Wednesday, 22 July 2009

Events from SINTO

I am organising the programme of SINTO training events for the Autumn and I think we have another strong programme. In particular I think that some of our events are not just about developing the skills of library staff - they will help libraries think about and develop their policy in important areas.

13th October. Leadership and Emotional Intelligence for librarians. Dr Camilia Alire, President of the American Library Association is visiting Sheffield and has agreed to give a talk to SINTO. This will be a special opportunity to hear a leading library professional talk about leadership. You can find out more about Dr Alire by visiting her website

15th October. Libraries vs Recession: how libraries can help communities during the recession. This is not about how libraries can survive the recession, but rather the contribution that they can make to help people, businesses and communities. The seminar will also look at how libraries can promote the value of their services.

3rd November. Disaster! How to plan and how to cope. As Sheffield Central library discovered recently, disaster can strike from a clear blue sky (or at least a cloudy one). This day will consider how to plan for a major incident and how to cope when something happens.

November (date to be confirmed). Managing change. How to deal with change, how to help other people cope with change, how to introduce change into organisations.

Further details will be circulated soon and I will be blogging some more on these events. If you want more information or want to register an interest, contact the SINTO office.

Thursday, 16 July 2009

Brendan Loughridge

Brendan Loughridge died last week. Brendan joined the Department of Information Studies University of Sheffield in 1978, after six years as an Assistant Keeper of Printed Books and Assistant Secretary of the Library at the National Library of Scotland and eight years as a Sub-Librarian at the New University of Ulster in Londonderry and Coleraine. His teaching and research interests at Sheffield were chiefly in the field of academic library management and information resources. He also had several long spells as Programme Co-ordinator of the MA in Librarianship programme.

My condolences to his family.

Tuesday, 14 July 2009

Graphic novels in public libraries.

Do you deal with graphic novels in your public library? Arwen Caddy, a postgraduate student at the University of Sheffield, is doing some research into this topic. The aim is to gather the opinions of public library staff on whether all graphic novels, comic books, comic strips, manga, and similar materials should be shelved in the same place in simple alphabetical order, or whether they should be ordered using genre, subject, type, author or illustrator name, reading age or other method. The researcher is also aware of uncertainty over the contents of some graphic novels and similar material and their suitability to be shelved in a public library at all. This is particularly an issue when the library in question is used by children and young people. This is one of the reasons why the researcher is interested in the possibility of splitting such material into age-ranges or subject types. This project is especially interested in the views of library staff on these sensitive topics.

The survey can be found on Survey Monkey and an information sheet can be obtained from the Sinto office

Monday, 13 July 2009

Is your library faceless?

Lorcan Dempsey makes an interesting observation in a recent blog
He says:
"I continue to be amazed at how difficult it is to find the name or contact details of the library director on many library websites. And in some cases to find the names of other relevant library contacts. This is especially the case given the emphasis on the human touch the library provides, and the expertise of library staff."

I have to agree with him. I often need to find contact details for Heads of Library services and the libraries websites often fail to provide this information. Most websites provide general contact details or an enquiry form but these are often anonymous and do not identify a specific individual.

Looking at local examples, Rotherham Libraries is a model of good practice. Under Contact Us it has clear instruction for contacting the library service by phone, e-mail or in writing. It then goes on to list the job titles, names and contact details of all the senior staff. Bernard Murphy as head of service even has a photograph.

Sheffield Libraries is also good at providing general contact details. It then invites the public to contact the senior management team by e-mailing the City Librarian, Janice Maskort. It does not provide details of the senior management team and this may be deliberate. There have been many changes recently and perhaps it is preferable that enquiries go right to the top and can then be delegated as appropriate. It does however leave them faceless.

Leeds and Doncaster libraries again have general contact details but neither gives any clue whatsoever to the identity of the head of library services or senior library staff.

Academic Libraries seem to do better. The University of Sheffield Library has a detailed listing of staff with contact details (no photos though!)

How important is this? As Lorcan says, libraries do like to think that we have a human touch. Many local government authorities insist that front line staff wear name badges on the grounds that users prefer to know who they are dealing with - so why shouldn't this apply in the virtual world as well? And libraries are all about information. Isn't it reasonable to expect that the library website should give information about the library service as well as library services? If you go on the website for Marks and Spencer or Sainsbury you can find a link somewhere that gives you the names of the senior managers. Why should Chief Librarians be so reticent?