Wednesday, 2 November 2016



Do you know when the Reading Challenge certificates will be given to / handed out in schools. My son asks me every day when he will be getting his!

Many thanks

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Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Holiday work

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Wednesday, 15 May 2013

Verdi Requiem: the Guernsey Choral and Orchestral Society and the Evangelische Kantorei Biberach

On Saturday 11 May St. James Concert Hall shook as 130 singers and orchestral players from the Guernsey Choral and Orchestral Society and the Evangelische Kantorei Biberach unleashed the power and glory of Giuseppe Verdi’s Requiem. The visit by the Biberach singers was organised by the Friends of Biberach Society, to mark the bond of friendship and spirit of reconciliation that has grown between our two communities. 

Described by one critic as an ‘opera in disguise’ Verdi’s Requiem is perhaps best known for the Dies Irae, a sonically awe-inspiring imagining of the day of judgement, which is a thrumming reactor at the heart of the piece; wormwood that colours the work as a whole.  From the tight, poised opening of the Requiem and Kyrie Eleison to the final intonations of the Libera Me a sense of tension wove throughout the piece.

This is not to suggest unrelenting gloom, though.  We were treated to beautifully simple and captivating singing in movements such as the Agnus Dei, when the choir sang as a single entity in unison.  At other moments orchestral music joyously sprang forth, playfully echoing fairground carousels in the Sanctus.

Given the short time the two choirs have been rehearsing together their performance as a single unit was particularly impressive, perhaps best demonstrated in the equally tricky unison and fugue passages of the Libera Me. The relationship between choir and conductor, Helen Grand, reached beyond a mere recitation of the written notes and delivered a skilful interpretation of the work, where deft shifting of tempo gave character and purpose to the music.

The four guest soloists added an operatic flavour to the piece.  Soprano Alison Roddy’s voice crackled with Italian emotion, delivering entrancing sostenuto notes in the Libera Me, while tenor and bass soloists Stephen Aviss and Lancelot Nomura both gave powerful, assured performances.  Mezzo Soprano Kassandra Dimopoulou was genuinely exciting to watch, as she shifted from terrifying fury in the Dies Irae, to transcendental composure in the Lux aeterna.

The orchestra played a fundamental role in the performance, from the trumpeters hidden in the gallery, ready to pronounce the day of judgement, to the percussionists, intensely concentrating to ensure judgement didn’t arrive a beat too soon.  It was wonderful to see four bassoons on stage, their wry tones prodding the tempo forward and puncturing the operatic pomp.

Later in the summer the Guernsey Choral and Orchestral Society will travel to Biberach to join in a performance of Dvorak’s Mass in D major.  On the strength of this performance I would book flights now.

Saturday, 11 May 2013

CILIP eCopyright Executive Briefing

CILIP's eCopyright Executive Briefing on Thursday 9 May drew together a broad range of speakers to shed light on the issues surrounding copyright, both in the physical and digital domains.

Despite being a self-confessed copyright novice I was drawn to the briefing by the digital aspect, as I'm very conscious that the online services and resources we develop need to be underpinned by coherent risk management policies, including copyright.  This was therefore an opportunity for me to get an understanding of the current copyright landscape and the issues that might merit further attention.

The current UK legal situation
The following comes with the caveats that some laws may not apply to Guernsey and that I am no legal expert and am quite able to misinterpret evidence and conflate conclusions!

Two themes came through from all the speakers when discussing current UK and EU copyright legislation:  UK law is in flux as we wait for the Government to introduce new legislation following the Hargreaves Review 2011 and decisions in individual cases can have profound affects on copyright law as a whole.

Developments in law: Hargreaves and beyond
The Hargreaves review sought to develop a copyright system that would 'support growth of the UK’s increasingly intangibles intensive economy' stating that this requires:

  • an 'efficient digital copyright licensing system, where nothing is unusable because the rights owner cannot be found;
  • an approach to exceptions in copyright which encourages successful new digital technology businesses both within and beyond the creative industries;
  • a patent system capable of preventing heavy demand for patents causing serious barriers to market entry in critical technologies;
  • reliable and affordable advice for smaller companies, to enable them to thrive in the IP intensive parts of the UK economy;
  • refreshed institutional governance of the UK’s IP system which enables it to adapt organically to change in technology and markets.

Professor Charlotte Waelde gave an interesting overview of how legislation based on Hargreaves might impact on libraries.  From a public library perspective I was particularly interested in the concept of 'Extended Collective Licensing' which would enable libraries to license on behalf of rights holders who are not members - with the onus being placed on rights holders to opt out.  This could be used to operate large digitization schemes (such as rare book collections), where individual licensing could be prohibitively expensive.  As Professor Waelde stated the 'collecting society would need to:

  • show it is representative of rights holders affected by the scheme.
  • demonstrate support of its members
  • be subject to a code of conduct; governance, transparency; protection for non-member rights holders.'

  • Copyright in the courts
    Peter Wienand from Partner, Farrer & Co gave a insightful talk into how copyright is operating in the courts. Following the Infopaq International A/S v Danske Dagblades Forening 2009 case the EU courts now appear to be suggesting that 'originality and intellectual creation' are at the core of what is protected by copyright and that this could take the form just an 11 word sentence.  This is quite a shift from the English law understanding that the test of a breach of copyright was based on substantiality.  In this case copyright was found to have been breached by the news aggregating website Meltwater Group, who harvested and displayed online newspaper content to be read by a third party.

    Another case (Football Dataco Ltd v Yahoo! UK Ltd [2012] CJEU) raises issues as to who is responsible for copyright infringement, as it was found that the "person who provides facilities to enable users to download infringing material is jointly culpable" (Wienand, P.).  As became clear in the Q&A following Wienand's presentation, 'providing facilities' could be as simple as posting a link in a tweet to a infringing material.  Wienand's concluding advice was that it was necessary to take a proactive approach to copyright, be it in staff training or, as suggested by Heather Caven from the V&A a traffic light system to warn staff of potential copyright breaches when posting resources online.

    Keepers or conduits of knowledge
    Aside from the legal issues surrounding copyright there was also interesting discussion about the potential that digitization combined with copyright gives libraries to claim ownership of digital versions of physical resources that they hold.  Dr. Dafydd Tudur (Rights & Information Manager: The National Library of Wales) drew a distinction between libraries as keepers or conduits of knowledge.  The National Library of Wales has sought to place itself as a conduit of knowledge and, where possible, allows unrestricted access to and use of its digitized resources.  This policy decision was taken after a situation in which a user complained he was unable to download the digitized version of book.  Though the printed book was no-longer in copyright by digitizing the work the National Library had created a new copyright and now owned the digital version.  I paraphrase, but I think this is the gist of the matter.  This begs questions as to who owns national culture and whether libraries can really claim copyright when digitizing resources, an activity Dr. Tudur felt was little more creative than photocopying.

    Heather Caven stated that The V&A took a similar view, believing that their collection belongs to the public and want individuals to be be able to freely access and use the collection online where possible.  Heather Cavern made a persuasive argument that organisations do still benefit if they offer free access to images of materials they hold the copyright to online, in particular from;
    • increasing access to the resources
    • ensuring a wider audience for the host organisation's resources
    • building a larger network for host organisation to communicate with
    • improved PR for the host organisation

    Creative Commons
    Throughout the day the Creative Commons system was referred to as a good way for libraries to copyright resources that they produced.  As Kate Vasili (Copyright officer at Middlesex University) states, Creative Commons licences are increasingly used  and have global recognition.  Creative Commons licences certainly seem to offer a way for libraries to request acknowledge of their 'ownership' of digitized resources, while enabling users access to and use of the content.

    Seamless digital & physical services
    One theme that came across strongly during the day is that organisations need to cease treating their physical and digital services as distinct entities and instead take a holistic approach and work towards a 'seamless service' (Cavern,H.).  There are sound reasons to adopt this approach, from the customer care rationale that customers don't differentiate between the physical and digital aspects of a service, to the fact that data drawn from digital services can greatly help management take business decisions.  Libraries' Facebook and Twitter presences need to be treated and managed in the same way as a physical, in-house service.  This means that these services also need to be brought under the same copyright management systems that are applied to physical services.

    The concept of 'seamless' service could also be used to generate revenue.  While Heather Caven advocated free access to digitized resources she did emphasize that the V&A was working to generate revenue by enabling website visitors to 'click-through' to the V&A shop, to purchase copies of the digitized resources.  

    Developing policy and practice
    What next?  Much hinges on the form the new UK copyright framework takes later this year and the extent to which it impacts on Guernsey.  In the immediate future I intend to have a careful look through Dr. Jane Secker's (Copyright & Digital Literacy Advisor: LSE) Short Guide to Copyright for LSE Staff to see what could be usefully included in our own staff training.  In the longer term I feel there are questions to be resolved as to what level of training different roles need in order to pro-actively manage a copyright system and whether a designated member of staff is required to monitor changes to copyright law and co-ordinate training.  As Suzanne Hardy (Senior Advisor: Newcastle University) pointed out, 'courage is knowing what not to fear'.

    Friday, 21 December 2012

    Guernsey cost of living

    Oxford Economics states that Guernsey is an affluent society. The 2010 median wage of £27,400 is 29% above the comparable UK figure.[1]

    Lower quartile
    Upper quartile
    Guernsey (£)
    UK (£)
    Spread (%)

    Chart 6: Wages spread, Guernsey and UK.  Oxford Economics (2012: p12)

    The figures in Chart 6 need to be set against the increased cost of living in Guernsey.  Loughborough University (2011) developed a ‘minimum income standard’ for Guernsey and found that the minimum requirement exceeds its UK equivalent by some 20-30% for working-age households and by over 40% for pensioners.

    While this increased cost of living may be accommodated more readily by those individuals in the median and upper pay quartiles, those in the lower quartile, or not in the work force at all, may find themselves in a more difficult financial position than their UK counterparts.

    [1] Oxford Economics (2012:p11).

    Monday, 25 July 2011

    The Impact of Social Media on Library Services (Part 1: Challenges)

    The Committee of Inquiry into the Changing Learner Experience 2009 defined ’social media’ as;

    “technologies that enable communication, collaboration, participation and sharing”
    Schulz, N. (2010: Unit 4, p141)

    This suggests that social media technologies have the potential to fundamentally alter how individuals interact..  If we accept the premise that social media is changing the way individuals interact, it follows that these technologies also have an impact on LIS, as LIS are part of the society they operate in.  The question of how social media impacts on LIS is best addressed by looking at the social functions the above quote suggests the new technologies enable.

    Communication is perhaps the most obvious area where social media has had significant social impact.  From the uprisings of the Arab Spring, the Twitter based challenges to the English legal system or customer led revolts against banks, social media tools such as Facebook and Twitter are often credited as catalysts for change, by providing the means for like minded individuals to ‘gather together’ and communicate their message.

    Aside from political campaigns, social media has also given readers a new way to discussed books and other cultural resources.  Websites, such as, act as an online forum for readers to post book reviews and comments.  While such functions are positive ‘reader development’ activities, they are notably in that they offer a source of guidance and discussion completely (barring the name) unrelated to libraries.  

    The threat to LIS reaches a new level with the Amazon Kindle, where a form of closed feedback loop exists between the consumer and content provider, as books can be recommended, downloaded, read and discussed via social media websites using a single device that arguably immerses the user in a virtual experience.

    While Facebook and Twitter do involve collaboration amongst their users, the best examples of collaborative social media tools are social book marking sites and wikis.  Websites such as allow users to tag and share bookmarked web pages to aid future search and retrieval.  Vander Wal, T. suggests that the tagging of bookmarks creates a folksonomy, in which;

    “...the people are not so much categorizing as providing a means to connect items and to provide their meaning in their own understanding.”
    ((Vander Wal, T., 2005). Anderson 2007:p17))

    Vander Wal considers folksonomies to be of greater value than taxonomies because ‘groups of people with a similar vocabulary can function as a kind of 'human filter' for each other’. This raises the question of how LIS, that derive their 'power' from intellectual authority, will survive in an era in which "news is more of a ‘conversation’.

    The challenge social media presents to the library’s role as the arbiter of intellectual authority is perhaps best represented by Wikipedia.  Describing itself as “the free encyclopedia that anyone can edit” Wikipedia provokes a broad range of reactions from LIS professional.  Badke, W. states that Wikipedia has often been described by fellow academics as;

    “...shallow, unreliable, sometimes slanderous, and too often dead wrong.”
    Badke, W. (2008)

    But, as Badke demonstrates, the constant revision of Wikipedia’s entries by its users gives the website a currency that cannot be achieved by similar print resources, whilst also helping to ensure mistakes on the website are quickly corrected.

    The social media function of ‘sharing’ has the potential to have a profound effect on LIS as more resources become available electronically.  

    "In the world of paper the judgment of quality is bound to economic decisions, to publish or to include in a library collection.  On the net the reduced cost of publishing unties this relationship and allows such decisions to be decoupled from publishing."  
    Barry, T. (1996).

    Whilst this is a fantastic opportunity for LIS, it needs to be balanced against user expectations, who now expect to be able to immediately access the resources they need.  Services like Google Books have the potential to satisfy the user’s desire for immediate access.  While a service like Google Books may stretch the definition of ‘social media’, it can only be a matter of time before a ‘Spotify for books’ is launched, replete with the social media technology that enables users to discuss and recommend resources to their peers.  While illegal file sharing is already having a significant impact on publishers, LIS need to ask what impact a free and legal online e-book sharing service would have on their own businesses.  

    All the preceding social functions depend on participation.  For this to be possible LIS websites need to enable users to post comments and media online.  This is the final challenge social media poses to LIS and is an appropriate point for us to look at how LIS websites have developed to respond to the challenges of free flowing communication within virtual communities, the shift of intellectual authority from the Librarian to the users and the desire for immediate access to current information and resources.

    Many public libraries have established Facebook and Twitter accounts in an effort to use the websites as marketing and promotion tools.  The setting up of these accounts has proved a challenge for many public libraries, needing careful consideration of brand image and staff training in copyright, data protection and child protection law.

    While there is a growing amount of information available on how to use micro-blogging services as marketing tools there seems to be little research available as to how effective these new resources are.  Whether tweets or posts translate into actual action on the part of our ‘friends’ and followers is debatable.  

    Blogs are perhaps a more substantive way for LIS to build a relationship with their users.  Your Library - Edinburgh is a good example of how an LIS blog can be used to combine text, video and pictures to present information about LIS resources to users in a dynamic and responsive way.  

    LIS do need to be aware, though, that the management of blogging tools and video/photo sharing websites requires significant time and staff training, including an awareness of the issues surrounding moderation issues.  Decisions need to be made at the very start of any blogging process as to who will be moderating user posts, whether posts will be pre, post or reactively moderated and how often new posts will be checked.

    The aspects of social media detailed above pose considerable challenges to the traditional functions of Library and Information Services, but within these challenges there are also valuable opportunities for LIS to develop.

    Coming soon...The Impact of Social Media on Library Services (Part 2: Opportunities)

    Friday, 22 July 2011

    The Impact of Social Media on Library Services (Part 2: Opportunities)

    The challenge posed by social media in the shift of intellectual arbitration from the Librarian to the users requires Librarians to become more flexible in how they present information. Wigell-Rynanen, B. states that;

    “Libraries are expected to mediate relevant information and knowledge and to create quality online services in a constantly growing flood of web-contents of extremely varying quality.”
    Wigell-Rynanen, B.

    Hirst, T. suggests that by taking on the role of take on a role of an “influential friends” in a particular topic area, Librarians could reestablish their role as subject librarians;

    “if librarians become Facebook friends of their patrons, and start ‘Liking’ high quality resources they find on the web, might they start influencing the results that are presented to their patrons on particular searches?”Hirst, T. (27.10.10)

    This can be seen in practice by the large number of Library Services (LIS) that have Delicious accounts. As Bradley, P notes;

    “The information professional then begins to play the part of a filter for their users, by locating and highlighting the best material they can find.”
    Bradley, P (2008: p90).

    Before embarking on time-consuming folksonomy exercises LIS need to evaluate the risk of websites like Delicious ceasing to exist. When the future of Delicious was called into question in early 2011 it appears a lot of LIS ceased to update their bookmarks and there are a noticeable lack of LIS websites now featuring tag clouds.

    A more sustainable approach may be for LIS to post articles on Wikipedia and edit existing entries. Wikipedia allows LIS to draw down from their collections, whilst also contributing to the development of the site. Whilst it may seem odd that in doing this the Librarian is developing a website external to their own, through their efforts the Librarian can leverage Wikipedia’s users back to the LIS site, through embedded links and citations in the content that they post.

    Sunderland Public Libraries make particularly effective use of social media with the Their Past Your Future project. Drawing together pictures from the Library’s Flickr site, historical information and survivors’ stories the Library has created a Google Map ‘mash-up’ to illustrate the bomb damage inflicted on Sunderland during World War II. The resulting mash-up is a creative way to use social media to increase access to the Library’s resources, whilst also enabling users to comment and add to the project.

    In response to the growing user demand for immediate access to current information and resources some LIS have started to provide down-loadable and streaming digital resources. The New York Public E- Library is a good example of how a LIS can combine digital resources with social media. Users are easily able to share information on resources via Facebook and Twitter, whilst rating posting in the LIS site.

    It is important for LIS to recognise that file compatibility issues still need to be addressed by the suppliers of digital resources. For example, ebooks supplied by OverDrive won’t work on the Amazon Kindle. Major copyright issues also surround LIS use of digital media and it is also worth noting that LIS tend to subscribe to packages of digital media, rather than own the media outright. This could have a significant impact on any LIS attempting to grow a ‘long-tail’ on its catalogue.

    While all these issues are tangential to social media, the credibility of the LIS within social media communities rests on their ability to provide a consistent service. Care therefore needs to be taken before embedding social media within new and potentially unstable resources.

    A less controversial and more direct application of social media to the issue of access is the use of Instant Messaging systems (IM), such as Yahoo! Messenger#, to operate virtual enquiry desks. Bradley, P. points out that IM services, like that offered by Flint Public Library establish a constant presence on the user’s computer or mobile Internet device. As Bradley also points out, though, the use of IM is a real cultural challenge for LIS and requires a reasonable level of confidence amongst staff in effectively using the technology.

    The advent of social media technology has had a significant impact on public LIS ability to achieve their core, social, business goals. Levitt, T states that;
    “The purpose of a business is to create and keep customers.”
    Kennedy, C (1991: p143)

    If we take this to be the primary goal of all public LIS it seems reasonable to suggest that social media hasn’t changed the goal of LIS websites, in so far as they support LIS overarching aims. Social media has, however, dramatically enhanced the effectiveness of LIS websites in achieving this goal by changing the content and structure of the websites.

    The change social media has enable in LIS content can clearly be seen by using The Internet Archive - Wayback Machine on my own Library’s website. The original website in January 2000 was composed mainly of read-only text, which focused on telling users what they could get from the Library. Despite a major redesign in 2003 the emphasis was still on ‘push marketing’, the LIS telling the user what they thought they needed to know. In 2005 a discussion forum and blog were introduced, which started a change in the LIS’s relationship with its on-line users, to one of two-way communication and discussion.

    As our original definition of ‘social media’ implied, social media is fundamentally about building and developing online communities and relationships. Social media has enabled LIS to create ways for users to develop a relationship with their libraries, making it possible for LIS to engage users in a more complete experience when they visit the website, which in turn supports the fundamental goal of creating and keeping customers.

    Just as the content of public library websites has become more flexible and dynamic, the structure of many LIS sites has also changed to accommodate social media. As sites like Your Library - Edinburgh demonstrate content is now pulled in and moved around the site in response to user needs. While core service information is still organised hierarchically on many site, there is an increasing move to break the hierarchy and ‘surface information’ to the Home Page when appropriate. Indeed, it is necessary to ask where the boundaries of LIS websites now lie, as Librarians contribute to external sites like Wikipedia and LIS Facebook Pages, Twitter feeds and Youtube channels blur the concept of a central, distinct LIS website.

    While the technological development of social media has undermined public LIS's role as arbiters of information, it has also opened opportunities for libraries to develop deeper and more fruitful social relationship with their users. Whilst the development of social media on LIS websites could be cynically interpreted as a technological move to remain relevant, it could also be seen as a positive social move to develop a service that communicates more effectively with its users. As Charnigo, L. & Barnett-Ellis, P. conclude;

    “What role the library will serve in these environments might largely depend on whether librarians are proactive and experi¬mental with this type of technology or whether they simply dismiss it as pure recreation.”
    Charnigo, L. & Barnett-Ellis, P. (01.03.07)