Sunday, 5 July 2020

Lockdown Libraries: stories from the Home Office

We were very lucky to be joined by four speakers from the Cambridge University Libraries network to tell us all about what they have been doing whilst working from home and about the different changes they have had to put in place to their working practices. 

First up we heard from Kate Faulkner from the Squire Law Library, who talked us through the different ways that she has been supporting the Law students. Kate has spent much of her time tracking down scans for the students. She told us about how we are very spoilt in Cambridge in terms of the resources that are available to us, so having to find alternatives was interesting. 

Kate told us how a lot of the readings they had were available on Moodle, so she spent a lot of time making a definitive list of what was available. The Squire also co-operated with academics and other libraries and made use of the Copyright Licensing Agency's Digital Content Store. Many texts also became available on the ebook packages that were temporarily opened up by publishers so navigating through those became a new skill.

The old and new "normal" - Kate Faulkner

Next we heard from Helen Snelling, from the Pendlebery Library of Music. Helen talked us through the work that she has been doing on Leganto (reading list software used by Cambridge Libraries). She told us how she first of all had to find out how to use Leganto, which meant having to find the right information and a Yammer group set up for Librarians in Cambridge helped to do so, you could get answers from others who were already using Leganto. However, there were times where they had to have music specific instructions for adding audio recordings. 

Helen also told us how they were very fortunate to have two other members of staff from Cambridge Libraries help but this also meant that Reading Lists had to be copied to word documents as getting access to Moodle was not possible. 

We also found out that Helen has been judging the BBC's 500 Words competition for Children and has been doing so for the last 9 years and told us how this years topic was "Coronavirus" so it was very interesting to hear all the children's stories. There is also a new 500 words: Black Lives Matter competition. 

500 Words - Helen Snelling

Finally we heard from Eleanor Barker and Veronica Phillips from the Medical Library. They told us about how they have both had to leap into online training very quickly since the shift to working from home. They both already do a lot of teaching and training in their roles, so this element was not new to them, but having to shift this to move online meant having to make some changes to the way they worked. 

They told us how they are now delivering sessions via Zoom or Google Meet, where attendees book in advance and get sent a joining link. They then use online software such as Padlet or Mentimeter for quizzes and polling, to emulate the same level of interactions you would get in face to face training. 

Top tips and reflections - Eleanor Barker and Veronica Phillips 

We were very fortunate for our speakers to take time to talk to us all about what they have been up to and there was certainly a lot to takeaway and think about. 

Write up by Katherine Burchell, Social Media Editor

Saturday, 30 May 2020

Becky Scott - Leaving the silo behind: A needs-must transformation for a Library Service in a new hospital with no library space

Not only did Cambridge Library Group hold its first ever lunch time session on Wednesday 20 May, but it was also its first ever Webex talk with Q and A! It was fascinating to hear how Becky had taken up the post of Library and Knowledge Services Manager at the Royal Papworth Hospital specifically to organise the move of its Library Service. When the Hospital closed at Papworth Everard in May 2019 it opened on a new site on the Cambridge Bio Medical Campus. Since there was no room for a physical library within the hospital building Becky moved her team onto the Clinical Admin floor with little more than one Library desk, a Returns bin and a trolley.

Becky organized various services with innovation and flair: a Click and Collect lending service (600 core volumes on site in store and 1200 volumes off site); an Inter Library Loan service through the consortium with other NHS Libraries; online literature searches. The benefits of a flexible service not tied to opening hours nor a particular space have been realised by team members who embrace change. Whilst there have understandably been challenges along the way, new services have sprung up from the recent move e.g. an audiobook project for patients organized with the public library. In addition, one of the team is based in the Pharmacy, carrying out literature searches for consultants wanting to prescribe new drugs.

It is impossible to relate all the various details of this interesting talk. Topics covered included the change in VAT on e-resources, the realisation that libraries are not all virtual (despite the thinking 10 years ago) and the serious lack of funding.

Many thanks to Becky for this wonderful talk which shone a light on flexible working, so appropriate during these days of lockdown!

Janet Syme

(Simon Balle All-through School, Hertford)

Wednesday, 20 May 2020

Sarah Elsegood - Managing Learning and Development in ARU Library - a Learning Organisation.

We were very fortunate that we were still able to go ahead with our May talk, and very grateful to Sarah for being so willing for it be moved online. Sarah joined us to talk about how she manages Learning and Development at ARU. ARU is a post 1992 institution with 3 campuses across Cambridge, Peterborough and Chelmsford.


In 2008 ARU created a dedicated senior library post of Learning and Development manager. Following retirement of the postholder in 2016, ARU Library needed to be agile in managing L&D and work was initially shared between two managers in addition to their substantive roles. Sarah now leads on L&D, supported by a Learning and Development team, in addition to working as an Academic Services Manager. Sarah told us how “staff are encouraged to take part in the shadowing programme to gain experience of other areas of work, including a Back to the Floor exercise where senior managers shadow the service points”. I thought this was really interesting that all levels of staff were encouraging to go and see first-hand the service and what their colleagues are doing on a day to day basis.


Sarah then led us into an interactive discussion where we broke out in to “breakout rooms” in Zoom and we were randomly assigned a few other people to our group. During the group discussion we were asked to discuss the following points:

  1. We learn every day
  2. We share our learning
  3. We provide the right environment and tools for staff to develop
  4. Learning is designed to enable our customers to meet their needs (and us to exceed their expectations)

It was really interesting to discuss these points with other colleagues in relation to our workplace. Some of the most common things we discussed where how it can be difficult to learn everyday if you’re an administrator or if you’re running the front of a service. However, in Cambridge we are very fortunate that there are a number of PPD opportunities available to us as staff.


The rest of the talk saw Sarah telling us all about the different types of activities that ARU library staff can get involved in, from learning hours, summer visits to a shadowing program. During the learning hour staff from any grade are encouraged to present on a variety of different themes.


I certainly learnt a lot about the different learning opportunities that are available to ARU staff and it made me think about how it would be interesting if we had learning hours within Cambridge University Libraries.


Thank you Sarah for taking the time to run this session online for us!





Sunday, 8 March 2020

Sue Williamson - The role of Arts Council England and Public Libraries

The Role of Arts Council England and Public Libraries
Sue gave a fascinating and detailed presentation on how the Arts Council England works to support Public Libraries and gave indications on the future of Public Libraries sending us away with the thought that great libraries build communities.  She tweets as @librarychampion.
We heard about some of the projects that the Arts Council funds : Libraries Connected (was the Society of Chief Librarians), cultural activity through the National Portfolio (but note core activities are the responsibility of local authorities), staff development, Business & Intellectual Property Centres  supporting small and medium business enterprises. After three years 90% of businesses are still functioning.
Funding comes through Grant in Aid and National Lottery money and there is partnership with agencies such as Carnegie UK, Welcome Trust, Wolfson Foundation, Public Health England and the BBC (Sue gave the example of the Virtual Reality headsets).
Notable successes have been the publication of Libraries Deliver in 2016, and the provision of wifi in every library.
Sue then looked at opportunities and challenges 2018-2022 including : the revision of the four universal offers to comprise reading; Information and Digital; Health and Well Being; Culture and Creativity all underpinned by learning, a programme transforming leadership and Libraries apprenticeship.
Public satisfaction with libraries is high, Bradford is investing money from the public health budget and new business models are emerging such as partnerships across Local Authorities (ie SPINE). Libraries are cultural hubs, examples given included Arts in Libraries, GiLiL – get it loud in libraries, which encourages gigs. There are national projects – a long running one being the Summer Reader Scheme and research is planned to back up anecdotal evidence on advanced reading levels over the summer break. This year #letscreate launched a ten year strategy with opportunities to get creative
This talk counteracted the doom which sometimes surrounds public libraries and gave a real sense of hope for the future. Thank you Sue.
Post contributed by Suzan Griffiths, Churchill College.

Thursday, 14 November 2019

James Parish - Fictional characters and the law of copyright

After a short plug from the Cambridge University Libraries Copyright Group, James Parish, a PhD researcher in the Cambridge law department, gave us a fascinating talk regarding whether copyright could apply to fictional characters.

James Parish - PhD Researcher

James Parish is a Solicitor of England & Wales; Teaching Fellow of Intellectual Property Law, King's College London; and PhD Candidate, St Edmunds College (University of Cambridge). His thesis probes the jurisprudence of Copyright Exceptions and Limitations, but as his early career was spent in the film industry. But when talking to a group of librarians, he decided to add a literary element!

James explained to us that copyright law only protects the author’s expression of a work (ie creative choice that the author makes when selecting and arranging the words on a page). Copyright does not protect the underlying ideas of the work. The distinction between expression and ideas is a little tricky, yet the courts have generally accepted that the plot of a book is more than a mere idea and the plot can therefore be protected by copyright as part of the author’s expression. But what about another key element of literary works? Could copyright infringement be claimed on characters themselves separate to the plot of a book?

James took us through the arguments from several interesting legal disputes in the UK, Europe and the USA. (For those that would like to read more I have hyperlinked to some commentary):

· Da Vinci Code case (UK) – ideas from history can be freely used for the basis of new characters.
· Pippi Longstocking case (Germany) – a supermarket selling a Pippi costume.
· Wind Done Gone case (USA) - a parody of Gone with the Wind written from a slave’s perspective and thus using the plot and characters of the original work.
· Sherlock Holmes case (USA) - dispute arising over licensing fees as Conan Doyle’s earlier books were out of US copyright but the later ones weren’t.
· Dalek book case (UK) - regarding whether copyright to the Daleks belonged to Terry Nation and the original TV show or the more recently published books.

In discussing these cases James highlighted the difference between UK copyright exceptions (known as fair dealing) and the more wider “fair use” system in the US. He quoted from various judgments and pointed out that the more fully developed a character becomes the more likely copyright could be attached.

James finished off the talk highlighting that a lot of new popular fan fiction could be infringing and this could become a problem for the new authors – particularly as their hobbies become more commercial. During the question and answer session he also considered whether copyright restrictions could stifle creativity in, for example, a creative writing class and whether occasionally publishers panic and make unnecessary changes in order to avoid any threat of copyright infringement claims.

Post contributed by Kate Faulkner, Legal Research Librarian, Squire Law Library

Sunday, 20 October 2019

Mary Burgess - Local History Talk

On the 16th of October we held our AGM and October event at Cambridge Central Library hosted by Mary Burgess of the Cambridgeshire Collection. After refreshments and the necessary business, Mary took us down East Road in photographs and maps, showing how the area has changed dramatically in the last 60 years. As three generation of her family had studied at the former technical college, now Anglia Ruskin University, her illustrations were brough further to life with the anecdotes she had heard about the various pubs and shops which once filled the area.

The controversial demolition of much of the area known as the Kite, to develop the Grafton Centre in the 1980s alrered East Road Significantly, but more recently Anglia Ruskin has been behind major changes, with offices and ever increasing amounts of student accomodation replacing older buildings. All the audience, whether new to Cambridge or long standing residents, found the pictures of what used to be thre fascinating. There were far more small business, industries and pubs, in the area in the past, serving a greater permanent population. The resources of the Cambridgshire Collection, both photographic and print, especially old newspapers, are a fascinating source of interesting and amusing information about the places we take for granted and walk past today.

As well as the talk, based on her recently published book, we had a display of material relating to library history in Cambridge, including records of the Cambridge Library Group from the 1960s. It was interesting to see some familiar names in the attendance book, many of whom were known to people, some of whom are still members fifty years on. I hadn't realised the group had started that early. The pohotographs of the first branch of the public library, on East Road, caused considerable amusement, as it was basically a windowless shed, but served as a reading room from 1875 until closing in 1955.

Thank you to Sarah Preston for this write up.

John Corr: Reviewing books

On the 26th of September we kicked off our 2019-20 programme with John Corr talking about his experience of reviewing books, what got him into it and the people he has interviewed.

John was born in a small mining village in Durham and he had been encourgaed to read from a young age and therefore had become quite fluent before he even started school. He went to his village library, which was actually a church hall with trestle tables covered in books. It was here that he devoured everything that he could. After taking a job as a trainee sales projection engineer and not enjoying it, John decided to join the Merchant Navy.

It was when John was in the Army that he got involved in reviewing books, for a Soldier Magazine and most recently John has been reviewing books for military themed website, Army Rumour Service, which revels in the acronym ARRSE! John told us about some of the different books that he has had the pleasure to review, such as books on military history and politics. He was even asked to review Fifty Shades of Grey and turned it down because it was absolutely awful!

John has also been able to have to the chance to attend book festivals and interview some famous faces. He told us how he has interviewed Boris Johnson and Andy McNabb to name a few. He told us how he was inspired by something Andy said:

"No matter how poor your start in life, you can make something of yourself" - Andy McNabb

John went on to tell us how he reviews around 3 to 4 books a week and he doesn't watch TV as he spends a lot of his time reading books. He has two kindles and keeps one in the living room and one in the bedroom. He can always be found reading a book. 

We were absolutely delighted and extremely interested to have John speak to the Cambridge Library Group and we do hope he will be happy to come back and speak for us again.