Wednesday, 5 October 2011

CPD 23 - Thing 15 - Events

Thing 15 involves thinking about training events in terms of attending them, speaking at them and organising them.

I've got a lot out of attending training events in this my first year of librarianship. I particularly enjoyed the CoFHE Conference. That weekend away in Wrexham was genuinely inspiring and it had a very real impact on my professional practice. Shortly after I got back I posted a quite detailed report on the various different sessions that I attended so I won't go into that kind of detail here. If you are interested please have a look. I hope that my report will convince you that conferences are very worthwhile.

The downside is that they require a large commitment in terms of time and money (your own or your employer's limited, probably being squeezed at the moment, training budget). Go to a conference if you get the chance but we also need to recognise the value of smaller scale training events.

I strongly recommend teachmeets. These have been springing up all over the place recently so it shouldn't be too hard to find one near you. They involve people getting together to talk about ideas for teaching information literacy and such like. Attendees prepare brief talks about an aspect of their own teaching practice which they want to share with others.

If you can't find a teachmeet near you then this might be a good kind of session to organise yourself. If I was going to take the plunge into organising something I think I would try to set up a teachmeet. I like the practical emphasis on discussing ideas that people have been using in their own libraries. The informal, people sharing ideas style means that it would be cheaper and hopefully less stressful than organising a more traditional event.

Having said that I imagine you have to do some arm-twisting to make sure that enough of the attendees are prepared to present. That might get stressful. The success of your event would be very reliant on the enthusiasm of others. Audience led events probably require more behind the scenes organisation than the philosophy implies.

I think I'd be good at sorting out the refreshments though. Remembering to bring cake is one of my areas of expertise. People might be in trouble if they don't like chocolate but that's a very small percentage of any group.

Attending the CofHe LASEC information literacy training day and teachmeet gave me lots of new ideas. I'm still drawing on that event for inspiration when planning my library skills sessions. Our new students should be very grateful to the organisers and the presenters for helping to make my sessions more exciting. Read my blog entry about the day if you want to know more. That entry also links to relevant blog entries by the organisers. Maybe you can pick up some tips for teaching or organising your own event?

I have yet to speak at an event. It is something that I would be interested in doing in the future. Actually I would even say that it is a goal for me. I would like to present something at a conference (or perhaps a smaller event). I'm a confident public speaker. It's often much less scary than trying to make small talk with a stranger. No? Maybe I've revealed too much. Still you do have a detailed plan for what you're going to say and you have the opportunity to practice until you're happy with it. Public speaking in and of itself isn't a problem.

My issue would be that I'm not completely sure what I would talk about. Still nobody's asking me to talk at a conference tomorrow so I've got time to think about it. I'm sure if I spent some time brainstorming ideas I would be able to come up with something halfway coherent, useful and hopefully vaguely interesting.

Training events are amazing opportunities to learn new things, to meet people and to share ideas. We should all go to more. By extension more of us should be brave enough to speak at them or even to try organising them. Watch this space because if I find the inspiration and the opportunity to do either of the latter then you will read it here first.

Please feel free to let me know about any events that you are organising.

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