Using Twitter at conferences and a motivational presentation

Vicky Wilkie DSC_0007

 

Victoria Wilkie
IT Support Specialist
University of York

 

CILIP 2015: connect, debate and innovate – day one

I’m lucky enough to have experience in two roles which are all about interacting with users on a daily basis, helping them connect to the information they need, and working within a close knit team to support the wider university’s needs. These two roles are as a Library Supervisor at the University of York, and my current secondment position as an IT Support Specialist. On the face of it these jobs might seem to not have much in common, however, in my experience, there are a lot of similarities between the working practices and tasks involved. After all, what librarian these days doesn’t use technology for almost every task they do?

Temple When, six months into my IT role, I was given the opportunity to attend the CILIP conference in Liverpool, I was eager to attend and particularly keen to focus on sessions on collaboration between library and IT services and how they could work to support the wider university community. Having never attended before I wasn’t completely sure what to expect, but I was amazed by the variety of backgrounds of the people I met there, the sessions on offer and the broad range of specialisms all making up the information sector. My fears that as an IT Support Specialist I would be in a minority were quickly dispelled.

 

 

Using Twitter to record conference highlights and take part in discussions
As a regular user of Twitter I have been impressed by how easily it allows me to follow topics and discussion points and engage with the information community. While I have used it at previous conferences to follow tweets rather than participate, for this conference I decided to embrace it completely and see if it could be an effective method of capturing the information and my thoughts at the sessions I attended. I decided that instead of taking notes or using a voice recorder to capture events I would instead tweet my own views and actively engage with other people tweeting about similar subjects.

This did mean quite a dramatic change in my note-taking form. I was definitely of the pen and paper camp before this conference and I would take pages of notes most of which would make little sense at a later date. Twitter allowed me to cut out most of the irrelevant parts as the restrictions on characters meant I had to make my points concise. Sometimes because I was busy writing my comments I did miss a few of the speaker’s points, but I quickly picked up on these because I was following others at the conference in the same session and seeing what they tweeted. Twitter also helped to remember these points after the conference ended, as in addition to my own thoughts I also ‘favourited’ other people’s tweets and retweeted any I thought were particularly good.

Being able to instantly see what other people’s thoughts were of the sessions I was in was extremely useful, as it made me feel more involved in the whole conference and allowed me to express my thoughts and feelings on the topics, and get instantly stuck into some lively debates. I really like that Twitter allows me to get an insight into other attendees’ views. There was so much information and so many ideas being bandied around in all the sessions that at times it was easy to miss a really interesting point, but by reading other tweets and seeing what other people were retweeting I was able to examine these points in more detail. I even got an insight into what was happening in the breakout sessions I didn’t get a chance to attend. While Twitter was no replacement for being in the session itself it did give me an interesting insight into the points that others found interesting and relevant, and provided yet more people and topics to engage with and discuss.

Overall, using Twitter to capture my thoughts on the conference felt like a completely different experience to more traditional note taking, and one I found enjoyable. It helped to keep me on point and really allowed me to focus on what I found relevant and interesting. Although there may have been times when I missed some points I feel overall I gained more than I lost. It meant continued and better interactions with others in the community; I was starting conversations and debates that would continue long after the sessions had finished.

Conference themes: connect, debate and innovate
ConferenceThe conference theme was “connect, debate and innovate” and I really felt it delivered on these three aspects. I went away feeling inspired and eager to put the ideas I’d heard about into practice. Several of the speakers focused on topics about collaboration and the power of the community as well as celebrating success and a central message from many of the presentations I attended was that if we work with others we can achieve great things.

I didn’t agree with every point every speaker made, and I do wish that some libraries embraced the similarities they have with IT staff and the brilliant impact that technology can have if they work together more. However, I’m not going to pick flaws in presentations or focus on the negatives as I felt a key message from the conference was the need to focus on the positives within the profession, and that instead of focusing on our own narrow specialisms or points of view, we need to encourage each other and be positive in focusing on the many similarities between information professionals and our shared goal of helping the end user.

From the very first presentation I attended I felt filled with confidence that this was a conference that would focus on collaboration and celebration. R. David Lankes’ keynote ‘An action plan for world domination through librarianship’ was funny, moving and full of optimism. It is hard to express the feelings of the people in the room when he was speaking but he captivated the audience and made everyone look at their roles in different ways.

A strong theme throughout his presentation was collaboration, with other information professionals, with our users and people in other sectors. Rather than looking inwards information professionals should share and celebrate their diversity. Together we are strong and we can and should do great things for our community. This was a theme that would be picked up many of the breakout sessions and I will explore this theme in more depth in my second blog post.

He continued with this upbeat theme by emphasising that what we do matters, we are a power for change and we need to seize that power and use it. The information sector is changing at such a fast pace and sometimes we need to take a step back and celebrate our successes. The services we offer can spark knowledge but they are not knowledge, it is the information professional that helps turn that spark into something more.

At the end of the presentation I left the hall feeling ready to conquer the world. I later tweeted @rdlankes to ask if he would Skype me and give me a motivational speech each day before work. I still haven’t had a tweet back but his inspirational presentation can be heard here.

Summary
This was a brilliant conference with great key messages that I feel are really relevant to the profession today. We are all having to do more with less and by working with colleagues in other areas we can show how important our services are. We also need to be able to embrace new technologies and find ways to get feedback from our users without constantly sending them surveys.  In my next blog post I’ll focus in more detail on two of the sessions that really show how collaboration and gathering our users views can be done simply, but effectively and in a way that embraces the diverse range of talents available in the sector.

CILIP 2016 is on 12-13 July in Brighton.

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