Turkish Delights (Rahat Lokum) Flavour Four: Frontline services, space usage, and support for families (Cinnamon)

By Philip Keates

Today’s tasty topic is broadly on the usage of the library space itself, with just a pinch of info from the coalface of library services (but not a pinch of coal. You probably shouldn’t put coal in your food. Just like you probably shouldn’t mix metaphors).

Phoebe Leung of Lingnan University mentioned a couple of ways in which they make their frontline services more engaging. They offer easy communication with staff through their WhatsApp a Librarian service. They also make their librarian orientations more exciting by including a QR code treasure hunt, with prizes for the winners.

Vasia Mole from Koç talked about the campaigns they have run in Suna Kıraç library to try to ensure that space is used fairly, and that noise is kept to a minimum. The BeQUIETinSKL campaign aimed to make students consider their own contribution to noise levels in the library, with fun interactive Instagram-style photoshoots throughout the library space. Interestingly, staff at Suna Kıraç tried to implement a system of different noise zones, like Sussex, but ultimately abandoned it as unworkable, instead adopting a blanket silent rule. With the SKLFairSpace campaign, they aimed to tackle the problem of students ‘claiming’ study spaces by leaving their belongings there for hours, preventing others from making use of the space. They did this by walking the library regularly, and putting notices on items that appeared to have been abandoned for more than 30 minutes. Items left for a long time would be moved to the security desk at the front of the library, where students would have to claim them back. Labour-intensive, certainly, but it has apparently proved effective.

Exciting multimedia spaces featured in a number of libraries. Arnaud Luizi of the Télécom Ecole de Management (https://www.imt-bs.eu/) talked about the multimedia rooms in their library, which feature Big Pad (https://www.sharp.co.uk/cps/rde/xchg/gb/hs.xsl/-/html/interactive-models.htm) interactive touch-screen monitors. Mine Akkurt of Sabanci Universitesi Information Center described their Collaboration Space, which contains 3d printing facilities, virtual reality hardware, Ardunio boards and Raspberry Pis  (Raspberries Pi? Raspsberry Pi?). The idea of the Collaboration Space is that students can work with others from outside their course, avoiding subject siloisation and increasing receptivity to different ideas and ways of thinking.

Kim Buschert from the University of British Colombia mentioned how the UBC Innovation Library, a collaboration between the UBC Okanagan Library and the Okanagan Regional Library (ORL), is located within the public library’s Kelowna Branch. She also talked about UBC’s forthcoming Teaching and Learning Centre, an addition to the existing building designed to relieve pressure on space, featuring a 400+ seat classroom, an archive, a digital technology centre, and a “visualization lab” for high resolution data modelling. Approximately one third of the project will be funded by the students themselves, following a student-led referendum.

Finally, a look at how different libraries are trying to provide a space to support families. Vasia and Mine both told us how their libraries built collections of children’s books from donations from parents, with children of library members even being given their own card for borrowing. Both libraries also hosted book readings and movie events for children.

Elemedina Abdulahi of the South East European University in the Republic of Macedonia mentioned the book exchange they run to support families. Her presentation was about the library’s role in promoting reading in Balkan society, and was very interesting for the insight it gave us into the perceived position of libraries in relation to the state, in a region that has undergone substantial, and relatively recent, political upheaval. Oppressive regimes have apparently viewed libraries as tools for spreading, or suppressing, different political ideals. In the past, people preferred to trade books amongst themselves, rather than submit to the propaganda promoted by libraries. Parents and teachers blame the current decrease in reading amongst young people upon advances in technology, but Elemedina’s survey suggested that the students themselves blamed politics, and a top-down imposition of values. It seems that the fear of libraries is still prevalent, and Elemedina hopes that it can be reversed, through working directly with parents, and encouraging them to read to their children.

Only two more posts to go, although I am running out of legitimate traditional lokum flavours, according to Wikipedia. It’s a race… against… taste?

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