Monday, February 20, 2006

Working up close and personal with youth...

Well I survived my shift at YL last Friday...very draining, with noise, general boisterousness etc. but generally it's nice to hang out (legitimately) with young people for a while.

The tensions between "is it a library/is it a youth centre" however, have risen to the fore with many young people coming to hang out but not necessarily interact actively with the space/resources. We sort of predicted this would happen. We maintain that "hanging out" is OK, but, victims of our own success, we just can't cope with the numbers. And with so many people hanging out without purposeful activity, there is the potential (and the actuality) of mischief and - and the attraction for a minority of young people who are keen to pursue basically antisocial behaviour (graffitiing, abusive language, bullying). Hmmm a dilemma. The challenge as always is to find that balance. Intense discussions between library staff and youth services staff are definitely on the agenda!

I've also been hanging out with young people in a more structured environment - as the gopher while we run Animation workshops at YL. It's nice to be able to form actual relationships (first name basis) with young people (rather than in the full-on atmosphere of YL during opening hours where you're mainly telling kids to get their feet off the wall/furniture/kid next to them!). We have run 3 x6 hour workshops for up to 8 kids (most sessions have a couple of no-shows so averaging around 7 per session) with visiting Animation artist "Pixelmorph". (Needless to say, all the horrible things I thought could go wrong didn't actually eventuate - the artist arrived on time, the trial versions of Flash worked fine for the workshops, the workshops were all full and everyone was happy etc etc).

Sometimes I feel so good about this job...

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Quick posting to show still alive (but only just)

Blogging has had to take a back seat with life too full already. This fortnight especially many commitments both work and other. For example: Tuesday night - first Art Book group meeting. Wednesday morning: sculpture. Wednesday night: worked. Thursday night: French conversation class. Friday: visiting artist arriving to conduct workshops in Flash animation on Saturday, Monday and Tuesday and altered books workshop on Sunday - I have to sit in on all sessions as the gopher (worry: will Flash be loaded in time to avoid total stuff up? Do we have enough bookings for workshops? How will I rustle up takers for last few places? Will they be total flops or will everyone be happy?) . Friday night: working at the Youth Space/Library (am I scared? You bet I am! wonderful news: Young Adult Librarian starting Tuesday fortnight - all the way from Melbourne!!). Luckily my presentation to Council about the "potential of libraries" which was due today has been postponed to next month. Time to polish it up a bit. Need to do staff rosters for the next two weeks . Next week: no respite in sight, management meeting to prepare for on Wednesday. Sunday and Monday night next week: (in a private capacity) Guest judge for local"Youth of the Year" program. Just another fortnight in the life of a "real public librarian". Looking at my schedule to see if there is a week free in the near future to take a holiday!!

Saturday, February 04, 2006

Loud and Proud about Libraries

Sometimes I have the pleasant duty of addressing a local club or organisation as their "guest speaker" which gives me free rein to shamelessly promote any aspect of library service I happen to be enthusiastic about at the time. I tend to speak to the local Probus Club once a year - Probus stands for "Professional/Business" and they're an offshoot of the Rotary Club, only for their older, less active (all male) members who are no longer involved with the fund raising aspects of Rotary but want to continue to meet socially. Since I saw them last year and talked about what our new library might look like, I had to pick a different topic - so I thought I'd regale them with the wonders of podcasting and blogs and loosely discuss how that might impact on our library services, and indeed on our society, in the future. I also introduced them to the concept of our new youth space/youth library - it's really important to get the support of influential citizens and keep a positive buzz going about new services, even if they'll never be direct users (their grandchildren might be, though). Of course, many of the attendees are already computer savvy and an interesting debate about the power of the Internet to influence politics (broadcasting vs narrowcasting) developed. It was lovely talking to these older men (some of quite advanced years - I would guess average age around 70-75). I'm pretty sure that for the majority this was the first time they'd heard of blogs, and they latched onto the idea pretty quickly - I'm sure the computer savvy ones will be trying it out. Ditto podcasting - when I mentioned that Radio Australia now podcasts a lot of its programs their ears pricked up, as I guess they would be typical of Radio Australia's intelligent listening audience.
The thanking spokesman jokingly suggested that the library run courses for old guys like him so that he could understand what the hell I was talking about, but regardless of that, he noted that I obviously "had a huge enthusiasm for your job." There's no higher compliment than that, is there?