One Week In My Librarian Life #libday8

This is a blog post for the “Library Day In The Life” Project. This project is a semi-annual event where librarians, library staff and library students from all over the globe share a day (or week) in their life through blog posts, photos, video and Twitter updates.

As a bit of a background, I’m a Technical Librarian for a public library service in England and also a founder member of the Voices For The Library campaign.

Monday (30th Jan)

A day off work, but still I’m doing library based stuff. I’ve got a few things going on at the moment around Voices For The Library, so I’m trying to keep on top of them. This includes:

  • Preparing for a meeting on Wednesday about public library cuts with MP Ed Vaizey, the Government minister responsible for libraries. Julia Donaldson (Children’s Laureate) arranged this and, as a representative of Voices, I will be part of a delegation that includes Julia, Alan Gibbons (children’s author and Campaign For The Book founder) and John Holland (Friends of Gloucestershire Libraries campaigner). I’m currently trying to condense all that Voices For The Library want to put across into a 5 minute slot.
  • Helping plan the Parliamentary lobby/rally on 13th March – got to admit I’m not doing as much as I’d like to with this, as other much closer deadlines keeping popping up.

Activities I tend to do daily with Voices, includes:

  • Keeping an eye on the news, blogs, Government related sites and Twitter for anything of interest and posting it on Twitter. It seems like a bit of a slow news day today for libraries in the UK, but plenty of stories about libraries in Canada and USA! I tend to feed all my news into Google Reader, as I can share it in a variety of ways, but I also use as well, because that also picks up more news that Google news doesn’t.
  • Adding or writing the odd blog post for the site. (Added one today)
  • Responding to email discussions.
Tuesday (31st Jan)
August 20th 2008 - Inspiration pt3 by Stephen Poff
August 20th 2008 - Inspiration pt3 (c) Stephen Poff/Flickr

Not in the office again today. This time I’m on a half day “Writing for publication” course at CILIP, organised by the LIRG (Library and Information Research Group). I do a lot of library focused writing for this blog, the Voices for The Library blog and on rare occasions for other sites. However, I feel I want to improve/develop this side of myself  and I’ve also got a thought in the back of my mind that I want to do some formal research around public libraries – to put my efforts to wider use. So, this course seemed a good starting place. I was hoping that it would help me write more clearly, get focused and get those ideas written down more quickly, and, as my brain is sometimes like a sieve, I hope that it helps me remember what I’ve written too!

After the course I worked on a Prezi to promote an event for National Libraries Day. Hopefully it will get tweeted a few times by our library service Twitter accounts over the next few days.

I also tweeted a few relevant library news stories and finalised my thoughts for  the meeting around library cuts on Wednesday.

Voices For The Library were also given permission to publish our response to Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee’s inquiry into library closures on our website today.

Wednesday (1st Feb)

A day’s leave again, but still doing library related work.

Bit of a strange day really – as a representative for Voice For The Library, along with Children’s Laureate Julia Donaldson, author and Campaign For The Book founder Alan Gibbons, and Friends of Gloucestershire Libraries campaigner John Holland, I’m going to meet Minister with responsibility for libraries, Ed Vaizey to discuss the mess public libraries are in and if he or Jeremy Hunt ever intend doing anything to sort them out?

I posted two reactions from myself to this meeting.

Here’s my personal “:-O Is this really happening to me?” reaction.

Here’s my professional Voices For The Library blog post.

As I say in the Voices blog post, I hope the meeting made a step in the right direction to sort things out, even if it just seems like a tiny one.

The rest of the day/evening was spent finding/tweeting library related trying to catch up with Voices For The Library emails, etc.

Houses Of Parliament by wendyfairy
Houses Of Parliament (c) wendyfairy/Flickr

Thursday (2nd Feb)

I’m actually back in the office today and I spent the first part of it dealing with emails. These included:

  • Preparation for our library service conference
  • Tying up the loose ends so that we can implement our new public facing catalogue/circulation system. It’s nice a whizzy and I’m particularly excited that it will include RSS feeds for search results! I know that sounds sad, but I really want to mashup some of our catalogue data.
  • Got a thank you for putting together the National Libraries Day event Prezi. 🙂

At lunch time I signed up for “Brighton Lib Teach Meet 2012“, which is “a fun and informal way for librarians and information professionals to share new ideas.” The focus of this event is ‘Outreach, marketing and promotion’. I’ve never been to one of these before, but it sounds a bit like a Library Camp or Mashed Libraries style informal event. It also sounds interesting and I thought I could share some ideas around its focus (especially as Voices stuff crosses over into that area), so I put myself down to give a 5 minute presentation too.

Today was my monthly one-to-one with my line manager. We covered what I’d been working on in the past month and what I need to focus on in the coming month. Mostly e-books; downloadable audio apps; the Arena project (the public catalogue I mentioned earlier); future business plans; and marketing/promoting the library service online in a new way (for us).

I also took the time to fill in the survey for stage 1 of the CILIP Body of Professional Knowledge consultation. When I joined CILIP I wanted to get involved with what was going on, because I feel that if I want the organisation and profession to develop I’ve got to make an effort to get involved. I’ve not had the time to do anything with CILIP groups, but at least I can get involved in other ways and this is one of them.

Friday (3rd Feb)

Before work I put together a short pre-National Libraries Day (Saturday 4th) blog post for the Voices site. It was really just to remind people that N.L.D. was happening, how it came about (a follow on from Save Our Libraries Day last year) and that even though it was a day of celebration of libraries, library services were still under threat.

I spent 99% of my “day-job” today in a meeting with representatives from our library system supplier and our local authority web team ironing out outstanding issues with our new public facing catalogue/circulation system. We got most things sorted out, but it isn’t yet ready to go live. I typed up the log to highlight the outstanding issues and circulated it to those who attended the meeting and the broader contract team.

For the rest of the day (about an hour) I dealt with some emails and was also given another project to think about – an assessment of wi-fi in libraries.

When I got home I had an email discussion about the oral evidence Voices’ Abby Barker will be giving to the Culture, Media & Sport Committee Inquiry into library closures at the beginning of next week.

Saturday (4th Feb)

National Libraries Day logo
National Libraries Day

National Libraries Day. This is what I got up to – a librarithon!

Whilst out and about, being with a couple of techy type librarians, we ended up discussing social media, websites and cuts in relation to libraries… as well as other things.

I tried to retweet what others were saying about National Libraries Day, but the sheer number of tweets made it difficult.

Came back after a couple of drinks in the pub and typed up a blog post about my day.

Sunday (5th Feb)

Retweeted quite a lot of post-National Libraries Day tweets and news. It was great to see so many people getting involved.

I also worked on an article I’m putting together about and how it can be used for information sharing and productivity.

The rest of the month

Other aspects of my role include dealing with cataloguing, classification and EDI issues; assisting in the running of social media workshops for staff; liaising with data suppliers; current awareness of technology and I.T. in libraries.

Even though it hasn’t been a typical week for me –  I generally spend more time in the office and have never had a meeting like the one on Wednesday before – it’s a good example of the variety of work I do.

My National Libraries Day Out #NLD12 #Librarithon #LoveLibraries

Yesterday was National Libraries Day in the UK – a celebration of libraries – not just public, but also academic, specialist, business, health, schools, etc… all libraries!

I was hoping to celebrate in the week building up to today by taking part in my own librarithon – ie visit as many different interesting libraries as possible. This was inspired by Zoe Toft who, along with her children, took part in her own charity librarithon last year. In the end, due to the fact that I had to complete a major project in work and had a major meeting to prepare for and attend, the librarithon didn’t happen. 😦 Oh well!

Instead I took part in a mini-librarithon today in London with a couple of other librarians – @usernametaken10 and @misshelved – who fancied exploring a few new places. The aim wasn’t to take in as many libraries as possible just for the sake of visiting them. We decided to visit the Dickens & the Supernatural exhibition at The British Library, two new libraries in Dalston and Canada Water and an ‘Idea store’ in Whitechapel, which was running an author event.

As we were in London, and as it’s a national library, The British Library seemed like a really good place to start. I’ve visited this library a few times. Every time I’ve been there it’s to visit an exhibition.  Exhibitions in a library are a great way to provide focus on information/resources held by the library that might have otherwise been hidden away – hidden away in terms of location, and in Dickens case, hidden away in his body of work. He’s probably more widely known for fiction that touches on social history, rather than the supernatural. Exhibitions such as this get  potential readers thinking about the author in a different way. It was quite a small exhibition – took us about 20 minutes to look at it – but it was interesting to find out about how his early childhood and the people in it influenced him. He was sceptical about ghosts and the paranormal, but that didn’t stop him from writing classic ghost stories, such as The Signalman.

Book sculpture at Dalston C.L.R. James Library
Book sculpture at Dalston C.L.R. James Library

Next, we took the bus over to Dalston and wandered around the newly built C.L.R. James Library. This public area was spread over one and a half floors, broken up into glass partitioned walls. The local archives and history service was situated above it. I thought the use of the foyer area was interesting – a place for those who just want to dash in and out, to make a quick choice from a limited set of popular books. Even though I couldn’t borrow them (as I not a member of that library service), I did spot a couple of graphic novels that interested me. It made me think, “I wish we had a national library card and I could borrow this book this book right now.” Hopefully my local library will stock them. *Goes off to check the catalogue* Yes, I’ve found one of them! (Mike Carey / God Save The Queen)

Then we took the train to Canada Water Library. Again, this is another brand new library and has great views overlooking Canada Water itself. The building itself is pretty funky – as @misshelved said, on the outside it looks like a Jawa Sand crawler.

Canada Water Library
Canada Water Library or Jawa Sand Crawler?
Inside Canada Water Library
Inside Canada Water Library (c) usernametaken10/Flickr

Inside the library there’s a coffee shop and quick choice section (like Dalston Library’s foyer). A set of stairs in the centre of the ground floor leads up to the main part of the library, housing the children’s library, computers and fiction. Up another set of stairs is the non-fiction section on a balcony area that over looks the rest of the library. It goes all the way around the library and up here they also have study spaces and meeting rooms. I’m not sure whether “a day in the life” of the library as shown here is actually how it is, but I could imagine spending a couple of hours a week in there just relaxing and browsing/thinking if I lived closer to it – it’s got a pretty relaxed positive feel to it.

Finally, @usernametaken10 and I headed to Whitechapel and visited the Idea Store there. It’s a few years old and is based over a number of floors (4, I think). Our aim was to go to a free author event (Austerity Writes Back) which was on for an hour and a half. We only managed to catch the end of the event (last 20 minutes or so), but what I saw/heard was really interesting, especially as some of its focus was the austerity cuts and protest. That’s sort of why National Libraries Day exists (on the back of Save Our Libraries protest day last year) and is also relevant to Voices For The Library activities. One of the authors (and publisher) Bobby Nayyar made a comment that made sense to me about the current state of affairs with the economy. It was along the lines that there’s nothing wrong with businesses making a profit, but some businesses seem focused on making an obscene amount of profit and do not understand the social impact this may have on the world around them. I also want to mention that while I was mooching around the Idea Store I spotted on the end of a shelf a biography of Andrew Carnegie. It made me smile to think that, as a philanthropist who funded so many libraries, he has a lot to be thanked for on National Libraries Day.

Andrew Carnegie book
I wonder how Andrew Carnegie would have felt today about library cuts?

I really enjoyed today’s little adventure as part of National Libraries Day. On top of visiting a handful of libraries (old and new), I had a laugh and mulled over a few library related ideas with @usernametaken10 and @misshelved. I also got to explore parts of London I’ve never been to before, and I listened to a few authors talk about their books and how they were inspired.

As I sit here writing this, I also wonder if anyone using any of those four libraries I visited today was struck by some great revolutionary or genius idea that will change the world forever? It would be great to say I was in THAT LIBRARY at THAT PRECISE MOMENT when it happened… and you may well laugh, but it could happen, because that’s the sort of thing that goes on inside the minds of people who use libraries. 🙂