Posts Tagged ‘Library Day in the Life’

Libraries teach equality (via I Love LIbraries)

When I looked at Twitter this morning, I noticed an article from the Guardian doing the rounds of librarians’ and libraries’ Twitter accounts. The subject of said article? “Library protests are the domain of ‘luvvies’, Eric Pickles tells MPs“. Naturally enought, Mr Pickles’ position has been roundly condemned by librarians and library groups alike, but presumably we are all luvvies like Tristram Hunt, historian, broadcaster and Labour MP for Stoke-on-Trent Central, at whom Mr Pickles’ comment was originally directed. I say that we take the word “luvvie” back from Mr Pickles, and that we show him exactly what a Library Luvvie can be.

Luvvies of the (library) world unite! We have nothing to lose but our communities!

To Mr Pickles, I say this: in dismissing the people fighting to keep public libraries in existence, you dismiss all library users, and ultimately, you dismiss whole communities. Because you are the appointed Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, I would ordinarily suggest that you must have made a mistake about what your role is in terms of communities. However, all the evidence presented by the actions of yourself and your fellow members of the Cabinet since election has made it tragically clear that instead of protecting and developing the services and institutions under your remit, you all set out to destroy them, in so doing destroying communities and their umbrella of British society.

In terms of your comments dismissing library campaigners, you very obviously know nothing at all about the people who use, work in, and fight for libraries. Have you ever spoken to a librarian, to a child learning to read, to somebody housebound and dependant on a mobile library service? I would recommend that you start to speak to these groups and more, to learn about communities, and to understand the importance of library buildings and services therein.

Take librarians, for example. Despite the stereotypes, we don’t usually enter librarianship because we enjoy reading or love books. It helps, of course, but we don’t spend hours reading our own collections during work hours. We provide services, and we do so because we want to help people find a book that they love, or to do their homework in a safe and warm space, or to find out more about a medical condition with which they have been diagnosed. We make it possible for parents of young children and babies to come to social and educational events with their babies. The parents get some adult company, and the babies/toddlers similarly learn to socialise. They also learn literacy and numeracy, and “to develop their concentration, co-ordination and comprehension skills through the use of books, songs, finger rhymes, nursery rhymes and poetry” (quoted from Westminster Libraries website).

I am a librarian. I am a library protestor. You would call me a luvvie. I went into librarianship after years working in the IT and computer games industries. My roles in these sectors were all about helping people find information, resources, and solutions, and librarianship was a natural next step, which gave me more, and better, opportunities to help people educate themselves, find their next favourite book, have a conversation, or learn new life skills. More recently, I have become very interested in reading as a medically-diagnosed treatment for illnesses such as depression, and have plans to educate myself in bibliotherapy to be able to help library users still further. These sentences don’t even scratch the surface of what I know and love about libraries and librarianship; I have written several blog posts on the subject and given presentations to librarianship students to help in their training. I use several public libraries weekly at least, because they help me to economise as I continue to read voraciously, and to support them.

My story is just one story among millions, told by individual librarians to inspire others, to develop our field, and to correct misapprehensions such as those held most dangerously by yourself and your Cabinet colleagues. Read about one day in our various librarian lives here, and find out how and why we became librarians here. Will you still call us luvvies then?

Choose your future. Choose your life. Choose your library.
(By Phil Bradley)

We are just one group of protestors among a much larger movement – local, nationwide, worldwide. Start with us, and see what you need to learn about what you dismiss so crudely. Then I’ll introduce you to library users who also protest to save the services they need and love. Do you think you could call a toddler or a housebound old woman luvvies? Do you think you could account to them for the loss of their libraries in any way that could make sense?

Your dismissal of library protestors as “luvvies” has all the sophistication of a primary school bully who attacks what he does not understand, does not use, and quite possibly fears. Libraries and librarians are conduits to enjoyment, individuality, opportunity and understanding. They educate the local community, the nation, the world. Speaking up in favour of all these wonderful benefits does not make a person a luvvie, it makes a person a part of and a voice for the community. You are supposed to give these voices a platform on which to be heard; you are not supposed to dismiss them with base mockery.

This post was brought to you by CPD23 Thing 20: The Library Routes Project


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Hide and Seek, by Follettina (Deviantart)

Hide and Seek, by Follettina (on Deviantart)

CPD23 Thing Thirteen is all about sharing, using online tools such as Google Drive, Dropbox and wikis. Their existence makes collaboration easier in a variety of fora, professional, academic, and personal. Ideas can be shared more efficiently across long distances, both within companies, departments, research centres, and clubs, as well as between all of the above. They have the added benefit of saving paper, and accordingly both money and the environment. When it is becoming increasingly normal to find variations on the text in the image below at the end of emails, the ecological benefits of online sharing tools cannot be underestimated.

Think before printing

Think before printing this email, from http://www.thinkbeforeprinting.org

I have been using Google Drive since it was Ye Olde Google Docs, long, long ago. At first its purpose, for me, was to backup important files, such as research papers and articles relevant to such research, as well as CVs and job vacancies and corresponding applications. As I took on the role of social secretary to a sports club where I used to live, I experimented with using Google Drive to share documents with club members via Facebook. It was particularly useful when it came to booking Christmas dinners – I could post up menus from various restaurants to let everybody see their options. Today was the first time since January that I logged into Google Drive; the most recent files represent “the life you lead when you can’t decide between research and librarianship”. The first document is one shared with me, and with many other librarians – the Agenda for the last #UKLibChat in which I participated, back in January of this year. The several PDF documents are articles taken from e-journals, all of which were relevant to my research for the conference paper – In this world, but not of this world? The sacred space of the library, the garden and the church. that I presented in Toronto just over a year ago, at the Ninth International Conference of the Book. The files relate to the further research that needs to be done to produce a journal article out of the conference presentation.

My Google Drive documents

In the Library where I work, we share documents with one another via a shared network drive. It works well, for the most part, and we also have our individual spaces on the same network drive. Its effectiveness is hampered primarily when a few of us try to open the same document at the same time; changes will only be saved if made by the first person to open it. I have yet to test out Google Drive’s functionality in this regard, but it could thus have an advantage over our current system of document sharing if it worked.

See what Dropbox can hold!

My main use of Dropbox thus far – over a year or so – has been as a result of a friend’s perceived need to give me a musical education. Said friend set up a specific folder which is only accessible to a few people, and doesn’t appear in the Dropbox public folder; I occasionally threaten to fill this space with music by Pink, but haven’t dared go down that route yet, as I have enjoyed the music thus shared with me. It’s been a pretty painless experience all round – I’ve heard new bands through it, and I have learned how to move these over to my iPod. The only problem is that I regularly get the message that I am out of space – the free account limits users to 2.5 GB. I suspect that I have gone over this limit through another shared folder set up by another friend who enjoys reading comics, and who knows that I, and another friend overseas have similar tastes. Looking at Dropbox as a collaborative tool to use at work, my comics folder has given me a brainwave. The name Sotheby’s Institute of Art should make it clear that we work with lots of images, and it can be really frustrating trying to send these by email, because of problems of file size vs. image quality. Again, we can use the shared drive for such purposes, but Dropbox has the advantage that the IT department would not then need to configure everybody’s own computers – laptops and home computers – to have access thereto, in direct contrast with the shared drive. Furthermore, it is possible to use Dropbox on a mobile phone. I think it more likely that I could use it to facilitate a Pre-Raphaelites-related research project that a friend and I discussed some months ago, for both images and text. Ideally, more on that some other time, but not until next year, I would think. On a more superficial, but, as I noted in my post yesterday, nonetheless important, Dropbox’s cartoons representing the possibilities it offers, are adorable. The Dropbox kite is my absolute favourite.

How Dropbox could work for you

And so I come to the final collaborative tool to be discussed today – Wikis. Obviously I know about Wikipedia, but in user education presentations at work, I tend to use it as a cautionary tale, telling students that they must doublecheck the information that they find there, verifying their facts elsewhere to be on the safe side. I have more practical knowledge of Wikimedia Commons, as regards finding images to use on this blog and in the Library. The official Thing 13 post mentions the librarians-specific Wiki, A Library Day in the Life
. I remember hearing about it a year or so ago, but have not yet contributed. I will do so the next time that the call goes out, and am looking forward to the opportunity to play my part in developing the understanding of what exactly it is that we do. For the same reason, I will be working on my contribution to the Library Routes Project this coming weekend. My favourite Wiki is the hysterically funny Uncyclopedia – I recommend that you look up the entry for your country. I need say no more than that to convince you of the sheer brilliance of this particular Wiki. Yet again, in terms of using Wikis at work, I say again that they are a collaborative tool that could be an alternative to our current “shared drive” structure. I’m particularly interested in Jennifer Yellin’s suggestion that a Wiki be set up to produce and house student handbooks, library resource guides and teaching materials. The production and maintenance of all such resources is part of my job, and it would be an interesting exercise to produce a single Wiki in which to contain this material, and to allow my fellow Library staff to proofread them and offer their edits.

As ever, the original CPD23 Thing Thirteen has given me a lot to think about, and a lot of inspiration. Perhaps I need a Wiki to keep track of all that I want to do following each Thing!

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