Friday, 1 August 2008

A Day in Glasgow, University of Strathclyde and "The Bridge"

Tuesday, July 22


Our LIS group met in front of the Dalkeith Palace at 8:15am to leave at 8:30am in mini-van bound for Glasgow. When in Glasgow, we went into the Livingstone Building of the University of Strathclyde. We met up with David McMenemy and he took us up to the room for a presentation. He provided information on the University and related facts about education in Scotland through a prepared presentation. David started with the history of Strathclyde's prior names: Anderson's Institute, 1776; Anderson's University, 1828; Glasgow and West of Scotland Tech, 1887; and now, University of Strathclyde, granted as a Royal Charter in 1964. Currently, there are 25,000 students on campus, with 15,000 undergraduate students and 10,000 graduate students. 2007 marked 60 years in teaching library skills at Strathclyde and that its the largest MSc (Master of Science in Library Science) course subject in the UK.

Other statistics were given. There are 4515 public libraries in the UK per 2007 census count; Academic libraries total 846, and there are 180 university libraries (these include universities, community college, and partnerships). However, there are no statistics collected for public school libraries. Note: This is odd, because you would think that all libraries would be counted. I believe they need to improve upon their statistical counts. David did mention that not very much research is done on school libraries, primary through Level A (upper high school level). One other comment that David made, which is a disturbing thought, is that librarians are not seen as a real profession in Scotland, or the UK! They are viewed as bookstore clerks, and very undervalued as a profession.

Laws surrounding the creation and maintaining of state run libraries was discussed. In 1850, all UK public libraries were legally obliged to provide "a comprehensive and efficient library service for everyone..." The Public Libraries and Museum Act of 1964 (England and Wales) states "An Act to place the public library service provided by local authorities in England and Wales under the superintendence of the Secretary of State, to make new provision for regulating and improving that service and as to the provision and maintenance of museums and art galleries by such authorities, and for purposes connected with the matters aforesaid," (see Public Libraries and Museum Act of 1964 link below). And in 1973, the Local Government (Scotland) Act, which states that the act replaced the old Scottish counties, burghs, and districts with "a uniform two-tier system of regional and district councils," (see Local Government [Scotland] Act of 1973 link below). Then David discussed the "Impact of Devolution," noting the Scotland Act of 1998, that all libraries governed by devolved Parliaments included public, school, academic and health libraries were impacted.

Some other key issues he brought up about libraries included, a significant drop in borrowing figures; how to attract non-users (a marketing and administrative question); the Digital Divide (some can't afford broad-band cable Internet access); deprofessionalism; and, how to measure library services effectively (a marketing/administrative question/goal).

Our second speaker was Christine Rooney-Browne, a PhD Library Sciences candidate at the University of Strathclyde. Her presentation was on "Overlooking the Real Issues: Measuring the Social Value in Public Libraries," which is the basis of her research. She began with Intellectual Freedom, Cultural Diversity, and the Digital Divide for low-income people. Christine explained "Social Value" : how people impact with and what they get out of accessing libraries. Furthermore, she state that public libraries are thought of as more than book issuing points. They serve to break down barriers and give access to the learning impaired.

Next, Christine discussed how her research has measured performance of libraries. First, there is the economic value, which is quantitative, and is performed by governmental audit. Secondly, there is the social value, which is qualitative, and is gathered by social impact audit. She stated that the results are impressive and show their value; short-term and long-term value on society. Christine briefly spoke about Usherwood's 1996 book, "Scotsman from Lumber River," and explained that it had "meaningful evolution."

When Christine further spoke about research, she said "to measure the unmeasurable, that the true value is accessed through statistics and inspections." In determining social value, she said to encourage communication, library services and stakeholders; assess outcomes using questionnaires; and, determine if services meet the organization's objective.

Then Christine spoke of the different stages of her research. Stage 1 is the qualitative research, where SIA methods are implemented, stakeholders are identified, and links are establish in library case studies. Stage 2 is the quantitative research, which include statistical reports. Stage 3 includes survey responses. And then there are the Findings. Two examples were given; the Newton Mearns library, in an affluent suburb, where the users demand multiple bestsellers (books) and fast, efficient service; and Barrhead Library, in a socially deprived area, where users demand a welcoming environment provides a gateway to information. And finally, Christine talked about outcomes, which included the following:

- Empower libraries, challenge user IB PLS economic value
- Communication, character and role of public libraries in 21st century
-Promote global understanding of social value
-Produce appropriate and realistic model for measuring impact of public libraries

And at the end of Christine' presentation, we found out that her title is: Student Contributor Liaison Officer for the journal, Library Review.

Our next speaker was Alan Poulter. He stated that he was a former cataloger at the British Museum. His presentation was on Forensic Readiness for Local Libraries in Scotland, or FRILLS for short. And the major application for FRILLS is the People's Network, which is an initiative to put in public access machines in all public libraries to offer free Internet access. The funding source for this initiative is windfall funding through the National Lottery. He also stated that there is a new direction, to offer IT training.

Next, Paul presented his Proposal Outline: to develop simple, low-cost technologies for basic forensic readiness. The Aims included: create typologies of computer misuse, how to reduce porn, and Bebo (computer harassment/chat), including acceptable use policies in English, not "legalese"; and, specify flex FR regime, focus on Windows, Explorer, and Office. He continued with Methodology, which includes interviews,literature reviews, dialog with department managers/supervisors, and work with pilot sites to develop FRILLS. And lastly, Conclusions, which involved two management issues: 1. lack of standards, 2. technical issues of logs stored off site.

Then, Paul talked about the Centre for Digital Library Research ( He stated research themes: catalogs, collaboration, collection description, digital libraries, and digital preservation. He even talked briefly about the BUBL link ( themes), that was in existence before the World Wide Web was born. It is a catalog of Internet resources organized by Dewey Decimal numbers. The Glasgow Digital Library was also discussed ( It is an organized digital library for teaching, learning and research. Paul finished his presentation by discussing access databases, university repositories, and terminologies of remapping automation, coll abortive tagging, standards and user issues.

After the presentations, we were treated to a wonderful light lunch and then we drove over, along with Davis McMenemy and Christine Rooney-Browne from the University of Strathclyde, to visit "The Bridge." The Bridge is a public library in a distressed area connected to a community center and to the John Wheatley College. It opened in 2006 and has modern construction and fixtures. It resembles a civic center, but with a library and a college attached. In the library, there was a banner that read "TEAM READ, Just don't sit there - get reading" just like at the Barbican Library; it was stated that it is a yearly national campaign to promote reading. This is where we met Stephen Finney, the Director of "The Bridge."

As Stephen began with his verbal presentation of the facilities, I looked around the library and noticed 6 large stacks in the general area and 7 smaller stacks in the children's area, all with new books. Also noted was an Arts and Crafts activities taking place within the library area. After scoping the place out, I returned to taking notes of what was being said.

It was mentioned that there are 30,000 items in the library collection and new books are added into the collection every week. They have a staff of 6 full time librarians who cover 15 libraries in the area and each have between 25 and 35 years of work experience. There are 4 entrances into the facility with no graffiti on any of the walls, which was amazing. It was said that the people really value this building, because graffiti is everywhere else.

Stephen then talked about "The Den," which was a small community room directly over the Children's Area of the library. It was designed like a tree house. We did not go into it, but it looked very neat and I was wishing that I was a young child so I could go in it! We then were lead down to the music studio, but it was in use so we couldn't go in. A group photo was taken in that area before we continued are journey up to the Studio Theatre, where dance classes and other related activities were held. One wall could even be removed to expand the food service area for special event catering. Near the Studio Theatre was the Pool area. It was quite large, with slides, and people seemed to being enjoying themselves while we looked on.

In all, it was quite a day filled with nice examples of library information and site visits.

Related Links

Public Libraries and Museum Act of 1964

Local Government (Scotland) Act of 1973

Scotland and Devolution

The Bridge

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