Wednesday, 16 July 2008

Doncaster and CILIP

In his comment on my last post, Mark Clowes makes a point about the involvement of CILIP at the Doncaster demonstration - but this does need to be considered in more depth. The idea that "CILIP" is a powerful but remote body which should have intervened directly in the Doncaster demonstration and sorted things out for local library staff and the public is misleading. CILIP is not "them" it is "us". Professional librarians in Doncaster should be drawing on the resources and support of their professional organisation in this campaign and not just complain that "they" have not done anything.
Some questions for professional librarians in Doncaster:
1. Have you informed CILIP HQ what is happening in Doncaster? At the very least someone should have contacted the Update editorial team with a news report. Then there are members of the CILIP staff dealing with policy and advocacy who can help.

2. Have you started a dialogue with CILIP Council members? They are the governing body of CILIP rather than roving trouble-shooters available to sort out our problems, but they do want to be involved. As Judy Broady-Preston, Leader of CILIP Council said "We are YOUR representatives and rely on YOUR feedback and YOUR views as to what you think are important issues to make sure that the new Council truly represents ALL of you".

3. Have you used the resources on the CILIP website to support the campaign? I admit that they are not very well signposted but by applying your information skills you can find the CLIP statement "Local people deserve a professional service"; "CILIP Policy Statement on Libraries & Learning" and "Intellectual freedom". The Conway report is very relevant and the associated CILIP press release is another useful resource. Finally on CILIP Communities there is a useful thread on "Saving Libraries" under Advocacy.

4. Are you working with the CILIP Branch? Again, this is not a case of "Why hasn't the CILIP branch sorted out all our problems?" The Branch is a community within which you can work and which may be able to offer support.

5. Have you asked yourself what it really is that you want CILIP to do? What is the role of CILIP as a professional body? Is waving a banner at a demonstration really the best thing for CILIP to do?

So to answer Mark's question "Where were CILIP?" They should have been there in the shape of individual CILIP members taking an active role. We are not victims!

Tuesday, 15 July 2008

Doncaster demonstation

Alan Gibbons' continues to report on the fight for Doncater Libraries in his blog. As well as reporting on the demonstation held on Saturday he has other contributions. Helena Pielichaty has contributed an amusing Doncaster Playlet showing what happens when you rely on a supermarket to supply information. Lynne Coppendale writes a response to Mayor Winter and there is an article from the THES about school libraries from Tara Brabazon.

Any comments on this campaign would be welcome.

Thursday, 10 July 2008

Can you play the saxophone? I don't know, I've never tried.

A few months ago the report Information behaviour of the researcher of the future looked at the information skills of young people - the so called Google generation. A recent report looks at these skills in an older generation. Mind the Skills Gap: Information-handling Training for Researchers was commissioned by the Research Information Network (RIN). It points out that the last decade has brought fundamental change in how researchers discover and gain access to information resources relevant to their research. Many researchers have become highly-skilled in exploiting the opportunities that new technologies and services provide but others lack the understanding and skills to make full use of the new technologies; and a widespread view – at least among library and information specialists – is that even those researchers who regard themselves as competent often show alarming deficits in their skills. Training of academic staff is therefore very important and many HE libraries are offering this, but the report points out that this is hampered by a lack of co-ordination and strategic management of information training provision, both at UK and at institutional levels. Most HEIs in practice adopt a piecemeal approach to information skills and competencies. The role that institutions expect libraries and their staff to play in research training is particularly unclear, as are the strategies and expectations about libraries’ roles in the support of research more generally. Most HEI central training teams seem to share the view that developing information skills for researchers is a matter largely of training in information seeking. A small but noteworthy group of HEIs are moving towards a more integrated approach covering not only information seeking, but other areas such as management of research information, critical appraisal of research findings, and even report writing. In terms of delivery, they involve joint planning (by central training teams, independent trainers, faculty staff, other specialists such as ICT and library staff); joint design and preparation of e-learning materials; and joint assessment of outcomes.

This raises challenges for library staff. The role of subject and liaison librarians has changed significantly in recent years, and some lack the confidence to provide intensive support to researchers. Libraries need to ensure that they have the capability and capacity to offer high quality training for researchers, including knowledge and understanding of the research process. Such moves would in many cases require “a step-change in provision and skills enhancement for library staff”, and perhaps redeployment of library staff into research settings rather than the library building. It is interesting to note that some librarians, had to point out that that “enhancing of staff skills runs counter to the recent tendency towards de-skilling of staff”.

The failure of HEIs to recognise the importance of information skills and the contribution of librarians to this is mirrored by the comments I reported in my last post about Doncaster Public Libraries “What is the point in buying new books? Tescos sell them cheaply and everything you need to know is on the Internet.” There is a level of ignorance so profound that you don't know you are ignorant. Until you learn something about the skills needed to play a saxophone then you don't know that you can't do it. Researchers may not know enough about information skills to know what they lack. Senior managers of Universities or Local Authorities may not know enough about libraries and information to realise how much there is to understand. And whose fault is this? Librarians need to sell the benefits of information and information skills and we have ourselves to blame if we fail to do this.

Thursday, 3 July 2008

Doncaster Libraries

After the screening of The Hollywood Librarian I was approached by someone about the situation in Doncaster Libraries. I have been receiving quite a lot of feedback about recent developments with the reorganisation of Doncaster Libraries and deep concern that the council is proposing cuts to the library service.

Corporate Director of Customer Services ,Stuart Hall, was reported as saying “What is the point in buying new books? Tescos sell them cheaply and everything you need to know is on the Internet.”

Further information on the public campaign to save Doncaster Libraries can be found in The Star.

The latest news is that there will be a public demonstration in Doncaster on Saturday 12th July to "Save our Libraries"