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Hello people; and biggest thanks to those who helped me out (women and men) with my questions about Women working in ICT/Engineering last week. You were all most helpful! Gems of wisdom gathered here and on Facebook include the revelation that you shouldn't assume your workplace won't throw up problematically sexist individuals and attitudes even though it's a supposedly ethical environment; that you don't have to be any particular kind of woman to work in technical areas actually, and that a bit more recognition of this fact would help; and that this work area gets a general thumbs up because of the money, the way jobs grow, progress and change, and the nice workmates!

Any extra thoughts you have on that first question, do weigh in. But if you're ready to think about something else, I would like you to consider the passionate subject of public libraries, and this time you all get to see the answers as they happen:

Poll #1972417 My public library and me

Why do you visit the library?

Regularly, to get out books
For a quiet place to sit/work/relax
To get books, films or music I wouldn't buy myself
For bookclub or other library events
Because I want libraries to stay open
For rhymetime or to keep children occupied
Research, course reading or investigation
I work or volunteer there
To look at books or enjoy the atmosphere
I can't remember the last time I visited the library

None of those reasons are why I visit the library, which is this:

On the whole I think libraries:

Were important when I was young, but now we have the internet
Are still important for reasons I will give below
Will be less important in the future
Will be more important in the future
Will always be important

Imagine a library of the future, what would it look like? Go to comments if you don't have enough space

My favourite thing in the library is:

The books
The librarians
The robots
The robot librarians
Old musicals in the DVD section

In other news; I'm in Cambridge tomorrow for Dave's Solstice do. Late notice I know, but anyone fancy meeting up?


( 12 worms — Feed the birds )
20th Jun, 2014 08:50 (UTC)
I think libraries will always be important, but not to all people at all stages of their life. They're not important to me at the moment, they were much more at school and when studying.
25th Jun, 2014 06:45 (UTC)
Lifestages is a big deal in health planning, but I'm not sure I've heard it explicitly discussed around libraries yet. Might be useful - thinking about ages and stages where libraries matter.
20th Jun, 2014 12:02 (UTC)
I still use a variety of public libraries... the only books I get out now are travel books, usually from Hendon as it has a good travel section or ordered to Hendon for me to pick up. Public libraries generally don't stock the academic books I'd otherwise need.
Now the main thing I need in a public library is a quiet spot to study... with a desk, power and wifi that works properly (does not take half an hour to log into and then cuts you out every hour and time you go for a wee, requiring another waste of half an hours work time logging in - this is why I cannot work in Burnt Oak library, that and it has been ruined by turning it into a tax office and shoving the library into a cramped corner as an afterthought.) The seat needs to be reasonably comfortable as I'll likely be there for at least half a day.
I used to go to High Barnet library regularly to read my papers, it had a comfortable, quiet work area, used by teenage students (at the desks) and retired folk (on the comfy chairs.) Reasons that applied to me and possibly linked to these other visitors were...

1. I was renting a tiny room with little space to work properly (cramped, with an uncomfortable stool to sit on - no good for studying all day.)
2. I'd be cooped up in a flat all day with a creepy landlord/stranger housemates, did not want to be bumping into them every time I had to wee or get tea.
3. No central heating, so bloody cold my hands would go numb and I'd not be able to type.
4. Really helps the concentration when reading difficult papers to get out into a different space, where you will be "stuck" for hours without distraction.
5. Workplace or university library no good for studying in, as would be constantly pestered.
6. At High Barnet, the library was placed centrally to shops and restaurants, a long day could be divided with a cheap but tasty lunch in a nice restaurant, a treat for hard work.

Even though I have a house with office space now, I'll still sporadically use public libraries in this way. Last time, I had gone to a morning dress rehearsal at the ENO then stayed in the library round the corner (which is fab and has all the requirements listed above) to work before tubing back out of central London but in a direction and destination opposite to my home. (Hence, not spending an hour going into the centre, then an hour back home then 2 hours back into the centre to go out to a different part of London. The library gave me back 2 hours study time.)

Mind you, this is the reason I have joined a London club, so I've a comfortable bolthole to work in town, so the library visits will likely drop off... though if I'm South of the River I'll be using the BFI library... for study and browsing books. Will probably go there specifically this summer as soon as I have spare time.

25th Jun, 2014 06:39 (UTC)
it's a sitting room, in the middle of the town
Again, this is a thing I'm actually working on at the moment and reliable public wi-fi does seem to be the thing that reliably drives up library use! I really like the social approval attached to ignoring everything around you in a library, too. I spend a certain amount of time working in quiet pubs, and they can have the same feel, in mid-afternoon, of allowed non-sociability.

Does your club have good wi-fi?
26th Jun, 2014 21:43 (UTC)
Re: it's a sitting room, in the middle of the town
It does, though I'm still trying to work out the rules. Some rooms are silent(ish), some for work, some for work but no mobile phones (as in you're not allowed to be seen using your phone to surf the internet but surfing with a tablet is fine.) It's a bit WTF, but then I did get in sneakily through the cheap door.
21st Jun, 2014 07:31 (UTC)
I haven't used a non-university library in about ten years. I kept borrowing books and failing to get them back on time, and failing to remember to extend them even though I could do it online, and then having to pay fines, and it all just felt like I was really missing the point somehow. Plus at the time Brighton's library was in a bad temporary building, though it's moved to its shiny new one now.

I haven't been to a public library in the Netherlands. I'm sort of interested, to see what they have by way of English collection and because both Amsterdam's and Rotterdam's main libraries seem to be substantial and respected institutions, with impressive modern buildings and interesting exhibitions and suchlike, but it costs €40 a year for even basic membership so I haven't.
25th Jun, 2014 06:34 (UTC)
the thing that does not with the current life fit
I'm doing that a bit with my university library, which is in a huge impressive modern building which is sort of the library of the future in my dreams but getting the books back seems to be defeating me a bit.

I also gave up on the Bodleian, I just wasn't using it.

Do the Netherlands libraries do public/outreach things? Or have some sort of non-member access? Might be a way to answer the curiosity without a fee...
21st Jun, 2014 10:42 (UTC)
Libraries don't feature for me now but that is partly because I have less free time and so read fewer books and partly because I am much richer than either my younger self or my parents and so tend to just buy ebooks because I can afford to prize instant access. So while libraries are now not important to me, I still see them as hugely valuable to wider society.
25th Jun, 2014 06:28 (UTC)
Also I do wonder if easy access to the Oxfam bookshop has something of an effect....
21st Jun, 2014 12:47 (UTC)
Today I have had a lesson in the value of libraries. I needed to urgently print some documents and work is not accessible due to fire brigade industrial action. I didn't want to use the local internet cafe so I went to my local library for computer access printing and photocopying. All very easy and the staff were very helpful.

Having responded to this post I was also joyfully reminded about how libraries have books you can borrow for FREE! I came away with two having just finished the novel I was reading last night on my e-reader.

I am also in much the same position as tinyjo above with regards to borrowing books from the library. Personally - i dip in and out - but their importance to society as a whole is huge.

Edited at 2014-06-21 12:50 (UTC)
25th Jun, 2014 06:26 (UTC)
also certain trashy novels
I do like getting big coffee table type books on things like gardening and art and design, things I wouldn't be able to justify on purchase
7th Aug, 2014 00:57 (UTC)
I love libraries and use them at least weekly , if more. I do not want them to go.
( 12 worms — Feed the birds )