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Posts Tagged ‘#echolib’

In praise of #bettakultcha (and a video about buying India a Library)

20 Sep

This post is about 3 things: the Buy India a Library project and my talk about it, the Bettakultcha event I did the talk at, and the generally sound principle of talking about library-related things at events which aren’t remotely library-related…

Bettakultcha is ACE

Bettakultcha is a brilliantly simple concept – a night devoted to presentations of 20 slides, 15 seconds a slide, on anything you feel passionately about, and NO PITCHES. The fact that this works at all – that such a flimsy concept consistently produces a brilliant evening of entertainment – makes you positively giddy with delight when you’re part of one. People talking about their passions is pretty much ALWAYS interesting – even if the passion itself isn’t overly interesting to anyone else, or the presenter isn’t a natural speaker. It’s a very supportive environment in which to public-speak. The talks are only 5 minutes long anyhow so you never get bored; I’ve enjoyed every talk I’ve seen at a Bettakultcha event. I’ve been entertained, moved, fascinated. It’s quite an intimate thing, to talk about your passions to an audience of strangers (my previous Bettakultcha talk was about Captain Fitzroy of the Beagle, with whom I’m somewhat obsessed – normally people have to know me quite well before they get the delights of me discussing his tragic life at great length) and it means you get a connection with people, you effectively jump ahead in your relationship. I’ve met people at Bettakultchas who have become my friends, and who I keep in touch with not just online but in person too. Bettakultcha really is ace.

Here are a couple more talks from the event I recently attended in York – Paul Smith making his passion for coffee properly entertaining,  and an amazing talk by a 14 year old on organ donation! Here’s one I missed but I wished I’d seen – my friend Helen doing a completely silent presentation. There are musical talks, theatrical talks. Anything as long as it’s not a pitch – often the simplest concepts result in the most creativity.

They run all over the North of England – if there’s an event anywhere near you, I can’t recommend it highly enough. Check out some other talks on YouTube, or search Twitter for the hashtag to find out more. The main website is here.

My #BuyaLib 20/20 talk

At the June Bettakultcha I gave a talk about Buy India A Library  – it’s all about how we crowd-sourced $4000 in 2 weeks in order to fund a Library build for a school in Mysore. Here’s the talk:

As mentioned above the format of the talk was that you have 20 slides which each move on automatically after 15 seconds (often known as the Pecha Kucha format, which is probably what the phrase ‘Betta Kultcha’ is referencing, must ask the organisers) – in my experience the key to doing this type of talk is a: to practice it the day before and b: DO NOT WAIT FOR THE SLIDES! People slip-up in 20/20 style presentations when they stop talking – it’s best to plough on with a narrative, and have the slides provide a complimentary narrative, in their own time, underneath…

The audience were much more responsive than I thought they’d be – it was a really fun talk to do.

(By the way, the librarian blogger I mention near the start was @jaffne – sorry not to credit you by name, Jaf!)

The Echo-Chamber Escape revisited

A couple of years back Laura Woods and I did a lot of talking and writing on the subject of librarians escaping the echo-chamber.

We’ve stopped now because quite honestly we got quite sick of our own thoughts and voices on the matter! But it’s still an important concept – we need to write for non-librarian audiences, talk at non-library events, and generally get out there. It’s fun, too.

 

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Updated: Guardian web chat on the evolving role of the academic librarian

02 Feb

UPDATED (22nd March 2012): the Guardian have now published a summary of the discussion which you can read here. It takes some key points from each panelist. For an explanation of what this is, and links to the original debate itself, see the original post below.

Overall the experience was enjoyable but exhausting! 2 hours of really intense reading and writing, but I think we all got a lot out of it…

__________

Just a short post to say, come and join me for a live-chat on Friday lunchtime!

I’m excited to be a panelist for the Guardian newspaper’s Higher Education Network, along with Jo Webb, Andy Priestner and Simon Bains. We’re discussing ‘the evolving role of HE librarians’, in real-time, on the Guardian’s website.

A screen-grab of the article

Click this to be taken to it properly

Full details of the chat are here.

The chat takes place in the comments section beneath the article – so you can either follow it along (don’t forget to hit refresh regularly…) or actively take part by logging in to the Guardian’s website. There’ll be a summary of the best bits posted online at a later date, you can follow @GdnHigherEd to get updates during the process too, and the hashtag to search is #HELiveChat.

Hope to see you there!

- thewikiman

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For the right librarian, this is the chance of a lifetime

16 May

“We need librarians more than we ever did. What we don’t need are mere clerks who guard dead paper. Librarians are too important to be a dwindling voice in our culture. For the right librarian, this is the chance of a lifetime.”

Seth Godin has written about libraries again! And this time I think we’ll like what he has to say a whole lot more than we did last time… The quote above particularly reminds me of Phil Bradley‘s view (with which I agree whole-heartedly) that the massive revolution information and our profession is undergoing and will continue to undergo, is a fabulous opportunity rather than just a threat. But like Seth says, you need to be the right kind of librarian to make it happen – and I think lots of us are.

You can read Seth’s entire post here – it’s well worth it, quite uplifiting really. I liked this quote, too: “The librarian is the interface between reams of data and the untrained but motivated user.”

- thewikiman

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One step forward, two steps back in library-land

11 Feb

There was a couple of really nice things I read yesterday. Firstly, Katie Birkwood got out of the Echo Chamber and presented at Ignite London 4, a non-library event, and talked about libraries. This is absolutely brilliant – a central tenant of the echolib philosophy is to go where librarians aren’t, and preach to the unconverted. By the sounds of things she succeeded in converting some of them, too – you can read about it on her blog, here.

I wanted to embed her slides here because I think they are absolutely fantastic:

View more presentations from Katie Birkwood.

Another positive thing (for me) was seeing Emma Davidson’s blog post about the LISNPN competition – she contrasted the energies being directed at down-playing the positivity around the SaveLibraries campagin, on the LIS-Profession mailing list, with the energies being directed at trying to improve things a tiny bit, via our competition. That was a nice way of looking at it. Emma said:

“I think it’s extremely interesting that one cohort is choosing to spend their energies deploring the current situation, whilst the other is doing their best to get people to do something about it.

Of course, some of the points made on the discussion list are extremely valid, and equally one might argue that a bunch of random acts of advocacy won’t necessarily make much difference to the overall picture, but I know which general approach makes me proud to be part of this profession, and which route fills me with gloom.”

Generally speaking I think those JISC-mail lists seem to bring out the worst in people a lot of the time, I don’t know why. Lots of gloom mixed in with the odd flash of anger. They can be very productive at times, though, so I stay subscribed and look for diamonds in the rough.

My own views on SaveLibrariesDay, both the positive and the cautioning, are encapsulated better than I could say it myself by this excellent piece on Use Libraries and Learn Stuff.

Anyhow, these nice things were offset by a pronouncement from David Cameron in the Commons. He’s on a bit of a roll for making idiotic public statements of late, and this one was really depressing from an information professional’s point of view.

“We all know a truth about libraries, which is that those which will succeed are those that wake up to the world of new technology, the internet and everything else, and investment goes in.”

How utterly depressing. Needless to say in the echo chamber of this blog, we all know that we have of course woken up to the world of new technology (and THE INTERNET – thanks Dave, public libraries have offered internet access since the nineties for God’s sake) a long time ago, and it is ignorant for him to pronounce otherwise. Has he been to a library recently, or is he just making it up? Has he been to his own library in the House of Commons which, despite being closer to the Victorian ideal of a library (the one that everyone thinks all libraries are like) than the vast majority of libraries in the world, still contains computers? I like the idea that if we DO ‘wake up’ to this stuff that we’ve been awake to for two decades, ‘investment goes in’ – well that’s settled then, invest in us you fool.

Everyone tells you that living under a Tory Government will be rubbish, of course, but you really have to experience it for yourself to get the full forlorn, listless, faith-in-humanity eroding, fear-mongering, banker-pandering, xenophobic, misogynist, racist, homophobic, equality-ignoring hatefulness of it all. Good times.

Anyway, hearing David Cameron talk about libraries reminded me of an email exchange I’d had with Chris Rhodes, and he gave me permission to quote something he said which is very important, and very true, about the whole Save Libraries thing:

“The problem with the save libraries campaign [is] even highly educated people have no idea what libraries do.

‘Save the local bus route’ is an easier campaign, prima facie, because public perception of what the local bus route does and what it actually does are not that different. With ‘save the local library’ there is a massive disparity between what the library does and what people think it does.

The campaign has to both explain the role of libraries and explain why they should not be cut.”

I think he’s absolutely right, and it does make the whole thing massively, massively harder.

*bangs head against desk*

Sorry, normal cheerier service will be resumed with the next blog post. :)

- thewikiman

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