Wednesday, 5 May 2021

CLG March Talk: Copyright, Plagiarism and all that Jazz – Margaret Jones

Our March online talk for the Cambridge Library Group was given by Margaret Jones, Music Collections Supervisor, Cambridge University Library, who impressed all of us with her amazing grasp of the intricacies of music copyright. All the examples were based on real life enquiries received by the Music Department of the UL, and if you thought copyright for books was complicated enough…read on!

She explained a Performing Rights Return (PRR) – showing an example of a scruffy piece of paper which was the Return for The Swiss Family Robinson – a Walt Disney film made in the 1950s. This shows the film cues during which the music was played, details of the composer or arranger (or both), the company responsible for production, how many seconds of music was used for each section of the film, and the percentage of rights money that the composer will accrue. Although now this is all done electronically, the PRR remains the way the film company work out who they owe the money to, and the way that Rights organisations distribute payments for the composer’s work.

In the UK, the PRS (Performing Rights Society) and the MCPS (Mechanical Copyright Protection Society) collect money on behalf of the composer and performers for everything from adverts and variety shows to major blockbuster films or BBC costume dramas. This is one of the vital links between copyright and composers earnings.

In the UK, Fair Use (an exception to use copyright material for education purposes) being generally accepted that users can copy up to 5% of a volume, is not applied to music in the same way. Every musical work is copyrighted separately, so an anthology of Beatles songs for example or a hymnal, each song has its own copyright and so cannot be copied.

Margaret’s talk then expanded to give examples from West Side Story, Purcell’s Rondeau and Benjamin Britten’s Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra, and investigated the links between a Clementi sonata, Wayne Fontana and the Mindbenders and A Groovy Kind of Love, which was fascinating in its detail.

The talk concluded with a look at the Higher Education Music Licence which is being trialled this year by the University of Cambridge, and allows enhanced copying for students registered on performance-based music courses.

Post contributed by Helen Snelling, CLG Membership Secretary and Pendlebury Librarian.

Saturday, 27 February 2021

Being a School Librarian - post contributed by Denise Lawrence

Being a School Librarian – What is it like? A presentation by Janet Syme MA MCLIP

by Librarian, Simon Balle All-through School

A Cambridge Library Group Zoom Event held on Wednesday 10th February 2021

I have only recently joined the Cambridge Library Group, so I was delighted to attend the recent Zoom presentation which Janet Syme recently gave to CLG members. Janet and I have been friends and fellow school Librarians for many years, and I have visited her Library on several occasions, so I was very much looking forward to her presentation.

Janet began by taking us through her career in Libraries, starting with her work as a SCONUL Trainee at the Bodleian Library Oxford, then on to UCL where she achieved her MA, after which she became a Rare Book Cataloguer at Founder’s Library at the Fitzwilliam Museum, University of Cambridge. From there, Janet became Assistant Librarian at the Department of Trade and Industry, being seconded to the Department of National Heritage (now DCMS). All of this varied experience of the world of Librarianship would have been excellent preparation for the challenges and changes of becoming a School Librarian at Simon Balle All-through School in Hertford, where Janet has been Librarian for the past 18 years.

Janet has seen and been involved in many changes over the years at Simon Balle. From a secondary school, Simon Balle developed into an all-through school, welcoming the first intake of 60 Reception pupils in September 2015. Previously the Library was extensively re-modelled in 2010, and the primary phase Larch Library was opened in the new primary building a few years ago. Janet was now in charge of two libraries in two different buildings on the same site. As more primary classes are welcomed each year, by September 2021 there will be two Libraries serving the needs of 420 primary pupils, 1150 secondary students from Reception to 6th Form and a staff of 200.

So what does this entail? As Librarian, Janet works 28 hours per week and is assisted by Mr Kevin Belsey when his duties as Cover Supervisor allow. She is supported by parent helpers, 10 Year 5 Larch Librarians in primary and a team of Student Librarians and Sixth Form Library Supervisors in the secondary Library. Janet runs Library sessions including storytime for Reception children and Library lessons for six Year 7 classes each week. The school uses the Accelerated Reader programme where students take online tests to determine their reading age and take an online quiz after finishing each book to assess their reading comprehension. The AR programme is designed to improve literacy and produces detailed statistical reports which please Ofsted! Janet also supports Sixth Formers undertaking the EPQ so must ensure that the Libraries support the curriculum and leisure reading needs of children from Reception to young adults in Sixth Form as well as staff.

With the English Department Janet facilitates the Lower School Book Club, the Carnegie Book Club and the school is also a testing centre for the Federation of Children’s Book Group’s annual Children’s Book Award. The Library hosts special events eg Staff Coffee and Cakes, Easter Book Reviewing, Quizzes and Speakers Corner. Janet also organizes the annual Book Festival with lots of visiting authors which is always a highly successful event in the school calendar.

Covid 19 and Lockdowns have presented many challenges to schools and Librarians. During the 1st and current 3rd Lockdown Janet worked from home, providing an e-Library using the Accessit library management system, e-Books and free resources, setting up a Click & Collect service when school returned. The new e-newsletter Off The Shelf is also proving very popular.

A very interesting event, well-presented, informative and enjoyable. Thank you, Janet!

Account by

Denise Lawrence MCLIP

Librarian Ridgeway Academy

School Librarianship with Janet Syme

CLG Talk 10th February 2021

CLG were fortunate enough on Wednesday 10th February to receive a talk from Janet Syme, the school librarian of Simon Balle all-through school in Hertfordshire.

Janet spoke about her diverse career which led to her becoming a school librarian, starting within academic librarianship and pivoting to school librarianship, initially as part of a jobshare before proceeding to a full-time role. Janet’s 17-year tenure at Simon Balle had seen many changes and challenges in the school infrastructure, including a major remodelling of the library, the introduction of a primary-age library, and of course the response to the COVID pandemic.

Image from Janet Syme of the Library.

As an all-through school which encompasses both primary and secondary age children, Simon Balle presents unique challenges and opportunities. Janet talked us through various initiatives which the school librarian was involved in across age groups, which included:

  • Reading with early years groups – while children used to come over to the secondary school building for ‘reading time’, there had been a transition to a weekly after-school group in which children and parents chose books – this had proved popular.
  • A reader’s programme for transition between Years 6 and 7, now starting earlier at Year 5 – this transitionary programme was facilitated by the unique all-through nature of the school.
  • The opportunity for sixth formers to become student library helpers, providing CV experience.
  • Involvement with the EPQ – a 5,000 word project and presentation for sixth formers; the school librarian assists with accessing resources.

Janet spoke about the importance of the library to the school community, providing a safe haven for many students, particularly those who find unstructured time in the school day quite difficult to deal with. The fiction section in particular was said to be extremely well used, and up to 100 students could be in the library at a break or lunchtime.

An online reading programme was described in some detail which provides 130 levels of reading, with books assigned to each level. There were some surprises – the Mr Men books are ranked about a level 5 difficulty, while Harry Potter is a 5.5, and classics tend to be level 6 and up. Although some claimed the programme can be too prescriptive, it does well in providing interactive opportunities – including an online comprehension quiz – and useful statistics to assess student attainment. The school held a competition based around this online reading programme – with diverse categories including most improved reader – and with prizes including having afternoon tea with the headteacher!

Events in the library were said to be plentiful and productive – the library had had particular success with a ‘Speaker’s Corner’ event, in which students and staff spoke for 10 minutes about a topic of their choosing and participated in a Q&A afterwards. A ‘Book Fiesta’ was also part of the school calendar, in which authors and illustrators attended the school and spoke to year groups. The aim was for every student to hear one of these talks – no small task in a school of over 1500 pupils!

Children's Library

Finally, Janet spoke about the library’s response to the pandemic. This involved a robust elibrary, a Click and Collect service, staggered lunch times, and the extended use of student librarians in lieu of parent helpers – including children helping with some straightforward shelving.

It was a pleasure to listen to Janet and hear her evident and infectious enthusiasm for the job – and multiple members expressed an interest in visiting the school and its exciting libraries once circumstances allowed. As a current academic library trainee whose traditional scheduled library visits have been put on hold due to current restrictions, I found the talk incredibly valuable in demonstrating a very different kind of librarianship, and one which might be considered in the future. Thank you to Janet for her talk.

Post contributed by Katherine Knight, Graduate Trainee, Newnham College, Cambrdge

Wednesday, 10 February 2021

How books helped us through lockdown

My name is Diane and unlike most of the bloggers I am not a librarian, but I do enjoy reading.

Image by Thomas Frisch from Pixabay 

The 21st January saw the CLG host their first meeting of 2021. The online talk was about how books had helped our three speakers through lockdown. Sarah kickstarted us off. She explained, that as she had been furloughed for 32 weeks of the year, she had read an impressive 729 books. She told us that she enjoyed re-reading old favourites, that she almost knows by heart, and crime. She went on to describe how she loves a series of novels, something I can relate to. She also read books that had been recommended to her and discovered a new series, Biggles.

Her reading allowed her access to crimes that are being republished by the British Library, focusing on novels where the guilty would be discovered and punished without the need for gore.

She told us that she had managed to read the amount that she had as has no television and most importantly has a Kindle and a linked Amazon Prime account and this enables her to download a lot of books cheaply and gives access to a plethora of material easily.

Our next speaker was Shaun. He had likened himself to various characters that had sprung from the pages of the books he read, finding comfort in the words from The Lonely City by Olivia Laing. He took us on a journey, starting with the loneliness that lockdown has brought and the excitement of freeing the imagination and allowing the mind to experience places and people that only comes with books. His books allowed him to time travel to places, that only months ago I was taking for granted, like coffee shops and having people over.

Katherine ended our trio of talks. With no particular genre to discuss she will pick up a book and give anything a go. Whilst the board gamer in me was shunning Pandemic, she started reading novels based around pandemics, namely Stephen Kings' novel Sleeping Beauties.

She found escapism in fantasy books, finding herself lost in other worlds as she could remove herself from Covid-19. She read 166 books in 2020, including Game of Thrones. She listed her Top Favourites as Great Expectations - Charles Dickens; The Book Thief, Markus Zusak; The Tenth Muse - Catherine Chung; and The Midnight Library - Matt Haig.

Following these talks I realised how much of bigger world there was to reading (so much more than Harry Potter) and not to be afraid of not liking a book.

The floor (or microphones on) was then opened and the debate over physical books vs the Kindle vs audiobooks was the first question posed. The general consensus was that physical books were brilliant, the Kindle was brilliant and audiobooks are brilliant. They each have their own place in the world of books. There is something about having a book in your hand, but a Kindle is so convenient if you are travelling, and many have a backlight allowing late-night reading. Audiobooks work well if you are using your hands to do something else or you want something to listen too. Personally, nothing will beat a physical book. There is something about the smell and feel of a book.

We discovered that many of us read in bed.

The talks were amazing, informative and the general feel was books give permission for imagination to take hold and you can discover things that films just cannot achieve. Books build characterisation and whilst it gives the bones of a person, you bring flesh to individual and the smells they smell and length of their stride. Books are an experience. All you have to do is open the cover and let it take you on a wonderous adventure.

Image by un-perfekt from Pixabay 

Post contributed by Diane Symonds (CLG Committee)

Sunday, 15 November 2020

An Interview with Cathy Moore: Director of Cambridge Literary Festival

We had a first for the Cambridge Library Group on Wednesday 11th November, with founder and director of the Cambridge Literary Festival, Cathy Moore, being interviewed via Teams by Leigh Chambers, writer and broadcaster from Cambridge 105 radio. We learned how one person's inspiration and hard work can really make a difference to their community. Cathy had worked in publishing, and then part time in bookselling while raising a family, when she wondered why a city like Cambridge didn't have a literary festival. And so, in 2003, Cambridge WordFest was born, with 24 events in a small number of venues, with friends roped in as volunteer stewards. Local author Ali Smith was involved from the first, and is now one of the patrons of the festival. 

Left to right: Ali Smith and Cathy Moore (Festival Director)

Initially there was just the Spring Festival, with a Winter one added in 2008. In 2014 it became a charity, Cambridge Literary Festival. Over the years it has gone from strength to strength, with a large number of high profile speakers, including internationally famous writers, covering literature, politics, environmental issues, poetry, history, comedy and current affairs. The venues have become numerous and larger, with some events selling out even in 450+ seat auditoriums. It has attracted not just well known names, but often provided a platform to unknowns, who have gone on to become prize winning celebrities. 

The festival is still run by a very small team of dedicated staff and a large group of volunteers. 2020 has been a challenging year, to which they have risen magnificently, and in some ways stronger than ever. The Spring Festival had been arranged, tickets sold and 20,000 brochures printed when the first Covid lockdown was announced. Obviously money was lost, but the generosity of a large number of people who donated their ticket money rather than a refund, and a fund raising campaign, and grants were received from a number of sources. During the summer, two online paid events were very successful, and reached audiences from around the world, who could not have attended a purely Cambridge-based event, and further raised the significance of the festival as an event at which to appear. 

The Winter 2020 festival beings on 18th November, and will have 38 all online events, covering a very wide range of subject areas. These have been pre-recored, rather than rusk technical difficulties occurring on the night, and have carefully paired interviewers with their subjects. Tickets can be bought for single talks, or a £25 pass allows 'attendance' at all events, which will able be available as 'catch-up' so even more people will be able to enjoy them at a time that is convenient. Some of the major names appearing this year are sculptor Maggi Hambling and best-selling children's author Jacqueline Wilson. It opens with a panel discussion of the arts in the era of Covid-19.

Jacqueline Wilson

The full programme can be found here

The future of the festival for 2021 will obviously depend on global circumstances, but it is hoped that it might be able to be a hybrid event, with a mixture of virtual and live events. 

Many thanks to Cathy Moore and Leigh Chambers for taking the time to speak to the group. 

Leigh's radio show

Write up contributed by Sarah Preston, Sidney Sussex College and Treasurer of CLG.

Photos taken from

Sunday, 25 October 2020

Claire Sewell - The Pivot to Online Training

Our second event of the 2020-21 programme, was an online talk from Claire Sewell, about the Pivot to Online Training. 

Claire spoke on how she has "pivoted" her research skills training to online versions over the lockdown period and in to the new academic year. Fortunately, she had already got lots of experience using new methods and free software to engage students but this has been bolstered by incorporating knowledge from her Postgraduate Diploma in Teaching which she has recently completed. 

Claire covered: 


These recreate the lecture formate and although they can be sneered at for being "boring", students benefit from the format because it allows them to hear the academic dialogue. 

Short videos (e.g Lumen5)

Younger generations are used to getting content through videos. Using Lumen5 you can either make them funny or serious. It can act as a trailer for further content and you can signpost to more resources. The videos will catch people who would never usually sign up to a library training session. 

Visual Resources (e.g Canva)

Visual Resources grab peoples attention. Using Canva makes your work look profession and modern, plus it is very simple to use. There are lots of templates, including infographics, presentations and social media posts that are ready sized to use. Claire gave us a demo of how to use it, and showed us the images you can find, and the way it makes the simple look brilliant. 

Podcasts (e.g Anchor)

These can be used for a different audience - people who like to multi-task and therefore cannot watch a screen. The audio can be extracted from a webinar and turned into a podcast too, but usually best to rescript and re-record!

Online Courses (e.g Sway)

Sway can be used to pull in all the above content that you've created and embed them into a sequence, with some text to become an online course. It allows the student to have a resource they can come back to and a good part of your asynchronous content. It is more engaging than one long video on a single topic. 

Claire then allowed us to vote on Menti to determine which product we wanted to see. We voted for Canva and Sway and she gave us live demos. 

Claire concluded with the points: 

  • Don't try and use too many snazzy features in one presentation.
  • Planning your students learning outcomes is still worthwhile.
  • You will need to adapt. 
One benefit of the Pivot to Online that Claire emphasised is that for each product you have to reassess and re-evaluate the content and your delivery - if we return to "normality" our presentations will forever be more inspired. 

Further information is available at her popular blog

Thank you to Kate Faulkner, Squire Law Library for contributing this blog post. 

Sunday, 4 October 2020

Sarah Elsegood - Library Anxiety

We kicked off the 2020-21 programme with a talk on Library Anxiety. Sarah Elsegood manages Learning and Development at ARU. The talk consisted of discussing what Library Anxiety is and what we can do to help students avoid or overcome it. 

Sarah started the talk by having us think about what might make us feel anxious, a visit to the doctors, an interview, or something similar. We did not have to discuss this in detail but it was useful to think these things over and have a chance to reflect on this as individuals.

Prior to the talk Sarah had us read an article by Mellon, Contance (1986), "Library Anxiety: A grounded theory and it's development". This study covered 6000 English Composition undergraduates, and analysed students' writing over a 2 year period. They had a final year project where they wrote an essay about experiences of using the library, how they felt about using the library, and then how they felt about using it now. 

It was a really interesting talk which made us all consider the ways that students may feel when they are using our libraries, and the types of things we could do to ensure these spaces. Sarah had just chatting in the chat function of Microsoft Teams about the types of things we have done in our libraries, or the things we think 

Washington State University have put together their own Libguide on Library Anxiety. Here you can see what they have done to try and put their students at ease when coming into their libraries.

Thank you to Sarah for kicking off our 2020-21 programme. 

Post contributed by Katherine Burchell, CLG Social Media Editor