Camping Out, East Coast Style

When Alan Gray suggested to me that we export Library Camp to the East coast and give it a whirl there, I was immediately interested–Ann Arbor’s April Library Camp had been such a success that it seemed only natural to hold it somewhere else. Darien Library, being the consummate hosts that they are, pulled out all the stops to host almost fifty people at Library Camp East last Monday. It was different, but, in my estimation, equally successful.

One of the precepts of an Open Spaces event is that whatever happens is the only thing that could have. If that’s the case, then we were fated to participate in a very fulfilling and interesting morning and afternoon (final agenda). A number of people stepped up and helped facilitate the sessions: Casey, Mark, Jessamyn, Sharon, Rebbecca, Dan, Mary Jane, and Janie–Thanks to all of you!

I’ve also been put to shame by all the other bloggers who have covered this event already: Rebecca Hedreen, Sean Robinson, Sharon Clapp, Abby Blachly, Casey Bisson, Jessamyn West, Jennifer Macaulay, Michael Golrick, and Lichen Rancourt

I still think that the “Library Camp” convention can be easily exported to virtually any locale that is convenient enough for a moderately sized group to attend–the critical component, being the people, of course. Connecticut is home to a great tradition of quality librarianship and a lot of the people who make that possible showed up to participate. I did notice that this library camp seemed to be attended by a few more administrators than Ann Arbor’s. I think this changed the dynamic a little, though I confess I haven’t pondered it enough to articulate what that difference was–there was still a strong techie showing, and that’s a good thing for administrators to be exposed to! The open spaces format gives attendees a chance to really talk and explore topics in ways they might not otherwise have a chance to do at traditional conferences. As a result, a number of people told me that they felt it was like nothing they had ever attended before–exactly the response I hoped for!

If you would like to set up a library camp in your locale, feel free to Shanghai the library 2 wiki. I would suggest you give people at least three months of notice to sign up and make arrangements. Periodic reminders are a good thing too. It’s entirely possible to run the risk of over-planning an open spaces event, so be mindful of that. Also, always keep in mind the four principles of Open Space:

  • Whoever comes is the right people
  • Whatever happens is the only thing that could have
  • When it starts is the right time
  • When it’s over, it’s over

We started the day by doing introductions and gathering together topics of interest. We could then quickly construct a schedule for the day that would, hopefully, intersect the hottest topics, soliciting help from individuals to lead the different discussions. I didn’t get the timing quite right in the morning, but the important thing is that once we got the ball rolling, the discussion took over.

The Darien Library has offered to host another Library Camp (perhaps a Mid-Winter get-together?). And who knows, maybe there will be a Library Camp South, West …. North?

We’ll see…


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