Farewell to the NLA – hello to the new world

Today is the last day of work at the National Library for Kristy Fox an esteemed contributor to this blog. Kristy is moving to Melbourne to work at Ebook Library, a vendor providing ebooks to academic, research, government and corporate libraries. See their brochure.

Of the original founders of this blog who are still contributing, there is now only one still working at the National Library. This shows a number of things:

  • The National Library continues to lose its skilled library professionals, due to its management practices and lack of career advancement opportunities
  • Professional librarians continue to move outside of traditional library roles seeking improved opportunities and a chance to broaden their skills
  • The National Library continues to lead in big technology items like Trove, but its traditional services including reference, special collections, research, publishing, collection development, description and classification as well as its online services are more comparable to those of a small country museum than a national library

We do hope that the National Library finds its way, in the mean time, its former librarians wherever they work, will continue to better promote the core aims of librarianship elsewhere.

If you want to discuss ebook licensing, Kristy can be contacted at: kristy.fox@ebooks.com

New State Librarian for NSW

Congratulations to Alex Byrne, the new State Librarian of NSW, formerly of UTS.

Dr Byrne has been a voice for librarians in matters of intellectual freedom and opposing censorship for many years, and served as IFLA President, his appointment is most welcome.

In libraries, the defence of intellectual freedom is expressed through the unabashed provision of all the resources needed by our clients. But it needs to go further, as active support for freedom of expression. Our libraries should resound with many contending views, including the unacceptable, and indeed that which we might find hateful. In developing our collections, physical and virtual, we must keep this principle to the fore, actively making available controversial and contentious materials. In making such materials available, even those that we may find repugnant or just nonsensical, we are not endorsing their arguments, but upholding the essential principle of intellectual freedom. In the words of the IFLA Statement on Libraries and Intellectual Freedom, we are endeavouring to “make available the widest variety of materials, reflecting the plurality and diversity of society” and to “ensure that the selection and availability of library materials and services is governed by professional considerations and not by political, moral and religious views”. Dr Alex Byrne Libraries and Democracy


We can also be thankful that the position has gone to a librarian.

CAL survey results

The Copyright Agency Limited (CAL) have released the results from its survey of members’ views of digital publishing trends – surprise ‘both authors and publishers think the benefits of digital publishing far outweigh any of the downsides’ – less of a surprise was that most Australian publishers still had no strategies for digital publishing.

What was worrying was that Australian authors, still believe that publishers have an important role to play in digital publishing  – read it all here


Disclaimer - I am a member of CAL, they send me money.

British Library on strike

Last night via it’s twitterfeed the British Library announced that, due to strike action as voted by its union members, it’s ‘Maps, Manuscripts and Asian & African Studies Reading Rooms’ will be closed and that other reading rooms may also be closed at short notice.

Unfortunately this is not the first time such radical action has been undertaken, with reading rooms closed back in 1999 and 2002. Closed reading rooms have the potential to have a great impact on the library’s users. It has been surprising to see that this tweet barely made a plonk in the social media ocean… why are people not talking about this issue? If industrial action does not get the attention of library lovers everywhere – what will?

More transparency in the ACT

The ACT Government is moving towards further openness:

ACT Chief Minister Katy Gallagher, will make public access to information the default position of her Government as the first step in increasing openness of Government. Measures include release of a weekly summary of Cabinet issues and decisions and creation of an Open Government Website, which will be used to release government background reports and reviews; provide public access to material released through Freedom of Information; and access to submissions made during public consultation.

- Katy Gallagher http://chiefminister.act.gov.au/media.php?v=10789

Mills and Boon in the NLA

One of the authors of this blog, Kristy Fox, interviewed by the Canberra Times on the National Library of Australia’s Mills & Boon collection.

Canberra Times (http://www.canberratimes.com.au) article published 22 June 2011

Click on the image to go to the article

All about e-books

Cover of Views of the E-Book Renaissance

Views of the E-Book Renaissance

The latest issue of Information standards quarterly (ISQ) has just arrived, and this one is a special issue, Views of the E-book Renaissance.

Dedicated entirely to e-books, this issue:

presents the status of e-books from multiple perspectives—publishers and other content producers, librarians, and the many vendors who support their creation, management, sales, and distribution.

In short, it’s got something for (and from!) everyone, covering not only the relevant standards associated with e-books but with offering insights into how different sectors in the e-publishing world interact with one another. The full issue, and individual articles, are all freely available online.

Ownership vs leasing of library content

Every librarian take note:

The state librarian of Kansas, with the backing of state attorney general’s office, is planning to terminate the Kansas Digital Library Consortium’s contract with ebook vendor OverDrive and is asserting the bold argument that the consortium has purchased, not licensed, its ebook content from OverDrive and, therefore, has the right to transfer the content to a new service provider. – Michael Kelley, LJ

See the whole article at the Library Journal for more.

Have a vendor contract in your library (of course you do) then take note. Contract negotiation is going to get interesting from here on in. I know every public library system in Australia wants to sign any contract offered by any vendor (there might be a free pen in it), but think a little, some negotiation could save the library system and the taxpayer a fortune and preserve the content in the long term..






BL and Google

Google announced a couple of weeks ago that it was ceasing digitising newspapers, due somewhat to copyright issues.

However, it has not ceased digitising books.

The British Library and Google today announced a partnership to digitise 250,000 out-of-copyright books from the Library’s collections. Opening up access to one of the greatest collections of books in the world, this demonstrates the Library’s commitment, as stated in its 2020 Vision, to increase access to anyone who wants to do research.

Selected by the British Library and digitised by Google, both organisations will work in partnership over the coming years to deliver this content free through Google Books (http://books.google.co.uk) and the British Library’s website (www.bl.uk). Google will cover all digitisation costs.

This project will digitise a huge range of printed books, pamphlets and periodicals dated 1700 to 1870, the period that saw the French and Industrial Revolutions, The Battle of Trafalgar and the Crimean War, the invention of rail travel and of the telegraph, the beginning of UK income tax, and the end of slavery. It will include material in a variety of major European languages, and will focus on books that are not yet freely available in digital form online.

British Library press release

Check out my 900 field…

So this post is about a small cataloguing convention called an institution specific note. Unfortunately they cannot be seen in the end product – only on our internal system. A few months ago now when I was at the Canberra Zine Fair we acquired a copy of this gorgeous zine called First world youth cultures to be addressed : Mumbai sapphire edition by Nicholas Burns and Sam Bears. We had quite a lovely chat with the two creators as they decorated our copy – one of the adornments was a small NLA and a heart… my very generous supervisor agreed to allow me to record this in the record! Above is a screen shot of my record in progress. And this is a link to the catalogue record so you can see the end product!

‘N copy signed by creators and dedicated to the National Library of Australia with love.’


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The End Of The Library 

When the coal
Gave out, we began
Burning the books, one by one;
First the set
Of Bulwer-Lytton
And then the Walter Scott.
They gave a lot of warmth.
Toward the end, in
February, flames
Consumed the Greek
and Baudelaire,
Proust, Robert Burton
And the Po-Chu-i. Ice
Thickened on the sills.
More for the sake of the cat,
We said, than for ourselves,
Who huddled, shivering,
Against the stove
All winter long.
                      – Weldon Kees

Stupid, stupid, stupid

A stupid and pointless response to the Small Business Minister’s statement of fact last week, from a bookseller, shows exactly why physical bookshops are going to disappear.

Rather than develop a better business model or to have foreseen the 20 year on-coming of the e-book, the only solutions they have for a failed business is get the government to subsidise them and get the customer to pay more – they must be geniuses in the book industry.

The government – and especially its Small Business Minister – should support the book retail and publishing sectors, which employ more than 20,000 people. It must tackle issues such as the GST’s impact on book prices, and the free delivery of online books from Britain via Australia Post. And it needs to work harder to discourage Australians from buying globally via the web. If the government can’t fix our high dollar, it can certainly remind people of the damaging effects on our economy.
Read more: http://www.theage.com.au/opinion/society-and-culture/its-far-too-soon-to-be-writing-the-doomsday-book-minister-20110617-1g7zd.html#ixzz1PaIQNzBA

I mean, really, stop foreign online bookshops from using free delivery, how practical is that a suggestion.

Funnily enough, and not mentioned in the article is the fact that the biggest cost for bookshops and the whole retail sector is for rental of floor space, which is twice what is paid elsewhere in the world. Why do they not campaign about that and keep their businesses going by reducing costs. I suppose because its easier to blame the poor customer and screw them as per usual, and if you can’t continue to screw your customers, better yet, get the government to do it for you.

I would be worried about the future of bookshops if it meant a reduction in the sales or availability of books, but e-books are causing an increase in both.

Guardian online

The UK newspaper The Guardian is “embarking on a major transformation that will see us change from a print-based organisation to one that is digital-first in philosophy and practice”

See the whole press release here.

Unlike the Murdoch evil empire it is not doing this by removing its newspaper to behind a paywall – how’s that working for you so far, Rupert? but is continuing to do what it does best, produce quality journalism (aside from its art critic obvs) and incisive commentary, and, as was just done with the Sarah Palin emails (and before with WikiLeaks) allows its users to collaborate and crowdsource.

This is the future of big media – adaptation.