Earlier this week I presented at this year’s Digital Humanities Research Colloquium in UCC. I presented on ‘Creating & Destroying the Library of the Future.’ It was a nod to last year’s successful presentation ‘Preserving the Library of the Future’. Note I’m saying “last year’s successful presentation” which might alert you that this year’s was less than successful or at least less successful than last year’s presentation. So what went wrong? Or what didn’t go right?
First off no matter how eager I am to present I will always, always, ALWAYS check that the presentation is actually on the USB. Yes, that’s right – the USB didn’t have the presentation on it. Ok, not a problem! It’s why I upload a copy to Google Drive. Let’s access Google Drive via Chrome – the login web page defaults to the institutional homepage for Umail. Onto Internet Explorer! Good stuff – I’m logged in and accessing the presentation, or so I think, and we’re ready to go!
The crowd settles as James O’Sullivan, convenor of the Digital Humanities Research Colloquium, introduces me and mentions the presentation will be recorded. Later when I’m thinking about how I did and what I forgot to say, I remember that the presentation will be recorded. Ah crapweasle!
When I see the slide below I think “Uh-oh this isn’t ‘Destroying Creating the Library of the Future v4.'” Catchy title! Instead it’s ‘Destroying Creating the Library of the Future v3.’
How do I know this? This slide is deleted from version 4. Does it really matter? Well I usually have all my slide text at Arial 28 or Arial 24 if more text is needed. Some of the slide text will bounce between Arial 24, Arial 18 and Arial 16, and all on the same slide. Oh the horror!
Images that were on one slide in the middle of version 3 are now at the end of version 4. The image of the phoenix is supposed to be my final slide and not Darwin’s ‘Tree of Life’ from On The Origin of the Species.
It means I won’t be able to talk about the cyclical process of libraries reinventing their spaces and presences, a variation of destroying and creating, and instead I’ll need to segue into future-proofing. It’s similar-ish but not quite what I had intended.
Some images are completely missing so the linkages between the dissolution of the monasteries and the destruction of their libraries, and the creation of digital versions of these libraries will be watered down as I had added an example from a Battle Abbey book which is part of St Fin Barre’s Cathedral Collection.
UCC Library holds St Fin Barre’s Cathedral Collection and that fact features on one of the slides about how libraries are created. Cue annoyed emoji face!
I also remember that I’ve one entire slide filled with the PURLs from the library catalogue.
It’s a note to myself of the content I should insert once I’ve scanned it. No way round it! It’s going to be a how-to moment in what not to do. And all these thoughts run through my head in about three seconds as I’m presenting.
Even though forgetting to transfer my presentation onto my USB and presenting on version 3 is annoying it’s really relatively superficial; it’s not what really annoys me. What really annoys me is that feeling at the end of the presentation that while the presentation was ok, it wasn’t good. It wasn’t like the end of last year’s presentation when I’d been really happy with how I’d presented & what the content had been. Where did it go wrong?
Let’s look at some of The Marvelous Mrs Maisel now! Pay particular attention to 0:50-1:15.
I really like this exchange between Susie and Midge:
“Ok but there’s more to think beside material.
Really? Like what?
Holding for laughs… What are you doing?
Taking notes ‘Holding for laughs.’
Working the room.
‘Working the room.’
Dealing with hecklers, how to enter, how to exit, how you use a mic. Mics can be very tricky.”
Ok, I had material and I didn’t have to worry about holding a mic. Incidentally I’m sure there’s a Fake Library Stat somewhere about mics. But what I didn’t have is a ‘Tight Ten.’ A ‘Tight Ten’ is in the opening part of The Marvelous Mrs Maisel S01E07. Here Midge learns how to hone a good comedy routine the hard way: through trial, error, and practice. Sure she has talent for improv but a few evenings of bombing improv teaches her that while she can base her comedy on her everyday life, her professional act needs to be more than simply venting about that life. She needs to reach her audience and she achieves that in the opening ten minutes of her act: it’s a tight ten.
Last year’s presentation was based on five years of presenting versions of the same material to transition years, undergraduates at all levels, postgraduates, colleagues within UCC Library and colleagues outside UCC. Parts of last year’s presentation had been presented at:
- local events – Special Collections and Class Projects, TEL Week 2017, UCC
- specialised events – Venn Diagrams: When Special Collections Meets Information Literacy, CONUL T&L Seminar 2015
- national events – Mapping Sound ‘Off the Map’ at UCC: The Potential of Collaboration Between the Library’s Special Collections and the Musicology Department, CONUL 2017.
This presentation was 90% all new material. Sure I’d thought about all of what I was putting into the presentation over the last few years but having it in this order? Not so much. Practicing it in advance? Yes! But in front of a live audience? Not so much. Thinking of how it was the other side of the coin to last year’s presentation? To preserve something it must first be created and why preserve something unless there’s the risk it could be destroyed. That stands up ok but what do I really want to say? Did I say it? Not so much. What did I forget to say?
Libraries are about people.
Libraries are about people.
LIBRARIES ARE ABOUT PEOPLE.
It’s so obvious to me now and I’ll have to listen back to the recording to confirm but I’m 99% certain I forgot to say it. I forgot to say it to an audience who’s interested in digital humanities but that’s not to say they’re specifically interested in what libraries do or what we can do or what we’re about. I probably forgot to say lots of other things too but this is the one thing that stands out.
Needless to say ‘what is a library’ cannot be described in 8 slides and creating and destroying, or ‘destorying’ as my fingers insist on typing, varies hugely and cannot be encapsulated in 51 slides.
I had lots of points about how libraries have recreated their spaces and services in response to their audience and the world libraries are in. That the library we see now is not the library we saw 100 years ago and not the one we’ll see in 100 years time.
And I completely forgot to say what is the point to having these spaces and the impact that they have. Where is my Tight Ten? If Midge’s Tight Ten was the first ten minutes of her act guaranteed to inspire laughter in her audience, then my Tight Ten could have been the first ten minutes but I mentally flailed as I realised I had the wrong version or it could have been the last ten minutes where I failed to tie together ‘what is a library.’ Either way this was my version of bombing improv and I need to hone my good library routine the hard way: through trial, error, and practice.
“Destroying & Creating the Library of the Future” will return in slightly different arrangements or with slightly better explanations or with slightly more relevant information. But for now please check out the correct slides on SlideShare.
My name is Elaine Harrington, thank you & good night!