ALIA Biennial Conference Day 1

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Libraries contribute to identity, civil society and citizenship.

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

National and State Libraries Australasia – Innovation in tough times

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

VIZIE – collecting social media – Mylee Joseph SLNSW

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Just go out and do it.


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Blog every day of June – Teamwork – Sat 28 June

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And that was just my paper production.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Blog every day of June – Future of libraries – Mon 23 June

ALIA has produced a series of reports entitled Future of the Library and Information Science Profession.

The project aimed to answer the following questions:

  • How will libraries remain relevant for users?
  • What changes will institutions and individuals in the sector experience?
  • Will ‘library and information professional’ continue to be a necessary and desirable occupation?

I say series, because there seven reports:

Future of the Library and Information Science Profession Report Action List

Future of the LIS Profession: Professionals Report

Future of the LIS Profession: Collecting Institutions Report | Summary

Future of the LIS Profession: Public Libraries Report | Summary

Future of the LIS Profession: Special Libraries Report | Summary

Future of the LIS Profession: School Libraries Report | Summary

Future of the LIS Profession: Tertiary Libraries Report | Summary: University | Summary: VET

If you haven’t read the one for your sector at least, you need to.  They are a very interesting insight into where ALIA and its members and partners see libraries going.  I have read the public library report and plan to do so again.  I will also be taking a sneak peak at the other reports, because there is always value in cross-sectoral sharing.

Happy future viewing.

Blog every day of June – Celebrating achievements – Sun 22nd June

We are very low key in libraries and besides major anniversaries of our library branches, or are introducing a new whiz-bang service, we rarely make a fuss.

But we need to.  We need to celebrate our achievements – our personal ones as well as our organisational ones.

I was looking back at last year’s Blog every day of June posts and came across my goals looking forward.  I was quite pleased to discover that I had achieved them all:

  • This blog got a new look and I’m still writing
  • I wrote an article on Events Booking service online, which was published in Online Currents
  • I had a paper and a workshop with a colleague accepted for VALA and both were favourably received
  • I have survived our big year at the library and am already planning for the next big year.

We get acknowledgement in our annual appraisal process which is nice, but I think it is just as important to acknowledge your successes to yourself.  We can be our own worst critics, so even as we berate ourselves for when things go wrong, we should congratulate ourselves for our successes.

Regardless of what form that congratulations takes, we all need and deserve to “take that bow” when we achieve. As I am sure we have all had successes in this last year, I applaud you all – so take your bow and remember your successes, especially the next time you berate yourself.  Job well done!