Bronwyn's Library Blog

Saturday, April 30, 2005

Dutch public libraries oppose personal data bill

I posted on February 22nd about two different approaches to confidentiality of library records and the results for the individuals involved. So I was very interested to see this article about the Dutch authorities' efforts to make those records more public.

Dutch public libraries oppose personal data bill

The Netherlands Public Library Association has voiced its objection to proposed Dutch legislation that would lower legal thresholds and safeguards and give Dutch authorities greater powers in obtaining from public services and institutions such as libraries personal information connected with an investigation. Article continues

Sunday, April 24, 2005

Where the Jobs Are: Librarians Break Into Strategic Roles

Where the Jobs Are: Librarians Break Into Strategic Roles

By Laura Stevens

Hiring demand for librarians is on the rise, even as corporate-library staffs see their numbers fall. To advance their careers, corporate librarians are leaving the stacks far behind.

The hottest jobs are in competitive-intelligence research, says Janice R. Lachance, executive director of the Special Libraries Association (SLA) in Washington, D.C. Many library positions no longer have "the L-word" in their job titles, she says. Instead, they may be called an information scientist, knowledge manager, taxonomist (someone who classifies information), information broker or market-research manager, says Sarah Johnson, Webmaster of, a career site for professionals. Article continues

Monday, April 18, 2005

Do Libraries still matter?

"In the era of the Internet, will we still go to libraries to borrow books and do research? The answer seems to be a resounding yes, because libraries are more than just a place to keep volumes on dusty shelves."

The author, Daniel Akst doesn't provide an answer, but he writes eloquently. "Libraries are supposed to be quiet, but it’s hard to imagine a place causing more noise than the new central branch of the Seattle Public Library, which sits with its off-kilter geometry and brightly colored interiors at the heart of a city mainly associated with digital technology.

“In more than 30 years of writing about architecture,” Herbert Muschamp enthused in The New York Times, “this is the most exciting new building it has been my honour to review.” He described the Rem Koolhaas design as a “blazing chandelier to swing your dreams upon.”

And then in questioning the role of libraries in a digital age, he writes ... "On the one hand, the digital revolution represents the ultimate democratization of knowledge and information, of which Carnegie likely would have approved wholeheartedly. On the other hand, libraries perform an essential function in preserving, organizing and to some extent validating our collective knowledge. They are traditionally seen as a pillar of democracy. And they provide a place to go—the crucial “third place,” other than home and work or school (and as early library advocates liked to point out, other than the saloon as well). Unlike Starbucks, you don’t have to buy anything, and the wares are as intoxicating in their way as any at a neighborhood bar—except they don’t impair driving."

Thanks Daniel.

You can read the whole article here.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Virtual reference - the answer

And was that a knee-jerk reaction - that last post? It's sensationalist librarianship, undoubtedly, and stirred up thoughts about just what our role is and where it will be soon and in the future. Until I read an article by Mary Beth Train describing the ways AskNow is used in California. Perspective achieved. Virtual reference as a tool, with preparation and thoughtful use within the wider context of a professionally crafted library programme. And voila the answer.

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

The Reference Question

When I studied the intricacies of "The Reference Question" I think the fact that it would be face to face was taken for granted. We may have occasionally glanced at the fact that the telephone might be involved, but with little seriousness. And now we are looking at homework help and the best way to deliver it. It would make sense to offer it through the medium that the client is most familiar with, or impressed by. As Sarah Houghton wrote "I believe school libraries and the students they serve have the most to gain from real-time online reference. The users, in this case students, are generally very comfortable with computers and with chat technology. In fact, many of them would rather chat online with a teacher or librarian than ask for help in person. I have seen students in the public library chatting away on an online reference service, while there is a real-life librarian sitting not twenty feet away at the reference desk. Clearly “online” is a preferred medium, at least for some students."

And those are generally the ones we are trying to win over. We can choose between Instant messaging or chat, and Sarah looks at the value of each. Aaron
Schmidt and Michael Stephens have looked at the same subject from a broader perspective.

Instant and convenient is what these patrons want, and we can get close.
But in a school setting, and possibly even tertiary institutions, one of the aims for a librarian during the reference question is to teach the student how to use the library, or the internet. Modelling and direct instruction are often used. Are we losing that?

Saturday, April 02, 2005

Famous characters from Fiction

The Independent Online Edition interviewed 100 literary figures to determine their favourite characters from fiction. So Terry Pratchett of Discworld fame chose Harry Flashman calling him "a fictional reprobate ...You just can't help liking the amiable cad." Tim Lott chose Pip from Great Expectations "Like him, I had hopes of escaping the loving, but limited, quotidian world that surrounded me ...
What an excellent idea for an activity to promote the library ... and reading.