Mar 25

End of an era – print reference

I have had responsibility for our library’s print reference collection. on and off since 1996.

When I first took on this role in 1996, our largest branch – which was both the local and regional reference collection, had 85 shelves of reference books. I’m talking full shelves, 2 metre high shelving and taking up a good length of the library’s walls.

The first change came when we started moving stock to make way for our first internet computers. Not that we got rid of it, we just moved it around to make room.

How things have changed.  Our smaller branches now have only a token reference collection, which includes the Melway Street Directory, Country Roads Directory, Law Handbook, an atlas, a dictionary and a copy of the relevant local histories, with many one or two other tools.

Our largest branch is now down to 24 shelves from its original 85 and this will decrease further.

Why?  Because print reference is the last stop for most information queries and that usually only in absolute desperation, or because the person requiring the information is more comfortable with the print rather than online and there is nothing in the lending collection (and yes, there are still many of those around…..).

And also because the online will always be more up-to-date, contain more information and be more easily accessible to all, even if the access is also through the library.

It was a milestone and I experienced some sadness too when I ordered what will be our last print copy of the World Book Encyclopedia.  This stalwart of school assignments is no longer the treasure trove that it was.  We have had Britannica online for over a decade and yet we still have World Book in print reference in our three largest branches.  All done now.

Some staff still love print reference and fiercely protect its place in the library, but that place is shrinking and in some libraries has ceased to exist altogether.

Not yet for us.  I think there is still a place for quick reference material and specialist rare resources, such as those in our local history collection.

But the time will come that it will be a rare thing indeed to see a book with the call number REF.  Still, these collections have worked hard, have helped many an information seeker and will be fondly remembered by those dedicated reference staff.

And I, who loves the online and all that it brings, even I will be sad to see it go.


Mar 22

Renew, rethink, revitalize – a mini conference at the State Library of Victoria

I was one of the 270 public library staff who attended this great event, created and hosted by the State Library of Victoria.  Besides the three keynotes, the rest of the presentations were by library staff doing interesting things in their libraries.  They were all awesome.

Here are my notes:

Renew, rethink and revitalise mini conference – SLV – Wed 18th March 2015

Corinne Hill – Public library transformation (Chattanooga Library)

Need to rethink how we work, how we do daily tasks. It’s about changing the culture of the library.

Report to the Mayor’s Task force on the revitalisation and future of the Chattanooga library – 2009 – entitled Challenge of change. This was the kicking off point for the challenge of change for Chattanooga Library.

Library was broken but had good political support and Corinne took the challenge. Chattanooga has a $6 million budget, 4 locations and 170,000 population. No capital budget but flexible in operating budget. She tries to eke out as much savings as she can. Chattanooga has gig per second fibre to everyone in city – publicly owned company.

Better internet speed means better service to their users, but also brings in high speed change, little as well as big. Staff need to be flexible and nimble, a learning organisation that can make little changes all the time.

Commanders intent” – define what success looks like, plan it and then give your staff the goal to make it work. Need to be ok about parts of the plan failing, because the goal is what is important. You need to make sure your people know why the change is happening.

Need to learn to live with failure and learn from our mistakes. Don’t hide them but ensure you gain some value from them.

Circulation and percolation – Chattanooga circulation staff were trained to be baristas and ended up creating their own coffee blend called Shush. They also removed tasks from circulation so they weren’t overloaded. Staff have run with it and made changes to the menu and workflow.

Change the way your library looks – be welcoming and open, make it good.

4th floor Makerspace – innovation only has a short shelf life so you have to keep innovating. It happens on the edge of normal procedure and is where staff can take risks. All they did was add the wireless to begin with and that floor was the first to get it. Had a big party to launch it and it was a great success. Had a Maker Faire for the public, with the library and other local institutions presenting, to enable the public to check out new tech including 3d printers.

They started the Makerspace with basic tools but was helped by the community to work out how the space and equipment should be used. They are now starting to see 3d printing as a basic service, like copying.

Find out what people are good at and enjoy and get them into positions that suit them and the library. They opened their “Gig lab” with hackers making the most of the space and connection. Only direction was to be good – no visits from the NSA allowed. Now have textiles as well. The 4th floor is now a space for trying new things in public. The library is a community platform, not a service appointed from on high.

If you are going to build a learning organisation you need to have high performance teams with competing values – collaborate, control, create, compete.

Project success is dependent on teams being representative of all departments involved, with the most passionate person, not necessarily the most qualified, being in charge.

Don’t waste time on laggards, you won’t win them over, focus on the middle group who are asking – “show me what you have got”.

The public needs to decide what the library looks like and what it does. Collections are getting smaller but more relevant.

Be adaptable, flexible and trust your instincts. Look downstream, make decisions faster with less information and innovate. Libraries are moving from building collections to building capital. We are a people organisation. Have to believe in your change. Chattanooga is still not perfect, but they are still working on it. Everyone has to own it, but from top to bottom, success and failure.

Understand what your communities want and then give it to them. Plan, then change, then change again.

Sue Roberts – how to make friends and influence people – gaining support for renewal and redevelopment

Leadership is all about change, all the time and it is personal. It’s about grief, loss and renewal.

We are all about telling stories, our own stories in this context.

You need to look at your vision, need to involve your stakeholders and get buy in from them all. It doesn’t need to be perfect or dazzling, it just needs to work ( their current vision is online at

Aspiration is important, that is what draws people to us. It’s all about the people, all the time. We want to get as close to our users as we possibly can without stalking them.

SLV looked at how users are using the library now and use that information. They took the information to create 7 building blocks. Digital underpins it all, so is not a separate thing. Three internal blocks that is the foundation and then 4 which are outward focused. (Community engagement, Collections and content, Place and space, Access resting on Collaboration, People and capabilities, Sustainability).

Need to practice our stories, our narrative.

A new chapter in Victoria’s story – SLV building redevelopment.

Need more space and services. Needed to clear some physical footprint and develop new services around digital services, education, employability. First step will be the redevelopment of Queens Hall – the overall aim is to create 40% more space for the public.

Need to make the most of the friends you already have. Don’t give up, keep talking, keep lobbying and make the most of Trusts and Foundations in Australia.

Need to have a good values and strategically driven plan. A good plan with friends = change.

1.Try new things before you are ready and act as if you are worthy.

2. We are as worthy as the other organisations that we compete with for funds.

3. Live with ambiguity, uncertainty and knock backs – where the magic happens is outside your comfort zone.

4. Be clear what’s in it for not just us, but for everyone else.

5. Have your own personal motivation and drivers.

6. Take a long term view and perspective, even if you are not there to seek through. – it’s not about you.

Sue recommended the work of author Brene Brown –

If we wait until we are perfect or bulletproof we are wasting our time, our skills and missing opportunities.

Peter McMahon – State Library Victoria website refresh

SLV launched their new website on December 17 2014.

The website redevelopment had many issues to face. They had to take a brutally pragmatic approach to content and ending up reducing content 30%, using agile development methodology, which is based around user centred design.

The framework for the site was around research of user behaviour, using analytics and surveys and business needs. Design was to be adaptive. Users and staff provided the same feedback. Common themes were look, image driven, mobile accessible, welcoming, intuitive, changing, easy to explore, about the story and more about engagement.

Phase 2 of website is in progress now.

Homepage explains what they do, encourages exploration and is a stepping stone into deeper depths of content.

To cope with navigation, they used Mega menus, compacting down to three levels. Improved search so that users could filter at the start of the search, rather than having to wait to get into the catalogue.

A new addition was the image explorer. Had to hack into their image management system to do this and have an API for others to do the same. E-resources are given priorities and visual presentation. (Check them out at ).

Now host their own video and have a moderated discussion around them. Will also in future stream content from there as well.

Responsive design a tailored experience for every device. Designed first for tablets, then adapted experience for mobile phones and desktop computers.

Phase 2 focuses on community involvement and crowd sourced content, such as transcriptions, geo referencing maps, video capture of social issues and personal histories and more. Then Phase 3 to follow with further enhancements.

Cory Greenwood & Leanne Averill – NFC bringing digital library services into reality

QR codes have not really taken off. NFC can be used instead of a QR code, but it needs a tag, a newish phone and a third party app. However, you can use use leftover library tags.

Experiment 1 – awareness campaign for mobile catalogue, placed near OPACs and in study areas, NFC in signage links

Experiment 2 – shelf talkers for online resources eg in this instance Overdrive for Lonely Planet e-books.

Experiment 3 – shopping strips for e-books using classic Penguin book covers, linking to Project Gutenburg.

Planned projects – shopping strips for e-books at bus stops, mute tag for users to silence their devices, check in via Swarm/Facebook.

Things to consider – not all mobiles have NFC, consider ROI, NFC is often switched off, Apple users excluded for now.

Tania Barry – Once upon an iPad

iTots, about parents and children. Read interactive picture books in group. Making most use of devices that are already in homes.

Teaching children to use technology, but also the parents. Not only the tech but literacy and numeracy through the apps they highlight – particularly for those from non-English backgrounds.

Gareth Evens and Susan Thomson – High vaultage: unlocking our potential

The Vault was created to market and promote e-resources more prominently and aimed to target their key user groups as well as users in general.

Vault was also designed to promote events and programs and revisit their newsletters.

Publicity for it was on library TVs, banners, council newsletter, Dandenong civic plaza screen and postcards.

Bulk of the project was done in house. Based on Enterprise discovery layer. Basic web skills are needed to maintain such a site, including HTML, CSS and FTP.

Preferable to engage a graphic designer, they used Council design team and their own in house skills.

Site was tested by library and Council staff and interested stakeholders. Training was rolled out to all staff and staff quickly adopted the new site. This was followed with drop in sessions for the public.

Micah Macri – ERL Library database program

School database program for Yarra Ranges schools. Program is in two parts with presentation to students, then fun worksheets related to the students coursework.

In the classroom, they work hard to keep the kids attention, keeping it light and fun. Worksheet contained more fun information as well. The back of the worksheet has info for parents about the library.

They created their own URL, which is easy to for kids to remember and takes them to Britannica so they can complete their worksheet.

Phenomenal take up with increased membership and increased online resources usage.

Leanne Averill – How a small scale project re- invented a library and inspired a staff

Old building which had some structural changes with the introduction of RFID in 2012. Changes were not enough though, needed more space, more power, more collaboration, more meeting space and the need to use more of the natural light.

They couldn’t change the outside facade and low ceilings. Refurbishment in 2013 came from a Living Library grant of $45,000, Council the same amount and library $25,000. Now have less reference, new glass magzazine shelving, heavy weeding was done to allow more space for PCs and user collaboration and lots of power points. They even installed two new meeting rooms, one of which can be opened up to the library when not in use.

One staff member’s suggestion was the tipping point for staff involvement – when that suggestion was taken on, it started the flow from others who really began engaging with the project. It has resulted in staff beginning to think bigger and broader. They have also taken real ownership of the library and its collection, space and services.

Secrets to success:

  • manager open to ideas and have open conversations
  • budget stretching
  • let go of stuff – change has to happen
  • lead by example
  • staff self- selected and left before having the change enforced on them.

Not finished yet, still display space, kitchenette and more to come.

Users were patient during the change. They have had a 300% increase in Wifi use, now have all day users, increased PC and meeting room use, large increase in use of magazines and statistics are holding on non-fiction loans even after a massive weed.

Ayden Said – Real uses for iPads in Libraries

To support running programs across multiple branches they purchased mobile devices, but needed to find ways to store, charge and keep them up-to-date.

Storage – got safe case at cost of $70 with foam insert that could be customised, with a tablet hub. With everything in, it weighed 10 kgs.

Software updates – using Airwatch mobile device management.

Staff training – through immersion therapy, branch meetings, train the trainer etc.

Regular feature in 12 programs including, community visits, Lego clubs, conversation clubs, gamers club. They have also added programs Intro to iPads and Intro to Samsung tablets.

Gamers@Sunshine, using Lan games over a special wifi network, some using the library devices.

Tablets have become a valuable and well used resourced because it’s a programming tool not a special thing.

John Crennan – LEAN review and EDI ordering and invoicing

LEAN review is about making life easier. It looks at the process from end to end, eg. From user purchase request eg. How did they request it to when they have it in their hands.

Benefits are decreased complexity, staff engagement, improved results and more.

Components are defined as add value, don’t add value but are required, no value and no requirement.

Acquisitions – took people from book request, selection, ordering, acquisitions, cataloguing, invoicing and payment.

Not a review of staff work, but of the processes and every step was defined.

They mapped the processes, including process time, lead time, delays, bottlenecks, impact of issues, percentage complete and accurate. This helped come up with ideas – reduce time, errors and bottlenecks.

EDI ordering was seen as a solution that could meet issues raised in the LEAN review. It is the process of ordering and invoicing electronically. High effort and high impact, but huge cost savings.

They needed vendors on board, FTP access, vendor changes not to break things and management commitment.

Now invoicing three major book vendors, staff have been moved to other tasks, budget data more accurate. They have estimated savings of $10,000.

Danielle Marie – Supporting English literacy a strategic approach

Brimbank has high rates of educational disadvantage and youth unemployment. Culturally diversity is a strength.

They have a Key strategic direction to create a community of lifelong learners. Programs must support one of 7 strategic themes. Framework is reviewed every 18 months.

Stephen Heppell – engaging young people with creative technologies

Trust young people.

Only 21% of our lives is spent in minimal formal education – leaves a lot for lifelong learning.

We need to be learning to learn, not just learning content.

The huge advantage we have is agility, we can change relatively quickly.

When you share learning with others it helps you, it expands the knowledge base.

What do today’s students want in future? – Learning spaces that incorporates the tech that they use at home, mood lighting, writing surfaces, spaces that they can reorganise for their own needs.

Not getting up to date by reading journals, get on Twitter and follow librarians.

Walk around your library with your phone and luxe app – need levels above 450 for note taking etc. Minimum for conversation is 250. Check co2 levels and lighting as well.

Make your spaces seductive enough to attract people to come and stay.

Stephen Heppell –

Sep 19

ALIA Biennial Conference Day 1

I was fortunate enough to attend and present at the first day of the ALIA Biennial Conference 2014 in Melbourne.

Here are my notes from the sessions I attended (all good stuff).  I will get my presentation up here soon as well.

British Library in a globalised world – Roly Keating: Chief Execuitve of British library
(Roly was formerly with BBC2 with oversight over the TV shows Qi and Top Gear.)

What does it mean to be a library in a technological, commercialised, globalised world? The new British Library was built in an old railway yard, poor area. But now a dynamic and globalising part of the world. It is surrounded by research facilities and Google is moving into the area soon.
Our values are expanding. We are not in conflict with the new, but encompass them all. We are both physical and virtual, local and global and more….

British Library is still a deposit library, conserving and preserving and presentation English literature.  Their treasures include a lyrics scrap from John Lennon.

They now have challenges with hybrid archives, where they are collecting both print and digital. British Library is now a digital depository. Now they are trying to collect all the web with a uk domain. News sites they are collecting every day.

They are also now partnering with Google on digitising foreign language titles from the 18th & 19th century.
British Library is built on a huge historic group of collections. It is only 40 years old, but they have the libraries of George III, the East India Trading Company and many more.

In order to make these collections digitial they are partnering with many different organisations.

The goal is to connect communities with their culture and history. They are closely involved with Europeana – a digital alliance of European libraries, archives, museums and more. Europeana has been slow in developing but now coming alive with the centenary of World War I. It is being built not just on the collections of the partner institutions but from the collections of the community.

Trove appreciated by the British Library. Linked data systems, open api and common standards are the goal to ensure their projects are nestable and inter-connected.

We are seeing projects that are increasingly institution to individual eg. Crowd sourced OCR correction at Trove, British Library geo-referencing maps to Google Maps project – crowd sourced with 98% accuracy on over 8,000 maps so far.

British Library Labs – partner with Mellon -open calls to public to create innovative projects with their digital collections.  One was the Mechanical Curator which harvests images from their digital collections, which in themselves is an amazing resource with valuable info. British Library then posted these images to their Flickr channel and a load of new creativity has resulted. One project became an art installation at the Burning Man festival in the US.

Roly told the story of the displaced Bhatwa people from Rwanda, whose language and culture is effectively dead. However, some of this culture had been recorded in audio by the British Library and a Bhatwan gentleman was able to listen to the language of his people in the  audio of an interview with his father, who has long since passed away. Understandably this was both an exciting and emotional experience.

British Library is also involved in a project to digitise archival collections at risk. The collection and a digital copy stays in the country of origin, but British Library also gets a copy. This project encompasses archives of both historical and current content.

Another example was the restoration of the Iraqi Public Library after its horrific destruction in 2003. Libraries around the world quickly supported the rebuild, through digitising their own relevant content to give them. British Library also coordinated with British tertiary libraries to restock the shelves with print sources of relevance to the Iraqi Library.

Libraries contribute to identity, civil society and citizenship.

Magna Carta 800th anniversary next year, both a celebration and a reminder of our responsibilities and trust. Our best defence against the chaos of this world is our strong professional collaboration.

National and State Libraries Australasia – Innovation in tough times

Maker spaces – The Edge – Janette Wright SLQ
The State Library of Queensland took over an old restaurant to create the Edge, to attract young people, to help the learn about technology, creative experimentation, across multiple disciplines.  The space has been built on maker space philosophy. It was funded with about $1 million syphoned from other library activities, to staff and equip the facility. Participants asked to share their creations and their expertise. Open Tuesday to Sunday, 12 – 8pm. No library qualified staff at the Edge and now bringing the philosophy into the rest of library. Use catalysts (people) to create short term programs, usually researchers, scientists etc.

Users attend induction and they then can use facilities,which are all bookable by individuals and groups. Includes Macs, sewing machines, sound studio, laser cutters, 3D printers, fabrication and more. Have done interesting work with marginalised groups.

In first year, they ran 1700 programs attended by 40,000 participants. Majority of audience 20-49, but all ages come, including women.

One of their most impacting projects was Creative community programming. Participants learn how to rebuild computer from scratch and install open access software, then get to keep it.

Turning the library inside out: the institute building lighting project- Alan Smith SLSA
Were originally looking at doing at highlighting their rich collections by developing an internal light show, but it didn’t work in the space, so looked to do it on the outside of the building. Funding from library board, will go live April 15. $210,000 to set up and $50,000 for a new project each year for next four years. Projected on wall closest to main entrance and will run very night. Console built into forecourt and people will be able to interact with the images. They will not only be the most beautiful images, but will expose the depths of the collection. Open with WWI content.  Big part of project is skilling up staff. Will also develop presentations around major events such as the Royal Show, holidays and other iconic events.

Mobile Melbourne – SLV Apps – Peter McMahon SLV
SLV took the chance to take a fresh look at app landscape with this project. Users generally have an average 22 apps and use ten to twelve regularly. Storage is a big concern, so users questioning how many apps are need.  New app needed to have clear audience, device unique, provide a personal experience and be adaptable.
Hoddles Grid uses the in-phone GPS, but can be used outside the CBD, is CMS driven so more content can be added. It includes screenscapes and aerial views, but has location challenges.

Lots of media cover on launch, with 47,00 downloads in first two weeks and increases in website traffic and photo catalogue searches.

The app is a canned experience which will then take the user to a fuller responsive experience on the SLV website.

Transcribing the past: Maggie Patton SLNSW
The State Library of NSW began collecting war diaries and letters in 191 with a pro-active search for such materials. Have a collection of 200 from then and another 400 from subsequent conflicts. The challenge is to make this content available for the centenary.

They have developed a transcription tool, with currently over 157,000 pages available now, using a Drupal based transcription module. Volunteers are doing the transcription which is all done online and fully searchable. Hope to use this for other manuscript collections. All Crowd sourced and web based.

Story lines with Ara Irititja – Damien Webb SLWA
A new project now running for 18 months and about restoring community memory and literacy. Comprises a central archive and community run archives for protected native content.

Throught this project SLWA have been able to identify aboriginals in one of  images and link it to further info from other sources. Users can search storylines for different media and users can add tags and input their own content. Celebrates aboriginal history and discover new stories.

One community archive has already been setup, with photos repatriated from SLWA. Three more centres to be set up, more access points to be arranged in the library, education, training and partnerships to be developed.

VIZIE – collecting social media – Mylee Joseph SLNSW

Lots of content is being created in social media which needs to be collected for researchers of the future. It is timely, immediate and needs context both in terms of events, people and our use of language.  SLNSW is interested in sampling the many voices and in the conversations.  Challenges include embedded symbols, terminology, syntax, semantics, links, images and copyright. They are collections and there are many issues but they are working on it.  More detail on this project is available in their VALA 2014 paper.

Anzac Connections: delivering  and connecting real content and data online – Robyn van Dyk Australian War Memorial
Australian War Memorials major initiative to mark the centenary.  The AWM was a WWI initiative from Charles Bean. Already is a large digital collection. They have 4,500 letters from this period, but their existing systems couldn’t get them online, so they had to come up with new systems. Preservation is first, with copies being archived with their Digital Archive Management System, with a low resolution copy then made available online.
With 2 million images online, they have lots of indexed data but not well organised. One of the aims is to make this data more useable – using linked data in part to tell stories, bring linked info together. They use small manageable URLs. The Monash collection of 10,000 pages was launched in recent months, but to make it accessible they had to break it down into smaller groups.

In 2013 they merged two major systems – embarkation lists and main data archive. This has enabled them to start merging records. Have manually merged 1500 out of 30000, mainly to showcase digitised related content.
When data is more visible it exposes you. The have already received some criticism on content that had been online for many years without comment.

As a result of the merge they have now been able to manually create an indigenous commemoration list into a spreadsheet which will then be merged with other data and uploaded.  Use Mimsy museum database.
Linked data is starting, establishing Uris around people and events etc and hope to do data matching with other organisations.

Building blocks to better libraries: using Minecraft – Rachel Cilauro Melbourne Library Service

Project set at North Melbourne Library which has been in operation since 1905. A key community space particularly to its young people. High proportion of young people and a mix of low income and middle class.
Kids educated the library about Minecraft and made the library a focal point for it in the community. Had a day where kids taught everyone else about Minecraft. Had an advisory group to create the gaming day.
Microsoft has bought Minecraft. Minecraft is like Lego, but online. People of all ages play. Players’ imagination creates the games’ enjoyment. You can build by yourself or together on a server. It’s fun and educational and used in schools.

Staff created a brief to think about the North Melbourne library space and create something in Minecraft to address this – create a new library. Kids managed servers and space required. Librarians let them. Most promotion was word of mouth in local school grounds.

Library provided laptops for those who didn’t have their own device. The kids worked alone and in teams. Library staff checked each entry, heard about the designs from the kids and chose winners.

Can we use it for reader development, social inclusion and literacy? It built relationships between the library, parents, the community and young people. Gave space and facilities for social inclusion. It was also a day for naturally built literacy learning. It was a great kicking off point.

Issue – power, age of tech, connections and the speed.

These programs are a leveller across the community, but do not replace interaction. We may not need to provide the technology, but do need to understand and support it.

Take home points: listen to your young people, get the devices, use library as inspiration and ask, share, play!

Dokk1: a performative library space ~ Marie Ostergard
30,000 square metres new library building being built in a revitalised docks area like here.  Library aims to help drive the area’s revitalisation.  Denmark business and schools are recognised as innovative – libraries can support this.

Makerspaces for them is an approach for innovation, collaboration. Need to create the space to improve cooperation and be open to all. We need to use our position as a democratic space. Use Makerspace as an opportunity to revitalise the library.

Library should be an experience.  Not just a space for things, but to experience things, both online and on-site, with information and meaning, facts and credibility, where people can meet information and other people, where knowing and experimenting happen, which has visitors and people as resources, is both neutral and sensing, serious and fun, with arranged and spontanenous events.  Library both as it is now and as it can be – both at the same time.

Librarys are becoming mashups of so much more.  They can be learning centres, tutors, reading centre, web centre, consumer advice centres, meeting palces, educations centres, job support centres, Q and A centres, have quiet spaces and reading places and so much more. Moving into a bigger space, but no change in collection. Looking for partners to make best use of the new spaces.

Performative space is a new aspect for libraries.  They are working with the Danish People’s Lab in their current library – investigating with them what form their spaces should take. New people came in and brought their own networks.  They are trying new things in their current space and will take with them what has worked.
Staff are discussing their roles. Many different roles are needed and they are still working on what they are. They have had makers in residence to expose users and staff to new expertise.

It’s really about a mindset and something that they have been working on for the last two years.

Worked with Chicago Library and Ideo on a global Makerspace model to be out soon.  May give a framework for other libraries to work with.

The process: establish the vision, investigate how other libraries and groups are achieving this sort of thing, revisit the vision, workshop it, define the problem, test the first prototype, try and a new method and so on.
Lots of user involvement, through workshops, personas, prototypes all with partners to test things out and see if it works.  Name of the Library – DOKK1 – even came from the users.

Have cleared a space in the current library as a prototyping and testing space.

Trying to wait as long as possible to make decisions to allow for as much input as possible.

Admin will hopefully end up looking like a Makerspace as well.

Just go out and do it.


Jun 30

Blog every day of June – Managing challenges – Mon 23 June

Wow, its the last day and I can’t believe I blogged every day of it.  It’s a challenge that I took and I fulfilled – yay to me!

That and the many things that are going on, both at work and personally, got me thinking about challenges, which I admit I have more than a few of at the moment, in all areas of my life.

I love challenges, they stretch me, they drive me, they teach me, they enthuse me. But sometimes you can find yourself dealing with a few too many challenges, either in one aspect of your life (home, work etc) or across them all.

I can hope really well if I have too many challenges in one area of my life, because at least another area of my life is relatively stress free. But when it happens across all areas of your life, what then?

I have found a couple of really great ways to cope when the challenges become too challenging…..

  • Delegate – take the things off your agenda that maybe shouldn’t have been there in the first place
  • Ask for help – more than likely you will get it
  • Talk to someone – whether its just to vent or to get advice on how to proceed – even just the act of talking about it can help lessen the overwhelming nature of it all
  • Take a break – this is vital – if you are getting stressed it may seem like the worst thing to do, because it is taking time from your deadline, your focus.  But I have found that taking a break is the best thing, because after it, you are fresh, more focused and can get more done – even with the loss of time.

I hope your situation are full of positive challenges, that teach you and take you places you love and never imagined.  And if they are not, I hope these ‘words of wisdom’ help.

Thanks for journeying with me during Blog Every Day of June 2014 – I have enjoyed it and hope that you found some value in it all as well.


Jun 29

Blog every day of June – What new technologies should we know about? – Sun 29 June

Been thinking about what the future holds in terms of technology, which is difficult at the best of times, because new tech is always coming out and you never know what is really going to impact in significant way.

For example, we have all seen how much smart phones and tablets have changed the way people access the internet and how content is presented there, but how many of us could have imagined this happening before the first iPhone and iPad came out?

However, some technologies are maturing as they are already in the market and so we can be a bit forewarned. I can see libraries having a bit to do with the following technologies, or they are already…..

  • 3 D Printing – ala Makerspaces – alongside other new and old technologies
  • Augmented reality – Google Glasses, mobile apps and beyond
  • Everything in the cloud – a lot of university libraries are pretty much there, other libraries are headed that way
  • Mining library data – making the most of the information we have, without comprising privacy

Security is going to be a concern underlining of all this, but libraries have always had the privacy of the users at the forefront, so I have no real problem with how they will work through those concerns.

What else are you seeing on the horizon for the future of technology in libraries?

Jun 28

Blog every day of June – Teamwork – Sat 28 June

I worked at our biggest branch today. It was quite busy already, but made busier and more of a challenge by a couple of unexpected situations.

First, we had to send one of our team members to another library, that had two staff call in sick.  Second, our phones were playing up (just had a new system implemented) and we spent a bit of time trying to work things around that. Then of course there were the little things that pop up as they do.

In addition, our team was made up of three people who don’t usually work in this team, but who came due to illness or swaps.

Doesn’t sound like much pressure, but it can make a difference when you are very busy and understaffed.

But it wasn’t a disaster, in fact it worked very well, because we worked as a team.

Even with people who don’t always work together, everybody knew what the job was, what the expectations of a Saturday were and enough of how the branch worked, to be able to do their job and do it well, without having to be told, directed, supervised, cajoled or anything else.

As the manager for the day, I was only called upon for my expertise in IT related areas, or when a library user questioned a library procedure and they required a more senior staff member to intervene and fortunately there were not many of those situations.  And I trusted their experience, knowledge and expertise and let them do what they needed to do.

Tonight I am tired, but I am satisfied. Today i have worked with a great team, who got the job done and got it done well, provided excellent customer service, required little in terms of management intervention and got us all out of the building at the end of day with our good humour intact.

I am very fortunate indeed to work with an amazing group of people in my library service, who adapt, know and love their jobs and provide excellent customer service to all.  It may not always be the same team in terms of the make-up of staff, but the results are the same.

And you can’t ask for much more than that.


Jun 27

Blog every day of June – Website redesign can be good because….. – Fri 27 June

We are in the early stages of producing our new website. Many of you would know how long and complicated such a process can be, but it has to be done. To improve usability, to give the site a fresh look and to enhance our online services.

But some other benefits can come out of a website redesign and even though we are just at the beginning of our process, I have already discovered some:

  • Everything on your website doesn’t have to have it’s own page – its amazing how many small bits and pieces I have been able to easily gather together on one page. This is better for managing the site and also is beneficial to the user who may come across something serendipitously whilst also finding exactly what they are looking for.
  • You do still need some extra pages for some things. We have separated out our Jobs and Work Experience pages from the general library background information, because many people will actively seek this information.
  • You can de-duplicate much easier.  When looking at moving content to a new site, its amazing how much content you find is duplicated. So rather than duplicating content, we will just add links where needed, to get to that content.
  • Serendipity can be your friend.  Copying of an existing page led to a non-white background colour, which was not planned but which we think we will keep, because it works!

I am sure we will discover much more as we continue on this process. What wisdom or gems have you discovered in a website redesign project?

Jun 26

Blog every day of June – Paperless office?? – Thu 26 June

We all heard the stories.  Computers were going to eliminate the need for paper and we would all experience the tidiness, efficiency and eco-friendly environment of the paperless office.

This was emphasised for me again today at my office.  I work in our regional headquarters and this was the paper that I utilised today:

  • printed out several articles to read (professional development)
  • when cleaning out my file folders, discovered several things that needed to be followed up, so printed them out and put them in my in-tray as a physical reminder
  • flyers on library event details that I used to input into our events booking software, calendar and website
  • notes that I took at two brief meetings, with action points to follow up and directions to take
  • several short notes to remind myself of tasks that needed to be completed today
  • procedures for use of a particular software package
  • more procedures for review in light of software changes
  • and more…..

And that was just my paper production.

Pretty much all of these things could have been achieved if left in digital form, but weren’t for several reasons, including:

  • easier to look from paper to screen, rather having to change from screen to screen
  • still like to hold paper when reading – its easy to handle, use, read and file or discard when finished with
  • notes in front of me are easier to see than notes on the desktop which get obscured by open software
  • being consistent in the way our events promotions look – the flyers comes first
  • having items in my in-tray works better for me as a reminder than long lists – I can pick them up, work on them or delegate a task by handing it to someone else.

For someone whose job is the online side of libraries, I still use a lot of paper and I’m OK with that.

Paperless office?  Not in mine.  How about yours?  Are any of you anywhere near the ideal of the paperless office? If not, share your confession here, you are amongst friends.  If you are, I would love to hear how you have done it.

Jun 25

Blog every day of June – From whence we came – tech version – Wed 25 June

One of our managers is retiring.  We have worked together in the same library for decades and as both our roles have had a technology focus, we have seen a wide range of changes in that time.

As she has been cleaning out her files and organising things for the new manager, she has discovered many interesting things that have been good at reminding us of how far we have come.

The first was a 3 1/2 inch floppy disk.  I brought it home to show my children, who couldn’t believe it was so big (well compared to a USB stick to them, to me it was so small compared to a 5 1/4 disk) and that it held so little in terms of capacity.  They were also intrigued when I then took it apart to show what it was made of and it reminded me of all the stories of people who had discarded outer covers down to the magnetic tape, who had folded or cut disks to fit them into drives etc.

Then today she showed me an article that I had forwarded to her in 1997, on cable modems and whether they were worth waiting for.  One of our biggest concerns now is ensuring we have speedy and reliable Wi-Fi – cable modems were off the agenda for us a long time ago.

We have all in one PCs now at ridiculous screen sizes, compared to our old drives and monitors that were twice the size of the hardware that was using them.  Mobile phones were suitcases and now disappear into your hand. We had VDU’s for our library system and OPACs, and although they were as dull as dishwater, they never broke down or were hacked or got viruses.  Well most things have improved anyway, lol.

I love where we are now with technology in libraries – we just got our first touch tables, we have mobile devices and specialist computers and software for people to use in the library and that is just scratching the surface.

We have seen a lot of progress in technology in libraries, but it is good to be reminded occasionally just how far that is.

What is the most fascinating ‘blast from the past’ technology that you have come across?

Jun 24

Blog every day of June – Finding inspiration – Tue 24 June

Was sitting at my computer looking for a topic to blog about today, basically looking for inspiration, when I realised the irony, because that was to be my topic.

So where do you find your inspiration with your library work?

I find it in the most amazing places. In an offhand comment by a colleague at work, in the conversations and emails that I have with colleagues in other libraries. I have also found it in the expected places – conferences, journal articles, books (and not always library related ones) and book reviews, Twitter and Facebook.

But I also enjoy the unexpected delight of being inspired by something totally unrelated to libraries.  For example, a brochure from Australia Post got me thinking about how we could make our online services more streamlined for library users (still thinking on that one).  I love movies and more than one idea has come out of watching them.

What has been your most unusual source of inspiration for your library work and where do you find regular inspiration?

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