Archive for September, 2009

How to give a good presentation

I went to a professional development session on Tuesday afternoon entitled “Present with Confidence” sponsored by the Ikaroa region Lianza group (Yay Ikaroa!).

So this post is aimed at all those about to present at the upcoming Lianza Conference in Christchurch. You may find some tips useful. 🙂

The session covered such topics as:
• How to write an effective abstract
• How to present to an audience
• How to use visual aids
• How to handle questions

It was a worthwhile session for several reasons.

The first of which is a quote:
“The only difference between the pros and a novice [presenter] is that the pros have trained the butterflies to fly in formation.”

Most useful was the feedback, suggestions and contributions from the fellow attendees. My group had a couple of librarians from Horowhenua Public Library and one from the National Library (PN). (Kia ora Beth, Joann and Pamela!)

We were asked to think about a good presentation that we had seen and what characteristics made it good to us. Our group came up with several:

The Presenter:
• Humour: having a bit of humour can break the ice and allows you to form a rapport with your audience. But don’t overdo it. 🙂
• Confidence: be confident and relaxed and people will respect what you have to say
• Knowledgeable: be knowledgeable on your topic. No one wants to be sitting in a presentation thinking they know more than the presenter; and listening to a presenter who merely reads from notes does not convey this.
• Personal presentation: Ensure you are properly attired! No knickers showing above your trousers, or fiddling with your hair.
• Voice: Speak clearly and smoothly, neither too fast nor too slow and use modulation for interest. And watch those ‘ums’!

• Tell a story or a journey with your presentation, perhaps start with an anecdote. Make it personal. In our exercises I was interested in how the situation affected people especially the person talking.
• Provide a clear summary at the end of your main points or ideas.
• Have a theme, preferably one that ties in with the conference, or a keyword that succinctly describes your presentation.

Other things to remember are:
Check out your venue first. For example if you have an interactive session planned the room may not be suitable.

Know your audience and be cultural sensitive and respectful.

And finally a tip on using visual aids, particularly powerpoints.
Don’t rely on them to do the presentation for you! Always have a Plan B if the technology fails. Others said that they went to a conference where the version of Microsoft Office was different and all the fancy animations were lost.

And if you’re still not convinced that powerpoints are not the be all and end all of a presentation, take a look at this:

How Not To Use PowerPoint

Good luck to all the presenters for Lianza 2009!


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Why Google needs librarians

This week, references to a couple of articles:

I recently read a blog post, Language Log, about the “train wreck” that is the metadata for Google books.  I won’t repeat the examples but there are plenty in the blog post to indicate that the metadata are a mess, particularly for older books.  Google’s chief engineer said the dates were supplied by libraries but the blog post’s author, Geoff Nunberg, believes the errors are a result of erroneous dating from OCR text.  But then there are classification errors as well (for example, an edition of Moby Dick is classed under Computers).  Google tried to blame libraries for these errors too but the categories are not those used by libraries.  I’ll leave you to read the post but it’s pretty horrific reading.

Then just yesterday I read this article in Library Journal about Google Scholar’s problems (and the first paragraph happened to mention the above blog post).  Again, it seems, Google did not use the perfectly good metadata on offer by experts but decided to rely on “smart” crawlers.  The resulting problems include phantom citations, inflated numbers and lost authors (to name a few!).

While Google has fixed some of the problems, it seems evident that correcting these errors is not a priority.

It amazes me (or perhaps it shouldn’t)  that Google appears to have such a lackadaisical attitude towards the accuracy of its results.

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One of the cool things I have discovered I love about blogging, apart from statistic watching, is looking at the incoming links.  So far we haven’t got too many that aren’t from one of our own blogs linking us back to here. These show that we are part of a much larger conversation about libraries.

With a view to sharing the link love, here are a couple of links that are coming into my posts.

The first link is from Historia I Media, which appears to be Checkoslovakian is a  Polish blog. I can’t read what they are saying, but it appears to be about Penny Carnaby’s talk about the Delete Generation mentioned in my blog posting Preserving Digital Heritage from June the 1st. As I don’t understand a word of what the author is discussing I can’t see if we are just linked too or if the post is mentioned, but it is way cool to think someone was reading us even if I can’t read them.  🙂

The second came from last weeks post There Is No Such Thing As A Free Lunch! I was quite exciting about this link as it comes from a library related podcast in the United States, LISNews Librarian And Information Science News. The mention comes in at about the three minute mark, and is only brief, but it gives you a glow to know that you are part of a global conversation. 🙂

There is something quite satisfying about being part of that conversation, and in the easy way that conversation can occur, despite disparate languages and locations. As you know I used to be rather sceptical about the Internet especially Social Media, but now I think you could say my conversion is complete.

Since, unlike Elvis I am interested in more conversation not less, here are a number of library related podcasts you may also be interested.

The Library 2.0 Gang

LISTen: An LISNews.org Podcast

Longshots: Library-Related Commentary and Interviews

Games in Libraries

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Librarians are a funny lot in many ways.  No more so than the fact that we seem to love t-shirts celebrating our profession.   I mean, there really is an amazing number of librarian t-shirts available.  Cafepress, which is a major online t-shirt retailer, has 5,720 designs alone, and that is just one site.    Zazzled, The Lipstick Librarian, New York Public Library, to name but a few more places and sites which have librarian related apparel.  I myself own a New York Public Library t-shirt (love it), and actually have a new librarian t-shirt on the way, which I ordered yesterday morning while researching this blog post ( http://t-shirts.cafepress.com/item/the-circ-and-reference-shirt/73245072 ).

Of course it does not stop there.  What about modified librarians?  There is a website ( http://www.bmeworld.com/gailcat/ ) and a Flickr group ( http://www.flickr.com/groups/modifiedlibrarians/ ). These sites celebrate librarians who have tattoos or piercings or frequently a combination of both.   I myself have four tattoos, so I guess I see a bit of what this is about.  The image of the profession lends itself perfectly to a juxtaposition with the tattooed, pierced, funky t-shirt wearing being and I guess that is the point.  Nobody is surprised by the tattooed biker, but stick a tattoo on the librarian and it becomes a celebration of the inner rebel within the mild mannered respectable citizen.

And yet, as we all know, and certainly anyone who has been to a LIANZA conference can attest,  this is a myth.   Vendors from Australia and further abroad always talk about how “conference goes off”  Apparently we New Zealand librarians know how to party.  And having been to a couple of Australian conferences I would have to agree.  We make our cousins across the Tasman look a little bit tame at conference dinners.  However, maybe this is the once a year release of pent up frustration by the timid squares with buns and cardigans……  This years conference will be a challenge as there is no actual dinner, but I am planning to do my best to keep the reputation alive and have a damn good party.  Karaoke?  Yes I jolly well think so!

So, have you got a tattoo or a piercing?  What about a fascinating collection of library t-shirts?  Leave a comment and let us know…….

Library Tattoo

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Recently, our joint academic/public library was investigated by a researcher looking at the difficulties involved in having two different organisational cultures working along side each other.  No doubt the paper will be published and you will all get to read about it.

Yesterday I read through the copy given to us and came away feeling rather saddened.  The approach taken (for valid reasons) was limited to the negative aspects of a joint library culture.  There is a decent amount of literature written from this angle and clearly there are negative issues with  joint library situation.  As an optimist however, I’d like to redress the balance and say a few words about the positive side of having a joint library.

OPACs showing logos of both libraries

OPACs showing logos of both libraries

In our situation, the biggest group who benefit from the joint library are the students.  As long as they have a library card for both libraries, they have access to the entire collection of each library.

Although we do not have a joint approach to collection development, the nature of the courses taught at this campus means there is a larger range of resources available.  Public library resources provide a slightly different approach to the more academic resources we provide and this is particularly useful for our social practice and nursing students.  The Maori collection of the public library is much larger than ours and is a great resource.  The genealogy resources provided by our public library partner enable our community skills students to research their whakapapa as part of an assignment they are required to complete.

Each partner library's collection is interfiled on the shelf.  A logo identifies the items belonging to our collection.

Each partner library's collection is interfiled on the shelf. A logo identifies the items belonging to our collection.

The ability to study in the different spaces provided by the joint library is a clear advantage for the diversity of student working style.  The whole building is wireless, so the laptops we lend to students can be used on all three levels.  Each floor has it’s own characteristic environment.  For example, the tables on level 3 mean students who work in groups can collaborate together creating a space where a working buzz is acceptable behaviour.  Level 2 is quieter and more suited to students who like to work individually.  Level 1 has a more playful feel to it, and can be useful for students who have small children with them for short periods of time as they can stay together.  Whether they get any work done is debatable as anyone who has small children can attest!

Public library patrons do not benefit so easily from having access to both collections as they are unable to borrow items belonging to us.  They do however use the material in the library.  We have noticed that students from other institutions who do not have a large library or a presence in this area are frequent visitors and users of the more academic resources we provide.  Public library patrons with queries on health conditions do consult the nursing collection and photocopy small sections.  School students who need something a little deeper than the resources provided by their school library use our material too.

The shared information desk.

The shared information desk.

The complementary expertise of the staff from each partner is a great advantage both for library patrons and for the staff themselves.  I am well aware that my knowledge of  things like local body information and local history is weak, but I know the staff from the public library are experts and have no problem handing over a patron into their capable hands.  Conversely, I have every confidence in my own ability to help somebody find scholarly articles for their assignment or a school child looking for books on scientists in Antarctica.  The variety of queries received at the information desk is something I consider to one of the perks of my job.

Another perk I really like is being able to pop downstairs and pick up my fiction reading or grab a magazine as I see it on display.

The differences between each partner’s organisational culture can actually be quite refreshing.  Taking a break from your own team and interacting with your neighbour can provide a welcome opportunity to relax and chat.

If the joint library were ever dissolved I would miss these things.

The title of this post popped into my head because of the joint library moniker, but I also like the picture of our library as a body.  Each member of the body has it’s own contribution to the working of the whole.  We may not do exactly the same job, or have the same focus but despite areas of conflict it does work.  The human body is a brilliant example of working compromise.  Perhaps our joint library should be viewed in the same way.

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Inspired by a discussion on one of the listservs, I think it’s time to confess.

“I don’t like other people’s libraries.”

Well okay so that’s not strictly true. Let me rephrase.

“I don’t like walking into library buildings where I don’t know any of the staff or where any of the collections are.”

Hhm. That’s still not quite right…

“I get nervous when I walk into a building that I am unfamiliar with especially if it’s a busy library with shelves stretching off into the distance and signage that can’t be read.”

That’s a bit better. Of course, maybe I’m not the right person to be making this complaint. My opinion is skewed because I work in libraries. If I’m visiting another library it’s usually in the company of other librarians who then point out all the cool bits of the building or I’m there for a meeting so I whisk through the public areas straight to the meeting room. (In fact, I’ve got so good at doing that at one library that the security guard no longer blinks if I’m there out of opening hours.)

I hardly ever walk into a library as a customer. It happens occasionally. Like… if I’m out of town and I need to kill a couple of hours.* A library is usually a pretty safe bet for a place to provide somewhere to sit and something to read without asking anything in exchange. I personally find it intimidating to walk into a library space.

If I feel like that – how do our customers find it? For that matter – how do you feel when you walk into an unfamiliar library?


* I try not to go into libraries while I’m on holiday – I always end up straightening the books.

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After conference finishes I have to stay in Christchurch for an extra day. I, along with a number of others, am going to have training in administering a Kete through the auspices of the APN. This is quite exciting for us at Tararua as we have been looking forward to developing a Kete.

Some of you may wonder why we just didn’t do it ourselves, after all the Kete software is free, as part of the open software movement. Well, whilst the software is free, you still need support, and as, in the library, we don’t currently have the skills to support the implementation of the package and general maintenance; we would need to rely on our council IT section. I have talked to our IT department previously about this and also looking at Koha, and as these software packages don’t fit into the IT management plan then our in-house IT would not support further investigation.   

In fact at the moment there is a bit of a bust-up occurring in the Koha community, as a company that took the basic package and then sold it through their services as a “support” licence. These services are for implement and further develop. This company, LibLime, is now refusing to release back into the community their developments. Apparently this is within the letter of licence agreement, if not the spirit. Somebody is trying to have their cake and eat it too.

So APN steps into the frame, helping us host and providing training and support for free. This is great, but when I go I will be asking questions and looking into the details very carefully, as I have concerns which originate from my conversations with the IT department.

What happens if funding for the APN is cancelled? For the free broadband pc service the issue is not so great, as we will be able to take administration in-house, and then will need to charge. For the Kete it is not simple. If, as I understand it, the Kete is hosted on a server in Christchurch, what will happen to our Kete? Especially if our IT department are unwilling to takeover the server and help provide support. Also who actually owns the domain name for the Kete? Would we have to buy it from the APN? And if they do retain ownership could we rely on them passing ownership to us?

I am becoming very aware that free does not necessarily mean free, and am very mindful of that old saying, there is no such thing as a free lunch! I wonder who is going to pay for mine?

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