ange fitzpatrick

A good man in a storm

9 notes &

thewikiman strikes again! Extensive research that includes gin, cardigans and LOLcats, but wisely avoids sexual deviance and beards. Candidates I’d offer for ‘The Great Library Stereotypometer- The Revenge’ include folk dancing and real ale. 
For tumblr-folk outside the UK, this might be the first time you’ve looked at Ned’s blog, if so it’s well worth delving deeper. His posts on getting prezi right and presenting skills are must-reads in my book.

thewikiman strikes again! Extensive research that includes gin, cardigans and LOLcats, but wisely avoids sexual deviance and beards. Candidates I’d offer for ‘The Great Library Stereotypometer- The Revenge’ include folk dancing and real ale. 

For tumblr-folk outside the UK, this might be the first time you’ve looked at Ned’s blog, if so it’s well worth delving deeper. His posts on getting prezi right and presenting skills are must-reads in my book.

Filed under stereotypes popculture librarians librarians-popular culture

6 notes &

(via The Next Web)
WordPress: Now Powering 50 Million Blogs

Each month, there are around 287 million people accounting for 2.5  billion pageviews on WordPress.com blogs, reading posts that are written  in over 120 languages. English accounts for the two-thirds of all  written posts, with Spanish and Portuguese in second and third  respectively.

Read more…
Wow, an average of half a million new posts per day; great news for Wordpress, but I do wonder how many of the blogs are active.
Extra Credit
WordPress Powers 50 Million Blogs, How It Do That?- Brothersoft
WordPress Statistics: 50 Million Blogs Now Powered By WordPress- Stat Spotting

(via The Next Web)

WordPress: Now Powering 50 Million Blogs

Each month, there are around 287 million people accounting for 2.5 billion pageviews on WordPress.com blogs, reading posts that are written in over 120 languages. English accounts for the two-thirds of all written posts, with Spanish and Portuguese in second and third respectively.

Read more

Wow, an average of half a million new posts per day; great news for Wordpress, but I do wonder how many of the blogs are active.

Extra Credit

WordPress Powers 50 Million Blogs, How It Do That?- Brothersoft

WordPress Statistics: 50 Million Blogs Now Powered By WordPress- Stat Spotting

Filed under blogging wordpress stats

2 notes &

UK public libraries: my own experience

I’m a bit late to the table on this one, but I’ve been drafting this personal memory for a while now about how important public libraries were to me as a child, it’s been inspired by the stories I’ve read as part of the Save Libraries Campaign. I’d like to say from the outset that this is not about the libraries we have today. When we talk about saving our public libraries we mustn’t just talk about the pleasures of books and quiet places to read. Libraries are not just rooms for books, they are at the forefront of important fights about equal access to information.

But this is only indirectly about access to information. Mostly it’s a story about tigers, pheasants, biscuits and the words ‘oven’ and ‘grill’.


I’ll hold my hand up: I’m not the biggest user of the public library system. In fact, if I’m brutally honest, my card may even be a little out of date, and it may even be caked in dust in the back of a drawer somewhere. This doesn’t mean that I’ve abandoned libraries: I work in and am a member of an academic one, one where I have access to an unimaginable quantity of books. That is something I’m truly grateful for. But I know that if I dig that card out from the depths of my sock drawer and take it to the public library and explain that I’ve probably moved house twice since I used it, but that I am still the same person, the kind and remarkably patient public librarian will renew my card without making me feel like the eejit I am. 

But you don’t want to know about that. I have a much better story. 

I am a graduate of the University of Cambridge. Alongside the Chaucer and the Shakespeare, Cambridge also taught me how to open a bottle of champagne, the rules of croquet, and that there are two (equally disgusting, in my view) types of sherry. The reason that Cambridge saw fit to tech me these extra-curricular but at that time socially necessary skills is that I came to Cambridge from outside their usual catchment area. 

Don’t get me wrong- I had the best start in life. Loving parents, a supportive family and the most amazing gift: Boglestone library. It was the early 1980s: I was a hamster-cheeked bairn, my Dad was unemployed and my Mum was the sole breadwinner. We lived in a shipbuilding town that was rapidly running out of ships to build: there wasn’t a lot of jobs, there wasn’t a lot of hope, there wasn’t a lot of anything. There was certainly not a lot of books. 

Old Timber Pools on the Clyde. by twistyfoldy.net, on Flickr
Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic License  by  twistyfoldy.net 

Port Glasgow: a pretty bit of my hometown

Now I’m sure I’m remembering this slightly wrong but I can’t remember us having any books in the house: there simply wasn’t the money for them. There is a family story, which may be a myth, that I learned to read using the instruction manual for the cooker. It might as well be true because I remember my parents pointing out words on adverts and posters on buses. I also remember reading a particularly archaic cookery book of my Gran’s which left me which a vocabulary including tripe and brawn from a relatively early age. 

The first word I learned to read may have been grill and oven, but this isn’t just a funny story. It has a happy ending because we were all regular users of the library. The best book memory I have is the week we ate the most disgusting dinners because my Mum was so engrossed in a novel she borrowed. She read it whilst watching Coronation Street, she read it during breakfast, making her rush to work, and she read it whilst stirring the stovies, leading to inevitable burnt bits. We all suffered, but 25 years later she still talks about that book. 

Dad and I read with fewer incidents. Each week we’d walk up the hill to Boglestone Public Library. Very occasionally it would coincide with my Dad giving blood which meant I got a biscuit, but even that was nowhere near the thrill of being able to choose from so many books. The pattern was the same each week: I would choose up to 3 books for myself, usually items with pictures and text, and my Dad would pick a couple of books for us to read together, harder ones in which he would do the voices of the main characters. 

We would walk down the hill together, with an almost palpable excitement about the book we were about to read. In winter especially, we’d get home, draw the curtains, put the lamp on and I would sit in my Dad’s arms and listen to the story, pointing out the words I knew as I went. Our favourite was Roald Dahl, and my Dad could crate the atmophere of Hazell’s wood or Mr Fox’s escapades just by the tone of his voice. It was magical, but it wouldn’t have been possible without those borrowed books. 

There was something special about the library as well. We loved everything about it: the tiny chairs, the colouring sheets, and my Dad regularly asked the librarian for recommendations about what to read next. The thing I like best though was the library card itself. Now I’m an old sentimentalist, but I loved that little blue cardboard ticket with my name typewritten upon it: “Fitzpatrick, Angela, Miss,” J for juvenile, I loved handing that over and someone very carefully removing the card ticket from the book, and placing it inside my ticket inside what seemed the world’s biggest drawer. A responsibility. I’ve never defaced or destroyed a library book in my life. Sometimes they are back late, but always in the condition I borrowed them in.

Young reader choosing a book by Scottish Libraries, on Flickr
Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.0 Generic License  by  Scottish Libraries 

My beloved Boglestone Library has been knocked down, so you’ll have to use your imagination!


Okay, so I didn’t get to Cambridge solely on the strength of being a regular library user, but I was the best and first reader at school, and the love, nay obsession of reading has never left me. That library gave me a great start in life, it taught me about respecting property, sharing with others, and making the most out of an opportunity. I can’t speak for the other kids at school, but when I look back a lot of them didn’t get to fulfil their potential, a lot of them could have gone further. I can’t help but feel that the lessons I learned from that library stayed with me, I’ve always been hungry to learn, not afraid to enquire, and always at home in a library. 

Now this is a hokey story, the best ones always are, but it’s also true. If we didn’t have public libraries there would only have been the cooker manual for me to learn to read from. There would have been no Tiger who Came to Tea, no Danny the Champion of the World, no magical afternoons with my Dad, no memories to treasure for a lifetime, and no great start on the road to academia for a child not from a traditional university family. 

I’m lucky enough to be a member of one of the best stocked libraries in the world, but that’s never topped the experience of those early years up at Boglestone. I’d hate it if opportunities for people like me stopped because there weren’t public libraries, or the equally important specialist librarians who run them. By funding these resources you are really providing a start that money can’t buy, simply because there often isn’t the money back home. 

The Tiger Who Came to Tea by Walt Jabsco, on Flickr
Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.0 Generic License  by  Walt Jabsco 

Filed under public libraries children's librarians Voices for the Library

3 notes &

The Winners & Losers of Social Networking, via Mashable

 Mashable says

It goes without saying that Facebook is the network du jour, but even though the reigning champion’s user stats keep soaring, social networking as a whole might be leveling off. Nevertheless, there are still scores of other highly competitive social sites that are waxing and waning; and different networks and apps are more popular in specific geographic areas, with certain genders or age groups and even among various social classes. For example, Plaxo is the network with the most users over the age of 65. Facebook is more popular with women, but Digg and Reddit tend to be more popular with men. LinkedIn is the “richest” social network, but Plurk outranks it when it comes to well-educated users who have graduate degrees.

Check out the Winners and Losers for the resurgence of Stumbledupon and the demise of MySpace, unless you’re under 17, that is!

Filed under social networking Social media tumblr

2 notes &

Travelling light- adventures of a mobile librarian

Ok, so I don’t mean one of these babies…   

Mobile Library by Christchurch City Libraries, on Flickrserious investor.. by Sigma.DP2.Kiss.X3, on Flickr

More one of these…

In the last few weeks I have tried to do as much work as a possibly could on a smartphone. Well Ange, why would you want to ruin your eyesight and cripple your thumbs on that tiny keyboard?

Because:

A) We have a departmental iPhone.

B) I see more and more of our students using their smartphones in the library. They’ve showed me catalogue records, notes, bits of journal articles and more on them. Our recent survey revealed that 59% of Judge students have a web-enabled mobile device, and a whopping 63% of respondents had read articles on their device compared to 35% last year.

It’s clear I had to know what all the fuss was about.

I’ve been blogging about mobile devices for a while, and I’ve been especially interested in mobile social networking, but my dirty little secret is that not only do I not own a smartphone, I don’t even have a mobile phone. I have however always recognised their potential and thought that spending the last month going native  and trying to see exactly how much you could do on these things would give me a valuable insight into how our students are using them, or might be using them in the future.

So what did I learn?

  • Setting up the mail and twitter account I would need for a conference (#pls11) I was attending was incredibly easy. Live tweeting the event actually helped me to digest the ideas on offer, as well as allowing me to see what others thought.
  • When I wanted to take a few notes I used a Google Doc rather than the iPhone’s notes tool- as happy as I was to be reliant on the phone for communication I wasn’t happy about storing data on there that I didn’t know I could retrieve.
  • IMAP allowed me to thin my inbox when away from my desk, but it did mean I read and answered email when I should have been off-duty- ah, the temptation of having the whole internet in your pocket!
  • Despite having the whole internet I didn’t use it that much, well, not directly. If you’d asked me last month whether we should be developing mobile friendly versions of our web resources or mobile apps, I’d have said keep working on the full site. Now that I’ve tried to navigate the web on a tiny screen, I can see the other point of view!
  • What I was not expecting was how addictive the little thing would be. Free time suddenly ceases to exist: books go unread, films go unwatched, cats go unfed as you descend into a world of Foursquare, Fruit Ninja and Angry Birds.

To conclude…

Taking the time to learn how to use the the iPhone has changed the way I work for the better. By biggest bugbear about working away from my desk would be that my inbox would frighten me when I got back to my desk; now I can control my email and answer quick questions on the go. Browsing leaves a lot to be desired, and reading on a small screen isn’t altogether pleasurable, but I was impressed how easily I could access and contribute to social networks. Having something I could instantly check and verify with freed up a lot of my front of brain power, but the biggest benefit of the exercise was stepping into the mindset of those who use them everyday.

The caveat, well, it was the way they suck your free time dry, why on earth would I want to read, relax or even think when I could be hurling birds at reinforced pigsties? But in spite the distractions, I’m staying mobile.

    Image Credit

    Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.0 Generic Licenseby  Christchurch City Libraries and Sigma.DP2.Kiss.X3 

    Filed under mobile devices mobile librarians getting with the programmme