ASSOCIATES (vol. 5, no. 3, March 1999) - associates.ucr.edu

A Time to Celebrate!

by

Jim Jackson
Honorary Secretary,
National Committee for Affiliated Members Group of the Library Association
C/O The Law Library
University of Exeter
J.G.Jackson@exeter.ac.uk

        What does the year 2000 mean to you? Does it mean, as some predict, computer crisis, and the 'dawn of a new age'? Or would you prefer to take part in a project to enhance literacy and promote libraries and their services?

        This may all seem irrelevant to you, but the National Committee for Affiliated Members Group of the Library Association wants you to celebrate the new millennium with us. Rather than invite you to attend a well meaning, but dull exhibition, we want you to take part in a project which could have far reaching implications and allow you to say that you helped launch the new millennium in style.

        We plan to try and organise a mass reading on a specified day of a specified book. On Saturday, 24th June 2000, we want as many people as possible to read a copy of Shakespeare's Midsummer Nights Dream, with the project called 'Book IT'. This can be done by reading printed copy, listening to audiotape, CD-ROM, or even on-line. If you were not able to organise a reading, perhaps you could organise an exhibition about literacy, with the book as the central attraction. The idea is that schools, mobile libraries, academic and commercial libraries all come together to demonstrate their resources and services as a whole.

        In the past, other events have by their very nature excluded some people, because of location or type of organisation. Here the most remote parts of the UK can take part the same as the most urban areas anywhere else can. It is hoped that most libraries stock, somewhere, copies of Shakespeare, thus keeping the cost down of the project. Each area can organise its own event on the same theme. This really is a project for the most junior to senior members of YOUR library.

        We hope that we can come to an arrangement with a major bookseller to use some of their web space to promote the idea. The goal is that each area organise its own events and then let us know what they are doing, so that we can organise publicity for it. The whole question of web space is a new one for us all to consider, particularly here in the UK. In the past we have read of library support staff and paraprofessionals designing web pages and editing their contents because more senior staff showed either little interest in their activities or were so busy with 'management' that they were happy to delegate the task. Have a look at the excellent page by Carol Borzyskowski at http://www.selco.lib.mn.us/winona/index.htm in the USA.

        Here in the UK I don't think we have reached this stage of 'enlightenment'. One of the first problems to overcome is the provision of hardware for library staff to use. While most public libraries can now proudly show IT suites to members of the public, staff often has only either very short periods of time to use the machines, or a lack of training to begin to use the machines. If you want to see how many public libraries in the UK now have Internet access look at the well developed UK public libraries web page at http://dspace.dial.pipex.com/town/square/ac940/ukpublib..html It is well worth a look.

        With the BookIT project, we have the opportunity to link small 'home grown' web pages with those of big organisations, all with the same theme of Shakespeare's Mid Summer's Night Dream, plus a chance to promote your libraryís services and reach out to people who might need your services. We also have an opportunity to celebrate the new millennium in style!

        We have, as a National Committee, been seeking support for this, and now seek your help and support. The 1998 Library Association President, Professor Bob Usherwood, says of the project "Regardless of format, libraries organise and communicate information, ideas and works of imagination. The Book IT project demonstrates this in an exciting way by building bridges between the technologies, the past and the future". While Ross Shimmon, former Chief Executive of the LA says, "What can be more appropriate to dream of universal literacy during the Millennium Year".

        What we need now is for you, the members and non members alike, to consider what role you can play in this project, approach your senior management for support, and make a note of the date in your diary. Further details will be announced in the coming months both in this journal, and, we hope, others, as well as from our web site at: http://www.la-hq.org.uk/groups/amnc/amnc.html

        Remember to invite your local press to cover your event too, as this could be a great community event!!

        Donít forget this is both your project and Ďoursí. We can share advice, expertise and encouragement. If you do not have web access, donít worry. Write an article for Associates or, if youíre a member of the UK Library Association, write something for the Library Association Record at: record@la-hq.org.uk

        Your contribution, no matter where in the world, should be to advertise and proudly present your services, your library. On the Associates web page you will see a logo which we have chosen to use for all the project work. You should also use it with any artwork you design for your part of the project. On Saturday, June 24th 2000, we would like to think that all over the world perhaps this same symbol will be being displayed to show how much paraprofessionals contribute to library services.

[Editorsí Note: Associates: The Electronic Library Support Staff Journal and the University of Kansas will be providing the web space needed by the National Committee for Affiliated Members Group to promote this idea. See their page at http://www.ukans.edu/~assoc/bookit.html]






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