A Fine Example of Information Work.

Sometimes one comes upon a website which is so awful that you
wonder just what use it might be to anyone.

I came upon such a website the other day.

Here are some of the highlights which are to be found upon it.

– A home page which is full of organisational abbreviations,
but which fails to explain just what they mean.

– A section of External Reports which reads
‘ Sorry, no link items are available to view at this time.’

– The Links to related organisations
Shows exactly the same message.

– The Latest Newsletter which is dated
Autumn 2007 – 10 Sep 2007

– While the section of regional news has not been properly
updated on a regular basis.

Don’t laugh too hard,
but I’m referring to the website of the
Society of Chief Librarians.

I could make a few comments upon just what this website might
teach us, but you might like to note them for yourself.

Pensions & Library Workers.

Here is The Deal.

Library & Information workers get below average incomes,
but most will get a pension after years of service.

Such pensions are based upon years of hard work on low pay,
and the below average wage which they may be receiving at
the point of retirement.

The deal being that one will put up with such low pay in
exchange for a pension that will lift one above the penury
which is the state pension.

Now some clever investors are claiming that this is an
unreasonable deal for the tax-payer.

Well you can’t have it both ways!

Either you start to pay the real economic worth of library
workers during a working life,
you pay what is not an unreasonable pension.

Though it might also be remembered that:

– All pensions are paid for over a working life time by those
who receive these pensions.


– A pension is a form of savings during ones working life, which is withdrawn in stages after one retires.

So it is not the tax-payer who is funding these pensions,
but the workers themselves.

If anything does need to be done in terms of pension reform,
then it should be the ending the spouse or partners

Such an allowance is a form of Discrimination against single

This would also release a lot of money which could be better
used to make sure that everyone who has a pension might
continue to do so,
and increase the level of pension pay-outs for all.

Enough said …….. We are not all overpaid bankers.

Books to Love & Keep – Library Books to Pulp.

Having a love for books does not mean that I don’t pulp old
books from time to time.

This happens in all public libraries,
and I do it with some of my own outdated books too.

I recently commented upon just why this is something
that needs to be done.

Here is a summary of just why library books get pulped :

– There is a major difference between a lending or reference
library, and an archive.

– Libraries are not archives.

– Any outdated medical or legal book will provide dangerous

– Technologies change.

– New editions get published.

– Our thinking upon various issues,
such as works of art,
changes over the years.

– We constantly discover more and more about the world
about us.


– Libraries are places in which people find books to educate

To sum this all up:

– People want to be able to access what is the best current
information upon any subject,
as opposed to looking a dangerously outdated data or ideas.

– Library stock should be the very best possible in order to
achieve these various ends.

Books are not sacred objects,
but a medium via which to spread information and ideas.

If only more libraries were to explain any or all of the above,
then we wouldn’t get such a bad press every time that a book is
withdrawn from stock.

This needs to be said – time & time & time again.

Libraries on the Madrid Metro.

One of the most interesting things I discovered upon my recent visit to Madrid is Bibliometro.

Bibliometro is a project in which Library kiosks are to be found within 12 of the Madrid metro stations.

There are not many books which are held within these library kiosks, but you can order and return library books at these outlets while on your way to or return from work.

By all accounts this is a project which was first developed within Chile.

It is an interesting project which might be well worth developing within many other parts of the world.

A Word to Librarians Upon Stock Revision – Jobs.

Walk into any public library of late and you might of noticed
just which books are coming off the shelves the fastest rate.

These are:
-career guides,
– books upon how to write a good curriculum vitae,
– Upon just how one would work for oneself.

These are the new best sellers.

What I am also noticing is that there are a lot more people
asking about vacancies within libraries, or for newspapers
and periodicals in which jobs are advertised.

All this is just a reflection of just how high the level of
unemployment has become.

Many of the new unemployed are not inarticulate,
but highly skilled, and highly educated individuals.

Yet almost all of the help which is available to the
unemployed still makes the presumption that they all have low
skill level, or that all they need is a little retraining in order
to find some employment.

Continue reading A Word to Librarians Upon Stock Revision – Jobs.

A Title by the Spine.

It’s not just ‘dumbing down’ or lack of knowledge which
sometimes causes books to be misfiled within our libraries.

I recently came upon a cd album of the pop band Japan,
‘The Best of Japan’, which was shelved under World music.

These of us who work in the library world know about many
novels which have the name of a character as the title work,
and that have been found on the shelves under the surname of
the title, rather than under that of the author.

I have even a book filed under the publisher name:
the publishes name was on the book spine in a much larger type
face than that of the author.

These things can and do just happen from time to time.

What concerns me more is the way in which library books now
come from the suppliers already catalogued,
and with the class number already placed upon the spine.

Continue reading A Title by the Spine.

Maids, Grooms, Footmen, and Library History.

Putney Library opened to the public in 1899.

The building was the gift of the publisher Sir George

A bust of him was placed in the long corridor to the building
during the 1920s.

When the library first opened it listed its members by their

Maids, Grooms, Footmen, Butlers, Draper, Ladies and

A practice which has long gone out of use.

These membership records were written upon ledgers,
which were kept within the Librarians Office,
and stored there for many years after they had became

You could made an interesting historical class analysis by
just going through these ledgers.

During World War Two the basement of the building was
used as an ARP ( Air Raid Patrol ) centre.
This space was later used to store items for the
Wandsworth museum.

I worked in Putney Library from 1973 to 1987.

When I first worked in the library it still had its original
wood book cases, and a wonderful grandfather clock in
the hall.

Roy Plomley of ‘Desert Island Discs’ fame would use the
Music Library in his research work for his broadcasts.
He also liked to see old French films, and I would sometimes
bump into him at the National Film Theatre.

Another Putney library user was the Tribune cartoonist
George Gale.

A former Labour minister, Lord Jenkins of Putney, was yet
another library user.

I give the above facts as an example of the joy of Library

We all use & work within public libraries, and very rarely
think about just how they have been used over the years.

Yet just you look at this kind of history, & you will find a
fascinating part of all our social heritage.

James Duff Brown (1862-1914)

Very few people might ever of heard of James Duff Brown ,
but his impact upon just how we use public libraries is

Brown worked as a librarian in Camberwell before he
became the first Borough librarian for Islington.

His great innovation was to introduce ‘open access’ within
public libraries.

Previous to that ‘closed access’ meant that one had to
browse the library catalogue, and complete a form in order
for one of the library staff to fetch the book out from the

Brown wrote upon various aspects of librarianship.

His Publications include:

A manual of practical bibliography.

Subject Classification.


British Musical Biography: A Dictionary of Musical Artists,
Authors, and Composers Born in Britain and Its Colonies.

Anyone who is interested in library history or library
cataloguing should find out more about his work.

Scaffolding and Library Lists.

Library and Information work is not just about being able to
provide information.

Neither is it just about how to use book content pages,
indices, or being able to update loose leaf binder files.

It is also about being able to interpret some of the

– Telephone area codes.

– Post Office sort Codes, or Zip codes.

– Dewey Classification numbers.


– ISBN & ISSN Numbers.

Of course there are a lot of other codes or information
systems which one may be asked about during the course of
a typical Library working day.

Continue reading Scaffolding and Library Lists.

The Maths of Library Poverty.

The Joseph Rowntree Foundation estimates that single
people in Britain need a pre-tax income of £13,400 a year
before the cost of rents are added on to this amount.

Taking in to account that most rents Start at between £140
& £160 a week, then that is an add on of between £7,280 &
£8320 a year.

This means that we are talking of between £20,680 &
£21,720 a year.

The average salary for most library workers is circa
£4,000-£6,000 BELOW that amount.

All of which illustrates both why Library Workers should
be better paid,
Just why Library Workers need to gain a Key Worker status.