Monday, 10 October 2011


Dictionary definition (Appropriately written in 140 characters)

Librarian (n). Intelligent life form who organises, or finds, knowledge for other life forms. Thrives on socialising, social media and cake.

Sugar! Lovely tablet from Jaf


The almost obligatory #libcampuk11 retrospective posting ("Let a thousand reflections bloom" yadda yadda yadda). Went to the Library Camp event on Saturday, after a previous evening of drinking and meeting with some enthusiastic/thirsty librarians. In point form:

1. I was never bored. Not once. Perhaps, probably because, there was no-one standing in front of me for an hour droning on about what's on his powerpoint slides. The session times are perfect. 45 minutes in, people say interesting stuff, no bullshitters or egos, 15 minutes out, pick the next room.

2. Extreme tweet-meet. Can usually handle meeting one or two people I follow on twitter for the first time at a go but ... so many ... overwhelming. Running through my head was "First real life impressions - do not make a complete arse of yourself", hence didn't speak much during the day. That and the raging hangover. Never EVER agree to a librarian when they say after several hours "The gin was nice; shall we try the vodka now?" especially if you have an all day conference the next day. Too old for this.

2011-10-08 10.04.07

3. The New Professionals, those here, are seriously well informed about matters library. I listened and learnt a lot. Not surprising. A large part of that informing is through using soc media, and especially twitter, and using it bloody effectively.

4.1. But from the horror stories that came out in a few of the sessions, most actively working libraries are not so connected, especially at work. One example of many; librarians can't (not allowed to) tweet about the services they offer to the public. Instead, they email a council dude, who then mangles this into PR which usually doesn't match what they do. Or gets disseminated at all.

4.2. Related to this, from what was said most librarians aren't (as) well connected, or on Twitter or social media. Kinda, tip of the iceberg thing. Yes! With the well-informed, connected, librarians (esp. New Professionals) being above the water and seeing where they're going, but the majority being poorly connected, under the water, moving along kind of blindly doing the 9 to 5 job without a clear image of how the sector, threads of change, are moving.

5. It was good to see a significant presence at the event from non-librarians who are heavily meshed into the Birmingham social media scene. Laura, Mark, Andy, Simon, Dan and some others. There's a heck of a lot of blurring and overlap between the arts, library and social media sectors in Birmingham.

6. Cake. Bloody hell. For a conference of officially 150 people (or 175), that was ... something else.

Library Camp cake

7. The sessions were useful. The first one, run by Michael on public libraries, was an eye opener. People there who were front-line staff and described their situations cheerfully bluntly. As a side point; Michael as 2014 CILIP president, following Phil and Lauren? Yeah, can see that.

8. The games in libraries / gamification session was the personal highlight as it's a goodly chunk of what I've spent the last decade messing with. Great to see a packed room - in the UK - of people at that session. It was jarring, noting how very different the US and UK games in libraries thing is, for a whole raft of reasons (not the fault of anyone, the good people, in the room). Good for to be back in the UK and hear this as a personal reality check (if you heard a knocking sound, I was the one at the back in the lounge area, lightly banging my head on the wall). Separate post on that later this week.

9. So relieved that my personal experience and use of Twitter has not changed or been compromised by this event. Had mixed feelings about meeting so many people I follow on Twitter, in a compressed timespace of just a few hours, but although overwhelming (point 2) it worked out okay. Worked out really well, as post-event and clear head later, chatting more to those known but not met before, and chatting to some new people. Phew.


10. There were people there from both CILIP and Voices for the Library, and they listened and spoke and hugged and participated and stuff. Despite being two different organisations in many ways, they have a largely shared common goal, and apart from the occasional minor person difference, get on and work together. Which is good, as the only "winners" of any distracting infighting in the library activism and advocacy scene are these people.


Horses for courses; everyone has their own set of desires, wants, needs for events. Have been to several hundred library events since 1992 (averaged one a week, due to jobs and projects, in 1995-1999). Most were forgettable, even some of those which many thousands of pounds in costs etc were thrown at; a few stand out. Personally am ranking this as third favorite overall, and also favorite library event in the UK I've ever been to.

Anticipating whiners

I await the inevitable whine/viewpoint that you don't have to be "on" Twitter, or similar, to be a librarian / good librarian / effective librarian. Well, that's nice for you. True, you don't have to be. It's just up to you how informed / uninformed you want to be, about information sources, what's happening in the library sector, library issues and battles that may one day come knocking at your door. You are entitled to your opinion that twitter isn't useful or helpful. And I'm glad that I won't have to read your opinions, about Twitter, on Twitter.


Claire has done a tag cloud from the tweets and put it on Flickr. And have just realised it's in the shape of a ...

Library Camp

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