From Lending to Learning – published

Filed Under (Built Learning Environments, General, Information Literacy, Professional practice, Research, Technology Reviews, VLE (Virtual Learning Environment)) by ronan on 29-11-2010

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Ahh – finally… my book which is now available – an extract from the opening pages:

“As I write this introduction a debate on BBC Radio 4 suggests that in order to effect public sector efficiency savings, volunteers should run public libraries along the lines of charity shops. There are regular announcements of this type in the media with yet more initiatives to change public libraries. To breathe new life into them, to put new energy into the service and to take new approaches that range from raising noise levels to the provision of coffee and chat facilities. At the heart of all such announcements lies a very important, yet simple, question: what are public libraries for?

Wander into any one of the hundreds of public libraries in the UK and you will see a range of services there that have evolved in a fairly haphazard way. This is not to say that there is poor quality of service, simply a lack of consistent strategy. One is tempted to ask some very obvious questions. Who looks after the public libraries of this country? Is the power to shape the future of public libraries in the hands of the central government, the regional assemblies, local authorities or made-up agencies, quangos, held together by the short-term thinking of hands-off politicians and civil servants? What are the reasons for keeping an institution such as the public library active over centuries – is it simply tradition? And, looking ahead, what might be the public library needs of our grandchildren?

In the chapters that follow I try to unravel the complexity and distil a logic that might offer a way to view the public library not simply as a national institution steeped in tradition, or as a purposeless place providing little more than popular glossy magazine titles, but as a learning space. Or, more correctly, a space owned by and dedicated to learners.”

Order this title now through your local public library – or buy it yourself, read it and send me your comments.

Rónán O’Beirne From Lending to Learning – The development and extension of public libraries. 2010 Chandos Information Professional Series Chandos Publishing an imprint of Woodhead Publishing Ltd., Cambridge. ISBN 9781843343882.  – 216 pages  234 x 156mm  paperback £45.00 / US$75.00 / €55.00

Envisioning the future

Filed Under (Built Learning Environments, General, Professional practice, Research) by ronan on 01-10-2010

I have been reading an interesting collection edited by Sue McKnight called Envisioning future academic library services; initiatives, ideas and challenges published by Facet 2010. It was brought to my attention not by the marketing efforts of Facet but rather it was well reviewed in the Times Higher over the summer, which on reflection, the marketing reach of Facet may have had a hand in; I don’t know much about the dark art of book marketing.
There are some interesting contributions Derek Law as always is provocative – one of his sub-sections headed “academic partners, not servants” will strike a cord with many.

Andrew McDonald looks at libraries as place while Liz Wright  opens her chapter on future leadership with a quote from William Gibson which I paraprase here: “Only charlatans say they really know the future”.

Paul Coyne, from Emerald and a good friend of Bradford College, writes very well and covers much ground in his look at ‘the discovery and consumption of scholarly content’. He provides a great definition of Library 2.0 (from  Maness (2006)) – it has four essential elements:

  • it is user-centred
  • it provides a multimedia experience
  • it is socially rich
  • it is communally innovative

Martin Lewis – University of Sheffield – Information Commons – gives a policy level overview of the role libraries might play in managing research data, this is also taken on an international level. His sub-section ‘what libraries can do about data’ gives a clear rationale for what should be done locally, nationally or internationally. He also usefully looks at funding although I suspect that will date quite quickly.

So its a good collection of essays and will be a good text to accompany the discussions of the newly-formed Bradford College library futures group in which about a dozen library staff have already expressed an interest. I’ll deposit the book in the staff library when I’m finished with it –  promise.

On becoming a mentor

Filed Under (Professional practice) by ronan on 30-09-2010

Old Building - Bradford College in Autumn morning sunlight

Today I have registered as a CILIP mentor; I attended the training back in July and yesterday I got around to signing up. My motivation stems from a sense of supporting those within the profession who are seeking to gain accreditation, chartership or fellowship. Throughout my career I have been fortunate to have had the support of colleagues so this opportunity to put something back in feels right. Already I have two candidates who were, up until now, informal but I suppose we can move onto a formal footing now. I’m also interested in the role of mentoring from a less formal point i.e. when there is not neccessarily a final goal at the end. More information about CILIP mentoring scheme can be found here.