The Librarian and Rome : Rules for The University of Gloucestershire Library c.1943

The Archivist at The University of Gloucestershire showed me these rules for the library she found in the Archives Collection dated c.1943 and gave me permission to post them here. The Library at the time was named “Rome” and the institution was then called St Paul’s Teacher Training College. I love them and wanted to share them with you. How times have changed! If you click on the images you should be able to zoom in to the text.


Full dissertation – A Malawian school library: culture, literacy and reader development

Here is the full dissertation I submitted for my Library and Information Management MSc at University of the West of England (click on the link below), the title of which is:

Library Aid to Developing Countries : A case study investigating how a Western literary library model is integrated into a Sub-Saharan African oral culture within the Malawian primary education system.

Johanna Anderson Dissertation

I was very excited to receive the LIRG Student Award 2010 for my research. Thank you LIRG!

If you don’t fancy reading it, it has lots of nice pictures in it of the awe-inspiring village I stayed in and of my Malawian friends you can look at. Please feel free to leave feedback or ask questions.

Will Self, Fire and Ire

This is what I said to Will Self about his comments on Open Book: where he spoke about the threat to libraries – BBC (1:07 to 10:44:) –

Dear Mr Self,

I was astonished by what you said about libraries as it seemed that you do not really have an understanding of the role of libraries or what they do. I am the Chair of a group called Friends of Gloucestershire Libraries, a group which has been working hard to save our libraries from draconian 43% cuts.

I invite you to come and visit some of our libraries and some of our thousands of supporters and users of these libraries. Our libraries are heavily used, are a lifeline for many and the centre of community cohesion. Despite your claim that events do not happen in libraries, hundreds of them are held in our libraries each year, from the hugely popular summer reading challenge which 11,129 of our children took part in, to housebound clubs for the elderly, to numerous and varied cultural events.

You said that the internet should be excluded from libraries. It is hugely worrying that you are advocating such an approach. 4/10 in Glos don’t have the internet. libraries play a crucial role in bridging the digital divide. Information is information no matter the format + to exclude people from it because you think libraries should be about paper is astonishing. You said that the authors who are speaking up for libraries are being sentimental…I have to say I think that it is you who is stuck in the past!

These authors are speaking for libraries as they have a public profile and are in a position to voice the concerns and anger of those, like me, who are not being listened to by our elected representatives who are destroying our public libraries. I was extremely grateful when Joanna Trollope wrote a piece in support of us in the Guardian. It raised our profile and put pressure on a council who are not listening to us and who are making very ill-thought out, disproportionate and damaging cuts. Unlike you, Joanna Trollope is invited to do events in libraries a lot and has been very supportive of our libraries in Gloucestershire. Her piece was far from sentimental but she had listened to us and knows what libraries mean to ordinary people – unlike you it seems.

3 million visits were made to libraries in this county last year – which is far from insignificant. In times of economic crisis + high unemployment libraries are now more important than ever.

With friends like you libraries do not need enemies! I wish you had more regard for the people who rely on libraries when you made such ill-informed and damaging comments. I invite you to come and visit us in the hope you may change you mind.

On Mon, Mar 21, 2011 at 8:22 PM, Will Self wrote:

Dear Ms Anderson What exactly do you object to? That I said libraries didn’t hold enough events? Perhaps I was referring to my own local libraries – not all of them. That I said libraries should eschew the internet? You hardly answer the point I made, which is that the internet can be inimical to the concentration needed to read seriously. That I said that some of the authors prominent in the campaign received a hefty public subsidy through the Public Lending Right? This is merely a statement of fact. You should concentrate your fire – and ire – on the legislators, not me.

Yours &c. Will Self

I wrote

Mr Self,

I made it very clear what I object to. You, a public figure, undermining on the radio, the work of people trying to save important services, based on personal observations masquerading as generalisable fact.

You fail to answer any of the points that I made.

Our invite stands



I did start to compose a lengthy response to Mr Self but ultimately thought there was little point. He should listen on iPlayer to what he said rather than what he seems to think he said. The “legislators” he tells me to concentrate my “fire and ire on” are exactly the people who are not listening to me, hence high profile authors being welcome to step in….which was exactly the point I was making and one of the several points that he completely misses. Oh well, I tried.

A Malawian school library: culture, literacy and reader development : Anderson and Matthews

So, I am finally a published author. You can read my article here. It was tough to fit my dissertation and several years worth of work into one paper but I hope I managed to bring out all of the significant findings and discussion. As it was my first attempt to write a journal article I chose to co-author it with my research supervisor Paul Matthews. Paul also has a background in international development and so was able to provide further context and expertise,  underpinning in more detail how my research related to current international development agenda.  I enjoyed working collaboratively and I think Paul really helped to round out the piece. The experience increased my confidence enough to go solo in the future.  I had intended to write another article for an international development journal as literacy and libraries have such an important role to play in the alleviation of poverty I hoped I might be able to play a small role in raising the profile of libraries and reader development to a wider audience, but my life has rather been taken over by campaigning activities for Friends of Gloucestershire Libraries and my PGCHE course so I have been unable to do this. I wonder if it is too late.  I will post my full dissertation on my blog shortly. The NGO I based the research on chose not to follow the recommendations, which is of course their prerogative, but I hope it may be of use to other library aid providers.

When I wrote my dissertation the world was very different. I had no idea that a year later I would be fighting so hard to save our public libraries in the UK from a government that fails to see the value they bring to communities and the vital role they have to play in getting us out of the financial mess we are in. I often wonder how  I would explain this to the people of Chembe village, people who look to us and the resources we have with envy. They could teach us a thing or to. Sometimes you don’t know what you have got until it is gone…..but I digress.

The Blog Post Formerly Known as “Right to Reply”

This blog post originally said something other than what you are reading now. I had seen a blog post written by a “consultant” “library campaigner” or maybe even a sometime “author” who never seems to have  much positive to say. I do not normally pay much attention but the inaccuracies of this particular post and the attack it made on public librarians made me cross. He basically said libraries are closing because they are rubbish and then went on to blame all librarians. I felt the need to respond in an attempt to try to make him see things with….um a little more balance…it did not work and only served to make me crosser and I ended up venting in this very blog post – guess what, it did not make me feel  better…..Something else did. This evening I received an email from a lady who is supporting Friends of Gloucestershire Libraries efforts to stop the devastating 43% cuts to our library services. Her email moved me, put things into perspective and made me realise I was looking at things all the wrong way.  She is a lifelong library user who “cannot envisage life in Gloucestershire without a full set of properly staffed and stocked libraries” she values all library staff  “whether in public or specialist libraries” stating that “they need a huge range of skills for which they have undergone substantial training”

She finally  says that she has pleaded with the county councillors to “search their consciences and think again. We need a library culture if we are to remain a civilised and knowledgeable country”.

This is one of  many letters, emails and phone calls of support I have had from members of the public, students, charities, community groups, library staff (of all levels of seniority) councillors, authors, teachers, lecturers and journalists since I and three of my friends started Friends of Gloucestershire Libraries.  It has been incredibly moving to hear why libraries and properly trained library staff are so important to them. Tonight it made me think that for every agitator out there we currently have 70 passionate, positive campaigners here in our formidable team and the numbers are growing all of the time (hopefully beyond 5000 if our petition is a success!) These people remind me why I am working so hard to save our libraries and this evening they have reminded me to focus my energy on campaigning for what I believe in and to stop being distracted (as I was momentarily) by someone whose intention is to exude negativity and who is never going to even try to understand what I have to say. So I have rewritten this blog post as a celebration and I dedicate it to all of the wonderful Friends of Gloucestershire Libraries campaigners who are working so hard, to the tireless, brave campaigners at Voices for the Library and to the library staff, both in Gloucestershire and nationally, who are currently going through a horrendous time. You are all my inspiration.  In unity.

Librarians Gagged

A few months ago I heard Gloucestershire County Council had slashed the public libraries book budget by 40 %. This was even BEFORE the government spending review had been announced. I suspected worse was to come. As a public library user this concerned me. What concerned me more is that when I searched I could not find one library user group in Gloucestershire and I wondered who would speak out for the libraries when the second, larger axe fell? no one, that is who. So I did something about it. I and three of my friends decided we would set up a Friends of Cheltenham Library group so that we could give library users a voice. Cheltenham Library is our local library. We wanted to speak for the whole of the library service but felt we might be too small so we focused on Cheltenham with intentions to scrutinise any policies that affected the library service as a whole. The group has grown. People came from all around. Drastic cuts were announced last week for our public library services. Gloucestershire County Council intend to cut libraries by 43%, Yes 43%! and they say they will close 11 libraries if they are not taken over by volunteers. Many of  these libraries at threat are in the poorest areas. I do not want to go into the ins-and-outs of the councils plans here. You just have to look at them for  few minutes to see how ridiculous and extreme they are. If you need any more convincing take a look at a letter we received from 5 senior former Gloucestershire County Council Library staff here. Council Leader Hawthorne and the Mr Vaisey should have seen these letters by now also.

Recently we were told that other people in the county wanted to come to our group but our name made them feel that it was not a group for them as we were Cheltenham focused and so we changed the group to Friends of Gloucestershire Libraries – people have since flocked in. They have nowhere else to turn.

Friends of Gloucestershire Libraries took part in a protest rally today with hundreds of other people protesting against brutal public sector cuts. A young lady who I had never met before approached me and said “My dad says your campaign website is great and everything but he says that maybe you should not say on it that you are a librarian.”  She is the third  person to have individually advised me to stop telling the press that I am a librarian as it may seem as if I am running this group in self-interest. Well let me tell you something I AM A LIBRARIAN AND I AM PROUD, proud to be speaking up for libraries, library users and public library staff. In all three incidences I heard myself saying apologetically “But I am an academic librarian not a public librarian. If public libraries die, I still have my job
I told her that it does not even say on the website that I am a librarian, the newspaper reporting on our group did though, maybe her dad saw it there? I told the reporter I am an academic librarian but they failed to report that.  Since I got home I have been thinking on this and getting rather cross.  Even if the website did say I am a librarian why shouldn’t it? I have decided that I AM NOT going to take this any more. I am not going to apologise and this is why…..

In a Friends of Gloucestershire Libraries meeting last week we all took turns to say who we were and why we were at the meeting. There was a lady who was a carer – she told us she looks after vulnerable adults and that libraries are their lifeline. She takes them to the library several times a week and she does not know what she will do if the library closes. Her library is one of the ones that have been threatened with closure. Another lady works with an organisation that supports the elderly. She also fears what will happen when their library service goes, again it is a lifeline for these elderly people. A pensioner told us how he had been a lifelong library user and would be lost if the libraries were closed now. He felt so strongly about this that he offered to drive some of our members around the county to meet with other library users to try to build a network and give them a voice. A retired couple came and said they had never felt as angry as they do at the threat to their libraries. The protest we went to today was the first protest they had been to. They felt they had to do something. A young man in his early 20’s told us how strongly he felt about the destruction of our libraries.  A library assistant told us as she blinked away tears that a few weeks ago a mother and her little boy, who did not have much money, came into the library. The little boy had chosen to go to the library to get a book instead of going to the cinema. His mother has since been back to the library to thank them and tell them how much her sons literacy has improved since getting hooked on books. The library assistant thinks children are going to have such opportunities taken from them if libraries close. Other Library staff in attendance told us how worried they were about the future of the vulnerable people in the communities they served if libraries were to close. They were not thinking of themselves they were thinking of others. It was upsetting, it was stark,  it was moving it was inspiring. This is what I am fighting for, this is why I am spending all of my spare time standing up for something I believe in and  I will not apologise for it. Why is it considered so wrong for a person to speak out for their profession? I think we provide a vital service. Would people rather I sat around and waited for people who do not understand or care for the role, ethics and values of libraries to step in? because if they are then wave bye-bye to libraries. Wave good-bye to free unbiased access to information.

I often wonder why we find ourselves in the situation we are in now and I am beginning to think it is in large part due to the gagging of librarians but also due to the complicity of librarians. Why do we let this happen? Speak out, stand up and shout about how great we are and how great libraries are because we have people depending on us and I have found out in the last few weeks just how important we are to people. Many people have thanked me for setting up the group as they feel they now have somewhere to turn. We are all working together for a common goal. We feel like we can make a difference. That is all. rant over.

I wonder who that young lady and her dad were??

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What Should go into a Practical Resource for Teacher Librarians?

Wow, I had a  bit of a roll in July as far as blog posts go but I am ashamed to see how I have neglected my blog since then. In my defence, a lot of things have happened that rather swallowed my time.  I am part of the team that, over the last few months, founded the campaign group  Voices for the Library which came about due to serious concerns we have about the future of public libraries in the face of huge cuts to public services. This campaign was (and still is) a massive undertaking but  I am very proud of it. My own local library service is at threat so I set up a local campaign group Friends of Cheltenham Library (boy, campaigning is hard!) and I started a Post Graduate Certificate in Higher Education.  Suffice it to say life has been hectic!  Excuses out of the way I am actually here to ask a question I need your help with:

Does anyone have any suggestions on what they would like to see included in a practical book for teacher librarians? I have recently been asked this question myself and I personally think it would be good to have a book that suggests a range of teaching methods that we can use for our teaching sessions which are explained and supported by approrpriate  teaching theory.  I say this because since I have started a PGCHE the theory I am learning is really making me think about how I deliver my lessons, why I do them that way and what I can improve. I had no knowledge of what “surface” or “deep” learning is and how teaching and assesments can impact on the students engagement in learning. I knew roughly what my aims were in my teaching sessions but I did not really know the best ways of ensuring I set and realised appropriate  outcomes. After reading this interesting article “Trying to figure it out”: Academic librarians talk about learning to teach I wonder how many others like me just “try to figure it out” as we go along. I think a book that explains theory and makes practical suggestions would really help. What do you all think?

Suggestions so far: (from  @Nykohler – via Twitter Thank you)
“Planning timings, learning styles and appropriate exercises for each, different types of session and how best to support diff learning styles, handout, slide etc design, tips for engaging with students- language, examples etc, additional help and where available, reminders to check room, equipment etc before session if possible”