Sunday, 17 November 2013

LIKE 49: Raiders of the Lost Archives

It was a busy week, what with the Internet Librarian International Conference and my first Gurteen Knowledge Cafe. I wrapped it up with attendance at LIKE 49: Raiders of the Lost Archives. This was held in a different venue to the London Information and Knowledge Exchange's (LIKE) usual one and I found myself in a booth with a few people I had not met before but with whom I quickly developed a rapport, as is often the way with LIKE. The events regularly provide a mixture of old and new faces and no evening is ever the same.

Collection of old newspapers - Found on
Richard Nelsson, Information Manager at the Guardian and Gavin Fuller, Head of the Telegraph Library, introduced the audience to the way they create books out of their newspaper's archives. Both discussed the process undertaken to create the books; including the difficulties which ranged from some cuttings only being available on microfiche to trying to create a story out of them to increase the books' appeal. Richard mentioned how he gives context to the books by writing small introductions to each entry; I appreciated the dual result of adding value while simultaneously increasing and cementing knowledge of both the topic and the institution.

The two things I liked most about #LIKE49 was firstly, that it introduced me to an area of librarianship I really knew nothing about and secondly, provided a practical example of how libraries can be spaces of creation not just repositories. Adding value is always a must in whatever business you are in, from creating chutney out of apples to increasing students' grades by having a well-resourced library and teaching information literacy.

Libraries have always added value despite often being seen as an overhead rather than an income stream. But, if libraries and librarians are to move with the times, does this mean we need to change our ways? Should librarians be contributing more towards research, for example? Should we be bringing in the moolah, the cold, hard, cash or is it enough to focus on other areas of value which institutions consider important? Personally, I'm in the latter category, however, I know a number of people who disagree.

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