Thursday, 13 March 2014

So what else LibCamp has been up to?

In short we're working on a Library Fest, a festival for Public Libraries on the 50th anniversary of the Public Libraries Act. The good news is that has received attention from all the right places, the arts Council, the Library of Birmingham and others. The bad news is that we have been unfairly ignoring LibCamp. Like parents paying little or no attention to the ugly older child after the birth of it's beautiful new sibling, Sue and I have shamelessly doted on the festival, going to its meetings and discussing it in hushed tones. I cannot say I am as committed to #LibCampUK14 as I was committed to #LibCampUK13, I can say that I am more committed to Library Camp than ever before. We haven't completely abandoned LibCamp, indeed one of the reasons #LibraryFest is possible, is that we know #LibCamp can stand on it's own two feet.    
For #LibCampUK14 to continue the synchronicity, serendipity and synergy the previous incarnations have enjoyed will mean a greater reliance on volunteers. There has always been help aplenty on the day of the event, this year the shout out, goes out earlier. If you think you can bring something to Library Camp please get in touch. 
So why Library Fest? Library Camp's biggest failing is the lack of interest from public librarians. I have tried charm, wit, cajoling, sweet talking, blatantly flirting and even overtly insulting and swearing at public librarians to draw their attentions to Library Camp, with little or no response. Which I wouldn't mind so much if it wasn't for the fact that these same librarians will then engage in a 10 min erudite, clinical dissection of the state of the wider information management community. Can you begin to imagine the frustration I feel arguing, debating and critiquing for fucking hours every public librarian I work with. Knowing that consultants would froth at the mouth and pants for the opportunity to eavesdrop on our conversations. Then getting that look, that look, the one of barely disguised sympathy and patronising contempt, saying it all without saying anything. Who would want to talk about libraries the look says, who in their right mind would want to do that, it says.
Well you can't say I haven't tried, so now I'm to be put in a position where I must forgo my goto excuse of "Volunteer". Where I enter the world of putting someone else's money where my mouth is. To seduce the public librarian I'm going to stop treating them like a librarian and try treating them more like members of the public. I want blur lines, I want to take the librarian out of public librarian and put the public back into public librari/ans/es.
So please folks if you think you can help with either Library Fest or our next camp please let us know and we'll set you a task.

Thursday, 20 February 2014

School Library Camps

Earlier this year Darren Flynn from Dixons Allerton Academy told us about a series of camps for school libraries he was involved in organising. One or two emails later and BOOM! This lands in our laps.

News on the School Library Camps front – we’ve now got 4 camps ready to go for the 14th June (London, Glasgow, Manchester & Leeds) with possibly a further one in Birmingham ready to launch soon. We’ve gotten all 4 sorted without the need for any sponsorship through free venues so that’s a bonus also! I wondered if you could do a post for me on the Library Camp blog, something along the lines of (though put it in your own voice if you prefer!);

“Exciting news for those interested in school libraries; a flurry of school library camps taking place up, down and across the country. On Saturday 14th June, there will be four, yes four, school library camps held simultaneously in different locations;

North West (Manchester);
Yorkshire (Leeds);
Scotland (Glasgow);

The hope is to link up all these different camps with tech to create a national school library conversation and share ideas across the land. So, if you’ve an interest in school library services, get yourself along to your nearest camp.”

The London event is a little more erm..‘rigid’ than a traditional library camp but that’s how they wanted it, it’s more a hybrid Lib TeachMeet but I figure attendees there can virtually sit-in on another session at another camp if they like.
I’m promoting through the School Lib Assoc and School Library Group too so hopefully we’ll get events ‘selling out’ soon J


Great news Darren and respect due to the other organisers. 

Thursday, 6 February 2014

New library animation reaches wide audience

We love this! The Magic of Libraries video from Time to Read has had nearly 3000 views in less than a week. Good work! Not twee, not tub thumping and not a librarian trying to be hip in sight. It's beautiful and subtle with a lovely soundtrack (anyone know who it is?). Well done Time to Read NW!

Mind you, we are all stuck on the hidden book references. I can only find four and we've heard there are ten! Luckily for us Time to Read NW will reveal all the answers - one a day at 4pm  - for the next ten days…..

Saturday, 1 February 2014

16 ways to improve public libraries

Did you catch the 'improving council library services' debate on the Guardian last week. Sue Lawson was representing Librarycamp and is jolly happy she managed to include 16 recommendations including:

Free unlimited wifi in all public libraries
Librarygame - find out more
Hackspaces and makerspaces partnerships with libraries
Code clubs in libraries - visit CodeClub
Expect more from library vendors (a mobile catalogue at no extra cost ffs, it is the 21st Century!)
Complacent librarians
Wonderful volunteers
Automatic library membership when you pay your council tax
Eli Neiburger's Delta Ahead: Diversifying the Value of Public Libraries
Prof RD Lankes and his ideas on the mission of librarians
Lending stuff like telescopes and sewing machines
Basing librarians in hospitals and jobcentres
Community publishing at the library - I Street Press or The Library Press
DRM free downloads (for keepsies) of local bands from the library website - Ann Arbor's Magnatune
A national library staff training MOOC with coursework contributed by all grades of library staff
And DRM is rubbish

She's disappointed she just couldn't squeeze in:

Council open data being on the library catalogue
Unconferences as self organised training for council staff
Patron driven acquisition in public libraries. (If we all accept supplier selection we should have community selection too - just sayin'). 
Ah well. There's always next time.

Friday, 24 January 2014

DIY pulp fiction book covers

Friday fun! Create your own pulp fiction magazine cover with the Pulp-o-mizer.

Here's one I made earlier...

Buy a LibraryBox for your library. Share content without the internet!

LibraryBox is an inexpensive portable private digital distribution device, capable of delivering non-DRM digital files to any device with wifi and a browser, even in areas without Internet access.

After more than 2 years of development and a wildly successful Kickstarter campaign, libraries and other organisations finally have the opportunity to purchase a LibraryBox at

Online sales of LibraryBox will begin January 24th, 2014, to coincide with the opening of the American Library Association 2014 Midwinter Conference.

This launch marks the first time that individuals, libraries, schools, and other organisations can purchase a pre-built, tested LibraryBox for use in sharing digital files. Organisations that want to utilise the technology for outreach, delivering content to remote areas, and on-the-go mobile content delivery can now purchase and experiment with LibraryBox.

LibraryBox v2.0 will begin shipping to buyers in March 2014 at a cost of $150.  LibraryBox shares files that are loaded onto the included USB drive by creating its own private wifi network and sharing files to devices via any standard web browser.

LibraryBox can share non-DRM digital files with devices that have wifi capability and a web browser, such as smartphones, tablets, laptops, and e-readers. Users can download files anonymously by connecting directly to LibraryBox and not to the wider Internet.

Libraries and educators around the world are already using LibraryBox to deliver ebooks to children in rural Ghana, to bypass censorship of learning materials in China, and to share digital material on street corners in France.

LibraryBox is currently being used in 17 US States, 17 countries, and on 6 continents to deliver digital information to users..LibraryBox is a product of Evenly Distributed LLC.

Contact Jason Griffey at The LibraryBox Project

Thursday, 23 January 2014

Librarygame. Who's in?

Charlie Brooker's new year TV programme, How Video Games Changed the World, attempted to explain the appeal, history and culture of video games with a chronological view of the most influential video games ever made. And guess what was number one? Twitter!

The list contained Minecraft, Space Invaders, Tetris and all the usual suspects, but interestingly Brooker reserved the number one spot for Twitter and the all pervading game of social media. Collecting likes, friends and retweets, he asserts, is THE game of the 21st century.

Gamification isn't new. You can already study the theory in a free Coursera MOOC and plenty of libraries, shops, cafes and museums and even TV shows let visitors check in with Foursquare or GetGlue. Sainsburys, Boots, Costa, Subway and many more organisations offer rewards for purchases via their loyalty cards.

So the big question in my mind is why aren't libraries getting into gamification? Especially when there is a ready made, perfectly formed, beautifully designed product called Librarygame (created by a very library friendly company called Running in the Halls), just asking to be exploited by public libraries across the nation.

Librarygame lets library members receive points for certain actions (checking into the library, returning books, recommending things) and achievements are granted to active users for completing certain combinations of actions such as coming to the library five times, or borrowing every book in a series to reading all the works by one author.


There's also a social element to Librarygame. Players can show off on social media about their latest badges and achievements and every share on Facebook is a plug for your library. This showing off and sharing stuff is popular! More than 1 million people already publicly catalogue their books on sites like LibraryThing and Good Reads. If you know what your fellow library members are reading, you’re more likely to find out more about other stuff you could borrow. Same goes with ratings, allowing recommendations between users and so on.

So why can't I play the Librarygame now when I use my public library? Is it that library leaders don't understand the appeal of gamifying the library environment? Or are public libraries simply stuck in the past, complacently shelling out thousands of pounds for hard to find, little used databases and not prepared to take a risk on something new?

I can see a tonne of benefits for libraries and customers. Librarygame lasts all year round, unlike the Summer Reading Challenge. And it would encourage kids and adults to get involved who might be put off by the slightly sinister 'Reading Challenge', which always sounds like a bit of a threat to me, particularly if you're not a great reader.

Librarygame rewards library members. It makes library interactions entertaining and fun and something worth sharing. It's not just about fines and overdue notices. The game would help players feel connected to others in the community and to the library and its resources. Most library interfaces, catalogues and online resources are deeply clunky and unattractive. Librarygame isn't. It's design is sleek, modern and attractive. Librarygame might even encourage non-users to sign up to the library or lure back lapsed users. It will definitely give us library geeks a dash of cool ;)

Read more about how Librarygame works...