Australian Government Web Archive

After a bit of a wait the National Library has gone live with its Australian Government Web Archive.

The service allows users to access the archived websites in the Australian Commonwealth government domain. Currently accessible are harvests from  June 2011, March 2012, March 2013 and April 2013.

For content older and, in some cases, more recent than that available here, users should still access PANDORA.

It is to be hoped in the long run that content from the previous Australian Whole of Domain Harvests from c2004 will also be available here and that there will be an integrated TROVE, PANDORA, AGWA search.

But even as it is, the Digital Archiving Section of the NLA should be congratulated on producing this very useful service.

The Lemony Snicket Prize for Noble Librarians Faced With Adversity

 

It is of the opinion of Lemony Snicket, author, reader, and alleged malcontent, that librarians
have suffered enough. Therefore he is establishing an annual prize honoring a librarian who
has faced adversity with integrity and dignity intact. The prize will be a generous amount of
cash from Mr. Snicket’s disreputable gains, along with an odd, symbolic object from his
private stash, and a certificate, which may or may not be suitable for framing. It is Mr.
Snicket’s hope, and the ALA’s, that the Snicket Prize will remind readers everywhere of the
joyous importance of librarians and the trouble that is all too frequently unleashed upon
them.

Read more

Historic ALA posters

ALA poster

This 1921 poster from the ALA is very nice.

On one hand it very much fits into the US self improvement  through independent study ethos, as popularised by Andrew Carnegie and to some extent by Ayn Rand – though of course Randians these days don’t like any public services. The worker here is supposedly improving his chances at getting better employment by reading.

It could of course also be seen as an example of Communist/Anarchist art within the noble worker paradigm. The worker studying revolutionary literature to improve everybody’s chances at getting better employment.

Either way, I like the use of the term power within the poster. Whether it is a person’s individual potential or the power of the working class as a whole, it works.

This was brought to my attention by this article http://gizmodo.com/read-to-win-the-war-13-vintage-posters-promoting-ameri-1481958684 which also links to the originals.

For an interesting comparison here is a soviet poster from 1920, which says ‘Knowledge breaks the chains of slavery’

soviet poster

#saveADCA

Last week, Minister Fiona Nash, the Commonwealth Government’s Assistant Minister for Health made the decision not to continue funding the Alcohol and Other Drugs Council of Australia (ADCA). The Federal Government had made a commitment in April 2013 to provide funding for ADCA to 2015.

ADCA has a library and information service called the National Drugs Sector Information Service which is used by hundreds of doctors, social workers, psychologists and other health professionals working with the most vulnerable Australian families. The library has a collection of 97,000 essential and often unique items. 

Do what you can to help – ALIA have provided the ways you can contribute at: http://www.alia.org.au/advocacy-and-campaigns/advocacy-campaigns-0/save-drugs-library

 

Australian library wars of 1970 revisited

I read with some surprise an article – Fleming’s vision: the first computer for Australian libraries – in the current November/December 2013 issue of InCite written by Ian McCallum of Libraries Alive!

Of the many interesting features of the article are the following quotes:

Inevitably he stepped on some toes. The ‘elders of the Australian Advisory Council on Bibliographic Services (AACOBS) ‘ were wary of this newcomer with his background in management as the art of the possible rather than collection development and bibliography….  p.20

What a superb irony! The cold-shouldered ‘non-librarian’ shifted the National Library, and by example, other major libraries, into the red-hot world of information technology. Fleming’s understanding of technology in the future of libraries was much more professionally acute than the views of the ‘concerned librarians’ . p.21

Now I would have thought that people writing for a library journal would have some more regard to the fact that librarians would naturally support librarianship as a profession.

McCallum writes about librarian’s opposition to Allan Fleming’s becoming the senior librarian of Australia in 1970 as though somehow it was a bad thing. In fact those opposed to his elevation within the Concerned Librarians Group were sensible, correct and some of best librarians of the day. Any attempt to make out they were anything less is ill-judged. Those upset at the appointment were rightly concerned that instead of any of the highly qualified librarians in Australia getting the job, it was instead delivered as a gift from a politician to an unqualified but clubable ex-spy who’d been in the army and gone to the right school.

As to the further claim in the article that Allan Fleming was some sort of computer visionary who brought computers to the NLA, well really.

Major libraries worldwide were already of course getting computers, and the NLA would have gotten them whomsoever was in charge at the time. And in fact the first major Australian library to computerise their holdings was the U Syd Library run by the exceptional Harrison Bryan. The same Harrison Bryan (a later DG NLA) who didn’t get the position in 1970 because it went to Fleming.

Before and during Fleming’s time in libraries, there was a group of librarians running Australian libraries of a calibre not before or since seen. These librarians including Bryan, Whyte, Sharr, Horton, Balnaves and Pat and Ted Flowers wrote well and often, were respected in their fields and by the wider academic community and were also respected enough to be routinely asked to serve in a range of capacities by governments and organisations who recognised their knowledge and skills. Fleming no matter how benevolent he was does not deserve to be in their company.

Addendum, this attack on ‘concerned librarians’ also now appears in the latest issue of the Australian Library Journal - extraordinary!

Real librarians

We all know librarians hate stereotypes of librarians, which is why some are compelled to indelibly ink their skin and post public pictures of themselves or anonymously tell the world that they don’t like library patrons.
I’m not sure what they’re trying to prove with this, since basically no one but librarians cares about librarian stereotypes, and all the tattoos in the world won’t change anyone’s opinion.

- This totally, read it all

For the last x many years so many in the library profession have been whining about the ‘librarian stereotype’ of the severe older lady, the shoosher, the hairbunned spinster, the attractive man in tweed, etc. that was presented in the media.

It was not a stereotype that ever really connected with the public because they actually deal with librarians in all their diversity.

But some librarians, they take it all so seriously.

In recent years there has been elicited huge joy at the number of librarians who don’t fit the stereotype, through their hair, clothing, tattoos, makeup, muscles etc.

Doing this is all very well, but is problematic as it is merely based on how people look and not how they perform or are perceived. Of course, everyone should dress how they want, but this is just personal choice and shouldn’t be linked to the profession as a whole.

How about we develop a stereotype for librarians as professional, focussed, knowledgeable, disciplined, technology capable etc. ?

This month Incite is asking for contributions for its Jan/Feb 2014 issue thus:

do you know a hipster librarian?

We’re looking for photos, stories, out

of the box email addresses and zany

twitter hashtags, tattoos, ukuleles,

and all that creative energy. We want

to track it down and give it some

profile.

I just hope none are found.