Belated reflection on the #NLPNConnect Networking Day with @NLPN_

This was back in early May now, but I am at the critical writing up stage of my Chartership and so here I am, reflecting on it.


The day had the useful hashtag #nlpnconnect and also NLPN have published a guest blog post on their blog here so if you are really keen to read more then there you go. I know there is at least one terrible photo of me on the hashtag so you might enjoy that.

Firstly I must be completely honest as is my way, and admit that this event would probably have completely passed me by if I hadn’t been invited to be one of the ‘speed networking’ people. I had literally no clue what this would involve but it’s nice to be asked isn’t it! Anyway I am so glad they did approach me because honestly I had SUCH a positive experience and it really got me enthusiastic about libraries again as I met so many likeminded people who were doing inspiring work. It encouraged me to finally get on and do this Chartership thing I’ve been dragging my heels over, and it was one of the reasons why I decided to make this blog, which seems to be going okay, so that’s awesome.

It was on a Saturday, us poor new library professionals giving up a precious Saturday! There was coffee and cake though.

Some reflective thoughts on the day:

  • It made me think more about what it means to be a library professional. I did wonder if my job title was the reason I was invited to be there, and if that mislead the organisers into thinking I had a LIS qualification, which I don’t. Am I therefore not a New Library Professional? I did a bit of soul searching in a previous blog post about this. Ultimately, I think this has pushed me forward a bit in making strides with Chartership, because I know I have the experience and know in a way I do self-identify as a Library Professional or at least Para-professional, but for some reason without that piece of paper, others may not agree.
  • It made me realise how far I have come. I went to a New Professionals Information Day run by CILIP back in 2011/2012 I think it was actually this one blogged about here. At the time I was a Library Assistant at the Bodleian Healthcare Libraries (a great place to work, btw) and was still undecided about if I should do a Library MA or a Museum Studies MA. In the past 6 years since then I have spent 3 years in libraries, 1 doing that Museum Studies MA and the other 2 years working in the NHS. I feel like all of this experience has been incredibly valuable, even the masters in a way, and being back in libraries is the right path for me. While I have not done a lot of library networking in that time, I have done a lot of public speaking and museum networking and I realised that I felt more confident this time, perhaps with a bit of time and experience under my belt. I was not shy to introduce myself and get chatting with people who I wanted to meet and find out more about their roles.
  • The presentation/workshop on Library Job Titles, Future Library Skills run by CB Resourcing contained a lot of things I already knew, so maybe I’m cleverer than I realised? It also contained things I knew to question, so maybe my information analysis skills are also better than I give myself credit for. I felt able to query something I was confused by, and there was a critical discussion at the end which felt really useful.
  • The Networking session was interesting, I went around 4 tables and sort of did a mini presentation (with literally no notes or anything) about who I am, my role and my journey to this point. I think I was the only one without a LIS qualification (correct me if I am wrong, someone!) but my job was a real example of one where if you didn’t read the job description, the job title may have put you off.
  • I highly enjoyed meeting others on the day, in particular Jen from who promoted the network, which was incredibly new at that stage. The irony of her promoting a diversity network to a room of white passing people was not lost on me, or her actually, but being an ally is important, do the work. Go follow them on Twitter here if you have not already. I also met Harriet (whose blog I have been enjoying very much) and got to speak to them about doing the Library MA at Sheffield, where I have an offer.
  • It was great to chat with academic librarians for the first time in a while actually, and gain some insight into what they get up to, including collections and open access work. I also chatted with some FE librarians, and as I spent a year covering Maternity in a college library, and also spent a year volunteering in a secondary school library and absolutely loved this work, it was fantastic to chat to them about themes in their line of work, particularly the loneliness of the solo librarian.
  • I also got to hear Penny Andrews chat about values which is definitely something I am interested in and have thoughts about. In particular the way that librarians and CILIP like to talk about what it really means to be a librarian. I found this to be very insightful and I have been doing a lot of reflective thinking about why I got into this and what I want this work to achieve going forward.

Anyway sorry for all the waffle, but I needed to get this down for posterity, and Evidence. Thanks to NLPN for putting the event on, I will keep an ear to the ground for another event like this in future.




Zine Librarianship part 1 of 19,375,685 I am sure

I originally wrote this as part of a response to the e-course I previously blogged about here: Feminist Pedagogy in a Library Context but I feel it is important to be transparent about some of what I try and do as part of Salford Zine Library so I am reposting here so it is open access.


I would like to approach this week from the context of collections at Salford Zine Library, where I am part of the volunteer team. As our website states: “Salford Zine Library seeks to preserve and provide access to zines from around the world, as well as promoting zines and DIY culture through workshops, exhibitions and other events. There are currently over 2000 (the website actually says 1500 but this is very old) zines in the collection, all of which have been donated by zine makers and collectors.”

I am one of a team of 4 volunteers, there are no paid staff though sometimes we get commissioned or paid to run workshops or exhibitions. We work to administrate, promote and make the zine library accessible, and I am increasingly aware of the importance of critical practice and feminist pedagogy when it comes to zine librarianship. Absolutely everything we do is informed by these themes. As zines are a form of free press and are self-published, they often raise up voices and views of marginalised authors who may otherwise struggle to get published. We are a donations only library as we do not have a budget for purchasing zines, but I am becoming increasingly aware that this may be a barrier for some who cannot afford to donate or post zines to us as they need to cover the cost of producing them, as such their work will not be represented in the library. We allow donations in person at various events we attend and try to attend a variety of events across the UK to help with this. I do personally purchase zines with a view to adding them to the collection, but as we are volunteers and the library largely relies on applying for funding or donations, this is not always feasible.

We try to relinquish librarian ‘control’ of zines by not having them displayed in a certain way. It is a reference library but so far we have not labelled zines, and though we may end up doing that some time, we do not plan on shelving them in a particular order. It is also not staffed so we do not monitor the collection and the reference only system currently only works on a trust system and the library is based in an area of a cafe.

While the lack of ‘rules’ ‘order’ or ‘conduct’ may make the library less accessible in some ways, as visitors may be confused by the absence of them, or struggle to find things in what might come across as chaotic, we hope that the friendly space makes users of the library feel confident to dive in without worrying that they are disrupting any categorisation on the shelves. The subject of cataloguing is an ongoing conversation we have been having with others who follow us on social media and attend our events, so is not set in stone and may develop over time.

As volunteers in a library of this nature, we try to avoid positioning ourselves as experts, particularly because all of us in the team are white, but also because zines are inherently creative and can be approached as a medium in many ways. We know a diverse network of zine makers and hope to provide a community and put on events that showcase work by makers, rather than formally curating the library or making rules about what a zine is or isn’t, though we may have our own opinions on this. This school of thought also informs the open collections policy, as we accept any zines as long as they are self-published. So far nothing completely offensive (ie. racist) has ever been donated, though if this happens we will have to discuss how to deal with it and I imagine we would do that via a dialogue with the zine community, much of this dialogue takes place on social media and in person at zine events.

An issue that comes up a lot with zines is consent, the creator may wish to be credited in a certain way, or want their material back. We are open to requests like this at any time. It is important that creators of zines retain control over their output, and we want to reflect their wishes if for example their pronouns change, or they are no longer happy with having their work included in a public space. Zines can often contain personal or sensitive information and we try to take this into account rather than having a more rigid collections or cataloguing policy. As a zine-maker myself, I have seen my zines catalogued in a way I was not happy with online, and I requested it be changed, and the library refused because they catalogued based on what was on the printed material which is obviously traditional library practice. I found this to be frustrating and unfair as I was the author, and zines are not a traditional medium! Another issue with zines is digitization. It is not seen to be best practice to digitize zines in full, although some authors may do it to their own zines, we would not do it without consent. Digitization in the library world in general is seen to be a positive thing, but again due to the subject matter and the regular use of pseudonyms and anonymity in zines, it would not be ethical.

The ‘power structures’ of cataloguing and librarianship mentioned in Saunders (2017) felt relevant to the themes of zine librarianship and as such we are mindful as zine librarians to have a quieter voice than those contained in the material on the shelves.

A question I want to ask is: how would you go about cataloguing a diverse collection in a way that is accessible, non-hierarchal/prescriptive but also helps people navigate a lot of material to find what they need? We want to avoid formal cataloguing altogether, for the reasons outlined above, but also if people are seeking particular resources we want to make it easier to find things.

Edited to add: Myself and Steve, one of the other volunteers, recently wrote more about Zine Librarianship here in this open access article entitled “Everything has something worthwhile to say” published in Art Libraries Journal earlier this year.

Feminist pedagogy in a library context

This image is perfect but nowhere online seems to credit it right, please get in touch if you know the artist credit! ❤

I identify as an intersectional feminist who works in a library, so when I saw this e-course being run by Maria T. Accardi via the American Library Association (ALA) I felt like this could be really exciting and relevant to me.

I never studied these sorts of topics at university (besides one gendered geographies module I started before dropping out of my second year for other reasons) and so even though I am interested I felt like some directed reading and discussion could be something I would get a lot out of.

I have a history of struggling with e-courses, and not feeling like I can keep up with them, but so far the reading has not been too intense and 2 weeks in, all of it has been open access so far. In the second week there was a choice of reading so if you were really keen, or time rich, you could read all of it, which I did.

As I might be studying a Lis PgDip via distance learning, I felt that this course would be a good way to dip my toes in the waters of e-learning and make sure it is not in fact a terrible idea.

I have in the past felt that discussion didn’t really get off the ground in elearning spaces, but Maria sets us all specific people to respond to, and then also we can respond to other people that we want to. So we know when we post something we will definitely get a response which is heartening.

Anyway I will write more at the end of the course. If you are interested in reading more, there is an article linked below which was part of the first week’s homework. It’s exciting to be learning again!

Maria’s post on Choice 360: Feminist Pedagogy: Changing Lives, Libraries, and the World

I am hoping this course helps me feel more connected with feminism at work, and also with my work at Salford Zine Library which I plan on blogging about soon.

Taking Part in a Twitter Journal Club with @ukmedlibs

One of my pieces of evidence for my Chartership is a PDF of a twitter chat, which I took part in back in March 2018. It was a journal club edition of the regular health library twitter chat #ukmedlibs. The full details of the chat including a transcript can be found here on their blog.

I must admit even though twitter library chats seem to be quite popular, I never really feel organised enough to remember them, or most of the time, I have plans outside of work. I do often dip in and out of them and enjoy reading people’s opinions but don’t often take part for the entirety of one. A journal club more focused to me, plus reminded me a bit of a book club, so I felt like this appealed more somehow!

Anyway the experience was a really positive one and I have reflected on it and uploaded it as evidence in the form of a word document of the transcript. I highlighted my tweets and added some reflective thoughts on it and then saved it as a PDF for uploading to the VLE.2018_07_05_16_58_30_Greenshot

The experience has made me feel like I would be interested in taking part in one in the future, especially after going back through it and reflecting on the experience more deeply as part of Chartership. Certainly if another journal club one came up I would absolutely give it a go, as I felt more confident contributing to a more focused discussion like that, rather than stating my opinions on a wider topic area, while I am still learning myself. Still I would definitely recommend it if you fancy getting involved in one. I know #uklibchat is a big one, and of course #ukmedlibs is the one for health librarians.

The next #ukmedlibs chat is on 17th July and is about Open Access so I might lurk around that one as I want to learn more on that topic.