Advocacy in Action

Joseph and I will be presenting at the New Professionals Conference on the 20th June, the details of which can be found here at the CILIP website.

Our joint presentation is called:

Can we play? Building Opportunities for Student Activism and Why it Matters

We will talk a lot about why it’s beneficial for students to engage more with the wider professional network.  It is also something that I’ve been trying to do as well through things like joining Jiscmail.

Here is something that I felt is important that came up during one of the recent conversations in Lis-pub-libs Mailing list.

“My local council is under pressure when it was discovered the police force spent £35,000 on drinking water last year. This is North Yorkshire where the tap water is pure and libraries were up for closure to save £35,000 per branch!” (Ian Stringer).

This is a case of people interested in libraries actively thinking about how councils could save the money needed to keep library branches open. Immediately after this mail others on the list mentioned using FOI requests to see how much their council was spending on bottled water. This issue is worth examining, but in order to discuss this, we need to get the message out. The  Voices for the Libraries blog was mentioned as a potential place for where the ball can start rolling.

I am only marginally involved, but I wonder if by posting about it here (and then tweeting about it), I will be able to connect up the different communication networks that information professionals are using.

Please feel free to leave a comment if you’re interested and want to let people know that you’re interested.


Teach Meet: Ka-Ming’s Perspective

The Brighton Lib Teach Meet:  A tale in two pictures and two lists

The meet was attended by information professionals from the University of Brighton, the University of Sussex, the British Library and City University, amongst others.

And the topics covered were varied and informative. I did learn things that I hope to use and apply.

I’ll now proceed to steal Jo’s format, provide continuity between this post and the previous post.

Things that stuck out from the talk and the informal chats.

  1. Sussex University Library has changed a lot since I studied there as an undergraduate. I’m impressed by the use of social media, and the use of space for researchers.
  2. Great use of experiential learning to teach Boolean search by Siobhan Duvigneau from the British Library. She got students, to stand up or sit down depending on whether she was wishing to express the AND, OR, or NOT operators. She tried this out with the members at the teach lib meet. An aside: I have to say that in the modern age with the acknowledged existence of gender fluidity, a simple question like stand up if you’re male/female can possibly be problematic.
  3. Google docs forms function that allows answers to a question to be instantly inputted into a spreadsheet (presented by Katie Piatt), made me go ooh!

My experience of giving a presentation

  1. I am terrible at singing and playing the guitar in front of people, but luckily for all it was very short.
  2. Having someone to focus on in the audience was assuring, helped to ameliorate my stage fright somewhat. My deer-caught-in-a-headlight-gonna-get-smashed-by-an-oncoming-lorry gaze  fell very often on Mr J who I’d spent time conversing with earlier.
Honorary mention goes to Emma’s delicious home baked goodies.
The Jam and Nutella buns were scrumptious.


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Posted by on May 31, 2011 in Career Development, Events, Presentations


The Teach Meet: Jo’s Perspective

As far as I understand it, a teach meet is a meeting of a particular specialist group where anyone can contribute ideas about a particular theme. Everyone speaks for five minutes, and explains one thing. There’s very little time for questions and nobodies speech is more important than anybody else’s. There’s no central organisation that sets these things up, but there seems to be a loose network that shares details and publicizes each other. This is all, of course, a fundamentally good idea.

This Teach Meet was held in one of the seminar rooms in the university library. It was organised by Emma Illingworth and Tom Roper and was attended by around forty people. There were vegan flapjacks. If you aren’t a vegan, this is probably less exciting for you. But when you’re a vegan with an incredibly limited diet, baked goods are the most remarkable thing in the world.

Here’s some of the things that stuck in my mind from the teach meet, from the talks and from a bit of networking:

1. The Argus has an archive. Very few newspapers do anymore. The librarian there hit onto the idea of charging for her services, and therefore kept her department running when most newspapers have lost theirs.

2. Google Surveys can be used to automatically update answers into a spreadsheet. This means that the task of compiling results, which can take hours, can be done instantly. This is very cool.

3. Skype is a good tool for communicating with students. And it can be used for conferencing by instant messenger as well as voice.

Myself and Ka Ming gave a presentation about Peer to Peer Collaboration. Here’s what we learnt from the experience.

1. Ka Ming is good at singing in front of people. Doing something novel in a presentation never hurts. People like a change.

2. Breathe. This should be automatic. But I find that it’s important before something like this.

3. I need to stop looking back to Ka Ming and the power point for reassurance. My tactic is to pretend that the audience is an angry bull, and it will charge if I don’t stare it out.

This bull will charge if I stop looking directly forward and talking about Library Stuff.


Bite-Sized Marketing

On seeing this book, I immediately knew it would be worth my time because it has a nice cover, it was quite short and the book was shiny. If a year of Information Studies has taught me nothing else, it’s that shiny books have the best information. I wish I was joking. The fact is, shininess means newness, and this book is so new that what it says about social networking websites is not yet entirely out of date. This is the only time I’ve read a book with up to date information on this topic. Bite-Sized Marketing is written by Nancy Dowd of The M Word, Mary Evalgeliste and Jonathan Silberman from Fearless Future.

There’s not really anything too clever in this book. Which is good, because the type of marketing that is relevant to library studies is not complex. It mostly discusses the effective use of social networking sites, videos and about the importance of knowing your clients. Here’s are some things that really stood out to me:

1. There’s nothing particularly morally righteous about producing materials nobody will see. Marketing seems very business-like to me, and therefore I don’t really trust it. But if you’re producing something that can help people, promoting it is a good thing to do.

2. The purpose of social networking is to create a buzz about your service, not to put out endless press statements. Start conversations, give people ownership of what is being done.

3. Make a story about your service. Make it compelling. Make it something people want to share. But above all, make its central point clear. Stories get changed as they are re-told.

4. There are a few people online who are frequently followed and can make a difference. Learn who your target audience will listen to. If you can get them on side then everything is brilliant.

5. Corporations are putting money into social media. Right now, it levels the playing field between big corporations and small not for profit groups. But this could change. We should think of the current situation as a window of opportunity to get in contact with our users.

If you are actually interested in Social Media in marketing then here’s a nice little essay I ran into online which includes ettiquette, and a suggested time table for when and how to put out advertisements.

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Posted by on May 24, 2011 in Review


Civilisation in Ruins

Between 2005-2009 Yves Marchand and Romain Meffre carried out a project to photograph Detroit and its decaying buildings.

Photo Library in Ruins by Marchand and Meffre

St Christopher House, ex-Public Library

Despite the rise of the internet, and the increasing accessibility to information online, the above image of an abandoned library is stark and potent. It warns me of what can happen if we let it.

We can’t take for granted that public libraries are safe from destruction. If our society as a whole doesn’t recognise their worth, one day they will disappear.


I recommend visiting Marchand and Meffre’s website to see more of their haunting and beautiful photographs.

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Posted by on May 21, 2011 in Art, Your Thoughts are Welcome


JISC do it

I used JISC mailing lists when I was working on the Information Policy essay, and I’m using it now for the Management module. I think it’s a great way to get information, and I wanted to share it.

This link will take you to a list of all the different library related mailing lists available. The one that I’ve been using is LIS-PUB-LIBS, simply click on the link that says ‘subscribe/unsubscribe’ on that page and follow the instructions.

I hope it’s of use to you!

Ka-Ming Pang

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Posted by on May 10, 2011 in Coursework Help, Essay/Article


Careers Centre Stuff

Picture by osde-info via flickr

In an attempt to get a better idea about the career market, and in order to feel productive without actually applying for any jobs, last week I made an appointment to see an advisor at the Brighton Careers Centre. In the course of the discussion, we got onto the subject of what qualifications she needs for her job and she arranged me to meet the information professionals who work for that department.

They gave me a pretty detailed tour of the centre, and told me about the issues of careers centre information management. It’s not really something I had considered before but I found what I learnt interesting, so I’ll work on the assumption that you will too.

The big issue of Careers Centre information management is (of course) the shift to patrons finding the information online. This doesn’t mean that there’s less need for the career’s centre. The internet contains an infinite amount of careers advice. The Careers Centre has a big job keeping a list of what information is current, relevant, and most useful. They also maintain some resources in specific areas that would be otherwise quite difficult to find information on. I believe they mentioned horse medicine as a specific specialist area for Brighton that isn’t covered elsewhere.

But if students are getting their information online, what should we do about the careers centre’s well established print collection? Every year it has to be updated, subscriptions need to be renewed, books bought and website pages are printed out and made into leaflets. With multiple careers centres in multiple campuses to buy for, this is a time consuming job. As these materials are rarely borrowed, it probably wouldn’t be worth doing this just for their own sake. But printed resources have a few advantages over a fully online careers library.

The main advantage of print materials in this context is that they have a promotional value. They can be taken out of the careers centre to stalls and used to promote the service. They also give students who come to the centre something physical to take away and something to read while they’re waiting in the reception. Without books, the careers centre would have to find some other way to make it clear to students that it’s not an office and that it’s okay for them to visit. On the other hand, large folders full of bits of paper aren’t exactly accessible or friendly.

So what are the alternatives to the current set up? What about storing careers materials in the library? Right now, subject specialists buy books on careers, but these resources are never collected together. This makes it hard for the library to display everything it has on the subject, surely careers information specialists would be best placed to make a useful careers collection in the library? At present, careers specialists do their best business when they set up a stand outside of the library, as more students go here than to the careers centre. But it’s still important to find the right materials to support careers advisors. This is a very different problem to the issue of just getting information to people. My guess is that as students start to get access to the internet by mobile devices, they’ll start to feel a lot differently about coming out of the careers centre with a handful of bits of paper containing information they’d rather read online.

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Posted by on May 10, 2011 in Academic Libraries


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