Tuesday, 26 May 2015

'Let’s Talk' Wrap Up

City of Sydney Customs House library opened its beautiful reading room for Library and Information students for a panel discussion and networking event on Tuesday the 19th of May.

Panellists included Hiba Kanj (ALIA Students and New Graduate Committee Convenor), Alex Cato (Australian Law Librarians Association NSW Division President), Kate Byrne (International Librarian’s Network) and Jeffery Cruz (Manager, City of Sydney Library).

Also in attendance were several CSU School of Information Studies and TAFE Library and Information Services Staff.

Each panellist offered the attendees their unique perspectives on all manner of library and education related questions, from career and professional development, to their dream libraries.

Key points covered for getting a first library job were:
  • Address selection criteria directly! If unsure, use the STAR method. Most organisations will also have an information pack for addressing criteria.  
  • Work experience outside the LIS field is valid- many skills are transferable (teamwork, customer service etc)
  • Showing/ admitting to nerves during an interview is OK, however crying may not secure you the job.

On Professional Development, the panel all stressed the importance of continuous learning and engagement. Joining ALIA groups and going to events or trying out session of the International Librarians’ Network can lead to highly rewarding discoveries about the industry and expand your professional network.

A very special thank you to Kathy Tritsaris and staff for hosting this event, and to Mary Carroll, Jeff Cruz, Kathy Tritsaris and Diana Richards for making it happen.


Embracing new technologies

As a Science and Technology Librarian I embrace new technologies with teaching as the main focus of my expertise. This keeps me busy. The curriculum is delivered in a wide range of modalities; online, web, and face to face. I have developed strong negotiation and consultation skills with the PC, the Mac, my android phone and the I Pad.Working in a fast paced culturally diverse environment such as a University with a wide range of students means they have new equipment and gadgets every year. But this year has been different again. The University of Technology in Sydney has several new and enthralling buildings! Ranging from the glamorous Dr Chau Chak Wing Building to the new Library Library’s new automated retrieval system (LRS), 2015 has been a big year and it’s still just May.Keeping a balance between the Library’s collection of print and e-resources for the Faculties and students is a challenge but by embracing new technologies can be fun and engaging. We also have our brand new interactive Games room ready to be used! Jackie

Thursday, 14 May 2015

Learning to See

On the weekend I was coaching a teenage friend of mine in learning to become a netball umpire. Among other pieces of advice I shared, I reminded her that when you are an umpire you look at the game in a whole different way. You are not a player, you are not a spectator. You are looking for different things, and your experience of the game is quite different. Later I reflected that this is quite similar to experiencing libraries, depending on what you are doing there.

As a library user, I am assessing libraries in quite a different way than I do when I am working there, or when I am touring a library as part of a professional development visit. This is one reason it's so valuable to visit, use, or tour other libraries.

I recently started working in a public library. Once I knew I had secured an interview for the position, I looked at the web presence of the library and took myself in for a look around, seeing it as a user. In my mind I was comparing the physical space, the collections, and services to other libraries of which I am a member. Later I thought about it more in the way I would if I was touring a library as part of a professional visit. You can't really see the problems or challenges clearly, and this is part of the way we all present our workplace to peers, but you can appraise things that are working well and assess them to see if that success is translatable to your own workplace. Then, on a quieter moment I was talking to a long standing staff member who told me about plans to renovate the library and change the floor plan around, and pointed out parts of the library that needed renewal. Until then I had been blind to those faults, so this gave me a different perspective.

It's a natural progression when you are new to a workplace to take all these different views. But it's pretty hard to generate a new perspective of your own workplace when you've been there for a while, to put yourself in the shoes of the other. It's conversely easy to discount the familiar as being boring or underwhelming, to look and see only the problems or frustrations or the things that could have been, if only. This view is also valuable, because it's only through dissatisfaction with the status quo that advancements are made. In the book "Against Happiness: In Praise of Melancholy" by Eric G Wilson, the Publishers Weekly review mentions that the author "argues forcefully that melancholia is a necessary ingredient of any culture that wishes to be innovative or inventive." The work concentrates especially on art, but I think it's true of many things. However, a constructively critical eye needs a balance, and to be able to assess both the parts and the whole, to recognise the ideal and work with the possible.

So I encourage you to continue to seek out new ideas, share successes and failures, and store these ideas and insights safely, even if they are not relevant to your situation now or don't even seem remotely possible under current realities of budgets and permissions and competing needs. You never know how a different perspective may work it self out in the future.

Lauren Castan

Saturday, 9 May 2015

Expand your knowledge

There are so many ways to expand your professional knowledge but I'm going to look at one of the easiest. Blogs are one of my favourite ways to keep up to date with topics and trends in the library world, both in Australia and the rest of the world. Here are my top seven favourite blogs (aside from this one of course!):

  • Annoyed Librarian is an American blogger who discusses issues facing the library world at large from closures in the UK to sex shows in libraries and everything in between. No one knows who she is but her quick wit and timely commentary on current library events makes her blog a fun and educational read!

  • In the Library with the Lead Pipe is an International, open access open peer reviewed journal who believe that libraries and their staff can change the world! Their articles cover a range of topics that influence the library world as well as provide a different way to present original research.

  • International Librarians Network. The blog for the ILN is a great way to participate in the program without the commitment of the email buddy. Each week the ILN discuss a number of both serious and lighthearted topics surrounding the industry and give s you an insight to librarians around the world.

  • Circulating Ideas is an American podcast where library folk are  interviewed about their work, their lives and the issues facing libraries.  

  • Heroes Mingle is a Kiwi blog by Sally Pewhairangi and Megan Ingle. Their blog encourages readers to look at the world differently and explore the possibilities that their work spaces can create. Sally and Megan's latest adventure is Weave, part blog, part journal, it inspires creativity, communication, facilitation collaboration and innovation in libraries. 

  • Library as Incubator blog highlights the different ways that libraries and artists can work together. The blog showcases projects that show the importance that libraries have in our communities and cultures. Its also a great way to get inspiration for your own library's creativity. 

  • Library Problems is a fun look at the problems we all face as part of our work. Users share GIFs that show the way we wish we could react when certain situations arise. Its not at all intellectual but it does make me smile and reminds me that I'm not the only one to have THAT kind of day!  
Share your favourite library blogs below!

Saturday, 25 April 2015

A visit to Cagayan de Oro City Library

Recently, I went to Cagayan de Oro in the Philippines to visit family over Easter, and I was lucky enough to spend some time in the local public library. As a recent graduate in both information studies and international studies, I have a special interest in the differences and similarities in library services between Australia and other countries. I was eager to use part of my trip to explore all the libraries in the local area, though due to a strict dress code (no shorts or short-sleeved t-shirts allowed!) I was unable to visit the adjacent Xavier University Library in addition to the public one.

Cagayan de Oro City Library is situated in the heart of the city, and offers community access to research materials, periodicals, online services and printing, and a collection of fiction and non fiction materials for both children and adults. Considering it is only a small library, I was impressed by the size of the childrens book collection, offering both fiction and learning materials specifically for primary aged children. The room was also well set up for conducting childrens activities and classes, with desks, a whiteboard, CD players and televisions. Unfortunately, no classes or activities are running at this time due to a lack of funding. 

 The Children's room 

The periodicals at CDO Library 

I was also interested in the Filipiniana Reference section, which offers members of the public the opportunity to research both local and national history from a rather diverse collection. As the Philippines is officially bilingual, the local library offers texts in the local dialect of Cebuano, the national language of Tagalog and in English. Having volunteered for about four months at Hurstville City Library in Sydney - another local library with an ethnically and culturally diverse community -  I have come to really appreciate the value of multilingual services in providing information access and creating a stronger and more inclusive local community. The inclusion of different language texts, and the Filipiniana Reference section, all point towards the librarys commitment to providing information access across all language barriers in the local area.

CDOs Filipiniana Reference section

CDO Library Computers
While in the library, I spoke with the technical librarian Darlaine about the future of Cagayan de Oro library and what changes she would like to see moving forward. Darlaine would like to reach out more to members of the public by offering classes and services, especially to those who dont have access to computers, books or other education materials. She would especially like to organise a summer storytelling program for young children, since schools in the Philippines has long summer breaks between April and June. She also would like to gain more sponsoring in order to gain more computers, since public access to the internet is a priority in Cagayan de Oro City.

 For me, the experience of visiting Cagayan de Oro City library has further reiterated the importance of libraries in bringing literacy and technology programs to the community. Australian libraries are very lucky to be able to fund a diverse range of programs, such as the ones I have seen as a volunteer for Hurstville City Library in Sydney. I would like to see Darlaine and the other librarians in Cagayan de Oro achieve their goal of raising funding for these types of programs in the future. 

Darlaine, technical librarian at CDO library

Darlaine is hoping to attend the Tech 4 Ed conference this year, which is tied with the American Library Association. If selected by a committee, she will complete training beforehand at the  National Library of the Philippines in Manila. I wish her all the best!

Eleanor Gerrard
Event Officer, ALIA Sydney

Wednesday, 15 April 2015

Sweeter than fiction

I was a gay teenager in the age of date due stamps
I wish being gay was a Taylor Swift song. In the mid-1990s when I was fifteen and listening to Alanis Morissette, growing up being gay was hard. I lived in a small western suburbs town at a time when Pauline Hanson made prejudice popular and my classmates thought being gay was something to be ashamed of. For me high school was a miserable little world where I felt like an X-File.
But I wasn’t rescued by Mulder and Scully. I was saved by my local public library. Their collection of short story books written for gay teenagers rescued me from an isolating adolescence and taught me about community. I summoned all the courage I had in taking those short story books to the loans desk to have them stamped with their due date. I would hide them between less ‘conspicuous’ items in the days before self-checkers made it easy to move in and out of the library, sharing its collections with anonymity. In 1996 at the loans desk of my local public library I had to face a real person, someone who would know I was reading books about being gay. And that was terrifying.

As a gay teenager in the age of date due stamps I found community not only in the books I read, but in the date due slips glued to their title pages. Those pieces of white paper stamped with black ink were like proof of life on Mars. They were how I knew I wasn’t the only one reading books like Hide & Seek: Stories about being young and gay/lesbian or Ready or Not: Stories about young adult sexuality. Everything I felt was being felt by other young women and other young men in my community. That is the difference my local public library made for me.

Our date due stamps didn’t survive the new millennium but as a gay teenager in the mid-1990s, before social media or television shows like Glee, the due dates I found stamped inside the covers of my library books gave me hope I wasn’t an X-File. I was just one due date on a slip stamped with many. Maybe knowing that was like a Taylor Swift song because knowing you’re not alone is sweeter than fiction.
-Anne Reddacliff @AMoodiLibrarian
Librarian; Event Officer ALIA Sydney

For more about LGBTI YA fiction or providing library services to LGBTI youth:

Saturday, 28 March 2015

Libraries: a destination

There aren’t many buildings where you can be transported to various places without actually leaving the location you are.  Not only can you travel to different places on Earth but also different times, centuries and you get to travel to places that don’t actually exist on a map but exist solely in your imagination.  Places you get transported to because of  your imagination and the words from the books coming from the travel book you are reading or the science fiction or fantasy book you are currently engrossed in.
I got reminded of this while reading an article by Neil Gaiman “Why our future depends on libraries, reading and daydreaming”. When I first started in libraries in the 1990s, they were all about the books, magazines and cassette tapes and videos.  DVDs weren’t even around then, yes I know this dates me, the biggest thing was having a library that had CDs.  Back then libraries I went to only had 1 PC available for the public and there weren’t any games you could play only word processing software.  Things changed slowly and now you will find libraries that have room full of computers, or large area set aside for a significant number of computers, areas set aside as makerspaces, where people can create 3D pieces of artwork as well as the books, magazines, DVDs, CDs and other collections.  People now use libraries for more than just reading and information.  They are now study areas, meeting places, places for social interaction.  They have become a destination in themselves for some, whether because they need access to the computers to look for a job or finish typing up their assignment or they need information on the country they wish to visit.  My library sometimes feels like a child minding service when all the kids come in but watching them go from playing Mine craft and other games and interacting with each other to searching for a particular book they want to read it reminds me why I became a librarian. To help people on their journey whether that journey involves finding their next fiction read or involves finding information to help with that assignment that’s due tomorrow.  We all need to daydream sometimes.


Originally posted to Library Dreamings