Saturday, 30 June 2012

Ruth Rikowski's 50th News Update

This newsletter includes some more good news regarding our sons working in the library and information world, information about 2 new authors that I have recently commissioned for Chandos Publishing and David Black and Chris Ford’s new book on Chartism.


Leading on from my last newsletter, I am delighted to say that our eldest

son, Alexander Rikowski, now has a permanent position, working as an

‘Information Assistant’, at the Maughan Library, King’s College

London. It is a wonderful atmosphere there in a very beautiful building,

of course, and he is very much enjoying it all.


He is also back working in the library that he used when he was a

Philosophy student there, so has easy access to all those lovely Philosophy

books again! What could be better!


I was very surprised and delighted to discover that our middle son, Victor Rikowski, is on the front cover of the June 2012 issue of ‘CILIP (Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professioanls Update’, taking Rhyme Time with children at the Idea Store, Chrisp Street in the London Borough of Tower Hamlets. See

To be honest, I initially took the magazine out of its wrapping and left it on the table for several days without looking at it. When I finally got to have a read through it, I did not even notice the front cover at first. I flicked through ‘Update’ and then, low and behold I spotted an article by Kate Pitman, Idea Store Development Manager and member of the Strategy Group of the London Libraries Consortium. She was writing about the 10 year celebration of Idea Stores in the London Borough of Tower Hamlets, which is where Victor works, of course. So, I started paying attention!

The article is entitled ‘A roaring trade in ideas’ (pp. 32-34). I then casually wondered whether Victor might possibly get a mention, as he has been working very hard and has been very pro-active there, taking Rhyme Time sessions, book clubs and creative writing workshops etc. I then spotted him in one of the small pictures in the article (on p. 34). I showed this to Glenn. He then pointed out to me that Victor was also actually on the front cover. Wow – amazing! The cover is entitled: ‘Fun times and learning at Idea Store, Chrisp Street’.

As part of its 10-year birthday celebration, Idea Stores also had a Short Story Competition, and Victor ran some Creative Writing workshops for anyone that wanted extra help with writing for the competition. The story had to cover a 10-year period. Our youngest son, Gregory Rikowski, went to one of the sessions and actually entered the competition (although did not win!). Anyway, we decided to insert his short story on our website, so here is the link:

Leading on from all of this, I contacted the Managing Editor at ‘CILIP Update’, Rachel Middleton. Rachel explained that the cover picture was chosen from a number of different pictures that Idea Stores sent to them and said that she would gladly send Victor a copy. I told her something about our background, and the fact that Victor first wrote for the library and information world when he was just 14 years old – see

I also mentioned the fact that the then editor of CILIP Update, Elpseth Hyams, came to the book launch for my digitisation book at UCL in 2011.

I explained that although I am not currently writing non-fiction material, I might make an exception for ‘Update’, if that would be useful and help to fill in some of the missing gaps.


I am delighted to say that I have commissioned 2 new people to write

books for Chandos Publishing: these are Jamie O’Brien and Chris


Dr Jamie O’Brien is a Research Manager at University College

London Virtual Environments, Imaging and Visualisation, a multi-

disciplinary research and training centre. Jamie came to the book

launch for my digitisation book, which was held at UCL last year.

Whilst, Dr Chris Walker wrote an excellent review of my digitisation

book for ‘CILIP Update’, January 2012 (see my newsletter No. 49, item

13). Chris is a part-time lecturer at Leeds Metropolitan University and a

Law Librarian at the College of Law in York.

The tentative titles for their books are:

‘Spatiializing Knowledge’ by Jamie O’Brien

‘Qualitative Research and Grounded Theory for LIS Professionals and Students’ by Chris Walker

I wish James and Chris all the very best with the writing of their Chandos books.


Friends and comrades of ours, Dave Black and Chris Ford have a new book just out about the Chartist Movement. The book is entitled:

‘1839: The Chartist Insurrection’ by David Black and Chris Ford, Unkant Publishing: London, 2012 ISBN 978 0 9568176 7 9 (pbk).

Glenn went along to the book launch at the Workers Education Association, in East London, and it proved to be an interesting and enjoyable event.

He also purchased a copy of the book and proceeded to read it very quickly!

The book is very thorough and detailed and really paints a very full and clear picture of the whole event, providing accurate information and filling in many of the missing gaps. It makes it very clear just how significant the whole Chartist movement was, and that it was not just something that can be ‘swept under the carpet’. Interestingly, when I spoke to my sons about this, none of them had heard of the Chartist Movement. ‘Did you not study it as part of your basic history at school?”, I asked. ‘No’, they replied. Well, that just about says it all and helps to explain why Dave and Chris thought it was so necessary to write this book. It will, I am sure, prove to be an invaluable resource as well as a guide for future struggles. Dave and Chris thank various librarians for helping them to gather the historical material together. The book was a lot of work and took them many years to research and write.

There is a valuable endorsement of the book on the back cover by Ben Watson, who says:

“In retrieving the suppressed history of the Chartist insurrection, David Black and Chris Ford have written a revolutionary handbook. Without romanticism or condescension, they track the difficulties of unifying local revolts without selling out to the ‘representative politics’ favoured in the parliamentary charade. As today’s anti-capitalism faces the problem of anger without organisation, the lessons of the Chartists become crucial. Dialectics is not something to be derived from pure philosophy: by looking at the political problems of an insurgent working class. Black and Ford resurrect the true One-to-Many dialectic.”

For further information about the book see:

And a promotional video was shown at the book launch - see:

Dave also spoke at the book launch for my globalisation book, which was held at London South Bank University, in 2005. Dave’s talk was very good and he had lots of wise words to say about ‘value’, in particular.

We wish Dave and Chris every success with their book.


There are 6 news entries up on my ‘Serendipitous Moments’ blog:

2 entries about library privatisation threats and cutbacks (demonstrating that the predictions that I first made in 2001 are very much now coming to pass); 1 entry about critical pedagogy and 3 focusing on the classics.

These are: ‘The Creative University and Paulo Freire’, ‘Strike: Greenwich Libraries Staff to Strike over GLL Takeover’, ‘Walk and Rally for Greenwich Public Libraries’, ‘Jane Austen and Douglas Kennedy’, ‘Let Other Pens Dwell on Guilt and Misery’ and ‘Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy’.


The ‘Jane Austen and Douglas Kennedy’ piece is now also available on our website – see


A second cousin of mine from Canada made contact with me in 2009, following on from a news item in one of my newsletters (the 27th) about my great grandparents. Here is the link:

The newsletter was written in March 2009, and it is the 2nd news item.

My great grandparents ran schools in Essex and Cornwall at the end of the 19th century. They were both qualified teachers, and of course this is something that I am very proud of. And clearly, it has all had quite some influence on me, in one way or another (with my love of books and learning etc).

This second cousin contacted me, saying that we had the same great grandparents. Wow! My great grandfather emigrated to Canada and one of his children went with him and decided to stay. She then went on to have 6 children. And these relations are descendants from that line, of course.

Anyway, another Canadian second cousin recently contacted me and came to the UK and we were fortunate enough to be able to meet up with him and exchange family information, genealogy, thoughts and ideas. Once again, it was surprising and interesting to find what we all had in common, and helped to give us a better sense of who we are and where we come from. Several of us spent a lovely afternoon together. It helped us all to piece together some more pieces of the jigsaw. Perhaps, one day I will get to write something more substantial about our family history. We will have to wait and see.

Here’s sending all good wishes to my cousins across the oceans.


Victor Rikowski has now remixed his ‘Cold Hands & Quarter Moon’ CD. He went to Bangor recently, and distributed copies to his friends. An earlier remix of one of the tracks (‘Human Herbs’) can be found on YouTube at:

If anyone would like a copy (£5.00 + p.& p.), then please do get in touch.

Hope you have a good summer!

Best wishes


N.B. Many thanks to Tina Besley for providing information about the ‘Creative University and Paulo Freire’ (an entry on my ‘Serendipitous Moments’ blog in item 5 above), and to David Marzella for providing information about the Strike in Greenwich Libraries (2 entries on my ‘Serendipitous Moments’ blog in item 5 above).

30th June 2012