Archive for April, 2008

This is really cool…Joy Piedmont at Entertainment Weekly has pulled together a montage of 18 stills from movies that feature key scenes in libraries, including one of my all time favourites; The Breakfast Club!  Thanks to ALA for the link.

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Stumbled across this lovely little ALA promo video featuring Julie Andrews talking about what libraries mean to her: 

She only talks for about a minute, but listening to Mary Poppins sharing the joy she experienced as a child visiting her local library will make you feel warm and fuzzy inside! 🙂

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A bar of chocolate or a trip to Paris, apparently.  That’s what the results of a recent ‘social engineering’ survey carried out by Infosecurity Europe revealed.  

Although the number of people willing to share their e-mail passwords, date of birth and contact details with complete strangers (on the street!) was down on last year, it was still staggeringly high.   Revealing once again that people lack awareness on issues related to personal security. 

Seems a shame that we can be bought for so little.  Especially since groups like the ‘John Doe Librarians’ campaign on a daily basis to protect our personal privacy.  Hopefully Information Security Awareness Week will help to educate the public about the value of their personal data!

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CILIP have just announced Mr. Gray Nyali as the recipient of the 2008 International Library and Information Group (ILIG) Award.  This award honours librarians “making a difference in Libraries and Information Services outside of the U.K.”

As Director of Malawi ‘s National Library Service, Mr. Nyali has worked extensively with Book Aid International and various other partners to deliver a public library service that enables the people of Malawi to enjoy democratised access to information, books, education, news, social spaces… 

Having read a bit about Mr. Nyali’s work I can see why CILIP chose to honour him.  His work demonstrates the true social value of the public library service and the potential impact that the service can have on the lives of individuals and the community. 

Congratulations Mr. Gray Nyali, you’re an inspiration to librarians worldwide!

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Reading Partners have just launched their exciting Reader Meets Writer programme, as part of the National Year of Reading.  Big names including Kate Mosse, Hanif Kureishi, Iain Banks, Alexander McCall Smith, Mavis Cheek and Clare Francis will be appearing at libraries across England throughout 2008.

This marks a change in attitude within the UK publishing industry which has traditionally favoured bookshops over libraries for book events.  But following the success of a similar campaign in 2007 when over 7,000 library users attended 80 events and generated over £25,000 in book sales, publishers are becoming increasingly aware of the power of public libraries to deliver quality audiences.

Before becoming a librarian I spent over 6 years in the commercial sector organising author events.  Since then I’ve organised and attended my fair share of library events and I have to agree that there’s something quite special about a public library audience.  There’s a brilliant atmosphere in a public library when a famous author stops by to chat about his/her books; and an enthusiasm and energy that cannot be matched by bookshop customers. 


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Librarians versus Wikipedia, the debate rages on. There appears to be two predominant camps; those who love it and those who loathe it. I make this assumption based on the amount of messages I receive daily via the library mailing list I subscribe to.

I won’t go into the pros and cons of user generated content as I’m sure you’ve heard it all before, but you might be interested in recent comments from Niko Pfund, Vice President and Publisher of the Academic and Trade division of Oxford University Press in New York:

“I’m actually increasingly bored by this question of whether Wikipedia is good or bad, and even more so by the easy vilification of it…Oxford English Dictionary, arguably the greatest reference work in the English language (and certainly the greatest reference work ABOUT the English language) found its origins in a wiki model…”

I always think of Wikipedia as something of a ‘problem child’; one that needs nurturing, direction and support, rather than damnation from its parents, the qualified information professionals. I don’t think it should be perceived as the ultimate source for all our information needs but does it make me a bad librarian if I use it sometimes as a first port of call?

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Last week The Telegraph boldly printed the ‘ultimate reading list’.   Billed as ‘the perfect library’, it featured a collection of 110 books ‘that changed the world’.  Reading through the list made me think about a recent opinion piece from Bob Usherwood in the Gazette and my own experiences of stock in public libraries. 

Many of the libraries I’ve visited have adopted elements of the bookshop model to attract more visitors and make the service more relevant to 21st century users.  Some have even rebranded the service entirely

The thing that sticks in my mind most about visiting these ‘libraries’ is the massive collections of mass market paperbacks on display.  Not that there’s anything wrong with pleasing the masses, but where was the rest of the collection?  Tucked away, out of sight perhaps?  Why were other books not enjoying the same exposure as Richard & Judy Bookclub titles?  Why were users being forced to actively seek out books that weren’t lucky enough to make it into last month’s bestsellers lists?  It was easy enough to grab a copy of Jordan’s biography but not quite as easy to retrieve Murakami’s ‘Wind Up Bird Chronicle’ or Orwell’s ‘1984’. 

Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for popular / contemporary fiction; if truth be told, I’ve never really been a fan of the classics (I know, I know, bad librarian)!  But the problem, as I see it, is in striking the right balance.  All too often, it seems that popular fiction takes precedence over everything else.  Given that performance indicators and evaluations (external and internal) are still mainly quantitative, I can see why many services are stocking up on titles that will deliver higher issue figures.  But what’s the long term impact of such a  strategy?  Usherwood suggests that:

“If the public library is not going to provide a superior selection of novels than that to be found in the local supermarket, or more accurate sources of information than the tabloid press, how can it justify public funding?”  (Usherwood, 2007, p. 73)

Yes, the future, it’s certainly worth thinking about, don’t you agree?

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I’ve had this website bookmarked for quite some time now, after a colleague mentioned that it was one of the best public library websites he’d ever come across.

Librarian in Black reports that it’s still one to look out for after it was talked about by Ellyssa Kroski at yesterday’s Computers in Libraries Conference in Virginia .

Ann Arbor Public Library is a real success story. Using Drupal, the free open source content management system, they’ve moved away from a dull static website to a fully integrated social networking model; complete with blogs, RSS feeds, event calendars, chat, groups, tagging, and of course a pretty impressive catalogue. And it seems to be working.

Check out Ellyssa’s presentation for yourself. She reports that to date Ann Arbour has received over 13,000 comments (12,000 of which were from teen users); they’re boasting 50,000 unique users and their page views have increased by 216%. Wow!

I hope they start up Drupal Camps in the UK so that we can work together to produce similar social networking websites for our public library users.

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BBC iPlayer – it’s a hit!

According to this article just posted on TimesOnline it would appear that the massive success of BBC’s iPlayer might just bring the internet to a standstill. Or it might not. To be honest it looks more like an attempt by Tiscali to get the BBC to cough up for some cash for service upgrades…

The article also reports that during March iPlayer received “17.2 million requests to watch programmes“. And just last week over 100,000 people watched The Apprentice online. I think that speaks volumes about how our television viewing habits are evolving in the UK; and how television broadcasters are successfully integrating themselves into our virtual lives.

TV on our terms, I like it! 🙂

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We are the web!

Web 2.0 has become such a big part of my life now that I don’t even think about it.  I even struggle to remember what life was like before Wikipedia, Facebook, Flickr, YouTube…

That said, I’ve been thinking about how best to explain the evolution of Web 2.0 to those with little experience of it.   I came across this seriously cool little video on YouTube which highlights the important role we all play in the ongoing success of Web 2.0…if you’ve got 4 mins to spare then check it out.  Trust me, it’s fab!


And if that wets your appetite, have a read through this article from Wired.  It might be a bit of an oldie, but it’s still a goodie!


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