Wednesday, 24 February 2010

Creativity and cycling in the city

Earlier this month I met at Braes Bar with twenty-one others interested in cycling. As a focus for the evening I screened the documentary STILL WE RIDE made by Andrew Lynn & Elizabeth Press about Critical Mass in NYC and the attempts to force cyclists riding together to have a permit.

I've worked with Andrew on several occasions his enthusiasm for cycling and creativity is infectious.
Take a look at his website here

This weekend is Kill Your Timid Notion Festival, held at the DCA, I will be there with Jonathan Baxter from D-AIR (Dundee Artists in Residence) and Ian Nesbitt and Emily Wilczek from Nottingham's Annexinema, last year they staged a cycle powered event working with Magnificent Revolution to construct a ‘Cycle Powered Cinema’ under a river bridge in Nottingham.

Video by Jim Brouwer, music by Zelig

We'll be with D-AIR and Nes and Emily from Annexinema in the DCA bar Saturday 27 Feb at 10.45am to talk about possible future DIY arts/cycling events in Dundee you are welcome to join us.... look out for the flashing bike light on the bar.

Monday, 22 February 2010

99 Trades of Dundee

I've got a lot of respect for library assistants.

They're the people delivering the front line service, the ones you see when you go into the library. It's a constantly challenging job requiring intelligence, patience, in-depth knowledge and a requirement to assist people.

A high proportion of the workers are multi-skilled practitioners with qualifications in other jobs, but carrying out non-qualified jobs in library work. For example, in one department alone there was an english graduate, social worker, artist, nurse, lens based artist, and a country ranger. Coming from another profession they bring to the post specialist knowledge, extensive experience and a set of transferable skills from their other trade.

As well as dealing with the stress that goes with dealing with the general public they often have to do quite menial repetitive tasks, checking books in and out, shelving books. Much of the science and business staff time is taken up booking people on the computers. Besides their regular library work some take on extra responsibilities such as first aid, working with vulnerable groups many who come are living with the daily reality of poverty and social inequality. The library workers have to be extra resourceful as they have minimal budget and resources for this. I'm considering how coming from my trade background I can add value to their work and further support their aims.

Saturday, 20 February 2010


Wearing black glasses means I probably fit one of those awful stereotypes of a library worker.

I've inadvertently made my base in the Science & Business department. It's where a lot of the computers are, which means its the busiest and used by a wide variety of people.

People keep coming up to me and asking questions. Half the time I have no idea what they've just asked me. Sandra (who looks nothing like the above librarian) noticed I was struggling to 'atune my english ears' pushed Mick McCluskey's 'Dundonian for Beginners' under my nose. The 'tuning your ear' section recommended I hang about on park benches and evesdrop on late night bus journeys.

If you already understand advanced Dundonian you will probably appreciate this local guy at Hoolywood Productions

Thursday, 11 February 2010

When I grow up I want to be a librarian

I've just spent a week settling in Dundee Central Library to see how I can make the Nine Trades Project compliment their work. I've had a fabulous welcome. As a child I played pretend library games, sorting my books, making tickets, date stamping and forcibly issuing them to the nearest adult, animal, doll or teddy. So was delighted when they agreed that I could base myself at the public library. All manner of people come into the place. Over fifty employees work in Central Library, I'm planning to work with a few of them to support the work they are already doing with vulnerable groups. I'm interested in the shifting role of the public library to become more inclusive places. This document published in 1999 sums up the governmental angle Social Inclusion in Public Libraries

My trade being childcare, I started off in the children's department .

At 11am on Tuesday I counted 27 babies in the children's department.
Thats a lot of babies.

Wednesday, 3 February 2010

Email to the Manager at Central Library

Hi Judy

It was very useful to come into the library in January and meet up with some of the librarians. I was made very welcome, the workers responded with enthusiasm and interest to my proposal. I was impressed by the outreach work the library is doing, considering the limitations on staff time and resources. I was also inspired by the enthusiasm and commitment of the few librarians I had the opportunity to meet. If you are interested in the Nine Trades project I'd love to work with the librarians to complement the work of the library service.

If you are still happy to go ahead, I'd like to work towards putting together a proposal/time plan that's tailored to the librarians own ideas and fits in with their work criteria. I'm interested at this stage to initially immerse myself fully in the library to just spend time alongside the workers to see what comes up. I'm keen for the content of the work to be driven by the individuals and the relationships that evolve. I'm coming up to Dundee next week, I'm free from Tuesday- Friday 9th -12th Feb. I can also come up again to continue with this stage later in Feb/early March.

There are many possible ways to take this forward. My idea is to start by just spending time in the departments ideally alongside some of the workers who I met in January? Shona and Margaret (childrens), Alistair and Verity (business/science), Mandy (art/music) and Ida (history).
I'd also be interested to meet up with Wilma to see the work of the mobile library?

I'm aware that there are big constraints on the librarians time, I don't want to make their job harder. I can be flexible,operating either discreetly or if need be, I'm happy to roll my sleeves up and do whatever is most useful at the time. After all, the nature of the project is collaborative, combined with being workplace specific means the process is as important as the final product.

I look forward hearing from you and being back in Dundee again.