Monday, June 10, 2013

Irelibcamp part 1; A pitcher's perspective ...or how I learned to stop worrying and live without presentation technology

Audience feedback post-its on the challenges & benefits of solo librarianship

As a member of the Irish Library community it would have been difficult to avoid the curiosity and general excitement generated in the build up to Ireland's first Library Camp on May 25th. Anyone looking for evidence of the #irelibcamp chatter, check out the Twitter archive HERE.

For anyone still in the dark on library camp; it is a conference of sorts, or rather an unconference, a model favouring an informal, low tech approach to presenting with an emphasis on participation.

In place of keynotes or structured presentations are pitches, short discussions on a selected topic with potential 'pitchers' proposing their topic prior to the event and the running format decided on the day. Irelibcamp was the brainchild of the Career Development Group of the LAI and organised as a joint event between them and the Academic & Special Libraries section @ASLIBRARIES
While a number of successful libcamps have taken place in the UK, this was the first Irish adventure in Libcamp land so for all concerned it was a trek into uncharted territory. At this point I do have to declare insider info.  As 1 12th of the A&SL committee I had a sneak peek behind the curtain on the prep for the day. As a pitcher though, it was a bit of a leap in the dark.  

Libcamp Pitching = Librarian Improv  

Learning point number 1 in making a libcamp pitch was realising that from a pitch casually thrown on the event wiki I would have to cobble together an approach to my topic of solo librarianship without the aid of PowerPoint or even a little bit of Prezi. It's been a really long time since I've attempted speaking to a group of more than 5 people without death by powerpoint or nausea by Prezi so learning point number 2 was, how the hell do you speak to a group of people without a presentation slide or two?
Like a consummate professional my solution was part cheating, part improvisation. Cheating consisted of using photolanguage flash cards to illustrate some points around the challenges of solo librarianship. The rest was improvisation...and post-its, lots and lots of post-its.
A library camp pitch is more call and response than shout in the dark and the aim was to present a snapshot of the issues then throw it out to the crowd. Having thrown the challenges and frustrations of solo librarianship out there, sweetened with a few of the more empowering elements I invited  victims participants to feedback their pros and cons of going it alone.               
Post-its a libcamp pitcher's best friend
'Never enough time' = correct, gold star for you  
What I got back was the highs and lows of going it alone laid out in a quilt of  little yellow sticky squares. Pitching at library camp gives you a chance to throw a topic out to a group of your peers and see it reflected back at you from new angles, not a bad thing at all for a solo librarian.          
In short libcamp pitching is a little bit like starting a twitter conversation, except with actual real live humans and feedback that's longer than 140 characters.    

A very big thanks indeed to the other library campers who listened and didn't heckle and who put their thoughts on post-its so I now have a nice visual representation of a presentation without visuals.

- Stay tuned for part 2; the participants perspective which based on the usual gestation period of my blog posts will appear sometime between 2 weeks and 2 years.      

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