Sunday, 10 March 2013

Library Camp London part 1

On Saturday 2nd March I headed to Senate House Library for Library Camp London. If you've never heard of Library Camp before you can read more about what's involved here, but to put it very simply they are 'unconferences' whereby the attendees are encouraged to set the programme of sessions and actively participate.

On arriving at the stunning Senate House there was a great deal of excitment caused by the film crew in the courtyard below, apparently they were filming the next Muppets movie (but sadly I didn't get to see any Muppets).

After the session pitches, the timetable was arranged and it was down to business! The downside of a Library Camp, is that there are always far more sessions that I want to attend than I am actually able to go to, so you just have to make your choices and hope the ones you missed are blogged about afterwards. In the morning I decided on two related sessions, 'Creative CPD' and 'Design your own LIS course'.

Creative Continuing Professional Development was proposed by @ellyob and got such a large response we ended up dividing into smaller sub-groups. The idea was to look at ways you could continue to develop your professional skills if you can't afford expensive training courses.

Our group started by sharing experiences of CPD activities we'd been involved in which led to us listing solutions and alternatives to keep training costs as low as possible. They were coming so thick and fast that it was getting difficult to make sure we had managed to list them all properly!

Top tips included;
But there were loads more suggested, and I'm sure some of the other groups came up with plenty of things we hadn't even thought of, which hopefully will be writen up and appear on the Library Camp London wiki.

Then it was straight into the second session, organised by the #uklibchat team, Design your own LIS Qualification. The session was live tweeted, with the team monitoring questions and responses from non-attendees so opening up the discussion to a wider audience than just those in the room. They had also set up a Google Doc prior to the session to pose a number of questions that would direct the conversation.
If you've got a LIS qualification, where did you study and what was the best module?
Which elements of your LIS qualification have you used the most since starting work?
Which elements have you not used so much?

The general consensus in the room was that the practical aspects of librarianship were far and away the most useful, a number of people had found they used the cataloguing skills they'd learnt most, and many others found the IT and web design aspects most useful. Liz Jolly explained to us that LIS courses are supposed to be vocational, that it is the diploma which is the professional qualification and the dissertation is an academic extra. She also suggested we check out the new CILIP Professional Knowledge and Skills Base for further clarification on skills required.

It was also interesting to hear the point of view of employeers on what they were looked for in employees, which included project management skills, awareness of the issues surrounding the sector as a whole and practical experience.

After some discussion on what had worked well, what had appeared to be a waste of time, and what people wished they had had the opportunity to do we started to note down our ideal qualification.

The proposed selection
  • A greater choice of modules
  • Stronger links between theory & practice
  • Practical experience of cataloguing
  • Opportunities for group work
  • Teaching
  • Work experience opportunities
  • Management skills - people, budgets, projects
  • Up to date IT skills
  • Strategic planning

There was a call for more teaching from practitioners rather than academics, and that the library staff of the university should have much more involvement in the teaching of courses than is currently the case. In short the conclusion was that courses needed to be much more in tune with what libraries are doing today.

Check out tweets from the session here.