Cultural Creativity: Events and Ideas

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Over the past few months I’ve had the opportunity to attend a few events focused on cultural creativity. The key ones were Creative Works London, Game Camp, and Guildford Games G3 Futures. All of them have touched on my day-to-day role as a librarian with an interest in the digital and the creative, and all of them gave me a buzz of inspiration.

Creative Works London Festival: “CWL is a London’s Knowledge Exchange Hub, funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) over four years to bring London’s researchers, creative entrepreneurs and businesses together to explore the issues with an impact on the capital’s creative economy.” This was an event that showcased 143 projects that were recently funded as part of the CWL initiative. It crossed all of the arts, but the projects I was most interested in were ones with a heritage background. Projects such as Poetic Places and Lines in the Ice both partnered with the British Library, and made use of its collections in new and interesting ways. The Poetic Places project developed a free mobile phone app containing details of poetry and archive material of London on a digital map, with push notifications triggered by GPS. Lines in the Ice “focused on the 1845 expedition by John Franklin to discover the Northwest Passage”, and amongst other things resulted in the creation of a fictional hand bound diary, games and songs recorded and published on Soundcloud. The Play Your Place project focused on workshops that enabled communities to build their own platform game about issues that were personal to them eg their local area – attendees create the graphics and audio, and then build the game around them. So for example, Southend participants created platform games based on creating a bike friendly Southend; and Westminster participants created a game in response to Fire Station closures. I loved the way all 3 of these projects took original source material, looked at it from a new perspective and turned it into a new narrative.

Game Camp London: This was an informal unconference style event which brought together game players, developers, researchers, academics and anyone else who was interested in games. It was an opportunity to both discuss aspects of games and also play them. All of the sessions I attended were both fun and interesting. That included sessions about Twitter Adventure (a Twitter based Choose your adventure game); empathy for computer generated characters in games; mock games awards; a proposal for a game jam focused around space and Kennington; a discussion on useful game related books for game development courses. I also ran a session to get ideas about how to run more successful interactive fiction game jams in future. I had lots of useful suggestions, including…

  • Decide what your aim is – eg Is it to encourage writers to take up writing interactive fiction? or create new narratives from existing library/written material?  Show traditional readers that interactive fiction is worth exploring too.
  • Split the jam into 2 parts – 1st part creates the story. 2nd part creates the interactive fiction from that material.
  • Use different groups to create the 2 parts eg writers part 1. Game developers part 2. Target the places where they congregate online.
  • Giving a narrow focus to the theme. eg Something broad like Create an Epic Story isn’t a narrow enough focus. 2 or 3 keyword prompts are useful.
  • Give the creators some inspiration eg resources from the library.
  • A shorter game jam period helps people focus their efforts. eg 48 hours or 1 week.
  • Have a physical game jam as well as an online one.

G3 Futures Guildford Games conference: Unlike Game Camp, this was business focused and brought together local game developers and also the wider network of supporters. It was organised by The University of Surrey, UKIE (UK Interactive Entertainment trade body) and technology law specialist Charles Russell Speechlys. Guildford has an amazing amount of high profile and independent game development companies in the area and there’s a real push to raise the profile of Guildford in this respect. One of the key things I picked up on was the need for game developers to connect to their broader community in the local area and spread the message/joy about what they’re doing. I’d be more than happy to help them connect with the wider community. How about a ready made community and new audience in the centre of Guildford with a shared love of the enjoyment of stories – traditionally books, but I know many are going to love those stories in games too. It’s a community that has over 240,000 visitors a year – Guildford Library. One event I’ve been trying to pull together is a demo day for local game developers, and we’ve also run game days, interactive fiction workshops, Minecraft parties, so we know the appetite for games related events and activities in libraries is there.

From all of these events I got a strong sense of how libraries could play a role alongside creative communities, whether that’s making use of existing ideas in a library context, or supporting them to help develop these communities and the work they are doing.

Health & Science Library Camp #HASLibCamp

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About a month ago I attended HASLibcamp at CityLIS, which was a library camp (informal unconference style event) focused on health & science aspects of libraries, librarianship and knowledge management.

I pitched a session on how public libraries can support health and I also attended 3 other sessions during the day. There was a mix of people attending – including librarians in the health sector; those who supported academic health courses; private and public sector; and information and library students. I have to say I was surprised that I was the only representative from public libraries there, especially as one of the Society of Chief Librarian “Universal offers” in public libraries is focused on health.

I attended 3 sessions and pitched a session myself on how public libraries support health.

The first session I attended was focused on health apps and stemmed from an app swap session that happens regularly at St George’s Medical School (London). During the session people discussed the type of health apps that were available; the emergence of related technology such as fit-bits; how health apps can be useful for people to understand and take control of their own health literacy. Many of these apps rely on recording users data, so the discussion also covered concerns around data privacy for health apps; possible use of health data for things you don’t want it to be used for eg health insurance; lack of governance on medical data privacy in apps; and how we (as information professionals) could play a role in educating users about data privacy.

From a public libraries & techy perspective I’m keen to promote health apps on health awareness days that come from reputable providers. eg mental health; living healthier. But the difficulty for me is identifying those apps.

The next session I attended focused on Wikipedia and Wikimedia editing. It was interesting to hear about the background to both resources; how they link together; how they link to other resources (for example The British Library is busy digitising images from out of copyright materials, & detailed subject tagging of the resources on Flickr for them is sometimes created by Wikipedians); and the role of a Wikipedian in residence as someone who is able to focus on specific subject areas for an organisation.

The final session I attended focused on an initiative at Imperial College to archive software that has been created as the result of research projects. It covered questions such as… How can this software be identified? How can it be archived, given that hardware, operating systems and platforms are constantly changing, with some now obsolete? Could virtual machines and emulators be used to run the software? What are the licensing requirements for archiving the software and the platforms they run on, especially if the software produced as the result of a research project is released as a commercial project?

I also mentioned that I pitched a session on how public libraries could support health initiatives. My intention was that I was keen to find out more about how public libraries could do this, as well as sharing some thoughts about areas I knew about. This was a very useful discussion, with around 10 other people in attendance from a variety of health backgrounds. I spoke about the sort of things my library service is involved in including the Society of Chief Librarians health offer; Books on prescription; mental health support; provision of a reminiscence collection; accessible computers and technology; services for those unable to visit the library; dementia awareness training for library staff as part of a bigger “Dementia Friendly Surrey” County Council campaign; the privacy benefits of self-service issue/return; alternative versions of reading materials inc large print & audio books, and Penfriend; creative writing workshops for survivors of domestic abuse; partnership working with local hospitals, health organisations and national organisations inc signposting to reputable healthcare information; producing health related reading lists linked to our catalogue.

Other areas that were discussed were the blocking of sites in public libraries that genuinely provide helpful health related information; providing open access to medical information in public libraries and the best way to do this; the development of sign-posting to further health information; the value of signposting to information on ageing in general; the value of health information professionals coming into public libraries to train staff on signposting.

I have to say that I found this session useful, but at the same time I felt like I didn’t have many of the answers to questions that others attending were asking me about. My day-to-day focus isn’t health in public libraries; it’s tech and digital, and in this instance, I could only really give detailed answers about where tech and digital is used to support health initiatives in public libraries. Hopefully, if this event is run again there will be other representatives from public libraries attending who are better placed to answer the questions I couldn’t.

I thought it was a really useful and interesting event, and I can see the benefit of having other library camps with a focus on specific subjects like this. Well done to all who helped organise it and those who were involved in the session discussions on the day.

If you want to read about other sessions run during the event take a look at this page on the HASLibCamp site.

International Games Day at The British Library

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Last Saturday was International Games Day @ Your Library and I was lucky enough to help organise the free event at The British Library. We were going for an Alice in Wonderland theme in general (although we had many games that weren’t themed around Alice), as the Alice exhibition at the library had only opened the day before – it was a good tie-in and gave us a focus.

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The event included a huge range of tabletop games provided by board game enthusiasts, and computer games from both the British Library/Game City Off The Map competition (including Gyre and Gimble’s game) , and games from Alice Jam 150. We had planned to run a couple of Pocket Code/Paint sessions to show people how to create Alice game art and a game in an hour and to tie in with this Pocket Code Alice game jam in December. In the end we only ran the Game Making with Pocket Code session (lack of attendees) with a couple of people. Even though it would have been nicer to have more people attend, I still enjoyed running it and I think those attending enjoyed it too. Everything else went down very well – we must have had 100+ people come along on the day and many stayed and played for a while. Having tabletop game enthusiasts who could show other volunteers and anyone who came along how to play the games was important. Having Gyre and Gimble there to talk about their game was great too, especially as they received such positive feedback about it. It was also fun to watch other people try out the Alice Jam 150 games – again, all of which got positive feedback. The most popular was Down the rabbit hole.

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As well as the main event we also ran gaming sessions on Friday and Saturday evening as part of the Alice late event – again, the sessions were extremely popular and I’m sure we must have had at least another 100 participants across both nights too.

As well as having fun, it was a great learning experience for me in so many ways, and I had the chance to meet and talk to an interesting group of people helping out at the event – including sharing ideas about Pocket Code. It was yet another event that I came away from buzzing with ideas.

Well done to Stella Wisdom as the main organiser who pulled it all together, and to everyone else who played a part in helping out.

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#CityMash 2 – My session on storytelling via interactive fiction & digital games

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At the #CityMash event yesterday I ran a session about storytelling through digital games and interactive fiction. I’ve written about some of this in the past on the Read Watch Play blog, and I’ve wanted to explore the idea of how libraries could play a role in digital storytelling in this way for some time. Specifically I’m thinking about how libraries could run sessions to create stories in this way – sessions that could bring writers and game makers together. This is the presentation I gave.

Transcript:

1. Storytelling / interactive fiction / games: Gary Green –Surrey Library Service Twitter: @ggnewed #CityMash, City University London (13th June 2015)

2. Aim – discuss & share ideas about: • Interactive fiction / using computer games for storytelling • Their value to libraries & library users • Games with storytelling as a core thread • Storytelling in games doesn’t necessarily have to be focused on text alone • Free tools for creating games with strong storytelling/narrative thread in them… without being a programmer • 3 game competitions with an Alice in Wonderland theme

3. I.F. & computer games used to tell a story: • Turns passive reading experience into an active one • Choose your own adventure… sort of • You direct the progress of the story • Can be focused just on text, but not only • I.F. aren’t necessarily games, but serve to tell a story

  • Screenshot: ‘Get Lamp’ Documentary

4. Screenshot taken from text adventure ‘Colour of Magic’ by Delta 4. The game is played by entering text to direct progress of the story. For example, in this section, the player might type in “Go Hubward” or “Go Turnwise” to move to a new location in the game world.

5. ‘Spent’ is an interesting example of a game using a storytelling method to highlight issues around poverty. This type of game could be regarded as similar to the Human Library concept. It appears on the Games for Change site, which features games containing social awareness themes.

6. This is an example of a free tool called Quest, that anyone can download and use to create their own interactive fiction or text adventure games. The screenshot is taken from the game ‘Whitefield Academy of Witchcraft’.

7. Value to libraries & library users: • Represent traditional stories & curate them in new ways • Encourage users to discover new ways of storytelling • Use storytelling to encourage development of IT skills • Use beyond fictional storytelling – human library concept

  • Screenshot: Empire Strikes Back themed Donkey Kong created with Donkey Me

8. This screenshot is taken from ‘Dys4ia’ and focuses on the real-life experiences of Anna Anthropy. It’s an interesting example of creating a narrative game with limited focus on text and also storytelling in games going beyond fiction. In Anna’s own words: “dys4ia is the story of the last six months of my life: when i made the decision to start hormone replacement therapy and began taking estrogen. i wanted to catalog all the frustrations of the experience and maybe create an ‘it gets better’ for other trans women. when i started working on the game, though, i didn’t know whether it did get better.”

9. ‘The Tell tale heartbeatz’ by Daniel Mullins won the 2015 Public domain game jam. It’s based on a section of text from an Edgar Allan Poe story. It highlights that text based stories can be interpreted in new ways, whilst still keeping to the original idea behind the story. In this case this is a rhythm based game focusing on the main character’s goal to “rid myself of the old man… but time was running out.”

10.  Interactive Fiction Database – directory of published I.F. works, inc some based on: • J.R.R. Tolkien’s Middle Earth • Other book characters, including Sherlock Holmes, Alice in Wonderland, Hitch Hikers Guide to the Galaxy, Spider-Man • Film, TV and Radio tie-ins, including Dallas, Rambo and The Archers BBC radio programme • Star Wars • Jaws!

11. Never Alone is an example of using storytelling in a visual form to share the experiences of a different culture in a game. The developers say: “We paired world class game makers with Alaska Native storytellers and elders to create a game which delves deeply into the traditional lore of the Iñupiat people to present an experience like no other.”

12. Free tools for creating interactive fiction & text based games/stories: Inform 7 • Twine • Quest • Choice of games • Inklewriter

  • Free tools for creating other games: GDevApp • Stencyl • Sploder • GameSalad • Construct 2

13. Fallen London http://fallenlondon.storynexus.com is set in a fictional London in what seems like a pseudo Victorian period. It combines text stories with visuals, interaction between players and users can also create their own stories using the StoryNexus software.

14. Alice in Wonderland 150th anniversary game competition/jams: • A jam is a game creation competition usually run over defined time period & with specific theme • Off The Map (open to higher education students) – organised by Game City/British Library • Alice game jam (for Pocket Code users) – December 2015 * • Alice Jam 150 #AliceJam150 (open to all) – End of June 2105 *

15. Links mentioned & other useful ones: http://bit.ly/citymashstory

16. Ideas raised in discussion during the session • Text based games encourages development of literacy, reading, creation and creative writing skills. • How does it impact on digital literacy skills? • Games with varied characters & story backgrounds encourages understanding of diverse cultures & people. • There could be a good opportunity to develop collaborative physical game- making communities in libraries, with a focus on storytelling & games. • Sometimes text in games is skipped to get to the ‘fun stuff’, but those coming to a text based game knowing that it’s text based are happy to read. • It enables knowledge sharing – through the subject of the game (e.g. human library, Never alone etc.) & also knowledge of how to create games. • How can digital storytelling be connected to physical activities too? Maybe via creative Makerspace sessions?

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It was extremely useful to discuss ideas with those who attended my session, and the feedback I received about it was really positive and encouraging – so I’m very keen to try some of these ideas out soon.

Edit: I’ve put together a Storify of the Twitter discussion about this #CityMash session.

#CityMash 1 – #MashLib Always fun and always useful

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I attended #CityMash at City University yesterday. It was a Mashed Libraries unconference. Mashed Libraries events focus on the sharing of ideas about technology in libraries, and whenever I attend one it is always fun and it is always useful. Yesterday’s event was no exception.

The day was split up into short 1 hour sessions, with generally more than 1 session running at a time. Some of them were practical how-to sessions, others were discussions.

Here’s a brief run-down of the sessions I attended.

UX for the Win! (Andrew Preater & Karine Larose): This was a practical session focused on a specific methodology of interviewing users about their use of a library system (specifically the search functionality and identifying useful resources), identifying key themes that occur and making use of that information to develop the system. Once I’d got my head around the concept I could see that this would be a useful tool for developing my own library service catalogue.

So you want to be a systems librarian? (Anna Brynolf): This session focused on Anna’s experience of becoming and being a systems librarian. Even though my job focus doesn’t lie in that direction it was interesting to listen to, and it opened up the discussion about routes to becoming a systems librarian and the changing focus of systems librarians over the years, as well as how this role might develop in future in different types of libraries.

Death and burlesque (Matt Finch): This session focused more on the creative side of libraries and related themes eg reading, literacy, community and collaboration. Matt talked about his work with libraries throughout the world. Things like Zombie fights in the library; short stories on coffee cups; @FunPalaces initiatives (ie getting the public in to make creative responses about library, museum and archive collections); collaborations between libraries and book shops on comic store day; wine-tasting sessions in a library, including a discussion via the web with the wine-maker. I have to say Matt shared so many ideas that I just thought “Wow! We should be doing this in our library service.”

Maker Cart (Carlos Iszak): Makerspaces in libraries is an idea that has been around for a few years now. It gives people the opportunity to create, learn and develop skills collaboratively – this might involve things like building robots, developing IT skills using creative and fun tools, 3D printing. The Maker cart concept fits in with the idea that some libraries might want to run makerspaces, but don’t have the space or financial resources to do this. The Maker cart is a set of resources on a small trolley that contains kit for I suppose the equivalent of a pop up makerspace, along with resource books to help people create/make things. I really like the idea of being able to set aside space in a library as a temporary makerspace, encourage people to come in and then you just wheel out the maker cart and away you go.

I also ran a session on using games for digital storytelling and am really pleased with the feedback I received a bout it – there’ll be another blog post about that after this one.

As well as attending the sessions, it’s great to be able to share ideas with others who attended and I always feel there is a great buzz at a Mashed library event – lots of people making new connections and getting inspired by it all.

I spoke to Owen Stephens while there – he came up with the idea of the first Mashed Library event – and I was reflecting on the fact that if I hadn’t been to my first Mashed Library event in 2009 (I think) I wouldn’t be doing half the things I’m doing now in both my day job and my life outside of work. Mashed Libraries actually gave me the confidence to get out and do stuff instead of just thinking about doing it…. Mashed Libraries, you have a lot to answer for. 🙂

Library A to Z : Crowd-sourced advocacy presentation for CILIP Cymru Wales 2015

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I gave the following presentation at the recent CILIP Cymru Wales 2015 Library & Information Conference. The abridged text of my presentation appears below the presentation itself.

1.

Hello my name is Gary Green & I am going to talk to you about a library advocacy project I have been involved with called The Library A to Z.

This is a project that primarily myself and Andrew Walsh, a librarian at Huddersfield University, pulled together, but as the title suggests its success also depended on others being involved and supporting it in a variety of ways.

2.

What is the Library A to Z?

  • It’s both an advocacy tool & promotional material
  • Highlights that libraries are not only about books
  • Visual A to Z of library services & benefits in a variety of formats
  • Emphasises the continued importance of libraries

3.

The original idea came about because through my involvement with Voices for the Library in particular. I was constantly seeing these sort of questions. We all know why libraries are important, but there didn’t seem to be anything out there that highlighted the importance of libraries beyond the “libraries are just about books” idea. Yes, books are a core part of the service, but libraries provide access to many other things too.

4.

So how did we get from “nothing” to the Library A to Z? It involved a few key stages-

  • At Library Camp East (Sept 2013) I ran a session to crowd-source A to Z list of library services and benefits of libraries. About 20 people from different library backgrounds sat around for an hour and discussed it. Then I wrote it up, posted it on the Voices for the Library site and encouraged library supporters to make us of it. But I also wanted to turn it into something more than a list of words.
  • I attended Library Camp (Autumn 2013) & Andy Walsh was there – I talked to Andy about doing something creative with the list & the idea of a book came up. So the idea was there but we didn’t really discuss it again until March/April the next year.
  • Then we had the next stage, the Kickstarter (April/May 2014). Andy came up with the idea of a Kickstarter project to fund the production of illustrations and materials related to the A to Z. 155 people and organisations (mostly individuals) raised £4,500+ to fund the project, inc. £1,500 from our key sponsor the Library Campaign.
  • It was launched in Nov 2014 – i.e. the physical materials were made freely available to anyone.

5.

Even though Andy and I led on pulling the A to Z together, without a lot of people supporting the project at various stages it would have been difficult to make as much progress as we did with it. This includes:

  • Pulling together the original A to Z list
  • Backers of the Kickstarter
  • Supporters of the fund raising drive
  • Pulling together content for A to Z, especially Voices for the Library team for book content
  • Supporters of the launch
  • Those who have made continued use of the materials produced

6.

I’d like to talk about the Kickstarter now, as this was a key part of making things a success.

  • A Kickstarter is a way to get your project funded quickly by anyone who feels the project is worthy enough. Take a look at Kickstarter.com for details. All you need to do is set up a page on the site providing details of your project.
  • We stated our aims & goals inc when we planned to launch
  • We identified stretch goals i.e. what we would do if we got more funds than our minimum goal
  • We asked for pledges via social media, blogs and library mailing lists and sites
  • We gave people rewards for pledging funds – from a mention in the book, to free cards & books and more say into what happened with the materials e.g. who send out to
  • We told people about the deadlines we were aiming for – i.e. when the project would be completed and launched
  • It took effort to sustain the fundraising drive – we couldn’t just send out 1 tweet & email a library discussion list once and expect it to be a success & be funded instantly. There were lots of mentions by other people on mailing lists, social media sites and I know emails were being sent around behind the scenes to likely backers.
  • We had 155 backers – many were individuals backing the project. We also had some organisations, including our key sponsor Library Campaign, who really helped us meet our stretch goals. Our minimum goal was to raise £2,000 in 4 weeks, but we raised just over £4,500 in that time.

7.

  • The £4,500 funded the production of physical materials for distribution, which all focused around a set of full colour illustrations by Josh Filhol. All the illustrations in the presentation are by Josh.
  • Key intention is for people to use and adapt and develop promotional and advocacy material using the illustrations. Anyone can download and use the material
  • We distributed packs to key stakeholders mostly in the UK, but also contacted international library organisations (IFLA) and E.U. politicians with an interest in libraries.
  • As well as backers based in the UK we also had backers from Europe, Australia & North America.

8.

How did we organise the project?

  • Andy came up with idea for Kickstarter and set it up & asked Josh Filhol to create the
  • We decided on our aims/goals for the project i.e. what we wanted to achieve
  • We thought about things we could use the illustrations for
  • Andy sorted out publishing of books and cards
  • We put together the book chapter and content with the help of Voices for the Library
  • We promoted the Kickstarter in our different networks e.g. Twitter, Facebook, Google Plus, mailing lists
  • Came up with lists of politicians and library friendly media/press contacts to send packs to, and also library friendly supporters to help promote the launch
  • Andy sent out the majority of the packs
  • We set up a website and place to download the materials from

9.

This example is taken from the book.

  • Each double page spread in the book included the words for each letter, plus a quote related to that word taken from blog posts on the Voices for the Library site, plus a full page illustration.
  • The idea for the quotes was to get the words of real life users/library staff to get the message across about how libraries can make an impact on an individuals life.
  • The book also included a chapter on the value of libraries, which includes facts/figures, links to impact studies, etc.

10.

  • We officially launched the Library A to Z in November 2014
  • When we launched a lot of supporters got behind us and helped.
  • Supporters included many library & information workers & advocates for libraries, library & information students, Arts Council England, library campaigners inc Library Campaign.
  • The launch focused on both a social media/mailing list push and the sending out of physical materials.
  • During the launch week packs, including the books & cards, were sent out to over 100 key influencers inc politicians at national level (UK MPs, party leaders, & shadow ministers, House of Lords representatives, library committee members). The aim was to remind them that libraries still do exist and have so much to offer. Ultimately the aim is to encourage continued support and investment in library services.
  • We also sent packs to around 30 media organisations. The intention was to spread the positive Library A to Z message that libraries continue to remain relevant.
  • We didn’t just want it to be an online launch. Yes, it would have been easier to do just online promotion, but we felt that sending out physical materials was more likely to get someone’s attention than a link to materials/website in an email
  • We informed our supporters about the launch plan & encouraged them to get involved – many also sent out materials to their local politicians and library stakeholders
  • Encouraged supporters (library staff & supporters) to download materials & use for promotion & advocacy and spread the word about the LibraryAtoZ
  • During launch week we used the hashtag #LibraryAtoZ on Twitter and had 1,000+ mentions and retweets on Twitterand over 20 blogs and news sites mentioning it.
  • Speak Up For libraries held a conference on the last day of the launch and we were able to gave free Library A to Z materials out to those who attended, including politicians from major parties attending.

11.

What free materials are available?

  • Illustrations by Josh Filhol – we wanted them to be fun whilst getting an important message out there
  • Book (print and e-book) – inc all illustrations and words, and relevant quotes from Voices for the Library site.
  • Greetings cards
  • Posters – editable Adobe Illustrator files and sample PDF files. The posters are intended to be most effective when edited and details of local library services, events etc. are added to them.
  • Unless otherwise stated, these materials can be downloaded and freely re-used under a creative commons licence (cc by 4.0), so please re-use, adapt and take full advantage of them, as long as you credit the original creators.

12.

What are the plans for the future?

  • As I said, the materials are available for anyone to download & use
  • The original aim of the project was to fund the creation of the materials and send out materials to promote and advocate for libraries, which we have achieved. However, the original materials were also created so that other people could adapt and re-use them in new ways. They are a free resource for others to build on.
  • The intention of creating the A to Z was not to promote the A to Z itself, but enable people to promote & advocate libraries using the Library A to Z
  • So far it’s been used in the following ways:
  • Lots of social media #libraryatoz tweets with local focus
  • Posters and promotions in public libraries, health libraries and academic libraries
  • Cards & books sent to local stakeholders
  • It has earned a Blue Peter badge
  • It’s been used as part of an A to Z blogging challenge, which made use of the original materials but also included positive quotes about libraries

13.

So that was the Library A to Z, how it came about, and what’s available. Here’s the website address again (http://libraryatoz.org) where all of the materials can be downloaded from.

Thank you for listening – on behalf of myself, Andy Walsh & everyone who has been involved in the Library A to Z along the way.

RFID Considerations for Libraries

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As Technical Librarian I need to keep on top of what is happening in the world of library related RFID. I subscribe to a couple of RFID library discussion lists (UK focus; North American focus) to keep up with activities in other libraries, but we’re also very fortunate in UK libraries, as Mick Fortune has a very informative and supplier neutral site/blog focused on library RFID. On it he raises issues that I hadn’t always considered.

Recently Mick has highlighted a few RFID ideas/issues/points that will be useful to any library service using or thinking of using RFID, and I thought I’d summarise them here and encourage people to follow them up. 

Worldwide RFID in libraries survey

Key points include:

  • The survey covered libraries from all sectors (eg public; academic; school; health), but the highest response was from public libraries. About 200 public library services in the UK use RFID, but not necessarily for all of their stock or all of their libraries.
  • Self-service is still the dominant reason for using RFID, but theft prevention, collection management, access control and acquisition functions also figure highly.
  • Only a small number of respondents used NFC smart-phone or tablet enabled devices. This technology can allow users devices to be used as scanners/readers. Increasing numbers of NFC devices may lead to increased RFID related apps in future.
  • Most respondents use RFID for books, but also CDs/DVDs, Journals, Music scores, laptops (as well as other stock).
  • Most libraries still buy their tags from their RFID supplier, as they did before the agreement of RFID data standards, but buying direct from the manufacturer would give higher savings.
  • ISO 28560-2 is the most popular data standard ie what information is included on the tag.
  • The majority of libraries with RFID use HF (High Frequency) systems, as opposed to UHF (Ultra high frequency).
  • The majority of RFID systems are still relying on SIP to communicate with the LMS, but SIP wasn’t created to work with RFID and therefore has its limitations. SIP allows for the use of extensions to add further functionality. However since the extensions aren’t regulated/standardised they would not migrate well to another RFID system. The newer Library Communications Framework aims to overcome these problems.

The detailed survey responses are very useful (and frank) and identify how libraries use RFID, how they are getting on with it and issues they may be having. It is also a very useful pointer for anyone considering implementing RFID.

BIC guidance on NFC (Near Field Communication)

This document highlights potential issues with NFC – “smartphones equipped with NFC can now read and write data to and from almost all the RFID tags used in the world’s libraries.”. Issues of concern around this technology focus on digital vandalism (ie altering data on the tags), stock theft and data locking.

E.U. Directive on RFID privacy

This expects libraries using RFID to display signs indicating the fact, so that people are aware it is in use in the library. The library would also be expected to undertake a Privacy Impact Assessment to produce a Privacy Impact Statement that would be accessible by anyone who wanted to read it.

If you have any responsibility for RFID or data security I’d recommend you go and read the articles and survey results on Mick’s blog if you haven’t already done so.