Library Camp 2012: it was great

What would possess a couple of hundred people to descend upon Birmingham from way up North and way down South, and indeed from East and West, in short from all over the place, early on a Saturday morning to spend the whole day hosting and participating in sessions about all things library? Such is the strength of feeling harnessed by Library Camp 2012. As a first timer I was pretty awestruck and overwhelmed when I walked into the Signing Tree Conference Centre that morning to see so many people and feel the staticky buzz of enthusiasm in the place. I had only a vague idea of how the day would proceed and lurked a lot more than I really intended, taking it all in, but warming up a bit towards the end of the day and starting to get more involved. The atmosphere was super supportive and encouraging, and there was the feeling that anyone could say anything, contribution was encouraged. Twitter is apparently very popular. Everyone was tweeting. All the time. Almost before the words have left your mouth. iPads, tablets, phones, all popular. Also name badges had on the whole not just (or not at all) actual names, no, but twitter names. It was very helpful, I’ve been able to follow lots of people on Twitter because of these.

The day comprised about five concurrent sessions every hour for six hours with a break for (a fantastic and free) lunch; I had a hard time choosing between sessions. I did cotton on later that here it was OK to leave a session mid way through and pop along to another one – such a thing I have never seen before in my sheltered life. This I think is excellent. A quick summary of the sessions I went to:

What are libraries really for – a touchy subject which provoked what almost seemed like anger at times. Heard about MadLab, Speak up for Libraries amongst other things.

Happiness index – more formal session led by @libraryweb exploring how libraries contribute to the happiness of the nation. Reading is relaxing.

Play – had a go at @andywalsh999‘s game “Seek” which teaches information literacy in a fun way. I had fun. But is there a stigma against games?

Academic libraries – a chat about academic library issues. How to engage with departments as well as students. Desire to be recognised as professionals with expertise just as much as academics. LIDP shows correlation between use of library resources and degree success. Employers want critical thinkers and libraries can teach / enable students to become these.

iPad 101 – how ipads are being used in libraries. Issues about personalisation of the device and tediousness of wiping all data from them each time they’re returned. Explosion of apps for Android and increasing popularity of tablets with this OS. Use of ipads by library staff for roaming.

Roaming – @librarian absolutely amazing Itinerant Poetry Library. Taking libraries to the people, showing people what libraries can do for them. Loved @librarian’s recital of Henry Ellis’s quote that Librarians are a “living catalogue only waiting to be consulted”.

I was honestly upset to have to leave this session early and thus end my Library Camp experience for the year. I already look forward to Library Camp 2013, I’m very much stoked about it all, and have set about letting others know what an awesome event it is and insisting that they come along with me next year.

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