Friday, 7 November 2014

Sustainable Libraries

Sustainable Libraries
  • Saving Energy - more sustainable buildings 
  • Reduce energy consumption - replace boilers
  • Ventilation systems and controls 
  • Lighting systems -- light bulbs and fittings
  • Library Catalogue machines
  • Save space and transport - ejournals
  • Printing and photocopying - doublesided printing and pull printing
  • Donate and recycle books and journals
  • Green roof, solar panels

Sunday, 21 September 2014

Library Camp UK Newcastle #libcampuk14

Last Saturday 13th September, I attended Library Camp UK in Newcastle.  If you've not attended a library camp before and you're interested in libraries then I would recommend it.  It's an interesting, friendly and informal way of spending the day with people discussing current topics and issues - an unconference. Usually tea and cake and in an interesting building.  It was held in Newcastle City Library and if you've not been there before I would recommend that you go now, immediately - it's an impressive place, cool and friendly (like Newcastle really).

Introduction by the organisers of the event Sue @shedsue and Richard @richardveevers
Then pitches by people who wanted to do sessions.  Then while we chatted and ate cake, the organisers sorted out the time slots for the sessions.

The first session I went was led by Tom Kistall @thomaskistall from Sheffield Hallam Uni.  
He's a 'Digital Innovation Librarian' and looks at improving the user experience.
the topic for the sessions was how to communicate with staff in your team especially if you have lots of part time staff working at different times in different locations.  
Face to face communication is the most common method.  I mentioned about using google forms and google drive as a means of sharing and collecting information.  

Many places have SharePoint and I think it is fair to say that most staff don't particularly like it as it is difficult to use apart from as a repository - it's clunky and at some places it is mandatory to use it.  You can set up SharePoint alerts so that come to your email and sign up to different groups.  
Most people were agreed that on a practical basis the quickest and easiest way was to communicate face-to-face or write stuff on whiteboard and sometimes you need to know something before you log on.  I sort of agree with this but I would like to get to the stage where alerts and notifications were pushed or pulled to mobile devices.  So it didn't involve logging on to the system but you received the information in a timely manner in a useful format.  
Shared outlook calendars and emails are common practice so that all staff can view events. TopDesk Unidesk was mentioned - this was interesting to me because quite a lot of what I'm working on at the moment is about using the IT help-desk system or similar to process library issues and enquiries.
Other channels:

Are blogs used for internal communication? It seems not and I don't know why there is a lack of enthusiasm for them - there is often initial enthusiasm but it doesn't last - used more for outward facing.
Online meetings? They are more natural if you've met face to face previously and different cultures have different ways of participating at different times.
Online training is an important consideration and how to include staff who don't work full time so that they have the same opportunities and experience.  The training can be online and/or be recorded so can be cascaded. 
Managers need to be flexible in providing training and this may involve working evenings and weekends to deliver it.  There is the dilemma of whether to limit the means of communication to two or three channels / platforms. This makes staff development easier as you can ensure that staff know how to use them effectively.  Personally I think it is ok to go with a diverse range of tools and channels to see what works best. Also students / library users have access to a wide range of tools so we should be able to know how they work.  There does need to be some understanding of the different tools, which are appropriate for which content and who will use them.  

The second session I went to was about York City Libraries who extracted themselves from local council control to become the Explore York Library service.  This was a result of the service being shrunk  due to cuts.  They talked about the process and how they had, and have, a vision of what they wanted to do.  This was a useful and informative talk as I hadn't realised what the options would be for services that are not council run and not volunteer services - it seems there is another way to keep libraries open.  The Cabinet Office 
Mutual support programme.  I appreciate that there is a lot more to know about this but these are the interesting parts that I took notes about: 
External consultant to advise. 
Buildings still owned by council so rent from them. 
Council quite helpful - but the support services of council were difficult especially to get information - need to dig in the council to find out contracts, procedures, finance. Legal forms - discover stuff
Charitable organization. A good move for the service and for the people who work as part of it. It involves art and culture, community engagement, innovation.  Funding - council does provide funding to provide library services - it is 5 years contractual at the amount that was cut to in final year. 
Also provide adult learning in library buildings. Social inclusion, community engagement.
All staff engaged in the process - no option to stay the same - pay and pensions.  The leader of CYC library service has become CE of board.  There is staff representation on board.  1 part owned by staff, 2 parts owned by community. Services are provided by council and can be pricematched at end of Y1.  
It has been a positive change for staff.  There is community involvement eg project to sell fruit and veg. There is involvement rather than a hierarchy.  Donations.  Volunteers are wanted and needed but are not responsible - the staff are paid.  

The next session was about 'What is a Librarian?'.  This session was led by Marianne Bamkin @mainlymazza

I have mixed feelings about this question and topic as I think there is a danger that librarians spend too much time either being precious or disruptive about it and what it signifies to them rather than concentrating on what it means to the outside world.  Whatever you think about being a librarian, there is a need to be positive about it and promote it as a useful and significant role and profession - it's a great 'brand', don't through away the opportunity to use it and instill it with value.  
So back to the session - we came up with a series of words that reflect what a librarian is or does:


The ones I like best are Find, Support and Empower
Different definitions are needed for different audience e.g. stakeholders, students but would it be useful to have a tag line made up of simple words?

The last session was by Dawn of the Unread

All in all it was a great day - I met lots of interesting new people and caught up with lots of others who are based in the North East.  Thanks to all those who organised and attended.  Thanks to those who made cakes - they were delicious

I'm now looking forward to Library Camp Glasgow in November #libcampgla

Saturday, 2 August 2014

Holiday reading #books

Last week I had a weeks holiday - a week off work and a week without technology.  Once a year I have a week without emails and social media which means chilling out and reading.
During the week I read 5 books:

What the **** Is Normal?! by Francesca Martinez - we are reading this for Book Club and I enjoyed it a lot.  Funny and poignant and interesting.  I'm going to try and get a ticket to see her stand up comedy show at Edinburgh Fringe.

Miss Webster and Cherif by Patricia Duncker - I bought this from a second hand book shop in Robin Hoods Bay.  A good read, intelligent and moving - a quick and easy read.

The Connoisseur by Magda Sweetland - this has been on my book shelf for ages and I first read it years ago.  I enjoyed rereading it as it is set in Edinburgh and North Berwick - it was good but the ending was a bit flat.

Suicide Excepted by Cyril Hare
My Name Is Michael Sibley
These two are typical old Penguin Crime - 1930's to 1950's.  I like a good 'whodunit' / classic crime - nothing gruesome, get the murder over at the beginning then a complex plot to solve.

Saturday, 8 February 2014

National Libraries Day 2014 #NLD14

Another National Libraries Day - is this the 3rd or 4th? - I can't remember but it's definitely something to look forward to.

NLD13 blog post
NLD12 blog post

#savelibraries blogpost Feb11

An excuse, if any is ever needed, to visit libraries, to persuade others to visit libraries and to promote libraries especially via social media.

This year the library where I work, Heriot-Watt University library, is open to visitors on a National Libraries Day. The library is usually open on Saturdays but we have promoted the fact that it is open and also organised a display and some leaflets.
I was undecided whether to stay in Edinburgh this weekend or come back to Durham but decided to come home as it was Book Club meeting at my friends house and I wanted to catch up.
I made a slower start than usual today due to other family commitments ie visiting my mum and the cat then picking up T2 from station but this afternoon we set off to visit a library I've not been to before. The one I'd picked is Washington (Tyne & Wear) town centre one. Washington is in between Durham, Sunderland and Newcastle and is a new town and has a big shopping centre called the Galleries. (There is Washington Old Hall which is a National Trust place). The library is situated in the shopping centre and we managed to negotiate our way through the Saturday afternoon crowds to find it.

It is a very nice library - typical town centre public library with lots of fiction books but bright and cheerful and appealing.
They did have a sign in the entrance about National Libraries Day which is an improvement on a couple of years ago when I visited about 6 libraries and none had anything about it.
There were lots of children's books including information books. The displays were cheerful and there was a good selection available.

I liked the teenage section with the groovy chairs and writing on the wall.
They also had some books for sale which were too difficult to resist.
All in all, a cool place.

Next on the list was Gateshead library which I have visited before. I googled to see if it was open and it was but I should have checked the actual Gateshead libraries website because when we got there it was closed.

Luckily the Shipley Art Gallery is practically next door and it was open. The Shipley Art Gallery is fantastic and one of our regular places we visit. It has great exhibitions and is a beautiful building. There is always something of interest and useful things in the shop. We sometimes go there after we have visited the Baltic Art Gallery and it is a good antidote.....

So onto Durham and to the Clayport library in the city centre. This is one of my regular libraries as it is in County Durham the same as a Sedgefield where I live. It's in a big modern building opposite the Gala theatre. Again lots of fiction books, great selection.
A good young children's area which is always full of noisy small children and conscientious parents......

I don't know the difference between novels and fiction but that matters not. Again, a sign and display for National Libraries Day but not as wow or exciting as I would have thought. But in the current climate maybe that's all that's available or wanted / needed. I can never quite discern the vibe or atmosphere at Clayport library - it's slightly different but I'm not sure why. Downstairs is the digital media stuff - computers, DVDs, music, graphic novels - quite good and well used.

Upstairs is the reference library which I've never used but has computers and some book stacks. On the stairs was a picture I liked of the Miners Gala.

So a good afternoon visiting libraries. It's inconvenient that lots of public libraries are not open Saturday afternoons and Sundays. Personally I think that if they were they would be used more as a space and resource by a wider audience. Lots of people who work or have other commitments like reading and like going yo interesting buildings to read and sit and drink tea and coffee and eat cake - why can't libraries be those places??

Monday, 3 February 2014

Library of Birmingham

I visited the Library of Birmingham last year when I was in Birmingham for an Association for Learning Technology meeting at Aston Business School.
The library is an impressive building from the outside, a great landmark for the city.

The entrance foyer is spacious with plenty of room for people to gather and to wander around and enjoy the space.  There are lots of colourful displays and appealing things to look at.  There are books on each floor but the overwhelming impression is of space and places to explore and find out information.  There were a lot of people about but it didn't seem crowded and it wasn't noisy.

On the ground floor / lower ground floor there was a great space to look at books and sit and read.  These red chairs pictured below were very popular and perfect for relaxing and escaping.

The groovy blue escalators give the library a wow factor and I explored each floor.  At first I was a bit disappointed that the first floor didn't have many books but it was a good space to wander around and to sit and read or chat with groups of people and friends.

As you make your way up the floors there are more books although some of the subject areas were not obvious to me but I assume this would be easier if i had been looking for something specific.  Also I was expecting to find the layout familiar on my first visit which wasn't the case.

The library has definitely got the wow factor and is a very positive space with lots of users.
From my point of view I do think the space is important - a library space or a learning space or a being safe space - sometimes more important than the contents.