What’s the next step in innovation for libraries?

14 Jun

Today someone asked me to “describe what would be a brave, bold step in your library? What changes would you propose to increase innovation?”.

Now i knew I was a little more cynical and jaded than 5 years ago, but I really couldn’t think of anything. For someone who spends as much time looking for challenges (or whinging about what should change as some would say) that’s a surprise.

Not so long ago I would have had an instant list:

Get rid of the webopac and have a single search box. 
However my wonderful library systems colleague has just introduced me to the idea of ubiquitous discovery, and how we should have all paths leading to our content, as the internet is so broad we cannot imagine all the ways people may want to choose to approach.
On a side note here: I fell into a day dream of the internet as a ocean, and our content as an island, and library information staff as Border Control police trying to say webopac access was shut and if you were on that boat you had to turn around.

Burn down the old unused material in my offsite store. 
However we currently have enough storage for the next few years, and the pressure is off. I can now value that fact that our Mills & Boon collection (the biggest in the Southern Hemisphere I believe) has led to 3 PhD’s, and that one of our current history professors is assessing his students knowledge through asking them to read old VCE history texts and write what has changed in historical writing. That value changes over time.


Buy hundreds of copies of our textbooks so every student can access one
Now I fear that if I do that publishers will truly never have the financial pressure to actually move to a new model of electronic textbook publishing. One where we can actually buy multiple copies of electronic textbooks without having to issue individual electronic keys.

Other pet peeves have happened now – like forced information literacy classes replaced by online context specific help; endless racks of shelving replaced by creative study spaces between the books; queues replaced by self checkout machines; RSI generators replace by self checkin machines; artists in libraries (see http://www.lib.uts.edu.au/about-us/artist-residence-program and die of jealousy).

So now I wonder what I would wish for?

Perhaps a giant UX lab as a translucent walled pyramid in the middle of the library. Where students can read about usability on their research and get involved.

Perhaps a Victorian College of the Arts student run mural on the regularly vandalised wall of my offsite store, painted by students from the secondary college across the wall (and hence hopefully fully aware of the local graffiti artists and able to tell them to keep their hands off the mural).

Definitely a better interface for agreed resource sharing schemes, so that students could do a single search for an item and be told where they can order it from.

Perhaps truly fun collaborative play in our library, such as a vampire skin on the library catalogue.

What would you do if you were being brave and bold in your library space? 

Or for those as old as me “The Bold and The Beautiful” …





Building on #blogjune – collaboration

13 Jun

whilst #blogjune in itself is useful,

(it gets me thinking about something in a positive way every day),

I remind myself each year to try and harness the discipline, creativity and enthusiasm generated from this shared activity into an ongoing collaborative practice. I rarely do follow up for long.

So this year I am looking for something that we can accomodate into busy lives, that skills us by practice, that can overcome geographic distance and is creative. @paulhagon and @malbooth did not seem to find the same level of excitement in #slyjuly as I did (they lack imagination).

So I discussed with @sallyturbitt the idea of sharing professional reading – link here 

I got some lovely feedback from @flexnib and @katedavis – link here

As I learn from doing I thought I may as well make this something to explore on a platform that I need to talk to students about. So I had a look at what we recommend for students as collaboration tools – link here

Then Sally did a wonderful blog post on online meeting forums – link here

Then I cheated and used my tried and tested “get answers quick” trick (crowdsoure from people on Twitter with more diligence than myself) – thread starts here

Possible options to try:

  • Feedly
  • Refworks
  • Evernote (I like this idea as I use this already but haven’t explored it)
  • Trello
  • Wunderlist
  • Google Hangouts
  • Dropbox
  • Blackboard community
  • Yammer group
  • @troveaustralia list of readings (would have advantage of listing all the local libraries others could read the books from)
  • WordPress: Would work with a monthly book review on this blogsite and then everyone else who reads it feeds into the comments
  • Goodreads
  • Librarything

Maybe I should create a #23professionalreadingthings

Anyone want to join me on shared professional reading? Vote for one of the above and say why.
Please add your contact handle in the comments. 

Doing nothing 

12 Jun

Today I did nothing mainly.

I packed up and left a wonderful beach house in Apollo Bay. Drove home listening to TED TALK podcasts from NPR.

Got home, unpacked, threw on a load of washing, sat down and watched some tv – can recommend Delicious and new series of Dr Who via ABC.

Then I slept quite a lot. Later I did some stretches and read a book.
Now not too long ago I would see today as fun but “wasteful”. Wasted opportunities. All those self help books that tell you to live every moment, squeeze achievements in everywhere and so on.
Actually the biggest problem was always an internal guilt voice that says “you should be doing something” on repeat.

That’s why I went away. Somewhere else other than your own house the internal To Do list takes longer to form, longer for the internal voice to gain volume.
However as I read more about building resilience I realise how important a complete break is. How calm and grounded it can leave you, how rested in mind as well as body.
I’ve read 3 books this weekend. I actually remember them. I engaged with how they were written and how I felt about their message. I will be able to apply that same focus next week. I will have built some more resilience reserve, be able to stay calm that little bit longer.
I’ll sleep well tonight. Internal voice  worried about doing things relentlessly safely bedded down for awhile.
Sleep well everyone.

Going off grid

11 Jun

If you are seeing this post today, it means that I have finally learnt to schedule correctly.

I’m off down the beach to a house without wifi, and possibly without internet access. Although this still induces some withdrawal symptoms now, a few years ago I would have seriously panicked.

I remember reading Susan Maushart’s “The Winter of our Disconnect” in bookgroup 10 years ago, and being really annoyed that she didn’t seem to see the benefits that technology offered in terms of connecting with others. It was a time when I was battling with colleagues to be allowed to type on my ipad in meetings (you are supposed to be paying attention, it’s impolite), let alone get them to share documents within a session or consider a Skype meeting.

Now I’m a bit more open to having time off, as it helps me separate work/life. I’m happily now carrying two phones, one work, one personal – and I only take the work one with me during work hours. I’ve taken work email settings off my personal phone and by the time I have worked out the fiddly way to log into webmail, I have usually talked myself out of my need to check my work email.

I will be taking preloaded ebooks and podcasts with me to the beach, as well as using my phone as my camera. I’m not anti technology. I just cope better without being hooked into the net all the time.

Happy long weekend everyone

Good platform for a bookclub?

10 Jun

#blogjune has grown from @flexnib original hashtag idea into a self sustaining, ongoing challenge. It itself has inspired other thoughts into reality, one off activities, ongoing practices.

I’d love to hear from all of you out there what #blogjune has led to for you; either as blog posts or in the comments. Who knows – it could lead me to FINALLY do a presentation with @flexnib at a library conference somewhere on “Innovative ways to approach professional development” #notlikely.

@paulhagon has still not accepted my brilliant (and completely unpaid) professional development opportunity for #SlyJuly but the month is still young and I may yet wear him down. Or @malbooth and I may bring it out ourselves as a Christmas special (no technical ability will be provided in such an offering).

Something I would like to do though is start sharing our reading on professional development somewhere central. @SallyTurbitt and I are going to read the same books and try and share out thoughts.

So what collaborative platforms are you all into? What do you recommend for such a format?

And of course you are all invited to join …

Twitter why?

9 Jun

I often get asked why I am on social media. I think it’s a strange question from other librarians, as it’s such a part of our work. I especially don’t like the passive aggressive approach “You must have so much spare time if you can be on social media”. I think it saves me times, especially if I need to crowdsource information.

So I thought I’d lay out some positives about Twitter tonight.

1) Connects you with others in your profession with your interests

I joined Twitter after a VALA conference many years ago. I had met and befriended a lot of librarians at this conference who had my sense of humour, liked to talk about challenges and liked technology. We had used Twitter throughout the conf to share what we were hearing in different sessions as well as where to meet up in the breaks.

So we continued to use it once the conference was over. It allowed us to have quick fast conversations on emerging topics/gossip, share jokes and share links to pertinent research to read. It is the most up to date I have ever been in a professional development sense, for the least effort.

Twitter established a real network despite geographic distances between us. A group of librarians interested in the same things, pushing boundaries and supporting each other. I am still in connection with that network and it has broadened. Some of the members are now University Librarians, some are still cranky sideline hecklers like myself, and @malbooth has managed to combine the two. Many members have moved jobs repeatedly (whilst I have resolutely stayed still) and yet we can all still shoot off a Twitter message to each other at any point.

So find a social networking tool for yourself (doesn’t need to be Twitter), find your tribe, and gain yourself a support network outside your current study/work group. 

2) Social media is fun.

See this fabulous twitter conversation from the other day https://twitter.com/kimtairi/status/872705291611127808 wherelse are you going to go from presentations to glittery cat turds, to the Coles jelly aisle?

3) Twitter really allows introverts to actively participate in conversations. For extroverts like me, who can exhaust people in a face to face conversation, this is a great tool to engage with others at their preferred time and level of participation.

I watch a great SBS2 tv show called “If you are the one”. It’s a fantastically forthright Chinese dating show. Whilst watching, reading subtitles I add in an extra level of difficulty by tweeting commentary with the #ifyouaretheone

I’ve met virtually a whole heap of funny, informative, witty people who also love this show. We banter, exchange background information and have established a drinking game. The point is I have also met many of this self elected #wanggang in person. A few are as loud as I am. A few are as crazy (I joked that  @breakfastbatman should wear a Batman suit when we met up so that we would know who she was AND SHE DID. It was amazing.) however many are not. They are quiet people who look exhausted after a few hours with me. Yet we are still ongoing virtual friends – they cheer me up when I’m down, we know bits of each other’s lives, I would live a less rich life without them.

So whether you are an introvert or an extrovert, find a social media tool that will allow you to meet a diverse range of personalities, on your own terms. 

4) 140 character limit. This is great. You have to be concise. Besides being a great skill for every manager to learn, it means that if you follow leaders in your profession who like to keep up with professional literature e.g. @malbooth @kimtairi @drmattfinch  @sirrexkat just reading a few brief entries will give you links to current open access reading on emerging trends, usually from a much broader field of disciplines than the library journals will give you.

Happy long weekend people.

Smile as if the world is watching

8 Jun

Today I made everyone I met smile.

Honestly every one. Just by walking around in this hat:

Some people even came out of their offices especially to comment on it.

Other people’s smiles are so infectious. I feel really happy myself.

I must remember to try and smile at people more often, even without my hat on.

Hope everyone got a few smiles themselves today 😃