On Saturday 30th November I attended my first LibraryCamp and I was so impressed I would definitely go to another. If you've ever thought about going to one I highly recommend it.
The Library of Birmingham's first roof terrace
This year's was held at the new Library of Birmingham, which is the most impressive modern library I have ever seen. If you have no other reason to visit Birmingham you should go to see the library. Most impressive of all was how busy it was, even without 200 librarians there. Many people were there as tourists but it was also busy with people using the library and I even saw teenagers sat down! In the library! I will be keeping my eye on Birmingham and I hope lots of other, important people will do to.
The conference itself is an unconference. If you don't know what this means it basically means that the days is led by the attendees, with people suggesting sessions on the day. This format means that if you want to get the most out of the conference you should be prepared to talk. With this in mind I decided to propose a session on embedded librarianship, as this is something I'm interested in learning more about. Thankfully people were interested in it and indeed, all the topics suggested were accommodated in the timetable, meaning that people had a very good range of things to discuss.The final timetable can be found here along with links to blog posts etc. reporting on the sessions.The timetable did change over the course of the morning, something which I wasn't aware of until I'd already missed a session I was interested in so that's something to be aware of.
The sessions I attended were advanced social media in librarians (led by @agentk23), creating a digital literacy MOOC (@librarydonna), and a session on use of gadgets. My session was one of the final ones of the day and I took a session out to explore the library.
Session 1: Advanced social media in libraries (led by @agentk23)
Although social media has been with us for a long time now and many libraries use it, how to use it most effectively is still an issue and one that we've discussed in my place of work. One of the main issues was how to increase followers and make your use of social media interesting and engaging. Some of the suggestions I took away were to start conversations with other departments or related organisations, find out who your users are following so that your retweets are useful and interesting for your followers, and ensure you have personality. One final tip for managing your social media accounts was to share the responsibility for creating posts between the different departments within an organisation. Not only does this spread the workload it gets all members of staff on board and can lead to posts discussing/mentioning different things.
Session 2: A digital literacy MOOC (@librarydonna)
I attended this session mainly because I am interested in digital scholarship and the associated digital literacy and I wanted to see how people defined digital literacy and thought it should be taught. Whilst the discussion centred around something for school children rather than HE level digital literacy it was still interesting to see how digital literacy was defined as a mixture of information literacy (searching for information online, evaluating information etc) and effective use of online tools generally (internet safety, netiquette, useful web tools). The leader has created a Google Doc which sums up her ideas nicely.
Session 3: Gadgets!
I am extremely interested in seeing how librarians/libraries use new technology so I knew this session was a must. The session started off by discussing iPads, which was great for me because I would love to use the iPad more at work. One interesting piece of information shared was that newer devices such as the Nexus 7 and new smartphones use Near Field Communication which means they can be used to read RFID tags. I haven't tried this yet but it has great potential, both for use by library staff and for chaos if students know what they're doing! The need for compatibility across devices was also mentioned, especially if apps are being promoted to students or used by staff for work. There's nothing more frustrating than realising something is only available on iOS when you're an Android user!
Session 4: My session!
I have recently started holding drop-ins in my liaison departments and I was curious to know what other people were doing and what people thought of the idea of embedded librarianship. Libcamp seemed like the best way to find out and it was a really useful session. As well as academic librarians going out to their departments there were librarians who held 'pop up library' drop ins in popular areas at their university and people who are physically based with another team, away from the other information professionals, as well as other forms of embedded librarianship. Overall it was felt that for successful embedded librarianship you need to be proactive and to make yourself visible and useful to your users but that it can be rewarding. For another write up of my session see @stephthorpeuk's blog post.
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Overall it was a great day and very useful. The chance to attend sessions on a variety of topics and to learn from information professionals from all walks of life means that I feel that I really learnt from this conference. If you have a chance, go to the next one! I know I will.
Anna Richards @pretty_curious