The Library Camp was a first in many ways for me; the first event I’ve attended since finishing my MA, my first visit to Birmingham and the first un-conference I and two other members of Manchester NLPN (Catherine and Siobhan) have had the pleasure of attending.
The event started with everybody congregating in the hall (later split into 3 seminar rooms) and individuals proposed topics for discussion, then in between sampling cake, cookies and more cake, everyone clamoured round the schedule board. The day was split into 6 sessions, each with a minimum of 4 discussion options. And that in essence is the format for Library camp; an abundance of topics are proposed on the day, and attendees tailor the day to their own tastes.
The Library Camp, which contrary to popular myth features neither tents nor camp fires, is relaxed. It suits a weekend perfectly; people are happy and excited to be there. I think this is partly because the attendees control their experience, throughout the day I saw people slide out of one seminar into another and no one batted an eyelid. A library camp seminar is akin to a group discussion. The discussion is not (in theory) determined or controlled by one individual, there are no overhead projectors, power-points or flip charts. Instead, a diverse group of individuals discuss issues affecting the library sector, in relation to their own experience.
I attended the following discussions:
- What are Libraries
- Media Literacy /Information Literacy
- Academic Libraries
- Libraries without walls
I came away from the event with the impression that despite the closure of libraries, the consolidation of resources, the outsourcing of services and potential job loss (all topics that were touched upon) there remains a sense of creativity and desire to continue pushing the boundaries. For instance, the discussion on iPads and the discussion on Libraries without walls demonstrate a pro-active approach to reaching out to library users (and even flight passengers!) and, in the case of the iPad, providing a service that could not be achieved previously (for instance, one college experiences high demand from Hair Dressing students who use a photo app to create designs).
In short, I would definitely attend the library camp again. The monstrous sugar crash I experienced at the end of a long and eventful day was worth it because Library Camp enabled me to talk and listen to people who are developing initiatives that, had I not attended Library Camp, I probably would have remained oblivious to.
Finally, I will end this post by passing on a valuable life lesson that I learnt at Library Camp: I cannot eat salad with a spoon. It goes everywhere.
Will you be attending the next Library Camp? Hopefully I’ll see you there.