Tuesday, December 6, 2011

"In support of Libraries, Books, Words and Ideas...."

I don't seem to visit this blog much any more - but this wonderful contribution to the Save the Libraries movement came to my attention, and I like to pass on such life-enhancing ideas.

Ten mysterious paper sculptures turned up in various Edinburgh libraries, with the only explanation in notes which read (in part):

"...In support of Libraries, Books, Words and Ideas...."

Monday, November 7, 2011

lucid defence of libraries

As I have said before - I let this blog slip when the library I work for set up its own blog, Twitter and Facebook outlets.

However, I really liked this article about the true value of libraries to a community - as a public space.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Bowing to the inevitable

Although I planned to abandon this blog, and give way to the official blog for the library service I work in, I still get sent the occasional link that seems worth sharing.

This piece, from The Guardian, does seem to have almost given up on arguing for libraries, and seems to imply that we might as well get used to them no longer receiving funding from local government, and having to find their own sustainable income.

I'll resist the temptation to wonder whether a computer-recycling station running by someone with the 'gift of dyslexia' really seems an obvious match for libraries of books. Perhaps not. If libraries really have started heading down the book-free route, then maybe. Who can tell?

I can see how the funding of a building through recycling seems like a good idea, but can it prove sustainable? Does the money buy new stock, or does it pay people a wage? How long does unpaid volunteer enthusiasm last (especially when confronted by demanding customers)? How do libraries appeal to people if they don't get a regularly replenished stock?

Too many questions, not enough answers, in my book, but see what you think.

The original council library staff have lost their jobs, by the way, having passed on their skills.

The buildings have become 'community hubs'.

Library closures: what can local people do?


Kath Dunbar, a vociferous anti-library closure campaigner, echoes his views. Dunbar, 56, is among a core of around 10 volunteers now running New Cross library. "We're getting people more involved in the library who perhaps wouldn't have come in before," she says. "It's becoming more of a community library, without a doubt. I think the potential of what we can do is amazing."

New Cross People's Library

I wish them luck, of course, but why does it have to be this way? Especially as Councils claim to worry about illiteracy, and then fail to provide the essential, bottom line service for tackling illiteracy - causes of which have to include not having enough access to books at home, or sufficient encouragement to explore them (outside of school, bookshops and other daunting places).

Monday, October 10, 2011

Another Look

If you have visited here before, and wonder where the familiar layout went (and, indeed, the blog list, favourite places, etc) I can only tell you that I decided to test out the dynamic views that Blogger now offers.

The old lookSince the library I work for acquired its own front ends (Twitter, Facebook, Blog) I decided to more or less retire this one - but I still enjoy to experiment.  You can flip through the 7 new options yourself, but you can't revert to the old one, which also had links to favourite places to visit, blogs I like, etc.  (sigh).

So here are the results of the various 'looks':

Flipcard - Recent

Flipcard - Label

Flipcard - Date

Flipcard - author (only interesting on multi-user blogs)





Timeslide - not sure I understand this one

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Invisible Libraries and Imaginary Books

I love this little article about 'The Invisible Library" as an intro.

The greatest books that never were

Literature is full of imaginary books. Given the choice, which one would you read?

And then you can go look up a virtually complete list on the Invisible Library blog, here.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Devaluing libraries

The story goes on, as ever.


Certainly in England (if not yet in Wales) the Tory plan to have libraries run by volunteers is getting rolled out (as if running a library is roughly like running a charity shop, like the one in Walcot which doesn't get enough volunteers).

This is not only insulting to professional library staff, but seriously misunderstands the library's place in society.

It seems far more likely that the plan is to run them this way, and then, as volunteers fall away, claim that proves people don't really want libraries, and close them. Will we also get a volunteer fire service, volunteer ambulance service, volunteer-run old people's homes? What is this? A war zone?

When I posted something similar on Facebook, one librarian commented:

"I'd love to see how long volunteers would last in a branch library, they damned well be prepared for anyone and anything, there'll be no sitting around reading books all bloody day. Social workers, mental health workers, children's nannies, cleaners, career advisors, IT specialists, human dictionaries, counsellors and riot police...Just some of the hats we wear every day, eh?"

Uniformed officers

Here in Wales we thought we had weathered the storm, but we have been wondering why there has been a push towards staff wearing uniforms (when an informal look, and approachability, has previously been part of the library image). It appears that the old One Stop Shop idea has turned up again - which means combining council services, so that library staff get replaced by desks staffed by housing benefit officers, citizen's advice bureau staff, etc.

Hence the uniforms. Officers.

Whether they will also get training in running a library (see the above comments from front line staff) or library staff are simply expected to add these skills and responsibilities to their already crowded days, doesn't seem clear yet. We'll see.

I am, as they say, not optimistic. The plans are being made by people who probably have a private library in the West Wing of their homes (even if many of them maybe don't read very much). It's hard to believe they might understand...

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Well, I thought it was funny...

you can buy this at The Literary Gift site.

I particularly liked their Description: "the perfect mug for librarians: we tried to do a mug which said "Go away I'm cataloguing, and shelving, and being nice to borrowers..." but we couldn't fit it all on."

I have left this blog on hold for now, as the official blog seems sufficient for the specific library tasks, and I don't have quite enough interest in the general process of librarianship to pursue too many links (heading towards writing books now, instead of lending them), but this mug made me laugh (even if the Shhhh cliché is pretty out of date, now).

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Just a quick post - testing, testing

For the last few weeks we have been unable to post to (and sometimes even read) any Blogger blogs in Cardiff Libraries. This morning it seems I can, if you are reading this - so I'll try a couple of edits. *** Yolande Philpott - aromatherapist in Cornwall. *** Here's something more related to libraries, from my son, originally posted on Facebook...(rummages in FB)...um....a method of sorting the books on shelves with a sophisticated RFID tagging system. [it'll turn up, and I'll be back!] *** I notice that YouTube inserts in the official Cardiff Libraries blog seem to work OK on the public access PCs (after a short delay) but film clips in Facebook keep demanding an Adobe FlashPlayer update (which won't run, of course, on locked-down public access mode). It doesn't seem to be holding the edits, paragraph breaks, etc.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Library Angels (again)

This is the stuff of magic and synchronicity (when you work among the akashic records, where everything can be linked to everything else) but I recently stumbled over David Crystal's delightfully amusing autobiography (and more) about his life as a linguist - Just a Phrase I Am Going Through. It's my bed-time reading. Makes me wonder how I can ever finish writing my autobiography, while at the same time motivating me to try.

So I looked in the catalogue and found we had several of his books, including Language and the Internet.

Today I heard from an English friend who lives in Amsterdam, who happens to share a flat with David Crystal's daughter, and he sent me a link (we're approaching relevance to a library blog)
to this impassioned defence of libraries on David Crystal's blog.

Library Angels rule, OK?

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Moving On

This blog started after I went on one of those inspirational courses (with the support of my management) - back in 2008 - where people tell you what we could be doing - within our service - to keep up with the 21st Century. Dave Pattern totally enthused me.

I was so excited and motivated (the course was in work time, after all, and part of my Professional Development) that I ran back to work to set up e-learning, wikis, blogs, Facebook Pages, etc.

We are now officially on Facebook. An official blog is going public, I gather. The Music Dept are still hoping to get their MySpace site accepted. The e-learning FAQs are is in place, for staff.

It's all taking off, slowly.

My work here is done. This blog may no longer get updated that much, as my focus shifts to 'supplementing my pension elsewhere in cyberspace'.

If anyone does actually read this, I hope to shift your focus to the official channels (through official links)...as soon as I dare publish.

I will, of course, remain a user of libraries, whether I work in them or not.

Monday, January 31, 2011

A uniformly bad idea

Library Work it is what it is
Ah me. Please remember this is an unofficial blog with a disclaimer about it only representing personal opinions.

Today I heard the union was meeting to decide how to deal with an employer adamant that staff in the library will wear a uniform. This has only been going on for a couple of years now, with the battle covering the ground of yes/no, who pays for it (staff/employer), and "if yes, then what colour" and other issues.

My own take is that I can't wear synthetic materials - if 'they' buy it for me.
I have no objection to identifying myself as 'someone who works here' - I already wear a lanyard with Staff on it.

Behind every good librarian is a great library assistant
The resistance has proved surprising, although bear in mind that 80% of library staff are women, who perhaps resist the idea of shapeless sweat shirts, in colours/styles they don't like, slightly more than men do.

And all the official librarians, with their degrees and all, dress professionally anyway.
We unqualified (although experienced)
library assistants have a loose dress code, but mostly we prefer to appear approachable (to go along with the new ethos (also imposed by management styles) of informality, a library where no-one will shush you.
Spot the contradiction?

Personally, I'd happily wear a uniform with a (pretty cool, after Dan Brown's "Angels and Demons") ambigram on it, but they only make them for women, which might perhaps tell you something about the library service - as a job for a man...maybe?


If you'd like to support your local library service, or even end up working as a volunteer, running your local library for no pay, you might like to check out the stuff available at CafePress - which includes everything from T-Shirts and mugs to badges and bags.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Non-animal circus books for children

The coming year's Summer Reading Challenge has the theme of 'circus', or rather 'Circus Stars.'

Personally I think that's a rather lazy connection with The Olympics, as in fact the Olympics Committees routinely reject circus-style performances as Olympic events (but that's a distraction). Ahem.

Lions and Tigers and Bears, oh my!

What bothers me more is that most children's books about circus still focus on what is now a rather stereotyped and out of date image of circus - using the clichés of lion-tamers and red-nosed clowns, ring-masters and elephants - as though writers and publishers had not actually been to a circus recently!

It's not just animal rights activists who have campaigned to remove exotic, tropical animals from the performing arena...the public's taste seems to have changed. Since David Attenborough began to show us animals in their natural habitat over 40 years ago, the need for travelling zoos and menageries has diminished - and that was the original connection with circuses.

People like Humane Society International probably campaign because of the relationship to animal cruelty; some Animal Rights activists obviously campaign for complete animal freedom (whether they are treated cruelly or not) which would also get rid of farms, not just laboratories and circuses; within the circus community there continues discussion about the difference between horse and dog acts (we watch the Royal Horse Show, and One Man and His Dog, etc) and the use of exotic animals.

So I don't want to get into the bitter arguments about whether animals should ever be confined (do we get rid of animal sanctuaries as well?), or whether zoos and circuses contribute to animal breeding programmes, etc - e.g. rants like The Real Anti-Circus Agenda, or any of that.

I am more interested in the trends in public entertainment, and audience sensibilities, and it does appear that less people enjoy seeing performing animals, generally - not just vegans, Buddhists and other sensitive souls. Likewise, a certain number of circuses with animals still find an audience...

And if, in children's publishing, books have now appeared about Gay Parenting (say) or Adopted Children and other challenges to stereotypes, like books dealing with issues that concern children, against racism and bullying for instance, isn't there a niche for a book or two about modern circus and the desire to leave animals out of it?

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

I withdraw the happy new year greeting - maybe this will make you angry

Look at this from False Economies

You might want to subscribe to Public Library News to track all the planned closures of libraries...

Look out for a day of action in February (article in The Guardian)

Massive library cuts may even prove illegal (The Guardian 30 Nov 2010)


Off to bed now...

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Happy New Year!

Anyone who had visited this site may have noticed the drop away in regular posts.

There were a variety of reasons, not least my involvement in writing a book as part of the NaNoWriMo challenge, as well as beginning to compile research for the history of a local arts company, and my own autobiography.

But these are of little relevance to a library blog.

Another contributing factor was that I heard that the library had finally decided to set up an official blog, so I thought that this strictly unofficial blog had served its purpose (it was originally set up as an example of a Library 2.0 function, after attending an inspiring talk).

There has been a long delay in setting up a MySpace account for the Music Dept (issues range from the legal requirement to be bilingual - Welsh/English - to the need for regular monitoring if feedback and user input is allowed on a service which 'represents the Council'). I am glad to say that the library service has finally established a Facebook Page (well, two actually, one for each language), but Twitter is still blocked from use by public or staff in libraries.

We stagger into the 21st Century - with already a decade gone...and I find myself on the point of retirement, so perhaps I should just hand the whole thing over to the younger folk...
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