11.30am - time to send another FoI (image c/o ToniVC on Flickr)
I know I have kinda already written a blog post for the Library Day in the Life project, but I thought why not write a post summarising the week as a whole. Of course, the fact that my original post appeared to have become more of a personal reflection on my school days rather than a useful post about what I do and what I am doing has some bearing on this. To be honest, I just didn’t think I had done it justice. So, here I am, about to over-compensate to the max. One of these days I will strike the balance just right. Today, however, is possibly not going to be one of those days.
As you will have noticed from my original post, the bulk of my job is spend dealing with spreadsheets. Most of the time I am either preparing statistical data, or ensuring that our online holdings are accurate. I also deal with student queries in relation to our online resources and some general queries about their library access. This past week I have also been covering for a colleague in ensuring that all of our OPACs and self-issue machines are working correctly. This week happened to be the week were we had a bit of an issue with a number of our OPACs. Luckily it was easily resolved and there was a very limited impact on our students.
Away from work, a number of other things have been going on this past week. As part of my ongoing attempt to find new ways to spread the word about Voices for the Library, I have been looking into a new opportunity that I think could be quite exciting. One of the joys (and challenges it has to be said) about the campaign is the fact that it is run with a zero budget. This means that we have to be quite creative with how we spread the word (which is why it started life on social networks). I’m not convinced that we have fully broken out into the ‘offline’ world and I think we’d be the first to admit there is still work to be done there. However, I think we have made good use of the resources at our disposal and I am still dead chuffed at the amount of followers we have both on Facebook and Twitter despite lacking a marketing budget.
Anyway, whilst chuffed with our progress online, I am not one to rest on my laurels. One of the other pleasures I get from VftL is that I can just go and try stuff out (within reason of course!). I’ve always been a great believer in trying things out and taking risks and so I am always keen to take full advantage of this. My current ‘risk’ involves the use of Foursquare as a tool to promote libraries. Up until recently I was adamant I would never sign up for this particular social network as I saw limited value in it. However, I decided to explore it as part of a project on mobile technologies and spotted an opportunity for VftL to have a presence on the network. I won’t say too much about it at the moment as I am not sure it will come off in quite the way I hope, but if it does I will be sure to blog about it!
Regular readers will also be aware that I am currently studying a distance Masters at Aberystwyth University in Information and Library Studies. I am currently in the process of conducting research for my dissertation, due in April 2012. I have been getting rather panicky about it of late – worrying I wouldn’t get it finished in time. My progress was not helped by recently moving house and being without internet for two weeks [insert ‘sad face’ emoticon here]. However, this week I scheduled a phone call with my dissertation tutor and, I have to say, having had a chat with them I feel much better about where I am and where I need to be. In fact, it is fair to say I was buzzing when I put the phone down. I finally feel like I can see a way forward and get cracking on the next stage. Whilst I think I need to keep ‘on my toes’, I feel far more confident about completing before the deadline and (finally) getting that Masters. Phew!
I prefer the metaphorical kind myself. (image c/o Wessex Archaeology on Flickr)
Finally, I have been involved in a bit of digging the past couple of days. It recently emerged that Wakefield council intends on closing half the libraries in the district. Annoyed at the councillor’s claim that:
“…since 1992 more than four out of every 10 library users have stopped going into libraries.”
I decided to write to the councillor to ask if he can explain how this figure was arrived at. I am still waiting for a response. Not content with questioning the councillor, I also entered a host of Freedom of Information requests to get a little more information about what has been going on in Wakefield. I am hopeful that I will receive suitable answers to all thirteen (yes, thirteen) questions within the three week time limit. If anything interesting turns up, you’ll be sure to find out about it.
I have also sent off a series of questions to Dorset County Council who are also considering closures. After a recent council meeting, councillors narrowly agreed to withdraw funding on nine libraries across West Dorset. It is good to note, however, that not all councillors take such a relaxed attitude to library closures (you’d think so sometimes when trawling around for the latest library news). Cllr Ronald Coatsworth deserves a great deal of respect after expressing his outrage:
“We have heard of lies, damn lies and statistics and it seemed to me that here was another case of distorted figures being used as a justification for a particular course of action which had been pre-determined.
“They are discriminatory, treating different groups in different ways and have no place in the Dorset I represent.”
More councillors like this please.
Another bit of digging, this time a bit closer to home, turned up a blank but was referred to by the political editor for the local media group, Paul Francis, on his blog. A while back it emerged that shocking proposals were put before a recent Conservative group meeting that (it is suggested) included the closure of forty libraries. No further details emerged so I decided to enter a Freedom of Information request to see what could be uncovered. Unfortunately my request was rejected (for reasons outlined on Paul’s blog) but not entirely convincingly. I fully intend on appealing this rejection and hope I will be as success as I was in overturning the DCMS’s rejection of an earlier FoI request. We will see.
So that was pretty much my week. I had hoped (believe it or not) to have more things to share from the week, but maybe those things will happen at a later date.
This week was mainly fuelled by If Not Now, When? and, of course, this.