22 May 2019

Your Local Library: A space for Everyone (Library Services for homeless people, refugees and asylum seekers)

Libraries are for Everyone. (New York Public Libraries)
Guest post by Sheila Kelly. Sheila is a Divisional Librarian working in Dublin City Libraries. Through her work in branch libraries across the city,  she has developed a strong  professional commitment to equality and inclusion, and evidenced the impact of public libraries on marginalised and disadvantaged groups

Homelessness Services Background
The Dublin Homeless Region Executive, the authority responsible for housing in the Dublin region, provided me with contacts for hostels, hubs and hotels. These were mainly Development Managers who work for homeless charities such as Focus Ireland, Respond, Peter Mc Verry Trust, Dublin Simon, Depaul and the Salvation Army. I had the opportunity to visit some hubs and set in place a framework to ensure that homeless people had access to our library services. I’d like to share my thoughts and experiences.

People living in homeless accommodation are not a homogeneous group… homeless people are families and children.
Women’s homelessness and family homelessness is a new and devastating phenomenon. Children are being born into homeless accommodation; small and older children share rooms; young people have no study space and parents have no privacy. Parents must be in constant charge of their children and no visitors are allowed.

Many people, particularly fathers go to work from homeless accommodation.  During my visits and discussions, I came to realise that some accommodations had changes in service or development managers and were managed by a hotel manager solely. While this ensured adequate meals and good hygiene, these are far from what we would call ‘home’.

These are heart breaking scenarios and we had to set our parameters and focus on what is our remit – that is to provide a library service to everyone equally.

Thoughts on equity in library service provision 
Initially I identified hostels and hubs and linked them to local branch libraries. People living in the hubs were offered a block loan; advised of contact persons in the local library; library tours were arranged for Development Managers, individuals and families.  Focus Ireland’s Family Homeless Action Team Leaders were briefed on library services available for people accessing emergency accommodation.

And then I thought “that’s that..sorted” … until, through my visits and discussions I came to understand that hidden barriers existed for homeless people. We automatically assume educational and cultural barriers to library usage, but increasingly for homeless people the barriers are circumstantial and problems of loneliness, isolation and de-skilling prevail.

With the greatest respect for people’s privacy and confidentiality I learned that individuals living in homeless accommodations may lose life (home-making) skills- meals are arranged, rooms cleaned, financial and independent decision making opportunities are eradicated. However, individuals are expected to source suitable accommodation for themselves and their families.

In public libraries we say everyone is equally entitled to a free library service. We need to progress this to include the notion of equity- a notion involving fairness and impartiality. In an “equal” system everyone is given the same library service; in an “equitable” library service people are given the service based on the eradication of existing barriers and supporting individual’s needs.

Library Service: Our Aims and Focus
Our aim in Dublin City Libraries was to offer individuals and families living in supported temporary accommodation the opportunity to use our library services in the same way that everyone else does. Our focus was not that homelessness made people ‘different’- our philosophy is that homelessness makes no difference in our branch libraries. We sought to provide a robust, sustainable and easily resourced framework that would accommodate transient families, staff, and changes in homeless services provision.

In terms of equity in library service provision it became glaringly obvious that our membership rules, requiring proof of home address, were a distinct barrier for homeless people. We introduced easy membership, accepting different forms of proof e.g. letters form the Dublin Homeless Region Executive, Homeless Charities Development Managers, Hostel, Hotel or Hub managers etc.

Targeting Services
Hubs, hostels and hotels vary and some specific interventions were put in place. A library Open Day is planned for immigrant families who want to integrate in their community, kinder boxes were provided to two hubs, and we plan to lend tablets (particularly for library eResources) in the future. We offer one storytelling session to introduce the library if this can be made available in the hub.
We have collaborated with one local area partnership to deliver a specific Storytime project to encourage and help parents read to their children. This will take place in a hotel where families are particularly isolated.

We targeted two Integration centres- one already has links with the local library. The second one required a greater intervention. We designed and printed a leaflet inviting residents to join the library which included a map of how to walk to the library. These leaflets were placed under bedroom doors.

Challenges
Hostels can be difficult to manage and reach as individuals may be isolated or have mental health difficulties. One hostel is successfully linked to one library and residents have joined up independently.  Management of hubs can be sporadic and dependent on the homeless charities involved. Various charities operate in diverse ways and even when Development Managers are assigned there is a quick turnover in staff.

We have to understand that hubs are not group homes- every bedroom door is a family’s front door. Privacy and respect are paramount so any performance indicators can only be anecdotal. We have clear anecdotal evidence from our branches that the numbers of homeless people using the service has increased noticeably.

Location is also problematic depending on hub and library locations and access to public transport.

Learning
It is a privilege to work on this project which I believe reflects the heartbeat of the profession of public librarianship. It allows us reach those who need us most- the newly arrived immigrant, the young teenager studying for Leaving Cert on a hotel bedroom floor, or the newly registered homeless father. There are serious complexities involved in reaching people in homeless accommodation and as always the development of good communication channels is paramount. We need to stop talking to ourselves! We need to promote our libraries using clear informal language. We need to simply say “you are welcome here” and loose the information overload. Once those (so) marginalised people come through our library doors we can be confident they will get the best service, the best welcome, the best sense of belonging as we vitalise our professional conduct, activate our public service equality ethos and reach those who need us most. To that end I would like to thank the wonderful Dublin City Libraries staff I work with, for their enthusiasm, professional commitment and excellence in service delivery. I am reminded of Maya Angelou who said:

“The ache for home lives in all of us, the safe place where we can go as we are and not be questioned”

A bit like our libraries then….




21 May 2019

Beyond records storage… Institutional repository Digital CSIC as service for open science

Digital CSIC is the institutional repository (IR) of the Spanish National Research Council (CSIC). CSIC’s network of libraries and archives is in charge of the leadership and management of this IR.

A few preliminary notes: the institution and its libraries

CSIC is the largest public, research institution in Spain and the third largest in Europe. Its researchers generate approximately the 20% of all scientific production in the country. Its mission is to foster, coordinate, develop and promote scientific and technological research of a multidisciplinary nature in order to contribute to the advancement of knowledge and economic, social and cultural development, as well as training staff and advise public and private organizations on these matters.

CSIC’s research scope involves the following fields:
  • Biology and biomedicine.
  • Humanities and social science.
  • Natural resources.
  • Agricultural sciences.
  • Physical science and technologies.
  • Materials science and technology.
  • Food science and technology.
  • Chemical science and technology.
There are research centres all over the country that belong to CSIC. In a number of them there is a library and/or an archive.

No few services are managed thanks to a well-conceived network of libraries and archives:
  • A discovery tool that provides access to all information resources (papers, books, digitalised collections, databases, software licenses, etc.) kept, subscribed and managed by CSIC’s libraries.
  • Remote access to those resources, despite not being physically in the institution.
  • Traditional services, such as loan, interlibrary loan, user/library orientation, reading room and reproduction of documents.
  • A digital reference service.
  • An institutional repository in which research outcomes are archived: Digital CSIC. All members of the research community of CSIC can upload metadata-enriched files to it.
  • The Digital.CSIC Direct Archiving Service by which research community can delegate the archiving of its research outcomes to librarians so as to ensure higher-quality metadata and a faster uploading.
  • The service GRANADO aimed at improving the management of libraries space as well as ensuring the conservation of its collections regardless of its format.
  • 100% Digital plan, which is offered by CSIC’s network of libraries and archives to CSIC institutes without libraries. It includes a number of library services.

A new librarianship context: from open access to open science

According to the Open Access (OA) libguide of the University of Pittsburgh library system (2019), Open Access refers to:
  • “A family of copyright licensing policies under which authors and copyright owners make their works publicly available
  • A movement in higher education to increase access to scholarly research and communication, not limiting it solely to subscribers or purchasers of works
  • A response to the current crisis in scholarly communication”.
Although providing free online access to journal articles began many years before the term "open access" was formally coined, computer scientists had been sharing anonymous archives through FTP since the 1970s and physicists had been self-archiving on arxiv since the 1990s (History of open access).

The concept Open Access was not formally established until the 2000s due to these statements: the Budapest Open Access Initiative (2002), the Bethesda Statement on Open Access Publishing (2003), and the Berlin Declaration on Open Access to Knowledge in the Sciences and Humanities (2003).

Two ways to accomplish Open Access statements emerged: green (research outcomes published on IRs) and gold roads (papers published on OA on their respective journals). However, the high costs of article processing charges (ACP) (Khoo, 2019) for pursuing gold road have resulted in that IRs are sometimes the only possible way for OA.

Not many years ago, the scope and sense of openness were widened by The Royal Society (2012) through its thought-provoking book Science as an open enterprise. The transcendence of Open Science (Anglada & Abadal, 2018) have come to the European Union. Indeed, European Commission (2019) has taken it into account on its new policies regarding research across Europe.

The FOSTER Plus (Fostering the practical implementation of Open Science in Horizon 2020 and beyond) project designed this taxonomy that organises all the related concepts:

Open Science Taxonomy. Source: Foster Open Science.
Open Science have brought out several relevant issues on how research is carried out, its outcomes and benefits for society, and the agents involved:
  • The fourth scientific revolution concerns big data, data mining and software.
  • Speaking of outcomes, openness does not only refer to papers published on journals or proceedings, but also the research data regardless of its format, e.g. databases, photographs, presentations, web sites and pages, videos, didactic materials, datasets, software and code. Moreover, research outcomes does not only belong to publishers and/or researchers, but also to society.
  • Data must be FAIR: Findable, Accessible, Interoperable and Reusable (Wilkinson et al, 2016. GO FAIR, 2019).
  • Ethics counts: data ownership, intellectual property rights, research integrity (SPARC Europe, 2019), privacy, security and safety.
  • There is much more need for investing in scientific literacy, science communication and open education than ever.
  • Now, a more variety of partnerships between research agents and society is feasible.
  • Evaluation of science and its metrics must change, as the current cites-based system is not enough to foster open science among scientists.

Digital CSIC as service for open science and researchers community

Looking at this new data-information-and-knowledge environment we will undoubtedly have to face, librarians must wonder how to adapt ourselves, our libraries and profession to address the issue.

Specifically, as for institutional repositories, the following are the actions taking up by the Digital CSIC IR to go beyond any digital library and play a service role for open science and research community.

Digital preservation

It goes without saying that the archiving of research papers on IRs contributes to their digital preservation. If we keep in mind the Levels of Digital Preservation established by the Digital Library Federation (2018), an Open Access Repository in and of itself can be a “tool” to cope with the five functional areas: storage and geographic location, file fixity and data integrity, information security, metadata and file formats.

Digital preservation must be planned. Although IRs can be a great deal of help, they must be tools that are integrated into a well-conceived digital preservation planification.

Digital CSIC (2019) currently offers the following digital-preservation-oriented actions:
  • Backups.
  • Storage of magnetic tapes.
  • Conversion of formats to more secure ones.
  • Periodic checks of the files integrity to prevent their corruption.
  • Monitoring of the technology environment to foresee possible migrations of obsolete formats or software.
  • Metadata for digital preservation.
  • Recommendation for file formats.

The archive of science

Digital CSIC pursue the archiving of all the research outcomes of its institution. As I said before, according to open science view, outcomes involves a wide range of resources: papers published on journals or proceedings, databases, photographs, presentations, web sites and pages, videos, didactic materials, datasets and software. That is precisely the mission of archives: the archiving and preservation of all the records generated as a result of the activity of the institution in which it is integrated and depends on. So, in a sense, an OA IR is the archive of science produced on its institution. In case copyright and intellectual issues do not allow to publish some resources on Open Access, it does not mean that those cannot have an embargo or be in closed access in order to preserve them.

Digital CSIC, which is built upon the software Dspace, has one community per field of knowledge in which CSIC researchers research. I listed those fields in the first epigraph of this post, all of them are accessible via https://digital.csic.es/community-list. There is a sub-community per each research institute devoted to a determined field of knowledge. Then, there are as many collections inside each sub-community as different types of information-or-data resources resulting from the research carried out by that research institute. The principle of provenance is present, thus the archive of science.

FAIR data

Taking FAIR Principles (GO FAIR, 2019) into consideration, I show how the IR Digital CSIC accomplishes them as followed:

Findable

F1. It uses the handle system to assign an URI to each digital object.

F2. The IR publishes intrinsic metadata, librarians ensure the contextual metadata and librarians along with researchers are committed in the description process to ensure rich metadata, such as the measurement devices used, the units of the captured data, the species involved, the genes/proteins/other that are the focus of the study, the physical parameter space of observed or simulated astronomical data sets, questions and concepts linked to longitudinal data, calculation of the properties of materials, or any other details about the experiment.

F3. Digital CSIC does it through dc.identifier.uri.

F4. They are, as Digital CSIC is indexed by the Spanish national aggregator RECOLECTA, OpenAIRE, share.osf.io, core.ac.uk, base-search.net, Google Scholar as well as being registered on re3data.org.

Accesible

A1.1 and A1.2. It uses OAI-PMH.

Interoperable

I1. It supports MARC, Dublin Core, RDF, ORE, MODS, METS and DIDL.

I2 and I3. It does.

Reusable

R1.1. dc.rights and dc.rights.license are used.

R1.2. dc.date.accessioned, dc.date.available and dc.description.provenance are used.

R1.3. It is partially accomplished. Digital CSIC tends to use dc.description as last resource.

Open Peer Review Module

Digital CSIC have integrated the first Open Peer Review Module (OPRM) for open access repositories that allows to make reviews and comments on already archived digital objects.

Open Peer Review Module. Source: Digital CSIC.
This tool is especially useful for receiving feedback that is bound to facilitate the improvement of research outcomes.

Impact, (alt)metrics and statistics of research

How can Digital CSIC measure the impact of its archived files?

First all of all, in the web page about general statistics, we can see them in terms of:
  • Number of research institutes per community (field of knowledge).
  • Number of items per community.
  • Number of items per research institute (top 20).
  • Number of research institutes by geographical distribution.
  • Number of items by geographical distribution.
  • Types of items (articles, conference paper, etc.).
  • Types of archived items per research institute.
  • Open Access: the percentage of OA items by type, year of deposit and community.
We can delimit them by date (year and/or month).

It also shows the number of archived objects by communities (field of knowledge), sub-communities (research centres), collections (types of documents per research centres) and authors. By research groups and research projects are being tested.
Source: Digital CSIC.
Source: Digital CSIC.
Source: Digital CSIC.
It is also possible to view statistics of any of the communities in terms of count of views, sub-community view count, collection view count, item count view and item download count. Besides, we can examine those by region/country/city in a geo map (thanks to Google Maps API) and along time.

As for single archived digital objects, we can see its views and downloads by region and along time. There is also information about altmetrics.
Source: Digital CSIC.
Source: Digital CSIC.

Web pages for researchers

Digital CSIC provides the possibility to generate web pages for researcher. They consist of:
  • An URI.
  • A personal statement with a nice picture.
  • Integration of profiles of other networks and IDs.
  • Statistics.
  • Concentration and organization of all their scientific production.

Automated archiving

Digital CSIC and some publishers came to an agreement so that they are archiving all the journal papers on this IR as long as their filiation contains CSIC.

Consultancy

Digital CSIC and its librarians give advice to the research community regarding a number of topics:
  • Technical use of Digital CSIC and guidance in the metadata description according to its policies.
  • Open Access mandates.
  • Profiles for researchers and research groups.
  • Intellectual property, copyright and licensing.
  • FAIR data.
  • Data management plans.

Final thoughts

The increasingly consciousness regarding the importance of open access, which we can even measure (Dubinsky, 2019), is undoubtedly good news. However, promoting open access is not enough. Institutional repositories seem need to evolve from merely digital libraries for storage of items. Librarians of research institutions must change their mindset to a service-oriented one. Service, here, has to do with open science and the researchers community. I have presented current developments of Digital CSIC, I hope it would be inspiring for other librarians. 

References

Anglada, L.; Abadal, E. (2018). ¿Qué es la ciencia abierta?. Anuario ThinkEPI, 12, 292-298.
doi: 10.3145/thinkepi.2018.43

Berlin Declaration on Open Access to Knowledge in the Sciences and Humanities (2003). Retrieved from https://openaccess.mpg.de/67605/berlin_declaration_engl.pdf

Bethesda Statement on Open Access Publishing (2003). Retrieved from https://legacy.earlham.edu/~peters/fos/bethesda.htm

Budapest Open Access Initiative (2002). Retrieved from https://www.budapestopenaccessinitiative.org/read

Digital CSIC (2019). Digital preservation policy. Retrieved from http://digital.csic.es/dc/politicas/#politica8

Digital Library Federation (2018). Levels of Digital Preservation. Retrieved from https://ndsa.org/activities/levels-of-digital-preservation/

Dubinsky, E. (2019). Does open access make cents? Return on investment in the institutional repository. College & Research Libraries News, 80(5). doi: 10.5860/crln.80.5.281.

European Commission (2019). Open Science. Retrieved from https://ec.europa.eu/research/openscience/index.cfm

Foster Open Science. Open Science Taxonomy. Retrieved from https://www.fosteropenscience.eu/themes/fosterstrap/images/taxonomies/os_taxonomy.png

GO FAIR. FAIR Principles. Retrieved from https://www.go-fair.org/fair-principles/

History of open access. Retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_open_access

Khoo, S. Y.-S. (2019). Article Processing Charge Hyperinflation and Price Insensitivity: An Open Access Sequel to the Serials Crisis. LIBER Quarterly, 29(1), 1–18. doi: 10.18352/lq.10280

SPARC Europe (2019). Research Integrity through Open Science and FAIR Data. Retrieved from https://sparceurope.org/wp-content/uploads/dlm_uploads/2019/03/SPARCEurope_ResearchIntegrityBrief.pdf

The Royal Society (2012). Science as an open enterprise. Retrieved from https://royalsociety.org/~/media/royal_society_content/policy/projects/sape/2012-06-20-saoe.pdf

University of Pittsburgh library system (2019). Open Access @ Pitt: All About OA. Retrieved from https://pitt.libguides.com/openaccess

Wilkinson, M. D. et al (2016). The FAIR Guiding Principles for scientific data management and stewardship. Scientific data, 3:160018. doi: 10.1038/sdata.2016.18.

16 Apr 2019

CONUL Training & Development have launched the 2019 Library Assistant Blog Award

CONUL Training & Development have launched the 2019 Library Assistant Blog Award which is open to all staff at library assistant and equivalent grades in the CONUL member libraries.

The award prizes are:

1st prize           €200
2nd prize          €150
3rd prize           €100

To apply for the award, you must submit an article on a library related theme in the form of a blog post. 

You could opt to write about any aspect of your work, a topic of interest, a project you have worked on or are working on, a project the library team is engaged in, a new service idea or maybe an idea you have for improving current services.  The post should be written in a lively style and be visually appealing to engage readers.  The word count for the post is 500-800 words, excluding links and references. Sources should be cited correctly.

The article should be saved as a PDF file and emailed along with your entry cover sheet to your CONUL T&D library rep http://www.conul.ie/membership-and-roles/  by 1700 on Wednesday 15th May 2019. 

Full information and links which may be of interest are available at here http://www.conul.ie/training-development-awards/#Library-Assistant-Award .
Posted on Tuesday, April 16, 2019 | Categories:

14 Apr 2019

Review of the LAI / CILIP Joint Conference 2019

Photograph by author

The LAI and CILIP certainly know how to choose a hotel in which to stage their Annual Joint Conference. They chose the stunning Kilashee Hotel in Naas for this years conference. 

The issue with choosing such a wonderful venue is that it may overshadow the conference itself. This was not the case in this instance. #laicilipire19 was one of the best, most enjoyable, conferences I have attended in the last few years. And what was surprising for me, as an academic librarian, is that some of the best papers, for me, came from public library speakers as opposed to the academic libraries. 

The theme of this years conference was ‘Inclusive Libraries’, a theme that applies to all libraries, and the breadth of speakers was wide and came equally from public and academic libraries.

There were three keynotes speakers, all excellent speakers and papers – entertaining and informative. 

Erik Boekestejin took us on a whistle stop tour of his travels around the world working with libraries and provided us with many examples of how we, and our buildings, can be more inclusive and help us as we engage with our users. 

Rosie Jones also used her extensive personal experience to show us how libraries can be, and must be, more inclusive. A particular take home for me was how impressive and essential an organisation the Open University is. Another was this new definition of Information Literacy by the CILIP Information Literacy Group :

‘Information literacy is the ability to think critically and make balanced judgements about any information we find and use. It empowers us as citizens to develop informed views and to engage fully with society.” 

In today’s world of fake news, echo chambers and blatant lies from those in power this is what we as libraries need to be teaching.

Unfortunately, due to train timetables I had to leave early and miss some of Traci Engel Lesnicki’s paper on library design and how essential the design of a space is to how the user experiences that space

A common theme that ran through the keynotes and many of the papers over the two days was the importance that playfulness plays in terms of design of the space and engagement with the user.

Before the conference I tweeted out that I was suffering from FOMO – fear of missing out – because of how many great looking papers there were on the conference programme 


As it is, I chose carefully and all the papers I saw in the breakout sessions were excellent. Too many papers to elaborate on so I now provide a very brief overview of the sessions I attended and papers I particularly enjoyed.

Firstly, Jane Burns paper looking at graphic medicine as a pedagogical tool for Health Information opened up to me an area I knew little about before hand and I can see this means of teaching as working across all disciplines and subject areas.

As I have a soft spot for anything to do with Chinese Librarianship I was particularly looking forward to James Molloy paper recounting his personal experience of teaching Information Literacy in China. I was not disappointed. 

A particularly powerful paper was that of Elaine Chapman and Sarah Anne Kennedy exploring the benefits of employing staff with disabilities in libraries. It was pointed out that this is a very much under-researched area. I was particularly pleased to see Elaine Chapman get perhaps the warmest most heartfelt round applause I have heard at a conference. 

Mark Ward’s paper, working from his own research, on the library as a Queer Space was particularly interesting and delivered by Mark in his by now familiar warm engaging relaxed style. For somebody with a background in sociology of sexuality and language I found this a particularly necessary important paper and area of research. 

Robin Stewart’s paper about a music appreciation club run in Co Meath Library appealed to the Shush! Sounds from UCC Library librarian in me and has me thinking, could we bring something like this to UCC Library.

Laura Connaughton spoke about an initiative at Maynooth University where the library organised a competition modelled on the TV Programme The Dragon’s Den (but with nicer dragons) where students would pitch their idea to the library for something that would improve the library for them. It was a great way to engage the student population and really listen to them.

Robert Whan, in his paper,  Armagh Robinson Library: A Case Study of Inclusive Engagement told us about two programmes, aimed at different ends of the age, that the library has. The first is a programme at elderly living with dementia and their carers. The second is aimed at under five years of age children.

An interesting approach to teaching was discussed by Ainé Carey and Catherine Ahearne in their paper Actions Speak Louder than words: co-delivering activity based classics at MU Library. 

Niall O’Brien told us about how Maynooth tackled the issue of orientation so as to make it more inclusive and actually more useful to the students themselves.

I was speaking in the session Research or Studies exploring inclusiveness in Libraries and Maria Ryan and Joanne Carroll’s paper looking at the steps the National Library of Ireland has been taking to make the library more inclusive and diverse was a great and interesting distraction before I went up to speak about The Transition Year Work Experience Programme and DEIS Schools... The Experience from UCC Library.

As was Ann Cleary and Philip Cohen’s paper looking at lessons learned from their National Forum for the Enhancement of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education funded research project L2L Librarians Learning to support Learners Learning.  

Though I enjoyed all the papers I saw the stand out paper for me was Sheila Kelly’s paper Your Local Library: A Space for Everyone. Sheila, of Dublin City Libraries, spoke about the amazing, life changing, work that she and her colleagues do with Dublin’s homeless. Her paper for me was a powerful reminder of the power of libraries and a damning indictment of a society that permitted this homelessness situation arise and, worse, to continue.

And finally, there was one more highlight for – this conference contained the best poster that I have ever seen in competition. The poster  AIT Library Facilities: Engaging and Informing Students with Disabilities: Inclusiveness and Information– by Mary Mulryan  was a simple but utterly effective poster that any library could adapt for their own needs library. I am very to say that Mary won the best poster competition as it really is an amazing poster and it shows that there can be justice in the world. 


Photograph by author

All in all I thoroughly enjoyed and was inspired by this conference. The mix of libraries and librarians was great and to see people from different sectors mixing and sharing ideas was great. Here’s hoping that some interesting collaborations between our academic and public libraries emerge.

As an aside – the organisers did remarkably well when it came to the sponsors. There were so many I had never seen before. I would recommend that our academic conference organisers take a look at the list of sponsors and consider them as possible sponsors for future events you may be organising,

On the form of this year the LAI CILIP looks like it will become yet another must attend library conference – along with the ASL Conference and the CONUL Conference. I personally look forward to seeing what #laicilipire20 will bring.

And I will leave it up to a tweet from keynote Rosie Jones to sum up the conference and main themes. 







11 Apr 2019

Just the same but brand new

Post by Michelle Dalton, Librarian, Institute of Public Administration, Ireland

As I look through the tweets from some of the recent library conferences, it’s interesting to see that many of the themes and issues being discussed have been circulating around the library world for quite a long time now. The LAI & CILIP joint conference this week looked at how our libraries can support and promote inclusivity. UKSG covered a breadth of issues as always, but the cost of publishing and journals was a prominent motif in many talks, whilst last month’s LAI Academic & Special Libraries conference questioned the role of the library as a “Space, Place, or State of Mind?”.

These themes and challenges are not new in a lot of cases, and indeed many emanate directly from the core values and missions of libraries, so this is not surprising. For example, @hughtweet recently drew my attention to the fact that serials costs and cutbacks have been a challenge faced by libraries since, well, possibly forever:

Similarly inclusion has always been an intrinsic value held by libraries and librarians, as has the importance of the library as a place, in all its forms. What has changed of course, is the context. Right now, the cost of scholarly publishing is framed very much within the discourse of Plan S which has added a new dimension to the debate. Inclusivity has also taken on a new significance within society more generally, and today libraries have an opportunity to be a leader in this area, and perhaps to broaden the discussion to look at our own library staffing and structures also. The way we look at our library spaces has changed now too. The transformation in both the physical and digital environment has sparked an increased emphasis on user experience and a growing need for libraries to consider sustainability in how they deliver services and supports, and as a result we are having some very different conversations when we talk about the library as place today.

Whilst it is not all that surprising to see the same themes resurfacing over time given the enduring nature of some of the challenges we face, it is refreshing to see these same discussions approached with a new energy, a different perspective and real creativity. It is not simply the case that we are rehashing the same arguments (though to some degree this is unavoidable at times), but instead libraries and library staff are embracing opportunities to question what we do with a critical eye, and to open up the conversation to new areas. We may not always have the answers of course, but it is far more problematic when we stop asking questions in the first place.



*With thanks to Annie Clark for the blog post title

Posted on Thursday, April 11, 2019 | Categories: