Mozfest, the world’s leading festival for the open Internet movement was held in London at the end of October. We gave bursaries to eight SCL members from across the country so that they could attend the festival. Two of them, James Cotton and Claire Back wrote about their experience.

A monster of a jam!

Overwhelmed was an understatement when I looked at Mozfest’s initial schedule, with their variety of workshops surrounding issues such as digital inclusion and fighting fake news, to mixing music with a Raspberry Pi: there was certainly something for everyone.

Day 1
Mozfest opened with a grand science fair on Friday night, showcasing the latest advancements in virtual reality, model autonomous cars and interactive coding games, the science fair was also a great networking opportunity with like minded professionals eager to share ideas.

Day 2
Saturday’s schedule started with a hands on workshop surrounding coding technologies suitable for under 5’s, which featured the Code-a-pillar from fisher price. The workshop was very informative, providing useful tips for my own projects. Further workshops included creating virtual environments for free using web VR and recreating your favourite song using a sonic pi. My Saturday schedule finished with a workshop surrounding a digital inclusion resource website: which encourages users to submit and share their policy documents to help other digital practitioners/organisations.

Day 3
Sunday’s schedule was the a bit lighter, but was just as good as previous days. The day began with an informative workshop on how to identify and fight fake news, which was then followed by how to DJ with a Raspberry Pi and a microbit robot making challenge. A great fun way to end a fantastic weekend.

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed my first Mozfest, from its wacky science fair to its inspirational workshops, I was certainly spoilt for choice. I would recommend going to Mozfest if you are looking to evolve your current digital offer, especially if are new to libraries or in a new developmental/co-ordinator role.

Thanks to SCL for enabling me to attend this amazing festival.

James Cotton,
ICT & Information Co-ordinator
Coventry Libraries and Information Service


A weekend to remember!

The excitement started much earlier with last year’s SCL bursary winners inviting us to join #MozLibs, a way of bringing together library people attending the festival. It says something that many of those who won bursaries in 2016 were attending again, some even leading sessions.

The schedule was released about a week before and at that point I, like James, felt quite overwhelmed, with over 400 potential sessions to choose from, divided into themes; decentralization, digital inclusion, open innovation, privacy and security, web literacy and the youth zone.

MozFest starts with a Science Fair on the Friday night complete with a Raspberry Pi DJ and lots of stands and exhibitions which gave a flavour of what was to follow. The festival itself started early (and loudly) on the Saturday with a drumming performance.

After an introductory session from our hosts, it was time to explore. Improving the use of library data is something I’m interested in at the moment, so I stuck with that theme for most of the day, attending sessions on open data and storytelling and teaching open data. I also played with green screen filming apps and learnt how digital activity can be included in the Arts Award.

One of the great things about MozFest is that there is always something going on even if you don’t go to one of the sessions, so I hung around the Youth Zone for a bit where children cleverer than me were using 3D printed pens with the Crafts Council. The final session I went to on the Saturday was about creating a resource for digital inclusion. Here I met someone from Rochdale’s Heritage Hackers, a great project working with young men to improve accessibility and digital skills.

The Sunday was a bit quieter, but there was still lots to choose from. Fighting Fake news in the Library led to some interesting discussions about the library’s role in supporting information and digital literacy and I discovered some great new resources I can take back to my own workplace. The day finished with more open data, this time data visualisation, learning how to make data look beautiful.

One thing I noticed throughout MozFest was the number of organisations that we in libraries already work with – Code Club, Arts Awards, Crafts Council. It just reinforced my belief that libraries do have a role to play in making the web open and accessible to all.

MozFest was a brilliant experience; I’ve come away with lots of ideas and look forward to putting them into practice over the coming months. I highly recommend anyone in libraries attending; I’m already looking forward to next year!

Claire Back
Development Manager, Digital and Marketing
Plymouth Libraries