Library Camp UK 2013 #libcampuk13

Having spent yesterday in The Birmingham Library I will just briefly share my notes from the day with you. But first of all a huge thank-you to the organisers for all their hard work – the venue alone was worth it!


1. Session
I skipped the first sessions slot in favour of a self-guided tour of the library. As I am currently planning a refurbishment of my own workplace I was keen to explore the architecture, furniture and functionality of the new Birmingham Library. It’s all very sleek,  shiny – and reminds me of Selexyz Dominicanen in Maastricht. Is the architect the same?
A colleague and I questioned a member of staff about the security features, e.g. gates and RFID tags, marveled at the art works, and tried to work out classification systems.

photo0822  photo0817

2. Evidence-based librarianship
– very difficult to hear (space, group size)
– how much theory is needed
– importance of ethics
– critical evaluation of evidence
– are librarians research-trained?
– are academic librarians more likely to do research? No, it isn’t part of their job role either.
– in the UK, academic librarians are usually support/professional staff category
– HEA encourages librarians to acquire (their) professional qualifications/recognition
– practitioner-led research usually done to improve services, not for research’s sake: most organisations are more likely to take a single student comment into a account than evidence-based practice
– as an academic librarian it is important how you are perceived in the wider organisation – research is the ‘currency’/language your customers use
– the benefits of research might be different from what you expect: service improvement, academics will listen to you as an equal
– research is likely to change your own work rather than service direction
– consider usability tests before changing user-facing systems, e.g. OPAC

3a. Management
– should management skills be taught as part of a library course or can they only be learnt on the job?
– it’s very important to understand an organisation’s culture – so much more than hierarchies and rules
– management in libraries can be lonely because peers might not be librarians – need support network
– moving to management means moving from specialist to generalist – can be difficult if you have identified yourself with a particular profession such as librarianship
– is management a profession? It is often not rated ( any field)
– where does leadership fit in?
– librarians need to manage libraries to be listened to
– importance of recognising that different skills are needed to different areas of management

3b. International Librarians Network
– a mentoring network
– you are likely to meet international staff in UK libraries
– learn about differences in librarianship training in other countries
– safer to see yourself as part of a big (international) group
– other contexts can give ideas and explain why things might (or not) work in your context. Example: study spaces work well in Singapore public library because people are unlikely to have space at home
– network has no tangible outputs yet but hoping for projects to develop

4. Gadgets
– most people in group had gadgets but use for work not widespread
– devices mostly assume that user owns device – difficult when many users using one device (talk to your systems people about this!)
– Bring your own- what about users who cannot afford a device?
– use web-based widgets instead of apps
– publishers moving towards optimised websites (HTML 5)
– licensing a big problem at the moment – move away from login based licenses if you can
– tablets are mostly used for roving or outreach events, sometimes as class sets
– any NFC based tablet can read RFID – get an app! Who said that? If it’s you: I need a chat about RFID and systems, please. < sorted!
– think about more mobile working
– tablets: mainly for consumption; producing not so convenient
– other languages can pose a problem on certain systems
– skills needed for supporting gadgets – are you training your staff? ask simple questions when dealing with users
– accessibility issues

4. Language Librarians
I will let others write about this as it was mainly a chat about what we do in language learning libraries, how we support users and what skills we think we need, such as patience, empathy and cultural awareness.

And something else
Next time I would be happy if we didn’t have to introduce ourselves using a microphone at the beginning of the day – that might be better placed in individual sessions, as you can’t remember everyone anyway and it can be rather intimidating to introduce yourself to the whole room.

This library camp felt more like a conference than previous ones I’ve been to. The sessions I attended were dominated by a small group of people, and felt less like discussions that would lead to new ideas and solutions. Obviously this might have been down my session choices, and to be honest I didn’t do anything about it, so no moaning!

Anyway, it’s been a good day! Keep up the good work, everyone, and maybe consider helping the organisers next year or organise your own mini library camp 🙂

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3 Responses to Library Camp UK 2013 #libcampuk13

  1. llordllama says:

    I second all for not doing the round the room intros – it’s a nice touch but the event is just TOO big. Some other kind of ice breaker/intro like interest bingo or speed dating or the like might work better. As it was it felt like a delay for getting to the pitches and I confess I wasn’t listening (nor could I remember anyone’s name or twitter handle).

    I think the same issue about discussions – you could put a ceiling on group size to promote more discussion/smaller groups, but that would seem to fly in the face for opportunities for all to host/participate. Maybe more suggested guidance for sessionhosts – some of them were very good at getting everyone talking, but not all. Then again, once we start laying down the rules then it violates rule 1 of library camp (there are no rules!) IMHO.

  2. Carolin says:

    Thanks for your comment. I think others have mentioned the overall size of the event as a bit of a hindrance, too. My own preference definitely lies in the smaller (regional) library camps, and I’m not sure I’d go to a UK one next year (which gives someone else a chance!).

    • llordllama says:

      I think the inverse for me is true – I like the size, and given my interests are a bit more niche I’m guessing a local camp wouldn’t have a great deal of appeal for me. Not saying I wouldn’t turn up to run/facilitate a workshop – just I’d have to be more sure I’d have takers.

      Or persuaded by offers of a comfy sofa or something to snooze on before/after! 🙂

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