Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Safe haven for thinking

Amongst the many virtues of a proper library service, that I would list, is that it can be a place for learning for kids you don't like school (but like learning).

Here's a more extensive list, that I came across in the Comments on a Bookseller post about the results of The Culture, Media and Sport select committee report.

Some of it still strikes me as so stupid that all I can do is splutter:

"In the last few years we have seen huge strides in that direction with libraries opening up in village halls, pubs, shops, churches, phone boxes, day care centres and tourist information centres, as well as linking with health, social care, benefits and job search providers.”

To quote "Jo" from the Comments: "A few books in a phone box is a book exchange not a library. Libraries are so much more."

And as to the 'library in a pub' model - that's really accessible to children, isn't it? Or Muslims. Or...

I haven't contacted Lauren Smith, about the list she created last year, but I hope she doesn't mind me posting it in full, here:

What Do Public Librarians and Library Staff Do?

■Dealing With Library Users:

- Suggesting a book for anyone from an 8 year old boy who never reads to a 70 year old woman who has read everything;

- Being unfazed by complex enquiries which could be of a sensitive nature;

- Understanding how to help people with computers who have zero confidence/experience and believe they can’t use them;

- Dealing with abusive visitors;

- Dealing with young people behaving badly – police have been called to library branches when young people have been climbing on bookshelves, causing problems, refusing to leave premises etc;

- Dealing sensitively with people who have mental health problems or learning disabilities and may be challenging to help properly;

- Keeping user information confidential;

- Huge training requirement around legal/ethical issues;

- Understanding the issues around safeguarding children and the elderly;

- Providing a safe, friendly space that welcomes everyone;

- Directing homeless people to the nearest shelter;

- Helping people with little or no English to use the library service by translating, using translation services or taking special care and attention to ensure people understand information;

- Collecting knives and guns;

■Helping People Find Information:

- Information literacy i.e. teaching people how to research, study and helping people develop lifelong learning skills essential for an informed citizenship;

- Understanding what users need and how they go about finding it (and working out where the problems are);

- Teaching people how to search effectively;

- Helping people organise information effectively;

- Helping people assess which information is reliable, for example the NHS expect patients to use online sources to find out about healthcare, but a lot of information on the internet is not reliable and can misinform people;

- Showing people how to find information about legal issues;

- Helping businesses find business information;

- Helping people research their family history or local history;

- Unearthing the needed information from the mounded heaps of print and electronic, free and subscription services, efficiently and accurately;

- Ensuring that less easy-to-find materials are available for particular groups – community langs, LGBT, people with/ disabilities etc;

- Being able to interpret research requests – working out what people want when they’re not sure how to explain

- Providing pointers on free and paid resources;

- Knowing how to do proper subject searches and suggest unthought of sources of information;

- Signposting to a huge range of services &say what they can offer: advice/help on immigration, debt, tax, legal, benefits, housing;

- Providing specialist information i.e. market research/patents/EU/law/health;

- Helping people if the library doesn’t have what they need;

- Understanding the need for access and negotiating access to information that may be blocked by council filters;

■Research Help:

- Teaching people how to research properly;

- Current awareness services, all types of research;

- Personal training sessions on resources;

- Filtering materials for relevance;

■Internet/Technology Support:

- Teaching people to use the internet;

- Helping people set up email accounts;

- Showing people how to use online job boards;

- Showing people how to use online council & government services;

- Teaching people to use online resources e.g. e-books, e-journals;

- Giving people login details for library computers and helping them when they have problems/forget passwords etc.;

- Providing technical support on systems and tools (i.e. loading ebooks from something like Overdrive on to a ereader);

- Helping people use the photocopier/printer/fax machine;

- Showing people how to Integrate emerging technologies into their daily lives;

- Helping people with online council housing lists;

- Explaining how wifi works;

■Organising and Running Events and Activities:

- Organising/promoting events for kids/teens/adults that promote a love of reading;

- Rhyme time and story time sessions, increasing childhood literacy and promoting reading;

- Children’s activities;

- Visiting authors and poets;

- Book festivals;

- Gigs (Get It Loud In Libraries);

- Helping with homework and school projects;

- Book groups;

- IT classes;

- Doing the risk assessments needed to make sure everyone is safe and secure at events;

- Dressing the library for events, making it look attractive and impressive (professional);

- Organising school visits

■Partnership Work with Schools and Other Organisations:

- A working and up to date knowledge and understanding of the curriculum and the way schools function (see this comment for much more detail);

- Working with teachers to improve reading skills;

- Working with schools & other community groups to promote the library and showcase all it has to offer;

- Visiting schools, talking to parents to promoting a lifelong love of reading with parents and children;

Giving talks on request from teachers on referencing and the importance of bibliographies for GCSEs/A levels;

- Working with U3A and other community groups to help public with online information;

■Library Management:

- Understanding how libraries work together, dealing with interlibrary loans and the British Library;

- Data protection;

- Reporting on library use and user needs;

- Using statistics to identify trends and assess levels of use;

- Managing electronic resources;

- Ordering databases;

- Paying invoices;

- Getting value for money via professional management, organization and promotion of resources;

- Promoting and marketing the libraries, including using social media to promote the library service;

- Attending training and events to make sure that the library service is keeping up with developments;

- Dealing with legislation including reproduction and attendant copyright law: photocopying/scanning for personal use, hi-res resources for publication/TV;

- Maintaining and building technical solutions for users’ needs;

- Maintaining a safe, interesting quiet environment;

- Being a premises controller: be responsible for a large public bldg, know what to do when heating breaks down, roof leaks etc;

- Training for fire marshals etc;

- Reporting to local Councillors, showing how libraries meet the wider council aims;

- Managing budgets and staffing, liaising with those who provide the funds;

■Collection management:

- Promoting/displaying/ weeding/ordering stock;

- Making sure the books and other items in the library are ones that users want/need/will benefit from;

- Reader and community development – encouraging people to read more widely and helping communities build knowledge and skills – matching resources to people’s needs;

- Describing/cataloguing/arranging physical or digital material in useful ways so that people can find it;

- Chasing and collecting books back and enforcing fines;

- Matching stock held with local community group(s) needs;

- Dealing with stock management / complaints etc. in accordance with international agreements on intellectual freedom;

■Archives and Special Collections:

- Digitisation and digital preservation, making sure information will be accessible in future;

- Storing and conserving media (including old/rare books);

■Other Council Services Provided Through Libraries:

- Dealing with people paying council tax and parking fines;

- Giving out condoms and bin bags;

- Issuing firearms certificates;

- Selling charity xmas cards;

- Issuing blue badges;

- Issuing over 60s bus passes.

And while we are at it - this, from the American Library Association last year.

10 Ways Libraries Matter in a Digital Age

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