Posts Tagged ‘Librarians’

© Christine Rooney-Browne

© Christine Rooney-Browne

Instead of talking about the presentations,  the hot topic at the start of the IFLA conference seemed to be the WIFI access at the conference centre. Many were discussing the fact that they would have to pay €10 for 4 hours WIFI access.  The alternative was to either queue for 10 minutes complimentary access in the hallway, or at the library bus just outside of the conference centre.

And so began the confused and somewhat bemused updates on Twitter, with a number of #fail tweets from disgruntled tweeps and bloggers who had expected the WIFI to be free; it seems to be free at most of the other conferences we’ve all attended recently…

Some dismissed the issue, stating that we were there to listen and learn from the presenters and to network in real life, rather than to check our e-mail.  I think they were missing the point a bit.

There are various reasons why one would expect and rely upon free access at an international library conference; and these reasons extend well beyond being able to check our e-mail!   For example, during sessions it can be beneficial to be able to check out the speaker’s online biography; or to look up a specific library website; or even to bookmark some of the resources that the speaker has highlighted on their slides to our Del.icio.us accounts…

Also, I know that I am incredibly lucky to be able to attend this conference and I’m well aware that there are many more library and information professionals back home in Scotland who would have loved the chance to attend, but are unable to because of financial constraints, lack of time, etc… Many of these people follow my updates on Twitter; some specifically to be kept informed about news and ideas filtering through from the sessions I attend.   A fellow IFLA blogger referred to this as citizen journalism.  And I guess it is… 🙂

In addition, as a few of the sessions I wanted to attend were on at the same time, it would have been beneficial to be able to conduct a quick search using the IFLA hashtag on Twitter (#ifla2009 or #ifla09) to see updates from other delegates tweeting from these sessions…

So, on the second day I succumbed and purchased the €10 card…thinking that if I only logged on occasionally I could make my 4 hours stretch the duration of the conference.   However, on Wednesday came the announcement that WIFI would be free for the remainder of the conference – yay! The power of Twitter, again?  🙂

Surely, at an international conference where we all come together to discuss hot topics in librarianship and the information society, such as; freedom of information; democratic access to the world’s knowledge; the future of library service provision etc… delegates should be provided with free and democratic access to the internet?!  Plinius, a fellow blogger referred to access to online resources at this year’s conference as IFLA1.5, rather than 2.0 😀

Apparently, free WIFI at future IFLA conferences will be discussed in more depth at a later stage.  Word on the street is that it’s a budget issue…but I hope that at IFLA 2010 in Gothenburg the issue will be resolved and that all delegates are given a username and password as part of their IFLA welcome packs!


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One of my favourite things to do on holiday is to visit public libraries; some people might think that’s a bit sad but I look at it as keeping up to date with everything that’s going on internationally.

On this trip I visited Toronto Public Library’s Central Branch, which  occupies a very convenient space on York Street, not far from the main shopping district in Toronto.  It boasts a style of architecture and interior design that I think (and I’m no expert!) was very popular in the late 1970s.  If I’m honest, it was actually really nice to visit a library that hadn’t been completely re-designed to look like a bookshop – it looked and felt like a library ought to and I loved it!

Toronto Public Library - Central Branch

Toronto Public Library - Central Branch

We visited on a weekday morning and were surprised by how busy it was.  And not just on the ground floor where the café was situated, but on every floor.

I was visiting with somebody who didn’t have the first clue about Dewey Decimal Classification and this really made me re-think how we catalogue books in our libraries.  Sure, my friend was able to stand in line to find out from a very helpful librarian the location of the book he was looking for…but this highlighted to me just how unfriendly Dewey is to users with no concept of how the system works.

I’ve had several discussions / arguments since then with other librarians about whether or not we should be organising book stock to make it easier for staff or for users to locate books.  It seems some people feel quite strongly about maintaining systems such as Dewey but I’m just not sure anymore, especially after experiencing first hand the many obstacles my friend had to overcome just to locate one book…

…maybe we should just hand out compact versions of RFIDs to each user as they enter our libraries?

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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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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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A few weeks ago, Jennie, a law librarian from the UK began a journey to create the definitive list of UK based librarian bloggers

Following an initial ‘quick and dirty’ (her words!) search she’s established a wiki featuring everyone she’s found so far.   I’ve volunteered, along with Joeyanne Libraryanne, to help Jennie out with visiting all the blogs listed to make sure we’re providing an accurate and up to date synopsis for each one.  

If you’re a UK based librarian and you have a blog that you’d like listed on the wiki get in touch with one of us and we’ll sort it out for you!

It’s going to be a brilliant resource; and as with all Web 2.0 technology it’ll get even better the more we use it!

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Quiet Please: Dispatches from a Public Librarian by Scott Douglas is a memoir about life as a public librarian in Anaheim, California.

Haven’t read it yet but the reviews make for interesting reading; check out this one on One Minute Book Review compared to the one printed in the Scotland on Sunday yesterday.

I’m looking forward to reading it as I’ve heard some of the content is a bit controversial and I do like a bit of controversy! One reviewer described the lead character as a “Douglas Coupland slacker hero relocated from the world of e-commerce…”. Hmmm…do we really need our own Microserfs inspired book in celebration of ‘Gen X’ librarians – isn’t that a bit 90s? I’ll let you know when I finish it!

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The shortlist for the 2008 Carnegie Medal for outstanding children’s writing and the Kate Greenaway Medal for exceptionally illustrated children’s books has just been announced.  

The Carnegie Medal is one of the few awards that I actually look forward to.  Each year the shortlist and eventual winners are always of such a high quality that their work rivals the recipients of many of the more high profile book awards.  Well, for me anyway!  Especially those books that have successfully ‘crossed over’ into the adult market; Just in Case (Meg Rosoff), Millions (Frank Cottrell Boyce), Junk (Melvyn Burgess) and A Gathering Light (Jennifer Donnelly).

I look forward to ‘discovering’ fresh new voices from this year’s shortlist!  The judging panel, as always, will have a very tough job in declaring an overall winner!

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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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Casually flicking through the most recent edition of Library and Information Update I came across an interesting piece of research carried out by Jennie Law, self proclaimed “Library Monkey”, wondering  “Where are the UK Librarian Blogs?”.   

Curious to locate these blogs myself,  I followed the link to Jennie’s page, thinking that as a new blogger I really should check out what the more established bloggers are chatting about.  Imagine my shock and surprise to see my own blog featured within a list of 7 individual librarian bloggers!!! 

Thanks to Jennie for doing the hard work on this one; I love the idea that not only is my blog findable; I now appear to be part of a community of librarian bloggers based in the UK.  Cool :-)!

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