http://www.worldcat.org/title/truth-about-publishing/oclc/2811052&referer=brief_results This was an interesting book to flick through for an historical perspective on the relationship between libraries and publishers. It’s not all focused on that relationship specifically, but there are a few snippets. Particular areas that caught my interest were: The value of public libraries in providing light entertainment to the masses. Legal deposit and Copyright Act. Efforts made by authors to bring in the Public Lending Right payment.
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Posted by garygre on March 26, 2013
I contributed to a Guardian online chat recently that focused on the question: ”What does a library look like in 2013?”
During this live chat Sandy Mahal (programme manager, The Reading Agency) made this point:
“It’s not an exaggeration to say that we’re in the middle of one of the biggest changes in reading in human history, experiencing a shift similar in magnitude to the move in Greek times from an oral to a literary culture. Our reading brains are changing, the way we share reading experiences is changing, and of course the book itself is changing dramatically. We’re being challenged to think very differently about what the reading experience is – by things like JK Rowling’s online Pottermore world, Profile’s Frankenstein app which uses reader input and non-linear text. Very little of these multi-platform, literary experiments seem to be making their way into libraries’ reader development work, and of course, there’s ebooks too…we need to take a big, bold step to create a future library service that will keep ahead of developments and cater for and inspire a generation of digital natives.”
And I responded with:
“Possibly the problem here is that libraries are still focusing more on the container of the content (the book) and not the content itself. Not only is the way we read changing, the way we access information is changing too – whether that’s a focus on infographics instead of pure statistics; using multimedia (videos; audio, etc) to provide information, etc – it all needs to be considered, not just focusing on information or even story telling as text in a book or on a page.”
My comment was actually answering a question in my own head, as a lead on, rather than in response to Sandy’s comments. I agree the shift is happening, but we also need to be mindful that the shift won’t just happen in how the written word is presented, as libraries aren’t just about the written word. I’m thinking around this idea from a libraries=information perspective, rather than libraries=reading, as a fair percentage of my library use has been informal learning and information finding. The shift will also happen around how information is presented (video, audio, infographics, etc) and how we interact with it.
I just wondered what other people working in libraries and information based roles thought about this?
Posted by garygre on January 25, 2013
This is a really useful list of online content curation services (60 approx). For each service it lists:
- Resources that can be curated. eg Twitter content, Facebook, RSS feeds, blogs.
- Whether the curation methods are automated or manual.
- Whether the content can be edited after it’s curated.
- Output and export formats. eg RSS, Embed in webpage, API’s
- Team collaboration functions.
I’ve only heard of a few of the services listed – Scoop.it, Storify, Pearltrees, Pinterest, Bundlr and Memolane – but there are plenty of others worth taking a look at.
Posted by garygre on January 12, 2013
In this episode of Andrew Marr’s “Start the week” radio programme, he spoke to a number of guests about how technology might impact on us in the future, raising issues such as:
- How we can retain control of our interaction with the digital world.
- Ethics of technology.
- Inequality of digital access.
- How technology has changed social interaction.
- Augmented reality.
- The changing value of games.
- The idea that digital experiences may be more successful when presenting them as a “physical simple imminent experience” rather than a “complex informational one”.
- Users seen as livestock – being coralled by those who control technology.
- New technology developments.
- The suggestion that most of society is not prepared for things that are just around the corner (some already here).
- Who controls technology and what would happen if leadership changed in Microsoft, Apple or Google to a more traditional corporate style?
It’s well worth listening to, particularly with its focus upon the social impact of technology. One of the key things I picked up from it, was the idea that there are just as many opportunities for the individual to take control of their own experience in the digital world as there are opportunities for others to lead us down a path they want us to go.
Posted by garygre on May 9, 2012
CILIP’s International Library and Information Group ran an informal session a few weeks ago, in which Johanna Anderson discussed the research she had undertaken for her Library and Information Management MSc: ‘Library Aid to Developing Countries: A case study investigating how a Western literary library model is integrated into a Sub-Saharan African oral culture within the Malawian primary education system’.
The research was undertaken in situ at a primary school in Malawi and was based around a library set up by a UK charity in the school. Following on from the United Nations Millennium Development Goal of universal primary education, Malawi had already made primary education free to all children. The uptake of school places had increased so dramatically that it was felt libraries could be introduced as a way to ease the pressure on the education system. Donations of books from the UK were the main method of providing stock for the library and no experienced library staff were involved in the setting up or running of the library.
Johanna discussed the background to her research and the key areas she’d focused on:
- The role reading had to play in Malawi culture (one with a predominantly oral tradition, rather than written).
- How relevant the stock was to its users (level of readership, subject coverage, English language stock).
- How the library stock was used and the impact it had on the community (people who could read shared information with others; it taught people about the world outside of Malawi; infrastructures needed to be put in place to support & develop the library).
- How reader development was supported (focus was mainly on sharing information in books, with little focus on reader enjoyment).
It was really interesting to hear about library services from such a different angle, specifically one based in a non-western developing country with a culture that traditionally focused on oral communication, rather than the written word.
Books introduced a change in the way communication occurred in Malawi – information used to flow from the elders to the children, but now it also flows from from the literate (often school children) to the non-literate. It shows that resources people have access to change the way they interact and communicate with each other. This isn’t just the case for developing countries, but also for any community who has access to new methods of communication. For example, witness how the internet and, more recently, social media has changed the way people communicate, obtain and share information.
Johanna’s research and the discussion around it during the event highlighted the fact that a library is so much more than a room full of donated books. For a library to be successful it needs the infrastructure to support it – where the library is housed, systems used, trained library staff. The library discussed in Johanna’s case study didn’t seem to have this infrastructure in place. It made me wonder whether irrelevant donated books could instead be converted into a means of supporting the infrastructure of the library that was there? eg sell the books in the UK and help pay for training for the library assistant, a more suitable home for the library, put in place systems that ensures the best use is made of the resources. I also wondered if librarians on secondment/sabbatical from the UK to libraries in developing countries could be a good way to help develop the infrastructure around libraries? In some ways it might be of benefit to both the libraries in developing countries and UK librarians – it might get librarians to think about their core skills – get them back to basics – think about the purpose of libraries/librarians and make them re-evaluate their own role in UK libraries. Some critics suggest that public libraries in the UK have lost their way. By going back to grass roots and a situation where their core/basic skills need to be used might be a way for them to re-evaluate what their role is. For example, as a technical librarian a lot of my focus is aimed at the technology side of things. I wonder how much of the librarian focus I’ve lost whilst pursuing this particular technology path and how much of it I could regain if I had the opportunity to get back to focusing on the core skills and knowledge?
Johanna’s dissertation highlighted the fact that where, in the past, books/the written word might have been seen as alien to a culture founded on oral tradition, people in Malawi now associated books with knowledge, power, prestige and wealth. Many of these associations also tie in with the fight against poverty. The Malawi Government also acknowledged the importance of literacy and put strategies in place to encourage it – resulting in increased literacy levels. It seems ironic that a Government in a developing country can recognise the importance of literacy and put measures in place to ensure it’s supported, but at the same time our own Government is happy to encourage the whittling away of our public library service.
As I say, the event and discussion generated around it was really interesting. If you want to find out more about Johanna’s research her full dissertation can be found here.
Posted by garygre on May 1, 2012
A few weeks ago I attended a couple of “Writing for publication” workshops, which were organised by CILIP Library & Information Research Group (LIRG) and run by Alison Brettle & Christine Irving.
The workshops focused on:
- How to start writing and keep focused.
- Different types of submissions.
- How the submission/editorial process works.
- Where to publish.
- Peer review process.
- Feedback on attendees ideas for articles.
I decided to sign up for the workshops because recently I’ve been thinking that I really want to develop my writing skills for a number of reasons:
- I want to be able to put reports/pieces/blog posts together more quickly than I am doing at present – I’m not sure exactly how many drafts I go through before I’m happy with anything I write (blogs particularly), but I’d say 3 at least, plus a bit of post-publishing editing too.
- I want to be able to focus my thoughts and decide on my purpose for writing about a particular subject before I even start typing.
- I want to present my thoughts more clearly when they’re written down.
- I’m considering writing beyond my own blogs and want to make sure that whatever I submit is as professional as it can be. I know editors might not be interested in what I’ve written, but at least I’ll know I’ve given them the best I can.
- Through my involvement with Voices For The Library I’ve had the opportunity to undertake some informal research, which has given me a taste for it and, in the back of my mind, I was considering doing something more formal. I’d been looking around for courses to develop my research skills. I feel that improving my writing skills would also help in this area – or maybe they go hand in hand – clarity of presenting information, etc.
Posted by garygre on April 16, 2012
I attended an event organised by Digital Surrey last night. The speaker was one of the original programmers behind the game M.U.D., Richard Bartle. His focus this evening was trying to predict what virtual massively multiplayer online (M.M.O.) game worlds might be like in 2022. He gave us various scenarios, some positive and others negative and it was all very interesting seeing how things might turn out, but the but one thing that really got me thinking was his comment that Edutainment doesn’t equal fun education, it equals unfun games
I can see what he’s saying. I remember receiving “French is fun” with my MSX computer back in the mid 1980s. LIES! It might have been fun if the game consisted of throwing onions at blocky images of The Eiffel Tower that exclaimed “Mon dieu” or “Zut alors” every time you hit it… but unfortunately all it did was try to give you French lessons… Which wasn’t fun at all, despite the fact that I wanted to learn French.
After Richard’s Edutainment comment and with my “Libraries give information” hat on, I’ve got some thoughts going around my head – wondering if virtual games can/could successfully educate by providing information subtly as an integral part of the game? For example, if you’re playing a game set in a fantasy world based around ancient Egyptian mythology could you drop in facts about ancient Egypt as part of the narrative if it didn’t impinge on the game play? Or actually include those facts as part of the game play? Would the player think “Hang on a minute. Someone’s trying to teach me something here!”? If it’s true that serious M.M.O. game players get engrossed in the game, wouldn’t their immersion in the virtual world work in the educators favour? Wouldn’t the gamer take in those facts readily in a willingness to be enveloped in the story, or if they believed remembering the facts were essential to progress through the game? But then again, if you’re giving gamers facts and fantasy in the same world could they also equate the fantasy as fact too? Could the division between fantasy and reality be blurred and any value that the factual parts have be undone by the misinformation of the fantasy? I suppose if that was the case you could also say that “The Mummy” film was also giving out confusing information and messing with our heads… On one hand it talks about known Pharoah’s and other ancient Egyptian facts, and on the other it raises them from the dead to wreak chaos! I’m not sure many people believe The Mummy to be an accurate account of Egyptian history.
So, what information could you plonk in there and how could you do it so it was disguised as part of the fun? Could you do it so that it was genuinely part of the fun, not just disguised as it? How far could you take it before someone realised it was no fun any more and had become edutainment? And, if you were devising the game for edutainment purposes, would you already be involved in a losing battle, because games are for playing and your primary purpose in this instance is serving up the information, not playing the game?
Posted by garygre on March 23, 2012