Archive for March, 2010

Lots and lots of words being written in the UK about public libraries. The lastest is the following from the Guardian.

Libraries are crucial to our digital future / Lynne Brindley [The Guardian]

Visits may be in decline, but we can boost digital literacy within our communities.

You report that, according to a government review, Britain’s libraries can still flourish “if they offer free internet access, Sunday opening and a promise to provide any book in the national book collection” (Free internet proposed to save struggling libraries, 22 March).

I think this is only part of the answer. Public libraries will adapt and survive because they have a crucial role to play both in fostering reading and commitment to learning, and in delivering vital digital skills and digital inclusion in an increasingly digital Britain.

You quote culture minister Margaret Hodge, who warns that “the context in which libraries operate is changing starkly and at speed”. However, digital is not the future – it is already here, and becoming increasingly essential for activities as basic as finding out about public services or looking for a job. Yet less than half the population have access to broadband.

In fact most people have broadband access via our public library network, which has a vital role to play in fostering digital inclusion by building the online skills of users both young and old. Libraries are a safe, neutral, public space with internet access and skilled staff able to offer information and advice about getting online. They also act as a portal to a wide range of other services – particularly in these economically difficult times.

You quote the review’s assertion that “changes in the market such as mass digitisation of content by Google and others, Web 2.0 technology and ebooks are changing how people want to receive and engage with information”. This is true, and to reflect their users’ changing lifestyles, libraries need to offer longer, more flexible opening hours and a wider array of services – which should include those from higher education institutions or schools. And yes, “commercial companies such as Starbucks should be allowed to set up outlets in libraries to make them more welcoming places”.

Library access to social network sites such as Facebook, and a “big extension in the availability of ebooks” are welcome. But Facebook and ebooks are just the latest technologies, not the holy grail. It is vital that libraries take a cue from users as to what content and formats they want – and what they want from their interaction with new technologies. Libraries can foster digital literacy within their communities – skills vital for our knowledge economy.

Library visits may have been “declining over the past five years”. But usage is still massive and we should not underplay the importance of great stock and the expertise of staff in the central role libraries play in both our communities and our economy.

In our public library service we have a great infrastructure on which to build a digital Britain. Through this we can increase lifelong learning, digital literacy and digital inclusion by bridging the gap between online information and services and the millions who are currently “nonline”.



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Tomorrow April comes around, which not only means a large number of silly jokes, but that also the first quarter of the year has passed us by. In the yearly library cycle for LIANZA it means that soon (I am pretty sure I haven’t missed it) a call will go out for nominations to fill the vacancies on council. A number of the regional councillors will be finishing their term, and there will be the annual vacancy of President Elect.  

When these nominations come around people should have a good think about whether they can give back to the professional body by contributing in some way on council, or on the committees, either on the SIG’s or the Regional committees. One thing that has troubled me since I became active in LIANZA is the lack of elections. We seem to only get one person nominated for a position, which they then get by default. I would like to see elections, especially for the president elect position, as that would mean the membership would get a better idea of what our leaders stand for, and what they want to achieve.

For myself, after three years chairing the Ikaroa committee, I have been seriously considering the standing for council. The regional Ikaroa councillor is coming to the end of her term, (thanks Heather for a sterling job), so I am considering standing for that, but at the same time I must confess that standing for President Elect also appeals. I believe that the council and LIANZA has been making good progress in leading the professional body, and instead of commenting from the sidelines, I should be making the step up to an active leadership role. The sensible conservative part of me realises that probably the best route is to stand for council, serve a term learning the ropes, and then stand for President Elect. The leap-before-you-look, self belief, what’s a bit of risk between friends side says “go for it”. Or maybe I should stand for both and see what happens?

What do you think?  

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It’s an exciting week for us this week.  Not because it’s the last week before semester break, although that is also a Good Thing.  No, this week we’re launching our 20 new netbooks into circulation.

So maybe it is because I am a bit of a nerd that I think this is exciting!

A quick scan of the library and education literature indicates lending laptops are fairly ubiquitous in academic libraries, at least in the US.  Their popularity is also well documented.  Our experience has been no different.  We introduced laptops into circulation around 2003 in our main library and the branches a few years later.

Laptops in their docking station

At our branch we have 16 laptops, which are leased assets.  They are issued for 4 hours, though most people use them for less than that time.  We will renew them if there is nobody waiting to use them.  The laptops are probably the most popular lending item we have available.  Even our most popular course reserve text Nursing care plans does not come close to matching the laptop issuing statistics.  According to the statistics we can issue a laptop around 13 times per day.  On some days they will be all issued before 9.00 in the morning.

Adding 20 netbooks is going to provide another option for our students.  This year we have a larger population of students owing to the relocation of a number of courses previously taught at the main campus.  Pressure on computing resources is high and the availability of computing labs is low so we are anxious to get these babies out there.  They sure are dinky.

Netbooks for lending

From our entirely unscientific observations, we’ve noticed our students are using portable computing as they work in groups together.  As the building is wireless they also take them to other areas of the library to take advantage of  quiet spaces, comfortable chairs and our study room.  We have had a number of requests to take laptops to classrooms too but so far the policy is remaining library only use.

We are also excited to have one for staff use.  Well, perhaps I should say I am excited to have a netbook for staff use.  Yes, I am easily pleased.

My new baby!

The number of students who own a personal laptop is increasing but we still have a bulk of student body who do not have portable personal computing or who prefer to use our facilities.  I think is this a reflection on the type of student our institution caters for.  Although the prices of laptops and netbooks have dropped dramatically over the past 2-3 years, they are still out of reach for many of our low income students.  It feels good to be able to offer some options to them in terms of portable computing.

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A press release from LIANZA worth noting and celebrating 🙂

Today officially marks LIANZA’s centenary

In January 1910 the Dunedin City Council resolved to convene a conference of the representatives from Public Libraries of New Zealand for the purpose of discussing matters affecting the general conduct and management of libraries.

On 26th March 1910 the first library conference in New Zealand was held where 15 delegates from 7 libraries attended and formed the Libraries Association of New Zealand, now known as LIANZA.

This year marks 100 years of the Association and is a chance to celebrate many of LIANZA’s achievements including the introduction of formalised training for librarians and actively lobbying government for the development of library services in New Zealand, setting up of a National Library and providing books in schools.

Throughout this year there will be many opportunities for the profession to participate and share in national and regional centennial activities and celebrations culminating in the LIANZA Conference in Dunedin, the same city that hosted the first library conference and the Jubilee Conference in February 1960.

Planned Centenary Events

LIANZA has a number of events planned to celebrate the centenary and we will keep you up to date with details of other events as the year progresses:

  • LIANZA Centenary publication – the 100 year history of the Association has been written by Wellington writer Julia Millen and will be published later this year
  • LIANZA’s Centennial Conference: At the Edge in Dunedin from 28th November – 1 December
  • LIANZA Regions will be hosting centenary celebrations and events in your area – check with your local region for more information to assist with events
  • LIANZA Centenary Quiz – Mid-year the profession will be quizzed on the history of the profession in New Zealand
  • LIANZA Blog – The profession will be able to share stories, photos and details of celebratory events via the blog on the new LIANZA website

Call for photographs

LIANZA is seeking photographs from past and present members of the Association featuring LIANZA representatives, buildings, conferences, events and gatherings. We are especially interested in group shots and photos showing the changes to the profession over the years.

We would love to see your photos and, where possible, use them in the Centenary publication, on the Centenary blog and for slideshow presentations at the LIANZA Conference and other centenary celebrations.

Please dig out any photos you might have and send them in to the LIANZA office. You may wish to scan your images and email them as high resolution jpegs to megan@lianza.org.nz

If you would prefer to send in original copies, please ensure you provide your full return details so we can return the images to you once we have finished.

Further Information

For further information about LIANZA’s centennial plans contact your local LIANZA Regional Council or the LIANZA office.

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Yesterday the government made it’s announcement of the various proposed restructurings that were rumoured last week, including the merging of National Library and Archives into the Department of Internal Affairs.

Like most Government documents the “Cabinet Paper” detailing the rational and the proposed actions is a longish, dry paper, full of management and political speak. Most people would put it down within thirty seconds of picking it up. I wonder if they do that on purpose?

Anyway the bits that concern us are from page 9.  As I have said previously I have no philosophical objections to such a merger, being of the mind that for a small country do we really need so many departments replicating work. While I know centralisation doesn’t necessary mean efficiencies, there is a good argument to be made for attempting go gain efficiencies through centralisation and pooling of resources. My biggest concern was in the dilution of the scope and purpose of the Chief Librarian and Archivist, and the place of the Turnbull within the resulting amalgamation.

So the following part was of small comfort:

“Risks have been considered and can be mitigated. We are conscious that stakeholders are likely to express concerns that specialist services and skills in the separate departments would be lost. While Archives New Zealand and the National Library are currently well regarded and successful institutions, the prospective role of an enlarged DIA is not as well understood. Officials consider that good change management and communications can mitigate these risks. Stakeholder concerns could include a view that the Chief Archivist’s independence or archival practice would be undermined, or that the separate status of the Alexander Turnbull Library would be threatened. This risk can be mitigated by retaining, with only necessary minor amendments, the legislative provisions which currently set out the role and powers of Chief Archivist and National Librarian, together with associated bodies such as the Archives Council. However, it is unlikely that mitigation of risk in these ways will allay a level of publicly expressed concern.”

They are right. It won’t allay publicly expressed concern, especially with such a lack of detail. My biggest fear is by the time we get the detail we need, what we find out will be all wrong and it will be too late.

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It has certainly been an interesting few days. In our corner of the world there has been a lot of reaction to the Governments announcements on mining and benefits, topics I am not going to touch on. In the US the Obama administration finally passed its health reforms, and Bill Gates starts planning a new type of nuclear reactor, and Google skirts Chinese censorship by redirecting via Hong Kong. Over in England there has been a flurry of activity around public libraries, starting with the UK governments release of  “The Modernisation Review of Public Libraries – a Policy Statement”  and followed by “Society of Chief Librarians’ Manifesto for Public Libraries 2010”.

The Guardian reports:

Key to saving libraries: free internet access and Sunday opening. Government reviews suggests measures to counter spending cuts and declining popularity.

“Britain’s public libraries, fighting declining use and an inevitable wave of spending cuts by local councils, can still flourish if they offer free internet access, Sunday opening and a promise to provide any book in the national book collection, a review on the future of libraries concludes today.

It also insists that councils must retain a statutory duty to provide a universal library service.

In a foreword to the review the culture minister, Margaret Hodge, warns that “the context in which libraries operate is changing starkly and at speed”.

The government review, which has taken nearly two years, proposes library membership entitlement from birth and a suggestion that membership of one public library provide access to other libraries.

It suggests that commercial companies such as Starbucks should be allowed to set up outlets in libraries to make them more welcoming places.

The government will impose a statutory ban on libraries charging for ebooks, including remotely, the review states. It will, however, extend the public lending right to non-print books. Free access to the internet in all Britain’s libraries should be provided by 2011, it says.

The review, overseen by Hodge, also proposes that users should be able to access social networking sites such as Facebook in libraries. The review argues that they are “valuable communication tools and part of our cultural infrastructure “

There are a number of good positive statements there, especially after what seemed to be coming out a few weeks ago.  It is especially nice to see such a strong reaffirmation of role of the Public Library in the centre of communities. The Society of Chief Librarians manifesto has the following as bold upfront statement, which is one I can really get behind!

Core Purpose of the Public Library

Libraries are a place where you can share the experience of reading and learning; where knowledge is free; and where you know that the advice and support available to help you is expert, and independent of any vested interest.

The most successful library services work in close partnership with local councils and local people to tailor their services to meet local needs. The range and variety of services offered by libraries across the UK varies to reflect local community priorities, but all public libraries are focussed around a common purpose.   

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An Interesting Subject

Juvenile or Children’s? That’s the question that was posted today on the list serve with regards to subject headings for children’s books. Currently we retain the official ALC headings as downloaded from Te Puna, which are “Juvenile”. Mainly because that has been the practice since before I arrived, and I had not really thought much of changing it. Evidently, other libraries will replace Juvenile with “Childrens” or “Teens” and one library is thinking of stopping that practice, while others thought it was standard practice.

I think that might be a good idea, even if it means a lot of work to make the changes retrospectively. I am not sure if the customers would notice, but lack of evidence is not an evidence of a lack. We havenot had any feedback saying it is a problem. My gut instinct tells me that if people are searching the catalogue for children’s books on say history, they are more likely to search “kids history” or “children history” than “Juvenile”. It is quite an antiquated word. Doing the research to back that up is a little problematic with our system and I am unsure as to the worth of doing it. Not enough data and the effort to get that data could potentially well out way the benefit of just doing it.

I suspect we will just have to go with the status quo, but still something interesting to think on at the start of the week…


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