Tuesday 26 February 2013

NLS6 Reprise

So you couldn't make it to NLS6 up in Brisbane? 
Well our frineds at the ALIA New Grads Group NSW is holding a ‘reprise’ of the New Librarian’s Symposium next week. It is shaping up to be a great night. (Not to mention ALIA Sydney's own Kirsty Butler will be presenting) Here are all of the details:

Where: Room 4g, Level 4 at UTS Library (corner Hay St and Ultimo Rd, Ultimo)
When: Wednesday 6th March at 6 for 6.30 pm

 A social meet up for students and new graduates in information/library land to debrief and hear about the recent NLS6 in Brisbane. For those of you who didn't get a chance to make it to NLS6, some wonderful presenters have even volunteered to bring their presentation to you. Don’t miss this chance to meet some new and old friends in library land, hear from the presenters themselves and also from those who attended. 

Kim Williams and Ashley England UTS – Overly attached librarians: "Don't leave, I can tell you so much more..."
Kirsty Butler, UNSW – Best takeaways of NLS6
Liz Wiese Chatswood Library – Best takeaways of NLS6

Cost: Non-members $7.00, Members $5.00
Drinks and nibbles will be provided on the night
RSVP to alianewgradnsw@gmail.com by Monday 4th March

Saturday 23 February 2013

A Call to Action

So here's the thing; I am somewhat introverted (an introverted librarian, I know, right?). I have never written a blog post before but I really want to push myself this year to do new things and to really challenge my boundaries. I've pushed my comfort zone and kicked off the year by joining the ALIA Sydney committee and progressed quickly to attending NLS6, my 1st ever conference. At NLS6 I was really challenged and one of the big things that stuck with me was the keynote presentation by Sue Gardner. 

Sue Gardner is the executive director of the Wikimedia foundation which is a non-profit organisation which operates Wikipedia and a number of other projects. The mission of the Wikimedia foundation is "...to empower a global volunteer community to collect and develop the world's knowledge and to make it available to everyone for free, for any purpose." 

Sue Gardner was so passionate about Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia and all that it stands for that I couldn't help but be caught up in her presentation, which was not only informative but entertaining and inspiring. Don't get me wrong all of the presentations I attended at NLS6 were encouraging and entertaining but coming back to the daily grind of work as an intern I was hit with reality. Here I am at the bottom of the ladder, how can I possibly make a difference? 

How about contributing to Wikipedia? I'm not really sure about what yet, but Sue Gardner really challenged the audience. We are librarians (and other information specialists) we have access to resources, we have training in "How to find stuff" and most of all we have a passion for enabling people to access information. What better way to assist people in accessing information than through a medium they are accustomed. With half a billion people around the world relying on Wikipedia for information should we as librarians not have a more active role in 'collecting and developing the world's knowledge'. This is something I have never considered before, it is a huge ask.

The idea of being a Wikipedian is to find a topic that interests you and credible sources to support your writings. Which is something librarians are good at. This is an important issue for a resource endeavoring to be an encyclopedia that contains the world's knowledge. She really got me thinking about how could I help? Contribute! In any way, I think I may start small and begin by attempting to edit and then progress to attempting to write an article. I am in awe of the people (like Tara Macphail and Tony Naar) at Wikimedia Australia that are volunteering their time to create articles about Aussie Paralympics for Wikipedia which lacked information about these inspiring athletes.

And Sue Gardner made it sound like so much fun, there is a huge community of wikipedians ready to share knowledge and collaborate with you. They are passionate about Wikipedia and I would suggest checking our her blog at: http://suegardner.org/.

She's even provided a 'how to' guide on her blog: http://suegardner.org/2012/08/15/how-to-write-a-wikipedia-article-its-easy/

So I guess here I am setting myself up for another challenge and you all along with me, how about contributing to Wikipedia?


Thursday 21 February 2013

New Rockdale Library Gets the Go Ahead

I'm delighted to let you know that the Rockdale Council will proceed with the new main library after the vote on Wednesday night was carried, seven votes to six.

Three speakers addressed the public forum, all in favour of the new library, and their passion and conviction for the impact that a new library could make struck a chord with all those in attendance. Sue McKerracher spoke on behalf of ALIA, travelling from Canberra to do so. It did of course help that ALIA Sydney members made up the greater part of the public gallery, making an effort to get across Sydney after their own work, to support this cause. In the council chamber, a show of strength can be very persuasive, and the depth of feeling was obvious. I know that the staff of Rockdale library were energised by the support they had received.

The Rockdale councillors all spoke in favour of the place a library should have in the community, some were very open about how poorly they felt the community had been served in this matter. Those who eventually voted against the motion made a point about the proposed funding of the building, and were roundly rebuked by councillors speaking for the motion, pointing out that there had been ample time for them to put forward any workable alternatives over the three years of planning for the library, and yet they had produced nothing. For a nice coverage of the debate you could check out the action on twitter.

Once I got home, I sent out email to local friends that I knew had contacted their ward councillors in support of the library. One immediately replied that she already knew the result because one of her councillors had emailed her at the same time to relay the good news. It's great to know that councillor was clearly as excited to spread the news as I was, and will hopefully be motivated to ensure no backsliding occurs.

The next stage should take about 9 -12 months while final planning and permissions go through, and hopefully soon after that the demolition of the existing buildings will take place.

After thirty years of waiting, it can't come soon enough.


Wednesday 20 February 2013

The value of libraries

I may be a couple of days late to this argument, but I've just been sent this article Terry Deary on Libraries in which Terry Deary, of Horrible Histories fame, says he thinks libraries are an out of date concept and are ripping off authors by circulating their books for free.

The fact that the comments come from an author who I have often praised and raved about to friends and library customers for his genius in making history interesting and accessible to kids is disappointing.

However, after reading various articles in response to Deary's comments and the number of authors who have criticized the comments and indicated their huge support for libraries and reading the comments sections of the articles, I wonder if maybe the comments might work out to be a positive thing for libraries?

Many comments include lines such as 'I would never have heard of Terry Deary if not for the local library;' 'I often discover new authors in the library and then go and purchase their books;' and 'Libraries create readers.' There is a lot of support for libraries out there, who may now join the conversation more about the scary situation in the UK for libraries. Will people reflect more about the contribution that libraries have made to their lives?

Arguments have also been raised that it isn't libraries that are ripping authors off, but the likes of businesses such as Amazon and publishers. Libraries and bookshops have coexisted for many years quite peacefully, and it could be argued that the customers who buy from the bookstores may have got their bookloving start from the library.

I'm very impressed by the quick response of many to defend libraries and shout out what the values of the library are- which is much more than monetary.

What do you think? Could this be the start of the Library User Uprising that the UK so desperately needs?


Tuesday 19 February 2013

The local public library - Heart of a Community

Tomorrow night (Wed 20 Feb, 6.30pm) Rockdale City Council will discuss the future of the proposed new main library. 

Thirty years ago, the main library was demolished and the new council office building was built on that site. The library was relocated to the old Town Hall as a temporary measure, and has remained there since. Planning for a new main library has come and gone a couple of times since then with no result. Recently, longer term planning for the future of the city has identified goals out to 2025, and planning for a new main library began anew. it was slated for approval in September 2012, but with the council elections held around the same time, it was decided to delay a final thumbs up until the incoming councillors could understand the need, the plan, and the finances, estimated to be around $16m, with some exclusions.

It's been a long wait. That's not to say that libraries in Rockdale have been left to rack and ruin. There are five branches attached to the main library, and for a smallish geographic area, that's quite a few. Arncliffe branch was refurbished just last year, and the Sans Souci branch renovation is advanced in planning. The main library has done a lot, but has been constrained by a recalcitrant space.

There are many calls on the finances of any Council. Rockdale residents have recently been surveyed to ask which services they could live without, if they don't agree to a rate increase. Council has recently moved to plan and build a replacement swimming centre at Bexley, another infrastructure item that has a long planning history, and comes with a price tag of around $30m. And, I suppose the elephant in the room, and one that is always present for Councils in St George (Rockdale, Kogarah, and Hurstville), is possible future amalgamation. The area has three small councils in an area comparable to some individual council LGA's in Sydney, so is an obvious example.

But, just how hard can it be to get this project up and running? It should be easy to vote for a project that benefits every resident, regardless of whether they are old, young, play sport, are working, are caring for family, are studying, can’t use a computer, can’t read English or can’t read at all. Or all of those at once. When I look at the timeline of action since the library was relocated, I can’t help but wonder about the two periods of 10 years that seemingly passed by with no action. 10 years. That’s close to the entire schooling of a child.  Given the 30 years since the move to the temporary location, that’s a whole generation. In this area that’s big changes in sources of migration, in the density of housing, in education, and technology. In 30 years all communities have changed the way they live, the way they work, the way they learn, the way they connect with their community. The demographics  clearly show that the area has a larger than average group of families with school aged children, a larger than average group of families who don’t speak English at home, households increasingly living in higher density, and all in an area of relative socio economic disadvantage. It’s a community with dreams for the future. This kind of community needs a great public library. A well-designed and resourced public library gives the entire community opportunities that wouldn’t otherwise exist. Opportunities to learn new things throughout their whole lives, opportunities to quietly study away from busy homes, opportunities to meet others of like minds, opportunities to use wi-fi without ordering fries, opportunities to participate in civic matters by viewing and commenting on council documents and plans on display.

The draft Rockdale Town Centre Master Plan has called for a civic “heart” for the city, and the library is a large part of that. Residents can’t help but look at our near neighbours in St George and see how the library and town square at Kogarah, and the Library Museum Gallery model at Hurstville have each become a focus for cultural activities and community gatherings in their own areas, a real heart for their cities. After such a long time, I really hope the Rockdale councillors decide to finally deliver.

If you are near Rockdale, why not go down to the meeting tomorrow night? ALIA is hoping that Executive Director Sue McKerracher might address the public forum. Or if you live in Rockdale why not email your local ward councillors today? If you live elsewhere, send out some love to your local public library by posting on their Facebook site about something you appreciate about them, a great collection, or service.

Public libraries can be the beating heart of a community, given the chance.


Saturday 16 February 2013

Be Different. Be Bold. Be Brave (A first timer’s conference visit)

They say conferences are what you make them; being a first timer I wanted to make NLS6 as productive and as positive as possible. Like many of us out there, libraries are my second career and the one that finally ‘fits’. One of the greatest things about NLS6 was the fact that I fit in. No longer am I the only ‘odd’ one in the room. While my family call me a nerd, I relished being a room with 500 other nerds wearing the label with pride. I’ve been told that NLS isn’t like other library conferences, and I hope that’s wrong. So when going to a conference for the first time what should you do, bring and say? I’ll try and keep this short and simple. 

Go to as many events and conference sessions as you can manage. That said, if there is nothing that interests you or if you’d rather some down time take it. I found by the third day I was so overwhelmed with information and twitter (which I’ll come to in a moment) that I needed to sit alone in quiet. So I chose to miss the first session of that day so that I could get a coffee and drink it in peace in Brisbane’s botanic gardens – it was bliss!! There are always evening social events, if you’re unfamiliar with the area go with someone else so that if you get lost, you won’t get lost alone! But try to go to as many as you can. The social events had some of the most interest discussions and you don’t know who you’ll meet.

Get Twitter. I cannot stress this enough. I wasn’t a Twitter user until a week ago. I had an account but never used it. Over the three days at NLS6 I learnt how to use it, I found dozens of followers and I started tweeting like crazy (PS find me @Bo0k1sH). The Twitter feeds also kept me up to date with other sessions that ran concurrently. As well as joining twitter I recommend using a dashboard application such as Tweetdeck or Hootsuite. This will help you keep track of the feeds coming out of the conference. If you don’t feel comfortable tweeting straight away just read the feeds and retweet what other clever people say (that’s what it’s for). Look and the people who are tweeting the most and follow them, they’re generally the ones that are active outside of the conferences and are handy connections to have.

Talk to everyone that you meet. Now is not the time to be a wallflower. If you don’t feel comfortable talking to strangers, see if there are other people you know already attending and use them to meet new people but remember meeting new people is important. The library world is tiny and you never know when those people you met at a random conference may be helpful. Remember to talk to the conference presenters. Generally they want to be spoken to about their papers, projects and even themselves. Ask them that burning question you have, librarian’s love to share information so don’t be shy.

Bring business cards with your full name (duh); any qualifications you have (that includes any committees that you may be part of; an email address – this does not necessarily have to be your work email address; your Twitter handle or any other social media accounts that you use regularly (for your professional profile) and if you’re comfortable with it, your mobile phone number. Bring an extension cord and a power board – it sounds silly but with everyone using smart phones and tablets there will be lots of people (including you) needing to charge their devices and it’s a great way to make new friends. Bring something to scribble notes on, I know most people will be using electronic devices but in case of emergency always have some pens and paper on hand.

Say Yes. Try this, for the length of the conference; if you are asked, invited to or offered anything say yes. It’s harder than it sounds but is totally worth it. Saying yes gives you the opportunity to try new things and ideas and of course meet new people.

Dress to impress, on your first day in particular wear something to help you stand out and be remembered. Now I’m not saying dress outrageously but standing out is a good thing. I (unintentionally) wore a lovely sunshine yellow dress to the first day of NLS6, normally  that probably wouldn’t have made me stand out but it happened to be the same colour as the logo for the conference. As a result people remembered me by that dress for the rest of the conference; I even used it as a trigger for people’s memories! Additionally, be aware of the dress code for the conference you are attending and make sure you pack to match it and the local weather.

Finally, try to add extra time to your trip, especially if you’re visiting a new city. I admit it isn’t always possible, but I do regret not being able to spend an extra day or two exploring Brisbane and its information world. If you can’t add extra time to your trip in the city you're visiting, do try and take at least an additional day off work when you get home. Trust me you’ll need it after going non-stop. Taking this day gives you the opportunity to get back into routine, catch up on sleep and process all the information you have been bombarded with during the week.

So in the words of NLS6, when going to a conference, whether it’s your first of fiftieth; be different, be bold, be brave and look out for me at the next one, I’ll be the one colour coordinating with the conference logos! Have fun 

For a look at what happened at NLS6 check out their catch ups on the website.


Wednesday 13 February 2013

International Librarians Network

So you are a librarian and you are keen to network with other librarians not just here in Sydney but from around the world. 

But alas, you don't have an unlimited budget and you don't speak German
What is a librarian to do? 

A pilot project conceived by former ALIA Sydney convener Kate Byrne and created with Alyson Dalby and  Clare McKenzie. These three enterprising librarians have put together a 'peer mentoring program' which is 'aimed at helping librarians develop international networks'. Participants will be paired up with a partner in the library industry and 'formally supported for six months through regular contact and facilitated online group discussions'. After six months the formal partnership finishes and new matches can be started.

So I can hear you thinking, 'Wait, I get to meet these fabulous librarians from far flung locations and I don't even need to leave the sofa? Brilliant! Now what?'

If you are interested you need to get a wiggle on because registration for this round of partnerships closes on February 15th. Even if you don't think you have the time to participate in this round of networking keep an eye on the blog for interesting discussions and news from around the world.