Monday, 28 February 2011

What I've been reading in February (non-library)

Diana Wynne Jones, Howl's Moving Castle. As I rather tipsily proclaimed to the world on twitter a few weeks ago, this is one of my favourite films, so I was keen to read the book it was based on. The book is quite different from the film, Howl is much more vain and cowardly, less the typical troubled hero. He also has more  backstory which is interesting, although I do prefer the Ghibli film.

Erick Setiawan, Of Bees and Mist. I took my time reading this one, but I did enjoy it a lot. It was a sad, beautiful story.

Amy Tan, The Kitchen God's Wife. Really liked this book, mostly set in China during the Second World War, about a family with a lot of secrets. I picked this up at one of the book sales we had at the library last term, 50p very well spent!

Terry Pratchett, Going Postal. Terry Pratchett was an author who passed me by when I was the *ahem* appropriate age *ahem - that doesn't exist for books* so I'm catching up by borrowing them from Rory, and in this case the library. He's one of those authors that I have to laugh out loud while reading his books.

Ree Drummond, Black Heels to Tractor Wheels.  Yes, I read a love story about cowboys. Yes, I enjoyed it! Mostly because it was written by the Pioneer Woman, and she's my steak-grilling, confession-splurging, basset-hound-loving, ranch-wife idol.

Simon Garfield, Just My Type: A Book About Fonts. From why everyone hates Comic Sans to why motorway road signs were tied to the top of Ford Anglias and driven across an airfield. I'm now...wait for it...a font of knowledge! *badaboom*

What I've been reading in February

Here's a rundown of the most interesting blog posts and articles I've read this month. A few of these are from the end of January, because during the last week of January I was blogging each day for the Library Day in the Life project, so I decided to post the January list the weekend before :) February's a short month anyway, so it evens up!

Save Libraries

Philip Pullman, Leave the Libraries Alone. You Don't Understand Their Value. (I'm sure everyone's read this by now but it is Brilliant with a capital B.)

Ryne Douglas Pearson, Who Can Save the Library? I Think I Know. (It's @ScrewyDecimal!)

Andy Priestner, 'Save our libraries' day - Cambridge 

Cambridge News, Library Supporters Say Cuts Would Be 'Disaster' (Spot me in the picture?)

SE13URE, New Cross Library Occupation: Inside Story 

Sarah Stamford, Libraries Gave Us Power

BBC News, Are Libraries Finished? Five Arguments For and Against (Interesting, but their second example of things you can't do at a library is ridiculous - like many others I borrow ebooks from the library)

Ian Clark, Internet vs Public Libraries 

Mark Steel, The Caring, Sharing Way to Bad Times ("All you get from [libraries] is, "Borrow this, look up that", but at last that dictatorship is coming to an end, to be replaced with a voluntary system in which people will ask a neighbour for a book about the local canal system in 1817, and when told they haven't got it, they'll be free to give up")

Library Day in the Life
Lots and lots of people, Library Day in the Life Project, Round 6

Emma Cragg and Katie Birkwood, Beyond Books: What it Takes to be a 21st Century Librarian  (see also Echolib Escapes)

Library School

Steven Kaszynski, Cataloguing: Old School? (Good points made in the comments too, should cataloguing be a compulsory part of the library degree?)

Hack Library School, Job Tips for Future/Recent LIS Graduates

Hack Library School, How I Hacked Library School - WEB APPS!

Echolib Escapes

Katie Birkwood, Out of the Echolib and into the Fire   


BBC News, The Rights and Wrongs of Digital Books  

Bethan Ruddock, Reading in OverDrive

Dirk Johnson, Book Lovers Fear Dim Future for Notes in the Margins 

Internet Archive, Internet Archive and Library Partners Develop Joint Collection of 80,000+ eBooks To Extend Traditional In-Library Lending Model  (Great development, although as Jessamyn West points out (link below) the site is currently rather confusing)

Jessamyn West, The Interface is Us - What People Think About eBooks

Bobbi Newman, Publishing Industry Forces OverDrive and Other Library eBook Vendors to Take a Giant Step Back (New rules mean that a library's ownership of an ebook will expire after a certain number of patron checkouts. Bad news! Update: the number of checkouts looks like it's going to be just 26 - for libraries offering the maximum OverDrive loan period of 21 days this will mean popular books will expire after about a year and a half - for Hertfordshire library who have 7 day loans they will keep their books for about 6 months. Bobbi's post has links to lots of other stuff on the subject.)


Kirsty Braithwaite, QR code 101 (oh the horror, I am endorsing one of the Oxford trainees' posts!)

Brian Herzog, Scanning Library Cards on Smartphones

Simon Barron, A Social-Networking Success Story 

Digital Researcher 2011 Conference, DR11 Virtual Attendance

Jennifer Jones, Notes from #DR11: What does it mean to be a digital researcher?

Professional Awareness

Aaron Tay, Where do you get your library news? Evaluating library channels 

Online Presence

Bobbi Newman, The Problem with Pseudonyms

Dan Schawbel, 5 Reasons Why Your Online Presence Will Replace Your Resume in 10 Years

Annie Pho, Online Presence, a.k.a. You 2.0

Meredith Farkas, Your Virtual Brand

New York Public Library, Do You Judge a Book by its Cover? (I like this idea!)

Karen Schneider, In Praise of Succeeding

David Lee King, 10 Tips to Do Presentations Like Me

Katie Birkwood, Curious Collections: What Do We Keep, and Why?

'Glasses' from stock.xchng

Tuesday, 22 February 2011

ARU library tour

While most of my trainee programme of library visits is just with the other University of Cambridge graduate trainees, now and again join up with the Anglia Ruskin University library trainees Natalie (Chelmsford campus) and Rachel (Cambridge campus). Today we got to go to the Cambridge campus library at ARU and get a tour around, as well as a natter over coffee and excellent biscuits and cakes!

'Home of Anglia Ruskin University' by engineroomblog on flickr
The ground floor where we came in is an open plan room with lots of round tables for group study, and was bustling. As Jen pointed out, this is already quite a contrast with our (University of Cambridge) college libraries - we rarely see our libraries this packed with students! As Rachel and Natalie began explaining how the library works it struck me that ARU's libraries have more in common with public libraries than we do. They are viewed as a business - students are after all, paying customers. Their "reader services" department has had its name changed to "customer services", and staff are employing techniques such as floor roving (resplendent in blue and yellow "Here to Help!" sashes) which is becoming more and more common in public libraries as self service machines are allowing staff to not be tied to the issue desk. As students will be paying fees of up to £9000 in the future then I'm sure the focus on customer service in academic libraries will increase rapidly!

Natalie and Rachel's roles as graduate trainees are also quite different from ours - they shadow librarians but don't answer enquiries themselves or do cataloguing (their books come in ready-catalogued and classified in Dewey and ready-labelled - they do have one cataloguer on the staff though).On the other hand they both do a lot of serials work and interlibrary loans which I don't do at all (the UL does most of the ILLs in Cambridge).

We also got to hear from other staff members - Jenny Cefai who is the Staff Learning and Development Manager (quite a rare role, sounded like an interesting job!), Karen Ready one of five Faculty Liaison Officers, and Jenni Kuziw, Assistant Librarian Trainee (again quite rare to have a trainee professional role).

Until today, all of the academic libraries that we have visited have been part of the University of Cambridge, so I was really glad to see how a different institution does things. Rachel and Natalie were great guides and all of the other members of staff we met were very friendly and chatty. And at the very end, coffee and flapjacks and cakes, oh my!

Thursday, 17 February 2011

Travel back in time with me won't you?

I was just reading through an old blog I used to write. (Will not post the link, far too embarrassing!) I did find this post from 2006 however, something I'd just about forgotten about by now. So here's what I did in my library while I was in sixth form - a little slice of history for you!
26th October 2006: Argh Zombies!
A bunch of us at school are making a film for halloween, and that's what it's called. As you might have guessed, this film will contain zombies. We gathered together a gang of year 7s and 8s and covered them in fake blood and green shoe polish (well that's what it looked like!)
 Gruesome eh?

We let them loose in the library and filmed them eating the library assistant and being shushed by the librarian.

I think the finished film is going to be awesome.

It's not very clear from that picture but the boys are all in varying stages of zombification. The dead eyes...the vacant expressions... well it's just another day at school really.

I remember filming a lot of the scenes for the film, and I know there was an extensive script for the whole thing, but I don't think it ever got finished or saw the light of day. The world will never know its loss!

Sunday, 13 February 2011

Of books and baking

For the past couple of weeks, the main topic of conversation in the library has been our Literary Archive launch. Newnham writers have been invited to contribute some of their creative work to a Literary Archive, and we have had a great response, with manuscripts, books, photographs, letters and memoirs flooding in. To celebrate the creation of the Archive, this weekend we had a two day launch event, with displays of a selection of the donated material in the library, and with authors Claire Tomalin, Sarah Dunant and Nicola Beauman giving talks and running discussions over the weekend.

While my part in the launch event was fairly small, there was still a lot of work to be done - making displays, making the library look nice and presentable, and at the actual event doing a front-of-house type job. On Friday night we had a packed library, and on Saturday many of the same people came back a second time, as well as those just attending the Saturday events. Well known names including Eleanor Bron and Miriam Margolyes were there, as well as alumni of all ages, and all who I spoke to were really enjoying the event. I took a few photos before people started arriving:

 Meanwhile, I had my friend Rosie staying the weekend. As is fairly common when we get together, we spent the weekend eating at Nandos, baking, watching films and copious episodes of the West Wing! We decided to try a recipe I found on Annie's Eats for chocolate chip cookie dough cupcakes. The frosting was absolutely yummy and they had big chunks of chocolate chip in, but the actual cake part turned out a little...odd! They were a bit crispy, and kind of rubbery. I think when we were converting from cups and sticks to grams, and then halving the recipe something went wrong somewhere perhaps! (Just goes to show you should never decide to halve a recipe!)

Anyway, they looked pretty, and we had the assistance of Ernest the baking bear:

We made some of them bitesize using Rosie's mini silicone cupcake cases (which I've just gone and ordered a set of for myself!)

So it wasn't a total disaster (and we've had some total disasters when baking/cooking). I might give it another try when I've bought a set of measuring cups!

Saturday, 5 February 2011

Save Our Libraries Day!

Image by Phil Bradley
Today was a national day of action against library cuts and closures. Read-ins, protests and story telling events had been planned nationwide, as can be seen in the Guardian's excellent map. Cambridgeshire seems like it may fare better than many counties, but 13 out of its 25 branches are to be placed under review.

As most people reading this will know, I work in a college library. This has meant that I don't often visit a public library, as I can get plenty of books from where I work! So it was really nice for me to spend a day in public libraries again, proper community spaces which are quite a contrast with the college library. The first event I went to this morning was a public read-aloud flash mob around the Grand Arcade shopping centre, outside the Central Library. This event was organised amazingly quickly by Emma Coonan.There was a fantastic turnout for this, probably around 30 or 40 people showed up to hand out fliers, talk to shoppers about how they could help save their libraries, wave placards, and read their favourite books out.
*blows conch* Library team, assemble!
Unfortunately we weren't allowed to do much in the actual shopping centre, but we split into groups and placed ourselves at all the entrances. In the group I was in we had readings from Ulysses, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, Three Men in a Boat, and Matilda (my choice!).

We got fairly mixed reactions from the shopping crowd, some giving us strange looks and hurrying by, but a lot of people were interested in what we had to say and took our leaflets. Quite a few were on their way to Central Library (inside the shopping centre) which was great too. Andy Priestner was in the group outside the main entrance to the Grand Arcade and they were getting a great reaction there by all accounts! Andy's post of the day is here and is well worth a read.

I think this was Three Men in a Boat!
From Central Library, Rory and I made our way (rather circuitously, due to me getting us lost!)  to Arbury Court library. Arbury Court is one of the branches under threat, and the Friends of Arbury Library are campaigning and raising support to try and defend their library. They had organised a read-in from 2 until 3pm. When we got there (just slightly late!) we could here the buzzing of lots of people from outside the building, and walked in to see a packed library with people at every computer terminal, a queue at the issue desk, and people reading - sitting on every available chair and then on the floor. There were a few news people around with cameras and we all posed for a photo for (I think) the Cambridge Evening News, so hopefully we'll see something good in there. We stayed and read until the library closed, as did most of the crowd there.

So hopefully today we made some noise, made some people more aware of the threat to their local libraries, and gave the local newspapers some good photos to print! Also it's been great seeing all the #savelibraries tweets from all over the country. I haven't been watching any TV today but will try and catch up on library bits on iplayer later!

Saving libraries sure is thirsty work!