VALA 2018 – Day Three – Thursday 15 February – Disruption Day

And finally – great finish to a great conference.


Keynote 5 – The C Equation: Content + Connection + Community = Contented Customers – David Lee King

Content – libraries have traditional forms of content, but also more cutting-edge forms. Some examples are ukuleles for loan, guitars, electronic EDM devices, checking things out to create other things. Makerspaces are more prolific – an ‘egg-bot’ is one example of something a little different. Libraries have recording studios – not just useful for music recording, but for oral histories. David’s library has different cake pans – it’s a very popular collection. Different content for different communities.

Events, classes and talks are another type of content that libraries provide. Digital content needs are one of the fastest growing areas. David’s library now has more digital than physical items. This change has the consequence of needing to consider your staffing structure, to support the changing library usage patterns. Content can also be the digital interfaces to our facilities and services, making content – in the form of blogs, social media posts, videos and more.

Not only do you need staff to shift with your change in content, but they may also need to market and create that content. This can be new skills and can be a challenge.

How does this affect customers? Our users still want books, but they also still need and want other things. 3D printers can help build community – as people gather around when something is printing. And classes can help change people’s lives.

Connections – more face to face. Libraries build many connections, through book clubs; face to face assistance – the skill of making eye contact and smiling is invaluable; make your spaces more open and your staff more mobile; make digital connections – David’s library has chat and text reference as well as email and Facebook. Some libraries have chat boxes within their catalogues.

In 2017, Topeka had 1,000,000 visits to their website and catalogue and 700,000 visits to their physical locations. This may require a shift in staff. The move to mobile also need to be take into consideration – last year was 27% mobile and 10% tablets but continuing to grow – be sure that your library website and catalogue is accessible through these forms. A more emotional connection through the various social media channels – and video is an amazing way of engaging through the socials. NOTE: Facebook prioritises video in peoples’ feeds and streaming even higher. Other sites to consider – Good Reads (Scottsdale Public)

Call to Action – CTA – more directed actions. Using business tools to create actions – after they engage with your content, what do you want them to do next. This should happen with all your content. Stay ahead of them, by using that carrot.

Community – going outside the building. Mobile Libraries, book drops spread around the community, seniors’ services (home library), library at work (holds delivered to the workplace). Smart lockers – from Biblioteca: they have 2 currently, in a community centre and a grocery store, with plans for more.

Partnerships: increasing your footprint out into the community – they have computer labs in their 6 community centres at which they run classes and have weekly tech support visits. They have put self-check units and a small collection into a local homeless shelter. A large cadre of their staff have had facilitation training, which has had two benefits – their own meetings run better, but they are also invited to come into the community and facilitate – which has the bonus of giving them a seat at the table that wasn’t open to them before.

How does that help the library? It gives you visibility in your community – you may not get immediate benefits, but people will then remember you when they have a need. They remember you and recognize your value and call on you when needed. They will then tell their friends and family and can support you. (they got a big cheque for a mobile library from someone who they had connected with).

Contented customers resulting? Not so much – what we are wanting is people learning – hungry for the next thing. We want people to want to better themselves, get involved civically, connect with others, start a business and we want to join them in that journey and help as required. The library can’t make our community a better place, but we can help people to do that.

Concurrent Session 14

Innovation and disruption in a legal library: bringing a library technician’s perpsective to precedent development – Geraldine Styles Meyer Vandenburg

Precedents are dynamic template documents, ranging from exemplars to automatically generated content – including communications in many forms created by legal professionals. This enabled tacit knowledge to be captured, increasing consistency and efficiency.

Coding was learned to be able to run this project – but with a new information professional, this was a good challenge.

Development timeframes were challenging as Geraldine had no experience in coding, running teams and running a project. Once they had some work to demonstrate though, they were able to get user feedback and the project started gaining momentum.

SQL was easy to learn and there were many free resources available to assist in the project.

To streamline the workflow: if the system isn’t working, be prepared to abandon and start again, verbal is preferable to electronic for most users, lack of documentation creates risks – these need to be managed.

Communication conundrums were another issue – but to combat these, simple things were done – using sticky notes and whiteboards in meetings so that everyone can see what is happening. The hardest thing about this project was never the hardest part. Discovering user needs and translating that into technical requirements were much more difficult.

As the project matured, it has moved from the IT team to the Knowledge Management team. The whole IT team has now moved to that department, making interactions between these teams more common and bringing greater benefit to the organisation.

Its OK if things don’t always go smoothly during the process. Important lessons can be learned when this happens. Communication is key and ultimately more important than the technology.

We need to talk about fake news – Glenn Harper Monash Public Library Service

Fake news is content that appear to be or presents as factual, but which is not. This could be accidental or deliberate and could involve opinions, lies and misinformation. It can be textual and visual.

The only way to change the way fake news creators behave, is to change the behaviours of the audience.” Nick Enfield – University of Sydney. Librarians have a goal to help people identify fake news – but they can also be victims, so for us to teach others, we will first have to learn ourselves.

Conducted a survey promoted through Facebook and received 179 responses. He posted stories online and asked respondents to rate whether they believed it or not, by liking, disliking or sharing and then saying why they did it.

Some ways that fake news is given validity is through the use of salacious headlines, through content being taken out of context (eg. snippet taken from satiric site but presented as true), fauxtography (images created or edited to appear as other than they were).

One thing that was lacking was librarians searching for the authenticity of the images and posts – including the source, the image using reverse image search and other reputable sources.

Convincing people of fake news is difficult, as presenting the facts to them doesn’t work. They can be convinced their source is the correct one and you are quoting from fake news.

Poe’s law is an adage of Internet culture stating that, without a clear indicator of the author’s intent, it is impossible to create a parody of extreme views so obviously exaggerated that it cannot be mistaken by some readers or viewers as a sincere expression of the parodied views.

One query of those who were presented with this information, was that they were NOT prompted to fact check. This was deliberate as nothing out there prompts you to fact check but as librarians we should do this as a matter of course.

To fix this: transition from digital literacy to digital information literacy – tools to assist staff in this transition include Jump Start training from SLV and specific modules in eSmart Libraries. It may also help for libraries to run your own fake news workshops.

Note: doing this sort of research can muck up your Google preferences… and recommended sites.

Be warned – fake photography and fake video is on its way en masse. Original videos can be manipulated to change what is done/said and this can happen in real time.

Giving away free internet is harder than it sounds: how to help students and not sound like a scan – Andrew Kelly Armadale Library

Got funding from Council to give internet access to Year 12 students initially (expanded to 10, 11 and 7 later), who did not have home internet access. This was to help the students with their studies. The program involved 10 Telstra modems (pre-paid) and 5 laptops, all sponsored by Telstra. Loans were for a year and involved using pre-paid credit vouchers and filling out three surveys during the year loan. The library provided staff and time, Telstra provided the modems, tablets and pre-paid vouchers.

Getting students was a problem. Found 3 students through the Council, but then finding other students. Cold calling didn’t work and contacting the school where these students were going was not as fruitful as hoped. In the end, he was able to make contact to all five local schools, through contacts at Curtin University. Most of the success came through the recommendations of one teacher who became a valuable partner, although they were only able to get 8 students in the initial rollout.

Students were not good at filling out reports and most of those who completed by their partner teacher, who did it in person with them and on paper. Although the survey responses were sparse, the content was interesting. (see the paper).

Going in to the second year, five students are continuing with it and they will seek further students through their partners. Telstra continues to fund the project and has also offered career pathways for interested students.

Biggest problems with the project included engagement with the participants, including coming to the library and reporting back when collecting their vouchers; trying not to be too big an imposition on partners; having tech issues which were easy to resolve once they were known (one modem didn’t work for 2 months but was fixed within a day once discovered). Questioned whether public libraries should be running these programs for students – or should it be the schools or instead libraries dealing with mature age students?

Further questions around what sort of feedback should be expected from participants and how best to get it. Best advice is to partner with existing programs and organisations working in this area. May be better to align with similar projects already running, rather than trying to create and run your own program.

Program may work better if it is combined with other content, projects. It would be interesting to see the students in a few years and see what a difference it made.

Concurrent session 17

A sustainable approach to in-house e-learning resource development: a case study – Amy Han and Steven Yates Monash University

This is the most substantial staff learning project ever held at the library. Referred to as Research and Learning Online (RLO).

The library inherited this project from the Academic Research report unit which no longer exists. The library comprises both library staff and learning advisors. Even before the library took it over, it was a well-used and praised resource. However, its platform was becoming unmanageable, with external expertise and funds required to keep the content current and the look and feel was long overdue for an update, as was the content and navigation. – live as of last Friday – Steven took us on a quick demo, which included text, videos and interactive questions/responses.

RLO in numbers: 29 quick study guides, 56 tutorials, over 200 activities using H5P, Adobe Captivate and JavaScript, 15 videos and as of 14 February: 633,000 page views.

The technology they used had to be staff friendly, both for development and use, had to support active learning, had focus/key work areas, and then they had to create the staff resources and staff development.

They chose Joomla initially, but ended with Squiz Matrix (Univ’s CMS), H5P (eLearning tool) and Captivate, alongside YouTube. The most important selection factors were interactivity, ease of use, multimedia capacity and cross platform capabilities.

Project committee involved library directors, digital learning team and the research and learning team staff. Team was a project manager, storyboard writers, page builders and assistants, reviewers and buddies.

Timeline – first content went live in March 2016 and full site in February 2018. Staged changeover.

Focus areas – multi-stage development, storyboarding and review, site building and review – technology selection happened during page building (either in H5P or Captivate depending on complexity). Staff development was guided by social learning principles – supporting resources, workshops and retreats.

Steps: some were simultaneous: planning, IA design, storyboard writing, storyboard review and more. Supporting resources – templates, examples, guidelines-workshops-retreats. They had 13 formal workshops, 4 retreats ranging from one to five days.

Staff experience – positive feedback on the templates, reviews and retreats, which were valuable for the time and focus on the task. Workshop and examples could be improved. Guidelines and technology capabilities require further clarification. The model has helped create a larger community of practice.

On reflection; reusable processes, procedures and training, skills transfer, room for improvements. Time and staff turnover remain the biggest challenges.

Next – continue the community of practice – stage 5 for maintenance and content.

Upskilling by doing: integrating data management, planning and online learning – Jennifer Warburton and Peter Neish – University of Melbourne

Data management – what could go wrong? It applies to both digital and physical – and the governments most recent blunder may have been avoided if they had a proper data management plan.

Needed a plan for training and for compliance and is now in the University’ Plan.

How do you make compliance training interesting for time poor researchers? Apply adult learning principles, provide learning objectives, develop authentic activities, deliver in multiple formats, which is streamlined.

Managing Data @ Melbourne is based on the Mantra project in the UK, with reference to the work of SANDs. Jennifer and Peter came in 2016, after the pilot. Pilot feedback showed that they liked the content and format. However, they wanted more Australian content and interactive activities and staff wanted a more sustainable platform.

This resulted in reducing the number of modules and designed it for a specific audience – their 5000 graduate researchers/PhD students. It incorporated DMP online, so they completed their DMP whils they were working through the modules. Used the University’s LMS platform (Blackboard) – semi automatic registration and gain learning analytics.

Contributors were content developers, learning design experts, video participants and crew, editorial assistance, marketing communications and copyright and other compliance staff.

Evaluation: using statistics – usage and survey data, an insight into how the uptake by Uni departments and a research project, as well as evaluation by the research community. Usage shows the first page gets most attention overall, significantly and then for each of the 6 modules, the first page gets the most attention.

The percentage of each department was ruled by Engineering, although it is not the biggest department. Average time spent was longest in Arts. Participant feedback showed that they found it relevant to their research – with organizing data and privacy and ethics rating highest. Anecdotal comments gave interesting insights.

Another measure of success was how many DMPs were created. The number has grown dramatically in the last year.

Comparing the results to the original pilot – mostly even with reductions in usability and technical clarity. Although it was harder for them to use, it is good to challenge them. However, this will be followed up in focus groups.

Next steps – creating more streamlined models to meet slightly different audiences and suggested pathways going through smaller modules. Want to integrate better with their DMP tool, releasing it as Open Content, looking at hurdle requirements and new marketing opportunities for new and returning students.

Check it out: anyone can request access.

Plenary 6 – The Library is open. Or is it? Deb Verhoeven – UTS Sydney

Often librarianship is listed as a dying profession, but there continues to be growth in library staff and libraries, despite library closures, particularly in the UK.

We continue on, more due to persistence, but we need more than that. We need to be aspirational. How do we create a world in which we can live lives variously? It is urgent, reparative and difficult in a closing down world, but more important that what we already have.

We live in a closing down world, a rapidly developing world that encompasses extinction and closure. Libraries need to be doing this. How do we open ourselves to what we don’t already know? How do we make the unknown connections, take seriously the lives of others at the level of meaning? How do we develop a library infrastructure that embraces the digital and encompasses the goal of living lives variously?

What sort of world are we creating by working a library? We need to address the question of coexistence in all we do.

Deb works in the digital humanities field – which is about collaboration and doing – its about getting your hands dirty and doing stuff. They highly value complexity.

When we think about how digital systems are put together in libraries, we have not considered the collections as data theory that is growing in the US. FAIR – findable, accessible, interoperable and reusable – this is the standard for how collections as data should be established, maintained and access. However, it holds a social promise that it cannot keep. The model should be further adapted and more morally correct by adding e – ethical and r – revisable. FAIRER. We can reflect on the data that we have collected.

TUGG Project – music for musicians – the ultimate gig guide. First challenge was defining ‘gig’. There were many options to choose from. Then they had collected data from newspapers, ephemera and more sources, none of which was OCR readable. Whilst tracking the data of their gigs and where they were, they noticed a big gap – which was due to a horrific accident that affected them all.

We sang Max and the Meteor’s Slipping away – with waving candles/torches on phones. Awesome!

From the data collected, they were able to compile maps, but they couldn’t see time data and it didn’t scale well. To try and get that depth of data they decided to sonify it. We use sonification on our phone alerts and more. Although it worked OK, it was difficult to listen to. Instead they signified it – they added duration. A note duration represents length of time between gigs, for example. They performed the song – a gig about gig data. 😊

How do we increase meaning making capacity? Recognise the role of different media in shaping collections, not just communicating them. For genuine engagement to occur, we need to break down the divide between librarians as content managers and non-librarians as managing analysis. Accept that methods have an influence and we can adjust them and playing music – collaboration, ability to listen, drawing together disparate ideas.

Film industry involvement by women was the next project. Women being involved in the industry was dropping, but all efforts to increase this failed. Deb turned the focus around. Using social visualization showed that in a 10-year period, 40% of male producers only worked with males. Used criminal network analysis to show men who don’t work with women. Now that we can set it, we can change it.

Where do we draw the line at patriarchy and what happens when we expose patriarchy’s lines?

There is some soul searching to be done on ‘domination’ in our sector.

Patriarchy is highly resilient and will reshape itself with the loss of one or two nodes. It will take more change to make an impact on the whole patriarchy.

Human Networks Infrastructure (HuNi) – a virtual laboratory. 31 datasets have been mapped, more than 18 million entities created in the aggregated dataset. The lab was officially launched in 2014, openly available and currently in use, log in via social media and cloud services, with new graph search features launched July 2017. In Huni you can discover and explore, make connections and creatively link data, save and share data and findings, curate the imported data.

Huni champions the openness of data in that you can use your own descriptions, including NOT. It accommodates differences, opens the data to new possibilities and open researchers to the associative, expressive and ephemeral. We can have the whole described as we live in it, or as how we want it to be. Huni takes linked data a step further – it is open links, open data.

We didn’t build our bridges simply to avoid walking on water. Nothing so obvious. Jeanette Winterson.

We can use our infrastructure to reconfigure our local landscapes, across all channels.

VALA 2018 – Day Two – Wednesday 14 February – Data Day

And here are my notes from Day 2 – not including of course, the presentation that I gave with my manager Daniel Lewis.


VALA Conference 2018 – Wednesday 13 February

Plenary 3 – Linked Data Liminality – Matt Miller

Matt is a Metadata Librarian, programmer/developer, adjutant at a library school, worked in public and academic libraries and as a consultant.

Linked Data is an inevitable future, uses the web as a metadata platform, shared vocabularies and assign persistent identifiers to things.

Liminality is the in-between period, the threshold, the intermediate state. This perfectly describes linked data at this stage of its development. Its not there yet but it has gone beyond the start. This is a good reflection of society, which is always going through an intermediate stage of something.

Carnegie Libraries in the US and four in Australia (one in Northcote) were based around the building being funded by Carnegie, but the government in the area taking responsibility for stocking and ongoing running costs.

Linked data is a basically a list of things that are available so that you can find them. Our metadata is that list. But can we do more with that data than just make lists?

Beyond the record – expose the atomic level of data in the document where the document becomes the dataset, going beyond the metadata of the document; connect to external sources – connecting beyond systems to others – outside of libraries and other cultural organisations/

What does that nimbleness look like? Linked Jazz – documents to data and what happens next. The project involved oral histories transcripts of people involved in Jazz in the US. They developed an assisted automated system of marking names and connections and marking them up to the catalogue, this was also used to create a graph linking names in jazz. Also linked out to connect to external sources of information. Soon discovered that organisations in the sector were doing something similar so make it easy to connect the datasets, which can bring out new research opportunities and new ways to visualise data. WikiData has made it easier to do connections with Wikipedia entries.

Institutional Memory – how do you retain institutional memory, using linked data? NYPL has developed an amazing discovery system around famous authors – their works, works about them, their personal lives and more. Data.nypl.

Having discussions about linked data is also vitally important, as the data.nypl site has gone, due to a change in leadership. It needs to be embedded in your libraries work, to ensure it continues beyond a supporting manager/special funding etc.

Linked data as institutional memory need systems that support structured knowledge creation and storage – semantic annotation, semantic linking, integrating ad-hoc or orphan datasets.

Breaking out of the library – Harvard Library’s Case Law Collection. They digitised 40 million pages of case-law, converting it to XML as best they could, using OCR. But then what to do with it. They wanted to bring the data to where the people were, to build in more connections to facilitate discovery and use; and increase civic engagement, participation and education. They built a tool to facilitate this. Began by compiling a list of names of judges and then matching the names to the OCR content. The text is then put into the Wikimedia Commons system and ultimately into the Wikidata – both the original text and the metadata.

In this instance, where is the library in this, as once it is out there, we no longer have control over the data. Is this a concern for libraries or is it more important to get the content out there?

The only constant in this liminality of linked data is us, so we need to keep exploring, keep playing and questioning – and what better group of people to do that. (Us!)

Concurrent Session 7

Linked Data in Koha – David Cook Prosentient Systems

Completely self-taught in coding, although had some basics in his library course. He has learned that it OK that there are things that you don’t know.

Linked data = RDF + HTPP. RDF – subject, predicate and object and usually each part has a URI.

The Journey – best practices, tools, BIBFRAME, Experts? No real leaders, because organisations are using RDF experimentally in a range of different ways. From the engineering side he found software libraries, triplestores and then started finding software bugs with Koha, so fixed then and then found more and fixed them……

Koha is a MARC based system so had to work with the MARC records and then link the RDF to those records.

Linking data to non-linked data – use the URL of your OPAC – which theoretically is what should be in your MARC record. You don’t to import linked data, you want to directly link. The solution was to use the catalogue record as the subject and the you are in the linked data framework.

It still a work in progress, with David’s OAI-PMH and RDF support patches code working very well – but it is going through a rigorous assessment process by coders around the world. The code to display RDF in the OPAC is not yet complete and there is no system for dereferencing linked data, and there are so many more questions…….

The future: don’t know where the future is, but there is a lot of good work out there: Fedora Commons 4, Ex Libris Alma, Reasonable Graph, OCLC, New York New York, LIBRIS, Oslo Public Library, IT World, RDF, XMP and IIIF.

APO linked open data collections for public policy – Amanda Lawrence APO Analysis and Policy Observatory

Public Policy has a defined cycle of creation, but the actual cycle is a lot more chaotic. Public policy involves making decisions concerning society, but the sources and type of evidence that is used to make these decisions is prolific and often overlapping and sometimes clashing.

There is a spectrum of policy publishing – from formal and informal resources, including produced by publishing companies, produced by organisations and government and other which includes grey literature, ephemera, personal content and more.

APO has 40,000 records, 5000 organisations (not known as publishers) and 18,000 authors. They are used for their newsletters, hosted full text documents and data with full metadata, submissions are accepted. They are supported by partnerships, grand, community advertising projects and services, user contributed content, volunteers and linking collaborations.

How do they move to unstructured textual content to semantically structured and accessible content.

Linked data is another way of saying that data is being cleaned up to make it more usable.

They have funding for the ARC LIEFT Project 2019 – Linked Semantic Platforms for social, digital and inclusion policy. Project RoadMap is discovery & analysis, inter-operability, connected collections, collection methods and content. Looking at sourcing content and metadata using multiple tools and approaches.

APO is already interoperable with many organisations. You may find that your content is being utilized by other organisations already without linked data – it is not the only solution.

In 2018, they will focus on tools for discovery – pulling data together from disparate sources and being able to present it using visualization. Will be demo-ing a pilot project with Research Graph at RDA Berlin 2018.

Open systems and the innovation opportunity – Neil Block EBSCO Information Service

Around 15 years ago, the library systems were legacy, had limited functionality, limited interoperability but the market was robust.

In the Integrated era, functionality went up, interoperability started increasing, but choices started to be limited. Discovery and linking also appeared in this time.

Next Generation Era, functionality is going sideways, interoperability is affected and there are even fewer options.

FOLIO is a global community supporting the creation of a new open source Library Services Platform (LSP). FOLIO will includes LMS functionality and is designed to work with other apps.

The group aims to build a dynamic, sustainable community; deliver an open software platform to encourage innovation; utilize open source to drive down costs; encourage choice of apps with microservices architecture, open innovation model is distributed, more participatory and centralized.

Products have features, platforms have communities. Van Alstyne, Parker rand Choudary – Harvard Business Review.

With commercial LSP – direction is controlled by the company, 2-sided relationship, hosting and support from one vendor, user groups and enhancement lists not focusing on your needs, delivered as is. Platform (open source) – directions supported by community, multi-sided relationships, hosting and support options, multiple ways to add enhancements, foundational technology: built to encourage innovation.

FOLIO began 2 years ago with three foundation partners – Open Library Environment, EBSCO and Index Data. More than 20 partners including University of Sydney, University of Newcastle, JISC.

Innovation through collaboration: 9 different teams. They are developing micro-networks that are coding for particular areas that can be used, reused and discarded for better code if it arises. 60 programmers, 150 librarians and other specialists are involved.

All decisions are made using open source channels, including Slack.

FOLIO Ideation was done old school (whiteboard and post it notes), librarians and developers worked together to talk UX and develop ideas. FOLIO is being based on the prototypes that are developed and approved by these reference groups.

FOLIO could be used as an LMS, or as a way of collecting and presenting content from libraries using disparate LMS’s.

Libraries are investors in FOLIO – bringing their knowledge and their experience.

FOLIO Platform Benefits – built around an open community, supports local innovation, provides choice.

FOLIO Challenge – looking for ideas. They also offer grants to developers.

Concurrent Session 12

Daniel and my presentation.  See it at:

Translating disruption into action: next steps for a 21st century library service – Natalia Fibrich Library Training Services Australia

The period we live in is known as the 4th Industrial Revolution. It is characterized by breakthroughs in technology. But there are also changes in society – including how we interact, how we live and the infrastructure around us.

Disruption si about stopping something from continuing as expected. It can be a force for good, to change things to be better versions of themselves. There are a number of traps that we need to avoid: physical trap – investing in old systems instead of new; psychological – past successes rather than new options: strategic trap – when the focus is on today and not on the future.

It is important to note that disruption happens to people.

Translating disruption into action: a model for organizational disruption.

Context – if there is no roadmap, you go nowhere. The library needs to understand the megatrends that impact the library and community; trends impacting the LIS sector and the local community; Issues – that impact the library in short to middle term and internal context. It is not possible to mitigate them all, but it is important to identify and consider them to help the process get started.

Leadership – many are not prepared for the challenges of change. Good leaders recognize that their organisation is every changing. They are redesigning their organisation’s ‘business-as-usual’ on an ongoing basis. The best way a leader can facilitate change is to walk the talk.

Team – organisation’s need to invest in their staff. Top 10 skills needed for the future: sense-making, social intelligence, novel and adaptive thinking, cross-cultural competency, computational thinking, new media literacy, transdisciplinarity, design mindset, cognitive mind management and virtual collaboration.

Customer – Libraries need to ensure they are customer centric – which includes both current users and potential customers, through the many ways that they can interact with the library. Every form of contact should be considered to ensure that it is indeed customer centric.

Organisational culture – in the current environment, our organisations are transparent – the public can see an organisation’s culture. It is therefore not only important for staff, but also for our customers. This culture exists, whether it is deliberately or unintentionally created. To help create a positive culture you need a vision, mission and values which are not just words, which everyone lives. Another challenge is efficiency – where we miss the opportunity to innovate because we are further streamlining.

Organisational strategy and design:

Organisational change is an ongoing Work in Progress.

Sari Feldman – quote “While these disruptions may feel like a sea change in libraries, our work remains grounded in an enduring ideal: People walk through our doors with ideas, ambitions, and challenges, and we meet them with resources that foster individual opportunity, options, and optimism.

Libraries value today is more what we do and for people.

The revolution will not be standardised – Angela Galvan

Puppets are like technology – machines requiring human involvement to tell a story.

Libraries are not and have never been neutral – we have inherent biases in all aspects of libraries, including our collections, our systems (which are created by people and reflect their biases). Libraries are living things because of the people working there.

Get out of the way – theirs and ours. There is a difference between ultimate mastery and foundational knowledge which allows you to have a conversation. (Chatted with someone next to me about where we are stuck).

Doesn’t work, buy it. We can stop supporting mediocrity with free labour today. We assign values and we are assigned. We said we wanted some things and so we did it, and we have kept on saying we want it. But do we really want it? Or maybe we did, but we don’t anymore

Magic – disappeared costs. Many of us are told what we do is magic. But its only magic if the way it works remains unexposed. Some of our processes revolve around what library staff require, not what is best for the user.

Glitches – are the unintentional exposure of values. When libraries link to websites, we give it a little more authority. (paraphrased Jessamyn West). Google can give authority and relevance to harmful content. Library jobs are about connecting people to information, vendors are about making money. It’s an agenda that competes with mine. AI is concerning as people are developing the technology without considering history or ethics – the developers are building their biases into their creations.

Resistance and compassion – we need to ensure that there is compassion in all our systems and processes, including discovery.

We love our work and we love helping our users, but they will never know who we are and that is the way it should be.


VALA 2018 – Day One – Tuesday 13 February – GLAM Day

Wow, it’s been two years since I posted here.  How do I know? My last posts were about VALA 2016.  And now I am back with my VALA 2018 notes.   I must post here more often.  🙂

Anyway, it was another great conference and it was my honour to be on the program committee to help organise the content of the conference, to actually present at the conference and to assist with chairing sessions and running around with microphones.  One happy little librarian here.  🙂

So here are my notes.  Hope they give you some information, insight, inspiration and other words starting with ‘i’, as well as starting other letters.


Keynote 1 – Natasha McEnroe – Keeper of Medicine – Museum of Science – The Science of Interpretation

Natasha is Keeper of Medicine at the Science Museum in South Kensington. Keeper is an uber curator. There is a keeper for each of the three arms – Science, Medicine and Engineering & Technology. The group of science museums came into being due to Prince Albert – Queen Victoria’s consort.

The Science Museum holds over 300,000 items, including Stephenson’s Rocket and the first Puffing Billy. It also now incorporates an IMAX cinema. With partnerships with major museums in other cities in the UK, they experience significant visitor numbers each year, including a large proportion of international visitors.

Audience investigation is a key part of what the museum does. The current model does not look at the background of the individual, but how they access culture. They built the model based on a survey of 3000 households in London. They determined that 20% were not users or potential users and that group were given to the marketing team to reach out to. The rest were divided into the groups below and although it is a blunt instrument, but it is also very fluid – people can change between groups depending on a wide range of factors, including demographics, who they visit with, museum being visited etc.

As all cultural organisations, the museums have engaged with social media, including a very amusing Twitter competition.

The Twitter feud garnered international attention and was extremely well received. It was totally spontaneous on the day and the team of five curators at the Science Museum had a lot of fun trying to come up with humorous responses. However, care needs to be taken, as quick and limited responses can be taken out of context and cause unintended effects.

Florence Nightingale Digitization Project is working to digitize the thousands of letters written by Florence – over 20 international organisations are already involved, and more are in the pipeline, as here correspondence is prolific and distributed around the world. The project is being managed by Boston University – which holds the largest collection of her letters.

There is an ambition in museums and libraries that we make our collections accessible digitally. We need to carefully consider how users will access the content and ensure that it is made available to them in those ways – rather than putting content online and sits in the corner of a website, unused.

The Science Museum began a project to digitize and interpret their collection for an online audience. This project has been funded by the Welcome Trust. The medical collections at the Museum are predominantly owned by the Welcome Trust (70%), by Welcome – a rich pharmacist and obsessive collector of items but is cared for and curated by the Museum. The Museum works closely with medical humanities and biomedical research to further collect for the museum.

The digital project uses short text, interactive games, images, books, videos and more. A famous book is accompanied online by an interactive game which explores the operation of the human body and how our understanding of it has changed over time. It also includes text only and sign language options. The aim is to give the user an experience of humanities grappling with the concept of health, over time.

Their iron lung online exhibit, not only included an interactive portion, but had to include some context, as most people accessing it would not know much about polio and the sufferers use of this equipment. Context is so important. The museum navigated this issue by including a personal story of a polio sufferer and their experience of an iron lung.

Presenting the collections this way (through the Collections Online site), dramatically improve discoverability. (cigarette smoke enema – to help revive near drowning victims).

The Science Museum has a master plan which is managed by a department including strategists and planners. They are at the end of the first stage of the plan. The first outcome was a new gallery which explored the Information Age over the previous centuries – it explored things like how technology helped save Titanic survivors and the experience of women telephone operators. They have the server that Tim Berners-Lee used to create the first webpage – it has a note on it saying don’t turn it off – if it had, the whole World Wide Web would have been shut down!
The next gallery is the mathematics – only 120 items are displayed, but it aims to show how mathematics is used in everyday life. Extremely interactive.

The new museum galleries are due to open in 2019. It will take up the whole first floor of the Museum and will include five themes – and interactive and live exhibits. Will include a pharmacy store replicate, a padded room, medical instruments – with an interactive experience of their use and will also include sign and text. They will also provide content to digital users who may never visit the physical space.

Touch objects have been a huge success in the Information Age display, so will be heavily used in the new Medicine galleries – using replicates. Although of value to sight-affected users, it is also very popular and significantly accessed by all users.

Areas of difficulty including fair representation of different demographics, particularly children. Representation of health treatments that are not medically supported – would people take this as meaning the museum endorses the treatment?

The biggest focus is that of the patient – the museum is working with the historical record and with current relevant community groups to ensure real stories are heavily included in the content and interpretation of the collection – both physically and digitally.

Concurrent Session 3 :

Talking, tapping, clicking & coding – developing diverse digital literacy programs in libraries – Margaret Goninon – Wyndham City Libraries
Paper talks about how to be digitally literate. Helping people to become digitally literate needs to be practical, informative and fun. It incorporates the skills of creation as well as consumption.

It is important to know the makeup of your community, so that you can then program according to the needs of your community – supported by research and by asking your community directly. They used feedback forms, their annual IT needs survey and anecdotally. The IT Needs survey is aimed at all library users, not just those who have attended library classes or one on one sessions.

Some of their requests include Office programs, making videos, holidays, banking, homework etc. Respondents are most interested in internet security, Mac/apple, Windows 10 and phones. Computer classes, one-on-one sessions, workshops and expert talks were all very popular options.

In recording of 65 one-on-one sessions, the most popular topics were basic computer, email, Wi-Fi, laptop, apple, password, android and Facebook. The relationship graph below tracked the interrelation between topics covered in these sessions.

Topics are quite diverse, so staff need to be adaptable and learn in a wide range of areas. The one-on-one sessions aim to help people become more confident with technology. But what is not reflected is the reaction of users – relief, concern, overwhelmed and much more. Library staff can be supportive, non-judgmental and help people work through the issues and if they don’t have the answer to the problem, help find one.

Wyndham Libraries have adapted their basic computer classes to five weeks and spun off specialist topics such as Word and Facebook into different classes. They have also started running classes in the library rather than a meeting room, using laptops due to renovations at a branch that limited space.

The team is working with Code Club and running programs for primary-school kids – each session running with 10-15 kids. Partnered with a local high school and used Makey Makey project kids in 2017. Have had pop up augmented reality programs during Seniors Week in 2017. Virtual reality sessions for young adults during study time, as well as gaming nights, and a digital photography bus tour.

Key messages – teaching digital literacy skills I relevant, help people to create as well as consume, get feedback to create new courses, implement programs for discover audience and needs, have fun! Programs must be agile and reflect community needs.

It takes a village: creating communities of digital volunteers – Elise Edmonds – SLNSW
SLNSW is half way through a 10 year project to digitize some of their most important collections. Amongst this is their fragile heritage collections, including magnetic tapes, glass frame images and more.

To improve access and discoverability, SLNSW is utilizing crowd sourcing methods, so that the “collections are accessible, open, connected and usable to all.” But crowd sourcing must fit your library, your project and your users.
SLNSW has learned a lot about their users, including their preferences, interest and habits. This has helped to better plan and run their projects.

Their first crowd sourced projects were early in the 2000s were volunteers transcribed James Cook’s and First Fleet journals using Word, which was then linked to the catalogue record.

A project to digitize World War 1 content was not going to be ready in time for the centenary, so they developed their own too, using the Drupal Content Management System, using ideas from other such tools overseas. Started development in 2013. All relevant content has now been digitized and is available for users.

Tool has moved from prototype to business as usual and includes improvements and new design features based on the feedback of the users – the transcribers. They can transcribe and see their transcription on the same page as well as being able to add review on completed work.

They ran a Transcribe-a-thon to digitize the Sir Joseph Banks collection – which comprises many short letters, but needed to be transcribed on a time limit. It combined a program in the library which incorporated physical items, curated talks and encouraged users to login to do the work online. When they opened the doors at 9am on Saturday, they flooded in. Interested people included Banks enthusiasts, 18th century enthusiasts and library supporters. PCs were available, but people brought their own devices. 100 people attended and there was great camaraderie and collaboration, resulting in over 500 pages being transcribed on that day.

A second transcribe-a-thon was run with university students, which although a very different audience, was very successful. Over 5000 pages of the 9000 have been transcribed and over 2000 have been published. This has included overseas users, particularly from the UK.

Have also worked with their oral history collections, including Amplify – transcribing oral histories. Some people who gave their interviews in the 1990s, ended up transcribing their own interviews. In 2018, SLNSW will work with NSW Public libraries to help them digitize and transcribe their oral histories on Amplify.

A lot of work has also been done with old maps and geolocation.

In the background, a lot of work has been done to integrate this content into the catalogue and discovery layer.
Harnessing volunteer’s own passions, engage deeply with unique cultural heritage collections, ensuing discoverability, audience engagement and value adding to our heritage collections.

Queensland’s Digital Inclusion Program for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People – Louise Denoon SLQ
The Digital Inclusion Index measures the digital divide in Australia. Queensland’s ranking has improved over the previous years, but the Aboriginal index dropped. Data does not include remote communities, so the figures are likely understated.

Examining their community needs showed that solutions need to be mobile accessible, affordable and/or requires access to public PCs.

Indigenous communities in Queensland have created their own private Wi-Fi networks, to enable their communities to access and utilize the technology – including having a dedicated emergency network for disaster response.

There is a recognition that this is a digital economy which needs to be accessible to all – #notanothergap to ensure that the divide in access and digital inclusion is closed.

“Deadly digital communities” is a SLQ project which ran with Telstra and the Queensland Government to help indigenous communities to “Learn deadly digital skills at a free session near you.” The program is run in partnership with the 12 Queensland Indigenous Councils in Queensland.

Programs are run through Indigenous Knowledge Centres throughout Queensland and worked with the coordinators and the elected IC representatives. 24 centres are located through Queensland and they will ultimately be working with all of them. They have started with a few and have learned valuable lessons.

The sorts of things they are learning include how to text, how to use Publisher to create posters, researching the history of an area using Trove, digital storytelling, working with Heritage organisations and much more – based on community needs. Other challenges including the rarity of internet connections for personal homes (generally saved for businesses), compatibility of software and hardware, frequency of updates and repair (isolated locations may only be visited by tech staff rarely).

Digital inclusion = social inclusion.

Start with user needs, improve access, motivate people, keep it safe, work with others, focus on wider outcomes.

Tales from the field: enhancing discoverability of field notes and field specimens – Colin Bates – Deakin University
Field notes are a primary source documentation of scientific field observations and data collection. They are a unique source of information and very particular to the scientist. However, digitizing them can raise some interesting challenges – including readability, cross-references to other sources, copyright – around data taken from other sources, the scientists version of shorthand.

Aside from the field note books, the collector will also take samples – the value of which is based on whether there is the relevant collection information connected with the sample. But even without, just knowing it is a sample from a specified data and time can be valuable – although after an age, the specimens need much care due to their fragility.
Deakin University was fortunate to receive the entire collection of Gill’s and Harvey’s field notes and specimens, along with the relevant permissions. Once the initial challenges above are faced, there are further challenges that arise in the digitization process.

Deakin’s umbrella of digitization covers Plan and select; copyright check; dispatch; receive and quality check; metadata/discovery; exhibition; promotion; review. Any project can be stopped anywhere in this cycle, but any projects that come to a conclusion are stored in the Deakin Repository.

They sought specialist advice of external sources – for samples it was taking photos that they sought advice from the Herbarium – which had done such projects before. This resulted in preservation standard results. Botanical researchers were also sought for advice, so that they are being presented with the content they are looking for.
Although they had permissions for the Gill note-books, further permissions needed to be sought from photographer’s descendants for pictures taken and more.

Fusion – Deakin Exhibits Online – see what is there thus far from these two collections. They have also hosted exhibitions with good media coverage.

Learned: need collaboration, both internal and external; project scope, management and timeframes will change, digitization methods, standards and challenges will arise, technical challenges will arise, as will copyright challenges – regardless of how well you have planned.

Creating a digital legacy: QANZAC100: Memories for a New Generation – Margaret Warren SLQ
The project aimed to explore stories of those who were involved in and after the war, exploring the stories of local areas and families and recording how the centenary was commemorated. This was created to enable researchers to discover.

The project was predominantly about the diaries, documents and more of SL, which they digitized. However, they were unable to purchase or have donated relevant content, so have a digital only option where the content was borrowed, digitized and then returned to the owner.

Discovering the content to digitize, was facilitated by exhibitions which brought together people who then had more content that could be incorporated into the project. Outreach programs were developed, around creating stories of the war experience in Queensland communities. These stories were grant funded and involved partnerships in these communities to create them. Workshops were offered to remote communities, to help them manage and preserve their own collections.

Challenges included: making connections between related items in diverse collections; creating and managing the data that would make this possible; issue of ‘dirty’ data – which had no point ‘truth’ – one soldier had up to four names – depending on what source you are looking at – so all names had to be recorded; multiple J. Smiths and there are many variations, which can never be connected to other information.

However, when it works, it works well. Francis R. Smith – has connections including his service records, photos and personal correspondence. This is unfortunately rare.

Worked with the National Archive and the War Memorial APIs to connect to the records of those institutions.
What do we do next? How can we move from small projects to linked data as it is envisioned. Although a lot of money was spent on commemoration, we may not have developed the enduring legacy we would have hoped for.

Re-storying of Place: disruptive technologies and the hyper-local library – Dr Maggie Buxton
Fifteen years ago, achieved a post-it note ceiling. This led her to exploring different ways of engaging with large groups of people, which would also engage with her spiritual and creative experiences.

Acknowledges she has a progressive view of a spirit of place – the understanding of communities and all that means across all dimensions. Spirit of place quote – Relph 2007.

Spirit of place is about all aspects of a place, its more than the people, or the building, it’s the digital presence, scientific and indigenous points of view and multiple ontologies. How do we then support and curate all those different perspectives?

Mixed reality incorporates a continuum which includes real environment, augmented reality, augmented virtuality and virtual environment. Augmented reality is experiences where graphics or sounds inserted into an environment, which is digital in some way.

Deloitte Global 2018 TMT Predictions – by 202 smart phones penetration in adults in developed countries will be 90%. Over a billion smartphone users will berate AR content at least once in 2018, with 3 million being regular users – creating and tens of millions and sharing content weekly.

Few companies working in the augmented reality field – Daqri, Imersia, Plattar, layer, Aurasma and Wikitude. Not commercialized widely yet. Showed a video of library collection exploration using way-finding in the library.

Two types of Augmented reality – first type is image – which triggers a connection to the relevant content – it’s a visual recognition system. The second type is about location and is about where you and your device are located, or by the placement of beacons. An example of this in NZ is Neighbourly, the Australian equivalent is Nabo – the social network for your suburb. Google will be getting into this market soon with Bulletin. The AR version of this content is being sent information when you are at a specific geographic location. Facebook is bringing out a feature which allows you to see Facebook friends that are close to you geographically.

For people in the field, Pokemon Go introduced people to the world of augmented reality – combining AR with geolocation. Next is Harry Potter – large scale story telling processes locating in the physical world.

Awhiworld – worked with a small local school to create an interactive experience which integrated a message and content from another dimension, woven into their local community. The curriculum revolved around this project for three months and included discovering portals around the school grounds, social/cultural discussions and more. Guest speakers came to talk about portal activation, sustainability experts and more. Learnt that the partnerships around these projects are crucial – it had to work with what they were doing or wanted to do and innovation happens from unusual meetings. Project involved local police, artists and other community specialists, who were woven into the story.

Place – three case studies: the first one was called Place and took place in a local park which was sacred to the local tribe, and facilitated and curated many different sources of information which was then processed back to the community in a new , oral histories and archival content way. This included analysis of soil samples, psychic responses, ECG recording as she walked the site and much more. She identified 7 spots of note on the site and she mixed the various content together and placed them at the locations, through an app. It was amazing in that it facilitated meeting of locals who had never connected before.

The Doorway – a project which worked alongside the local protocols of the site of the Marae. There is a welcoming process, which was made digital and virtual. They worked with the elders to work through the process – you start by listening to the welcome, be told the protocols (all done in English and Maori) and then shown way-finding which incorporated stories related to a place on the site. If you faced your camera out, it then displayed those stories overlaying the visual of the site. It was supplemented by items on site which would tell their stories.
Papakura Museum project around the Papakura Cemetery – this was not a problem as it was historic (no new internments) and physical tours were already happening. Maggie was able to incorporate the existing commentary, but it had to be recorded onsite to keep the integrity of the content – which raised production issues, which they dealt with.

Place Stories (Mataraki) which gave attention and focus to places that were neglected and unloved. People in the community contributed sound content which played louder as you approached the relevant location. It now only gave the story of the area, but also the work of the artists.

Awhi Creatures – solve historical information about the town (Papakura) to find the creatures. It helped to promote new or struggling businesses, who hosted the creatures. When found they would move and make noise. These creatures were also used around the school, and helped with induction of new students and were accompanied by physical artifacts as well as songs and more.

Awhi Tower doesn’t involve an app – instead it is a water towers with speakers, that when you touch the tower it works like a giant organ.

People are working in Melbourne in this field, including Greg Giannis and Stefan Schutt.

VALA 2016 – Day Three – Nancy Proctor, Karen Lauritson and so much more

On Day Three I both chaired a session and presented in another, so there are less notes, but I hope you still find them helpful/useful.


The museum as startup – Nancy Proctor (Baltimore Museum of Art)

Startup – human institution designed to deliver a new product or service under conditions of extreme uncertainty – Eric Ries, The Lean Startup.

There is a vast network of museums around the world, with China opening a new one every day. However, there is a paucity of models. Is it because there are no other models beyond finding deep pockets?

Core asset can be sold

Mission mandates access for all

One other…….

New citizen shift. First phase ran until WWII. Our identity was around country so if we were doing our job we were being good citizens. Then came consumer – your identity came from what you consumed. Now is citizen, where your identity comes from what you are involved in – being interdependent with others in the community.

Business model patterns.

  • Freemium – when the museum becomes free, the focus can shift from the people for whom the service is provided,to funders.
  • Open
  • Long tail – based on the Chris Anderson model. The long tail beyond the cut off is half the market, who can be difficult to reach. Going digital made the niche market much easier to reach. Museums have lot to offer the long tail. They are bringing more people to the museum by tapping into these niche markets. Eg. Podcasting, patchwork displays and more.

Museums are in the content business – they need to capitalise on what makes the unique. Not just the physical items, but the intellectual property that grows up around them, both by the museum staff and by external users. If this is true, care for your collection is paramount and then crafting, research and more around those collections.

Value comes not from the fact that the collections are important, but because you can demonstrate it is important. Projects like the interactive pen, where users can gather information digitally – gives the museum a traceable digital path. This measures impact and give actionable metrics.

Economics of curation – not just the collection, but people’s experience of it. Digital, partnerships and more will enable them to move into more personalised experience creation, not just for the masses, but reaching the niches.

Blue ocean thinking – see untested waters with little or no competition. What do we take for granted that we can lose, change or refresh? What is out there that we can tap into?

VALA 2016 Robert D. Williamson Award winner – Mal Booth

Re-aligning library technology strategy: questioning the role of tradition in today’s technology evaluations – Tony Zander

Vast majority of university libraries are still using legacy systems, rather than the newer next generations library management systems, such as Sierra and Worldshare.

The current time is the cheapest in history, to be running library software – building and hosting costs are dropping, but this matches with the drop in library budgets. On the otherhand, subscription costs are rising.

What is the role of the technology vendor? What is the role of the library in the relationship with the technology vendor?

Marshall Breeding’s latest technology report on LMS’s rasised some interesting concerns, with a common complaint being that what was being promised by new systems, was not being delivered. So who is actually desiging the next generation
library systems? Is the library community staying true to its roots?

Legacy Production Design Workflows from 1982 – 2002 was based around library interests which were seen as buisness opportunities. eg. ALEPH LMS, Open URL and VuFind catalogue were all developed at universities.

The innovation community is global and in the library.

Next generation product design workflow from 2012 – present is based around corporate interests to library practice. Library practice is now being dictated to.

Examples of corporate overreach:
1. Restricted hosting options
2. Restricted procurement options
3. Restricted business models

Does this affect ROI? Old model, pay for implementation then once for licence with low ongoing maintenance fee. New model – low cost implementation, but higher annual subscription costs.

Libraries must consider a model where libraries have choice, have freedom and transparency to exercise that choice, takes the front seat in defining next generation library systems and where vendors balance short-term profits with long-
term viability of hte library indudstry.

‘For many things, our attitudes come from actions, that led to observations, that led to explanations, that led to beliefs’ (McRaney 2013 – “You are now less dumb”)


Moving Beyond Search …. Towards Discovery – Belinda Tiffen

University of Technology Sydney is redeveloping their library space. 80% of their print has been movee to storage, which makes the library more about people. However, this can result in protest as people lose habit and serendipitous browsing.

That had to think about how their hidden collection can work in the online space. Search vs discovery, where search is targeted, linear, specific and discovery is open, exploratory and fuzzy.

Traditional library systems focused on search. Web-scale discovery tools do some discovery. Deep scale discovery can only really be done through physical browsing, but it not particularly efficient.

Coming to a solution, they focused on curation and recommendation and aggregation with a process of being human centred and with iterative design.

Iteration 1 – they installed Endeca as their discovery layer (2011). It does search but also shows similar and brings in facets. They introduced predictive search to link to university subjects and incorporated content across a range of data sources.

Interation 2 – 2013 introduced Find Articles, a new tool using the Primo central index with a HTML 5 interface. This brought in a new search option focused on scholarly articles and online resources. Brings up a tab when doing a main catalogue search, so the systems are seamless.

But what about discovery?

An artist in residence created a Dewey ribbon for them, which is a visual representation of the ranges of numbers related to the current search. It is a visual representation that helps users limit searched down to a granular level.

They also heave Shelf view – whcih allows users to browse items by Dewey range – this is available on all catalogue searches.

Where to next?

They have started developing their next iteration, with more user experience work, experience mapping on tasks and prototyping – from wireframe to test site. New features include simple format filters, recommendations and better access options. They are also doing more work on the architecture. They are moving from Endeca to Elastic as a discovery layer. Elastic is being used by the “cool kids” including Facebook, GitHub, Reuters and Uber. They are also looking at incorporating other open source tools.


Two roads, one destination: a journey of discovery – Wendy Abbott and Karen Joc
They conducted a usability study in 2015 on the transition of their catalogue from Summon to Primo. The change was due to better compatability with their new LMS.

Summon had very little customisation, but Primo has a lot more scope for this. When changing they looked at institutions for ideas and found them. A new Bond University website also helped drive their design, including structure and colours. (Library Search is an option on the university’s website search facility)

They did a study with undergraduates tgiven a $10 coffee voucher – through focus groups and test runs. Also demonstrated doing a live survey with the audience at conference, using

They asked students what their understanding was of different headings they used, eg. e-shelf. All test subjects did searching and not one of them used the drop down menu. Once shown, they didn’t understand the limitiations or the capabilities.

Eight students were involved in usability testing – completing 8 tasks in between 30 and 45 minutes. All were recorded using Camtasia and students were encouraged to speak their thought processes out loud.

Recommendations for any such change were to: have an excellent project manager, customise prior to launch, get the right structure, test your design, make sure its mobile accessible through testing and have a communications strategy.

What they noted was that students adapt easily to changing interfaces, but that they need to improve their search skills.
Inspiring creative partnerships through improv – Karen Lauritson

We do spend a lot of time worrying about the future. What we can do something about is the here and now.

What if we? – need to ask these questions. …….have fun together?

Two methods to have fun are Improv and Design Thinking.

What if we keep people at the heart of what we do?

Learn by doing – California Polytechnic State Uni – CalPoly. A top Uni because of its learn by doing philosophy.

Make / Document / Share – they made programs, documented it and shared it on social media.

What if we play together? They changed their staircase into a live game board. Also did DIY: crowd sourced gaming. (My idea – library as Pacman). Event around How to be a futurist.

What if we make our programs open? Introduce people to experts in a low key way. Open ScienceCafe – How to use data and design to tell stories – student proposed, organised and ran a talk. All videos so that could be further shared. Another group of students organised a RFID expert.

Rule 1 – Yes, and….. Miss Phryne Fisher is the quintessential “yes and” person. Story can’t continue without that.

What if we see everyone as part of our ensemble? We can discover unexpected things – we are all in this together.

The library is a yes and place already. It may not have the answer, but it gets the conversation going?

You man initiate an idea they support it …..QUOTE

You make other people feel good.

What if we give people gifts? We have to embrace what is happening. Ignoring it doesn’t change anything – you have to accept the moment.

A good improviser is someone who is not wide awake QUOTE

Making and sharing is part of the process. It’s exciting to look places where we may not know the outcomes.

Design thinking – empathise, define, ideate, prototype, test. Design thinking for libraries new resource.

What if we break down the silos?

Pitch Perfect competition with the Business Department. Video competition was changed to 60 second pitch. Money was increased to award winners, but also to make the winning projects happen.

What if we see libraries as t-shaped? How can libraries inspire community connect, to connect with people cultivating ideas.

What if we……..?

VALA 2016 – Day One – R. David Lankes, Lee Rainie and so much more

Always take away great thoughts and ideas from VALA – here’s what I got from Day 1.


Librarianship: saving the world one community at a time – Dr R David Lankes

Technology advances have made the world a smaller place.

Not all is well in the world and librarians have a part to play in helping out.

Power of words – words matter, what we call people who come into the library.

Libraries don’t do things, librarians do things. The library is just a space and we devalue what we do by not taking credit for our work. The result is schools and public libraries that no longer have library staff but are still called libraries – they are just closets with collections.

Strike user from the library vocabulary. Only drugs and computers have users. Consumer is worse. The term negates the possibility that they can produce. Better to use member – it signifies participation and ownership. Client is quaint but also ok.

Every library has communities, regardless of what type.

Power of narratives: power of story – helps people to identify and relate; social constructs – recall bias. However, often we make up stories because they sound rational. Libraries need to get involved in the messaging business and craft the stories of our communities.

David encountered several narrative stories in his world tour.

Narrative 1 – Racial strife – related the story of Ferguson and Baltimore Libraries. Scott Bonner at Ferguson held strong and called for unity and invited teachers to teach in libraries, fed the kids and made the story about family – they stayed open throughout. The same in Baltimore, the library stayed open, helped with groceries and legal aid. Librarians made a difference.  They changed the. narrative from racial strife to we build diverse communities.

Narrative 2 – Austerity – cutting back of funds for public services. It’s worldwide, not just the EU. Libraries are going to be the last institution standing and everything is being shifted to libraries – publishing, government support and more.

We have so much data that shows how much ROI that libraries give. If investment was given to libraries, how much more would the communities benefit? Cazenovia Public Library helped expand literacy in Madison County – giving people not only education but worth.

Makers paces have value because many people learn by doing. Can get excited about what they do and share it eg. science teachers able to print out 3D representations of atoms to show students

New narrative – We transform into opportunity.

Narrative 3 – migrant crisis. Libraries are providing language classes and literacy support, government support and celebrate culture. Change the narrative to Citizenship. New narrative – We are a Gateway to cultural identity.

Narrative 4 – Nature’s fury – public libraries can be emergency relief support centres, provide power and wifi, distribute food and shelter, took supplies out on bookmobiles. New narrative – We are there in a crisis.

Narrative 5 – security over privacy – government taking more control and more surveillance to protect us. The response to living in a dangerous world is the loss of privacy. Security comes not through limiting freedom but in inclusive communities where neighbour knows and respects neighbour. Librarians knit communities together. New narrative – We are a noble profession.

This conference is about how and what, but need to look at why we do things. Why do we do what we do, but what can else can we be doing?

We need to be doing, we need to be proactive in all these new narratives. We serve all, not just those who walk into our buildings. That takes courage, it takes opening the doors and leaving the buildings. Think of your collections as tools to help make our communities smarter and better, but like a tool, it does nothing until you pick it up and use it. Even our buildings are just tools.

“A library after hours is like a coral reef without fish, it’s beautiful but dead.”

We are in multiple crises and our communities need us. They need librarians.

The challenge is to expect more – need to take action, need to change the world.

Becoming a librarian because you love books is like becoming cop because you love guns. “You’re a librarian, you must love  to read? Yes I love to …….as well, but I don’t have time to do that at work either.”

We need to change the perception of libraries, create a new nostalgia. Libraries have to be more participatory and librarians have to make this happen.

You can inspire, you can make librarians more important and you can change your communities and you can change the world.


Building an Internet of things environment in the library – May Chang

We need to find a place for ourselves in this environment. Garners chart of hype chatted this as not becoming mainstream for around 5 years. The potential for IOT in Austrlia is 3.2 billion by 2019 eg. Home automation, smart buildings eg. Deloitte – The Edge.

Automation and control, includes process optimisation, optimised consumption etc.

Once you have a digital overlay over a city, you have a smart city.

Information and control is another IOT function. The amount of data produced is massive. Apps available include Bluetooth toothbrushes, wifi connected fridges, wearable devices and health devices.

Can use this information to improve the library eg. Where people are connecting to wifi – why there and how can we improve our space to improve this area and make others more attractive. Can create indoor navigation guides, occupancy tracking and more.

Chang has become a partner in technology, being a test bed for new apps etc. eg. Indoor navigation for blind people. Her library has now provided the infrastructure to support this sort of development and test it in the library.

They used Beacons for tracking – many different types but they support many different industries including museums. Each device has a unique identifier enabling you to differentiate. Have a signal radius of 30 metres. Can be used to give people instructions on where they need to go.

They used LightBlue Explorer app to configure the Beacons.

Information security is needed at all levels, needs to be opt in, data privacy so that the only information retained is the device ID and data is only retained for the year.

For those involved in the trial, they requested more info but laid it all out in plain English, but then allowed more personalisation. Eg. Name, level, favourite space in the library.

This is providing good service, but then the data can be invaluable, so analytics needs to be an important part.


20/20 vision: the librarian, he publisher and the technologist – Andrea Gilbey

The future digital library – three groups may be able to help each other to survive into the future. We tend to work in silos and lose sight of the bigger picture. Need to foster more of a culture of trust.

Josiah Wedgewood succeeded on many levels due to one key principle – collaboration. If he could achieve that 200 years ago, what more could we achieve now.

“Technologists, publishers, librarians, authors, agents and business strategists are all working on the same problems – just from different angles.” Palfrey 2015

Publishers and libraries have similar goals. Libraries 2030 (PLVN report) points what can we learn from each other.

Need to talk about ideas worth implementing.

Australia is known as being library adopters. Australian Libraries should also be – need to
get over being risk adverse and continue being creative.

If not now, then when and if not, where will we end up as opposed to where we could have


Digital curation of public policy resources – Amanda Lawrence

Find creating library impact through social engagement OCLC.

Grey literature or organisational publishing – doesn’t come with a catalogue record.

If policy debates are to be successful, the public needs to have access to policy proposals. (We need to have catalogue records for key reports – not just print files in reference etc)

To protect important policy content, archiving and Creative Commons licences are vital.

Grey Literature Strategies Project researched users, producers and collectors. Via surveys with over 1200 responses received. Over 60% of users need grey literature for their work, producers to be involved in the debate, particularly reports and journal articles. However collectors had a higher focus on books/ e-books.

$30 billion on grey literature in Australia, with a value of $33-43 to users.


Round Table – Content is changing, access is changing

John – YBP, Rosalia – Sage, Igor – Press Display, Chris and Roxanne Missingham

Publishing, vendors and libraries all have different tensions that do clash to a certain extent. Libraries have limited funds, publishers have production costs and collectors can’t always provide and have their own costs.

Communication between all parties is vital.

Content is changing and is not limited to one container – it can be a book, with teaching and learning guides, videos and interaction in some form. With marketing and author costs on top of this, it all adds up.

There is a mandate for libraries and aggregators to help educate publishers about what users really want.

Activism could be as simple as ringing News Corp to complain about pulling their content from Press Display. Publishers need to hear directly from librarians about the good, the bad and the ugly.


Trove and social media today – Catriona Bryce

A presence in social media should increase a sustained use of The host organisation.

All the numbers: number of followers, number of tweets, impressions, engagements, clickthroughs and impact?

Numbers are not representative of what is truly happening. Are they really engaging with the content? The numbers can’t give impact, but you can make assumptions from them.

Trove ran an event – The Stress test was designed to try to break the new newspaper interface. Promoted on social
media and the test was hugely successful with 10 times normal traffic and Trove broke. In doing so they gave developers valuable information.

Am I talking to people just like me – yes, it was nearly 3/4 organisations. Of those 43% were GLAM, 16% genealogy, 3% education and 38% were other. Majority from Australia, most were GLAM employed.

However, they are tweeting to just like them, which was great for collaboration but not for access. After surveys, they introduced Facebook to aim at education, CALD and indigenous audiences.

Stories – case studies will be used to support statistics so that impact can be more fully measured, including surveys, social media interactions, and interviews.

Impact comes from stories such as a designer who found a very old article on Trove about a prosthetic hand, which he used to help design a new prosthetic hand for children.  This involved Trove in Australia, the SA Medical Museum and people in South Africa and Europe.



The puzzles librarians need to solve – Lee Rainie

Pew does research but without an agenda – they are a fact tank as opposed to a think tank.

Starting point: library foundation is pretty solid. Previous Pew reports found:

  • People think libraries are important, especially for communities
  • People like and trust librarians
  • People think libraries level the playing field for those without vast resources
  • People think that libraries provide services that are hard to get elsewhere
  • People have libraries have rebranded themselves as tech hubs.

Knowledge creation has three stages: creation, interfaces and dissemination.

Learning as identity – more people consider themselves lifelong learners, collect information about topics of interest and look for opportunities to grow. Also a lot time is being invested in personal interest learning, mostly to make life more interesting. More than half of those employed were ongoing learners.

Libraries have six puzzles to solve.

Future of personal enrichment and entertainment?

Is it totally physical or virtual. Individual or community focused. Collection or creation. Archive or portal. For everyone or specialised.

People see libraries as sanctuaries, with comfortable spaces for reading, working and relaxing.  But they also want to keep the other noisy spaces.

Future of pathways to knowledge?

Old process – learning as transaction to new process – learning as a process. From certain to changing, from receiving to contributing, from hierarchical to ecological, from individual to network.

Future of public technology and community anchor institutions?

Libraries poll well. Perception has changed, with people now wanting more space, more tech
and events.

Clear public mandate is to do something for education. High perception that libraries should
coordinate more closely with local schools in providing resources to kids. Libraries should
also offer programs to teach technology to everyone, such as computers, smartphones and apps.

Future of learning spaces?

Personal learners are majority online but 1/4 in libraries.

Future of attention and its structural holes?

Users are spending more time dipping into streams, mostly just to find out what is going on
in the world.

Also, getting signals – alerts setup to deliver information about what they care about.

Snacks – when you have a short time span to fill.

Where do you fit on the continuum? ALA’s Confronting the future report.

Libraries can be people, places and platforms. Be tech experts, master teachers in lifelong learning, visionaries for the knowledge economy, experts in sense making, context and curation and monitors of algorithms.

Place: reconfigured and repurposed – artefacts are connected and data rich, nodes for databases and media, test beds and community information and media stewards.

Platforms: community resource- trusted and watchdog, advocates for free and open, data and collection repositories, advocates for closing the digital divide.

Be not afraid – the world needs librarians in these conversations and that is where we are.

Leadership Learning Forum – State Library of Victoria – Marianne Broadbent

I was fortunate enough to attend the most recent of these annual events, with guest speaker Marianne Broadbent.  She was a very thought provoking speaker. Hope you get as much out of my notes as I did from attending the session.

Marianne Broadbent – Implementing 21st Leadership at Multiple Levels

Good skills to have are good general knowledge and curiosity – be a general busybody, but in a good way.

What are your capabilities? Many of us underplay our strengths. Be good at key things and just good enough at the rest. And then how do you manage your weaknesses – get the right skills around you.

Pragmatic, informed and sustainable leadership begins with understanding yourself and leading yourself. Know what your strengths, what people think of you and how you relate to people. Do you give feedback and how? Leadership operates in multiple layers – self, team and organisation.

What is leadership to you? Who is someone you have worked with showed real leadership and how was that obvious to you? Showed vision, took responsibility, list: empowers staff, trust, courage, fairness, seeing obstacles as opportunities, open to input, knows their limitations and will seek input, humour, decisive, approachable, calm, valuing everyone, emotional intelligence, consistent, supportive, innovative, available, respectful, clear communicator, integrity, enthusiasm, passion, fun, autonomy, mentoring, listen, ambitious for the organisation, self-development, self-awareness.

Our expectations of leaders are quite high. No-one, neither our leaders nor us as leaders meet these all. What things on this list do you exemplify? Each of us have qualities that others value. The things we do well we should work with – choose roles that work to your strengths, whilst still continuing to bolster your weaknesses. Do what makes you happy and only take jobs that will.

Leadership operates at multiple levels and multiple layers and is what others expect of us….

Leadership = Imagination + Courage. Paul Keating.

Executive capabilities graph – move from execution and delivery, through management to leadership and direction. You don’t have to be smart about everything for which you are responsible, you just have to know enough and get it done through people.

“Leadership is the art of getting someone else to do something you want done because he wants to do it.” Dwight D. Eisenhower

Delegation is a critical skill. Delegate, know what is happening, but let them do it.

It’s about trust and letting go.

Leadership expectations shift – need to understand the context, the organisational and people environments.

What matters now are diverse experience, curiosity, knowing yourself and have the ability to deal with ambiguity and change. Diverse experience gives you many more works to draw from in your work experiences.

Passion and curiosity will get you a long way – intelligence alone is not enough.

Know and work with the dynamics of your emotional intelligence (see below). More powerful as a leader if you are in touch with your feelings but not over expressive, have good impulse control. Emotional intelligence improves over time. Understand your own emotional intelligence quotient.

Emotional intelligence quotient

Emotional intelligence quotient


In last five years, dealing with ambiguity and change has been a key requirement for staff. The world is ever changing, so business and operating model swell continue to evolve.

In the next few years the important things will be dealing with generational differences, giving and receiving constructive feedback, ability to recognise an effective and collegial team. How do you work with Millennials? Do we invite feedback as well as give it? You have to be in touch with your team regularly – not just at appraisal time.

Think of a successful team that you were part of – what made it successful and how can you bring those qualities to your current team.

Business cycles require different behaviours and capabilities. The four cycles are:

  • exploitation – growth,
  • conservation – balance,
  • release – crises or opportunities,
  • renewal – transformation.

This ongoing and each stage requires different capabilities. Some leaders can’t adjust to this change and need to move out of the way or move on. Need to be able to identify, adjust and then help others to do so.

What has been your best experience of teamwork? Why did it work so well? What was different about it from other experiences? List: common goal with clear vision, people wanted to be there, focused, make things possible, fun, more relaxed, you achieve something, challenging, passion, brought different qualities and skills, empowered, adaptable, opportunity to celebrate, ownership, shared responsibility, using existing strengths, learning from mistakes, risk taking, good communication, transparency of roles and could learn from each other, have to trust each other, safe and respectful environment, appreciation for diversity, shared mindset, pride in the work and working together, mix of skills, reflection, not waiting to be invited, willing to contribute, bringing others along, working with different personalities, openness and sharing.

Four disciplines of a healthy organisation:

  1. Build a cohesive leadership team,
  2. Create clarity – why are we here,
  3. Over communicate clarity,
  4. Reinforce clarity.

What methods do we use and reuse to do this. What recognition do you provide – there are many ways that don’t involve money, such as acknowledgement.

Know the five common team dysfunctions – absence of trust, fear of conflict, lack of commitment, avoidance of accountability, in attention to results. Need to particularly focus on building trust in your team. What you do is go first, mine for conflict, force clarity and closure, confront difficult issues, focus on collective outcomes.

Building a robust enabling team, acknowledge that this is hard work, understand what you really need and why, get the raw material in pace ( people), work on what makes teams effective, visualise your team needs and potential.

Identify one professional achievement that you have had in the past three years. When sharing your achievements first share what you achieved and then share why it was important and how you got there.

It’s not only about execution, but about positioning. Need to be able to demonstrate our own self-regard. People want to be led by people who believe in themselves. There needs to be a balance so that it doesn’t cross the line into arrogance.

Hints for leading yourself –

  1. Reflect on your real attributes and play to your strengths
  2. Figure out the trade-offs you are comfortable with … Don’t do guilt. Make a choice then adjust as needed.
  3. Accept responsibility for your own development … Invest in it. No-one else cares as much about it as you do. They only help to help themselves.
  4. Build a good network – that you can go to and get good support from
  5. Assume good intent on the part of others…. Don’t sweat the small stuff.
  6. If you are not growing then move on.
  7. Be careful of what you want – greater visibility = greater vulnerability.
  8. Look after you physical and spiritual self…. It does matter.
  9. Remember that you are always marketing yourself…
  10. Know and be able to articulate your own story – at any time.

If you don’t enhance your own leadership, you can’t effectively lead teams or organisations.

Leadership is as much about how leaders deal with themselves as it is about how we work with and lead others.

Digital Literacy Seminar – Public Libraries Victoria Network (PLVN)

Here are my notes from the PLVN ICT Special Interest Group Digital Literacy Seminar, held in Melbourne on 3rd June 2015.

Hugh Rundle – MC

Victorian Public Libraries: Our Future, Our Skills Research Report 2014 –

98% of libraries completed survey, 79% of managers. Good basis for skills audit.

Public Libraries 2030 came out with two broad scenarios. – Community and Creative. Role for libraries in this and a great need for libraries to upskill their staff. Patrons come to learn new skills or to collaborate in our spaces.

Figure 44 from Skills Audit – big mismatch between what is required in future by managers and how confident staff feel about those skills.

Not disastrous, but we have some work to do. We have an advantage in that staff have rated their confidence in lifelong learning higher than managers’ expectations of where it should be.

Robyn Ellard and Karyn Siegmann – Workforce development 2014-17

Statewide Projects through PLVN – since 1995, about collaboration, involved the creation of the special interest groups and in collaboration with State Library Public Libraries Unit.

Past projects include Libraries building communities, Dollars and sense, Internet and PC usage, Memory Victoria, Shared Leadership – all with reports available from the PLVN website at

Back in 2010 were looking at more long term strategic planning which led to the Libraries 2030 report, which was launched June 2013.

NSW Bookends project is an interesting comparison to Libraries 2030.

There are workgroups for each project comprising SLV specialist staff and public library managers. Lead and Learn group is responsible for rolling out recommendations from the Skills audit. Now we have the 2015 Workforce Development Action Plan.

Gave a long list of needs to work on in future but needed a focus for the next three years.

Skills gap table – what’s important in future definitely includes digital literacy. The core competencies cover digital literacy, social media and mobile apps, ICT support.

Working group has received a grant from the RE Ross Trust for the project. This funding will help to develop and deliver online digital literacy modules.

Digital Literacy – build confidence in staff and develop their capacity to learn. It has to be practical, supported by other staff and ongoing so staff can pick up the next level when it appears. It aims to bring people to the same base level and is aimed at Bands 3-6: the coal face staff.

In future, the project will look at managers and how we can bring them up to the same level and know how important it is for staff to continue to develop their skills as things change.

Aim for 1000 staff to be trained over 2 – 3 iterations. Hope to package it up at the end so it can be used on an ongoing basis. Won’t redo skills audit, but will be doing evaluations around course, before and after.

It will involve the use of champions, be monitored, be confidence building, teach principles and practice, and develop learning to learn.

Next steps – the Working Party to advise on content etc. work on design, development, testing and roll out of online training. Due to the requirements, they can’t use existing products, so SLV will produce the delivery model.

Working party will be workshopping what the content will actually be.

This is not the answer to everything, but it is a big step in the right direction.

We need to determine what the base level of competencies regarding ICT are. IMPORTANT!

The seminar attendees spent some time workshopping this and came up with the following list:

competencies 030615

Pamela McGowan and Sandhya Burton – Monash

Staff are representative of our communities so have early, late and non-adopters amongst them.

When e-books and tablets hit, not all staff came on board. They realised that they hadn’t built a culture of learning, so staff felt it was unreasonable to expect. They have now built a culture that it is everyone’s responsibility to continue to learn. With digital skills every branch has a champion to help staff keep on top of the basics.

Need to talk about a culture of learning all the time, not just when you are forcing them to learn.

They demonstrated a Skills checklist which was self-assessed. They encourage staff to reinforce their skills by teaching someone else.

Initially focused on library e-books and e-magazines and developed checklists to cover the most common queries from users. This has been a great confidence builder for staff and has given them options of what can be done and when to refer on.

Problem with staff saying that they needed more training when they forgot how to do something – at that point they thought the solution was more formal training. It is now in the work culture at staff meetings, their library service staff day and in the day to day. Staff can be motivated by appealing to their desire to provide good customer service.

Use different learning strategies to help staff – analytical, personal and informational. Can use pilots and try outs, buddying, just in time learning, and more formal training. Staff love sharing their knowledge.

Micah Macri – Eastern Regional Libraries

Eastern Regional surveyed staff on IT competencies and got some interesting results. Their staff had lots of smart phone ownership and used them for SMS’s and photos. They also found lots of social networking with the vast majority of staff on Facebook.

However, the survey was likely completed by tech savvy staff. Lots of staff have worked on Facebook privacy settings, so they have the motivation to learn.

E-learning one to ones, originally for library users but now made available to library staff. Covers work email, calendars, contacts, apps and more. Often have a follow up to ensure all is going as it should.

Library staff can attend technology events for library users such as workshops, computer support clubs etc. They have had instances where staff have attended an event, have engaged with the content and now teach it.

They have staff and patron guides as follow up to a course. eg. iPad quick start guide. For staff the guides are around photo consent, calendars, contacts, apps and taking photos. They are using Piktochart to create their guides.

They have subscribed to for both staff and user training. For every minute of watched course for work, staff can watch one of their choice. This training is included in appraisals.

They are looking at setting up staff specialities – aim to weave passions into their library work, eg. cooking interest becomes expert on Zinio.

Adam Hornsey – Hume Libraries

Hume runs sessions called Discover – can be up to two hour sessions running quarterly. Sessions often run much shorter and are sharp. They rotate across main branches and in am and afternoon slots. Linked to the staff review process and aim at 75 percent attendance either in person or podcast. Some have been mandatory. Hope to have webinar format in future.

They are usually in-house training. Not just technology but have included Zinio e-magazines, Hume’s appropriate use policy, Enterprise discovery layer, Axis 360 e-books, Trove, Borrowbox e-audio and e-books, E-Smart Libraries. 100 percent of staff have attended at least 50% of sessions.

Sessions are very interactive, and they let it take a generic form. Sessions are followed up by a quiz which is mandatory. Anybody can present – just go through the process. They have never had a session cancelled and they are also open to Council staff.

Natasha Savic and Cory Greenwood – Yarra Plenty Libraries

They have an IT support team, a New Technologies Coordinator and learning coordinators at each branch. Run online courses and have an e-list with tips etc. which is compiled by the New Technologies Coordinator.

Have an annual training calendar for staff. Staff are also able to attend training offered by Whittlesea Council.

They are improving digital literacy by recognising technology is core to the service – no specialised IT staff, and creating a culture of lifelong learning. Staff are learning facilitators who are about helping users to learn to help themselves. Lots of formal training but also informal including: a shared calendar, Yammer for staff communication, iPads for ready reference and shelf reference roster, Google Docs for collaboration and the casual availability list. Use of these resources subliminally raises skill levels in the use of IT.

They highly recommend that you pre-test and have trial runs with everyone before you launch a product.

Staff are responsible for entering events and blogging and branches maintain their own Facebook pages. All staff are encouraged to enter events and blog; they now have a group to post on Facebook. Staff are also encouraged staff to do free online courses eg. Udemy, GCF Learn Free etc.

E-Smart Libraries has been a useful tool in identifying gaps in staff knowledge.

Challenges: – resistance to change, tech isn’t cheap, tech is evolving, inequity of resources. There is a lot to learn and user expectations are high. Need support from managers and IT. They also have the challenge of a wide range of user needs at different libraries – from quite basic at some libraries to very advanced at others.

Nathan Connors – Melbourne

Nathan was encouraged because we are all in there, doing something about digital literacy. Asked what will be asked for in future – VPNs, TOR?

AT present, their training core is around their new upcoming LMS. However, two new libraries are focused on skills training which is what users are asking for. Boils down to cultural change – have to be a lifelong learner now to keep up.

They are working on a Digital Strategy – very broad, it’s an agile document.

The Dock has delivered over 100 workshops on creative processes – 1500 attendees but massive wait lists. Staff are encouraged to get the basic admin tasks done and then work with users and developing programs.

They are trying to develop the culture of play for staff. Brought Stephen Heppell in to motivate and encourage. Training was about learning through doing.

Technology breaks all the time – this can help the less confident staff, once they realise that it will break for anybody, not just them.

They are going to incorporate a staff play day once a fortnight and have subscribed to

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.


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 –