And so it was that on the 8th day of October in the year of our Library 2011, a hundred or so librarians and library lovers convened in Birmingham, thanks to the organisational skills of @libraryjmac . It was only the second library event I’d ever been to, and I really can’t tell you how much I enjoyed it...however this blogpost is an attempt to try! Here are all the things we have to thank @libraryjmac for:
Having just finished my MA dissertation, moved house and started a new job, I haven’t had acres of spare time recently. Therefore, I have to confess to feeling a little sceptical about giving up my Saturday as it was the first one in a while not being spent moving furniture or on hold to British Gas (other craptacular energy suppliers are available). I had originally signed up in July, A.K.A. P-DH-I (Pre-dissertation hand-in), and October seemed very far away. But I decided it was too good an opportunity to miss, and duly got up at 6.30 on a Saturday to go from East to West Midlands to join the other library campers.
And what a joy it was. From the moment I got there, the atmosphere was buzzing and I spent the whole day on a similar high. I attended sessions on Cataloguing and Classification, the future of libraries, breaking down barriers between different sectors, modernising public libraries/dealing with cuts and one on social media, specifically #uklibchat (which I actually helped run...).. I enjoyed all the sessions immensely and could have gone to many more. The place was full of smiling happy library people – including some I knew a lot about, but had not had the pleasure of meeting in person before. Which brings me to:
Meeting virtual friends and fellow professionals
I only really got into Twitter and blogging this year, but have found it a really useful, informative and above all enjoyable way to relate to other library folk and learn more about the library world in general. Library Camp was a great way of meeting some of the people who I’ve enjoyed interacting with online, specifically a couple of tweeters who got in touch with me after my WI talk on the Save Libraries Campaign, and the #uklibchat team. We’ve been running fortnightly Twitter chats about libraries for the past couple of months (quick plug: if this sounds like it interests you, please go to our website uklibchat.wordpress.com)
I also however found it massively rewarding hearing from and talking to people I hadn’t known about before, such as Sara Batts (@BattyTowers). I do sometimes worry that Twitter can be a bit exclusive and cliquey but I found it just as easy talking to people who I didn’t know virtually.
Broadening Library Horizons
I work in a very niche sector as a librarian for a chartered organisation. Therefore it’s interesting to meet other library people from a variety of different sectors and circumstances. I personally think that there’s not enough of this going on, and it was great that some of the sessions during the day focussed on cross-sectoral understanding and working together.
On the day I met public librarians, HE librarians, FE librarians, commercial librarians, law librarians and even some non-librarians who were there just for the library love. Even at library school, we never got a chance to meet such a variety of library people. Library camp really reaffirmed how huge and various our profession is – but also by some kind of divine spell, had you going away with a warm fuzzy feeling of love and respect for the professional as a whole.
“That’s A Learning I Made”
The way that Library Camp worked meant you couldn’t go to all the sessions, but man, did my head get crammed with some awesome ideas and the smartness of a hundred or so library campers! Not only did I personally benefit from hearing feedback about #uklibchat, but I learnt about things I’d never dreamed of before the day. In some sessions, my main train of thought was simply “I must remember to look that up when I get home.” Really cool things like the Chicago Underground Library
Going to the sessions also made me realise a few things about my own job and about libraries more generally. Like when you catalogue, don’t worry about getting the perfect number, and don’t think you are the only librarian not cataloguing “properly.” Or that whilst many of the “solutions” to the challenges libraries are facing have been proposed many times before, there are some genuinely exciting new ideas out there, like the teen librarians in San Francisco taking their Manga stock out on carts and wheeling it round the city streets.
So long and thanks for all the cake
So that was my Library Camp. Last but not least however, I should also say the chance to sample some excellent cake-based goodies was a major highlight of the day (Special mention must go to @deadlylibrarian ‘s brownies).Thanks to all those who made it such a satisfying day – for both my cake hungry-stomach, and my ideas-hungry brain.