Library Day In The Life, Round 7, 25-31 July 2011

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This post was written as part of the “Library Day In The Life” project.

“The Library Day in the Life Project is a semi-annual event coordinated by Bobbi Newman of Librarian by Day. Twice a year 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.”

In my day job I’m a Technical Librarian for a public library service in the UK. This mainly involves looking after the catalogue (I don’t tend to do much cataloguing these days, as that’s the responsibility of my assistant) and investigating possible uses of Web2.0 and Library2.0 services. I also wear another hat, as I’m a member of the Voices For The Library (VFTL) national campaign group, which was formed almost a year ago to address concerns about severe cuts local council’s were making to library services.

Gorillaz Mug

The Gorillaz coffee mug that contains the coffee that keeps me going in work!

25 July

I had the morning off, so during this time I responded to a few emails from fellow campaigners in Voices For The Library team. Following this I did a bit of tweeting for the Voices twitter account (@ukpling). Generally I do this a couple of times a day. I use Google News UK to identify relevant articles for tweeting and I also look for items to retweet from other library campaigners.

Got to work and checked my emails.

Then I read through some configuration/styling notes for new public catalogue we will be using from the end of 2011. (We’ll go through them during a meeting tomorrow.)

Briefly discussed forthcoming meeting with cataloguer about the use of Interest Categories on our stock. Surrey has used Interest Categories in conjunction with Dewey classification over the past 20+ years and we are looking at how we can improve on them. The meeting will also involve members of the stock team.

I also caught up with emails about our e-book service and the area in general. I was part of the original project group that helped set the e-book service up, from the cataloguing perspective. My initial involvement was limited, but it looks like I’ll be having more involvement in this project in the future.

I subscribe to a number of email lists for libraries and had a quick scan through the emails they generate. One discussion thread relevant to my role was the “Digital Economy Act”.

Had a quick look at the new version of Whichbook.net,  to investigate if we can make use of it in some way. Maybe its ability to share with Facebook would be useful in some way? I really like the way you search using this catalogue. Always gives me something new to read when I’ve tried it in the past.

Caught up on some Voices For The Library discussions when I got home.

26 July 2011

Another morning off again. Sent out a few news tweets for Voices For The Library/@ukpling.

Picked up copy of “Surrey Downs” magazine on the way out of the flat. It included an article about plans for Surrey Library Service.

Went to lobby outside County Hall about changes to library services. About 80 campaigners were in attendance. Unfortunately I could only stay for about 40 minutes.

Library campaigners lobby outside County Hall

Library campaigners lobby outside County Hall

Went to meeting about the styling/configuration of our new public catalogue.
Following this I went to the local library to finish typing up minutes for a meeting I’d attended on the previous Friday with colleagues who manage the stock and coordinate events and promotions.

Signed up for the Librarycamp event, which is being held in Birmingham in October. Really looking forward to going, especially as I will get to meet so many people there that I’ve only ever spoken to on Twitter. 🙂

Got home and wrote an update for my blog about the situation in Surrey Libraries. I also caught up with a few VFTL discussions.

27 July 2011

I worked on creating a paper.li newspaper for my public library service. Paper.li is a link aggregator that produces a page of related items either daily or weekly.  I’ve created paper.li’s for other topics eg. Save libraries and charities. I just find it a useful way of presenting articles, blog posts, photos, videos etc that have been tweeted around a specific theme. It saves people trawling back through a lot of people’s tweets to catch up on the news. I’ll also be running a workshop at some point with my team covering paper.li.

I also investigated the intricacies of Google+; why it’s important and how it can be used for current awareness, discussion and work, etc. I’ll also be running a workshop on this with the team. I like Google+, but I’m not sure how it will affect my use of other social network sites.

Did a bit of tweeting for VFTL.

28 July

Mostly checked emails and responded.

We currently use Internet Explorer 7 in work, which isn’t compatible with some of the newer whizzier websites. This means I have to download Google Chrome instead to use them. So, I downloaded Google Chrome and took a look at Storify.com. Storify allows you to combine Flickr, Twitter, links, videos, text into a narrative format. My library service ran a Children’s Book Festival earlier this year and I tried to put something together to cover this.

Watched a webcast of the Cabinet meeting held on Tuesday, which contained a discussion about the library service.

More VFTL tweets and discussions when I get home.

29 July

Sat in the park on a lovely sunny morning and put together a VFTL blog post about the new Portsmouth library on my laptop.

Blogging in the sun

Blogging in the sun

Checked emails in work and responded to a list discussion from a librarian in another local authority about Library apps.

I took the time to read (some of it anyway) and discuss the Localism Bill. I feel I need to play a part in these discussions, not only to know what is going on, but to hopefully influence it in some small way and so I can be prepared for the future and the effects this may have on library services.

I booked myself onto CILIP library advocacy event in September.

Stumbled across an article about e-libraries on the Conservative Home site and commented on it, highlighting the fact that public library services need to be seen as a whole and physical libraries shouldn’t suffer because e-libraries services are being developed.

Had my monthly 1-to-1 with my line manager. In this we discussed how my work was progressing; priorities; plans; projects.

Went home and umm…. caught up on a couple of VFTL discussions.

30-31 July

The only library related work I’ll probably do over the weekend is a few VFTL tweets and emails… unless anything major happens – which is always a possibility.

I’ll also be preparing for a local campaign meeting on Tuesday night. Possibly a long day on Tuesday, as I didn’t get home until midnight after the last meeting! If you see me asleep on the train around this time on Tuesday, please wake me up so I don’t miss my stop. Thanks. 🙂

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Future Libraries Programme – Final Report to Governance Board

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At the end of March 2011 the MLA (Museums, Libraries & Archives Council) & LGA (Local Government Association) produced a final report for the “Future Libraries Programme.” Its remit was to review pilot projects that had been running throughout the U.K. as part of the programme to develop public library services. Following on from this best practice in these projects would be disseminated to other library services in the U.K.

The following quotes were taken from the Executive Summary.

“library services can make use of recent evidence about consumer needs and aspirations, while policy priorities such as the Big Society create opportunities for library services to reshape themselves to be fit for purpose for the 21st century”

“Across the library sector and local government a range of activity is underway supporting change in libraries, and the Future Libraries Programme complements and extends this innovation and improvement.”

“Options appraisal should begin from an assessment of community and user need and aspiration.”

“Engaging political leadership from the outset is crucial.”

The fact that so many campaigners battled with (and are still battling with) local authorities to try and persuade them to change their plans to reduce/cut library services suggests that local authorities are not noting “consumer needs and aspirations” at the outset, but only when they are forced into doing it. Many consultations regarding changes to library services did not begin with a discussion with communities. They began with an attitude of “We need to save money, and here’s what we’re going to cut.” At this stage, communities made their discontent known (by campaigning) and then the discussions with communities began… after they had already been upset by the proposals.

The “opportunities” have been twisted into ways for local authorities to save money, rather than the development of “innovation and improvement” or “to reshape themselves to be fit for purpose for the 21st century” .  

It seems as if political leadership wasn’t part of the engagement process. It looked as if it was actually the driver in many cases, even though political agendas can often be different to the agenda of library services.

I understand that the cuts to local authority funding and the Future Library programme are not the same thing, but they are so intricately tied together. As the cuts came in, the Future Libraries Programme was there and it appears that those in power have leapt at the money saving options as the key thing, rather than picking up on the innovations that would still provide a quality library service for users. I’m not stupid – I understand that saving money would make people take interest, but at the same time, if libraries were invested in and developed innovative library services, local authorities would reap the rewards in increased usage.

Maybe the key problem is that decision makers at the top of the chain aren’t from a library background and, as such, it’s no wonder that these decisions are made. If they don’t understand the purpose of a service they don’t really understand what they are taking away from those who value and need it, do they?

£100k fund to help communities set up their own libraries – Coventry Times – News from @covtelegraph

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£100k fund to help communities set up their own libraries – Coventry Times – News from @covtelegraph.

A CASH boost of £100,000 has been pledged by Warwickshire County Council to help communities set up their own libraries.

The council say the move is the result of “strong interest” from residents in either setting up their own lending service or cheaply leasing libraries facing the axe due to £2million cuts.

For “strong interest” read “a fear that the council’s threat of closing their library has forced residents into a situation where they have to take over the running of it, rather than doing without it, even though it’s the council’s duty to provide such a service.”

March For The Alternative : Libraries

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Love Not War

I went to the March For The Alternative last Saturday. It was a protest march through London… a protest march against cuts the Government are forcing onto local authorities, including libraries. A few hundred thousand people turned up. I can’t be sure of the exact numbers, as indications in the media vary so much.

My girlfriend had helped me with my placard, which I’d built from an empty box of toilet paper… it seemed appropriate!

Billy BraggI didn’t know what the march was going to be like. It was my first, but for many reasons I felt it was important that I was there. I was hoping to meet up with other library campaigners, especially those involved in Voices For The Library. 

However, due to the crowds, I didn’t manage it. It didn’t matter though – I may not have known the people around me, but we were all there for the same reason.

I got to Waterloo Station by 10.30am and started the march at about 11.30am. The only celebrity marcher I saw on route was Billy Bragg. Nice to see him, especially as he has been a keen supporter of libraries. 

Starting from Embankment, the march went along the Thames and past various political landmarks, including The Houses of Parliament, Downing Street, Whitehall, Trafalgar Square, Picadilly Circus.

View From Waterloo Bridge 2

The people who came along were from right across the social spectrum and age ranges. They were all there to make the point that these cuts are ridiculous.

Books Not Bonuses

I had intended to tweet highlights along the way, along with photographs, but I had real problems with my phone. I only managed to get a signal for about 5 minutes along the whole route, so that plan failed! The photos I took are available on Flickr. It was good to catch up with tweets and photographs later in the day that other campaigners had sent out.

Whitehall 2Despite the fact that we were all there for a downbeat reason, it was an upbeat day, with music accompanying us on our route and people making their voices heard.

No to cats/cuts

I eventually got to the Hyde Park rally at about 3.15pm. I listened to a few speakers talking about cuts to NHS, care and services supplied to immigrants.  It was interesting to hear about other areas of public services, as I’ve been concentrating on cuts to public libraries. However, by about 3.45pm I was getting a bit fed up by the fact that I’d not met anyone I knew and may not do, as I didn’t know where anyone was and the battery on my phone was about to go kaput!

Jo Bo Anderson and Family

But then I got a phone call from Mick telling me which pub a few of them were in. Hurrah! So, I headed off in the right direction and as I was crossing the road at Hyde Park I bumped into  original Voices For The Library founder and Friends Of Gloucestershire Libraries campaigner Jo Bo Anderson with her family! What are the chances of bumping into them amongst a few hundred thousand protesters and what a nice bit of serendipity. 🙂 So, I got the chance to catch up with Jo and then meet Mick, Anne, Simon, Gareth in the pub. A great way to top off what was, on the whole, a positive and successful march… and I haven’t thrown my placard away… just in case I need it again soon. I hope I don’t, but that would be too good to be true.

Ed Vaizey, Libraries, You and Yours

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I listened to Ed Vaizey (Conservative MP and Minister for Communication, Culture and the Creative Industries ) being interviewed on BBC Radio 4 “You & Yours” (19/01/2011) about libraries.

During the interview he said “We (Conservatives) have never said – and it’s a gross misrepresentation of what we have said – that somehow volunteers should replace professional librarians.”

“No-one is suggesting that volunteers should take over the role of professional librarians…. Nobody is saying that there’s a strategy to replace  professional librarians with volunteers.”

Lauren Smith (Save Doncaster Libraries and fellow Voices For The Library campaigner) pointed out that there are libraries being run up and down the country solely with volunteers and without librarians.

To this, Mr Vaizey responded with “That’s the point… Currently run without professional librarians. So those libraries are already open.”

What did his response mean? Was he suggesting that because there are libraries already being run by volunteers that this proves they can be run successfully without professional librarians?

Lauren continued with the statement that these volunteer libraries are not fulfilling the role of what a library should and could be.

Anyway, the Government’s Future Libraries & Big Society programme is advocating the use of volunteers, but it’s not specifically saying to what extent. In the context of libraries it’s not saying, “Don’t get rid of librarians and trained staff.” It’s as woolly as the Public Libraries & Museums Act 1964… open to interpretation and gives councils an opportunity just to dump local library services if they feel like it… and some are planning just that. Take a look at Gloucestershire Libraries.

Mr Vaizey also made the comment, “I’m constantly telling people what the role of libraries is, but I can’t tell every single person in the country.”

Really? I can’t see how the Minister responsible for libraries in England, who can easily get the ear of anyone he wanted to via the media, is unable to spell out the importance of libraries! I have witnessed lots of campaigns springing up over the past few months that are very effective at spelling out why libraries are important. If they are capable of it, why isn’t Mr Vaizey?

He also went on to say, “You have to elect councillors who believe in libraries and you have to campaign in your local area to get councils to back their libraries.”

I’d question why we should have to persuade local councillors of the importance of a local library service? We don’t vote in councillors with the thought of “Hmm! I wonder if they’ll support libraries?” You’d expect them to support and fight for any statutory service the council was responsible for, as part of their job, wouldn’t you? I would.

Tinkering in March 2010

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I’m quite pleased with what I’ve achieved in March when it comes to tinkering outside of my day job. Most of the things are only small and uncomplicated, but I’ve either learnt from what I’ve done (no matter how little use or interest to others it is) or I’ve achieved something practical.

(1) Set up an events RSS feed for the Library service Twitter account. We had a general Council events RSS feed, so I had a look at how it was structured and realised I could pull out the library events as a separate feed via Yahoo pipes.

(2) Put together a ‘We Love Public Libraries’ page. It was put together using a Flickr slideshow and Collecta Widget looking for mentions of the phrase. I’m going to expand it to include other relevant phrases too, as it’s not picking up as many positive vibes about public libraries as I’d like 😉

(3) Using Run Basic I put together the basics of “Where’s My Chuffin’ Train?”. Put in your train details and it gives you a few lame excuses as to why it’s late. I need to do it properly, and work on presentation, add signs/symbols. Pointless I know, but I can’t help it.

(4) Using RunBasic I put together a basic URL convertor to feed URLs of book searches from the Library catalogue to Owen Stephens’ “Read To Learn” project. “Read To Learn” suggests courses you might be interested in studying if you were reading a particular non-fiction book/ or range of books. We were both interested to see if it could be of use from a public library point of view, along the lines of… public library users might be interested in studying if they could find courses that related to book they were interested in. My bit of programming needs tidying up. It’s basically got the code there, converts the URL and passes it to “Read To Learn”, it just looks dull and I don’t present the returned courses properly.

(5) As part of the Celebrating Surrey event in June, the library team I’m in thought it would be good to do something to support it from a Web2.0 point of view. So we have started putting together a “Surrey Fiction Bookmap” using Google My Maps. It shows locations that are mentioned in works of fiction. It’s early days and we adding to it as we go along. It will probably also include locations associated with fiction authors too. Each of the books mentioned link back to our catalogue and have a bit of a snippet about the book in the popup.

(6) Working on term extractor using Run Basic.

I had a bit of a frustrating time at the beginning of the month, not being able to decide what to do/ how to focus on things, but with a bit of advice from @chibbie and @ostephens I’ve learnt that it’s best to go for small goals and release things into the wild even if they aren’t perfect. Thanks for the advice.