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What bothers me more is that most children's books about circus still focus on what is now a rather stereotyped and out of date image of circus - using the clichés of lion-tamers and red-nosed clowns, ring-masters and elephants - as though writers and publishers had not actually been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