Library Camp SW 2014

I attended Library Camp SW at the University of Bristol Graduate School of Education last July and the first ever Library Camp SW at Exeter University the July before.  They were really enjoyable events and the diverse range of library and information professionals and people from related fields led to very interesting and informative discussions.

Last year at the end of the event the Bristol team asked if there was anyone who would like to run it next year.  I put forward the idea of running the conference in the brand new Exeter Library to the steering group for the redevelopment of the library and they unanimously voted their approval for the idea.  I particularly wanted to form the Library Camp SW 2014 team from across a range of libraries to represent the range of people who attend the camp.  Networking really does work and a colleague, 2 Devon, 1 college, 1 school and 3 University of Exeter library staff volunteered for the team.  My intention was that individuals within the team would be able to take on/share the roles that interest them so that it would not be more time consuming than they were happy to do.

It has been a fast learning curve for me.  The first meeting was about introductions, discussions about the team’s Library Camp experience and I gave an overview of Library Camp SW and the Exeter Library redevelopment.  I had gathered literature and photos to show what was involved and we discussed initial ideas and roles.  I realised that working from the agenda was not enough and a detailed action plan was needed.  I investigated project management and found the Project Management chapter from ‘The New Professional’s Toolkit’ by Bethan Ruddock and the Open University Open Learn ‘Planning a Project’ course very informative and thought provoking.  They not only helped with the Library Camp SW project but helped me understand the project management of the new Exeter Library.

For the event to be a success I not only needed to run the project capably but ensure it was marketed well.  In the weekly CILIP news email I found, in the 41 free webinars link, ‘Leveraging Social Media for Non Profit Events’.  Its aim was to increase awareness and attendance while being as efficient and effective as possible.  Perfect!  I learnt how to improve the ticketing life cycle of an event and the need to create a Marketing/Communications calendar.  So bringing all my learning together I developed a project management plan.

One of the publications I needed to advertise Library Camp SW 2014 in is only published irregularly 3 or 4 times a year in and had a copy date of 9th February. This is early for a July event and would require the eventbrite ticket site and wiki up and running.  From the second team meeting everything needed to be in place within 12 days.   I used my ‘23 Things @ Devon Libraries’ social media training and further research to set up the wiki http://libcampsw2014.wikispaces.com/ .  Everybody has busy working lives and I found that people agreeing to and being listed on the plan as actioning a task wasn’t enough, people need to see where they are in the whole and who is waiting on who.  I communicated by team emails and individually with team members working on different parts of the eventbrite tickets, wiki information, advertising, etc to keep to deadlines.

The result of all the effort so far has been brilliant.  The adverts in the bulletins, websites have been sent in but not yet published so from social media promotion alone: 33 of the 100 free tickets have been bought in the first week for an event in 21 weeks time!  The importance of networking has been proved to me again.  Eventbrite lists the attendees so now anyone who reads the adverts and shows interest in the event will see it is a popular event and the range of people attending.  For example the 33 attendees are from: 9 public, 7 college, 5 university and 3 school libraries and include associated professions such as Arts Council England and Bristol Festival of Literature.

I initially did not realise the amount of work my suggestion to hold the event at my library would create for me but I am enjoying the challenge.  The learning and planning I have put in will not only benefit the event but I will be putting it to immediate good use in my work.  I have until 22nd May, when Exeter library reopens, to become skilled in business and intellectual property to provide support in the new Business and IP Centre and run workshops!

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