work and the right to be properly acknowledged and cited." 

This is the definition of open access devised by the Budapest Open Access Initiative and, according to them, if it doesn't fit this model then it isn't open access. This is how Ross Mounce, a PhD student from Bath University and Open Knowledge Foundation “Panton Fellow” opened his speech at the London Information and Knowledge Exchange (LIKE) 45th event. While studying, Ross has come across numerous interruptions and barriers to his research which he thinks would not have been the case if access to information was more easily available. As a researcher, it is important to have access to all the previous research carried out on a topic to avoid duplication and wasting both time and funds. It is also important to have access to both data and information so that experiments are transparent and possible to replicate, decreasing the risk of fraud.

Ross's slides

This led us onto Velichka Dimitrov's, an OpenEconomics coordinator, talk, the second of the nights three presenters. Velichka opened with a well known quote from Isaac Newton's letters:

                       "If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants"

This quote epitomises the raison d'etre of research - to use the knowledge of what has gone before and build upon it for the future. 
Freedom+to+roam
If research data is available then it is replicable and verifiable: it is precisely for this reason that the American Economic Association  have made it their policy to only publish papers whose authors allow their data to be available. Velichka's presentation led to discussions about whether open access would solve the problems referred to or whether there also needs to be a shift in the attitudes of universities and those who work in them. There was some suggestion that academics, rather than let their data and findings be openly accessible, would rather either choose select journal titles to be published in due to their perceived status or keep it under wraps so they can potentially publish further research in the future while preventing others from doing so at the same time. We were left with the quote from someone in the room that "academic culture is not suited to modernity".

To counter this view, our final presenter for the evening was John Murtagh, a Project Officer for Training in Data Management at University of East London. John spoke to us about open data and research data management (RDM) from a librarian's point of view, starting with a breakdown of the many of the acronyms which tie into this area. He then went onto explain the rationale behind the push to manage research data, namely that it is was a financial decision as the ESPRC funding body gave the ultimatum to universities that they would no longer fund research if it couldn't be proven how the data was being organised and preserved. However, it was also to prevent cases like Diederik Stapel, the psychologist found to have faked much of his data

John told us that RDM sits easily within libraries because librarians are impartial so don't have an agenda linked to funding and also because they are good collaborators which is necessary in this type of work. As part of the ongoing project at UEL, they provide tailored training for the individual departments as well as a generic workshop for the Graduate School and an online course for the subject librarians who are instrumental at getting their departments on board.

Overall, and like most LIKE events,  it was a very interesting and informative evening and I left feeling more knowledgeable about the issues than before. As I currently work in a university and have come across many of the issues that the speakers, especially Ross, spoke about, I think it will be fascinating to see how it develops. Even though there is currently strong resistance to open access being accepted, I can see that the momentum is growing for it and that it really can't come soon enough. 





Thursday, 28 March 2013

SLA Europe - 60 apps and websites in 60 minutes

On Tuesday 19th March, I travelled almost the entire way down the Metropolitan line, from Uxbridge to Moorgate, to City Business Library where Anneli Sarkanen and Simon Barron were holding their SLA Europe session entitled 60 Apps and sites in 60 minutes.

Inspired by similar sessions from SLA Chicago, we were told these were going "to improve our lives immeasurably". I couldn't wait!

It was split neatly up into productivity, communication, legal, technology, business, social networking, lifestyle, travel and fun and games.There were actually more than than 60 apps and websites and I am not going to go into each and every one, however, you can discover the entire list in the slides of the presentation. Having had a little time since 19th March to try out some of the apps and websites the following are some I am going to be using in the future:

  • bit.ly - I tend to use bit.ly and tinyurl interchangeably however a reminder that I could record the statistics has encouraged me to use this one more regularly, especially at work, to assess their impact
  • Doodle - I love Doodle and already use this regularly to arrange committee or work meetings
  • Howstuffworks.com- I haven't used this for years but looking at it again has reminded me how fantastic it is. It is a useful tool I can use to brush up on my own knowledge as well as  point out to all my students
  • Ifttt.com - this looks like it could potentially be very useful, however I'm struggling for good ideas to put it to use. I don't want to post things automatically to Twitter from any of the accounts I look after as I like to assess the benefit of everything I send
  • Pocket - I'd never heard of this but it looks great. I usually save articles from Twitter by saving them as favourites but then need the internet to read them. Using this means I can access them anywhere, even when underground, as I no longer have to rely on the internet
  • Goodreads.com - I have been using Librarything to record my reading over the last year and liked it, however, the site is not very mobile friendly so as Goodreads has an app, which scans barcodes too, I am going to try converting to this.
Those are the main ones, however, I will also be going through the legal websites as quite a number of these will prove useful in supporting my students, for example, http://europa.eu/legislation_summaries/index_en.htm supplies summaries of all the European union legislation which would be of value to both my Economics and my Politics students. I will also be highlighting changedetection.com, which monitors website changes to my Masters students when I deliver my 'how to keep up to date' session. These, as well as several websites mentioned in the Business section, will also be welcome additions to my subject pages at work.

I thoroughly enjoyed the evening; Anneli and Simon were well-prepared, humorous and engaging and the event provided a good chance to catch up with people I like. Definitely looking forward to attending more SLA Europe events.


Sunday, 17 March 2013

Library Camp London 2013

On Saturday 2nd March, I spent the day at an unconference called LibraryCamp. I attended the first UK Library Camp in 2011 and last year's too, however, this is the first time I have attended a regional one. I can't say there was much difference; there was just as much lovely food and it, seemed like anyway, a similar number of people.

I've always liked the collaborative and democratic ways the Library Camps are ran. Everyone brings and shares food, people offer ideas to the wikis set up beforehand and there are pitches from all library and information types to discuss relevant topics.

For more information about the range of sessions delivered and for pictures, take a look at the event wiki.

As always, it was difficult to choose which ones to go as there was such a range of interesting and potentially useful sessions. In the end the five I attended were on vision, the future, the problem of the printed book, what would the world look like if librarians ruled the world and lastly, librarianship and personality. So, slightly more whimsical than my usual fare but much more forward looking and strategic.


Scheduled session pitches
Some notes and highlights I took away with me:

How to keep vision when dealing with operations, led by Kathy Baro:

We were asked how do we keep an overarching vision in mind while doing your everyday tasks. It turns out that this is a problem quite a few face - we are so caught up in the here and now that we forget the bigger picture, and while it is great to be mindful of every situation, event or person we are dealing with it can sometimes mean the service doesn't move forward. One example given which ensured that people did stay in touch with the vision was to ensure that the strategic objectives were visible at every staff meeting. By becoming commonplace they were not shrouded in mystery which resulted everyone knowing and understanding the reasons behind their everyday tasks. I agree with Liz Jolly, whose point it was, that you should always know why you are doing something.

It was mentioned that those not involved in the physical day to day running of libraries can spend more time on the vision but aren't always able to see its impact  - this led to a discussion about the importance of bringing everyone, at all levels, into the creation of the Library's vision. It goes without saying that it needs to be aligned with the overall institution's. As we went round the group and listened to each others' experiences, it became clear that often strategic plans are just given to staff so I feel lucky that at my current institution everyone was involved in the process. One final thought, before the session came to a close, was that ideally a personal vision shouldn't conflict with a work one as this is a recipe for unhappiness and stress.

Future of librarianship, led by Simon Barron:

This was a very well organised session and wouldn't have been out of place at a regular conference. Simon even wrote an introductory blogpost explaining his ideas behind his pitch. Many ideas were covered including changing technologies, robot hybrids, digital libraries, and the future of librarianship. The idea was suggested that librarians have stress because they suffer from information overload; emails and smartphones are leading to reduced memory and librarians are losing control as they are very susceptible to this. Due to the large numbers we were split into groups and ours pondered information overload and digital information - there was some dissent over the aforementioned suggestion as one Stella Wisdom remarked that using apps had improved her memory. This led to discussion on weeding and print versus digital book and how discovery tools are solving but also causing problems for users. There were a lot of themes to cover in a very short period of time and I'm not sure we did any of them justice, however, there was a unanimous agreement that people, not robots, were needed to help people sift through the information and teach people how to make good judgements. Well, we would say that wouldn't we?!

Collection management - stewardship of collections, led by David Clover:

I attended this because I thought it would be focused on weeding, something that I have a little difficulty persuading a couple of my subject departments to consider. However, it was mainly focused on reserves which I don't really know much about - it was interesting nonetheless and I was intrigued to find out more about salt mines and military bunkers being used for storage and how despite them being very good for storage they are incredibly costly if anything needs to be retrieved. Universities regularly weed to keep the collections fresh and alive but there is always the danger of throwing out something important that isn't available anywhere else at all. To ensure the sustainability and availability of monographs there needs to be a shared service between Higher Education and and public libraries there doing for monographs what the UK Research Reserve does for journals. One final comment from the group, Stella Wisdom again (!)  suggested that if libraries were to become privatised there would be a central cooperative created straightaway...

If librarians take over the world, led by Anna Brynolf:

I attended this as it sounded like fun. The idea behind it was that as librarians are very liberal and open minded and they would have rather left leaning ethics and policies if they ran the world. So, if they did:
  • there would be more freedom of information
  • there would be free access to medical trial data
  • everyone would have broadband
  • copyright law would not exist - though there would still be authors' rights
  • a more feminised culture would ensue as the profession is approximately 74% women
  • there would be plenty of public space to break down barriers
  • universities as they stand wouldn't exist because there would be lifelong learning via the internet instead
  • there would be fewer criminals as literacy levels would be much higher
A proper manifesto wasn't created, however, some interesting ideas were discussed and the legal and business librarians looked increasingly worried! I was concerned that by being in power, librarians would no longer be able just to focus on working for the public good and their emphasis would shift from altruism to wanting to stay in power. As I recently discovered in a lecture on the psychology of leadership this regularly happens as soon as someone is given a position of authority - absolute power corrupts absolutely.

Librarianship and personality, led by Rosie Hare and Andrew Preater:

Having accidentally found myself reading a lot about personality, psychology and leadership recently I figured that this session would fit in quite nicely with this theme. While it is good to be reflective, I sometimes think librarians spend a lot of time thinking and talking about this topic and was curious to find out why they wish to classify themselves. I tend to have a bit of everything when it comes to personality types or traits so I never feel like I fit neatly into a box, however, I don't feel the need go out of the way to do lots of 'crazy' things to prove this point.  We started the session stood up in a line with introverts (energy is depleted when with others) at one end and extroverts (who get their energy from others) at the other. As an ambivert (see what i mean?!) I stood in the middle.

We then split into groups and our group was tasked with looking at what personality traits a librarian should ideally have. We discussed how due to the sheer enormity of roles available for librarians to do it was actualy a good profession for all types as there's something for everyone. I raised the point that whatever role you do, whether it be digitising or teaching, empathy is a key trait to have as you always need to think about the experience of the user. For those who would like to know more about this topic Andrew Preater has written a fantastic summary of the session and the reasons behind it.



One difference I have noticed is how much slicker the sessions are becoming; when I led a session at the first Library Camp we all just had a big discussion about the topic in question which was HE in FE but now people are planning things out much more thoroughly. This does mean more content is covered and it is recorded effectively, however, I do hope it doesn't scare away people who haven't pitched a session before.