Library seeds

The library is less a government public funded service, as it is a living breathing biological organism, that has feelings, emotions, and desires- the most prominent of these desires being the need to mate and reproduce. So prominent is the burning libido of the library that it takes the world’s sexiest people to keep the library in check – to stop it from doing naughty things. Librarians are well regarded as the sexiest people in the world. Librarians are often required to wear protective clothing such as heavy glasses and frumpy cardigans to work. These protective items are less for the safety of the librarian, and more for the safety of the general public, who would otherwise be powerless to resist their sexy supremacy.
Through a carefully cultivated process, the sexy librarians allow the general public to take books, or ‘library seeds’, out of the building. The public then act as a honey bee would, leaving the books on bus seats and at the back of cupboards, thereby fertilizing other buildings and growing new libraries.

- Vera Bermuda in The Vine – go read it all.

Public space

The enemies of public service broadcasting always want to atomise it, to split so-called market failure genres which may deserve public funds from so-called commercial ones which definitely don’t. They say it’s all about the programmes. Yes and no. The clue actually is in the title – public service broadcasting. It’s about services as well as individual programmes. At its best – and, of course, we don’t always succeed in delivering at its best – public service broadcasting is woven of whole cloth.

And, just like the wicked old British Library, it’s founded on the idea of public space – in other words, on the belief that there is room for a place which is neither part of government or the state nor purely governed by commercial transactions, which everyone is free to enter and within which they can encounter culture, education, debate, where they can share and swap experiences.

- BBC director general Mark Thompson giving the James MacTaggart memorial lecture on public broadcasting (and libraries). Full text at: http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2010/aug/27/mark-thompson-mactaggart-full-text

Questia online library

Looking at the Questia online library for iPhones (http://www.questia.com/questialibraryplus) it looks quite good, 99 US cents for access to 5000 books, and for a further ongoing fee access to more current information sources – selected by librarians they say.

But in their advertising they have this below which is a bit unfair.

Questia library advertising

Unbelievable, I can’t think of any major library that doesn’t have a change machine!

Colour coded bookshelves

There is a generic urban-myth type story that every librarian has heard, about the patron who is looking for a book, and who knows nothing of the author or title but knows that the cover was a certain colour.

Well, in a library that used this type of classification system, no problem.

On the spine label I would suggest instead of the Dewey or LC number that we could use the Hex Colors system used for the web. So that for instance if I wanted a book in a particularly nice pink I would look under #FF 69 B4

color coded bookshelves

BTW, did you know you can search Google images on a particular colour (see below) but as yet you cannot search Google books for colours, this no doubt will come.

pink images in ff 69 b6

Australian Hansard

Do you ever use Hansard (the proceedings of the Australian federal parliamentary chambers and committees)?

If so, you may want to take this survey to help improve the service.

There is also a blog at: http://hansardinthe21c.wordpress.com/ that you may care to peruse.

This is a blog produced as part of a project to consider the role that Australian Hansard should play in the 21st century. It will cover the hardcopy and electronic iterations of chamber and committee records of Australian parliamentary debates. It will reflect on the purpose and function of the Hansard record from Federation in 1901 to the present day in terms of technological change and a possible shift in user expectations.

Hansard volume

Facebook and privacy … around and around and around

When it comes to privacy, Facebook seems to have developed a program of responding to users’ concerns after the fact. Whilst I commend their desire to innovate and deliver new services to their users, a little forethought wouldn’t go astray. This infographic from Mashable says it nicely. Click on the image to enlarge.

Facebook and privacy

Add to DeliciousAdd to DiggAdd to FaceBookAdd to Google BookmarkAdd to RedditAdd to StumbleUponAdd to TechnoratiAdd to Twitter

Save LA libraries

Let’s begin by introducing you to my first boyfriend. We began our courtship when I was three. His name was ‘Rockville Centre Public Library’.

Read it all here

Wherever you look in the world librarians are struggling with this economic downturn. All we can do for our colleagues is raise awareness – http://www.savethelibrary.org/ and express solidarity.
If you can think of something more concrete let me know.

Yahoo search is going and Bing wont be able to find it

The death of Yahoo search after many years of valuable service is imminent. Yahoo was one of the early big players in search (with AltaVista which it later bought) and has had a long and distinguished history of providing search services.

Bing has now replaced the Yahoo search function on the US Yahoo website according to this report in Mashable.
It hasn’t happened yet in Australia, which is evident by the fact that searching with Yahoo still returns useful results.

Yahoo will apparently retain some of its functionality, so it may not be entirely a lost cause. It would be a shame if there was no other good search than Google as competition keeps technology healthy.

Information Commons

Libraries are good at keeping published scientific and academic works, now they are organising and making accessible the data that has been created in the research process to create those publications. Funding under the Super Science initiative for an Australian Research Data Commons is being directed to the National Library to build a system based on People Australia .

Being able to access and thus re-use and mash-up research data from Australian government organisations and universities will be another step in the information commons that Australia is becoming. With online publishing and archiving, adoption of Creative Commons licences, mass digitization, the growth of academic repositories, recent Open Government initiatives and library created discovery tools we are entering an unprecedented age of information access.

Which leads me back to the previous post which was about falling attendance at UK public libraries.
It is not so very many years ago that the fountain of all wisdom was an encyclopedia in the reference section of a public library. There was literally, unless one was wealthy and owned a set of encyclopedias, no other way that one could find information. Now that reference information and help is available online from libraries, the physical reference section of a public library is often an ill-used and out-dated space as are the books within it.

As librarians we are good at building or having built for us systems that allow access. But access to information is not something that libraries need to worry about so much anymore. So what shall we become good at now?

More and more, I find that the library profession’s efforts to stay relevant in the age of information technology are in fact eroding our relevance. As a result of these efforts, it is becoming less and less clear what we offer that is different from what everybody else offers in the information economy. The reason is that our response to change around us has mostly been to repress those aspects of librarianship that are not directly reflected in new technological tools that other people claim as their domain more securely than we do. We keep saying that as librarians we are web designers, information architects, web searchers, information scientists, user experience experts, and on and on, when each of those things is already a profession filled with people who make a stronger claim to it than we do. What we can claim is librarianship, yet most people – not only outside but within the profession – have forgotten what that consists of other than “books.” – Rory Litwin LibrayJuice blog

Oh and what shall we fill that old reference area with? I think we need more library staff to fill up that space, imagine a library with lots of staff who were both knowledgeable and with an ability to communicate with people!

UK public libraries under threat

There is much debate on the position of public libraries going on in the UK at the moment in response to a government report which found a strong decline in library use.

Since 2005/06, there has been a steady decrease in the proportion of adults visiting a public library (from 48.2% to 39.4% in 2009/10), although rates remained stable between 2008/09 and 2009/10.
The decrease in library visits is consistent across all socio-demographic groups.

What worries me is that this report seems only to be talking about physical visits, has there been an analysis of virtual visits, are virtual visits being counted as library use? If not they should be.

The suggestion from the government is that libraries should adapt to changing times by losing all that they are and should be, by moving into shops, being run by volunteers etc.
See BBC coverage here and here.

Already in the past year there have been numerous public library closures across the UK, and this trend seems set to increase. We can do little but express solidarity with our librarian colleagues overseas.

Over here we can keep making our libraries relevant so that we do not face a similar situation.

Update – the report indeed only counted physical visits. Given that most if not all public libraries offer a telephone or online (or both) service in which library transactions are made, it is ridiculous that these transactions were not counted merely because the patron did not enter the establishment.
How can libraries offer real and useful online services, including, requests to purchase, reservations, renewals, reference services etc. if these services cannot be counted as legitimate transactions.

Election roundup

So the election is over. All commentators have seemingly agreed that although the public extensively used the Internet to converse, comment and campaign, the parties in the main were absent from the process.

There still does not seem to be a way that political parties can successfully use the Internet to their advantage as a medium to communicate to the electorate.

But then again, those few politicians who do use the Internet well, do not seem to be guaranteed any great electoral success. So maybe the role of this medium is not one that is conducive to electioneering.

So to the result, as seen through the prism of librarians. Given the parties standings, we can expect a windfall of development, infrastructure and aid to regional Australia. One part of that will probably be the NBN which will be rolled out to country areas post haste.
On the part of libraries, this is an opportunity to expand their roles in these areas, to be part of the regeneration of rural Australia. To be the hubs of information and education.
Having been in Queensland this past few days, I can see that already there are libraries outside of metropolitan areas that in quality of services already far outstrip those available in most Australian cities.
The new political make-up may be an opportunity for libraries that comes only rarely.

Broadbeach public library

Your correspondent in Queensland

facebook Places – letting others know when you’re out (so you can meet up, not so they can rob you)

facebook places image Robbing UR HAUS

Facebook has today launched its new geo-location service facebook Places (in the US only at first).

Is this goodbye to Foursquare? Maybe not, but, it will certainly be Hello! to new privacy panics by the mainstream media.

And no, updating your facebook page is safe, this is a mobile app, you have to request.