Monday, 17 November 2014

Library Camp Glasgow - We Sponsored, and Amanda Brennan Reports on a Great Day

Here's a report on the recent Library Camp at the Mitchell Library in Glasgow.  Our thanks go to Amanda Brennan, Academic Librarian at Bernard King Library, Abertay University, for sharing this with us.

"I'm coming slightly late to the party given the range of excellent reports already blogged and tweeted over the last few days (for example here), but I thought I would add my impressions of my second 'un-conference' experience at Library Camp Glasgow 2014, held at the Mitchell Library on Saturday 8 November.

"Visiting the Mitchell is always a pleasure (one of the highlights of last year’s event was the ‘behind the scenes’ tour offered by Myra Paterson, an opportunity offered again this year) and having attended the inaugural Library Camp in 2013, I had a better idea of what to expect this time around. The morning started with a lively round of Librarian Bingo, always an excellent icebreaker, though as I don’t knit, own a cat or play a team sport I’m afraid I was a grave disappointment on the box ticking front! It did give me a chance to spot some of the home-made badges sported by fellow attendees – perhaps next year I’ll actually get around to making one myself (though given my abject lack of crafting talent, this remains unlikely).

Sharing experience

"Since last year’s Library Camp I've completed my postgraduate diploma and taken up my first professional post. Something I really appreciated this year was the opportunity to talk to Academic Librarians and Subject Librarians from other institutions and I spent quite some time quizzing them on their information literacy provision, learner engagement techniques and collection development strategies – basically extracting whatever useful tips they were willing to part with! The first of my chosen sessions, Jane Furness on Innovative Information Literacy was particularly helpful in this regard with its lively discussion of more interactive approaches to teaching information skills. As the discussion progressed we turned to ways to engage both students and academic staff with the library more generally – the consensus seemed to be to adopt a ‘stealth’ approach, taking information literacy provision and other services out of the library and into the departments wherever possible.


"Jennifer Horan’s session Advocacy – a worthwile cause? followed next, and many of the questions and challenges raised chimed with what I’d heard in the earlier discussion. Some of the other participants shared anecdotes on the misunderstandings they’d encountered about their roles and professional qualifications – it never fails to surprise me how little many people understand about what librarians actually do, even in education and academia, but then perhaps this indicates a need to better publicise our services. The session raised a number of pertinent questions. How do we demonstrate the value of the work we do as librarians? Can we even be advocates for our own work? These questions seem especially timely given recent assaults on school and public library services in particular. Jennifer pointed us to the excellent Library A to Z campaign, which attempts to list the many and varied activities going on in libraries today.

Reflective Practice

"The third of my sessions was Do You Practice What You Preach? pitched by Karen McAulay. Karen took us through her own reflective blog and shared her experience of the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland Teaching Artist course, focusing on the idea of reflective practice. Our subsequent discussion raised interesting questions about the extent to which we ourselves reflect on what we do. As I’m considering pursuing Chartership in the next few years and would not describe myself as naturally reflective, I have thought about ways to cultivate more reflective habits. It was useful to hear what others do and our discussion has prompted me to dig out the Professional Development Plan I completed as part of my postgraduate diploma, and to resurrect my long dormant Diigo account.

Transferable skills

"Last but not least was 23 Librarians live! pitched on the day by Gordon Hunt. I’m a big fan of the 23 Librarians concept and what I’ve enjoyed more than anything about both of my Library Camp experiences has been the chance to hear about what other librarians do. Having only worked in academic libraries, I’m always fascinated to hear about what librarians get up to in other sectors. Several participants shared their interesting and unusual career trajectories, reinforcing that the skills we take for granted as librarians are much in demand, even when looking outwith traditional library roles. The importance of marketing ourselves and our professional expertise came up again, though in this case the focus was on tailoring applications to fit the post in question, emphasising skills and experience over job titles. As I’m currently in a temporary post, the question of career progression is one that’s been very much on my mind. This session encouraged me to think more broadly about possibilities for the future.

"All in all Library Camp Glasgow was, once again, a thought provoking day, providing a friendly and relaxed forum for discussion and reflection. Students and new professionals looking for a less intimidating way onto the conference circuit should definitely consider attending future events, though its appeal is by no means limited to those at the beginning of their career. In these days of budget constraints and service closures, grassroots events like Library Camp are more important than ever. Many thanks to Anabel Marsh and the other organisers for providing such a valuable opportunity."

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