Author Archive

20/03/2012

National Simultaneous Storytime – some videos and ideas from 2011

The Australian Library and Information Association is holding the National Simultaneous Storytime Wednesday, at 11am, 23rd May, 2012.

This year’s book is The very cranky bear, by Nick Bland. Last years was Feathers for Phoebe, by Rod Clement.

Helpful blogs and discussions, as well as video of the NSS from years past, are available on the net, and following are some of the videos I found. Its interesting to see the different ways libraries presented the story depending on the audience they had – very small groups, were different to large groups; and older kids were shown the powerpoint, while younger kids were presented with a picture board which developed images from the story.

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Staff at Mount Gambier Library taped their dramatic rendition of Feathers for Phoebe.

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The Burnside Library had a very young audience, and a picture of Phoebe was developed on a board to emphasise what was happening and capture the kids attention. There was interaction with the

27/08/2011

“I came to the library to get some information, not to have a conversation with the librarian” or, “The user experience in the library”

I found the website for the Encyclopedia of Human-Computer Interaction while looking around for some information on usability.  The site is about “human-centred aspects of technology” (from the About page) and I thought at first that allot of the information in here might be of use for librarians interested in Web and Library 2.0 issues.  However, I have come across a few interesting articles recently which sort of tied in with this topic, so here are a few rambling thoughts on the topic of the user experience as it relates to libraries, and a few (amateurish) ideas about how to improve user experience.

How do users of the library experience the library, it’s services, and interactions with staff?

The Ethnographic Research in Illinois Academic Libraries (or ERIAL) findings to be published soon, found that students generally were fairly wasteful when it came to using information resources – they knew where the information was, but did not have the skills to access it properly, or understand the results of searches.  In an article about the ERIAL findings in InsideHigherEd.com (22.08.2011), titled What students don’t know,

Only seven out of 30 students whom anthropologists observed at Illinois Wesleyan “conducted what a librarian might consider a reasonably well-executed search,” wrote Duke and Andrew Asher, an anthropologist at Bucknell University…  Throughout the interviews, students mentioned Google 115 times — more than twice as many times as any other database…  but the Illinois researchers found something they did not expect: students were not very good at using Google. They were basically clueless about the logic underlying how the search engine organizes and displays its results.

What students don’t know / Steve Kolowich, 22.08.2011, viewed 25.08.2011, http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2011/08/22/erial_study_of_student_research_habits_at_illinois_university_libraries_reveals_alarmingly_poor_information_literacy_and_skills

This isn’t really a new finding and shouldn’t surprise anyone.  The fact that it does surprise anyone might have something to do with the fact that librarians are looking at information behaviour from the perspective of what librarians believe should be happening, rather than from what is happening.  As an example, while studying LIS I wanted to find information about how people actually looked for information, rather than just look at what my reference and research textbooks suggested was the way it should be done.  I knew I didn’t follow a clear path to writing essays or putting information together, and I suspected I wasn’t the only one.

Finally I came across an article The paradoxical world of young people’s information behaviour  by Andrew K. Shenton (School Libraries Worldwide, vol 13, no 2, July 2007).  I suggest you read it.  One of the mind-blowing statements of Shenton’s is contained just a few paragraphs into the article where he suggests that many of the things librarians are implementing in the library to help the facilitation of information retrieval and utilisation are actually acting as “barriers” to ordinary people, especially students, when using the library.  Reading something like that for the

24/08/2011

Roseanne Barr interviewed by Ramona Koval, ABC RN’s The Book Show, 08.07.2011

A few weeks ago I heard Ramona Koval interview Roseanne Barr on ABC Radio National’s The Book Show (Friday 08.07.2011), and judging from the comments section of the website for this show, I wasn’t the only person who found it a great interview.  Roseanne has a new memoir Roseannearchy : dispatches from the nut farm, and the interview covered feminism, class, living your life in public, personal criticism of Roseanne by pretty much anyone who wrote a column anywhere, and about being from “the tribe of librarians.”

I think there are allot of fans of Roseanne Barr out there (a look around her blog will tell you as much), and they are not heard as much as the critics – it is very easy to write derogatory things about a woman who created a show about working class life in America in the 1980’s when everyone was supposed to be aspiring to be more than working class, but when most people lived a working class life.  It’s easy because it’s easy to belittle people if they can’t be seen, heard or acknowledged, and working class people aren’t ever heard or seen in the mass media – do you see tradesmen reporting the news, nurses hosting TV shows, or truck drivers winning awards?  Although they work five or more days a week every week of their lives, quietly keeping the world on track, working class people rarely get a real voice.  I am not suggesting bricklayers start reporting the news, only that if there isn’t a forum to hear something, nothing is going to be heard, and as a result, invisibility makes it appear as if certain people, their ideas, and the issues they deal with, don’t exist.

I remember from the 1980’s that people would often talk about the Roseanne show, in school, in the home, it really did have an effect much greater than it is given credit for by the people who have seven day attention spans in the media.  An article from the New York Times about the end of the Roseanne series finishes with an insightful comment about how the world of mass media and the real world barely relate to one another.  In an episode of the show, a TV producer comes to turn Roseanne’s life into a TV sitcom, but he doesn’t want anyone like Roseanne in it.

”You’re blue collar. Middle America is blue collar. Americans want to see themselves on television.” Of course, he didn’t think it was a bad idea to cast Melanie Griffith as Roseanne. ”Nobody in their right mind is going to want to look at you,” he tells her.  Proving guys like that wrong for nine years may have been Roseanne’s sweetest revenge. It was a revenge that Middle America could share.

‘Roseanne’ and the risks of upward mobility / Caryn James, New York Times,  18.05.1997, viewed 24.08.2011, http://www.nytimes.com/1997/05/18/arts/roseanne-and-the-risks-of-upward-mobility.html

I can’t bare to watch reality TV, and until I read that passage above I couldn’t articulate why.  Now I can – so look out, here comes a rant!  It’s because reality TV has taken working class people – ordinary people out there minding there own

22/08/2011

A mystery for the indexers out there? The Taman Shud case

Have you ever heard of the mystery of the ‘Taman Shud case’?  I remember being told about it from an early age by my Dad.  A man found dead on the Adelaide beach, South Australia, in 1948, and one of the only pieces of evidence relating to the case was a torn piece of the Rubaiyat by Omar Khayyam which said ‘Tamam Shud’ – roughly translated, ‘Tamam Shud’ means ‘It is ended.’

After over 60 years, the case remains a mystery – who was the man, how did he die, was he killed, and what is the significance of some of the more unusual clues relating to the case?  A recent article in the Smithsonian Magazine titled ‘The body on Somerton Beach’ by Mike Dash (12.08.2011) is a fine introduction for anyone interested in the case.  It led me to look up a few links about the case, including the NationalDryCleaners.com.au website article titled ‘Dry cleaning or laundry marks could be the key to solving decades old murder mystery’ (date unknown), from John Ruffles.  That article in turn led to an interesting Popular Science magazine article from June 1940 titled ‘Laundry-mark detective solves mysterious crimes’ by Edwin Teale  (pg 60-63), about Lt. Adam Yulch of the Nassau County Police, USA, who had indexed laundromat markings – the article said he had a card catalogue of up to 75,000 of them to help identify the marks left on the clothing (made when clothes were professionally laundered) of victims of crime (NB: an article from the New York Times indicates that Adam Yulch died in 1950, and had by then indexed up to 100,000 laundry marks – 03.07.1950, pg 10).

As a result of looking at the work of Adam Yulch, and his index of laundry marks, it made me wonder if an indexer could have a look at this case, and possibly bring new evidence to light.  South Australian newspapers are digitised at Trove, currently including The Adelaide Advertiser, The Adelaide Morning Chronicle (1948/49 not yet digitised), and The MailPage 3 of The Advertiser, 2nd December, 1948 mentions the finding of the body for the first time, while The Mail carried the first story on page 32 on 4th December, 1948.  Here is a saved search for the word ‘Rubaiyat’ in Australian digitised newspapers at Trove between January 1948 and December 1950, and it reveals a few stories about the case.  Helpfully, a number of newspaper articles in Trove have been tagged with ‘Taman Shud’.  Considering the man appears to have arrived in Adelaide on 30.11.1948 by train (although there is the mysterious discovery of clothes on Somerton beach on 28.11.1948), a search of all Australian newspapers using keywords like “Keane OR Kean”, or Somerton, might be useful because the man may have come from another state.  If the answer is in code, could the eagle eyes of an indexer find something waiting to be found in these newspapers, from just before the body of the man was discovered on 1st December, 1948, or just afterwards?

Fishing around in the newspapers myself for something interesting to relate, I found the word ‘Omar’ in answer to a disproportionately large number of crossword questions in the Argus during 1948 – it turns up no less than 11 times (NB: the Argus was a Melbourne based newspaper).  In comparison, the word ‘Omar’ doesn’t appear to figure in newspaper crosswords anywhere else in Australia that year.  In 1949, the word continues to crop up regularly in Argus crosswords.  The last time the word appears before the man died was in answer to a question for 14 ACROSS ‘Persian poet’ in

20/08/2011

Four-legged library / David O’Shea reporting, SBS Dateline

A week ago I put up a link to Mary McGregor’s Extreme librarianship : Biblioburro! blog, about Luis Soriano and the PBS documentary about his work bringing books to kids in rural Columbia.  I’ve managed to find an SBS Australia Dateline episode on Luis and his donkey ‘Alfa.’  Titled ‘Four-legged library’, it was aired on 24.07.2011.

Four-legged library / Reported by David O’Shea, Dateline, SBS Australia, 24.07.2011, viewed 20.08.2011, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rPfFZEPhLAE&feature=player_profilepage (also http://www.sbs.com.au/dateline/story/watch/id/601279/n/Four-Legged-Library)

Some quotes from the show:

LUIS:  (Translation): If we teach a citizen, a compatriot, to read, he or she will be a good citizen. The main purpose of the Donkey Library is to take books they can at least look at. So they see that the world isn’t just mountains, paths, donkeys and cows…  

D. O’SHEA: I tell Luis that gadgets for reading are replacing books in my own country but he doesn’t see that as a problem.

LUIS: (Translation):  We have to teach and prepare them. And it’s a good thing. It has to happen. We need development. We can’t be left behind…

When things are done with love and dedication, they transcend time and space. That’s why it’s had such impact and worldwide recognition. It’s a labour of love. Things are more valuable when they can’t be bought.

In the documentary, David O’Shea gets Luis in touch with the President of East Timor, Jose Ramos Horta.  In May 2011, Luis Soriano met Ramos Horta in Singapore (See Tarie’s blog – The Children’s Literature Lecture and Awards Ceremony / Asia in the heart, world in the mind [09.06.2011], and afcc.com.sg)

16/08/2011

A library opens in Burma

The opening of a library doesn’t usually make the headlines, but when Aung San Suu Kyi is able to leave her home to even visit a library, it is worthy of mention.  Suu Kyi has been under house arrest for many years, but was released in November 2010, and on a trip outside of Rangoon, in August 2011, she visited Bago and opened two libraries.  The libraries were named in her honour, and, according to the Mizzima report, were established to help the poor access information which would otherwise be too expensive for them.

Aung San Suu Kyi secretly recorded the 2011 Reith Lectures for the BBC this year (also available from ABC Radio National’s ‘Big Ideas’).  Also this year, ABC journalist Zoe Daniel met with Aung San Suu Kyi, and the report below includes a rare interview with Suu Kyi.

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The Lady on the lake / Uploaded to Youtube.com by JourneymanPictures 15.08.2011, Reported by Zoe Daniel, Foreign Correspondent, ABC TV Australia, originally aired 19.07.2011, viewed 16.08.2011,  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wtYY6GllMNA (also http://www.abc.net.au/foreign/content/2011/s3273094.htm)

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In 1991 Aung San Suu Kyi received the Nobel Peace Prize, and in 1996 she was made a Companion of the Order of Australia.  Below are some sources, as well as some related links and searches.

14/08/2011

Adding search engines to Opera browsers

I wanted to add new search engines to Opera.  There are a few search engines I use besides Google (as a LIS student I know should not admit to using Google, but it’s sort of like trying to avoid speaking English in an English speaking world).  Deeperweb and Harvester42 are two search engines I can recommend – they are especially good if members of the library must use Google for everything, then let it at least be using something that enriches the search.

I thought adding search engines would be difficult, and I would have to find some sort of convoluted way of finding the search address to stick in the Opera search preferences.  I spent a while trying to do this, until I hit on the smart idea of clicking the ‘Help’ button…  The answer was just a click away all the time!  The Help page Searching in Opera, gives fairly straight forward advice on how to add search engines.  Basically, just go to a search engine you want, right click in the search bar, and follow the instructions.  I found that it will include all the search engines I tried, even Custom Search Engines like the Australian Library Associations and Journals Search, and Meta search engines like Dogpile.

I don’t know how many search engines you can add, but I am going to try and find out!

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