CILIP is the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals (UK), and CILIP Cymru is its Welsh branch. As I was studying and working at Cardiff University earlier this year, I was lucky enough to be invited by them to run a one hour seminar at their annual conference in May. Sitting on the train on the way over elicited a surprising degree of angst; I didn’t really know anyone else going, and the prospect of trying to mix with a hundred librarians – and furthermore to talk about their jobs while not being a librarian myself – was pretty intimidating.
Fortunately, when I arrived I recalled that librarians are not intimidating, in isolation or en masse, so my concerns were soon behind me. A greater stroke of luck came with the weather. I don’t know if it’s ever reached 30°C in Swansea before. I don’t know if it ever will again, but by golly it was magnificent for the conference. Being a seaside town, and being in a hotel on the marina, was enough to make the whole thing feel more like a holiday, albeit one with rather more focused activities than is normal. To deliver the seminar, I relied on my usual partner in such matters – Prezi (and you can find my thoughts on Prezi here), and went with a 20/20/20 split to the hour: 20 minutes talking to the audience (who were arranged in four groups of between four and seven), 20 minutes getting the groups to write down their responses to two questions I posed on large sheets of paper, and 20 minutes going over the results together.
It was a fantastic learning experience for me and a chance to share my research, and the session produced some interesting discussions, not least of which was the observation that each of the groups formatted their thoughts differently on the paper – one group used lists, one bullet points, one a spider diagram, and the fourth a random scattering of ideas. Food for thought in itself!