It is my experience that if you’re not fully prepared, and you haven’t thought things through properly, that AGM’s can come at you unawares and bite you on the bum – the Leeds 2008 AGM being a perfect case in point, but I’m not going to drag all that up again (besides the committee is now more transparent than a very transparent thing!) Thankfully my last AGM was BLA Chair went as smoothly as it could have done, bar some initial practical shenanigans with the lectern – the fact that it had a wobbly wheel and was (at first) immovably positioned in front of the main projector screen, so that if we hadn’t been able to get hotel staff assistance to move it my 6ft 4in frame would have blocked half of my presentation. Moral of the story – always get to the room early.
The main body of the AGM took in my review of the BLA’s activities over 2009-10 (our first as the BLA rather than BBSLG): a rundown of the committee year; the name change and rebranding exercise (see CILIP article image – below right); a review of training events; actions taken on behalf members; and policy decisions. Several other committee members also presented, before we got to the crucial election of new officers. Emma Thompson was elected as the new Chair and if her work co-organising this conference is anything to go by she will be tremendous. Natalie Bedford was re-elected as Marketing and Comms and will continue to do a great job, while Stephanie Allen (of Worcester) – who as yet I don’t know – joins the new committee as Training Events Officer. Rather unusually the AGM concluded with the opportunity to announce the venue of next year’s conference: Sheffield (usually there’s a scary ‘We can’t say yes for definite’ hiatus period). BLA 2011 will be organised by Laura Lewis and Maria Mawson, of Sheffield Hallam University and University of Sheffield respectively, with the support of the committee.
It’s always difficult to know what to include on the last day of the conference other than the AGM and the Members Forum (group and plenary discussion session), but I think the workshops we offered both this year and last are a good fit. This year it was ‘Mindmapping’, ‘Healthy Lifestyles’ and ‘Colour Me Beautiful’. Now I’m ‘in touch with my feminine side’ but wild horses wouldn’t have dragged me to ‘Colour Me Beautiful’! As for Healthy Lifestyles, well to my own amazement I’m actually pretty healthy these days – in fact the healthiest I’ve been since I was 25 due to numerous gym visits and runs home since Christmas. So I was left with mindmapping. Now I could pretend to be disappointed about this but to be fair its right up my street: visual, creative and slightly oddball.
The most significant thing I learned from this session, was that what I didn’t know about mindmaps was that I’ve been doing them wrong all these years because I’ve never been instructed to make a simple ‘sun diagram’ first in order to brainstorm the project, before trying to categorise my mindmap into content types. Once this was explained and the classical music was put on to aid concentration I was away and really enjoyed myself with coloured pens and random thoughts. The project I chose to tackle via the mindmaps was the proposed BLA Knowledge Base – see my earlier conference post on the subject – @ekcragg did the same, so we must set some time aside in the near future to compare them. I was pleased with the end result and am determined to use this process more in future.
This year’s Members’ Forum, the final session of the conference, saw delegates explore different topics in groups. First up was a question that had arisen during the conference: how we can demonstrate the academic impact of the research support provided by librarians? Secondly: how we are dealing with budget cuts – what are we doing differently, what actions should we take and what aspects of our work are becoming more important as a result. Finally groups discussed and flipcharted ideas for the 2011 conference. Details of the discussion of the first two topics are available on Kirsty Taylor’s Kupu blog.
At the end of the Members’ Forum I thanked this year’s conference organisers, Emma Thompson and Lorraine Richards for all their efforts – and managed to do that very British thing of getting the kiss wrong as I handed over bouquets, planting one square on Emma’s lips in front of all the delegates. Nice. Further embarrassment followed as David Clare (the BLA treasurer) gave a far too kind speech thanking me for my past 4 years as Chair – time to look at the floor so I didn’t catch faces or shed tears. I was surprised how emotional I felt but then I guess I’ve worked with some of these brilliant people on the committee for more than 6 years (such as David Clare (seated right) and Alison Sharman (writing)) and the bottom line is that I’m really going to miss not seeing them as regularly. I received a typically thoughtful parting gift of upgrades for this blog and a bottle of Prosecco. It’s always good to go out on a high, and that’s how I’ll think of BLA 2010.