Activity Data Synthesis

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Notes and Photos from Library Camp 2011

Back in October I joined a gathering of library workers, geeks, advocates and enthusiasts in Birmingham for the Library Camp 2011 unconference.

There were a few unusual things about the event from my point of view ...

To start with, it was the first time I'd been at a library event with such a mixed crowd - Public libraries folks rubbing shoulders with folks from the academic libraries doesn't happen as frequently as it should do.

Secondly, I have never seen so much cake.

Thirdly, it was the first unconference event I've been too where everyone introduced themselves at the start of the day.

Fourthly, I've never seen more sessions get proposed than the slots available.

Fifthly, there was a poet-in-residence which is, again, a first for me (though strangely I've been at another event since then which had a poet-in-residence too).

The idea of 150ish people introducing themselves one by one at the start of an event might seem like lunacy but I have to say I found it very moving and uplifting to hear everyone's reasons for being in the same place.

Here are some of the reasons I managed to scribble down as folks introduced themselves:
"... to capture the libgeist."
"I'm here to start the revolution."
"... lured by cake and curiosity."
"I'm looking for library lovers."
"... critique, collaboration and revolution."
"... to steal people's enthusiasm, passion and, hopefully, anger."
"Gratuitous hugging."
"Libation in the library."
"To show the rage and passion for libraries." 

Dave Pattern kindly agreed to be my wing man and ran a session on Activity Data and Recommender Services with me. Dave shared the good work he’s been involved with at Huddersfield University and I talked a bit about this programme and also shared some of the great (open source) applications that have come out of the JISC MOSAIC and Discovery developer competitions. Hopefully my interpretative dance representation of Alex Parker's Book Galaxy serendipitous search interface persuaded a few of those present to take a look at whether they can exploit any of the applications that are sitting there waiting to be plundered for a good cause. Part of the discussions we had in our session were around the challenge for libraries who don’t have developers on their staff to take advantage of opportunities like those. One of the solutions we discussed for that problem was to check who else is using the same library systems that your institution is using and looking for opportunities to form alliances around shared development goals.

All in all it was an invigorating day full of positive conversations and rapidly shared ideas. My only regrets are that a) I couldn't stay on into the evening to continue with the conversations and b) I didn't have a large tupperware box with me to take some of the cake home with me :)


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