Wednesday, 30 April 2014

Library Camp Wales 2014 in Cardiff

After months of planning the day of the first ever Library Camp Wales dawned bright (although sadly not sunny!). If you've never heard of a Library Camp before, it is an 'un-conference', a free, participant driven event. The idea is that instead of booking speakers and presentations, the attendees pitch ideas on the day and contribute to the discussions.

After setting up in our fabulous venue, the Glamorgan Building in Cathays Park, our Library Campers started arriving and got stuck in to playing Human Bingo.

Some of the Library Camp Wales team manning the reception area

After the sessions were pitched and the timetable for the day was arranged the day got under way.

I didn't get to take part in many sessions as I was wandering about making sure everyone had all they needed, but I did get to facilitate the Speed Networking event, which was very noisy!

Speed Networking in action

Lunch involved a lot of food (Library Campers were very generous with their contributions) and we also had our very own customized cupcakes.

In the afternoon I got to attend a session on library skills and qualifications (which I'll blog about separately). Before I knew it, it was time for the wrap up and awarding the prizes for the badge competition, Human Bingo prize draw, and cake competition.

Winner of the Cake Competition!

We rounded the day off in Buffalo, enjoying 2 for 1 cocktails!
A card catalogue in Buffalo Bar, photo courtesy of @karen_gibbins

Check out a Storify of the day here.

Thursday, 24 April 2014

Library Camp UK 2013 part 2

Slightly delayed part 2 of last November's Library Camp UK!

After lunch I headed to the digitisation session, it was really interesting to hear about current projects, such as the georeferencing of map and topographical collections at the British Library. Digitisation projects can often be too expensive or time-consuming for some libraries to consider, but suggestions were made to find ways around those barriers. Someone in the group mentioned  NADFAS [National Association of Decorative & Fine Arts Societies] whose heritage volunteers can be brought in to assist with digitisation projects. An interesting discussion also developed on the pros and cons of Google books, which seemed to conclude that the main problem was quality control. That's certainly been my experience, particularly with older texts, some are just unreadable!

The second session of the afternoon was on special librarians. At the introductions first thing in the morning, I was disappointed (but not surprised) to notice that after public, academic libraries, or students, everyone else was somewhat lumped together as ’other’. This session felt like a good opportunity to redress that a bit. I can’t list all the different types of library or information environments that people worked in but it was very varied, TV, legal, NHS, government, cathedral, and museum of course! There were also a large number (about half the group) who were students or graduate trainees wanting to hear more about the wide variety of library and information work out there.

The session began with a discussion on the challenges of working in these types of environments and whether you still define yourself as a librarian, particularly from those working on more corporate sectors. We then explained a bit about what our particular jobs involve, before finishing off with sharing tips on how you might pursue a career in a special library. An excellent write up relating to the session is available here.

The final session I attended was on catalogues and search interfaces, which although sharing a space with another group, was small enough that I had no problem hearing the discussion. The starting point was ‘what if the library catalogue had a different type of interface?’. Laurence (@Lorp, one of the pitcher’s?) elaborated on this by showing us a number of online catalogues and lists of books, including Amazon to demonstrate how a more visual approach may be more helpful in finding material. I certainly agreed with the idea, I have always found it 100 times easier to find a book if I know what it looks like. And, I really like the idea of the catalogue as virtual bookshelf with photos of the spines of books to identify them [although not as visually attractive as using the covers!].

The discussion then moved on to metadata and the problems of inheriting poor data, which no-one ever has the time or resources to put right. Some of the tools that could be used to help you fix problems, such as KDK-Alli Record Manager tools from National Library of Finland recommended by @preater

I consciously tried to take more of a backseat and not talk too much in sessions at this Library Camp because I felt that I just wanted to enjoy the experience on a slightly more passive level, soaking everything up like a sponge. I actually found it quite refreshing, at previous events I have been far more of an active participant, but it was nice to try a different approach this time.
You can see the full list of sessions here and access related social media activity on the Pinboard the organisers set up here.

Thursday, 9 January 2014

Library Camp UK 2013 part 1

Last week I set off for Library Camp UK 2013 at the new Library of Birmingham. I’m not sure how many people were attending, but it certainly seemed as though there was a really large crowd gathered. If you’ve never heard of a Library Camp before, they are a series of 'unconferences' held around the UK. Free to attend, they operate an 'Open Space' policy meaning there is no formal agenda or speakers, attendees set the schedule on the day and the direction of the sessions is guided by the participants.

Session pitches
Although I had considered whether or not to pitch a session, in the end I decided not to. There were so many great pitches to choose from it didn't feel necessary.
The first session I went to was run by @llordllama on performance in presentation, and it was the perfect start to the day. Unlike some sessions, it was less of a discussion and more of a teaching and learning experience, although still very interactive. He illustrated the ways we might convey confidence using body language, facial cues and voice. It was useful to think about how we can use our style of presentation to engage with people and get the best out of situations. Not to mention learning to recognise what those cues might be telling us about others, and how that could affect how we approach them. A lot of the session involved audience participation, and most people seemed to leave smiling.

The secret garden on floor 7
The second session I attended was Evidence-based Librarianship, which was a very, very popular. This meant that the group was large and you had to really raise your voice to be heard. We were also sharing the room with a second session and the noise occasionally made it hard to hear. Such is the burden of popular sessions!
However despite those issues, I found the session really interesting and you can read notes from @pennyb [who pitched the session] here. It focused on service led research, and although I didn’t really feel like I had much to contribute personally I still enjoyed it. It was interesting to hear the difference between academic librarians in the UK and in the US, where involvement in research as part of your job is more widely expected. 

Concerns were raised about how difficult it can be to find out about research in the field unless you happen to be actively involved in it. A number of resources were mentioned that could help, such as Educause and the LIRG website. But there was also a call for a more formal bringing together of information centrally, and the thought that it should be the responsibility of CILIP to provide it.

I was also very interested to hear of a scheme run by the University of Brighton that matches dissertation students with libraries looking to undertake research.

The falafel stand was often mentioned in the run up to Library Camp

As I had been so unorganised as to not bring any food to share, I decided to go out for lunch to the explore the Christmas market [way too crowded], and look around the library, which is truly stunning.