Monday, July 29, 2019

How equitable is the help your library provides?

This has more questions than answers. I am writing it after thinking about GLAM Blog Club July 2019 with the theme of help, and yes, it still needs more thinking about by me, but I decided to go with this as a start.

Do you say your library welcomes all people, or do you demonstrate that your library welcomes all people?  They can be quite different.


Is your library designed in a way that only people from a particular social or cultural background can understand it? How do you help those unfamiliar with these quirks and foibles of design? What changes do you make? Can your library be easily used by someone in a wheelchair, or who is pushing a pram or a walker?  How have you tested this?  There can be a difference between compliance and usability.

How easy is it for someone using your library to ask for help?  How do they know they can ask a question, or get help with using the library including the relevant technology (and this includes apps to access library material)?

Is it easier to help someone when they are in the library or do you provide equally good help for people accessing your library resources and tools online (and what about help early in the morning or late at night, or a different times at the weekend)?

What languages are your collections in? Whose stories are told in your library? Whose stories are collected? Are you really working with the community? How can people who are fluent in languages other than English access your resources, do they have to be able to read or speak English to be able to access help?

How do you help people who are not library members find out about the collections, services and programs?  Do you go out to them, or do you expect them to come to you?

How do you help staff improve their skills?  Do they have to know the right way to ask for help, or are you proactive? The same goes for readers/patrons/clients. Do they have to know the right way to ask for help, or are you proactive? When people are in the library do you provide a roving service for help?

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Getting an apology right in public service

I was recently on a train after major signal failure at Ashfield.  The announcement on the train clearly stated :

We apologise for this disruption.

This was an an apology.  It would not have been an apology if the guard said we apologise if there has been a disruption (or inconvenience or other similar term) - which can occur.  Of course there was a disruption, the train was late, all the trains were late, so the apology was great because it acknowledged that.

Keep this in mind when making apologies at work, otherwise, it can sound like blaming the victim.

If you say we apologise if there has been a disruption (or inconvenience or other similar term) it can sound like there is an obliviousness to the delay, or whatever else is being apologised for.  If you are apologising, then make an apology, don't hedge your bets.

Monday, June 17, 2019

A few thoughts on the book Pushing the Margins: Women of Color and Intersectionality in LIS by Rose L. Chou

Pushing the Margins: Women of Color and Intersectionality in LISPushing the Margins: Women of Color and Intersectionality in LIS by Rose L. Chou
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is yet another interesting publication from Library Juice. The title of the book gives you a strong idea of what the content is. This is a book for many library staff to read, as it provides helpful information, and some strategies for making improvements in the library as work place and the library as library. This is a book about collections, services, maker spaces, readers' advisory work and much more. I have lots of notes in this book to follow up on. I keep deleting other sentences, because the most helpful thing I can say is, go and read this book.

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Monday, May 20, 2019

a few thoughts on the book Reference Librarianship & justice: history, practice & praxis

Reference Librarianship & Justice: History, Practice & PraxisReference Librarianship & Justice: History, Practice & Praxis by Kate Adler
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is yet another impressive Library Juice publication. It explores reference and information services provided by libraries including public libraries using a social justice approach. Different theoretical frameworks are used for each chapter, but they all relate to how social justice is addressed by libraries. There is a focus on information for people who have been silenced, and who are powerless.

In the forward it says 'as described by this book, reference work advances the work of social justice through collecting and making accessible materials pertaining to groups who would normally be erased or dismissed, as well as through the people in doing such work, such as approaching reference work through a lens that seeks to humanize what is sometimes a dehumanizing process, the vulnerability of having a need and asking someone to meet that need.'

This book is important for highlighting that reference and information work can have a social justice role. With the many changes to reference and information services that role is by no means certain, and many of the service changes seem designed to remove that service for the community. This book reminds us of why the ability for someone to come to the library and ask a question, or the library to go out and about to help people with their questions is important, and can be literally life changing.

Reading this books challenges one to look at how reference and information services are provided at your own library, both in and outside the building. Whose enquiries are you privileging?

This book is not always easy reading, but it is well worth reading. I have many ideas I want to follow up on as a result of reading this book.

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