The individual sessions, run by all manner of person from all manner of perspectives and experience, occur in blocks throughout the course of the two days. Each day is broken down into two halves with the first half of the sessions established after the keynote, and the second half of the sessions organized and announced immediately before lunch. Sessions are short (roughly 45 minutes to an hour), and range from think tank style brainstorming breakouts to group discussions to PowerPoint presentations. During each of the sessions I attended during that first InfoCamp as well as the 2012 InfoCamp, the focus was always on the body of individuals operating on a similar spontaneous playing field. Individual perspectives were constantly reinforced and empowered. At InfoCamp, anything is possible and anything goes. Moreover, just like a traditional conference, if you are unimpressed by a particular session, you are allowed and respected if you leave it to find a more suitable session. Every session I went to was awe-inspiring in the meta qualities of discourse, and I never felt the need to find a replacement session. In June 2012, I attended my first American Library Association (ALA) conference in Anaheim, California and experienced my second unconference. Having already experienced the glory of InfoCamp Seattle, I found myself drawn to the unconference session at the beginning of the conference. ALA’s Unconference is much different than InfoCamp, but with similar tenants of discourse. The session occurs within a single large room. Approximately one hundred people showed up at the beginning of the unconference. A moderator described the unconference model and then listed topics that the audience wanted to discuss on a display. After announcing roughly ten topics and assigning each to tables in the room, participants had the opportunity to join a table of their choice. The first conversation period of the unconference was limited to twenty minutes. Latecomers to the session had to find their way to an open table and join the open conversation naturally. At any point in time, a participant could move from table to table if they found the conversation uninteresting or different from what they expected. Topics ranged from library marketing, digitization, intellectual freedom, library websites, to name a few. After the first round of conversations met the time limit, the moderator called the room together and pulled a new list of topics for conversation together. The unconference lasted two full conversation periods. Like InfoCamp, I found myself glued to my seat and enthralled in the spontaneous conversations and the discourse engagement occurring at each of the tables. Witnessing each participant’s perspective provided incredible inspiration and encouragement to present my own. I was an empowered learner and an empowered educator. As educators and stakeholders of education, we are by duty, implicitly bound to enhance the lives WINTER 2013
of others. The easiest way to identify experimental discourse models that challenge preconceived notions is to attempt and, potentially, adopt the models first. The unconference model in any form it ultimately takes, accommodates the growing importance of communication via the Internet and the need to redefine discourse in real life. I encourage educators and Washington librarians to consider the unconference. Consider it not only as a potentially beneficial mode of communication for yourself in a conference environment, but as a gateway into transforming how you personally influence the processes of formal and informal education in your communities.
Works Cited García Lorca, Federico. 2002. Collected poems. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux.
References InfoCamp Seattle. “InfoCamp 2012.” InfoCamp Seattle. Accessed February 23, 2013. http://seattle.infocamp.org/blog/. American Library Association. “Annual 2012 Unconference.” American Library Association. Accessed February 23, 2013. http://ala12.scheduler.ala.org/node/1650. Greg Bem is an MLIS Student of the iSchool, at the University of Washington, which is the subject of his blog, The Wet Info Track: My rainy adventure as an online MLIS student at the UW iSchool (http:// wetinfo.wordpress.com/ ). Greg also serves as the WLMA Student Liason and is a poet with his own website Seattle Poet Greg Bem (http://gregbem.com/wordpress/). E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
WLMA Scholarships Available Washington Library Media Association offers several scholarships for teacher-librarians, library paraprofessionals and for teachers intending on becoming teacher-librarians. All application documents must be submitted and received by the Scholarship Chair, Susan Kaphammer, by April 5, 2013. For more information, please visit “2013 WLMA Scholarships.”
MEDIUM | 13
Winter 2013 issue of the MEDIUM, Journal of the Washington Library Media Association. Addresses Empowering Student Leanring: Information Lit...