Archive for March, 2010

Hula-Hooping and World Records

’nuff about libraries for now. I had a break from all that at the weekend and I am now a world record holder having taken part in the Hoopathon for Sports Relief in Bristol yesterday yay!!!!. 1388 of us,  at venues across the country, hooped at the same time for two minutes. Then I hula-hooped around the mile.  It was so much fun, the weather was amazing and I met loads of other hoop dancers (most of them waaaay better than me!) The great news is that I have found us a new hoop teacher and a network of hoop dancers that I had no idea exsisted….I thought it was all happening in London.
There is only so much you can learn from a DVD, which is what my hoop-group have had to rely on so far :-)  and I had started to feel like I was in a bit of a rut so the timing of this couldn’t have been better.

There was a lady there who did a display of Belly Dance Hoop fusion, she was amazing! definitely want to try that next.

I started off the day with a stonking cold but as soon as I got hooping it miraculously went! you simply cannot be down when you hoop AND it has magical healing properties!

(Note to self: All of the best hula girls were wearing sparkly pants..must get me some sparkly pants)

Remember – it’s cooler to hula folks! :D

(all of that said…the mile route did take us past Bristol City Library and I couldn’t resist giving it a little nod on my way past!)

last nights Newsnight

So, my initial thoughts on last nights Newsnight “Do libraries have a Future” debate. Firstly where was CILIP and where were the librarians? It was Maragret Hodge and Alex Gibbons a “library campaigner” who took part in the discussion. Whilst it is great there are “library campaigners”, it seems bizarre to me that there was no sign of anyone from the professional body there to advocate libraries. Gibbons got some positive comments in there, for example, he thinks that libraries are more important now than ever but he also seemed to think that librarians stamp and issues books, stating that self-service machines should free up the librarians from this work to “get out and meet the public”. I feel like I am forever repeating to people “librarians do not just stamp and issue books all day” my work has been undone! 

Secondly, does Labour have some kind of deal with Starbucks?

A missed opportunity I say. What about all the other work libraires do beyond books?

My research trip to Malawi – The Warm Heart of Africa

Here is a wee video I made of my research trip to Malawi. Make sure you have the sound turned up…there is some amazing singing on it that I recorded at the schools end-of-term celebrations. :-)

For my Library and Information Management MSc dissertation, I went to a primary school in rural Malawi, to which a British NGO had donated a library of western materials that were no longer wanted in the UK. I spent  three weeks interviewing the teachers and the library assistant. My  intention was to investigate library aid from the recipients perspective.

I have been invited to do a presentation about my work at Bath University on April 26th,  for the AULIC staff development group. Anyone going to that?

Although I have not made a start on it yet, I plan to discuss the success and suitability of a Western-donated school library in furthering the aims of literacy and reader development in  Malawi. The contribution that library and information professionals can make to international development agendas will also be discussed with particular reference to the Millennium Development Goals.

When I first got interested in this subject and started my literature review, I discovered that although there was a lot of discussion  in this area,  it largely come from desk research. First-hand, qualitative data is very thin on the ground.

To address the chronic education resource shortage, Western books are often sent to sub-Saharan African countries at great expense, with little or no needs analysis or in-depth review of the service after the  books have been installed. These book donation models are often criticized in the literature but I really wanted to find out what the recipients of these donations thought because their voices were distinctly lacking.

Participatory approaches to the planning and evaluation of projects are not new in international development but we in the library world do not appear to use them when attempting to support developing countries. I think this is a shame as we could learn so much.

The trip was an amazing experience that really highlighted the important role libraries and librarians could play in international development, if only NGO’s and development agencies see fit to consult us….we really should be banging their doors down!! I went to CILIP’s International Library and Information Group’s annual general meeting last month where CILIP’s president Biddy Fisher delivered a talk on how librarians can help to deliver the Millenium Development Goals. It was great to hear this being discussed but the goals were agreed upon in 2000…..the targets set for 2015. Are we too late?

Anyone interested in my findings just let me know, I would be happy to let you read them – you may find some surprises!

Anyone about to embark on a Library Masters dissertation and not sure what to research? I highly recommend taking the plunge and conducting research overseas. When else will you have this chance? If you need any tips or advice – again, just let me know.

Anyone out there reading this who works in international development and needs a knowledgable, motivated, librarian. cooooeeeeee! gi’us a job :-)

How does CILIP support newly Qualified professionals who work in institutions that have no professional development budget?

What do you do? You are a recently qualified librarian who is about to embark on the road to chartership and who is also on the look out for a senior professional post.  The academic library you work in, as an assistant librarian, has had no budget for new resources for almost 2 years and journal subscriptions have been cut back significantly.   The staff training budget virtually no longer exists. This is where I find myself. I love my job and have been extremely lucky to have had my MSc funded…but what next?

I have been thinking a lot about how much more important it will be to set myself apart from the competition due to the current economic climate.  We all know how libraries and arts facilities are always the first to get hit by budget cuts in recessions and this time round is no exception as all the recent media coverage of public spending cuts tells us http://www.thebookseller.com/news/113806-libraries-most-vulnerable-to-public-service-cuts.html.rss . As I know only too well, it is not just public libraries that will be hit but academic libraries also.

Our survey suggests that academic libraries will be the hardest hit by these budgetary pressures, with 34.3% of them expecting to receive a smaller budget in two years’ time than they do currently. For a small minority, 6.9%, the pain will be very severe, since their budgets will be more than 10% smaller than they are this year” (LAW, 2009).

Try 100% smaller – For us this reality  is happening now!

Building a Chartership portfolio requires you to identify training needs and to seek to address them.  This will be tricky in my situation. I can seek free in-house training opportunities but these, by their very nature, are limited. I could seek free events to attend because I can still get travel expenses paid (providing I don’t travel first class!) but these opportunities are also limited. Also, because vacant posts in my library are not being filled, it is all-hands-on-deck, so getting the time off to attend events is very difficult.

Membership of CILIP is £184 and I am lucky that my place of work helps with the cost of this because I can not afford this on my own…but how long will this last? which brings me on to my next point. I have seen several CILIP events recently that I would love to attend, both for my own development, and because I think they would benefit my library. For example CILIPs Career Development Group is running a conference entitled Work Smarter the theme of which is how librarians can achieve more with fewer resources.  It is great that CILIP is addressing these issues but it is a shame that those institutions whom this would help most are the very ones who can’t afford to send their staff to these events –  even with membership discounts there is absolutely NO WAY, at a cost of £123, that I will get funding for this and I can not afford to pay for this myself. (and this is actually a pretty good deal as the average CILIP conference or training event is normally around the £300 – £450 mark)

How many dedicated and motivated professionals are in the same boat? We are members of a professional body that  provides great development opportunities…providing you work in an institution that can afford to send you to take part in these opportunities.

My goal is to look for development opportunities that will help me to, at the very least, keep up with my contemporaries and to enable me to be competitive in the job market but I suspect it is not going to be easy. However, it is important I am creative and make use of any opportunity I can – if  let we let our own development slip then in turn we let down our service users….Is any one else in the same boat? what are you doing to overcome this?

Is CILIP doing enough to support professionals in my position? Should it? I have no idea how this would be managed, but, there are often greatly reduced discounts for the unwaged to CILIP events, how about a discount for “unwaged” libraries?

I would be really interested to hear comments or ideas on this subject as there must be a lot of people in a similar position.

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