Michelle's Library Stuff

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Thoughts on my first library camp

On October 13th I finally attended a library camp; I wanted to go to Leeds Library Camp earlier this year but couldn’t because of an injury.

I was excited to attend, see what the fuss was all about – and eat lots of delicious cake. In preparation, I paid a baking colleague to make brownies for me, and roped in another non-library- staff colleague to come with me. So I started off with lots of points, which Carolin told me could be converted into eating extra cake. Win!

The day started off with a real buzz (sugar high from cake breakfast?) as people pitched their sessions. Throughout the day I felt this buzz really tapered off, when I was expecting it to build as the attendees got to interact and share ideas. For me this showed after lunch, when only a few people stood up to pitch more sessions. For the number of attendees, I would have thought a lot more sessions would have been suggested.

This isn’t to say I didn’t have a good, interesting time. Just perhaps not in the way I expected. Perhaps it was the sessions I attended, and not feeling confident to move around sessions (there didn’t seem to be a lot of that going on). I was in the session on open source software and couldn’t hear anything because of the air conditioner – I would have liked to have moved but it would have felt rude to walk all the way across the room to the door. Instead I managed to get involved in the UKLibChat session on Twitter. It would have been nice to go to that session, but I hear it ended on a bit of a downer.

Pre-camp I didn’t want to run my own session; as it was my first time I wanted to experience instead. But Rachel’s interest in a session about living and working abroad and my constant search to find contexts in which to say sentences like “when I was doing a circus class in Melbourne…” led me to a small room with a small amount of people, talking about my experiences overseas. I actually enjoyed this session more than the ones I attended (vanity alert!) as a) it was really small and b) I got a chance to speak. Joy has basically written all my thoughts on sessions and how they could engage more people, so go read her blog post. Suffice to say I think this smaller group format worked better as (hopefully) everyone got the chance to speak, ask questions and share experiences and concerns. Rachel’s done a good write-up of my session (top tips: just do it; you can never have too much money) and I will eventually get round to posting about living and working overseas myself. Honest.

So, what did I take away from Library Camp? Cake and a full stomach. Seriously, I didn’t go to Library Camp with an agenda - I just wanted to experience an unconference, and catch up with people I don’t get to see often. With the past few professional development events I’ve attended, I’ve found it useful to have an idea of what I wanted to get out of it. It’s difficult to do that with an unconference as you don’t know what the sessions will be about. I did have in mind to talk about  games and gamification in libraries but the session I attended wasn’t exactly what I’d imagined.


The main thing I took away was being roped into helping out with a local library camp in Sheffield! I have been promised that it’s “not much work” but we’ll see. In addition, when I got home I thought perhaps it would be good to run a camp for careers staff (Careers Camp!), so I’ll see if that idea can get off the ground after Christmas. From what I hear these smaller camps might be more my style, so I look forward (with trepidation) to being involved in organising them.

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