Thing 15 is all about talking the talk: attending seminars or conferences, giving presentations and even organising such events.
I’m fairly lucky in my current job as I am able to attend some events, workshops, conferences etc as part of my job. This includes ones in Wales and further afield (within reason). I’m allowed to attend the CILIP Wales conference every year as well as one or two other ones, often subject specific. However, like many library services we are facing reductions in budgets so have to really evaluate the benefits of all the various conferences and events out there to choose the most appropriate one/s. My job role means that it’s quite important that I attend events in Wales when possible, such as the Welsh higher education’s annual colloquium, although I haven’t been able to attend for a couple of years because of clashes.
I find the benefits of attending the events in Wales for me is primarily catching up with people and making new connections, or passing on information about what I and CyMAL do. Often at Wales events CyMAL has funded quite a few of the projects that are in the conference programme, so I often don’t learn ‘new’ stuff, but it’s good to see how the projects are doing and how the are received by delegates.
Recently I attended a conference virtually – it was being held in London but was also being live streamed. Amazingly our technology coped with this and I found it useful to keep one ear (using headphones) on the conference and work at my desk doing other things at the same time. When a speaker or session come on that was of greater relevance I listened with both ears. It saved a lot of travel, expense, and didn’t contribute to global warming!
I noticed a Digital Shift virtual e-books conference coming up so may ask if I can ‘attend’ that, although not sure of the whole EDT / GMT time difference thing… I’m not watching it at midnight!
Since having a library blog for my work I’ve tried to write up some sort of useful summary of the conferences I’ve attended. I try to avoid just going through the programme speaker by speaker, summarising their points, but instead pick out key themes or stand-out discussions – see my posts on CILIP Wales 2012 and 2011, and the CILIP Scotland 2012 conference.
The biggest conference I’ve attended is IFLA when it was in Milan – myself and an external colleague were there to pick up an award (Wales won 2nd place in the IFLA marketing award in 2009) and I was just astounded at the size of it – about 3000+ people I think. I was glad that a colleague had said it was ok to get up and leave sessions whenever you wanted or join other sessions late – everyone was doing this although I found it quite unsettling at first. On hearing the size of the ALA one though (25,000) my mind just stops comprehending how a conference can be that size. It’s bigger than the whole town and uni where I live and work combined! The Special Library Association annual conference also sounds epic, and I enjoyed reading Simon Barron’s four blog posts on it – they all show just how surreal such a conference is.
Speaking at events
Again, I’m really lucky in my job with this, as I get invited to give presentations at workshops, events and conferences in Wales and further afield. Reflecting on this, I wish I’d kept a record of all the talks I’ve given in my current job so far! I’m also invited to the Department of Information Studies in Aberystwyth University annually to give a few lectures to the students. My talks are often on CyMAL in general, the Welsh library scene, or they may be on a specific topic e.g. the Welsh libraries marketing programme. In the last couple of years I’ve given presentations at the Forum for Interlending conference in 2010, the Northumbria International conference on performance measurement in 2011 on our use of SROI, and was even guest speaker (!) at an event in Scotland in 2011.
As a former p/t lecture I’m sure I make many cardinal sins with PowerPoint, but I’m making small changes each time. I’m looking forward to learning about Prezi in a future Thing. I liked the concise and visual presentation about rules you should never break by Ned Potter which was one of the suggested links in Thing15. I must also learn to embed fonts in PowerPoint.
You can see some of my more recent presentations on my Slideshare account.
I’ve not organised a whole conference, but I have organised day seminars/discussion days in Wales or workshops, day meetings etc. My main lessons to note from these experiences are: to order plenty of hot drinks and water; to triple check they can cater for vegans (personal self interest here…); to choose a room that doesn’t have heating problems (hot or cold), build in ‘slack’ time to allow for over-running, plan long breaks (15mins is not enough, especially as most people find the break times the most useful!), and never EVER allow people to over-run. When I’m giving a presentation I try never to over run either – I think it’s discourteous, annoying and unnecessary!
Following the CILIP Wales conference this year there’s been some general chatter about a possible mashup event in Wales – as yet it’s not progressed beyond some email exchanges, and it’s clear from my input in the discussion that I’m already over-planning or complicating what a mashup event should ‘look’ like. My librarian tendencies to organise are peeking out!
In summary, I realise that I’m very fortunate in my current job role in many aspects of professional development in that I have the opportunity to do things that are possibly more limited for other people. They probably have more relaxed Powerpoint template rules though…