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Archive for the ‘Advocacy’ Category

I’m down in Leeds at the moment for a workshop on Measuring the Value of Public Libraries: The fallacy of footfall and issues as measures of Public Libraries. I’m really excited because I’ll be participating in a group Delphi session for the first time ever.We’ll be working on developing appropriate methods for evaluating the value and impact of public libraries. There will also be talks by Annie Mauger (CILIP), Roy Clare (MLA), Dr Adam Cooper (DCMS & CASE), Carolynn Rankin (Leeds Met).The delegate list also adds to the excitement.  Lots of interesting people participating, including Bob Usherwood! And as anyone who reads this blog knows, his research in the area of social impact & public libraries has been an inspiration to me. I can’t wait to meet him in person!

Although my own research in this area has shown that a perfect methodology for measuring the value of public libraries does not exist we’ll hopefully come up with more appropriate methods than those that are in place just now.   I’m off to work on the Individual Delphi questions before tomorrow’s session.  I’ll let you all know how it goes! 🙂

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I’ve been on maternity leave for the past 9 months which explains the lack of activity on my blog 🙂 .  I don’t return to work officially until June but now that my beautiful baby girl is a little bit older I’m getting some time to do bits and pieces of research – yeah!

Just spent the morning catching up on all the news from the library community. The most exciting of which (I think) is that Lauren Smith has been nominated as a Library Journal Mover & Shaker 2011.

Lauren’s done some amazing work over the past year, including campaigning tirelessly to Save Doncaster Libraries and working as co-ordinator and spokesperson for the excellent Voices for the Library campaign .  The future for public libraries in the UK looks brighter thanks to people like Lauren!  🙂

A full list of Movers and Shakers 2011 can be found here.

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Just read a post on Brian Kelly’s blog about a free event that UKOLN and Mimas are running in Manchester on 24th May.    Although the event is aimed primarily at those already involved in JISC-funded work it will also be of interest to those of us involved in evaluating the impact of services, improving user engagement and demonstrating value.  Unfortunately I can’t make it to the event but I’ll hopefully be able to follow the discussions via Brian’s Twitter feed on the day 🙂

For more details about the event, including learning objectives and event timetable visit the UKOLN website.

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Newcastle City Library at night

One of the most inspiring sessions at The Edge 2010 conference came from Tony Durcan, Head of Culture, Libraries & Lifelong Learning, Newcastle Council; and Councillor John Shipley, Leader of Newcastle Council.   Tony and John talked about Newcastle’s new City Library: a 7 year PFI development project costing £24m and resulting in a fantastic new library for the people of Newcastle; a public space boasting 8,300 square metres of books, PCs, resources, advice; and a café, of course.  The new library opened in November 2009 and by the end of January 2010 reported impressive figures:

  • 792.000 visitors – 35,000 new members – 396,000 items loaned

Undoubtedly Newcastle’s new library is a huge success and I think that’s partly to do with Tony Durcan’s infectious enthusiasm coupled with strong support from Cllr John Shipley.  I don’t think I’ve ever come across a Council Leader who has spoken so passionately about the value of public libraries.    He just ‘gets it!’ And following his positive and inspiring talk there were calls from the audience  to ‘clone him’ 🙂

Here’s a few gems of wisdom from John’s talk (I’ve paraphrased):

  • If we want to build social  inclusion in our communities we need to build libraries where people want to be
  • City centres without free public spaces, like libraries, are only welcoming to those who have cash to spend
  • Governments should invest in public libraries because it’s the right thing to do!
  • Everyone in society can participate in the public library experience: it’s a majority service rather than a minority service
  • We shouldn’t be shy about demanding extra expenditure because public libraries are cheap & lead to a more inclusive society which leads to lowered costs elsewhere on things like crime, health, education…
  • We need to stop focussing on statistics because they reveal nothing about the true value of the public library
  • We need to make a stronger case for our public libraries – if we can communicate value successfully then politicians will invest!

I think he’s telling us that ‘the ball’s in our court’.  And in order to secure the future of public libraries WE need to make the case for our libraries; challenge misconceptions and communicate value – in a language that those holding the purse strings can easily understand!

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Last week I was lucky enough to attend the Edge 2010 conference at Edinburgh Castle – and what a fantastic conference it was! 🙂  The speaker list was top class and thanks to some excellent programming from the event organisers I didn’t have to miss any of the sessions.   This was such a relief because there’s nothing worse than getting all excited about the speaker list then realising that all of the big names are on at the same time.  But The Edge managed to avoid this pitfall and offered delegates an impressive list of sessions that truly were all killer and no filler!

The journey up to Edinburgh Castle was stunning and delegates were filled with a real sense of occassion before the conference even started. The conference suite was jam packed by the time I arrived and there was standing room only for Susan Benton’s keynote speech.    A wonderful sight, especially considering the audience was made up, not only of librarians but also high profile councillors, MSPs, Chief Executives etc.; all joined by a collective desire to “push the boundaries of public service delivery“.

Up first was a truly inspirational speaker – Susan Benton, President and CEO of the Urban Libraries Council (ULC).   Unfortunately, thanks to some freak snowstorms in the West of Scotland I missed the start of Susan’s keynote speech but I managed to catch her final remarks. Susan spoke passionately about the public library as a “trusted neighbour” in our communities, highlighting the vital role that they play in “bringing diverse entities together” and the need to “strengthen the public library as an essential part of urban life“.  I’ve been a huge fan of the ULC for a while now and Susan’s speech reflected some of the wonderful research they’ve carried out in recent years to communicate the value of public libraries in communities in the US.  A selection of these publications are linked to below:

Welcome, Stranger:  Public Libraries Build the Global Village

Making Cities Stronger:   Public Library Contributions to Local Economic Development

The Engaged Library:  Chicago Stories of Community Building

Following Susan’s rousing “call to arms” speech we welcomed Ewan McIntosh-digital media expert and founder of the innovative 38 Minutes project.   I’ll be discussing Ewan’s talk in a future blog post…

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© Christine Rooney-Browne

In just over two weeks time I’ll be heading through to Edinburgh to attend The Edge 2010.

I’m really excited about this conference because I think it’s unrivalled in Scotland.   Quite often, when I attend conferences in Scotland it’s a mix of the  ‘same old faces’ talking about the ‘same old issues’, which is fine…but it’s nice to see something new and exciting on the calendar for Scotland.

Normally I have to head South or across the water to attend a conference of this scale; but this time it’s just a 50 minute train journey away!  And one of the most exciting things about this conference, in addition to it’s line-up of speakers, is that it’s looking at the public sector as a whole and the vital role that libraries can play within this sector.  With such a wide remit, the conference is appealing to a remarkably wide audience.  Liz McGettigan, Head of Edinburgh City Libraries reports that the conference will be attended by delegates from across the UK, Europe, North America and New Zealand and from fields as diverse as journalism, policy and strategy, education, leisure, universities and health.

Sounds like the perfect opportunity to communicate the value of libraries to an audience that extends well beyond those of us already working within libraries.I’m sure there will also be some unique opportunities to share ideas, network, build partnerships; and ultimately communicate our value and relevance as a public service to a non-traditional audience, thus enhancing our profile and extending our potential to make a positive impact in the 21st century.

If you’re interested in finding out more about The Edge 2010 then why not check out their blog?

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At every conference I’ve ever attended there always seems to be questions raised about how we can better promote our libraries.  Here’s a couple of ideas to help inspire those of us involved in developing advocacy campaigns:

New York Public Library campaign: “Shout it Out for your Library”:

OCLC (& Leo Burnett USA) campaign: “Geek the Library”:

Geekthelibrary

Both campaigns are excellent examples of how to promote the value of public libraries, simply and effectively; I’d love to see more stuff like this coming out of the UK too! 🙂

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