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National University library, Torino

National University Library, Torino

This week I am in Torino, Italy for the International Federation of Library Associations (IFLA) pre-conference.   The theme for this meeting is Libraries as Space and Place and there are speakers from all over the world attending; check out the full programme here.    The pre-conference is split into three sub-themes:

Wednesday 19 August 2009
New libraries, new spaces with new challenges

Thursday 20 August 2009
Libraries as a Third Space

Friday 21 August 2009
Finding New Design Solutions

I’ll be speaking tomorrow about the public library as an impartial space in the 21st Century; discussing whether or not this is a realistic or romantic notion.

We’ve just completed a tour of the Royal Library of Torino, which is a fascinating place.  Not only does it house the majority of the Italian Royal Family collection, but the archives are home to some of Italy’s treasures, including original sketches by Leonardo Da Vinci, which we got to see!:)

I’m looking forward to this afternoon’s sessions, which features speakers from Italy, Australia,  Singapore, Birmingham and Canada:

  • 14.30 Session 1: The Turin Library System and the City.
    Paolo Messina, Director, Turin City Library System, Italy
  • 15.00 Session 2: Beyond co-location: designing and managing new model library spaces and services to reflect trends in convergence and integration.
    Sue Boaden, Director, Australia Street Company P/L, Sydney, Australia and Carina Clement, Cultural Programs and Audience Development Team Leader, Library Museum, Albury City Council, New South Wales, Australia.
  • 15.30 Session 3: The UnLibrary – library within a library.
    Damien Wang, National Library of Singapore.
  • 16.00 Session 4: The Library of Birmingham – Hub of the Knowledge Economy
    Brian Gambles, Assistant Director, Culture, Birmingham City Council and Francesco Veenstra, Partner Architect, Mecanoo, UK.
  • 16.30 Session 5: In the Words of the Users: The role of the urban public library as place
    Francine May, Librarian, Mount Royal College, Calgary, Alberta, Canada.

And now, for a spot of lunch before the real work begins! 🙂

iliThe full programme for this year’s hotly anticipated Internet Librarian International (ILI) Conference is now online.    I haven’t been to this conference before but I’m really looking forward to it as lots of people have recommended it to me.

I’ve also been selected to speak at this year’s conference, which is even more exciting!  I’ll be presenting with Liz McGettigan from Edinburgh City Libraries.We’ll be talking about Edinburgh’s Tales of One City Project; a joined up approach to social media, which includes blogging, microblogging, social networking, social bookmarking and streaming media.  Here’s the listing for our talk; don’t forget to bookmark it if you fancy popping along!

And here’s some additional details about the conference:

Internet Librarian International Conference 2009
15 &16 October 2009 (Workshops 14 October)
Novotel London West, London, UK

Hope to see you there! 🙂

A few months ago I blogged about my experiences of trying to access social media websites at The Mitchell Library in Glasgow.    After that, I was invited to write an article on a similar topic, for Information Scotland.  The article appeared in the April 2009 issue but has just been published online.  You can access it here.

A few weeks ago I was lucky enough to attend the JISC Netskills workshop: Improving your online presence in Edinburgh.  It was a two day event jam packed full of lots of advice & ideas about search engine optimisation and social media.    The highlight of the workshop for me, however, was a short 8 minute video of Patty Maes demonstrating the Sixth Sense at the TED conference earlier this year.

The brainchild of Pranav Mistry, a Research Assistant and PhD candidate at the MIT Media Lab, the Sixth Sense is a wearable device that will enable us to gain seamless access to information…wherever we are!  All I can say after watching the video is brilliant, brilliant, brilliant AND I want one!  You’ve really got to see it to believe it, so rather than me attempting to communicate the brilliance of the Sixth Sense, watch the video!

As a librarian and book lover I’m particularly excited about the impact the Sixth Sense will have on how we select, evaluate and tag books (5.53 mins into the film).

The future; I can hardly wait! 🙂

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! 🙂

Although it’s still early days in terms of official research, public libraries are emerging once again as recession sanctuaries;  providing vital services, in times of economic crisis.

Brighton-and-Hove-Recession

I recently presented on this very topic at the Society of Chief Librarian’s (SCL) Conference at the University of Warwick.  (Presentation available via my SlideShare page, click here).  Attending the conference was a fantastic experience as I was able to chat to delegates about the impact that the recession has had on their library services; how they’re managing to deliver high quality services despite ongoing budget cuts; and the innovative ways that they’re promoting their services to users, including this inspired poster from Brighton & Hove….

During the Q&A session for my presentaion I noted a strong desire from many delegates to explore Web 2.0 and social media.  Unfortunately, however, many are unable to implement their Web 2.0 plans due to restrictions imposed on them by council-wide IT departments and their filtering policies (click here for a previous blog post about Glasgow City Libraries & internet filtering).  A shame really, given that other authorities, with slightly more liberal approaches to web 2.0 are able to forge ahead, creating interactive and collaborative spaces for library users to visit online (e.g. Manchester Libraries).

Seems unfair that public library users and staff, many of whom could benefit greatly from accessing web 2.0 and  social media sites are being prevented from doing so as a  result of a web 2.0 postcode lottery.  Wouldn’t it be great if all public library services across the UK were at the same operational level with web 2.0 and social media…before we have to deal with the challenges and possibilities that web 3.0 presents? Just a thought! 🙂

Twitter Feed - SCL Conference 09 - #scl &#scl09

Twitter Feed - SCL Conference 09 - #scl & #scl09

There were lots of other topics discussed over the two days and to highlight some of the burning issues I’ve created a word cloud, using Wordle, based on keywords from the Twitter feed (see above).

If you’re keen to find out more about the role of public libraries in times of recession then why not click here to check out my recently published article “Rising to the Challenge”,  featured in the latest edition of Library Review.

It’s that time of year again; I’m gearing up for a summer of library conferences and I’m so, so excited!   

First up there’s the CILIPS conference (Branch Group Day) on 3rd June at Peebles Hydro, featuring sessions with Jay Jordan (OCLC), Richard Boulderstone (British Library), Brian Kelly (UKOLN) and David Potts (MLA)…plus lots more; check out the programme here.  

Then the next day I’m heading down to Warwick for the Society of Chief Librarians Conference, which I’m presenting at on the Friday.  I’ll be discussing “Social Value: identifying, measuring and sharing some of the less obvious ways that public libraries contribute to economic regeneration”.  

A few weeks later it’s off to Turin, Italy to attend the Pre-congress satellite for the IFLA World Library and Information Congress (2009) to present a co-authored paper on “Public libraries as impartial spaces in the 21st Century” .  The programme for this looks amazing; check it out here.  Then it’s a quick train journey through to Milan to attend the 75th IFLA General Conference and Assembly!

Phew!  Will be a busy few months but I know I’ll have a fantastic time! Drop me a line if you’re planning to attend any of these conferences and we can arrange to meet up in the hallways! 🙂

Been messing about with Wordle this afternoon. So far I’ve pasted text from my blog, research papers and Twitter posts to generate visuals for words that I use most frequently and the types of topics I’m more inclined to write about.  

I’m loving the Wordle that’s been generated for this blog:

wordle-blog

Thinking this visual might look quite cool on a mug or t-shirt…. 🙂

Create your very own Wordle here…but be warned, it’s addictive!

Glasgow Libraries Barred Website Message

Spent the weekend at The Mitchell Library in Glasgow; soaking up the atmosphere from the latest Aye Write Book Festival.  Attended a couple of really good events too.  However, despite enjoying both of these events immensely they’re not what I remember most about my visits…

I had thought it might be a good idea to tweet about the events I attended but when I tried to access Twitter on The Mitchell Library’s public access computers I was informed that Twitter was considered to be an ‘unacceptable website’. Surely not, I thought, so I tried again, on a different computer.  Same message again.   Made me wonder about what else would be blocked.  Attempted to login to Facebook and although the ‘unacceptable website’ message did not pop  up, a strange login screen did and when I attempted to type in my user name and password I realised that nothing was appearing on the screen. Seemed to be locked out of that one as well.  Tried MySpace, same thing! Okay, they’re blocking social networking websites I thought….but then something happened that made no sense whatsoever.  I was able to login to Bebo no problem.   I also tried to access Flickr and YouTube but they were inaccessible too.  Stranger still was what I found out later.   Glasgow City Council had been using Twitter to help promote the Aye Write festival, and there were buttons on the Aye Write website encouraging users to visit their profile on both Facebook and MySpace…  

Confused and annoyed I asked a few different Library Assistants why I couldn’t access these websites and they all gave me the same answer; “all social networking sites are banned in the library”.  I asked each one  why  social networking had been banned and also, if there was a ‘blanket ban’ like they were suggesting, why was I able to access Bebo?  None of them could answer this question but they did invite me to write my queries on a customer comment card, which I did.  I’m looking forward to receiving a response because I really do want to know why Glasgow Libraries have taken this stance against social networking, especially when they appear to be using social networking themselves to promote their own  book festival.

I know that Glasgow is not alone in their approach to social networking but I am also aware that a growing number of library authorities are using  these new technologies to promote awareness and engagement outwith the constraints of the ‘walled garden’; providing users and staff with an opportunity to learn web 2.0 skills; educating users on how to effectively manage their virtual lives; and encouraging participation and collaboration.  

I understand the need for AUPs in public libraries and I am also aware that social networking is sometimes presented negatively in the press but instead of banning these websites wouldn’t it be more beneficial, for both the library service and the users,  if more public libraries took on the role of educator rather than censor?  

obamafb3gordonbrowntw3After all, when two world leaders, Barack Obama  and Gordon Brown, start using these very websites to communicate with citizens and promote awareness,  is it not about time that we stopped banning access to them in our public libraries?

Last week I attended the launch of a new Scottish creative writing award at Barrhead Library;  The Eileen Gilmour Award.eileengilmouraward

The award has been established in memory of Eileen Gilmour who worked as a librarian for over 30 years, until she passed away in 2008.   Eileen loved reading, writing and exchanging stories with other people, so it seems fitting that East Renfrewshire Council, her employers, have teamed up with Eileen’s family to establish this award which celebrates creativity in writing.

And here’s the important details:

Entrants are invited to submit new pieces of creative writing (circa 2,000 words) on the theme of Homecoming Scotland, under one of three categories:

  • Adult (residents of East Renfrewshire)
  • Secondary school pupils
  • Adult (non-residents of East Renfrewshire)

The winner of each category will receive £100 and their work will be featured on the East Renfrewshire Council website and in the 2010 edition of the Storytelling Festival Brochure.

Check out the terms and conditions along with details about where to submit entries here.  

Good luck! 🙂