Archive for May, 2008

Busby Library Facebook PageIn an earlier post I discussed how excited I was to be selected to present a co-authored paper at IFLA 2008.  Well, that paper is now available online, along with the complete programme for this year’s conference. 

We’ll be discussing the ongoing journey of East Renfrewshire Library & Information Service as it attempts to embrace the concepts of Web 2.0 and Library 2.0 within the constraints of a limited financial budget.   Lots of highs and lows and a step by step guide for other library services interested in joining the global social networking community. 

Here’s the full lineup for our section…

Information Technology
Enabling access to the global library – small is beautiful: distributed deployment of library services for small and special libraries

Case study: The Evergreen Open Source Integrated Library System; its origins and significant implementations in the USA and Canada
BEN HYMAN (Public Library Services Branch, Ministry of Education, Government of British Columbia, Canada, Victoria, BC, Canada) and JULIE WALKER (Georgia Public Library Service, Atlanta, GA, USA)

Archon: facilitating global access to collections in small archives
(University of Illinois, Champaign, Illinois, United States)

Punching above our weight: a small Scottish Library Service joins the global community
ANTHONY BROWNE (East Renfrewshire Council, Community Services, Scotland, UK) and CHRISTINE ROONEY-BROWNE (Department of Computer and Information Sciences, University of Strathclyde, Glasgow, UK)

Digital archiving of e-journals for Special libraries
EDMUND BALNAVES and MARK CHEHADE (Prosentient Systems, Sydney, Australia)

I can’t wait to get to Québec…just over 10 weeks to go! 


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That’s just 1 of 5 conclusions reached by a national study investigating the use of libraries and museums, carried out by The Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) in America.  

The report also found that libraries, along with museums evoke considerable trust amongst diverse sets of adult users; moreso than any other information sources.  The study also confirmed that the use of the Internet as a platform for promoting library resources benefits users and library services exponentially.  

Check out the full survey results here and if you’ve got time click into the Powerpoint presentation for a more in-depth and fascinating discussion of the key findings. 

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The Aftermath of the Sichuan Earthquake - image courtesy of Mercycorps.orgJust over two weeks ago the Sichuan province of China was hit by its deadliest earthquake in over 3 decades, measuring between 8.0 – 8.3 on the Richter Scale.  Since then there’s been a further 52 major aftershocks with experts predicting more of the same in the coming weeks and months. 

To date almost 63,000 people have been confirmed dead and around 300,000 others injured.  In addition to the tragic loss of human life, millions are now homeless and without adequete resources to recover from the disaster.  Schools, hospitals and libraries have also been destroyed, leaving millions without a place to call their own. 

The Chinese American Librarians Assocation (CALA) has set up a website where you can contribute towards the Earthquake Relief Fund.  Click here to make a donation. 

Found via American Libraries Association Newsletter.  Image courtesy of Mercy Corps

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Well, that’s if predictions made by Futurist Richard Watson actually come true.  Libraries, along with post offices, direct marketing, free parking, butchers and sit down breakfasts will cease to exist in just 12 years time.  And a few years after that we’ll see the death of blogging, spelling and web 2.0, apparently!  We’ll have to wait until the 2040s for household chores and newspapers to completely vanish from our lives though…oh well, at least there’s something to look forward to! 

Check out his full extinction timeline below…prophetic, pathetic or simply creative marketing to help sell his new book…I’ll let you decide!

 Click here for larger image. 

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Last weekend I was at a party with lots of other librarians (yes, librarians do party!) and I got to talking to East Renfrewshire’s former Head of Libraries Liz McGettigan about the power of public libraries, as you do!

Liz brought to my attention a recent report published by the Urban Libraries Council in America – The Engaged Library: Chicago Stories of Community Building. There’s some amazing case studies focusing on urban regeneration, embracing diversity, services for young people and the library as space and place; not to mention a really useful toolkit to help other library services emulate the success of Chicago Public Library.

If you’re at all interested in learning about the potential of public libraries to connect, engage, inspire and transform communities then check out the full report here.

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This is one of the funniest videos I’ve seen in a while. Dennis Cass pretty much sums up our society with this ingenious book promotion and satirical look at what it means to be an author in the 21st century. Check it out below and laugh along knowingly – this man feels your virtual pain!

I’m still laughing at this quote…

“You Tube…of course, cos you know that’s the dream…twenty years ago when I wanted to become a writer, a big part of the dream was being able to put little videos on the Internet…that’s why we do this…and maybe I’ll just stop writing and just do downloads and apps and widgets…this is the world we live in”

Congratulations on a brilliant viral marketing campaign Dennis!

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In previous posts I’ve championed librarians as everyday heroes so imagine my joy when I stumbled upon this lovely article via the ALA newsletter.   

A self proclaimed superhero junkie and librarian has pulled together a brief overview of ‘superhero librarians’, including well known characters such as Batgirl and lesser known heroes such as Xi’an “Shan” Coy Manh and Blok.  There’s also a link to a really cool resource called Librarians in Comics for anybody keen to develop an understanding of the historical role librarians played in fighting the forces of evil in comic books.

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Last year the Internet Archive, a California based digital library, received a National Security Letter (NSL) from the FBI requesting access to personal information (name, address and electronic communication records) related to a specific user.   

Contained within the letter was a gag order, a Statute of the 2001 Patriot Act, which prevented the Internet Archive’s Digital Librarian from discussing the request with co-workers, the library’s Board of Director, or the ACLU.   The librarian in question, however, filed a lawsuit with the support of the Internet Archive, ACLU and EFF to challenge the NSL as unconstitutional and an abuse of power by the FBI. 

Fortunately the Internet Archive won their case and the FBI withdrew their original request.  But what’s happed in other cases?  It’s been suggested that over a five year period (2001 – 2006) the FBI has issued almost 200,000 similar letters and with the exception of a few high profile cases, including the John Doe Librarians of Connecticut, there have been very few challenges, despite the fact that:

“…every time a national security letter recipient has challenged an NSL in court and forced the government to justify it, the government has ultimately withdrawn its demand for records”
(Melissa Goodman, Attorney, ACLU). 

Once again librarians are on the front line fighting to protect
our human rights; librarians truly are heroes every day!

Thanks to David for forwarding on this story.

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In an attempt to imply a secret friendship between Winston Churchill and Nazi SS chief Henrich Himmler during World War II an ‘historical revisionist’ created 29 forged documents and ‘slipped’ them into twelve different files at the National Archives between 2000-2005.    

Officials at the National Archives assure us that this was a one off case, but how can they be sure?  How can any of us be sure?  Remember Orwell’s 1984 protagonist Winston Smith and his role at the Ministry of Truth rewriting history and creating false memories to make the government look good? 

If it’s happened once we can assume that it’s happened before and it’ll happen again!  I’ve watched The X Files – I know what goes on…

Thanks to Forbes for alerting me to this story.

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Anyone else find the latest ad campaign by the post office a bit annoying?  The one where random celebs like Joan Collins and Westlife stop by to post their mail?   Yeah, they’re totally believable aren’t they?  Doesn’t look at all like the post office jumping on the celebrity bandwagon in a desperate attempt to appeal to a wider audience….

I can’t help but feel that this approach to marketing coupled with ongoing plans to open post offices in places like Tesco will do more harm than good and lead to the brand becoming devalued.  That’s why I’m quite interested in plans announced today to relocate some post offices to public libraries.  It’s certainly a better fit for the post office in terms of brand synergy, than aligning themselves with supermarkets. 

I’d be cautious, however, about the long term impact of operating what is essentially a revenue generating business out of a public library.    As John Buschman, author of “Dismantling the Public Sphere” noted; in today’s society public libraries have an even greater responsibility to “provide alternatives and alternative spaces in a culture dominated by information capitalism and media image and spectacle”. 

I’m not completely against the idea of post offices in public libraries; I can see how it could benefit local communities and I look forward to hearing more as the idea progresses… I just hope that as a profession we don’t sell ourselves short on this one!

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