I have always guessed that unconferences and public libraries are a natural fit. Now, after Podcamp Halifax, I am absolutely convinced. If you are a director of a public library, I suggest you drop everything, do a twitter search for “podcamp”, catch the feed in your aggregator and pay attention to who, when and where a podcamp might be happening in your area. You want to be a part of the experience. Actually, depending on your community’s needs, you may have a moral and ethical obligation to be part of the experience.
When all was said and done, we had over 250 people who said they wanted to come, over 160 who actually did come and we had a top Twitter tag for part of the day and the tally is still running. Feedback so far has been extremely positive, and people are telling us they want to do it again. I was in the community news prior to the event, we had some great sponsors who helped us out financially or with their promotion machine, and Andrew Baron of Rocketboom gave one of the most inspiring, interesting and audience-aware talks I’ve seen in a while. (Take-away: Be 1) First 2) Best or 3) Most Unique . If you are two of those, success is likely in the bag.)
The library worked out very well as a podcamp space. Adding in the Alderney Landing Theatre as a venue was also an excellent idea. Podcamp started at 9, we held the keynote at 1:30 so we could avoid the Sunday crowd rush at 2pm. Then back to the library for some cake and coffee and on to the theatre again for a talk by Eden Spodek and Connie Crosby to cap off the day.
But why podcamps in libraries? Here are my top-ten reasons:
10. Unconferences are community-driven events.
9. People are curious about technology and don’t know where they can learn more. Our community needed this podcamp! Libraries should be responding to community need.
8. Bloggers want to talk about what they love and often don’t have the crowd around them to do so. cf. the picture of “I am Not Alone!”
7. Podcamps are events where people share ideas.
6. They are much, much, much easier than organizing even a particularly small conference.
5. 160 people in attendance for a full day event – a good lot of them said they could not remember the last time they were in a library.
4. It shows libraries can be innovative in how they use their space.
3. Libraries and librarians get to learn too. In fact, staff might learn more about community development from a podcamp than they would from a library conference.
2. Partnerships – we partnered with organizations that know stuff we do not. That made for a successful podcamp, but it also made what I do more effective as well.
1. Fun fun fun fun fun. Our community walked away smiling from this event.
Of course, an unconference can be done on any subject — it doesn’t have to be social media. Also, there are many many many more reasons why a library could participate in a unconference in general. What kind of unconference do you think your community needs?
Also, here are a list of content as I continue to find cool things.
- Search in twitter for #podcamphfx
- Jeff White’s presentation on Does Design Matter Anymore + Part Two + Part Three
- Photos of Podcamp Halifax on Flickr
- Joel Kelly’s Unfriend Someone Today