Written by Lara Musto
Despite its name Library Camp does not imply camping in a library with a sleeping bag and a tent! It’s known as an “unconference” – an informal gathering where experienced and new professionals alike share their ideas; or it can be seen as a springboard to your future in public speaking! The Career Development Group in collaboration with the Academic and Special Libraries group of the LAI (A&SL) have been organising library camp since 2013.
Thanks to DBS Library, this year the LAI CDG and the A&SL were able to hold library camp at Castle House in the Common Room on 21st May. The venue got the thumbs up by attendees, with bean-bags and comfy sofas widely appreciated – according to the tweets on the day! On Twitter the event ranked fourth in Dublin for a while! Past camps used to start with a speed networking type of session to break the ice amongst participants. Instead this year a quiz was introduced with prosecco for everyone in the audience. The questions covered general knowledge and only one was about librarianship. The innovation was approved by seasoned attendees and by newcomers alike. The lucky (aka the nerdiest) team – Going Postal – won a golden ticket for a free entrance to one of next year’s LAI CDG events. After 3 rounds there was only half mark of difference between the first two teams. A combination of prosecco and networking made the game highly competitive amongst the 8 teams!
Then being slightly chirpy but still focused, it was time for the first set of pitches. The marketing campaign for lib camp generally includes the theme and starts a couple of months before the date. This year the subject was a direct question: Are all librarians teacher librarians? Pitches are emailed to the LAI CDG for approval – there is no need to set up a group of slides, because a pitch is carried out with a flip chart, a marker and any other prop selected by the pitcher. Being an open space event, participants can wander in and out of a pitch as they pleased. This year there were so many pitches that it was decided to run 4 pitches at one time, to give each one an opportunity to speak. Each pitch tends to be very lively; it lasts approximately 30 minutes and if you feel lonely you could ask a colleague to co-host. In three years there have been pitches with games, with group work and some with animated discussions.
If you pitch or sit at a pitch you won’t have time to get bored at Library camp! Library camp is known for baking an interesting pitch to entertain a small group of participants and also a cake (savoury or sweet) to help fuel the hungry crowd. However, for those who are timid at showing off their baking skills, there is always the option of topping up the wide variety of food (or drink) items brought in for the occasion. The brain needs to be fed to function properly and to face the rest of the pitches lined up for the day! This year it was worth a king’s ransom sitting on a bean bag or on one of those sofas in the Common Room, sipping away at prosecco or tea/coffee, stuffing your face with so many goodies and your brain with a mammoth of useful info about teaching and librarianship. So roll on next year’s edition!