Bridgeton Library and Mediatheque

Bridgeton Library exterior
Bridgeton Library

Bridgeton Library opened in December 2012 in the Olympia, a former variety theatre and cinema, redeveloped with the help of Clyde Gateway. I’ve visited several times before, as it’s just across the road from Glasgow Women’s Library which is now based in its old premises – see my post on Scottish Women on Wikipedia, an event GWL held in Bridgeton Library, for photos of the interior. This visit was organised by MmITS (Multimedia Information and Technology Scotland) specifically to look at the Mediatheque.

However, before we did that Sally Clegg told us a bit about the plans behind the new library and we had a tour of the rest of the building. Bridgeton is an area of multiple deprivation and Glasgow Libraries wanted to do something different for the community. They used focus groups, although not all the ideas were practical – one man requested that children should be banned! In fact, the library now has a very attractive children’s library complete with Julia Donaldson mural. Overall, it is a bright and welcoming place with clear zoning. It has a training suite (which we used for the Wikipedia event) and 32 PCs in total, as opposed to just 6 in the old library. A Turning Pages table shares library information and information and work from the community – there is a Book Group and groups for poetry and creative writing. Issues have tripled since the move and Bridgeton has gone from the bottom five to the top ten of Glasgow’s 32 libraries – that seems pretty good to me, although they are still hoping for more.

The Library occupies the ground floor of the building. At the moment, the top floor is a huge, unoccupied loft space with good views over the roofs of Bridgeton. The middle floor is used by Boxing Scotland – apparently, boxers have been training there for the Commonwealth Games but it was empty when we passed.

Finally, it was on to the Mediatheque which opened a little later than the library – almost a year ago. Karen Gillies and Stephen MacPherson talked us through this. From purpose-built booths you can access a digital jukebox of over 2000 items from the BFI Archive, including some Scottish material but nothing local to Bridgeton as yet. Stephen had provided a list of sites he thought might interest us – I was particularly taken by Whatsoever a man soweth, a silent film from 1917 warning soldiers about the perils of loose women. The unfortunately named (Private?) Dick was rescued from peril several times by fearsome-looking busybodies and despatched to a VD clinic to see the consequences of falling. I then chanced upon a lovely little set of films with people from Gateshead talking about their reactions to the building of the Angel of the North. After that we had tea and biscuits and further chat before heading home with our goody bags. Thanks to all the staff at Bridgeton for showing us this wonderful initiative, and to MmITS for organising the visit. The Mediatheque is free to use during library opening hours.

RCPSG - Lower Library
RCPSG – Lower Library

This was not the only library visit I have been on in the last couple of weeks. I also went to the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow Library with SALCTG and wrote it up on the SALCTG blog. It’s another fascinating building – if you want to take a look yourself the Crush Hall (with a monthly changing exhibition) and the Library Reading Room are open to the public on Monday afternoons from 2pm till 5pm.


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.

Adventures of a retired librarian: 2013

What a year that was! 2013 was my first full year away from work and I can honestly say that I have never enjoyed life more, with any worries about being bored or lonely swiftly despatched. The start of a new year is a good time to reflect on what worked and what didn’t and to plan for the future.

The most joyous discovery has been volunteering at Glasgow Women’s Library.  I started as a tour guide for their Women’s Heritage Walks but soon got involved in the library side of things. I’d never really been interested in cataloguing before, but I now find I enjoy it and have recently been training new volunteers. I’ve also done social media training for them, written book reviews, helped with a Scottish Women on Wikipedia day, staffed stalls and pop-up libraries at events and packed and cleaned when they moved premises. Never a dull moment! I’ve written about some of these things, but I always meant to do a more general post about the Library itself and what it did – a library, archive and museum collection which holds and celebrates the cultural, historical, political and social achievements of women across the UK. I was going to call the post Would you like a cup of tea? because that’s the first question you are usually asked when you walk in the door – it’s such a friendly place. As with many other posts, I’ve now accepted that this is one which is never going to make it outside my head, so you’ll just have to check their website instead, and see the montage of photos below.

Less successful was the other regular volunteering I took on, with the Scottish Refugee Council where I spent three months with the Media and Communications Team. Again, I meant to write a full post about the organisation and the wonderful work it does and, again, I never got round to it. I certainly learned a lot – I went in thinking I had some idea of how hard life was for refugees and came out knowing it was far worse than I had thought. I also learned things about myself – I agreed to work a day and a half per week , but found it too much and I now steer clear of anything that requires such a formal commitment. I also discovered that you can take the girl out of the library, but you can’t take the library out of the girl. I work best in places where information is ordered and structured, and was frustrated when that wasn’t always the case. Finally, I banished any notion that I might be interested in going back to study because I was also not very keen on doing the research necessary to write blog posts on issues that I didn’t know very much about. This maybe makes me sound very shallow, and maybe my views will change and I’ll start wanting different things after I’ve been retired for a couple of years, but for now I’m happy with the flexibility of working with GWL. That’s not to say I didn’t enjoy working at SRC – everyone was lovely and the fact that it didn’t work out as expected was entirely my own fault. Here’s a shot of a very happy day – the press launch for Refugee Week Scotland which I live tweeted and Storified for them.

Lajee Dancers from Aida Refugee Camp in Palestine perform in Glasgow
Lajee Dancers from Aida Refugee Camp in Palestine

But that’s not all! I’d already started Glasgow Library Tweetups while I was working and continue to organise them. This year we had Library Camp Glasgow which was a huge success and, I think, the greatest single achievement of my year, although the greatest honour was being made an honorary member of CILIPS. If you look at the About page of this blog you’ll see a list of talks, training sessions, book reviews and guest posts that I’ve done and I’m also still involved with SALCTG (Scottish Academic Libraries Cooperative Training Group) which counts as real work because they are actually paying me! I’ve gone from knowing mainly academic librarians to knowing people in all sorts of libraries throughout Scotland. I feel liberated, I think that’s the only word for it.

What next? More of the same – my calendar is starting to fill up pleasingly – and I also have several new plans afoot for providing informal library CPD. If I’m going to keep this blog up as a sort of diary I need to post more regularly, so I’ve changed its name from A New Library World to Adventures of a Retired Librarian in the hope of prompting a fresh start. Watch this space!

Visit to City of Glasgow College Library

Sculpture by Alec Keeper
Sculpture by Alec Keeper, 2011

Twenty members of GLTU and / or SALCTG met on Thursday afternoon at City of Glasgow College Library for a tour by Librarian Tony Donnelly. The College was formed when Central College, Glasgow Metropolitan College and Glasgow College of Nautical Studies merged on 1st September 2010, and the library has been extensively refurbished, Level 1 in 2007 and Level 2 in 2012. It was interesting to see the changes in thinking between the two – Level 1 was attractive but felt more like a traditional library with separate IT suite. Level 2 was a more open and integrated space. For more information and pictures, see the GLTU blog. The SALCTG blog also has some feedback from participants.

The illustration is the winning entry in a competition for stonemasonry students to design a sculpture for the library. It “recalls the first great library, the Temple of the Muses, which, according to some sources, stood in Alexandria from 305 BC to 48 BC. The sculptor has cracked the stone intentionally, recording the library’s violent destruction and evoking both the ancient beginnings of human curiosity and the shocking impact of new ideas.” It is typical of the high quality design of the library.

Although I’ve organised many visits for both groups before, this was the first joint one. It seemed to work well, with everyone from different sectors finding much to interest them. Tony’s tour was inspiring and his passion for, and pride in, the library shone through.

Thing 15: Events

Or to give it it’s full title: “Attending, presenting at and organising seminars, conferences and other events.”

Launching into speech

I’ve lost count of the number of library events I’ve attended over the last thirty years – I’ve been lucky in having employers with reasonable training budgets. Some events have been better than others, but I’ve always paid close attention, if only because I would be expected to present a report to colleagues on what I had learned that could be useful to the library. There’s always been something. When I was an officer with SALCTG, I also had the added bonus of participating in events I wouldn’t normally have gone to because I was there as an organiser. In terms of the future, what I attend will depend on what direction my “retirement” takes (I start a temporary job on Monday) and what contacts, skills and interests I need to develop.

I’ve never run a big conference, but after 10 years of running events for SALCTG I feel I am something of an expert. Only once have I had a sleepless night over it, when someone who was organising the catering unexpectedly became incommunicado a few days beforehand – but we got fed, it was all under control and I should  have been more trusting. Recently, I’ve also been organising informal events under the GLTU banner for Glasgow’s library tweeters, which is great fun and I’ve met a lot of new people through it. When I finished my last job, I applied for a part-time post administering courses for another library group and, although I was unsuccessful, this is definitely an area where I feel I have skills to offer.

As far as presenting goes, well you can’t be an academic librarian without having to speak in public. User education sessions, from a handful of students to a few hundred in a lecture theatre, library training sessions and addressing staff in other parts of the university are all par for the course. However, presenting at events, beyond introducing speakers and votes of thanks, is not something I’ve done much of. I’m filled with admiration for the younger professionals I follow on Twitter who seem to do it regularly. When I first started out, I think there were far fewer conferences and seminars, and it tended more to be the great and the good who spoke at them, so it never occured to me that it might be something I might do. Later, I suppose I never felt I had anything distinctive enough to say. However, this June I had two opportunities to speak from which I learned a few things.

I wrote in Thing 11 about the talk on being a mentor that I gave to a Chartership Workshop. I prepared my material well, and tried to have a balance between covering the facts and conveying the spirit of the mentorship relationship, mixed in with a little humour (and a picture of a cute baby near the beginning to break the ice. There was a point to that, honest.) I was confident in my subject matter, but less confident about my delivery. When I rehearsed, I could hardly get the words out. This was at the time when the Library had closed and I was about to leave so, emotionally, I was all over the place. In the end, I just had to hope for the best – and it worked. I still stumbled a bit, but people seemed appreciative, they laughed in the right places and two of the audience later asked me to mentor them, so I must have said something right. My conclusion is that if you prepare well enough, adrenalin will help you through.

In the picture above, I am making a speech after my leaving presentation in Jordanhill Library. This doesn’t really fall within the scope of this post, but it does have a bearing on how I think of myself as a speaker. I knew exactly what I wanted to achieve – to say thank you, obviously, but also to reminisce about my time in the library and celebrate what we had achieved as a team. Most staff were transferring to the main library, and I knew some had anxieties, so I wanted to boost their confidence and make the point that, although the team was breaking up, they would take those achievements and experiences with them and use them to enhance their new teams. In this case, I had very few notes and hadn’t rehearsed: I had been working through it in my head for days and wanted to be as spontaneous as possible. This is easy, of course, when you are talking about a subject you know so well – yourself! What I didn’t know till later was that one friend had videoed me, so I was able to see how I did: I hoped to be inspiring and I think it worked. I sounded confident, didn’t look at my notes much, apart from once when I was reading a direct quote,  there were murmurs of appreciation, laughter and, I’m told, not a dry eye in the house at the end. I’m obviously a better speaker than I think.

Overall, events are an important way of learning and making connections with people, whether you are an organiser, a speaker or simply part of the audience. On a personal level, I hope to continue attending library events, but at the moment my life is going through such a period of change that it is difficult to know which ones, and in which capacity, but I’m confident about my ability to do all three.

Thing 13: Google Drive, Wikis and Dropbox

Oh dear, a three-week holiday means that I am now four Things behind. However, events over those three weeks have turned my perspective on cpd23, and what I might do with the Things, around. When I left to go to Canada I had finished work and was expecting to come back to plan what to do next. Instead of which, I have a job! This can act as a postscript to Thing 7 on real-life networking, because it was one of my SALCTG friends who contacted me to say she had a vacancy and needed it covered for about 8 weeks till it could be filled permanently. So from 27th August I’ll be Site Librarian at the Scottish Agricultural College in Edinburgh – I’m not keen on the commute from Glasgow, but it’s only for a short time and it helps out a friend as well as giving me something to put on my CV to show I’m still active and haven’t just taken early retirement to sit around all day watching TV.

So with that introduction, on to these collaborative tools which, as I will be working in a multi-site library, I can see uses for again. First, Google Drive, formerly Google Docs.  I have already used this for creating and sharing documents. One example outside the Library, which might be of interest, is the B.Ed Placement Document used at Jordanhill last session. One of the Education lecturers set this up so that students could ask questions or share hints and tips while they were out in schools. She gave me access too, so that I could add in relevant links from the Library and elsewhere that I thought would be useful to them. This was a great way of both helping the students and promoting the library.

Dropbox again is familiar to me. I’ve used it to share things with friends and colleagues, and it also came into its own when I was finishing work – I could put all the documents I thought I would still need into it and then access them from home without the tedious use of pen-drives or sending emails to myself. Dropbox is also a boon when working with chartership candidates so that we can share drafts and always be sure we are looking at the most up-to-date version.

Wikis, I find a bit more problematic – they can be quite clunky to use. I’ve never set one up from scratch for my own use, though we did try one out for SALCTG a few years ago, meaning to have a blog for our public face and a private wiki for members to discuss future plans. It just seemed too complicated to write instructions for the wiki so that people with different levels of skills could collaborate. In the end, we used a blog with a closed section for members-only use. I have, however, contributed to both the Library Day in the Life and Library Routes projects.

In conclusion, I have found Dropbox and Google Drive to be more useful than wikis. I don’t know yet what use of such tools is made in my new workplace, but it will be interesting to find out and maybe suggest new ideas.

Thing 7: Real-life networks

Real-life networking is not something I’ve always been that good at. Not that I’m some kind of recluse who doesn’t get on with people you understand, but for much of my career I was happy to get on with my own job and attend training courses organised by some of these networks, but not really put much back. I’ve been a member of CILIP since my graduate trainee days, but even now I have never been active in any of its groups. However, in the last dozen years I feel I have certainly redeemed myself in the work I have put into SALCTG.

The Scottish Academic Libraries Training Group does more or less what it says on the tin. Representatives of each academic library in Scotland meet two or three times a year to plan courses which will be of benefit to their staff. I hadn’t been part of the group for very long when the Secretary resigned at short notice and, with a bit of arm twisting over lunch, I volunteered to replace her. I thought I might do it for two or three years, and ended up doing it for over ten. It was a lot of work – not just taking the minutes at meetings, but organising most of the courses which could sometimes be 5 or 6 a year. However, I really enjoyed it. I met a great bunch of people and honed my organisational skills which could only be good for my “real” job. The only reason I gave up last year was that, as the closure of my library approached, I felt I should be putting all my energies into ensuring that went smoothly.

One of the agenda items at each SALCTG meeting was Regional Reports, where we would tell each other about training developments in our own areas. I always found it frustrating that other areas had cross-sectoral organisations such as TAFLIN (Tayside & Fife), ELISA (Edinburgh) and Grampian Information, whereas the west of Scotland had no equivalent. Eventually, I realised that moaning about it was pointless and maybe I should do something myself to fill the gap, even if in a very small way. Out of this was born the series of Glasgow Library Tweetups (GLTU) which I have been organising since the beginning of the year. Obviously I have been missing my role in SALCTG! I have another blog which chronicles what GLTU has done – and if you are local, you still have time to join us at our next event on 21st June. The details are all in the latest post.

So what have I learned?

  • Being an active member is better than being a passive one and I should have been more involved years ago. It’s good to give something back.
  • I’m good at organising. I knew that anyway, but SALCTG, and now GLTU, have given my skills an extra boost.
  • You meet lovely people and sometimes they can help you (and vice versa of course). This has recently had positive results for me – after my job comes to an end in a few weeks, SALCTG members have asked me to go back and organise courses again. They might even pay me a little bit! And one of my SALCTG contacts has recently suggested another opportunity which I might very well take further.

Watch this space…

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!