National Libraries Day and a #LibraryAtoZ Follow Up

National Libraries Day this year is happening on 7th February.

As the National Libraries Day site says:

It is a chance for people to organise a local event or visit their library and interact with the vital work carried out by their library and information professionals, reminding decision-makers that our libraries and librarians are valued.

Last year’s National Libraries Day map showed around 600 events happening around Britain, although I suspect that more events actually happened – they just weren’t on the map.

If you’re looking for ideas about what you could do at your local library, whether you’re a member of staff, or a library user, I collated a short list of ideas a while ago, which can be found here.

If you’re looking for promotional and advocacy material to support whatever you do on National Libraries Day don’t forget that the Library A to Z full colour materials are still available for free download here, including full colour illustrations and poster templates which you can freely adapt. For example, my library service is using them on Pinterest and Twitter to promote our services during National Libraries Day this year. I know other people have used them for displays and promotions in their libraries. In-line with the comment on the National Libraries Day site you could also use the materials for “reminding decision-makers that our libraries and librarians are valued.” I’ll be sending a few of the #LibraryAtoZ cards out to local politicians just to remind them that libraries are still here. It seems a good time to do it in the lead up to the general election this year, especially as some of the cards feature the Speak Up For Libraries election manifesto.

Before I sign-off this blog post I’d also just like to say thanks to the individuals and organisations who supported the launch of the Library A to Z back in November last year. It was a bit of whirlwind up to and after the launch week and I realise I never wrote a thank you post. During the launch week Twitter worked really well to get the message out there and there were over 1000 #LibraryAtoZ mentions and retweets. Libraries got into the spirit of the promotional material and shared the words and images. Lots of people changed their Twitter avatars to the letter that matched the initial of one of their names. It was great to see it used in this way, as it got others asking about the images and what the Library A to Z was all about. I still see some avatars using the images when I go onto Twitter now. Just over 20 blogs and articles mention the A to Z, including some in the USA and Australia. The Bookseller and CILIP Update both gave the A to Z coverage. The A to Z was also mentioned on other social networks, but Twitter was the most active. It didn’t all just happen online either. Libraries used the material for promotional events, people sent copies of the book and cards to their local politicians. Library A to Z packs including books, posters and cards were also sent out to over 100 key decision-makers and politicians in the main parties in England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales, as well as around 30 media organisations. Andy Walsh spent a lot of time sending these packs out. I also had the opportunity to hand over copies of the book to politicians and speakers at the Speak Up For Libraries conference at the end of the launch week. It all helped to get the message out there. So, thank you to everyone who played a part.

The Library A to Z launches today #LibraryAtoZ

It’s just over a year since the Library A to Z was first put down on paper – a list of words that reflected the wide range of library services and positive outcomes those services generated. I wrote about it here. Since then, after teaming up with Andrew Walsh to run a crowd-funding project to expand on the original idea and turn it into something more than just a list of words, a set of great promotional and advocacy materials has been produced, including fantastic illustrations by Josh Filhol, posters, cards and a book emphasising the message of the the Library A to Z. The book features a chapter written on behalf on Voices for the Library, along with library users quotes taken from the Voices for the Library site. The Voices team are very pleased that these quotes are being shared outside of our site, as they will help spread the important message that libraries remain relevant in the 21st century.

The Library A to Z is now officially ready to launch and it wouldn’t have been possible without a large number of people helping it reach this point. This includes those who helped create the original list of A to Z words; the 155 financial backers (including major sponsor The Library Campaign); everyone who has shown their support in promoting the A to Z and encouraging people to get involved; the Voices for the Library team; Josh who created the fantastic illustrations that are the centre piece of the A to Z; Aidan who helped with the poster design; and most importantly Andy, who has put in so much hard work from the original discussion we had at Library Camp last year up until the launch.

Even though the materials created by this project have been available for anyone to freely download for a few weeks from the new site at, the Library A to Z is officially launched this week (17th November).

To highlight the intentions for the launch take a look at the beginning of the book chapter. It leads with:

Over the past few years we have witnessed severe cuts in library service budgets resulting in the reduction of services, most notably by closures, shorter opening hours, staff cuts and the replacement of library staff with typically unsustainable and fragmented volunteer-run services. Cuts are often made in the name of austerity measures, yet in austere times libraries are of particular importance to the disadvantaged in our communities.

For many people the word “library” conjures up images of books and not much more. Although books remain a core feature and are beneficial in many more ways than commonly understood, libraries have a much wider and more significant reach than books alone.

For these reasons politicians at both local and national level (including leading ministers in Government) will be receiving copies of the Library A to Z book and other campaign materials during launch week. The intention is to show them that properly funded and professionally run library services help transform society in many ways, including the improvement of literacy and reading skills, enabling access to digital services, supporting economic growth, promoting wellbeing and education.

Supporters of library services have also been encouraged to send copies of the Library A to Z book and other A to Z materials to their local politicians and media to help spread the message.

At this stage around 90 books have been sent out to politicians and media organisations.

As well as using the materials in this context, the intention is also to encourage library services and their supporters to use them for promotional purposes. For example, editable posters have been created for each letter, so that local information can be added to them. As I have mentioned earlier all of these materials – book, posters, cards, illustrations – are available for you to download and re-use for free.

Whether we are encouraging support from politicians and policy makers or using the materials for promotions in libraries the message remains the same – libraries have so much to offer that most people aren’t aware of. This is a great opportunity for you to let them know.

The launch is being promoted to national and local news and media organisations to raise the profile of libraries. Social media is also being used during the launch to spread the word about the Library A to Z. The hashtag is #LibraryAtoZ.

It would be great if we could encourage you to help spread the message about the Library A to Z during this launch week in whatever way you can.

(Originally posted on

Library A to Z – free advocacy & promo material & launch news #LibraryAtoZ

Andrew Walsh and I are very pleased to announce that the Library A to Z is ready to launch.

The Library A to Z is focused on free promotional and advocacy materials for use by libraries and their supporters, as well as a means of highlighting the economic and social value of libraries to politicians at both local and national levels to encourage continued investment. The key message highlights that modern library services are much more than just buildings containing books – they provide services that support the development and well-being of individuals, the community and the economy. The Library A to Z was funded by 155 generous backers, including key sponsor The Library Campaign, via a Kickstarter campaign during May 2014. We raised £4,543, which was more than twice the basic funding goal.

With this money the organisers commissioned freelance illustrator Josh Filhol to produce full colour images depicting the words that reflect the great work, activities and values of libraries. These illustrations are used as the basis for a range of promotional and advocacy materials including posters, cards and a full colour book. As well as the illustrated library alphabet, the book also includes quotes from library users and a chapter about the positive impacts of libraries.

More details can be found on the new Library A to Z website at

The Library A to Z materials including full colour illustrations, posters, book and greeting cards are available for anyone to freely download and use for promotional and advocacy purposes here. Unless otherwise stated, these materials are available to re-use and adapt under a creative commons licence (cc by 4.0). The posters are available as editable Adobe Illustrator files.

The launch of the Library A to Z will happen during the week 17th – 22nd November, when we will send packs including copies of books and other materials to local, national and international politicians. The aim of this action is to highlight the continued importance and value of library services, to encourage continued investment. Prior to this we will also be sending out packs and a press-release to media organisations.

In preparation for this launch we are asking if you could help us get the message out there in any of the following ways:

(1) Think about who you could send/hand-over books, greetings cards etc to yourselves during the launch. For example, this could be a your local MP, or a local councillor with responsibility for libraries (or even all of your local councillors).

(2) Send information about the Library A to Z to your local press and media organisations.

(3) Let your local library service know that the Library A to Z has posters and other materials that can be used freely for promotional purposes.

(4) Promote the Library A to Z online via your own website, blog, e-newsletters, social media accounts in the lead up to the launch. We think it would be particularly effective if you could do this during the launch week, 17-22 November. We are also using the hashtag #LibraryAtoZ to promote it on social media etc.

(5) Promote it offline too – newsletters, library meetings, magazines.

Please don’t feel you are restricted to promoting it in these ways – if you can think of anything else you could do to get the message out there please feel free to do it and let us know. It may be something we haven’t thought of.

We are able to offer a limited amount of professionally printed material (greetings cards, stickers, badges) you can use to promote the Library A to Z during the launch. If you’d like any please let us know as soon as possible via this contact form, providing a delivery address as well as a note about how you plan to use the materials. We would need time to order and distribute the materials before the launch week and we’d want to make sure you had it in time for the launch. Don’t forget there are also materials on the Library A to Z website that you can download and print off yourselves if you prefer. There is also a link on the site where you can order professionally printed materials yourself for a charge. Please note that we have kept costs to a minimum and any profit that is made from them is put back into ordering more Library A to Z materials.

Thank you for your support.

Library A to Z crowd funding closes at £4,543 (225% funded)

The Library A to Z crowdfunding closed today after 4 weeks and I’m really pleased to say that, thanks to the generosity of 155 backers, it has exceeded the initial goal of £2,000. The final amount was a fantastic £4,543, which means that the following has been funded:

  • £2,000 covers the costs of the illustrator, Kickstarter and card processing costs, legal deposit copies of the book, and the initial rewards including postage and packing.
  • £2,500 enables the production of a series of posters using the illustrations and makes them available for anyone to download under creative commons licence, edit if wanted, and to print for use in library advocacy.
  • £3,000 enables a pack containing books, posters and other materials to be made up and sent out to at least five different press / media organisations pushing the positive message about libraries. Backers will prioritise who we send them to (and will happily send these out internationally as well as within the UK depending on the geographical spread of our backers).
  • At £4,500 each person with a pledge of £20 over above will be sent an assortment of 5 greeting cards with images from the Library A to Z. It would be great if backers could send at least one of these to a local politician (your local councillor perhaps?) to ask about support for libraries in your area.
It seems such a long time ago that the initial A to Z list was crowd sourced at Library Camp East and it is fantastic that it has turned into something that so many people have thought was a great enough idea to support. Thank you to everyone who has pledged or shared the idea wide enough for this to be funded, including The Library Campaign, whose £1,500 pledge gave the crowdfunding a huge boost.
Huge thanks to Andy who came up with the idea of crowd funding this, found an illustrator and set up the Kickstarter.
Now we move on to putting the book together, and as we do this over the next few months I’ll keep you updated on our progress.
Library A to Z illustration by Josh Filhol

Library A to Z (Josh Filhol)

An exciting announcement for the #LibraryAtoZ

Last year I blogged on the Voices for the Library site about the Library A to Z, which was a crowdsourced A to Z list of positive activities and services libraries provide – those that go beyond the idea that libraries are solely about books. We encouraged people to make use of and build on the A to Z to promote their library service and a few did, especially around National Libraries Day in February.
Recently I shared the idea with Andy Walsh from Huddersfield University and we talked about developing the idea into a book that could be used as a powerful advocacy tool for libraries – something that could be sent to politicians, local councillors and those with some control over the future of libraries. Andy suggested the idea of a Kickstarter/crowd funded project to raise money for the funding of the production of the book.
I’m really pleased and excited to say that the crowd-funding project is now live and will run for 30 days. In that time we need to raise £2,000 to turn this idea into reality and actually produce the book. This money will allow us to cover the costs of the illustrator, legal deposit copies of the book, and the initial rewards including postage and packing. Andy has arranged for a great illustrator (Josh Filhol) to be involved, and the aim is to produce a book contain a visual alphabet of the Library A to Z along with content that backs it up and highlights the importance of libraries. You can see Josh at work in the project video below.

There are a range of rewards for people and organisations who back the project, all increasing depending upon how much money you give to the campaign.

It would be fantastic if we could get this funded and turned into reality and we ask that if you can contribute please do (as the video says, it doesn’t matter how little you give). Please also share this in as many places as you can – all around the social networks, in libraries, anywhere! If we don’t make the target of £2,000 the project won’t happen.

We are also still looking for more words for the A to Z. So please take a look at the original list and if you have anything to add leave a comment.

For more details about the project and how the Kickstarter funding process works take a look at the Library A to Z Kickstarter page.

All the resources that are produced as part of this Kickstarter project including the images will be released under a creative commons licence, meaning that everyone is free to use the results of the project.

Promoting Your Resources Using Timeline Software

I’ve been experimenting with historical timeline software recently to see if we could promote our library service resources online to our users (mostly books and online subscriptions around a particular topic area) in a different way. Historical timeline software allows the user to build a dated list of related events that can be browsed by other users. Normally our resources would be promoted by refering to them and linking  back to them from our website and via our Twitter and Facebook accounts. Our aim was to include the timeline as a small project focused on the Queen’s Jubilee and her links to Surrey – giving us a narrow topic area to deal with.

I had a look at a number of pieces of software before we decided upon which one to use. Below is a list of ideal requirements I wanted from the software.

  • Use for historical/educational purposes.
  • Specify and display events chronologically on a dated timeline.
  • Upload a file or link to a resource on the internet (preferably our library service resources) for each specific event on the timeline.
  • Browser based software/service ie no need to download software to create the timeline.
  • Free software.
  • Ability to move/scroll/browse through the timeline visually.
  • Displays information on the timeline in an interesting and fun way.
  • Easy to use.
  • Quick to load.
  • Ability to embed finished timeline into other web sites.
  • Searchable.
  • Ability to add a range of media eg text, pictures, video, RSS feeds, audio.
  • Capability to specify date range of timeline.
  • Import data/information in timeline.
  • Export data/information in timeline.
  • Ability to share it with others.
Before deciding on which one to use I tried out the following – Memolane; Rememble; Preceden;; TimeRime; Tiki-Toki; XTimeLine; Dipity; Timeglider. They all allowed users to put timelines together in a slightly different way and below is a brief description of them, with pros and cons.
  • Memolane (
    • Pros
      • Browser based
      • Easy to use
      • Can embed into other sites
      • Searchable
      • Can add a variety of item types – Twitter, Youtube, Soundcloud, blog feeds – it depends which services you connect to
      • RSS feed based, so doesn’t require manual input
      • Automatically pulls in information
      • Can filter feeds with keywords, which gives you a bit more control about what is displayed
      • Can browse along timeline
      • Can share individual parts (memo) of timeline via Twitter, Facebook & with a link
      • Can comment on individual entries
      • Can hide and delete individual “memo’s”
      • Links back to original resource
      • Indicates what services have been used in timeline eg Youtube, Soundcloud, Twitter
      • Can embed into other webpages
      • Link your accounts from other services to it and pulls in information automatically
      • Useful as a feed agregator for different services – use it as a way to show everything you’re doing in one place
      • Can move backwards and forwards along timeline
    • Cons
      • It’s best for personal use, rather than creating an historical timeline. However, you can add other information if you use the right RSS feeds/sources
      • Can’t add single items manually
      • Can’t upload separate files eg. photos, audio – need to be feed in through services you have linked
      • Can’t change timescales – dates aren’t always clear
  • Rememble (
    • Pros
      • Good for personal use, rather than historical timeline
      • Browser based
      • Can embed mini memble (membles are events) in other sites
      • Can link to Twitter & Flickr
      • Add files – audio, video, images – & notes, emails
      • Can send membles directly from your phone to update the timeline
      • Ability to share, comment and tag membles
      • Can link in Twitter & Flickr accounts
    • Cons
      • More for personal use, than historical timelines
      • Can’t pull in news stories from the web
      • Wouldn’t authorise Twitter account
      • Can’t feed in RSS
      • I had problems uploading files
      • Memble is not visible to everyone – other users need an account to view your memble.
      • Can’t create separate timelines for different subjects.
      • Based around adding files (images, audio, video), rather than linking to resources
  • Preceden (
    • Only allows you to add 5 events to a timeline if you have a free/trial account (didn’t continue with trial)
  • (
    • Pros
      • Topics are assigned to an event eg. Birth of Anne Boleyn could be given topics of “Anne Boleyn”, “British Monarchy” and timelines are generated from the topics assigned to an event
      • Can collaborate with others on building a timeline
      • Can search for particular keywords
      • Can link to web resources
      • Upload files, videos, images, audio
      • You don’t have to create all events yourself – you can use events others have created
    • Cons
      • Can’t build separate timelines
      • Users don’t have control over what appears in a timeline – it depends upon what other events are tagged with that topic
      • Timeline doesn’t display in a scrollable horizontal timeline – it is presented as a list of events based on the tags used
  • TimeRime (
    • Pros
      • Very flexible
      • Useful to see chronological list of events in edit mode
      • Can indicate level of importance of event. eg Birth of Monarch may be seen as very important, but their 18th birthday may be seen as lower importance
      • Can add media from url or upload files (NB: images can only be uploaded)
    • Cons
      • Detailed content doesn’t appear on timeline, but in box below it (each marker on timeline indicate that multimedia content is included in that event)
      • Can not pull in RSS feeds
      • Doesn’t look very exciting
      • Complexity can make setting up a timeline confusing
  • Tiki-Toki (
    • Pros
      • Browser based
      • Can add media via url inc text; video; images (images can also be uploaded)
      • Can link to web resources
      • Can pull in RSS feeds
      • Very flexible
      • End result looks interesting and visually impressive
      • Shows where events are on timeline, with marker on the dateline
      • Can export data from your timeline as csv or json
      • Can define categories of events eg. Surrey; General and display then using different colour indicators
      • Can browse along timeline
    • Cons
      • Only one timeline can be created with a free account
      • Can’t embed timeline into website with free account
      • Can’t search for events in timeline
  • Dipity (
    • Its slowness and inclusion of adverts in the timeline if no video or image appeared in an event put me off continuing with the trial
  •  TimeGlider (
    • Pros
      • Ability to add images and text
      • Can link to web resources
      • Ability to pull in RSS feeds; Flickr photos (user account feed); Wikipedia pages (single year)
      • Embed in other sites & share with others
      • Personalise colour schemes
      • Emphasise importance of different events
      • Group events by using icons/displaying legend
      • Hover over events to see more detail
      • Browseable
      • It might be useful for creating project timelines
    • Cons
      • Can be confusing with different feeds pulled into a single timeline
      • Not visually exciting
      • Can’t search for events
      • Can’t export data

After trying out each one of the above I finally went for Tiki-toki. It didn’t fulfill  all of the requirements – most notably that it couldn’t be embedded in another site, you can’t search for specific events in the timeline and you can only create one timeline using the free account. However, it was the most flexible  and the end result was visually impressive too. Each event is displayed boldly on the timeline, with a link to at least one of our library resources and an image or video. The software enabled us to link to not only our own online resources and catalogue, but also some useful external resources too, such as old news reels and news articles.

The final “Queen Elizabeth II in Surrey” Tiki-toki timeline can be found here.


As an aside, I liked the idea of a personal timeline as well. I’ve been trying to find a way to pull together all of my feeds from my various blogs, Flickr, Tumblr etc in a single place and also build a scrap book of what I’ve been up to. I preferred Memolane over Rememble, so I’ll be exploring that a bit more in the near future.

Knobbling the Winter Olympic Catalogue Results

In my role of ‘Keeper of the Keys to the Catalogue (once removed)’ for a public library service and ‘Man with Access to Official Twitter Account’, I thought it would be a good idea to promote some of our books around the Winter Olympics. This included trying to get a few more loans out of the curling books we bought after Team GB did so well some time ago. 🙂

I wanted to point our Twitter followers to a few handpicked books on our library catalogue, rather than a huge wodge of titles and I wanted to do it as simply and quickly as possible. However, as I tried to pull out a few relevant skiing books I knew it wasn’t going to work using any of the search methods available, despite working out different combinations of words.

In the end I realised I was trying to make the search methods work for me, when the catalogue records should be doing the work instead. As a cataloguer/classifier I’d always been taught that cataloguing/classification should be consistent. The sacred laws of UKMARC should be obeyed. I can’t complain with this as a general principle, but in some cases if you want to achieve something different, you need to do something different to make it work. As long as it doesn’t affect the end user, as far as I’m concerned it’s fine to do it. In fact, in this case, it was for the benefit of the end user that I decided to take a different angle with this.

I decided to hashtag the catalogue entries I thought would be of interest. I know cataloguers and classifiers commonly tag records anyway, but the difference in this case was that I only tagged a handful of records, rather than tagging the entire stock with these new hashtags. Using the hashtag format would indicate that these tags had a unique purpose. It’s the same idea as giving a Twitter message a hashtag only if it’s related to a particular event ( eg ‘#van2010‘ for the Winter Olympics). You don’t need to tag all of your Twitter messages and, in the same way, you don’t always need to tag all of the records on your catalogue.

Winter Olympic Catalogue Search Results

I suppose it’s like partial/filtered indexing, where you limit the results to a subset of items, based on rules you define, rather than retrieving the full set of records. If I’d just searched for ‘skiing’ for example it would have given me 208 records. I didn’t want our users to have to trawl through all of these records. Using my method I limited the results to a single page of 7 items. Anyone searching the catalogue could still retrieve the 208 skiing records if they wanted to, but my tags pointed our Twitter followers to this limited set, as a sort of mini promotion. In fact, as I only tagged about 35 titles out of the thousands of titles on our catalogue you could say it was almost micro-indexing.

I basically pre-weighted the catalogue records so that they give me exactly what I wanted. If it was an Olympic event it might call for a stewards enquiry for knobbling the competitors!

The tags didn’t need to make any sense to anyone, as they’d just be used to query the online catalogue. They just needed to be unique, so the more obscure the tag the better – I didn’t want any unrelated items in the search results. In the end I created tags such as ‘#woski10‘ (skiing), ‘#woiho10‘ (ice-hockey), ‘#wotd10‘ (Torvill and Dean). There were about seven hashtags in the end.

After running each hashtag search, they were saved as links ( shortens long url’s). The links were added to appropriate Twitter messages, which were scheduled to run at various times over the Winter Olympic period.

Twitter Olympic Tweets

I’ll be checking the items a few weeks after the Olympics are over to see if this has increased their use.

I’m also wondering if I could have made extra use of these hashtags via a Yahoo pipe mashup, but I’ve no firm ideas at the moment about what would be useful. Maybe a link between books and related Team GB/ Winter Olympic web pages, Flickr photos, Youtube videos would have been a good idea.