23 Librarians and 21 Revolutions

23 LibrariansA big week last week with two launches! First, a project I’ve been working on for a while went live, 23 Librarians. This new blog springs from conversations about widening professional knowledge following last year’s CILIPS Autumn Gathering and Library Camp Glasgow, and aims to give a flavour of the range of library and information work in Scotland today. It’s inspired by the 23 Things concept (in particular cpd23) and the Library Routes and Day in the Life projects: 23 different bloggers will describe what attracted them to the library profession and give an insight into their daily work. It kicked off on Friday with School Librarian, Clare Hemsworth – follow the blog to find out who’s next, look for #23Librarians on Twitter, and get in touch if you’d like to contribute.

On Saturday, I donned my metaphorical pinny again at Glasgow Women’s Library, this time serving wine and cake at the launch of the magnificent new book 21 Revolutions (reviewed here in the Scotsman). In 2012, to celebrated its 21st birthday, GWL commissioned 21 women artists and 21 women writers to create new works inspired by its unique museum, archive and library collections. The book is on sale for £25, or you can view the artworks online or listen to podcasts of the writers’ work. Four of them, Kirsty Logan, Muriel Gray, Louise Welsh and Zoe Strachan, gave readings at the launch. I was too far back to get photographs of anything other than the cake and the wine, but I found a couple of good ones on Twitter.

I do believe that Douglas Adams regarded 42 as the answer to the ultimate question of life, the universe and everything – but for me last week, it was definitely 44!

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Continuing adventures of a retired librarian

This blog has been sadly neglected – because I have been BUSY! Never need I have worried about filling up my time after leaving work. Most of the activity has been social media related – notably the eighth in the series of Glasgow Library Tweetups that I have organised. This was a behind the scenes tour of Glasgow’s Mitchell Library, one of the biggest reference libraries in Europe. The highlight was undoubtedly seeing the Leningrad Album, which is not normally on view, in Special Collections. During the Siege of Leningrad in the Second World War, the women of Airdrie and Coatbridge, near Glasgow, sent an album of solidarity and support to the women of Leningrad, who, despite living in dreadful conditions, managed to reciprocate. It’s a beautiful piece of work and the stories attached to it are very moving. You can read more on the GLTU blog.

I’ve been asked to speak about GLTU at the MmITS AGM next month – in fact I’m quite busy speaking, having already given talks on using Twitter to engage with users to Glasgow Women’s Library, Amina Muslim Women’s Resource Centre and Glasgow University School of Engineering. I never used to do talks beyond my own organisation, so this is quite a surprise.

I’ve also done a couple of guest blog posts for Glasgow Book Groups and Glasgow Women’s Library – you might notice a certain overlap of content, but, hey, who doesn’t recycle material. I’ve mentioned GWL twice now – I volunteer there regularly, and fully intend to write a complete post about it soon. It’s a wonderful organisation.

Before we leave the subject of blogs, I’m very proud to say that I have also got my 83 year old Dad blogging! He’s a retired minister who recently gave up preaching after 60+ years, and a blog is an ideal way for him to continue to share his faith. He supplies the content and I post it – find him at John Mitchell – called and sent.

Coming up next week? I’m volunteering at Aye Write!, Glasgow’s Book Festival. I’ll be on the door at nine sessions and, assuming there aren’t too many latecomers, get to listen in. I’m particularly looking forward to Patrick Ness and Jackie Kay. I’ve also got an induction session as a media and communications volunteer at the Scottish Refugee Council, and there are other opportunities in the pipeline which are not yet formed enough to write about.

So I realise, as someone who used to work full time, that this may not sound all that busy, but I do have a serious point to make. When my job disappeared, I thought I would have to sit down to plan my future to avoid sinking into lethargy. That would no doubt have worked, but actually I never did it. I kept an eye open for suitable openings, and one thing led to another. Before I finished work, I spotted a request to help Glasgow Libraries with Book Week Scotland. Doing that, and proving I was reliable, led directly to Aye Write. I saw a request from Glasgow Women’s Library for new members of their Women Make History Group – after joining that, I got involved in many more aspects of their work (really must write that blogpost). I spotted the Scottish Refugee Council opportunity on Twitter, and using social media generally has given me lots of connections. The skills and knowledge I have built up over many years in work are in demand, and I can concentrate on the interesting ones without having to worry about the dull stuff, such as invoices or statistics. So to anyone else contemplating retirement, assuming the financial situation is right, I would say, go for it. There’s a new world out there waiting for you.

Love, loss and libraries: a Scottish Roundup

Scottish_Roundup_square_logo_large_normalMy second attempt at editing Scottish Roundup, a weekly summary of the Scottish blogging scene, came out yesterday: Love, loss and libraries. I choose the dates carefully so that I can include something about libraries – last time it was Book Week Scotland, this time National Libraries Day. It’s quite hard work bashing the submissions into a coherent narrative, but I think I got away with it! It’s something I enjoy doing, and if I can thereby bring a little extra attention to libraries that’s a bonus.

Book Week Scotland: editing Scottish Roundup

A few months ago, Twitter alerted me to Scottish Roundup. Published every Sunday around 10am, the sort of time when people are likely to be relaxing with a cup of tea and the papers, it’s a summary of Scottish blogging in the previous week – or at least, posts which have been submitted, or have caught the editor’s eye in some other way. I was pleased to see that occasionally they featured books and libraries – and then one Sunday I spotted myself in it (via my children’s literature blog). I was really chuffed and tweeted to thank them. Back came the reply – perhaps I would like to be the editor myself some week? Then I had my brilliant idea – I could volunteer for the Sunday at the end of Book Week Scotland and use it as a really good opportunity to promote books and reading.

It wasn’t actually as easy as I thought. I had expected the blogosphere to be full of bookish writings, but it wasn’t – maybe everyone was so busy attending events that they didn’t have time to write about them. There were plenty of “official” library posts but the Roundup is meant to be “Citizen Media” so I couldn’t include too many of them. There were also a few submitted posts which had nothing to do with books at all, most of which were extremely sad, but I think I managed to fit them in without being too clunky. Anyway, the result was my very first Scottish Roundup: Book Week Scotland and other stories. Now that I’m no longer working, this is the sort of small opportunity I need to look out for. It’s good for me to keep connected, and it’s good to be able to promote the things I believe in – in terms of cpd23 it obviously ties in with Thing 16 on advocacy. I also enjoyed passing on to others the pleased little thrill of surprise that I got when I was unexpectedly mentioned myself. I’ll certainly volunteer to do this again.

PS Another aspect of BWS was the Reader Portraits competition. I was going to submit the picture below, then looked at the opposition and decided against it. Too many cute kids. This is me, glass in hand, reading the free BWS book. A good book and a gin. What more could any self-respecting librarian wish for?

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Thing 2: Investigate some other blogs

So, time to get out and about. First of all, someone came to see me – Wendy, aka Wonderingwen….the wondering librarian left a comment on my post about multiple blogging attempts and how that sounded like her too. Nice to know I am not the only one! Although at least my blogging attempts go somewhere – the social media landscape is littered with other things I’ve signed up for then never done anything with. Maybe this course is a chance to address that. Wendy is trying out 23 things from “the other side” because she has set up something similar herself in the past.

I then looked at the participants’ list and the RSS feed and became totally daunted by the numbers. So I reverted to the familiar. I have known Karen at Airs and Graces for years, mainly through SALCTG (Scottish Academic Libraries Co-operative Training Group) of which I used to be Secretary and she is now Convenor. At a meeting this week we joined forces to promote cpd23. A recent recruit to SALCTG is Sonanka at spinning plates……. I tried to add a comment to her blog, but my iPad was having none of it. I also know Kathleen, aka the Victorian Librarian, via Glasgow Library Tweetups (GLTU) and left a comment on her blog. Finally, I haven’t met YiWen yet but she has expressed interest in GLTU and I will probably meet her next week.

To choose a couple of people I didn’t know, I went with a subject dear to my heart. Food! What’s not to love about a blog called A cup of tea & a scone? Nothing! And as a Glaswegian vegetarian, Veggie haggis also has considerable attractions. Unfortunately, this was another one I couldn’t comment on thanks to the iPad.

So – a few things that I’m sure will come up again: SALCTG and GLTU. A few old friends encountered and a few new ones. But, lessons to be learnt – use the PC and grit my teeth and tackle the RSS feed. No point in doing this if I don’t make a bit of effort!

Thing 1: Blogs and blogging

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I’ve more or less covered Thing 1 in my first post, i.e. why I’ve decided to do cpd23 and what I hope to get out of it, so in this post I thought I’d explore my previous adventures with blogging and what I’ve learned so far.

I started with Anabel’s Children’s Literature Blog at the end of 2007. Part of my remit at Jordanhill is to look after the information needs of student teachers, and promoting children’s books, from picture books to teenage novels, is part of that. I want the students to learn about new authors and not just take the same books out to teaching practice that they themselves read as children. The picture above shows the display area at the beginning of the children’s collection with the colourful reading lists that I and my staff produce. These are also available on the library web page, and I saw the blog as an extension of that – a news site which I could quickly update. I chose Blogger because it seemed the easiest to use. There wasn’t any culture of web 2.0 in the library at that time, so I was very careful to brand it as my own and not the university’s, but because it was work related I kept the appearance fairly sober and business like. I’m still keeping this blog up to date, but since Google updated all its tools it’s become incompatible with the ancient version of IE we have at work, though it’s still ok in other browsers. This puts me off using Blogger again though.

I didn’t start another blog until last summer when I set up Anabel’s Travel Blog. This is purely personal and was meant to be a retrospective diary of some of the fabulous holidays we’ve had in the past. However, I haven’t done much of that (a project for when I leave work?) and it’s mainly been about our days out round Scotland. Still, it’s nice to have – I’m more likely to return to this than to the hundreds of photos on the PC which rarely get looked at again. This time, I chose WordPress – partly because of the difficulties with Blogger, partly because I’d noticed a lot of smart looking WordPress blogs, but mainly because I had acquired an iPad and there is a WordPress app which is fantastically easy to use. I set it up on the PC first though, and definitely found WordPress more footery and less intuitive than Blogger. I haven’t customised this one either, mainly because I really like the theme which is bright and sunny and just makes me think of sky and sand and grass and summer.

So onto blog number 3. At the beginning of this year I stated organising tweet ups for library and information folk around Glasgow. I’ll probably write more about that later in the programme. We’ve had a few successful meetings so far, and several people, including me, wrote their own blog posts about them so I thought it would be a good idea to have one central blog to link everything else up, while also including any other library events and visits I do. I threw Glasgow Library Tweeps together one Sunday afternoon and, guess what, haven’t customised it yet. I chose the only theme I could find with books, but it’s a bit old fashioned looking and I must go back and change it.

And finally, here is blog number 4. This time, I set it up very quickly on the iPad which took seconds. I spent a bit more time later tinkering with it on the PC, but basically it was good to go straight from the app.

So what have I learned so far?

1. Blogger is easier to use than WordPress but Google’s upgrades are a pain and have put me off it.
2. On the whole, I like the look of WordPress blogs better.
3. The WordPress iPad app is awesome.
4. Both Blogger and WordPress are easy to customise but I’m too lazy to do it. Maybe this time?
5. I sort of wish I hadn’t set up so many specific blogs but had one blog with different sections.

So those are my blogging adventures so far. Now for Thing 2, to read about other people.