Sunday, January 31, 2021

online reading groups and neighbours - combining a few ideas for #GlamBlogClub

 It was only recently that I realised it was ten years since #ReadIt2011 and it was because I was wearing a t-shirt with this hashtag on it.  #ReadIt2011 was the start of of a collaborative twitter reading group which lasted until the end of 2018.

#ReadIt2011 was a theme based reading group so you read around a theme and not just one title (this was to help libraries be able to participate with the collections they had rather than purchasing lots of one title). You can see the (dated) blog here.  It even had a couple of t-shirts (thanks to @CatyJ).  This twitter reading group was about public libraries in NSW working together (hence the neighbour aspect). The themes were decided on by a group (including me).  What this meant was that it could be collectively promoted, and each library did not have to do a lot.  Some libraries tweeted the themes and the times of the online discussions, other libraries participated in these discussions - this continued through the various versions of the group.  It was my year of making tea cosies to tie with the themes (as I was trying to make the point that the themes can be used in a variety of ways.

whodoneit tea cosy
The #CrimeRead tea cosy for #ReadIt2011 (it has been given away)

2012 was the national year of reading, and the team which had done #ReadIt2011 offered to run a twitter reading group for this nationally (so there was yet another hashtag change). There were some active participants from other states as well.  #Love2Read twitter discussion used the themes suggested in the logo.  After 2012 people were still keen, but had learned more about hashtags (although not about #NotAllLowerCase) so that read became part of each hashtag, and the reading group was called Read Watch Play, using #RWPChat so that a wider group of library activities were included. It meant that people could read different themes each month or work out how to bring their favourite reading, watching or playing to every theme (and ambiguity was encouraged so that #ReelRead included film, sewing and fishing).  The planning included suggestions on a wiki so that many people could contribute ideas, with the themes decided at a meeting (based on who was there).

There is a lot I could say about this, but to tie it to neighbours I will focus on one aspect. At this time it became an international twitter reading group. There were some fairly quiet partners, but Nelson Public Libraries in New Zealand, Public Libraries Singapore and Surrey Libraries in England were all active partners, suggesting themes, writing blog posts and participating in the twitter discussions.  This highlights that neighbours can be a bit further away, through the use of online connections, and you can see a bit more about it here and here. There is a data-visualisation of the tweets (it takes a while to load).The international partners also highlight that neighbours can be anywhere. On the neighbours aspect it can matter who is digitally near us but online connections internationally are valuable.  

It also matters who is geographically near us as Yarra Libraries shows, and as can be seen here in research from my work place.


Tuesday, December 1, 2020

A few thoughts on the book Archives and special collections as sites of contestation

Archives and Special Collections as Sites of ContestationArchives and Special Collections as Sites of Contestation by Mary Kandiuk
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This book focuses on the need to disrupt some archival and library practices, for example the need to have items catalogued in the language they are written in (for example Spanish or Japanese) and not only in English. It also has helpful examples of how to describe and provide access to archives with racist content in a way which provides a better understanding of their creator/s. This is not to change the past, but to improve the understanding of it.

This book shows the importance of building new collections which address the importance of social justice, to include those who have historically been excluded from collections, while being visible in the communities. Building new audiences for archives (both old and new) is shown as crucial, for sustainability and for understanding the historical context (recent or further in the past). Elizabeth Hobart reminds us that
Cataloguing is an ethical act, ensuring the discoverability of library resources regardless of content...Without a detailed, accurate record, items literally remain hidden . This applies to many collections in libraries.

There are many ideas of relevance to local studies collections in the different chapters in this book.

This is yet another excellent publication from Library Juice Press. My copy has lots of annotated post it notes sticking out, with notes on them for follow up.

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Friday, November 6, 2020

A few thoughts on How to create a relevant public space by Aat Vos

How to Create a Relevant Public SpaceHow to Create a Relevant Public Space by Aat Vos
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book reads like it is written as a provocation. It has many interesting ideas, and I don't agree with them all, but it is still interesting reading. Ideas to consider include, who are you excluding from your library. It may not be deliberate (or it may), but it could be in how the library is designed, and services are provided that some people feel unwelcome. The chapter by Diane Ghirardo is of particular interest for this.

One of the libraries discussed (in Gouda) was a chocolate factory before it was a library. The chapter by Jan David Hanrath and Rob Bruijnzeels highlights the importance of telling the stories of the buildings in a context like local studies. They also stress the importance of collections, and of connecting communities to these collections.
It is important that you remain true to yourself. The library's existence begins and ends with the collection. I mean a modern collection with, in addition to books, other forms of content such as music, art, tools, videos, course and activities, either physically or online. But that the collection is the core...the collection is what you inspire people with stories and information that is relevant to them...The library is going to ask questions, questions that are important for both individuals and community' (pp162-163, 165).

There are many lovely photographs of libraries in this book, but for some of these libraries access seems limited to those who are able bodied with stairs seeming sometimes as barriers not for access. When reading this book, think about whose voices are not included.

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Wednesday, November 4, 2020

A few thoughts on Cultivating civility: practical ways to improve a dysfunctional library by Jo Henry, Joe Eshleman, Richard Moniz

Cultivating Civility: Practical Ways to Improve a Dysfunctional LibraryCultivating Civility: Practical Ways to Improve a Dysfunctional Library by Jo Henry
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is a helpful follow up to The Dysfunctional Library: Challenges and Solutions to Workplace Relationships. The chapters in this book each have a different focus and include work place examples. At the end of most chapters are questions for discussion which could be helpful prompts for a reading group. This could be an interesting book for a work reading group, and would suggest that the focus is on chapters and not the whole book as there is much to explore chapter by chapter. While much of this information is not new, it is brought together in a helpful way, to help people improve communication and relationships at work. There are many references to explore for further reading including The Desegregation of Public Libraries in the Jim Crow South: Civil Rights and Local Activism (which I am yet to read), Algorithms of Oppression: How Search Engines Reinforce Racism (which I probably should re-read) and Masked by Trust: Bias in Library Discovery (which I am currently reading). This is a book which encourages creative thinking to solve problems, but also encourages taking action against bullies (including passive aggressive ones). The references at the end of each chapter provide much additional reading to explore specific topics.

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