27 May 2013

Library Camp Ireland, The Chocolate Factory, 25th May 2013

It's difficult to write about the first Library Camp Ireland (#irelibcamp) in a way that captures the unique atmosphere of the event. Even tweets, storifys and photos can convey very little of the fluidity, energy and idea-sharing throughout the day. A great turn-out (especially for a sunny Saturday afternoon), brought together information professionals from all sectors creating a real diversity of perspectives and participants.

Image: Giada Gelli, LAI CDG

The first pitch - speed networking facilitated by double-pitcher Helen Kielt - provided a great way to meet new colleagues, two minutes at a time. During the session I spoke with a current MLIS student and a recent graduate from Aberystwyth, as well as finally putting some faces to familiar Twitter-handles. As a pitcher myself, it was a chance (and indeed a challenge!) to try and connect with an audience without using projectors, Powerpoint or laptops. Instead, it was flipcharts, post-it notes and ideas that sparked the discussion. The unstructured format of the day provided flexibility for pitchers to team up, and I joined forces with Jane Burns for a session on writing for publication in library journals - discussing OALIS and An Leabharlann respectively. I was particularly interested in exploring why LIS professionals read / don't read journals, and similarly why they write or don't write. Some of the reasons for writing suggested by participants included reflecting, recording, sharing and learning, as well as helping to be perceived with greater credibility and authenticity by non-library staff. In spite of such advantages, the barriers - particularly a lack of time - remain tricky obstacles for many of us. Committing to a set time for writing each week can help develop a routine, even if it is only an hour a week, and setting a fixed deadline can motivate you to get the final draft over the line. Some out-loud thinking from Jane Burns offered suggestions for the future of An Leabharlann, including how LAI members identify with it as a journal, and the possibility of using alternative  channels such as advertising to fund the publication.

Image: Giada Gelli, LAI CDG
Three pitches ran simultaneously during each of the two sessions, split by networking, coffee and cake (some superb efforts that included a Queen of Saba from Aoife Connolly, Victoria Sponge à la Paul Hollywood from John McManus, Ann O'Sullivan's now legendary brownies and some very pretty #irelibcamp fairy cakes from CDG Chair Giada Gelli). Attendees were encouraged to move between pitches as they wished. I was sorry to miss John McManus' MARC session and the Professional Development pitch from Laura Rooney Ferris, Aoife Connolly and Marie Cullen, as they were running during my own session. However, for the second session I managed to catch parts of all three pitches, moving from Augmented Reality courtesy of DCU, to Wellbeing pitched by Helen Kielt, and finally a very active discussion on the value of LIS qualifications facilitated by Emmet Keoghan. The latter generated input from a wide range of participants: current students, recent and not so recent graduates, as well as those yet to pursue a professional qualification, making for some frank comments and many different views. Should qualifications concentrate on unique LIS skills and theories, or on broader, practical competencies like financial, project and marketing management? Is there enough emphasis on leadership? What will an MLIS look like in ten years time? A great way to finish the day, before decamping to The Black Sheep for further discussion :)

Thanks to the LAI CDG & A&SL Committees for the hard work in making the event happen, as well as to the pitchers and participants for their honesty, energy and ideas.

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