Monday, December 5, 2011

Kete needs a bit of lovin'

NDF was terrific last week but I have come back with a mission around Kete.

Kete is a very cool open source product that encourages the collection of informal local content. It was developed by us back in 2007 with Digital Strategy funding and is available to anyone who wants it - for free.

A number of public libraries are now using it around the world and in New Zealand, including APNK ones.
Now here's my beef: Kete needs some love.

Many of us got given Kete for free but that doesn't mean it is for free. There is a cost to keeping Kete useful and relevant going forward into the future and if you got it for free in the first place maybe its time you started contributing to its upkeep and development.
Libraries could start by asking themselves a few questions:
  • Do we believe in the importance of developing collections of local digital content?
  • Do we believe in the value of informal or community created local content?
  • How much do we spend each year supporting our library management systems?
  • How much have we contributed this year to help develop Kete?
  • How much effort have we made to contribute in other ways to the Kete project? ie ideas for development, identifying new technologies and considering how they can be incorporated? building a Kete community of users etc?
  • How much value do we attach to Kete as a means to gather informal community content?
  • Can we afford to buy another product?
  • What would that product be?

The reality is that none of us have done much at all to support Kete in a practical sense. It was designed in 2007; it is 4 years old and I know there are many advances in the digital arena that have passed us by. For instance, I want to be able to easily upload images, video and sound captured on my cellphone, I want to be able to share it easily on twitter, flickr, facebook etc, I want a 'new' user interface that is really modern and user-friendly and inviting, I want streaming video, I want a tool to easily create 'things' using Kete content.

All software needs continual refreshing and updating in order to keep pace with the expectations of our users and Kete is no different. with the collective talents of those of us using Kete it should absolutely rock!

Now is the time to step up and start showing a bit of love to this really useful tool. Many of us are preparing budgets for next year. How about making a commitment by budgeting to contribute to a development fund (we'll work out the mechanics of spending it later), then identify a person or 2 who can contribute ideas on how to improve Kete. From there we delegate a working group to get those changes made - and paid for - and lets make Kete 2.0 an objective for 2012.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Imagine : reinventing library services

Those who know me will know that Horowhenua Library Trust and Horowhenua District Council are about to commence construction of Te Takere, a culture and community centre. Te Takere will include the public library service but also a whole bunch of other activities and partners including the Muaupoko Tribal Authority, the Horowhenua Historical Society and Levin Family History Group. No doubt there will be others too. More>>

I have been pondering the operational aspect of Te Takere (because we have to prepare a budget for 2012/13 soon) and to do that we really need to get a handle on the service that will be delivered from Te Takere. I am a great one for models or frameworks and last night I spent half the night pondering this issue ... with some excitement I might add!

Tonight I must sleep and the best way to ensure that is do a brain dump, create a thought piece and invite all those clever people out there in the world to help me hammer something out. I'm aiming for crowd-sourced brilliance :)

Imagine : reinventing library services.
View more presentations from Joann Ransom

Friday, November 25, 2011

Update on NZ Koha trademark

Who would have thought that one little blog post on a Tuesday morning would have generated so much interest and debate and support.

Horowhenua Library Trust have been bowled over by the generosity of a global community who are as concerned as we are at the PTFS New Zealand trade application to register the mark Koha in relation to software.

We have received hundreds of emails offering support for fighting the ‘good fight’. I haven’t quite replied to them all yet – but I am trying . The press have provided balanced coverage with Radio NZ, TV1 and TV3 all reporting the story pretty accurately here, generating much discussion in Maori and mainstream media forums.

We have accumulated donations of about $12k, mostly through $20 and $50 donations from individuals around the globe (including many Americans) and the generosity of the legal profession offering free representation is amazing.

We have accepted the services of Sacha Judd, Andrew Matangi & John Glengarry from Buddle Findlay, assisted by Rochelle Furneaux, who have agreed to work pro-bono for us (bless them all I say). They have been guiding us for the last few days and are busy preparing a objection to the PTFS / Liblime application should one be necessary.

We believe we are well placed now to mount a strong legal challenge and we think we have enough in donations to cover filing fees, document costs and other disbursements. While It goes completely against my nature to turn down donations to Horowhenua Library Trust, in all conscience we should stop the fundraising drive at this stage. Rest assured if is necessary to challenge the PTFS application all the way to the High Court then we may well be coming back cap in hand!

PTFS have issued a press release saying they are willing to hand the NZ Koha trademark over to a non-profit representing the Koha community. That organisation is the Horowhenua Library Trust, elected by the Koha global community, and we would be delighted to accept that offer and add the NZ Koha trademark to the store of other Koha community property we currently hold in trust ie domain names and trademarks. It would be a very simple matter for PTFS to assign the existing application to Horowhenua Library Trust and we invite PTFS to do so. The Library Trust has never stopped any Koha user or developer or vendor from carrying out their business. Our track record over the last 12 years of releasing the Koha code and supporting the Koha community to go about its business unimpeded is exemplary and we have no intention of ever changing that approach.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Plea for help from Horowhenua Library Trust

Horowhenua Library Trust is the birth place of Koha and the longest serving member of the Koha community. Back in 1999 when we were working on Koha, the idea that 12 years later we would be having to write an email like this never crossed our minds. It is with tremendous sadness that we must write this plea for help to you, the other members of the Koha community.

The situation we find ourselves in, is that after over a year of battling against it, PTFS/Liblime have managed to have their application for a Trademark on Koha in New Zealand accepted. We now have 3 months to object, but to do so involves lawyers and money. We are a small semi rural Library in New Zealand and have no cash spare in our operational budget to afford this, but we do feel it is something we must fight.

For the library that invented Koha to now have to have a legal battle to prevent a US company trademarking the word in NZ seems bizarre, but it is at this point that we find ourselves.

So, we ask you, the users and developers of Koha, from the birth place of Koha, please if you can help in anyway, let us know.

jransom at

Background reading:
  • Code4Lib article: How hard can it be : developing in Open Source [history of the development of Koha] by Joann Ransom and Chris Cormack.
  • Timeline of Koha :development
  • Koha history visualization

Help us
If you would to donate towards the cost of mounting a legal challenge creditcards can be used on paypal below:

Cheques made out to Te Horowhenua Trust can be posted to Levin Library, 10 Bath Street, Levin, 5510. Bank deposits can be made to Te Horowhenua Trust, Westpac Levin, 030667 0299274 00 ref: Trademark.

Otherwise, any discussion, public support and ideas on how to proceed would be gratefully received.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Notes from day 1 of KohaCon11 in Thane, India.

I am in India !
India has long been on my bucket list of places to see before I die - and here I am! The Koha community has gathered in Thane, Mumbai as guests of VPN Thane. There are around 120-150 of us and from a number of different countries.

Opening session:
Dr VJ Bedekar

What an amazing man! Clearly has a deep understanding and commitment to open source. Dr Bedekar has extended every hospitality to us; even making his personal car available to collect us each day from the hotel. Really, there is nothing more that could have been done to make us feel welcome and our stay here successful.

I delivered the keynote address next, slides and text of my presentation here. It went quite well I think. I wanted to stress the importance of vendors and libraries and end users and developers all working together to make good software and the simple rules to keep the community working together well: trust, share, grow (and don't be a dick).

The Principal, Dr (Mrs) Shakuntala Singh is so warm and gracious and intelligent and talented. We have been told that she was a champion badminton player, an accomplished musician and has a PhD in Philosophy. She has spoken with conference attendees several times and is clearly held in high regard by her staff.

Paul Poulain (the only person to have attended every KohaCon) reminded us all of the history of the Koha project. What I have noticed is that the Koha Community has stopped pretending to care about LibLime: "They are on their island and we are on ours". This is a healthy step and allows us to continue developing great software without the distraction of a LibLime circus on the sidelines.

Vijay Rahene presented a paper which reminded me of the important role librarians have in teaching new technologies so that our library members can access information - which now increasingly resides online and not on paper.

I love good orators and Awoyemi Akinade is such a man. Terrific message delivered in a passionate and engaging manner. Talked about how African scientists need open access in order to join the global scientific community. Copyright and access is part of problem: "the big business of copyright." Costs money to access this stuff - too much money but you also have to pay and its impossible to pay if can't access creditcards.

Access was one strand of his talk, but also publishing. We need to redress the imbalance of Nigerian / third world publishing particularly scientific research and findings. Indexing was the 3rd aspect he covered. Lots of stuff is published in Nigeria, paper and pixels, but is not indexed and findable via online methods. The internet is overwhelmingly US, English-speaking and western-focused. My takeaway from Akinade: Africa's scientists have much to offer, but the problem is access to western data and places to publish their work. We need an open source, open access repository for scientfic publication.

Next up was Brooke Johnson, looking stunning in a heavily embroidered sari. She talked about introducing lots of gaming tricks and devices into Koha to make it more 'friendly' and rewarding ... much like a computer game. Very stimulating session and lots of great ideas. Slides here.

Sadhir Badhe delivered a paper on Koha in Indian Public Libraries and talked off the challanges to automation: people are actually your biggest problem and their aversion to change. This relates directly to commenst made by 2 very concerned librarians at the end of 2 days of solid education. They asked 'but how do we print out the book cards". They couldn't quite understand that you don't run a manual system when you have an automated one. Marijana from Croatia had the same experience there, and Koustubha gave up saying no and just printed out cards for his library... so interesting.

Robin Sheat
gave a very good talk on the importance of 'keeping up' as in on the main development trunk of Koha. His graphical illustration of the forks and trunks etc made it so clear. We really must get up to 3.6 asap. His slides are here.

Dr Bedekar rounded off the day with good summary. Full Unicode support is ABSOLUTELY CRITICAL in an international context. Sometimes, in the US, we forget that. I couldn't agree more.

One final thing: KohaCon11 was written up in the local newspaper.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Warm fuzzies

It doesn't take much to keep me motivated in my work and today I was floating on Cloud 9.

One of our regulars is a lovely IHC client who calls me Flossy. She is about 55 and has a mental age of about 8. She loves Fairy books and we keep an eye out for new titles to give her when she comes in.

Today she was waiting outside the library at opening time, and entered beside me as part of the official party for the opening of our Pasifika Festival. After the formalities and the Kava Ceremony and an hour spent making a Samoan flower garland for her hair (with a hot glue gun!) she came and gave me a huge hug and said "Thanks for making our library so lovely".

That why I am a public librarian :)

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Thing 7 : Face to Face Networks and Professional Organisations

This weeks topic is professional organisations and I need to consider my experiences with them. What involvement have I had? How has it affected my career? What have I learned? Why are/aren’t I a member?

I first joined LIANZA when I was a student back in 1989 or so. I loved reading Library Life, the professional magazine, but once I had to renew as a full priced member I dropped it because I felt it was just too expensive. I did not resurrect my LIANZA membership again until I had to as part of the professional registration system which was introduced 3 or 4 years ago.

I gained my old-school library qualification from Wellington Teachers College back in the late 80s. It was an extremely practical qualification and graduates were really useful employees because they could actually 'do' the work rather than talk about it. I had experience with 2 university-qualified librarians and neither of them were much chop tending to get lost in intricacies and irrelevancies but couldn't even catalogue a book or cope with snotty-nosed, poor white-trash kids climbing on their knee for a cuddle at storytime. For a small town public library they were hopelessly out of their depth. Anyway, I digress ... as I do ....

I had been consciously building a strong CV for at least 5 years before the LIANZA Professional Registration Scheme came out; very deliberately upskilling myself knowing that my then boss would be retiring in the near future. I have been in this same job since I was 21. I came as an untrained, silly girl and worked my way up the ranks, first as a junior library assistant, then cataloguer, Deputy Head of Libraries and now Boss Lady. I gained my library qualification, then a degree with handpicked papers for this job, including modern English, feminist and post colonial lit, NZ and Pacific history and politics, management and journalism. Then I did a 1 year part time course on Linux, and then a 3 year part time course in Network Administration. I knew that when Rosalie retired I would have to face change. That could include applying for her job; knowing I would have to be much, much better than any other applicant to get the job because I had been here so long. The other option would be to apply for a job somewhere else and for that I would also need a brillliant CV to overcome what appears to be a sluggish, unambitious attitude to my career (by staying with one organisation my entire adult life).

All that by way of explaining that I needed Professional Registration to acknowledge my value as a librarian because my library qualification was practically worthless and so that is the only reason I rejoined LIANZA.

I occasionally attend local LIANZA gatherings: AGMS, Mid Winter dos etc. I always enjoy these gatherings immensely; the librarians are bright, bubbly, inspirational, clever, generous .... I do like Librarians as a general rule.

I have never become an office holder and at some point I probably should but at this point I'm not totally confident that LIANZA has a clear idea of its role in relation to APLM, the Association of Public Library Managers, which formed 3 or 4 years ago. I think APLM has siphoned off a lot of 'energy' and expertise.

I used to consider the annual LIANZA Conference a 'must' to attend each year but I am more committed to attending the NDF conference now. The reason for this is that I find NDF stimulating and inspirational whereas LIANZA is often more 'look what we did'. NDF is all about digital collaborations between the GLAM sector: galleries, libraries, archives and museums
and I do believe that is the way we need to be moving. Both conferences are excellent networking opporunities and many librarians attend both but the inspirational, thought provoking, 'jaw dropping' nature of NDF suits me better.

I am thinking lately that I might like to join SOLGM because I am becoming convinced that we librarians need to find better ways to sell our stories to the Councils who fund us. We have to learn how to place our stories in the right framework and tell them with the right words.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Thing 6: online networks

Linked In
I have had a Linked In profile for a while now. The recommended reading by Sharlyn Lauby was very good. I went back and reviewed my profile. It is basically pretty good: professional photo, fairly explicit introduction to my work experience and interests, I have 3 referee statements and around 100 connections, none of whom I am embarrassed of :) I have never bothered with groups before but after looking at the examples I see they do add weight to a profile. Reminds me of Mum saying: "you are judged by who you associate with". I have my Slideshare account linked to my Linkedin which means that several of my slides from presentations can be viewed. I am careful what presentations I have saved online as I am aware they show on both sites. I never update my profile which I will have to address. I don't feed my Twitter comments here because I am pretty lighthearted and irreverent on Twitter sometimes ... and I like that tweets can't be found after 3 weeks or so - not so with LinkedIn.

I have had a facebook account in the past; I was a reasonably early adopter well ahead of my kids who were still using bebo. However I cancelled it about a year ago for a number of reasons:
  • I got sick to death of the way facebook kept changing their approach to privacy,
  • I used facebook for my family only - and I explicitly stated that on my profile but still received dozens of requests from colleagues and vague associates wanting to be my friend (I hated saying no),
  • I allowed myself to get bullied into friending my kids and their mates and accepting their invitations to Mafia Wars, Farmtown etc and then ...
  • I got hooked into stupid online games (farming)
  • sick of stupid updates from friends about game, quizzes etc.
I actually find Twitter my best professional networking tool - and I chat daily with colleagues all around the world.
I don't regret closing facebook at all except for relinquishing my account means I can never get jransom back again if I ever regret not having an account.

Thing 5 : Reflective Practice

The post on the cpd23 website for this Thing is very, very good. I need to do reflective writing more often for two reasons:
  • I know it is a useful way to 'unpack' recent events that have not gone so well and figure out what happened and how to avoid repeating mistakes,
  • I need to write my professional development journal for reregistration.
I am not going to reflect on this project yet. I have been away for weeks and weeks doing a big piece of writing for work and I need to catch up to Thing 11! BUt I know I have to start work on my journal in the next month.

Thing 4: Current awareness

I am a Twitter addict ... just love it. Here are some of the reasons why:
  • It is not time consuming - I can pop in and catch up very quickly through a quick scan back to where I last read, or I can just search on @me and reply to any I need to,
  • or It can be a great time waster: I can 'chat' with people, join conversations, follow links and check out trending hashtags,
  • some TV programmes are great fun with a twitter hashtag open - the commentary can be as amusing as the tv show (eg My big fat gypsy wedding is hilarious with commentary),
  • Extremely useful and informative during natural disasters: Christchurch earthquakes #eqnz, snow storms last week #snowmageddon etc,
  • professional development: I get so many fabulous links from Twitter; its like having my personal reading list 'weeding' who filter out the best links for me.
RSS Feeds
Before Twitter there was Bloglines and I absolutely loved it. Every evening I would park up the couch with a kid each side watching tv and catch up on a bunch of posts from my favourite websites. Then Twitter came along and I fell out of the habit of reading Bloglines so religiously ... and then the announcement that Bloglines was closing. I sulkily transferred all my feeds to Google Reader and sadly it is just not the same. I have found it hard to get used to but I think I have just fallen into a new groove with Twitter.

I have grouped my feeds into lists and while I read my 'favourites' every day some lists back up for a week or two. My favourite blogs at the moment are:

This is a completely new tool for me. It doesn't like me to be honest though I have signed up and rated 1 or 2 sites to see how it works. I didn't post it to my twitter account because i hate it when people flood my stream with updates like this ie runkeeper, foursquare etc. I can't envisage a way that I can use this to add value to my life. If I find a good site I mark it in delicious,

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Mark Osborne : the Open Source School

Mark is Deputy Principal of Albany Senior High School. Open source software and cloud computing have been essential in the establishment of this school, and in this presentation from the 2010 EDtalks Symposium Mark outlines his beliefs about the advantages and opportunities that open source and cloud computing bring to the students, teachers and school community.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Thing 3 : Consider Your Personal Brand

So who else has done a spot of vanity searching this week?

Google Search
A Google search on my name gave 3 pretty solid pages about me, but by the 4th page it was about half me and half other Joann Ransoms (there are lots in the USA you know).

The first page of listings showed I am pretty active on this interweb thingee:
  • a blog post I wrote about CPD23 on this blog,
  • my linkedin professional profile,
  • my slideshare site with a bunch of professional presentations,
  • my 'local' professional biography on our library website,
  • a blogpost congratulating me being named an ALJ Mover and Shaker,
  • a Youtube interview with Kathryn Greenhill on 'hacking the library',
  • a blog post by The Shifted Librarian (Jenny Levine) talking about my Kete presentation at Bridging Worlds in Singapore,
  • photo of me in Cindi Trainor's Flickr stream (from Bridging World's),
  • my Good Reads profile (what?!),
  • Movers and Shakers article in American Library Journal.
Pages 2 and 3 are far less 'professional' and the Digital NZ search result is fascinating - so much personal stuff! This includes photos of the kids and I walking along Manawatu Gorge train tracks in very unflattering garb - but delightfully holding my son's hand (he would NEVER allow me to do that now), a photo of my Mum and her bloke, me with a skinful of booze (you'd never know) and dressed in a very fetching floral frock and a Serbian (or Croatian?) Army hat, plus lots and lots of links to content I loaded up into Kete Horowhenua.

A fair bit of my writing is starting to appear on these pages too: my most read blogposts for instance. The top 4 are about Koha and bullying ... which is interesting (not the Koha - thats no surprise - but the teenage bullying). I have only ever written 2 posts about bullying (out of 162) and they both make this list of search results ... not sure how I feel about that...

Google images shows almost a whole page of the lovely photo of me in Singapore taken by the very talented Cindi Trainor (you can't see the Singapore Sling I was nursing or even recognize that we were sitting in Raffles). I wrote and asked Cindi if I could use it as my 'official' photo on twitter, blog profiles etc. which was a very smart thing to do. It is a photo I am very happy with and it is the photo that Google finds over and over again. Sadly, however, I am now quite grey (ok - white) and my lovely bright hair in that photo could only be regained through spending vast amounts at the hairdresser, so it may be time to update my photo ... false advertising and all that.

I remember in Singapore Jenny Levine commented over a meal or a drink or something how important it was to 'author' your own online profile and I have deliberately done that over the last few years. Her reasoning was something to do with identity theft ie 'THIS is me' but this whole Google vanity search thing has been an eye opener.

Name used
I always use jransom wherever I can - not some nickname - mostly because I couldn't think of anything clever. As time has worn on I am actualy quite happy that my name has become my brand.

Professional vs Personal Identity
I have merged the two because I believe that people connect with personalities rather than organisations. I want to be an authentic and 'real' online person that people can relate to and engage with. I do try very hard to keep my family and truly personal stuff offline. I used to have facebook for family only but got sick of turning down friend requests from professional colleagues and people I didn't know at all. I might have viewed facebook as 'strictly personal' but clearly the rest of the world didn't / doesn't.

Visual Brand
My professional blog Library Matters is very clean and plain and modern but my recipe blog Lest they be Lost is branded entirely differently. This is very deliberate to show that my recipes are a completely different side of my 'personna'.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Thing 2 : look at other blogs

Looking at other blogs in just asking for trouble because I follow so many already! I love my Google reader and have a bunch of blogs which I read every day - or whenever they publish. I follow a bunch of library blogs, but consciously follow some from other, related fields.

I heard or read somewhere that you should occasionally go to a 'left field' conference because it's amazing what concepts can be filched and applied to libraries. For example, supply chain management. I helped a friend with a course of study once (proof reading) and then applied those principles to the work flow in the workplace.... I digress though: back to blogs :)

I have been through and looked at all the NZ blogs (us Kiwi's have to stick together) and then I dived in to some of the new blogs written by cpd23 participants. The delicious listing is very clever - being sorted by countries. I do hope we get to learn how to do that! Bit surprised to find one of the cpd23ers has created a blog with the same title as mine ... will send little mind daggers at them and hope they choose a unique name instead.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Thing 1: Why I'm doing the cpd 23 things course

I have long considered working through a 23 Things programme and never quite got around to it... until today.

Joining a global 'team project' like this will help me commit to going the distance. I much prefer doing things alongside others rather than beavering away on my own.

I decided a couple of years ago that my old 'library' skills gained in the late 80s were almost totally irrelevant and that I needed to upskill - and fast. I started playing around with Twitter (love it), started a blog (to save interesting internet stuff to share with my colleagues), use Linkedin (professional contacts) and dabbled briefly in FaceBook (I've moved on).

However there are lots of things I havn't played with so this will be a way to work through a bunch of stuff in an orderly manner. Oh and I'd like my work colleagues to come along for the ride to!

Thursday, May 12, 2011

7 Top TED Talks

I am still amazed when I discover people who don't know about TED which is a web site of riverting talks by remarkable people.

In the spirit of the Agnostic Maybe blogpost here are my top TED talks (in no particUlar order)

1. William Kamkwamba: On building a windmill and How I harnessed the wind
2. Elizabeth Gilbert on Nurturing Creativity
3. Hans Rosling showing the best stats you've ever seen
4. Sir Ken Robinson: do schools kill creativity?
5. Aimee Mullins: Accessible design in prosthetics
6. Temple Grandin: The world needs all kinds of minds.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Sunday, March 20, 2011

I need a Telecomms 'broker'

Wasted another half hour of my life yesterday in a Telecom shop waiting for someone to help me; not the first time I've done that either. I gave up in the end because there were 4 other people also queueing - and I needed someone to spend time helping me.

You see it occurs to me that my family spends a significant whack every month on telecommunications and it needs reviewing. It is so hard to do and takes so much time and energy. I just want someone to say this is the best option for you and it will cost $x.

We have 7 cell phones on 3 different networks in my immediate family. Vodafone doesn't get good reception at our home; meaning only from the eastern end of the south-facing couch if you hold you arm up high at a 45 degree angle, the upper bunk in the boys bedroom or standing on the bbq table in the backyard with your left leg tucked up behind your right ear ... not ideal really. Telecom mobile coverage is great.

But Telecom broadband is shite at the beach - terribly slow. I could hand deliver messages to London quicker than Telecom 'max/max' service. Which makes no sense because I switched to Actrix and its bloody fast. I switched because Atrix reset data quotas daily which saves masses of stress because I am no longer have to scream at the children from day 16 in the month until the counter is reset. How can Actrix be so fast over Telecom lines when Telecom's was so bad? It uses the same bloody lines!!

So now we 3 cell phones that need replacing (2 on the old network) and 1 which is out of its contract and simply hideous to use; I can't see the screen outside and fonts are too small for a woman of a certain age.

Oh and no one rings us on the landline now (except the ex-bloke and the bank and I'll happily avoid both of them) so I can't see the point of keeping it - except I need it for Sky. We have Sky digital because its the only way to get TV reception (yes even the free ordinary channels) . If we go with Vodafone we can get cheap Sky .... but no cell reception.

I hate it all ...

So this is what I want:

The 4 kids and I to have 1 phone each, we can all text anyone no matter network they are on, with a generous text allowance, and we can all phone each other too. At least 2 of the phones need data plans for checking emails, facebook, twitter etc I want to have fast broadband at home and either a massive data allowance so we never run out, or 1GB data reset daily (my preference). I want to keep Sky (kids would like MySky). 3 of us need new phones - I'd like a smart phone. And I don't want to spend a month sorting it out or a fortune every month.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Making models from text

The purpose of this post is show the steps I went through from text to diagram. Turns out this a useful skill to have!)

Step 1: What data 'fields' do you want to communicate?

The text I was working with was:
  • Council Strategic plans,
  • Library Trust aims,
  • Key activities,
  • Operational plans and activities
  • Key performance indicators.
First step is work out what are the relevant or crucial data 'fields' that will illustrate the point you want to make. Make sure you know what the point you want to make is and remember that less is more so strip it back as far as possible.

I wanted to map Trust activity directly to Council strategy. Council are interested in governance not operations so I eliminated all operational data. This left me with a list of Council Strategic documents and a list of Library Trust aims.

Step 2: Mapping A to B

I 'tweaked' my list of library aims so that I ended up with a clear 1:1 mapping between the two lists. I dropped some Council Strategies which were not supported by Trust aims.

Step 3: Layout

Next play around with the sort of shape that would work for your data. One time I made a model like a lego construction with cyclinders resting on platforms. This was to illustrate distinct 'pillars' (focus areas of activity) that together formed a 'platform' of admin.

In this one I was playing with interweaving, perhaps using Council Strategies as the warp and Trust aims as the weft. Then I thought about library activity reaching out (into the community) from a strong (Council strategic framework) centre. I settled on Trust activities as the focus because it is OUR document. Council strategy is the background or framing.

Step 4: Mock Up
I liked this shape because the circle 'corners' bulge or flex out from a fairly 'prescribed' or focussed set of library aims (straight lines). The useful 'space' in the middle was formed from using square text boxes in triangles.

I use Microsoft Publisher for almost all of my diagrams, but sometimes Google Sketchup. (Actually to be totally honest, I take my pencil drawing and ask my 13 year old son to do it for me.)

Publisher as a format is a bit tricky but its a great creation tool. Think about negative space as well as positive space. Colours and fonts are really important too: some colours will make things pop off the page while other colours will help shapes 'recede'. When you have it all done select all and then save as a jpeg. This means you can insert it as an image in to any document.

Step 5: Finish
Also, jot down the colour 'formula' so you can match it with a colour scheme in your finished report.

Mapping Library Aims to Council Strategies.

Its that time again and the Library Trust is putting together our Statement of Intent for 2011/2012.

The Statement of Intent is a formal document which the Trust, as a Council Controlled Organisation, is required to submit to Council each year. In a nutshell its purpose is to assure Council that public funds are being applied in an appropriate way and being managed responsibly.

I think it is important to map the Library's key activities to Council's strategic direction to make an unequivocal point that Libraries are a key service delivery of arm for Council, helping them to achieve what they set out to do.

I will post the entire SOI here once it has been accepted by Council but I am quite pleased with a model I created this week mapping our key aims to Council strategies.

Fig 1. Te Horowhenua Trust aims mapped to Horowhenua District Council
planning and strategy documents (green).

The time for libraries is now

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

A day in the life of a library - Wednesday

Hoping for a more productive day than yesterday - and quite enjoying this 'reflection' aspect of A Day in the Life of a Library.

8.30 - 8.45: Trouble shooting wireless keyboard and mouse - still no go. New batteries fail too .... I'll keep pondering and banging away on my notebook.

8.45 - 9.20: Clearing emails, posted to list about non fiction lending patterns and how to map them to buying patterns,

9.20 - 9.45: Received call from hospital: they can operate on my daughter tomorrow! Frantically clearing my diary, postponing our family holiday next week, changing bookings etc.

9.45 - 10: Learnt a new game with staff and volunteers at morning tea: Bananagrams. Awful game - exhausting and I can't cope with the adrenaline overload so early in the morning. It fits the brief though: can accommodate 2 - 7+ players, uses word skills and is fast (we got 3 games out in 15 minutes.)

10 - 11: Talked to Chair of the Library Trust about this weeks Trustee meeting that I will now miss, arranging for the library consultant who is helping with Te Takere (our new library / community centre) to speak to the GreyPower meeting about about the library, services to elderly and what Te Takere will offer to seniors in the District. Briefing student who is working through a bunch of IT issues for me: updating antivirus programme, reformatting harddrives and disposing of old equipment.

11 - 5 .45: Researching Annual Plans from other public libraries for content and layout inspiration. Started drafting our Statement of Intent 2011-2012. Thinking about key activities and projects for the next financial year and what resources we will need.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

A Day in the Life of a Library : Tuesday

Public holiday in Wellington Region - Anniversary Day.

8.30 - 9.45: Stowing away tables, chairs and display boards from the Library booth at the API show on Saturday and Sunday, carrying carpet roll back to the children's library to cover up the lino area used for the children's holiday programme that ran over the last few weeks, helped shelve gazillions of books returned over the long weekend.

9.45 - 10am: Morning tea (yay - coffee).

10.00 - 10.20: Plugged my computer back into my office but CAN NOT get the wretched wireless keyboard to talk to the PC. We took my PC down to the API show to run the slideshow promoting our new library building. Gave up in disgust and got my netbook out while I ponder what the problem is...

10.20 - 10.25: Reviewed bank account balances and transferred most of the building fund into a new term investment.

10.25 - 10.30: Fielded a phonecall from a mother of 4 children who just loved our Summer reading programme and couldn't sing the priases of our Children's Librarian highly enough. I rang said Librarian, who is taking a few well earned days off, and told her how much she had been appreciated and how obvious it was that she loved her work.

10.30 - 10.40: Read the agenda I prepared last week for the Trustees meeting being held on Thursday this week to see that it still makes sense (I wrote it in a bit of a flurry) and to see what additional information / preparation I need to do before the meeting. Nothing - which is good, because I would really like to go and help the technical services team out for a few hours. We have a team challenge on this month to reduce the time it takes for new items to transition from acquisitions to shelf ready. Target: 3 weeks including cataloguing and processing. It is a big morale booster when managers work in the trenches when team challenges are on.

10.40 - 10.50: Reviewed and accepted quotes for Koha enhancements and a few bug fixes.

10.50 - 11.00: Checked Twitter posts - followed up 3 links.

11.00 - 11.15: Cleared emails and read a few. Turns out I only ready about 10% of my emails so it really does pay to put an eye catching and relevant subject in if you want me to read your emails.

11.15 - 11.20: Wrote this blog post for A Day in the Life Project.

11.20 - 1 1.30: Answering an email from a Koha newbie about relative merits of Item Types vs Collection Codes in planning for data migration to Koha 3.2. I struggled with this too and recalled some blog posts I'd written nearly a year ago where I worked this issue through with the help of the Koha Community. Sometimes the sheer flexibility of Koha can be a hard thing; it really does force the librarian to 'know' their collection and how they want Koha to work for 'them'. Its a learning curve for librarians used to a traditional or proprietary LMS, involving intellectual engagement but also engagement with the Koha community of developers and other librarians.

11.30 - 12.00: Reviewed the GST return to spot obvious mistakes - getting a refund this time - yee hah!

12.00 - 1.00: lunch. Taught some of the staff a new card game: Five Crowns. We have been playing upwords for years - a heavily modified version which means we can get a game out in 10 minutes - and it was time for a new game.

1.15 - 3pm: Mummy duty. Had to race home and pick up daughter and take her to the Dr (she has tonsilitis - again) then back home again. Such are the joys of being a working single parent.

3pm - 3.10: Checking emails. 2 requests for more info about Koha item type vs collection codes decision making. Screen dumped our circulation rules matrix and sent it out. Also a Google Alert mail about a blog post mentioning Kete Horowhenua; forwarded this on to Walter at Katipo who did the development work.

3.10pm - 3.15: Updating this post, checked Twitter and followed up on 3 more links.

3.15 - 4pm: Digging out spreadsheets and data conversion notes from a year ago which I referred to in a blog post to share with another Koha library.... wish I could remember which ones I was referring to :( Writing a long email explanation as well on what I've learnt since.

4pm - 5.15pm: Processing new books (at last!) working alongside volunteers. Our volunteer processors and staff cataloguers are very competitive - which can definitely be used to advantage when we are trying to clear backlogs. Volunteers are essential to our organisation and the only 'payment' they receive is comaraderie and appreciation. I am very aware of this and it really is a treat to laugh and work on the processing table for an hour or 2 enjoying their company and winding up the cataloguers (who can see the processing pile whittling away before their eyes).

10.30 - 11.00 : checking emails, twitter and flicking through my 'favourite' blogs - don't have time to check them all tonight. Will try again tomorrow night. I feel guilty checking my blogs at work - which is crazy - so I usually work through my blog aggregator in the evenings, starring ones to read later and forwarding selected posts to staff mailing list and library Trustees.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Things I learnt over Summer

Back to work today after 3 weeks off. I always take a long time to soak into my holoidays so its timely to reflect on what I've learnt:
  1. Have the right tools and ingredients for the job: you can not make a good guacamole without fresh limes, it is impossible to demolish and rebuild a fence without a claw hammer and it is worth paying $2 more for 'good' sausages,
  2. Some things do take time: the slow and steady approach to toasting marshmellows over glowing coals is ultimately far more productive than a quick fly-through a roaring flame which inevitably ends in tears,
  3. Look at the big picture: I adore my children and they are growing into gorgeous adults - even the naughty ones (actually they are all naughty sometimes),
  4. Just enough can be enough: gin is better in moderation, as is sunbathing and late nights.
  5. Adversity is the steel for sharpening your game: a good beating in rough surf leaves you feeling invigorated and refreshed,
  6. Everyday heroes: we each have the power to change and save lives,
  7. Trust in the power of collaboration: sumptuous bbq banquets can be assembled quickly, quietly and without fuss at very short notice by a group of friends all looking out for each other,
  8. Surround yourself with 'good' people and ignore the 'bad': mean or nasty people add nothing of value to my life and I can choose to ignore them. They only have power if I give them attention.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Why I support Life Saving NZ

I live at Waitarere Beach, a lovely spot on the western seaboard of the lower half of the North Island, New Zealand. This beach is not considered a dangerous beach by any means, has no big surf waves or Bondi Rescue type activities, but twice now a very good family friend who is a life guard at the Waitarere Surf Club has saved lives. This is the report from the Club Captain about yesterday's rescue:
"Big rescue 3pm approx, swell 1m, strong North Westerly, choppy seas. 5 people total, 2 adults 3 teenagers, caught in a hole (trench) out the back and could not get in due to rip.
This was an awkward moment as only two Lifeguards were on the beach and one was at the Clubhouse/equipment shed. So with calm heads, one Lifeguard swam out with rescue tube and kept patients afloat (4 hanging on tube and one on him). They were panicking, screaming and in distress. While second Lifeguard radioed for third to return to beach and also getting IRB into water with help from public.

Third lifeguard arrived to help man IRB and sped to aid of patients and their fellow Lifeguard who had his hands full keeping 5 heads afloat.They put 4 weakest in IRB (as IRB was maxed out) and one was towed to shore by First Lifeguard. First Aid treatment was given for mild shock and monitoring for signs of secondary drowning.

Our Lifeguards acted cooly and calmly to this dangerous situation, their training has shown them all to be first rate Lifeguards. The club is very proud of them. On occasions like this it shows the true value of the service. As the moto says Surf Lifeguards are "In It For Life". Lifeguards were Nathan Berry, Levi Tate and Mathew Duff."
The club is funded through club memberships, active or support, grants and fundraising. So if you ever have the chance to donate to a surf life saving club please do because they save lives.