Library School – Data, Law and Ethics module

I took this module last autumn, one of the last two of the PG Dip. For my general post about my librarianship course, go here.

I had really high hopes for this module. I thought we’d get into all kinds of meaty issues I was really interested in like privacy, surveillance and censorship. We did address these issues and others, but at a very high, broad-brush level. The module had to cram a lot in, so I felt I got an overview of the main issues but little to no in-depth engagement. It also placed a big emphasis on legal frameworks so we covered a lot of laws and government policy which was fairly dry. I would have appreciated learning about a law, say the Copyright, Design and Patents Act (1988) and then delving into a relevant example that raised all sorts of uncomfortable questions and applications. There were some attempts to engage via activities you were supposed to do which were helpful, but I felt this classes’ subject matter would work better in an in-person context where you can have discussions.

The module was structured as a series of workbooks that we worked through with some discussion board posting online. There were two assignments to complete. One was a discussion board post on a legal case or area of legislation and the other was a topical essay or critical analysis of journal articles. I would have loved to do the essay, but in the end time pressure forced me to do the article review because I knew I wouldn’t have time do all the reading I wanted to for the essay. One of the articles on the approved list was about the library’s role in disaster preparedness and looked at how libraries met people’s needs after Hurricane Katrina in 2010 on the Gulf Coast (Braquet, 2010). This was obviously of personal interest to me (here’s my Katrina post) and I found that the study and others on this topic showed that libraries basically kept on doing what they do best in the midst of terrible situations, viz. providing quality information, internet access and a safe space for all. This was of great value to those communities and of course is now a major talking point on the value of libraries. See for instance this article about Baltimore public libraries remaining open during the riots last year.


Braquet, D. M. (2010) ‘Library experiences of Hurricane Katrina and New Orleans flood survivors’, Libres Library and Information Science Research Electronic Journal, 20(1), pp. 1-23. Available at: (Accessed: 7 Dec 2015).

Winter Update – Thanksgiving, MLT & Library School

It’s been a busy month or two. The weather is getting more and more horrible BUT it was Thanksgiving a few weeks ago! Thanksgiving Day was on Thursday, November 26 and since that was a normal working day for me, we had a little Thanksgiving dinner with friends the Saturday before. New for me this year was attempting pumpkin pie and catering for a vegetarian. Both came off well I think! If this whole Thanksgiving thing is new to you, here’s a website that explains the history behind it. It actually brilliantly sums up my families’ typical day: ‘Each year on the fourth Thursday in November, Americans gather for a day of feasting, football and family.’


“Tom Turkey’ …as named by Jill…’ by Olin Gilbert. Flickr CC license.

My work with the Music Libraries Trust also ramps up this time of year. I’ve started organising our annual bursary scheme for the IAML (UK & Irl) conference in April. This involves some admin, letter writing and sending out loads of emails, posters and tweets advertising the bursaries. For more information on our work click here. We’ve also got a shiny, new website you might want to check out.

I’m in the final stretch of my library school coursework as well. I finished the final two modules yesterday. The assignments had become all consuming as they are wont to do. I wrote an article about the pros and cons of the new cataloguing standard Resource, Description and Access (RDA) which was implemented by most major national libraries including the Library of Congress and British Library in 2013. No one likes change and librarians are rather bad at it so you can imagine the uproar over this. RDA is a departure from the print-centric standards of the past and instead seeks to accommodate any type of content no matter the format. In short I think it’s a positive step into the 21st century for the field.

Now I will be busy with driving lessons (blog post forthcoming) and Christmas! Also, *space nerd geek out* I’m following the current mission to the International Space Station including the first British astronaut, Tim Peake. The BBC has done a brilliant documentary on him. Their Soyuz docks in a few hours. Current ISS resident, Scott Kelly is also worth following. He tweets the most beautiful photos and is part way through a year long stay (a human experiment trying to understand the long term effects of zero-G by using Kelly’s identical twin brother on Earth as the control). So cool. Geek out over!

Wrap up of interesting articles

Here’s a wrap up of articles of interest from t’internet I’ve read recently.

Library Trends

A blog post via the International Librarians Network  about trends in libraries piqued my interest. The super-cool sounding DaVinci Institute (an American think tank) has published an article on the future of libraries that is fascinating. One prediction: the days of using keyboards as an interface with technology are numbered.

Another neat trend report on the future of librarianship qualifications (a debate which will keep raging for many more years to come I’m sure). The University of Maryland envisions a degree that trains ‘disruptive’ leaders with a strong emphasis on business/management skills (e.g. project management) and empowering your community.

Visitors and Residents

I’ve been reading about a new model for digital engagement called “visitors and residents”. The visitors and residents model was developed in response to the perceived failings of existing models, namely digital natives / digital immigrants. Basically the model presumes that a digital native is someone born after about 1990 who since they’ve grown up with the Internet is presumed to have an innate understanding of technology. A digital immigrant is the term used to refer to the rest of us who had to learn technologies as adults, therefore we “immigrated” into digital culture rather than being a tech “native”. There are lots of problems with this, mainly that age is no determinant of technological savvy as proven by several studies.[1]

Visitors and residents is understood as a continuum of online engagement where the residents, to a greater or less extent, live online. They engage and interact with others, and leave records of this in the form of tweets, Facebook posts, blog posts, comments etc. On the other hand, visitors, view the Internet more like a garden shed, you go in and get the tool you need or complete a task, then leave. Obviously we’ll all shift between these at times, and the point of the continuum is it’s not a fixed label. To learn more about V & R, here is some info with links to the original paper by LeCornu and White (2011)  and here’s a presentation by Ned Potter about V & R in a library context.

New UK Sound Directory for all you audiophiles

The British Library project Save our Sounds recently announced they have published a UK Sound Directory with information about 3,000 collections of sound recordings held all across the country. The wider aim of the project is to digitise historic British sound recordings because otherwise they will be lost in a few decades since many are in fragile formats and the technology used to play them is increasingly rare.


[1] See for example the studies by Rowlands et. al on the ‘Google Generation’ (Rowlands, I., Nicholas, D., Williams, P., Huntington, P., Fieldhouse, M., Gunter, B.,Withey, R., Jamali, H.R., Dobrowolski, T. and Tenopir, C. (2008) ‘The Google generation: the information behaviour of the researcher of the future,’ Aslib Proceedings, 60(4), pp. 290–310. Doi: 10.1108/00012530810887953).

Library School – An Intro

A first post about library school. I like to call it that because the Americanism seems to be coming into more general use over here. I’m studying part time via distance learning at Northumbria University and I have yet to actually visit Newcastle! There was an optional one day study school in September, but I missed it since I started the course late. Contact with tutors is by phone or email. A Facebook group set up by some of our cohort has proven a lively forum for discussion and commiseration. We use an online learning platform/VLE to access teaching material, discussion boards, reading lists and the library’s online resources. They post us the set texts for each module which is very useful and I am now accumulating a nice little information science library. I have also gotten access to my local university library through the SCONUL Access scheme. That’s been really useful come assignment time when I need to do research and track down sources that I cannot access online. Unfortunately they only let me borrow four items at once though…

A bit about the course structure. We take two modules at a time so it is manageable even if you’re working full time, which the majority of students are as far as I can gather. I’m lucky in that I have two week days to devote to study because a lot of the others have to complete coursework at evenings and weekends. After sixteen months, I will (fingers crossed) be awarded a postgraduate diploma, and at that point you can stop or carry on and write a dissertation to receive the masters qualification.

I finished two modules at the end of January: Managing in the Information Environment and Hypermedia for the Information Professional. Thankfully I passed both of them, an encouraging sign at this point. Those were the two that attracted me to the programme in the first place so it was good to start with topics I was interested in. I’m currently working on Collection Management and Organising Knowledge modules. I plan to blog in a bit more detail about each module so watch this space.

Quick Update – January 2015

Happy New Year and thanks for reading! It’s been a busy few months since my last post. I had family visiting over Christmas, a concert with Leeds Baroque and coursework for my two library school modules to complete before the holidays.

I also feel like I’ve been signing a lot of petitions lately. Library of Birmingham, Barnet Libraries and others are facing cuts. While I acknowledge that we are living in difficult times due to the ‘current economic climate’ and I know budgets have to be cut, it’s still a shame to hear of important services getting the axe. Especially ones that do so much for literacy and access to information.

I’ve also been working on promoting the Music Libraries Trust bursary scheme for the upcoming IAML (UK & Irl) conference in April at Aston University, Birmingham. If you are interested in this opportunity, please visit to learn more.

In the next few weeks, I will be blogging about my new job, my old job and what I’m learning so far on my librarianship course.