Thursday, 16 December 2010

Video: Mobile Libraries of the World · Global Voices

Video: Mobile Libraries of the World · Global Voices

This is an interesting blog page by a lady who has collected videos of the more unusual forms of transport used as mobile libraries around the world. What do you think we should use in Britain when it snows? Bring back the shire horse? or should we get some reindeer, I believe there are some in Scotland. then the arrival of a mobile library really would be like Christmas coming all year round!!

I have acutally made some conclusions from the research, but at the moment I am not blogging them, just in case I may end up plagiarlising myself, however, I can say that I think that the excitment of a mobile library arriving at a venue, then leaving again make them as attractive to customers as travelling shows. They are like Christmas arriving, and this helps the learning process . But, mor of that when I have written up the thesis.

Happy Christmas everyone!

Friday, 8 October 2010

List of things to do

I operate by coping with life through a series of lists. I suppose that is why I took to librarianism like a duck to water. I have never reached the heady heights of having a lists of lists, that would be too much like cataloguing. I did decide to "go out" with the person I am now married to by doing lists of advantages and disadvantages, however, so the list idea is well ingrained in me. So, why the latest list? and what is all this waffle about? Two days ago I had the terrifying experience of defending my research for my second year viva, in order to pass to the third year and complete the PhD. This past year has been focused on collecting and analysing the data. Now I have to make sense of it all. The second year viva concentrated on the ways I collected and analysed the data and what I named the methodology.

Now I have to work out my arguments for calling the methodology "Grounded theory ethnography" in a much better way, more supported and succinctly, and I have to work out how to present my thesis in a non formal way, but with the literature search being obvious. This is what I have decided to do;
  • email some people who are writing grounded theory theses to see how they lay it out
  • look at theses in the library that use grounded theory
  • find recommendations for grounded theory thesis layout in books about grounded theory
  • decide on a generic form of headings and where to put what information
  • take the layouts and show them to my supervisors
There, list done.

And I must remember to say in my final viva that I collected and analysed data all in one go.

Thursday, 30 September 2010

So busy writing too busy to write

At the end of each year of PhD study a report has to be submitted to check that you are really doing some work. "Report" is somewhat of a misnomer, because it takes about six months to write and is mainly made up of stuff you will have in your final thesis, something I found out after the disater of my first year report. Well, I think I have cracked it with the second year report, I have written the methodology, it took me ages to work out what I was doing, I knew what the actions and consequences were, but I had to sort it all into a set system and justify the chioce of the actions, with philosphical reasoning. It is hard.

So, this morning I have just practised the presentation for the second year viva with my supervisiors and it went well, just a few tweaks and a bit more practise to get it slick. I may post it on here one day, but I think I should let the examiner see it for the first time at the presentation. I am also writing the literature review, and all of you who's vehicle I have visited will get a mention somewhere. I can only write about the ones where there is some published material, or the people who have given me written reports, so if you are a Children's Mobile Library service, and you have nothing posted on a website, get you IT crowd at it and put one out there for me! All in all, I have spent so much time writing up what I have done and seen that I have not had enough time to do Proper work, but hey, that's life and business isn't it!

Monday, 6 September 2010

Leeds new look mobile library on streets - Yorkshire Evening Post

Typical, isn't it, as soon as I take a month's leave something happens and a new children's mobile springs up. If only I had warning, I could have gone to see it. Still, apart from asking Leeds libraries what their aims are and why they have chosen to start a new service in this stringent times I don't think that this new library will add any more data to my thesis. So, I am pleased that CML's are still being launched and hope that Leeds will not be the last one for a while.

Leeds new look mobile library on streets - Yorkshire Evening Post

Library Services for Young People · Children’s Mobile Library for Leeds, UK

Latest News: New mobile library prepares to hit the road

Wednesday, 28 July 2010

Latest and maybe last bit of fieldwork, Manchester and Stockport

So, it has been just over a year since I started going out on vehicles and although I am doing qualitative research (stuff that cannot be counted or measured), here are some figures. I have observed over 700 children, I have talked to at least 29 staff and 40 parents and carers. I have undertaken observations in 13 vehicles over 9 library authorities and informally spoken to the staff of two more. If I have missed you out, I apologise. I still hope to contact everyone by the end of the PhD, so if you are part of a Children's Mobile Library service and have any burning issues to tell me, please be in touch. I have made friends all over the country and I hope that mobile libraries and library services can exist for the next year so that I can report back!

So, the last two bits of fieldwork were a Saturday morning with the Reading Voyager in Manchester, gosh, the traffic was hectic, and a Thursday afternoon with the Stockport Storybus.The Reading Voyager visits 10 mainstream schools and 5 special schools regularly on a three week rota. This is to fit in with the main library service borrowing period for books. They also visit children’s homes, a travellers site, a fairground site and street stops after school. They mainly issues books and don’t generally tell stories apart from during special events. They have collaborated with Manchester museum to produce a board game about books which is still played in the schools they visit.

The vehicle is currently run by Diane and Lynne. They always work with a driver who could be one of a pool of seven,the drivers circulate like Lincoln. The driver of the day during my visit was Karen. She has worked in Libraries for the past 30 years and has driven a mobile library for the past 15. Both of the staff I saw today love their jobs and are dedicated to the service.The aim of the service as far as Diane is concerned, is to break down barriers. She feels there is more to their service that just giving out books, part of it is being a role model and another caring adult in the children’s lives. She has taken over the post from the woman who set the service up. The vehicle is a “Leicester coach builders” vehicle. The inside is pleasant enough, the shelves are pinky purple and the carpet blue. There are two padded seats at the back and lots of shelves that go up to head height only. The shelves are all face on, and there are a number of spinners. It has a public laptop, the only other one that I have seen since my days in the Reading Rocket, The outside is cream with illustrations by Paul Stewart and Chris Riddell.

The Stockport Storybus is quite different. It's target audience is children under the age of five. It operates with a team of three people, Christopher, Carol and Alison and it is managed by Sarah.

This service was started in 2001 as part of the sure start service. It still has a sure start logo on its livery. It specialises in under fives and visits under fives groups, schools and nurseries, children’s centres and has community stops, Alison and Christopher also deliver Bookstart books, tell stories in clinics and work with parents and children. Much of their work involves modelling storytelling for parents, so that they can do it with their children at home. The team also train Sure start staff who have little confidence in storytelling.Today was the last day of term and I had the privilege to meet the whole team.
The vehicle is on the road three days a week, and has eight stops a day. The community stops are usually very busy with parents and grandparents bringing their children and grandchildren on board. The interior is colourful, decorated with nursery style scenes, only a few book shelves and a number of kinderboxes on the floor. It is a large space, dedicated to storytelling activities. It was a lovely end to some very fruitful fieldwork.

Monday, 28 June 2010

New children's library bus hits the road - Oxford Journal

Oxfordshire have three mobile libraries that cater for children. The latest one is a mobile children's centre, but I may have mentioned that after seeing it at the Mobile meet. It was shortly after then that I managed to observe it in action, during the first time that it had been out in a holiday period. It is beautifully appointed, with a plasma screen to show presentations and video's to parents and lots of toys for babies and toddlers. The two ladies who run the vehicle are both very experienced child care experts and newly experience library assistants. they have picked up the skills really quickly.

Parents were greeted with the offer of a hot drink, and children were read to and borrowed lots of books. Everyone seemed very impressed with the bright and relaxed atmosphere and we all got treated to some nursery rhymes spontaneously sang to us by one of the three year olds.

Monday, 14 June 2010

Book illustrations adorn new Norfolk mobile library - Norfolk News - EDP24

This is not what I would term A Children's Mobile Library, it is one run by the School Library service, but I thought I would add it anyway. It is good to find a mention of a new vehicle in a newspaper.

Book illustrations adorn new Norfolk mobile library - Norfolk News - EDP24

Monday, 7 June 2010

Barnstaple People | Devon County Council to Improve Mobile Library Service

Barnstaple People | Devon County Council to Improve Mobile Library Service

Grant keeps New Haven's Readmobile rolling (video)- The New Haven Register - Serving New Haven, Connecticut

Grant keeps New Haven's Readmobile rolling <span style="color: #ff0000">(video)</span>- The New Haven Register - Serving New Haven, Connecticut

Bookmobile fund-raiser set

Bookmobile fund-raiser set

The Weston Mercury - Mobile library service set for changes

The Weston Mercury - Mobile library service set for changes

Budget cuts force library to re-evaluate mobile services

Budget cuts force library to re-evaluate mobile services

Getting Started: A Children’s Traveling Library and the Love of Books « Preschool Literacy « Videos « Literacy News

Getting Started: A Children’s Traveling Library and the Love of Books « Preschool Literacy « Videos « Literacy News

Monday, 24 May 2010

The Bexley Children's Library

The Bexley Children's Mobile Library is managed by Jacqueline Luckhurst who has been involved with the service since it officially started seven years ago. During that time she has seen the development of her customers as they progress through school and move from "Where's Wally" books to the "Darren Shan" series. Jacqueline has two part-time driver assistants, although she can drive the vehicle herself. When it goes around schools and children's centres or in parks at holiday time, it is double staffed. This means that Jacqueline is able to spend a lot of time talking to the children and helping and advising them as they choose their books.

The children's mobile library only visits schools because that is the place to find children. The service is available for the individual child. The interior is decorated with children's work from all the schools it visits, created specially for the vehicle. On my visit they were displaying a dragon and St. George that was done as a celebration of St. Georges day.

Monday, 17 May 2010

I was there

The two links that follow are press reports about events at this year's Mobile Meet which was held on May 8th at Dewsbury. I found this year's particularly interesting and very useful from a research point of view. The day started with a talk from Baroness Boothroyd, one of my role models, a wonderfully strong minded woman who controlled the business of the house of commons like a powerful headmistress.

Baroness shares love of libraries - Dewsbury Reporter

Her talk showed her humour, warmth and no-nonsense approach to life. Part of her duties at the Mobile Meet was to present the awards for the new "Mobile library champion of the year awards", which was an idea that came to the Branch and Mobile Library Group of CILIP from an Australian visitor last year.

Mobile library champion of the year : Warwickshire News - Warwickshire Web

It was a good day for me because I met the staff of the two Powys Children's libraries that take books to children during school time during term times, then transform themselves into "The Book Runners" during holiday times. They consider that in that way they "Reach every child in the county". They had not brought their vehicles with them but that gives me a chance to visit them some time. I also saw the two Oxford children's mobiles. I will be visiting them on the first of June. Their latest vehicle is actually a mobile children's centre as well as a library and I will be very interested in visiting that.

One of the most surprising vehicles is the Bookstart story telling mobile from Sheffield. Unfortunately because they do not issue books and perform the functions of a library I can't count them in part of the research. The idea of a children's mobile library for Sheffield had been discussed, but it was considered impractical because Sheffield is such a large city more than one vehicle would have been needed. From my point of view, I consider that a worthwhile investment, but I think Sheffield libraries only had funding for one vehicle. It is remarkable, however, because it looks exactly like a zoo cage, or for those of us who remember such barbaric things, a travelling cage for a circus animal. The side lifts up completely to expose bars and a very inside which is stuffed full of animals, the soft toy variety. It's function is to go around distributing Bookstart packs and telling stories. It's aims are to reach the unreachable, promote literacy and tell parent s and children about the library service. If it cannot inspire children to read, then nothing will!

Here are some pictures of it!

The third vehicle that drew my attention was the North Tyneside children's mobile. This was a surprise because I did not know of that one. I think it is very unfair of authorities to start a new vehicle with telling me! However, this vehicle is staffed by a dynamic young woman, Rachel, who obviously loves her job. Like the West Sussex northern vehicle it is single staffed, but unlike the West Sussex vehicle it is BIG so I am filled with admiration of Rachel's ability to drive it. It visits children at schools and children's centres with the emphasis of providing a service to the individual child. It targets disadvantaged area's, hard to reach groups and schools that are not near a static library

It is unusual because the livery flows inside as well as outside.

A the end of the Mobile Meet prizes for best vehicles are awarded. This year the Oxford mobile children's centre won the innovation award, the Sheffield Bookstart promotional vehicle won best best small vehicle and North Tyneside won best livery and delegates' choice. A good day for children's mobile libraries.

BBC News - Mobile library marking 60 years in Leicestershire

It was my Husband's birthday, so as a special treat I took him to Snibston Discovery Park, a good educational day out for all the family. I had ulterior motives, I wanted to see the display of the history of mobile libraries in Leicestershire since its start in 1950. As it was at Snibston where I know they have a collection of historic vehicles, I hoped that an original Mobile library would be produced. Well, there were photographs. I suppose that any local authority vehicle has to be turned into hard cash at the end of their useful lives, it is the same now as always.

I don't know if was the effect of the football, there was some major match on or other, I don't know because I don't support the game, but crowds were thin on the ground. I had an interesting talk with the chair of Leicestershire County Council and a chat with Leicestershire Library staff. I visited the two mobile libraries that stopped outside the museum and discovered that there is another potential reserach project, reseraching and writing the history of Leicestershire mobile libraries. If only I wasn't so busy at the moment.

BBC News - Mobile library marking 60 years in Leicestershire

High-tech mobile library brings free broadband access - and WTVM News Leader 9, Columbus, GA |

High-tech mobile library brings free broadband access - and WTVM News Leader 9, Columbus, GA |

Thursday, 22 April 2010

Leicester bookbus

I have now spent a morning and an extended afternoon on the Leicester bookbus. The promotional work at a primary school on Monday morning stirred up some interest with the children, because when it visited the school at home time on Tuesday (a regular, weekly stop) there were several new customers all keen to join and borrow books. The staff have developed a rapport with their regular customers out on the streets of Leicester. Many of the children I spoke to were very enthusiastic about the service and would not have borrowed books from anywhere else. Parents and children alike said that the chance to borrow books helped them with their reading skills.

Monday, 22 March 2010

The Edinburgh bookbus

I have spent three days with the staff of Edinburgh's Access Services, riding around on the book bus with them. I think I may have scared off some of their customers, because places that I was assured were usually busy did not choose to board the vehicle that day. Well, I am accustomed to that sort of erratic behaviour by customer groups, but it was a bit sad not to see the system in full swing. I met Edinburgh's Reading Champion, Colm Linnaer, and saw the excellent work that he is achieving with disaffected children. There are definitely some "readers" being made through his efforts on the bookbus. The bookbus visits family and children's centres, special schools and secure units, places where children do not have any other access to library facilities.

Sunday, 7 March 2010

The West Sussex book buses

Last Week I was kindly hosted by West Sussex and spent two days touring sunny Worthing (yes, it was sunny) and one day in sunny Crawley (cold, but sunny). I also had the privileged to take part in two Word Book Day events at pre-schools. The book buses visit underfives settings on a three weekly schedule. The children come on in small groups listen to one "big" story together, then have to opportunity to browse the books, handling them, sharing them and being read to individually by library and setting staff. There is a great deal of partnership between the setting and the bookbus staff. This was demonstrated by the World Book Day activities. The activities were jointly planned, setting staff prepared each setting with craftwork by the children, and a story was read by bookbus staff, then acted out by staff, children and me.

The Southern bookbus is quite large and staffed by two specialist assistants. The Northern bookbus is small, staffed by one library outreach worker and only operates on Mondays and Fridays because it is shared with the Families and Children's service. This seems to work well.

Friday, 26 February 2010

I have recently had two training courses about being a reflective writer and a reflective researcher. I was even given a nice book to write a reflective diary! Well, I will use the diary, perhaps put daily notes in it, but I have a blog, so this is the perfect place to reflect on the week's research. This week I have finalised the plans for fieldwork in Edinburgh, which I feel really happy about. I have concerns that they are informing the settings in advance and getting the permission forms out for me, that the resulting observations will be biased. The children will be told to behave well, and then they won't, and school staff will use the service with unusual gusto, and vehicle staff will "Tow the Party Line". Still, being aware of the possibility and taking that into account when I do the observations is all part of grounded theory.

I have been gathering bits of paper, printouts and photocopies of the information I need to write the "Function of a Mobile Library" section of my literature review. It has horrified me that paper shuffling takes so long, but I have discovered that I am a very kinaesthetic learner and handling all these solid things helps my thinking. I just hope that it won't take too long. I am enjoying the creation of a "Scrapbook", however. I have also done a half day course on treating my Ph.D. as a project to manage, which was mildly interesting, and spent a morning turning my categorised piles of data into labelled lists. I did that on a computer although the urge to really cut and paste was strong.

Thursday, 4 February 2010

Leicester book buses

Well here are a pair of book buses! Today I went to see some very nice people from Leicester city libraries children's team, who manage the Leicester book buses. I managed to look over the vehicles while they were back in the depot for lunch. The under-fives BookBus tours settings in the city with a specific driver-library assistant and a children's team member, telling stories and issuing books. The children's BookBus focuses on area's of the city where the need to improve literacy is greatest. this means that although the timetable is fixed, it changes from time to time, when it has done its job in one area, most of their clients also going to a static library, and there is more need or no provision in another.

During the morning it does promotional visits to schools in those areas, to tell stories and talk about library membership. It rests in early afternoon to come out again between 3pm and 7pm to stop in the streets so that children can use it. They both stock mainly fiction, with just a little non fiction. It also attends community festivals and council events. The service has been continuous for the past 30 years, so as far as I can tell, it is the oldest continuous service in Britain. They have worn out three lots of vehicles in that time. Tell me, anyone, if their service has been going for longer!

Friday, 22 January 2010

Latest information

Things are going well on the field work front, I have dates for visiting West Sussex (both vehicles) and the Edinburgh bookbus and I have a meeting with Leicester City libraries ( they also have two vehicles). I have also been checking the original list, and seem to have lost Bexley (where are you Bexley?) and Backburn. However, I have just discovered Medway, which is silly really, because I have know about it since the Mobile meet, I took a photo of it but somehow didn't manage to find out if it was a public library children's mobile or a school's service vehicle. I decided that with five authorities actually signed up for observation, I should make the effort to see every vehicle once, even if it is for a short time or to interview the mobile vehicle staff. I may find more. Too many would make it harder to see everyone, but it would be good news for the research.

The comments I have already had from managers of the services confirm that the study is needed. they want to know what people think about their services as well. Different authorities tend to use the service for different sets of excluded groups. Manchester for instance visits traveller sites while Edinburgh encompasses special schools and secure units. This is interesting because it demonstrates the value of using vehicles to get to people. The argument could be, however, that deposit collections could be put into these places and rotated. That would still require a delivery van, and surely it is more that books that mobile libraries deliver, it is a library service.

I have just been writing up the definition (they have forced me to do a Literature Review) of a mobile library, and I know, I have just split an infinitive. Sujin Butdisuwan of a University in Thailand defined a mobile library as:

All travelling or movable library activities in any formats such as large enclosed trucks or vans or large motor vehicles equipped with shelves and a staff enclosure to visit rural districts or remote areas where there is no other library service at specific times on a certain day or days of the week.

Shelves are mentioned, but not books!! just a mental slip there, I am sure, but the interesting thing is that it is the library service part that is accentuated.