Friday, 14 May 2010

Just one big serendipity engine
(there, I said it!)

Excellent day out at "Liver and Mash," the latest Mashed Libraries event, despite a stinking cold.

For the first half hour I wondered to myself: "what have you been and gone and done?" and I expect there will be photographs of me on the web looking bewildered. But the venue was cosy, the people were nice and we were greeted with bacon butties before we had our coats off. And the ideas suddenly started to click.

The morning session was extremely quick-fire, which meant that the speakers had to rattle their way through a bewildering amount of content in very short order. Which turned out to be great: there was no opportunity to become wearied by a presentation and a lot of very diverse ideas and functions were given an airing. My notes suggest that just under a hundred different services were mentioned before lunch. Of course they weren't done in depth, the whole point of the morning was to be an eye-opener as to the possibilities, and this it did in spades. And some of the most interesting and challenging ideas weren't necessarily technical: I particularly like the idea of the library customer experience being a journey with rewards along the way. That's an idea we must be able to work with somehow: talking about it afterwards I wondered if the same shouldn't also be true of the staff development path. Besides that I've got a long list of resources to investigate and suggest to colleagues.

Post-lunch (cottage pie! it really was a cosy day!), the sessions were more in-depth. I now know enough to know how much I don't know about mapping APIs. I think I've learnt enough to explore a few ideas for mapping libraries and mobile library routes. I'll have to have a play fairly soon while I still remember what I think my notes mean.

It's been a long week. I started it by looking at integration and interoperability issues in Birmingham; spent a day in York looking at LMS developments; a couple of days back at the sausage factory catching up with stuff and collating notes on our customer-facing business needs (we'll draw a veil over the network problems and a couple of human communication issues); then this last day's explosion of ideas... It's going to be a long job to pull the strands together the way I would hope to do.

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