Wednesday, March 31, 2010

And finally...

...we have this late-breaking story that Cardiff Central Library has just joined Facebook.
You will find, in fact, two pages, one in English and one in Welsh, which will apparently run in parallel - making life just a little more complicated for the publishing team, but we wish them luck!

Cardiff Central Library on Facebook.

Llyfrgell Ganolog Caerdydd.

More and more library services seem to be extending themselves into the social networking field...

Monday, March 22, 2010

a review on the future of libraries concludes today

Here's Patrick Wintour in The Guardian

Key to saving libraries: free internet access and Sunday opening

Well, we have offered free internet access for many years now, and the 'decline in use' they perceived occurring only happened over the 'past five years'.

In Central and three of the branches we also offer free WiFi (even for non-members).

We also offer Facebook, YouTube and MySpace already.

We sort of have Sunday opening (the ground floor of the Central Library is open 11-3, with access to half a dozen first-come first-served PCs with short sessions).

Room for Improvement

It does seem (from informal chats I have had with users) that being open in the evenings would be popular (as libraries often were when I was younger) at least until 20:00.

And users would also like the library to be fully open on Sundays (in this secular world the Central Library, at least, is surrounded by shoppers on Sunday).

But then the council would have to pay staff more, or hire extra, etc - and that seems unlikely to happen. Without re-investment, however, I imagine use will continue to decline.

So not a lot of new news on how to reverse the trend, from this two year survey.

We won't be allowed to charge for e-books, apparently, if and when we ever get any...

Oh, and they suggest we should staff libraries with 'volunteers', increasing the resemblance between us and a charity shop full of second-hand tat, quite apart from de-skilling the place.
I suggest we have the government run by volunteers, after all, what qualifications and experience do you need to become a politician?

Sigh. Oh, IMHO (see disclaimer) I'll throw in an 'only joking' smiley - sorry emoticion - for luck.


You'd think in these days of 'saving the planet' that sharing resources might have its day, at last (without being considered 'socialism', totally unnecessary or something just for the poor).

IMHO (he said hurriedly, like Ian Hislop throwing in an 'allegedly').

More general links about library stories on the Guardian blog

Post Script

Where do these people live? Or perhaps they just base the judgements on their assumptions about libraries (without actually visiting them). Here's UK AuthorITy:

Libraries to dust down their image and embrace internet age

Or perhaps Cardiff is simply ahead of the game (?) Apart from ebooks, that is, and that's another whole can of worms... Copyright, you say?

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Digital Economy Bill - thin pickings

Extreme Web Laws

Many online businesses have expressed concern about the Digital Economy Bill, and its clumsy attempt to control copyright infringement (bit torrents, etc). It does suggest that the government hasn't quite grasped the scale of the problem (trying to shut down, or control, a system originally designed to self-heal or by-pass attempts to disrupt service).

We talk of China refusing full access for its citizens to the Web, and now we have the UK going for something which at least contains the same potential to restrict public access to information.

Similar moves to block/filter/censor internet access in Australia have raised a storm of protest.

Libraries and Copyright

Of course, libraries have always found themselves in an awkward position in terms of 'artists and creators' getting properly rewarded. We buy a book and lend it to 50 people, which seems like 49 sales the author doesn't benefit from (in the simplest model). Similarly, one would have to be naive to assume that at least some people don't take music CDs home and burn them onto their computer for future reference. No doubt they also borrow copies from their friends, and do the same thing, so it's hard to see how we can prevent that, except to 'lock' CDs in the first place. Sharing online doesn't seem drastically different from borrowing your neighbour's hard copy.


The only positive comment I have seen about it refers to a clause (originally Clause 42, but confusingly renamed Clause 43) that would allow libraries MORE freedom, surprisingly - freeing them up to digitalize and share 'orphan works' which they hold, and for which copywrite holders may prove impossible to trace.

Version at UKAuthorITy

Rob Myers blog comments

At Last...the 1709 Copyright blog offers plenty of detail

Lobbying for further debate before creating a new law

However - if you wish to contact your MP, to ask for more debate of this contentious and complicated subject, you can go to the 38Degrees page online, use your PostCode to trace your MP, and use their template letter as a basis for your complaint.

Guardian discussion of the issue.

38Degrees lobbying page.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Cardiff Libraries appear in the Guardian

In an article about how much stock libraries hold (in particular, Welsh language material) which never gets borrowed, Cardiff Central Library got targeted with a Freedom of Information request.

See article here

Of course, it's slightly misleading to only go by what gets borrowed, as many items may be quickly 'referred to' or skimmed, without the need to take them home.

And if you scroll down the comments you may note that only a small percentage of Cardiff residents actually speak Welsh, so the lending pattern may not be as extreme as it appears, etc.

Monday, March 15, 2010

BBC Newsnight on libraries - tonight

To quote the blurb on the Newsnight page at the BBC:

David Grossman will be exploring some of the challenges facing public libraries - will they be circumvented by digital technology and what is the future of local authority funding?

Watch item here


Well that proved frustrating. The metaphorical argument presented went something like: The Victorians built public baths when people didn't have running water in their homes. We don't need or use public baths now.

The libraries were built when people didn't have access to education and books, but 70% of households are online so why do we need libraries?

No, I'm not making this up. I find it hard to try to construct logical rebuttals to such fatuous parallels. 70% of households have cars, so we don't need buses? (Even though, when the breadwinner is out with the car, everyone else is stranded). If your mum can afford her Mills&Boon, and your dad his sports biographies, you don't need exposure to the other range of books possible. Even your teachers keep you to the curriculum recommended texts.

Libraries contain dangerous ideas, don't they? Thoughts outside the box, or your narrow little world view.

And personally, if they insist on their metaphor, I miss the public baths. Forget that I can fill a kettle or take a shower when I want at home. When I first came to Cardiff the Empire Pool offered safe, hygenic Sauna, Turkish baths, cold plunge, jacuzzi, swimming pool, etc. I miss it since they pulled it down (promising to replace it, but never did).

I've had saunas in Sweden and Finland, and they are integral to the culture, and terrific for public health, but I don't want to have to go to sleazy dives full of fat, sweaty politicians hoping for a hand job - not meaning to slag off the 'massage parlours' still available, perhaps they are not all like that, but they scare me. I used to like going to the council baths.

The idea that I don't still need that safe environment provided presumably comes from people with swimming pools in their back garden (or in their second home in Tuscany), and who have bathrooms with Jacuzzis and saunas.

I hate to tell you folks, but most people still don't have those in their homes as standard.

Yeah, I said it was a stupid parallel, but I didn't bring it up. :-)

Libraries remain one of the few places for self-educators and lifelong learners, and evidence from around the world implies that an educated population is beneficial to the country's wealth creation.

Perhaps the people become a bit more dissident, getting exposure to a wider range of ideas and possibilities, but in the long run it seems a better idea. However, your voters become a little less easily manipulated, perhaps.


Just personal opinion, rant over. G'night.

PS: they reiterated the idea that making libraries self-service doesn't need to mean that staff lose their jobs, just that they get redefined. Yeah, right (you will hear on the shop floor). And they also mentioned bad management of the services, and that some of the jobs that could afford to go might lie in those higher realms. Hmmm. Isn't that how we lost being represented by a Chief Librarian, and an Assistant Chief Librarian, all those years ago...

Anyway - don't believe me, you can go check it out online at the BBC...

Friday, March 12, 2010

Writing Readers

So much of library works seems about reading (and lending) that we sometimes neglect the fact that someone has to write all these books, and the two functions seem closely entwined.

Good to see that Academi awards writer's bursaries even to people who have not yet got published. Check out "how to be a writer"

Every November for the last three years your humble scribe has embarked on (and successfully completed) the mad adventure of writing a 50,000 word novel in a month, with NaNoWriMo.

Well, a first draft, at least!

Coming up in April (from the same people) you will find Script Frenzy, a self-challenge to write a 100 page film/tv/theatre script in a month. No cost to enter, no obligation to finish, no prize (apart from fun and satisfaction).

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

A million library books to be sent down the mines

Did you see this item about Manchester Central Library?

During a three-year refurbishment of this building they intend to store their books down the mines!

Related Posts with Thumbnails