Tuesday 31 May 2011

DS Mitchell Fellowship and the Merewether Scholarship applications are open!


The State Library of New South Wales is currently taking applications for the DS Mitchell Fellowship and the Merewether Scholarship.

The Mitchell Fellowship and Merewether scholarship are designed to promote the Library's role as a centre of scholarly activity and research, and to promote its rich and diverse collections. These fellowships were established through the generous benefaction of the late John Merewether.

A flyer promoting the Fellowships are available on this link 

or visit the website at

Entries close 20 June 2011

Monday 23 May 2011

100 amazing artifacts, into 1 world-changing book!!!

Gaming into the future at New York Public Library…

I am part of a small project team of librarians from Taking the Lead 2011 program, an initiative of the State Library of New South Wales. Our project focus is on creating pathways to increase readership and add value to library services to adults in the 25 to 45 year age group.

As part of my research I stumbled upon a challenging game offered to the public as part of the centenary celebrations at New York Public Library. Titled Find the Future, this is a game where you rediscover the past to uncover the future. 

On May 20th 500 participants were invited to spend a night at the New York Public Library to kick start this super fun game. Equipped with smart phones and laptops the participants were given clues to the location of treasures. Their journey took them through the historical New York Public Library looking for treasures such as the Declaration of Independence. Once they came face to face with these historical treasures they had to be inspired to write new ideas. What a fascinating design of a game that makes one look at historical artifacts with innovative creativeness. I certainly have been inspired with this game and I have signed up for this creative journey, which can be played online till the end of 2011. Check it out and see if it is your game too…

More info at:


Sunday 22 May 2011

Blog Every Day of June

Last year it seemed as if half the twitter-sphere and library blogs I followed were all participating in the #blogeverydayofjune challenge. This year the ALIA Sydney blog has decided to take part as well. 

Rather than holding an event in June, we will be attempting to blog every day. We have invited a number of guest bloggers to participate, and we're happy to hear from you if you're interested in writing a guest post for us. 

Our main focus for June will be on technology. We hope to explore how technology is changing the world inside and out of libraries, explain how you can use technologies in your work or professional development, and demonstrate some innovative approaches already underway.

This should be a fun challenge and I'm really looking forward to it. Keep checking back for the rest of May, and then we look forward to sharing #blogeverydayofjune with you!

- Katrina

Monday 16 May 2011

The Future of Libraries - by Seth Godin

The future of the library

What is a public library for?

First, how we got here:

Before Gutenberg, a book cost about as much as a small house. As a result, only kings and bishops could afford to own a book of their own. This naturally led to the creation of shared books, of libraries where scholars (everyone else was too busy not starving) could come to read books that they didn't have to own.  

The library as warehouse for books worth sharing.

Only after that did we invent the librarian.

The librarian isn't a clerk who happens to work at a library. A librarian is a data hound, a guide, a sherpa and a teacher. The librarian is the interface between reams of data and the untrained but motivated user.

After Gutenberg, books  got a lot cheaper. More individuals built their own collections. At the same time, though, the number of titles exploded, and the demand for libraries did as well. We definitely needed a warehouse to store all this bounty, and more than ever we needed a librarian to help us find what we needed.

The library is a house for the librarian.

Industrialists (particularly Andrew Carnegie) funded the modern American library. The idea was that in a pre-electronic media age, the working man needed to be both entertained and slightly educated. Work all day and become a more civilized member of society by reading at night.
And your kids? Your kids need a place with shared encyclopedias and plenty of fun books, hopefully inculcating a lifelong love of reading, because reading makes all of us more thoughtful, better informed and more productive members of a civil society.

Which was all great, until now.

Want to watch a movie? Netflix is a better librarian, with a better library, than any library in the country. The Netflix librarian knows about every movie, knows what you've seen and what you're likely to want to see. If the goal is to connect viewers with movies, Netflix wins.

This goes further than a mere sideline that most librarians resented anyway. Wikipedia and the huge databanks of information have basically eliminated the library as the best resource for anyone doing amateur research (grade school, middle school, even undergrad). Is there any doubt that online resources will get better and cheaper as the years go by? Kids don't shlep to the library to use an out of date encyclopedia to do a report on FDR. You might want them to, but they won't unless coerced.

They need a librarian more than ever (to figure out creative ways to find and use data). They need a library not at all.

When kids go to the mall instead of the library, it's not that the mall won, it's that the library lost.

And then we need to consider the rise of the Kindle. An ebook costs about $1.60 in 1962 dollars. A thousand ebooks can fit on one device, easily. Easy to store, easy to sort, easy to hand to your neighbor. Five years from now, readers will be as expensive as Gillette razors, and ebooks will cost less than the blades.

Librarians that are arguing and lobbying for clever ebook lending solutions are completely missing the point. They are defending library as warehouse as opposed to fighting for the future, which is librarian as producer, concierge, connector, teacher and impresario.

Post-Gutenberg, books are finally abundant, hardly scarce, hardly expensive, hardly worth warehousing. Post-Gutenberg, the scarce resource is knowledge and insight, not access to data.

The library is no longer a warehouse for dead books.

Just in time for the information economy, the library ought to be the local nerve center for information. (Please don't say I'm anti-book! I think through my actions and career choices, I've demonstrated my pro-book chops. I'm not saying I want paper to go away, I'm merely describing what's inevitably occurring). We all love the vision of the underprivileged kid bootstrapping himself out of poverty with books, but now, (most of the time) the insight and leverage is going to come from being and fast and smart with online resources, not from hiding in the stacks.
The next library is a place, still. A place where people come together to do co-working and coordinate and invent projects worth working on together. Aided by a librarian who understands the Mesh, a librarian who can bring domain knowledge and people knowledge and access to information to bear.

The next library is a house for the librarian with the guts to invite kids in to teach them how to get better grades while doing less grunt work. And to teach them how to use a soldering iron or take apart something with no user servicable parts inside. And even to challenge them to teach classes on their passions, merely because it's fun. This librarian takes responsibility/blame for any kid who manages to graduate from school without being a first-rate data shark.

The next library is filled with so many web terminals there's always at least one empty. And the people who run this library don't view the combination of access to data and connections to peers as a sidelight--it's the entire point.

Wouldn't you want to live and work and pay taxes in a town that had a library like that? The vibe of the best Brooklyn coffee shop combined with a passionate raconteur of information? There are one thousands things that could be done in a place like this, all built around one mission: take the world of data, combine it with the people in this community and create value.

We need librarians more than we ever did. What we don't need are mere clerks who guard dead paper. Librarians are too important to be a dwindling voice in our culture. For the right librarian, this is the chance of a lifetime.
Original blogpost can be found here:


Posted by:

Vikki Bell
Events Support for ALIA Sydney Committee

I welcome your thoughts on the future of libraries . . .

Saturday 14 May 2011


On Tuesday this week I was in Brisbane for the 7th Research Applications in Information and Library Studies (RAILS7) seminar, held at QUT. Monday was the Student Research Consortium, but unfortunately I couldn’t make it to this as well.

The RAILS7 seminar was a full day, with 18 papers to get through, followed by drinks and dinner or a tweet-up for some. The papers covered a broad spectrum of topics and it was enlightening to see innovative research coming from the ILS sector. I can’t cover all 18 presentations so have a look at the program,  available here.

As a UTS Masters student I should declare my possible bias here, but I really enjoyed the presentation by Belinda Tiffen and Ashley England from UTS Library. They won the delegates’ choice award so I wasn’t the only one. Belinda and Ashley’s presentation enforced the notion that libraries should be looking outside the sector for inspiration as they try to engage their clients, drawing on some examples of the wonderful programs and tools being utilised by the UTS Library.

I say clients, rather than users. Anyone who has studied ‘People, Information and Knowledge’ with Michael Olsson at UTS would have felt a sense of nostalgia as Michael took us through some preliminary findings of a study into the information practices of freelance journalists. Brenda Dervin, Foucault, sense-making, knowledge and power, and certainly avoiding the term ‘user’ and its systems-centred connotations. Perhaps unsurprisingly the initial findings suggest that journalists prefer to talk to other people – to leading experts, or those with experience – to create an authenticity discourse.

The committee’s choice award went to Huan Vo-Tram and Sue Reynolds from RMIT. This presentation had me wanting to jump ship to RMIT. A group of both undergraduate and postgraduate LIS students from Australia worked collaboratively with IS students from Vietnam on simulations and then a real-life project at a hospital in DaNang, Vietnam. The project demonstrated the transferability of skills and adaptability of the students to work in a field far outside their experiences, while faced with extensive challenges.

Another paper I was really interested in was Jessie Lymn’s Feeling at home in ‘little library spaces’. Hearing about underground or DIY libraries and archives was fascinating (and made me rather envious). The paper looks at preliminary findings from ethnographic fieldwork, the concept of librarian-as-ethnographer, and also notes the prevalence of professionally trained info professionals who identify with these DIY communities. I was particularly interested following recent discussions at my workplace about our collection (and collecting practices) of zines.

All of the papers were interesting, so I recommend that you have a look at the abstracts. Presentations were recorded where permission was given, and I believe these will be available from Sunday. It was a rewarding but exhausting day, as the theories, methodologies, and acronyms piled up. By 5:15 we were all ready to catch up over drinks and relax. I was part of a group who went to a tweet-up at the Ship Inn. The food was delicious, the wine was great, and the company superb. Sadly by 8 p.m. my apartment beckoned and I headed home. I must be getting old.

- Katrina

Wednesday 11 May 2011

Celebrate Library and Information Week by Going Touring with the Techs!

To kick off the beginning of ALIA Library & Information Week and in keeping with this year's theme "Libraries: we find stuff", the NSW Library Technicians Group is holding another "TouringTechs" and inviting all who are interested to come and join them in viewing two of our city's spectacular recently renovated libraries on Saturday, 21st May:-
·         The University of NSW Library - http://www.library.unsw.edu.au/
·         The Royal Randwick Library - http://www.randwick.nsw.gov.au/A_sense_of_community/Library/index.aspx

For those who would like refreshments before commencing the first tour, they are meeting at 9.30am at the Blue Stone CafĂ© between E19 and C20 on the Uni campus map - see http://www.facilities.unsw.edu.au/Maps/pdf/Kensington_Accessibility_Map.pdf 

The tour will commence at 10.00am at the Help Zone, Level 2 (entry level) of the UNSW Main Library, Upper Campus Building E21 (see map).  The 10 floors of library, short listed for interior design for the Institute of Architects, incorporate high quality furnishings as well as funky items for the younger set.

After this, a 10-minute walk will then see them at The Royal Randwick Library for a tour of their $2.5 million new library refurbishment.

On this day they  will also be celebrating  ALIA National Library Technicians Day so all are invited to stay for lunch afterwards and enjoy the networking and camaraderie. 

RSVP to Jennifer Dyer for inclusion in tour numbers (see below) by Thurs. 19th May 2011.   

Tuesday 10 May 2011

20x20 Working Together, Learning Together

The inaugural ALIA Sydney 20x20 Working Together event was held on Tuesday 3rd May in the Victoria Park Room at the Fisher Library at the University of Sydney Library.

It was with great excitement (and a dash of nervousness) that I coordinated and chaired this event.

The theme was 'Working Together, as a celebration of all of the wonderful collaborative projects that libraries and other organisations are working on. The presenters included a host of librarians, academics, writers, researchers, a historian and even a philosopher!
I've included a list of the presenters who presented on the night:

1. Ellen Forsyth- Read It 2011
Website: http://readit2011.wordpress.com/

2. Louise Prichard- Library Hack
Website: http://libraryhack.org/

3. Dr Lisa Murray- Dictionary of Sydney
Website: http://www.dictionaryofsydney.org/

4. Kirsten Thorpe- Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Data Archive (ATSIDA)
Website: http://www.atsida.edu.au/

5. Dr Gillian Fuller- Design and Art Australia Online (DAAO)
Website: http://www.daao.org.au/

6. Helen Chan- Read@UTS
Website: http://read.lib.uts.edu.au/

7. Oriana Acevedo- My Language
Website: http://www.mylanguage.gov.au/

8. Dr Tim Fuller- Coalition of the Willing
Website: http://cotw.cc/wiki/Coalition_of_the_Willing

People in the audience commented on the evening, how excited they were to hear such varied and diverse presentations. (We were SO pleased to have such a fabulous diversity in presenters also!)

Despite the fact that people used slightly different jargon from each other, because of this diversity, a common theme emerged on the night- the idea of trust. This involves building trust with key stakeholders by having conversations with the people or groups involved, so you all have a good understanding of what you are doing in your project. This may sound obvious in a collaborative project, but the ensuing discussion on the night focused on the building of trust that starts well before you even start on the actual project. It involves building a good relationship as a foundation. Once you've built this good relationship, it allows you to have conversations about new projects.

What also became apparent was that not only were we focusing on the theme of working together, we were also learning together on the evening. The 20x20 format of the evening meant that the presenters had a set number of slides (20) with a set number of seconds (20) to talk to each slide, hence the name 20x20. This gave them 6 minutes and 40 seconds in total, to present.

Not many of us in the room had experience working with this format before, so it was a great learning curve for us all. One of my favourite moments of the evening was seeing Ellen Forsyth, celebrated Mover and Shaker of 2011, as nominated by the Library Journal, dash from the back of the room to start her presentation, in case she missed some of her 20 seconds on the first slide! That was entirely my fault- I don't think I made it quite clear that the 20 seconds started after the initial title slide... But it was with grace and humour, that Ellen was our first successful presenter for the evening.

ALIA 20x20

ALIA 20x20

ALIA 20x20

ALIA 20x20

To see the rest of the photos from this evening, check out the ALIA Sydney Flickr stream here.

So what does everyone think of the 20x20 style format of presenting? Love it? Hate it? Ambivalent? Please share your thoughts by commenting below.

- Crystal

Sunday 8 May 2011

The Collection Connection

Who says libraries aren't fashionable?

Sydney is still recovering from the invasion of the Rosemount Australian Fashion Week. RAFW is 'Australia’s premier fashion industry event' with over 40 designers showing their latest collections over 5 days. This year the iconic Mitchell Library provided the backdrop to the much anticipated show from fashion label Romance Was Born. Designer Anna Plunkett describes the connection to the library by explaining that the collection on show is 'based around The Never Ending Story ... the oracle goes to a bookshop, books/library, it's where it all started'.

Read the full story here.

-Amy Barker

Monday 2 May 2011

20x20 Working Together