Sunday, April 26, 2009

Skills for contemporary librarians.

I am pleasantly surprised at the number of really exciting library positions being advertised on the NZ public library list. Really meaty jobs requiring high class candidates. It really is a great time to be a librarian.

If I was looking to impress, or be impressed, I'd follow the advise given by Brian Kelly in this recent post over on his blog: UK Web Focus.

"Although I don’t feel that everyone should necessarily publish a blog, make use of Twitter or, indeed, give presentations or appear on YouTube or Google Video, I do feel that these can be skills which will be valuable for many information professionals and software developers at a time of economic difficulties.

And if that short-term project fails to receive continued funding how should staff ensure that they can continue to find employment in the job market? I would argue that having demonstrable skills in making use of a range of Web 2.0 technologies may well help.

This might include:
  • publishing a blog (which can demonstrate good written communications skills),
  • creating and editing content in wiki tools such as Wikipedia (demonstration of collaborative working),
  • using micro-blogging tools such as Twitter (the ability to interact with other users, including those you may not have met),
  • using social sharing tools such as (as awareness of the benefits of sharing resources using popular services) and
  • social networking services such as Facebook (all of the above together with an understanding of privacy and other ethical issues).
And of course as well as having skills in use of such social networking tools, having a community of peers may well also be valuable in a new job.

Hmm, will:

“You mean to tell me you worked in a library and you only ever used email and a word processor? You used a Web browser but never used an RSS reader? You contributed to a newsletter but never published a blog? Thank you for your interest in out company. Next candidate please.“

be the approach that employers will take when there is a large pool of information professionals to chose from?"

I've just finished reading Seth Godin's new book "Tribes" (really good) and he shares the story of selecting interns for his business. He set up a facebook account - then left them to it. 1/2 the people started to introduce themselves, communicated with each other and then tried to encourage the others to contribute - but the rest sat back and watched. Who would you rather employ? Quite.

So where abouts are you on this groovy little chart by Hutch Carpenter?

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Local councils band together to help communities keep working

Fantastic initiative in the UK which I would love to see adopted here in NZ...

'Keep West Sussex Working' has been launched by the County Council and is backed by the seven District and Borough Councils.

It involves a £15,000 boost for West Sussex Libraries to provide IT training and hundreds of new books advising people on employment and business, to help guide them through the downturn.

IT training sessions will be held in a number of libraries under the scheme to give people the essential skills to help prepare themselves and get into the market place for new jobs. Sessions will include IT starter lessons, CV writing and how to make online job applications."

Read the full story in the West Sussex County Times here and view the full plan here.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Fancy Florence for August?

I have huge pleasure in announcing that registrations are now open for the

IFLA satellite Preconference
Emerging Trends in Technology:
Libraries between Web 2.0, semantic web and search technology.

So if you are floating around Italy in August '09, you might like to consider spending the 19th and 20th in Florence.

The satellite preconference is sponsored by the IFLA Information Technology Section and supported by the Libraries and Web 2.0 Discussion Group. The local supporter is the Fondazione Rinascimento Digitale based in Florence and is available for any additional info or support.

The complete programme is available at where you can also download the flyer of the conference.

I was invited to serve on the Steering Committee for this satellite conference and having read all the abstracts I am really pleased with the final programme.

And you could do worse than Florence ...

"Establish a culture of courage to make mistakes, learn and move on".

Great line aye ... not mine though, I copied it from "Government Projects the Agile Way : Can it be Done" which was posted on the In Development blog which is a NZ Govt blog decicated to delivering world class state services.

Katipo and Horowhenua Library Trust utilized agile development methodologies in the development of both Koha and Kete, and I now know (thanks to the blog) that the Digital NZ team used Agile too.

This post is a really interesting intro into Agile, and the panel discussions are worth listening too as well.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Who will fight for Gerald?

I need a champion.

Who is going to fight for Gerald? or Janine? or Rachel? Or the lady with knitted stockings and the cloche hats or the 'giggle' of girls who flock in when the school bell rings?

Levin Library has 9 computers available for public internet use. They are in constant demand and we have to ration access in order to extend the service to as many people as possible. Everyone is entitled to 30 minutes free internet each day, but additional time may be purchased for $2 a half hour, although most people who can afford to buy internet time have a computer at home anyway. This means that anyone who wants to use the internet can.

Our internet computers are in constant use from open to close, and there is usually a queue.
The computers are used by a wide range of people in our community: applying for money through studylink, typing up CVs, downloading job applications or forms from IRD and WINZ, researching family history, buying and selling on TradeMe, emailing grandkids, booking flights, paying bills with internet banking, playing games or keeping in touch through Bebo or Facebook.

Gerald, Janine and Rachel are all intellectually handicapped. Gerald can't read, but he loves steam trains, and he has borrowed every train book we have - many times - so one day we showed him Youtube. Now, every couple of days Gerald comes to the library, we set him up on Youtube with a search for steam trains and leave him to it. He has learnt how to click on the files, now, and it doesn't matter that the PCs have no sound cards because he is really good at providing the sound effects himself.

Rachel chats to her friends on MSN, and I'm not sure what Janine does yet, but she loves coming up the desk and asking for an access code which she proudly clutches as she wanders off.

Horowhenua District Council have decided that from July the Library will have to start charging for the internet, and thats just the start. We currently have to raise 15% of our operating expenditure from user charges, $150,000, but last month Council decided that we need to raise between 20% and 25%, $200,000 - $250,000.

The Council's LTCCP is being released this week for public consultation. That means we have 1 month to let Council know whether we think this is acceptable to ratepayers or not.
The school girls won't write a submission to the LTCCP, or the students applying to Studylink, or the young boys playing Runescape, or the old lady searching the Pipe Rolls. And nor will Gerald, Janine and Rachel.

So who will fight for them? Who will fight for their right to access technology that we all take for granted?

Will you be that champion?

[Names have been changed for privacy].

Thursday, April 9, 2009

The Effing Librarian Manifesto

Wow, The Darien Statements have certainly created a storm of discussion amount the profession - Great!

Couple of good places to follow the discussion include the John Blyberg's original post, but this great post this morning had me laughing out loud:

".... The Effing Librarian Statement: Libraries and Librarians help you do all kinds of shit that might somehow involve books, but not always."

And if you want the bumper sticker version: "Librarians help you do shit." more>>

Monday, April 6, 2009

Only in Europe ...

Cool - but nothing to do with libraries at all :)

The Lipstick index : 5 ways the recession is changing our life.

How could I not blog about an article which had that for a title!

I regularly skim through feeds from The Trendsetting Blog and this one got me thinking today. The article argues that coping with the global recession has become more than lifestyle adjustment, it is really changing lives:

5 trends noted:
  1. Potty training - to cut back on disposable nappies.
  2. Apearance expenses: do-it-yourself hair dying, persona grooming.
  3. Cell phone and internet use : 39% of cellphone subscribers in the States are looking at cutting back on internet, and 1 in 5 cellphone users have cut back in the last 6 months or are planning to. More research shows there has been a 20% growth in VOIP - go Skype!
  4. Cookbook sales are up (like double digit growth for Amazon), in fact the whole DIY section. Backing this up was a story I heard last week about the phenomenal growth in sales of vege seeds and seedlings.
  5. Bartering is in.
Must pass these trends onto our acquisition team .... and look at our public internet service offerings!

PS The quirky economic theory "The Lipstick Indicator" is based on the question : Does lipstick sell well when the economic depression deepens? Google Trends answers “Yes” More>>

Saturday, April 4, 2009

The Darien Statements on the Library and Librarians

On March 26th 2009, Darien Library in the States, hosted an event called “In the Foothills: A Not-Quite-Summit on the Future of Libraries” at which participants were instructed to “come prepared to help sketch out the role librarians should play in defining the future of libraries”. The two speakers, John Berry and Kathryn Greenhill, provoked a conversation among John Blyberg, Kathryn and Cindi Trainor that began in John's office the next day and spilled out across the ensuing week.

The conversation resulted in "The Darien Statements on the Library and Librarians". Click here to view the resulting document (CC Licence). It’s meant to be grand, optimistic, obvious, and thankful to and for our users, communities, and the tireless librarians who work the front lines every day, upholding the purpose of the Library. Heres a sample:

"The Purpose of the Library

The purpose of the Library is to preserve the integrity of civilization.

The Library has a moral obligation to adhere to its purpose despite social, economic, environmental, or political influences. The purpose of the Library will never change.

The Library is infinite in its capacity to contain, connect and disseminate knowledge; librarians are human and ephemeral, therefore we must work together to ensure the Library’s permanence.

Individual libraries serve the mission of their parent institution or governing body, but the purpose of the Library overrides that mission when the two come into conflict.

Why we do things will not change, but how we do them will.

A clear understanding of the Library’s purpose, its role, and the role of librarians is essential to the preservation of the Library.

The Role of the Library

The Library:

  • Provides the opportunity for personal enlightenment.
  • Encourages the love of learning.
  • Empowers people to fulfill their civic duty.
  • Facilitates human connections.
  • Preserves and provides materials.
  • Expands capacity for creative expression.
  • Inspires and perpetuates hope. More>>

I believe this document will become core to discussions on the role of libraries for years to come. Congratulations and thank you to John Blyberg, Kathryn Greenhill and Cindi Trainor for articulating so eloquently why we do what we do.

NB. The photograph above of the three whizz kids is by Michael Porter, and about 90% of the text above is taken directly from John Blyberg's blog.

Friday, April 3, 2009

The role of public libraries during the recession

Quick one today: 3 links to thought provoking articles in online newspapers gleaned from the NZ-Libs and ALA this morning:

"Our Libraries are at risk - just when we need them most" from The Guardian.

"Downturn puts more stress on libraries" from The New York Times

"How Libraries can benefit from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act" from American Libraries.

The first article looks at how local authorities are closing down libraries and reducing opening hours in Britiain. The second article examines the social problems that librarians are increasingly having to address, and the third one reports on the multi-million dollar investment in American Libraries being made in recognition of the vital role that libraries are and will continue to play in our society, especially during this recession.

Ironic, that as librarys are coming under increased demand for their services, local authorities in the UK, and NZ, are seeing them as an easy target for slashing operating budgets.

The problem is how will we manage with increased demands and pressures while our budgets are being slashed or even just remaining static. How do we fund the extra staff and resources to meet the extra demand? Our statistics show that while issues are increasing, and foot traffic too, and the range of tasks we are asked to help with, this does not translate into increases in rental or donation income.