Rudai 23, Thing 15: Advocacy for libraries

A

Image from Gary Green, Josh Filhol and Andrew Walsh of

The Library A to Z: the Kickstarter Project. (CC BY 4.0)

“A is for access, advice, answers, archives, art…astronomy, audio books, author events.”  The library A to Z.

A is also for advocacy.  That vital activity that is shared by all who love libraries. In fact, if you’re reading this and you’re an admirer of all things library, did you know that you can affect the opinion of everyone you meet to support, visit or become involved in their local library, if you constantly, yes constantly, advocate for libraries. In my opinion, the responsibility for advocacy begins with each person working in a library, in every task they perform for their users. It’s not merely a task for the select few.

The onus also lies on each user to advocate, and not to leave it to others. Leaders, stakeholders and decision makers can destroy or secure a library’s future, but their opinions can be swayed by voices FOR libraries.

“We have an obligation to support libraries. To use libraries, to encourage others to use libraries, to protest the closure of libraries. If you do not value libraries then you do not value information or culture or wisdom. You are silencing the voices of the past and you are damaging the future.”   Neil Gaiman, author of The View from the Cheap Seats.

What is library advocacy? It is aptly defined on the website of the ‘Turning the Page‘ organisation, who offer training materials on library advocacy:

“The actions individuals or organizations undertake to influence decision-making at the local, regional, state, national, and international level that help create a desired funding or policy change in support of public libraries.”

Is it ignorance or pure misinformation that cause many to say “Why study for librarianship?” or “Libraries are dying. It’s all on the internet now, we don’t need libraries any longer, much less librarians.” How many times in the last 5 years didn’t I hear this when people heard the subject of my studies. Eventually I stopped going red with fury, and began to feel elated *rubs hands together with glee* for another chance to ‘educate’ someone. 😉

Fortunately in some countries there is heavy investment in state-of-the-art libraries of the future. In the UK, though, there is clearly something wrong.  If it is true that library use is declining in that country, then surely libraries are not offering what their communities want?  The knee-jerk reaction of the previous government was to close many. A crying shame!

So let’s get advocating to avoid the pitfall that the UK finds itself in – one where some are under the impression that it’s too costly an expense for a service no longer needed – sadly developing a blindness for the potential future of libraries.  Here’s hoping the new Prime Minister will amend that quickly.

The writer of Rudai23 Thing 15 provides many links to different advocacy campaigns. One I really enjoyed was for The Library A to Z, as I envisioned using their materials in the museum library. The resources on offer from The Library Campaign are noteworthy. As is this poster designed by Sarah McIntyre, available for protests and campaigns…

super_librarian_poster

Advocacy can take on different forms and use different methods.  Social media is a ready-made platform for advocacy.  Here are some great Instagram library accounts to follow for ideas: The New York Public Library, Gympie Regional Libraries in Australia, and the Prince William Public Libraries in Virginia, USA.  Twitter is also a wonderful forum for advocacy inspiration. Public Libraries 2020 (EU), Bredebieb (Netherlands) and Ian Anstice (UK) are just a few accounts for ideas. Then there’s those super librarians mentioned in an earlier blog post, who regularly tweet ideas and activities.

Recently I was part of a discussion on how to increase user stats in the museum library where I volunteer. We decided we would like to suggest placing fun signs that point to the library wing and have the info desk hand out brochures enticing people to visit the library after their museum visit. The museum has also just begun to plan a scavenger hunt that incorporates the library, and the library manager has collaborated with the museum to offer library tours on demand.  Using the idea from Thing 14 on Augmented Reality (AR), I had also thought of creating some iPad excitement with AR for children visiting the children’s corner.  I used the Aurasma app and the letters from ‘Libraries A to Z’, to make up an example of  an advocacy campaign.  Since I am not able to insert an MP4 video into this blog (would need to upgrade), here is a still from the ‘C is for children who come to meet the library dinosaur’.  (The dino rears up on hindquarters and roars.  I was totally thrilled at the action.)

screen grab of video

This could be taken one step further: the museum has a camel mascot in its children’s booklets, named Jamila.  A great AR image would be a video of a camel across a still of the library, purportedly showing Jamila browsing and telling children how fun it is to visit. 😀

Camels
Hey guys! We’re almost at the library.

Camels by Shinya Ichinohe on Flickr (CC BY-NC 2.0)

The advocacy resulting from these ideas could only benefit the library’s use, as people would be encouraged to tell others. Library staff could Tweet, Snapchat and post on Facebook. Local news magazines/newspapers could be invited to periodically cover activities.

Until next time, when we discuss collaboration tools.  Thanks again, for stopping by. 🙂

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Thing 14: Augmented Reality…libraries can have monsters & volcanoes

Chasing the dragonChasing the dragon by Andy McLemore on Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)

There’s this cool app for kids, Quiver, that brings their colouring activities to life. The child in me is thrilled by this; I can’t get enough.  Augmented Reality (i.e. additional to reality) has enabled these images to jump off the page and become playmates and 3D learning experiences.

Here is the volcano activity sheet that I tested on my iPad…first the volcano appears…

Photo 2016-08-18, 5 23 08 PM   and then you can make it erupt…..

…sound effects, lava, smoke and all!

Photo 2016-08-18, 5 25 43 PM

Fascinating! 😀

Oh, I know, right now you’re thinking about those little critters that are being hunted all over the world. PokémonGo! The craze that took the world by storm just a few weeks ago. In my wildest dreams I would not have thought that I too would have engaged in such unseemly behaviour (said tongue-in-cheek), holding the phone level with my nose and being led randomly in different directions, to trace that little yellow monster that was supposed to be hiding in our library!  It reminds me of a recent cartoon I saw, created by the satirical artist Pawel Kuczynski, and highlighted by Twisted Sifter…  😉

pokemon riding man
Pikachu riding human, by Pawel Kuczynski

It was only the 2nd week of the craze, and there we were, the head of the library and I, probably looking really odd, walking to and fro between the stacks, right up to displays, windows and notice boards, but the elusive creature stayed out of reach! Grrr. So, off we went from the library into the museum, determined to experience the hunt – drawing strange looks – pursuing the unseen. Just as we came to our senses (we were supposed to be manning the library desk) and decided to end our quest, behold…there it was…dancing cheekily in front of us.  The excitement at skilfully making it go *poof* was quite satisfying after the effort spent! (No success, yet, on the library’s own little monster.  Either he’s not there, or the App is not playing along nicely.)

Augmented Reality (AR) is providing folk with a new pastime in PokémonGo. Some say it’s great, as people are out and about, and moving; others decry it as a waste of valuable time. Whatever the opinion, AR has hit a new high. Libraries are using the hype to entice people into the virtual gyms and recharging stations. Library displays have been organised around the new phenomenon.  In her blog “Linking Learning” Kay Oddone writes that PokémonGo has brought Augmented Reality to the mainstream. (There’s also a link to a YouTube video explanation on AR.)

Where else is AR useful, besides colouring in books coming to life and monsters popping up in odd places? I discovered this video produced a couple of years before PokémonGo – the five best AR apps. Interesting, to say the least.  🙂

wordle for AR

Wordle graph by Amber Case on Flickr (CC BY-NC 2.0)

Rudai23’s Thing 14 has some links to interesting sites regarding AR in libraries. I like the idea of LibrARi, as we librarians know there are many who battle with classification systems and call numbers, or how to locate a book on the shelf. Data input would have to be really accurate though, and regularly updated, so that users aren’t further confused if the app points to the wrong book-address.

In the museum’s library we may try to do something with Aurasma for advocacy purposes. Thing 15’s topic is library advocacy, so I may get to try it out for the next post. At the moment we could use the Quiver app to make colouring in fun for the kids who are coming in and spending an hour during the hot summer months.

color in

Color in by giveawayboy on Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

According to several recent news articles, AR has “arrived”. Microsoft is working to incorporate it into a future Windows update. Apple’s CEO, Tim Cook, has confirmed that AR has grown into a ‘core’ technology. Financial markets are really excited for the prospect of growth in AR and Virtual Reality, probably mostly due to the gaming sector. Any $ to spare? You may want to invest in an AR tech company. 🙂

In Australia a group of students will be developing AR technology for “business solutions, developing 3D models and videos that overlay real-time camera views for smart phone, tablet or PC users, enhancing the visitor experience for the Gippsland Heritage Park.”  I imagine this idea being incorporated into large State, Academic and public libraries, so that users are not overwhelmed as they enter.  The different services, departments, programmes, collections, displays, etc. could quickly be located, labelled and explained. Kids could experience monsters, volcanoes, dinos, machines, and so much more, right there in their own library – learning come to life!  The idea is exciting.

Nothing, however, beats human contact, and so the UX Librarian’s position could merely be augmented by this technology. 😉  I wonder if there already is something similar, besides the virtual reality tours and 3D images on apps that one encounters in some museums and galleries and via websites?

Till next time. 🙂  Thanks for stopping by.

  tulip_2

Clipart from Clipartheaven.com

Thing 13: Professional Associations

Rudaí23’s Thing 13 page provides great information on professional associations.  There are links to various associations and the benefits of subscribing are clearly set out. Being South African, I initially looked at South Africa’s Library and Information Association.  According to the website it currently has +-1,559 members.  After two unsuccessful attempts to sign up, I decided to look to ALIA (Australian Library and Information Association), because we are hoping to settle in Australia in the near future. I was able to enrol for an international membership and have not regretted this decision. My only regret is that in not being physically present in Australia, I am unable to enjoy all the benefits.  However, thinking positively, my turn will come, I’m sure.

The weekly newsletters are jam-packed with GLAM sector snippets, news and current issues in the world of galleries, libraries, archives, and museums. The weekly job opportunity emails are helpful albeit frustrating for me at the moment, because until my visa is granted, those opportunities remain beyond reach.

The Professional Development plan is a wonderful tool, as it challenges and motivates one to build up points towards certification, and so remain current in skills and knowledge.

My ALIA PD capture

Image of my PD page / ALIA website

The PD plan provides a wide array of possibilities, is user friendly with PD suggestions for everyone, regardless of their position.  The couple of online courses that I have done through ALIA, via TAFE colleges (Cataloguing/RDA and Copyright), were both hugely beneficial and enjoyable. I have managed to garner several points in the short while as a member, probably because I’ve had more time on my hands being unemployed.  However, if I cannot find employment for at least a year out of those 3, certification will take that much longer, since my degree can only be vetted in  Australia once I have been employed (full-time) for a minimum of a year.

Sometimes one’s plans don’t work out…but what’s important is to keep going at them.  Never give up! Carpe diem, etc. 🙂

Photo 2014-07-12, 12 37 32 PM
(c) S Brandt

There is a monthly Twitter chat hosted by the ALIA students and newgrads group. Interesting topics are covered, and I always learn something from colleagues during these events. If I can’t make the live Twitchat, at least I can read the #auslibchat Storify.

ALIA’s website is loaded with resources, campaigns and events, and interesting news for all, such as the article written on the “Buy it now button” that is potentially on the card for libraries.

Here is a snapshot of what is on offer via the website.

ALIA web page snap

I would encourage Library and Information Science (LIS) students to enrol with their local library association as soon as they are possibly able to. I regret that I didn’t enrol earlier. As an expat utilising distance learning, I had to actively pursue contact (regardless of my insecurities and fears) with LIS professionals in my area.

LIS teachers and lecturers can play a large part in encouraging students to be more involved in the sector. Membership with an association is one way students and new grads could gain access to the reality (i.e. the changes, frustrations, highs and lows) of the LIS profession, making their knowledge experience that much richer.

Till next time, cheers.  Once again, thanks for stopping by. 🙂

Featured image: courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Thing 12: Conferences. Dreams are good friends…(when you’re unemployed…)

Rudaí23: Thing 12.  Conferences.

Conference attendees stand out on Social Media.  They are enthused, excited and say they leave with fresh focus. Recharged. They document their experiences and the effect is contagious, even over the ether-net.  Exposure to experts in the field, new technologies and ideas, modern approaches, along with having made new professional contacts, all go towards making conference attendance worthwhile.  If I feel the way I do, after a short workshop, I can only imagine how amazing it is to be present at such an event.

woman_pier_sunset_joy

Librarians’ batteries potentially run dry pretty fast. I guess dealing with public/academia/ stakeholders and so on and so forth has that odd side-effect. A regular RECHARGE! is needed.

battery-1162477_640 Pixabay PD

To quote a paragraph from the conference site’s PD proposal letter:

“With a focus on professional development which keeps my job knowledge and skills current, this learning and development proposal aligns with our organisation’s commitment to its employees and customers by maintaining standards of practice and through continuous improvement of skills, attributes and knowledge.”

There in a nutshell, the reason for conference attendance.

And then, once the day’s proceedings are over…librarians have the ability to live it up! 😉

tango pic

Tango pic (Audience) by Patrick Mcdonald on Flickr. (CC BY-NC 2.0)

 

Jokes aside…as a new professional, attending a conference is high on my ‘wish-list’. Just recently it seemed this may well be possible since IFLA had Qatar short-listed for an international conference in 2018.  Libraries across Qatar were given a short period to prepare for a visit from IFLA delegates to review this possibility.  Excitement and expectation was high, as we began to see ourselves attending this locally hosted event.  In the end, this is not to be; when it came down to the wire, another nation was selected.

So, as a member of ALIA, my attention is naturally drawn to Australia and the ALIA Information Online 2017 Conference.  I would love to attend this event, and have begun to plan.  The cost is immense because I live abroad.  As an unemployed librarian, I’d have to carry the cost.  I could pair it with our annual visit to my daughter and family in Brisbane; this would be killing two birds with one stone, so to speak, and make the expense that much more valuable.

The conference takes place in Sydney, from 13 – 17 February.  Key speakers will include Rolf Hapel, director of Citizens’ Services and Libraries in Aarhus, Denmark;  James Neal,University Librarian Emeritus, Columbia University, Vice President/ President elect, ALA; Patricia McMillan, author of “Make it matter: the surprising secret for leading digital transformation”; Sebastian Chan, Chief Experience Officer (CXO), Australian centre for the moving image; and Paula Bray, DX Lab Leader, State Library of New South Wales.

Here is my planning for this event:

Tourist visa:  AU$135

Return air ticket to Sydney:  AU$1,942.00

Conference fee (early bird member’s registration): AU$1,190

Accommodation:  AU$335.00 p/n x 6 nights  

Other: AU$20 per day x 5 days (Non-tangoing teetotaler 😉 )

TOTAL: AU$5377.00

😮   No small budget!  In our currency that amounts to QR14,894.  I would seriously need a sponsor if I wanted this to become a reality.  I am grateful for a husband who is really supportive, and who has contributed much to my career path in the last few years. He would gladly provide the air ticket and visa costs.  However, to cover the balance, I’d have to hope for a sponsor who is willing to assist a new professional. 🙂  Alternatively, engaging in some form of home industry to raise the funds would be the only option. (For those who wonder why I am unemployed… in Qatar an MLIS is the basic requirement, along with 2 to 5 years’ experience in the sector. I do not meet either criteria.  Along with that, if one is over 55, you don’t easily find employment.  Sadly, my career has not been able to progress, despite reaching a short-list twice in the last year.)

Will this be a wish that becomes reality?  Only time will tell.

Other conferences that elicit the “Yeah!! I want to go” from me are…

Till next time.  Cheers, and thanks for stopping by.   Cupcake

Cupcake by Clever Cupcakes on Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

 

Public domain images used:
Joy! thanks to wpclipart.com , Battery energy via Pixabay.com

Featured image:
KEYNOTE AUDIENCE by Ewan Macintosh on Flickr.  (CC BY-NC 2.0)