Today I had the pleasure of attending the first Libmeet organised by CILIP’s SLG London & SE group. I had been looking forward to this for several reasons; firstly, it’s always a pleasure to spend time in the company of other school librarians, talking “shop”; secondly, I love visiting other libraries as I invariably pick up ideas from them; and thirdly, it made a change from refurbishing my own library!
It was held at Lilian Baylis Technology School in South London, which I have to say was absolutely amazing; such a wonderful use of space and colour, and I wish I had been able to wander around the school a bit more. There was even a rather magnificent gilt mirror in the toilets! And it was also very good value, thanks to sponsorship from Brown’s Books for students.
The day was jam packed with sessions. We began with a Library Surgery; attendees had previously suggested topics to cover and these were discussed in small groups, very similar to what happens at Unconferences. Although it was an organised session with each group discussing every topic for a short time, its unstructured and informal nature enabled us to allow the conversation to develop into relevant areas according to the concerns of the group. Thus our general topic of behaviour in the library ended up as a discussion on how to deal with sixth form students. This was followed by a session on self-promotion and advocacy, something we all do to a certain extent but which is so important for our status and profile within schools. We need to market our services to all our stakeholders - students, staff, parents and governors – because if we don’t then nobody else will, which means telling everybody what you do, why you do it and what impact it has.
After lunch there were two sessions to choose from; one on e-books and resources, the other on the VLE and the library. I attended the latter, partly because (I have to confess) that the school website and VLE is low on my list. It’s not that I even have to do it myself as we have a member of staff who is responsible for them both but I still need to tell them what to put on it. However, talking to other librarians about their websites has given me the impetus to do something about this and I think I’m going to start with a write-up and some photos of the newly refurbished library as this will be a perfect way to tell both students and parents what we’ve done and how the school has invested in the library - that self-promotion idea.
If you get a chance to attend a Libmeet I would thoroughly recommend it. They are an ideal prospect for networking, for gaining further knowledge and ideas, and for CPD. You will usually come away with at least one practical task that you decide to implement, if not more, but I think one of the most useful aspects is the opportunity to talk to other librarians and to share expertise. Something invaluable if you work as a solo librarian.
I had an extremely enjoyable and productive day, and look forward to this becoming a regular feature in the SLG London & SE calendar but there was one question I totally forgot to ask: where on earth did they get those sublime brownies from?