Sunday, January 9, 2022

A few thoughts on the book A modest living: memoirs of a Cockney Sikh

A Modest Living: Memoirs of a Cockney SikhA Modest Living: Memoirs of a Cockney Sikh by Suresh Singh
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is a really interesting local studies publication which I found out about from Spitalfields Life. It is written about growing up in London, and spending time in India with very specific locations being described. The author provides a very strong picture of his father. It is also a very interesting account of being punk, and being the first in the family to obtain a university degree. It shows the importance of having information about culturally and linguistically diverse people included in local studies collections. This really is a charming book, and includes some family recipes as well.

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Sunday, November 7, 2021

A few thoughts on the book: The troubles and beyond: curating conflict

The troubles and beyond: curating conflictThe troubles and beyond: curating conflict by Karen Logan
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This book is about how the National Museums in Northern Ireland changed their approach to collecting information about The troubles, and also changed their approach to how exhibitions about this time are shown. They aim to present a 'view of broader social, cultural and economic history as well as exploring the impact of conflict on everyday life, people and communities' p 18. They are seeking a critical discussion with the community who are coming to exhibitions, especially of recent history. They are looking at recent history including for 'accuracy, inclusiveness and balance' p24, and are also seeking to build stronger community connections to advise the museum.

The book explores past approaches to describing The troubles, and the new approach of greater diversity and inclusion as well as community projects which are bringing together people who have similarly tough experiences. There are comments from people who provided personal testimony to the museum because they were shot, they had a family member killed, they were present at a bombing, or they were a nurse who treated people from all sides.

I was interested in this book because of local studies, and reading it highlights that difficult and divisive topics can be dealt with well by museums (and presumably libraries) and that it is important to not sidestep the tension.

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Sunday, August 22, 2021

A few thoughts on How to turn a place around: a handbook for creating successful public spaces - relevant to libraries

How to Turn a Place Around: A Handbook for Creating Successful Public SpacesHow to Turn a Place Around: A Handbook for Creating Successful Public Spaces by Project for Public Spaces
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is a pacy and engaging read. This, unsurprisingly, is a book about public spaces, and generally outdoor space, however there are many elements which are applicable for public (and other) libraries as well. In a description of Discovery Park in Houston, TX, it says that it is 'not enough to have just one great destination on a great park - you need at least 10 of them to create a truly lively place' (p91). This is relevant for libraries as you need different kinds of spaces within the one building. It is also not a new idea that libraries need different kinds of spaces, for example see this produced by my work place.

I have been following Project For Public Spaces for a while, but it was watching a recent Victorian public library conference about library buildings which encouraged me to read this. There are place making principles including creating a place not a design, and the importance of community consultation, and evaluation. Place making is also continuous as communities change over time.

I found it was helpful reading this book, because of the different locations explored as I could then think about the implications for libraries. I will need to read it again, but that will be enjoyable.

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Tuesday, July 13, 2021

A few thoughts on Pivoting During the Pandemic: Ideas for Serving Your Community Anytime, Anywhere

Pivoting During the Pandemic: Ideas for Serving Your Community Anytime, AnywherePivoting During the Pandemic: Ideas for Serving Your Community Anytime, Anywhere by Kathleen M. Hughes
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is an interesting publication for many reasons including the short, snappy chapters and the speed of the production. The range of topics covered include online story times, readers's advisory at a distance, and how to help connect people with a range of (mostly) online services. It is timely that I am writing this during the lockdown which includes Sydney (where I am) as well as coastal local government areas to the north and south. It highlights that the relevance is not just for pandemic experiences overseas. Important ideas are covered early on, including be patient, be flexible, use a growth mindset as well as the importance of assessment and reflection.

The chapters are written by public library staff, and show the need for continued learning, being willing to change, and the importance of thinking through organisational policies for example: do they make things easier for staff but harder for the community? It highlights the importance of continuing professional development, and that includes moving some training online (as we have also done in NSW). I would suggest reading this book - and keep in mind, if you don't like one chapter, you can quickly flick ahead to the next one. This ideas in this book while relevant for the pandemic are also relevant to how you think about your general library services.

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