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Archive for December, 2009

Yuletide Missives


Seasons greetings. My name is Michael and I am addicted to blogging.

With the holidays fast approaching, we move to the slow time of year for blogging.  People head off for a break, often without great access to the Internet. Although with the APNK system of free Internet in public libraries spread from one end of the country to the other, one is never that far from a terminal. However who wants to spend their break reading and writing professional literature?

I myself am holiday during week between Christmas and New years, and so this week I will be writing lots of posts for the Tararua District Library Blog, and scheduling them to come up during the break. Nothing startling, just a small flow of content to keep the blog flowing.

So with that in mind, I expect things around here to be a bit quiet for the next few weeks. I don’t think I will pre-prepare anything for here, but I may just pop a short note on if anything comes to mind. Off course with my blogging and writing compulsion in full force anything may happen.

So have a good holidays people, and remember be safe…  

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Some Christmas Cheer


I think some folks out here in library land need some Christmas Cheer.. 🙂

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Except, I can no longer do the splits….

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OK OK so I know that there are fears being raised about stalking using google’s new goggles service but…

But…

… ain’t it the coolest thing ever?

I admit I have raised myself on a steady diet of science fiction, but I seriously like the idea of the kind of context that I hunger for and already use the net to provide coming to me this easily. Sure I enjoy using my creativity to massage search terms when looking for an unknown, but why should I when I can just scan?

Picture this: LIANZA 2020. A familiar face comes across the floor towards you… but no name arises. A subtle gesture, unobservable to the outsider, and a list of likely suggestions for the person in front of you scroll up on your glasses.

Privacy shmivacy. I’ve got a bad memory for names in my 30s and this is going to help in a decade’s time.

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Seasons’ greetings!


This is my last post for the year and I thought I’d end it with a picture of what is believed to be the oldest Christmas card (from the mid 1800s).  This card is part of the special collections of Bridwell Library at Southern Methodist University.  You can read more about the card here.

What’s the oldest Christmas card you have?  If you’re anything like me you’ve thrown away the vast majority of them and are thinking of recycling the rest.  Does anyone even get Christmas cards anymore?

Have a happy Christmas everyone and enjoy the New Year celebrations.  Don’t get too drunk and end up like this guy.

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Do you ever have times when something has been percolating for a while in the back of your mind, and then comes along to push it to the fore? For me, it often seems that I have multiple thought streams running around in the head, quietly bubbling away. Some come to a quick dead end; others simmer until something concrete come out of it. Others just seem to run and run, nagging at me as every now and then they get pushed to the forefront. Right now there is a stream that has come back to the forefront, and as I just don’t know the answers I will dam it up and push it back under. But before I do I think I will share it with you.

A few weeks ago a student doing the MLIS came up from Wellington to interview me about out library Facebook page. We had a good wide-ranging discussion on web 2.0, Facebook,  digital strategies and staffing. This brought to the fore the problem that is simmering, and has been simmering for quite a while. And that is staffing a small library, in a rural district, with people who are keen to adopt some of the newer technologies. From my experience, it seems small libraries like ours have difficulties in recruiting staff with the mindset, interest or technological skills to develop and maintain technologies like blogs or Facebook. More often than not people with my sort of interests are drawn to the larger centres. I worry that if I was to leave my position now, our web 2.0 presence would stumble to a grinding halt.

In the latest New Zealand Library & Information Management Journal  there is an article by Craig Cherrie called 21st Century Skill Set for New Zealand Libraries. It was quite an interesting little article which discusses the evolving skill set needed by librarians in this digital age. I found nothing in the way of an argument against what Craig said, which concerns me as again I am struck by the problem of how that relates to the smaller rural public library service.

In many ways I like to live and work on the cutting edge of new technologies, yet I am aware that many out there working in similar libraries are not. It is a problem that I will continue to mull over as I seek to encourage my co-workers into the digital world.

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Or more importantly, the importance of Public Libraries.

Some more light reading came across my desk via that wonderful thing called the Internet. The reading being, the American Library Association Comments to Federal Communications Commission on In the Matter of:  International Comparison and Consumer Survey Requirements in the Broadband Data Improvement Act , A National Broadband Plan for Our Future, Inquiry Concerning the Deployment of Advanced Telecommunications Capability to All Americans in a Reasonable and Timely Fashion, and Possible Steps to Accelerate Such Deployment Pursuant to Section 706 of the Telecommunications Act of 1996, as Amended by the Broadband Data Improvement Act. It’s a hard job sometimes, but someone’s got to do it.

I have commented previously on why I think public libraries are important, but I am not sure that I have ever managed to encapsulate or enunciate my thinking as clearly as I would have liked. This document is probably one of the clearest and best written summaries on why public libraries are important that I have read.

It gives five points as to why Public Libraries are so important to communities and are central to any thinking on providing broadband access in a national context.  Here are the standout parts of the document for me:

“There are currently 16,543 public library outlets in communities across the nation. Libraries are found in virtually every community in the United States.1 These libraries play a vital role in their communities in supporting workforce development, small business creation, education from the cradle through higher and continuing education, and access to government resources through public access computer terminals. Communities throughout the nation are reporting an increase in patron visits to the library as the economy continues to suffer, unemployment continues to rise, and workers increasingly need to retool or refine skills.”

I. Community Hubs: Public libraries go beyond stopgap measures in creating and supporting economic opportunity. The added value libraries offer includes job training, information, and digital literacy programs

“The public library has a long history of meeting the information needs of its community. As local communities change, so do the services libraries offer so that patrons are able to access the most relevant information resources they need to live full and productive lives. In today’s economy, libraries across the nation are experiencing a constant demand for services related to job seeking and other employment issues. Today, library services commonly include, but are not limited to: job training and continuing education, resume writing, career counseling, and basic information literacy training, including digital literacy. These services most often require access to robust broadband.”

III. Broadband’s role in regional economic development: Libraries are critical institutions in supporting regional economic development

“Libraries that partner with local or state economic development agencies redouble the reach and impact of these efforts. At the same time, libraries are ―reducing the operation costs and broadening the outreach of other local workforce development agencies, contributing to a stronger community network for job readiness and worker ―retooling.”

V. Workforce development: The value of the public library’s suite of services cannot be overstated

 “Beyond providing basic services, libraries enrich their patron’s information needs with resources in a variety of formats. Librarians, experts in search technique, know that with the move to online resources, individuals seeking employment, business information, and skills training, may need assistance now more than ever. Specific populations, such as people recently laid off from long term employment, non-native English speakers, the older workforce, and new graduates often need targeted support.”

I would encourage everyone to go read in full.

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