Thursday, 10 January 2013

Reflections on Libraries

It's a dreich day. The brightest object in the sky round about is the Flotta Flare, a stack designed to pipe away harmful gases which are burned off high above the ground on the nearby Scapa Flow island of Flotta, the site of Orkney's oil terminal. You can just see it, palely flaring, in the picture left - the scene from my table - if you look closely through the window above the pink candle. And you can see it slightly more clearly on my laptop screen!

I'm nursing a nasty virus so am keeping it away from the library in Kirkwall where I was due to be heading out in the van with Steven Gough who runs the Home Library Service. A full blog post (click link left for that post) on that invaluable aspect of Orkney Library life will follow when the lurgy leaves me and I can accompany Steven on his run. Meantime, I'm staying put with my paracetamol and a brew of root ginger and lemon.

Orkney Libraries and Staff 

This enforced absence from the library gives me time to think about it. Since I started the residency in October, Kirkwall & Stromness libraries, the Archive, the Photo Archive, the Mobile Library and the rest have never ceased to impress me with the service they offer to Orkney. This appreciation is shared by the people who use the service. In a recent small scale survey I conducted during Book Week Scotland. I asked what people's experiences of libraries in Orkney have been. Here are some of the comments people wrote - anonymously - on the forms (separate comments divided off by asterisks):

My experience of libraries in Orkney is ...
Great * good * very good. With children + by self * brilliant. Lovely staff, very helpful * excellent. They provide a wide range of books and staff are helpful and willing to order anything not available at once. * Excellent. Very friendly informative helpful staff with a good range of books to borrow. The website has a lot of very useful information too *very positive * Completely positive. They are both (S[tromness] & K[irkwall]) my home from home. * extremely positive. Very friendly staff, great resources. Good collection + mix of novels + non-fiction. Bookbug sessions are wonderful * Excellent. The staff are so friendly & helpful. They suggest books that they think might be interesting. * Excellent. Staff are courteous and extremely helpful. * excellent * Having recently moved to Orkney and not knowing my way round the library I have nothing but praise for the staff and selection of books. * totally positive – helpful, welcoming, lively * Very helpful + innovative * All are excellent. * warm and welcoming and helpful. * Brilliant!! * Very good. Staff are extremely helpful. * grand places! * Very good, welcoming, helpful staff and family friendly. * very good! – good range of fictional and academic books - a real asset to my academic studies - staff are very genial! * very good choice and friendly staff * excellent * First class service. Excellent staff. * Excellent – great range of titles and media, very well-informed and helpful staff, enjoy book group * the best of all the ones I have been to in Scotland. V positive with helpful, friendly staff * Excellent – Orkney library and the very nice staff make it a really important place for me. * great!  - the old Laing St. Library, now so forlorn had such a lovely booky atmosphere – plus adventures getting trapped/squashed in the racks - ; and the new library is splendid in all sorts of other ways – PLUS GREAT STAFF!!

Orkney Library Staff - the Poster!

Here is how it looks as a POSTER! Go on, click the link! See the kind of art work created by these comments recognising the quality of Orkney Library Staff!

The Plight of Other Libraries

Ann Cleeves, Orkney Library's friend and recent star of the Orcrime Book Festival has the importance of libraries on her mind too. She is involved in the campaign against the closure of some of the libraries in Newcastle. Read her impassioned defence of Cruddas Park Library here. In poignant interviews with some of the library users, she shows how their lives will be hugely impoverished if the campaign to keep the library open should fail. 

We wish you all success, Ann, in your efforts to keep libraries open. 

It is a good reminder of how lucky we are in Orkney. Let's stay lucky! 

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