Thursday, 28 April 2011

What I've been reading in April

Save Libraries

Simon Barron, Libraries, Bias, and the BBC

BBC Radio 4 Today Programme, Zadie Smith: A Defence of Libraries

Ian Clark, The Taking Part Survey -- usage down again, but why?

Lauren Smith, Say what you've got to say, and say it hot. (Absolutely brilliant response to John Redwood's ridiculous comments)

Brian Herzog, Reference Question of the Week 4/17/11 (Another example of the fact that not everything is on the internet, and even when it is not everyone can find it.)

The Future of Libraries

Ned Potter, Library Adolescence. (Or: how can we avoid growing up?)

Lauren Bradley, The Technical and User Services Divide & its Future in Libraries  

Ian Clark, No Furniture so Charming - The Future of Libraries 

Ned Potter, Librarians Before, Librarians Now, Librarians Next

Rita Meade, The Library of the Future (very cute, and look at the poster Jonathan Auxier made based on this)

Library School

Hack Library School, Best of Semester One (there's only one link in my library school section this month because this HLS post has EVERYTHING brilliant.) 

Social Networking and Technology

Amy Pajewski, Social Networking and the Academic Library 

Andy Woodworth, Digital Native Diatribe 

Ange Fitzpatrick, Travelling Light - Adventures of a Mobile Librarian 


Dan Rowinski, Kindle Comes to Android Tablets

Amazon, Amazon to Launch Library Lending for Kindle Books

Bobbi Newman, Some Questions for Overdrive and Amazon about the Kindle Lending Library

Professional Awareness

Ben Lainhart, Non-LIS Blogs to Follow


Ned Potter, What's the key to a good interview - beyond the usual truisms we all know already? 



Gamification of Library Use

Brian Herzog, Gamify Your Library Fines (pretty interesting idea, and I like the speed camera example as well)

Chad Boeninger, What if libraries gave users achievements?

Andy Woodworth, 1Up @ Your Library 


Steve Kolowich, Wielding Wikipedia (University of Houston librarians using Wikipedia to increase exposure of their collections)

Laura Wilkinson, Knowledge Management

Macpherson College Miller Library, Library of the Living Dead (best library guide I've ever seen!)

Possibly the most badass librarian ever. Reproduced with permission.

Saturday, 23 April 2011

Putting the pieces together - Part 2

This is me putting my idea for the LISNPN competition into action. As you may remember I designed some mini jigsaws with library advocacy quotes on them, which I then put in cute little boxes like so:
Unfortunately I got to this stage and then went on holiday for 10 days so didn't get any further. (Sheesh, holidays eh? So inconvenient!) So phase 2 of the plan happened today at Cambridge railway station. My first three boxes were strategically placed on benches on platforms which have a regular flow of trains going to London.

Here's box numero uno:
I retreated a little way away to see what would happen. I'd placed my box during a lull between trains, and as the platform began to fill up again, almost straightaway a group of people headed over to the bench.
There were too many people around the bench for me to see clearly what was going on, and when they got on their train it turned out that they'd put the box up on the seat back out of their way. Oh well, at least they didn't chuck it in the bin or brush it off onto the floor! A woman took their seat straightaway but didn't look at the box behind her. When she got on her train I was just about to go and put it back in a more obvious place when a couple walked straight over to the bench, and the woman reached behind her and picked it up :D

Now this was exciting! Would she take a look and put it back down, or take it with her? When the next train came, again there were a lot of people swarming around, but when the platform was clear again, so was the bench!
Resisting the urge to jump on the train after her and go on a trip to London to see her reaction, I did a couple of mental fist pumps* and moved on to box number two.

Here it is, this time I went across to the opposite platform and put it on a seat in one of the waiting booths.
Over the course of about quarter of an hour a few people came and sat in the booth in ones and twos, most giving the box a few curious glances but not moving to pick it up or anything. Then there was a group of four who were there for quite a while.
Their train finally arrived and they got on, leaving empty seats! Yush!

It had taken about 20 minutes for the first puzzle to be picked up, and about 30 for the second, so I decided to leave my third box on a bench (the same one I left the first box on), and head home. I really want to know what the peoples' reactions were when they made them, but I guess that'll have to wait for another time, when I leave them in a cafe or somewhere like that!

*As in I imagined doing them, not the other kind of mental...

Tuesday, 12 April 2011

Putting the pieces together: my LISNPN competition entry

Last month I entered LISNPN's advocacy competition. The competition task was to create library advocacy materials that would raise awareness of libraries, and reach new, non-library audiences. When the competition was first announced I really wanted to enter with something that was different to the usual advocacy media of slidedecks, posters and videos. Katie Birkwood's knitting pattern set the tone for the inventiveness of the other entries. Then I went to TeachMeet and heard Sarah Pavey speaking about using jigsaws to teach her sixth-formers good essay techniques. One of the parallels between jigsaw puzzles and essays that Sarah pointed out is that you don't always know what the final thing is going to look like when you start out. This got me thinking that this could also work for stealth advocacy if done right.

So, I hunted around and found some library-related quotes (mostly from Lauren Smith's Tumblr as it turned out!) Then I used my 1337 paint skillz and made a set of 5x7" cards which I got printed pretty cheaply as jigsaws. I've started out with three different designs, the one to the right which is a quote by Alfred John Langley: "The only true equalisers in the world are books ; the only treasure-house open to all comers is a library.", the one below, and one which I failed to take a photo of, but the design is on my flickr here ("As a general rule, the most successful man in life is the man who has the best information" - Benjamin Disraeli, <3 Libraries)

They're all fairly simple designs, partly because of the small size the jigsaws were going to be, and partly (mostly) because by now this was the day of the deadline...

When they arrived, stage two was to box them up in little packages with big labels which said things like "Bored? Make me!" and "Long train journey? Make me!". I roped in my arty-crafty sister to make these cute little boxes, promising her conference freebies if I won ^^. In the bottom, which again I failed to photograph, there's a QR code and a short URL leading to the Voices for the Library website.

That's as far as I've got so far, the final stage of the plan is to leave them in coffee shops, waiting rooms, railway stations, anywhere where people will be waiting around for a while. My hope is that they'll see the box, think "why the heck not, it'll waste some time anyway", and make them, BAM, stealth advocacy accomplished!

Not entirely sure that'll work, but will keep you updated! I'm off to Spain tomorrow (alarm is set for 3.45am erk!) so it'll be all quiet from me for the next couple of weeks.

Related posts: Putting the Pieces Together: Part Two

Friday, 8 April 2011

Ding! Levelling up at the library

I've been reading quite a bit lately about gamification of libraries, and I think it's an interesting concept. Although I'm mostly a casual gamer and occasional World of Warcraft player, I've got a tendency to get hooked on achievment hunting, so am well aware of the goal-reward system in action. Even in it the very simple format of a loyalty card at Costa Coffee or wherever, the presence of a reward is clearly going to encourage people to use a service more. (I know I've been heard to say "no actually, let's go to Nandos for lunch, I only need 3 more stamps until I get a WHOLE CHICKEN free!" They're definitely getting a lot more custom out of me by giving me an incentive)

Games and cake, definite reward. (by Fays cakes)
The next question is how could this work in libraries? Andy Woodworth has suggested a similar type of idea to the Nandos loyalty card, where users were given a reward such as a giftcard to use at the library's cafe on their nth checkout. Brian Herzog has an interesting suggestion based on a new Swedish speed limit system where those obeying the law are rewarded by being entered in a lottery to win a share of the revenue from fines. That clearly could translate to library fines, which is what Brian proposes. Both Andy and Brian's "games" reward the kind of behaviour librarians like to encourage, and I can see both going down pretty well with students on induction tours!

So I suppose I should suggest my own library "game"! How about this (and I have no idea if this is even possible): a game along the lines of foursquare, where "check-ins" are rewarded. In this game, instead checking into physical places, each time you used one of the library's online resources you would get points/badges. There would be a reward for people using a wide variety of sources for their research, and maybe for spending a certain number of hours logged into the resources. There are holes in that, but it's just a rough suggestion of what kind of thing we could do! Would be interested to hear other people's thoughts on the concept of gamifying libraries.

More on this:
Brian Herzog, Gamify Your Library Fines
Chad Boeninger, What if libraries gave users achievements?
Andy Woodworth, 1Up @ Your Library 

Tuesday, 5 April 2011

No place like London

The latest in our library visits programme was a trip to London to visit the Guildhall Library and the library at the Institute of Chartered Accountants.
Old library by KitLKat on Flickr

At the Guildhall Library we were given a history of the library by Andrew Harper, the librarian. The library hasn't had the luckiest of histories, with the collection in the medieval library being "appropriated" by the Duke of Somerset in 1549, and the building then being damaged in the Great Fire of London. Once the library had been refurbished and the collection rebuilt, a direct hit from a bomb in WWII took out 20,000 books, and the collection was moved to the Old Bailey for safekeeping. Unfortunately the Old Bailey was later bombed, and 83,000 further books were destroyed. Despite all of this, thanks to donations etc. the collection has been rebuilt again, and virtually all of the materials lost during the war have been replaced. The library today has the best collection of materials on the City of London, along with books on local English history, and English financial history. Some of the most popular items in their collections include their backrun of the London Gazette, and Lloyds shipping record cards, which detail every voyage made by ships including the Queen Elizabeth and the Lusitania. Andrew then took us on a tour of the working library, and then to the old library which is now empty and is used for functions, and there was a steady trickle of ladies in hats arriving as we looked around!

After lunch we headed over to Moorgate to the Chartered Institute of Accountants' headquarters. Their library was very different from any we've seen so far this year, and so I didn't really know what to expect. The Business Centre part of the library opened off the main welcome area and cafe part, and to get to other parts of the building you needed to walk through the library areas. We were being shown around by Rowena Mann, the Customer Services Manager, who said that this was good as people are more aware of the library. The Business Centre had meeting rooms and a quiet study area, but through most of the Centre there were people talking on mobiles and basically getting on with business. Although most enquiries are done over the phone or email, there was an enquiry desk in the middle of the Centre for face to face enquiries. There were some shelves of books and journals (actually more than I'd expected) but the majority of stock was kept in an offsite store.

Institute of Chartered Accountants by Loz Flowers
After our tour, we went up to a boardroom and had a series of presentations from other members of the Library and Information Services team. One thing that I found interesting was that none of the staff had the word "librarian" in their job title, most of the staff on the team were Information Executives of one sort or another. This is deliberate, as in a world of executives and senior executives, someone with the job title Library Assistant is likely to be overlooked for a pay rise! A topic that was returned to several times throughout the afternoon was the importance of bringing information to users as quickly and directly as possible. Jonathan Bushell from the web services team showed us the Institute's website, where there is a LIS section, but LIS staff have also been working to embed content througout the website, where members will most often be browsing. Subject gateways provide collated sets of key resources in an accessible way. With a worldwide membership, it is important that members can find what they are looking for when the library building is closed. Web content is driven by the enquiries staff get at the reference desk, for example the number of enquiries to decode abbreviations and acronyms led to the creation of an abbreviations directory on the website. However Jonathan stressed the importance of recording web traffic statistics, as every successful improvement to the website means that the number of enquiries will of course go down! Rowena summed it up by saying the job was largely about always trying to be ahead of the game. Simples...