Thursday, July 21, 2011

Library online radio

Libraries in the 21st century are now publishers, making accessible content in digital formats. As such the line between libraries, publishers and media houses have become blurred. The main distinction in my mind  is that unlike the media houses, libraries do not seek advertisers to sponsor the information that they make publicly available. Unlike both publishers and media houses, libraries are theoretically uninfluenced by those who are driven y an interest in profit making or profiteering from information shared.

It therefore stands to reason that some of the very tools that media houses and publishers use to share information can be adopted and applied by libraries (without the advertisements and profit motives of-course).On this regard, radio broadcasting is perhaps one such under-explored are for libraries as a way of sharing information and meeting the information needs of its clientele.

The question to be asked is:

    What about a library radio station?

This can be an internal radio station (accessible only in the library) or can be one globally available through the Web.

In times gone by, broadcasting equipment was expensive, but in today's world of pod-casting, anyone can broadcast information across the Web for a large and even global audience.

For Jamaica, radio is the largest mass media that reaches most persons. Stone in the nineties, suggested that  media audience for electronic media grew faster than newspaper readership. He explained that this was not surprising as ‘50% of voters experience problems reading the written word’ (Stone columns 145). Entertainment radio on the other hand had a growing radio audience (Stone columns 146). Stone also felt that word of mouth in the nineties remained a very important communication channel for Jamaicans (Stone columns 146).

Under these circumstances, it is evident that the conditions more favour library providing access to oral based information sources rather than print based sources to reach the masses. Long once declared that the need for  publishing a magazine arises when ‘people of common interest want to communicate information that they find difficult to say in spoken conversation’ (cited in Ford 1969 v). For this author, the same may be true for all print materials. Print publications arise when people find it difficult to communicate intended messages through spoken conversation.

As such there are difficulties in providing access to printed publications in Jamaica. Nationally, Jamaica has little history with the adoption of print based information sources which coincided with literacy skills at the period being nationally low. In addition, by the nineties, Jamaicans were exposed to growing electronic media including radio and television, which further competed with the need to access information in printed form.

If the premise still holds today, that in Jamaica the leading mass media is radio, then Jamaican librarians should not just be concerned about capturing and sharing our print based media, but definitely seek to capture and archive, provide access to and share our orally/aurally based media.

Today the Internet has made it possible for libraries to venture into broadcasting. Before the Internet,  one would have to purchase the same infrastructure that radio stations invest in.
For a library broadcasting programme, the library is equipped perhaps not to broadcast as a traditional radio station, but with the possibility of broadcasting digitally through the Internet, the library is able to venture into this popular Jamaican media for reaching the orally and aurally based folk of Jamaica.

I therefore propose that Caribbean libraries create broadcasting programmes to reach their audiences.

Not only should such a broadcasting programme be one controlled by the library where, the library produces the content to be aired and archived on the web, but the programme should also be interactive, in the sense that persons can call in to ask questions and broadcast their own questions, to be answered by the library experts or for the library personnel to get the experts to reply and provide the answers.

Such a programme should also involve the library allowing users to respond to other users questions and provide comments that help to create new knowledge, or capture knowledge in the heads of library users persons  or provide unique experiences/knowledge that has not yet been published  or documented.

The library could also utilise their radio station to advertise library events and services, thereby exposing the users to what the library has to offer. Further, libraries could utilise this inborn media to show case some of the audio resources that they have in their collection or provide orientation and other instruction to new library users, just like some airports, where instruction is delivered through the intercom/public announcement system.

Since Jamaica has a very strong oral tradition, in which the singer and story-teller are held in high regards (for their gift o orally and aurally sharing information), Jamaican libraries must focus then not on acquiring a largely print collection, but one that caters to the traditions of the nation.

It is not that reading is unimportant. However, if Jamaican libraries focus on a largely print based collection, then whose interest are these libraries really serving? whose culture is being transmitted and facilitated through Jamaican libraries full of print materials, when the masses are largely interested in oral information sharing?

Works Cited:

Ford, James L. Magazines for millions: The story of specialized publications. Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 1969.

Stone, Carl. The Stone Columns: The last year’s work: A selection of Carl Stone’s Gleaner articles, January 1992 to February 1993. Rosemarie Stone (Ed). Kingston, Jamaica: Sangster’s Book Stores, 1994.

Why business information services for the National Library of Jamaica?

The recent National Library of Jamaica Act 2010, specifies that in carrying out its function it must:

I note specifically, the idea of economic development, which comes about when Jamaican can produce goods and services for sale. This idea also takes into consideration the need for job or employment creation. It is further noted that entrepreneurship is responsible for the creation of jobs and employment opportunities. hence it is impossible to have economic development if entrepreneurship is not harnessed and businesses not developed. As such, it is one of the paramount priority that a business information service be delivered for Jamaica's economic development, and it is thereby the mandate of the National Library of Jamaica to provide this.

In another post, I hope to take this argument further.

Work cited:

National Library of Jamaica Act. Act 33 of 2010. 31 Dec. 2010. JAMLIN Jamaica Libraries & Information Network. Web. 14 July 2011. <,%202010.pdf>

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Why blog? The benefits of blogging

As a research student getting ready to go into PhD studies, I have decided to use the online writing tools of  blogging to allow for personal development as a writer. What I love about blogging is the opportunity to keep track of my thoughts and notes with keyword searching. I also love the opportunity for the public to give feedback and comment on my thoughts and ideas.

Blogging helps to preserve a record of my intellectual development on a subject in a format that can be easily retrievable. In the past, I kept written notebooks and even note cards, that I had to flip through all the pages to locate a specific record of what I had written. Blogs however allow me to locate specific information through keyword searching making retrieval of written ideas faster than skimming the pages of a notebook or indexed note cards.

Audience feedback helps me to know what gaps I have left in my writing and what I need to do further research on. Peer review has taken on a special meaning to me as a published writer (of scholarly papers). Many eyes are needed to see common spelling mistakes, or to discover unclear and ambiguously constructed sentences, ideas or concepts. As a writer, you know what you are thinking and what you mean to say, and you believe that what you are saying is clear and very convincing. However, that does not mean that your audience will get the same message and understand it clearly as you do. Just the other day I posted a note and someone was able to point out another item of interest that could be included to make my argument/communicated ideas stronger or more persuasive. Even now, I have an article that I wrote being critiqued by the editorial team, which has helped me to sharpen my communication for reaching my intended audience.

Apart from these reasons professional blogging can have an impact on your career dreams and hopes.

What is the impact of blogging professionally?

It can definitely lead to you getting a job:
Meredith Farkas:

"I can't say this 100 percent, but I believe that it helped me get a job. There are more new librarians than there are library jobs out there, and I didn't have a lot of experience, so what did they have to go on?… With a blog, they can see that she's passionate about the profession. She's tech-savvy. She has thoughts in her head. It made me a known entity." (qtd. in Kenney and Stephens)

It can also lead to you getting speaking and training engagements and to publishing opportunities
Laura Smart: "Professionally, it's been really great. It has led to a lot of speaking engagements and training and publishing opportunities". (qtd. in Kenney and Stephens)

Further, Asgedom recommends that in order to launch a career in the writing/speaking business, one needs to begin by blogging, rather than by writing a book.

Works Cited:

Asgedom, Mawi. "How to Start a Writing/Speaking Business"  Mawi Develop Greatness. July 13, 2011. Web. 14 July 2011. <>.

Kenney, Brian and Michael Stephens. "LJ Round Table: Talkin' Blogs: Library Bloggers Discuss the Impact of their Work."  Library Journal. 1 Oct. 2005. Web. 14 July 2011. <>.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Jamaican Libraries need to implement business information services

Jamaica Library Service and the National Library of Jamaica to my knowledge do not provide any special library service to business persons. They offer a general library service to adult users, but none specifically aimed at providing the business persons with information. This is surprising considering that the more established library traditions of United States of America (see for example and Britain ( do offer this service.

 In fact, one core public library mission according to the IFLA/UNESCO Public Library 1994 Manifesto is that of 'providing adequate information services to local enterprises, associations and interest groups'.

Manley establishes that providing library services to businesses should be done by every public library. When public libraries participate in the provision of business information services , they have the opportunity to directly impact economic needs and provide ‘a service of paramount importance to the community’ (Manley 'Preface'). Library service in providing business information can have the most impact on society, as this service touches every individual, including ‘those interested in earning a living’ among others (Manley 'Preface'). Business further impact on employment and a nation’s standards of living, both in terms of wealth and job creation. In this regard, Manley concludes that a library’s business information service is an extension of general library service which is to provide information to meet the needs of one's community.

What is a business information service?

According to Manley a business information service provides answers to business questions and in particular those questions  that cannot be answered personal experience (4). Library business information  service is a service offered by the library where users turn to the library to answer business question and the library helps the user to get his answer (Manley 6). Answers could be gotten through either the  library’s 1) providing selected materials and/or 2) serving as a ‘point of contact through which other information sources can be tapped’ (Manely 7)

Business information services are not the only contribution that libraries have made to the development of businesses. Yates indicate how libraries have shaped businesses from the founding of the first professional library school. She points out how in the 1890s and early in the twentieth century, that librarians helped businesses better organize and make accessible their own internal information through the vertical file ( 56). She points out that the vertical filing of papers ‘a new form of flat filing which evolved from the vertical card files used by librarians, was presented to the business world in 1893’ and became adopted by many businesses (Yates 56). Hence libraries have had a tradition of serving businesses information management needs. 

Works Cited:

International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA). "IFLA/UNESCO Public Library Manifesto." 1994. (November 3, 2004): International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA). 2011. <>.

Manley, Marian C. Library Service to Business: Its Place in the Small City. Chicago: American Library Association (ALA), 1946. Print.

Yates, JoAnne. Control through Communication: The Rise of System in American Management. Baltimore: John Hopkins University Press, 1993. Print.