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Posts Tagged ‘Social Value’

On Tuesday I attended the annual CILIP Umbrella conference for the first time. I had been invited by LIRG to present the findings of my literature review on methodologies for measuring the value of public libraries. Here’s a link to my presentation and a link to the final paper; and a selection of links to interesting library valuation studies that I’ve published on Voices for the Library.

I had a great time at the conference.  Lots of networking opportunities, lively debates and friendly faces.  Hoping to return next year 🙂

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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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Public Libraries in the 21st Century (C) Christine Rooney-Browne

Public Libraries in the 21st Century (C) Christine Rooney-Browne

Just thought I’d share a couple of presentations that I delivered at two different conferences last week.

First up is my keynote presentation from the SINTO lecture in Sheffield;  “A Look at the Role of Public Libraries in Times of Recession

And secondly, a joint presentation between myself and Liz McGettigan from Edinburgh City Libraries at the annual Internet Librarian International Conference in London; “A Joined Up Approach to Social Media”.

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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.

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At the end of 2008 Unison published this timely report which looked at the current state of the public library service in the UK and its volatile future.  

Unison Campaign Leaflet

Unison Campaign Leaflet

The report highlights the public library as a “priceless – if often underused – link with the community” and calls for the government and local authorities to implement the following five point plan to ensure its future success as an involved, relevant, imaginative, welcoming and valued public service in the 21st century:

1. Adequate resources and funding for library services, staff and premises

2. Empowerment of staff and communities to shape services together

3. Partnership working between libraries and councils across the UK to share information and good practice

4. Responsiveness to library users from all backgrounds

5. Provision of staff training and professional development

Concise explanations for each point are provided in the full report –  Taking Stock: the future of our public library service (Unison, 2008).

An incredibly informative and enjoyable read; ideal for anyone currently facing the challenge of having to defend the value of public libraries within our communities!

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It’s an exciting time for public libraries in Scotland as we take important steps towards recognising and communicating our impact and value to society, with the help of a timely quality assurance tool!

The Public Library Quality Improvement Matrix (PLQIM) was introduced by the Scottish Library and Information Council in 2007 to “provide a robust method for defining standards, developing evaluation criteria and a planning tool to ensure services meet public demand” (PLQIM, 2007).    It was adopted to measure the impact of eight projects awarded funding from the Scottish Executive’s Public Library Quality Improvement Fund (PLQIF) in 2006-2007 (full report available here).  The methodology incorporates a combination of quantitative and qualitative measures and highlights the importance of acknowledging the often overlooked social value of public library services by measuring outcomes alongside outputs.  

The results of an evaluation that I carried out during a student placement with Liz McGettigan at East Renfrewshire Library and Information Service during their Look at Libraries Festival are also included in the report, which adds to the excitement for me!  I’m referred to as ‘a placement student’ on p.79 of the report – fame at last, well sort of 🙂 .  If anyone’s interested in a more in-depth analysis of this project then check out this paper.  (You’ll need your Athens password to access it).

The results of Scotland’s first PLQIM are thought provoking and inspiring and I’d recommend setting aside enough time to read the full report to get a flavour of the potential impact and social value of public library services in Scotland.

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CILIP have just announced Mr. Gray Nyali as the recipient of the 2008 International Library and Information Group (ILIG) Award.  This award honours librarians “making a difference in Libraries and Information Services outside of the U.K.”

As Director of Malawi ‘s National Library Service, Mr. Nyali has worked extensively with Book Aid International and various other partners to deliver a public library service that enables the people of Malawi to enjoy democratised access to information, books, education, news, social spaces… 

Having read a bit about Mr. Nyali’s work I can see why CILIP chose to honour him.  His work demonstrates the true social value of the public library service and the potential impact that the service can have on the lives of individuals and the community. 

Congratulations Mr. Gray Nyali, you’re an inspiration to librarians worldwide!

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