Wednesday, 12 September 2012

Jing & Podcasts...

Blogging again after a week's holiday which took me to sunny North Wales, via The Hive in Worcester. More on that to follow but for now its on to Thing 18, which includes Jing and podcasts: 


I've used Jing before in the context of the work I do with the Sustainability Team at Kingston, in this case trying to encourage colleagues to use Power Save on their PCs to reduce carbon consumption
 (including a rousing soundtrack in the background, just to try to liven this up a bit!):

This was something I did a couple of years ago now and although Jing's shimmering golden sphere sat at the top of my desktop for quite a long time afterwards, it did not occur to me to use it again after that. I can certainly see the use of it in delivering library services, though - for example as a way of showing users how to access those harder to reach electronic articles (as an alternative to putting a series of annotated screenshots together using Skitch or some such, which is also effective). I notice many CPD23 Things bloggers have been singing the praises of Screencast-O-Matic, with some (Alyson23things and Gemma Bayliss among others) having taken the plunge and posted up some really useful and informative presentations with full narrationScreencast-O-Matic does similar things to Jing but with a simple one-click operation and without the need to download the product. I'll definitely give this a go the next time I need to give someone a virtual prod in the right direction!


I remember CILIP getting quite into the idea of producing regular podcasts around the time of their Big Conversation project, discussing the future of the Library and Information profession.  There is an example from former CILIP President Biddy Fisher here which I was able to use as a key source when future-gazing as part of my postgrad dissertation. JISC (the Joint Information Systems Committee) offers a useful list of the podcasts it has produced, some of which are very technical but others are more general, for instance one on the ethical and legal issues of social networks (Facing up to Facebook with Nicola Yeeles, John X Kelly and Lynn McHugh from JISC's legal team). 

Elsewhere I have seen  podcasts frequently used in a library context in the production of tours and I really like what Goldsmiths Library has done using Adobe Captivate, with its creative 'Deadline at Dawn' / 'Deadline at Dusk' idea! 

So, The Hive, then.. an ambitious project, not just in terms of scale (occupying some 10,000 sq metres and costing £60 million to build) but also in daring to be the first library in Europe to combine local authority and academic library facilities. It was opened by the Queen in July as part of her tour of the region during her Jubilee and the building had over 100,000 visitors in its first 6 weeks of opening. Fittingly enough, the building's design looks (to me, anyhow!) like a jagged, postmodern castle.. of sorts. A balcony turret juts out onto a grass moat area, while the building's unusual shape culminates in two golden towers at the very top of the construction:

The gleaming new Hive (Library & History Centre) building in 
Worcester City Centre - designed by Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios
View from the 4th floor balcony of the Hive - the railway bridge on
the right leads towards the University of Worcester's other campuses
Island pods, or "perches" are used as the building's information points, rather than traditional sit-down helpdesks, freeing up staff to rove the building. These types of pods were something I'd seen used to good effect previously at Newcastle Central Library and the David Wilson Library at Leicester University, whilst Voices for the Library recently discussed the implementation of a similar setup at the mould-breaking Anythink libraries in Colorado (..I digress..). This arrangement helps to heighten the immersive experience offered to The Hive's users. Having removed some of the traditional barriers between staff and users, the building's design instead uses features which permeate through all the multiple services on offerwith expansive lightwells and large works of art prominent. Photos from a current exhibition on Dementia, timed to coincide with World Alzheimer's Day (23 September) can be seen throughout most of the building:

The entrance level is dominated by this massive oil canvas called
'Rack Alley' by Clare Woods (
here is more info about art at The Hive)

'Arts, Hearts and Minds' is an exhibition scattered around the five floors
of the building, featuring images from photographer Cathy Greenblat
This visit followed my recent outings to other shared library services at Clapham and Winchester, yet here (even more than the others) everything has been done to try to ensure the host of services offered work seamlessly with one another. Different loan periods and allowances are used, for example, to ensure students get priority access to their core reading materials. Crucially to the success of this project, Capita has also worked to integrate the systems side of The Hive's services which include a One-Stop-Shop for council services, a county archive and a local history centre:

History comes alive with this Jukebox which
plays memories of Worcester's past
The lampshade-type fitting on the ceiling is actually a speaker which
relays stories from Worcester's history to anyone directly underneath it

My only nagging concern when taking in this vast new behemoth of a library would be that the building could become a victim of its own success. By trying to be all things to all people, the Hive may experience conflicting priorities at times. With limited study space, for example, will the quieter study areas towards the top of the building, such as the research attic at the very top of the building be able to cope with hectic exam periods? Having to cater for not just students and the general public but also historians, genealogists, tourists, researchers and whoever else could start to take its toll. Happily there is also a Learning Exchange just across the other side of the nearby River Severn. Also (and unlike in some areas where the opening of new super libraries has had a damaging impact on surrounding facilities) other libraries do remain open in the vicinity so there are other options readily available for those for whom the buzz of The Hive becomes a little too loud.

Worcester's finest! The famous Lea & Perrins Sauce
is available in the Cafe's shop 

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