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Archive for August, 2009

This blog post is about an important document published on the UNESCO website, as part of their Transatlantic Slave Trade Education Project.

The document is called “Slave Voyages: The Transatlantic Trade in Enslaved Africans”, and is written by Hilary McDonald Beckle of the University of the West Indies. Although it is an educational resource for teachers, with suggested teaching activities at the end of each section, it is also a well written and sobering overview of the slave trade, which is well worth reading whether you are interested in this horrific period of history, or do not know much about it and wish to be better informed. The resource is long, but divided into sections, and contains some images at the end.

The UNESCO project site also contains a link (on the right, under the section “In Focus”) to a word document called “Slave Voices”.

I discovered this resource from a link posted on the BASAJISC discussion list.

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Printed journal of the week is a new and occasional category. From time to time I will pick out one of the journals we actually get physically in the library here at Bangor University, as opposed to just telling you about electronic journals you can access over the net. I think it’s fantastic that so many library resources can be read online these days, but I also really like to sit down with an actual physical book or journal.

This week’s journal highlight is one I accidentally picked off the current journals shelf this morning, as I was giving a library tour to some very nice international students. In the Main Arts Library (on College Road in Bangor), the printed journals are kept downstairs, in a room called The Stack.

The journal turned out to be Interpretation Journal: The Journal of the Association for Heritage Interpretation, which is funny, as I actually did a Heritage Management postgraduate degree at Bangor a few years ago. The degree trained people to work in the heritage sector, which includes museums, castles, historic buildings, prehistoric monuments, and so forth. I really enjoyed the course, and heritage interpretation was one of my favourite sections.

Heritage interpretation is the information you find at heritage sites, such as panels, guidebooks and so on, and also online interpretation such as websites. I really enjoyed (as part of my course, rather than for actual use) designing some interpretation panels for a beautiful ruined Welsh castle above Llangollen,  called Dinas Bran, which related the history and legends of the site from the point of view of the crows who lived there.

The current issue of the Interpretation Journal, Spring 2009, Vol 14, No 1, is themed “Words into pictures: the use of illustration in interpretation”, which is something I find very interesting, as pictures on information panels can often give much more instantaneous and comprehensible information than words can.

There are some great examples of this in the journal, including a cutaway drawing of the Great Tower at Ashby Castle, showing how different rooms might have been used in historical times; a very colourful panel showing the life cycle of butterflies for Bensham Butterfly Station; and a three dimensional pictorial map of Yellowstone National Park showing the mountains and lakes.

As an example of how obsessive you can become about good heritage interpretation, my dad recently took me to see a stone circle called the Nine Ladies, at Stanton Moor, and though the stones were really lovely, I got really excited by the information panels, which included a really nice illustration depicting how the area may have been used by people in prehistoric times.

If you want to have a look at the Interpretation Journal, call into the Main Arts library, and have a look at current and older issues down in the Stack. Printed journals cannot be borrowed, but a single article from a journal may be photocopied (according to copyright law). You can find details of the journal by searching in the library catalogue.

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I have been looking in our electronic databases for articles about libraries making use of mobile technologies, only to inevitably find that queries for “mobile” and “libraries” also return some articles about library services which move around. In the UK, most mobile library services are done using library vans (I still think that as a librarian, I really must own a former library van one day, anyway, enough of that for now). However, an interesting article I accidentally came across during my search revealed that in Kenya, they are using camels to deliver mobile library services to nomadic pastoralists.

The article is in the Emerald database, which contains a range of electronic journals, but mostly journals for the subjects of business and librarianship. The article, by Richard Masaranga Atuti and J.R. Ikoja-Odongo, is called Private camel library brings hope to pastoralists: the Kenyan experience, and is published in the 1999 edition of Library Review, Vol 48, No 1, pp. 36 – 42. Bangor University members should be able to log into the article here: Private camel library brings hope…(Emerald).

To find the article, search on the library databases list for Emerald, click on Emerald Journals (twice), and type camel library into the search box, it will be the first article in the list which returns.

The article describes how the camel library works: “Work begins with the loading of books in four boxes which carry a total of about 300 books. The rotating stock is mainly fiction, text books and reference materials. Book boxes together with a tent, two chairs, a table and umbrellas are loaded on the camels. Then they move out in a caravan on a particular route to the service centres, villages (manyattas) and their service point or stops like schools. On arrival at the stop, the items are unloaded. The tent is pitched and information materials displayed on shelves fixed to the walls of a tent. A floor mat is spread inside the tent to allow those who want to read within the tent to do so. Others borrow information materials for home reading. Meanwhile the camels are released to recuperate.” (Atuti & Ikoja-Odongo, 1999, p39).

There is a 2005 article in the Observer newspaper about the camel library, and how much it means to the people (particularly the children) visited by the mobile library. As a lifelong book lover myself, I can only imagine the joys the camels bring to some of these lovers of reading.

To support the camel library, you can donate to Book Aid International who work in 12 countries in sub-Saharan Africa supporting projects, including the camel library.

The BBC have some photos of the camel library.

In Ethiopia there is a donkey mobile library, which you can read about in a 2009 BBC news article.

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