I remember fondly my first unconference, UKLocalGovCamp, in Birmingham in 2009. It really was life-changing for me; the way it opened my eyes to the possibilities of disruptive innovation was the catalyst for me eventually becoming a freelancer. I made many long-standing friends, makers and activists inside and outside local government, there, too.
Since then I’ve attended many more, and have run or facilitated a good number of unconferences, and unconference-style sessions within more traditional types of events. If I say so myself, it’s something I’m good at, and I certainly enjoy it.
So I was pleased, last Saturday, to be able to spend the day in London to attend, and help to facilitate, HASLibCamp, an unconference for librarians in the field of Health and Science. That’s a relatively narrow focus, and so the event wasn’t as big as some I’ve been to, but in no way did that diminish the quality of the sessions, nor the participants’ enthusiasm.
After housekeeping and introductions on behalf of our host, the Department of Library & Information Science at London City University (CityLIS), I asked for a few shows-of-hands, and quickly determined that we had been joined by academic, commercial, hospital and public librarians, and archivists, as well as some student librarians.
I then explained how unconferences work, and invited any of them who wanted to, to give a thirty-second “pitch” for a session in which they wanted to participate, or a topic they wished to discuss.
Luckily, we had just the right number of pitches for the rooms and timeslots available, leaving two gaps after lunch, which were filled during the day with follow-up sessions. A “chill out” room was also avaialable, as was space for ad-hoc discussions and meetings.
The pitched sessions.
I pitched two sessions, one on ORCID identifiers (what they are, and how librarians can help to embed them in their organisations), and another – in response to a request received before the event – on Wikipedia, Wikidata and my work as a Wikimedian in Residence.
I also attended a session on what public libraries might learn about giving healthcare information, from academic libraries. Several resources were mentioned and are linked in the Storify reporting (see below). My final session was billed as being about understanding customer needs, and took the form of a lateral-thinking exercise.
Here’s a brief roundup of coverage elsewhere:
I’m grateful to the Consortium of Independent Health Libraries in London (CHILL) for sponsoring my attendance at the event (a condition of which was that this blog post be written).