Friday 30 May 2014

Books for Everyone!

In recent times there has been a lot of discussion about ebooks, platforms, licensing etc. - but what about audiobooks?

There is something nice about listening to someone read a book to you; so long as the reader does not have an annoying voice it is a rather pleasant experience. I have recently come back from a rather long road trip and for me road trips are all about good snack food and really good book/s. Audio books are a pleasure because I am able to take something mundane and boring and make it something interesting and even enjoyable. This got me thinking: what about those people that cannot read books?
In the guardian there was a story of France leading the way on audiobooks for blind or visually impaired people, so kudos to the Association Valentin-Haüy (AVH) for making it happen.

Working in a rather specialised academic library there are very limited academic resources for those with visual impairment or other disability. In France in 2006 a law was passed requiring publishers to make their source available to certified organisations, enabling the latter to transcribe books into sound or braille - or digitally and paper - and to distribute them.

In Australia, Vision Australia has been working tirelessly to improve services for those with vision impairment and have a collection of fiction and non-fiction resources available on their website. Unfortunately, there is still a long way to go in terms of academic resources.

I would also like to take this opportunity to say thank you to the public library that introduced me to the joy of audiobooks. Back in my high school days, when there were no more copies of Harry Potter on the shelf the friendly librarian showed me to their audio collection of Harry Potter read by Stephen Fry (sample here).

Please comment below on your experiences.


Thursday 29 May 2014

Sabotage in the Library / Are you ready for #blogjune ?

Hello everyone,

If we have been a little quiet on the blog front lately, that's because we are preparing for the full-on-funfest-of-posting that is the annual #blogjune challenge.

Starting on Sunday we will aim to bring you one post each day in June. We have some great guest contributors lined up and writing about a range of interesting topics that will be sure to grab your attention. If you have something great to contribute to our blog in June, as always we'd love to hear from you . Otherwise, sit back and enjoy the next month of reading on ALIA Sydney's blog.

Also, as we are more than halfway through the working week, let's celebrate with a very special library remake of Spike Jonze's iconic 1994 Beastie Boys video for 'Sabotage'.

-Maria Savvidis @m_savvidis
Social Media Officer, ALIA Sydney

Monday 5 May 2014

edX offers Big Data and Social Physics

MIT in collaboration with edX, a MOOC provider, is soon to start a course on Big Data. The course will take about 5 hours to complete and will begin on 12 May. If you're interested in learning more about Big Data, and its possible uses, this is the course for you!

If you've not studied online before, this could be a great way to test it out. It's completely free, and you can even earn a personalised certificate if you complete all the activities and exercises.

For more information, see this link.

Hope you al have a great week :)

-Caitlin Williams
ALIA Sydney Social Media Officer

Sunday 4 May 2014

Librarian Design Challenge 1: Signup

On 1 April, Toby Greenwalt set Librarians the following challenge on his blog theanalogdivide: Create a online library card signup. This is to be the first in a 'semi-regular' design challenge called The Librarian Design Challenge, to encourage more design thinking in the library world. ALIA NSW State Manager Julia Garnett and ALIA Sydney Co-Convenor Amy Croft were inspired to rise to the challenge - meeting in the State Library of NSW on 4 May armed with paper, coloured pens, and a 2-hour study room booking to figure out exactly what libraries and their members need from each other, and how to get members signed up as easily as possible online.

Paper, coloured pens, and info on public libraries

We started by comparing notes on the libraries we work in and have used over the years, to reach a core set of requirements, including the requirement of proving residency set in the challenge. We focused on public libraries, and referred to ALIA's Little Book of Public Libraries to think about what communities need from their local libraries. We agreed that library membership doesn't necessarily require a physical card, as long as we can provide a unique ID number/barcode to allow members to access library resources. We also came up with a few other issues such as one membership for all libraries in the state, overcoming language barriers in explaining membership conditions, differences in signing up children and adults, and ways of securing printing credit with a PIN or password, which were outside the scope of this challenge.

Brainstorming notes
Brainstorming public library membership issues and needs

What the library needs and what the member needs - a membership mindmap

We ended up with a workflow for online membership signup for those using computers, and those using mobile devices. Common features are an easy-to-find 'Join Here' button on the homepage, followed by a brief outline of membership benefits and conditions of membership. Potential members agree to those conditions to get to the membership form itself, where signing up is a 4-step process. This would be on one page for those using a computer, but could be on separate screens for mobile devices.
  1. Provide name
  2. Provide identification by either uploading scanned document(s) or using computer webcam or mobile device camera to provide an image of the documents. One document is photo ID, the other is a bill or bank statement with current address, if this is not already on the photo ID.
  3. Provide contact details (phone number and/or email address)
  4. Confirm signup. This generates a barcode and unique membership number.
The following screen confirms membership, displaying the membership number and barcode, which the new member can print, have it sent to them by email, or have it sent to them by SMS. These barcodes would be compatible with many systems already in place in libraries, accessible as an image file that could be stored on a mobile device. Members who prefer to have a physical card can visit the library to have one made.

Online membership signup - for computer

Online membership signup - for mobile devices
While these are only prototypes, this was a very useful exercise in really thinking about how to make things easier for our users, rather than making our users fit in with our requirements. We look forward to further design challenges!

-Julia Garnett, State Manager (NSW), ALIA
-Amy Croft, Co-Convenor, ALIA Sydney

Further reading on design thinking:

An introduction to design thinking: process guide (pdf) by Michael Shanks, archaeologist at Stanford University and contributor to its famous

Do you have suggestions for improving our designs, or examples of your own designs? Please comment below!