Tuesday 24 September 2019

Visit to Kedermister Library, Langley, Berkshire

St Mary's, Langley Marish

On the fifth of September 2019 our group went to visit Kedermister, a parish library attached to St Mary’s in Langley, Slough.  

The entrance to the library is through the Kedermister family pew, which is quite a showpiece, with its marble-effect wooden structure. The impressively detailed paintwork continues through into the library itself. A mixture of Biblical figures and architectural flourishes greet you as you enter. As you enter this room you are standing in one of the few remaining, in-situ, parish libraries. 

The Kedermister pew

Our guide, honourary librarian Katie Flanagan, told us about the seventeenth century gentleman who founded the library. Almost all of the books were bought new by Sir John Kedermister and bound in a uniform style: brown calf with a double rule, raised bands on the spine, red sprinkled edges and the gilt armorial stamp of Sir John on both boards. 

Our guide informed us that there was no surviving documentation that would indicate anything about Sir John’s collection policy – if he had one. There are a few probable conclusions that have been drawn. For example, all of the printed books, save one, were of a religious nature, which suggests that this is unlikely to be a personal collection of Sir John’s. 

Sir John also didn’t seem to have a policy of rebinding secondhand volumes, for which we can all be grateful. 

How did one go about finding things in this library? The original catalogue, or inventory, was revealed to us from behind a protective curtain: a manuscript on parchment dated “Aprill 1638”. It is a record of all volumes in the library; however, it is not available online. The only two volumes in the collection that are catalogued online are one manuscript on permanent loan to the British Library – an 11th century illuminated Gospels probably written in England before the Norman Conquest – and the collection's sole incunable, which is listed on the Incunabula Short Title Catalogue. This is notable for having every one of its references to the Pope crossed out.  

The inventory on parchment, dated "Aprill 1638", refers to volumes by number

It was not uncommon for wealthy book collectors to publish catalogues of their libraries but nothing of this sort ever existed for Kedermister as, before 1911, the only person who would have had regular access to the library would have been the vicar. The rather fine condition of the volumes speaks to this limited use. 

All of the library's shelves are enclosed behind highly decorated doors. Sir John's portrait can be seen here facing the books

It is not known if the blank cartouches in the decorations were ever intended to be written on

Perhaps the most unusual book in the library is the Kedermister family prescription book or Pharmacopolium

Looking from the library up into the pew

This was a thoroughly enjoyable, very informative visit. It truly is a well-hidden gem. There are no open weekends remaining this year, but it is certainly worth remembering for next year. Contact Katie on Twitter @KatieDFlanagan or by email here

Anna Murdoch @MurdochAnna 

Tuesday 4 June 2019

Professional Registration & Portfolio Building Workshop, 10 April 2019

Presented by Kirsty Franks, candidate support officer for CILIP South-East

Eighteen people came along to Kirsty’s talk, held at the Reading University Whiteknights campus branch of the Henley Business School.

Kirsty guided us, very clearly and usefully, through the following broad areas in her talk:
- the steps to professional registration
- the structure of CILIP’s Professional Knowledge and Skills Base (PKSB)
- what is needed in a submission for registration

Most of the audience were considering chartership, but there was also at least one (me!) wanting to embark on certification, and at least one considering fellowship. The process follows the same steps at all levels – though the content and approach changes – so much of what Kirsty told us was relevant to everyone. 

Once you’ve decided on the level you are aiming at the next step is to find a mentor – everyone undertaking professional registration with CILIP needs a mentor. There is a list of mentors available on the CILIP website. When you make contact with someone it’s a good idea to tell them why you want them in particular to act as your mentor. It’s important to check early on that your timeframe will work for them, too: you should expect chartership to take one to two years to complete.

Your mentor should never be your line manager, and ideally they should be someone outside your own sector. When you find a mentor you both need to decide whether the relationship will work – and at any point throughout your registration journey you (or they) can decide that you need a new mentor. That can be for any number of good reasons, so this shouldn’t be a cause of stress to either party in the relationship.

Kirsty explained that the PKSB identifies different areas of professional competence for information professionals. For professional registration, at any of the three levels, a candidate should identify about ten areas where they want to develop. For the registration process, candidates need to chart that development. A thread throughout the talk was the importance of showing development from where you begin, to where you get to when you submit, and the need to capture your development as it happens, rather than retrospectively.

There are three compulsory PKSB areas that must be included in your submission: ethics and values; wider library, information and knowledge sector context; and wider organisation and environmental context. Candidates should then select a number of other areas in which they want to develop. Kirsty suggests that about seven areas – in addition to the three compulsory areas – is about right. There are about ninety areas to choose from, thanks to the subdivisions within the twelve numbered areas.

Kirsty’s tip was to start selecting your areas somewhere other than 1 (Organising knowledge and information) and 2 (Knowledge and information management), as these were the weightiest and therefore not the most accessible place to start, and her advice is to aim for a nice range of scores from 0s to 4s.

You should choose a mix of some core information skills and some more generic skills, and you should be identifying your current rating, and your ideal rating – but don’t get bogged down worrying about completely accurate ratings. The PKSB is not itself assessed – it’s there to help you structure your development.

For the areas on your PKSB that you want to improve you need to show evidence of the work you have done to develop in those areas – for example, visits to other libraries, work projects, things you have read, events you have attended – and then show reflection on your development. Your written reflections are the evidence you will need for the registration submission. Kirsty’s advice is to upload your reflective writing immediately (it helps protect you from the temptation to rewrite), but you can choose to upload everything later. At some point, though, you will need to collect everything you need in your online portfolio, for submission to your assessor.

For the submission you will need: your reflective-writing evidence (and any other evidence you want to include), plus supporting documentation (an annotated CV, a current job description, and a completed mentor-mentee form), your initial and final PKSB assessments, and an evaluative statement. This last is the only component that has a word limit – an absolute limit of 1000 words (but keep in mind the assessor who has to read all your materials!). When you are selecting evidence you probably want to choose the best two or three pieces of reflective writing for each area. The layout of the submission is up to you. There are some examples on the CILIP website that might help you decide on your preferred display. 

These were some of the tips and pointers I gleaned from the event. The talk was further illuminated from Kirsty’s own experience of certification and chartership, and there was an opportunity at the end of the session for attendees to ask questions and to benefit further from Kirsty’s expertise in supporting candidates through professional registration.

I would definitely recommend to anyone considering registration at any level (or revalidation) that they seek out a similar event to hear more at first-hand about the PKSB, the online submission process, and professional registration more generally.

Sarah Mann
Chair, CILIP in the Thames Valley

Wednesday 12 December 2018

CILIP and the information revolution – President Ayub Khan's talk to CILIP in the Thames Valley

From across the academic, public and specialist sectors, we were a varied group of library and information professionals gathered in Oxfordshire County Library. Ayub Khan, CILIP’s president and deliverer of today’s presentation, pointed out how distinctive this makes our profession: libraries, knowledge and information are an essential part of a uniquely wide variety of industries. 

For CILIP, he explained, this is both an asset and a challenge. Very few other organisations have such a range of expertise, but how does CILIP speak for members across all these sectors? How, with the ‘international’ theme of this year’s presidency, does it become globally relevant? And who is included in the ‘family’ of L&I professionals in today’s shifting information landscape? 

What unites us, CILIP has concluded, are our
ethics and values. During a recent consultation reviewing its current and future role, the organisation developed a diagram of the Professional Knowledge and Skills Base. With its circular design, the PKSB diagram visually echoes the circular seal of CILIP’s Royal Charter, but updates it to specify the skills relevant to the twenty-first century. Ethics and values were placed at its heart. 

Source: CILIP

We can explore what our ethics and values are, but we also need to put them into practice. CILIP’s 2020 goal is to ‘put library and information skills at the heart of a democratic, equal and prosperous society’. Built on five priorities (things to do) and six enablers (to help do the things), it gives us a professional framework during this time of ‘revolution’ in how information and technology are integrated into everyday life. The goal is true to the Charter, but with a clear vision of the instrumental ‘benefit’ to democracy, equality and economy. 

Making this benefit visible to the public, though, can require active promotion of libraries and information; in fact, it was discussed how ease of information access can prevent people from noticing the work that goes into creating that ease.
Advocacy is therefore one of CILIP’s priorities (along with workforce development; member services; standards and innovation; and governance and operations). Ayub showcased some recent campaigns. Utilising social media, radio appearances, ‘Facts Matter’ badges and more, perhaps these efforts are working: we were shown an independent poll suggesting that we are viewed as trusted professionals. Still, the impact of our own role is one piece of information that we can sometimes neglect to share! 

Source: Neil Gaiman and Chris Riddel in The Guardian

Our core identity as stewards of information is unchanged by technological advances and new social contexts. Yes, many of us share a certain delight in books, but, while books continue to be relevant, they are being joined by new ways to organise and access information and knowledge. Ayub encouraged us to work together in adapting to these fresh opportunities. As a graduate trainee, only joining CILIP this year, I am excited to continue this tradition while being part of the future shape of the profession. 

Even with the help of a library, it’s hard to find the answer to what to expect from the information revolution. There was limited time to discuss future challenges – but one thing we took away from this session is that having a strong sense of who we are as a profession is a starting point for facing these challenges. 

Emmy Ingle (@emmyingle)

Wednesday 12 September 2018

Tour of Oxfordshire County Library – 6 July, 2018

Karen Butcher
Reading List Assistant, Royal Holloway, University of London / Weekend Library Network Assistant, Surrey Libraries 

As a former Graduate Library Trainee in Oxford, I used to visit Oxfordshire County Library (formerly Oxford Central Library) regularly as a customer. Ten years later, a sneak peek during a previous CILIP TV event revealed some exciting changes and I was curious to find out more.

The Makerspace
On entering the Library, our group made our way to the Makerspace on the First Floor where we were greeted by friendly staff from Oxfordshire Libraries. Oxfordshire County Library opened this dedicated Makerspace facility in September 2017 and the room is light, spacious and airy. An intriguing array of gadgets and gizmos in a variety of shapes, colours and sizes soon caught our attention on the tables. This was going to be

Mark Sutcliffe, Digital Information and Learning Librarian at Oxfordshire Libraries, presented an overview of the Makerspace. One of the first things we learnt is that a Makerspace is an inclusive space for everyone, fun for adults and children of all backgrounds and genders, and accessible to all, including non-readers. Inclusivity is very important, and provides the opportunity to right some past wrongs around making, such as socially-constructed gender constraints.

So what is a Makerspace? We learnt that while every Makerspace is different, all provide a space for making to happen in some form. Tools and equipment are provided, and there is access to advice and guidance. Technology is usually involved but doesn’t have to be. In addition to the more traditional creative writing, craft and knitting clubs, Oxfordshire County Library’s Makerspace hosts a range of activities, from digital crafts and programming to electronics and 3D printing. Digital making sessions have included learning how to use the 3D printer, custom-making cards using a digital cutter, making monsters with robots and paper circuits, open sessions, and Raspberry Jams using Raspberry Pi computers. As a result, library staff have the opportunity to utilise and develop their digital skills and contribute to the creation of a community who are committed to learning, sharing and developing digital skills.
The Makerspace
The Makerspace

What are the benefits of having a Makerspace? The Library’s Makerspace also plays a role in developing children’s interest in STEM and STEAM subjects (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics), which the UK government is currently promoting in order to help meet economic demand, and volunteers share a particular enthusiasm for helping the next generation to develop their skills. Volunteers include students from universities and colleges in Oxford, employees from local technology companies and a retired engineer. Participants are encouraged to learn by working things out for themselves and reflecting on their experience. Web development sessions are run specifically for women, to help overcome their underrepresentation in the technology industry. People with a wide range of expertise are brought together by Makerspace activities, from artists to Raspberry Pi enthusiasts. Photos on the Makerspace walls show people of all ages absorbed in making, collaborating and working together in teams.

As such, the Makerspace forms a good fit with the existing library service and Libraries Connected’s Universal Digital and Learning Offers. For this reason, Libraries Connected (formerly Society for Chief Librarians) is helping libraries develop Makerspaces through their Code Green initiative and organised meet-ups. Makerspace activities, such as very successful recycling workshops for children, also support environmentally sustainable practices.

Any drawbacks? The availability of the Makerspace depends on staffing and volunteers, as it currently needs some form of supervision (resources cannot be left out for people to use independently).

Oxfordshire County Library reopened in December 2017 following an extensive refurbishment. Even before this, the library was the third busiest in England, and statistics showed 3,000 new borrowers had joined the service within 3 months of reopening. Opening hours were extended and the Library is now staffed until 8pm most nights. As library staff, we are always learning new skills, and here staff have adapted to a lot of change. If a refurbishment and new Makerspace weren’t enough to cope with, the library has also adopted a new LMS, having moved from OpenGalaxy to Spark.
The library piano
The library piano

The Oxford Music Library is housed in the County Library and offers a lending service for vocal scores, orchestral sets, DVDs, CDs, music books and single-copy scores. There is even a digital piano available for customers to use in the library. The Music Library participates in an interlibrary loan scheme with other music libraries as this helps them to fulfil requests for particularly large ensembles, who may need as many as 150 copies of a score. The service is very busy with demand coming from outside the county, partly as a result of some music libraries either closing or withdrawing their interlibrary loans service.

The refurbished library space uses furniture from the ‘Opening the Book’ collection. Much was tailor-made for the library, and gives the impression of a clean, calm space. The tops of bays are free of any clutter and section signage is clear and visible from all areas of the library. I was struck by how many settees there were; this is a very inviting, cosy space to spend time reading, while a range of PC and study areas ensure these needs are also met. The colour of the furniture, streamlined units and large windows create a light space which appears larger than before.

Self-service machine and return bins on rollers
Self-service machine and return bins on rollers
Book tables (also known as ‘Seagull’ display units) have proved a popular means of displaying carefully selected stock for fast browsing. An academic librarian among us noted that this is a very different way of arranging stock from that of an academic library, where library users expect to find a book in a precise location as indicated by the catalogue. In the public library, many customers select books by browsing (I know I do this!), and staff are also on hand to help locate items for customers. The return shelves in the self-service area are designed to hold a large number of books of varying sizes, and many customers select their next reads from here. The return bins are cleverly designed to pull back through openings in the wall straight into the library office – a great time-saver for staff.

The Library benefits from a Lending Store, a large, closed-access area with rolling stacks that house overflow stock. This includes fragile items, duplicates, hardbacks (where paperbacks are available on the open shelves), and items not issued in one year. Customers can request items from the Lending Store.

The children’s area has been completely refurbished and is bright and colourful with lots of visuals, including inclusive cartoon characters on the walls. We could see the soft, tunnel-like reading dens were proving very popular! All shelves in this area are fully accessible to children, enabling them to browse easily.

We ended our tour and returned to the Makerspace, where we watched the 3D printer in action, took a closer look at a Raspberry Pi and played with the range of robots on offer: Mbot robots, Cam Jam Edukits, Ozo bots and the Sprk+ which rolled around the floor at our command. We left having learnt a lot more about Makerspaces, the library, and having had a bit of fun along the way.
Hand-made display and recycling bins in children's area
Hand-made display and recycling bins in children's area

Recommended Reads
Burke, J.J. and Kroski, E. (2018) Makerspaces: A Practical Guide for Librarians. 2nd edn. Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield

Hirschberg, P; Dougherty, D. and Kadanoff, M. (2016) Maker city playbook: a practical guide to reinvention in American cities. Sebastopol, CA: Maker Media

Resnick, M. (2017) Lifelong kindergarten: cultivating creativity through projects, passion, peers, and play. Cambridge, Massachusetts: MIT Press

Links to further information on Libraries Connected and UK government initiatives
1. https://www.gov.uk/government/news/engineering-in-the-spotlight-for-2018-as-government-launches-campaign-to-inspire-the-next-generation (GOV.UK (2018) News story: Engineering in the spotlight for 2018 as government launches campaign to inspire the next generation)

2. http://www.librariesconnected.org.uk/universal-offers/digital (Libraries Connected (2018) Universal Offers: Digital)

3. http://www.librariesconnected.org.uk/universal-offers/learning (Libraries Connected (2018) Universal Offers: Learning)

4. http://goscl.com/codegreen/ (Society of Chief Librarians (2016) Code Green)

Thursday 14 June 2018

Must Keep Reading! Surviving the Carnegie and Kate Greenaway Judging by Elizabeth McDonald

The CILIP Carnegie and Kate Greenaway Medals are the UK’s oldest and most prestigious children’s book awards. Often described by authors and illustrators as ‘the one they want to win’ – they are the gold standard in children’s literature. The CILIP Carnegie Medal is awarded by children’s librarians for an outstanding book written in English for children and young people and the CILIP Kate Greenaway Medal is awarded by children’s librarians for a book for children and young people that is outstanding for its illustrations. 

I had the privilege of being the South East Youth Libraries Group Judge in 2015 and 2016 and I am Young People and Families Outreach Manager: Library Localities, at Wokingham Borough Libraries. I am also a member of the Youth Libraries Group South East committee, which I have been for 12 years, and have held the roles of secretary, vice chair, chair; I was then given the opportunity to be the Carnegie and Kate Greenaway Regional Judge. 

In 2015 I had to read 91 Carnegie books and 70 Kate Greenaway books and in 2016, 93 Carnegie books and 69 Kate Greenaway books. 

All of the books that are nominated are deemed to fit the very strict Carnegie and Kate Greenaway criteria. Anyone who is a member of CILIP can nominate and each authority and regional group has the opportunity to submit an entry as well. As a regional group – Youth Libraries Group South East – we organise a regional day every year; this year’s will be September 25 at Crawley Library.
Each year the nominations list is filled with varied and interesting reads that cover all sorts of issues and adventures, I personally found that it stretched me to explore new genres that I would not normally read. 

My first challenge as a CKG judge was to read this great list of books for the first time. ​It was intensely exciting when the parcels arrived at my library, and all the lovely shiny new books started to pile up. When I brought the books home and stacked them all up my six year old son counted how many there were. 

I began the task of reading and critiquing each book. My son would count each day, to see how many books I had left to read. ​I just kept thinking, “I ​must keep reading, I must keep reading!”  Keeping up the reading momentum in the short space of time available was helped by encouragement and support from colleagues, friends and family, and my son’s daily countdown. It was essential to read everywhere, during lunchtimes, in the car and at the park! – “I must keep reading!” 

​It was amazing to explore some of the titles with my son. He adored a lot of the ones we shared and I have had to buy another bookcase! Some of them really captured his imagination – he wanted to be an explorer in space and the Antarctic, then laughed at bird thieves and a funny squashed frog! (Oi Frog! By Kes Gray and Jim Field is undoubtedly one of the best picture books ever.) 

As a judge you also have to promote and raise awareness of the Carnegie and Greenaway awards and encourage participation in ‘shadowing’ groups. Promoting the books through these schemes has been amazing, and hearing young people’s opinions is wonderful. 

To explain, children and young people ‘shadow’ the judging process for both awards; they read, discuss and review the books on each shortlist selected by CILIP’s panel of librarian judges and engage in reading related activity online. The scheme has thousands of registered reading groups across the UK and internationally – engaging tens of thousands of children and young people in reading. 

Reading activity takes place from March to June – from the moment that the shortlists are revealed to the final winner’s announcement. The shadowing process is supported online. More information can be found here.  

I visited shadowing groups across the South in Berkshire, Hampshire and Surrey, in schools and libraries. We were able to organise one of the shortlisted authors, Geraldine McCaughrean (The Middle of Nowhere), to come and talk to several of our secondary school students and shadowing groups. I am currently working with my local Adolescent Unit, Willow Hospital Education at Wokingham Hospital, to shadow the 2018 prize for the Kate Greenaway Books. Talking to fellow book lovers about the shortlisted books and the judging process has been really enjoyable. It was brilliant to have the opportunity to talk about books so much! 

Moving onto the judging process, we had an amazing discussion on each of the books nominated. When it came to making decisions, there were lots of heated debates, outcries of despair, near-tears and a bit of laughter thrown in too. Revisiting the shortlisted books has been quite a different experience; going away and re-reading and re-reading (must keep reading!), so you can completely justify how each of the books stands up to the criteria. During this process it starts to become more obvious which books stood out that little bit more. Even if you have decided which book you adore and think should win the prize, you have got to make sure that the criteria are fully met.
This is where heartache comes – you are passionate about which book should be the winner, but the more you consider and talk about the text and images with the other judges, the more it becomes clear who the winner has to be. I’ve really enjoyed the debating and banter of exploring and defending the books. 

The winner of CILIP Carnegie 2015 prize was Tanya Landman for Buffalo Soldier – Charley, a young African-American slave from the deep South, is freed at the end of the American civil war. However, her freedom is met with tragedy after her adopted mother is raped and lynched at the hands of a mob, and Charley finds herself alone with no protection. In a terrifyingly lawless land, where the colour of a person’s skin can bring violent death, Charley disguises herself as a man and joins the army. Trapped in a world of injustice and inequality, it’s only when Charley is posted to Apache territory to fight “savage Indians” that she begins to learn about who she is and what it is to be truly free. 

The winner of CILIP Kate Greenaway 2015 prize was Will Grill for Shackleton’s Journey – In the last days of the heroic age of exploration, Ernest Shackleton dreamed of crossing the frozen heart of Antarctica; a place of ferocious seas, uncharted mountains and bone-chilling cold. But when his ship, the Endurance, became trapped in the deadly grip of the ice, Shackleton’s dreams of crossing Antarctica were shattered. Stranded in a cold, white world, and thousands of miles from home, the men of the expedition set out on a desperate trek across the ice in search of rescue. 

The winner of CILIP Carnegie 2016 was One by Sarah Crossan – Grace and Tippi are conjoined twins. And their lives are about to change. No longer able to afford homeschooling, they must venture into the world – a world of stares, sneers and cruelty. Will they find more than that at school? Can they find real friends? And what about love? But what neither Grace nor Tippi realises is that a heart-wrenching decision lies ahead. A decision that could tear them apart. One that will change their lives even more than they ever imagined. 

The winner of CILIP Kate Greenaway Medal 2016 was The Sleeper and the Spindle, illustrated by Chris Riddell, written by Neil Gaiman – On the eve of her wedding, a young queen sets out to rescue a princess from an enchantment. She casts aside her fine wedding clothes, takes her chain mail and sword and follows her brave dwarf retainers into the tunnels under the mountain towards the sleeping kingdom. This queen will decide her own future – and the princess who needs rescuing is not quite what she seems. Twisting together the familiar and the new, this perfectly delicious, captivating and darkly funny tale shows its creators at the peak of their talents. 

A new prize has been added to complement the Carnegie. Beginning with the 2016 medals, a title from each of the prestigious shortlists will receive the Amnesty CILIP Honour, a commendation for the books that most distinctively illuminate, uphold or celebrate freedoms. The books receiving the commendation will be able to carry an Amnesty CILIP Honour logo. “The Amnesty CILIP Honour will highlight the fact that so many of the books chosen by expert youth librarians for the CILIP Carnegie and Kate Greenaway Medals have human rights at their heart.” 

Amnesty also provides human rights education resources for every shortlisted book, which both Amnesty and CILIP will promote to schools via CILIP’s existing school shadowing scheme and Amnesty’s TeachRights network. 

The First Amnesty CILIP Honour medals went to Robin Talley for Lies We Tell Ourselves, which the judges called “an exciting page-turner of a book, it vividly brings to life the human cost of prejudice and explores an historic battle for equal access to education.” The Amnesty CILIP Honour for the Kate Greenaway Medal shortlist went to Ross Collins for There’s a Bear on My Chair, a book which, according to the judges, is “packed full of joyous humour: it develops children’s empathy and shows how we can protest creatively and peacefully when something is wrong.” 

The meeting then shared the 2018 shortlist and discussed the books that people had read. Everyone was looking forward to finding out the winners at the announcement for this year’s prize on June 18.
Questions were asked on the age ranges of the books and how this could work with shadowing, the Amnesty prize and a book chat about new books that have been read and shared that maybe suitable for the 2019 prize. 

Don’t forget that as a CILIP member you can join your regional committees – they are always looking for new members to support regional activities – more information here

Elizabeth McDonald (@lisbeverley) is the Young People and Families Outreach Manager: Library Localities at Wokingham Borough Libraries and an active member of the CILIP Youth Libraries Group. 

This event took place on June 4, 2018 at RISC in Reading.