Friday, 20 November 2015

Four libraries of Ireland and what they can teach us…

It’s no surprise that a country home to literary greats like Oscar Wilde and James Joyce should have some amazing libraries. I’ve just returned from a trip to the library land of Ireland having chronicled a list of my favourite Irish libraries and what they can teach us here in Australia.

The old Library, Trinity College

The Old Library at Trinity College features consistently on lists of the greatest libraries in the world. This is because it is enchanting. The Old Library has a hushed reverence that draws thousands to its quiet halls, wandering among the rows and rows of antiquated tomes.

The Old Library can teach us two things. Firstly, it is a legal deposit library and it highlights the importance of keeping legal deposit books in an archive for future generations to enjoy. Secondly, the Old Library is living evidence that people still love libraries and still love books on shelves. The day I visited lines of people stood waiting in the rain just to catch a glimpse of its Book of Kells, an illuminated manuscript of the four Gospels thought to have been created in c. 800. In the halls of the Old Library cameras and iPhones snapped away but even amid modern technology this library with its shelves and shelves of books remains timeless.

Marsh's Library

Marsh’s Library is the oldest public library in Ireland. This library taught me the value of unexpected libraries and that meaning can be found in things we might think are irrelevant or foolish. Marsh’s Library is like something from a Halloween story with shelves full of heavy tomes and creaking floorboards. But here I found a library embracing the present as much as the past. The library even has its own Facebook page!

When I visited Marsh’s Library they were holding an exhibition of marginalia, sketches and notes written in the library books that readers have added over time. Titled The Unicorn and the Fencing Mouse, after a sketch depicting both, this exhibition featured annotations made by hand in medical texts and other volumes. I loved the quirky, unexpected nature of this exhibition. It gave meaning to what might otherwise be considered trivial notations, even graffiti.

Chester Beatty Library
The Chester Beatty Library is part of Dublin Castle and houses religious and secular manuscripts dating from 2700 BC. This library also awakened me to the role humour can play in libraries. One of their many exhibitions was titled “Wicked Wit” and depicted the use of political cartoons in documenting relations between Ireland and Britain. This collection of cartoons reminded me of the potential for libraries to key into historical humour in their exhibitions. Our exhibitions can be entertaining and light-hearted as well as informative.

Another lesson I learnt from the Chester Beatty Library is how libraries can be embracing of all religions. In the exhibition galleries excerpts from the Quran went hand in hand with exhibitions about Christianity, proving that libraries truly are pluralistic institutions.

The National Library of Ireland

The National Library of Ireland taught me the value of genealogy as a way for people to piece together narratives of the past. The Library has featured internationally as a recommended tourist destination for genealogists. This is because of the rich and varied history it preserves, including the Library’s unique set of Catholic parish registers. The National Library of Ireland also has a significant manuscripts collection which includes such gems as letters of Oscar Wilde and the papers of Irish poet, W. B. Yeats.

Visiting the Genealogy Advisory Service in this library impressed upon me how family history research is intrinsically tied to our social histories so that a name on a census can tell you about gender relations or economic status. It reminded me of the social and historical importance of the detailed family histories our clients are compiling in libraries every day.

Anne Reddacliff @AMoodiLibrarian

Event Officer, ALIA Sydney

Tuesday, 17 November 2015

Looking for the future of Libraries?

Western Sydney Institute of TAFE, Graduate event (10 Nov 2015).

Speaker: Mylee Joseph from State Library of New South Wales

Don’t look at what libraries are doing now to see what they should be doing in the future?

See what the users are doing now to see what libraries should be doing in the future. Look at how people are looking for information and the tools they use to find it.

Library websites should be mobile friendly - as Google Analytics now gives preference to sites that are mobile friendly. Current trends show that smartphones are outselling pcs by 5-1. Some predict that to go to 10-1.

When you think search engines consider that YouTube is the second most popular one after Google.

Social media - how can it help advocacy?
Know where your audience/users are? Who are they (demographics etc.)
Use platform where they are - e.g. Tumblr growing – favourite of teens, Facebook steady – with a mainly older user group

Libraries have to ‘redefine successes’ - should not be confined to getting feet in the door. Be happy to put content out in the world to be discovered, shared, and used. Success can be measure by how much your material is shared.

Focus on creating content that is easy to share. Do not worry about the actual sharing, as this will get done by others for your library.
Only 1% create the content - others push it out - they are the influencers.
Influencers spread content; they are the key to success.

Experiment – even things that may appear failures may take off over time or lead to other more successful programs. Consider your programs as being in perpetual beta, roll them out and improve as feedback comes in.

§  social metadata

§  curators – everyone’s a curator

§  experts are outside the library – people with particular passions will find you content if you share it on the Web

§  digital makers – the adapters and creators of digital content

§  open access and commons – Make your content open access / creative commons feeing it up for reuse an adaption

§  crowdsourcing – Opening programs up for help

Smartphones were originally the toys of the wealthy - now becoming some peoples only way the to access information and government services. With many low socioeconomic families not having an internet connection at home relying on their smart phones and free Wi-Fi. Libraries providing free Wi-Fi access to the internet helps to reduce the digital divide.

Libraries have to consider what copyright they apply to their content. OA or CC makes it more useable.
If people can discover your content and play with it without having to come into the library, this may not be a bad thing (goes back to redefining success)
People who discover, play and reuse/remix your content may come in through your door one day!

Googallisation leads to discoverability – Through the Google Cultural Institute Goggle, and many of the world’s cultural institutions have collaborated to provide access to their collection via the web.
This is an excellent site - explore collections and venues! You can also create your own. Play and have fun.

For those interested in metadata check out the British Library’s collection metadata strategy

Try new technology
The library staff buy the latest technology and play with it and lend it out to their patrons. In this video, Arapahhoe Library staff talk about google glass.

If you don’t have the budget consider looking around for other who may have already tried the technology

For fun try the Smithsonian page for creating animated gifs - they used Photoshop but in the comments read how someone did it without. 
Something to play with!!!

Setting content free leads to many interesting uses
State Library of Vic has over 200,000 copyright free images that have been made available to the public and they encourage everyone to use/remix. Check out #remixvic on Instagram to see what others have done.

We are continuing to see information is being discovered, accessed, used and shared in different ways.
New ways of looking for information
§  Mobile technology
§  Social Signals
§  Googallisation
§  Visual interfaces - (facial recognition technology) 
i.e. matching images in a search rather than the more familiar and popular matches to text
(Missing the last one)
§  Search new and different facets such as by colour on Flicker   

New ways of sharing information
§  social metadata
§  curators
§  experts are outside the library
§  digital makers
§  open access and commons
§  crowdsourcing

We are looking at major issues with the preservation of digital born content. Digital content is more fragile than print content. Lots of work need to be done in this area. Libraries needs to consider how they are going to preserve their digitally created content.

Some organisations have started including Associated Press (AP) which has produced an online archive of news footage and stories.

An area where Libraries and heritage groups can add value is though taking digital photos of their local area and preserve them for future.
Parramatta Heritage Centre
In particular their project which captured the demolition of David Jones Building a local Parramatta landmark.

Authors: Annie Pinto, Saba Mainer, Rosanne Motha Victoria with addition and adaption by Tracey McDonald

"Library date due slip" by Labratmatt - Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0 via Wikimedia Commons -

Shared under CC BY-NC-SA 4.0

Wednesday, 28 October 2015

The best places to volunteer in Sydney for aspiring Librarians

In the years that I was studying my way through high school and university, I’ve had a number of different part time jobs. I’ve worked in fast food, supermarkets, retail, hospitality, call centres, teaching, office support, data entry, public events and even (briefly) housekeeping. This year, I was finally able to put all of this behind me - for the time being, at least - and have found my dream job as a News Librarian with SBS World News. It’s a truly wonderful position, and a fantastic organisation, and I couldn’t be happier in this role.

But it wasn’t an easy path to get there. For many years, while working and studying, I’ve also been heavily involved in volunteering for a number of different organisations, all doing amazing work in local communities and across Sydney. Whether I stayed in a particular volunteering position for only a few short months, or for many years, I believe that these experiences are the ones that have truly shaped me both personally and professionally today. It’s through volunteering that I have been granted the privilege of meeting some inspiring, passionate and diverse people throughout Sydney, and have developed a much better understanding of the issues affecting this community today. It’s also through volunteering that I’ve learnt many important skills related to working as a librarian, including communication, organisation, negotiation and problem solving.

I would like to share a list of places I have volunteered with in and around Sydney, as well as how they have helped me in my career as a Librarian, in the hopes that it may help others to have similarly awesome experiences with volunteering too!

The Japan Foundation Sydney

If you only have time to volunteer at one place, make this your pick! I’ve been a loyal volunteer with JPF since 2011, and keep coming back to help out with events because I always have a wonderful time there. The volunteer coordinators are very friendly and approachable and are eager to get everyone involved in assisting with public events. In addition, there are plenty of opportunities to mingle with fellow volunteers and I have made some fantastic friends this way. JPF volunteers can have any level of Japanese language ability, so you are welcome to volunteer even if you don’t speak Japanese at all! As a librarian, volunteering with JPF gives great insight into organising public events and working with multilingual, multicultural communities. JPF also has its own small library dedicated to Japanese language studies. The library staff are incredibly kind and no doubt would be willing to have a chat about what they do if you’d ever like to stop by!

By signing up online as a volunteer, you will receive regular emails about upcoming volunteering opportunities throughout the year. This normally involves assisting with gallery exhibitions and public talks by providing information to guests, distributing flyers and promoting the event to the community. The highlight of the JPF volunteer year is the annual Japanese Film Festival, held at Event Cinemas George St and in Parramatta. This involves performing the same types of duties for normal events, and features an after party at the end of the festival. You also get a few free and discounted film tickets to check out any of the screenings you choose.

You can find out more about volunteering with JPF at:

Volunteering with refugee communities:

Between the end of 2012 and the start of my study abroad year in 2013, I volunteered with an organisation called the Australian League of Immigration Volunteers (ALIV). This was my shortest volunteering experience, yet in many ways it has also been the most memorable and inspiring. As an ALIV volunteer, I worked with young girls aged 7-15 from recently resettled families in Australia. Within a small management team, we put together a summer camp for these girls that included loads of fun activities, such as arts and crafts, a water balloon fight and a trip to Luna Park. The best part of this work was being able to spend time with these young women and learn about them, and being able to make them happy was a hugely rewarding experience. I particularly enjoyed working with this organisation since they were non-political and non-religious, meaning that all people, regardless of their personal views, were welcome. Aspiring librarians who are interested in the Education sector, or in working with diverse communities in public libraries, would enjoy this work.

ALIV is no longer operational, but the organisation Australia Refugee Volunteers (ARV) operates similar programs. You can find out about these at:!who-we-are/crcc

Sydney Story Factory

I have only been with Sydney Story Factory since the end of 2014, but I have thoroughly enjoyed the time I have had there so far. Based in Redfern, the SSF provides children from all backgrounds with the opportunity to develop their creative writing skills with support from a team of workers and volunteers. As a volunteer, you are given the opportunity to work directly with the kids and to offer them encouragement and guidance with their stories. The volunteer coordinators are extremely passionate and dedicated, and offer an excellent training program to all new volunteers when signing up. This work could appeal to any librarians, but may be particularly enjoyable to those who love working with children, enjoy reading and aspire to a career in the Education sector.

You can find out more about volunteering with Sydney Story Factory at:

Hurstville Library, Museum and Gallery

Obviously the most directly related to a career as a librarian, Hurstville Library, Museum and Gallery offers a fantastic volunteer program for aspiring librarians as well as anyone in the local community seeking to become involved. I began volunteering in the library at the end of 2014. The staff and volunteer coordinators are dedicated, helpful and encouraging, and will endeavour to provide you with a range of different opportunities depending on what your interests are. The best part about volunteering in Hurstville Library is being able to learn all the ins and outs of working in a public library whilst in a supportive environment, and being able to interact with a vastly diverse and rich local community. I strongly encourage anyone interested in public libraries to investigate volunteering here!

You can find out more about volunteering with Hurstville Library, Museum and Gallery at:

ALIA Sydney

Of course, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention my time volunteering with ALIA Sydney! As a newbie to the committee this year, I have been welcomed with open arms by fellow members, who have been willing to offer helpful advice on my future career and have been very encouraging of my involvement and ideas. It has been an excellent way to develop myself professionally as well as to expand my network of dedicated librarians. I strongly encourage you all to get involved with the committee next year!

I hope that some of you might consider some of these volunteering opportunities that relate to you and your career, especially if you are like me and are brand new to the profession. The path to success isn’t always clear and straightforward - but it is definitely what you’re willing to make of it!

Eleanor Gerrard
ALIA Sydney Event Officer
Follow me on Twitter at @gerryy91

Friday, 23 October 2015

Tour the Art Gallery of NSW Library, Nov 21 2015

ALIA Sydney is really pleased to be able to invite you to tour the Edmund and Joanna Capon Research Library at the AGNSW with us on Saturday November 21st. Find out about the public and in-house resources available in this library and enjoy a guided tour. Follow up with a casual get together afterwards (weather permitting) at the Opera Bar at the Sydney Opera House. Visit two Sydney treasures in one afternoon.

Access is by stairs. If this is not manageable for you, please let us know with 24 hours notice so that alternative entry can be arranged

Email us on to RSVP or phone Lauren Castan 0409 831 812 for information and contact on the day of the tour.

Monday, 19 October 2015

Library 2.015 Worldwide Virtual Conference this week

The annual Library 2.015 Worldwide Virtual Conference begins this week, from 7am Sydney time on Tuesday 20th for Teacher Librarian Day, and then rest of the conference to follow on the next day.

This year there a five keynote or distinguished speakers, the first of which is at 1am on Wednesday morning, and the conference continues through until 1pm on the same day. There are presenters from all around the world, including Australia, so have a look through the schedule.

Join in, via their Blackboard Collaborate set up, or via twitter using #lib2015. There is plenty to explore. However, if you find that real life is interrupting your virtual conference attendance, there are always recordings made that become accessible shortly after the conference.

Hope you find something that tickles your fancy. Here is the link

Lauren Castan

Monday, 21 September 2015

The Library Collector

The National Library of Latvia

Some people collect shoes, their closets a dazzling rainbow of stilettos. They treasure glittering ruby slippers and purple cowboy boots. But I never understood shoes. I collect libraries. My Instagram account is a dazzling rainbow of photographs from libraries I have visited. I treasure the amazing foyer in the National Library of Latvia and the colourful book sculpture ceiling at QUT Library, Kelvin Grove.

Book sculpture ceiling at QUT Library, Kelvin Grove

In an article for The Guardian newspaper psychologist, Christian Jarrett put forward a theory of collecting. He argues that collecting is how we cope with hidden anxieties and desires. It’s how we make up for the feeling of being unloved or create intimacy with celebrities. It’s even ‘survival of the fittest’. We accumulate possessions to enhance our status in a consumer-driven society.

As a teenager I collected memorabilia from the sci-fi drama, The X Files. But my early collecting efforts were restrained, even half-hearted. I read about a young woman who used her entire pay cheque to buy the much coveted X Files bomber jacket. Such a ruthless, uncompromising passion for collecting was foreign to me… until I started collecting libraries.
Courtyard at the National Library of Russia, St Petersburg

My collection began last year in St Petersburg. I found a rare collector’s item: the National Library of Russia. I stood outside this magnificent library surrounded by marigolds, in a courtyard looking up at the sky. And that was the moment I knew I would collect libraries.

For a collector the desire to acquire goes beyond reason and sense. I nearly missed the tour bus from Lithuania because I was entranced by the Wroblewski Library. I braved severe weather warnings in Minsk so I could see the National Library of Belarus. In a Moscow underground station I walked up to strangers and asked for directions to the Russian State Library using the only three words I knew in Russian language: please, thank-you and library.

The Russian State Library, Moscow

For me collecting libraries is challenging. But when I look at the photographs on my Instagram account I don’t think of the difficulties, the anxiety or the confusion. What I remember is how visiting the Wroblewski Library was like kneeling in a church. Being under a glass roof in the National Library of Belarus felt as though I were standing beneath a canopy in a tropical rainforest, watching the rain drops fall. I remember sitting on the majestic stone steps of the Russian State Library, watching as people meet and greet on a sunny autumn morning. Whether I’m in Moscow or Melbourne, what I see are libraries as meeting places, places of community.

Craigieburn Library, Melbourne

I have collected more than twenty libraries now. I finally found that ruthless, uncompromising passion for collecting. And the girl who spent her entire fortnight’s pay on an X Files bomber jacket: that is me. Only it wasn’t a bomber jacket, it was a deposit on a trip to London. So I can finally add the British Library to my collection. @AMoodiLibrarian

Tuesday, 8 September 2015

Make Your Own Fun

Since reading about the Little Free Library movement, I have paid more attention to micro libraries as I have come across them in my daily life. Have you noticed any? 

They are quite common in holiday accommodation, and are appearing in upmarket apartment buildings. I saw one set up in the staff room of my children’s school, where staff put books on a shelf that were available for others, mainly fiction, but also some books about education, available with the expectation of a swap or return. I spotted this same sort of arrangement in operation at Roseville Bowlo, and at Roseville Golf Club, where members have some shelf space to leave books and take books for the enjoyment of all members. (In my experience, these two types of club are also excellent sources of health care information, especially if seeking information and recommendations for health specialists in the area, with the possible exception of obstetrics, and new medication or medication combinations for chronic or ongoing medical conditions. Your doctor will be amazed!)

Remote communities have always experienced challenges in the provision of library services and have found ways and means to overcome these. In recent years a friend of mine has worked summers in Antarctica, and tells me each station has some kind of library. At South Pole it is an honour system with a few historic books you can check out from the store. At McMurdo it is more of a traditional library that is run by volunteers with check outs. Most of the books were probably brought down and left or sent as donations. The advent of ebooks and ereaders has positives and negatives in that environment. The station library has a bunch of e readers that can be checked out, however, I am told the wireless gets turned off in summer months, so they don’t always work well. My friend also was able to purchase ebooks for her reader and transfer them across using USB, but had some challenges borrowing ebooks from her local library (in Alaska), and had to phone Amazon from Antarctica to give them the device number so it could be linked to her account. After this, it worked well. Another friend was living and working in Myanmar and we sourced some book donations for a children’s library set up by a local community worker. Printing, especially colour printing, had been prohibitively expensive, and after a local freight forwarder came to the party with some free shipping, we shipped perhaps 10 boxes of books to seed this library.

Now consider communities in space. Some time back a Freedom of Information request produced a list of material in the multi media library of the International Space Station, supplied by NASA. I am keenly awaiting the new movie “The Martian” . In one part the main character, Mark Watney, investigates the music library left by one of his colleagues and laments the heavy weighting towards disco. This won’t be a problem in the planned future of Mars colonies if Elon Musk’s vision comes to pass.

This year’s Hallowed Ground offering is titled Unexpected Libraries and promises to be another success in this annual series presented by City of Sydney Libraries as part of the Art and About festival, in conjunction with ALIA. It’s been fully booked the last two years, so if you are thinking of going, book now. It has been a great social and networking catch up for the Sydney library community, with interesting considerations of the future, and lots of choices for post event catch up venues. Hope to see you there, 7th October, 6.30pm - 7.30pm.