Etiquette for librarians

Being a librarian is hard work. Your skills are under constant scrutiny, whether you are on the front line dealing with clients or cataloguing your library’s newest works in readiness for circulation.

So how can you be the best librarian you can be? Take heart from the clever suggestions and observations over at A librarian’s guide to etiquette. Afterall,

Your proficiency as a librarian can be measured solely through your ability to un-jam a printer without getting toner on your hands.

It’s the future, we’re just living in it

Daniel Sinker has created a fantastic project in which he uses the 1972 book “2010 : living in the future” by Geoffrey Hoyle to explore whether or not the future has lived up to 1972 expections. It contains full images and text from the book, along with commentary.

It even describes what the library of the future might look like:

A very popular room is the library. There are no books. The floor is shaped into tables and benches. Built into these tables are hundreds of vision phones. The books, films, and newspapers are all stored in the library computer.

First you dial the library index. This file contains all the books that have ever been written. It does not matter whether they were first written in Chinese or French. They will be here, translated into English. There is also an index of films and newspapers. You could spend all day watching comics, but it wouldn’t be a good idea.

Amazingly, it seems like Hoyle must have been reading our blog from his 1972 world on his vision phone. Plus, he seems to have the whole work-life balance thing sorted. I want to live in his world.

Students in the library

Last week, I mentioned the New York Times piece on the future of school libraries. They have a follow up piece this week which highlights the views of a range of students in regards to what they use their library for, how they use print and electronic media and where they think school libraries might end up in the future. It’s interesting to read what’s going on now and compare where students (and not just industry insiders) think libraries are headed.

The future of the book in school libraries

A lot of things have changed since I was in school. The school library of my day was composed mostly of books, with open spaces with chairs for reading, tables for study and a limited number of computers for use by the librarian alone, with a rudimentary library management system. This gradually morphed into the incorporation of additional computers with a limited number of databases for student use (generally only availabe on CD) and, later, more computers were added and more databases, with the inclusion of electronic subscription services.

But what of the books in the school library? Changes are, inevitably, afoot in the school libraries of today as electronic information becomes more readily available. The Room for debate blog, over at the New York Times, has a series of interviews with some prominent library types discussing the future directions of the school libraries of today, including their use of print and electronic media.

Bibliothèque Nationale D’Haïti

The building of the National library is safe, the shelves and holdings have shifted…we will prevail …our building is the only one standing in the whole area.

I have not yet been able to locate all the personel, but half of them are safe…we keep on checking.

- Françoise Beaulieu-Thybulle

From the IFLA website at:

We here at the National Library of Australia, send our fraternal greetings and best wishes to our Haitian colleagues. We trust you will prevail and that all staff are safe.

Here is a view of the National Library post the earthquake

For general views of post earthquake Haiti, Google have put together this page.

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?

Technologies in libraries

How are new technologies integrated in your library? Over at ALA Techsource, there’s an interesting blog post about the assumptions (or “sacred cows”) of technology in the library world.

I particularly liked the dicussion about technology being “the domain of the few”. In progressive workplaces, this seems to be on the way out, with the use of multiple technologies being used and experimented with by a number of work areas. “A library organization whose librarians and staff are empowered to experiment with technological solutions or who are given tools to create their own digital content will be more nimble and able to respond to the changing technology needs of users.  Ideas for meeting information or collection needs with a technological tool will be more widely accepted—and therefore more successful among staff—if those ideas originate in the departments that will use those tools.”

What is this blog if not an aspect of that very idea? A step in the right direction.

State Library of South Australia

As a few of you may know, I recently took a trip to Adelaide where I happened to stumble across the State Library of South Australia. The older wing of the library is beautiful, although the photos don’t quite do it justice! Click on the photos below to enlarge.