Friday 24 July 2015

LibCAMp: A Cambridge Unconference

People who follow me on Twitter may have recently seen me frantically tweeting about something called #camlibcamp. This was the first Cambridge library staff unconference and was held this week at the Alison Richard Building in central Cambridge.

We are lucky in Cambridge as every year part of the University Library team organise a conference for staff in January. As well as being something to perk you up just after Christmas it provides a great way to meet new people and share new ideas. Circumstances and busy work schedules for the organisers meant that there was no official conference held this year so a group of us decided to do something about it. LibCAMp was born!

I've been to an unconference before but never organised one so it's been a bit of a learning curve. There were nearly sixty attendees in all which exceeded our expectations and showed that there is a real appetite for this kind of discussion. Below are a few of the lessons learnt during the planning process:
  • plan for more people than you think will come. We thought we would only get about thirty attendees at best but we were overwhelmed by the response. The event sold out in two days but luckily we had some wait-list spaces available which we could release
  • be flexible and listen to other people's ideas when planning. You might have a vision of how you think everything should go but you need to be open to the experiences of others. Some of our best ideas came from someone saying, "how about doing it this way?" so it's important not to discount anything during the planning stage
  • collect feedback soon after the event whilst it's still fresh in the minds of participants. We are not sure at the moment if there will be a rerun of LibCAMp but if there is we have some ideas to encorporate. We asked participants to rate the event but also asked them what was they one thing we could do better. This has given us some valuable ideas for any future events we might run
  • try not to be too hard on yourself when things go wrong. I have a tendency to do this personally so I'm really trying hard to focus on everything that went right as opposed to the fact that I forgot to mention a few things
Overall I think LibCAMp was a success. There were things we could have done better but if we had done everything perfectly it wouldn't have been much of a learning experience! People are still tweeting and blogging about the event so we must have made some sort of impression. The main lesson I've taken away from this is that if you see a gap for an event, rather than complaining about it why not try doing something about it? You might surprise yourself at what you can achieve. 

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