Day 3: The Glasgow Adventure

Scotland – Day Three: The Glasgow Adventure

I’d just like to point out that both Alex and Iain made fun of me for watching a bunch of Scottish movies but this was the day it would come in common the most. I took the bus (all by myself) from Edinburgh to Glasgow (about 40 minutes) and then walked from downtown Glasgow to the University of Strathclyde. I’d heard of the University in passing but it wasn’t until ALA Midwinter that I met with Dr. Cottington and Julie, a current PhD student that were promoting the university at a booth there. I like school, I’m not going to pretend that I don’t. I’m also not going to pretend that I’ve always thought about getting my PhD in something and this project has opened my eyes to the aspect of research for libraries. I decided to ask about their PhD program because they were there and because the idea of living and studying abroad (even before my trip) appealed to me.

Since I was already planning on going to Scotland and wanted to spend a day in Glasgow, I decided I should email Dr. Cottington to arrange a tour of the school. She was extremely accommodating, putting me in touch with David McMenemy, Lecturer and Course Director for Information and Library Studies at the University of Strathclyde. I honestly cannot say enough positive things about David McMenemy, he showed me around the absolutely amazing offices, answering my questions, being hilariously funny, engaging and honestly one of the nicest people I met on my entire trip and made me leave really wondering if it would be feasible for me to get a PhD from there.

I do have to admit that the fact that it snowed (though only for about 15 minutes) while I was there a bit disturbing. By the time I was done meeting with David (who was amazing and introduced me to several current PhD students) it had turned to rain, the clear snow in late March was a little off putting. But at least it was pretty, and David made sure to point out some cool facts, like that Glasgow pretended to be downtown Philadephia when World War Z was filmed there made me want to set up camp.

Luckily (or unluckily) for me I have at least a year left in my Masters’ and Certification Program so I couldn’t apply as soon as I got home. On David’s recommendation I visited the Mitchell Library in Glasgow. It’s actually Carnegie library in the United Kingdom. The Mitchell Library is the largest municipal reference library in Western Europe and has the beautiful architecture that I think I’ve associated with how libraries should look. It was only supposed to be about a 15 minute walk from the University but the GPS on the phone I was using hated me and it took me quite a while, but I got to see the Buchannan Galleries (a collection of shops) were I was able to grab some great souvenirs but finally I found Mitchell Library and it was SO WORTH IT. I’ve lived and worked through library construction, reconstruction and redesigning but I was awed by this library and the number of people using it. When I was leaving I looked at the time at it as 14:00 (3:00pm) and the library had a good number of people using computers, looking at books and even using the microfilm at the library.

Is it wrong that I grabbed a burrito before heading back to the bus station? I was starving and it seemed like an easy vegetarian option that involved guacamole.

Scotland Day Two – National Library of Scotland

It’s hard to determine which day in the UK was my favorite, but day two is definitely in the running.

On Day Two of my International Adventure I visited the National Library of Scotland and met with members of their Access and Outreach Department. Thanks to the extremely kind Veronica Denholm, Access and Outreach Officer, I was able to sit in on an Access and Outreach departmental meeting. Of the eight member department five were present, but John Coll, the current Head of Access was also present and reported on two presentations he’d recently given.

In preparation for this meeting I read the 2014 Annual Report for the National Library of Scotland so I had some background information on what they were currently doing and what their strategic plan for the next few years is. One big change is that their board was recently downsized and this smaller board would be focusing on having regular retreats to focus on strategizing on community engagement.

John Coll, Head of Access reported on his recent presentation to the board on current and target audiences as well as the results of their recent customer survey. They have decided that their 2015 Corporate Plan (or Strategic Plan) would focus on targeting strategies for non-users. I think that this is something that the National Library of Scotland has in common with libraries from around the world. All libraries want to increase access to their services and knowledge about library services but as a library user I feel like a lot of the awareness campaigns that I see are located inside of libraries, so they seem to promote increase usage of specific aspects of a library, but not necessarily to target non-users.

Because the National Library of Scotland is a non-lending library they don’t go completely within my spectrum of Public Libraries. While they are open to the public and any citizen (and those eligible for visitor cards) they do not circulate their collection as much of it is rare and extremely fragile. They also have a rule that under 16s (people under sixteen years old) cannot look at materials unless a parent or guardian is with them. Obviously this is a barrier to access and one that they acknowledge as most of their audience are students especially post-graduate students and also adults doing historical research. Veronica did note that they do tours and instructional meetings for primary and secondary school students.

One project they are focusing on is the Scotland Screen Archive of Moving Pictures. This is a collection of Scotland in moving images that will be in Kelvingrove in Glasgow. This collection is designed to capture the physical representation of Scotland in a way that will appeal to users visually. This makes sense because the rest of their collection is mostly text based.

After this excellent meeting and discussion I was given a tour of the building including the archive and was able to see one of the floors where the collection is stored outside of the use.

As a library lover this day was amazing and I was shocked to see how busy the library was at about 11:00 in the morning. Users of all ages were utilizing the collection, hovering over books, using the computers to look up holdings and meeting in the small café area within the building. I also got to explore the exhibit halls and while they could be a bit dark (in lighting) the items contained in them included clothing and letters from Scotland’s history and was just amazing. My favorite was the exhibit on Scotland and the United States Civil War which included letters from Frederick Douglass.

Afterwards I visited the Central Library of the Edinburgh Public Library, the Children’s Central Library of Edinburgh. Both located right across from the National Library of Scotland.

And I’m not going to pretend that I didn’t go into The Elephant House, one of the café’s where J.K. Rowling wrote the first Harry Potter novel. It was right across the street and I couldn’t resist. I mean, honestly, could you?

After that I met up with Brandi at Henderson’s Vegetarian restaurant, which was delicious and worked well for both our dietary restrictions (a vegetarian and a person with Celiacs). I have to admit there’s a small bit of me that regrets not getting the vegetarian Haggis, but then there’s the larger part of me that has no regrets about avoiding Haggis (vegetarian or otherwise). I think if I ever go again and I’m not a vegetarian I’ll probably try it just to say I have.


National Library of Scotland. (2015). Annual Review, 2013-2014. Edinburgh: National Library of Scotland.

Scotland – Day One

After landing and meeting up with my wonderful Brandi she suggested that I get some sleep. Brandi is as brilliant a woman as she is a best friend and I took her advice and slept for a few hours, insisting however that she wake me up at 11:00am so that I wouldn’t sleep away the day. After all, I can sleep in America (and trust me when I got back I did!). Since I arrived on Sunday Brandi and I spent most of the day exploring the center of the city of Edinburgh.

Edinburgh is amazingly beautiful, we walked through St. Andrews Square and it amazed me how old things could actually be.

Warning, Standard American Abroad Blathering

I’m not going to pretend that people driving on the left side of the road wasn’t jarring, and I won’t say how many times I almost got into the drivers seat accidentally, but it does make going around roundabouts much easier.

Currency getting currency was a nightmare, but that I blame on my bank, I really didn’t have any trouble understanding the paper money used in Scotland (British Pounds), each denomination is a different color and the sizes vary. The change was different and it took some getting used to looking at change that had “sizeable” value and it took me several days to remember that a lot of the “change” I had was worth one or two pounds. Needless to say I may have ended up paying for a few large purchases in one and two pound coins. Sorry again to the book store employee.

The Food I’ll mention food a lot because everyone who knows me knows I’m all about food. While we did go to Henderson’s (Day 2) which does have a vegetarian Haggis, I decided against it. Overall the food was FANTASTIC, my first meal in Scotland was actually Spanish Tapas that were amazing. I was a little worried that as a vegetarian I might not be able to find a plethora of food options but I was wrong, everywhere I went had a variety of options for me to choose from. Oh and I totally had Giraffe bread – it was pretty straightforward bread but hey, when in Scotland and near a Sainsbury’s.

The Food Labeling is actually my favorite part. Apparently all prepared/packaged food has to have a list of the possible allergens and foods that are suitable for vegetarians and vegans are labeled as such. Needless to say this made life as a vegetarian really great and easy and I had no problem finding stuff I could eat.

Most of my first day was dedicated to just driving around town, buying food and just having a great time. I wouldn’t trade this experience for anything in the world.

Scotland – Travel Day Getting There

I’ve actually been back in the states for a few weeks but I had a lot of stuff going on. In the next couple of posts I’m going to recount what I saw and did in the United Kingdom as well as a lot of the readings.

Travel Day

I have to be honest and say that I hardly ever fly. In November 2014 my friend Brandi and her husband Iain (both will be mentioned a lot in the next few posts) went to New York City, but before that my last flight was probably in 2006 so the thought of an international flight seemed a bit daunting.

I decided that my best option was to fly on as few planes as possible, so I flew out direct from Indianapolis to Newark and then from Newark to Edinburgh International Airport. Overall the flights were good, I had a nice layover between landing in Newark and departing for Edinburgh so I was able to grab a bite to eat before taking the shuttle to the international concourse. Not to mention find my gate, find out my gate had been changed and to get all the way across the giant terminal to where my new gate was. I sounds like I’m complaining but I’m really not. I also decided last minute to invest in a travel pillow, seriously a good decision and will be taking it with me when I fly in the future.

The flight was long, but luckily I was able to watch a movie of my choice (Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy and to get some sleep.

<strong. When You Wake Up, You'll be in a Different Time and Place

The best advice I got was to start taking immune system boosting vitamins (like vitamin C) and to drink plenty of fluids. So many people get sick before and after flying and since this was a one in a lifetime opportunity I really didn’t want to waste any time fighting illness. I don’t know if it was this or pure luck but I didn’t get sick!

The other bit of advice I got came in two parts, 1) Try to sleep on the plane and 2) try to adjust to the time change as quickly as possible.

I slept better on the plane than I thought was possible, but still not great. First of all, I was warned that it would be cold, but I underestimated how cold it would be. That said, I did my best to stay warm and get some sleep. I woke up about 45 minutes before landing and I think that’s when the adrenaline hit me. I was doing this, I was really about the land in Scotland, a country I’d only dreamed about visiting before, that there was no backing out, and I have to admit that I felt a little bit like I was both going to pee my pants from the excitement and throw up from the anxiety.

Luckily, I didn’t do either, I went through customs successfully, picked up my luggage and walked out into the airport, straight in the arms of my best friend, Brandi. Brandi has lived in Edinburgh for the last five years and provided me with more support for this trip than I can even begin to express.

So special thanks to Brandi Parris for not leaving me stranded in the airport, because everyone knows that would have been the start to a really bad trip.

Article Review: Article One of Eleven Billion

At least it feels sometimes like I’m on part one of eleven billion. Though I do have to admit it’s probably my favorite part of this whole independent research thing – I get to read articles and books that are relevant to my subject, but also appeal to me. So while not everything that is going to occur under the “Bibliography” category will directly correlate to my research, it’s related to what I want to learn about in regards to this project. This project means a lot to me because it’s presenting me with an opportunity to explore and grow not only my professional knowledge, but for me to grow as a human being.

The first article I’ll be reviewing is:

Ryder, J. (2004). Can’t Get To the Library? Then We’ll Come to You. Health Information and Libraries Journal, 5-13.

Ryder’s article focuses on the following:

  • Mobile library services for elderly/people with disabilities
  • deposit collections
  • home visits
  • Specialty library transport

This article focuses on home bound users and show that while services do exist they aren’t always advertised out of fear that the library will be overwhelmed with requests. This actually makes a lot of since when you consider than in 2001/2 The Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy (CIPFA) Public Library Actuals estimated that the number of patrons receiving some type of housebound service was 123,407 in the United Kingdom. Ryder goes on to explore how the countries use a combination of professional, paraprofessional and volunteer staff to provide these service.

What does this have to do with Public Libraries and Generation Millennials? Well, for one thing it’s important to keep in mind that there are Millennials that are home bound – disabilities impact people of all ages. Not to mention many of the services that appeal to people who are home bound may appeal to Millennials who are not home bound. For example, electronic resources that can be downloaded from home are likely to appeal to individuals who cannot physically visit the library, as well as appealing to the “get it now” desire that is common in Millennials.

Keep in mind, I fall into this age group, and while I visit both the library I work at and my local public library regularly I am a big fan of e-content. I use ebooks from my public library, use the streaming video service that it offers and make sure I download my freegal music every week but I also utilize traditional library services. But let’s be honest, I think we’ve all had that moment where we really, really wanted something and through e-content that material is available instantly, something that benefits lot of people.

Inter-“Librarian” Loans

Whoa, it’s been a while since I updated but a LOT has happened since I last posted. In January I attended the American Library Association’s Midwinter Conference in Chicago. I attended the Public Library Association Conference when it was in Indianapolis but this was different. When I attended PLA I had just started library school and hadn’t really put much thought into research and career plans, this conference was different. With my impending trip to Scotland (14 days!) and being bitten by the bugs of International Librarianship and Comparative Librarianship I had focus and goals. I was able to meet some really great people who are working internationally in libraries and attend some really fantastic sessions about community building and building social capital through library usage. Needless to say, I feel like attending the Midwinter conference was a great library experience – that is, until the snow came.

Unfortunately, Midwinter was the same weekend as Chicago’s fifth largest snowstorm of ALL-TIME! In about a day 19.3 inches of snow fell almost stranding me and my fellow LIS student Tara in Chicago. Thank god for Amtrak, the only major mode of transportation that was still running. If nothing else it proved I can problem solve when it’s crunch time, something I’ll probably need while I’m traveling internationally.

ALA Midwinter Highlights:

  • I met LeVar Burton and he said my name was pretty! His session was phenomenalDisplaying 20150201_121222.jpg
  • I helped author Wesley Chu carry coffee to the TOR booth
  • Edge Initiative session
  • ALL OF IT!

Seriously, even with all the snow and the struggle to get home it was an experience of a lifetime!

I’ve been so busy doing research for my trip but here are some things you can expect from me soon:

Indianapolis Literary/Diversity Events I’ve attended (seriously they’ve been awesome)

  • An introduction to Comparative Librarianship
  • Book reviews!
  • A discussion on International Librarianship and how it differs from Comparative Librarianship
  • Random posts on Harry Potter as I listen to their audio versions over the next few weeks

Generation Millennium

A friend of mine recently read something I wrote for school and commented: “It tastes like librarianship and feminism – with just a hint of why should Millennials care”. I found this statement to be hilarious and fairly accurate. It made me realize that part of my decision to start my journey to librarianship is because I want to have an impact on the world. For some crazy reason I feel as though this path is the best way to begin.

I belong to Generation Millennium, which most studies put as being born between 1980 and 1995. Though Horwath & Williamson and Sweeney consider Generation Millennium to be anyone born as early as 1979. This conflicts with Howe and Strauss who start the generation at 1982. For my research I’m sticking with the standard, anyone born in 1980 all the way through 1995. Basically, anyone old enough to have grown up with a personal computer at home or used one in school regularly. The Oregon Trail Generation – which, by the way, you can now play online for free thanks to the Internet Archive.

This is my generation and while some scholars are torn between thinking were the best or worst generation, I think one thing is true: we’re an important, socially active one. And I don’t just mean social media activity, sure according to The Pew Research Internet Project 89% of internet uses between 18-29 utilize social media but it’s more than that. We’re a generation who votes, who are more likely to demonstrate or protest, a generation who is concerned with the environment and economy, and who are raising socially conscious children. But honestly, what’s important to me is that this is me, these are my friends and my peers. Many of my friends have children and it’s interesting to see how those with and without children utilize the public library.

I’ve done some research on what libraries in the United States are doing to engage Millennials but because our information seeking behaviors have become global, I feel like my research needs to become global too.

The date is set, on March 21st I’ll be flying to Edinburgh, Scotland to start my research in comparative librarianship