Sunday, 28 November 2010

Double Measures

Moral fears about drink have often exercised British newspapers, something that soon became apparent when I began compiling material for Double Measures: The Guardian Book of Drinking. From concerns in the 1860s about drunken children, the dangers of absinthe, the very act of drinking itself during WW1 to current debates about 24-hour licensing, the paper has not been afraid to warn of the dangers of drinking alcohol. That said, the editorial lectures are leavened by plenty of celebratory pieces about all things grape and grain.

Many of the articles were accompanied by cartoons. As Drawing Drunks, a new exhibition at the
Cartoon Museum demonstrates, artists and cartoonists have long played out the dilemmas over drink in the country's press. The Today Programme recently reported on the exhibition and a number of cartoons can be seen here (unfortunately the museum's site is a little out of date). One of the most famous is William Hogarth's Gin Lane.

Read Martin Rowson's piece about the love-hate relationship between editors and cartoonists here.

Saturday, 27 November 2010

LIKE 20 and the art of networking

With the Christmas party season almost upon us, LIKE20 focused on how to be more successful with your networking. Guest speaker Lesley Robinson passed on a few tips but the bulk of the evening was spent putting the theory into practice. Simple advice such as catching someone's eye or having a few pre-prepared opening gambits soon made sense and before long the room was alive with the sound of some serious networking.

So far, so good, but what happens when you want to move on from a conversation and engage with someone else? Extricating yourself from a group or person without giving offence is much harder to do than making the initial contact. Lesley offered some ideas but unfortunately there wasn't much time to put these into practice.

Chatting about this after the main networking session elicited a number of responses. More than one person suggested the simple, direct, and usually effective, 'eff off, you're boring me' approach. Fair enough, although someone else commented that having a host/hostess to connect the like-minded etc. might be a more subtle way of going about this. Good idea, although not always possible. At professional events
it is usually easier to move onto the next person as everyone (hopefully) knows the rules of the networking game. Of course it's harder to do at social gatherings - guess it's just a case of getting out there and practicing...

Once again, a great LIKE event. More of Lesley's networking tips can be read here.

Friday, 26 November 2010

Beyond the echo chamber

Complaining or commenting about something in an enclosed space acts like an echo chamber with the same things being heard over and over again. No matter whether it's in the social media sphere or a trade journal, airing the issues may be reassuring for those involved but has little impact outside the space. This is particularly true in the library world where there is an awful lot of chatter about the forthcoming cuts in services but little that makes it into the mainstream media. It was with this in mind, that SLA Europe organised Marketing Libraries Outside the Echo Chamber, a seminar that aimed to show information professionals how to reach beyond the converted.

Held at the City Business Library, one part of the the evening was taken up with Escaping the Echo Chamber, a talk by Ned Potter and Laura Woods. Using a series of examples they built up a strong case for the need to challenge inaccurate reporting in areas where non-librarians and opinion formers will take notice. A good case in point is that of a blog post by the influential marketing guru Seth Godin who wrote, amongst a number of things, that 'information is free now'. Naturally there was a huge response but it was Toby Greenwalt's response on the Huffington Post that was probably read by the most. Another point made was to use a popular medium to get the message across as illustrated by this very funny film on YouTube. There are lots more useful links on their respective blogs and presentation (which, incidentally was a brilliant demonstration of Prezi.)

How to go about putting all this into practice had been demonstrated by two of the organisers behind Voices for the Library, a campaign that "seeks to highlight everyone who loves libraries to share their stories and experiences of the value of public libraries". Bethan Ruddock and Jo Anderson gave a truly inspiring talk, describing how they they were getting (and encouraging others) a positive library message across through stories in the local press, commenting on popular blogs and writing on forums such as Comment is Free.

There was no doubting the enthusiaism of all of the speakers. However, Ned seemed to suggest it was an information professional's duty to promote libraries. As he put it,
"if people don't know how we can help them, they won't come to us for help."

This was an evening that challenged all those present to do something. Thanks to SLA Europe and also the City Business Library staff for hosting the event.

Friday, 19 November 2010

History of Social Media Infographic

Those Who Dared recently featured a post about Munroe's Map of Online Communities which showed current levels of social activity around the globe. Now there is a History of Social Media Infographic, a timeline that acts as a useful companion piece to the map. Produced by Skloog, it traces everything from the birth of the telegraph in the late 18th century to Google Buzz in the present day. It's so easy to forget that Wikipedia is nearly 10 years old and Second Life has been around since 2003.

Monday, 8 November 2010

Books about journalism

Michael Frayn's Towards the End of the Morning (1967) is often cited as the ultimate 'old Fleet Street' novel. Set in an obscure national newspaper it follows the lives of the journalists from the crossword and nature department in the decling years of the street. Most of their time seems to be spent in the pub, usually accompanied by the stout-drinking Lucy from the library, moaning about workloads and life on the paper. The novel is very funny and much loved.

However, many other fine books have been written about Fleet Street - something that has been dubbed hack-lit. This month's
Press Gazette features a piece about Revel Barker's Books About Journalism which republishes long lost classics. A former Mirror Group executive and brains behind Gentlemen Ranters, Barker's catalogue includes such tales as as Murray Sayles's A Crooked Sixpence and Anthony Delano's Slip-Up, not to mention the ever popular Waterhouse on Newspaper Style.

The Press Gazette publishes his top 20 classics but plenty more can be found on the website.

Tuesday, 26 October 2010

All Facts Considered

In an age when fact-checking often goes little further than a quick glance at Wikipedia (good resource that it is though), it's heartening to hear about a book that is not only full of facts, but is written by a professional whose job it is to ensure they are all correct. All Facts Considered: The Essential Library of Inessential Knowledge is a compendium of information about history, science and the arts written by Kee Malesky, librarian at NPR (National Public Radio).

See here for an article about the book. This includes excerpts plus a few of Kee's favourite questions such as:
- The first e-book was the Declaration of Independence, typed into a computer in 1971 by the founder of Project Gutenberg.
- Red hair, the rarest human color (less than 2 percent of the population), is caused by a variation in what is called the "Celtic" gene.

All sounds fascinating and I'm about to order a copy for the Guardian library (where we double check everything). Wonder if it's going to be made available online...

Friday, 1 October 2010

Information hygiene

Twenty-first century Info Pros: Changing roles and skills in knowledge and information, was the rather ominous title for LIKE 18 (London Information and Knowledge Exchange). Over 40 people packed into an upstairs room at the Crown Tavern, Clerkenwell, to hear Luisa Jefford, TFPL's Director of Public Sector Recruitment, pass on her some of her inside knowledge.

After talking about the current jobs market, including the fact that many vacancies attract applicants from all around the world, Luisa divided the room into smaller groups to discuss the skills that are essential for the modern information professional.

Not surprisingly, everything from being able to budget, organise and present, as well as core information skills made it onto the list. One attribute though that made a (very) brief appearance in my group was the art of blagging.

Now, obviously, blagging is not something that's going to appear on the average information professional's CV - the Collins dictionary definition of 'obtain by wheedling or cadging' is enough to put paid to that. However, a wider definition of presenting a confident front even when uncertain about something is surely a skill worth having. Random examples of this can be seen here and, with the line 'a blagger persuades. They do not coerce,' here.

Luisa concluded her talk by stressing that you should be fully aware of all of your transferable skills. These are are as valid as formal qualifiactions on a CV, especially when backed up with evidence and examples.

Once the formal part of the evening had finished, the conversation began. Exchanging ideas and knowledge over dinner is one of LIKE's strengths. In the 'fish and chips corner', discussion ranged over everything from issues raised in Luisa's talk, Wikipedia (again) to Ed Miliband's marital status. At one point the phrase 'information hygiene' was introduced into the conversation, the context being something to do with making sure users don't download unsuitable or 'toxic' material.

Naturally I wanted to know more. A quick search on the Cilip website directed me to 'Top tips on sensitive issues - personal hygiene'. Very important, but not quite what I was looking for. The definition of 'managing your personal information' from this site seems more like it. Perhaps a future meeting idea for LIKE?

Thanks again to Virginia, Jennifer, Marja, et al for organising such a great evening. More information about changes in the information management jobs market can found on the TFPL reports section.

Wednesday, 22 September 2010

Calculating column inches

Calculating the number of column inches, or words, a publication has devoted to a particular subject is a popular journalistic tool. It's a rough and ready way of showing interesting trends in coverage and it's just the kind of job that lands on the news librarian's desk.

In days of yore a ruler would be used to measure each column. In more recently times the job has involved doing a search in a newspaper text archive such as LexisNexis, or Factiva, noting the word count for each relevant story, and then adding them up. It may sound like an imprecise science but if done properly it can throw up interesting results. For example, a few years ago, there was surprise over the fact that the Guardian had devoted so much attention to Celebrity Big Brother (click to enlarge).

(Guardian, February 6, 2006)

However, changes in the way in which newspaper content is archived has made the job a lot harder to do. With the duplication of articles, archiving of picture captions, trailers, adverts etc, it is nigh on impossible to get a true picture of coverage. It was with some interest then that I noticed that outfits like Journalisted can do the job automatically. Just type in a subject and results spill out. To continue with the Big Brother theme, the site revealed that over the past week or so there have been more articles about the contestant Chantelle Houghton, than those about the Pakistan Floods. As explained on the site:

"All the information on Journalisted is collected automatically from the websites of 21 British news outlets (altogether, this means 14 news websites, since many daily papers share a website with their sister Sunday paper). Articles are indexed by journalist, based on the byline to the article. Keywords and statistics are automatically generated, and the site searches for any blogs or social bookmarking sites linking to each article"

Of course it's not actually searching what appeared in paper copies of news organisations so results could be slightly skewed, especially on a site which carries lots of blog coverage. But as the whole point is to get a snapshot of how something is being reported, it's a great resource. There are several other sites offering such a service. Now, if someone could just work a clever way of doing the same thing with printed columns in newspapers...

Wednesday, 8 September 2010

Andrew Roth

Andrew Roth, author of Parliamentary Profiles, died last month at the age of 91. For half a century his books have been a treasure trove for political hacks writing about MPs. Roth left no stone unturned in the chronicling of a career - everything from acts of indiscreet youthful rebellion, forgotten attacks on colleagues on late-night talk shows, business links, to scandals were all there in the tightly packed prose.

Compiled from a library of press cuttings, the New York born journalist added his own pithy, and often very funny, characterisations. An early description of Margaret Thatcher was as a "diamond-hard Rightist suburban feminist, cold-water English rose", while Jim Callaghan, her Labour Party rival, was "avuncular, cocky, tetchy, shrewd, cunning, teetotal."

As well as compiling the guides, Roth had a 12-year spell as political correspondent or the Manchester Evening News and 13 years with the New Statesman. From 1996 he contributed obituaries to the Guardian.

Now that he has sadly died, the question is what happens to the great man's cuttings library? He had been trying to sell it but as many journalists now get their information electronically through the likes of LexisNexis or Factiva, not to mention blogs etc, it's value wasn't quite what it would have been a couple of decades ago. That said, it's still of great historical value and it is to be hoped that it finds a home at a university.

More information here and here.

Tuesday, 27 July 2010

World Cup coverage in The Guardian

Martin Belam writes on Currybetdotnet about a display of Guardian World Cup coverage, compiled by the paper's Research & Information team. The pieces, ranging from 1950 to 2006, include Cup final reports as well all the usual stories - Hand of God, murdered goalkeepers, Gazza's tears etc, etc.

Until a couple of years ago, the task of finding these articles would have involved a nausea-inducing session at the microfilm reader. Thankfully, such projects can now be carried out using the Guardian/Observer digital archive.

Wednesday, 30 June 2010

Chatham House Rule

To Chatham House last night for a retirement party. Chatham house is the home of the Royal Institute of International Affairs and prides itself on "Independent thinking on international affairs". Central to this is the world famous Chatham House Rule which allows speakers' comments to be reported, but not their identities, thus encouraging frank debate. I don't think it was in force last night but I'll refrain from revealing too much other than to say that the general consensus was that libraries are essential to any organisation which want to be taken seriously for its accuracy and independent analysis.

Tuesday, 29 June 2010

Digital Journalist Survival Guide: Tech terms you should know

At last - a glossary of all those techie terms and acronyms that non-tech information professionals and journalists should know. PoynterOnline's Jennifer 8.Lee has compiled this with the help of the Hacks/Hackers group. As the ResourceShelf put it, being able to "translate from 'geek speak' to layman terms is an excellent skill to have."

Monday, 14 June 2010

Digitising newspapers

In last week's Media Guardian Dan Sabbagh examined James Murdoch's claims that the British Library's plan to digitise newspapers was for commercial gain. Obviously the accusations centre around copyright, but there's an interesting response in today's paper where Ralph Gee notes:

"Most 19th century provincial editors shamelessly lifted from the Times as copies reached them by stagecoach and railway; but London presses reciprocated, for their plunder to be used yet again by other provincials. This very incestuous process is now easily proved."

Indeed it is. Digitisation has completely opened up papers in a way that the original editorial teams could never have imagined. Long may it continue.

Monday, 7 June 2010

Association of UK Media Librarians

After 24 years of promoting and supporting librarians working in the print and broadcast media, the Association of UK Media Librarians (AUKML) is to fold. On May 11, a farewell party was held at IET London, Savoy Place, to celebrate the group's achievements (due to careful stewardship, the group has a healthy bank balance). Over 60 members and former members came together for one last time.

I've written something about the event, for Cilip Gazette (turn to page 3.) See also Annabel Colley's column in Cilip Update, although this is only available to Cilip members...Pictures will soon be available on a Flickr site.

Sunday, 30 May 2010

LIKE 14: Transliteracy

After months of gentle arm-twisting from one of its members, I finally made it to my first London Information & Knowledge Exchange (LIKE) event, last Thursday. Founded in February 2009, the group is a collection of information/knowledge professionals who meet every month to discuss all manner of subjects in a relaxed and informal setting. Unlike more formal associations, membership and meetings are arranged on LinkedIn. Another feature of LIKE is that their evenings involve a good meal, something which has led one devotee to describe the gatherings as "a very good dinner party".

So it was with some excitement that I trotted off to the Perservence, the group's regular haunt on Lambs Conduit Street, London. The topic for LIKE 14 was Transliteracy - how info lit r u?, a talk by Susie Andretta, Senior lecturer at London Metropolitan University.

Transliteracy, just in case you're not familiar with the term, is "a unifying perspective on what it means to be literate in the 21st Century [including] the ability to read, write and interact across a range of platforms, tools and media from signing and orality through handwriting, print, TV, radio and film, to digital networks" (Professor Sue Thomas, DeMontford University).

Andretta has been studying the concept from the perspective of the practicing information professional. See here for an in-depth explanation. Inherent in the transition is, as she puts it, "the challenges of having to adapt to a constantly changing technological landscape, the multiple literacies that this generates, and the need to establish a multifaceted library profession that can speak the multiple-media languages of its diverse users". Heavy stuff, but it did make me stop and think about what many of us are doing almost every hour of the day.That is, communicating using many different mediums, whether it be tweeting, texting, blogging, Second Life etc.

Following the talk, a well-informed debate took place with views ranging from excitement at the concept to some who bemoaned that fact that there was "so much superciality" associated with much new technology communication.

So, what's not to like? LIKE offers a chance to learn something, debate with fellow information professionals, and have a great dinner.

Wednesday, 19 May 2010

Survival lessons for news libraries

Searcher magazine features an in-depth article about the fate of news libraries: Survival Lessons for Libraries looks at the current situation and pointers to where we go next. It's a detailed piece of work, and includes Michelle Quigley's News Library Layoffs and Buyouts, a table of all the changes in US news libraries over the past couple of years.

In one section Dan Kennedy, professor of journalism at Northeastern University, states that news librarians have been "made utterly obsolete by technology." It may well be true and its certainly a point that's crying out to be debated, but there again, so does a statement like "carpenters have been made utterly obsolete by flat-packs". Anyway, I'd recommend all those with an interest in news libraries to read the piece.

Also worth taking a look at is 200 Moments that Transformed Journalism, 2000-2009 on the Poyner site. Compiled by David Shedden, its library director, the moments were selected from his New Media Timeline (1969-2010).

Friday, 14 May 2010

New roles

To counter the oft-reported stories about the 'death' of media libraries, take a look at Katy Stoddard's Writing ourselves new roles in the May issue of Library & Information Update. As I've mentioned before, Cilip have shoved all their content behind a paywall, but there's a shorter version on the Librarian of Tomorrow blog.

Sunday, 4 April 2010

Is this a News of the World stakeout?

Walking along the banks of the river Wye near Bredwardine, Herefordshire, I came across a deserted shed. Curiosity got the better of me and I just had to investigate. Inside was an old armchair, a couple of beds, and an overpowering smell of sheep droppings. What caught my eye though was a News of the World expenses form lying on one of the rancid mattresses.

Had the shed been used as a stakeout for one of the paper's investigations?

Someone had obviously spent a bit of time there as a cupboard contained a few supplies (love the sound of Heinz's tinned London Grill). The question is, who, or what, were they waiting for?

Friday, 26 March 2010

National Archives UK on Flickr

Thanks to Peter Scott's blog for reporting that National Archives UK has added over 200 images to Flickr. The photos have no known copyright restrictions so feel free to copy gems like this poster.

Monday, 22 March 2010


Satyagraha, Philip Glass's opera about Mahatma Gandhi's early struggles against racial discrimination in South Africa, is currently playing at the ENO. I went to see it last week and the production is three hours of stunning music and staging. See here and here for expert reviews, and here for a digest of the plot.

Satyagraha was the Sanskrit name Gandhi gave his theory of non-violent, or "passive resistance". Central to promoting these principles was the Indian Opinion, a weekly publication that at its height had an estimated readership of 20,000 in South Africa alone. As such, newspapers are a running image in the production, particularly in Act II where giant rolls of newsprint are stretched across the stage, before Gandhi ends up disappearing into a mass of paper and people.

I was curious to know how the paper was viewed in Britain and so turned to the Guardian/Observer digital archive. As part of the Miscellany column, the following piece appeared in the Guardian on January 24 1905:

(click to enlarge)

Thursday, 18 March 2010

Tweeting while you work

Twitter's detractors usually dismiss the site as a plaything for those with too much time on their hands. Supporters point to its social networking capabilities and power as a serious journalistic tool, citing its use in the June 2009 Iranian elections and Trafigura case.

But what value does Twitter offer for everyday working life and business? That was the topic under discussion at the recent SLA Europe's Tweeting while you work: Making the most of micro-blogging, discussion.

The three panelists - Hazel Hall, Julie Hall and Judith Woods all use Twitter in their working lives - for exchanging valuable information, promoting themselves and, in the case of the last two, generating business. Slides will be available soon. One piece of advice, though, that all gave was that it is important to maintain separate business and pleasure accounts. The aim should be to cultivate your own Twitter 'personality'.

It was refreshing to hear such enthusiastic and knowledgeable speakers. They were so good in fact that the Chair, Bob De Laney, LexisNexis Director, News & Business, UK & Ireland, had very little to do. However, he did lob in the question as to whether the panelists would still be such enthusiastic tweeters if they had to pay for the service. The response was, a yes, a yes, and a possibly. Good news for some.

Hazel Hall slides can be seen here.

Monday, 8 March 2010

BBC listening figures and the Freak Zone

With talk of the BBC closing 6 Music and the Asian Network dominating the headlines, it's worth looking at what sort of listening figures other stations get. Katy Stoddard, a Guardian researcher/librarian, has posted all the most recent figures on the Datablog. Bottom of the list is Five Live Sports Extra, although I suspect it's running costs aren't that high. Why though isn't anyone talking about closing 1Xtra?

I'm a fan of 6 music, or at least parts of it. If the station does close, I suspect that the brilliant Stuart Maconie's Freak Zone will survive although it will probably be reduced to an hour and banished to the early hours of Radio 2. A suggestion - why not drop Aled 'keep the faith' Jones's Good Morning Sunday show and replace it with Maconie. The Freak Zone includes plenty of spiritual music and the most recent show's featured album was Black Sabbath's eponymous debut.

Thursday, 25 February 2010

Wikipedia (again)

Over the past few years, information professionals have spent spend an inordinate amount of time discussing Wikipedia. Everyone has an opinion, and usually an example of some inaccuracy. When interviewing wannabe librarians/researchers I often throw in a 'what do you think of Wikipedia?' question as the response can reveal a lot about an applicant's approach to information seeking. Many come out with 'don't trust it' - the 'official' approach that seems to be taught in most British schools and universities. In fact, exams watchdog Ofqual recently said that children should use Google and Yahoo to improve essays, but avoid the online encyclopedia.

Students need to learn how to discriminate between sources, but the fact remains that reliably sourced articles on Wikipedia can be unbeatable. I was reminded of this the other day when reading a post about the process of updating entries on Russell Potter's Visions of the North blog. Potter, an academic and leading authority on arctic exploration, writes about adding his comments to a Wikipedia entry on the sinking of the Karluk, the flagship of the Canadian Arctic Expedition, in 1914. The finished article (for now anyway) is a model of a well researched contribution, "providing a balanced and informative reference entry where before there was only a dark corner with a few half-hearted scraps mingling with rumors and undocumented sources" (Potter).

Tuesday, 23 February 2010

Bibliomancy on the South Bank

To the Queen Elizabeth Hall last night to see Norwegian trumpeter Nils Petter Molvaer. An enjoyable evening although for anyone familiar only with the breathy solos and beats of his 1997 album Khymer, this was challenging stuff. "A 21st-century Bitches Brew," was how Guardian critic John Fordham described the material in a review of Molvaer's new album, Hamada.

Anyway, enough of all that jazz. Rather more pertinent to this blog is the Bibliomancer's Dream, an art installation consisting of hundreds of books, situated in the QEH foyer. Inspired by the ancient ritual of Bibliomancy- the art of divining the future with books, visitors are invited to "select a book at random and pick a line or verse to learn a truth or simply inspire the imagination". It looks rather good too.

Monday, 22 February 2010

The BBC's Virtual Revolution

Saturday night saw the final part of The Virtual Revolution, a four-part series on BBC2 that has looked at how 20 years of the web has reshaped our lives. Presented by Dr Aleks Krotoski, it's investigated everything from how commerce has colonised the web, the way social networks are changing our relationships, to evidence that the virtual world is leading to a new brand of politics.

The Virtual Revolution has been a great series - intelligent but entertaining programmes that show the BBC at its best (and I'm sure Lord Reith is nodding in approval). This has been in part due to Krotoski's skill in leading the viewer through the mass of information, but also down to the high calibre of the interviewees. These have included everyone from Tim Berners-Lee, Bill Gates, Al Gore, the founders of Facebook, Twitter etc, to Stephen Fry - not to mention plenty of knowledgeable, and articulate, academics.

This week's programme, Homo Interneticus, included Professor David Nicholas of the independent research group Ciber, at University College London, who was talking about his study into the generational difference between how children and adults consume information online. Nicholas often talks about the 'Google generation' (see Digital Consumers) - young people who have grown up with the web. This group 'crowdsource' their knowledge, looking for the wisdom of their friends and networking what they know, rather than holding on to the information for themselves. Saturday's programme also included a Web Behaviour test (although according to Phil Bradley the BBC system soon crashed).

Nicholas has been looking at the changing information habits of various user groups for the past three decades. Back in the 1980s he was (probably) the first academic to start looking at the impact of online information on both journalists and news librarians. With the emergence of the internet in the following decade he conducted a huge study into how it was affecting information seeking in the media - a significant part of the research being carried out at the Guardian and Observer.

Aside from his research work, Nicholas was to be - although some would dispute this - the catalyst for the creation of the Association of UK Media Librarians (AUKML). As a senior lecturer at the (then) Polytechnic of North London, in the summer of 1986 he hosted a networking lunch for London-based news librarians that in turn led to the beginnings of the group. For more information about this see the News libraries chapter of British Librarianship & Information Work, 1991-2000.

Thursday, 18 February 2010

BBC Archive

BBC Archive offers a glimpse of the many hours of television and radio content, built up over eight decades of broadcasting. There are themed collections of programmes, documents and photographs, as well as a look behind the scenes to find out how the BBC archives are maintained.

It makes for fascinating viewing - just take a look at any of the Tomorrow's World clips. In Home Computer Terminal, Derek Cooper investigates Europe's first home computer terminal, installed into the home of industrial consultant Rex Malik. Ok, so it's from another age, but many of the predictions are remarkably accuate, and the shots of Malik's son doing his maths look very familiar.

I've also written about the BBC Archive on
Those Who Dared.

Tuesday, 9 February 2010

Paywalls and engagement

Library & Information Update, the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals' (CILIP) magazine, is introducing a monthly publishing schedule comprising six hard-copy magazines and six Digital editions a year. This replaces the current 10 hard-copy magazines a year. It sounds like a good move and, with its state of-the-art turn-the-page technology on the digital editions, is sure to be popular with members.

Of course as Elspeth Hyams, the editor, points out: "Update is CILIP's exclusive members' magazine," and so only those with a password can actually see it. I can fully understand why CILIP have taken this decision as offering members something unique and of value is surely one way of ensuring they renew their membership.

I think though that making Update available for all to view (as they used to) outweighs this argument. Opening up the magazine's considerable archive of well-informed articles will surely draw people to the organisation. It's the perfect way to advertise their services to information professionals.

But I guess that's the topic du jour. Hardly a day goes by without someone in the media offering their views on the great free v paywall debate. Last August,
Rupert Murdoch announced he was going to put News Corp's websites behind a paywall. Other news groups such as the New York Times have made similar noises, while the Financial Times has been charging for at least a year. However, Guardian editor-in-chief, Alan Rusbridger recently delivered a riposte to Murdoch's plans to introduce paywalls, claiming that it could lead the newspaper industry to "sleepwalk to oblivion." The News Corp Chairman's terse reply can be seen here.

Back to Update, and they may be onto something, at least in terms of 'engagement.' That is, the "clubs, subscription services, regular visitors – that ad men can measure," as Peter Preson put it in last Sunday's Observer.