Melbourne Unconference 2008

It was a great day. Even though I had wireless access, I was having too much fun in the sessions and too busy networking in the times between, to do any blog posting during the day.

An icebreaker activity of teams creating the fartherest flying missile got things off and running and the topics were quickly created and scheduled. And here they are…..

First thing I noticed was that it was a very different group to last year. There were a number of people who attended last years unconference, but at least 70% were attending their first. This means that the knowledge level and interplay with attendees is very different to last year – not bad, just different.

I nominated cloud computing as a topic and was lucky to have the wonderful David Feighan to help me facilitate it, as one of the first groups for the day. We had about 30 people in the room and I was pleased David and I were able to give a mini workshop on the topic, as most people did not know what it was or the implications for libraries, both positive and negative. Fortunately, as we were in the computer room, we were able to show them relevant links and examples that answered some of the questions they were asking.

After morning tea, a group of about 50 got together to talk about social inclusion, the digital divide and the challenges for libraries brought about by the fast changing technology and online environment. We didnt come up with any eye opening solutions to the issue, but it was a good time of revealing all aspects of the issue, including the many types of digital divide that still exist even in this time of high broadband penetration.

It was a beautiful day, so we took the opportunity to enjoy the beautiful food outdoors, along with some great networking with old and new friends.

The first session after lunch for me, was a leadership dynamics session the the days facilitator Ann. A group of 17 librarians became a business creating greeting cards, with different departments and the issues that came with fulfilling the order (and yes, we actually created cards – pretty badly, but we did make them). It was an eye opening session, giving us a great insight, not only into organisations, but also into leadership and even into ourselves.

The final session I again helped facilitate (I nominated one of the topics), this one on the interesting topics of open source, interactive media and mobile platforms. David Feighan (gotta love him), showed us some great things happening in interactive media – including the Portable Film Festival. As David pointed out, many millions are being spent on these websites, but we can still do some things that dont cost the earth, that make our sites more interactive.

With the introduction of the iPhone in Australia and its instant popularity, the need for mobile accessible content is becoming more important. Until phone plans come down in price in Australia, the demand wont be huge, but its something that libraries need to have on their radar. We also discussed QR codes and how libraries may be able to use them.

We also talked about open source software. Many libraries are using Linux on servers, some are even using them on some their public PCs. More than a few libraries offer open source software, such as Firefox, Open Office and the Gimp as well. A couple of libraries are looking at open software OPACs to sit on their proprietary ILSs and there has been discussion in some circles about creating consortia and moving to an Open Source ILS such as Evergreen or Koha, but no serious moves at this stage. It was interesting to hear what is going how and what people are thinking about.

Feedmate from colleagues who wouldnt usually attend such events, was that it was a great networking opportunity and they learnt and were able to share a lot about what we were doing in our libraries that was relevant to the discussion.

The day concluded with door prizes of an iPod and massive chocolate basket – which I unfortunately did not win, and drinks. It was a long day, but well worth it.

Congrats to Chris Mackenzie and the team at Yarra Plenty for another great conference – It was very much appreciated.

1 comment

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    • harps on October 2, 2008 at 2:55 pm

    i’ve popped a QR Code on my season creep blog for Australian users, but since i don’t have a mobile I haven’t tested it yet… Please share thoughts about how libraries could use them.

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