Monday, 31 December 2012

Best Book 2012

I've read a lot of enjoyable and informative books this year, both fiction and non-fiction. When it came to thinking about my favourite though, Alex Bellos' book was a stand-out winner. This is one of the few books I actually bought this year rather than borrowed from the library. I was browsing in the popular science section of WHSmith and happened to pick up this book - I think I was attracted by the distinctive white and red cover (well done marketing people!). After reading the contents and a few pages of the first chapter I decided that it was a bit unreasonable to actively avoid the 510 - 519 section of the library and that maybe I was missing out.

After the pain of school maths with the accompanying fear of failure and feeling like a failure; I haven't read about, or even thought about, maths since the 1990s. But, on this occasion, the Daily Telegraph are right, reading this book "will leave you hooked on numbers". The most interesting sections of the book for me dealt with: the numerical abilities of animals, innate mathematical abilities of humans, the 12 base number system or 'dozenal', the golden ratio and vedic mathematics.

My Favourite Video Clip of 2012.

The Library File is not known to have a head for heights, so Felix Baumgartner's space base jump saw me appalled and fascinated in equal measure.

If you missed it first time round, I recommend googling Baumgartner's interview with Jeremy Paxman. Perhaps 'Paxo' should stick to political interviews, as in his short segment with Baumgartner he comes across as a churlish stick-in-the-mud while 'Fearless Felix' is the can-do man.

Thursday, 27 December 2012

Public Libraries and Museums Act 1964: keep my library open, it's the law!

The Public Libraries and Museums Act 1964 outlines the library service which must be provided by the local library authority. Access to a suitable library service is not a luxury for which we need to thank the council. Access to a suitable library service is our right enshrined in the law of the land.

General duty of library authorities.

The Act can be read in full here

Section 7

(1) It shall be the duty of every library authority to provide a comprehensive and efficient library service for all persons desiring to make use thereof, . . .

Provided that although a library authority shall have power to make facilities for the borrowing of books and other materials available to any persons it shall not by virtue of this subsection be under a duty to make such facilities available to persons other than those whose residence or place of work is within the library area of the authority or who are undergoing full-time education within that area.

(2) In fulfilling its duty under the preceding subsection, a library authority shall in particular have regard to the desirability—

(a) of securing, by the keeping of adequate stocks, by arrangements with other library authorities, and by any other appropriate means, that facilities are available for the borrowing of, or reference to, books and other printed matter, and pictures, gramophone records, films and other materials, sufficient in number, range and quality to meet the general requirements and any special requirements both of adults and children; and

(b) of encouraging both adults and children to make full use of the library service, and of providing advice as to its use and of making available such bibliographical and other information as may be required by persons using it; and

(c) of securing, in relation to any matter concerning the functions both of the library authority as such and any other authority whose functions are exercisable within the library area, that there is full co-operation between the persons engaged in carrying out those functions.

Tuesday, 25 December 2012

My First Library Card

I started using my local library at four years old and before I had my own card. In the beginning, I signed books out on my mother's card. By the age of eight I had my very own card and since then I have always had a library card or access to a library of some description.

I say a 'library of some description' and not 'access of some description' due to a brief sojourn in Ukraine where I only had access to a closed-stack university library. As a person who derives immense pleasure from the unexpected discoveries reaped from an hour's stroll between the stacks, it is very disconcerting to be physically separated from the books and have to submit a title request to a library assistant in a white coat then return hours later to collect said item which may, or may not, be suitable. Although, the white coat bestowed a unusual measure of gravity to the act of borrowing a book.

My first library card was a plain yellow card with my signature on the back and the county shield on the front (a swan with a crown and chain around its neck). The card looked the same as an adult borrower's card, and in comparison to today's creations festooned with child-friendly images, it was wholly utilitarian.

English counties trivia quiz.
 Do you  know  which county has this image as its shield?

I can't remember how I felt about my first card - library membership and regular visits were just a normal part of life for children BHC (before home computers). I am certain, however, that I did not beg my mother for my first card like this CUTIE did in Denver, Colorado.

Monday, 24 December 2012

I am not a "luvvie", Mr Pickles!

Does the Right Honourable Eric Pickles really think that anyone concerned by cuts to their local library service is a luvvie?

Library closures: not just a cause for 'luvvies', Eric Pickles

Yes, I would like my refuse collected (in my area general refuse and recycling are collected once fortnightly), but I would also like to continue borrowing books from my local library.

Do I need all the street lights on every night? No! Do I think that council communiques should be translated into several languages? No!

Where does the opportunity for every member of our society to educate themselves lie on the scale of essential versus inessential?

Sunday, 23 December 2012

Everything is Miscellaneous

David Weinberger's book is dedicated "To the Librarians" and will be enjoyed by anyone with an interest in information and how the digital revolution challenges the traditional understanding of categorisation and cataloguing. The author employs an easy to read style (he even throws in a couple of jokes per chapter - laugh out loud ones, at that!) and at just 233 pages (excluding notes) it is suitable for the general reader - like me.


  • First order organisation (the physical task of ordering objects - placing books on a shelf, clothes in a drawer, second order organisation (creating a card catalogue to find the physical location of your collection) and third order organisation (digital organisation which removes the physical limitations of second order organisation).
  • Melvil Dewey - the creation and current challenges of the Dewey Decimal system.
  • Digital order - tagging.
  • The internet and citizen control of knowledge.
The prologue and first chapter are available to read for free on the book's website, which also features interesting discussions about the issues raised in the text.

My First Post

Welcome to my blog!

I have been reading other people's blogs for over seven years now. The blogosphere has inspired me to try out new recipes in the kitchen and order products online based on favourable reviews (or refrain from ordering based on poor reviews), some posts have made me ponder life, love and the universe, others have made me laugh and some have made me think "So, your toe nail polish has chipped. Who cares!"

The blogosphere seems to accommodate those have something interesting to share and those who don't. 

I have decided to stop watching from the sidelines and join in. I hope that my posts will be more of the "something interesting" category and less of the other.