Lovely libraries

I’ve been out and about this week and I thought I’d share a few of my photos with you. The first come from Westhill in Aberdeenshire. It’s a new build from capital money and located within a primary school. I loved the atmosphere, design and layout. There was a great deal of thought given to space, movement and people. The buggy park, clearly labelled on the way in was the first sign. The second sign of ‘goodness’ was the two girls playing on iPads – which were on security locked fixed stands, with a swivel. They kindly showed me their games.

Next, one of the lovely young mums told me how nice it was to bring the little ones into a bright safe space, with activities and the storytunnel got a big thumbs-up from her little girl. Finally professional staffing had been secured for the first year to give the new branch a boost and to build the audience.

The second set of visits was at Inverclyde Libraries. The Watt Memorial Library was built in memory of James Watt, the inventor. I felt a bit foolish having assumed Greenock was a bit ‘in decline’ because, of course that means it had a glorious past (at one time). I was down to look at a Scottish Government Public Library Quality Improvement project which bought a scanner and computers for the library, which is the local studies/archive part of a larger museum/gallery and lending library complex. It has to be said, there’s room for BIG investment but the people who showed me how they were capturing their memories for Greenock were large on imagination and energy. One was trapping local tales, another using her family connection to early photography in the area to promote images from the 1850s onwards, another on James Watt and so on.

The library visit led to the museum and the Francis Frith images and then the Scottish colourists in the Gallery. My thanks to George for his knowledgeable guide, which made me realise how much I’d missed in the past. Greenock is, of course, the gateway to the workd for Scots and many of the wealthy shipping connections brought home their collections and gifted them to the town.

There’s a lot going on down here with the Central Library about to relocate to an interim home, until it moves back to the original library (vacated in 1967) and a new library at Inverkip and refurbishment at the South West Branch. One the way home i treated myself to a stop at Kilmacolm to see the new library. It’s gorgeous and I love all the glass, stone and wood. The community were determined to have a new library and to support it and it was good to see it all worked out so well.


Titanic Tales

CILIP in Scotland President 2012, Professor Peter Reid of the Robert Gordon University and I were lucky enough to be invited to the Library Association of Ireland and CILIP NI’s Joint Conference in Belfast last week. Belfast was looking at her best, having just celebrated the centenary of the magnificent launch of Titanic, Harland and Wolff’s fated ship #402. On our arrival, we nipped out into the evening air to see the new memorial gardens at City Hall. Staying in the luxurious splendour of the Merchant Hotel, which had been transformed by its Titanic theme, we were very well looked after.

CILIP President Phil Bradley opened the conference by challenging the profession to get onto social media platforms. It was timely to reflect on how involved the profession is. Sarah Godowski made us all think about our branding and our spaces in her presentation and I enjoyed looking at us through Sarah’s eyes. Some of you will be aware that the Irish Library Council has just been axed and a small team of five (actually that’s more than SLIC and CILIPS put together) moved into another Local Government body. Obviously change and meeting the needs of libraries and people during the Great Recession was acting Director Annette Kelly’s theme. I went along to hear Dr Patricia Canning talking about her work with The Reader Organisation with groups, particularly the women in Hydebank Prison. It was very touching and brought the power of literacy and reading back sharply into focus. I was delighted to be in Peter Reid’s own session ‘What on earth are they teaching them in library schools these days?’ I sometimes am guilty of using this phrase (it might have been a direct quote, usually accompanied by a slap of the forehead) but I was really pleased to hear about the planning, scrutiny and thoughtfulness with which our professional educators prepare the future workforce. And, I do understand, it’s education not training! I ended up chairing Phil Bradley’s second session of the day on netvibes, which I still haven’t got around to using, but I will.

There was a formal reception at Stormont and the launch of the Universal Membership card, followed by dinner. Day two was a very rich programme, starting with Margaret Hayes, Dublin’s City Librarian talking about the 4th UNESCO City of Literature and I shall be reading Dubliners the One City One Book Read (and catching up on last year’s Ghost Light) as well. Debby Shorley of Imperial College, University of London (and my dinner companion from the previous evening) gave a most interesting view of the academic sector, in particular mentioning RLUK. The final paper before going to the airport was Nicky Parker on Manchester’s transformation both as a city and a library capital! What a huge amount of faith, investment, imagination and planning has gone in to the library service and that will definitely be on my visit list now.

You can read my tweets in storify.
Rhona Arthur, Assistant Director

Goldentwits at MmITSCotland AGM!

This week I attended a full house event at Glasgow University library. The occasion was the MmITScotland AGM which featured Stewart Bain of Orkney Library as the guest speaker. It was heartening to see so many younger members of the profession turning out to support the CILIP Special Interest Group.

MmITScotland works with SLIC and SCURL to deliver the annual Scottish e-books conference and each year sponsors two delegate places at that event. So it was good to note that newly elected members of the Committee, Leigh Bunton, Louise Morrison, Shayna Conn and Claire Bell are all interested and active participants in digital developments. You can follow the Group on Twitter at @MmITScotland.  They also have a blog .

Stewart Bain is the voice of @OrkneyLibrary, the recipient of two Golden Twit Awards at the recent International Social Media Awards for their work with Twitter. Stewart explained that Orkney library and Archive have been using Twitter since 2009 to engage with and inform the public. @anabelmarsh has produced a storify of Stewart’s presentation. She has also blogged about the event.

The afternoon fairly flew by with lots of questions and discussion generated by Stewart’s talk. It was a real pleasure to meet the voice behind the tweets and to learn more about how the service is making social media work for them. You can join 5000 other followers  on Twitter @OrkneyLibrary.

You belong @ your library

Last February libraries and librarians celebrated the first UK National Libraries Day. Over in the USA all this week (8-14April) is designated National Libraries Week  and it’s an event inaugurated over 50 years ago.
The annual celebration of all things ‘library’ features various themes, events and activities all aimed at encouraging people to show their support for libraries and librarians. That’s why one day this week is also designated National Library Workers Day and celebrates the work of information professionals like ourselves.
Coinciding with National Libraries Week is the publication by the ALA of the annual State of America’s Libraries Report  which researches and documents trends and activities across the sectors. This document records issues not dissimilar to those in the UK:

  • Service cuts across all sectors
  • Rise in demand for e-books
  • Increasing use of social media and web 2.0 to support service delivery

Molly Raphael,  President of the ALA, observes that the economic circumstances forcing service reductions are in turn boosting demand for free services such as internet access on offer in libraries and that ‘every service hour lost…translates into lost opportunities to connect people to distance education, employment opportunities and hands on help.’
A fascinating slideshow  put together illustrates the myriad ways in which libraries and librarians are a good investment and should be celebrated.

There’s lots of food for thought in the report and events to inform our own planning activities for next year’s National Libraries Day in the UK.

CILIP Futureskills – revising the Body of Professional Knowledge (BPK)

Last February we alerted you to the first phase of the CILIP Futureskills consultation on revising the BPK and, two months on, the initiative  is well underway and into its second phase. Readers will recall that consultation with members and stakeholders is a key element of the project. The project has reported on the first phase of the consultation. This exercise asked about the value of the BPK and attracted in excess of 500 responses. The results concluded that respondents felt that the current BPK was too generic and  that what was needed was something which was ‘clear, relevant and comprehensive’  and outlined the scope of professional skills and knowledge.

The Project Team has responded with an initial draft of a revised BPK drawing on both the consultation outcomes and the previously published ‘Defining our Professional Future’.  Once again, members and stakeholders are being encouraged to engage with the exercise and respond to this second consultation phase  open until April 29th. You can access the consultation document and supporting material here The April edition of Update will include an article on the initiative and the consultation. Simon Edwards, the CILIP Director of Professional Services, will be speaking about  Futureskills  at our CILIPS Annual Conference on 12th June in Dundee.

Put the @GWLkettle on – CILIPS is coming for tea!

What is Glasgow Women’s Library? That’s what 20 librarians hoped to find out when CILIPS organised a visit and tour of this resource one evening earlier this week. We met guide and fellow librarian, Wendy Kirk, who introduced us to the collection housed at the Mitchell Library in Charing Cross.

The Glasgow Women’s Library is the only resource of its kind in Scotland and is part of the Women’s Information Network of Europe. Its origins lie in a City of Culture initiative and this year it will celebrate its 20th anniversary having been located in Garnethill and Trongate during its long existence. As well as a lending stock Glasgow Women’s Library also has museum status and is home to a collection of memorabilia and archives celebrating women’s history and lives. Everything contained in the collection has been donated – the Library is independent of the public library network and receives no funding for core costs so has to fundraise to develop. Balance is achieved via a sensible acquisitions and disposal policy.

Yet Glasgow Women’s Library is so much more than a collection of books and journals. Around 80 volunteers assist the permanent team of 13 staff in delivering services  to a diverse group of users drawn from the length and breadth of the country.  Learning is at the heart of what the Library offers.  It runs specialised learning programmes and activities including adult literacy and numeracy, guided heritage walks and even film screenings. The website is where  you can get access to the library catalogue as well as a rich resource of other information about the library, its collection, projects and special events.  The highlight of the visit for me (apart from the tea and chocolate biscuits of course) was the collection of ‘Spare Rib’ journals – an essential read  when I was younger. The topics it addressed transported me to my youth.

We were also shown an incredible archive of old knitting patterns and feminist comics and introduced to the learning space where classes take place. All of us had the opportunity to join the Library and some of us left with books borrowed from the collection, after thanking Wendy for  a really interesting and enjoyable visit.

Passion for the Profession can be expressed in many ways

Our CILIP Chief Executive, Annie Mauger,  invited librarians via Twitter to ponder some controversial views expressed in a blog, ‘Deprofessionalisation and the blogosphere’  The article decried the standard of social media communication being conducted by professional librarians. Its author suggested that ‘the knowledge and skills that make up (professional expertise) should be our primary concern’ and argued that more journal articles and discussion of  content was what was needed. The article set me reflecting on our own situation in Scotland.

I think that while there is a place for considered and well argued journal articles, the social bonds engendered by participation in e.g. Twitter are equally important in encouraging a sense of community and common interest.  This can lead to debate but also activity and learning based around the profession.

One recent example of Twitter enabling this was the ‘tweetmeet’ organised by Anabel Marsh which led on to planning and participation in activities for National Libraries Day.   Activity has since grown into a semi regular event sponsored by CILIPS to encourage librarians from all sectors to meet up and share experiences while learning a little more about each other’s professional practice. (There’s another tweetmeet organised to take place at 6.15pm in the Bon Accord Pub, North Street, Glasgow, on 14th March if you’re interested in coming along).

As for the blogosphere there are some examples of writing  rooted in experience rather than theory and from which we can all learn. Here are a few blogs from Scottish colleagues you might care to sample:

 Nicola Osborne who works for EDINA is expert at liveblogging of events – a real skill – and she always posts something of use for those with an interest in social media and libraries.

Neal Buchanan from the University of West of Scotland posts on educational events and activities in which he’s involved – useful for anyone who isn’t able to attend in person.

Christine Irving blogs at  on the LIS DREAm project as well as what she has been up to professionally.

These are just three examples from Scotland but there are many more. What’s your favourite Scottish library blog?