Library A to Z

This week a great library advocacy campaign, the Library A to Z, is launching. As a backer of the project, I also wanted to do my bit by promoting it on my blog. The Libray A to Z is a simple concept really. They’ve created “a visual A to Z celebrating the wide range of services, resources and facilities that make libraries so fantastic.” This week a whole mess of important people and the media will be receiving the Library A to Z packs. Check out the website for more information and to access the materials which are available to share under a Creative Commons license. I’ve also got some spare postcards if you’d like one!

A is for access; advice; answers; archives; art; audio books…

An illustration created for the Library A to Z project www.libraryatoz.org by Josh Filhol. Images released under a CC by 4.0 licence.

An illustration created for the Library A to Z project http://www.libraryatoz.org by Josh Filhol. Images released under a CC by 4.0 licence.

Here are a few reasons (if you need any more) why I think libraries are fantastic, from my perspective as user and library staff.

  • ‘Third space’ – Working in a school library, I saw this aspect of libraries very clearly. The third space is somewhere that is not home or school where young people can go. The library while not exactly heaving after school still met a real need for students who needed somewhere to stay for various reasons and provided a safe and conducive place to do homework. Student groups would also use the meeting room space.
  • Literacy, especially digital literacy – No one would deny that libraries have a positive impact on literacy. Nowadays we talk about ‘digital literacy’ which includes online searching, digital know-how, and helping meet people’s information needs in today’s information society. It also covers issues such as authority/credibility and plagiarism. I’ve read about digital literacy in the news recently and in my studies. Research is showing that people struggle with digital literacy, yet it is highly desirable by employers. From first hand experience I can also attest that literacy is a huge focus in education now! The work that school (and other) librarians do in this area is brilliant, unmistakably needed and should be championed and expanded by leaders.
  • Facilitate and support knowledge and learning – This aspect of libraries has been so evident in my work in a conservatoire library. It is truly a living, breathing thing. Students come all the time to borrow sheet music to study and perform, books to support their learning in modules, CDs to inspire their creativity and to use the study spaces. We support many performances around the College by providing orchestral and choral sets, and even jazz vinyl for a guest DJ.
  • Place to save money! I love buying books, but it is nice to save some money by using my local library!
  • Place to discover new stories, authors, local news and events – My local library, as the local information hub, is a great place to browse new books and also learn about what’s going on locally.

But that’s enough from me, check out the Library A to Z, which puts this all together in a much more interesting and graphic way!

#LibraryAtoZ

My Bookshelf 12 Nov 2014

Dominion, C.J. Sansom

Another masterpiece from Sansom, whose Shardlake series I’ve also recommended. This is a weighty tome, at just over 700 pages. While reading it propped up on various pillows and small tables, I starting seriously considering the benefits of e-readers. Dominion is a historian’s “what if…?” tale set in 1952 London. The backdrop is that Britain followed an appeasement policy in World War II resulting in Pearl Harbour never occurring, America never entering the war and subsequent Nazi Germany domination of Europe. It is truly disturbing as you can imagine but also a compelling story of ordinary people standing up for freedom.

Time Dancers, Steve Cash

Second book in The Meq series about a race of ageless children (they stop physically ageing at age 12) with magic powers and their search around the world and through history for ultimate meaning. All I can say is, it’s mesmerising. And the second book has improved on the first.

Book fountain IMG_3587. CC-BY-NC 2.0.

Neat book-related image: Cincinnati Public Library ‘Book fountain IMG_3587’ by OZinOH, Flickr, CC-BY-NC 2.0.

Sepulchre, Kate Mosse

I picked this up for 40p at a charity shop and man, was it worth it. A well-crafted novel that jumps between present day and late nineteenth-century France. I couldn’t put it down. Also for my music friends, Debussy and his circle crop up.

The Ocean at the End of the Lane, Neil Gaiman

I was recommended Gaiman by a school book seller. She said something along the lines of, “Other schools automatically buy any new title by Neil Gaiman, without bothering about what it is. He’s that good.” So I got this from my local library. It is a whimsical, charming and truly fantastic story written from the perspective of a young boy but aimed at adult readers. Thoroughly enjoyed it.

Decline and Fall, Evelyn Waugh

I recently saw this listed in a newspapers’ list of Best Books Ever Written (or something similar) list though I’m not entirely sure why. I read it recently as someone recommended it to me. Set in the early twentieth century, it was very funny, in a P.G. Wodehouse style of humour. The difference being where Wodehouse is all lighthearted and carefree, Waugh had elements of the bizarre and repeatedly underlined the depressing randomness of modern life.

All the Pretty Horses, Cormac McCarthy

A beautiful, sad and sweeping novel of Mexico and rural America set in a vague time in the mid-twentieth century. The language is as spare and barren as the landscape. Recommended by my local librarian, and well worth a read.

Quick Update – Autumn 2014

A lot of change has been happening in my life this autumn and has resulted in a massive slow down of blog posts! You might have seen on Facebook or Twitter that I have changed jobs recently. I said goodbye to Bruntcliffe School on October 24th and am now in my second week as a library counter assistant at Leeds College of Music. A professional goal of mine is to work in a music library, so I was thrilled to get this role at the College and it’s great to be working with music again. My school library experience was brilliant and definitely prepared me for taking the next step in my career. I’ll be writing a blog post soon about what I learned.

I attended the IFLA World Library and Information Congress in Lyon, France in August. This was an amazing, mind-boggling experience and all you CILIP members can read a feature article I wrote for the October issue of Update (along with some other first timers’ perspectives). I’ll be adapting this for my blog at some point as well.

Along with a lot of early career library folks, I want to do my librarianship qualification. However it was put on the back burner because of my work commitments. However when I got my new job which is part time, I thought it was a good opportunity to study part time as well. So I am now a month in to the Information and Library Management MA/MSc (distance learning) at Northumbria University. I’m nearly caught up with the coursework and really enjoying it so far – lots of blog and Twitter fodder in there as well!

When not turning my life upside down, I try to keep up with email lists and wanted to share a few interesting articles I’ve read recently:

  • Daniel Russell, an employee of Google, on why your library card is a powerful research tool:  http://bit.ly/1xX5tqi
  • Christopher Hogwood, a pioneer of the historical performance movement in Britain, died recently. This post on the Cambridge Music Collections blog gave a brilliant picture of his life: http://bit.ly/1E0e6Tj
  • After attending the IFLA conference, I’m more interested in libraries advocating for the public interest. This short article about US librarians and anti-surveillance was interesting: http://bit.ly/1t82KGo

A few teaser pictures from #WLIC2014 Lyon:

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Beautiful Lyonnais architecture.

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Conference Centre