Thursday, 30 December 2010

What I've been reading in 2010

 I've been reading a lot of 2010 roundup posts recently. I thought I'd steer clear of the "what have I learnt in 2010?" type post as it would probably just come out sounding trite and clich├ęd. Instead, I'm doing a roundup of the most interesting things I've read this year. Hopefully this might also be useful to people applying for graduate trainee jobs for next year!

One thing that became very obvious is how I've got a lot better at bookmarking things as I've gone through the year!

Applying for graduate trainee jobs:

The Times, How do I Become...a Librarian? (From 2006)

Librarians Who LibraryThing, "I want to be a librarian because I love reading"

New York Times, A Hipper Crowd of Shushers (From 2007)

NPR, Will an Apple Tablet Heat Up E-Book War?

Marilyn Johnson, This Book is Overdue! How Librarians and Cybrarians Can Save Us All (Harper, 2010)

Starting out at Newnham, applying for Masters:

The Wikiman, Essential Advice for New Professionals

Neon Librarian, CILIP New Professionals Information Day 2010 - Embracing the Future

Librarian By Day, So You Want to be a Librarian? A Guide for those Considering an MLS, Current Students and Job Seekers (A lot of links to good advice on The Degree, The Job Search, General Professional Advice and Skills.)

Girl in the Moon, Some Thoughts on the LIS MA

N Page, The Librarianship Qualification

Swiss Army Librarian, Notes on Reading Resumes

Tony Horne, Evening Chronicle column November 26 2010

and a rebuttal to Horne's column: Thoughts of a [wannabe] librarian... "Libraries are dead" says little known regional radio bloke

The Wikiman, Libraries & Stealth Advocising!

Lauren Pressley, So You Want to be a Librarian (Litwin Books, 2009) (Shamefully I still haven't finished reading this book!)

Coming towards the end of the year:

Neon Librarian, End of Term Round-Up!

Girl in the Moon, Brown Bag Lunch: Is the Physical Library Redundant in the 21st Century?

Musings about Librarianship, My Information Consumption Habits or How Having a Smartphone has Changed the Way I Work

The Wikiman, 10 Online Tools I've Found Useful in 2010

Monday, 20 December 2010

A flock/swarm/plethora/______* of libraries! (*Insert favourite collective noun here.)

In the past week  or so I've barely been in the office, being out and about touring around some very different kinds of libraries with the other trainees.

The Friday before last, we went to the Parker library at Corpus Christi College, followed by a visit to the Conservation Consortium which is based at Corpus. It's a shame that Corpus don't have a trainee this year, because it would be an pretty cool place to work! The Parker library houses the College's historic collections, while the shiny new Taylor library for undergraduates was just across the courtyard. One of the first things we were shown in the Parker library was their fireproof vault. (There's just something about a fireproof vault that's very cool, no?) Upstairs we saw the main part of the collection. There were a mixture of manuscripts and early printed books, everything from maps to bibles to cookbooks. Next up was the Conservation Consortium. We were shown various ways of binding and repairing books and manuscripts. Although I doubt I'll be specialising in rare books it was still very interesting to see!

I had a couple of days back at Newnham before our trip to Norwich. As most of us had never been to the city before, luckily we had Charlotte there to be our tour guide! First stop was Norwich Cathedral Library,  one of the largest theological libraries in East Anglia. The library has a modern theological collection of around 20,000 items, and a historic collection of around 8,000 items, as well as ephemera such as service sheets and parish newsletters. I was surprised the wide range of material available, as there were volumes on poetry, medicine and mythology (to name but a few of the subjects covered) in addition to the works on theology. And the other thing I have to mention is their Christmas decorations!

Knitted tree!

 After lunch we made our way to the Millennium Library. The Millennium Library is in a vast glass building called the Forum, which is also home to BBC East, a restaurant, a cafe and a shop. This building was opened 6 years after the original library building was destroyed in a fire in 1994. Catherine Wymer, the locality mangager, showed us around the library, which for the last 4 years has been the busiest public library in the UK for both the number of visitors and the number of issues. Although our visit was on a "quiet" day, the library was being well used! Catherine gave us an example timetable of the events that are held at the library, which ranged from sessions on researching family history, to a Yu-Gi-Oh duelling club! It was impressive to see activities and facilities to suit all ages. No knitting was in evidence at the library though...

The Forum

View from the top floor of the library.

And then, on Thursday we went across town to Addenbrookes, to see the Laboratory of Molecular Biology's library and the Medical Library at the Clinical School. The LMB library was quite different from most other libraries in that there were very few books, but a lot of journals and access to many online resources. We also saw their archives, which holds collections of photographs, video recordings, and newspaper clippings about the scientists who work at the lab, along with a real live Nobel prize medal! Over at the Medical Library Isla Kuhn gave us a quick tour then we sat down and had a cup of tea and a chat about library stuff. As all of us trainees are humanities and arts graduates it was nice to get a different perspective. (As well as music I did biology, maths and chemistry in sixth form, I wonder if I'd have ended up being a librarian if I went down the science route? I suspect I'd probably have got a better paying job! :P)

That's the last of the library visits until February sometime, so a fairly quiet few days left at Newnham until I'm on holiday. We had our Christmas lunch on Friday, vehr nice! (Didn't win anything on the raffle though, *sniff*!) This is probably my last post until after Christmas, so hope you all have a fantastic holiday :)

Saturday, 18 December 2010

Guest post on MusiCB3 blog

MusiCB3 is a blog about the music and libraries in Cambridge, co-written by librarians at the Pendlebury Library and the UL. This week I've written a guest post for them, suggest y'all check it out here!

Friday, 10 December 2010

If they'd let Lusty in, it would have been a VERY different cartoon.

Here's another dose of "fantastic names I've come across in the library".

Thomas Masterman Winterbottom
Wynkyn de Worde
Ervin Nutter
Oz Shy
Ivor Hickey (no, really.)

Brilliant surnames: Clutterbuck, Peebles, Jelley, Snodgrass, Bybee.

Dwarves that didn't make the final seven?
Bossy, Smellie, Modest, Moody, Lusty.

And finally, sometimes you come across a name that really suits the title of the book, and this must be one of the most perfect:

The Search for Useful Knowledge in Early Modern London by Malcolm Thick.

Thursday, 9 December 2010

Arcadia seminar: Changing the BBC

On Wednesday night I went to my first Arcadia seminar, which was Simon Andrewes on the subject "Changing the BBC: From Castles to Communities". I won't go into too much detail about what Simon said as he was speaking off the record (which made me feel like I was in the West Wing. Just call me Annie Concannon.*), but the general theme was of the BBC's move from "castle" style teams working seperately on different programmes (and the radio, web and television teams all being in completely different locations), to a more open, collaborative and cohesive newsroom.

The Beeb is a huge cultural institution, with a complex organisational structure, and it has to respond to changes in culture. I think an obvious parallel can be drawn with a university like Cambridge, rather than our "castles" being different programmes or media, they are the colleges and faculties that make up the university.

Simon mentioned the following points as being key to keep in mind during the change of the newsroom, and I think these apply equally well to library services:
  • Focus on audience
  • Sharing of as much content as possible
  • Simplicity
  • Efficiency
  • Enough flexiblity to react to an unfolding digital landscape

The issue of cuts came up - one audience member pointed out that you tend to get more creative ideas and changes when faced with cuts. Something has to drive change and propel it through the inertia of a large established institution. Well I guess that's one silver lining. Is there anything else that could give such a kickstart to change or does it always have to be something bad like a slashed budget?

Simon finished up by saying that you can change big organisation effectively. A big organisation can't afford to not be efficient, or to be no more than the sum of its parts. Be bold and be radical!


Tuesday, 7 December 2010

...and now I'm on vacation. No wait, that's the students.

I've now had my first taste of a Cambridge end of term! Last Wednesday was the fixed due date for all books that had been borrowed during the term, and it was also the day when the students could take out their vacation loans. So, a busy day! We came in early to kind of get ahead of the students who could start taking out books from 8.30am. I spent quite a lot of the day reshelving, and felt a bit like the wizard-sweets lady on the Hogwarts Express ("Anything off the trolley dears?") when I was taking medical textbooks upstairs and students were taking them from the book cart before I'd got chance to put them on the shelves :D It was a pretty fun day really, and nice to help lots of people get the books they needed for the vacation. We had a lot of requests for books just before the vacation so Debbie has made several trips to Heffers and we've been doing lots of speedy processing. I think we managed to please most people!

An aside: I don't like the word vacation! Probably because my head of sixth-form used to say "Ladies and Gentlemen, the Christmas period is not a holiday, it is a vacation. You are VACATING the building. You will still be working!" I guess that's what Cambridge are getting at too...

Another aside: I realise I keep announcing words I don't like. I should make some kind of dictionary of dislike.

Back on topic: As well as the frenzied borrowing, we were also running our booksale. The sale was very successful, we had several people who came back every day to see what new books we'd put out, and we had several people from Lucy Cavendish, and a book-dealer from the market drop by (The book-dealer bought £50 of books ^^). We raised £289 to add to the travel scholarship fund, woop!

I finished off the week by having nine librarians and librarian's-boyfriends round for dinner and film, which was good fun though I think we scared my house-mates into permanent hiding :P Then on Saturday Rory and I went to the Mill Road Winter Fair. Erin and Becky were there with Lindyhop, so I'll leave you with pictures of dancing librarians!