Zombies in a library? Apocalypse or just the best idea ever?

I have to say week 9 for LAPIS was one of my favourites. What’s not to love about a lecture that talks about comics, zombies and Snoopy? Dr Matt Finch has been one of my favourite guest lectures. Not only was he engaging as a speaker but his passion for literacy was actually infectious, I went home thinking I needed to do something to get more kids into libraries or generally into reading and proceeded to spend an hour on the phone talking to my 9 year old nephew about his recent discovery of Gulliver’s Travels and I rejoiced that my brother’s hatred of novels didn’t pass down to his offspring.

As a child literacy was one of the most appealing things, it was a new adventure in every new book. Even as an adult I feel the same way, I just lack the time to pick up a book at the moment between uni, work and getting ready to move house. I want to indulge in my favourite ‘The Secret Garden’ but at the same time finally get through Game of Thrones that have been sitting on my bookshelf since my last birthday. My point is is that I love that Dr Finch is imparting the same passion and doing something worthwhile, addressing parliaments to get literacy right in the public mind.

But what I fell in love with the most from this lecture was the zombie takeover of a library in Tullamore, Australia. It shows how a library is so much more than just the shelves as Dr Finch kept saying. A library can be the hub of a community, it can be used to engage with different types of groups, it for some groups can be the only place to feel any connection to another person. As William Sieghart said in his ‘Independent Library Report for England‘ that libraries are the golden thread of our lives and if public funding keeps getting cut then there will be a huge hole in our communities. So I say good on the libraries that open their doors for comic festivals and zombie takeovers, hopefully these innovative ideas can come across the oceans to us and we can make a conscious effort to keep communities alive with stories, information and education.

Patience is the key for libraries that publish.

library-cardI don’t know about anyone else but as a child it was always really exciting when my Dad took us to the library once a week as it meant new stories, new adventures etc. Even as I got older and the web took over a bit more I still got excited about visits to the school library and when we move next month i’m going to get just as excited about adding my new local library’s card into my purse. Likewise I get just as much satisfaction when I log in to City’s library catalogue and have the ability to download a pdf or a book.

Why do I get so excited by libraries (apart from the fact i’m a bit of a nerd?!)? Because they have a wealth of information, information that is mostly free. What isn’t there to love? Granted as i’ve gotten older and appreciate that libraries have more than a fiction section (who knew?!) i’ve learned to love libraries that little bit more. From an academic perspective libraries are a fantastic opportunity to get your own ideas out there. Diane Bell brought it up in her lecture and it was also mentioned in Cathrine Harboe-Ree’s article, libraries now act as online repositories of papers or dissertations. City, for example, has a huge collection of dissertations to peruse – dissertations that aren’t available to access anywhere else unless you attempt to track down the author.

Academic writers have the opportunity to avoid the costs of allowing journals to publish their articles through open access. Library repositories are a perfect alternative, they may not get as many hits as a big journal but they are still achieving the same objective, getting your research into the public domain. I’m all for libraries being a publisher in this way, they are doing what they have always done well which is providing free information. And it’s free not just from a reader’s perspective but also from the author.

The only issue libraries as publishers has is the fact that their readership will be fairly low but that is understandable, libraries have less money to put into advertising their repositories so of course authors won’t get the same response as they would on an academic journal’s site. But this is where the the use of web 2.0 comes in, with the use of social media libraries can really increase their visibility. Look at the British Library, they have nearly 900,000 followers and that is just their main Twitter account. I know the BL are the exception as they are a huge national library but with enough followers on platform like Twitter a library really can get information out there. All it takes for an author is to upload to a free repository, have it tweeted by that library and then once a retweet happens it can spread like wildfire. Visibility is possible when publishing through a library, it just takes a little more patience. Patience that is definitely worth it when you think about the cost and the morals/vision of a library…..