Wednesday, 28 August 2013

Library Camp SW: An Organiser’s Perspective

Library Camps have been popping up all over the UK over the last 3-5 years and in my opinion represent all that is good in networking and collaboration within the library and information profession. Unlike conferences such as Umbrella, library camps are un-conferences which are based on “Open Space Technology” (Harrison Owen) which has four main principles and one law:-

1. Whoever comes is the right people
2. Whatever happens is the only thing that could have
3. Whenever it starts is the right time
4. When it’s over, it’s over

Law of two feet: If, during the course of the gathering, any person finds him or herself in any situation where they are neither learning nor contributing, they must use their two feet and go to some more productive place.

Open Space Technology works best when the conditions are present:
1. A real issue of concern, that it is something worth talking about.
2. a high level of complexity, such that no single person or small group fully understands or can solve the issue
3. a high level of diversity, in terms of the skills and people required for a successful resolution
4. real or potential conflict[5], which implies that people genuinely care about the issue
5. a high level urgency, meaning the time for decisions and action was "yesterday"

This is the first time that I had both helped organise something on this scale and attended an un-conference although the basic concept is quite easy to grasp. I first found out about library camp SW through colleagues on Twitter (@deadlylibrarian and @idhunter22) who I had met at previous conferences and expressed an interest in helping out... it was literally as simple as that (bless the wonders of social media!). Organising the day took 4 months on and off but once a venue and day had been chosen the hardest part was over. The beauty of an un-conference is that so much rests on what happens on the day that there isn’t actually that much to plan. With this in mind we only met 3-4 times before the actually camp took place in July. There was a heavy use of Twitter, email, Google docs and other technologies to keep everyone updated as the months went on and I feel this was the easiest and most efficient way of managing the day. Funding was secured from CILIP SW and Library Camp UK for the venue, porter services and essential tea and coffee rations – we also had sponsors like Bowker give us canvas bags, pens etc for free giveaways.

From organisation to running the day Library Camp SW was a total group effort with a committee of approx twelve librarians from across the region. This team covered all sectors and brought a plethora of skills to the table from IT expertise, local information and a brilliance of understanding risk assessments! We all publicised the event through different channels, a percentage of tickets were held for school librarians and emails were sent out to all local authorities and university libraries ensuring a wide mix of delegates on the day.

Like most things these days, technology played a large part in organising the day from publicising on Twitter, to booking tickets via eventbrite and adding information and updates to the wiki – a totally collaborative space with sections for session proposals, lunch (an essential part of all library camps) and information on travelling to and from the camp. 

Feeling quite bad at this point that I had not contributed much I volunteered along with @jenfosterlib to take charge of pitching sessions on the day and finalising the timetable of sessions. We met up separately to discuss the itinerary for the day and how people would move between sessions. This included making sure all the housekeeping was in order, directing people between sessions and giving organisers and session leaders enough time to set up and pack away where necessary. A bonus in my opinion (although some may see it as a flaw) was that neither @jenfosterlib or myself had attended a library camp before (I was thwarted by rain and a dying car when trying to get to Exeter last year). This meant we had a blank canvas to work with and could put our own spin on the pitching sessions which worked differently in the morning and afternoon. 

Fast forward to the day and I think we were all quite anxious and excited to get going, with over 60% delegates accounted for on a sunny Saturday morning Library Camp SW was underway. There was a strong number of delegates from both the schools sector and academic libraries as tends to be at conferences but I was happy to see a few public library people too. Far too often I have been the only public sector employee at a conference and due to budget restrictions and time constraints I don’t see this changing anytime soon, although plans for a public library camp in the SW are afoot so keep your ears to the ground!

Pitching in the morning as in the afternoon was carried out via post it notes which were stuck to tables in the main foyer when delegates arrived. The various pitches were then announced via my dulcet tones and a count of hands was taken to work out how popular sessions were and which rooms to stage them in. This worked to a degree and was heavily dependent on how much detail had been added to the post it notes. We improved this in the afternoon pitching session by inviting delegates up to explain their ideas and then vote on sessions. This worked better as delegates got a far better understanding of what sessions would touch upon. Once sessions were voted on @jenfosterlib and I devised the timetable which was duplicated and displayed for everyone to plan their day. When delegates arrived they were given a bag with pens and a day planner in which they could use to plan their library camp experience.  

Popular sessions such as Information Literacy were repeated so delegates had the chance to attend but I imagine these sessions were completely different dependent on who was in the room. Sessions were pitched on current topics – apps, eBooks, the future of library services (a particularly heated session) and staples of the profession; information literacy and chartership along with quirky sessions that included attending a rhyme time (well attended by the organisers at the end of the day) and planning your “perfect library” if money wasn’t an option. Running around on the day I didn’t sit it on many full sessions but bounced between and heard some heated debates during the day but it is uplifting to be in a room with professionals so passionate about their professions... it fills you with a sense of hope for the future of the profession in all forms. The day ended with a speed networking session which gave delegates the opportunity to make contact with those they had met earlier in the day and establish partnerships that will go beyond the day.

The feedback received from the day has been mostly positive and I believe we can be proud of our achievement. There is talk of a public libraries library camp in the region which would be amazing in my eyes so hopefully this will get off the ground. The mix of organisers both on the run up to and on the day ensured a mix of delegates and a smooth running operation and I hope everyone had a productive day... the pub was definitely a highlight!

Bring on Library Camp SW 2014!

Monday, 5 August 2013

July Book Reviews

A bit heavy on the teen fiction this month but our Peters order cam in so you can't blame me! 

A beautiful, emotional and thought provoking offering from John Green and David Levithan. 

Two boys called Will Grayson with polar opposite lives meet one night in a Chicago  porn shop called Frenchy's. How they got there and where they go next I'm not going to tell you but suffice it to say it's worth the 309 pages. Not only are the to Will Grayson's totally captivating in themselves by secondary characters including Tiny Cooper, Jane, Issac and the Wills' parents provide a world worth exploring.

An interesting concept. Ethan was abducted 9 years ago outside his house. He spent 7 years with a new family before they left him, a year on a home and a year on the streets before being reunited with his family. 

Coming home isn't easy though -Ethan has to cope with 9 years of memories that don't include him, a whole town who thought he was dead and a sister he never knew. Compelling reading  with a jaw dropping twist - here's hoping for a sequel!

Jarratt's eagerly awaited follow up to the wonder that was Skin Deep last year...

Holly had to move away from everyone she knew, to protect them, the only people that really know her are her mum and dad and younger sister Katie. What she witnessed will stay with her forever, it disrupted her life in every possible way and now she has to live with the consequences... new town, new school, new life but you can never really leave it all behind.

Beautifully written and easy to read... I just wish Laura Jarratt wrote her stories quicker!

The cover of this book has been drawing me in at work for months and I've finally had a chance to get past the cover. Unfortunately I can't say it was worth the wait... what I found was a disturbing, disjointed story around a house haunted by memories, ghosts and voices from Conrad's past.

After Conrad's dad dies suddenly he comes into money and decides it is the right time to move away from the stress of LA to this quiet house in a Winsconsin cul-de-sac. He also hopes the move will save his marriage.. but moving cannot help him shake his demons... his failing relationship and his doubts of past loves. When Jo leaves on business Conrad is left to fend for himslef, find his place in the house, in this town but there are other plans larger than his, darker powers at work which will not let him be.

Can a chance encounter change your life? Allyson was a quiet, cautious girl, just graduated from high school.. but when she meets the Dutch Shakespearian actor Wilhelm she decides to throw caution to the wind and leaves her friends to spend a magical day in Paris with the Dutchman. 

Adventure and mystery ensue but a day is never enough. Whilst Allyson is back in America and starting College her mind is elsewhere and she can't settle until she finds him again. Is it romance, is it curiosity I can't quite tell. Forman's main character is a bundle of emotions and uncertainty but how else do you find out who you are if you don't take a chance? Looking forward to the sequel in October, Just One Year.

An easy read set in a rural welsh village. Coralie has moved from the city to escape her past, whilst Gethin is back from New York to face his history and say good bye to Pemorfa. Village life engulfs them both, the good and the bad, activism, gossip and history brings them together as they realise what they mean to each other.

Well written and not as predictable as many in the chick lit genre. Stovell kept me reading with characters full of love and happiness.