the "good stapler"?

Today I continued working towards my second assignment. Part of it involves doing a shadowing session in a library at the reference/information desk. This required me to walk over to our library building on campus and take a seat behind the desk with the librarians. Usually I stand on the “client” side and ask questions. The hour that I sat observing confirmed a lot of what we have been learning during the first five weeks of the term. Librarians in the 21st century have to be experts in technology. And by that I mean, they don’t just have to know how to use technology to help library users find good and relevant information. They have to know how to troubleshoot the technology in the library for the users. There were questions about the photocopier, the printer, the self checkout machine, the coffee machine and the vending machine. There was even a question about where the “good stapler” was. As it is a regional campus, resources in terms of staff are limited. With five regional campuses CQUni works with a floating collection. That means every day there are requests from staff and students at other campuses for books in our library. They are sent overnight by courier (as long as the request has been made by 12pm). And then there are books received from other campuses that have been requested here. They stay at this campus until someone decides they want to borrow them. None of this completed by administration staff. It is all done by the librarians themselves. I also observed the very beginnings of the system whereby university alumni have access to the library for free for the rest of their lives. I was impressed when I saw QUT offered this service and it is in the initial stages of being rolled out at our institution. I found out as well that members of the community can join the library for 100 dollars a year (which is pretty good I think) giving them access to the hard copy collections and some of the digital material as well. Interestingly, the one question about a book (the student knew the title but not the other) but solved by a fellow student before the librarian had the chance to even sit down at her computer. It’s a whole new view sitting behind the desk that’s for sure. What was slightly scary was that as soon as you sit there people approach you to ask questions. I didn’t know the answer to any of them. That’s right…not even how to refill the water in the coffee machine or which one was the “good stapler”. Clearly, I have a lot to learn.

Library media specialists

Here’s a really interesting article that I stumbled upon while browsing through twitter last night (Thank you Tara Brabazon). It’s well worth reading in terms of thinking about the changing role of the librarian, particularly in terms of the need to closely integrate their work and practice with other curriculums being taught.

You’re gasping in astonishment

I posted my first assignment away yesterday. It was the poster. I spent all last weekend and most of the week muddling about in Publisher trying to put together something that had even a hint of “creativity” about it. If there is one thing I am not it is a visually creative person so this was a challenge. I will happily write you all the words in the world but tell me to pretty something up and I am stumped. I guess that’s why I never could see the point of scrapbooking. And I know I will never be a graphic designer. Because apart from the fact that I’m not visually creative, I can’t be bothered fiddling around with documents in that way. Anyway, I finally came up with something that included a jpeg file of the book cover, a background on every page of a hipstamatic photo I had taken of some of my old violin music which I then altered the contrast on so the text stood out, and I scattered some very unoriginal music clip art to break up the text. I also highlighted all the key words throughout the text so they stood out…sort of like the online dictionary did itself in its entries. I know. You’re gasping in astonishment at my creativity!

Then I toddled to the post office before work, bought one of those tube things and sent it away. Done. Finished. Moving on to Assignment Two which as far as I can gather involves some kind of reflection on a shadowing session in the library. I need to have a read about this tomorrow I think.

Librarian 2.0

Here’s an interesting little article that came from this week’s reading about the new and improved “Librarian 2.0” including the qualities this mutation of Librarian 1.0 must develop.

And here’s another one by a futurist who claims that writing is a technology with a limited lifespan. I’m always a little skeptical of futurists. It’s a fairly grand claim to make that writing will disappear but then who I am to say? I’m not a futurist that’s for sure.

Anyway, it has some interesting background on the daVinci collection as an archive and it’s nice to think that libraries will adapt and remain central to our culture.

1800 words…that’s a mighty big poster

So I am working on my assignment today which as I have already mentioned is a poster presentation, evaluating a reference resource. I thought I best make myself sit down and write the content of the evaluation before I got any more excited about the visual part of things. Two hours later I have 1800 words. I have a feeling that might be too many. I return to the drawing board.

a little badge

Last Sunday I joined ALIA through their online site and within the week I had been sent their magazine, a little badge, a membership card and a welcome email. The next step is to take the time to browse some of their lists and groups and sign up to some of those.

Stravinsky, Nijinsky, Riot

I have spent the morning mulling over my first assignment which is to create a poster that evaluates a reference resource. So far, I am doing well in that I have chosen the resource I have to evaluate and submitted my choice to the wiki on the Blackboard site before this Thursday. I am going to look at the Oxford Companion to Music which is now available online and is part of Oxford Reference Online. After looking through the assessment criteria and the various documents on what is expected in the evaluation I started playing around in the resource. It’s fairly user friendly. What’s really good is that even though you are searching in the Music Companion you can connect to all the other reference resources (shall we call them e-books? I think we shall) in the Oxford database (am I using these terms correctly? I’m not sure). Perhaps Oxford Online Collection would be better?

What does this mean? Well I decided to start at the very beginning (in what they teach music students in the Western tradition anyway) and searched for “Gregorian chant”. From there I was directed to the entry on “Plainchant” (which I had the option of printing, or emailing to myself). I emailed it to myself and it arrived in my inbox within minutes. Then, however, there is a groovy little search function called “cross reference”. This means that in the plainchant entry I can highlight any words and click on cross reference, whereby I am directed to entries anywhere in the entire Oxford Online Collection that will explain this word or term. I chose to highlight “Emperor Constantine” and found myself in a different dictionary/encyclopedia altogether, reading about Constantine. This is pretty useful as it enables users to not only find the quick facts they might be looking for, but it also gives them the option of putting their new found knowledge of plainchant into some social and historical context with more explanations. My plainchant entry also offered me summary of the I could quickly navigate to the relevant section if I wanted to, rather than reading the whole thing; a list of connected terms to do with plainchant and interestingly, the keywords for the entries adjacent to plainchant in the Companion. “Whoops, I meant to search for pizzicato but accidentally typed in plainchant”..that kind of thing. I can see how this would be useful in some instances. More useful though is the pattern searching which looks for words close to the keyword you type in, just in case you have spelled it incorrectly etc. I didn’t have that problem with plainchant.

There’s also a collection wide thing called a “Timeline Search”. The Timeline function allows you to choose which area or discipline you would like to check out for important events in its historical timeline. I went to Timeline, clicked on Performing Arts and then Music as my sub-category. Then I decided to test out Oxford Reference Online and searched for 1913. Sure enough, as any good undergrad music student knows there was the Stravinsky, Nijinsky, Rite of Spring premiere, riot as the notable event in that year. Good work OUP.

I also discovered the Oxford Online Collection has a very detailed Help section where basic and advanced search methods are explained with examples. The Browse function was useful with it’s A-Z and subheadings for searches underneath each letter. Even better was the “Links for this book” where the user is directed to a page which gives many links to other useful reference sources that would be companion items to the companion. If you get my drift.

Anyway, I copy and pasted bits and pieces of useful information about the resource into a word document to look at later. Now I just have to distill all this into an evaluative poster.

I shall think on this some more.

Lost in a labyrinth

One of the links my Week 2 Readings pointed to was this site
It is HUGE. I started to browse around the various archives and databases and could feel myself getting distracted and lost in a labyrinth of information…but in a good and exciting way. It was like at every click of the mouse there was something more fascinating that I hadn’t seen before. I’m sure I will return to it many times in the future and I wished I had known about it a lot earlier.

Wendy’s Grandma goes to the library

Last week my mother told me a disturbing story about my Grandmother and the library. Each week my mum takes my Grandma (now 89) to our Regional Council Library. She is highly indiscriminate in her choice of books. Just about anything will do and usually in the space of 10 minutes has an armful ready to go to the checkout desk. It’s about the same amount of time my mother has taken to fight her way into a position to be able to search through the DVDs. And then, they have to leave. Because with my grandma, there is no waiting….unless it’s for her.

I digress.

Anyway, last week my mother told me something particularly interesting. My Grandma decided that one of the books she had borrowed ( I know not which) was chock-a-block full of incorrect punctuation. Being an imperious ex-schoolteacher she decided that this simply would not do. So she got out her biro (yes that’s right her biro, not her pencil) and went right through the book correcting the punctuation. Her reasoning – if she didn’t do that then the next person to read might think that wrong was right.

It was during this discussion that I discovered something else very interesting about how many of the elderly library members use the library. They borrow a book, read it, and then before returning it they write their initials in the inside cover. That way, when they go back to borrow some more they can check if they have read their selections before…particularly if their memories are starting to fade a little. Apparently, my grandmother engages in this behaviour as well. While being quite an ingenious tactical scheme, I couldn’t help wondering what the librarians thought about all this scribbling in their collection. And, what else is going in within the library system that we don’t know about in terms of user behaviour?