Will Libraries Survive?

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and in what format?

This article came to mind recently when I was involved in two discussions (with different people) about the future of libraries.

One was when I heard someone talking about getting rid of 40% of a public library’s collections (they meant books) and I couldn’t help but wonder what the users of that library would think if 40% of the books they browsed or borrowed just weren’t there.

The second discussion came about when I was talking about ebooks with a borrower and she wanted to know if all the books that the library had in its collections were also available on ebook for her to borrow.

Good question. I started thinking about all my favourite books and/or authors – so many of them are not available in e format. Especially annoying when you want to read a whole series and some are e, some are paper, and some appear to have disappeared off the face of the earth.

We tossed this idea back and forth for a few minutes then she looked at me and said ” You know, until I can access every one of these books on my tablet, I will keep coming to the library and browsing for things i didn’t know I wanted to read until I saw them”

*Best library patron ever*



What’s in a name?

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The Seattle Public Library considers name change .

Can we go to The Seattle Public Library?

Can we go to Seattle Public Libraries?

Can we go to the library?

When I saw the title of the article I thought it was going to be about changing the name to some trendy sounding acronym or, as a cynical colleague said, why not call it the Seattle People’s Palace or the Seattle Treasure Dome. (her theory was the new name should reflect the value that the public see in the library not jus deleting one word & pluralising another).


Science Librarian – a day in the life

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From Scientific American.

A day in the life of a science librarian

When I tell people I am a librarian, they automatically think they understand how I spend my day: they imagine a lot of book stamps, telling people to be quiet, and having time to read.

In reality, librarians in academic institutions do a wide variety of things related to making information available to folks. From 2008 to 2012, the Librarian Day in the Life project encouraged librarians to document their daily work in an effort to help students, faculty, members of the public, taxpayers and anyone else interested in libraries understand what librarians do. Although the project has ceased, I thought I would bring back the idea today for this blog.  You can read my other posts for the project on my other blog here.

8:30am – Arrive at work. Lament the 10 degree temperatures as I walk from my car.

8:30am to 9:00am – Check email, check my calendar, check twitter. Post a few things to my library’s twitter feed and re-tweet a few things for my personal twitter feed. Get excited about the live streaming of some ScienceOnline events. Look at the notes for a webinar I will be watching this afternoon and double check the lesson plan for a class I am teaching at 10am (and 1pm) today.

9:00am to 10:00am – Start writing this blog post. Work on the manuscript for a paper I am writing with a colleague about our recent project to assess (and improve) student learning during reference transactions. Struggle with how to present our data in the paper and just how much detail is necessary.

10:00am to 11:15am – Teach a library session for a first-year writing and critical thinking course. The course is using The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks as a starting point for essays on a variety of topics.  In the session, I wanted students to be able to do three main things:

  • Distinguish between the scholarly and not-scholarly material they find on the web and through library databases.
  • Find scholarly articles through a library database and get their hands on the full text (sometimes via interlibrary loan)
  • Find books in our library and in other libraries that they can request via interlibrary loan.

The first part of the class in a simple exercise asking students to classify a variety of sources as scholarly or not-scholarly. One of the biggest issues for students is the idea that a source can be reliable, but not necessarily scholarly (e.g. Scientific American, The Wall Street Journal, etc.).

The class was pretty talkative, especially after asking the first question: what does it mean for a source to be scholarly.  The students came up with a brief list:

Scholarly characteristics: Reputable, peer-reviewed, authors as scholars, use of jargon, audience of scholars

We talked about whether a reference list automatically means a source is scholarly (no) and how they can still use sources that aren’t scholarly (even if their assignment calls for only scholarly sources).

11:15am to 12pm – Eat lunch at my desk. Check email, Check twitter. Chat with a colleague about a reference question and make a brief recommendation.

12pm to 1pm – Reference desk shift.

  • Send an email to an alumni with advice about how to format an article citation on his resume (APA style should work)
  • Answer a quick IM chat asking if the library offers lamination services (not anymore)
  • Schedule a few tweets for the library account and read a few blog posts/articles

1pm to 2:15pm – Teach another section of the same library session I taught this morning. The students in this class were much quieter than the morning class and getting answers to even simple questions (would a children’s book be considered a scholarly source?) was difficult. In the end they were able to find a few articles related to their topic, and learn a bit about selecting an appropriate database.

2:15pm to 3pm – Jump into a webinar a few minutes late to learn more about data available from the National Climatic Data Center. The webinar didn’t go into too much detail, but was a great overview of the data products and services available from the NCDC. I wish I had been able to be there at the beginning. The webinar ended before 3pm, so I was able to spend a few minutes answering some emails and deleting some junk mail.

3pm to 4:30pm – Make sure our library subject guides link to the NCDC where appropriate. Work on this blog post. Start writing an article (or at least the outline of an article) for the semi-annual library newsletter outlining some of the new publishing initiatives at my library. We just completed adding a section to our website about the books, journals and digital projects we are supporting. We also clarified the types of services that we provide for faculty in relation to their publishing efforts. Because my institution is an undergraduate institution, faculty are sometimes surprised that we are willing (and able) to help them with some aspects of their publishing efforts.

4:30pm – Head home.

Full post is here.

Libraries in unexpected places

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I’d love to host library sessions in unusual places (coffee, cake & crime anyone?)

Our Favorite Things: Libraries in Unexpected Places

For today’s Favorite Things post, we’re taking a look back at some of our favorite libraries that showed up in rather unexpected places. From book bikes to pop-up literary scenes in vacant lots, libraries were cropping up in a variety of interesting venues this year.

“Cut It Out” workshop at a local cafe, hosted by King County Library System.

King County Library System worked with a local cafe to bring a creative, hands-on library program to users in a relaxed, laid-back atmosphere.

  1. Airport Library entrance. Photo by Sander Stoepker.Airport Library entrance. Photo by Sander Stoepker.
  2. A library branch…in an airport? You heard that right! Check out the innovative way that this library in the Netherlands promotes Dutch culture to travelers from near and far.“Unbinding the Library” explored the connection between a library and its neighborhood.
  3. This interactive, guided exploration of a library and its relationship to Brooklyn was a collaboration between arts non-profit Elastic City and the Reanimation Library.Literary Lots brought scenes from children's literature to life in Cleveland.Literary Lots brought scenes from children’s literature to life in Cleveland.
  4. Literary Lots, a program out of Cleveland Public Library, brought unique literary experiences for families to vacant lots in Cleveland.BiblioTreka transformed into the pop-up library.BiblioTreka transformed into the pop-up library.
  5. Despite the fact that the BiblioTreka got boosted during one of its outings in Chicago this summer, we have mad respect and love for this library-on-wheels from Read/Write Library.

Original article is here.

Dewey Dog Scheme

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How cute is this?

 Dewy Dog System: Puppies were on hand at Green Library this week to help students navigate the stress of finals. pic.twitter.com/MXWTjIsJTQ
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The unconnected library (oops)


So I’m sitting at home typing this. One eye watching the AFL Grand FInal on the TV, one ear listening out for the ‘whoop whistle’ of my mobile phone, and obsessively checking my work email which is open in another tab.

So not a normal Saturday afternoon.

It all started Thursday as Melbourne experienced the famed ‘four seasons in a day’ weather.  Fifteen minutes of bright sunshine  followed by fifteen minutes of hail. and so on.

One of these hailstorms caused a power outage that took down the library’s ‘electricity using stuff’.

The staff leapt into action – we grabbed the ipad off the charging station (only someone had unplugged the charging station so the ipad battery was flat), grabbed the library mobile phone (also on the charging station but luckily holding half a charge) and went into action.

First call was to the electricity supply company – power not due to be restore until some time after the library was due to close  so the decision was made to close the library.

(The number of people who do not realise that computers need electricity to run constantly amazes me.)

Although the power came back on late Thursday afternoon the LMS, internet connections, phone system did not.

Systems were all still down yesterday – we were operating in offline mode but we had the (now fully charged) ipad for enquiries (and the library is a lot quieter without the phones).

Today the LMS, staff internet & phones were still down but we were able to get the public internets working.

A Telstra tech was supposed to turn up at 9.30 this morning to replace the ‘doohickey’ (technical term that) which was damaged during the power outage. He turned up 20 minutes ago (only 5 hours late) without the replacement ‘doohickey’.

So that is why i am keeping an ear and eye on work stuff today.  Moral support, sounding board, cheerleader-in-chief, whatever the staff need to get through the day.

Because we are open tomorrow and the public don’t want to know about power outages and broken doohickeys and offline systems.

They want the library to do the things the library usually does ,

They want the library to be connected to the things the library is usually connected to,

They want access to the info the library usually gives them access to,

They want connectivity,

They don’t want excuses.

We still have some work to do in this area.

Quote of the day

‘Bet you wish you still had catalogue cards’

Better late than never


So i have been a tad tardy.

Week one of the MOOC clashed with a much planned short holiday in New Zealand.

Week two coincided with the start of ‘Reign of Terror 2013’ (#RoT13) – the boss is away so for the next seven weeks I am Acting Branch Manager.

Whenever I’m in charge of the branch i try and introduce new ideas – staff curtseying (or bowing with a flourish) when they see me; staff referring to me as ‘esteemed leader’ or the more casual ‘chief’; a sedan chair to carry me from place to place. (Hence #RoT13)

Try as I might the staff are strangely reluctant to embrace any of these ‘innovations’ (go figure!)

Anyway that’s why i have been a little quiet MOOC wise.

However  I’m baaaaaack and rearin’ to go.

First batch of readings are done.

Thinking about to happen. Then blogging.

Awaaaaaaaay we go.

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