Wednesday, 29 December 2010

Redcar & Cleveland College Library

We visited Redcar & Cleveland College for a HEBP Librarians Group meeting. After the meeting we had a tour of the libraries - there are two, the main library which is quite similar to ours at Middlesbrough College although on a much smaller scale. The other is a new HE library which is very nice, quiet and very focused on the needs of the HE students.

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

Middlesbrough College Learning Resources Centre

Middlesbrough College Learning Resources Centre.

Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Libraries - "A Moment in Time"

I decided a few weeks ago that I wanted to record in this blog details and information about libraries and in particular libraries in 2010 / 2011.  There were a number of reasons that prompted me to do this and since then these reasons have become even more important due to the political situation.

Firstly, there has been some coverage on the television and other media about library cuts - in particular public library closures often in areas that need them most and that are well used.  There are campaigns against the closures and librarians and others are doing a brilliant job at publicising the devastating effect that the closures will have (more of this in later posts).  My teenage son (age 16) commented on the TV coverage by saying "We used to go to the library lots didn't we". I replied "Yes, of course". Him "What do you go to the library for?" (Remember at this point that a teenager is not interested in long explanations from his mother on any topic - short answers are required before boredom sets in).  Me " To read books and find information". Him "Mum, if you want to find out something you just Google it like everyone else".   I started to explain about the importance of libraries etc.etc. but ...... on the plus side at least he has positive memories of libraries, uses the library at 6th form college and is an avid reader (Wilkie Collins, Dickens, Tolstoy).

Secondly, I had read an article in the Times Higher Education magazine by Hannah Fearn entitled 'Time to Shelve the Book Habit'  which was about the need to move academics from books to digital resources.  While containing some valid points, the part that struck me was the comments by Mary Beard about libraries being a pleasurable experience.  Libraries have always been this for me although usually as escapism and that glorious feeling of peace and quiet yet filled with so much knowledge to explore.  The actual physical items i.e. the books, add an extra dimension to the experience - to pick up a book that possibly hundreds of other people have looked at over the years - it carries life and history with it.  When I was at University in London in the 80s I spent hours in various libraries including Kings College Theology library and the University of London Senate House library.  Also whenever I moved flats, my friend and I would hunt out the nearest public library and borrow as many fiction books as we could especially new
novels .
Thirdly, I went to visit my eldest son in Cambridge in October - he is at Churchill College.  On previous visits it has been my aim to try to 'get into' various college and university libraries with varying degrees of success.  (I did manage to access the University Library last year (on the condition that I didn't touch anything but could look)).  This time I was determined to look around the Wren Library having been thwarted on three previous occasions.  I checked on the website that it was open so turned up at the gates to Trinity College to find it was 'closed to visitors'.  Undeterred I set off to find another entrance, which I did with a porter whom I asked if I could look round the library.  He said yes, it was possible, but I couldn't come in this way so I would have to find another entrance round the back near the river.  Off I went, found a gate, ajar but with notice to say closed to visitors, I carried on through and finally got to the entrance to the library.  A man was stood at the entrance - "Hello, can I look round the library please?" I said.  "Are you in College?" he said. "No" I replied. "You may", he said " but you must be silent at all times and no photographs".  I was in - and it was worth it.  I'm not criticising any academic libraries, if they weren't 'managed' then it would be terrible, they are valuable and important, but I would like to look round them in a responsible way and appreciate them. I hope the academics and students appreciate them too.
Fourthly, I work in a library - the Learning Resources Centre at Middlesbrough College - it is a dynamic and vibrant place with an upbeat feel to it.  It is used by lots of students and the physical space is just as important as the knowledge that it contains both physical and virtual.

Therefore despite being a technologist and a geek, despite being an advocate of electronic resources, I realised that libraries are important to me both professionally and personally.  Perhaps this blog will become something of a self indulgence, but if so then so be it.