Saturday, 25 February 2012

What started as an introduction...

Hi everyone!

Its Holger here… I’m new to the committee and also to Sydney in general! Actually now that I think about it I’m fairly new to librarianship, having only finished my degree in July at QUT in Brisbane. I have been in Sydney since November, working as a reference librarian at the Law Courts Library. This means we do research and information literacy education for the Judges and staff of the Supreme and Federal Courts. One of the things I absolutely love about my position is that I see the effects that my work has on society directly and immediately. Quite often I will be working on a hefty piece of research for a Judge and then read about the case in the papers in the following days. Often it will mention a point of law that I had the privilege to help clarify for the Judge.

I am also only 24 and so rather junior around the library, though I must admit it is fun being the “baby librarian” of our team! It allows me to bond with our younger clients and engage them both professionally and socially!

I am still marvelling at how lucky I got to find a position that has allowed me to not just pursue my professional interests in reference and information literacy, but to turn them into passions! I also got the opportunity to join ALIA Sydney as an event officer. After our first meeting I was impressed by the variety, passion and most of all ambition of the committee for 2012. It really is inspiring to be surrounded by people that truly believe in the profession of librarianship and want to support it.

The issue of librarianship as a profession has really been interesting me of late. Last week I attended the admission ceremony of two friends of mine that are now qualified lawyers. It was an impressive ceremony, full of pomp, splendour and wigs! What really interested me however, was the fact that they were required to swear an oath and sign a code of ethics. This is of course necessary as they are making decisions and providing services that often have a massive and immediate impact on people’s lives. It is the same for doctors and other such professions. There may be a perception that the services we provide impact people’s lives less than other professions and this is true to a degree. However, I think that it is just that the influence is less direct. We do still change lives and society through the services we provide, whether we are in academic, special, public or any kind of library.

Take a look at this definition of a profession and think about its application to librarianship.

The fact that we don’t require membership to our peak body (obviously ALIA) is both a strength and weakness of the profession. It makes it harder to regulate the profession and ensure that standards are the same across the board but also ensures that those that are engaging with the profession are the ones that are truly passionate. I also see participation in professional development as an ethical obligation to our clients, as we must ensure that our skills will always allow us to find the best possible information. The fact that we can’t really enforce professional standards, only reward those who meet them (through the ALIACP qualification) is a problem for the profession.

ALIA does already have a professional conduct policy which is a great start for dealing with these issues. It is a certainly a document that should be used to build upon when creating a more detailed study. The fact that it was last updated in 2007 means that the time is ripe for a re-examination of the situation. It would be an incredibly interesting project to survey best practice from other library associations (CILIP and ALA have fairly substantial documents) and from other professions. A study of professional ethical best practice could be used to bring the discussion of librarianship as a profession to the fore.

I think the main reasons I am so interested in these issues are my dedication to quality client service, the fact that I majored in philosophy (taking an interest mainly in ethics) in my undergraduate arts degree and most importantly of all, my pride in librarianship!

There is so much more to say on this topic but I am already sorry for the size of this post… It was meant to be an introduction and became a rant. Oh well, I will save the intro for next time.

Let me know what you all think about this, or anything else for that matter! Leave a comment, throw us a tweet or just come and accost me at one of our events! The next one is Think Big, Act Small: Sustainability in the Library and it will be fantastic. I’m afraid it’s already sold out but if you missed out, start thinking about the next one… I believe it will be a 20x20 style evening and will be a lot of fun.

Always a pleasure…


Friday, 24 February 2012

Blogs as authoritative sources?

I attended a professional development event put on by Web Search Pacific with speaker Linda Moore from CCH on Monday.

Linda spoke about her findings from the research she's been doing on the information finding behaviours of legal professionals using mobile devices.

It was really enlightening, because what she found could be transferred to other client groups. The room was a mix of library & information professionals from various libraries, from academic to corporate to school and independent researchers, and I think everyone took something interesting away from the presentation.

While I took away some really interesting information on the research Linda has done around information behaviours when using mobile devices, what really piqued my interest was the discussion that occurred during question time.

One observation that piqued my interest in particular, which drove some of this discussion, was that a person in her study used to keep abreast of current issues (such as new cases, new legal decisions etc) via journals, but has now moved away from the journals to using blogs to fulfill this information need. 

This makes a lot of sense, because blogs are an example of synchronous forms of writing, whereby articles can be published pretty much in real-time.They don't go through a rigorous editorial and peer review process that journal articles go through, therefore the information is really up-to-date and fresh at hand. But it does mean that there are some issues with this, because it has not gone through a rigorous process of review. This is in contrast with the journal publication process. Peer review is still the gold standard for information in the research community, but some people are starting to use the information they find in synchronous environments eg blog posts, twitter streams etc. I'm interested to see the change in the way people are using or not using certain information for particular purposes.

 (Image source: CC BY 2.0)

Possibly due to the vast amount of information that people need to deal with, people are starting to rely on less lengthy information sources, or more chunked up pieces of information to fulfill particular information needs. Blog articles fall into this category of information. And this can be difficult, as people are often not reading both sides of a particular argument, or are looking for information that justifies or supports their point of view, without delving deeper to research different sides of a story or argument. (Sir Peter Nurse, from the Royal Society did an interesting bit on this in his doco 'Horizon: Science Under Attack' which aired on ABC (I think) a few weeks ago). This has an obvious implication on the information that is synthesised by the consumer, and implications for any ensuing product which is created, or even on influencing someone's opinion on something. Of course, someone reading strictly peer -reviewed articles could also choose to use articles that supported his or her point of view only, and choose to ignore the ones that don't, but you would hope that that's what the literature review process is used for. I've never written a peer reviewed paper before- do reviewers tell you that you're missing a glaring article in your area that you should include in your lit review if you haven't?

We also embarked on an interesting discussion on how synchronous writing has its place, but that there is an appropriate time and place for it. I love reading blogs, particularly for my own professional development (and of course personal enjoyment!), but ideally, these are used to supplement the journal articles that I print out to read. Often though, I don't have time to read as many journal articles as I'd like, so I do find that blog posts are a really good way to keep abreast of current trends. Luckily, many bloggers in the LIS blogosphere refer you back to the original source, so you can always go back to read the original article or report, which is really handy. Alternatively, if there's no link, you can usually follow up by finding the journal article or even slide share slides or other related material, that have been posted online that relate to the topic of interest.

I also find that blogs tend to verify anecdotally what I have read in the literature, so for me, blogs are a good way for me to join the dots, so to speak, and make connections between what I read in the research literature, and what is practised or observed in non research settings, which I find extremely valuable.

So where do you see the blogosphere fit into all of this?  How do you use the information you read in blogs? Has anyone ever cited a blog? Does it make a difference if the writer of a blog post is a renowned expert in their field? Interesting how these questions really relate to the authority of an information source. This is something that I try to teach my students when I talk about finding quality information in my information literacy classes- knowing the context of the information you're reading, knowing what level of information you need and for what purpose, and judging information based on when it can be useful and when it's not.

Another intersting point is that I actually got another ALIA Sydney committe member and colleague within the LIS sphere, to have a look at my post before I sent it out- just to see if it made sense (I drafted it V-E-R-Y late a few days ago!), and to ask her for any feedback. She rightly pointed out that this was in fact a form of 'peer review' which raises another question about whether or not blog posts actually do go through a more informal peer review process? I guess the point here is that the reader won't actually know, unless the author tells them that this has happened.

Sorry, what was originally intended as a brief summary of the event has somehow been hijacked by the ensuing discussion thread on blogs. If you're interested in finding out more about Linda's research you can find Linda's white paper here.

- Crystal Choi is a Faculty Liaison Librarian at the University of Sydney and the ALIA Sydney Convenor. She tweets @crystalibrary. All opinions expressed are my own and do not reflect the views of my employer or any associations I am affiliated with. 

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Jeff Cruz is excited about the ALIA Sydney Committee in 2012!

As a returning member of the ALIA Sydney Committee, I’m excited for all the professional development and social events we’ll be putting together for 2012!

As you may know, the ALIA Sydney Blog is staffed by the Committee in addition to guest bloggers. We write about all those fascinating, pertinent and engaging intersections between libraries, information and life. We love to hear from library and information professionals of all kinds, so if you’re keen to be a guest blogger, let us know!

I thought I’d keep my first post of 2012 very simple and simply introduce myself.

My name is Jeff Cruz and I’m one of the Event Officers in our committee. I support any of the Event Coordinators in planning, organising and implementing any of our great professional development events.

In Library Land, I'm the User Education Librarian at the City of Sydney Library network. As part of the Programs Team, I’m in charge of developing, coordinating and delivering education and technology programs across 9 branches. This means I put on events, workshops and courses on anything from beginner computer courses for seniors to social media marketing workshops for small organisations to book trailer workshops for teens.

Before becoming a certified, qualified, card-carrying, ALA and ALIA-approved Librarian, I worked in international and online marketing, I taught English and Spanish (from 11 year olds to adults!) and I worked in a variety of libraries in different roles (mostly library assistant type roles). I definitely think that my previous job experiences have provided me with some key skills in my current library position—especially working with multicultural populations, having strong teaching skills and being all-around awesome at anything social media.

I only recently moved to Australia from the US (about a year ago), having lived in Arizona, Boston, Vermont and Madrid, Spain before coming to the sunshine beaches of Sydney. If this summer had been consistently drier, I would have spent a whole lot more time at the beach, running and biking. Instead, I’ve been spending a lot more time wine-tasting, trying to grow herbs and peppers on my balcony and staying connected with the US through fine American television.

Meet the rest of the ALIA Sydney Committee in the upcoming weeks, or have a look at the ALIA Sydney Facebook Page. And feel free to follow ALIA Sydney on Twitter on @AliaSyd.

Jeff Cruz
Events Officer, ALIA Sydney Committee

Disclaimer: All of the information and views expressed are solely my own, and do not reflect those of my employer or any member organisations.

Monday, 6 February 2012

UPDATE - THIS EVENT IS NOW FULLY BOOKED OUT. ALIA Sydney presents: Think Big, Act Small: Sustainability in the Library

Due to popular demand this event is now fully BOOKED OUT. Thank you very much for your interest and support. Keep your eye out for our exciting upcoming events. We're in the process of planning our next event so stay tuned!!

 Image source:

We are very pleased to announce our three wonderful guest speakers, who will share the amazing sustainability projects that they are involved with, at ALIA Sydney's Think Big Act Small event. 


Kirsten Woodward: Manager of Environmental Projects and Head of Green Champions from City of Sydney Council
Peter Vun: Corporate Sustainability Co-ordinator from Ku-ring-gai Council
Mal Booth:  Acting University Librarian from University of Technology, Sydney Library
Be inspired by our guest speakers, and brainstorm some practical ideas that you can take back to your own workplaces and communities. 
So hurry and register your place now! Places are limited!
Register your attendance by RSVPing to
Monday 27th February 2012 6:00pm- 8:00pm (arrive from 6pm for a 6:30pm start)
Badham Library, Badham Building, Science Road
The University of Sydney 2006
Cost: $5 for ALIA members/$7 for Non-ALIA members (Pay at the Door)