Digital Doorway

I walked up the spiral staircase which led to the ALIA conference. In my mind was a picture of a land named Wikipedia which was full of all sorts of random information controlled by the public and edited on a whim by some with knowledge and some with evil intent.

In this picture of the Wikipedia information land there was a little door labelled “Public Library”. One could open the door and go down a rabbit hole into another more orderly information land full of reliable and useful information controlled by librarians wearing glasses and wielding sticks. Not really, I just put the bit about the sticks in to get your attention.

Well that’s what I expected to find at the ALIA talk titled “Digital Doorway:  gaining library users through Wikipedia” by Andrew Spencer and Brendan Krige from Macquarie University Iibrary. Turns out it doesn’t quite work the way I’d imagined. It is more like Thomas the Tank Engine, there is a controller and his name is John Mark Ockerbloom. He is otherwise well-known for his Online Books Page which lists over one million free online books, he invented it the Library Resource Box to create this digital doorway and he is the boss.

Ockerbloom is responsible for creating a nifty little tool called the Library Resource Box which is essentially a small piece of computer code which can be cut and pasted onto a Wikipedia page of your choice to add a doorway to the relevant resources your library has on the page topic. Anyone can edit Wikipedia pages, therefore anyone can add this link to their library in the external links/further reading section usually found near the bottom of a Wikipedia page.

The speakers hail from a university library and their talk discussed the results and procedure of a project involving first year university students. Students were shown how to use links from Wikipedia (created in advance with specially selected university Iibrary resources on the Biology topic) and then surveyed after completing an assignment to see how many of them actually used and found useful the links from Wikipedia page to library resources. The results were positive and the speakers enthusiastic. Just like one of those live videos of open-heart surgery the speakers also demonstrated a “live” page edit of Wikipedia which demonstrated the tool.

Of course there is a catch, indeed a few catches.

  • Libraries need to get themselves added to the list of libraries using this code and must submit a request to Mr. Ockerbloom to add them to his list of libraries. It is unclear whether there is cost involved in this or not.
  • The editing of each Wikipedia page is also manual so there needs to be people who are prepared to do some drudgery in the name of library linking.
  • There could conceivably be many many pages which could be edited by a library on many topics. If a Wikipedia page is about a notable person it is easy to link to as people on Wikipedia generally have something called a VIAF template meaning it is a simple code cut and paste job. However more general topics require some further more detailed work.
  • Another current problem is that there is no functionality using this tool on tablets and with more people beginning to use tablets these days this would need to improve for it to be a completely useful tool.

ALIA will be doing some information evenings with Wikipedia later this year and some editing workshops early next year which will touch on this tool among other topics. I am interested to see how it develops as it seems to have some potential for us to reach out to users who are searching for information but not coming in to the library.

Questions and possible answers Myra and I discussed after this talk included:

Does it cost money to be added to Mr. Ockerbloom’s list?

Further research is needed here, it appears to be free.

Is this a relevant and useful tool for public libraries as well as university libraries?

Yes, I think it has potential as a way to draw in non-library users or future library users as many people go to Wikipedia to start finding information on a topic, our information will not be quite as detailed as university students may require however may be useful for local history or student project purposes.

If we used it, what could we use it for?

It might be particularly relevant for local history pages on Wikipedia where we have very specific and relevant resources, or also local identities who may already have a VIAF code on their pages.

Who would perform the potentially menial time-consuming task of editing relevant pages?

Editing could perhaps be performed by Duke of Ed students or volunteers.

Would council/management/staff approve?

A future mini innovation project perhaps?

So lots of ideas were swarming around in my brain as I descended the spiral staircase back into the real world. It’s always great to go to a conference for some inspiration and motivation and to realise again that it isn’t just all about overdues and reported returns.

I didn’t even mention how very inspiring the keynote speaker talk by Marion Broadbent was and the very informative Majella Pugh from the University of Queensland talking about their project to prove the value added to the university by their library, but Myra and Ozge can tell you about that!


Twitter lists

Twitter list

One of the things I like about Twitter is the ‘lists’ feature. I use this to keep track of the various types of Twitter accounts I follow or, in some cases, don’t follow but want to check in with occasionally. I have a list called ‘librarians’, a list called ‘journals’ and so on. I also have a list of the accounts I think anyone interested in libraries and technology  absolutely must follow.

This list is called ‘Essential’. Twitter allows you to subscribe to someone else’s list, so if you’re interested you can do that. Or you can just follow everyone on the list (there are only 28 at the moment). This list is not an exhaustive one, and from time to time I change it, but everyone on the list is someone I think is whip-smart and interesting.

By Hugh

ALIA Melbourne 2014 Conference Report- The British Library in a Globalised World


ALIA Melbourne Conference 2014- Tuesday morning session

Keynote address:
The British Library in a Globalised World: Roly Keating – Chief Executive of the British Library

I’m a bit of a British Library nerd, what with the maps and all, so I was pretty excited for the opportunity to see this first keynote address at the ALIA national conference. The first thing that strikes you when you hear anything about the BL is the special role that this place plays as a cultural institution not just for Britain but for the whole of Europe and beyond. It is an institution that broadly expands what we understand a library to be.

And how amazing is this expansion. Not only do the BL take care of thousands of years’ worth of history in the form of literature and cultural artefacts but also curate the content of ‘now’ and what may be happening into the future. Their brilliant library website is a portal into the traditional library collection but also a place to showcase cutting edge digital curation and technology. And their building, discussed at the opening of the address, is the home of exhibitions and events.

Roly went through some of the projects that are currently happening at the BL. Most of these projects hinge on digitisation and the BL has a robust policy framework for digitisation into the future. The International Dunhuang Project: The Silk Road Online is digitising texts and artefacts from the history of the Silk Road and includes many major partner organisations from around the world. This looks very impressive and will become a major cultural resource for the whole world to enjoy. There is also the ongoing work of digitising illuminated manuscripts. Turning the pages is custom built software that allows users to read through priceless manuscripts from around the world and throughout history.

Apart from deciding I may have to run away to work for the British Library, my main take home messages from Roly’s presentation was the importance of the institution in preserving and making available the treasures of the world. He also mentioned Europeana and the Digital Public Library of America as partner institutions that are also doing fantastic work in this area.

The other main point that struck me here, and the following presentations, is one that I have been thinking about for a while now. That is the potential for libraries to bring to life their historical material using new technology. Via the internet, people from all walks of life can interact with texts and artefacts that would otherwise be inaccessible. The BL is working with digitisation projects in many languages and cultures, partnering with libraries, museums and the like from all around the world. There are such exciting examples of this work from the institutions mentioned above right through to public libraries.

I really believe that this is where library technology is at its best and the scope for projects in this area is endless and more so into the future as technology becomes easier to use. In a world where the book is becoming a file, these collections and our curation of them will define each public library and place libraries at the centre of cultural preservation for future generations.

Is it time for a data audit?

Consider these simple questions.

1. What stats are you collecting and for what purpose?

2. Is time spent collecting these stats justified?

3. What stats aren’t you collecting that you should be?

4. How are you using the stats that you do collect?

Is it time for a data audit at our library?

Deakin University thought so 18 months ago, and since then they’ve witnessed a definite increase in business efficiencies.

Want to know more about Deakin’s data audit and what else I learned on Tuesday 16th September at the ALIA 2014 National Conference?

Then Boroondara staff can take a squizz at my report on the L Drive:

L:\Professional Development\Conference Reports\ALIA 2014\Maclean-ALIA2014Conference


The Muffin Revolution

In June two of our staff members attended The Evolving Space: “Makerspace” seminar at the State Library of Victoria. They were inspired by how the libraries took a community-led approach to the creation of their makerspaces. Our library Manager asked them to hold a breakfast meeting, with muffins, and talk about community-led libraries with everyone. Thus, the community-led libraries discussion, aka Muffin Revolution, was born.

In a community-led library the community’s needs, wants and talents stay at the forefront of programs, events, collections, and policies. Community-led librarianship is about working in partnership WITH our community to provide library services FOR our community rather than TO our community.

The first Muffin revolution breakfasts happened on 5 August and 8 August. The goal for the inaugural meeting was introduce the concept of Community Led libraries and start thinking about how we can be more community led. In this workshop the participants considered three questions.

Question 1 -

Kindle Unlimited is here. Eventually people will be able to get all the books that they ever wanted to read for less than $10 a month. Where does this leave libraries? What are public libraries for, and what sort of services and experiences should we offer other than material to borrow or read?

· Library as a place. Participants said they see that the library is used for anything from a place to simply a place to be, a place to meet, a place to study and a place to engage with others that have similar interests.

· Emphasis of the “Local” in the Local public library. Local libraries are ideally placed to record the history of their area, curate local knowledge and know about the local community resources. We have a chance to truly specialise in what matters to our local community.

· Learning. We support our community’s learning needs for all age groups. It is a place where people can start their learning independently or through the guidance of information professionals. We offer programs and events to support people’s learning journeys. We need to examine ways we can connect people that are interested in learning about similar topics.

· We advocate on behalf of our community to ensure free access to information is maintained.

Question 2 -

How are we currently connecting with our community? What connections do you have as individuals already?

The best way to be community-led is to find and foster partnerships between the library and other community organisations. We had a discussion about who the staff are already connected to. We were pleasantly surprised with the variety of community groups the participants were connected with. We would like to take this step a further and speak with the people that could not attend to the workshop to fully learn which staff members can provide an “in” with certain groups. We would especially like to find staff members that are connected with the business and maker communities.

· Food: Our staff’s interest in food covers a wide range including community gardens, wine and craft beers, artisan bread making.

· Reading and books: Our staff’s interest in food covers a wide range including community gardens, wine and craft beers, artisan bread making.

· Outdoor groups: How can we bring in the “outdoors” into the library? We have staff members who are in travelling enthusiast communities, scouts, and geocaching and bushwalking groups.

· Sports: This was the most common community connection the workshop attendees had. From badminton, netball and footy to yoga, meditation, qi gong, dancing and cycling. Discussion ensued about how we can tap into the sports community, especially the footy fans.

Question 3A -

Based on your experiences talking to community members (on desk, in the street, waiting for coffee), have they given you any ideas for programs or services we could offer?

· Making and Creating: People have been asking us about ways they can create. They want to learn to create music, make films, draw anime and graphic novels and other creative pursuits.

· Connecting: Our community is asking us how they can connect with other people they have their interests. We received inquiries about connecting with book groups, travel enthusiasts, and gamers such as chess and card games.

· Learning: There is interest in learning about technology, local history, investment and finance.

Discussion ensued about how we can partner and connect with people who are experts in these types of programs and services.

Question 3B -

How can we capture these anecdotes and suggestions more effectively?

· A self-service option (online portal, tweet, instagram, a giant whiteboard, post it note board, suggestion box)

· A facilities approach (staff wiki, report back at staff meetings, a joint file for us to put the information in, question of the day)

We also need to capture the contact information of the patrons interested in these ideas so we can let them know that we listened to them.

Where to from here?

We will be building on these ideas in our business and strategic planning processes. What other ideas do you have for building community led library services? Share your thoughts in the comments!


Two publishing perspectives

Sue from Balwyn has read two things recently that she wants to share:

What Does Your Brain Like Better: Paper or Ebooks?

This article explores recent research and discussion about whether we learn better by reading things on screen or on paper. The answer seems to be …’it depends’.

Digital Roadmap for Libraries

This article briefly discusses and presents an infographic about moving to digital services. Javier Celaya notes:

“It’s no longer enough to have a social media presence or offer ebooks for loan; the new wave of technologies will transform library services and physical spaces.”

Reader’s advisory in a connected, digital world

Hugh Rundle:

Great post from Ros!

Originally posted on roslynirons:

After long deliberation about researching, writing and delivering this blog post I have decided that this is the place for me to think out-loud, online. That means that some of these ideas are very seed-like and this is an place for them to grow.

This first post is about modern reader’s advisory. These are just some initial thoughts and this will be a topic that I revisit.  It appears that libraries are doing less traditional readers’ advisory (RA) in today’s world. Factors such as digital connectivity through social media, unease in the risk adverse publishing world, the rise of self-publishing and ebooks, reformulation of the library’ role in society and monopoly-like domination of book markets by businesses such as Amazon are definitely impacting on us.  But sometimes it’s hard to see what the impact is and how to formulate a response.

RA is still happening but from my observations we…

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