Umbrella tomorrow!

June 27, 2007

Last blog entry until Monday. See some of you there!



June 22, 2007

To be sung to the tune of ‘She Don’t Use Jelly’ by The Flaming Lips. Thanks to the meebo LSW room for inspiration.

I feel Michael Gorman shoots other people in the foot with his positions. If you have any sympathy for what he says, you first have to deal with the other stuff.

 ‘I know a guy who respects Authority

Only listens to your accredited degree

He don’t use hobbyists

Or Amateurs galore

He feels their efforts are just too poor

He uses PhDs…’

Conwy follow-up

June 21, 2007

Christopher Draper is the contact for the Conwy Library Action Group; see The Library Campaign.

 As I noted in my earlier post, this process seems to rest on public consultation. It is what ‘the public’ want, apparently. I have asked a local to comment on the process, and have also been in touch with Christopher for his perspective. I will report back on what they have to say.

Update-my local contact was unaware of the fuss…

Christopher kindly called me back. From his perspective, the consultation was a ‘smokescreen’ and the council just want to sell off the land released by the library closures. He reiterated his point that spending in Conwy is too staff heavy, and that letting some ‘library managers’ go and cutting council expense claims is one way of reducing that bill and freeing up money for the threatened libraries. He also has the support of Assembly Members.

Now, closing libraries is one way of saving money for sure. But is it the best way? Could money not be saved on, oh, councillors’ expenses and offices? 😉

The council assures people that the money saved on closing six libraries will be put into improving services and fabric at the remaining six. We will see.


June 20, 2007

Should public librarians plan at all, or just provide what the publishers provide? Is there any room for horizon scanning?

I’d say yes. There is obviously a need to meet current demands, and to be aware of those. Yet by focusing exclusively on now we will sell then short. If people did not take chances, follow new trends and so forth nothing would change. If Tim Coates had said ‘nah, coffee shops in book shops? people don’t want that, they want books, it’s obvious’ he wouldn’t have made the impact he apparently has on how we buy books.

No-one would say that librarians qua librarians should be determing what is published. But they should be preparing for how people access what is published, and also looking at how demand changes around them.

“When two tribes go to war”

June 15, 2007

Two stereotypes enter. One stereotype leaves. Welcome to The Public Library Dome….

In one corner, Libraries Are About Books. The key is the brand, books are the brand, diluting the brand will destroy libraries through lack of focus.

In the other corner, Books Are The Past The Brand is Information and Exchange. The key is change, change is social computing, resisting change will destroy libraries through irrelevance.

Both positions find support amongst librarians; not all librarians subscribe to the Library 2.0 model, as an example. Both positions have some merit. But as extremes, they have the problem of polarising ‘debates.’

Is there a ‘middle ground’ to be found. Walt Crawford thinks so, and I agree on this. But what does this middle look like?

Well, I think it takes its character from a careful consideration of the new, alongside an honest appraisal of existing systems. It takes time to adopt new things, not because it is change resistant, but because it has a duty to its public as a whole. And because of that duty it does look into new services, such as digital libraries and social computing.

Books play a role in the Library of the Middle. They are a key part of the public library brand; currently they have the widest acceptance and will continue to do so for some time. Any attack on books is seen as an attack on the library ideal, and aside from the virtues of books we cannot afford to alienate so many people. More money needs to be spent, more efficiently, on a good, attractively presented bookstock.

Qualified staff play a role, but this is not to say that the routes to qualification do not need examining (no pun intented.) Experience in non-library areas should be recognised, but so should the need for recognised library training and qualifications.

Digital resources must play a role. Increasingly people are used to this mode of access, and materials are more and more commonly issued digitally. Social computing is here to stay and offers libraries new ways to communicate with their users. Librarians should not necessarily be the innovators in this field, but there should be clear leadership in public libraries which supports ventures such as LibraryThing, Revish et al.

Above all there should be a move from the sterile oppositions which bedevil discussions around libraries. We can have both books and digital; continuity and change; the old and the new.

Discernment in the face of change.

Tim Coates podcast on Talis

June 13, 2007

Just listening to this. Interesting. Not much different from his blog, but a good starting point for those not familiar with him

Right now, he’s essentially saying that libraries should adopt Blockbuster’s circulation systems. He may have a point. Maybe we could go one better, reform tendering processes and switch to Open Source; even cheaper than Blockbuster! The issues around tendering processes that he and Richard Wallis skirt around are legal issues, not the finicky needs of librarians.

On to looking for new books. Someone has already made the point that libraries should be able to point to new books, whether they are coming out, when the library might get it.

Oh now he’s telling you what you’ll get when asking about what  new books are coming out. This is what is frustrating about him; he uses straw librarians. I don’t doubt that some librarians are like this. I know I’m damn well not.

Ooh, now he’s onto a Cenote like project, or a national/union catalogue. Some stuff like this is going on. He’s even hinting at Library 2.0 style union catalogues. How does this square with his blog comments against ‘librarians jargonning on about the digital library.’

Giving librarians power! Gosh, a bit of a departure. Making library managers individually responsible. But then all librarians are all about their own needs, all the time.

Whos is this ‘we?’ Who are ‘the public?’ What do ‘the public’ want? How do we know?


June 13, 2007

My ticket and name badge has just arrived 🙂 Ticket is for the ‘De Havilland dinner’ on the Friday; the ‘not Elizabethan banquet’ option.