Wednesday, 29 February 2012

What I've been reading in February


Lots of people, Library Day in the Life blog posts and tweets

Bobbi Newman, Reflecting on Library Day in the Life Round 8

Save Libraries

Guardian Readers, Save Our Libraries: Readers' Reports

Rachel Bickley, National Libraries Day in an academic library

House of Commons Culture, Media and Sport Committee, Written evidence accepted by the Culture, Media and Sport Committee for its enquiry into library closures 

#uklibchat, Summary: 9th Feb 2012 National Libraries Day

Library School

The Bradford Librarian, The MA - Just a means to an end or invaluable? (Good comments too)

Zach Frazier, It's OK to not have time (that's a relief, because I don't!)

Job Applications

Emma Davidson, Killer CVs 

In the Library with the Lead Pipe, Q&A: Lead Pipe on Professional Development (has quite a bit on CVs and job applications) 

OPAC 2.0 and Gamification

Aaron Tay, Adding Social & Gamification to the Library - Catalogues & Lemontree 

Andrew Preater, Grouse about your next-generation catalogue - LibCamp@Brunel

Marie Cannon, Library Camp @ Brunel


Brian Herzog, Freading Ebook Library from Library Ideas, LLC

Sarah Stamford, Assessing the value of print and ebooks for academic libraries


Aaron Tay, Is Wikipedia really the library's competitor? 

Lane Wilkinson, Wikipedia and the role of the non-expert

People Management

Funktious, Angry Person is Angry! (Great advice on how to deal with angry people in the library)

Funktious, "But we weren't doing nothing Miss!" (2nd post in the series, how to deal with disruptive patrons)


Jo Alcock, Writing for Publication 

Diari by Ariadna on morgueFile

Sunday, 26 February 2012

Let the great job hunt commence!

I have just sent off my first application for a job for when my degree ends. I wasn't intending on starting this early but happened to hear about this one, which is being advertised now for a start date later on this year. Not one to pass up a good opportunity I've been spending the weekend updating my CV and filling in the application forms. I've found these websites and blog posts very helpful:
Good luck to anyone else job hunting!


Age banding for children's books

This term I am taking an optional module in Publishing. Taking this module was the result of a last minute change of plan, but it has turned out to be my favourite module this term. We recently had to write a short piece either for or against putting age bands on children's books. This isn't a new issue (it was a fairly hot topic in 2008) but I find it an interesting one. Amy has just blogged her arguments for age banding, so I thought I would stick up my arguments against it.

I am against putting age bands on children’s books.

My main reason for holding this position is that I believe that children should not be being told a book is too old or too young for them. I have always been a voracious reader, and like Terry Pratchett1, I often as a child read books too old for me, and sometimes too young for me. I still do this now that I am an adult! I am not alone in this, as can be seen by the popularity of “children’s” books such as the Harry Potter series amongst adults.2

Children’s reading ability develops at different rates, with a child’s “reading age” often being very different from their physical age. Indicating recommended ages on books may well lead to more advanced readers sticking to “safe” books in their physical age range, and discouraging them from reading harder books. It will also put off those already struggling with reading, as books will be explicitly branded with the message “this book is for little kids”. Any child would be reluctant to read something they can clearly see is meant someone younger, and they may be worried about being bullied. I think Michael Morpurgo is right when he says “[i]f you say a book is for a seven-year-old, the nine-year-old is going to be trying to cover it up at the back of the class.” 3

Publishers seem to be aiming this idea at adults buying books for children. However if an adult is buying a book for a child they know well, they will surely know which books and which authors the child likes, and so will be able to choose a book without resorting to looking at age bands. On the other hand an adult that does not know the child well enough to have this information will most likely have little idea of the child’s reading age.

Finally, who is going to make the decision of what book is appropriate to what age? Publishers know the audience they are marketing at, but in many cases even the author does not know for sure who is going to read and love their books. If age banding is going to happen, I would like to see panels of children involved in these decisions.

Indicating age ranges on children’s books can only serve to narrow the range of literature a child is offered. I believe parents, teachers, librarians and publishers should be trying to widen children’s reading repertoires, not narrowing them.

1‘Authors’ and illustrators’ comments’. No to Age Banding. Available at: [Accessed February 11, 2012].
2Byatt, A.S., 2003. Harry Potter and the Childish Adult. The New York Times. Available at: [Accessed February 14, 2012].
3McLean, P., 2008. Concern over age bands for books. BBC News. Available at: [Accessed February 14, 2012].

Saturday, 4 February 2012

#libday8 - my week

This post is part of the Library Day in the Life Project. My previous Day in the Life posts can be found here.

I kind of failed at posting every day this week, so here's an end-of-the-week summary of what I've been doing with myself!

Monday and Tuesday were UCL days. Although I'm doing the same number of modules this term as I was last term, the timetabling has worked out a lot better and I only need to travel into London two days a week instead of four. This term I am taking modules in Information Sources and Retrieval, Management (both of those are compulsory) and then optional modules in Publishing Today and Cataloguing & Classification II.

Our common room, looking unusually empty on Monday morning.

MA-wise this week I've had a 3 hour lecture for each of these modules, and I've made a start on reading for my first essay this term (on legal issues for libraries). In our Management module we are doing a lot of group work, based around an imaginary library that our group has to come up with staffing structures, strategic plans etc. for. Our group is using a Google Doc to keep all of our notes together, to make it easier to put together our portfolio at the end of term. I blogged in more detail about Monday on the UCL DIS Students blog.

Wednesday and Friday are the days I usually go up to Cambridge to work at Newnham. I am job sharing with Jo, our senior library assistant, but sometimes we ovelap so we are both in on the same day, and this usually happens on Wednesdays. So we had a staff meeting on Wednesday morning, to get everyone up to speed with what's been happening in the last week, and looking forward to the week(s) ahead. After our meeting I got on with going through cataloguing errors thrown up by the bib-check programme. We have been converting a lot of short records for our rare books collection so it was a looong list this week, about 20 pages! Luckily, most of these are not actually mistakes made by the cataloguer but things like "record contains local information but it's post-1900". "Rare" to us includes some post-1900 material so this can just be ignored.

Checking the list too me up until lunch-time, and then for the rest of Wednesday and most of Friday I have been doing a lot of cataloguing, a bit of lyfguarding (covering in protective sticky back plastic), basically just moving things along and getting books ready to going out on the shelf. We do all of our own classification and processing, and download catalogue records or find another Cambridge college in our database (any that begin with A-N) who has a record we can share. The record sharing thing is fairly new and has taken a bit of getting used to, but I think it is working quite well (I say this, having absolutely no knowledge of how things are going on behind the scenes).

Friday was also the deadline for our graduate trainee applications, which I can't believe has come round again already! Didn't Polly just get here? Now it's halfway through the year already...

As the eagle-eyed amongst you will have noticed, I have Thursdays "off". I'll usually spend this doing work for my MA, but this week I was in Cambridge again, co-presenting a training session on "Blogging for Absolute Beginners". I think there were fourteen people registered for the session, ranging from graduate trainees to librarians, with five of us there to run the session (Clemens, Margaret, Emma, Charlotte and me) and talk about our own experiences with blogging, and it was quite fun! We talked about which blog platform to choose, dos and don'ts of blogging, and how to fit it into your routine. There was also time for everyone to have a go at publishing their first blog post. This was my first time presenting at a session like this, and while not everything went as smoothly as I'd like (I had a bit of a fail with my slides - I thought I had embedded the fonts but all the text on my second set of slides turned out as squares so I clearly did it wrong...), overall it went very well and we have had some good feedback. In fact, one of the participants has just sent us the link to their new blog, so that's fantastic.

So that's the end of my #libday8 week, now to celebrate National Libraries Day by going to my local branch library and setting up an online account so I can borrow e-books!