Saturday, September 11, 2010

What I learned at Library Camp

from aliaaccess flickr group: snail's trail
On the last day of ALIA access 2010 I joined fellow campers in a great day of participatory library fun. ADHD_librarian, snail and the many other people involved did a fine job of running this unconference and my first ever library camp. They got me in simply by calling it a camp and creating expectations of fun, laughter, noise, stories, games, singalongs, dancing... there was no dancing but I wasn't disappointed. There were very few sit and listen sessions and from the start people were freely calling out thoughts, ideas and opinions. I loved the structured unstructure of it all. The camp wiki was our program for the day and I love that it changed and morphed as ideas for breakout sessions ebbed and flowed. I loved the beanbags but I agree with @dendrea that the room was a bit restrictive and didn't allow much moving about and getting comfortable, camp style. All in all it was alot of fun and there was a great buzz in the room all day. I was telling a friend about library camp this week and they asked 'did you actually camp there'?

So what did I learn at Library Camp? I loved Stephen Abram's presentation "Not the Keynote" (on slideshare) which described the internet and ebooks as in their 'infancy'. Such a good analogy. Both still have such a long way to go to reach maturity with great changes expected to continue for many years. There was alot of talk at the conference and camp about the future of reading and books with regard to personalisaton and digital rights management (DRM). 'Read how you want' was a trend that came up many times and applied to both print and digital formats. In Abrams unkeynote I tweeted 'we love books but we don't care about the container'. I also tweeted 'I'm excited about the 21stC book experience' with the possibility of Harry Potters spellbook becoming a reality! While I'm excited about how books will change and become more interactive, I actually do care about the container. I think it was flexnib and katiedavis who tweeted that they care about the container when they can't get the content they want on their container. I agree wholeheartedly, this is a very annoying DRM issue - which became a late addition to the final camp breakout sessions. You can have a great container but what is the use if you can't get what you want on it? Publishers need a more open and flexible approach that allows users to 'read how they want'. I was on a 'Loungin around' panel session after lunch and one of the questions was about print on demand books. I suggested that currently ebooks supplied to academic libraries are so restrictive that they can't be downloaded to a mobile device for better screen reading and often only one page or one chapter can be printed to allow mobility. This needs to change. However, this could take a while and in the meantime print on demand will allow users to print the chapter they need, 24/7 so they can read anywhere anytime. Printing allows mobility just like any other mobile device and until publishers change the way they allow their content to be used, print on demand will be necessary.

There's another reason why I care about the container. I recently acquired an iPad and really enjoyed reading on it however, I've discovered that I still desire of the object, I miss the physical book (I'm a bit of a collector). I love to hold the book, absorb the cover, and see it on my shelf as a reminder of how it affected me and shaped my thoughts. Now my ebooks are on my iPad shelf and it's not the same. So I think, if I'm reading something trashy that I don't really want on my physical shelf, I'll go for the ebook but if I think I'm gonna love it and want to hold it and gaze at it I'm gonna buy the paper book. So for me, the container does matter. IMHO I think it matters to other people too and I think ebooks and print books will coexist happily for a long time.

So that was one thing I learned at Library Camp and there were many others... I'll try to be more succinct. I loved that Abrams said we need to consider the community, learning, entertainment, social and research purpose of the library - it's not just about books. He also said we need to be present in social spaces of our clients so we can collaborate in their learning.

After Abrams we had a great talk by 2010 Library Journal 'Mover & Shaker' Paul Hagon from the NLA who debunked mobile myths and talked about that fast paced changes that have occurred in the online and tech worlds in the last 5 years. Interesting that only 4% of Aussie kids use a mobile to access the web (much lower than USA) and most of them are just accessing Facebook. Also interesting is that most people access the web on their mobile to find simple info such as directions, restaurants, weather, movie times etc. He noted that the NLA website gets only about 0.5% of its traffic from mobile devices. Best of all Hagon encouraged us all to think small, get dirty, experiment and play to learn about new tech and see what the potential is. I'm not being very succinct am I? There's more...

I loved all the lightening talks and found these little snippets really got the mind juices flowing and I was wishing I could hear more - so tantalising. I'm excited about the ALIA sustainable libraries group, enthused about social media in libraries, excited by the future of personalisation and impressed by the use of an iPad to give a presentation on how awesome the iPad is. That was my lightening paragraph on the lightening talks. I haven't even started on the breakout sessions! But me thinks that is enough for now. I certainly have a lot to ponder and will try to share more of my thoughts on Library Camp soon. Can't wait for the next one!

1 comment:

  1. great post! glad to see you enjoyed librarycamp - it was my first unconference too (as an unorganiser of sorts).