Archive for January, 2011

Powerpoint. Every office has it. A lot of people hate it. Some people even promote the “death of powerpoint”. True, powerpoint is a much abused software… but it’s also an extremely flexible and in the right hands, a tool for creative teaching and sharing of ideas. Take exhibit A, the most awesome 450 page presentation ever.

Over the last year or so, I’ve attempted to squeeze every inch of creative teaching and learning potential out of powerpoint due to a limited budget and thus, other softwares. This has resulted in two types of visual media: narrated animations that illustrate overarching research concepts (for example see Subject headings vs keywords in my University of Otago Unitube uploads), and interactive “click zone” slideshows.

I created one of these files for the Trainee Interns- these are med students in their final year of study. To end a teaching session focusing on implementing good professional development and information management strategies, students reflect on what will work for them by accessing the interactive questionnaire Information Jedi Master. Gimmicky, but pedagogically sound I promise.

Wanted to share these projects as  I’m sure there are other out there similarly frustrated by limited access to softwares beyond the MS Office suite. Happy powerpointing!

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Wot no books? From their Facebook page.

I would call it a brilliant protest, but we don’t know if it will be successful yet. I can’t imagine it won’t, but bureaucracy will be bureaucracy. So for those who haven’t seen it:

Library clears its shelves in protest at closure threat [From Guardian UK]

Users urged to take out full allowance of library books in campaign to keep Stony Stratford branch open.

The library at Stony Stratford, on the outskirts of Milton Keynes, looks like the aftermath of a crime, its shell-shocked staff presiding over an expanse of emptied shelves. Only a few days ago they held 16,000 volumes.

Now, after a campaign on Facebook, there are none. Every library user was urged to pick their full entitlement of 15 books, take them away and keep them for a week. The idea was to empty the shelves by closing time on Saturday: in fact with 24 hours to go, the last sad bundle of self-help and practical mechanics books was stamped out. Robert Gifford, chair of Stony Stratford town council, planned to collect his books when he got home from work in London, but left it too late.

The empty shelves, as the library users want to demonstrate, represent the gaping void in their community if Milton Keynes council gets its way. Stony Stratford, an ancient Buckinghamshire market town famous only for its claim that the two pubs, the Cock and the Bull, are the origin of the phrase “a cock and bull story”, was one of the communities incorporated in the new town in 1967. The Liberal Democrat council, made a unitary authority in 1997, now faces budget cuts of £25m and is consulting on closing at least two of 10 outlying branch libraries.

Stony Stratford council got wind in December and wrote to all 6,000 residents – not entirely disinterestedly, as the council meets in the library, like many other groups in the town. “In theory the closure is only out for consultation,” Gifford said, “but if we sit back it will be too late. One man stopped me in the street and said, ‘The library is the one place where you find five-year-olds and 90-year-olds together, and it’s where young people learn to be proper citizens’. It’s crazy even to consider closing it.”

– they should be finding ways to expand its services and bring even more people in.”

Emily Malleson, of the Friends of Stony Stratford Library, said: “I was lucky, I got in early, so I got some nice children’s books – and my children came along and took out all their books too. I had to bring the car to get them all home. The late-comers just had to take whatever was left.”

The pictures from the Facebook page are priceless.

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If so, why? If not, why not?

It’s something that’s been on my mind swirling around and I think it might be time to give it its moment in the limelight.


f you answered yes to the post’s initial question, answer these please:

  • What association is it?
  • What spurred you to sign up initially?
  • What benefits do you see and receive yourself from membership of this association?
  • Do you think you’d be in the same place professionally, if you weren’t a financial member of this association?
  • If so, why?  If not, why not?
  • What spurs you to renew your membership every subsequent year?


If you answered no to the post’s initial question, answer these please:

  • Why?
  • Do you think you would if you had a professional coach or mentor? (not a supervisor/manager at your place of work)


Your thoughts please.  Let’s open up some meaty discussion.

NB: Professional association in the context of this blog includes: LIANZA, SLANZA, ALIA, CILIP, ALA or IFLA. Or any others that you can think of.

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I’ve been stalking Sally Pewhairangi’s excellent blog. An article sharing 10 lessons from Albert Einstein sparked a bit of thought for me.

Lesson number 10 is absolutely absolutely absolutely my favourite both as a gamer and as a library professional: Learn the rules, and then play them better.

In gaming the better play is usually in order to win against, however I like to believe in organisational terms we should be playing to win for – our customers, our organisation, our teams.

I’ve seen people gain measures of success through the well-timed paddy. It can be very effective in meetings  if no other people are willing to address the behaviour – what goes on the record is the paddy-thrower’s statement and a lack of contradictory response. Of course, this strategy is compromised if the meeting have another paddy thrower, and falls flat if the meeting has an assertive individual present – both of which are more likely the higher the level of organisational discussion.

I’ve seen people gain measures of success through undermining strategies. I’m not going discuss those beyond pointing out that the result of the tactic is to divert everybody’s energy away from contributing effectively to the organisation. Completely zero sum thinking.

I personally try to consistently respond to issues that concern me by preparing a well thought out policy position before the meeting (or other discussion) in question, be open to others points of view and put all my effort into working for a result that satisfies all parties expectations and experiences.

“Be prepared” is the rule. “Be prepared but let your vision be influenced by the ideas of others” is playing it better.

What’s your innovation?

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The Next Big Thing?

Part of my new role is looking at the new fads and applications coming through on the Internet and in the digital world, and seeing how they can be applied in the Library. It’s an interesting aspect to the role, and involves a level of stumbling around in the dark.

While considering this, and how to best fulfill that aspect, I came to the conclusion that right here is a valuable community of people who will have seen different bits and pieces out there. So I have created a new page, The Next Big Thing Page, where I thought we could share and discuss the latest and brightest on the web. For example Quora? Yes I know it should probably sit more in a forum, but WordPress doesn’t seem to allow that functionality on their free .com blogs….

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