I recently attended Library Camp UK 2011 in Birmingham. It was an event that focused around the future of libraries – any type – what that future for them may involve and how we could develop library services to keep them relevant to the world around us. The event was also attended by other people who either had an interest or a stake in the future of libraries – not just librarians – and there were an amazing 150 to 175 people there. “Amazing” because so many people had decided to attend a work related event on a Saturday and because of the genuine buzz that you could feel throughout the day.
There were about 35 sessions run on the day. They covered technological, political and social aspects of libraries. I went for the techy focus and attended 3 of them (Virtual tour of the Library of Birmingham; Gamification in libraries; Use of mobile devices/services), plus the introduction and final session. During the rest of the day I was generally talking to others about what they were getting up to in their library related work and forcing people into marathon length hug fests.
Virtual tour of the Library of Birmingham
This library is due to open in 2013, but a virtual version has been created in Second Life and we were shown a walk through of all the areas, which in addition to stock related areas, included business spaces for rent to new businesses, music practice areas and a rooftop garden area. It looks like it’s going to be fantastic. As well as a walk through, there’s a virtual fly through on a book as well.
Gamification in Libraries
This session was not only about how games can be used in libraries, but how games can be used to solve problems, provide information and improve interaction between libraries and their users. Some points I picked up on were:
(1) libraries already have an element of gaming and achievement around them, particularly with regard to children’s summer reading schemes.
(2) Games help improve digital literacy in general. eg how to use a mouse.
(3) Simulations can be used to represent the attitudes/personalities of different types of people and can be used to inform others about how it feels to be that person.
(4) Contribution by users to information provision eg tagging catalogue records, could lead onto achievement awards.
This session covered the value of providing information via mobile devices. The mobile internet market is expanding and it’s important that organisations think seriously about resources they provide via this method. There was a discussion about what the purpose of mobile device apps and sites is? Is it for carrying out tasks (eg. renew your books) or providing info? There was also a discussion about whether it was better to provide an app or a mobile site?
It was a bloody good one, actually. Seeing friends I knew from events like Mashed Libraries and my Voices For The Library friends gave me a great opportunity to dish out and demand hugs from lots of people. I am genuinely fond of my Twitter friends and the more I get to meet in person the better… although I do feel sorry for those I hugged towards the end of the day as I’m sure my deoderant was running out. I also got to meet lots of other people I didn’t know before the event and I’m looking forward to meeting them again too.
When we started the day we were all asked what we wanted to get out of it. My response was “To be reassured about the future of libraries, and by the end of the day I was reassured by the fact that so many people (150+) came to a work related event on a Saturday, with so much enthusiasm and a buzz around them. These people really seemed as if they wanted to ensure the future of libraries and fight for them to have an important role to play. I also have no doubt that there are many other people out there who couldn’t make it on the day that are just as enthusiastic too. With these people involved, libraries will have a better chance of fulfilling their potential, more so than if we left it to the politicians and people in power who seem to be indifferent as to what happens with libraries – even when they shouldn’t be and are, in fact, paid not to be indifferent about them.
I’m really looking forward to Library Camp UK 2012.