Friday, November 28, 2008

e-learning, training opportunities, etc

The Library Service rarely has money for training (which is why I think we should go the e-learning route IMHO) - so although some of us non-professionals looked at NVQ 3 last year, it just didn't seem like something I wanted to spend my own money on, if it was not going to be subsidised by our employer.

Deciding I did want to learn, I researched and ended up taking the Sheffield College Net Trainers course, aimed at both tutors (learning to use technology) and also course designers and implementers. This suited me perfectly, and I have learned a lot.

I also found my way back-stage of the Cardiff Council pilot scheme in e-learning, using the Learning Pool resources. Although it has a low profile with staff right now, it is in place and functioning, and I have used it to manifest some of the things that would otherwise have remained theoretical on the course.

It is good to feel the different approaches merging. As I have studied online for over four years now, did tutoring for NOF schemes back in 2000, and have explored and used blogs, wikis, social networking, web sites, etc - I feel in a good place to really offer something useful to the libraries. After 33 years of self-employment, working in a hierarchical day-job didn't really suit my temperament, so the creative position I find myself in (Human-Computer Interface, thanks to Siôn Lewis) seems perfect. In spite of low pay, if I am learning new stuff I am happy, and if I can pass it on, too, I feel even better!

Looking to go on a Web 2.0 and Libraries course in Newport next year. You can find something similar online at the UKOLN site, where all the notes, briefing sheets, exercises, etc are still online from a course run by Brian Kelly in September - Sharing Made Simple: an Introduction to the Social Web.

Thursday, November 27, 2008


The rules of the librarians of time and space:

1. Silence.
2. Books must be returned no later than the date shown.
3. Do not meddle with the nature of causality.

from the Discworld books by Terry Pratchett

"You see, I don't believe that libraries
should be drab places where people
sit in silence, and that's been the main reason
for our policy of employing wild animals as librarians. ......."

from the Monty Python skit Gorilla Librarian

Central Library upgrade

The first library on The Hayes

Cardiff branches will carry on much the same (although we will roll out a self-service facility soon).

the oldish library - the previous one is still on The Hayes

The Central Library, however (which has been in temporary accomodation for a couple of years, awaiting re-housing like some sad old homeless person) is about to migrate into a posh new "State-of-the-art" library.

Our temporary home in John St
More on that, as time goes by.

The new place becoming visible

Monday, November 24, 2008

This is a Frappr Map of blogging librarians

Fun links about Library 2.0

Although I added some notes for a CLIC meeting to the Knowledge Bank on the Intranet (which only staff can access) I liked some of the links that emerged from the talks, mostly from Dave Pattern (Univ of Huddersfield) - to whom, much thanks. They are fairly self explanatory.

Dave Pattern's Blog

Some resources mentioned:

The Register
25 Things at Huddersfield on Flickr
learning 2.0 blog
Sirsi on Web 2.0, Library 2.0 and Librarian 2.0
Librarian 2.0
Libraries as ‘The Third Place’
WikiHow (user edited help on writing wikis)
[edit] Glossary
folksonomies - Folksonomy
tag cloud
Example of library tag cloud at Pattern Recognition
LibraryThing's tag cloud
What is Second Life?

Friday, November 21, 2008

Copyright, Copyleft, and Conan

Of course, working in a library means you become aware of the legal aspect of copyright.

The fact that people borrow our music CDs for one night now (instead of 3 weeks, as before) indicates that they simply upload it to their PC. We don't approve, but have no control over that.

These problems will not go away, but they are far too big for a brief blog post.

As a user of blogs for years, and a friend to hip-hop and DJ mixers and other samplers, and a fan of William Burroughs and the cut-up method, I know that every time I grab an image from Google Images I should check if I am entitled to use it, but I don't have a whole team of researchers on the payroll, and would willingly acknowledge and credit (or remove) wrongly posted images, but the whole trend of the Web remains in the opposite direction, of 'information wants to be free!'

I know we have to find a way to pay our artists, authors and musicians. Of course, anything they do live is still within their control (Banksy, Will Self writing in a gallery, any live music gig), but recordings have become contentious ever since the means of re-production fell into the hands of the consumers.

So, just because I was echoing Conan the Librarian when I named this blog, I will put the original image here. After all, I found it easily enough. Or should I just point you to Flickr, and make you click through once? Um.

According to Wikipedia:

Probably the first printed Conan the Librarian reference is in a 1987 Mother Goose and Grimm comic. A pig returning a book to the "Overdue Books" section faces across the desk a scowling and muscle-bound librarian, in typical Conan the Barbarian dress, who from the placard on the desk we know is "Conan the Librarian."

Full Entry in Wikipedia - now, I know some people still sneer at the fallibility of Wikipedia, but you won't find any of that information in The Encyclopedia Britannica

And anyway, as Robert Anton Wilson pointed out, even printed Encyclopedias do not all agree on facts...

"Certitude belongs exclusively to those who only own one encyclopedia."

Library 2.0, too?

Having enjoyed a recent conference about Library 2.0, I would like to collect here some resources for library staff who are interested in the future development of library services, and the way they are likely to grow.

I will add blogs of note, and resources I find interesting, to try to make a one-stop shop for staff.

Of course, (certainly in the USA) you may already find plenty of 'one-stop shops' - as each wants to be definitive, but they are loaded away from Europe and the UK, and Wales in particular, so I think the market could stand just one more 'one-stop shop'. :-)

Librarians like making lists...

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Welsh Public Library Standards 2008 - 11

Library services have current and future guidelines.

In relation to public computer use WPLS 4 Appropriate access to resources and facilities provided by means of Information and Communicaton Technologies
suggests this as a minimum provision expected of all library authorities in Wales by March 2011:

  • Provision of laptop use by members of the public, both as a stand alone and a networked facility (will be available at Central Library in 2009, not in branches)
  • Scanning and Printing facilities (no scanning available)
  • Plug-in facilities for digital medai sources and portable devices - such as iPods, MP3, MP4 and digital cameras. (umm, not really. You can get your camera images if you're lucky)
  • Facilities on public access PCs for Office Software (Yes! we have that!)
  • Free email facilities for users (Yes, as long as you use one of the main providers, oh, and Yahoo attachments don't work now - something to do with integrating chat, which ICT block)
  • Free basic support to users in the use of the above range of ICT facilities (defined as introduction to the use of the facilities and problem solving during use). This is true at a very basic level, given that staff receive no specific training, so any who do not use such things at home are unlikely to be much help at problem-solving. A Training Issue!
  • Information literacy sessions for users (defined as formal or informal assistance to users in developing or enhancing their use of library services and facilities). Informal, maybe, but we run very few 'starter packs' for public users.

Curious state of transition

Libraries have still got a very old-fashioned image for many people (the ones who don't use them), and yet attempts to
  • modernise them
  • attract new users
  • make them a more relevant resource for the modern world

also run into difficulties.

This quote comes from the website (full story here)

Four-fifths (80%) of adults have no interest in publishing media – including blogs, podcasts, videos, own web pages or photographs in a public album - on the internet. The most popular for those who are interested is publishing their own web pages.

However while three-quarters (75%) of adults have never published media on the internet, one in five (20%) have. The most popular activity is uploading photographs to a public album. The least popular (1%) is creating and uploading a podcast, and contributing to a Wiki.

So the need for Library 2.0 (genuinely interactive users and staff) still seems some way into the future.

And I doubt if I can ask many of my fellow staff to contribute to a Wiki!

Well, I need somewhere to rant

Working in a library for over ten years, I know quite a lot about the environment, although strictly speaking I am not a 'librarian'.

Within the service that is generally used to refer to someone with a qualification, a degree.

The rest of us (and it is mostly women) are support staff, for these great beings.

Recently, posts that would once have only gone to people with degrees have been filled by people without degrees (gasp!) or at least without degrees in Library and Information Studies.

Whether this is a welcome acknowledgement of the changing nature of libraries, and the skills needed to manage them, it is hard to say. It may simply indicate de-skilling of tasks.
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