Thursday, 18 October 2012

Library Camp 2012

*sheepishly brushes dust off blog* Let's all ignore the thing where I completely abandoned this blog for ages, shall we? Yes. Well. Here are some things that have happened in the last year:
  • I moved onto the dissertation part of my MSc! I'm looking at computer users in public libraries, and am currently in the "doing the actual research" stage. As a result I am identifying with this gifset more and more each day.
  • I am having an essay published in Chicks Unravel Time, a book about Doctor Who, coming out on 13th November! OK, this isn't really library related, but I'm excited, and also you need three things to make a list, so.
  • Went to Library Camp 2012 in Birmingham! This is the bit I am actually going to talk about in this post, so will now break out of bullet points for a bit.
I had a great time! There was one hairy moment getting there, when I was shivering on the platform at Birmingham New Street, waiting for a train to Five Ways, listening to the increasingly doom-laden announcements and considering giving up on the idea of ever leaving and just making a new life for myself there, but other than that it was an excellent day. Cakecamp was smashing and [ profile] kosjanka's truffles were a worthy winner. I went to some great sessions, of which my favourite was probably the one on classification: a fairly chilled discussion of lots of issues to do with same, including but not limited to:
  • usefulness or otherwise of specialist/modified classification schemes, especially for one branch in a larger system
  • is classifying for classifiers the same as classifying for users?
  • reclassification issues, including the inertia of the system: if you classify a borderline item as one classmark you may find yourself putting other similar things there too, even though they might all be better off somewhere else
  • what to do when your classification scheme hasn't kept up with current developments in the field (or it has, but you haven't got the latest edition yet)
  • natural language/folksonomies and allowing users to add tags: a folksonomy needs time to grow into usefulness whereas classifying can be done straight away. Allowing user tags and corrections can be helpful, though: librarians can't be experts in every subject!
  • related to the above, classifying e-resources: do they need a "classmark" as such? What is the unit of classification? (eg, should we (and can we) classify/link to ebooks at chapter level?)
  • is there a need for a point of reference to direct e-users to print resources, and vice versa?
  • does classifying a text prejudice how it's seen by users? (eg "this book isn't in the same place as the others I'm using so it's probably not as useful") Does classification shape how subjects and their relationships are seen?
  • need to think about what the item will be most used for, not just what it's about. In academic libraries, if a member of staff requests a text for a specific purpose, should that affect how we classify it?
  • do we need to teach users about classification to help them understand it? Should good classification be invisible?
  • recent growth in multidisciplinary work: very frustrating for classifiers!
I don't do any classification in my library at the moment, but I'm interested in it, so it was an interesting session to go to.

Other sessions I went to included: book repair (something I do in my library; it was interesting to hear how other people do it!), and the one on academic libraries. Looking at my notes it seems like the discussion in that one was mostly about demonstrating value, especially given fee rises. Bullet points time again!

  • Need to make it clearer that a lot of online resources are paid for by the library and that online doesn't mean free (but seamless access is good! Can the two be reconciled?).
  • Use complaints show what the library can do.
  • Workshops for staff: if we convince academics of what the library offers, they can advocate for us. Librarians need to go where the staff are, be visible, show them how we can help, target individual staff.
  • Talking about relegation/withdrawal/cancellation, we need to assert our own authority and expertise, explain to academics (who want to keep everything) why we're getting rid of things: give them a choice of what to let go rather than asking about individual things. Cost per use arguments can be helpful...
  • ...but this comes up against questions of what a university is for. Is it there to make money? The library is (seen as) a cost to the organisation.
  • Need to connect the collections to money-making endeavours eg research grants, student results, tie the library to institutional aims, and be clear about how it contributes to eg student experience, research outcomes etc.
  • Non-library people don't see the work that goes into, eg, student training: it's assumed that if they ask the library will do it and it will be free.
  • Can we generate revenue from external users by offering them access/services? Is this taking resources away from our students? For some libraries, the community are their future students and allowing access to the library helps raise aspirations.
  • Need to push information literacy as part of student's development: teaching them critical thinking skills, giving them the ability to learn, and thereby increasing their employability.
  • Difficulty of proving impacts without a control group!
  • Is there a fundamental disconnect whereby institutions are thinking in short term ways but libraries are thinking long term?

The last session I went to was on 3D printing; mostly what I took away from it was that SCIENCE IS AWESOME, but there was some good discussion particularly on the copyright implications: copyright law is really far behind for this area in particular. [ profile] jennysarahjones made some comparisons with fancrafts and the copyright situation there, which made me think that cosplayers and fancrafters are probably going to have a lot of use for 3D printers... Someone also mentioned the usefulness of 3D printing for architecture students, saving them from having to hand-make all their models.

Would I recommend Library Camp to anyone who's not sure about going? Yes! I wasn't sure about going myself, because I am ridiculously shy, and, ok, I did mostly only talk to people I already knew, but not entirely! It was a really good experience overall, and I even said things in a few of the sessions, which I wasn't expecting. Hurray!

(I typed a lot of this post up from my notes, please tell me if you think I've missed or misrepresented anything!)

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