Mini Library Camp at Manchester Digital Laboratory #libcampnw

What started out as a group of friends arranging a meeting to debate the possibility of the next national library camp, quickly became an event in its’ own right. Needless to say we didn’t get to talk about #libcampuk12.

We did get to talk about

  • community resilience and its relevance to libraries.
  • The future of reference libraries.
  • Stories not statistics. Very important point at the heart of this discussion – that you can’t understand the good a library is doing by looking at the statistics.
  • Libraries as active spaces. The idea of the library as a physical, community space.
  • Equality and diversity in the LIS profession.
  • Central library vs. branch libraries
  • Staff training
  • Sexy objects: exposing the data layer
  • Marketing Libraries.
  • ‘Future Skills’. We would like to hear your views on what you want from a revised Body of Professional Knowledge
  • “The Little Things”, Loo’s, names, badges and everything else

I’m sure there were other sessions that I’ve missed here. I was involved in the session on marketing libraries that I know generated ideas and focused minds on this as a real problem. As the session proposer I should have tried harder to push the conversations towards solutions. I did think afterwards I let my disappointment with the service taint the session with a negative hue:/ Until we have a three-minute advert for libraries in the middle of the X-Factor final I won’t be sated. THIS.IS.LIBRARY! *kicks diplomat from reality into well*

My personal favourite session was the bits and pieces “Small Things”. Both well attended and facilitated, no-one was allowed to dominate a big group. The session covered a huge area in limited time, with some very amusing tales that had everyone lol’ing. The Stats and Stories session also gave me anecdotes, more importantly it gave me a reason to tell them.

I would’ve liked to attend all of them, obviously, and controversially, none of them. All of them, because I know, however abstract the session, I’ll always find a nugget of knowledge worth coveting and re-distributing. None of them, because to be harsh to myself, I should have spent more time doing, less time talking. We needed someone; to time keep, to tweet and arrange tweeters for each session, to arrange and upload photos and video of each session, to be in one place throughout the whole of the afternoon as a help point and to be everywhere at the same time (quantum macro managing), to make brews and cut cake.

To be fair to everyone, especially Sue and Carolin, everyone helped with all of these tasks, as is the un-conference way. These grievances will, undoubtedly, prove invaluable for the larger national library camp, they are one of the reasons a smaller camp was called for. I think I had to be most impressed in our time-keeping skills, I was in awe of Carolin, on the fly re-organising of the whole afternoon, several times, cutting breaks and extending sessions. Saved the day.

Towards the end of the afternoon, rumours began to circulate about moving to the pub. Actually they weren’t rumours, Sue made it clear that attendance at the pub was mandatory as she was going to buy everyone a pint. OK I made that bit up, the buying a pint bit;) My abiding memory of the whole day was of the pub, I can’t remember what it was called even though we were in there longer than we were at MadLab. If an indicator of a success is to be found in the pub later on then #libcampnw holds its proverbial head high amongst un-conferences everywhere. If your measure of success isn’t to be found in the pub later, then I think you should take a look at your quantifiable, statistically significant, measuring stick, a long look.


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