Community dreaming at Library Camp Perth 2009


Library Camp Perth 2009 went much better than I thought it would. I was a bit unsure when we didn’t get as many registrations so quickly this year. When about 10 people dropped out in the two days before, I was worried that about numbers.

I should have just trusted.

LibCamp2009 - 21 Uploaded to Flickr on October 3, 2009 by rosehortonau

LibCamp2009 - 21 Uploaded to Flickr on October 3, 2009 by rosehortonau

It all went very well

The venue made a big difference this year. A comfortable breakout room, sessions close to each other in rooms properly equipped and – thanks to the efforts of  Helen Burgess– wifi that just worked. We had about 60 – 70 very engaged and open participants. Special guest Michael Stephens had everyone talking from the first session. I saw a couple of people who I’d worked with give a ripsnorting presentation about a project that was so successful because of their efforts and energy in the last 6 months. I had someone feel comfortable enough to come up to me after a session on iPhone apps and say “hey, I didn’t understand a thing that you were saying in that session” – which was kind of confronting, but really great that it was an environment where someone could say that. I hope she understood a bit more after we chatted and pressed a few buttons on my phone over lunch.

Most agreed that Saturday was a good day for the event, with some corporate librarians pointing out that this was the only way they could attend. A very useful suggestion was that we hold the event earlier in the year. The vibe seemed to be more open, engaged  and with higher energy than last years. This is maybe because participants only had to please themselves, rather than justifying an employer’s expectations by sending people along.

If I had to describe the main themes of the Western Australian Library Unconferences, I would say 2007 was “wow – look at the shiny toys, what do they do?”, 2008 was “how can we use all these toys?”, 2009 was – “how do these toys fit into organisational/social systems that are already there?”. (Maybe that just reflects my own progression over the years, not the events’….).

LibCamp2009 - 07 Uploaded to Flickr on October 3, 2009 by rosehortonau

LibCamp2009 - 07 Uploaded to Flickr on October 3, 2009 by rosehortonau

And many things were discussed

I was kind of uncomfortable that I gave so many sessions – I don’t mind doing it at all, I enjoy it – but I would have liked more voices to be heard. Unlike previous years, we had far fewer concurrent sessions and spent more time in group conversation. I like that. This seems to be a trend at recent unconferences I have attended. The Futures of Libraries Summit at Darien Library in March was more like a collegial Town Hall Meeting too.

Here are the sessions from the day:

  • Admin, welcome, thank yous and topics decided
  • Everyone – Q and A with Michael Stephens. First off I had everyone turn to the person next to them and ask them a question. Then for every question we asked Michael, he got to ask the crowd one. Topics included the 23 Things, barriers to getting things done, ways to get things done.
  • Everyone – 14 Things program for staff and students at Murdoch University – Kate Freedman and Aaron Trenorden, 23 Things programs in Australia – Michael Stephens
  • 2 sessions – 1. More on 23 Things with Michael Stephens . 2. iPhone Apps – me and Sue Cook and several others
  • 2 sessions – 1. A Tale of Two Blogs – Sue Cook from CSIRO and Emma Taylor, Water Corp. 2. Slide Presentations: Bane of Conferences or Valuable Pointers – Rosemary Horton, South Metro Health Service
  • 3 sessions – 1. Internet Filtering – Amy Hightower, University of Western Australia 2. Creating Community Respositories – Kete and Omeka – Me 2. RFID – Adi Tedjasaputra
  • Everyone – Three topics all combined – dreaming together…
LibCamp2009 - 25 Uploaded to Flickr on October 3, 2009 by rosehortonau

LibCamp2009 - 25 Uploaded to Flickr on October 3, 2009 by rosehortonau

We dreamed together

By the last session, travelling for the last couple of days and attending exciting events had taken their toll on my brain, so it was a bit mushy. I led the session, and I think it went fine though. Kate Freedman was an excellent scribe. I think there were very few people who did not speak out during the conversation.  We combined three topics that everyone wanted to talk about:

  1. Outrageous, impractical ideas for libraries
  2. What will the library of 2019 look like?
  3. What do we need to stop doing so we can do other things in the future?

As with most sessions, the discussion on the way was more important than the ideas that finally made it to the board.

So, what did we think?

Outrageous, impractical ideas for libraries

  • Digital Rights Management – gone and no more
  • Faster broadband
  • Compulsory professional development
  • Study leave to explore and play
  • Personal filtering by librarians for all users – “here’s a book I know you will like”
  • Netflix model  – give the library your list of “must reads” and we send you two from your list each time you return two
  • Mailing out of materials
  • Delivery of e-copies of materials to our users
  • A decent Integrated Library Management System
    • Copes with different formats
    • Reports out without affecting rest of system
    • Flexible
    • Interfaces with other systems and data sets
    • Magical sorting of items by users’ preferred topics – eg. men’s books and women’s books, blue books
    • Know what people are studying and rank results in order of likely relevance
  • $$$$$$
  • More young people on staff / (or after some discussion – more innovative people of any age)
  • Revamp library studies courses in universities
  • More library techs
  • Collaboration and cooperation between libraries – shared resources and projects
  • All journals become Open Access
  • Bars in libraries (as in serving drinks to staff)
  • A toolbar that allowed users on Amazon or Google sites to select a book then make an instant order for their library to buy it
  • All databases available to all libraries
  • Libraries open 24/7
  • More IT Librarians
  • Managers who read and understand
  • Smarter Members of Parliament

What will the library of 2019 look like?

We needed to cut this bit short, so didn’t get to collections like we wanted:


  • Collaborative spaces
  • Embedded spaces (librarians as part of work teams outside of library buildings)
  • Versatile, flexible spaces and furnishing because we don’t know what the future will be
  • More electrical outlets
  • Working secure free wifi
  • Green/Sustainable buildings and behaviours
  • Co-location with other facilities (eg. shopping centres)
  • Websites with branding and library data
  • Youth friendly

Staff and Skills

  • People who know how to learn
  • like working with people
  • willing to learn
  • willing to change
  • basic coding (programming skills)
  • learning how to teach
  • know about administration and leadership
  • communication skills
  • marketing skills
  • know how to deal with people
  • develop and promote ethics

What do we need to stop doing so we can do other things in the future? What to drop.

  • Recataloguing or tweaking generalist material that is already catalogued
  • (do more cataloguing of local materials)
  • Due Back dates
  • External Key Performance Indicators from people who don’t know what we do – make our own KPIs
  • Many different library cards – let’s have a universal library card
  • Drop/improve MARC
  • Librarians as the main people deciding what stock is added/acquisitions
  • Fines
  • Bean Counting
  • More self-service checkouts
  • Staff checking out books for people without adaptive needs – but still keep the human contact and chat for people who want it – not necessarily while wanding issues though…
  • Irrelevant management courses in library school

13 thoughts on “Community dreaming at Library Camp Perth 2009

  1. Thank you for posting this summary of Library Camp! I am yet to attend an unconference, so it’s great to find out a bit more about how they work. It looks like enthusiastic attendees are the key – lots of interesting ideas bubbling out! Thanks also for setting up the CoverItLive channel 🙂

  2. Thanks Sally. Maybe I’m just a comments-whore, but when people give feedback like that it makes me feel that the time I put into this blog is worthwhile… 🙂

  3. Sad I missed it. However, all the librarians I have meet in Sydney (from here and interstate) are green with envy about the libcamp and guests. I know I was not the only one following the #libcampperth09 twitter stream while at #ozia09.

    Need to hunt down session notes on 14 and 23 things, which I understand is about to hit 30 something things in a couple of weeks in NSW.

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  5. Well, done WA librarians, you get ***** for innovation!
    I would have liked to have been there for the iPhone Apps session, in particular.
    I agree with your suggestions for the look of the 2019 library.

  6. Congratulations to all involved in the third annual Unconference. It sounds as though it was a thought provoking and enjoyable day for all participants.

    I believe that relatively few public librarians attended. Would you mind if I forwarded the link to your blog to LocLib and PLWA members so they can see what a great day it was and perhaps consider joining in next year?

  7. Absolutely fine to forward it to LocLib and PLWA members Tina…then again…we could think about doing a public librarians’ unconference or futures dreaming conversation event some time…

    I think it was a pretty even mix. More corporate librarians than in the past. Possibly fewer public librarians, but then again not being held in the State Library on a Friday like the last two might have affected that.

What do you think? Let us know.