Saturday 30th November 2013 was #libcampuk13!
Since I heard about library camps whilst completing my MLIS in 2011/2012 via Twitter, I’ve wanted to attend the Birmingham Library Camp. I was fortunate to be amongst the organising committee for our own #irelibcamp13. So I was very excited when I booked a ticket for #libcampuk13 and organised my trip over to Birmingham. As I’m based in Dublin, I flew over to Manchester on Friday evening after work to stay with a fellow MLIS’er Daniel Duffy and we travelled to Birmingham early on Saturday morning via train. Upon reaching the Library of Birmingham we experienced our first ‘Wow’ Factor – the architecture is stunning and dominates the vista. As a history and architecture geek, I was already loving the mix of architectural styles around the Broad Street area but seeing the Library for the first time was impressive!
I knew there were 200 tickets and that #libcampuk13 was fully booked, but I wasn’t prepared for the sight of 200 info pros in the Lecture Theatre of the library. When we arrived mics were being passed around so everyone could give a brief intro & Twitter handle if applicable. So here we finally were, all assembled. This was going to be good! It was so nice to hear people say their name & Twitter handle as it put names/faces to those I’ve only followed up to now and not met or seen in person. Getting the pitches sorted was another feat of organisation engineering completed by the #libcampuk13 team. As someone who has organised events in my previous career and now for NPD Ireland, LAI CDG and the Hurdy Gurdy Radio Museum, I know only too well the work involved. The pitches were pitched and typed up for display on the free-standing screen and away we were #libcampuk13 is GO!
So I’ll give a you a brief flavour of some of the sessions I attended. The first was a pitch on Performance – what has this to do with Info Pros and our role I hear you ask? Well quite a bit actually. I’m quite a shy person if truth be told – but I do what has to be done to get any task done even if it is outside my comfort zone. I’m not alone in the field in being shy, so attending this session was a good exercise in understanding how we portray ourselves and use all our skills of communication to get our point across. Whether it’s in a meeting with managers or colleagues, teaching students, interacting with patrons et al – how we ‘perform’ matters. We went through a few vocalising exercises, did a bit of ‘role-play’ and ended up assessing body language. This all helped to reinforce the importance of understanding our own behaviour and how we best can utilise all our skills to become more effective communicators.
International Librarians Network – This was an opportunity for info pros to learn more about this network – I’ve come across them through our operation of New Professionals Day Ireland as we’re part of the International New Professionals Network. In Ireland Eva Hornung is our representative and does a great job at engaging with the community. Ffion Bell led the session and introduced what herself and Helen Murphy as the UK reps are attempting to do in widening the understanding and interaction between the International network. It was great to chat about the work that the New Professionals across the globe have done in creating a sense of community and a common bond with our use and interaction over Twitter. NPD Ireland and Manchester NLPN which were both formed after our attendance at New Professionals Day London in 2012 at CILIP, have been sharing information since our formation. We’ve both also connected with colleagues across the pond in the States, the continent of Europe and in the Southern Hemisphere. Hopefully after this pitch at #libcampuk13 more will become aware of what Ffion and Helen are up to and will engage more with their International Network and colleagues.
With my geeky love of all things Meta and data I also attended a discussion on the improving of metadata to ensure effective usability. It’s all very well having a fantastic ‘front-end’ (some do, don’t you know) however, if your metadata is incorrect or possesses inconsistencies it doesn’t assist the usability. This discussion was hosted by Andrew Preater – who I follow with interest on Twitter – Andrew started the session off with a quote from Charles Cutter from 1904 “The convenience of the public is always to be set before the ease of the cataloger”. For me, usability and accessibility are key concerns in making our libraries and our collections available and open to all. As a keen cataloguer in my role with the Hurdy Gurdy Radio Museum, we strive to ensure that our records are accessible to every user whatever their IT skills. The more who can access items in a collection easily the greater the power of the information that they are seeking. I work full-time in a small academic library and we have a large amount of records that still require addressing in order for them to be more ‘user friendly’. I understand only too well from my own personal postgraduate research in Medieval History, how important effective metadata can be to students and patrons. This was an interesting session, as it included cataloguers and those interested in improving usability and it brought to the fore how important metadata is in unlocking the secrets and treasures that are held within collections across the field.
These are just some rough notes from yesterday to give you a glimpse of some of the discussions that took place. Overall, I can’t impress on you all how great the day was. Meeting and talking to librarians and info pros who I’ve only interacted with or read on Twitter or via their blogs was inspirational. The wonderful thing about our profession is the openness and sharing nature of all those I’ve encountered at similar events and conferences. The day was rounded off with drinks in the Rotunda of the Library of Birmingham, we had the library to ourselves and this was a joy and a privilege. To be in such an amazing environment whilst chatting and laughing with fellow info pros was a delight and I can’t thank the organisers of #libcampuk13 enough for a day that certainly had #TheWOWFactor on so many levels! Attending was an honour and a pleasure.
The crisps and Emeralds were appreciated…