I haven't been to an unconference in ages - so it was nice to get back into the swing of things with LibraryCamp. It was a delight to spend time with a collection of committed professionals doing amazing things with books.
As requested, I recorded all the sessions I could. Here are my notes, and the audio from each session I attended.
Katie Birkwood lead a fascinating session. It turns out that there are hundreds of thousands of books hidden away in libraries. They're not in the records because of a lack of decent cataloguers. Which means people can't find them. Which means they're rarely used. Which means penny pinching bureaucrats want to "dispose" of them - homely or otherwise.
One suggestion I made was to use "negative metrics". Look at your search results - what common queries receive no results? Those are the books you need to prioritise for cataloguing.
Overdrive DRM is Broken (and that's ok)
I gave a demonstration on just how ridiculously easy it is to circumvent the ePub DRM system used by OverDrive - the system used for ebook lending in many libraries.
I used the metaphor of a locked box of doughnuts. I handed the box to a willing victim and told her that she may only unlock the box if she promised only to eat one doughnut and not to share any with her friends. I then gave her the key. Shortly afterwards the group had scoffed the lot!
That's what makes DRM impossible; you give the lock and the key to the same person and expect them never to behave dishonourably.
I then facilitated a discussion around whether DRM was ever justified, whether libraries should boycott OverDrive, and if it was legal for a librarian to tell a patron how to circumvent artificial restrictions.
I'm happy to say the session was generally well received.
Facilitating the "Coming of Age" of Open Source Software in Libraries
We also discussed how to use other open source products - like FireFox on Internet connected PC.
Annoyingly, one of the participants asked for the session not to be recorded - which I have no problem with, but the guy didn't even speak during the discussion. What's that all about?
Greedily, I ran a second session after being asked to talk about my experiences teaching kids to code using Scratch.
I talked about the CodeClub.org.uk website and resource - telling the librarians how they could get involved.
Try as I might, I just can't get in to graphic novels. I used to love the Beano as a kid, but most modern comics leave me cold.
It was, therefore, fascinating to hear about the rich tapestry of comics within libraries. How they're often used as gateways for reluctant readers. How inexperienced librarians often misfile them. And how explicit manga is not always suitable for young readers.
My resolution - to try to find at least one comic that I really enjoy. I've been recommended Maus (the story of the holocaust told from the perspective of some mice) and Kill Shakespeare (a frankly bonkers epic tale about all of Shakespeare's characters).
A really worthwhile and invigorating experience. Senate House Library is a delightful venue - although the layout of the rooms made the sessions a little noisy at times.
I enjoyed coming to an unconference which was so diverse, and had almost nothing to do with my day-to-day life. I'd recommend that every BarCamp attendee participates in an event which is totally outside of their normal life.