Wednesday 1 October 2014

UnMeash3 Unconference Wrap-up

Rob and Connie opening UnMeash3
Rob and Connie opening UnMeash3
Unconferences are all about sharing ideas and experiences. What you know, what you’ve seen and heard, what you want to know, what you’ve tried, what worked and what didn’t work. With all participants contributing their experience and expertise, new knowledge and proven tricks of the trade, asking questions and giving advice it all adds up to a day of cooperation and learning. The UnMeash unconference (held earlier this year on Saturday 5 July) is a great example of information professionals from Sydney (and beyond) doing it for themselves, and the results are always interesting.

This unconference is in its sixth year, the third year under the UnMeash moniker, and the second year at the very generous UNSW Library. The day starts with everyone suggesting topics for discussion, and then voting their preferences from the whole list, to determine the morning sessions. If popular sessions conflict, then they might be run twice. If the session you have chosen to attend doesn’t grab you, then you are encouraged to leave it to join another discussion.

First up were sessions on Useful Online Utilities, New Technology, and Innovative Information Services. Everyone divides into groups which move to the area for each discussion, then dive right in. While it’s often difficult to decide on a session, by using the hashtag #UnMeash3 or following @unmeash3 each group can get some idea of what other groups discussed and share their own information. The afternoon sessions included Digital Resources for Kids, Gaming to Promote Libraries, and the Repurposed Library. The sessions I attended provided me with plenty of ideas, information, and resources to note down and explore later. 

Not every session is a huge success. Sometimes the weight of numbers generated by interest in a single session means that other discussions might not get going. Sometimes the topic of greatest interest to you doesn’t get any votes at the start of the day and isn’t included. Occasionally a session may be dominated by participants who have little experience and loads of questions, and end up a little unsatisfying. My experience has been that no time is wasted, and the unanswered questions prompt me to search out answers later, through other avenues. 

Plus, there’s always plenty of time at UnMeash for informal chatting over morning tea, afternoon tea, and lunch at The White House. This is the time for finding out where people work, what they are doing that’s interesting, what they are planning for their career, their news and views. These connections are also an important part of the event.

With thanks to the ALIA NSW Library Techs, ALIA Sydney, and ALIA NSW New Grads who joined forces to organise the event, under the very capable leadership of Rob and Connie, I look forward to UnMeash4 in 2015.

-Lauren Castan

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