Tuesday, 23 December 2014

French libraries and the digital world (2/2)

On 13th November I attended a day of workshops on libraries in the digital world organised by the local groups of the French library association ABF at the Marguerite Duras library in Paris. In the first post I talked about the format of the day and the first session I attended (LibraryBox); here are notes and thoughts from the other two sessions.

CC BY-NC-ND Julien (Source: Flickr)
Supporting library users in the digital world
This session was led by Christophe Avdjian and Christelle Moreau of the - under-construction - Françoise Sagan public library in Paris. It was the session I attended that day that had the most participation (maybe because the others were about things that are still so "new", few participants had experience to share?) and it was great to hear everyone chip in with slightly different practices.

The issues we discussed were:
  • What are the skills required to support our library users in the digital world? Most people had learned on the job.
  • Is this activity part of your job description? For some yes, for others not specifically.
  • Should it be every library staff's job or a dedicated team's? The answer seems to depend on the size of the library.
  • What type of workshops (themes) do you offer? Depends if staff know how to use a particular electronic tool/device, if the library buys it for its users... Sparked a discussion on when is it not the job of the librarian anymore, e.g. when it comes to CV writing workshops: it transpired that it is the librarian's job when there isn't any other support structure in the area.
  • What format? (in terms of length of session, group/individual) Some participants also do "on the go"/floor walking-type of support: they go around the library with a tablet to show the electronic resources to customers using the building.
  • Disclaimers: if we install something on the user's device we have a responsibility. It is good practice to specify to the user at the point of booking what they are going to get from the session, and also what they are not going to get.

FabLabs and libraries
I wrote FabLabs AND libraries - not to be confused with FabLabs IN libraries. If I say "FabLab", you will be picturing 3D printers, computers, maybe a soldering station and a laser cutter [and possibly bearded men, but you'd be slipping into a cliché there]. Yes, they are a space for makers to access machines and tools but the opportunity for people to meet in person, exchange on their individual projects and share skills is just as important.

But back to the session: it was led by Julien Devriendt of Choisy le Roi public library and based on the presentation above (tip for non-French speakers: you can start on slide 9 and persevere to the examples and resources).
You might not want to have a FabLab in your library (really) but you can still offer digital fabrication activities.
To have a 3D printer in your library, you would need space, money - possibly extractor fans, and a good health and safety assessment. It might be best to focus on other types of activities, ones that help your users discover and question these technologies, gain new skills... It would be easier to rely on a network of people who know about these things - for example local Makers - rather than expect the librarians to do it. Libraries are about sharing knowledge and are instrumental in creating an environment where people do precisely that.

Ideas for activities:
  • Introduction to coding / programming using free resources like Scratch or Game Salad. Some libraries organise "coding goûters" [the goûter in French is the typical after-school / end of afternoon sweet snack or snack time for children] for families to come and play. Each participant develops their own project, shows it off to the others and receives suggestions for improvement from everyone.
  • Robotics project: support a group of young people taking part in a robotics competition. What strategy to adopt for the robot, what design, how to document the process and share it with others (writing a blog including sketches and description)... Offers the possibility to link with other topics.
  • Stick to simple projects, for example using Makey Makey which apparently is quite easy to use to create interactive "stuff" in your library [I have seen a fruit piano done like this at Gateshead Libraries eDay - it was brilliant] You can find instructions on Make It @ Your Library or Instructables.
ABF has a special interest group devoted to FabLabs - their wiki [in French of course] is worth a visit.

So that's France - but what's happening in the UK? There was a great article in the November 2014 issue of CILIP Update featuring Fab Lab Devon at Exeter Library (the first FabLab within a UK public library), Gateshead Libraries (our neighbours from across the river!), the amazing Sue Lawson of Manchester Libraries talking about working with her local "MadLab", and the intriguing library-hackspace The Waiting Room in Colchester.

And more local to me: where in the country does the annual Maker Faire UK take place? In Newcastle upon Tyne. How far from my workplace did I have to travel to take the above picture of the Newcastle Makerspace? Oh, I just stood on the pavement outside the City Library. What are Newcastle Libraries doing in terms of engaging users with digital fabrication activities? Erm... So what are we waiting for?! ;-)
(Alright, personally I'm now waiting to see what's in the box sent by Common Libraries and looking forward to attending their event at ours in March!)

If you read French (or aren't afraid of automatic translators), the organisers of the workshops have been publishing summaries of each of the sessions on the blog of ABF Paris (all the articles with #ateliersnum in the title)

Sunday, 21 December 2014

French libraries and the digital world (1/2)

On 13th November I attended in Paris a day of workshops on libraries in the digital world organised by the local groups of the French library association ABF. The format of the day was inspired by the unconference principles but it was a lot more prepared than the Library Camps I have attended or helped improvise! Participants were asked for session themes about two months in advance; the programme of the day was settled by the end of September and the organisers appealed to some local librarians with knowledge of the topics to lead the sessions. I was told that since the workshops were taking place on a week day, library managers wanted to see the programme in advance to make sure it was worth them releasing their staff to attend.

Before I tell you about the sessions I attended, I would like to point out something that struck me: both in the UK and France, librarians look to the US - simply because there are so many things happening, so many new developments, ideas that are tested there first - but we tend not to look much to our neighbours on the other side of the Channel. Now, of course we can't compete with the number of interesting projects taking place in the US, but I get the impression that in the UK we don't talk about French libraries - unless a Shakespeare First Folio is discovered in one of them; and when French librarians talk about the UK it's mainly to the shocked at the situation of our public libraries.

"Parisian church..." CC BY-NC-SA JH Images.co.uk
Source: Flickr

A LibraryBox is a "portable digital file distribution tool" (more information on the LibraryBox Project website) For a user, it works like this: you switch on the wifi on your laptop / phone / tablet and connect to the LibraryBox network. You open a browser window, choose files and download them. It's as easy as that! Users cannot upload files (only admins can) and it's up to the librarian to curate the contents. An obvious use may be to share works in the public domain or under Creative Commons (CC) licences.

The session was led by Thomas Fourmeux of Aulnay-sous-Bois public library. It covered where to source and how to set up a LibraryBox and included discussions on what to use it for and how to make sure customers actually use it too! Here are a few points:
  • It's not just about e-books: on a LibraryBox you can also share audio (e.g. music), video (films), etc. So it can exist either in parallel to a commercial e-book offer (especially when the platform used is not very flexible) or as the only access point for electronic resources a library service may have.
  • Be careful with the content offered on the LibraryBox: check the works are under a licence that allows this (I was interested to hear that Aulnay Libraries offer items under CC including some for Non-Commercial use, and educate users about what it means) but also that it suits your public (in a public space, children may be accessing the LibraryBox too!)
  • Make sure you offer works in different formats so that users can download them in the right format for their device.
  • The browser interface is coded in html so can be edited and expanded, for example by adding a search box or a wiki.
  • The signal of the LibraryBox is not super strong so it may not be accessible in all corners of the library (and even less when it's a big building).
  • Just like with other online resources, people need to know about it otherwise they won't use it. Consider staging the actual Box in the library e.g. as the centrepiece of a display to attract customers' attention. (It also helps resolve the issue mentioned in the point above as people will know where to go to find the strongest signal.)
  • Customers will also need to be educated on how to technically use the LibraryBox.
If you're curious to see what Aulnay Libraries offer on their LibraryBox, they also store the content on a Dropbox account accessible via their website (see the index of works by author) A session participant was going to use her LibraryBox to tie in with local cultural events, and in particular a music festival - asking artists if they would donate a song for people to download freely via the LibraryBox at the festival's location or in other public places.

The early adopters of the LibraryBox in France have created a network of support to share their expertise and spread the word - the website over at Bibliobox.net [in French, obviously] even includes a map of LibraryBoxes in France!

CC BY-SA Bibliobox.net (screen capture 21/12/14)

I have included a LibraryBox in my Carnegie Library Lab project so I am looking forward to ordering and setting it all up come January...

In the next blog post I will sum up the other two sessions I attended that day: on supporting customers in the digital world, and on fablabs & libraries.

Sunday, 16 November 2014

Online surveillance and privacy - and libraries?

Three months ago (already? Oops) I attended at the IFLA World Library and Information Congress a session entitled "Mass internet surveillance and privacy - how does it affect you and your library?" It was one of my favourites; so much so that I proposed a session inspired by this topic at Library Camp UK in September.

But first, the IFLA debate. It was organised by the Committee on Freedom of Access to Information and Freedom of Expression (FAIFE) and featured a British lecturer in information sciences, a French librarian member of La Quadrature du Net ("non-profit association that defends the rights and freedom of citizens on the Internet"), a representative from Google and another from the Electronic Frontier Foundation (a "non-profit organisation defending civil liberties in the digital world" based in the USA). My notes - mostly live-tweeted - can be viewed in this Storify. It was dead interesting and made me want to explore the questions raised on a more practical level, with other librarians.

And what better place to do this than Library Camp?
Plus, following the OST principles on which unconferences are based, the right people came to the session! Among us were some new to the profession, some more experienced, working across different sectors (public, academic, national library...) and at different responsibility levels. One of the participants wasn't a library person at all, and pushed us to think about our role ("So what are YOU, librarians, going to do about this?") There was even someone who had done a MOOC on cyber-security!

I wanted to know... 1) Is anyone educating their library users on online surveillance and privacy?
Some academic librarians tell the researchers to be careful about what they share online ("etiquette") In information literacy sessions students google themselves as an exercise.
There were comments that sharing a lot of personal information online may be either a sign of naiveness or a shift of culture. The "right to be forgotten" was discussed as well as the fact prospective employers do look you up online.

Online surveillance and privacy session at Library Camp UK 2014
Image courtesy of NLPN
2) Do our libraries offer any tools that help our users stay anonymous online?
Short answer: erm, not so much. It was fascinating to discover that out of the 17 people in the room, only 3 of us had ever used DuckDuckGo ("the search engine that doesn't track you"). In term of browsers on public computers, few libraries offer Firefox alongside Internet Explorer / Chrome - none have Tor!!

Someone made the remark that smartphones are the biggest tracking device. Other "Internet of things" stuff were mentioned, like electricity smart meters.
There is a need for transparency: what are big organisations doing with our data?
When is it ok for our data to be used? Two sides of the coin: technology can be helpful to us and used to our advantage (e.g. when our data is used to make search results more accurate) but unfortunately it is also used for frightening purposes.
Surveillance is not something new: even before modern technology and the Internet there were forms of it - for example opening letters.
'There's been surveillance for - I don't know how long...'
'1984 or so.'
3) Are our libraries just as bad as any other organisation when it comes to tracking their users?
We discussed login requirements for computers and wifi, Internet filters and the browsing history being retained by the IT departments for a certain length of time.
I was astounded to hear a participant explain their council IT team had actually gone against preconceptions and offered - without the library asking - to remove authentication for users accessing the public computer network! (So open-minded IT departments do exist?!)
And the million-pound question of the day, from another participant: "If you were offered a million pound in exchange for your users' data, would you choose to sell your users' privacy to a big company and take the money to save your library?"

And to conclude, one of the key statements made during the session: 
Librarians are here to raise awareness of these issues among their customers to allow them to make their own informed decisions.

Wednesday, 1 October 2014

IFLA Lyon : food for thought

I attended many different sessions at the IFLA World Library and Information Congress 2014; too many for me to write-up my notes! So instead, I am offering you a collectanea (yes, it's a word; look it up!) of the little things that struck me.

Me listening intently at the "Google is not enough" session
CC BY-SA Guillaume Gast (Source: Flickr)

  • Olaf Eigenbrodt (Germany), managed to make an International Standard Organisation technical report sound like a very interesting read. He was talking about ISO/TR 11219:2012 for the planning of library buildings (available on British Standards Online, for those whose library subscribes to it). It contains chapters on how to define different areas of the library, the library as a place for learning / living space, event space, the quality and size of space for collections, space for users, etc.; all chapters reflecting best practice and trends.
  • Are libraries' Acceptable Usage Policy for computer and internet access written in the best way for the user? We should be advising the user - using positive statements and explanations of why something is acceptable - rather than presenting them with a list of things they can't do and citing laws they will never read. Watch out for the Policy development for Acceptable Use in Libraries project in the UK.
Libraries Without Borders' Ideas Box
CC BY-SA Charlotte Henard (Source: Flickr)
    • Users of the National Diet Library (Japan) can access a crazy number (1691) of search guides, created by librarians on very specific topics based on enquiries they have had.
    • When it comes to protect your users' privacy online, there are things you can do in your library: EDUCATE customers, think of how much you yourself filter/watch them and whether it is "necessary and proportionate" and possibly offer them a different browser e.g. Firefox or Tor. [More on the whole online surveillance and privacy in libraries topic in this other blog post]
    • There are people whose job title is "Library Innovation Manager" and sometimes whole teams whose task it is to try out and implement new things! (eg. the National Library Board, Singapore, "Technology and Innovation division")
    • Learning strategies for staff: in many organisations we're not allowed to close the library (anymore) for staff training! Try having 5min each in staff meetings for everyone to share highlights of conferences they have attended or articles they have read.
      Speaker from the National Library Board, Singapore at the "New technologies" session
      CC BY-SA Charlotte Henard (Source: Flickr)

      Just for reference, here are the sessions I attended, with links to the conference programme for more information (including papers when available):

      Sunday, 14 September 2014

      IFLA Lyon : WLIC is that?

      No, I'm not swearing, I promise! The World Library and Information Congress (WLIC) is IFLA's annual conference and the most well-known and of its activities. But IFLA, it's also numerous sections and divisions and strategic programmes and special interest groups... For them, the congress is the opportunity to hold committee meetings and to present their findings and activities, simply because there are so many people attending! And for those who may feel a bit lost in the crowd, there are things like the caucuses and the Newcomers' session.

      CLM Standing Committee meeting
      Most of the groups tend to hold one committee meeting before the start of the congress and one during it. To attend, it's easy: *all* you need to do is walk up to the chair of the group and ask for permission.

      I chose to go (you're not going to be surprised here) to the Copyright and other Legal Matters (CLM) meeting on 16 August, and it was probably the most intimidating thing I did during the congress! But before I continue let me dissipate a misconception: Standing Committees don't hold their meetings while standing up - I checked, they all had chairs. They even had chairs for observers like me actually. There was one other observer in the room: a lady who seemed to know everyone and had been to many IFLA WLIC before. She wasn't very talkative but was still a handy person to be sitting next to when you're not sure of the procedure!
      This committee is composed of these very experienced-looking people (and I don't mean old, I mean confident and obviously knowledgeable; a lot of them heads of libraries) but also affable:

      And, just like at any normal committee meeting, they reported on the group's activity (e.g. participation in WIPO talks) and news, commented on CLM issues affecting libraries, discussed actions and future plans (for example suggestion for topics for WLIC 2015 sessions)...
      They even had a mini impromptu debate on the "right to be forgotten"! It was very interesting to see how the issue was perceived by people of different nationalities, depending on the personal data laws and perception of privacy in their country. Paul Whitney brilliantly summed up the "right to be forgotten" by saying it is "akin to requiring a library to withdraw a catalogue record but not the actual item from the collections".

      UK caucus
      A caucus is for those who feel a tad concussed (see what I did there?) by all this internationalism and need a bit of reassurance that they also have peers from the same country / language / region in the place. Basically it's a gathering of people.

      I went to the UK caucus as I feel more of a "UK librarian" than a "French-speaking librarian" (most of my fellow French volunteers went to the caucus for French-speaking participants) and I do not regret it at all! I think it was the best: instead of being all formal sitting in rows in a room, everyone stayed standing and chatting in the corridor (maybe because that's where the wine and canapés were? Huh.) The speeches lasted no more five minutes each: there was a welcome from CILIP President Barbara Band, from IFLA President-Elect Donna Scheeder and from the CFIBD (French international committee for libraries and information services) President Pascal Sanz.

      Newcomers' session
      Still on the same line of trying to make participants feel less overwhelmed by the whole thing is the newcomers' session . It took place on the Sunday morning before the official opening ceremony. The panel was chaired by Barbara Lison, a member of IFLA's Governing Board, who welcomed six different "IFLA people" and asked them to talk about their first WLIC, what coming to the conference can bring to an attendee, plus their tips for first-timers. Here are some of my favourites:
      • When asked: "How do you become an IFLA President?", Ellen Tise (IFLA President 2009-2011) replied: "Take pictures of yourself with the current IFLA President!" On a more serious note, she gave the best advice for anyone at a conference: "Don't stay with people from your own country; go and sit next to someone you don't know in a session and introduce yourself" because you are there to meet and learn from others.
      • Ian Yap (Manager for the IFLA Regional Office Asia and Oceania) said that an IFLA conference makes you realise that everyone is facing the same issues. To make the best of WLIC, listen to other's ideas and contribute to the discussion.
      • Jérémy Lachal (IFLA International Leaders Associate) : "IFLA is one of the best antidepressant in the world - it makes you realise that you are not alone."
      • Kent Skov Andreasen (IFLA Governing Board member) said that people who chose to come to IFLA WLIC were open-minded, curious and confused - between so many sessions! You need to take the inspiration and ideas gained from coming to the conference and do something with them.

      Thursday, 11 September 2014

      IFLA Lyon : the volunteer experience

      From 15th to 22nd August I was lucky enough to attend the 80th IFLA World Library and Information Congress in France. The poor inhabitants of Lyon saw 4,000 librarians invade their city for a full week - but they were pre-warned: there were signs everywhere!

      How did I manage to get myself there? Simple: I applied to be a volunteer and was selected (ok, for that to happen, I have to admit that being bilingual French-English was a great help) That meant that in exchange for helping out four half-days I could go to the rest of the congress for free! Brilliant.

      Being a volunteer obviously means attending training (in my case watching the videos and reading up) before the conference and having duties once you're there: arriving a day earlier for the last instructions, being on time for your shifts even if they start at 7am, staying at your post for several hours at a time... But it also meant being part of a big family of people wearing sky-blue gilets (congress participants affectionately nicknamed us "the Smurfs"!) - a family of almost 300 people, a third of whom were staying in the same student residence, a very sociable family whose members organised two very well-attended tours of Lyon or suggested a different bar to meet in every night.

      It was the second time I attended a conference as a volunteer (the first time being the ABF congress in 2012) and I would definitely recommend it. Not only is it a very affordable way to participate in an event of this scale, but being part of such a group makes it more friendly and less intimidating - even if you go without knowing anyone it won't last for long!

      original picture: CC-BY-SA Guillaume Gast
      So yes, there was a good atmosphere at IFLA Lyon; I talked to librarians from France, the UK, Italy, Romania, Canada, the USA, Malaysia, two different central-African countries (but unfortunately I can't remember which ones), Australia, Brazil... People were generally happy to be there and to answer questions about libraries in their countries.
      The Lyon Tourist Office also helped make it a great experience: all congress attendees had free travel on public transport and free entry to most city-centre museums (though personally, the only building I visited was... the hospital's dental emergencies service. Never mind!)

      In the next few posts I will tell you about:
      • what I learnt about IFLA through attending a standing committee meeting, a caucus and the newcomers' session;
      • the little things that struck me from all the different sessions I attended;
      • and hopefully, tell you about a debate I attended which led me to propose a session on a similar topic at Library Camp UK 2014.

      Sunday, 29 June 2014

      Copyright Masterclass

      On 11th June I attended the ASLIB "Copyright Masterclass" led by Naomi Korn. Here are some titbits from my notes with some added explanations of my own.

      The law is "late"
      There is a discrepancy between what we want to do (usage) and what we are allowed to do. We use licences for cases where the law does not go far enough.
      As the UK Copyright Licensing Agency (CLA) puts it: "If the material you wish to reproduce does not fall within one of the [copyright] exceptions, or if you are unsure, you should contact the copyright owner, or someone authorised by them to grant the necessary permission." A CLA licence will usually cover you for a wider use than the copyrights exceptions, because they provide a blanket licence where rights have been cleared for specific uses (the CLA is "someone authorised by the copyright holder to grant the necessary permission"). So before copying a work, check in this order: your CLA licence, your electronic licences, exceptions to copyright law.

      Copyright duration and foreign works
      When copying/using a work, you would ask yourself whether the work in question is covered by copyright, and if so, who is the copyright owner.
      If the work is potentially covered by copyright (I'm not going to define this here - go see the details on the IPO website) then you need to determine whether it is STILL in copyright; if the copyright has expired it's in the public domain and you're alright to use it.
      Beach promenade in Pondicherry
      CC BY-SA Sanyam Bahga
      So how do you know if a work is in the public domain? In most cases you will need to know either when it was published or when (if) the creator died. Let's take an example: a text. If the author is British then it's easy: copyright lasts 70 years after the end of the year in which the author died. That makes sense, right: UK copyright laws apply to British works. So what happens when the author lived and worked in... Pondicherry? In India copyright only lasts up to 60 years after the author died - if the copyright has expired in the author's country but would not have in the UK, can you still use it legally here? The answer is yes - when using copyrighted works from another country in the UK, you would apply UK copyright exceptions but the copyright duration from the country of origin (think about it - it makes sense). Or as the Europeana public domain calculator says: "The Rule of Shorter Term (Comparison of Terms) applies. This means that the term of protection is that established by the legislation of the selected country, unless (barring provisions to the contrary in the legislation of that country) the term fixed in the country of origin of the work is shorter. In such cases, the term of protection is that of the country of origin."

      Ooh, yes there is a public domain calculator! Did I not mention it? Sorry... Temper your enthusiasm though: the Europeana calculator is a factual one, that asks you the right questions to guide you through the different copyright rules. If you want to just be able to enter the name of a work and get an (almost) yes or no answer, try the public domain calculator developed using metadata from the French National Library (beta version at: http://www.calculateurdomainepublic.fr/)

      Orphan works risk management
      You have established the work you want to use is still in copyright, or you have not been able to establish that it is definitely in the public domain. You now need to obtain permission from the copyright holder (if the use you want to make of the work is not covered by your CLA or other licence, or any copyright exceptions, as mentioned above). Finding a copyright holder is not as easy as it sounds, which is why a lot of works are actually "orphan works".
      Oliver Twist at the orphanage
      Illustration by James Mahoney (1810-1879)

      Let's consider another example: you've found an image you want to use (e.g. on the Internet), it looks like it may still be under copyright, but you are not sure who the creator is. That's where you will need to do a bit of risk management. If you use this "orphan" image nevertheless... what are the chances of you getting caught? If you get caught, what will it cost you? Are you ready to face the reputational damage, not just to you personally but to your employer/organisation, linked with being sued for copyright infringement? Well, personally (my boss will be pleased to hear), I'm not.
      To help you assess the risks, the JISC-funded Open Educational Resources IPR support project offers a risk management calculator. It gives you an indicative risk level for using orphan works, depending on what type of work you are dealing with, whether it was originally created for a commercial purpose, the licence under which you intend to offer it and how much of an effort you have made in tracing the copyright holder.

      Happy calculating!

      Friday, 20 June 2014

      The bank adviser and the librarian

      A few weeks ago I had to visit my financial adviser at my French bank. What could have been a 20-minutes appointment turned into a 55-minutes meeting, because we didn't discuss my financial situation only. I actually realised that my bank adviser and I were faced with - would you believe it! - similar issues and questions in our professional lives. Here are a few of them.

      First, both a public library branch and a bank one are a customer-facing service; people come in wanting to carry out a specific task and sometimes seeking help (I can see you thinking: "Do they get the same awkward customers as we do?" My bank adviser did mention something about feeling patronised by some of his customers; I didn't push this topic as it wouldn't have been professional for him to complain about customers to me) My bank in France is actually a small branch with only two financial advisers and a receptionist; it's located right next to a big supermarket.

      CC BY-NC-SA Devon Buchanan
      Information literacy
      In libraries we are keen on our "authoritative resources" - we recognise their necessity and promote them - but we also know full well that for a quick answer we might be better off using a good search engine or Wikipedia as a first port of call rather than delving into the right encyclopedia. When my bank adviser is looking for the definition of a term, he does the same! Except his next port of call, instead of the encyclopedia, are the documents on the bank's intranet.
      While doing that, he also made a comment which I could sympathise with: "We've just changed our platform because we've had to move over to Windows 7, and not everything is quite working the way it should be"!

      "People don't know the range of services we offer - we don't only bank, we also offer insurance which is often very competitive but people don't think about it and go with the traditional insurance companies". Welcome to the club - people still mainly associate libraries with book-lending! This said, a bank and a public library service don't have quite the same resources to allocate to Communication... In a bank, it's not the branch that will do a huge marketing campaign, it's the head office and it will be nationwide. So in libraries, are we making the most of whatever nationwide publicity we can get, via every SCL and CILIP campaigns that grab the headlines, or for example participating in National Libraries Day?

      CC BY-NC-SA Devon Buchanan

      I've seen ATMs long before I ever saw self-service machines in a library. As an adult, I've never been a customer of a bank that still kept cash behind the counter. Bank customers are used to using a machine to: withdraw money, deposit cash, check their account balance, deposit cheques, print bank statements... That's coming slowly for libraries. Of course, in both cases, there are still some staff around to help.
      My bank adviser told me about a pilot of a full self-service bank - with no staff around. No receptionist; financial advisers only available by appointment. He was quite concerned about it; for several reasons. One being that just like in libraries, some bank customers aren't quite confident using the self-service and either need or prefer to have someone to help them. Another being: what happens to the receptionist - do they lose their job, have to move into a very different one?
      Again, things that can be easily applied to libraries.

      Friday, 9 May 2014

      Goodbye CDG NE, hello North East Member Network

      The facts: the CILIP Career Development Group is no more (well, almost) since the end of March 2014. In the English regions, its divisions have merged with the local branches to form the new Regional Member Networks.

      Why do I bother writing about it? Because for the last two years I was a member of the Career Development Group North-Eastern division (CDG NE) committee - I was even the secretary for the last year and a half. I'm not qualified to tell you about the history of the group; I just want to say something as I feel it brought me a lot.

      Two years ago, I chose to join a group committee because I wanted to gain some new skills to have a better chance of evolving in my career. I chose CDG NE because it seemed so active and so welcoming. I wasn't disappointed! I met a really nice bunch of people: some new like me, some with a lot of experience on the committee but all enthusiastic about libraries and helping people in the profession. On the committee I got to do things I did not have the opportunity to do in my post at the time. The highlight for me was helping out with the Marketing Libraries training: I assisted the organiser on the day and got to attend a great event!
      I don't think I'd be lying if I said my involvement with CDG NE helped me get the job I'm in today. It showed my commitment to the profession, but also proved that I had the experience and skills needed to make the jump from a library assistant to a professional librarian post.

      Picture: https://www.facebook.com/CilipNorthEast
      Yes I'm shamelessly plugging our Facebook page!

      And now I'm chair of the new CILIP North East Member Network. Argh! What do I do now?!
      Well I'd like us - the new merged committee - to keep things that, in my opinion, worked in CDG NE, for example:
      • motivated and enthusiastic committee members;
      • friendly and welcoming ways of working within the committee, opportunities to gain new skills;
      • a wide range of events: training days, library visits and CILIP qualifications support, but also socials.

      And I'd like us to improve things such as:
      • better communication: using a monthly news mailing, social media;
      • transparency: giving more insight to members into the activities of the committee, making meeting minutes public;
      • more collaboration with the CILIP Special Interests Groups locally and the neighbouring Regional Member Networks;
      • more interaction with members who are not on the committee - we want everyone to feel involved within CILIP North East!
      Following our very first committee meeting on Wednesday, I can already say that we do have enthusiastic and friendly committee members coming up with lots of wonderful ideas!
      I hope we will be able to create/re-create/maintain a great library and information community in the region and encourage members to get involved.
      Shall we talk about all this again in a year's time?!