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Archive for August, 2010


Many of you will have seen the discussion taking place on NZ-Libs following the posting of the following snippet contained in the “Auckland: Your Council. Your Vote” flyer:

“Location and design of libraries

The local boards will decide on the location and design of new local libraries, and any upgrades to existing facilities. They will also decide on what should be in local library collections, as well as other programmes and events.”

I have highlighted the part everyone is talking about. I thought it was worth reposting here.

I am unsure if the writers had any real understanding of how collection development works in libraries, especially in one as large as the new Super City Super Library. It does open up again the debate about community involvement in collection development however. There will be, and already has been the, that leads to censorship, leave it to the professionals, type statements and arguments.

Certainly communities should participate in discussions surrounding what goes into the library, but the size, scope and modern practices of collection development would/should preclude any direct involvement in day-to-day selection.

What hasn’t been discussed is the part directly after the highlighted section; “as well as other programmes and events.” Are they really contemplating that community boards would be micro-managing council services to that level? The community board is going to decide what reading programmes are run? Whether the library facilitates a book club?

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Is information literacy dead? I’ve been pondering this for a while.  It has been a topic on my Twitter stream and at the recent TELSIG conference the term information literacy (IL) gained a kind of four-letter-word status.

I don’t think the need for IL is dead.  I think the way we currently address that need is probably breathing it’s last gasp and we should be preparing for a funeral. (Maybe we can layby the funeral).  I also think IL in some tertiary settings is being absorbed into a greater being called Academic Literacies.

The 2010 Horizon Report provides some interesting food for thought.

The report highlights four key trends:

  • The abundance of resources and relationships made easily accessible via the Internet is increasingly challenging us to revisit our roles as educators in sense-making, coaching, and credentialing.
  • People expect to be able to work, learn, and study whenever and wherever they want to.
  • The technologies we use are increasingly cloud-based, and our notions of IT support are decentralized.
  • The work of students is increasingly seen as collaborative by nature, and there is more cross-campus collaboration between departments.

Of open content the report says:

Open content shifts the learning equation in a number of interesting ways; the most important is that its use promotes a set of skills that are critical in maintaining currency in any discipline — the ability to find, evaluate, and put new information to use.

My italics point out some very familiar skills that anyone who has taught IL will recognise.  In a world of mobile computing where students can access an increasing amount of open content outside of the classroom & library the importance of academic literacies (and by inclusion, information literacy) is clear.  How we deliver training for it is perhaps less clear.

Suggestions, thoughts & musings?

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I have to admit the irony of ready this on a webpage, and then reposting it on a webpage, makes me chuckle.

I think I get the distinction between viewing an Internet resource on an “app” rather than a “traditional” webpage. Except I am not quite convinced, as even on their graph a the peer-to-peer and video traffic is still being funnelled through websites.

But it does make one wonder. If the future of the Internet is NOT in web pages, but in “apps” that are viewed on multi-media devices, where then does that leave library sites and say blogs like this? Will the new trendy thing be a free “app” builder, or “app” host? How many libraries, and LMS suppliers are developing “apps”?  How long will we need to be developing both in conjunction [site and app]?

Interesting indeed.

The Web Is Dead. Long Live the Internet By Chris Anderson and Michael Wolff [From Wired]

Two decades after its birth, the World Wide Web is in decline, as simpler, sleeker services — think apps — are less about the searching and more about the getting. Chris Anderson explains how this new paradigm reflects the inevitable course of capitalism. And Michael Wolff explains why the new breed of media titan is forsaking the Web for more promising (and profitable) pastures.

Sources: Cisco estimates based on CAIDA publications, Andrew Odlyzko

You wake up and check your email on your bedside iPad — that’s one app. During breakfast you browse Facebook, Twitter, and The New York Times — three more apps. On the way to the office, you listen to a podcast on your smartphone. Another app. At work, you scroll through RSS feeds in a reader and have Skype and IM conversations. More apps. At the end of the day, you come home, make dinner while listening to Pandora, play some games on Xbox Live, and watch a movie on Netflix’s streaming service.

You’ve spent the day on the Internet — but not on the Web. And you are not alone.

This is not a trivial distinction. Over the past few years, one of the most important shifts in the digital world has been the move from the wide-open Web to semiclosed platforms that use the Internet for transport but not the browser for display. It’s driven primarily by the rise of the iPhone model of mobile computing, and it’s a world Google can’t crawl, one where HTML doesn’t rule. And it’s the world that consumers are increasingly choosing, not because they’re rejecting the idea of the Web but because these dedicated platforms often just work better or fit better into their lives (the screen comes to them, they don’t have to go to the screen). The fact that it’s easier for companies to make money on these platforms only cements the trend. Producers and consumers agree: The Web is not the culmination of the digital revolution.

A decade ago, the ascent of the Web browser as the center of the computing world appeared inevitable. It seemed just a matter of time before the Web replaced PC application software and reduced operating systems to a “poorly debugged set of device drivers,” as Netscape cofounder Marc Andreessen famously said. First Java, then Flash, then Ajax, then HTML5 — increasingly interactive online code — promised to put all apps in the cloud and replace the desktop with the webtop. Open, free, and out of control.

Continue reading here.

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What a fabulous idea this is, highlighting yet again just how great public libraries are.  I wonder if we could get our local lines company to do a similar thing.

The Latest Public Library Loan? Electricity Meters By David Rapp [From the Library Journal]

Spurred by concerns about conservation and cost, public utilities across the country have begun to partner with libraries, enabling loans of portable Kill A Watt electricity meters, which can be used to gauge home power usage.

Once home, a patron plugs the meter into the wall, plugs an appliance into the meter, and enters electricity rate information. The meter then shows how much power the appliance uses and how much that power costs.

Broad interest nationally

The meters are a huge hit in some libraries: at the Seattle Public Library (SPL), there are currently 660 holds on 100 meters, according to the SPL’s online catalog.

Such initiatives have been underway in several library systems over the past year or so, including the Boston Public Library (BPL) (announced in June 2009), where the initiative is a partnership with the city and the power company, and the SPL (announced in May 2010), a partnership with the local power company.

A program instituted by the Georgia Public Library Service (GPLS) in Atlanta began in August 2009, funded with a one-time grant through a state agency, the Georgia Environmental Facilities Authority (now called the Georgia Environmental Finance Authority). “Ours was definitely not the first,” GPLS Communications Director David Baker told LJ, adding that at the time there had already been smaller programs in Illinois, Maine, and New Hampshire.

Continue reading here.

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I have to confess that every time I see a tweet in my tweetstream of “I’ve become Mayor of…” from Foursquare I get a flash of annoyance. My curmudgeonly side surfaces and I want to hit the block button. 😆

You see I don’t really get Foursquare.  Off course that may have something to do with the fact that I don’t have a fancy pants cellphone that connects to the Internet, but even so it seems one of the creepier Social Media apps floating around out there.

What interests me though is the thought of how libraries can hook into it. Are libraries out there offering “Rewards” via Foursquare, or thinking about it? What would you offer, and would people really want to become the Mayor of Dannevirke District Library?

I found Palmerston North, Porirua, Lower Hutt and Wellington libraries on their site…

For further reading here is an article from Stuff:

Hip to be on Foursquare

Nine times out of 10, when Dunedin businesswoman Sam Heeney walks into a cafe, bar or restaurant she pulls out her mobile phone and “checks in”.

It might seem strange but Ms Heeney is not alone – more than two million smartphone users around the world do the same as members of Foursquare, the next big thing in location-based, social networking.

Foursquare encourages members to check in to locations on their GPS-enabled phones so they can let friends know where they are and earn points and rewards from businesses for being regular visitors.

The most frequent visitor at any given place is crowned “mayor”, and members can review and comment on places for friends, and also publish their Foursquare updates on Facebook and Twitter.

Ms Heeney, a senior project manager for an events firm, says she has been using Foursquare for about eight weeks.

She “checks in” to Air New Zealand’s Koru Club lounges, “when I’m out and about in town, when I’m at a meeting in a cafe and on the leisure side of it I check in wherever I happen to be.”

Just like Facebook and Twitter, Foursquare is yet another way of keeping in touch, she says. “It’s an instant communication with people.

“For example, the other day a guy I know from the States was in Auckland. I didn’t happen to be in Auckland at the same time but had it not been for Foursquare I probably wouldn’t have known he was there.

“There’s quite a clever business side to it as well. If I’ve got a client who I know wants to get in touch or a client that happens to be in the same city, you could get a message and know that they’re two cafes down the road. It hasn’t happened yet but it can.”

The application only suits certain places – namely those locations where you want to be seen to be and where you want to meet other users. “I absolutely wouldn’t check in to places like supermarkets or the doctor.”

She says she’s yet to win any Foursquare freebies from places she visits regularly.

“The one that’s sparked my interest more than anything else because I travel a lot is the one Air New Zealand has with the Koru Club.”

The airline’s Foursquare promotion gives “mayors” of selected airports a free pass to the Koru Club lounge, or 100 airpoints dollars if they already belong to the club. The mayors of selected Koru Clubs will also receive 100 airpoints dollars.

Air NZ social media specialist Tom Bates says the promotion has increased the number of Foursquare users checking in at airports and the reaction to Air NZ’s debut on the application has been positive.

Read the rest here.

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In an interesting development (they say they have been about since 2007, but this is the first I have heard of them), you can now collate your favourite articles from Wikipedia and have them printed as book. You can print your own reference book, or text book. Knowing how academia feel about Wikipedia I am not sure that will catch on…

It might be interesting though to see if libraries started printing on demand and including in their collections? Would you?

Pediapress [From their about page]

Customized printed books from user selected wiki content

PediaPress.com is an online service that lets you create customized books from wiki content. Simply add any articles you like into a Collection, and then click to order them as a paperback book. Covers, a table of contents, a detailed index and a list of figures are generated automatically, and the books are printed and shipped within 2–3 business days.

The PediaPress.com web-to-print service works on all MediaWikis that have installed the free Collection Extension.

Specialized reference books

As article size in a wiki is not limited by production or economic constraints, many articles in Wikipedia cover their subjects in much more detail than traditional encyclopedias. By combining related Wikipedia articles, you can create a specialized reference work on almost any topic in many languages.

Better, more affordable textbooks

A growing online movement aims to create better textbooks. Quite often the content for these textbooks is created collaboratively by using wikis (e.g. Wikibooks). Textbooks derived from this content promise to be affordable, up to date and accurate. PediaPress allows customizing the contents of the printed textbook to fit the precise demands of teachers and their students.

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So it’s library week.

We like everywhere else will be holding a number of events to mark the occasion.

Despite being a little skeptical at first, I think I sort of like the “was surprised” theme for this week. 🙂

so in keeping with the theme I had a question.

As librarians, what question/request has most surprised you?

There are so many, but one that sticks in my mind was recently being asked to write an update on Facebook for someone. It was the strangest conversation trying to explain that I couldn’t write their update for them as it was meant to be their thoughts….

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