“My Library By Right” – have you signed yet?

Do you use libraries? If you’re reading this, there’s a good chance the answer will be yes, but did you know that every week two libraries in the UK close their doors for good?

If you answered no to the first question, is it because you can afford to buy books and pay for a good broadband connection? But what if you couldn’t? As Nick Poole says in a recent Mirror article “It’s hard to understand the impact of these cuts when you’re well-off, have easy access to the internet and can buy the books you want. But for millions of poor families, jobseekers and people with disabilities a library is a lifeline.”

CILIP (Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals) is running a campaign called My Library By Right. Follow the link if you’d like to know more, and please, please sign their petition along with (so far) almost 8000 other people, including famous authors such as Joanna Trollope and Andrew Motion. It relates specifically to English libraries at the moment, but libraries in Scotland are facing cuts too and it’s important that we show our support.

Thank you.


A chat with a councillor

Library A to ZWhen the Library A to Z Campaign launched in November last year, I sent off a few of their cards to local political figures. I chose Councillor John Letford because I thought he’d be very receptive to the message – he is a librarian himself and we worked in the same library for a short time many years ago. Glasgow is a Labour Council, so John (SNP) is part of the opposition.

LetterBefore Christmas, he replied to say how interested he was and to suggest that I pop in to one of his surgeries to discuss it further. I’m ashamed to say I only got round to doing that last night. It was good to see an old colleague (we think it must have been about 17 years ago that we worked together) and John took away more campaign material which he intends to make use of and report back.

So, a very small piece of advocacy but one which might have results. I’ll report back if it does.

National Libraries Day Scotland

As in previous years, I’ve been Storifying the tweets from Scottish libraries (and some of their users) for National Libraries Day. For events in the week running up to NLD see Part 1, and for the day itself see Part 2. They’re quite long, so I’ve picked out a few highlights.

For me, Dundee Libraries won the internet again on NLD! They had several strands to their output – quizzes, quotes, balloons and book faces. The latter were my favourite:

#Shelfies were also encouraged by many libraries – it didn’t take place on NLD itself, but it’s hard to see how a #shelfie wedding could be bettered! Here’s Glasgow’s Mitchell Library:

It wasn’t just public libraries that took part of course – there were free sweets for adding a leaf to Abertay University’s Wishing Tree:

And the University of the West of Scotland displayed its staff’s favourite reads:

Check the Storifies for more great ideas!

PS Can’t find your library in them? Maybe nobody tweeted – or maybe the library didn’t use the special #nldScot hashtag that CILIPS requested. I didn’t have time to go hunting the standard #NLD15 stream, although some did end up in my timeline anyway.

National Libraries Day 2015

It’s National Libraries Day on Saturday so I thought I’d celebrate with a post using the wonderful Library A to Z advocacy tool, from which derive all the graphics and lists of library benefits below. Events up and down the country are being tweeted with the hashtag #NLD15 and / or in Scotland #NLDScot. I’ve chosen to spell out the latter in library love!


N is for National Libraries Day; networking; new ideas; newspapers; noise (discussion / activity / communication); non-judgemental; not for profit; novels.

A good library is a palace, a palace where the lofty spirits of all nations and generations meet. Samuel Niger (1883-1955).


Library A to Z: LL is for languages; learning; leisure; lending / loans; librarians / library staff; literacy; literature; local studies; local to users.

With a library you are free, not confined by temporary political climates. It is the most democratic of institutions because no one – but no one at all – can tell you what to read and when and how. Doris Lessing (1919-2013).

Library A to Z: DD is for dads; dance; databases; democracy; Dewey; digital literacy; discovery; diversity; download (things that the library buys); dry; DVDs; dyslexia / disability support.

A great library contains the diary of the human race.  George Mercer Dawson (1849-1901).


Library A to Z: SS is for safe (place); scanners; school visits; serendipity; sexual health (information about); sharing; silver surfers; skills; social literacy; social media; spelling; Sshh! (a quiet place to work/study); statistics; stereotype breaking; storytime; students; study; study space (to think and work); summer reading challenge.

The education that mattered most to me began when my mother first took me to the public library and I registered for my own hallowed ticket. Will Self (1961-)

Library A to Z: CC is for careers; carers services; childminders; choices; classics; coffee (relax with one); collaboration; colouring (fun sessions for children); comics; community; community cohesion; community memory; competitive advantage (for businesses); council information & services (access to); crafts; creation; CVs.

There is not such a cradle of democracy upon the earth as the Free Public Library, this republic of letters, where neither rank, office, nor wealth receives the slightest consideration. Andrew Carnegie (1835-1919).

Library A to Z: OO is for old (and young); online; online resources (databases); open to all; opportunity; outreach.

The moment we persuade a child, any child, to cross that threshold into a library, we’ve changed their lives forever, and for the better. Barack Obama (1961-).


Library A to Z: TT is for tablet computers (e.g. iPads); teachers (supporting schools); teaching / training (librarians teaching); teens; toys; treasure hunts; trusted.

A library is not a luxury but one of the necessities of life. JRR Tolkien (1892-1973).



Head over to the Library A to Z site for lots more reasons to love your library!


National Public Libraries Festival

23 Librarians - and counting!

A message from Sue Lawson:

We’re pleased to announce that the National Public Libraries Festival – our first celebration of all-things public library – has launched a call for funding over at Crowdfunder.

The first ever national public libraries festival will be a day long celebration of the creativity and innovation happening in public libraries. The one-day public libraries festival, set to coincide with the fiftieth anniversary of the 1964 Public Libraries and Museums Act, will bring together an exciting programme of interactive workshops, engaging discussions, fun events, live music and theatre and much more.

We aim to:

  • attract a new audience into the library and inspire them to become library users
  • confound perceptions of libraries as places of limited appeal or outdated institutions with limited lifespans
  • inspire library staff and drive change in the ways libraries are presented to the non-using public
  • focus on exciting future possibilities

If you…

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National Libraries Day 2014

National Libraries Day was on Saturday, 8th February – I didn’t visit any libraries that day myself because I was glued to my PC collecting tweets from all over Scotland to document them on Storify. The results are in Part 1 (the week running up to NLD) and Part 2 (the day itself). I think the highlight is Dundee Libraries’ pictures in Part 2 of its youngest (15 days) and oldest (105 years) members. I did, however, attend and help out at, two libraries’ events earlier in the week.

Glasgow Women’s Library

On Wednesday, Glasgow Women’s Library hosted a visit from the librarian of Our Lady and St Patrick’s High School in Dumbarton and her library helpers. They had a talk about the library and archives, and each pupil had been primed to bring along, and discuss, a book with a strong female character. Wendy, GWL Librarian, and I were very impressed with how well they did this. In the afternoon, GWL hosted a book browse and swap and took some photographs answering The Big Question which CILIPS had set as its theme for NLD14 “What did you do in your library today?” Both events are covered in Part 1 of the Storify.

Mitchell Library

Glasgow’s public libraries were also asking the Big Question, and on Thursday I headed off to the Mitchell to help persuade library users to take part. I wasn’t terribly successful, but they did get some good pictures some of which are in Part 2 of the Storify.

Here are my own two pictures from the Big Question:

I also compiled a blogpost of SALCTG members’ activities. All in all, there’s a lot of enthusiasm evident for Scotland’s libraries. Cuts in opening hours and loss of branches is becoming more common north of the Border, but this was a day for celebration and the Storifies reflected that.

Library card photos for NLD14

Musician One Man and His Beard is looking for library lovers to contribute to his We Need Libraries video for release on National Libraries Day 2014. What he’s after is a photo of you holding your library card(s). Here’s my effort – I have cards for Glasgow public libraries, Glasgow Women’s Library and the University of Strathclyde. Send your photos to him at weneedlibraries@gmail.com or tweet @weneedlibraries by 5th January.


Badges of Honour: Glasgow Women’s Library

Badges can tell your life story. My friend Pat and I both collect them, so when we heard about Glasgow Women’s Library’s new Badges of Honour project, we decided to go along to the launch. The project aims to show how badge-wearing women changed the world – well, I’m not sure either of us would claim to have done that, but we took along some of our favourite badges anyway, and were filmed talking about them for the archive. It was really interesting to take part and I’m looking forward to follow-up visits to other badge collections.

Here are the badges I spoke about, and an explanation of why they are important to me.

I was brought up a Methodist in the 1960s. In those days, Methodists were tee-total and alcohol was not allowed on church premises. I sat the Band of Hope (a temperance organisation) exams twice and won prizes both times. In 1967, aged 10, I came first nationally and was awarded a medal, top left. I got 100% – although this wasn’t difficult. I remember going to classes on a Saturday morning and being impatient because all there was to study was a four page booklet which I probably learned off by heart. We had to remember the names of different spirits – I remember being told that thinking of a frisky kitten would help me remember whisky, which I thought was very patronising. It also didn’t work as I certainly like a drink or two!

I was also a member of the Junior Missionary Association, and every Sunday after the church service I went round the congregation collecting money. My JMA medal is the top middle picture – I got this for my first year of collecting and each year after that I added a bar. The first bar is dated 1964 so I must have got the medal in 1963 when I was 6. The last bar is dated 1972, then there is a cross – I’m not sure why, maybe I had reached the age limit or the maximum number of bars. This is also representative of a way of life I no longer follow, but although I’m not a church-goer, it instilled charitable values in me which I still try to live by.

The rest of the badges shown are from the early 80s. I came out of university straight into Thatcherite cuts, and the badges reflect this – it was my most politically active decade. They are strongly pro-Labour and anti-Tory (top right). Campaigns included support for the striking miners and opposition to the dismembering of metropolitan authorities (“Save South Yorkshire”). The Cold War was at its height and I used to have a recurring dream that a bomb went off and I was trying to walk from Doncaster, where we lived, to Sheffield where my husband worked. I still remember the feeling of sadness that I would probably never see him again. We were both in CND (bottom left) and marched in Glasgow, Barrow (where Trident was built) and London, where a “witty” banner strung across Whitehall read: “1983 election: losers’ entrance”. I also visited Greenham Common to “embrace the base”.

The final group (bottom right) is library campaign badges. Then, as now, libraries were under threat. Today’s campaigns are sophisticated, internet driven affairs. We had a conference and some amateurish badges. I can’t remember much coming of it, though Doncaster Libraries survived – to be one of the most notorious cases of library closures these days, unfortunately.

This is a really interesting campaign, and I wish GWL all the best with it.

National Libraries Day in Dundee

Glasgow Library Tweetups

Kevin McGinley, Library Information Worker and Social Media Admin for Leisure and Culture Dundee Libraries, has written this guest post on how @dundeelibraries created their contribution to our National Libraries Day Storify.

National Libraries Day on 9 February 2013 was a culmination of a week’s worth of celebrations in school, college, university, workplace and public libraries across the UK. Our involvement began when we were asked by Anabel Marsh of Glasgow Library Tweetups if we would like to take part in a Libraries takeover on Twitter. It seemed a great concept and we quickly decided to take up the challenge. We were inspired by the fantastic faceBOOK project by photographer Keith Pattison and decided to use this as the inspiration to tweet similar photos throughout the day. We have to say we were a bit nervous about how our customers would react to having their photos broadcast all over the…

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National Libraries Day in Scotland

Instead of having an event for National Libraries Day this year, GLTU (Glasgow Library Tweetups) decided to create a Twitter snapshot of Scottish libraries – what people use them for and why they value them. After much tweeting and retweeting, we got a great response. It’s obviously not comprehensive, but there’s a geographical spread from Orkney down to Dumfries and Galloway and representatives of public, academic, school and special libraries, so there’s pretty broad coverage. There are cute kids, a dog, a cat (cheated a bit on that one) and cake – what’s not to love? Head off to the Storify to see the full results – it’s too long to embed, but here’s Strathclyde’s NLD cake as a taster. (Too late to taste literally, I fear). And if you just have time to look at one part of the Storify (it’s quite long), scroll down to Dundee Libraries and check what they did. It is truly awesome.

A couple of lessons I’ve learned which might be useful to anyone else doing this sort of thing – Storify is not as easy to use as I thought for something on this scale. I started with the app which seemed to “eat” tweets, I think because it kept crashing. The PC version kept freezing too, so that I would have to come out and start again. Also, services such as Twitpic transferred seamlessly to Storify but Hootsuite’s ow.ly links did not. Adding the tweet does not display the picture so, in most cases, I have ditched the tweet and included the picture. If I did this again, I might look for something different – but on the other hand, Storify IS free!

Finally, the idea behind the project was that it might be a springboard from which to launch some in-depth case studies of the role libraries play in people’s lives. If anyone has any ideas about how to do that, please let me know.