The Casual Librarian

My thoughts and opinions


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Library Advocacy #1

Topic: Values & Community

As I begin my second MOOC which is a very different setting from the first MOOC,  I settle into finding my way around the site I am initially disappointed, finding it difficult to locate the resources is very frustrating and the discussions are grouped in 4 different sections which I am not pleased with as I hope to learn from all in the library profession and have the opportunity to look at different perspectives and contexts within the profession.

However as time seems to running away from my plans I realise I need to get on with week 1 and assignments.

Assignments consist of multiple choice quizzes which you have 10 chances of taking again, very easy to do if you have not read the material. In addition they ask you partake in a discussion within the 4 groups you find your job title closest to.

My present two part time jobs reflect a small part of the “other” sector that has been listed and I am very keen to get an insight into where my new skills lie within librarianship. However, I am very interested in public libraries and how they operate and view library advocacy from a worldwide perspective.

As I find my resources I am inspired as I read the overview and this motivates me through the site,

“Libraries are bonded with their communities aspirations” (Library Advocacy Unshushed, 2014) which is very true in many regional libraries in Ireland. I see many public libraries adapting to the new communities that have entered into Irish society. Libraries are changing their outlook into becoming a open & engaging space which is a fabulous opportunity for students who wish to learn, and libraries have done this by becoming a learning space adding in bright colored seats and incorporating engaging facilities for learning.

As our world is changing, adding to this changing landscape is how people are learning, how teaching is changing and how information is being ingested. In order for libraries to keep abreast of this rapid switch they need to turn their focus to each individual that uses their particular library and view how they learn, look through their eyes for a moment and if they cannot understand or visualize this then they need to ask!

The second point I really felt summed up the above point is how “libraries are linked to ageless values” (Library Advocacy Unshushed, 2014) as librarians these are our core skills, however now our own skills are adapting and changing with this new movement. I like to call it the movement of information! These core values come in many shapes for example equality – everyone is welcome, and everyone is treated the same within our libraries.

Public libraries have a challenge as they do need to meet a wide range of people’s needs and with limited resources it is a interesting time within how local communities can help develop this amenity.

Community has been rather forgotten when it comes to libraries even though these individuals are the reason for our existence, to which some may add is declining, which I argue is not the case.

In order to make this known libraries should adapt and should promote their facilities, however all this is good and great with social media tools and I learned a lot of how this can be done by Micheal Stephens, however here I get the flip side of “promoting our services” WHY?

According to some this does not build relationships, I can see an element of this but my answer to this is then the community is not engaging with these social media tools if they are not working tweak them!

It is proving difficult to get my focus or head space into this new concept of Advocacy, a type of marketing tool but speaks to a specific pool of people who have a hand in library making decisions? A quote from the MOOC illustrates the following “In library advocacy, we are positioning libraries as assets in our society’s agenda or parent organisations agenda or priorities” (Library Advocacy Unshushed, 2014)

Okay instead of talking to our users talk to the people who keep our doors open and our staff strong and innovative! Interesting!

These new concepts and ideas are difficult at the moment to put into perspective, as they seem to be relating to people who do or may speak to this pool of people within each community, maybe by looking at their discussion feeds I might be able to get a better perspective.

Keep Learning!

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Community Repositories

This week the last group presentation surrounds the topic “Community Repositories” the two readings the group have assigned give two examples how community repositories emerge, develop and are maintained.

Local history begins with a community, the community maybe changing and the older generation find they want to preserve the history for themselves and the next generation. Other reasons may include the inhabitants of a particular area has changes due to War or Immigration so that the community that is now there want to preserve what was there. It is these interests along with a collaborations that generate a whole new world or stories.

Every library has a history and holds more pieces of history that one thinks, the connections a library has to government publications, makes it easier for people to allocate different stories about places, people or events. So to use your library as the core information hub one can generate a massive online narrative about a distinctive area.

The reading today cover Newham in London, and has been an area of vast change over the last 150 years. The content in which to generate a story was to incorporate photos, stories, anecdotes, audio, and video. This seems to be a heavy task in tying these many formats into one big storyline. This is where tagging appears, taxonomy as it is properly know has now  developed with the ever ability to “tag” a picture or a document or video, with as you view it your own knowledge. So, if I am watching something from the website that I know of, I can add to it under the heading that the makers have created. It is this open cataloging way that enables people from all over the world to contribute to these histories.

Local history rooms are being transferred into an online format, my local history room in Waterford was always a hot spot, even as a kid I remember going into the small room and reading the old newspapers and looking at the old books, it was a rare and wonderful thing, the smell of musty old books and the big oak desk and large chairs was for me growing up another world to immerse myself into. Now the library has changed, that room is now a big open space with a few old books locked away for preservation, the microfilm for the newspapers is still in demand, however the librarian that runs the service has a lot of genealogy question come her way, she does use the online service like ancestry.com but she will most of the time use her indexes to map the area or street where this person lived. I was so amazed at what I learned, I also took part in a project while I was doing my internship on a local historian, here I documented all the newspapers clipping he had about a particular part of Waterford. It was a wonderful experience, and a potential one to put online. But if this was undertaken would that mean that the librarian who loves this local studies room be no longer needed. Will it be a case of people searching for stories long ago with the aid of a piece of software? Where is the fun in that! I will keep my local studies room thank you!


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Information Tweets Information Bloggers!

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I have been very excited in the amount of information and connections I’m making through Twitter, it started by connecting with and following library personnel that were known within various fields.

However when I attended the AS&L conference and the NPD conference I really was taken aback at how many tweets were being made, the speed people were tweeting, it was like they were transcribing each talk by tweets!

I had known of the #uklibchat and decided the following week I was going to take part in the Irish one #irelibchat. This particular week was on Publishing, and asking why don’t many Irish librarian’s take to it. It was very informative and the leaders were very keen in seeing how the new professionals viewed this.

The conversation veered towards getting our capstone projects publish and how to go about the process, however my thoughts were lying elsewhere, the conferences had sparked something in me and I thought why should librarians just write we are really good communicators and extremely good at sourcing information so why can’t we promote ourselves through conferences within different businesses. Taking our skills and using our knowledge, meshing it into every aspect of a particular establishment.

It’s this platform where we as librarians can really show off, and change the perception to everyone that a librarian is not someone who stamps your books and asks you for an overdue fine, to show that we are everywhere and everyone needs our skills.

I think it is through this avenue that changing the title “librarian” will happen,  and the space we envelope will open up people into finding the new modern ways of seeking information through the many technical options open to us, by teaching people and letting various establishments know what we are.

It seems like various people are doing the above and the idea I have is still being teased around my brain, however if the amount of tweets and the high attendance at the two conferences in March are anything to go by I think we all should raise the bar a little higher and see who takes notice.

One venue that I am really looking forward to and hoping to develop this idea is the various Conferences that will take place in Croke Park next month. I have already signed up for the two days of the European Data Forum, however the Library Association has just announced their dates and 1 of the days overlap, I shall need to sit down and decide. That same week, the Health Libraries conference is on and as part of my capstone it would benefit me immensely to attend, I really need to make a decision!

To find what everyone else is doing I shall take to twitter and find the best solution. While doing this today I came across a fabulous opportunity. A organisation have drafted this new massive open online course MOOC in San Jose state University School of Library and Information Science. This module is covering how to explore libraries and how they are using emerging technology to serve their diverse communities.

This is an amazing opportunity and it is free, it is on a first come first served basis, 400 students will be taking part and no previous educational experience is needed only a knowledge of computers to submit your assessments. Further information can be found here if you are interested.

My personal learning network is slowly building, I feel it may well gather momentum in the coming weeks!