Monday, 15 June 2009
This was written from the point of view of rural services. Dyson spent a day each on two of the mobiles from Clywd's fleet of nine talking to staff and customers. In this respect he conducted an ethnographic observation, taking note of representative comments from the customers. He noted that the ethos of the mobile library service was different to that of static libraries. They provided a greater social service that just being a library delivery service. They were focal meeting points for small communities, the operators performed other functions, taking books into people homes during snowy conditions, giving help and advice, answering queries, local knowledge.
He considered other types of library provision, and compared advantages and disadvantages. Cost of service per head of population appears to be the major consideration when authorities are auditing such provision, but Dyson argues that they do not take all the factors into consideration. A part-time library in a rural location could be flexible with opening hours, but cost more by purchase of a building and a proportion of static stock. Sharing a premises and therefore cost is possible, but takes effort to negotiate with other bodies. An example of shared premises is having a library in a school, which Clwyd did, however, charges were introduced that made the situation too costly. It is interesting to note that in recent years libraries are again going into other buildings, for instance in Derby city and somewhere else that I heard of recently has one in a community centre.
Dyson discusses the pros and cons on trailer, van and container libraries, which were good value. The drawbacks for that sort of provision is the time taken to take the out to stops, and customer access. He approaches the idea of busing the elderly customers into static libraries where they could socialise as a cost effective excersise. He also highlights the plight of rural children, they may be in school when the mobile library calls. He suggests that school library service provision could be increased but realises that if more money is put there then it decreases elsewhere. He thinks that their ever growing needs should be considered with urgency.
The arguments that mobile libraries have such a limited book stock are dispelled by Dyson relating to comment of one customer who stated her preference for the mobile library over the nearest static one because she know where to find what she wanted in the mobile library, but got lost in the larger branch library. He goes on to illustrate that a smaller selection of stock does not always mean less borrowing. When one of the local libraries needed to remove stock to barcode them for a computerised system, spaces in shelves were filled by face on book display, and issues increased.
This blog entry describes the users and mothers of a much needed service in the townships of Capetown.
Tuesday, 2 June 2009
Lev Vygotsky was a developmental psychologist and he believed that children learn thinking and understanding by practising it with a more experienced person until they manage to internalise the skill and do it themselves. Learning is interactive and a child needs a go-between to feed in knowledge at the correct level and pace to buffer the space between what they know and what they don't know. Lynne McKechnie used an ethnographic field study to find out how pre-school girls used public libraries. They were audio recorded in interaction with their mothers.
She found that using the library provided learning opportunities about how libraries work, and the acquisition of emergent literacy skills especially in one to one exchanges between mother and daughter, who were instinctively using the zone of proximal development. She quotes examples of her observations when the mother asks questions about the illustrations, reinforces the child's statements, repeats their statements to verify them, and gives them encouragement to explore and think for themselves. They guide them through the books, linking words with pictures. She concludes that if children need a human catalyst to help them learn reading skills, this affects libraries in the following ways,
- libraries should provide spaces for story sharing, with a parent or carer
- staff can identify supporting behaviour from parents that use it naturally, and teach the behaviour to other parents.
- Library staff can learn to work with children in their zone of proximal development.
If this is done, "libraries will have a positive impact on children's lives."
The sort of modelling behaviour that Lynne McKechnie has researched is one of the things I need to be looking for when I do observation on Children's mobile libraries. Then I can assess the contribution that has towards literacy development.
Monday, 1 June 2009
As this report was published nine years ago, some of it's information is now outdated. It is interesting, however, to see the thoughts at the time and track the changes that have come about since then. At the time there was concern that public libraries were seen as catering for middle classes. Muddiman (2000), considers that social exclusion is complex, widespread, and needs to be tackled by the whole library movement "Rather than strategies which approach exclusion as an ephemeral of peripheral concern." In 1998, the Schools Standards and Framework Act set up Education Action Zones to give priority to literacy and numeracy in partnership with schools, business, LEA's and parents. They were given £750,000 from government and £250,000 from private partners to find innovative ways to increase learning. They had an intended lifespan of 5 years, when some of them turned into Excellence in Cities action zones. I found this information on the DfEE website. I would like to find out what has happened to them. It seems like another reserach project. I mention this, because some children's mobile libraries had some dealings with the EAZ's. I know we visited certatin schools and certatian area's as part of the Reading Rocket because they were in the Education Action Zone's of Derby. It would be interesting to find out if any of that money was used to fund Children's mobile libraries.
In the conclusion of Vincent's chapter about Public libraries, children and young people, and social exclusion, he predicts that the "Flurry of Activity", out reach and community initiatives, at that time would not last long. He believed that external funding would run out leaving projects to be either mainstream funded to the detriment of other services, or to stop entirely. I think that his prediction was right, it is certainly what happened to the Reading Rocket. However, the Bookstart scheme started in 1992, and has grown and developed giving free books to children up to the age of 5, and some offshoots of the scheme giving free books to children of the age of 11. I think I really need to check my facts for that. The good thing about the bookstart scheme is that it brings together health visitors, educational or care establishments, parents and Libraries. West Sussex libraries have two children's mobile, one of them has been around for a while, and because of the success with its work with the bookstart scheme it has persuaded its authorty to purchase a second mobile library.
Back to Vincent, he lists a number of library initiatives that involves to fostering of literacy in libraries. for insatance summer reading schemes. holiday activities and work with men and boys. He acknowledges that libraries have a responsibility to advance literacy. He states that at that time less children visited libraries on their own becasue of parents fears of percieved dangers and traffic hazards. Parents do not take them themselves instead. He feared cutbacks on out reach and community based work and cites mobile library services for children as being under threat. He also believs that there will be in consequence a reduction of feedback from local communities and a reduction in library posts with a special responsibility for children. He is worried about the training of librarians, and in 2000 there was a reduction of courses for librarians specialising in working with children.
This is at a time when children's library work was becoming important. The 1995 "Investing in Children" report says that taking the library into the community into places that are different, is the way to reach parents and children who would not go into a library building. People who visit a children's mobile library are commonly heard to say "I have never been into a library before".