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Posts Tagged ‘User education’

Ada Lovelace, 1815-1852 (St James Square blue plaque)

Ada Lovelace, 1815-1852 (St James Square blue plaque)

Happy Ada Lovelace Day 2014! Do you have any plans for the day? I walked past her blue plaque (in the photo to the left) at least twice a week most weeks when I lived in London, going to and from the London Library on my lunch hour, as a result of which I began reading a lot about her, and she has become one of my heroines. (more…)

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These people are so excited at the thought of new additions to the catalogue, they've planted a tree to commemorate the event (Miniature, f.215, Royal 15 E VI,  Poems and Romances (the 'Talbot Shrewsbury book') France, N. (Rouen); 1444-1445)

These people are so excited at the thought of new additions to the catalogue, they’ve planted a tree to commemorate the event (Miniature, f.215, Royal 15 E VI, Poems and Romances (the ‘Talbot Shrewsbury book’)
France, N. (Rouen); 1444-1445)

Sarah J. Biggs has been blogging about new additions to the Catalogue Illuminated Manuscripts, which started going up on 13 August, almost one week ago. But before you rush off to look at those, I highly recommend Sarah’s excellent introduction to using the digitised illuminated manuscripts at the British Library, through the Catalogue of Illuminated Manuscripts and the fully-digitised manuscripts themselves. Enjoy!

Get Ready to 'Save-As': New Uploads to the Catalogue of Illuminated Manuscripts – Medieval manuscripts blog.

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Amsterdam, Biblioteca Philosophica Hermetica MS 1, f. 118, detail:
His castle falls on the duke who killed King Lancelot.
(© Amsterdam, Bibliotheca Philosophica Hermetica, via the Lancelot-Graal Project.)

Who remembers all the excitement over the auction of the Rochefoucauld Grail in December 2010? It’s a beautiful set of three volumes of the Estoire del Saint Graal. Although it is privately owned, you can see digital images of some of the illuminations and illustrations on the Lancelot-Graal website. Perhaps what you don’t know about items going up for auction is that for some days in advance of the auction, it is possible to visit the auction house to view such items close at hand, often closer than would be possible in a museum. In the case of books such as the Rochefoucauld Grail volumes, you can be lucky enough to have a rare opportunity to sit at a table in the auction house, to – carefully! – leaf through the pages. I duly went to Sotheby’s on Bond Street one early December lunchtime, to have a look at that manuscript. I had heard nothing of any British public library or museum putting in a bid for the Rochefoucauld Grail, and was beginning to dread that this would be my only opportunity to have a good look at it. Unfortunately, I only had one hour for lunch, and when I arrived, others were already looking at the various volumes. (more…)

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Central St Martins Library on the new campus

I began the Bard’s birthday (25 January – I’ve been busy!) wending my way to the wilds beyond St Pancras Station, to the new King’s Cross campus for Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design. ARLIS had organised a visit to the Library and Museum. It’s important for librarians to regularly visit other libraries, both in their own particular sectors (in my case art librarianship and academic librarianship) and further afield. The opportunity to see how other librarians manage their spaces and resources and how they develop and maintain their services is an important part of our job. Part of my work in user education involves assessing other libraries as a potential resource for my own students, particularly when it comes to their dissertations. I take pride in being able to give well-informed suggestions in this regard, but these library visits also benefit my professional development. It’s always good to spend time with colleagues, to share experiences and offer or request advice, and just to geek out over all things library, the good and the bad, with like-minded people. (more…)

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Dragonfly emerging from its chrysalis (via Dreamstime Stock Images)

Dragonfly emerging from its chrysalis (via Dreamstime Stock Images)

Ring out, wild bells, to the wild sky,
The flying cloud, the frosty light:
The year is dying in the night;
Ring out, wild bells, and let him die.

Ring out the old, ring in the new,
Ring, happy bells, across the snow:
The year is going, let him go;
Ring out the false, ring in the true.

Ring out the grief that saps the mind
For those that here we see no more;
Ring out the feud of rich and poor,
Ring in redress to all mankind.

Ring out a slowly dying cause,
And ancient forms of party strife;
Ring in the nobler modes of life,
With sweeter manners, purer laws.

Ring out the want, the care, the sin,
The faithless coldness of the times;
Ring out, ring out my mournful rhymes
But ring the fuller minstrel in.

Ring out false pride in place and blood,
The civic slander and the spite;
Ring in the love of truth and right,
Ring in the common love of good.

Ring out old shapes of foul disease;
Ring out the narrowing lust of gold;
Ring out the thousand wars of old,
Ring in the thousand years of peace.

Ring in the valiant man and free,
The larger heart, the kindlier hand;
Ring out the darkness of the land,
Ring in the Christ that is to be.

Alfred Lord Tennyson, ‘Ring out, wild bells’ (part of In Memoriam), 1850. (more…)

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CPD23 Thing 21 begins with congratulations for getting this far in the programme. Even though it has taken me until 29 December to get this far, I’m going to accept said congratulations as a slightly belated Christmas present (the fault re: said tardiness being decidedly mine).

By Sebastien Millon

By Sebastien Millon

Looking at section 1 of the instructions for this particular “Thing”, it actually seems like rather splendid timing to be writing this in the run up to New Year, when we’re supposed to get all self-evaulatey about ourselves and our lives.

In order to identify your strengths, take a good look at yourself, your tasks at work, your career, your life

Maria Giovanna de Simone, the evil genius on duty for Thing 21, asks us to answer the following questions to help us in our self-examination as above.

1)What do you like to do?
Mainly thanks to several childhood holidays spent in medieval cathedrals and castles, and a lifetime spent in museums, I am in love with medieval artefacts. Since starting university (to date: an MA, an MSC, and an MPhil), I’ve focused on medieval literature, art, and manuscripts. My Library and Information Studies dissertation focused on access to medieval illuminated manuscripts in our own time, comparing the value of access to the original book to that of access to the digital facsimile.
It’s also as a result of writing the MSc dissertation that I have developed a significant interest in material culture, particularly the material culture of books and libraries. I’vpe recently been considering the use of authentic medieval artefacts and the creation of nineteenth-century medievalist artefacts, particularly by the Pre-Raphaelites.
The short answer to what I like, in terms of my career as a librarian and my complementary career as a researcher, is undoubtedly rare books and manuscripts, primarily of the medieval era, and the use thereof.

2)What do you dislike?
This question seems to me to be very like the interview question “what do you perceive as your weaknesses?” That question threw me the first couple of times that I was given it in an interview, but I’ve since found the best way to answer it. You acknowledge a weakness, but you emphasise how you have overcome it. For me, my most serious dislike is public speaking. I’ve done a lot to work with this issue – it’s partly to do with a lifelong case of introvertism and a tendency to be softly-spoken – and am now able to do, and to enjoy, user education presentations as part of my current role as Assistant Librarian. I am also building up my experience of presenting papers at academic and library conferences. My first step in overcoming this problem was to become a tour guide at the Burrell Collection in Glasgow; it was a great way to combine my love of research, when it came to creating my tour, with my determination to overcome my fear of public speaking. The result is that while I am still nervous, and while I feel that I need some formal training (or at least some tips), I know that I can get up and give a good presentation.

3) Do you remember the last time you felt that feeling of deep satisfaction after creating, building, completing something? What was it about?
Yes. Most recently, I worked hard in the few weeks leading up to Christmas to produce a thorough book review of Medieval Clothing and Textiles, vol. 8, general editors Robin Netherton and Gale R. Owen-Crocker (Woodbridge: Boydell Press, 2011), for the Medieval Dress and Textiles Society (MEDATS). It was a great book, and so it was hard to keep my comments to a minimum. My completing the review was a sign that my Christmas holidays had truly begun. The most work that I have put into any paper that I have written, however, is that which I wrote about the Pre-Raphaelites as library users and medieval material culture geeks. I spent almost two years on that piece of work, and I’m sure that I could make it into a monograph or PhD thesis, time and finance permitting. That dream aside, when I wrote the final word of my final draft of two years work, I was so thrilled and proud of what I had done. Now I just need to find my research baby a good home.

4) What skills do you need to do the things you like?
In the coming year, I’ll be working on the various skills that I need to work more with rare books. Fortunately, there is a wonderful rare book in the Sotheby’s Institute of Art Library which I will be working with in the New Year, both as an item in the library collection to be catalogued and stored correctly and as a book whose provenance shows every sign of a quite interesting past. My PPDP for the CILIP Chartership program includes my goal of developing skills specific to rare book librarianship, so the book in question (currently remaining anonymous as part of my plans!) will give me the opportunity to have practical experience of rare book librarianship and curation.

Also in 2013, I need to develop my web design and presentation skills (in the latter case, I refer to developing skills that will enhance the visual impact of presentation and displays, in my librarianship and in my research). I have done a lot of work on the basics of creating our current Library website, but with further training as mentioned above, I can develop our user education resources and increase the use of our online journals and databases.

My final plan for next year is to improve my writing and researching skills, partly through adding to my publications portfolio, and partly through changing the way in which I use my blog, to put more emphasis on my librarianship and research careers. Of course, writing is another way of networking, so I’ll be looking at using social media and networking sites, as discussed in earlier CPD23 Things, to strengthen my various networks.

In order to meet these three targets, I must begin by evaluating what works and what does not work, what is a priority and what can be put aside until later in the year. The official CPD23 Thing 21 post reminds us that:

[i]t is important to remember that we are changing all the time: our interests change, our skills develop, we discover new things we like which we didn’t even know existed. Make sure that you keep up-to-date with yourself, and if you are unhappy in your current situation, acknowledge what has changed and take action.

The three plans outlined above, as well as the intended completion and submission of my Chartership portfolio, are some of the ways in which I am acknowledging the changes in me and my job, my professions. They are some of the ways in which I will take action. It seems that one of the best ways in which I can take action is to look at my CV. Does it reflect my achievements and expertise? Does it show how much I love librarianship and research, and all that I strive to do out of that love? It has been a long time since I needed to look at it, but to better assess what I can contribute to my current roles as librarian and researcher, I would do well to create the CV Database as recommended in the official CPD23 Thing 21 post, to better identify the gaps and the strengths in my experience, my knowledge in training, again as a librarian, a researcher, and a well-rounded and well-educated individual.

Batgirl and Barbara Gordon

Batwoman and Barbara Gordon

CPD23 Thing 21 invited us to complete four tasks. The first was to answer the questions that I have highlighted in bold above. The second is to “make your own list of activities and interests: from watching the telly to something more work-related. Tell us what you’ve found about yourself: achievements/activities you had forgotten about, things you love to do, what they mean, how you could use them in your working life.” I’m not going to do this here, as I plan instead to use it to help me create content for my website which is currently in the works. When I work on creating my CV database (the third task), I will use it to that same end, to showcase my experience, knowledge and skills on my website. The fourth task asks that we share interview tips. I already mentioned above how, if you are asked a question about your weaknesses, you should turn it around to show how you recognised those weaknesses and dealt with them. My second tip is not to forget to show that you have a personality in addition to your librarianship skills; when I was interviewed for my current role, the discussion somehow turned to the fact that the square in which we are based was used for filming by the BBC in their 2008 adapation of Sense and Sensibility. I was rendered so giddy by this that I temporarily forgot that I was in a formal interview and asked if the staff ever got the opportunity to be extras. Afterwards, I was concerned at this lapse in concentration, but clearly it didn’t damage my chances. It very possibly increased them, because in my own experience of interviewing potential staff, we have looked for the right combination of character and experience. A demonstratively interested and imaginative personality can add a lot to the services that a library has to offer.

I couldn’t not be a librarian; I always stick my nose into other people’s research and make recommendations about further reading and resources. I couldn’t not be a researcher; I keep finding more ideas about which I need to know more. These careers are part of my personality; I think it’s important to show that this is the case in my CV, in everyday life, in interviews. Be Barbara Gordon and Batgirl, not Barbara Gordon or Batgirl.

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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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