How Librarians Are Coming Out

philiplarkin
When I was an undergrad, our university librarian was poet Philip Larkin.

This made the library much more popular for Special Honours Drama, than it would have been otherwise.

We ran a weekly competition for greatest number of sightings of  the esteemed poet, between the shelves. As drama students we were mostly liars, so  to be plausible, description had to be as vivid as possible : ‘PL spotted replacing cards  in north-eastern section of boxfiles. Furtive gaze at fellow librarian’s bottom as she passed’.

In truth, weeks could pass between sightings.

Today, PL would be hard-pushed to stay behind the scenes, knocking out poetry in lengthy coffee breaks. For librarians are now information professionals – and some of them are producing exceptionally useful digital content  for all sorts of contexts, especially communication and education.

They’ve taught me a thing or two this week.

We Share, We Decide, We Act

Bubbl.us is a nifty little piece of software where you can mind map online, like we did here when we set up WordPressUsersWales.

Sangeet Bhullar has run a terrific project with librarians in Wales, using Bubbls to explore digital potential.

Am sure this exercise could be helpful in many contexts – online meetings, team development  and in any sort of project management. Where team members are technical experts and creatives, rather than fully paid-up members of the chattering classes, these little maps could mean fewer meetings and more focussed ones. If helpful, the collective content could be popped into wordle to get an overall picture of priorities.

wordle

Teachers could use this as a way of checking students’ understanding of structure within subjects and how effectively key themes are assimilated – or otherwise.  And yes, they are fun to play with.

We Connect Outside Our Echo Chamber

The Echo Chamber is an enclosed situation where information, ideas and beliefs get endorsed and intensified because of the enclosure. An ideal space for group think, reinforcing of defensive reaction and excluding unwelcome outside influences and feedback. Like maybe from the general public.

Ned Potter, librarian at the University of York, runs the the wikiman blog and the Echo Chamber is one of his projects: how librarians can get their voices heard better. And he has created lots of wonderful content online, to do with communicating information, including this:

On this showing, librarians’ voices deserve to be heard more. (Thanks to Esther Nagle for link to Ned’s projects).

When Philip Larkin’s biography was published, it revealed a complex and not always admirable man – obsessed with pornography and holding some right-wing and offensive views. He was not the mild, timid librarian we student thespians imagined. But boy, could he write…

‘In everyone there sleeps
A sense of life lived according to love.
To some it means the difference they could make
By loving others, but across most it sweeps
As all they might have done had they been loved.’
The Whitsun Weddings

‘Life has a practice of living you, if you don’t live it’.

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