Uncooked Data

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Library related events, questions and links: My professional life on a page

LIKE, the Echo Chamber and Supreme Court

This week, Uncooked Data has been to three different and interesting events. In an ideal world I’d have blogged separately about them, but I’m rather running out of week…

On Tuesday, Westlaw hosted drinks at the Supreme Court. This was an opportunity to revisit the building (having been there on a CLIG-organised visit about a year ago), and to hear from Thomson Reuters about their ideas and plans. I also had a chance to catch up with legal librarian colleagues I’d not seen for a little while. Thanks to Westlaw for an enjoyable evening.

Wednesday saw me hot-footing it to the City Business Library to hear the about the exciting Voices for the Library project and how they’re beginning to make inroads into the mainstream media, making the case for the value of library spaces and crucially, professional library staff. Bethan Ruddock and Jo Anderson outlined the development of the website and their social media strategy. The event, run by SLA Europe, was themed around the idea that we need to escape from the ‘echo chamber,’ to be able to reach outside of our library peers and be heard as campaigning professionals. Ned Potter and Laura delivered an inspiring talk on this – I’d forgotten how annoyed I’d been earlier in the year at the KPMG report that assumed all librarians did was arrange books on shelves, and the way Newsnight quoted circulation figures for UK libraries that were out by a factor of 1,000. Details are all on the Echo Chamber prezi. There are writeups of the event at the View from the Hill blog, Laura’s, and SLA Europe recorded the whole thing, so do keep an ear out for the podcast. I’ll admit that although I’ve kept an eye out for VtfL’s work, and seen it discussed on Twitter, I’d not given it a whole lot of attention. Its focus is public libraries, and so I’m concerned, I’m not committed. My sector has already seen job cuts, downgrading and outsourcing. We qualified librarians are in this together as far as I am concerned – but I wonder how many public librarians think I have a really easy job, and vice versa? I work in the City, so I must be loaded…? We didn’t have a great deal of post-presentation chat time, but I did get to talk briefly with Annie Mauger from CILIP and Phil Bradley.

And it’s Thursday… so it must be LIKE… This was LIKE 20, and the first I’d managed to attend. Lesley Robinson took us through the gentle art of networking (you think joining a group of strangers is difficult…have you tried extricating yourself gracefully from the dullest conversation in the world?) Exposure to the SLA and North American networking means I’m pretty comfortable walking into a roomful of strangers, but even so it was nice to bump into someone I knew on the way in this evening! LIKE is a great bunch of people and a very successful community. I hope to have more free evenings on the last Thursday of the month in 2011 so  I can make a few more of the meetings.

And if you’re wondering what I did on Monday, I went to a recording of The Infinite Monkey Cage for R4. And tomorrow? Tomorrow I’m just going to the lovely Bricklayers, a stone’s throw from Uncooked Data’s HQ, to catch up with a lovely aspiring poet friend.

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Filed under: Event report, personal effectiveness, SLA Europe, , ,

Professional Etiquette?

Conferences and networking events are still popular despite shrinking budgets and growing online networks.

I’ve been fortunate to attend a few face-to-face events as well as having a finger in a few social media pies (I’m @Batty_Towers if you’re a Twitter user).  It arose in conversation over lunch recently that it seems we’ve perhaps forgotten some of our early lessons in real life interaction.  Good manners are all about putting other people at their ease as far as we’re concerned; being considerate and paving the way to good conversations and great opportunities. Here are three areas that we felt warranted re-emphasising.

1. Networking drinks
These events are run to create a space where people can connect.  If you want a team night out, please don’t hold it at someone else’s expense during someone else’s evening. It’s bad form to attend with colleagues and then spend your evening only with those people. I was at an event fairly recently where one group was so exclusive I didn’t even know they were part of the wider evening … until they collected the next round of free drinks.  Nervous of networking? Try these tips from networking expert Will Kintish, or these from a favourite of Uncooked Data, Businessballs.com

2. Free events
We’re lucky that we still can attend social and topical events for free. Being free to attend doesn’t mean the event has cost nothing to put on. And it doesn’t absolve you of life’s basic courtesy – if you book and can’t attend, then say so. An email the next morning if you don’t have time on the night is still more welcome than just a no-show. Chances are you will been counted in the catering and possibly taken a place someone else might have been able to use. Would you like to be remembered as a serial no-show? If the event is sponsored, say hello and thanks to the sponsors who have put that glass of wine in your hand.

3. Social Media in session
Twitter isn’t going away any time just yet. Tweeting from conferences sessions is helpful on many levels and I thought pretty well established. Yet recently I heard a friend was on the receiving end of criticism for tweeting during an evening seminar.  Perhaps event organisers, me included, should encourage more use – publicise hashtags in advance, etc, to ensure that attendees feel at ease on their mobile devices.

What is frustrating and inhibits relationship building is when folk are so intent on their devices during breaks that striking up a live conversation is nigh on impossible. Yes, Twitter is real-time and, yes, conversations there are ‘live’ but please, don’t ignore the person sat next to you. That’s just inconsiderate. We do expect to talk to strangers at conferences, not be blanked by our neighbour.

This could turn into a bit of a rant. And Uncooked Data knows it isn’t perfect and gracious at every event and every moment as we’d wish to be. Tiredness, pinchy shoes, too few snacks and too much wine are a bad balance sometimes. But as an event organiser, these are the three things that really do make a difference to an evening.

Filed under: Event report, personal effectiveness,

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Some possibly useful research links