Librarians learning from librarians

Networking and learning intersect at the Huddersfield Librarian TeachMeet.

A TeachMeet is an unconference style meeting to share teaching ideas and experience.  The idea to organise one in Yorkshire came via the Librarians as Teachers Network, which announced the first TeachMeet for Librarians in September 2010.  The idea sounded fantastic so, along with a group of other librarians at the University of Huddersfield (Lisa Balman; Kirsty Bower; Zoë Johnson; and Sarah Munks), I set about organising one. 

We planned three distinct activities to be held over one afternoon:  

  • 30 minutes of speed networking
  • A set of short talks (normally the core of a TeachMeet)
  • Bag of goodies - an activity to stimulate ideas

Speed networking

The afternoon started with a noisy, enthusiastic half hour of speed networking.  Everyone met at least half the other people present, sharing their favourite teaching tips and writing down contacts, tips and useful information on their ‘speed networking' card.  The speed networking really helped to break the ice.  As no-one was quite sure what to expect from a TeachMeet, we think it really set the scene for the rest of the afternoon.

"Speed networking was fabulous (the most valuable part of the teach meet)"


We then moved on to the short presentations.  There was a real mixture of talks, each providing a valuable insight into what our colleagues were doing with their own teaching.  We recorded the talks and posted them onto YouTube straight afterwards.  

On reflection we were not strict enough with timings and we did not have enough time for questions.  For our next event we might try Pecha Kucha for the talks, which would force us all to stick to schedule!  We also felt, after the event, that it might have been helpful to send out topic ideas prior to the meeting.  The TeachMeet idea was so new for everyone that some people struggled to identify topics.

"Enjoyed the mini-presentations - just the right length"

"Five minute sharing hour was very informative"


Finally, attendees divided into groups around a table with a bag of objects (from modelling clay to clothes pegs) which were used to stimulate discussion.  Ideas were written down on paper tablecloths and published on our blog.


We had lots of great feedback about the event, and we will definitely organise another one in the future.  It also looks as if other Librarian TeachMeets will be organised in the north of England.  TeachMeets are valuable and enjoyable.  Why not organise one yourself?    


Andrew Walsh is a Librarian at the Unversity of Huddersfield, UK

Photo courtesy of TillWe via Flickr.