Library Camp is over

… and what do we do now? Plan the next outing of course!

I have to admit that I didn’t attend the session on Library Camp 2012, but I have suggested to some people that we should have a regional meetup sometime soon. Maybe Manchester or Leeds? Let me know what you think.

Library Camp was not just about cake although every break was dominated by it and I ate loads. It was about passion, rage, enthusiam, pride, and so much more. I managed to out myself to some people but got shy in “the big room” with the microphone (filming didn’t help). So you might have missed me. DM me on twitter if you want to connect on LinkedIn or Facebook.

Here are my basic notes:

1. The first session I attended was about CILIP’s Public Libraries Group. I’m not a member of CILIP at the moment, so I wanted to see what they’re planning to entice me back in. There were some good ideas about open access materials for members and non-members, maybe a trial version for access to materials (for one to three months), and generally the group agreed that it was all about sharing ideas and best practice. Also, it was agreed that the PLG committee should speak for us as public library workers, because often we can’t do it ourselves.

2. How to maintain an efficient service with less staff. Or at least I think that was what the official topic was.

The group talked about automated enquiry services (not good), short-term temping to get stuff done (can work but not sustainable), logical partners (universities, archives, museums) and uniforms (not welcoming, can be even intimidating). The library should be a neutral space, a meeting place, a connector. Joint services could make the library lose this neutrality, for example by being based in a building shared with the police or a church.

Can joint school and public libraries work? There were some good and bad examples, and it depends on the level of cooperation. Someone suggested that maybe branch libraries will be the ones the survive, not the central/main libraries. A lot of central services don’t need to be in the central library anymore, so that is quite feasible.

Libraries should open themselves up to external funding and sponsorship. York libraries have done it, we’ll see at what price. Is sponsorship sustainable?

The Birmingham Library is looking at sponsorship from Apple or Sony.

Some library catalogues connect the borrower to Amazon, where the library can earn money from each referral that ends in a sale. Not sure that makes a lot of money but I can see the appeal.

Libraries have no national brand, and that’s where we often struggle. There is a lot of nostalgia for public libraries but we don’t want to end up the next Woolworth’s.

3. What can libraries learn from retail?

I have a lot of notes on this, so bear with me and read Jo’s post about libraries and retail strategies:

4. Them and us: corporate and public libraries: divided by a common profession

What are libraries meant to be? What are we good at?

Are public libraries full of smelly people or do they contain a great range of skills? Or both?

Librarians have many transferrable skills and are good at understanding what people ask. We should try and be consistent but often don’t even manage that within one service.  A strength of public libraries is that they are relevant to different people. This makes it harder to market though.

Corporate librarians seem to have more difficulties in making bosses see they are relevant and they often need to get their own training and career path sorted, as the path isn’t as clear in the corporate world. They need to justify their existence within the organisation at all times, which is achieved by logging time and costs for everything they do.

5. Advertsing

Why do public libraries not advertise?

I’ll throw my notes on this in with session 3.

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8 Responses to Library Camp is over

  1. Hi – Ho:)
    After years of asking this question I finally heard a reply I can relate to: Councillors have said the public asks why the council is spending money on advertising it’s services, rather than the service itself.
    In a classic case of l’esprit de l’escalier (I’ll be honest here, that’s not a phrase I use everyday) I realised that, for the NHS that’s a sound argument. Libraries though present a different argument, money would have been wasted advertising libraries in the 1970s, Library use was high, books were expensive. I think we would all describe this as not being the case now.

  2. Doh! Can’t edit my last comment, The question I’d replied to was “Why do public libraries not advertise?”

    • bumsonseats says:

      So I gather, and I agree with what you say. I also think we all get tangled up in bureaucracy (and council politics) a lot, which makes it hard to advertise (and advocate).

  3. llordllama says:

    Very interesting and obviously I didn’t make it to any of these sessions. Session 2 in particular sounds interesting – I did a minor study for JISC earlier this year in HE looking at ways to cut costs but not staff or at least my underlying aim was to get people to think differently to the knee jerk staff slashing reactions (for some reason a lot of respondants said slash the cataloguers!). Since I’m running a workshop around the results up in Durham next month I’m going to stea…take note of the comments here and add them into the discussions, given that PubLibs and AcadLibs aren’t actually a whole lot different when you get down to this level of brass tacks.

    • bumsonseats says:

      Yes, there were a lot of session to choose from! I seemed to end up with more or less the same group of people in the session I attended but then there were only about 15 or 20 of us working in public libraries, so that wasn’t too surprising. Session 2 was very interesting, as we didn’t all end up moaning like people often do in very day life, but actually got some exchanges and ideas going. Let’s just hope that somebody with influence listens.
      It’ll be interesting to see the after-session notes from your upcoming workshop.

      • llordllama says:

        No worries – I’ll be sure to blog it. And if I can get organised, get Randy to film a summary of the whole talk!

  4. Pingback: Library Camp’s little brother: #libcampnw12 | Growing a library

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