Conference comes round again so quickly! September is also a hugely busy time for me with Heritage Open Days happening as well (498 visitors in 3 days since you ask, very good total for us…) plus another CILIP NE conference happening plus a CILIP LIHG conference happening the week after. Never again will I agree to speak at three conferences in ten days!
NAG conference was additionally stressful in that it was firstly the biggest audience of the three but also, as well as speaking about the Seam Project and our Singer-Songwriter in residence, Gareth Davies-Jones, I was also singing with him.
Back when the Executive Committee had been planning this committee and someone said “ooh, Jennie, didn’t I read about your project in CILIP recently?” and I was destined to give a paper. We then moved on to talk about the after-dinner entertainment. We all agreed that the casino had been a great success last year and we wanted to do it again, but we would like to offer something to make it different.So we added Gareth to the after-dinner programme to present some songs from The Seam project. Now, I was delighted to be able to offer Gareth a (paying) gig, but I could see where this was going… For the larger gigs as part of the project, Gareth had a backing band and even a choir sometimes but always a harmony singer. I do sing in choirs and a band, however I do like some rehearsal time which, thanks to other problems and commitments, was a little lacking for this one! I will admit that at the point where we performed, we had never sang “Practical Coal Mining” through together so I was very relieved that we made it to the end of the track successfully. We did get to sing through the other songs once before dinner so that made me feel a little better! I actually really enjoyed doing the Safety lamp song – Stephenson, Clanny and Davy – it’s a lovely harmony line.
I think a song as part of the paper was a great novelty for people – we certainly got some positive tweets about it – and it was certainly the best way to show off what the project achieved! If you want to see for yourself, Gareth is touring with the Seam this autumn with gigs across the North – from Hett to Heighington and Newcastle to Stockport. Get a free flavour of the tracks on Soundcloud or buy the CD (all of cover price goes to Library) on eBay!
One huge bonus was that once the dinner was over, I could relax and enjoy day 2 of conference with the other delegates with no further pressures. I really enjoyed Anne Welsh and Jenny Wright’s session on RDA – trying to explain the basics of levels and relationships to us courtesy of many cards and bits of string! A really interactive workshop which was great. I was also keen to hear from the Royal College of Surgeons Collections Review Project as it sounded like they were also dealing with a collection which included objects, books, archives and journals. Their scoring system was really impressive (and detailed) and I could see it was impossible to achieve it in full without dedicated staffing as a project (as they are doing) but that elements of it, particularly in terms of measuring usage of an item, might be something I could take away and introduce into my work life.