Tag Archives: libraries

VALA – keeping me engaged with library trends

27 Oct

Just been to a great VALA general meeting “There’s an app for that”. I enjoyed the presentation a lot (see Twitter under #VALA for my notes).

However what has me hooked and going back to regular meetings, is the informal setting always offered before and after these meetings. Here I get to catch up with old friends, meet f2f with Twitter friends and talk to new people with an interest in emerging trends in libraries. A true measure of my enjoyment in these events is that tonight I actually paid an annual membership (yes I know my own faults) even though it only lasts for 6 months.

Basically VALA is becoming the f2f version of my wonderful Twitter support network.

And in the same way as my Tweeps, in these meetings not everyone agrees with me, or is polite and understanding. Quite the opposite: it means that a range of people speak and ask questions at a range of levels of understanding about emerging trends in librarianship. Opposing viewpoints get airtime and assumptions are repeatedly challenged. Repeatedly people bring topics that have gone off tangent back to – what can this mean for libraries? – without aiming to close the conversation, but because that’s our central focus. I feel stimulated, challenged, and ENGAGED. Wonderful really.

Tonight we learnt about apps, iPhone v Android v iPad usage – on topic. However conversations during and after ranged all over the place, including my love for circulation improvements. It’s amazing what I have missed happening right here in Victoria. Apparently Altona North already has ARS working. And interstate apparently Adelaide Council had RFID placed on the roof above their exit doors (removing the need for exit gates – a sad but real dream of mine). So next week (would be tomorrow but just a few more meetings tying up this week) I’m going to call the contact I’ve been given and see if I can tap into a recently run tour for public librarians for some of us academic library staff too. And get inspired with some of the fabulous staff I work with.

And then after that I’m going to think about talking to @haikugirlOz [ in her VALA elPresidente hat] I want something like a day, perhaps a “seminar” before VALA conference.  Where we have one a big room, and every library that wants to has a stand that shows what they’ve done that year (from basic circ policies up to RFID), and we all go around and talk to each other. Cause it’s where the real strategic planning starts … at the chatting with others stage.

We’re just trolleying along …

24 Oct

Very exciting this week – in the small world of Library circulation automation that is an integral part of my existence : – )

On Wednesday QLS arrived to install our new automatic trolleys on the ERC Library 5 bin ARS (Automated Returns Sorter). It’s been working for awhile now happily with bins, however some funds were made available to trial a trolley that loads itself. Will be good to do some actual real evaluation on time savings, manual handling benefits, staff feel etc as opposed to emptying bins onto manually loaded trolleys.

We bought 2 trolleys and a stacker (bit you plug them into on the ARS) and will be using it only on 1 return slot, alternating trolleys whilst one is being taken downstairs to be unloaded. Remaining 4 slots will have bins.

Automatically loading trolley next to a automatic raising returns bin on ARS at ERC Library, University of Mebourne

Pro’s: Don’t have to load from bin to trolley; it works! no books on floor yet.

Con’s: Only 1 shelf – as opposed to when manually load trolley can have 4 shelves – so more trips up and down in the lift; Fairly loud bang when a heavy book drops onto the shelf (will try and get some sample video next week); you can’t have a trolley where the exceptions bin is. (We had planned to use it there, but are trialling it on another section now : – ))

Anyone want to come and see it let me know : – ) r.baxter@unimelb.edu.au
I’ll make sure the estimable Robert (poor guy I draft in as my implementer for my flings with technology) is available to answer technical questions, whilst I dance around going “Look, look, it’s new, so cool, press this button”.

See my Youtube for a video of how the trolley raises with books on it.

I thought I had a video of the books actually coming out of the return slot and landing and stacking but apparently not. Will get one next week or go check out the QLS webpage on the unit we bought – the Libretto ARS

#Octshowntell Week 3

24 Oct

Well I only just made it this week.

cartoon of 3 panels about purse being lost & returned by kind woman

Been a bit hectic. Still a bit of discipline is good for me, and I’ve been inspired by everyone’s efforts all week. Google Search Stories has had a bit of a trial from some of the members. This has to be a tool we can use to connect with undergrads if you’re still doing Info Lit out there!

Jaygee http://t.co/9e6kj9A or http://bit.ly/av5wXN or http://bit.ly/9GTXDh

Peta http://inn0vate.glogster.com/fairytale/ and http://goo.gl/fb/4yUdL

Sally http://www.pixton.com/comic/pwd0hsho and http://bit.ly/bDKotZ

newgradlib https://sites.google.com/site/octshowntell/newgradlib

Polyxena http://animoto.com/s/Q0zf9EmQrBWhvU2G47bjvg and http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E-VmuuY2mu0&feature=youtu.be&a

restructuregirl http://www.toondoo.com/View.toon?param=2266850

dpgreen http://storybird.com/books/stress-poem-10/

Ceridwyn http://storybird.com/books/mummys-weekend-away/

Now – apparently the twitter #Octshowntell search is not working well, so PLEASE, PLEASE let me know if I have missed your creative piece this week so I can put it up for more to see : – )

New tools:

Google Search Stories

** Don’t forget others talking about #Octshowntell or digital storytelling:



I learn technology

#Octshowntell gets it’s groove

13 Oct

Thanks everyone for coming on board with #Octshowntell

Seems to be developing nicely. For myself, finally, after staring at iMovie for many years considering it, I jumped in, tried it, and discovered it was (of course) easy. Now have a nice free babysitting video that no parent can claim is too commercial : -)

Week 2 –

things we have learnt so far

  • Week 1 was about just having a go; Week 2 is about actually planning some of it : – )
    Jaygee is learning about layout and embedding.
    I’ve struggled with uploading in the right compression format to YouTube (otherwise your video that looked so great on your desktop looks extremely pixallated on everyone else’s screen)
    and lots of others are matching music to content, or information to format with more confidence and flair
  • there is nothing fun that cannot also be used as a library learning aid (see Sally or Jaygee or Ceridwyn examples)
    As haikugirloz points out, some of these will be useful tools to add multimedia content to library classes
  • Silent movies or voiceovers are a good starting option
  • if you want to get a lot of information into a sign a cartoon could be clever (see bonitoclub example)
  • iMovie is easy
  • there are great sites for copyright approved music
  • vimeo and google groups are not that easy to open to others
  • storybird doesn’t let you embed anywhere else unless your settings are public #encouragingopenaccess
  • you only get 30 sec free on animoto
  • storybird will remove your offering if you mention commercial products eg E**note
  • everyone who has joined this is fantastic, and is experimenting away with interesting results across a full range of topics
  • An Art Gallery has used the idea of digital storytelling to integrate with the wider community

Examples can be viewed at –

Ceridwyn http://animoto.com/s/C23OarK69DwO0v0cdt20mg

Peta  http://storybird.com/books/an-excellent-adventure/

bonitoclub  http://www.toondoo.com/cartoon/2185447

haikugirlOz  http://haikugirloz.com/my-first-animoto-for-octshowntell

jaygee http://jmcgblogging.blogspot.com/2010/10/week-2-october-show-and-tell.html

restructuregirl http://bit.ly/9KhLAe

Jo http://animoto.com/play/w0H824YYrhJXmJqAnyeRiQ

sally sets forth http://storybird.com/books/the-helpful-librarian-aka-the-green-fairy/

newgradlibrarian https://sites.google.com/site/octshowntell/newgradlib

kalgrl http://ferallibrarytales.blogspot.com/2010/10/happy-birthday-to-andrea_12.html

@stephmcg http://www.toondoo.com/cartoon/2187531

And if I have missed anyone (due to tiredness only) please remind me in comments!


New resources include:


31 digital storytelling sites care of @petahopkins



8 Oct

Thanks to everyone who is joining in #Octshowntell.

If you don’t know what this is read my blog entry on the new challenge.

It’s actually been more challenging finding an easily accessible single point of storage for our efforts, than it appears to have been to try the new tools. So we have a Vimeo group, a Google group thanks to @newgradlibrarian and then all your own various blog sites. For the latest offerings just search twitter for #octshowntell

Anyway in the interests of keeping some sort of record for the future I’m going to list as many of the efforts as possible here too. Please just add a comment with any new ones you try.


Week 1.

Jo at http://storybird.com/books/four-day-weekend/

Tony at  http://animoto.com/play/zplIYseCt6LH1PH0umWgwQ or http://bonitoclub.wordpress.com/2010/10/06/october-showntell-octshowntell/

Jaygee at http://jmcgblogging.blogspot.com/2010/10/october-show-and-tell-challenge.html

HaikugirlOz at http://haikugirloz.com/storybird-digital-storytelling-tool-octshowte

Sally at youtube.com/​watch?v=psLIT786zJA or http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RgMoATMOWZI&feature=youtu.be

Ceridwyn at http://prezi.com/js8coo04jcfs/the-copyright-story/

bookgrrl at http://storybird.com/books/if-music-be-the-food-of-love-play-on/

Greengecko29 at http://www.makebeliefscomix.com/Comix/?comix_id=2983763C313427

MissSophieMac at http://misssophiemac.blogspot.com/2010/10/digital-storytelling-with-voki.html?

KatieTT at http://www.makebeliefscomix.com/Comix/?comix_id=26532238C313409

Greengecko29 pixton.com/​uk/​comic/​lz04c3u4

restructuregirl at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jCR11bwsgjg

David at http://animoto.com/play/AwfDzcUjfRf0Vbnyu01ulQ

pmcgowan at http://www.toondoo.com/View.toon?param=2183953

Peta at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AU6Lbk4et-w


Intro to vlogging – http://twitcam.livestream.com/24a1t orhttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H7Z7OJxnSoQ

Digital storytelling tools – Storybirdanimotoxtranormalglogster,voicethreadanimashermakebelievecomicsvuvoxprezi
Example : http://prezi.com/7okmswx_ex40/power-of-storytelling/

Copyright approved music you can use –

Also new resources have been trialed:

pixton.com or toondoo.com for making your own comics

And now for some fun – with pirate hats

9 Sep

Yesterday Mal Booth got a little restless up at the UTS library. He chatted to some colleagues. He decided to do something silly just because he could. Discussions with his staff and his Twitter group led to a challenge for next Wednesday 15 Sept. We’re spreading the challenge through social media and seeing how it goes. For those of you who are asking, the reason we are doing this is #noparticularreason The reason it’s in a library is because some of us are librarians or work in libraries. It’s really simple and it is about having fun : – )

Wear a pirate hat next Wednesday 15 Sept in a library.

Then share your frivolity, silliness, playfullness with the world, by exploring social media and using the tag #piratehatsWednesday

You may want to put up a blog post or make a statement on Twitter/Facebook/Myspace

You may choose to add a photo of your or other’s hats to the Flickr group http://www.flickr.com/groups/1472829@N25/ or get carried away and do a Youtube video or a quick video snapshot on http://12seconds.tv/

You might get inspired and bake pirate hat goodies (all contributions for tasting can be sent to Mal Booth, UTS, Sydney)

Instructions on how to make pirate hats can be found here and here and here

This activity already has celebrity engagement (although we’re happy to hear about more)

Library … on trust

23 Jun

One of the things we are about to try is a library on trust!

Spine label on book

Our Engineering Faculty upgraded it’s student study facilities last year, and moved their branch library out to gain more student space. Library hub for them is close by and it was felt that students wouldn’t need books anymore in a subject where lots of the material has been purchased electronically.

Of course, textbooks are the last evil holdout on this, and the students were soon looking for textbooks close to hand, whilst working in these lovely new 24/7 swipe card access rooms and computer labs.

So the Faculty is trialling using some of their annual allocation to buy items and store them in a swipe card access room in the new area.

No exit gates, no borrowing, no security cameras, no watchful librarians. Library on trust ….

Both the Faculty and the Library are hoping for positive results.

RFID and Smart Shelves!

19 Jun

I’m really interested in how libraries are using RFID. If you know a library that has it, or indeed your library uses it, could you let me know?

For those of you without, RFID stands for Radio Frequency IDentification. Tags that have this enabled allow transmission of stored details through radio frequency waves, and hence are proposed to replace the barcode in libraries. It has been used for inventory and stock control in warehouses for some time, and could be used for similar tasks in libraries.

For a full explanation of how RFID works see Wikipedia especially the history of their entry into the library world.

In the circulation world I see the biggest benefits as removing repetitive manual handling tasks, for both borrower and for library staff:

  • RFID enabled Self Service  machines allow borrowers to set down on the reader up to 8 books and they are checked out in a pile. No more explaining how to align the spine and barcode, no more asking borrowers to checkout each book separately!
  • blogged earlier about how we are using RFID media tags, along with a ARS (Automated Returns System), to remove the manual handling we had with our dvds. They are high use items, and have to be opened each time they are returned to make sure they have the correct dvd in them. Now RFID tags store information about matching case and dvd as a set, and the automated returns system checks them on return. Removing manual checking for staff!
  • A related use is jukeboxes, with automated checkin and checkout for books/media. I blogged about these earlier.
  • Another use is for inventory or stocktake. Instead of checking each item visually, RFID tagging of books on shelf can allow you to walk alongside the shelf, with a “wand” or RFID reader scanning the shelves, and recording stored data.We trialled this several years ago for our largest branch in the reserve/short loans area. There was a large problem with items being put back on shelf out of order, or highly prized items being ‘hidden’ in another call number area. The idea was to reduce the manual handling component of constant shelf ordering. At the time it was a little disappointing. The scanner did not cope well with distinguishing tags on thin spine books, being more likely to pick out thicker books close by.
    Although there have been improvements, this problem known as “collision” is still worth checking before you buy any products. Libraries are encouraged to place tags in books in different places, so that there is less chance of 1 tag being in direct line with another. Also the wand had to be scanned across each shelf quite slowly, so it had it’s own manual handling problems. However others may have better experiences to tell now.
  • A feature advertised now by vendors is the idea of loading lists of required material into the “wand” and then scanning shelves. So if you loaded a list of all your missing books, you could then scan sorting shelves etc to see if you could locate the material. Again this sounds wonderful, however in practice in a large library with many shelves, would require a lot of scanning of each shelf separately with the wand – manual handling again.
  • So on my Circulation Christmas list is the wonderful new product Smart Shelves. Basically shelves are RFID reader enabled so that each shelf registers the RFID tagged items placed upon it. Link this to your LMS and you can tell borrowers exactly what shelf, floor etc the item they are looking for is stored on. So if it is on a sorting shelf, or mis-shelved, the item is still not lost.
    Taken to it’s logical conclusion some areas that do not require fine graded sorting for browsing could even reduce staff time spent on reshelving items. eg returned items could just be returned to the 621.381 shelves in no particular order,  as borrowers could check the catalogue on mobile phones and go directly to the correct shelf.
  • A related innovation adds GPS to the mix, and offers the ability to map the path to a book for a borrower through their mobile phone, or another hand held device.

Academic libraries have been slow to move towards RFID, as costs would be high to retag every item in large collections, and originally the choice had to be made between RFID or barcodes. Now many vendors offer hybrid machines. Our current Automated Returns System has separate scanners – 1 for barcodes and 1 for RFID tags. However there cannot be hybrid exit gates, so there is one area a library looking to run a staged progression into RFID, would have to expend twice the funds on.

There are also common concerns about the security of RFID tags in the academic library world. See Alan Butters 2008 article for full analysis.

  • Physically it is felt that as RFID technology is discussed on the Internet, students would learn how to deactivate them easily. I have heard that covering the tag with aluminium foil will block its signal, although I haven’t tested it! The tags themselves are very visible; a large white square with raised bumps, due to the radio antenna contained. So again there is discussion that these tags could be easily removed by borrowers trying to steal an item. Clever vendors have produced tags where the sticker is labelled on front with the library emblem, or some other distracting icon – however they are still visible if someone is searching. Another idea is to place the tag between 2 pages, and glue them closed. This is still a far cry from the hidden “tattletape” running on electro magnetic detection currently on every item in academic collections.
  • Security concerns are also raised in terms of privacy. RFID readers are available for public purchase, and some feel that they could be used to show what someone has borrowed. As some libraries propose RFID borrower cards as well, this could reveal borrowers personal details in the same way. Apparently it is also possible for individual borrowers to buy a blocker, so it could become an opt in choice!

Finally – standards for RFID are evolving. Before purchasing anything it would be good to check what standards your proposed purchase is compliant with, and whether at this stage it would knock out other equipment you wish to add in, in the future. Alan Butters is Australia’s expert on this so you can search his name on the Internet, or read his VALA 2010 paper.

Purple the world

17 Jun

I’m never going to be lost for blog posts this month now I’ve realised I can just bring a new purple thing some publicity whenever lost for other thoughts.

Today’s choice: http://twitter.com/purplesearch and the search engine http://purplesearch.ub.rug.nl/index.html

PurpleSearch even has a clear mission statement “PurpleSearch enables simultaneous search in the most important scientific and scholarly databases”.

I’m so jealous I never thought to force encourage my library to name their search interface this way. I tried and failed in getting our current search interface even coloured this way, but someone has thought bigger than me, and been more successful.

I’m currently involved in a review of our Scholarly Search options. Perhaps if I choose the right one I can introduce VioletSearch to MPOW?

Indignation within organizations

16 Jun

Yesterday I was inspired by some reading delivered to my desktop. Today I thought about what would motivate me to do more research, other than say, a sense of duty. Well for me, motivation is often in the joy of having a bit of fun. One of my staff sent me an amusing article title today, which has been submitted into our electronic reserve. So today I am sharing with you my musings after reading:

David Sims, 2005, “You bastard: a narrative exploration of the experience of indignation within organizations“, Organization Studies, 26(11) pp.1625-1640, infoscopio.files.wordpress.com/2008/10/bastard.pdf

It’s not as amusing as the title promises, but it’s interesting. Covers use of indignation to instill certainty in a changing world, the smugness of feeling you are right or superior and admits that some are drawn to it. Also looks at how we hide these good feelings by adding “a tone of exasperation which suggests that everything has been done to see the other point of view, but in the end there was simply not enough good in that other view” (p.1638) [ouch – I did that one today!]

For an actual summary of the article see Miss Conduct’s blog. I’m going to explore my own reactions.

Lately a few of our #blogeverydayinjune posts have discussed dealing with opposing ideas in the world of librarianship. True to our stereotype we have felt that politeness might be a little more welcome than diverse opinions. This is not just in the library world as “with exceptions … negative emotions do not figure very largely in organizational studies” (p.1629). This is quite interesting, as any supervisor I have ever spoken to talks largely about their ‘difficult’ staff, or their concern about their own strong reactions to ‘difficult’ situations. I haven’t been to a management course yet that hasn’t taken the chance to explain to the participants that under stress ‘your dominant side’ may emerge [Welcome to the Dark side Luke]. Yet we don’t like to talk about it perhaps in our research?

A Public Librarian really got me thinking about my own style at the moment. As has this article. I think I’m really the type to name the elephant in the room, canvas all options out loud, ask direct questions. That’s fine with a group of people who also enjoy this style of communication, however I’m learning that it can also cause some concerns. Others may see me very differently, as closing down expression of alternate opinions through my loud clear statements or dismissive body language. I’ve also always known that I am uncomfortable with strong negative emotions, so I may close down different opinions when such emotions are shown, in an attempt to keep the emotional temperature of a group even.

So I am looking for new techniques to try that can keep discussions open [very important to me], with a multiplicity of opinions heard, without strong negative emotions emerging as people feel unheard or perhaps even threatened. Hmm. Now I look at that statement I want a lot from one paper don’t I! Perhaps some more reading is required.

Tomorrow I’m off to continue my reading with:
P. Myers, 2007, “Sexed up intelligence or irresponsible reporting? The interplay of virtual communication and emotion in dispute sensemaking”, Human Relations, April 1, 2007; 60(4): 609 – 636.

I’m not sure if I am more amused by the idea of idea of reading from a magazine called Human Relations, or whether I want to find out how to use the word “sensemaking” in my next Executive meeting.