Thing 19: Podcasts
I’ve never really been into Podcasts, and I’m not sure why – I think it’s just a medium that’s somehow passed me by. That said, this ‘Thing’ is the one I’ve been looking forward to most, as I really wanted to try it out from a library perspective. I checked out podcasts being created by other library services and reading agencies in Scotland. One podcast that I’ll definitely be making use of (and shamefully didn’t know was available online) on a personal level is the Scottish Book Trust’s Baby Bookbug podcast – as I’m expecting my first baby in May – I see this coming in handy when we’re up at the crack of dawn!
I then tried to think of what I could create a podcast about. At my library branch I regularly host Relaxing Reads, a monthly bibliotherapy session carried out by librarians, who select and read prose and poetry aloud at a free drop-in session.
I decided to do a condensed version of in the form of a podcast to give a taster of what Relaxing Reads is all about. A podcast would also increase the reach of these sessions, as currently each session is restricted in size due to the venue.
I used the Zoom H4n Handy recorder – EDLC purchased this a while ago for oral history interviews so I knew it’d do the job for a podcast. It was my first time using a recorder other than the iPhone audio recorder and I found it fairly easy to use.
I looked at other Scottish libraries producing podcasts to see which hosting programs they were using. Scottish Poetry Library use Podomatic embedded into their website. Glasgow Women’s Library have podcasts embedded too, which can be downloaded onto Windows Media Player. Scottish Book Trust use Soundcloud, and their podcasts can also be subscribed to on iTunes.
Ideally I would have preferred to embed my podcast into one of EDLC’s web pages. Until last year this would have been possible as I was a CMS editor for our site, but our website is now hosted on a different platform which is managed by the wider IT department. I’m fairly familiar with Soundcloud through using it to listen to local bands (shoutout to Static Future, Catfish Blues and the Andrew Robert Eustace Band!), so I opted for that.
I edited my sound clips using Audacity, then uploaded it to EDLC’s brand new Soundcloud account. Easy peasy. I hope this becomes a regular thing for me. In future it would be great to have other staff – and our readers – reading prose or poetry aloud. We could even try to persuade authors to do a guest podcast while they are in the branch for an author event. I really enjoyed the process (despite having to listen to my own voice a lot!) – it’s a fairly quick and free way of promoting what we do in libraries, and a great way of taking the library digital.
Thing 20: Advocacy and engagement
I feel quite lucky to be working in the public library sector in Scotland, because the Scottish Parliament have recognised the importance of libraries.
Find a Library Strategic Plan in Ireland or beyond for a library of any size. Identify three ways in which the strategic plan also advocates for the Library Service.
In Scotland we benefit from having a National Strategy for Public Libraries, Ambition and Opportunity.
The strategy is split into six strategic aims:
Strategic Aim 1: Libraries promoting reading, literacy and learning
Strategic Aim 2: Libraries promoting digital inclusion
Strategic Aim 3: Libraries promoting economic wellbeing
Strategic Aim 4: Libraries promoting social wellbeing
Strategic Aim 5: Libraries promoting culture and creativity
Strategic Aim 6: Libraries as excellent public services
Each of these aims has recommendations, which feed into Scotland’s National Outcomes. Ambition and Opportunity as I read it, is all about advocating for Scotland’s library service. It advocates for libraries by showcasing the range of services that libraries provide, by featuring case studies for each Strategic Aim recommendation. These case studies demonstrate the value of libraries to their communities and to the nation as a whole, as they reflect national outcomes.
Name three detrimental effects to a local community when a public library is closed.
Luckily, none of my local authority’s libraries have been closed, but I’ve been reading about the impact this is having across the UK. When a library closes, part of the community dies.
- Without doubt there would be an effect on the social well being of a community that’s lost it’s library. Libraries are famous for being inclusive and accessible. It’s often the one place that people feel safe and comfortable visiting. It’s also somewhere to connect with peers, be that students, young parents or older people.
- There would be an economic effect on the local community. The library is one of the last free places to use. If the branch I work at was to close, there would be nowhere locally for the community to undertake job searches, produce C.V.s, or research interview techniques. The lack of free internet access without libraries would force those without access at home to miss out on economic opportunities in an increasingly digital world.
- Education levels would suffer if a community lost it’s library. The library provides free access to a variety of learning opportunities from birth to later years. Without a library, the community (or the few that can afford it) would be forced to pay for these opportunities elsewhere, or lose out educationally.
Name three ways in which you can demonstrate the impact and value of the library service that you work in or use.
- Usage/engagement statistics – physical. LMS, iCAM, Biblioteca (people footfall and self service stats), event bookings.
- Usage/engagement statistics – digital. Online services, library app, social media engagement and followers, online reading group.
- Qualitative feedback from events, on social media, from targeted inclusion sessions, and often the most important feedback can be from an informal conversation.
Identify three key people outside of the library in the wider organisation/community that you need to network with in order to advance the development of the Library Service.
- Local organisations (charities and advocacy services, voluntary groups, and other associations and groups)
- EDLC (my service, a local authority leisure and culture trust) colleagues from archives, museums, galleries and leisure departments.
- EDC (local authority) colleagues from IT, Education, the Health and Social Care Partnership, Place and Neighbourhood teams.
Thing 21: Professional groups
As a chartered librarian, I’m a member of CILIP and the MmIT (Multimedia Information and Technology) and PMLG (Public and Mobile Libraries) special interest groups. I’m also a member of CILIPS as I live and work in Scotland. I find CILIPS to be a really well run organisation. They regularly host engaging, affordable events for their members. One of the best conferences I’ve been to is their Autumn Gathering. I won a bursary to this through CILIPS West Branch (my regional branch of CILIPS) when I was working towards chartership, and loved the event so much that I paid to attend the following year.
I follow SLIC (Scottish Library and Information Council) on most social media channels, and have attended quite a few of their events. SLIC offer support and funding to Scottish Libraries, and run lots of free events for librarians. They really lead the way in championing digital and new technologies and if I was to ever leave public libraries, it would be to go and work with SLIC!
Attending conferences is really important for seeing outside the bubble of your own organisation and sharing knowledge and ideas with the wider library world. Scotland only has 32 local authorities, which makes the library sector fairly small. Through attending events and conferences I’ve made connections with lots of colleagues across the country. The last event I attended was a SLIC’s Digital Champions meeting. The group is made up of a representative from each local authority in Scotland, and I was asked to represent East Dunbartonshire on this occasion, due to my interest in digital services. The Digital Champions promote and support digital innovation, and lead on the implementation of national digital programmes at local level. At their meetings, the latest digital innovations in public library services are shared and the champions are given the chance to discuss their ongoing projects and ideas. I spoke about EDLC’s Online Reading Group, which I established a few months ago.
This was my first time speaking at a conference (albeit a small one!), and I found the format worked really well. It was an informal lightning-style round where each champion had two minutes to speak about their project.
During lunch, several digital champions from other authorities approached me regarding my project, asking questions and advice, which was really encouraging.
I would love to be more involved with a professional group, be that the CILIPS West Branch or one of my special interest groups. I wouldn’t want to embark on this until I’m actually working in a librarian role though, and have enough experience at that level.
‘Engaged Professional’ has definitely been my favourite part of Rudai23. I’ve enjoyed learning about podcasting and applying it to my own service. Advocacy and engagement should always be in our minds, and involvement in professional groups is crucial for making connections both within and outwith your library sector.