My newsletters seem to be settling down to around a monthly distribution, but there has been some delay in sending out this 39th one. This is because I have been working on the final stages of the manuscript for the digitisation book that I am currently editing. I am very pleased to say that this is now with the publisher (Sense Publishers) and the book should be published around autumn/winter 2010. This newsletter includes some further information about this, along with a number of other news items, including two new pieces that are now up on our ‘Flow of Ideas’ website; me meeting up with Al Kagan from the USA; some of my thoughts and reflections leading on from the results of the UK General Election and some book and book review matters. This and much else besides is included in this newsletter.
1. MANUSCRIPT FOR ‘PERSPECTIVES ON DIGITISATION’ EDITED BY RUTH RIKOWSKI – NOW WITH SENSE PUBLISHERS I am delighted to say that the manuscript for the book that I am currently editing entitled Perspectives on Digitisation is now with Sense Publishers. As readers know, Glenn and I have been through a very difficult period over the last 18 months or so, with the death of my father-in-law and the related emotional and practical issues that have arisen from it all. All this has caused quite serious delays with this book, but finally now, we are getting there. Now, we are very much looking forward to seeing it published of course, and hopefully, we can have another book launch for it. We certainly feel that, by then, it will probably be time to party again!
The book had to prepared and formatted according to Sense Publishers instructions, and for camera-ready copy, which was also what really took up a lot of the time. This means, of course, that a lot of the preparation in the final stages has to be done by the author and editor, rather than by the publisher. On the positive side, though, this also means that the final stages should go comparatively quickly and smoothly. Altogether, there are 22 contributors in the book along with a Foreword by Simon Tanner, Director, King’s Digital Consultancy Services, King’s College, London. The book is divided up into 6 parts: ‘Background and Overview to Digitisation and Digital Libraries’, ‘Digitisation and Higher Education’, ‘Digitisation and Inequalities’, ‘Digital Libraries, Reference Services and Citation Indexing’ and ‘Futuristic Developments of Digitisation’. Further information about the book will follow in future newsletters.
2. ‘DIGITAL LIBRARIES’ ISSUE EDITED BY RUTH RIKOWSKI AND ISAAC HUNTER DUNLAP IN POLICY FUTURES IN EDUCATION IS NOW FREELY AVAILABLE ONLINE The issue on ‘Digital Libraries’ edited by Ruth Rikowski and Isaac Hunter Dunlap in the international refereed ejournal, Policy Futures in Education, 2008, Vol. 6, No. 1, is now freely available online. See: http://www.wwwords.co.uk/pfie/content/pdfs/6/issue6_1.asp
Another article by Steven Osmond, entitled ‘Learned Helpfulness’ is now available in the Contributions section of our website. This article should ideally be read in conjunction with Steve Osmond’s other article in this section, which is entitled ‘A Staff Development Model for Cost Effective Mental Health Provision’. In‘Learned Helpfulness’, Osmond “Reflects on the educational experiences of emotionally and behaviourally disturbed young people and the impact of the human givens in the secure care system.”
4. ‘CUSTOMER RELATIONSHIP MANAGEMENT THROUGH LIBRARY AUTOMATION SYSTEMS: SOME THOUGHTS’ BY INDRANI BHATTACHARYYA IS NOW AVAILABLE ON OUR ‘FLOW OF IDEAS’ WEBSITE - see http://www.flowideas.co.uk/?page=contributions&sub=Customer Relationship Managment through Library Automation Systems by Indrani Bhattacharyya
An article by Indrani Bhattacharyya is now also available in the Contributions section of our website. As Indrani says, her article: “...aims to relate functions of a library automation system in the context of a large library in Kolkata with CRM concepts and practices.” She argues that the application of CRM concepts can help to lead to an overall increase in the usage of library services. Indrani Bhattacharyya was one of the contributors to the book ‘Library Management: trends and opportunities’, edited by Roshan L. Raina, Dinesh K. Gupta and Ramesh C. Gaur, (Excel Books: India, 2005). I was also one of the contributors, and wrote a chapter entitled ‘Change Management Processes’, which assessed the change management procedures for the initial implementation stages of the Unicorn library automated system at the international law company, Clifford Chance. I was the Project Manager there, at the time (1999-2000) and managed the initial implementation of Unicorn. The chapters by Indrani and I appear in a section entitled ‘Change Management’ in the book.
5. FOUR NEW ITEMS UP ON MY ‘SERENDIPITOUS MOMENTS’ BLOG http://ruthrikowskiim.blogspot.com/ There are four new items up on my ‘Serendipitous Moments’ blog – again, they are all book reviews of novels that I have been reading recently. These are ‘Laceys of Liverpool’ by Maureen Lee; ‘Taming the Beast’ by Emily Maguire; ‘The September Girls’ by Maureen Lee and ‘Second Chance’ by Janet Green. ‘Second Chance’, by strange coincidence, is also the name of a choir that I belonged to for a while. In addition the novel is set around school friends reuniting after some 20 or so years, and I had a reunion myself with my school friends a year or so ago. So, these factors, amongst others, drew me to pick up the book and try reading it. And it proved to be an enjoyable read. Also, interestingly, the author Janet Green, was a former journalist, who decided to write an account of a real woman being single in the city, and this then became her first novel, Straight Talking. Indeed, as Douglas Kennedy remarked, how useful is that messy thing called ‘Life’ for the writing of good novels! And this of course, helps to bring fact and fiction together, and emphasises the point that I have been feeling very keenly lately, that some things simply cannot be expressed adequately in non-fiction and that this is where fiction comes very much into its own, and indeed, where it becomes so crucially important. But watch this space for more on that one!
6. MEETING UP WITH AL KAGAN FROM THE STATES Al Kagan,African Studies Bibliographer and Professor of Library Administration Africana Collections and Services at the University of Illinois Library came over from the USA to meet up and talk to various progressive librarians in the UK and Sweden. Leading on from this, he plans to write a book with MacFarlane about progressive librarians and progressive library groups. Al emailed me about all this, saying that he would like to interview me. We met up at London South Bank University on 1st May 2010 and he asked me some set questions, which he tape-recorded. We also had a nice informal conversation together. Al also interviewed various other members of the Information for Social Change editorial board. I wish Al Kagan every success with his project.
7. UK GENERAL ELECTION MATTERS: SOME THOUGHTS OF MINE Well, I wonder how Britain will fare with this new coalition government! Personally, I feel pleased, at least, that the voters got the politicians into a bit of a flap. I am also a little hopeful that, perhaps, Labour will return to a few of its roots (but won’t get carried away with it all mind – had too many disappointments!). My hope (rather thin perhaps) is founded on the hope that one of the Miliband brothers will lead the Labour Party and that from that, they take on board some of the wise words and thinking of their father, Ralph Miliband. The work of Ralph Milliband, the Marxist intellectual, political theorist and sociologist had a profound effect on me, and indeed, really helped to deepen and alter my ways of thinking in various ways, with its critique of capitalism. It was Ralph Miliband’s book ‘The State in Capitalist Society’ (Quartet Books, 1973) (see http://www.amazon.co.uk/State-Capitalist-Society-Analysis-Western/dp/0704330822/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1274729902&sr=8-2) that really did it for me. This book was almost like the Bible on my Sociology degree at the University of East Anglia, 1974-1977 (well, it was a Social Studies degree, but I majored in Sociology). Both Glenn and I thought it was a truly fantastic book. Reading that book along with some very other worthwhile and important text at the time, such as the writing of C. Wright Mills, Stephen Luke’s little book on ‘Power’ and Richard Hyman’s book, ‘Strikes’ really helped to deepen and change my whole perspective on how I saw the world. And all that gave me an even more critical radical left edge.
My thinking now is that, although both David and Ed Miliband seem rather to have embraced the Blairite/New Labour message, the current situation (with the Conservative/Liberal Democrat coalition) might well led them to want and need to return to some Old Labour Party principles. That within this framework and ways of thinking both of the Milibands might well think further about and return to the profound words of their father, and embrace some of it more in their positions in the Labour Party, and then try to influence the Labour Party accordingly. It is interesting here, perhaps, to bear in mind the fact that Ralph Miliband himself joined the Labour Party in 1951 and sought to influence it. Anyway, all that is my hope.
Meanwhile, a couple of people that we know personally, stood in the general election, and I thought that I would like to mention them here briefly. They are Anneliese Dodds, Dave Hill and Anne Gray.
Anneliese Dodds stood in Reading East, against the Conservative Rob Wilson, a former shadow minister for higher education. Rob Wilson retained his seat of course (with 21,169 votes), the Liberal Democrats came second (with 13, 664 votes) and Anneliese came third, with 12, 729 votes. I think this is a good result for Anneliese, and I wish her every success in her future political career. There was also a report by Melanie Newman about Anneliese Dodds in the Times Higher Education, 15th-21st April 2010, p. 10, talking about Anneliese standing as a Labour candidate for Reading East.
I first got to know Anneliese Dodds when she was a student and involved in a student political group called ‘People and Planet’. At the time, I was editing a special issue on ‘Globalisation and Information’ for the ejournal Information for Social Change. I was looking for people to write for it; I approached Anneliese and she agreed to write a piece. Her article was entitled ‘GATS, Higher Education and Public Libraries’ and was published in ISC, issue 14, winter 2001/02 - see http://www.libr.org/isc/articles/14-dodds.html. At a later date, in December 2005, both Anneliese and I were invited to speak about globalisation issues at a mini-conference that was held at Swansea University. The mini-conference was organised through the Career Development Group, Wales (of CILIP – the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals). For more information about this, see http://www.libr.org/isc/events/swansea.html.
Anneliese Dodds is currently based at the Institute for the Study of Public Policy, King’s College, London and her research interests include regulation and risk in health and education. She has been involved in politics since she was 18 years old. As a student as well as being involved in ‘People and Planet’ she was involved in a campaign to wider access to university and Melanie Newman said that Anneliese was ‘appalled’ by the ‘closed nature’ of institutions such as Oxford.
Meanwhile, our friend Anne Gray stood in Tottenham, London for the Green Party. She secured 980 votes, but unfortunately found herself in a position where she was standing against a like-minded person – Jenny Sutton of the Trade Union and Socialist Coalition (so that split the vote of course). Jenny obtained 1057 votes and Anne obtained 980 votes. Still, all in all, a very respectable result, I think. Once again, I wish Anne every success in the future in her work in the Green Party.
Whilst Dave Hill stood in Brighton Kempton for the ‘Trade Union and Socialist Coalition’, but unfortunately only obtained 194 votes. He was also competing against a Green candidate, Ben Duncan, who obtained 2,330 votes. The Conservative won the seat with Simon Kirby securing 16,217 votes; Simon Burges of the Labour Party came second with 14,889 votes and Juliet Williams, the Liberal Democrat came third with 7,691 votes.
Finally, personally, I was delighted to see Caroline Lucas of the Green Party become the first Green MP - the MP for Brighton Pavilion. I certainly wish her every success.
8. CUTS IN PHILOSOPHY? Philosophy at university seems to be getting quite a lot of attention lately in various ways. King’s College, London were all set to make cuts in Philosophy (including the redundancy of 3 Professors) as part of the cuts in the Arts and Humanities programme there. Suddenly, now they have decided that there will be no cuts in the School of Arts and Humanities at all at King’s, and that all the necessary savings can now be made without job losses (see http://www.kcl.ac.uk/schools/humanities/ - for more details). Indeed, in the Philosophy Department, instead of redundancies, they are going to create two new posts! Strange times indeed! I can’t help thinking that the newly formed Conservative/Liberal Democrat government might have had something to do with this change in thinking and decision-making.
Meanwhile, though, as far as I know the proposed cuts in Philosophy at Birkbeck College, University of London and Middlesex University are still going full-steam ahead.
First of all, let us then look at the Birkbeck College, University of London situation. There is a proposal to reduce the range of courses offered by the Certificate in Philosophy from September 2010. Following a review by the university, the Department of Philosophy has decided that the courses are no longer financially viable. It intends to cut the number of courses down from more than 30 currently on offer to just 8; these are Epistemology, Metaphysics, Politics, Ethics, Logic 1&2 and History of Western Philosophy 1&2. Certificate students would then not have their own separate sessions, but would have to attend the undergraduate lectures on the same subjects. This would be followed by a ‘back up’ seminar to discuss the issues raised in the lecture.
Currently the programme is very approachable to everyone; no matter what their background. This is something that our son, Alexander Rikowski, very much benefited from. He went to Birkbeck with no A’ Levels. He did not like the formal, test and assessment-based school system; instead, he wanted the opportunity to be able to engage in independent, critical thinking. Studying Philosophy at Birkbeck provided the perfect solution. After successfully obtaining a Diploma in Philosophy at Birkbeck, he then went on to study for a degree in Philosophy at King’s College, London. He is now in his final year and it has been a wonderful, rich, albeit demanding, experience for him.
The Sessional Lecturers at Birkbeck College, University of London informed Alexander and other Birkbeck students that they intend to protest against these cuts and also to suggest ways to continue with something like the current programme but in a more financially viable form. They think that the costs of the courses could be considerably reduced if they were ‘non-accredited’, without leading to CATS points and the accompanying costs of assessment. Unfortunately, all Birkbeck courses now are starting to move to a ‘CATS-based agenda’.
If they cannot continue to run these non-accredited courses at Birkbeck then the Sessional Lecturers are considering running them independently.
The situation at Middlesex University is even more dramatic, with a proposal to close the whole of the Philosophy department – heavens! The following information is being circulated by Jeremy Gilbert of Radical Philosophy. At Middlesex:
“... Philosophy is the highest research-rated subject at Middlesex University, with 65% of its research activity judged 'world-leading' or 'internationally excellent' in the UK government's recent Research Assessment Exercise. It is now widely recognised as one of the most important centres for the study of modern European philosophy anywhere in the English-speaking world. Its MA programmes in Philosophy have grown in recent years to become the largest in the UK, with 42 new students admitted in September 2009. Middlesex offers one of only a handful of programmes left in the UK that provides both research-driven and inclusive post-graduate teaching aimed at a wide range of students, specialist and non-specialist. It is also one of relatively few such programmes that remains financially viable, currently contributing close to half of its total income to the University's central administration.Needless to say, Radical Philosophy very much regret this decision to terminate Philosophy at Middlesex, and its likely consequences for the teaching of philosophy in the UK. This is a shameful decision which essentially means the end of the Centre for Research in Modern European Philosophy, a hub for internationally renowned scholarship (http://www.web. mdx.ac.uk/ crmep/; staff include Eric Alliez, Peter Hallward, Mark Kelly, Christian Kerslake, Peter Osborne and Stella Sandford). This act of wilful self-harm by the University must be resisted.
What is also tragic about all this is that Continental/European Philosophy is only being taught at a few universities in the UK, such as at Warwick University and at Essex University.
Philosophy is an important subject, I think; if approached correctly, it can aid with clarity of thought, as well as critical and independent thinking. Let us hope that some positive ways forward can be found in regard to all of this.
9. CULTURAL LOGIC: AN ELECTRONIC JOURNAL OF MARXIST THEORY AND PRACTICE: NEW DOUBLE ISSUE NOW OUT The latest issue (a double one) of ‘Cultural Logic’: an electronic journal of Marxist theory and practice, is now out and is available at: http://clogic.eserver.org/
Jeffrey Cabusao: "The Social Responsibility of Filipino Intellectuals in the Age of Globalization and Empire: An Interview with E. San Juan, Jr. and Delia D. Aguilar"
Alzo David-West: "The Literary Ideas of Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il: An Introduction to North Korean Meta-Authorial Perspectives"
Barbara Foley: "Rhetoric and Silence in Barack Obama’s Dreams from My Father"
Grover Furr: "Evidence of Leon Trotsky's Collaboration with Germany and Japan"
Bülent Gökay and Darrell Whitman: "Mapping the Faultlines: A Historical Perspective on the 2008-2009 World Economic Crisis"
Dave Hill: "Culturalist and Materialist Explanations of Class and “Race”: Critical Race Theory, Equivalence/Parallelist Theory, and Marxist Theory"
Michele Frucht Levy: "'For We Are Neither One Thing Nor The Other': Passing for Croat in Vedrana Rudan’s Night"
Gregory Meyerson: "Post-Marxism as Compromise Formation" (Foreword by E. San Juan, Jr.)
Michael Joseph Roberto: "Crisis, Revolution, and the Meaning of Progress: The Poverty of Philosophy and its Contemporary Relevance"
Spyros Sakellaropoulos and Panagiotis Sotiris: "Peter Gowan’s Theorization of the Forms and Contradictions of US Supremacy: A Critical Assessment"
E. San Juan , Jr.: "An African American Soldier in the Philippine Revolution: An Homage to David Fagen"
Daniel F. Vukovich: "Uncivil Society, or, Orientalism and Tiananmen, 1989"
Paul M. Heideman: Michael E. Brown, The Historiography of CommunismDavid Schwartzman: Eileen Christ and H. Bruce Rinker, eds., Gaia in Turmoil: Climate Change, Biodepletion and Earth Ethics in an Age of Crisis
Christopher Barnes: Selected Poems
10. ‘POLICY FUTURES IN EDUCATION’, Vol. 8, Iss. 1 and Vol. 8, Iss. 2, 2010 ARE NOW OUT - seehttp://www.wwwords.co.uk/pfie/content/pdfs/8/issue8_1.asp (Vol. 8, Iss. 1) http://www.wwwords.co.uk/pfie/content/pdfs/8/issue8_2.asp (Vol. 8, Iss. 2) The latest two issues of the international refereed ejournal, Policy Futures in Education, which Glenn and I are on the Editorial Board of, are now out. Vol. 8, Iss. 1 includes an article by an academic colleague of mine, John Opute, at London South Bank University. John approached me a while ago, asking me if I could help him to get his first article published. The article, entitled Managing Reward in Developing Economies: the challenge for multinational corporations, forms a small part of his PhD. I read the piece through for him, thought it was something that was worthy of publication and sent it off to Professor Michael Peters. So, now it is good to see that it is published. I look forward to working further with John Opute in terms of both publications and teaching in the future.
11. IRENE SENDLER: ‘THE PRIZE DOESN’T ALWAYS GO TO THE MOST DESERVING...’ My cousin, Helen Whitehead kindly sent me this information about Irene Sendler. I thought it was important stuff, so decided to circulate it in my newsletter. Please forward to others as and when you can.
”There recently was a death of a 98 year-old lady named Irena. During WWII, Irena, got permission to work in the Warsaw Ghetto, as a Plumbing/Sewer specialist. She had an 'ulterior motive' .... She KNEW what the Nazi's plans were for the Jews, (being German.) Irena smuggled infants out in the bottom of the tool box she carried and she carried in the back of her truck a burlap sack, (for larger kids..) She also had a dog in the back that she trained to bark when the Nazi soldiers let her in and out of the ghetto. The soldiers of course wanted nothing to do with the dog and the barking covered the kids/infants noises.. During her time of doing this, she managed to smuggle out and save 2500 kids/infants. She was caught, and the Nazi's broke both her legs, arms and beat her severely. Irena kept a record of the names of all the kids she smuggled out and kept them in a glass jar, buried under a tree in her back yard. After the! war, she tried to locate any parents that may have survived it and reunited the family. Most had been gassed. Those kids she helped got placed into foster family homes or adopted. Last year Irena was up for the Nobel Peace Prize ... She was not selected.Al Gore won, for a slide show on Global Warming.”
12. DINESH K. GUPTA’S BLOG: ‘MARKETING MANTRA’ www.marketing-mantra-for-librarians.blogspot.com Dinesh K. Gupta, one of my ex-book reviewers for Managing Information and one of the editors of the book ‘Library Management Trends: trends and opportunities’ (referred to in item 4 of this newsletter) informed me recently about his blog, ‘Marketing Mantra’ and sent me some useful and interesting information about it, which I said I would be happy to circulate on my newsletter. This information was originally published in a journal from the University of Barcelona, entitled ‘Bid’. The piece that was published is reproduced below, with kind permission from ‘Bid’.
Dinesh K. Gupta Associate Professor of Library & Inf. Sc. V M Open University, Kota, India
It was a pleasant surprise for me to receive a communication from Angels Massisimo of the University of Barcelona requesting me to write about my blog ‘Marketing-mantra-for-librarians’ for the Faculty's e-journal "BiD" (http://www.ub.es/bid). In her email, she wanted, “…..just an introduction to the blog itself and its goals, etc. and a vision of its power in making librarians aware of the crucial role of marketing in the modern librarianship”...
In all modesty, I shall attempt to do that here.
Marketing of library and information services has been my area of work for the last decade or so and I have been authoring research and review papers on a regular basis in journals and conference proceedings, apart from three edited books (including IFLA book ‘Marketing Library and Information Services: International Perspectives)(1). However, these being the traditional scholarly media, they were no suitable avenues to dash off those occasional ideas, random thoughts, comment on issues or even aggregate works that I thought would be of interest to librarians involved in marketing. Further, having been following a few blogs myself, I found that there were no blogs from this part of the world on marketing for librarians. Thus, in September 2008, I began my saga with my blog
Blogging was slow in the first few months as I managed just about one post in the first year, later tried to post at least a post per month. Even for the most avid blogger, many times, the sheer lack of time to text thoughts can make the blog go blank. Besides, keeping in view that the aim of the blog is to act as a focal point for scattered information on marketing for librarians, I began to incorporate posts from other blogs and websites and also syndicate videos from other sites, most often, Youtube. Through RSS feeds, I regularly scan the contents of about 50 blogs and websites that occasionally have content on marketing for librarians and re-post relevant content on my blog giving the appropriate out links to the original.
A list of ten other blogs that I think is a must-read for librarians interested in marketing is also given on the home page of my blog. Likewise, details of relevant new books, articles, bibliographies, etc. are also given. Having got into a blogging rhythm, the frequency of posts increased and currently, I post at least once a week.
The blog posts include from simple themes of ‘what is marketing’ to the newest theme ‘marketing 2.0’ various activities, conferences, taking place on the marketing area is taken care.
The blog has had its share of, what I consider high points. The first was when, using my rudimentary digital videography skills, I recorded an exclusive interview with the then IFLA President, Claudia Lux during her visit to India and made it available on my blog through YouTube. A few more such videos are available through the blog. These are about IFLA International Marketing Award, Award distribution ceremony, and video clips of conference photos.
The IFLA Management & Marketing Section in collaboration with Emerald Group Publishing Limited offers the IFLA International Marketing Award (www.ifla.org/en/management-marketing/marketing-award) to recognize libraries in the global community that develop and implement effective marketing programs, Presently I serve as Chair of the Jury of the Award. Award Applications for the year 2011 will be announced in July on the IFLANET. The winner receives airfare, lodging and registration for participation in the next IFLA conference and a cash award of USD 1000. Concorci de Biblioteques de Barcelona (CBB), Spain won the Award in 2003 for its project ‘Literary Pathways’.
Of late, I have been attempting to have worldwide experts on library marketing to write for the blog. The first one by Christie Koontz was posted and later two more posts from colleagues from India and USA who are runner ups for the IFLA International Marketing Award-2010.
These features of the blog have not gone un-noticed. The blog has been recommended as a part of readings in marketing classes at the Florida State University (USA) and Tallinn University(Estonia). It has so far been accessed from 63 countries, Spain among them. Evidently, the blog has been useful to professionals from around the globe for connecting, sharing and facilitating communication on the subject of library marketing.
As we are aware, mantra is a sound, syllable, word, or group of words that are capable of “creating transformation”. My pursuit is to establish continuous dialog among library marketing practitioners and researchers from around the globe so that the libraries are transformed to more marketing-centred libraries. I hope, the blog Marketing-mantra-for-librarians, is of some help for those seeking the transformation.
1. Gupta, Dinesh K. et al, Marketing library and information services: International perspectives(Edited on behalf of IFLA), Munich: K. G. Saur
13. GRAHAM COULT AND ‘MANAGING INFORMATION’ Those of you that follow my newsletters fairly closely, will know something (at least) of my relationship with the monthly Aslib magazineManaging Information and with its editor Graham Coult. In this item, for historical reasons and for clarity, I would now like to expand on this somewhat. Getting my first article published (10 years ago now – wow!) was a very exciting experience for me. But once I had decided that I was really going to make it happen, then I sure as hell was going to make it happen! And of course I did. I am like that in general about things; once I really decide, then that’s it! Anyway, I thought clearly about just how to get something published, and made absolutely certain that I wrote an article that could and would be published. And indeed, as I say, that is exactly what I did!
To cut a long story short Graham Coult initially made contact with me, in regard to writing an article, having been given a tip-off from Paul Pedley, Head of Research at the Economist Intelligence Unit, who I had been having some phone conversations with about implementing I.T. systems, writing and other related matters. From there, possible topics were discussed with Graham Coult and the theme of writing about the relationship between library/information departments and computer/IT departments was decided upon and I wrote the article in a short space of time. It was entitled ‘The Essential Bridge: a new breed of professional’ and it was published immediately in the very next issue (April 2000, Vol. 7, Iss. 3). All great stuff!
Then, however, I quickly became disillusioned. My managers did not see things the way I did; they did not congratulate me as they should have done; neither did they take the important messages seriously enough that I was endeavouring to convey. The problems that I was trying to tackle were, indeed, very real and serious. These included problems and issues around communication, thought and expression; status and pay and recruitment procedures. In regard to the communication problem, I said for example that:
“Computer experts and information professionals think and express themselves very differently. The former tend to think in terms of numbers and logic (and are far more likely to have mathematical minds) and the latter in terms of language. How many times have we heard information and library professionals complain about the lack of easily readable and understandable documentation for their computer systems, or user-friendly front-ends? We need to find a means of enabling these two types of experts to communicate effectively and understand each other, as past experience shows there can be strong benefits.” (p. 40)
My thoughts on these communication issues very much developed leading on from the MSc in Information Science (Computerised Systems) that I studied for at University College London (1990-1994). Also, from my subsequent work in the I.T. field, implementing library computer systems where I witnessed firsthand, some of the difficulties that people had in understanding each other. I think that a greater awareness is needed in regard to all this; then, perhaps, some more effective ways to overcome this quite serious communication problem can be found.
In essence, I argued that a ‘new breed of professional’ was needed that could tackle these complex I.T. issues effectively within the information profession. Also, that there was a need for information professionals to be much more pro-active in this regard. I concluded by saying that:
“We need to take control of events and initiate rather than letting things happen to us. What do we need to do to change? Then, let’s go for it! The computer world world is changing rapidly – it won’t wait for us. It is up to us to do the moving. Then, perhaps, we can start to shape the future ourselves. Information professionals could be responsible for the design of their own software products and start to dictate the pace and direction of change in the future – i.e. be proactive. Learning to think differently is more important than learning a particular product or skill.” (p. 45)
Indeed, I am very much ‘for’ people being more proactive in general.
I thought that writing about all this in a published piece might help to solve the problems, that people would listen and pay more attention, but alas ‘no’. So, I quickly became disillusioned; I left my work, working as a ‘Project Manager’ for the international law company, Clifford Chance, where I took them through the initial implementation stage of the Unicorn library computer management system. (See also item 4 in this newsletter for further information in regard to this – in addition, if anyone would like a copy of either my chapter in the book on the topic and/or the article ‘The Essential Bridge’ then do let me know, and I will send it to you).
So, anyway, I decided to ‘go for it’ with the writing and publishing, and to obtain some university teaching work, to do alongside it all. It became a rich and rewarding experience, and far removed from my previous 9-5 library world!
Whilst pursuing this very different path, and also whilst preparing an issue on ‘Globalisation and Information’ for the ejournal Information for Social Change (ISC), I got a phone call ‘out of the blue’ from BBC Radio 4, asking me if I would like to go on a radio programme. I was delighted; I accepted. I went on ‘You and Yours’ in October 2001 talking about the General Agreement on Trade in Services and Libraries (GATS). The transcript for the programme can be found here at: http://www.libr.org/isc/media/ruth1.html.Graham Coult got to find out about this via Paul Pedley (as I was still keeping in contact with Paul). Graham then also emailed me ‘out of the blue’ asking me if I would like to write an article based on the radio programme for Managing Information. This was all very exciting; I agreed very enthusiastically, wrote the article, and again, he published it straightaway. Graham Coult then invited me to be the book reviews editor for Managing Information. I accepted enthusiastically, and the rest, as they say, is history.
I loved the book review work; I made contacts with many interesting people and writers (some of who now receive this newsletter) and then made contact with Dr. Glyn Jones at Chandos Publishing, Oxford. I got several Chandos books reviewed; Glyn then asked me if I would like to write a book myself. Wow – great! I accepted enthusiastically; I was away. Finally, I was to get to write that book; something that I had dreamed about doing from childhood. Although, then it had been very much a novel that I had wanted to write as a child; certainly not non-fiction. I didn’t like reading non-fiction stuff at all much in those early childhood days to be honest; in fact I only really read religious books!
So, anyway, my first book was then published with Chandos Publishing in 2005 of course on the topic of ‘Globalisation, Information and Libraries’. At the same time, Dr Glyn Jones also asked me if I would like to work for him as a Series Editor and later as a Commissioning Editor. Again, I accepted enthusiastically. Although, unfortunately, that also meant that I had to give up the book review work for Managing Information, because of the ‘conflict of interest’. Somehow, ever since then (i.e. since 2003), I have had to try to deal with this difficult situation as best I can.
Over the last few years I have written many articles and reviews for Managing Information on a wide range of different subjects. Last year (2009), for example, three articles of mine were published in the magazine. These were:
1. ‘Michéle Roberts: librarian, novelist and radical inspirational writer and thinker’, Vol. 16, Iss. 1, pp. 64-69 2. ‘Females and Social Networking’, Vol. 16, Iss. 3, pp. 50-59 3. ‘The Feminist Library in London’ by Ruth Rikowski and Anne Welsh, Vol. 16, Iss. 5, pp. 65-71
In regard to the article about the Feminist Library in London, for example, I wrote this piece with Anne Welch, who is a lecturer in cataloguing at University College London, and is someone that is also, like me, passionate about feminist-type issues. We both value and treasure the Feminist Library in London and want to do all that we can to help to preserve it and we wrote this article with all this very much in mind. The Feminist Library houses the material from the Feminist Movement of the 1970s and is distinct from the Women’s Library at London Metropolitan University, which houses the material from the Suffragette Movement of the 1920s. The Feminist Library has over 10,000 books and 1,500 journal titles, pamphlets and research papers. It is now run solely by volunteers; in contrast to when it was under the GLC (Greater London Council) when there were three paid librarians working there. We conclude our article by saying that:
“The way in which the Feminist Library has survived over the years, maintaining its independence is really quite something...It is important, we think, to try to help to preserve, safeguard and cherish this wonderful collection.” (p. 70)
Anne and I are keen to raise awareness further on this important topic, and with this in mind, we have discussed the possibility of giving a talk about the Feminist Library in London at a future CILIP in London meeting. Hopefully, in time, we can start to raise awareness still further. Meanwhile, if anyone would like a copy of the article, and/or would like to discuss this topic further with me, then do feel free to get in touch.
Returning once again to Graham Coult specifically, I would like to thank him once again for being right there for me straight after my father-in-law died, and at such a difficult time in my life. Graham lent me books, he recommended books to me, he sent me music links to songs on YouTube that he thought I might like and provided me with further information about the singers and the bands, and he recommended various book talks to me. He really helped me to pull through a very difficult period, and as I say, I am very appreciative to him for all of that.
Now, of course, Graham Coult works for Emerald Publishing. I wish him every success with his future work with Emerald, from where he will be continuing to edit Managing Information.
On another level, though, it has to be said that this writing game has brought some difficulties. Overall, it has been very positive, and life-changing. But a part of me felt sure that getting my writing published would also bring about some new and different problems from those that I had encountered before in my life. And this has, indeed, proved to be the case - job insecurity being one of them. But one thing I had not anticipated was the extent to which single-mindedness is key as is the need to be vigilant in regard to ‘opening possible cans of worms’, as the saying goes. Anyway, I continue to aim to do all I can to overcome the difficulties and set-backs.
Anyway, now, finally, I am in a position where I can turn my attention to writing a novel, so that’s great!
14. STEPHEN BARBER – REVIEWS EDITOR FOR ‘SOCIAL EUROPE JOURNAL’ AND NEW BOOK OUT ENTITLED ‘GREED’ Stephen Barber, an academic colleague of mine at London South Bank University informed me recently that he is the reviews editor for the ejournal ‘Social Europe Journal’ – see http://www.social-europe.eu/. Leading on from this discussion, he said that he would get our friend Patrick Ainley and Martin Allen’s latest book, ‘The Lost Generation’ reviewed in it. If you are interested in writing a review for the journal yourself, do contact Stephen at firstname.lastname@example.org.
15. ‘WHISKY BREATH CONFESSIONAL’ BY NEIL WHITEHEAD http://www.blurb.com/bookstore/detail/1356191 My second cousin, Neil Whitehead, who also designed our ‘Flow of Ideas’ website, has just (May 2010) self-published a book on photography, using the Blurb software. By strange coincidence this is the same software that Martin Hodges used to self-publish his little book, ‘Word of Eye’, which I referred to in a previous newsletter.
As it says in the publicity for Neil’s book:
“Whisky Breath Confessional is a visual narrative into the world of Neil Whitehead, an undergraduate to an art photography degree. He is a diligent and observant photographer that searches out intriguing insight into life in the cities of England. The book Whisky Breath Confessional-as the name suggests-shows a confession to an outlook of the artist. Showing a poetic and suspenseful series of photographs that take the viewer on a quiet tour of his environment.”
Furthermore, that Neil Whitehead:
“...is a photographer that pursues opportunities to express emotions, and raise questions and intrigue in all of his photos. His photographs pertain to a style and philosophy that is unique and is growing.”
37 pages of the book can be previewed online. There are some lovely scenes in it, with some very interesting and different views and perspectives.
Neil is currently studying at Southampton University for a degree in Photography.
I wish Neil all the very best with his book, and hope that it sells lots of copies. I shall, of course, be ordering and reviewing the book myself.
16. MERCANTILE MARINE BRONZE WORLD WAR ONE MEDAL AND POSSIBLE LINKS WITH MY GRANDFATHER, CLEMENT AUGUSTINE VICKERY I received an interesting email from someone a while ago who informed me that one of his hobbies was collecting and researching World War One medals. As part of his research he told me that he had done a quick "Google" search on medals listed on the "Ebay" site and that my "Blog" came up in his search. My grandfather, Clement Augustine Vickery was in the Merchant Navy for those that having been reading my newsletter closely enough and remember! He also wrote two books on nautical matters.
This person then went on say that there is a Mercantile Marine bronze war medal which may have been awarded to my grandfather, Clement Augustine Vickery for his Merchant Navy Service during Word War 1. He said that service details for these medals are held at the National Archives at Kew.
He thought that other "collectors" on discovering that this medal was awarded to a ships Captain/Master may also find this to be of interest, and that the medal may sell for quite a lot more than its starting price. He suggested that I might want to get involved in the bidding, to secure the medal for the family. I was very busy at the time, so did not pursue that option, but perhaps it is something that can be thought through further on a future occasion.
He also made the point that it might be beneficial to make contact with the staff at Kew in regard to this. He did not know whether archives are available for the Merchant Service in WW1 (as he specialises in Army medals/research). But what he does know is that there are "Index Cards" for the Seamen which give brief service details and usually a copy photograph. Also, that as my grandfather was an officer he thought that there might well be many more records held. So, this is something that I might well pursue further at a future date.
I have been doing a little research into my family history over the last couple of years. I concluded that it would probably all make for a very interesting book, especially if I related it to the history of women’s education in the UK. So writing such a book is something that I might well do at a later date (but certainly not for some while though, given my busy schedule). Also, I think it would be more appropriate for me to write at some more distant time in the future.
Anyway, in conclusion, the person that contacted me said that he was happy for this information to be included on my blog (and so I have been able to include this as a news item, and I thank him for this) but that he did not want to be named in person. So, hopefully, this information will be of interest to my family, and is something that we can in time explore further. I certainly appreciate the time, effort and trouble that the person took in making contact with me and informing me about it all and I would like to publicly thank him for that.
17. WILL ROBERTS ‘DAYSTAR’ VIDEO Will Roberts, a band member of ‘Cold Hands & Quarter Moon’ and a friend of our son Victor Rikowski recently composed a song, entitled ‘Daystar’, and made a video of it. This is now up on YouTube. We thought it was very good, so wanted to share it with you. The URL for it is: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s6f_pA5XUPk
Will Roberts, like Victor, is studying Music and Creative Writing at Bangor University.
18. ‘COLD HANDS & QUARTER MOON’ – TWO OTHER SONGS NOW UP ON CH&QM’s MYSPACE PAGE AND NOW c 6,800 PROFILE VIEWS IN TOTAL http://www.myspace.com/coldhandsmusic There are 2 other songs now up on the band ‘Cold Hands & Quarter Moon’s’MySpace page - ‘Stagnant’ and ‘Slave and Masters’. ‘Slaves and Masters’ is a new, quite complex, song, composed by Victor Rikowski, and this is the first time that it has been made available on the internet. Interest in the band continues to grow, and there have now been around some 6,800 profile views of the band on their MySpace page.
N.B. Many thanks to Jeremy Gilbert (in regard to Middlesex University), Helen Whitehead, Dinesh Gupta, Stephen Barber and Neil Whitehead for providing information for items 8, 11, 12, 14 and 15 respectively.
I live a varied life - writing and editing; teaching and lecturing; enjoying music, especially dancing and singing; coming from a library and information background; love books and reading; enjoy my immediate family (have 3 sons) and friends; love the theatre and going to concerts (e.g. the Royal Festival Hall, the Globe Theatre). I could go on and on...but better probably to just read my Updates! They tell you lots about me.