Friday 20 November 2015

Four libraries of Ireland and what they can teach us…

It’s no surprise that a country home to literary greats like Oscar Wilde and James Joyce should have some amazing libraries. I’ve just returned from a trip to the library land of Ireland having chronicled a list of my favourite Irish libraries and what they can teach us here in Australia.

The old Library, Trinity College

The Old Library at Trinity College features consistently on lists of the greatest libraries in the world. This is because it is enchanting. The Old Library has a hushed reverence that draws thousands to its quiet halls, wandering among the rows and rows of antiquated tomes.

The Old Library can teach us two things. Firstly, it is a legal deposit library and it highlights the importance of keeping legal deposit books in an archive for future generations to enjoy. Secondly, the Old Library is living evidence that people still love libraries and still love books on shelves. The day I visited lines of people stood waiting in the rain just to catch a glimpse of its Book of Kells, an illuminated manuscript of the four Gospels thought to have been created in c. 800. In the halls of the Old Library cameras and iPhones snapped away but even amid modern technology this library with its shelves and shelves of books remains timeless.

Marsh's Library

Marsh’s Library is the oldest public library in Ireland. This library taught me the value of unexpected libraries and that meaning can be found in things we might think are irrelevant or foolish. Marsh’s Library is like something from a Halloween story with shelves full of heavy tomes and creaking floorboards. But here I found a library embracing the present as much as the past. The library even has its own Facebook page!

When I visited Marsh’s Library they were holding an exhibition of marginalia, sketches and notes written in the library books that readers have added over time. Titled The Unicorn and the Fencing Mouse, after a sketch depicting both, this exhibition featured annotations made by hand in medical texts and other volumes. I loved the quirky, unexpected nature of this exhibition. It gave meaning to what might otherwise be considered trivial notations, even graffiti.

Chester Beatty Library
The Chester Beatty Library is part of Dublin Castle and houses religious and secular manuscripts dating from 2700 BC. This library also awakened me to the role humour can play in libraries. One of their many exhibitions was titled “Wicked Wit” and depicted the use of political cartoons in documenting relations between Ireland and Britain. This collection of cartoons reminded me of the potential for libraries to key into historical humour in their exhibitions. Our exhibitions can be entertaining and light-hearted as well as informative.

Another lesson I learnt from the Chester Beatty Library is how libraries can be embracing of all religions. In the exhibition galleries excerpts from the Quran went hand in hand with exhibitions about Christianity, proving that libraries truly are pluralistic institutions.

The National Library of Ireland

The National Library of Ireland taught me the value of genealogy as a way for people to piece together narratives of the past. The Library has featured internationally as a recommended tourist destination for genealogists. This is because of the rich and varied history it preserves, including the Library’s unique set of Catholic parish registers. The National Library of Ireland also has a significant manuscripts collection which includes such gems as letters of Oscar Wilde and the papers of Irish poet, W. B. Yeats.

Visiting the Genealogy Advisory Service in this library impressed upon me how family history research is intrinsically tied to our social histories so that a name on a census can tell you about gender relations or economic status. It reminded me of the social and historical importance of the detailed family histories our clients are compiling in libraries every day.

Anne Reddacliff @AMoodiLibrarian

Event Officer, ALIA Sydney

Tuesday 17 November 2015

Looking for the future of Libraries?

Western Sydney Institute of TAFE, Graduate event (10 Nov 2015).

Speaker: Mylee Joseph from State Library of New South Wales

Don’t look at what libraries are doing now to see what they should be doing in the future?

See what the users are doing now to see what libraries should be doing in the future. Look at how people are looking for information and the tools they use to find it.

Library websites should be mobile friendly - as Google Analytics now gives preference to sites that are mobile friendly. Current trends show that smartphones are outselling pcs by 5-1. Some predict that to go to 10-1.

When you think search engines consider that YouTube is the second most popular one after Google.

Social media - how can it help advocacy?
Know where your audience/users are? Who are they (demographics etc.)
Use platform where they are - e.g. Tumblr growing – favourite of teens, Facebook steady – with a mainly older user group

Libraries have to ‘redefine successes’ - should not be confined to getting feet in the door. Be happy to put content out in the world to be discovered, shared, and used. Success can be measure by how much your material is shared.

Focus on creating content that is easy to share. Do not worry about the actual sharing, as this will get done by others for your library.
Only 1% create the content - others push it out - they are the influencers.
Influencers spread content; they are the key to success.

Experiment – even things that may appear failures may take off over time or lead to other more successful programs. Consider your programs as being in perpetual beta, roll them out and improve as feedback comes in.

§  social metadata

§  curators – everyone’s a curator

§  experts are outside the library – people with particular passions will find you content if you share it on the Web

§  digital makers – the adapters and creators of digital content

§  open access and commons – Make your content open access / creative commons feeing it up for reuse an adaption

§  crowdsourcing – Opening programs up for help

Smartphones were originally the toys of the wealthy - now becoming some peoples only way the to access information and government services. With many low socioeconomic families not having an internet connection at home relying on their smart phones and free Wi-Fi. Libraries providing free Wi-Fi access to the internet helps to reduce the digital divide.

Libraries have to consider what copyright they apply to their content. OA or CC makes it more useable.
If people can discover your content and play with it without having to come into the library, this may not be a bad thing (goes back to redefining success)
People who discover, play and reuse/remix your content may come in through your door one day!

Googallisation leads to discoverability – Through the Google Cultural Institute Goggle, and many of the world’s cultural institutions have collaborated to provide access to their collection via the web.
This is an excellent site - explore collections and venues! You can also create your own. Play and have fun.

For those interested in metadata check out the British Library’s collection metadata strategy

Try new technology
The library staff buy the latest technology and play with it and lend it out to their patrons. In this video, Arapahhoe Library staff talk about google glass.

If you don’t have the budget consider looking around for other who may have already tried the technology

For fun try the Smithsonian page for creating animated gifs - they used Photoshop but in the comments read how someone did it without. 
Something to play with!!!

Setting content free leads to many interesting uses
State Library of Vic has over 200,000 copyright free images that have been made available to the public and they encourage everyone to use/remix. Check out #remixvic on Instagram to see what others have done.

We are continuing to see information is being discovered, accessed, used and shared in different ways.
New ways of looking for information
§  Mobile technology
§  Social Signals
§  Googallisation
§  Visual interfaces - (facial recognition technology) 
i.e. matching images in a search rather than the more familiar and popular matches to text
(Missing the last one)
§  Search new and different facets such as by colour on Flicker   

New ways of sharing information
§  social metadata
§  curators
§  experts are outside the library
§  digital makers
§  open access and commons
§  crowdsourcing

We are looking at major issues with the preservation of digital born content. Digital content is more fragile than print content. Lots of work need to be done in this area. Libraries needs to consider how they are going to preserve their digitally created content.

Some organisations have started including Associated Press (AP) which has produced an online archive of news footage and stories.

An area where Libraries and heritage groups can add value is though taking digital photos of their local area and preserve them for future.
Parramatta Heritage Centre
In particular their project which captured the demolition of David Jones Building a local Parramatta landmark.

Authors: Annie Pinto, Saba Mainer, Rosanne Motha Victoria with addition and adaption by Tracey McDonald

"Library date due slip" by Labratmatt - Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0 via Wikimedia Commons -

Shared under CC BY-NC-SA 4.0