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Librarians & Library staff in the UK

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My Guide Computer Course Jun. 18th, 2011 @ 10:11 am
Over the last few months I've been supervising sessions of the My Guide computer course, which is part of the UK Online Centres initiative.

On the whole I've found it a rewarding experience, it's great when someone starts being able to use a computer after only a few weeks instruction, but in the past few weeks I've found that some of those studying on the course have rushed through the modules so fast that they haven't taken in the most basic of tasks, such as logging on to a PC or opening an email.

I never received any instruction in how to train the public with these skills, in fact the course is supposed to by self-taught, so I'm hoping someone reading this will have had experience of supervising sessions like this and can give me some pointers on how to get this information across.

Library Cuts May. 29th, 2011 @ 08:53 am
This weekend 5 out of 12 Lewisham Council libraries closed down.

On Tuesday 3 of them will open up again as community libraries, 1 will become a resource centre for Age Concern and the last one will remain closed.

Overall I should be happy that 4 branches will still be in use for the communities that they serve, but I'm finding it hard to drum up the optimism.

The 3 community libraries have been taken over by a company that doesn't have the funds to carry out the repairs, that were a stipulation of it acquiring the leases for the buildings.

A last minute deal from managers has resulted in Library staff being asked to provide training to the volunteers that will run the libraries. This makes me sad as some of my colleagues are being made redundant, though those losing their jobs aren't the ones providing the training, I feel it's wrong for Council staff to have to facilitate in the loss of their colleagues jobs.

There is still some confusion as to whether Council staff will be expected to work in the Community libraries for events like the mother and toddler story times and the summer reading challenge. I'm hoping this won't be the case.

Big Society Libraries Mar. 15th, 2011 @ 09:54 am
I work for Lewisham council and as part of their budget cuts they've closed 5 of our 12 libraries. The council holds the leases for 4 of them and last week put up this page as part of it's plans to attract outside organisations to take over the running of the 4 former libraries.

The interesting paragraph is this one -

"The conditions of any lease will carry with it a responsibility for the full repair and maintenance of each building. Proposals submitted may relate to one, some or all of the properties."

Which will require a major investment by anyone taking on the leases for Sydenham, Crofton Park and New Cross because these buildings have been neglected to the point of recklessness.


This is a Carnegie library from 1907.
The work needed to be done to it includes: re-plastering a 15 x 12 ft section of interior wall. Fixing a leaking roof, which has also damaged the electrics in the staff kitchen. There are also windows that cannot be closed due rusted / painted over hinges. The guttering leaks and there is limited heating in the staff areas.

New Cross
This is situated on a parade of shops, there are flats above the building
A large section of the false ceiling has collapsed due to leaks from the flats above, the carpet has been damaged

Crofton Park

This is another Carnegie library from 1905.
While the current functioning area of the library is in good order, the upper rooms have been uncared for to the extent that glazing is cracked, window frames loose and paint is peeling from the walls. There's evidence that pests such as wasps have gained entry to the rooms and made hives in cupboards and other storage space.

What's really galling is that the poor state of the buildings was part of the criteria used, when deciding to close them.

Feb. 1st, 2011 @ 10:42 am
Following an incident on Saturday, my colleagues are now facing an official complaint from a local hospital worker, who lost a USB stick, which was full of confidential patient notes.

From what I've heard, the hospital worker was using one of our public access PC's and left the USB stick in the machine when her session finished. It appears as though the next patron to use the PC just pocketed the stick when he saw it (he was filmed via CCTV).

The hospital worker is now bringing a complaint against the whole of the library department, because she feels our staff should be patrolling the bank of computers, checking each machine for left / lost USB sticks and other property to prevent incidents like this happening.

Not surprisingly my manager is filing her own complaint with the local PCT that the hospital worker has brought confidential notes into a public space and promptly lost them.

I doubt very much whether the hospital worker's complaint will get very far, but I'll update if there are any interesting developements.

Cilip's special interest groups. Oct. 3rd, 2010 @ 09:47 pm
I'm going to join Cilip and found that I can sign up to two special interest groups.

I am thinking of joining Public Libraries, and the Mulitmedia Information Technology group. I don't know how much these groups offer, or if there's been another group that someone here may have joined that they would particularly recommend.

Career development also sounded interesting, but I think I might be too new in this profession for it to be relevant.
Other entries
» Hello!
I have just started a Masters in the field of Information studies and I am currently working as a library assistant in a public library in London.

I'm currently on the search for useful websites and forums that would help my job and studies.

I would be grateful for any links that members can provide. I know of Cilip but that's about it.

I also hope that this would be a good place to ask questions and get answers about this field?
» Summer Reading Challenge
Anyone else working in a public library that is doing the "Space Hop" reading challenge?

I just wanted to see if anyone else is running low on prizes, we're 4 weeks in and have run out of Top Trump cards and the Bags.

I'm hoping we don't get a riot of irrate parents & kids complaining on missing out.
» Attention law librarians
A joint seminar has been arranged by the British and Irish Association of Law Librarians and City Legal Information Group entitled "Resilience in today’s marketplace", taking place at BPP College (Holborn, London) on Thursday 4th March, 6:30-8:30pm.

This seminar is designed to improve your job applications and CV, with free places available to unemployed members of BIALL or CLIG. Speakers will be Sue Hill and Lesley Robinson.

Please see here for further details and bookings:

» (No Subject)
Does anyone else work in a library that is being downsized?

I ask because I'm finding it hard to sit-by watching book stock being weeded, for not being used within 6 months.

To see what little stock we have left squashed on to less and less shelving space until there isn't anywhere to put it and the solution is to pile books onto top of each other like we were some discount bookshop or a school jumble sale.

Management's response is to say that it's all part of the "modernisation of the council's library service", but all that means is that counter staff are replaced with self-issue machines and computers are wheeled in to replace the books.

Watching all this, I wonder why I became a librarian, when what I'm working is more akin to an internet cafe than a library.
» (No Subject)
I'm currently working as the Assistant Librarian at the Stuart Hall Library, we are a specialist/art reference library in London and we are starting a series of events and performances in the library.

I am looking to hear from other librarians from any sector in the UK that have organised performances using the library space. I would like to contact you for interviews to be featured on our blog.

At the moment there is not much content on our library blog but feel free to head over there and leave comments telling us who your favourite librarians from film/tv/books have been
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