Friday, 8 November 2013

Seven Years of Book Clubbing

This evening we had a Book Club meeting and as ever it was a very good time. At my house, with tea and cake and chocolate and most importantly lots of talking and catching up. Our book club is not particularly high brow or intellectual and we read a mix of books including popular fiction and classics. The group is a sub-set of a larger friendship group and so we all know each other well and enjoy each others company. We spend time chatting and discussing a variety of topics including the books.

Tonight we discussed the two books we had read which were:
Stalin Ate My Homework by Alexei Sayle (v interesting especially about the strange visits to eastern bloc countries, communists in Liverpool and eccentric mothers)
The Last Runaway by Tracey Chevalier ( a good read, interesting about the Quakers and Runaways, main character a bit selfish mainly due to be young and naive).

Our books for next time are The Blackhouse by Peter May and May We Be Forgiven by A. M. Homes.
I have just sent round the email to everyone with the titles for next time and also included a list of all the books we have read so far. It is fascinating to look back at what we have read and to realise that we have been Book Clubbing for nearly seven years - it has been a great experience.
(I've included the list below)

Book Club Books

December 2013 The Blackhouse by Peter May
May We Be Forgiven by A. M. Homes

November 2013 Stalin Ate My Homework by Alexei Sayle
The Last Runaway by Tracey Chevalier

September 2013 Dr Zhivago by Boris Pasternak
The Universe versus Alex Woods by Gavin Extence

July 2013 The Taliban Cricket Club by Timeri Murari
A Single Man by Christopher Isherwood
Short Stories by Somerset Maugham

June 2013 The unlikely pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce
The picture of Dorian Gray - Oscar Wilde

April 2013 The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot
Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

March 2013 The Sisters Brothers by Patrick deWitt
The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

November 2012 The Age of Miracles by Karen Thompson Walker
The Hundred Year Old Man Jonas Jonasson

September 2012 The Thread by Victoria Hislop
The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins

July 2012 The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie by Muriel Spark
Like Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquivel

June 2012 The Moment by Douglas Kennedy
Before I Go To Sleep by S J Watson

April 2012 Catch 22 by Joseph Heller
Pigeon English Stephen Kelman

Feb 2012 A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving
Mother Tongue by Bill Bryson

November 2011 Singing in the Shrouds by Ngaio Marsh
A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

October 2011 We need to talk about Kevin - Lionel Shriver
Battle hymn of the Tiger Mother - Amy Chua
The End of the Affair - Graham Greene

July 2011 Money - Martin Amis
The Tent, the Bucket and Me - Emma Kennedy

May 2011 The Darling Buds of May - H E Bates
Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte

March 2011 Room - Emma Donoghue,
Birdsong - Sebastian Faulks
Operation Mincemeat - Ben Macintyre

January 2011 Guernica - Dave Boling
The Last of the Mohicans - James Fenimore Cooper

Nov 2010 The Diary of a Nobody - George & Weedon Grossmith
Going Gently - David Nobbs

September 2010 The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society - Mary Ann Shaffer & Annie Barrows
A Suitable Boy - Vikram Seth
To the Lighthouse - Virginia Woolf

June 2010 The Daughter of Time - Josephine Tey
The Bean Tree - Barbara Kingsolver

April 2010 Ethan Frome - Edith Wharton
White Tiger - Aravind Adiga

March 2010 Girls of Riyadh - Rajaa Alsamea
The Pirate's Daughter - Margaret Cezair-Thompson

Jan 2010 Desert Ascent - Simon park
New Europe - Michael Palin
Family Life - Elizabeth Luard

November 2009 The Elegance of the Hedgehog – Marie Barbey
Dreams from my Father – Barack Obamah
St Agnes Stand – Thomas Eidson

Sept 2009 Lady Chatterley – DH Lawrence
The Almost Moon – Alice Sebbold
Cider with Rosie – Laurie Lee

April 2009 Bel Canto – Ann Patchett
Gentleman Players – Joanne Harris

March 2009 Under Milk Wood – Dylan Thomas
When will there be good news? – Kate Atkinson

Jan 2009 Rabbit Run – John Updike
Northanger Abbey – Jane Austen

Nov 2008 Catcher in the Rye – JD Salinger
Cloning of Joanna May – Fay Weldon
19 Minutes – Jodi Piccoult

Sept 2008 Poisonwood Bible - Barbara Kingsolver
Notes from an Exhibition – Patrick Gale

June 2008 Blood River – Tim Butcher
Join Me – Danny Wallace
Master & Margarita – Mikhail Bulgakov

April 2008 Mitford Girls – Mary Lovell
Jekyll & Hyde

March 2008 Jane and Prudence – Barbara Pym
What Ho Jeeves – PG Wodehouse

Jan 2008 Bitter Sweets – Roopa Farooki
Suite Française – Irène Nemirovsky

Nov 2007 The Two of Us – John Thaw – Sheila Hancock
Handmaid’s Tale – Margaret Atwood

Sept 2007 Knots and Crosses – Ian Rankin
Day of the Triffids – John Wyndham

June 2007 Purple Hibiscus
Handful Of Dust – Evelyn Waugh
Matricide at St Martha’s – Ruth Dudley Edwards
History of Love

Feb 2007 Promise of Happiness – Justin Cartwright
Tales of the City – Armistead Maupin

January 2007 Picklehead by Rohan Candappa

Sunday, 27 October 2013

Library Camp Glasgow #libcampgla

Yesterday, Sat 26th Oct, I went to Library Camp in Glasgow at the Mitchell Library. It's an impressive building with an interesting history. I hadn't been there before and don't know much at all about Glasgow. Coincidentally I went in through the entrance to the old part then walked through to the more modern part.

I didn't take any notes or tweet very much at the time which is unusual for me. So this is just a brief summary of the day from my point of view and from memory.
The event was well organised with instructions on eventbrite and a wiki.
Nice goodie bag on arrival and brief outline of the day. As it was an unconference the content of sessions was not decided until people had pitched for the sessions.
The icebreaker was the bingo game when you have a sheet filled in with various attributes or experiences and you have to go round finding people who do or have done that thing. It's a tried and tested activity and works well to get people to circulate and introduce themselves.
There was an introduction by the organisers - Anabel Marsh, Myra Paterson, Lesley Thomson and Lynn Corrigan.

Then pitches for the sessions and some soapbox rants.
During the day I went to 3 sessions plus the tour of the Mitchell Library.
Sean McNamara (Cilips) led a session about what to do for National Libraries Day in February. Various ideas were discussed from collecting interesting stories from individuals about how libraries had made a difference to their lives to children's events and sleepovers to flash mobs?!?
There needs to be widespread awareness of the day and events in a joined up high profile way. It is difficult because you're probably either speaking to the converted ie people will visit libraries who already visit them or treading carefully as there are library closures. I think the important thing is to have a series of appealing events happening in order to attract people in and also make it easy and accessible.
Another session was led by Isabel Hood about End User Education. The discussion covered various points including the usual ones about how difficult it is to get students (& staff) to engage in inductions and information skills sessions and indeed staff to engage with training and CPD. If it's not mandatory, there has to be 'something in it for me' otherwise some people just won't participate. For students it's finding ways of making it relevant and available at the point of need. Building up relationships with students is important and getting recommendations and testimonials from staff and students.
After lunch I went on the tour of the library led by Myra Paterson. It was very interesting and I could have listened to her all day talking about the building and working there and how things have changed and developed over the years.
At the end of the tour we caught the end of a session led by Andrew McDougall (NLS) about youth employment in libraries and how to manage the staff demographic. I'll be interested to read write ups of this session and to find out what people think about it. It's important to get young people involved in working in libraries but there are only a limited amount of jobs and people tend to stay in the jobs they've got. My take on it is to get skills, qualifications and experience in related fields such as education and IT and move in and out of library related posts as and when the opportunities arise - but that's a personal view and for another post.
Finally there was a session led by Graeme Arnott and Ally Crockford about Wikimedia and being a wikimedian and the events that are happening to encourage people to take part. It was very interesting and I'm going to find out more about it and why and how etc. I usually just think of Wikipedia and that's it and people can edit it but nothing more than that really.
At the end of the day there was a brief summary if the sessions and prizes for the best rant and best badges. It was a great day and I enjoyed it.
I'll reflect over the next few days about unconferences, networking, libraries, CPD, sharing and collaborating etc. etc. and what it means to me.

Thursday, 17 October 2013

Norwich Library (July 2013)

On the way back from the Latitude Festival we stopped off for the night near Norwich. We explored the city briefly mainly to find somewhere to eat late afternoon with limited success. We did however find Norwich library which was excellent.

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Wednesday, 2 October 2013

No time for Wittgenstein?

To tell the truth, in recent months the amount of reading I've done has been minimal. This is mainly because I've not had time and also because I've not had the 'headspace' to do so. Since I started my current job in June and various family commitments over the summer, I've been concentrating on essentials with no time for frivolous thoughts or reading for fun. Also I've started to listen to podcasts and the radio more, especially when falling asleep on a night. Less effort I suppose.
However I do need to encourage myself and make time for reading. I even had to pretend that I'd read the books for book club last month when I hadn't finished either of them.
I went to the library after work tonight (busman's evening out) and took back my overdue books. I've still got a couple out that I've started to read for book club so wasn't intending to get any more. Then I saw these two books.

I would like to read them both but made a choice and chose the Wittgenstein one. It is plainly ridiculous to think that I'll read it all but that doesn't matter, I'll read some of it. In the dim and distant past I did read Wittgenstein (actual philosophy not a book about him) when at Uni but gone are the days - or at least on hold are the days :)

Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Hunt Library : bookBot

Hunt Library : bookBot

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Friday, 21 June 2013

Two not quite but nearly library visits

Today I was at Aston University Business School for an ALT meeting. After the meeting across the road I saw Aston University Library. It looked new and exciting - I went in and asked if I could look round but they said no. It's a shame when you can't look round a Uni library out of interest, I didn't want to use any of their resources but I suppose it is understandable for security ?!?

When I was in Birmingham earlier in the week I saw the new City Library building. It looks fantastic, I think it is opening in September so I'll have to try and visit in the autumn.

Wednesday, 19 June 2013

Library Camp NE #LibCampNE

Library Camp NE
On Saturday I went to Library Camp NE - it was interesting and I enjoyed it.
First point to note - all of my family and friends that I mentioned it to in advance thought it was either hilarious or weird. Why? What? On a Saturday? Yes, it's hard to explain so I just say 'it's a CPD sort of thing'.
Mind you they think this about other sort of library focused events such as visiting libraries for National Libraries Day although in that case I give them a serious answer and persuade and cajole them to come with me.
Learning Technology events fare slightly better as long as there's no embarrassing or weird people there.
So to Library Camp which was held at Northumbria University in the Sutherland Room of the Sutherland Building. It is a beautiful space.

It was organised by @nikkidavey @MiningLibrarian @audesome @louiselib (apologies if I've missed anyone out) who are library people from Newcastle. It was nice to see quite a few people that I know from when I worked in Middlesbrough and people that I've met through work and networking events in the North East - and through twitter of course.
The first activity of the day was to decide on the unconference format for the day so in groups everyone decided on some topics for discussion. These were combined with some that had been volunteered beforehand with people offering to lead a discussion. The organizers then sorted these into a grid of groups and time slots and that was it. You just had a look at the chart, see which discussions were happening in which group at which time and move around accordingly.
The discussions I took part in were:
1. Closed Stock Libraries 'Argos Libraries' - which models would work? What are the advantages apart from saving space?
2. Operating a library from a temporary location eg Portakabin.
This is quite common for short periods of time but what are the pitfalls and problems if its for months or years instead of just weeks?
3. Shared services - what are the advantages of library services sharing their space, desk and roles with other customer facing facilities?
4. Job hunting and creative CPD. What should library professionals do to increase their chances of successfully getting jobs? What are the useful hints and tips for applications and networking?
It was an interesting day - it's good to meet up with colleagues, fellow professionals, library people etc. and share ideas in an informal setting and format.
I hope it happens again with cups of tea too :)
I've storified the tweets - not very well as in random order but they give more information about the day and the discussions.

Tuesday, 18 June 2013

Edinburgh Libraries Tweet Up eltu1

Last week I went to the first Edinburgh Libraries Tweet Up #eltu1. It was organised by Lynn Corrigan, advertised on twitter with tickets available through eventbrite.
The event included a visit to the Scottish Poetry Library I had been before for a quick look round but this time we had a guided tour by the librarian Julie Johnstone. She talked to us about the architecture and history of the building - outside and inside.

The library is a modern, beautiful building although it is quite small - like a treasure trove.

Upstairs the space is brighter and lighter and can be used as a flexible space for events. There is also a children's section with a variety of books.

Back downstairs we had a look at the book sculptures which have been made and left by the infamous anonymous book sculptor in Edinburgh.

Then we had a talk by Colin Waters the Communications Manager who is charge of the library's social media activities. He outlined their social media strategies and explained about their podcasts of poets readings.
The visit was very interesting and the overall impression was of the library being forward thinking and involved in making poetry accessible to a wide audience.
After visiting the library we went for food and drink at Hemma bar restaurant - where we had cider as recommended by Lynn.

There were 8 or 9 people there and I'm sure the next tweet up will be even more popular. It was good to see Anabel Marsh again - (we met through twitter) who organises the Glasgow Library Tweet Ups as well as other Glasgow Library related stuff.
Other people there included Karen, Ria and Simon from Napier Uni whom I'm hoping to arrange a visit with. And Kirsten who lives in the same area as me.
I'm looking forward to the next LibTweetUp.

Saturday, 9 February 2013

My library visits for National Library Day NLD13

Usually my library visits for NLD are in the Durham area but this year I'm in Edinburgh. I started yesterday as I was at work and needed to check out a few library buildings anyhow. At the Kings Buildings site of Edinburgh University there is a brand new library - the Murray Library. There is still some of the library areas in other buildings but mainly study areas and teaching and learning clusters. This is in the Darwin Building.

There is also a library store with older books and journals

The Murray library is in an impressive new building with a cafe on the ground floor. It is a mixture of books and computer spaces.

It is great but not that spacious I don't think and they have a sort of 'atrium' (inevitably) and so the noise comes up from the cafe. It's well used and there is an outside balcony space with seating for in the warmer weather.
Later in the day I went back to George Square and to the main library. It is a brilliant library, large with a variety of different areas and different resources. It is well used by students and an ideal university library for many people. But it's not for me - I prefer the library at Edinburgh College of Art or the Divinity Library at New College - luckily there is a choice. (When I was in the Main Library I asked if they were doing anything for National Libraries Day - they replied no, nothing - I wonder why not...)

Today I was with my friend Kate who has come to visit. It's a bit mean of me to expect my guests to do what I want when they have made the effort to come and stay so a bit of compromising was needed :) We walked to Fountainbridge Library. It is in an impressive building.

There was a lot going on in the library - lots of people of all ages, plenty of activities, it was fairly noisy but in an upbeat happy way. The staff were friendly and efficient. There was a mixture of books and other resources including newspapers. There were computers in the main area and in a separate area.

It had a good community feel, as if it was part of other support services and mutually beneficial.
We then walked to the Scottish Gallery of Modern Art. Beautiful buildings and interesting art although some of it was too outlandish for me - I'm not interested in angry, explicit stuff. I like the buildings and the 'everything is going to be alright' and the 'no miracles'.

A surprise was that there was a library there The Gabrielle Keiller Library - Surrealist artists, authors, poets etc.

Next we headed back into the city centre then George IV Bridge to the Central Library. I visit here quite frequently so it was just an extra visit for NLD. I like this library, I'm not that keen on self service as I think you lose that relationship between the reader/borrower and the librarian and I don't think it is any more economical but it's not a deal breaker for me.

I love the shelving in this library.
We went upstairs with the intention of going to the reference library but instead went to the Fine Art library - it was lovely. Lots of great books and interesting artifacts.

Hinder a librarian at your peril!

Book sculptures
Finally onto the National Library of Scotland for a quick look round

Then it was time for tea and cake. I enjoy visiting libraries - they are a vital resource for many people and should be supported by us all.

Wednesday, 30 January 2013

Book Sculpture

I have seen this book sculpture a few times as it is outside the Informatics building in George Square. I took a photo of it today because the sun was shining after days of rain and it cast an interesting shadow. The plaque explaining the sculpture is situated below it so it doesn't detract from the book itself.

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