The Casual Librarian

My thoughts and opinions


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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Week 7 Mobile and Geo-social environments

libThis week’s topic is something that in the last 5 years I have come to question, then hate, then come very jealous of and now LOVE! The reason this relationship has panned out like this is, as smart phones became the norm, and iPhones became the phone to have:

I became frustrated with the lack of what my LG phone could do compared to an iPhone, and then became very jealous of the people who had them (my partner got one free and was always on it) and now I love it (as he got an upgrade, switched to a HTC and I got the iPhone)

However I feel I have come to know this new technology at the right time, as if I had explored and bought a iPhone 5 years ago, my Twitter account and my apps would be used in a very different way and for a different purpose.

This is how I view libraries using these new technologies, if they are going to embrace the massive and diverse nature Apps have they need to choose wisely as it can have an overpowering effect on the goals of the library and on the interests of the community.

I understand the use of Facebook, Twitter and Instagram as a good utility for showing what the library has to offer and engaging with their community, however if the community is small and rural and has a limited knowledge of these devices and geospatial applications it needs to choose what is relevant to the community, the library and the overarching objectives that have been the foundation of the history and future of the community.

I agree with Michael when he notes that unique collections should be shown to the world, long gone are the days where you have to travel to a town, district to see a collection. There are many ways of choosing what you want digitised and what you want to leave untouched for the unique collectors or archivists to come see.

And it is deciding this first that will then allow you decide on the application you wish to incorporate into your library.

Onwards and upwards in this techie world!!!

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Week 5 Transparency and Privacy

transTransparent is defined as “able to see through”, “easy to notice or understand”, “honest and open: not secretive”

Personally I like the last part as libraries and professionals have to be open and honest in giving the information that is being sought by our community, if we don’t have the information or we cannot meet their informational need we then need to have an open conversation and inform the person that an in depth search for the specific details has to be undertaken.

I love the quote above, even though we need to be open and inviting we have to protect our institution from the many harms that are now evident within society. It seems like a contradiction when you begin this viewpoint and it is a difficult viewpoint to get across.

Casey & Stephens (2007) have this powerful open minded approach in their article The Transparent Library: Introducing the Michaels and in the first sentence I am intrigued by the line ‘the culture of perfect’ as a barrier that libraries face with transparency issues.

Nobody is perfect and trying and striving to get everything perfect is a upward struggle, we can’t all listen and respond to every need that we face on a daily basis and we certainly can’t be there for everyone, what we can do is make sure that these voices are at least acknowledged and at some stage given a moment in which we can help and accommodate their information need.

Open minded approaches need to accept the bad comments as well as the good, if something that is not working in your space needs to be addressed and no ignored as something very valuable could come of listening to this viewpoint and entering into a dialogue with this voice, it could be an internal voice or external whatever the case maybe it has a great potential.

Trying to be Public as in a ‘Public Library’ yet having to address Privacy issues has to be a major challenge for librarians and it is one that I will take my hat off to the many professionals that have succeeded in this task, as a person who has yet to enter into the profession it is an area that I will need to keep abreast of as it is such an important area.

So to look to someone who has a deepen knowledge that I ever will, Boyd (2010) has just that I am so glad to have been given the opportunity to come across a wealth of academics in this MOOC and this really does top the list. Boyd (2010) illustrates Privacy as “privacy is about having control over how information flows” and this is even more true into today’s world.

Within the context of a public library there are many ways in which this information will flow, however it is WHAT information is allowed flow and WHO sees this information, you as the professional holds the key to how this is done, and it is up to you to determine who it is passed to and how they then engage with this information. This release of the type of information that is given has to reflect your community and what their informational needs are.

A public library is very diverse yet you need to contain the information you share with this diverse community and make sure it is not shared with the wrong age group or the wrong information is not given to the public for public use.

It is a lot of food for thought when I try to build my social media policy document this week, you need to map who needs this information and how to give this information while containing it within a diverse community, tricky situation!