Why I didn’t do #libday8, but why I think it’s great.

Unintentionally rhyming title, I like it.

#libday8, or Library Day in the Life, is a project where people working in the library and information field write about a day or a week, in order to show what we actually do day-to-day, which took place last week.

I didn’t take part in this round of Library Day in the Life, although I have blogged my day previously. The reason for this is that I wasn’t really doing anything last week! How lazy. My course only resumed on Monday, so I was just finishing off an assignment, reading up on my next modules, and generally bumming around. Which doesn’t really make for an interesting blog post. I do, however, love the idea of Library Day in the Life, so I will do it again in the future.

Why I think it’s great? A lot of people honestly don’t know what librarians do all day. And this isn’t their fault, it’s ours as professionals for not shouting about it. This project means that people write about everything they do, including the tasks, skills and projects that we may take for granted.

When I tell people I work in libraries, some still ask, ‘isn’t it just stamping books?’, or, ‘do you just read all day?’. Well, yeah I do read a lot, but right now it’s textbooks, not novels!

However, I feel there’s a glaring problem. It’s the echo-chamber issue. This is basically the idea that ideas get talked about, great, but it’s all within the profession, and we’re not actually reaching anyone outside the ‘walls’. Library Day in the Life could just be librarians reading other librarian’s blogs. We need to publicise these blogs and projects to other people. But how? Well that’s tricky. This is a key issue for marketing libraries themselves. How do you tell people about your services if they’re not in the library? I heard in class today about a library conducting surveys outside the local football ground, to talk to people who don’t normally use the library. I thought this was a fantastic idea.

However, back to the positive side; Library Day in the Life is for anyone working in libraries, information, or related fields. Whether you’re a qualified librarian, a newbie, whatever, you can take part. It’s also a great way for anyone interested in pursuing a job in these areas to find out a bit about what they would actually be doing on a day-to-day basis.

You can find the list of Library Day in the Life blog posts here.

National Libraries Day at the Sheffield Central Library

Today is National Libraries Day, a day of celebration and support for libraries across the country, which also marks a year of protests against library closures.

Sheffield Central Library hosted events throughout the day, aimed at all types of library users. There was singing and playing for children, a creative writing workshop, and a tour for those interested in how the library works and what services they offer.

A newspaper from 1820, including stories about a mysterious power outage in the gas lamps, and vice in central Sheffield.

I went on the tour, which was a great insight into what the library can offer, but also the parts that you wouldn’t see as a regular user. We saw the main reading rooms, such as the Children & Young People’s Library and the Local Studies Library, where we were able to look at some old photographs, newspapers and maps of Sheffield.

The tour guide informed us about some of the services they offer, including Picture Sheffield, a database of digitised images, and Help Yourself, which provides information on all sorts of groups and organisations. The library also has the largest Climbing collection outside of the National Mountaineering Library, which must be very popular in this part of the country. We also saw the stacks, of which there are two levels under the library, and the ‘Strong Room’ where all the valuable and precious material is kept. It looked like a prison cell, with bars and a huge metal door! Here the tour guide showed us some rare material, including a hand-illustrated prayer-book from 1490, and a metallagraphica from the 1670s, in which the author explains metals are living things that grow back when you dig them up!

I also went along to ‘Quiz a Red Hat’. The Red Hats (named after the poem Warning by Jenny Joseph) are a group of retired librarians who meet up regularly, connected by their experiences working in libraries. It was wonderful to chat to these ladies, who somehow knew we were all librarianship students as soon as we said hello. We must give off a librarian aura! Hearing about Sheffield libraries in the past, and their experiences working in different types of libraries around the country, was a lovely experience.

Throughout the day there were musicians and singers performing in the foyer, which was a lovely background to the events and set the tone as a celebration of the library.

National Libraries Day – Saturday 4th February

This Saturday is National Libraries Day, a day to celebrate libraries, their users and their staff, and show our appreciation for them.

I’ll be heading down to Sheffield’s Central Library for a few events, including a whistle-stop tour of the library behind-the-scenes, and a chance to quiz a group of retired librarians on all things library related.

You can find out about events occurring near you here, or just head down to your local library to show your support.

Happy National Libraries Day!