Evidence, or ‘What have you been doing?’

April 30, 2007

As with my Glasgow colleague, I am beginning to bring together evidence for my Chartership portfolio.

I have a draft of my Evaluative Statement already, as I felt that this would help give shape to the evidence selection. The statement is also a pain to write, with its tight word limit and demands for evaluation and reflection; so I felt spending a long time on it was inevitable and an early start the best option.

As I said some time ago, given the word limits I am tempted to try haikus 😉 Here is my first attempt, on service evaluation:-

user not broken

but does that mean that we are?

 hear the OPAC suck


I like a laugh

April 27, 2007

Many of you will already know Unshelved. Always funny, often hilarious and sometimes just weird. And they do nice t-shirts too!

Also always good value, the Warrior Librarian. The book is pretty funny too.

And why not try Rex Libris. Damn hard for me to get hold of, even with two fine comic shops near to home; worth the effort mind. I cannot comment on the quality of the apparel, but the comic is good.


April 26, 2007

No councillors, save as members of an oversight board. No ‘consultants’ (where do they go when efficiency savings come round?) No ‘experts’, unless they’re prepared to put their bodies where their words are.

We could try just the librarians and the visitors, working together. Public libraries could work much better if they were just given the tools and money to do their basic jobs, and left alone to do it.

Radical trust? Where is the trust in librarians? No, we just have to put up with the same tired stereotypes and cliches and accept that the consultants and campaigners of course know so much more than us.

Recruitment, standards and CILIP

April 26, 2007

In the comments to Tim Coates’ post on CILIP/MLA, Verity Penglais argues that no-one would notice if CILIP went, except insofar as money from dues would go back into frontline services.

Leaving aside the charming assumption that councils would use money they currently spend on CILIP fees to boost frontline services, there is the issue of recrutiment.

Penglais notes that many libraries are employing people who don’t have CILIP accredited qualifications, and that people don’t notice. Maybe they don’t, but in itself that’s not a good argument for primarily employing people with no library experience or study background. I’ve nothing against employing shop workers ( I was one myself, and the experience was helpful) it’s the assumptions underlying this practice and the calls for deprofessionalisation that concern me.

I have said in the past that I don’t want a ‘closed shop’, but I am concerned when it’s assumed that ‘life experience’ or analogous experience can be used as an argument against any sort of qualification structure. It’s of a piece with ‘how hard can it be to be a librarian?’ I mean, if you’ve got retail experience you can do it, cos it’s sort of like a shop eh? Or, if you’ve worked with children you’re bound to be great! Don’t fancy CPD in librarianship? Why worry, it’s not rocket science is it? Soon there’ll be no librarianship anyway; just lots of lovely books and computers and smily staff who’ll soon be off to HMV or a bookshop or some other Temple of the Cheap and Bland…

You can see the effects of this thinking in school libraries. It’s assumed that pretty much anyone can do it, so no quals are demanded by many schools.

Now, this does not mean there are no good unqualified school librarians; but what it often means is that the people in post are there for the other benefits rather than a desire to develop really good libraries. And what respect can librarians command in a school when they do not hold a qualification in their field as the teachers do?

And simply channeling money to ‘the frontline’ will ultimately have the paradoxical effect of making services worse. You’ll have a few more people on the desk, but what of the people who do the service planning, the networking and the firefighting? Or will your new, cheaper desk staff do that too?

I don’t think it’s unreasonable to ask that a structure be in place for training and CPD. CILIP could do a good job of this, if it were slimmed down radically. Getting rid of it is just of a piece with an ‘all must have prizes’ model of a lovely flat organisation where we all mean the same and (oh so coincidentally) can be paid a lot less. No need for qualifications or librarians indeed. Or librarianship.

Other people have accepted this sort of thing, we are told, so why can’t we dinosaur librarians do so? Because it wasn’t always right then, for one…

There has to be some realistic replacement for CILIP, not just giving it a kicking then claiming the money saved will make services better.

Dipping my toes into bookreading 2.0

April 26, 2007

I don’t have a connection at home, which in a lot of ways is a nice thing 😉 So I do my testing and browsing here at work.

I thought I’d have a look at LibraryThing, Shelfari and Revish, specifically at what they tell me about The Book Thief. (Shelfari link; LibraryThing link)

My notes tell me I thought the following:-

LibraryThing is good for general reviews. I’m never sure on the recommendation side of things, based as they are on what people have read- as opposed to similarities in titles/subjects. In this regard,the cataloguing information is useful, pointing to subject links etc. As for tags, they can be useful once you’ve filtered out the superpersonal stuff.

Shelfari is okay, but I didn’t like the look and feel side. Not so intuitive, and the layout is not to my taste.

If I did have the net at home I might be tempted to LibraryThing some of my books; as it is it’s somewhat impractical to do it from work.

Revish only has one review, but it was quite a good one.

I can see how having a wide range of reviews, however varied in quality they may be, is very useful and will use LT and Revish in this way. The ability to link to LT records will also be of use as one way to get user tags into catalogues.

MLA Blueprint

April 25, 2007

I’ve submitted my response to the MLA Blueprint. Not a nice form; it assumes you like the Blueprint 😉 From there it just asks which of the bits you like best essentially.

 You can use the free text areas to have a more genuine say, but it’s still not a good form. Still, I’ve done my bit. Maybe it means something, maybe (nod to Tim Coates) it doesn’t. We shall see.

Umbrella 2007

April 25, 2007

Who’s heading to Hatfield for Umbrella?

I’m looking forward to it, though I’m not a natural socialiser or networker. The first-timer lunch should help…