Wednesday, 19 September 2012

Time to reflect...

Thing 19 and another chance to have a good long think about just what I've been doing!

It's been a non-stop 5 months or so since I embarked upon this wild CPD23-based ride.. It's been a journey which has taken in visits to over 50 libraries, learning resource centres, discovery centres, reading rooms, etc. etc...across 5 different countries. I've had the chance to interact with other library professionals and to learn about some of the amazing things they have been doing, I've also embarked upon Chartership and have become a library advocate (although not an activist - an important distinction made by Johanna Bo Anderson in her excellent blog post on the subject).

I have been able to integrate some of the tools and ideas from previous Things into my work life. An example of this was the map I made in Thing 16 using a Google Docs account I had created in Thing 13. Evernote, in particular, is something I now use on a daily basis and I have also been able to make more use of applications I rarely used previously, such as RefWorks and SlideShare. Some other tools I have started out using enthusiastically but have fallen by the wayside. I have found this particularly to be the case with almost anything requiring installation, with applications like DropBox seeming like a good idea at first but often resulting in significant slow down through high memory usage (there are usually web-only options available, though, to help counteract this). I have also been more proactive about making use of my CILIP membership, having downloaded the Encyclopedia Brittanica App free for a year, for instance! I've been attending events and reading relevant stories I've seen on social networking sites more regularly in a concerted effort to keep up with developments within the profession.

What have I learnt, so far? Really it boils down to something I saw written recently on a plaque in The Hive's foyer:
The library's guiding inspiration [is] that 'learning' and attendant cultural processes of exploration, finding out, thinking, imagining, reflection, inventing and knowing are the province of all citizens. 
These are the things can we offer in libraries, provided we are lucky enough to continue to be able to make use of increasingly imaginative and inspiring environments in which to do so. Furthermore, I feel Continuous Professional Development is particularly important for all of us as information professionals, as CPD too is all about the processes listed above. To me, taking part in this year's CPD23 has helped me to appreciate how vital it is for those involved in any kind of learning process to have secure, comfortable spaces where they can do so; spaces where hopefully they will feel sufficiently motivated to want to keep learning throughout their lives.

During my time in Wales, I spotted a host of libraries which paint an encouraging picture of the future of libraries. One of the most interesting ones, however, was very much set in the past - and proudly so! As featured in a recent CILIP Update, Gladstone's Library in Flintshire is unique both in its status as a Prime Minister's Library and also claims to be the only residential library in the UK:

Gladstone's Library in Hawarden, Flintshire (Wales) was founded in 1895

The main reading room: a bronze of Gladstone
can be seen in the bottom-right hand corner

The building houses 26 bedrooms and part of its aim is to be a meeting place, cloistered away from the rest of the world, with debate on some of life's big questions positively encouraged among the library's members (although this is not compulsory!). The facility also hosts a writers-in-residence scheme, with the musings of writers in residence such as award-winning journalist and Radio 5 Live reporter Nadene Ghouri broadcast on the library's own blog. As well as penning her first novel whilst she is there, Nadene is currently sharing her opinions of this "slightly eccentric, architecturally beautiful" building and expressed her delight in meeting fellow residents.

From one of the longest established libraries in Wales, to one of the most up-to-date; Llandudno Library has had a makeover. My first visit to Llandudno's limestone, copper-mining coastlands was part of a Geography field trip I attended at school! I've been back a couple of times since and have been impressed with some of the changes I've seen occurring. The library was re-opened last year following significant public investment into the building. It is another shared service (something of a recurring theme in my recent blog posts..). Here the library is hitched up with a local history centre ('The Llandudno Story') council property services and a gallery:

Llandudno Library - a virtual tour of the building is available here

The quote on the far wall is from Monty Python's Flying Circus
("Oh Ken! Be careful! You know what he's like after a few novels!")

 A quick mention for The Welsh Library at the University of Wales, Bangor and particularly the ornate Shankland Room. This is another of my favourite reading rooms in the UK, with it's curved barrel ceiling and shields displaying the crests of each of the Welsh boroughs:

Oh.. and couldn't bring myself to sign off without mentioning Mary, the pet sheep of Plas Cadnant Hidden Gardens in Anglesey - who remarkably (well..for a sheep!) enjoys standing  on her hind legs, like this:

Mary the Sheep, doing her thing, at Plas Cadnant Hidden Gardens!

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