Thursday, 4 April 2013

Library Camp London part 2

I've all ready blogged about the morning sessions here, and after an amazing lunch (all provided by the attendees) it was time for the afternoon sessions.

Photo courtesy of Claire Black

First up was a speed networking session, based on the speed dating concept, we were partnered up and given two minutes to introduce ourselves before we swapped to the next partner, and so on till we'd met everyone. It was a great opportunity to meet people, but the two minutes weren't long enough. I wish it had been scheduled for before lunch so you could carry on the conversations that had been started.

Next up was the 'Sweary Session' pitched by Richard Veevers, on dealing with library users swearing at you. I really enjoyed this session, even though I now work in a closed access library and so don't anticipate experiencing this particular problem. It was however, pretty surreal sitting in a session discussing the origin of certain swear words while hearing 'The Wheels on the Bus' from the Rhymetime session behind us!

To start with we made the distinction that there is a difference between swearing and being sworn at. Often it's not the language which is unacceptable, but the manner of communication.

With this clarified we shared our own related experiences, and discussed the various ways we'd dealt with them (or would have preferred to deal with them!), ending with a list of points that people found useful.
  • Strong support from management staff - backing you up, particularly in front of library users
  • Clear guidelines on what is and isn't considered acceptable, and procedures to deal with them - although not so inflexible that some personal discretion can't sometimes be used
  • A consistent message across all frontline staff - if you are all saying the same thing then situations created due to confusion will be less likely
  • Confidence to call in back up if required - sometimes just a change of face can help to defuse a situation
  • The understanding that there won't always be a happy resolution - you can do everything in your power to resolve the situation and still end up with an unsatisfactory result, that isn't a failure, it's just how it is sometimes!

The final session I attended was run by Steve Bowman called Vacate the Library! I was particularly keen to attend because I missed the excellent Librarians Awake! presentation he did at the CDG/New Professionals Conference last year, so I was hoping he'd cover similar themes in the session.

Steve began by telling us about some of the outreach work he's been doing at the University of Chichester, and how as a result it's allowed his department to become more visible both in the local area and within his institution. He pointed out that getting out of the library can be of benefit to you professionally and also to your institution. He also suggested that to get on as a library or a librarian it is 30% skills and 70% visibility!

There followed a discussion which allowed people to swap stories of the outreach activities they've been involved in, some of the suggestions included;

  • Interact more with like-minded departments, such as e-learning for example
  • Volunteer for things at work - committees, projects
  • Send out regular newsletters informing staff/students/library users of your activities
  • Have a strong presence on your institutions intranet
  • Have pop up libraries - strategically placed by canteen/coffee machines etc.

  • Go out to local schools, colleges, or organised groups
  • Present at conferences or write for professional publications - handy if your institution is keen on raising its research profile
  • Use social media - it can have a greater potential reach

I found the session really interesting, even if we did feel a bit outnumbered by the Librarians and Personality session next to us!

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