Friday, December 27, 2019

local studies and making

Knitsonik does amazing work with knitting and sound. Her books encourage others to connect their lives to knitting, and there is a lot of potential for interesting local studies knitting (you really need to look at the knitted designs about bricks, fruitcake and roads). Knitsonik also combines knitting, sound and place (have a look at her work on this).
Other knitters are also working in this space. Perhaps you have some local knitters, spinners, woodworkers, coders, crocheters and other crafters who can help tell the story of your place.

This post has been sitting in my draft files for a while. I thought it was time to move it along.

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

A few thoughts on the book New top technologies every librarian needs to know

New Top Technologies Every Librarian Needs to KnowNew Top Technologies Every Librarian Needs to Know by Kenneth J. Varnum
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book brings together many technologies being used in libraries, some of these have been around for a while, but sometimes with little implementation in libraries. Each chapter provides a solid basic introduction to a technology or a tool for example linked open data, data visualisation or digital publishing. There is usually a description of how the technology is used in a library as well as how it could be used in a library. There are helpful further references at the end of each chapter. This is a book to dip into, and come back to as it is episodic in style.

I read this as an ebook on the Indyreads platform which is provided by my workplace.

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Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Question for #glamblogclub

This post is a few, mostly unconnected thoughts, and some questions. Asking questions is important, but you don't want to sound like you are conducting an interrogation. This is important with colleagues as well as with people who use your library. You also want to make sure you are listening for the answer/s and not thinking about what you will say next. Pauses can be okay.

When you are helping someone find information, do you help them with formulating their question, or do you answer the question you think they should have asked? I once worked with someone who felt it was much better to answer the questions she thought people should have been researching, rather than the questions they were looking to answer. This is different to helping someone formulate their question, and not nearly so helpful (unless you want people to avoid asking you questions, and it could be very frustrating for students with school projects to do.).

Biblioteka Haburas Moris, NGO Roman Luan, Atauro Island
Biblioteka Haburas Moris, NGO Roman Luan, Atauro Island
The reference interview/conversation or readers' advisory interview/conversation is about finding what the person is looking for, rather than the answer you want to give, and really helping them with their questions, rather than showing off your answers. It is also about listening so you are really providing the assistance/training they are seeking. This is not a post of inspiration but of a reminder of the basics.

 From earlier posts, there are a few more questions:

In case you are wondering about the photograph, it is from Biblioteka Haburas Moris, NGO Roman Luan, Atauro Island showing a locally produced book in Tetum.  There were other books in the library which certain donor organisations had given without asking the right questions.  For example on this island there was no postal service and no internet - so a book on how to use ebay was not going to be very useful.  The book on ebay use was only one example of the donor organisation not questioning what they were actually trying to do for the community. So if you are giving library materials to other countries think very carefully about it, and make sure you ask the right questions.

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

a few thoughts on The readers' advisory guide to genre fiction: Third edition by Neal Wyatt and Joyce G Saricks

The Readers' Advisory Guide to Genre Fiction: Third EditionThe Readers' Advisory Guide to Genre Fiction: Third Edition by Neal Wyatt
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is an excellent guide to readers' advisory work and is a pacy and engaging read. I would suggest reading it in chunks as it is helpful to think about how this information can be applied in your library. Each genre has a section which provides a definition, the characteristics and appeal including frame, setting, story line, tone, characterisation, language, style and pacing. Subgenres are explored. Key authors are suggested with an interesting mix of new and older authors. Information about fans of each genre is included (as to how much assistance they are likely to be interested in), as are 'sure bets'. One of the most interesting sections in each chapter is the reading among genres (so other genres you can suggest to particular readers), and 'reading the whole collection' which brings in non-fiction including poetry, graphic novels (although they are included in other places as well), audio books, film, television and video games. I really like the approach of making the whole collection work for readers' advisory work as there are some implications for how other enquiries are dealt with as well. Each chapter ends with a section called 'hack this book' where you can write in local information.

I read this as an ebook, however, for maximum use in a public library it may be necessary to buy a print edition (even with the rather tough exchange rates at present). This books could be very helpful for staff training, including detailed genre discussions.

While I do not agree with all the descriptions of each genre, they are very helpful.

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Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Who do you make space for in your library? #GLAMBlogClub

It is important to consider who you are making welcome inside your library space. Inside the library space may be inside the library building or mobile, or it could be the library website/app as a space, the library catalogue as space, and of course it is the collections and services.  Skilled staff are also key, but I am not going to call them a space. There are helpful resources for planning how big to make public libraries, and considerations for that space (both of these are thanks to various people at my work place).   The library space needs to be big enough for the community into the future, and that still means planning for a plenty of space in the actual building (and you can read more about that here).  Please don't skimp on space.

It is important to consider who you are making welcome inside the library space and who you aren't.  When you look at your local population data, who aren't you seeing in the library space? Find out why they don't feel welcome in the library space (in the library/online). Maybe you need to go out to talk with them first, so they know about the library, go to the space where they are comfortable.  There are some very interesting targeted programs taking place, this is just one example.
Author Sonali Dev calls for taking action on library collections, saying 'don't be complicit in our silencing' (go and listen to her talk - see below).  
 It is crucial that authors such as Sonali Dev and Uzma Jalaluddin are given space in public library collections.  This silencing can happen with local authors too, and it is important to make sure that Aboriginal and Torres Strait authors are given space in the collection. Make sure you have given enough space in the catalogue record so that people can find find what they are looking for. Subject headings can really make a big difference for readers' advisory work, both for staff and the public. Becky Spratford has also written about this (and this also provides a specific instance).  We need diverse books and American Indians in Children's Literature provide examples of sources for children's authors too, and these are needed as the infographic below shows.

This complicity in silencing has a lot of potential in local studies collections too.  The recent article about how a Bengali book in Broken Hill sheds new light on Australian history highlights the importance of making sure that we are not writing people out of history, silencing them for the future. If you are only collecting one narrative, there are many stories and many people which are being silenced, and not given space in your library.  Recent collecting is important for giving space to more viewpoints and different histories.

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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Friday, April 26, 2019

A few thoughts about The library book

The Library BookThe Library Book by Susan Orlean
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is a history of the Los Angeles Public Library, focused on the central library building. It is both about a library fire, and not about this. It contains interesting descriptions of daily work of public libraries, and shows some of the collections and services provided by Los Angeles Public Library. It highlights the importance of qualified and experienced library staff. Selected resources used for the research are listed. There is no index. This book is likely to appeal to people who enjoy descriptive accounts, and I really enjoyed many parts of this book. There is an interesting section on the early librarians who ran the Los Angeles Public Library - not all were librarians and there were some dastardly deeds as at least one librarian was forced out of her job.

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Thursday, April 25, 2019

reblogging RA for All: Becky's Response to the Whiteness as Collections

RA for All: Becky's Response to the Whiteness as Collections b...: Over the last few days, the post entitled, " Whiteness as Collections " by Sofia Leung an academic librarian with a focus on libra...


I am reblogging this because I think this is such an important discussion - head over to @raforall and read the blog post and the links.

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

A few thoughts on The Feminist Reference Desk: Concepts, Critiques, and Conversations

The Feminist Reference Desk: Concepts, Critiques, and ConversationsThe Feminist Reference Desk: Concepts, Critiques, and Conversations by Maria T. Accardi
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This provides an interesting way of looking at reference and information services. I liked the point about allowing space for silence in a reference interview, even if that is not always practical because of work pressures. It was a useful reminder that for some people asking for assistance is not easy. They will not have formulated what they want to ask, and they will need space and time to be able to answer your questions so that you can help them. Culturally there may need to be a discussion for context, and there needs to be space (and time) to be able to do this. This may need a different approach to some service, but that would enable it to be provided with equity, and and this can be really important for all service provision. It also highlighted that the 'reference interview is a conversation, a dialectical exchange between two people with an exchange of ideas and information with the goal of meeting the information need' p53.

There are many useful references which will lead to further reading. It is another excellent publication by Library Juice.

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Tuesday, March 5, 2019

Content unavailable webpage - how do you let your searchers know?

While following a link I came across the content unavailable image below. It is from the National Maritime Museum (England) . I found this a cheery way to tell me, and it was a great use of an image of rescue.
Showing a painting of a rescue at sea
Cheerful content unavailable page from National Maritime Museum, England

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

A few thoughts on the book : Progressive community action: critical theory and social justice in library and information science

Progressive Community Action: Critical Theory and Social Justice in Library and Information ScienceProgressive Community Action: Critical Theory and Social Justice in Library and Information Science by Bharat Mehra
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I read this because I was looking for existing work bringing together critical theory, social justice and libraries for a degree I am doing. I wanted to see the current state of writing in this area, and this book contributed very useful information. I had already read some other material by some of the contributors.

It is published by Library Juice Press. They do a great job bringing together complex ideas in a way which makes sense. I had to resort to buying my own copy because at present three libraries in Australia are listed as holding this title. My copy has post it notes and annotations as I needed to connect the ideas to help with my own planned research. One of the ideas which came through strongly was that libraries themselves can be a 'type of tool to further social justice' (p17).

Reading this was a good reminder that there is value in reading more theoretical material to help us understand the very practical work of libraries. This book helps explore assumptions, which is the point of critical theory.

This work provides many more writers to explore and also challenges the reader to apply critical theory to the library they work in.

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