Hello Campers (2013 Edition)


Library & Funfair
Library & Funfair

This weekend I went to the 3rd annual Library Camp unconference, held in the £180 billion* new public library and spaceport in Birmingham city centre.  The idea of an unconference is that rank gets left at the door, and the content of the day is pretty much built up on the day by the delegates.  It was also free, which was a big attraction for those of us who don’t have anything in the way of dept funds to send us anywhere.  Not sure my dept would have funded me to go off to something that might be viewed as a practitioner rather than academic conference.

Other’s will have waxed lyrical and at length over the wonder of the event, and gushed forth on the effulgence from the gathered Sisteren** of Librarianship.  Suffice to say from my perspective it was a bloody brilliant day which gave me a chance to catch up with some old friends, make a few new ones and exchange views, insight and opinion with some very bright and enthusiastic people.  If you ever get the chance to go to this, or the regional Library Camps around the country – I’d say go, and go soon!  Kudos to Richard, Sue and Andy who were the main leading lights behind the scenes and on the day, this is a HELL of a lot of work for them – but it pays off in spades.

And doesn’t cost a fortune to attend, unlike certain events run by some folks (you know who I’m thinking of)

So instead, I thought I’d just jot down a few reflections on the sessions I attended – you can see the full list here:

Performance, Projection & Confidence: A Discoridals Theatrics Workshop

I thought about pitching this back in 2011, but this year having planned a little I ran a workshop designed to assist people’s communication skill, through harnessing my (oh my lord) 25 years of cross-country pantomime experience, and 10 years as the lead thespian of the Discoridals Travelling Theatrical Company.  It was intended to pass along a few vocal and non-verbal communications tricks, techniques and thoughts that would help people in their day-to-day lives as well as their professional activities.  It was also intended to be a real ice breaker and get folks talking.  I was reasonably happy how well it went, although I wasn’t expecting 40-50 delegates!!!  Had counted on about 10-20 tops.

It was nice to combine my recent training in communication and media theory, with my extensive communication practical experience.  Lots of happy faces so I (hope) folks found a bit of it that was useful.  Personally I really enjoyed running it!

I’ll be refining the session – and if anyone would like me to run it again somewhere, sometime – drop me a line or a comment and I’ll see if we can come to a suitable arrangement!

Open Access

As it’s the focus of my PhD, and was run by a friend of mine I could hardly not turn up and have a chat about how it’s going, the focus and experience of librarians, and also to share a little taste of my research findings.  An enjoyable little chat that’s given me the germ of something I want to work into the next phase of my research.

Library Managers

The only session of the day where I said nothing and tweeted instead. A bit of a curates egg as sessions go as it was the only session where the seniority and hierarchical library managerial structures were almost palpable.  From my perspective you could see more junior managers holding back a little, and differing to those they perceived as senior within the profession.  I would have been fascinated to have done a little ethnography/participant observation on the session as having been long within these managerial structures looking out, now I’m outside looking in these power and influence inter-relationships seem more distinct.  So interesting…but not so much for the content.

Library Publishers

Or to give it its full title: Library publishers are crap, what can we do about it? Only 6 people in this session (and we got booted out of our room to make way for one more popular) where we talked about the relative paucity of library publishers.  In particular their pricing structure and acquisition of titles by organisations came in for a bit of a battering.  Ideas and experiences were exchanged about self-publishing, open access, print on demand and routes for new professionals to publish.  Can’t swear great steps forward were made, but was an illuminating discussion all the same.

Copyright & Licensing

Last session of the day, and one I was keen to attend anyway as a (past) Library Copyright section manager and open access worker and (current) scholar with a keen interest in open culture and OA in academia.  I maaaaaay have said a bit too much in this one (but I was trying to keep the discussions flowing, and folks were beginning to flag) as I had a fair number of stories about practical copyright and the academic & student reaction, so while I found it useful I’m a little worried others might have been sick of the sound of my voice by the end.  Whoops.  Must be careful to ration myself a bit in some of these sessions!

The day was capped with an inferior meal with superior company, although by the end I’m not sure if it was the incessant unpleasant thumping music of All Bar One (avoid!) or just the adrenaline of the day running out, but I suddenly hit the wall and had to head home.  A damned shame as I was with a group of most splendid, intelligent and dedicated library professionals.  Reminding myself that the profession is riddled with people like that, makes me feel it’s in very safe hands for the future!

As for me, all that was left was to wander back to the car and try not to drive for too long in totally the wrong direction out of Birmingham.

In that…I failed.  But only for about 5 miles!

*Might have been million not billion, but frankly it cost a shed load.

**Female dominated profession, which I think has always affected the discourse, tone and perceptions of librarianship.


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