Wednesday, 30 March 2011

Cambridge Lib TeachMeet 2

I awaited TeachMeet with a sort of eager and uncertain anticipation.  The previous TeachMeet, just at the time when I arrived in Cambridge, had been a great success but I had never quite got to the bottom of what it was - I knew that there were techy tools, speakers' names drawn out of a hat and generally great enjoyment but, beyond that, I was in the dark.

Upon arriving at Schlumberger Research Centre for the TeachMeet we were given a lanyard (to my great delight since I have never had one) and a sheet of paper for 'librarian bingo.'  The latter really set the tone for the event.  The aim was to meet as many people as possible and get to know them by firing questions at them such as 'Do you knit?' and 'Do you support Bolton Wanderers?...and why?'  There was a very relaxed and casual atmosphere with librarians of all levels and from all kinds of backgrounds coming together in a social atmosphere. 

The talks themselves were split between 5 minute and 2 minute slots, which ensured that there was a lot of variety and liveliness in the presentations.  These all focused on 'techy tools or teaching tips'  but afforded time to explaining everything for those who were not familiar with terms or tools, which was great for me at least! 

There were ten separate talks and I'll not go into all of them here but I'll pick out a few that I found particularly interesting.  Liz Osman from Homerton discussed library posters and the importance of eye-catching graphics while, at times, also keeping it simple if that is what is required.  What made a lot of sense to me was the importance of pitching posters to the consumer, which will be different in every library.

Liz suggested keepcalm-o-matic which allows you to produce retro posters like this
Sarah Pavey from Box Hill School brought to us her essay puzzle concept.  She has made jigsaws as a means of teaching her IB sixth form students about writing essays and how to deal with the practical and emotional aspects involved.  (Becky and I had a go at the jigsaw in the break and it was addictive to see what the end product would turn out like!)

The presentations by Nicky Adkins and John Iona, both school librarians, were particularly interesting since we, as trainees, have not had any experience of school libraries.  My school library was, at the most, a glorified corridor with a few books and tables for working at so I was thrilled to see the extent to which librarians can (with a bit of coercion) and do get involved in classroom life in order to educate students and teachers alike on research techniques.

The techy tool that the most people are going to try out according to the exciting interactive poll thing at the end of the evening is TeuxDeux, which was lauded by Suzanne Paul of the Parker Library.  Indeed I have already set up my to-do list and it really is very simple to use.  It saves me carting about wee bits of paper with lists on them that I write at work for when I get home and always worry I will lose on the cycle home.

It was a great evening and a massive thank you goes to the organising committee, who did sterling work.  All that is left to say is that the librarian bingo ended with several people getting a full house and a tiebreaker of 'What is the most fascinating fact about yourself?' which resulted in my victory but probably the loss of any respect I had from my fellow librarians - hey ho, I'll console myself with my Easter egg prize!


  1. Well done on winning Erin - enjoy the yummy chocolate. Good to see you there!

  2. Glad you enjoyed it! Your win was well-deserved ;)