Thursday, 21 May 2009

From my place to our space

From Sheffield Libraries Staff News

Schools and Young People’s Library Service have been successful in their bid for funding from the Positive Activities for Young People (PAYP) programme. The money will be used to host
arts and cultural activities in libraries across the city for 8-13 year olds, starting in the summer holidays and continuing until March 2010.

The project is called ‘From my place to our space’ and encourages young people to explore their sense of individual and community space through creative arts. We are currently gathering proposals from creative practitioners to run workshops, one-off events or performances, encompassing filmmaking, photography, music, theatre, art, media, digital technologies, graphics and design. The project gives libraries the chance to host exciting, contemporary events which will encourage young people to see the library as a space they can utilise and enjoy.

Paul Walker – Project Manager:
Anna Lord – Project Officer:


In the spirit of openess here are my expenses.

1 pkt Hob-nob biscuits for SINTO Executive Board: £0.60
1 ball point pen (blue): £0.25
Transport (Lamborghini Gallardo LP560-4 Spyder): £149,990 including Government scrappage subsidy.

I hope that clarifies everything

Thursday, 14 May 2009

Capturing the Impact of Libraries

Capturing the Impact of Libraries
January 2009

This extended abstract of the report draws heavily on the Introduction to the report.

In November 2008, DCMS commissioned BOP Consulting to undertake a short study that identifies existing data and synthesises research on capturing the impact of library services. The work supports DCMS’ library Service Modernisation Review. The overall aim is to provide evidence of the type of data and research that is effective at capturing the impact of libraries on their local communities and, crucially, securing the support and engagement of key stakeholders.
Libraries’ policy stakeholders are essentially interested in how: the intrinsic benefits delivered through libraries (e.g. enjoyment, participation, learning); can contribute to extrinsic benefits or ‘social goods’ (e.g. improved well being, greater civic participation)
There are essentially two mechanisms by which this happens:

  • the wider effects of learning – both formal and informal
  • social capital formation - establishing networks and relationships and/or facilitating links to resources.

    Why look to libraries to provide these social goods?
  • the centrality of literacy and learning to the libraries mission which has been enhanced over the last decade
  • libraries as trusted institutions – users and non-users identify public libraries as inclusive, non-market, non-threatening non-judgemental spaces. They can engage ‘hard to reach groups’

The literature review shows that public libraries in England are now involved in the delivery
of a wide ranging menu of services, activities and resources. This very diversity of provision also, arguably, presents difficulties in demonstrating and communicating the impact of public libraries. In many of the ‘new’ areas of libraries activities – for instance, early years support, adult basic skills provision, health support, information and guidance – libraries are not, and will never be, the lead delivery agency. This means that the interactions that people have with libraries in these areas will generally be less intensive and, correspondingly, have a more mild impact than other service providers for these activities.
It is therefore important that evidence regarding libraries impact should not claim one-to-one causative relationships, but should concentrate instead on showing how libraries can ‘make a contribution towards’/have ‘a bearing on’, a range of socio-economic priorities.
Across all areas public libraries need to improve the comprehensiveness and consistency of basic management information on services and users, to aid:

  • Performance management and improvement
  • Demonstrate libraries contribution to short term policy goals (e.g. ECM outcomes), principally at local level,
  • Establish the base data for more complex impact analyses such as cost effectiveness/SROI approaches

Without having credible baselines it is not possible to tell a compelling story about the ‘new’ public library, and how the library service can contribute to a wide range of stakeholders’ agendas.

A library Census day?
One way that libraries could consider to improve their baseline data - without requiring it to be captured every time people interact with the service - would be through undertaking a Census of Library Users. This would most likely be a biennial census and would be a relatively light touch way, from the public’s perspective, of significantly improving on what already exists. Of course, a Census would not be cheap. There again, at approximately £1bn per annum, neither is the public library service in England – and yet there appears to be chronically few resources devoted to researching and evaluating its impact

Friday, 1 May 2009

It's not the technology, stupid!

The CILIP 2.0 debate has spawned a follow up wiki and "everyone" is having a say - including me.

My message is "It's not the technology, stupid". This is not (or should not be) a debate about whether CILIP, or the profession at large, uses Twitter, Wikis, Blogs, Facebook or any other social computing tool. The debate is how can CILIP communicate with its members, and with non-members (aka potential members). How can it involve them in decision making, policy development and debate. How can librarians involve themselves in decision making, policy development and debate, within and outwith CILIP. If this could be done by smoke signals from the roof of Ridgmount Street then that would be fine and we wouldn't have to bother about Web 2 or 3.

New technological developments provide solutions, but these solutions were not developed for librarians so there is not always a match between what we want and the tools we have. We can and should use what is available but not get captivated by the tools and loose sight of the message.

Twitter is a good example. It has flaws. The essence of Twitter is the soundbite. You can't say anything worth saying in 140 characters! Now I've got your attention we can argue about that. Descartes would still have 125 characters left after outlining the foundations of his philosophical system (in Latin of course) but for most of us microblogging is just for headlines and not a medium for professional discussion.

The written article in the Gazette or Update is not just an old fashioned version of Twitter or blogging (see Debbie Raven's comment to my CILIP 2.0 blog). It is usually different; better structured, more considered, more informed.. A blog or Twitter stream may be more open, more democratic; but as Bob Usherwood reminds us, excellence is at leat as importance as equity.

Social computing gives CILIP and the profession at large valuable tools to develop and strengthen involvement, awareness and professional development. CILIP needs to take the lead in using these tools, promoting their value and empowering people to use them. Heads of library services and managers should also be taking a lead and encouraging and enabling staff to use them at work (within reason). All library workers should be exploring these tools. It is no longer a fad or an option. As information professionals we should be using these tools, both for professional development and as a source of information for our users, because of what they contain and not for what they are.

Mash Oop North!

Mashed Library UK 2009: Mash Oop North!

Date: Tuesday 7th July 2009
Time: 10.00am until late afternoon
Venue: University of Huddersfield, Huddersfield, HD1 3DH Web site:
Fee: £15 (inc. vat)
Speakers: Tony Hirst, Mike Ellis, Richard Wallis and more Primary sponsor: Talis

The first Mashed Library UK event, organised by Owen Stephens, was held at Birkbeck College in November 2008 with the aim of "bringing together interested people and doing interesting stuff with libraries and technology". Further details about the 2008 event are available here:

The University of Huddersfield is proud to be hosting the second event, dubbed "Mash Oop North!", which is being sponsored by Talis. The event will take place in Huddersfield on July 7th.

Mashed Library is aimed at librarians, library developers and library techies who want to learn more about Web 2.0 & 3.0, Library 2.0, creating mash-ups and generally doing interesting/cool/useful things with data. In particular, we expect the event to generate the following outcomes for all attendees:

1) Awareness of the latest developments in library technology
2) Application of Web 2.0 technologies in a library context
3) Community building and networking
4) Learn new skills and develop existing ones

The event is primarily an "unconference", so attendees will be encouraged to participate throughout the day. Further information is available on the event blog:

A small token registration of fee of £15 is the only charge for the event. Places are limited to around 60 delegates, so we would advise booking early to avoid disappointment!