Yesterday, along with about 175 other librarians* I descended on Birmingham for the first Library Camp UK. Sadly this didn’t mean pitching some tents in the middle of the James Watt Queensway. What it was (as you’ll find described in 11ty hundred better written and more information packed blogs elsewhere) was an unconference drawing together librarians of every kind in one place and saying – “go educate one another!” If success is based on volume and excitment, then it was a resounding one – I certainly had an excellent time both during and afterwards. If anything this may well be the single best event I’ve attended all year, and despite my intention to just go and listen and talk I found myself pitching a session after all.
Rather than try and encapsulate what I took away I thought I’d reflect on what for me were the highs, the bits that need a bit of a rethink and my hopes for next time.
- The venue, the welcome, the convenience of the parking. And the cost – a whole pound a head! What a bargain. The organising team should justifiably walk around today with the smuggest of expressions on their faces – they’ve absolutely earned the right to strut
- The genuine enthusiasm for all aspects of the profession from everyone I spoke to. It created a fabulous buzz.
- Stealing a room over lunch to film with the Weasel. My thanks to my actors, and yes you’ll see the results soon.
- The diversity of topics. The diversity of interests. The openness to learn.
- The high use of social media by most (if not quite all there).
- The conversations (and hugs) I had with people I’ve never met in the flesh before. Not to mention everyone who name checked or patted Randy Weasel in passing. I was getting quite jealous by the end.
- Being told by a couple of people that I’d inspired them in one way or another. Bloody hell, that was a bit of a shocker, deeply flattered and not quite sure how to take it. Trousers on one leg at a time like everyone else folks.
- All that cake. While I wasn’t eating any (trying to work on the old llama-waistline at the moment) it looked fab. Shockingly a load was left behind – was half tempted to go buy some boxes and ship it home for the Wife.
- The lack of agenda that people came with to the event. I’ve been to some conferences where it’s clear people have a hit list of people to talk to and if you’re not on it, you get bypassed. Which is down right rude. At LibCamp if you spoke to someone they talked to you. Aces.
- That it was done and done in a day. I know some folks stayed over on Fri and Sat nights, but to be able to go and return in a day (given it’s my weekend) was fab.
- The staff at Jesops whom were helpful in my quest for a quick release foot, and then a tripod.
- The pizza and post event companionship. Topped off the whole event nicely, even if the kitchen staff needed a bit of a poke to speed up their service. Pizzas were just fab.
- And to be honest the single best thing – the people. Just the people. Loud, animated, enthusiastic, engaged, laughing, shouting, passionate and fun people.
- That the parking discount failed to work Bit of a bum note at the end of a long day.
- Pitching for the sessions in a mad scramble at the start of the day. I’d have liked half the pitches in the AM and then the rest at lunch – because after the morning what I wanted to hear was going to be very different from right at the start. I think it would help the evolution of the day’s content.
- Blank sessions or networking ones. I think a speed-networking one would be a smash – get to know all the people you DON’T know.
- I think there was WiFi – but it wasn’t clear how to log onto it (or maybe that’s just my Android o/s). I’d hope next time WiFi passwords would be dolled out at the entrance as some of the rooms had pretty ropey mobile signals which restricted tweeting.
- The poet. Amusing (a little) in the morning. Cringe inducing at the end. I noticed a fair number of people voted with their feet. It was a nice idea though to do something different, and I heartily support it – but it just didn’t work for me.
- The staff at Jacobs whom were utterly crap, incoherent and down right couldn’t give a damn when I came asking about tripods and camera shoes. Never shopping there again!
- Time. Could time be stretched next time to about a month – I might just then be able to devote the amount of time and attention to everyone I wanted to talk with. Came back and kept thinking “Arg, only talked to them for two minutes – really meant to go back and talk more but then 5 other people started chatting to me…” Oh okay, I started chatting to 5 other people So many great people, so little time…
And next time (and let’s all hope there is a next time!)
- I’m going to pitch a session on stand-up comedy and edutainment in library education. Not to mention a weasel session, I’m kicking myself for not putting it on the programme. Hell maybe I should just offer to be the videographer for the day.
- A twitter wall or fountain for the #tagged comments running on a screen in reception. Especially useful for those of us whose devices argued about getting a signal.
- And given the success of this one – probably an arena sized venue because a whole lot of other people are gonna want to come…
*[Edit: Caveat: Just for Dave P: When I say "librarians" I kinda mean in the way "We're all librarians today!". Personally I just happen to work in a library as a manger, I'm not really a librarian. Saying "a group of people whom all have vested interests related to libraries and librarianship, and suppliers and information management, and repositories, and data and education etc" isn't as catchy. Also remember, saying "I'm a librarian" is a great way to keeping your car insurance low - saying "I work in education"...up it goes!]