Saturday 3 December 2011

International Day of People with Disability

Today we celebrate International Day of People with Disability (IDPwD). This United Nations sanctioned day ‘aims to promote an understanding of people with disability and encourage support for their dignity, rights and well-being’.
We in the library community have proven to be supporters of those who live with a disability by continually offering products and services to support their needs. ALIA, in the guidelines on library standards for people with disabilities, has set out a series of objectives and principles that libraries can follow to better serve the needs of the one in five Australians living with a disability. 

Libraries and organisations around Australia have not only taken on these guidelines, but have discovered new ways to foster a more inclusive environment:
· IFLA has put together a great resource; Access to Libraries for Disabled Persons Checklist that libraries can use to assess their current facilities.
·On the Gold Coast, the Runaway Bay Branch Library regularly holds an audio book club for both sighted and sight impaired patrons 

So today while we reflect how far we have come, we should take a moment to assess our services and facilities and how we might improve going forward. Below is a short (very short) list of thoughts to consider.  

·How are the services we have promoted? Is the message getting to the right people?
·What about people with temporary disabilities? How do we serve them?
·Do we ask patrons if they require extra support when they register? What about in our regular user surveys?
·Do we offer large print versions or audio versions of our printed materials?
· The Web Accessibility Initiate offers practical design considerations libraries can adopt when updating web sites to ensure they can be accessed by all users. 

What are some other ways we can move towards a more inclusive library environment? Where can we improve? What are other programs making a difference?
Post your thoughts in the comments. 

-Amy Barker

Saturday 26 November 2011

ALIA Sydney Committee: Call for Expressions of Interest

ALIA Sydney presents a selection of formal and information events to encourage discussion and critical engagement and create networking opportunities across the library and information section in Sydney and beyond. The ALIA Sydney committee is a group of vibrant and committed volunteers who make it all possible.

ALIA Sydney is currently looking for new committee members to join our team. Through these roles you will have the chance to develop skills in event and project management, and make vital professional connections through your contribution to our community of practice plus you can have a lot of fun along the way. 

Each of the below positions is voluntary in nature, and each role is for a 12-24 month period. These roles are to commence in the year 2012, which is a very exciting time with the development of the new expanded program for ALIA Sydney.

Expressions of Interest (EOIs) should be received by COB Wednesday 4th of January 2012. EOIs should briefly introduce yourself and cover the criteria outlined for the position of interest. All EOIs and any questions should be directed to the ALIA Sydney Convenor, Kate Byrne and Convenor-Elect, Crystal Choi at or call 0414 955 258.

Coordinators x 2

These roles share responsibility for coordinating the professional development events of ALIA Sydney in conjunction with our existing coordinators.

Each Coordinator is expected to:
  • Plan and Organise 2 events each year in conjunction with the rest of the committee.
  • Liaise with the ALIA Sydney Convener for event ideas and ongoing support.
  • Liaise with the ALIA Sydney Treasurer for event budget submissions.
  • Submit updates for the ALIA Sydney blog at least monthly, including upcoming events (
  • Post on/Update ALIA Sydney social networking pages regularly, featuring both ALIA Sydney event promotion and current awareness of library and information sector news and issues.
  • Ensure a consistent and professional format for all ALIA Sydney communications in line with our communication strategy and templates.
Average Time Demand per month:  8 hours (prep plus actual events)

The interested person should:
  • Be, or be willing to become, a current member of ALIA.
  • Have an active interest in professional development with the Library & Information Sector.
  • Maintain an active awareness of new issues and development within the L & I Sector.
  • Have strong interpersonal and communication skills so they can be good at kick starting conversations and making introductions to put attendees at ease.
  • Have a head full of ideas for ALIA Sydney events, promotions and online content (eg blog posts)
  • A strong interest or expertise in technology, career development, emerging or other topics related to the L & I sector

Event Officer x 1

This developmental role helps make events happen. On a rotating basis, the Event Officers will be teamed up with the Coordinators to help with event organisation and management.

Each Officer is expected to:
  • Assist with the organisation of at least 2-3 events each year in conjunction with the coordinator and convener.
  • Post on/Update ALIA Sydney social networking pages regularly, featuring both ALIA Sydney event promotion and current awareness of library and information sector news and issues.
  • Submit updates for the ALIA Sydney blog at least monthly, including reports on ALIA Sydney events (
  • Ensure a consistent and professional format for all ALIA Sydney communications in line with our communication strategy and templates.
Average Time Demand per month:  4 hours (2 hours prep plus actual events)

The interested person should:
  • Be, or be willing to become, a current member of ALIA.
  • Have an active interest in professional development with the Library & Information Sector.
  • Maintain an active awareness of new issues and development within the L & I Sector.
  • Have strong communication and collaboration skills. 

Tuesday 15 November 2011

End of Year ALIA Sydney Picnic: THIS SUNDAY

152/365 Death is the sound of distant thunder at a picnic
Photo by Mykl Roventine

The ALIA Sydney group invites you to join us out in the sunshine for an end of year picnic in the Botanic Gardens.

Please come along and relax, unwind, meet new people, catch up with old friends, and share your stories from 2011.

Friends and family are all welcome.

Where: on the Band Lawn, near the Venus Fountain (number 30 on the map)
When: Sunday, 20th November, from 12 p.m.
What to bring: Food and drink, something to sit on, hats and suncream.
RSVP: to give us some idea of numbers, or just turn up on the day.

We look forward to seeing you there to celebrate 2011 coming to a close. 

Thursday 10 November 2011

Digitasking like a freak

According to Amy Gahran, mobile digital omnivores are people who are cross platform consumers of technology who use mulltiple pieces of technology, that is, people who own and use 'smartphones, tablets and other connected devices'.

I'd like to take this idea a step further a suggest that digital omnivores are also digitaskers (digital multi taskers)- people who use not only one, but multiple devices simultaneously.

Case in point:
This is my desk as I write this blog post (you'll have to excuse the mess!) I am simultaneously writing this blog post and checking my emails on my work station, using my iPad to jot down ideas for a paper that I'm working on, using my camera to take this photo (although, I didn't bring my usb cord to work today, so I had to use another device to take the photo so I could upload it!) To the right is the work laptop where I'm preparing a workshop for my colleagues on the use of interactive polling devices, and I'm also reading and highlighing a journal article in between all of this.

So you might be thinking that I'm either A) crazy B) delusional or C) all of the above, and for some people working like this may well drive them absolutely bananas. But I find that I do some of my best work like this- as the above photo is uploading on my work station, I turn to the laptop and do some more work on my presentation. Don't get me wrong, I also have the ability to set my mind to a particular task and work on it continuously, but I do find that sometimes other disctractions can start creeping in (oh look, someone just tweeted me!).

Another case in point: an interesting discussion on Twitter between @newgradlib and @katecbyrne has just distracted me from doing this post, but it has given me some interesting perspectives to think about, which I am now incorporating into this post, as I type... (the idea that digitasking can spell trouble for many people who get sidetracked onto a path that may in fact negate the productivity) But for me, this particular example of a distraction was in fact positive.

I guess what I'm saying is that there are positive distractors and negative distractors. For me, having so many devices and hence things I'm working on, on the go can prevent those negative distractors creeping in. If you want to work productively in this digitasking way, I guess you have to be able to find a way to shut out the distractors that you find work negatively against you.

Alternatively, you could take what researchers are calling a 'mental break', that is- using social media to take a break at work, which apparently can increase your work productivity by 9%!

This is a link to an article I found on ReadWriteWeb on this research, although I'm sure there are lots of people who argue for the opposite (in fact, I'm sure that I've read some of these articles!) Again, I reckon it depends on the type of person/worker you are.... Interestingly, despite all of these technological 'distractions' that I surround myself with, I can't work when music is playing, unlike some people, who can only work when music is playing. Maybe someone should create a Myers-Briggs-type assessment for people to work out what sort of worker they are???

And... while I was finishing this post, two other librarians (@misssophiemac and @pinkfairaedust) have also joined the discussion- they are excellent examples of the digitasking librarian!

My name is Crystal Choi, and I'm a digitasking librarian (and proud of it!)

Crystal is a member of the ALIA Sydney committtee and tweets @crystalibrary.

Tuesday 8 November 2011

Notes from the 2012 eResearch Conference, Melbourne.

I've been spending this week in Melbourne at the 2012 eResearch Conference and as we reach the close of day two I thought I would share some of my notes from sessions I've found interesting at the conference so far. I hope you find them interesting too...

Repository as App: Functionality to attract dark data - Prof. Bryan Heidorn 

This presentation was looking at the long tail of data, the small projects that are actually collectively making up the bulk of the data that should be available for people, the non-blockbuster projects. Small data is big science because it is high volume, is information rich, has high entropy, but also because the needs of this wide field are not really understood by either researchers, support staff or vendors.  

Where will you find dark data? Literature, Museum specimens, field notes, (un)experimental data sets, citizen observations. A great deal of the dark data we are using now are things that their value is only jut being discovered many years after being created. For example, journal and diary notes from citizens that mentioned when flowers bloomed are now being used for comparisons to identify the effects of climate change.

To better manage this issue the tools and business of science needs to be altered to seamlessly allow support management and communication of data. We need professional development and training to open up the field.

Creating opportunities to have data automatically moving across to support in the cloud or at least back up systems with built in sharing functionality will be vital to avoiding growth in the quantity of dark data.This is all about moving away from a world of the computer overlords who would control access to functional support, towards understanding how can we recycle data for reuses and embracing a democratization of data.

Saturday 5 November 2011

Rediscovering the Treasure

Since its public launch in 2009, Trove has proved to be a dynamic Australian resource, not just for providing a national catalogue but also as a source for discovery. As library professionals, we use Trove to locate not only books and articles but also videos, newspaper articles and images as well. But there are even more ways to use Trove as a tool as a professional resource.Here are three suggestions


Cite this
 So you’re decided to finally submit a piece to Incite. You’ve written your 500-700 word article, asked a few colleagues read it, had a couple of good edits and you are just about ready to go. Problem is you have cited a local council report and you are not 100% on how format the citation you’ll need to include. Trove to the rescue! Trove includes the records to many local and national reports and also has a handy little ‘cite this’ feature’. Just locate the work you want to cite and click the ‘cite this’ button, a pop up window will provide the formatting in APA, MLA and Harvard styles. 

Where, oh where? 
 From time to time books need to be purchased sight unseen. This can be due to the item being suggested for purchase or possibly the vendor has sent through a list of specials. Most of the time it is easy to tell where items can fit into a collection (children’s adults, reference, etc) but occasionally a title can be deceiving. Why not ask your librarian colleagues? Search for the questionable title in Trove to see where others have placed it in their collections. While each library needs to fit its collection to the client’s needs, a little input from other professionals never hurt. 

 We all contribute (or should be contributing) to the professional conversation by participating in blogs, newsletters and journals. Most of the time the inspiration comes from a recent activity or pet project but once in a while we need something more. Trove can be a space to play, to help find that direction or spin on a subject. Browse the diaries or maps to see what has happened in the past. Find an old newspaper article about your subject like this article about Children's Book Week from 1945 (note the photo of Princess Elizabeth). Looking around for 'future libraries' in the videos has revealed this gem of a video created by Mosman Library. 

But these are just a starting point. There are so many possibilities. How have you used Trove in your professional life?  

-Amy Barker

Tuesday 18 October 2011

How are YOU contributing to the library and information profession?

Excuse me, library professional, but how are you contributing to the profession?

Are you writing a paper for publication or preparing a conference presentation?
If not, you should be.

If you missed ALIA Sydney’s workshop on preparing to present and write a paper—From Little Things Big Things Grow—you missed a great learning and professional development opportunity!
While I wasn’t completely sure what to expect from this workshop, I have been planning to write a paper for publication or a conference presentation for a while (perhaps I’ve been waiting too long!). Not necessarily because I think I am doing amazing things in the library world, but because I do think that what I’m doing in my large metro public library are things I want to share. I know that there are other first-year/new grad librarians out there—or even veteran librarians—who might be interested in the computer courses I’ve developed for seniors or in the comprehensive social media policy I’ve prepared for my library system (and the ups and downs of dealing with emerging technologies with my library and Council).

This workshop really inspired me to write! Which is one of the reasons I dusted off my Macbook and started with this blog entry.

So what did you miss at the workshop?

First off, you missed Janet Fletcher from UNSW Library explain why we should be writing and presenting at all. While she gave some great advice and was a great opening speaker, I’ll boil her presentation down to the things that I, personally, took away with me:

·         What’s in it for you?
This varies greatly from the personal (you have something to say that is bubbling in you, or maybe you just completed a great project) to the professional (it will look great on your CV when you are going for a promotion or new job, or maybe it makes you look good within your organisation). Remember, writing and presenting requires a time commitment, but it will probably be worthwhile. Either way, you are probably doing something that will benefit our profession if you share your experience.

·         What’s in it for your organisation?
Does your organisation “require” you to present (which may be the case for more and more academic librarians)? Does the paper or presentation you want to do relate to your work, organisation or field within librarianship? If you have to pitch the paper to your supervisor or library, you should spend some time on how your paper or presentation will benefit your organisation.

·         What’s in it for the library and information profession?
Sure, you may have great ideas or your library wants its name stamped in a journal, but will other library professionals want to read your paper or listen to your presentation? Is your work in a public library transferrable to an academic, corporate or even prison library?

Developing and pitching an idea

If you missed the workshop, you missed a great activity exploring abstracts of previous paper proposals and looking at the requirements and topics of upcoming conferences (don’t forget that the ALIA Biennial Conference is 10-13 July—and abstracts are due 30 November!).

In small groups, we looked at ALIA Biennial paper proposals from previous years and developed some quick ideas of what we would have presented. We also developed a quick “3 Minute Elevator Pitch” to promote our idea with our supervisor and our organisation. If you would like to present at a conference (or prepare a paper for publication), there are a few things to consider before you even get started.

·         Will it work for the conference or publication?
No matter if you are thinking about presenting at a conference or writing for publication, will your paper topic meet the theme and requirements of the conference? If you are a public librarian writing about innovative story times, it probably doesn’t make sense to submit a paper proposal to a conference on Mobile applications in academic libraries.

·         Will your supervisor or organisation approve your participation?
Before you go through the trouble of writing a paper or developing a research project at work, you should get approved through the proper channels. If all you need is your boss’s informal approval, a quick chat might work. But if you need approval from your council or other administrative body, you probably will have to pitch your idea to your supervisor, your library director and/or an administrative personal champion.

·         Create a 3 minute elevator pitch
If you need to get formal approval to participate in a conference or write a paper regarding a work project, think about creating an “elevator pitch” to get first-line approval from your supervisor. Then you should start thinking about a more formal pitch for your supervisor’s supervisor’s supervisor (etc, etc, etc).

Planning your research

One of the most useful presentations during this workshop was a Kate’s step-by-step guide of how to plan your research or project. While you might want to present or write about a project already underway, you might think about creating a project or doing research on a completely new project.

While Kate had a set of great slides along with a great presentation, I’m providing my quick notes (you really should have attended!) that I thought were essential for developing your research or project:

Phase 1: Define your objectives
·         Ideas: Find ideas from projects you’re working on, journal articles you’ve read, wherever!
·         Audience: Describe why someone should care about your project

Phase 2: Create your brief
·         Objectives: Create the outline of a strategic plan; what do you want your project to prove?
·         Scope: Create boundaries—what your project is & what your project isn’t
·         Background: What is the story/context of this project?

Phase 3: Develop your framework
·         Create a Brief: An outline like an elevator pitch, structure or plan
·         Research: Define your search strategy;  Get data: look at primary/secondary resources
·         Source Analysis:  Material for inclusion

Phase 4: Create your product
·         Framework: Flesh out your brief; should include a detailed plan, structure, base
·         Writing: Tailor your writing to your objectives; explain and detail collected data
·         Source verification: Find out other resources that verify what you are proving
·         Editorial review: Get feedback from trusted advisors and colleagues outside your comfort zone

Lastly, I really want to thank Kate, the ALIA Sydney Committee Convenor, because I thought she did a masterful job of separating out the steps required to develop a project. I have to hand it to her—she created a step-by-step guide of a complex activity!

Preparing to write

So you’ve decided on a conference, you’ve decided on a publication and you’ve decided on a project, but before you write, think about your product.

Each conference and publication will have different submission guides in terms of writing style, word count and tone. Remember to look closely at the submission guidelines—and follow them!

Okay, so maybe you don’t have a conference and publication yet. And maybe you’re not sure you want to present. What about just submitting a paper or an article? Here are a few places to think of as a place to publish as a library professional:

·         Blogs!
A blog—like this one!—is a good place to get your feet wet. Many libraries and institutions rely on guest bloggers (like this one) for extra content. Have a look at the NSW State Library glob, Mosman Library, Sydney TAFE and, of course, ALIA Sydney blog!
·         INCITE
·         Public Library News
·         Good Reading
·         IFLA
·         Australian Library Journal

From Paper to Presentation

Another useful presentation that made this workshop worthwhile, Alyson gave an incredible rundown of how to move your conference paper from page to presentation. I was unaware that Alyson was such a great presenter—or how much time and effort she has put into becoming one! While I can’t speak for her, here are the tips that I took away from her wonderful presentation.

1.       Show your character

2.       Edit your paper for your presentation
·         Pair down your paper to just the bare bones
·         Have a “maybe pile” of things you are unsure you want to keep
·         Add stuff NOT in your paper
·         Add anecdotes and stories
·         Keep only what’s necessary

3.       Things to include
·         Who you are
·         Context of the project and why it’s relevant to your audience
·         The interesting bits of your lit review
·         What you did and how
·         What you found and what happened

4.       Things to leave out
·         Most of your lit review (except for the interesting bits)
·         Most of your data (except for the interesting bits)
·         Most detail of the project (except for the interesting bits)
·         Basically, take out anything that won’t be interesting to your audience

5.       Work on your presentation skills
·         Keep a polished and measured pace (speak slowly and have a conversation)
·         Use silence instead of filler words (remove ums, ahs, sos, thens; replace with silence)
·         Practice your presentation
·         Get presentation skills (PD training, Toastmasters)

6.       Visual Aids
·         Use PowerPoint only if you need it
·         If using PowerPoint, add black/blank slides between slides and pauses
·         Create a mood with photos
·         Include graphs, lists and videos wisely
·         Don’t read your slides!
·         Use good templates (not too boring, but not too fancy)
·         Trust technology (don’t turn your back to see your slides)

7.       3 Tell’ems
·         Tell’em what you’re gonna tell’em
·         Tell’em
·         Tell’em what you just told’em

Finally, big thanks to everyone who participated and organised the event, especially Crystal, Amy, Kate and Alyson—and an especially big thank you to our video presenters!

Like I said, you should have been there. The practice exercises were spot on and the presenters were engaging (so engaging, I almost missed the delicious afternoon tea!). If you did miss it, however, you should still think about how you are contributing to the profession either by writing or presenting. As library professionals, we have so much to share regarding the innovative programs and projects going on in our libraries. While LIS education and research is great, we have to remember that as practitioners within the field, we’re the ones that are informing our colleagues both locally and abroad. We’re in the trenches—so we should be writing our war stories and our victories!

Jeff Cruz
User Education Librarian
Member of the ALIA Sydney Committee
All opinions expressed are my own and do not reflect the views of my employer or ALIA Sydney.