Monday, 9 September 2013

Library Camp East, Harlow College, 7 September 2013

I attended the Library Camp East unconference and learned a great deal.  But my notes from the sessions, including the sessions I had myself pitched, were extremely sketchy.  In consequence, this write-up consists mainly of nuggets and links.

Get creative with your CPD - Claire Sewell (@ces43). 

This group discussion on continuing professional development for librarians called up a number of resources that I shall investigate:

Claire's blog post 'CPD for free!'

The International Librarians Network -- penpals with an agenda

Barbara Allan's No-nonsense guide to training in libraries (London: Facet, 2013)

I offered my own fourpenn'orth about courses.  After taking time out and spending money on a seminar that hadn't helped me in proportion, I was advised by my mentor to sign up to email lists that would throw many course advertisements at me.  I'd thus be forced to adopt 'No' as a default response.  In time, I came to refine that into a 3-grade escalation:

plan A: ignore the course altogether
plan B: if course seems worthwhile, look out writings by course presenters, whether online or print on paper, and read those in preference to attending
plan C: attend the course

Sticks and carrots - Aidan Baker (@AidanBaker)

This was the session I pitched on reward and punishment in libraries.  I was daunted to find it attended by librarians of the seniority of Liz Jolly and Andrew Preater.

I had hosted a discussion by librarians from around Cambridge, a few days earlier, on the subject of library fines.  No one at that discussion worked in a library that rejected the idea of fines.  At the Library Camp session, on the other hand, the voices in favour of scrapping fines were many and strong.  An anecdote that was cited was from Freakonomics, and concerned not libraries but nurseries: the introduction of a charge for parents who were late in collecting their children was followed by a rise in the number of late collections, as the guilt that might have driven early collection found another channel in the paying of the late fee.

The Library Camp discussion also touched on the setting up of friends' groups for libraries.  A good insight from public libraries was that friends' groups that were integrated into the work of the library, and able to see themselves as partners with it, thrived better than friends' groups whose origin was in campaigning.  The latter tended sometimes to see themselves almost as rivals to the library.

Fifteen years in libraries - Group discussion led by Anna Martin (@AnnaLMartin) 

Anna led this discussion around her own life story.  See Anna's blog for what she is prepared to make public about this.  Her questions in the session drew some interesting comments.  A mobile library manager ruminated on the havoc that love could wreak in a well-run system.  And there were tears; not seen by me at the time, but found in a tweet afterwards: a participant told the world she was "Failing not to cry because session facilitator just talked about having mental health issues AND being successful and employed".
How do I get the hang of ...? - Aidan Baker (@AidanBaker)

This discussion of current developments in the library/information world -- e-books, open access, RDA -- I had envisaged first as drop-in/surgery-type sessions.  In the event, we were perhaps a couple of dozen people in a ring, some of whom were brave enough to answer questions. 

Daphne Dashfield took that role with regard to open access.  She explained the difference between gold and green OA.  The Open Access requirement is that papers (not books) reporting research funded by Research Councils UK must be made freely available online.  Gold OA has that business being handled by a mainstream publisher, whose charge to the author for this service may be as large as £3000.  Green OA is author's online self-archiving; often where the paper appears in a mainstream journal, and the journal's publisher allows the author to self-archive, sometimes with many conditions.  Daphne referred us to the Sherpa/Romeo database for more information on this, and to the training pages at her workplace.  And why was I so unconfident as not to cite the equivalent pages at my own workplace, which I had circulated to academics earlier in the year?

Claire Sewell answered questions about RDA, beginning with the expansion of the abbreviation: Resource Description and Access.  It's a compromise between what is needed and what is compatible with its predecessor AACR2.  She too cited her workplace's training material.

Finally, in this session, Katherine Rose (not on Twitter) of Regent's University, London, served as the ebooks expert.  I solicited her opinion of a prediction in an article I had read in the spring of 2012, that ebooks were likely to be superseded by pdfs.  Wrong question, perhaps.  Pdf is one format for the publication of ebooks, sometimes considered the laziest one; it is part of ebooks already, and can't be considered as their future.  Indeed, several in the group considered that publishers were exploring the possibilities of ebooks far too enthusiastically to be shoe-horned back into something as basic as pdf.

And there was a postscript.  A member of the circle asked how best to keep up with developments -- the three that had been discussed being only part of the changes to the profession.  A reply that I scribbled down was to follow the blog Librarian by day from Bobbi Newman.

I is for Idea... S is for Support... A Creative Library Alphabet - Gary Green (@ggnewed)

This was the last session I went to.  The aim was to gather words that would make a publicity alphabet for libraries.  There was some contention about the inclusion of the word 'books', but I think it eventually went in.

The day was a great one for all concerned, and I've seen a lot of well-earned tweets thanking Lisa Hutchins, Andy Darley, and Jo Harcus for pulling it all together.  You bet!

We all contributed food.  I brought pork pies from the Co-op and cakes made by Clare, who was sadly unable to attend in person.  They were popular.


Saturday, 7 September 2013

Played out

Here comes a poem from 1991. I was reminded of it by Sarah Stamford's tweet, apparently following a presenter's slip of the tongue in the last night of the Proms 2013, about Vaughan Williams making a similar posthumous appearance.  It was published in Cous-cous 8, August 1995, p. 8.


I dreamed it in the autumn: a late work,
Rachmaninov's symphonic miniature,
written in nineteen-seventy-five, The Yawn ...
tired twilit composition, half a minute
of themes long worn ... it had its premiere
in nineteen-eighty-six: Rachmaninov
himself conducted, made a modest speech
faintly across the air: we heard him hope
they would not ask for the Symphonic Dances
as an encore. Laughter, polite applause.
Conducting's such a task when you're a hundred
and thirteen years old, dead for forty-three.

Tuesday, 3 September 2013

Decades apart


She called herself a chump for having given
men the white feather. She was one of two
women who owned to it on television.
Live with that thought on everything you do.

The above was meant to be my entry in the Poem Pigeon competition, for work including the word 'feather'.  I posted it on the day of the competition deadline, having heard of the competition earlier in the week. 

Entry in the Poem Pigeon competition is by posting on their site, where everyone can see the work.  The poem is up now at .  I'd have done well to look out the rules first hand.  I understood that the competition was for poems no more than 10 lines long.  In fact, the stipulation was for no more and no less than 10 lines -- so my poem isn't eligible.  But publication in that website makes it eligible for inclusion in this blog.

For much more about the story, see the post 'White feathers: stories of courage, recruitment and gender at the start of the Great War' in George Simmers' research blog 'Great War fiction'.  And, to give further credit where it's due, I heard of 'Great War fiction' via the blog of singer and musical scholar Philip Lancaster.

'Decades apart' was one of four poems I wrote in August 2013.  The others, I hope, will make their way into this blog by the usual process.