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Katie Fraser's blog and website

I'm an academic librarian, working in the UK Higher Educational sector, supporting academics and students. Prior to this, I was a researcher, working with social and learning technologies.

My interests include the application of emerging and traditional technologies, research support in libraries, learning spaces, evidence-based practice and the professional development of library and information workers.

You can find out more about more about me from the links to the left. Note that the views expressed on this website/blog are mine alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of any other individual or organisation.

Visits to Sheffield Public Libraries

January 6th, 2009

Happy 2009! It’s an odd time of year for our course, as there are no lectures until the start of February – it’s undergraduate examination time. There’s plenty to be getting on with in the meantime though, a large assignment, thinking about dissertation topics, and other bits and pieces (preparation for the next semester, conference applications for student places and so on). To fill in blog space, and because I haven’t so far, I thought I’d write up some thoughts on my visit to Sheffield Public Libraries. This took place all the way back in October, but this semester’s been a little packed!

This visit was a little bit different from the Derbyshire Public Libraries visit, as instead of going to the flagship library as we did in Chesterfield, we visited a couple of branch libraries, in this case Parson Cross and Upperthorpe Libraries. These were an interesting mix. Parson Cross is quite far out of Sheffield, and a fairly old library, but due to be replaced by an exciting new library within a community centre soon. Upperthorpe is a relatively new library, based in a community centre including a swimming pool – in fact, I remember the renovation works on the old swimming baths where it’s housed taking place when I lived in Sheffield before! To illustrate this post you’ve got a picture of the children’s library in each, Parson Cross to the right, and Upperthorpe below. I’ve picked the children’s area as they’re always nice and cheerful, but I also think the pictures nicely illustrate the slight differences between the two – with Parson Cross being cheery but slightly dingy (or well-loved, perhaps), and the Upperthorpe slightly brighter and airier.

After the tours around the two libraries (we were bused between the two) we had the opportunity to talk to some senior staff from Sheffield Libraries. As with the Chesterfield Public Libraries visit I came away feeling a little bit of guilt about public libraries not being my sector of choice. However, I think the visits did confirm for me that I really wouldn’t like to work in a branch of a public library. Don’t get me wrong – they both looked like fantastic places, and I’d happily be a library user in either. The community aspect of libraries, while valuable to me, however, is not what I’m interested in libraries for: my passion lies in the information side of library work, and helping people locate and use resources. On the other hand, it made me think about the possibility of working in a public library in a more central, administrative area. Some of the profit making and project based arms of Sheffield Libraries sounded really intriguing, and I’d definitely be happy working in a more information-focused role in a public library. Never say never!

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