Results, ideas and action plans from Library Camp Leeds #libcampls

I was asked to pull results from Library Camp Leeds together for work, so I thought it might be a good idea to share these notes on here. You already know what you need to arrange a library camp from a previous post, and future plans will be announced as appropriate (some might be internal). I’d still love a public-library camp, so if you fancy that (or are already planning it) please get in touch.

The session notes were provided by the session leaders, either directly or via their own or other participants’ blogs. 

Sessions: Round 1


  • Publishers antagonistic towards libraries when it comes to e-books, either demanding very limiting terms and conditions or excluding them altogether
  • Costs
  • Managing users’ expectations and interoperability issues between formats and devices are real problems
  • Accessibility and affordable digital magazine subscriptions very positive
  • Should there be a specific nation-wide libraries e-reader?
  • a future model for e-book loans could see library e-books subsidised through advertising

How to present yourself on twitter

  • Employers (present and future) will more than likely be looking at your twitter account, don’t say anything on there you wouldn’t want them to see. It has been said it can affect whether or not you get a job
  • In the future it is likely social media presence will be addressed in the personal specification and interviews
  • Lack of engagement with social media may affect employment as librarians need to understand how to use twitter so we can teach our customers how to use it safely. Librarians may need to put together training sessions on ‘how to present yourself online’. This is particularly pressing in higher education
  • There are many reasons to join twitter with people saying they have found jobs, received advice and support, professional involvement with things such as uklibchat and trouble shooting.
  • We must not forget our colleagues who may struggle to access twitter such as those who work in schools, prisons or within the NHS.

Non-library stuff libraries do

The perception of libraries is as a place to borrow books (some people might also recognise that they also lend CD’s and DVD’s). This is clearly a very narrow view, as libraries have always been much more than that. What other things happen in libraries and should they happen?

  • Libraries have always been community spaces
  • They have always been places of leisure and learning
  • As digital culture takes over, book issues have gone down – what are we putting in their place? E-books? Other services?
  • Libraries are still community spaces
  • They are still places of leisure and learning
  • We are issuing e-books AND providing other services, eg: access to subscription websites
  • Children’s storytimes/craft sessions still vital to give an early library experience and develop skills for learning
  • Public access computers offered to all strands of society – inclusive
  • Computer learning sessions empower people – no-one should be scared of computers
  • Jobseekers sessions help with jobseeking strategies and identify skills needed
  • Meeting rooms available for various groups in some libraries – alternative use of library spaces

The group concluded that in many ways, what people might consider non-traditional uses of libraries have actually been happening in various forms since libraries started, all that’s changed is the media we use. We have also broadened the definition of what we do to encompass more community involvement.


  • Offer a drop-in/help desk for questions
  • email is on the way out for young people -> organisations need to be reachable via Facebook etc.
  • staff need to be e-safety savvy
  • libraries are still seen as safe places to be -> use that to our advantage

Sessions: Round 2

Prison libraries

  • Example: HMP Styal
  • A lot of work goes into literacy projects
  • library has a major role in the prison’s aims of education and reducing re-offending by preparing prisoners for release
  • The librarian has free range when it comes to book selection, beyond the essential specification: law, human rights etc titles are specified. The library stocks daily papers plus weekly magazines.
  • Prison libraries have to have a qualified librarian, and hours a week, minimum size of the library, book numbers are specified
  • The library is included as a resource in healthcare, and connects to housing and employment services

Humour and the librarian: can we be funny?

Discussion group focussing on issues around the use of humour in marketing, user training and education. Topics addressed included:

  • Knowing and responding to your audience
  • The use of wit vs scripted humour
  • Effective structure and impact of humour
  • Can humour be learned or is it innate?
  • Situational, cultural and organisational limitations on humour

Fun and games in information skills

Discussing the use of fun and games in libraries and in our teaching of information skills. Topics included:

  • Worries that fun isn’t appropriate in some libraries (!!!) – only due to time-intensive jobs and support for users who have to focus on more important responsibilities than library usage. Not as simplistic as “doctors don’t like having fun!” (LF)
  • How do we make appropriate use of games and game techniques?

Examples included Lemontree (using points, leader boards, etc. to encourage positive behaviour in the library), and the gamification of Knowledge Management (where a company was using leader boards to spotlight people who were contributing.

Positive disruption: how can we change the way we think

  • you are never “just” a library assistant -> customer-facing role is essential and face of the library service -> bottom up approach
  • try ideas: pilots -> give it a chance and stop if it doesn’t work
  • “all the answers are on the web” – the skill is to find them
  • enable ourselves, our team

Sessions: Round 3

Accessibility/invisible disabilities

  • Examples: autism, dyspraxia and epilepsy
  • those who are high-functioning will often not have any specialist help offered to them as its perceived that they don’t need it
  • clear unambiguous signage, dedicated quiet areas and good lighting
  • Being proactive is always better than reacting to a problem once its been pointed out to you. The general consensus was that if something is irritating or affecting you (flickering lights, noisy ‘quiet’ areas, heavy doors, badly signposted sections, nowhere for users to sit for e.g.) just think how it might then be ten times worse for someone with a disability of any kind.
  • The best kind of supportive resources for people with disabilities tend to be the ones that everyone either wants or can use (such as iPads). Creating specialist tools or resources isn’t truly inclusive.

Promoting online resources

  • smoothless joining procedure essential -> people want access immediately!
  • people need to be IT-literate to use online resources -> what do we offer to help?
  • lack of staff training? or is it lack of willingness to learn? -> staff need to know abut resources to promote them -> link sales
  • crowd-sourcing: what do people actually want/need?
  • push at-home use -> convenience -> could we offer sessions for home-bound users?
  • need physical advertising of resources: posters, QR-codes

School libraries

  • Librarians need to understand what teachers do to fit into the school quickly
  • Librarians should get a ‘champion’ on board to support them when they start
  • The rest of the LIS community should not forget school librarians who struggle to fight for the library to stay open as they often work solo
  • What are CILIP doing to support school librarians (for example what do they do about the recommended pay scale, is that just on the website or do they do more?)
  • Teachers need to understand what librarians do, maybe CILIP could initiate some collaboration with PGCE courses
  • Important children learn how to use social media safely and sensibly, the librarian is the ideal person to teach this but these websites are often blocked in schools (suggested this is what makes sites dangerous in the first place)

The anti-social catalogue

  • The next-generation catalogue includes some social features, but in practise these haven’t taken off. So library catalogues aren’t perceived as a social destination by our readers.
  • Current technology isn’t yet supportive / encouraging of social interaction – and tends to be quite far behind leading edge.
  • Creating social interaction requires effort: not something we can easily bolt on.
  • Use of technology is really important: how it enables us to fulfil the mission of our organization – so we should concentrate on what’s relevant for our organizations.
  • Our web presence and user experience of our websites really influences customers’ perception of our organizations.

How to move forward:

  • We need to “seed” our catalogues with external content such as Librarything for Libraries.
  • We need incentives for the customer – they should get value from it, or what’s the point? Gamification is a way of providing that incentive.
  • We know a great a deal about our readers habits and actions and could re-use this to enhance their experience of the physical or online library.
  • Rather than limiting ourselves to what other libraries are doing we should be thinking along the lines of features employed in ecommerce systems.
  • There are more fundamental problems: some library IT provision is so bad we are ashamed to offer it. The technology isn’t always there to support new catalogues.

Sessions: Round 4

New Professionals Movement

Issues that people feel need addressing to support people entering the profession such as:

  • Awards aimed at new professionals should be more widely promoted
  • Lower fees for conferences, events and workshops for students and recent graduates without jobs
  • CILIP membership fees seem unfair for new starters
  • Many people see CILIP as a passive organisation not supporting a sometimes demoralised section of its profession
  • Practical library management/professional skills are often not included in postgraduate courses, e.g. budgeting
  • good ideas should be replicated across countries and sectors
  • career talks
  • Example: Latvia

What do you call yours? – a session to fit in every topic, from toilets to customer care

  • observations about “pigeon hole-ing” borrowers and what to call them
  • what is unacceptable behaviour: uncertainty of policy was mentioned
  • common experiences with marketing and other departments
  • staffing and maintenance of buildings

Space in libraries

  • how do you make your online resources (more) visible (off-line)?
  • users need to know what statistics are necessary and why -> share realities of non-use
  • be clear abut what you are for!
  • what do people want to use the space for? -> ask them
  • varieties of space: continuum of space: loud to silent

Video training: Beat the weasel

Interactive and mildly humorous session allowing participants to see how they present themselves on film, and recognising issues around verbal and non-verbal communication. Topics addressed included:

  • Body language, posture and unconscious communication
  • Tone and vocal clarity
  • Coherency in answering example questions
  • Answering questions under fire
  • Reaching an audience beyond the 4th wall

Useful links: and (the latter includes links to all blogs etc.)

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