Copyright in the real world

Cory Doctorow (the well known author, blogger, co-editor of Boing-Boing, copyright crusader) recently gave a speech at the National Reading Summit on reading and the way that copyright is currently working (or not, depending on your viewpoint).

You can find the first part of Cory’s speech entitled “How to destroy the book” here and, when you’re done, do yourself a favour and read the second part as well.


Trove is the National Library’s latest ‘discovery experience’ or catalogue or search engine to various Library collections. It moved from beta to production last week and is designed to be the single user interface for Library users.

Trove brings together all the Library’s collections and a whole other suite of online resources. For information on it go to http://trove/general/about

Trove allows, nay encourages, user participation in tagging and commenting on works. See the below image for how many people have been using the Trove system (as of 11am 9 Dec.)

screenshot of Trove search interface
Most of the comments relate to the text corrections to Australian newspapers which have been a phenomenal success (see

But looking through them, there are a number of other public additions by comment or tag that enhance our catalogue records.  Subject headings as we know are pre-coordinate in that a structured set of subject headings is used when cataloguing (LCSH with Australian extensions) however tags (which are in effect subject headings) applied and hopefully used by users, are not structured (post-coordinate) . It will be interesting to see once a large number of tags are in place, which prove more useful. A good paper on post vs. pre coordinate headings is at:

All areas of the Library have received greater amounts of user feedback on the Library’s catalogue records as the catalogue has lately been exposed to search engines (leading to much greater usage) , with Trove this user interaction will no doubt increase as easy access is given to users to notify us of errors or omissions. It makes more work for us all, but improving the integrity of our data is incredibly worthwhile.

Waving not drowning

So, a few of us have been having a play with Google’s latest toy, Google Wave. We’re wondering how it might shake things up in the library world. Once it’s released from it’s initial test phase (which, apparently, has already grown to include 1 million users!), it looks like it will be able to offer an environment that facilitates virtual collaboration for libraries and their community of users though instant messaging, email and the ability to share links and files. Libraries are already involved in undertaking similar initiatives such as AskNow which is hosted by the National Library of Australia.

There are a few interesting applications already out there which could be useful for this kind of collaboration, such as bots which allow you to search Amazon, search for ISBNs to retrieve cover art (though this is currently limited to O’Reilly titles) and even Igor, a citation bot. You can watch Igor in action here (though there’s no sound).

Interested and want to get a piece of the action? You can sign up for a Google Wave invite here or, failing that, beg one of your hip techy friends for an invite ;-)

But the big question is, will the Wave dance will catch on?

Christmas at the Library

Some Library staff have been getting very excited about the festive season, and thus are decking out their desks with Christmas cheer.  Below is one staff member’s desk who likes to share most in the Christmas spirit. 

We will put up more photos as the holiday season starts in earnest this week with multiple staff parties.

New Google stuff (no waving)

Just in case you missed the announcement (there was no announcement) Google have released a dictionary at: The default is English but via a dropdown you will see the service operates for 27 other languages also.  Cataloguing that book from overseas just got easier.

This complements its established translation service at: which works a treat too.

A trick that I always used when translating via Babel fish was, once I had the translated a piece of text, I would retranslate it back into English to see if it had lost its original meaning in translation. With this Google service, you can do that in one click via the swap languages icon:

When music and technology collide

Is there anything the new iPhone can’t do? Apparently not. It can even be used, in combination, to form an orchestra of sorts.

That’s right, an iPhone orchestra. And one at Stamford, no less! The orchestra perform by using their iPhones with the Ocarina, which is an electronic musical instrument “sensitive to your breath, touch and movements”, and which also has inbuilt GPS functionality to allow you to locate and play with other users.  The orchestra describe thier performance technique:

MoPhO’s interactive musical works take advantage of the unique technological capabilities of today’s hardware and software, transforming multi-touch screens, built-in accelerometers, built-in microphones, GPS, data networks, and computation into powerful and yet mobile chamber meta-instruments.

There are a few videos from their most recent performance available for viewing over at Mashable.

There is also another group of iPhone performers, the Zaboura Eichstaedt Experience, who have staged a number of performances and are currently touring Germany. Check out their performance (12 iPhone performers with 2 drummers) which utilises another iPhone app. called Bloom, developed by Brian Eno and Peter Chilvers.

Draft Report of the Government 2.0 Taskforce

While we are on the subject of comment on drafts (see previous post) the draft Government 2.0 Taskforce report Engage: Getting on with Government 2.0.  released today (7 Dec. 2009) is seeking your comments.  See

There is very much to applaud in the report, most librarians are public servants, and so serious consideration should be given to reports and projects such as this, how we use technology to work better, for us and our users is important. Let’s hope the report gains acceptance. Some of the recommendations if implemented would be very useful, not least the copyright aspects.

Some bits of interest.


Given that government should be inherently collective and collaborative, the potential of a Web 2.0 enabled approach to government – what we call Government 2.0 – is potentially transformative. It offers the opportunity to make representative democracy more responsive, and more participatory. The incorporation of Web 2.0 technology into government engagement offers a unique opportunity to achieve more open, transparent, accountable and responsive government.



To achieve Government 2.0 agencies need to:

Take much greater advantage of tools and practices to capture the expertise and experience of citizens, service users and front-line public service workers to enrich the knowledge from which public policy and service delivery decisions are made



The Taskforce believes that the existing culture of the APS focuses too strongly on online engagement as a risk, and quite inadequately on the huge opportunity it offers to provide greater access to the professional capability of public servants and to advance the mission of public agencies. The recent revision of the online engagement guidelines from the APSC represents an important step towards a culture that focuses on reward and not just risk.



Copyright law can be a major hindrance for archival institutions wishing to make their collections more accessible and useable.

What’s to disagree with

ALIA seeks feedback on a national vision and framework for public libraries

We would  like  to  hear  your  views  about  this  approach  to  creating  a  shared
vision and national framework for Australian public libraries.  Please feel free to
circulate  this  document  to  your  members  and  to  anyone  outside  your  own
organisation whose opinions would be valuable.

See the paper at:

I like:

We have so much to contribute to government priorities – social inclusion, community partnerships,
fairness and equitable access, support for working families, health, safety, well-
being, life-long learning and the digital economy.

Social inclusion – it’s what Libraries do, and not just because they are cool in summer and warm in winter.

As Senator Stephens said in a speech, discussing “the crucial role of libraries as community hubs, neutral spaces, places of learning and for gaining access to the internet and other sources of e-learning.”

Neutral spaces are a vital community factor, misperceived for their vitalness to society, for where else does it exist, no other covered public space remains where people may legitimately congregate without direct purpose. The old venues where all could freely mingle (the church, the market place) are no longer the hubs they were. One is no longer the institution visited by all, the other is now a large sterile commercial hub, mediated to seperate people from their money and from each other, and with security staff on guard specifically to prevent people congregating for any purpose other than bargain hunting.

This feeds into the concept of  ‘Library as place’ a little understood idea in Australia, but one widely studied and recognised in the US.

Australian author seeks copyright amendment

Leading Australian author John Birmingham has weighed in to the copyright debate with an article requesting that the government amend the 1968 copyright act to include digital works under legal deposit see:

Mr Birmingham would like to see archiving of Twitter pages that currently aren’t being gathered. Some Twitter pages for individuals such as the Australian PM  have been archived in Australia with permission, but the archiving of large swathes of Twitter on a theme or tag cannot currently occur as it would entail, as Birmingham says, contacting numerous authors.

Legal deposit is enshrined in most if not all countries laws, and it requires that a nominated National Library (and in some cases also some State or university libraries) recieve a copy, or have rights to recieve a copy of every work published in that country. The legislation in Australia only refers to paper works and so there is no requirement for digital works to be deposited.  Given that today a vast amount of material is published online only, there would appear to be a need to amend the legislation, if an adequate record of Australia’s cultural, intellectual and government activity is required.

Ssh! the musical

Well, almost … Katie Pearl, the daughter of the library world’s most famous action figure, Nancy Pearl, in collaboration with performance partner Lisa D’Amour and Emily Johnson, is staging a work called “Terrible things” which promises to take the audience “inside the many lives of Katie Pearl and her action-figure literary mom”.

Terrible things

Terrible things forms part of a series running at New York’s Performance Space 122 which seeks to explore “the role and ramifications of contemporary performance as a mode of articulating scientific theory and expressing our human experience of the laws and mysteries of the physical universe.” Terrible things does this by “exploring the multiverse though personal narrative, particle physics, and a shifting “set” of 600 marshmallows that stand in for particles, potential energy, and the sub-atomic realm.” Take a sneak peek.