Thursday, 26 June 2014

Blog Every Day in June Day 26 : The Unmeash Three Unconference

Saturday 5th July will see the ALIA Library Professionals Unmeash Three Unconference at the UNSW Library. 

This will be the second year that the Unmeash Unconference has been at UNSW Library which offers an amazing Library location with lots of spaces for breakout sessions and a wonderful lunch location at the Whitehouse on campus.

Unmeash Three is hosted by three ALIA groups: ALIA NSW Library Technicians, ALIA Sydney and ALIA NSW New Grads. This is the sixth unconference that I have organised; the first four were run on behalf of ALIA NSW LT Group at the Australian Catholic University, North Sydney. In 2012 I was joined by Connie Ross and we coined the name Unmeash as a portmanteau of unleashing of ideas, the unconference, and the mesh idea of a network and the meshing of ideas and mashing of applications.

Unconferences are a fantastic opportunity to network and collaboratively learn from each other. They are empowering as everyone is encouraged to provide input and as they are participant-driven it’s those who attend who set the agenda for the day and choose the topics we discuss. It’s a gift economy where everyone gives. The other thing I reckon is that because we are all Library people, we are all speaking the same ‘language’ and although we all come from different Libraries and different roles we understand the work environment we all come from.

Unconferences are extraordinarily democratic – and a bit chaotic! But in a good way! Everyone is asked to submit their topics they’d like to discuss and contribute to and then on the day we choose the top topics to be discussed and then we break out into four breakout sessions to discuss and contribute to the discussions on those topics. People can choose to go to which ever topic they are passionate about (or interested in) and then we return for a coffee or tea and a bite to eat. Then off on another breakout session before lunch.

Because we get people coming from school Libraries, university Libraries, TAFE Libraries, public Libraries and from every level across the profession we get a kaleidoscope of views and insights into common problems and areas of interest.

On a rough count, over the year’s we have had something like over 150 participants who have been to at least one unconference – many have been more than once and at least 15 or so people have been to every one of the unconferences I’ve organised! Everyone enjoys the day and are empowered and energised by the experience. Here are two quotes from last year’s unconference: “I feel reenergised after attending – a similar feeling to attending big conferences, but for a fraction of the price” and “it reignites your original reasons for getting into the industry leaving you motivated and positive” 

So, don’t miss this year’s Unmeash Three! Register today at 

- Rob Thomson


  1. Hi! Is there a Facebook Page or Facebook Events Page for UnMeash3? I'm looking forward to attending and am curious about the workshops offered that day. Thank you! Elaine

  2. Hi Elaine, there is a facebook page (it's under Unmeash2) but you would be better to go to the word press site: and register there. It's an easy to use form and the Unmeash team will send you email updates of all you need to know! We look forward to seeing you there. -Kirsty