Sunday, January 30, 2011

Book handbag instructions

When I was in Australia last year , I promised various people the instructions on how to make a handbag that I had with me, made out of an old law textbook.
So, belatedly (but it did take ages to make/photo/write up at the same time), here's the details of how to make a book bag for yourself!


Empty hardback book shell, in good condition

Material – 1 large piece, or 2 contrasting/complementing smaller pieces (fat quarter size)

Craft felt – any colour

Magnetic clasps

Handbag handles

Ribbon to co-ordinate or contrast with the selected material (up to 1cm wide)





Wire snips

A4 Card

Craft knife

Cutting mat

Pen that will write on fabric (make sure it won’t bleed through the fabric though)

Glue gun

Iron and ironing board

Sewing machine (or it can be hand sewn if you have infinite patience!)

Other info

For this bag, I used 2 complementary colours/patterns of fat quarters.

My book shell was 38 cm by 24 cm, with a spine width of 7.5cm.

The details of making this bag are specific to these measurements: for other bags you'll probably have to tweak things.

I’m not a seamstress, nobody’s taught me how to do any of this stuff: I made this up as I went along, so I may be doing things the “wrong” way, but it’s the only way I know how to do them!


You’ll need to make a template for your fabric end sections, so take your A4 card, and cut a triangular shape about 5cm, by 18 cm, by 21cm. Also cut a rectangular shape about 4cm by 25cm.

Make sure your book has as much of the glue/thread attachments removed as possible from the spine, including sewn-in fabric bookmarks. You will be gluing the felt to this surface, soyou want it clear, to allow it to be glued securely. Cut threads if present, and pull off any remnants of paper.

Use the card template to mark the wrong side of your selected fabric: you will need to do 4 triangles (for the bag ends), and 2 rectangles (for the closure tab).

Remember to leave about 1cm extra around each template, for the seam.

To save material, mark out the pieces close together, if possible.

Cut out along marked lines.

Bag ends

Place triangular pieces together, with wrong sides facing out. Pin into place along ink marks, then sew together, leaving smallest edge open.

Turn end sections right way out by pulling through the open end. Tweezers can help here, to grab the material, and straighten out the corners.

Fold end pieces in half and iron flat. Mark a line in pencil running 2cms in from the folded point, to 10 cms down. Sew along the line – this should help the material to fold inwards when the bag is shut.

Iron the sections around the seam flat again.


Lay book shell on your lining fabric, draw around the shell, and cut out, including about 1cm extra for seams.

Iron the seams flat rather than pinning them.

Sew along seam on sewing machine.

Closure tab

Take the 2 rectangular pieces for the closure tab.

Now, I’ve done attaching the magnetic snaps to the closure tab both before it’s sewn together, and after, and trust me: it’s far easier to do it before it’s sewn together.

Lay the thin back part of the snap onto the fabric, about 3cm in from the end. Ink mark the areas where the legs will come through using the back as a template, and cut slits where marked.

Slide the snap legs through the material and the thin back part, and bend them flat.

Snip off the excess length of legs that stick out beyond the back of the snap.

Pin the tab together along the seam, and sew, leaving one short end open.

Turn right side out (again, tweezers can help here), and cut a length of felt that will fit inside the tab. Use the tweezers to push the felt inside the tab – this will help stiffen it up.

Book shell

Use the thin back part of the other half of the magnetic snap as a template on the front cover of the book to ink where to cut. I tend to place them 2/3 cm’s down from the edge.

Cut through the shell where you’ve ink marked on the front. Push the magnetic clasp through, and secure at the back as you did with the closure tab. As the book shell is quite substantial, you won’t need to trim any extra leg length on the edges of the snap.

Glue a strip of felt the width and length of the spine onto the spine.

Lay the handbag handles onto the shell, and measure the middle. Use the holes in the handle bases as a template to ink mark where the ribbon should be attached to the bag – I usually put them about 2cm down from the edge.

Cut through the book shell using a craft knife to create slits for the ribbon that the handles will be attached to.

Putting together

Push approx 10cm lengths of ribbon through the slits in the book cover. Glue one length of the ribbon down, feed through the handbag handle, and glue on top of already glued down length.

Repeat for both handles.

Glue both fabric end sections to the spine felt, with the angled seams pointed inwards. Start with the open, narrow end: glue onto the felt, pressing down to ensure close contact.

Repeat with other end section.

Section by section, glue the two matching sides of the end panels to the book shell. This can be tricky at the beginning point, when you’re persuading the materials to fold in a different direction from the one it’s been glued down in, hence doing it in sections.

After deciding how wide a closure you want for the bag, glue the closure tab to the book shell with the appropriate length hanging over the book shell edge.

Have a short break to swear at your glue gun, when the rubber nozzle falls off while you’re in the middle of a complex glue-based manoeuvre….

Lay the lining on top of the pieces attached so far, and check where the lining overlaps. Start gluing the lining onto the bag, starting on the same side as the already-attached end panels.

Glue the lining on, down to the spine.

Attach the other side of the end panels.

Glue the lining on over the edges of the side panels, and to the end of the book shell.

Ta-dah: one book bag!

Now, collapse in exhaustion, nursing the hot glue burns, and craft knife cuts you’ve picked up along the way.

Excuse me, I have a handbag to package up and send abroad....

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

The pretty picture...

I'm such a copycat: I saw Karen Blakeman's visual LinkedIn network on her blog, and thought I'd see what mine looked like...

I've taken out my name at the centre, and the shareable version strips out contact names, but I seem to have 3 separate worlds - orange is workmates, past and present. Blue is personal/real life contacts, green is online/social networks contacts, and pink are library-but not via-social-network contacts.

Methinks you can see that work and social/personal don't really overlap in my life, although some of the colour coding, as Karen says, seems to be entirely random.
But it's still quite pretty, all swirly and stuff!

Tommy's a tweet thing

Today, for the first time, live tweeting will be allowed from the High Court in Glasgow, for the sentencing of Tommy Sheridan in his perjury case. STV News made a formal written application to be allowed to do so, and permission was granted.

I wonder if this will be an exceptional situation, and live tweeting will only be allowed for this case (due to the media/public interest), or whether this is likely to be something allowed in future for other, less "exciting" cases?

Friday, January 21, 2011

You're all lovely, you know that?

Look what you did!

You've given £1758.11 so far to help build a library in India...and if you haven't contributed yet, there's still a few hours left to give until the campaign closes.

That means, in the space of only 2 weeks, dozens of total strangers have chipped in enough together to pay the £1,250 needed to build, staff and stock an entire library in India for 2 years...with enough left over for 5 mobile libraries in Africa and/or book grants, woo-hoo! Think of the future you've all helped to create, enabling people to take charge of their own lives through the power of education!

You ALL deserve that warm inner glow of Being Good People!* Really, you're all amazing - nobody who's donated their hard-earned money is getting any sort of commodity back for it: each donation is a selfless investment in the future of strangers. Good People rock!

And remember to keep an eye on the Buy India A Library blog for updates on developments with the library.

*It looks sort of like a Ready Brek Glow, but it's not trademarked.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Drifting over drafts

Today, I’m looking for this draft Statutory Instrument:

The Offshore Chemicals (Amendment) Regulations 2011 (oh yes, I know how to live life on the wild side!)

The Stationery Office gave notice of its existence here.

Now, I want to put that information into our Current Awareness service, so I went to the section in OPSI that I’d previously bookmarked, as it held draft SIs.

But that redirected me to the front page of

Ok…I knew that the shift of all content to would be happening soon, so that was fine. is generally a good, handy site…but unfortunately it still has some glitches.

Before, on OPSI, I could either go directly to the Draft SIs page, or search by the title of the draft. For some reason though, doesn’t recognise draft legislation if you try and find it via entering its title in the search box – it seems that search is restricted to only enacted legislation, so Draft SIs aren’t findable that way.

Ok…I can go to the Draft SIs page, and find it there. Or not – there are only 15 draft SIs so far for 2011, it’s easy enough to see that my one isn’t there. It looks like, in the case of this SI, there ain’t no 2011 version…so I’ll go and check if there’s a typing error been made somewhere, and it’s really meant to be the 2010 they’re referring to. Now…where’s the 2010 one?

The 2010 draft SI section is split into 12 pages. There’s no option to show them all on a single page, so if you’re unsure of exactly what it’s been categorised under, you’re going to be clicking through each page, unless you know what exact heading your draft SI could be found under…no quick “find” option, just scanning each heading and entry.

For this one, after clicking through various pages, I found that it’s listed under the “Environmental Protection” category. Now, I don’t know the headings – therefore I couldn’t tell whether my SI would be listed under Chemicals, Offshore, Utilities, Health and Safety, or any other possible headings. Making me search by a heading, when I don’t know what the headings are, nor whether the SI I’m looking for will be categorised by them under that heading isn’t very helpful! If they can categorise the headings alphabetically, why can’t they categorise the draft SIs alphabetically? After all, usually I have the title of the SI, and want to be able to find it from that: I don’t really care where they decide to place it within their categories.

So, from the information on the Draft SIs page, I now know that what I'm looking for is a draft that replaces a previous draft, which itself was a replacement of a previous draft.

Unfortunately, the Daily List entry makes clear that the 2011 draft is replacing the second 2010 draft…but the 2011 one draft is nowhere to be found.


So, basically, my brain is melted, and I’m glaring at the website, for making what used to be a simple process into a multi-step pain, and am still no closer to knowing the proper title for these draft Regulations, or where they are.

Excuse me while I go to a quiet place to whimper for a while.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

No discrimination in Boston

It doesn't matter whether you're black, white or even just kinda patchy colours all Boston, you're able to serve as a juror. Yes, species is no barrier to being involved in turning those big, heavy wheels of justice!

It makes the Scottish Government's recent act of removing the age barrier for jury duty look positively old-fashioned: bring on the time when animals are serving! I can't wait to see what "reasonable adaptations" would be needed to allow large farm animals in the jurors box. Although I suppose at least some animals, like horses, would already be used to being in a box...

Ta to Greville Tombs for sending me this story.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Librarianing - the physical reason

There are many factors that might steer you into librarianship as a career. A love of learning and knowledge; a mind that likes to dig out the useful information hidden in a pile of nonsense; ruthless organisational skills; an ability to strip out extraneous information and get to the core of a question; a memory for random snippets of information and facts that turn out to be useful later on...

And then there's the factor that's beyond your control. Something that you might not realise you have until one day, all the little moments add up together into an moment of glorious, and disturbing understanding.

You have Librarian Face.

It's the face that makes people want to ask you random questions. It's the face that makes strangers think that you have memorised the intricacies of the local bus system, and can therefore give excellent advice on this topic. The face that implies an in-depth knowledge of the stock of local shops, and therefore exactly which ones will be able to supply the person asking with peacock feathers (tall, not short). It's the face that means that, to tourists in Edinburgh for the Festival, you're apparently just a walking information booth and map reading service.

And you know what? You're stuck with it.

So, you might as well become a librarian - it is....your destiny.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Why I'd rather have an IT department

So, some companies are moving towards allowing staff to buy their own computers to work on?

That all sounds very nice, and whizzy in concept, but...I don't think I'd be wanting that option, myself.

I am a librarian - I do information retrieval and research work. As part of that, I'm reasonably well aware of some sorts of techie stuff, and the main Dos and Don'ts. But when things go wrong, I need a Grown Up, in the form of the IT Department. They are trained and experienced with the proper technical stuff, both the hardware and software. They build the systems we work in. They've dealt with the regular problems that occur pretty frequently, and they have the skills to work out what's going on when a new problem crops up. They know what that random code in that pop-up box means - I certainly don't have a clue, and I definitely don't have the time to find out about it, teach myself about it, and then attempt to fix it. Chances are, I'd end up breaking something else. I need people who know what they're doing, and are familiar with the system and the users, not a contracted external IT support service provider.

From that report, the scheme seems to be focussed on laptops - yes, they are indeed lovely and portable. But would that mean I would have to cart it in to the office and back every day Because, if it was "my" computer, I'd be wanting it at home for evenings and weekends. Why hellooooo muggers - look at me and my daily commute with expensive equipment!
And does that mean friends and family wouldn't be allowed to use the machine, for security reasons? Then how is it "mine"?

Will users get training on keeping the clutter off "their" computer, backing up their personal data etc? Are corporate IT departments meant to become some kind of home IT babysitters?

What about the connection speed? Is a home internet connection fast enough? Reliable enough? Does it have restrictions on data use? Are they likely to go over their limit if they're not usually a heavy internet user? Will their work pay for their home internet connection if they're using their computer and internet connection mainly to work from home? What about if the user is unaware, and has an unsecured wireless network - if they're using it for work, and someone else is using their network for illegal purposes at the same time, who would be responsible? Hell, what if the user downloaded illegal content themselves - whose machine is it then?

What happens if the machine goes kaput?

And when my personally purchased "work" computer gets old and slow, and painful to work on...well, tough. You think I'm going to spend yet more money on just a work computer? I'll just put up with it, gripe, moan, and watch my speed and productivity drop.


Personally I prefer to come in to work, use a pc built and maintained by IT, on systems designed and built by IT, with an IT department a phone call or email away, with people who know me, and what I use my computer for. Then, when I'm finished in the office, I can go home and use my laptop, knowing that there's a nice separation between work, and not-work. If I need to do anything on my work pc, I can access it remotely. No need for this odd half-way option of a work/personal machine.

But then maybe I'm just a grumpy Luddite?

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Security woopsie

So, it's safe to say it's a Bad Thing when there's a breach of security and confidentiality in a meeting between a solicitor and client. So when a technician from Cable and Wireless intruded into a client meeting by popping up on a monitor int he meeting room, that can't exactly have put a smile on many faces...

However, I personally like to imagine the technician popping up, and doing this:

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

6 degrees of legal librarianing

You know that game, 6 Degrees of Kevin Bacon, when you can use Kevin Bacon to link almost anyone in Hollywood in 6 steps or less?


Well, it's got almost nothing to do with this post, but I like the idea of it :)

Anyhoo, what was it I was going to blog about...oh yes - the problem of what degree is most useful in a legal information environment. See, I knew there was some reason I'd been thinking of degrees!

Y'see, Robert Gordon University have done something rather spiffing: they've launched a distance learning Law LLB, woo-hoo! Studying is part-time as standard, and can be accelerated to full time from 2012.

Now...this is kinda tempting, because as a librarian in law firm, I'm similar to many librarians in this and other specialist areas: I don't have a degree in the subject I work in. Everything I've learned, I've either been taught by my previous or current boss (both infinitely patient in relation to daft questions), or picked up through doing the research for enquiries, and self-education in the job. I do have a degree (science), and a postgraduate diploma (information and library science), but they don't really prepare you for questions about what is a medium filum fluminis, or extinguishing a real burden, or any of the other specialist-area specific stuff.

So what you tend to find is that, if they can afford it, and can fit it into their lives, a lot of law librarians try and get some sort of legal qualification. This helps with two issues: gaining a better understanding of the foundations of what we're working with, and the processes and systems we work within. And it also helps to remind co-workers that, yes, actually, we are professionals too, just like them. You see, you could have qualifications coming out of your ears (and often, we do: Msc's, Bsc's, MAs, PGDips, Charterships), but in a law firm, to a lawyer, you're not a professional unless you have a law degree - they're the only degrees that count. And if you're not regarded as a "proper" professional, then it's far harder to get your advice and work to be taken seriously.

But there's no other option for law firm librarians than to come into law qualified in other subject areas: it's too specialised an area to have a degree or other professional qualification we can do. We come in, we learn and get on with it, and if we have time and money, we increase our qualification level by throwing in a law degree.

So obviously, I went about things the wrong way really, what you want to do is a law degree, THEN switch to being a librarian!

Now, if only I could afford to do that one at RGU...

Monday, January 10, 2011

When silliness becomes real goodness

Well, back in December I thought it's be fun to put together a gift list for the stereotypical librarian, and this included, of course, library-based options, mainly from I've used Goodgifts before (it's actually now a running joke in my family: if I hand over an envelope for an event, they tend to wail "Oh don't tell us you've bought me another orphan!"), so I though it'd be nice to feature their library idea.

And there I left it - as a nice idea, but one for other people. And of course, the awesome option of buying a full library was just mad - nobody I knew could afford that!

But I reckoned without theREALwikiman, and other fab librarians around the world. Ned saw my blog post, and retweeted the link...and him and others have got together to do something fabulous: they ARE going to buy that library! And if there's not enough money for that permanent library, then maybe they can fund some mobile ones, or the stock for them...anything will help. They're working together, needing only a small amount from lots of people, to make a good thing happen.

Now, I've done my bit and donated...what good thing have you done today? If your answer is "nothing yet", then now's your chance to stockpile some of those Good Karma points, for just a few pennies...

Donate here, do it, do it, do it!

Scotlandshire gets with the times

*Warning, this post uses vicious sarcasm*

You know, apparently, after the age of 65, your brain turns to mush and all your mental faculties just drain away into your toes, leaving you only fit to watch daytime TV, and consider if Cash in the Attic would find anything worthwhile in your house, while thinking longingly of the days when you could eat foods that didn't get under the plate of your dentures.

Although it is rumoured that occasionally, a faint waft of intellect can remain, enough to make such decrepit wrecks of humanity fit to hold a normal conversation...and sometimes they can even crank the handle enough to wind their brains up to lukewarm. And now Scotland will yank them out of their nice, sensible high-backed chairs with sturdy arms, and throw them into a jury box.

It's almost like the Scottish Government understands that life and intelligence doesn't end with retirement. Who knew?

No (Form)spring in this step

Yes, I'm the type of gal who likes to mess about and try new tools and sites. So, nine months ago, Formspring seemed like an amusing timewasting tool - people can ask you questions, either putting their name to them (usually a Twitter name), or anonymously. You then can answer them, and post the responses in your Formspring stream, either for the world to see, or only to your followers (I'm not sure if this was originally an option). You can also follow other people, and ask them questions too, so it can be quite interactive.

Yes, I know it was and still is attracting bad publicity for the fact that school kids use it to bully each other, but school kids can and will use anything to bully each other, from verbal abuse, notes written and passed around, text messages, or messages on various popular sites that over time have moved from MySpace, to Bebo, to Facebook and Twitter. Just because some people misuse it, doesn't mean a tool is inherently bad. And as an adult, if I didn't like any questions I received, I could either delete and not answer them, or publish them with a good putdown response.

So, I had fun: I was asked a lot of questions, and in the process actually had to think quite deeply about some things: in daily life you're not often asked about your aspirations, dreams, or fears, so I learned a bit about myself. I also laughed myself silly at some of the questions, and had great fun thinking up suitably silly responses.

But, after a few months, I got bored. I abandoned the account about six months ago, and recently decided it was time to shut it down - why have that info floating about freely out in the world if I'm not actively using that service? So, I went to close the account.

But no, you can't shut your account, you can only disable it. Huh? But...erm...I want it gone, and everything on it: there's no sensitive info in my responses, but it is my choice whether that info stays posted, or not.

Ok, no delete account option? Right - lets delete those questions and answers: surely there must be a "delete all" option? No.


Cue me spending a good chunk of time deleting individually (with a pop-up "are you sure?" box for every one) three hundred and eighteen entries. Six hundred and thirty six clicks to delete. Not counting the page refresh every time the page of entries was done, to reload more to delete.

Ok, so they were all gone, yes?


When I deleted the entries, the questions were regarded as unanswered, and went back into my inbox, waiting for me to answer. As the questions themselves still sometimes contained potentially identifiable info about me, I wanted them gone too. Now, this was marginally better: at least the questions could be deleted in chunks of twenty five at a time. So only thirteen clicks to get rid of them. Plus page reloads.


Right, anything else I can do to remove "me" from this site, since they won't get rid of the account?

OK, the profile picture - I can remove that, yes?

No. There's no option NOT to have a picture, just to replace a picture. Hmmmm. Right, so I've now replaced that with a picture of something else random, but the option to not have a picture at all would have been far better.

What else? Oh look - I can effectively "protect" the account, so anyone who's currently subscribed to see what I post, and be alerted when I answer a new question is removed, and have to request to "refollow" me. Much like Twitter - a better way of controlling who sees the material you're posting. Ok, so the account I want to kill is now protected.

Now, after doing all this, clearing everything out that I can and making what's left as inaccessible as possible, I'll disable it. And look, there's an option when disabling it to say why you want it disabled, and add further I informed them that I no longer wanted the account, and wished for it to be deleted.

Lets see if they get back to me on this point, eh?

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