Saturday, 17 December 2011

Visit to the BBC Bristol Library

Through SWRLS/CILIP I recently had the chance to visit the Library at BBC Bristol. The Library consists of the main Information and Archives, and the Natural History Unit. 

The archives are mainly multimedia; they do have some books and journals but these are kept in closed stacks. They keep an archive of footage for two reasons; so that it can be re-used, and so that footage that is filmed for a programme but not used in the final version can be kept.

All of the staff to whom we spoke emphasised that the archives were in a massive period of change, mainly technological. As filming and production have developed, the format in which material arrives into the archives has changed, and they are moving towards digitising material so that is it available at researchers’ desktops, enabling them to do their own searching through the archives.

It was fascinating to gain an insight into the world of the Natural History Unit archives. It is such an amazing and precious collection; one example being that a certain species of frog has only ever been filmed once before it became extinct, and the only existing copy of that tape is in this archive! The NHU archive currently contains about 100000 VHS, and they are looking to digitise all of these eventually, becoming a tapeless archive. They have so far digitised only Planet Earth, and we were shown the database in which these digitised copies are stored and catalogued, which is fairly easy to use and thus accessible to researchers and any other non-LIS staff who might need to use it. Digitising the rest of the collection and adding it to the database is going to be a massive and lengthy job; Planet Earth alone took 5 people working on the project full-time 3 years to complete!

Aside from digitisation, the biggest challenge faced by the NHU archive at the moment is the format of the material that they are receiving into the archive; they are sent films on hard-drives which contain large amounts of material requiring accurate and detailed metadata to ensure that everything contained within them is discoverable.

Information and Archives is also facing challenges. As well as the multimedia material itself, there is often a lot of paperwork associated with the programmes made at Bristol i.e. compliance and clearing forms which also need to be stored and easily retrievable. In order to respond to this challenge, the librarians have recently become media managers, and they try to ensure that there is a media manager within each production team as soon as a programme is commissioned, so that they can liaise effectively with the team, advising on what needs to be done from an I&A point of view and finding out what the Archive is likely to be receiving. This in itself has been quite challenging, but they are starting to see positive results, and they now have production managers telephoning to ask why they haven’t yet got a media manager for their team!

Similar to the situation of the NHU archive, another challenge faced by Information and Archives is the format of the material that they receive. Whilst they are receiving material in modern formats, the Archive also contains older material in sometimes out-dated formats, and they need to have the knowledge and equipment to be able to access any of this material; they not only have the challenge of adapting to new technologies, but of remembering how to use the old ones.

We were shown the catalogue, and the work that the team is currently doing to turn it into something more accessible. We were also shown some of the databases that they subscribe to; these include databases to search for experts who would be willing to appear on television or radio, to find music to accompany programmes, and to find out how to pronounce things! Additionally, a database makes all programmes from 2007 onwards available on all staff computers. They also subscribe to some databases more familiar to those of us in other sectors, such as Nexis. The research and reference role of Information and Archives has transformed over time; while it used to be very much about doing research for production, it is now about centralising material and training people to do their own research.

I really enjoyed finding out about the work of a sector about which I knew nothing. It was interesting to discover the specific challenges faced by the BBC Library, and I was also struck by how similar some of them are to those faced by other libraries; for example, the efforts made by the media managers to effectively liaise with production teams by becoming embedded in them is very similar to the ways in which many academic librarians are trying to improve liaison with academic departments by forging closer links, and sometimes becoming embedded in the curriculum. I came away with a good knowledge of the work done by a library in the media sector, as well as the main issues that they have to deal with, and the ways in which these challenges are different and similar to those faced by other sectors.

Saturday, 26 November 2011

Returning to Sheffield

I’ve been a bit delayed in writing this post – the CDG National Conference took over!

A couple of weeks ago, I was invited to speak at a careers event organised by Carly Miller, New Professionals Support Officer at  the Yorkshire and Humber division of the CILIP Career Development Group, for the current MA Librarianship students (and any other local new professionals who wanted to attend) at the University of Sheffield. It was strange being back in the department and speaking in a room in which I used to sit for lectures, but it was a fantastic experience; it was lovely being back there.

We had a really good turn-out – I’d guess there were about 15 to 20 students there, despite the fact that it was at 4.15pm after a full day of lectures. They were a great audience; attentive and engaged. Carly started by talking about her professional journey throughout the MA (she finished it this year) and afterwards. Carly did loads during her MA; working, volunteering and organising social events and visits to mention but a few activities! She did a great job of encouraging the students to get involved but also warning them not to try to do too much. Carly also had lots of tips on job-hunting, applying for conference bursaries and the like, and what to do if things aren’t going to plan.

Next, I talked about the LIS New Professionals Network (LISNPN). Some of the attendees had used it, some had heard of it but not used it, and others were not familiar with it at all. This is what I had predicted (hoped for!), so I planned my presentation to both introduce it to those new to it, but also to offer suggestions for other ways in which to use the site i.e. contributing to the blog as well as using the forums, and to hopefully encourage non-frequent users to become more involved. I didn’t see any glazed-over faces during my presentation, so I think I was successful! I also introduced myself in terms of my job, so that anyone interested in working in academic libraries could ask me questions about that too. 

The final speaker was Angela Greenwood, who is a librarian at the Information Commons at Sheffield and the National Fairground Archive at Sheffield. Angela told the attendees about her route into librarianship and the work that she does, in the Archive in particular, which looks amazing!

I really enjoyed being a part of this event. It was great to meet some of this year’s MA students, and to be able to give something back to the department from which I took so much. I would really like to be involved in an event like this again, and have offered to help the department out in any way that I can in the future.

This is my presentation if anyone is interested.

Thursday, 24 November 2011

Reflections on the CILIP Career Development Group National Conference 2011

The 21st November saw the CILIP CDG National Conference 2011 take place in Bristol. I was lucky enough to have been asked as a local CDG committee member whether I would like to help out on the day. When I accepted the invitation, I expected to be purely a kind of runner on the day, but I actually joined the organising committee for the final stages of planning the event, which was a great experience.

I started off the day meeting and greeting in the venue reception – it was fun to be the friendly face of CDG as attendees arrived! Once everyone was seated it was time to take on my main role for the day, as a kind of official conference Tweeter; reporting on the conference using the #cdgpp hashtag and monitoring the tweets coming through on it. I have tried to Tweet from conferences in the past and found it difficult to do so at the same time as making good notes; however, having thrown myself into it this time, I’ve found that my Tweets act as fairly good notes in themselves. If you want to see what was being said, you can see the Twitter archive here. Quick tip if you’re looking after the Twitter side of things at a conference; remember to set up an archive with Twapper Keeper or similar before the event – as far as I know there are no tools that capture Tweets from before the archive for the hashtag was created. It’s really useful to have this archive; non-Tweeters can then catch up with what was said on Twitter.

The theme of the conference was the Practical Professional, and this was reflected in an excellent set of papers on a range of topics. Amanda Poulton kicked the day off with a presentation on changing sectors, something which several of the speakers had done. Amanda has worked in NHS, academic and public libraries, from which she has gained a broad range of skills and experience. She emphasised the importance of researching your target sector if you are wanting to move; from seeking out contacts on Twitter to arranging visits to a relevant library service. Amanda’s presentation introduced a theme which ran throughout the day; the transferable nature of many professional skills. To illustrate this, she showed us some snippets of job adverts, asking us to identify which sector they were from; this was not as easy as you might expect. The different adverts were asking for similar skills and experience i.e. liaison and enquiry work. Our professional skills can be applied across the sectors; it’s up to us to demonstrate this when applying for a job in another sector
Next up was Emily Hopkins, who discussed the challenges for a library service in the NHS, with the recent restructure and other changes having a big impact. Emily came into a newly merged service as a library manager. The issues she has had to deal with range from maintaining a virtual reference service whilst the print stock was in storage for six months (emphasising the importance of professional skills; with these, the staff were able to keep the service running with no stock!), to losing users, gaining new potential users, and numerous IT problems! The library had to re-assess its whole strategy and collection development policy in order to ensure that it could provide the service now required. Emily emphasised this need for all library services to be constantly re-evaluating services in times of change, to ensure that it remains useful and relevant. Emily also echoed Amanda’s thoughts on the importance and transferable nature of professional skills.

Katie Burn and Kirsty Whitehead then spoke about being “career chameleons”. Both are currently on extended secondments in the Information Directorate at the University of York; Kirsty as an academic liaison assistant and Katie as an executive officer for refurbishment (!). Both of them emphasised the need to be flexible when looking for your next career step, but also the necessity of maintaining clearly-defined goals; what is important to you – what factors have to be in place for you to be happy? They also continued a theme which began in Emily’s presentation; treating challenging situations as a positive opportunity to develop new skills; in this case, being in fixed-term positions. This rang true with me as I am also on a fixed-term contract; I am saddened by the prospect of having to leave my job (and obviously worried about being unemployed!), but rather than dwelling on the negatives, I need to be focusing on what I am getting from this job, which has been fantastic experience.  Katie and Kirsty offered several other useful tips, including the need to be able to say “no” or admit that you have too much to do, and the suggestion that we should all be looking at job adverts even if not actively job-hunting, in order to remain aware of the skills currently required in the LIS workplace. A major theme through this presentation was change – the fact that it happens frequently and significantly, and the need to treat it in a positive way – and I think this was reflected in every paper of the day.
The next speaker was David Clover, who discussed “thinking big” when it comes to career development. David argued that a planned approach to professional development is necessary – where do you want to be, and how will you get there? David suggested that our CPD goals should be big, ambitious, scary and exciting. Sometimes you will need to take risks, and sometimes you will need to invest your own time and money in things. David shared his experience of applying for the Travelling Librarian award. He was unsuccessful, but as the panel liked him they offered him a smaller grant which went towards a trip to the USA to visit libraries there. David was successful in persuading me, and, I’m sure, others, that we should be thinking big; you never know what will come of it. Another comment from David which stuck with me was that we should be setting our own personal goals rather than relying on the formal appraisal systems in our workplaces; our employers probably don’t care where we’ll be in 10 years’ time as it quite likely won’t be with them! A lot of us will have created development plans for Chartership, and David suggested that we need to be continuing to maintain these plans after we’ve Chartered, in order to keep our professional development on track.

Phil Bradley was up next, with a fast-paced and thought-provoking paper on social media. Phil argued that search engines can no longer cope with the amount of information available online, and that we will need to in the future find things using social media. Phil emphasised his belief that organisations which block social media are damaging themselves by doing so. Social media is a new kind of resource which we should all be using – and we should be moving from one network to another, in the way we would move from one traditional resource to another, to meet our information needs. Social media, argued Phil, is now far more useful than mailing lists or websites; Phil uses people for information, not websites; he pointed out that seven of the top ten results in a Google search for “CILIP CDG”  are social media (including my blog – I had no idea!). He emphasised the importance of having a presence on social media as LIS practitioners, as that is now where people go to ask questions; we need to show that we are credible sources. If we aren’t there, someone else will be, and it will be them who appears credible, not us. I was already convinced of the importance of using social media, but Phil’s presentation did make me realise just how important it is. He also convinced me to go back and give Google Plus another go, as he was so insistent that it was something we should be using.

Next came Katherin Schopflin, who spoke about the role of a knowledge manager. I didn’t really have any idea about what a knowledge manager was or how they differed from a librarian, so I found this presentation really helpful! Simply put, Katherin told us, a knowledge manager organises not only information, but also the stuff that is in people’s heads. Many of the skills required and duties of the job are very similar to those of a librarian, but organising knowledge as well as information requires tasks such as skills audits to be carried out. Katherin explained the benefits of being a knowledge manager, being at the heart of an organisation, but also the challenges faced; namely that the role can be ill-defined and it can be difficult to demonstrate value.

After lunch, we did a bit of speed networking, which involved rotating around the room forming groups of threes, and spending three minutes in each group telling each other about our jobs and what makes us unique – a difficult question which I wasn’t really able to answer! This was however a great opportunity to chat to some attendees whom I hadn’t yet had chance to meet.

Miggie Pickton kicked off the afternoon session with a presentation on providing services for researchers at the University of Northampton. Her role was newly-created, with a basic brief to provide services to researchers; she decided that her aim should be to “be useful”. Miggie carried out a survey of researchers’ needs, which provided an evidence base for developing the library service; Miggie emphasised the importance of having evidence to work from. She also made an interesting point which hadn’t occurred to me; it’s not only a good idea to carry out your own research to inform your service, but it also improves your credibility with the researchers with whom you work. When I began to think about it, I realised that, actually, my experience of carrying out research and having it published in a peer-reviewed journal could allow me to better understand the needs of academic staff and other researchers, having been through the process myself.

Emily Hopkins then returned, with Tracey Pratchett and Gil Young, to talk about “negotiating the scramble net” of a LIS career from the perspective of librarians in their 20s, 30s and 40s.  The really interesting bit about this presentation was that all three of them had had very similar experiences. The themes brought up by the previous speakers were again echoed; the need to be flexible and ready for change, and to see challenges as opportunities. The transferable nature of our professional skills was again emphasised, and all three speakers encouraged us to develop networks and contacts both inside and outside of work; a peer support network can be extremely valuable, which is something that Gil Young highlighted in particular when sharing tips for surviving redundancy – if you tell people that you’re job-hunting, you increase your chances of hearing about something suitable. Another great tip from Gil was to keep your CV up-to-date in case you need it; if you suddenly find yourself in the position of needing to find a new job, you may well not be in the positive mindset needed to produce a good CV.

Next up was Jo Myhill, with my favourite presentation of the day (being part of the organising team I didn’t get a vote for best paper though!), about being visible. Jo started off her presentation by speaking from the very corner of the room without the microphone, to illustrate her point, which I thought was a really effective opening. Jo leads a team of academic liaison librarians at the University of Bedfordshire, who were suffering from a lack of visibility when they moved off the front desk. Jo’s vision of being visibly is not just about physical visibility, though – there is a huge emphasis on virtual visibility too. They worked on improving visibility on their webpages, from putting photographs of the subject librarians all over the Library website, to creating blogs with an element of personality (one of them now has 500 followers!). There is also a focus on branding when it comes to visibility; the team has a logo saying “academic liaison librarians” which goes on everything. I really like this approach – it helps to ensure that students know what an academic liaison librarian is.

Last but certainly not least came Lizz Jennings, talking about “every flavour career beans”. Lizz was another speaker who had moved between sectors and, like the previous speakers, she emphasised the fact that there are core aspects of library and information work that are found in every sector; our skills are transferable. Lizz also recommended, like David, maintaining a structured and planned approach to professional development, even if you’re not working towards ACLIP or MCLIP. Lizz made the very good point that sometimes you can find yourself with too much on your CV, especially if you change sectors; knowing how to be selective in highlighting your skills is a skill in itself!

The delegate vote for best paper selected Amanda Poulton as the runner-up and Katie Burn and Kirsty Whitehead as the winners.

I found the ideas around career development expressed throughout the day really helpful for organising my own thoughts and ideas. It helped me to realise the importance of a planned approach to professional development; I think it is very easy to find yourself doing anything and everything in the name of CPD, and not really working out why you are doing something or how it will help you progress. Beginning Chartership has forced me to make a plan, but I think I could still be a lot more organised in regularly reviewing my plan and looking at what my evidence actually says, so I am going to make the effort to do this. I also found the emphasis on viewing challenges in a positive light as opportunities useful, particularly in relation to secondments, fixed term contracts and redundancy; as the end of my contract draws closer, I find myself starting to worry about what will happen next, but the speakers at this event persuaded me to focus more on what I have gained from my time in the role, what contributions I can make in my remaining time there, and what I can take forward to my next role. I am going to take Gil’s advice and make sure I keep my CV totally up-to-date, so that it is ready when I need it.

I really enjoyed being involved in the organising of the day, which has sparked a desire to become further involved in organising events. I’m really pleased that the CDG national events team is happy to keep me on, and I can’t wait to get involved in organising the next conference.

Monday, 10 October 2011

Library Camp 2011

On Saturday 8th October, I attended the first ever UK Library Camp. You can find out more on the website, but to briefly summarise, Library Camp is an un-conference which operates on concepts of Open Space and the Law of Two Feet; attendees are responsible for their own learning and contribution, setting the programme and taking themselves to wherever they can best participate. I decided to go because it was a free event taking place at the weekend, meaning minimal total costs and no time off work required, because I was intrigued by the un-conference concept, and because so many other members of the LIS community would be there. I was fairly nervous about it as the day drew closer; the delegate list was overwhelming and I was worried I wouldn’t feel able to talk to people, and, with no programme set beforehand, I didn’t know what to expect from the event itself, which made me a bit uncomfortable – I usually like to look at what’s on in advance, to start deciding what to attend and to think of questions I might want to ask. 

However, I found the event to be a really enjoyable and inspiring one. Hot drinks and loads of cake courtesy of some talented attendees made for a relaxed atmosphere which made it easy to talk to people. I think it also helped that all name badges were self-made (some very elaborately!), which meant that we could put whatever information we wanted and thus express our identity in the way that we felt most comfortable, which makes for much easier conversation openers than the usual corporate-looking name and job title badges that are often supplied at conferences. As a heavy Twitter user, I found it helpful that most people put their Twitter IDs fairly prominently on their badges – you then “recognise” people and it was lovely to finally meet some people whom I have spoken to on Twitter for ages but not yet encountered in real life. However, this must have been really intimidating for people who weren’t on Twitter. During the introductions, loads of attendees introduced themselves by first name and then by Twitter name, demonstrating what an integral part of our professional and personal identities it can be for those of us who use it; again, if I weren’t a Twitter user I think I might have found this alienating. I don’t think I spoke to any non-Tweeters but I hope that those who were there were made to feel welcome.

Despite my initial trepidation about how well deciding the programme on the day would work, it actually worked really well. People were very forthcoming in pitching ideas for sessions, which was done by standing at the front and describing your idea in less than 30 seconds; if other attendees were interested, you wrote it on a post-it. The organisers then did a fantastic job of putting together the post-its into a programme for the day, which ran like any other conference; multiple sessions running at the same time, in 45-minute slots throughout the day (but with no repetition of sessions).

The first session I attended was about cataloguing and classification. I do a bit of cat and class in my job and really enjoy it, and I’ve been interested in information retrieval since I studied it during my MA, so I thought it would be good to join in a discussion about it and hopefully learn something new. The attendees were a mixture of cataloguers, systems librarians, and people like me who do it as part of their role. I have to admit that a lot of what was discussed went over my head, as I don’t know a huge amount about cataloguing standards and interaction with systems, but there were a few points raised which made me think. There was a lot of discussion about adhering to standards and creating records which are useful for our users; does strict adherence to cataloguing rules always result in the best records? Being responsible for overseeing the cataloguing of our AV stock, I quite often find myself looking at how we have always done something versus how various guides say we should do something versus how it’s most sensible to do something, and recently I’ve come up with what I think is the most sensible way to catalogue TV series; it might not be the absolutely correct way but it’s the way that will be most helpful for our users, which I think is the important thing (I  realise it is not always easy or appropriate to tweak cataloguing rules for all material or in all libraries though). This discussion made me think that I should perhaps look at some of our other AV cataloguing, to assess the usefulness and clarity of our records and check that everyone is following the same rules.

Another issue which came up during this session was that of achieving serendipity online; how can we replicate browsing the physical shelves in the online environment? I’d be interested to follow any work on this. Finally, we ended the session with the question of whether we all enjoyed our cat and class roles (we all did, whatever they were). The Hi-Vis Cataloguers blog was mentioned, which I have looked at recently and will definitely continue to follow.

The second session I attended was on modernising public libraries and maintaining a service despite staffing cuts.  I went primarily for the latter aspect of the session, as this is something that is affecting many across the LIS world – and indeed the attendees confirmed that in public, academic and special libraries alike, people are having to redistribute workloads and take more on as staff leave and are not replaced. It was also interesting to listen to the discussion about public libraries; I was late to the session and missed some of it, but when I arrived, people were discussing the problem of demonstrating the social returns on services – it is not something that can be easily shown in numbers, or at least, not in the types of numbers that councils ask for or pay attention to. There was also discussion of whether libraries adequately sell themselves, the problems of shared services (particularly in putting public libraries into school libraries – this throws up all sorts of issues, from stock management to opening hours to security), and the potential negation of the library as a neutral space if it is sharing space with a council building, for example. 

Lunch provided another good opportunity for talking to people, and doing some learning too – thank you to the extremely knowledgeable Jo Alcock for the impromptu lesson on QR Codes and Foursquare that she gave a few of us! 

My first afternoon session was on the question of what libraries can learn from retail, hosted by Jo Alcock and Anne Martin. Both have recently written on this topic – Jo’s blog post is here. Some researchers have examined the “science” of shopping, observing people’s behaviour in shops and using that to inform design and practices in retail. Jo and Anne suggest that we can do the same in libraries. This was a really lively session – so many people in attendance that it was standing room only for the late-comers – and loads of good ideas were being thrown around. Some which particularly grabbed me were providing shopping baskets/trolleys for people to use in the library (people are more likely to stay and browse if they’ve got somewhere to put the books they’ve found), ensuring that there are enough chairs etc. (people won’t stay if they’re not comfortable), and utilising the staff who users encounter out on the floor – often these are the most visible staff in the library. This last one seems to be obvious, but I worked as a shelver on and off for several years and I experienced varying levels of instruction from my supervisors about how I should be interacting with users. I was always comfortable with using the OPAC as a student, and was happy to help other students out with this, for example, but some of my co-shelvers were less so, and as there was no expectation on us to answer queries, would always refer students to the desk. I think we should be trying to look at the library from a user’s perspective and work out who and what they’re seeing, and make sure staff are ready for that. One American library apparently has one day per year when library staff go and use the library as patrons, and I think that’s a good idea. I definitely came away from this session with the opinion that libraries can indeed learn a lot from retail, but I would want to be careful about which aspects we want to take; for example, it was suggested that libraries could have staff to approach users at the shelves and offer help, in the way that assistants in shops do, but personally I hate this when I’m shopping, and would be reluctant to introduce this in my library (roving help is of course a good idea but I wouldn’t want us to be actively approaching students).

The next session I attended was also especially relevant to my current role; liaising with internal stakeholders and embedded librarianship, with a cross-sector perspective. Laura Woods began by telling us about her experience of becoming embedded in a team at the law firm where she works; becoming a member of the team, physically sitting with them for a period of time each week etc., and from there we discussed the various issues around liaison with our stakeholders in both academic and special libraries.  The issue of names came up fairly quickly – what is our job title and how does that affect how stakeholders see us – but the suggestion was made that it doesn’t actually matter too much what we are called, as long as it makes sense to our users and stakeholders; as long as they know what we can do for them. I would definitely agree with this; as someone pointed out, it’s not “the library” who can help them, it’s a person within the library, and I have found that, as academic staff (our stakeholders) have gotten to know me by name, the more willing they have been to contact me to ask questions about anything to do with the library. We also discussed ways of reaching out to our stakeholders, with participants relaying their experiences of taking the library out to them, using online networks such as a section on the intranet, blogs, and online bulletins, and creating a library “brand”. It was interesting to discover the similarities between the problems faced by the different sectors – making sure the stakeholders know what we do and how we can help, and getting the library “brand” past Marketing, for example – and also to find out about liaison with stakeholders as a librarian in a firm or company; a sector I didn’t know that much about previously.

For the final session of the day, I chose social media. A couple of social media experts offered one-on-one help to anyone who wanted advice on using any aspect of social media, while the #uklibchat team led a discussion on their experiences of running the chat, asked for our feedback, and facilitated a more general discussion on professional use of social media. I’m a heavy social media user and didn’t particularly learn anything new from this session, but I was interested to hear other people’s reactions to #uklibchat (a fortnightly Twitter discussion based around a theme and questions within that theme, which can be anything to do with libraries), and it was a good opportunity to share my own thoughts. Some attendees mentioned other Twitter chats that they had come across, and I intended to ask whether anyone would be interested in a #chartership chat but I didn’t get the chance; I’ve had some interest expressed already so I think I will go ahead and organise that though (do let me know if you think this is a particularly good or bad idea!). 

Overall, I thought that the day was really successful and stimulating, and I think I benefitted from attending. The most useful sessions for me were the one about learning from retail and the one about liaising with stakeholders, as these provided me with ideas which I could put into practice in my current role. I did however also enjoy following up my personal interests of cat and class and social media, and having the chance to hear about people’s experience of maintaining and modernising public library services, a sector about which I do not often get the chance to learn so closely. Library Camp definitely helped to enhance my understanding of the LIS profession as a whole, as well as providing me with information which I could put to practical use at work. I also enjoyed, as ever, having the chance to talk to old friends, people who I only ever see at conferences and events, and new people. I suspect that I did miss some sessions which would have been useful, but it was very difficult to make sure I attended the best combination; with the programme being posted on a massive board in the cafĂ© area on the day itself, it was difficult to spend much time studying it due to everyone trying to do the same thing, and obviously you don’t have the chance to look over the whole programme in advance. I did consider taking a photo on my phone of the board, but it was too big and the writing too small for that to be possible.  If I were to attend a similar event in future, I think I would try to look ahead when looking at the board, rather than only looking at the next set of sessions, to try to make some kind of plan for myself. 

Library Camp was run really well by the organisers, and I was impressed at how effective the un-conference format was. It does however rely on the people attending being willing to pitch ideas, facilitate sessions effectively, and get involved in discussions, so anyone organising such an event would need to be sure that this would happen. I would love to attend it next year if it happens again. One thing I would say, however, is that it seemed to be advertised on Twitter and not really anywhere else. Tickets were snapped up quickly by those who were on Twitter during the day; I signed up at lunchtime and emailed a couple of colleagues about it. When I later went to email other colleagues, the tickets were sold out. I do feel that non-Tweeters and those who can’t use Twitter during the working day did perhaps miss out (although there was a waiting list, which was a good idea), so I hope that next year this might be something the organisers consider.

Next time I would like to get involved a bit more. I only spoke at any length during the liaising with stakeholders and social media sessions; in the others I felt unsure about contributing, or unable to get a word in. Some facilitators tried to ensure that people didn’t speak over each other by using a foam ball which you had to be holding to speak; while this was a good idea, much hilarity ensued due to the lack of throwing and catching skills in the room, which, along with trying to dodge the ball when it came flying towards your head/coffee, could be a bit distracting! I think I would try to ensure that I contribute more next time by pitching an idea and volunteering to facilitate a session, thus forcing myself into a position where I  had to speak! I would also think in advance about how I might run a session in order to give everyone the chance to join in, whether by using flying objects, or something else.

Another thing which I took away from the day was wondering where else the un-conference concept could be put into practice. We are currently looking into a library-wide staff development event, and I am wondering whether we could work Open Space into it somewhere. I have definitely been left with a lot to think about! A big thank you to organisers and attendees, who made the day so successful. If you want to know more, spend some time looking round the Library Camp wiki.