“You can document it but you can’t capture it.”
As good a place as any to start this week is with “The 21st Century Library” by Terry which can be linked in to my blog post from a couple of weeks back. This piece had to do with the design process of the Rhode Island School of Designs library. While only so much of a picture can be built from the description a converted old protected bank building in to a library it still lets the imagination run. Going beyond the actual process of design, the real point is how you adapt the library to fit the need. In order to do that you must first understand the need and that was the most important part of this story for me. All the planning and meetings, the endless consultations with staff students and stakeholders in order to create this wonderfully functioning space that went on to inspire other builds and win awards.
The next two pieces explain my tag line. Firstly the heritage outlook which looks at cataloguing images from the Kilkenny Design Workshops (KDW) which ran from the 60’s until the late 80’s. The second was the MacMahon document review which can’t be linked a long with the others at the end of this blog due to access only being made through UCD on this occasion. This newspaper piece looked at an exhibition which was held by NIVAL, which documents events’, exhibitions, artistic displays or whatever term you feel would be most suitable. “You can document it but you can’t capture it.” This comes from a point made in the review that while you can document an event, the date, the artist, where, what and when you can never quite capture the feeling of being there in person. This point resonated with me. While there are obvious reasons to document and archive such events the question remains how much are you losing out on and in turn what are we really gaining. The KDW archive which falls under the NIVAL umbrella also poises the same question. It allows you to look in the past but only through a key hole of a door that can’t fully be opened. It is so important however to hold on to these events of the past and as alluded to when people need to study them for whatever range of reasons if they can get their hands on original documents and a wealth of information to go along with it then it is a pretty good second best to being there in person and getting to experience it for yourself.
The final reading I did this week was the Tate Library Electronic ephemera. The collection of digital material in email format ranging from newsletter to promotional materials for artists, charities, events and beyond. A step too far in my opinion perhaps. The work that it takes to manage such a repository surely outweighs it benefits but who am I to draw a line in the sand and say as much. However it did bring up the copyright and storage issues which sometimes are wrongly overlooked in such cases. A particular favourite line of mine was the digital collection gathering dust which it can do if it is abandoned to a PDF file never to be looked after or at again. While this article highlighted the more or less failure of this project it did lay down the foundations for future work should someone take up the mantle. I don’t however think it will be me.
Terry 21st century library
Callaghan tate ephemera 2013
Walker heritage outlook 2011
MacMahon document review 2012
I didn’t enjoy my first reading of the week. Even though it was short it left a taste of desperation. The most provoking message I picked up in the readings was Librarians don’t know who they are. The Bernard-Barrett short article to me sounded like someone complaining they should be treated as equal just because what they do is a professional vocation. With any line of work it’s what you do and how you do it that gets respect and in this article it sounded like a dead horse was being flogged. If librarians want to get rid of the stigma that hangs over them, they need to be the first to drop it. The second reading got to the bones of a real issue. I am not denying the fact there is a stigma that follows librarians and it will be hard to shift. Until they deal with health care cuts services like health libraries, unfortunately they will be some of the first to go. Librarians will have to fight for every inch just to survive in an economy like the one we are stuck in at the moment.
In the HSLG SHeLLI Report it was touched upon how in America there had been some success stories and in their words it was not all doom and gloom. While this was obviously focused on the health sector libraries it is clear all sectors are suffering due to cut backs. I wonder how many Irish agencies are going outside their front door and abroad to look for possible solutions. I know from my study into South Dublin County Libraries last year they have adopted their strategic plan form Australia and in fact it has been a great success. I would be interested in seeing what is actually being done or is it a case like the first reading of moan, moan, and moan.
While the Bernard-Barrett reading obviously got under my skin because of how it portrayed the message, it isn’t completely lost on me. They have to show their skills and what they can do. I think last week’ “Helping people to manage and share their digital information” is a perfect example of that. I don’t think people know what it is exactly librarians do. I think a great way to get that message across is through the children that inevitable go to libraries either with school or parents encouraging children to read. I know from last year SDCL offer father/son activities. Once you have the attention of people whether it’s through their kids or whatever avenue, it is important to grab it. Another important point is librarians are no longer working as librarians. They have branched out in to a wealth of different fields such as C.I.O’ or Knowledge managers etc and this is a side I would like to explore more.
I think what has been emphasised is the message from the readings done back at the start of term on growing your PLN. Quite often it is a case of who you know and not what you know which might be extremely relevant to librarians. It’s important for them to weave their ways into the foundation of organisations and to become tangled within it. I do wonder if some librarians themselves know where they want to go or they want to do. While ideas can be big and wonderful, they will still remain on paper unless there is a definitive plan
HSLG SHeLLI Report
Bernard Barrett- Brief Talk Description and Article
I found the main theme to be running through the resources was how libraries adapt to the environment they found themselves in. As pointed out in the ALA webcast this is nothing new as people once had to move from scrolls to books and how books in themselves are a form of technology. I think the other interesting facet was that libraries do not want to lose their identity either. They want to retain the ideology of what a library is but also provide much more, which is a careful balancing act.
An interesting factor brought up in 21st Century Libraries: Changing Forms, Changing Future was how the building itself impacts on how people firstly perceive it but also how it can be used to benefit its target audience and purpose. This is a subject I broached last term in regards to Ballyroan library and how it has been redesigned to match its function internally. The overall message was how technology impacts on every part of someone’s life and it is important to find a way to keep up with it but also deliver a library service which is enhanced by technology.
This directly leads to the information professional themselves and probably is touched best upon in the Copeland & Barreau which suggest the notion of what an information professional is expected to do has changed. People expect a certain level of professionalism and expertise when they ask someone a question. In another class at the moment we are learning how to form our own digital library and this will be useful information, which as explained in the reading is to share with people that are trying to use the latest technology to store important sentimental items amongst much more. Which is what in my mind the reading was getting at. I found the ALA webcast to be paramount on the topic of what role the information professional should be. Each speaker had a clear idea what it is they do and how they can be perceived as an information professional but wouldn’t consider themselves as a traditional librarian so to speak in any way.
The core competencies are an interesting area. As the MLIS course teaches, it is essential to have the traditional skills of a librarian but you now have to mix it with technology. When they spoke about librarians being out on the floor with an iPad and not stuck behind a desk. Incorporating not only technology but the need of the cliental is key also. The cliental can be greatly affected by the area a library finds itself in so its services provided will change accordingly.
The architecture of the library was the most interesting part to me. The importance of keeping up with advancements in technology is well known. I can see now libraries focus on who they are catering for and even with the location they pick or recognising the fact they might have to move continually to follow where they are needed. Where this falls in line with other information organisations is probably important for the traditional view of the library. The service they provided additional to the library. Understanding who you are catering for should be reflected in how you set up and look after them. If it’s as simple as timetabling when certain parts are open to certain people or just what services (computers, cafe, crèche) are provided.
Finding the right blend with technology and not losing the identity of the library even if that is sticking a big sign above the door as eluded to in the readings
ALA Webcast, episode 1- Library 2017: Tech at Warp Speed
Copeland & Barreau (2011). Helping people to manage and share their digital information: A role for public libraries
The overriding theme that stood out to me was how to improve on the skill sets you already have through collaboration with others via web 2.0. The world has been opened up for people to mine information from all sectors and areas of the world for their own growth. The first reading Professional Development 2.0: Take Control of Your Own Learning. Focused on the blog aspect side of the things and how that can be used to improve yourself as individual. By writing about what you are doing it gives you an opportunity to reflect and reassess what you have done. It also is a way of expressing your thoughts for others to see and in return get their viewpoints on specific issues and build your PLN which was eluded to heavily in the first reading as something that can be hugely beneficial. The idea was to never to settle for what you think you know but to always try and learn more and improve yourself and to never stop trying to improve.
This is something I can definitely agree with having done blogs before and taking the time to rethink what I’ve just learned and giving it time to swirl around in my head. Some times what you think in your head comes out quite differently when you write, spurring on other thoughts and ideas. I think this idea was carried through to the second reading putting together professional portfolios. You want to express what you have learned and show how you have done so. I believe in creating a portfolio as was outlined would stir up many of the same thought processes that goes into a blog. It gives you time to look at things differently and learn even more.
In terms of competencies at this moment in time I am still learning what exactly I am good at and where exactly my strengths lie at. So in saying that I still think its important I understood who I am when learning to work with others. Something I have been accredited with, rightly or wrongly is seeing things differently. I’m not sure this is always a positive but it definitely throws up some interesting thoughts and processes when going about my academic work. Something I have to improve rapidly is time management. It isn’t so much I waste time on one thing and leave none for another. I tend to have a hard time focusing on more than one thing. I have to complete one task before I can contemplate another. This can lead to some stressful situations. Even if I was able to designate specific time for specific tasks I know I would be much more productive. The idea of having a PLN is something not new to me but something I havnt really thought about. The benefits are clear and it is something I should be looking to develop.
Ethically it is a bit harder to define for me. I like to think I take other people’s ideas on board but I know I can also be quickly dismissive which was pointed out in the readings as a negative about blog input. Concerning ethics and values I have learned it is vitally important to let everyone speak but come up with a constructive way of making sure everyone is on the same wavelength. In the SILS course I find people can be too nice especially when it came to the business end of last term. I can be very quiet in groups and laid back but once it’s time to get things done and I think people are hindering progression I was very happy to take the role of the villain for the benefit of the group. I am not saying I was mean or purposefully stepped on peoples toes but I was happy to say “No” we have to do x,y and z. I am sure I annoyed people but I know it was essential and it was an interesting side of myself to see.
At this stage of my life I haven’t decided what exactly I am going to do and doing the course in Information systems is hopefully going to build a platform for me to start opening other doors. So I think it is vital that I get to experience different aspects of the course that are offered and meet different types of people. Learning to deal with types of people I have never encountered before has definitely been a theme of this year so far.
Bedell, J.T. (2010) Professional Development 2.0: Take Control of Your Own Learning
ALA’s LIST OF WEB LINKS TO VARIOUS COMPETENCY LISTS
IFLA Code of Ethics