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Librarian Brews the Alphabet © Coll Hamilton

One of my lovely friends, Coll Hamilton, is a super talented artist and he has created this little image of me for my blog.

It is inspired by my love of tea and books.  I love it! 🙂

Thanks Coll!  You can check out more of Coll’s work on his websitethere’s even some cool Doctor Who illustrations on there too 🙂

The second Keynote Speaker at last week’s Edge 2010 conference was Ewan McIntosh.  From the very start Ewan’s energy and passion for social media was infectious.  He spoke enthusiastically about Twitter, Facebook, Bebo and running his own blog.  He discussed the “illiterate professional class“, highlighting a couple of high profile news stories about users of social media being unaware of the reach of the platform that they were using and an inability to understand that when you post something online, it’s never truly private.   There really is no delete button – it will always exist, somewhere, out there! Worth bearing in mind if you’re considering slagging off your boss – which is pretty much what this Facebook user did last year.

© Blogging Librarian on Flickr

Ewan also talked about the power of the blog in today’s society.  It used to be that once something appeared in print it was rarely ever challenged. I think, to to a certain extent, the system in place for challenging the journalists and national newspapers was too complex and time consuming for many of us to pursue. ..not to mention that the Press Complaints Commission is a self regulating body… Today, however, it’s much easier to correct factual inaccuracies, as Ewan pointed out when he talked about his own experience of being misrepresented in the press. He used his own blog to put into context a quote used in an article published in The Herald about GLOW – “the the world’s first national intranet for education.  In his own blog post Ewan was able to put across his own point of view, thus challenging the journalist’s interpretation of their correspondence.

This is not the first time we’ve seen social media act as a platform to correct factual inaccuracies in the press.  Ben Goldacre regularly takes to his blog to challenge sensationalism and ‘bad science’ in the press.  For example, he was one of the first bloggers to post about the suspicious nature of the bullying allegations against Gordon Brown.

There was so much food for thought in Ewan’s presentation…he also touched upon the pros and cons of the hyperlink; the importance of visual literacy when communicating; open data opportunities for Councils; Mapumental; and net neutrality.  Just sitting there I could tell that Ewan’s presentation had stimulated lots of thoughts and ideas and at the coffee break afterwards I overheard delegates talking about how they really should be upgrading their intranets and exploring social media as a serious tool for communicating with citizens.

I hope that Ewan uploads his presentation soon so that I can post a link to it as there’s lots more that I don’t have space to cover in this blog post.  All in all, an excellent keynote speech! 🙂

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…

Darien Library in Connecticut-an example of a good public library website

One of the reasons why many public library websites look a bit dated, lack user friendliness and often feature irrelevant content is because they have to sit within the myriad constraints of the wider Council website.

I’ve spoken with lots of librarians from different authorities across the UK over the years and many of them have voiced concerns that they are unable to fulfil user needs and expectations because IT and legal departments either don’t understand what public libraries are trying to do or are just too busy juggling multiple projects from other council departments to invest time and energy into developing the public library website into something fit for 21st century users.

That’s why I’m looking forward to the publication of an article by Margaret Adolphous in the March online issue of Update. Margaret first contacted me back in July 2009 to ask my own opinions about the state of public library websites in the UK. I also met up with her for a brief chat following my presentation with Liz McGettigan at the Internet Librarian International Conference in October. Margaret has invested a lot of time and energy into investigating this topic and has sought opinions from a variety of people within the profession so I’m sure it will be a great read. Hopefully she’ll offer us all some solutions for the future! 🙂

In the meantime you might find this article, appropriately titled “How to STOP writing rubbish copy on your website”, useful if you’re currently involved in upgrading your public library website.

Aye Write Book Festival organisers

Only 11 days to go until one of my favourite times of year – the Aye Write book festival at the Mitchell Library in Glasgow! 🙂 Although some of the big names, like Germaine Greer, have already sold out there’s still plenty of time to grab tickets for a range of  thought-provoking and amusing author events.

I’ve had a look through the catalogue and cherry picked a few for myself, not necessarily because I’ve been a life long fan of these authors but because I feel like I’ll learn something/have some fun by attending their events:

Alain de BottonThe Pleasures and Sorrows of Work

Greg Milner Perfecting Sound Forever

Christopher BrookmyrePandaemonium

Tim Blott (my old boss!) – The Herald Debate on the Future of the Media

For the full line-up check out the programme on the Aye Write website.

© 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?

The Edge 2010 is a two day conference taking place on February 25th and 26th at Edinburgh Castle.  The conference, which is being organised by Edinburgh City Libraries, promises to “push the boundaries of public service delivery” in the 21st century.  Their impressive line-up of speakers include Susan Benton, President and CEO of the Urban Libraries Council;  Michael Porter, otherwise known in library circles as ‘Library Man’; Ewan McIntosh, renowned emerging and social media expert; plus lots more fantastic speakers from around the UK.

Further details, including a list of costs, payment options and accommodation, are available via their online booking form.