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Archive for November, 2009


Not quite the same as the summer of 69, but then I couldn’t really use that as I wasn’t even born then.  😉

Tomorrow is the first day of summer, and I don’t know about you, but around here in public library land we are really starting to gear up for the school holidays and the holiday season.  We received our shirts advertising the reading programme “Dive into Books”, and the rewards came last week. Registrations started, with all the Readplus (for teenagers) spaces taken, and most of the dive into books places also gone. Also the last splurge of pre-holiday bestsellers are arriving and hitting the shelves, although most of the Christmas themed titles seem to have already come. 🙂

It’s a funny season this, as a lot of business’s wind down for the holidays, and people look to take their big break, we in the public library land are building towards the busiest time of year. The summer reading programme is a big deal and takes a lot of co-ordination and work. Everyone who wants to relax on the beach or under a tree in the back yard is in for books, so our figures go up. The bored teens have lots of weeks to come a haunt the library and use the free Internet . I sort of enjoy the buzz you get, but at the same time I thinks “but I want to be on holiday”.

That’s one of the troublesome bits for public libraries. Everyone wants to go on holiday over summer with their family (well lots do), so holiday leave is often rationed. I think though that one of the really annoying bits, is that for nearly every public library, everyone else in the larger organisation is on holiday. The council offices and service centres all close down from Christmas eve until after New Years, but not the library. A lot of councils have Christmas functions that all staff are expected to go to, yet library are also expected to be open. That must give the librarian in charge a headache. I have done relief work for book vouchers to cover such events. I guess it’s a complaint you find in a lot of service industries, and I take comfort that at least we are not like the poor saps in the fast food industry working on the holidays! Heck back in my student days I worked New years eve at a KFC until 2 in the morning, what a nightmare! This year I am getting the week off, which is a happy thing. 🙂

But the bizarre thing for me, is that often this week is the slowest of the year. We can’t be closed as people will want their holiday reading, but they are so busy being on holiday they don’t go to the library! Go figure.

Anyway, for those of you who are heading off on holiday this summer, have a great break! For those working through the long hot summer days, may the air conditioning work and the punters be happy! And remember if visiting your local public library, and finding chaos and bedlam, smile. The poor soul behind the counter could probably need it!  

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Why minstrone?  Because my summary will be a soupy mixture of thoughts.

I’ve been writing up my bullet point summaries of the sessions I attended at National Digital Forum.  Conversations about NDF can be found at the Ning.

I felt the conference was worth while, very well attended (over 330), with a mixture of quality and level in terms of the sessions.  It seemed to lack a bit of the punch it had last year – I think people are feeling a bit flat. The venue, Te Papa, was very appropriate even though the Soundings Theatre was bulging at the seams for the keynote speakers.  I think the conference team did a great job though.  It’s a hard job to bring such an event together.
The projects that are coming out of the myriad institutions around the country are impressive for what they are doing with so very little funding and available staff.  There is a real ground swell of digital New Zealand culture and I hope that it continues.  National Library (in the form of Penny Carnaby) reiterated a number of time the support that WN has for these projects and their commitment to making their own collections accessible online.
A few things came across as a common theme:
1.  The need for the many different digital projects to be “connected” in some way so users can easily move from one project to another. Unless you know where to look it’s actually very hard to find some of this stuff.  The Digital NZ’s API might be an answer to this issue.
2. The need for some sort of common iconography similar to that of Creative Commons for use in the cultural sector’s digital collections.  Currently it is very difficult for a user to know what they are allowed and not allowed to do with the digital collection item.  The rights can vary.  A simple suite of symbols could assist with this.  Also, the development of a rights registry would be helpful not only for users but for the GLAM sector, and even for the likes of the Great NZ eBook Project.
3.  Technology and it’s tools need to reflect a personality.  It’s not enough to stick up a video on your site or have a PR Twitter identity.  There needs to be authentic conversations between the institution and their audience.  Transparency and authentic interaction with your audience can result in greater patron loyalty and even enhance your collections.
My thanks to my Library Director, Peter Hughes for enabling me to go to NDF.  I do think it’s worthwhile that our institution has a presence in the forum.  I’ve come away with some ideas for my teaching methods and ways that our web presence could be enhanced.  I managed to connect with a few people from my library school past, some fellow Twitterers and really enjoyed the opportunity for professional development.
And they had REAL coffee, and FREE ice cream.

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I have a couple of questions for you.

How many people out there read the monthly LIANZA newsletter Library Life? I sometimes do and sometimes I don’t. I will print it out, but it’s just not the same. I miss the hardcopy put on the staffroom table, which was often browsed by more than LIANZA members.

Also how many people read the recently released  volume of the New Zealand Library & Information Management Journal electronically? How many people are waiting for the hardcopy? I browsed the content s page, but will wait to receive my copy in the mail before properly sitting down to read it. 🙂

If you think that’s odd for a technogeeky librarian, who is into digital publications, your probably right. But you see I don’t particularly like reading articles in PDF on the computer screen. I just don’t get as much from it. Which is  why I am hanging out for decent Ereaders to come to New Zealand.

Below is a poll, or leave a comment, but I would be interested to know what others thought about this. 🙂

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Reading and Writing


“Nearly universal literacy is a defining characteristic of today’s modern civilization; nearly universal authorship will shape tomorrow’s.”

We as librarians are more often than not concerned about how people are reading, and how do we facilitate that reading. Sometimes it might be a good plan to look at how writing is evolving to give us clues as to how people will be reading 🙂 .

Here is a link to a New York Times blog on the revolution in writing. The comments are quite interesting.

And here is a link the original article the Times was linking to. See below for the start.

“Nearly everyone reads. Soon, nearly everyone will publish. Before 1455, books were handwritten, and it took a scribe a year to produce a Bible. Today, it takes only a minute to send a tweet or update a blog. Rates of authorship are increasing by historic orders of magnitude. Nearly universal authorship, like universal literacy before it, stands to reshape society by hastening the flow of information and making individuals more influential.”

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She Wore An Itsy Bitsy


 “Statistics are like bikinis.  What they reveal is suggestive, but what they conceal is vital.”  ~Aaron Levenstein”

I had a post in mind today, one about metrics and statistics, some of which you may have heard if you were at my presentation . Before starting I Googled “quotes about statistic”, as I thought I wanted to use a starting quote that was better than the obligatory  “98% of all statistics are made up”. I have discovered that quotes about statistics are bit like statistics themselves, many, and varied, they can be also both humorous and pointless. So I shall drop several more through the post as I had trouble deciding which I liked most.

“Torture numbers, and they’ll confess to anything.”  ~Gregg Easterbrook

So why statistics? Well there are many different areas with which statistics are important in libraries, but for me the main statistical set that has me beating my head against a brick wall is blog statistics. It is true that with any activity within the workplace, their needs to be a justification for that activity. Often the easiest was to prove/ or disprove that justification is with statistics.  For the blog, Tararua District Library Blog, statistics are any essential part of any justification.

“He uses statistics as a drunken man uses lampposts – for support rather than for illumination.”  ~Andrew Lang

The trouble with the statistics are they are often inconsistent across harvesters and often they don’t tell me the story I want to know. I can start with the statistics generated by wordpress. They record how many times a particular page has been viewed in a browser. They don’t tell me a location of the reader, nor if the reader is a unique visitor who viewed multiple pages. So for example last month [October] I am told the blog had 1,420 page views, at an average 46 page views per day. This is well and good, but not terribly satisfying for those with an interest in metrics.

“Facts are stubborn things, but statistics are more pliable.”  ~Author Unknown

I needed to see some more statistics, so I created a free account with sitemeter, which tells me both unique visitors and page views. Except this service tells me for the month of October we had 1,129 visits, viewing 1,592 pages. Yes that’s 172 page views more than the blog tells me. That’s more than a discrepancy in date/time [I.E. one site recording at GMT, while the other NZ local time]. One thing I would be like to be able to report is the numbers of locals reading. Sitemeter will tell me an approximate locale of the viewer, but that is based of the ip address, and they are usually registered in bulk to one of the main centres.

“There are two kinds of statistics, the kind you look up and the kind you make up.”  ~Rex Stout, Death of a Doxy

To add to my confusion I have recently started channelling my links through bit.ly. Now this has told me some interesting statistics which is meant to report how many times the link has been clicked. The obvious conclusion would be that for every click you would receive a corresponding page view. I have discovered this is in fact not true. I can create a link to my latest posting, send it to twitter via bit.ly. I have observed that in bit.ly I can have 12 or 13 clicks yet not one page view.

“Satan delights equally in statistics and in quoting scripture….”  ~H.G. Wells, The Undying Fire

To add another element in the quest for an accurate picture of readership, there are also blog harvesters like alphainventions.com or http://stumbleupon.com, which will allow people to read your blog without actually viewing it.  Not to mention the question of whether you can get an accurate readout of how many people have subscribed via a RSS feed.

It means that any validation of the blog as a worthwhile activity, justified as active part of the library workload is problematic. I feel sometimes as though I am out there, dancing in that bikini on the street front, not knowing how many are checking me out, and living in fear that the powers that be might just notice and decide I need to be engaged in a more appropriate activity.

 

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Social media is making us more human

Who’d ‘ve thought?  Why? Because humans use it to share with other humans?  Seems perfectly logical to me.

Seems the “internet is evil” line of thinking is taking its time to die.  Television has always been the anti-social medium in my mind.

Btw, how are you liking the new look?  There are still some tweaks to be done, I hear.

Have a good one…

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One of my favourite tasks in libraryland is that of deselection.

Imagine my delight when, a few months ago I discovered a blog called Awful Library Books – a wordpress sister blog no less, and one which more than a few of you may know as it has been featured both on nz-libs and Sideswipe in recent weeks.

What really tickles me about it is the posts not only feature  truly awful library books (warning: contains leeches), they also include discussion of the bloggers’ reactions to the books in a deselection context. I have a number of themed found image sites on my feeds – I recommend bighappyfunhouse if your taste runs to a quixotic mix of the poignant and the offbeat – but with ALB I get the added thrill of feeling like an insider. I laugh along because I’ve looked at similar titles and had the same reactions.

Recently the bloggers, Mary and Holly, were featured on US talk show Jimmy Kimmel Live. Watching the ladies joke with Jimmy and an ex-hobbit holding a snake I really enjoyed the feeling that the internet age has allowed us to show our unique selves and culture in a way that steps outside of the stereotyping whilst preserving our distinctiveness.

If you have time in your day, enjoy. The video is seven minutes in length, but the interview only runs for five of those minutes.

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