Friday, 20 May 2011

SLS Closures

Just read an article on BBC News entitled 'Authors slam school library cuts'. When I worked in a school library I found the council's School Library Service (SLS) invaluable. When I was made redundant from the school back in April, the future of my local SLS was under discussion (the council building in which it is housed is to be closed and the SLS wasn't aware of this until it was leaked to the local newspaper!) and the neaby Birmingham SLS has been scrapped. The SLS co-ordinates activities, sources funding, provides resources, creates networking opportunities and provides training. Libraries are a vital part of schools and with the way SLS across the country are closing due to funding shortages, school libraries themselves will falter in terms of quality, however proactive a particular librarian happens to be - that it, of course, presuming an individual school employs a librarian in the first place.

Closing SLS is outrageous, and likewise reducing school library provisions is outrageous. There's no two ways about it. Yes, I know there are other priorities, but surely literacy is all-important in schools? I no longer work in a school library, but the situation still makes my blood boil with anger!
Rant over. Please take a look at the BBC article. It strongly echoes the excellent work of The Campaign for the Book.

Thursday, 19 May 2011

Discover-e 2011

This week I took part in a two-day event organised by JISC Regional Support Centre (West Mids) entitled Discover-e 2011. It was a free, online event consisting of numerous webinars, based on the theme of ‘Supporting learning providers’ priorities’.

Approximately 135 delegates signed up to the event and we were able to individually select which sessions we’d prefer to attend.  This was my first time participating in a webinar / online conference so I was a little apprehensive, but I was genuinely surprised how simple and straight-forward it was. The sessions were delivered using Elluminate software which allows delegates in the room to view a PowerPoint presentation, whilst listening to the presentation being delivered live through headphones. There is also a chatbox visible, so delegates can raise questions or start a parallel discussion. In addition to this, there are function buttons allowing delegates to applaud, laugh or raise their hands.

The first session I attended was delivered by Steve Taylor of Mercia Management. It was entitled ‘Tablet PCs in remote / mobile learning’. There were 38 delegates in the room for this presentation, although the number was fluid as people were able to enter / leave the room as they wished. Steve told of his organisation’s experience of loaning out netbooks to engineering apprentice students. Overall, Steve said the initiative had been smooth-flowing with no acts of hardware / software misuse. Mercia Management found that loaning netbooks generated an excitement amongst the students who were keen to accept the responsibility of the equipment. There was an increase in IT literacy, faster assignment completions and increased achievements. I’m glad this was the first sessions I attended; I have experience of a similar initiative from my previous post in a school and therefore felt able to contribute to the session by discussing this in the chatbox.

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

Librarians with Lives

Dear Library Fans,

One of my favourite library-related blogs to read is Librarians with Lives.  It's an informal blog discussing ways of fitting CPD into busy lives, and often features guest posts. I've written a post for it which has been published today, entitled Cilip Update and CPD. As the title suggests, I discuss how to use Cilip's Update with Gazette publication as a CPD opportunity. I hope you enjoy it.

Monday, 16 May 2011

Cilip Blog Landscape

Cilip Communities is a section of the Cilip website which helps bring together the activities of Cilip members. One way in which this is done is via the Blog Landscape, an aggregated collection of blogs written by various Cilip members. It is similar to the UK Library Blogs wiki but entries are specific to Cilip members' blogs.

I am pleased to say that, as from last Friday, 'Behind the Bookshelves' is a member of the Blog Landscape and now proudly displays the Cilip Blogger button. BtB is link #74 in the long lost of blog sites. In the 4 days since the BtB has been included, 5 people have viewed the blog through it. Hopefully, joining the Blog Landscape will not only increase the number of visitors to the blog, but also help encourage me to make regular postings. I am an avid reader of blogs and enjoy posting, but must admit that during times of particular stress / enjoyment / rushed off my feet it tends to be one of the activities that gets relegated from my 'to do' list. It's ironic as these are the times that most demand to be recorded. I maintained a diary thoughout my teenage years but during similar such times my entries would become increasingly sparse. Here I am aged 32 saying exactly the same about this blog; I wonder - will I ever change?

Saturday, 14 May 2011

CULN Conference

Earlier this week I went to an event held by the College University of Leicester Network (CULN) entitled Librarians’/LRC Research and IT Conference. It consisted of three presentations and one workshop, all specialising in digital data. Here is a brief outline of my thoughts on the day.

Dr John Haggerty from Salford University described himself as a ‘computer scientist’ and his talk focussed on the security issues of online data. He discussed it wonderfully in layman’s terms so that those of us without in-depth knowledge of encryption or contamination issues etc would be able to understand. He explained how digital data is intangible and ubiquitous, and how this can be problematic.  He focussed on challenges such as storage, structured/unstructured information, encryption needs, longevity of data and how all of this is changing yet again because of the throwaway culture arising relating to digital data. He gave Facebook as a perfect example of this. People create (unstructured) information purely for the purpose of giving it away, without thinking about who then owns that information or how it is stored and maintained. As technology upgrades happen faster and there is a general reduction on technology costs, Dr Haggerty predicted that these problems will increase in the future and we, as professionals, need to be aware of such issues, particularly if we use social networking as part of our jobs.