Friday, 23 September 2011

David Lee King and Sean O'Brien at the SLNSW

Yesterday I was fortunate enough to attend part of the ABC+D Reference and Information Services Group (RISG) meeting at the State Library of NSW. I was only able to attend the first half of the day, to see the presentations by David Lee King from the Topeka and Shawnee County Public Library and Sean O’Brien from ABC Open.

Having followed David Lee King’s blog for some time, and having not been able to see him at NLS5 in Perth, it was great to hear him speak in person. David’s presentation was titled “Freak Out, Geek Out, or Seek Out: Trends, Transformations, & Change in Libraries.”

David and the audience looked at some of the changes that have occurred both in and out of libraries… the demise of card catalogues, introduction of self-check scanners, the way we access information (e.g. checking email on a smart phone), less landline phones, relying on mobile phones for the time over wristwatches, etc. But another big change is competition.

Libraries now have competition from:
  •  Book stores. In the US, the huge Barnes & Noble stores have books that are easy to browse, in sections that are easy to understand, with cafes, comfy chairs, and even group study and story time!
  •  Amazon. Cheap and the website is easy to use.
  •  Online newspapers. Will this be the end of newspaper-reading areas in libraries?
  •  DVD rental boxes/online rentals. Over a library, these provide new release titles, without a reserve queue, and with DVDs that aren’t scratched or damaged.
  • eBooks
  • iPads
  • Google.
We are now using the web in new ways. The emerging web is real time, decentralized, mobile, multimedia, social, and public. This makes libraries global and easy to access, and provides new opportunities for libraries to engage with their clients. However it also requires library staff to learn and adapt, and libraries to change or die.

On the Topeka Library website the staff create original content across 15-20 blogs, and clients can subscribe via email or RSS. Comments sections allow clients and library staff to have conversations, where even negative feedback can provide opportunities to engage. There are multiple ways to access the catalogue, via different “front doors” – physical, Google, Facebook, YouTube, and other search engines. Using your library should be as easy as switching on a light – the client shouldn’t need to think. Topeka is looking at what clients are doing (David even checks this out over their shoulders), and going to where they are.

David suggests that it is imperative for administrators and leaders to model the way forward. If administrators are expecting to use new systems and tools, they should first learn how and show their staff how to use them. Administrators should also use opportunities to bring in new staff to hire the right staff. Roles and personalities are changing, and hiring staff is a chance to appoint people with skills for necessary changes.

There needs to be a change of focus in libraries, and this should be built into strategic plans. People need to make time to learn and implement new things. If there is time for libraries to participate in the ALAAnnual Book Cart Drill Team World Championships then there is time to make changes in your library.

Sean O’Brien’s presentation followed nicely from David’s. Sean not only detailed the ABC Open initiative, but also started conversations with librarians about the possibilities of how ABC Open might work with libraries.

ABC Open operates in regional areas of Australia, working on projects with groups (such as historical societies) to build a picture of regional life. Two of their projects are ‘Now and Then’ and ‘The Moment Behind the Photo.’ Producers run workshops with regional participants to educate them in how to work with their materials such as photographs, adding new stories to their collections. Once people have learned these new skills they can continue with their own projects, and share their knowledge with other members in the community.

The project uses Vimeo and Flickr, with tags that then feed through to the ABC website. ‘Now and Then’ and ‘The Moment Behind the Photo’ combine photographs, film, and audio to provide snapshots of regional Australia. The created material is owned by the participants, and then licensed by the ABC. Part of the reason Vimeo and Flickr were chosen is the possibility to use different sharing permissions under Creative Commons license.

How could ABC Open work with libraries? For a start they need spaces to work. Being in regional areas they are often without the necessary internet capabilities to upload the material on the spot, so this is something libraries could provide. However there need to be discussions between ABC Open and libraries, to ensure they are working for the same outcomes.

Given that I’ve been trawling through an organisation’s archives for uni, I was excited by the possibilities of what could be done to bring this material to life.

Ellen Forsyth created a storify feed for the day here and I also suggest that once the podcast goes up on the NLS5 website you have a listen to David Lee King's presentation there. 

- Katrina

Katrina is a member of the ALIA Sydney Committee and a librarian at the State Library of NSW.

Saturday, 17 September 2011

ALIA Sydney Presents: From Little Things Big Things Grow: preparing to present and write a paper

It's conference season with the ALIA New Librarians Symposium and Library Technicians Conference both happening this month and the ALIA Biennial have already released their call for abstracts for next year's conference in Sydney. 

Have you thought you would like to present a paper at a conference? 

But don't know where to start? 

Or maybe you've done it before but would like to brush up your skills and get some insiders tips? 

Well, the latest ALIA Sydney event is here to help you get your hands dirty and start to grow your little ideas into big ones. 

This half day workshop is to help you develop confidence and learn some tips and tricks about how to put together a conference paper covering everything from pitching the idea to your manager, submitting an abstract, working with colleagues and brushing up your presentations skills. The workshop will also explore writing a small piece for a professional publication such as inCite as this can be great way to hone sharing your ideas. 

Featuring guest presenters: 

Janet Fletcher (Director, Information Services Department, UNSW and Co-Convenor for the ALIA 2012 Biennial) 

Alyson Dalby (InSync Surveys and former Co-Convenor ALIA New Librarians Symposium) 

Room 209, UNSW Library, University of New South Wales
1 - 5pm Saturday 15th October 2011  
ALIA Members $15 and Non-Members $20

RSVPs are essential so please email your details to 

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Digital storytelling: the latest fad or somethig more powerful?

Ok, so what is digital storytelling? Is it just the latest fad or does it have staying power? Let's take a look at what it's all about.

EDUCAUSE say digital storytelling is about combining narrative with digital content to create a movie... "They can be instructional, persuasive, historical or reflective". Digital storytelling allows people to tell true or fictional stories using a range of tools and content such as animation, photos, video, voice and sound. Making them allows people to reflect on their experiences and share their beliefs and values. As a learning/sharing tool, this allows people to develop communication and language skills while creatively combining narrative and images to tell a story. In library speak we call this building multiple literacies! Some tools you can use to create digital stories.

In libraries we can use digital storytelling as a way to communicate with clients in a new way. For example, we can promote an event using digital storytelling. Imagine using a little animation to promote children's storytime! We can also run workshops to help clients (young and old) use these tools and create their own digital stories. A great example of how this could work is the tool Voicethread, which allows people to add voiceover to photos/slides. For example, you could upload selected photos from a local history collection and invite people to share their stories about the place/people in the photo. This could be a great way to engage your community and create cross-cultural, inter-generational learning! There are so many other ways you could use this tool and all the others to create meaningful stories. It's up to you and your community to experiment and play with them to find their true potential!

~ Sophie

Sophie McDonald is an ALIA Sydney committee member and tweets @misssophiemac

Monday, 5 September 2011

History Week

Here in New South Wales we are celebrating History Week, a time when organisations across the state throw open their doors and showcase the ways they are preserving out rich and varied history. Many information organisations are taking part including The National Archives with a talk titled ‘Eat History’ and  Botany Bay Library with a lecture about the Davis Gelatine Company, who inspired many home cooks long before Master Chef.

When sitting down to write this post I had History Week on the brain and wanted to find some little nugget from libraries past that might show us how far we have come….or not…
The references below all come from Jeremy Norman’s From Cave Paintings to the Internet: Chronological and Thematic Studies of the History of Information and Media, an extensive resource for anyone interested in the subject. 

According to sources on the subject, the library at the Sorbonne in 1321 encountered some of the same problems modern libraries are grappling with; how to ensure resources are returned, ways to raise money to grow the collection and how to improve the library catalogue.

In regards to loans, the library had a novel way to ensure all loaned books were returned
no book was to be loaned out of the house [library] unless a pledge of greater value, whether book or precious metal, be left in its place in the pledge chest’

So if this were in force today, how much gold would it take to borrow a copy of The Help?

And if you thought modern libraries were the first to have a Saturday book sale at the local markets, think again, the statutes of the Sorbonne listed
“certain unbound manuscripts of little worth, such as collections of notes and sermons, were to be disposed of, and the proceeds used to buy books which the library lacked.”

The last point made was in reference to the poor state of the library’s catalogue and that an entirely new one should be undertaken
“because many of the books previously owned by the house could no longer be found"

Maybe stocktakes weren’t invented yet….

So if you have a frustrating day at work this week take heart in knowing that over 600 years’ worth of librarians have been battling the same problems as you.
And if that fails, maybe suggest the idea of a ‘pledge chest’ to your director.

Happy History Week

-Amy Barker is on Twitter @unlikelylibrary 

ALIA Biennial Call for Abstracts Now Open

With a little whisper the team from the ALIA Biennial have released their call for abstracts. You can see all the details over at 

If you aren't sure how to get started: stay tuned... help is on the way! 

Thursday, 1 September 2011

Welcome to the App Sharing Zone!

For today’s blog post, I thought I would initiate a great app sharing process that I first heard about from a lecturer friend, who regularly tells his students to whip out their iphones/ipads/smart phones during downtimes in tutes, and to go around the room and share the latest cool new app that they can’t live without, with the rest of the group.
Ok. I’ll go first.... but not before I disclaim that this has a kinda self-serving purpose, because I was recently lucky enough to be given an iPad for my birthday – (how lucky am I?) and I’m always on the lookout for awesome, cool apps. I find that I tend to find out about cool apps in a random and serendipitous manner (someone really should create a catalogue for apps, that uses controlled vocabulary, because I find using the itunes store, less useful, but that might be just me) Or is there one already out there?
So, what better way to find out about great apps but to lean on my professional learning network (ie you guys!)?
I’ve listed some of the apps that I’ve recently discovered and/or can’t live without. Note: For the apps that are only available for iPad, I’ve included iPad in brackets after I’ve listed it. Where possible, I’ve listed if the app was free at the time that I acquired it.
Social Media apps
-          Facebook app for iPhone (free) I’m still trying to find a comparable app for my iPad that doesn’t crash or randomly forget to give me notifications. Does anyone have any suggestions? I’ve got MyPad+ and Friendly, but they don’t cut the mustard.
-          Hootsuite (free)-  a dashboard for updating to all of your SM accounts
Productivity apps
-          SpringPad (free)- great for making notes, clipping web pages and generally keeping track of everything in my life
-           Paperless- another great list making app (There’s a free lite version)
-          PhatPad- (iPad) it does OCR on your handwriting, and converts it to text! This requires the use of a stylus.
-          DocsToGo- create and sync Word documents and Excel spreadsheets on the go!
-          Dropbox (free)- for document sharing and storage
-          Evernote Peek (free) – (iPad) FABULOUS study tool that allows you to use the smart cover to test yourself- great for learning vocab if you’re learning a language!
-          Evernote (free, but with option for paying for more storage) – (you need an Evernote account to use Evernote Peek)
-          Popplet lite (free)– (iPad) great brainstorming app
RSS feeds/news apps
-          Pulse (free)– this is my new ALL TIME favourite app, which allows you to customise your news feeds. It looks pretty, and it’s FREE!

Photo apps
-          FlickStackr – (iPad) lets’s you upload photos from your ipad to Flickr and other SM such as Twitter and Facebook
-          Instagram (free)- an oldie but a goodie, that lets you customise your photos with fancy filters and share them on your SM networks.
-          Scrabble
-          Words with Friends (free)
-          Goodreads (free)
-          Dictionary (free)
-          smh (free, for the moment)
-          Pkt weather app
-          ABC iview (free)
Of course this list is not exhaustive, and I’m sure I’ve missed your favourite app, so please leave a comment and we can start going around the room and sharing!

- Crystal

Crystal Choi is a committee member of ALIA Sydney and tweets @crystalibrary.