Archive for the ‘Conference’ Category

 Sci-Fi and Squeam is an Australian podcast that “brings the Queer geek listener and friends all the things happening in the geeksverse, from topics in Horror and Sci-Fi, comics and video games and fan culture, to interviews and reviews“.  A couple of weeks ago they included an interview with Dr Matt Finch about his work with libraries around immersive play.

Matt is one of the keynote speakers at VALA14 this week. Here are some of my favourite quotes from the interview…

The idea is to do something beyond interaction with the screen, where you’re actually physically in this location, and you get to determine the outcome of the story in the way that the writer or the designer maybe didn’t predict. Taking down the boundary between the audience and the storyteller and making them work together to find a satisfying conclusion.

…Every neighbourhood has this magic building and its sole job is to give you access to all human knowledge and culture – it doesn’t matter if you’re rich or you’re poor or you’re young or you’re old or where you’re from, that’s what it’s there for. For you to step into whatever world the human race has thought of or described or dreamt of.

…actually the point is that you have these publically funded people who are guides to everything the human race has ever thought of or dreamt up.

Listen to Dr Matt’s dulcet tones (interview starts around 26:50] or read the transcript after the jump.



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LIANZA13 Day 1 reflection

This is my reflection on Day 1 of LIANZA 13. It includes some of the specifics of the day and was originally published in a slightly different format on my personal blog.

I started the day with a workshop on the future of the profession based on the ALIAFutures discussion which has been going on over in the West Island. There were many interesting ideas floated by the participants in the workshop this morning. I appreciated the fact that they seemed to be very practical thoughts about the future and what we could do about it. One theme I noticed cropping up was an idea of polarisation.

  • The haves and the have nots.
  • The digitally rich and the digitally poor.
  • The educated and the uneducated.
  • The urban and the country.
  • The global and the local.

The last one in particular was one I got very excited about. As things (education, services, entertainment) get more global (or national) there’s an opportunity for libraries to be more local. To really focus in on their communities. To in fact be the institution that offers community events for the whole community. (I also went on a bit of a rant about changing the way we think so that instead of ‘demonstrating our value’ we are ‘providing value so that others make our argument for us’. I haven’t quite got it down to a pithy

In the afternoon we were welcomed to the conference with a powhiri at Turangawaewae. I was impressed with the orientation to the powhiri process given by one of the committee members as we traveled to Ngaruawahia on the bus. It felt really special to be at Turangawaewae which is an important location (physical and symbolic) for the Waikato. We were treated to some delicious kai (thanks ringawera!) and then our first keynote, Nanaia Mahuta spoke.

These are the things that she said that resonated with me. (Paraphrased because my notetaking abilities were hampered by a dying phone battery.)

  • The seen and the unseen make up the world of knowledge.
  • Context is important. Place is important. Somewhere like this marae is timeless.
  • Notice the powerful transformative nature of knowledge.
    Navigate through information then pause and reflect to create knowledge.

She also talked about individuals going out into the world, learning new things, then incorporating that back into their lives.

That got me thinking about the opportunities for LIANZA in the future. I’d really like to see LIANZA respond to the future from a uniquely NZ point of view which includes a Maori perspective. I’d like to see us hold our own powhiri as an expression of that. (‘Hold’ in a more holistic sense, a sort of mashup of ‘run the event, hold the line, look after everything’ sense.) I’d like to see us pay more than lip-service to the idea of biculturalism and I’d like to see libraries follow that. I’m not sure how realistic this is because it would mean a fundamental change to organisational culture which would be difficult. However, linking it back to the globalisation/localisation discussion, it’s a smart choice which preserves the uniqueness of our NZ philosophy towards information and knowledge while at the same time giving us a position on the global stage.

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NDF Day 2 #ndf2012

Keynote 1: Sarah Barnes

Past forward: speculative adventures in the city’s archive

Barnes became interested in how our experience of digital is changing the way we view the past. “The 20th century has released us into history through technology” – NDF2011. W can interact with the past through resources eg. History Pin, TV shows from our past like Seasame Street on Youtube. What about the Instagram movement. Is the obsession with Instagram part of that desire to view our present through the past?) What is this doing to our sense of time?

Barnes quotes from Italo Calvino – Invisible cities

Her work seeks to reveal the invisible aspects of our environment and spaces.

Speculative adventure #1: Used sound, audio archives to experience the past in a contemporary space.

Speculative adventure #2: ABC Sydney Sidetracks: Publishing video + audio “Listening to a contemporary space through its auditory past” – archival material as experience.

Speculative adventure #3: Unguarded Moments ,Last Drinks which is focused on The Australia Hotel

Keynote 2: Going back to gallery land

Courtney Johnson

Refers to Atlantic article.

Most of us are immersed in our work “breathing that thick air of administrivia” and we need to lift ourselves out of it.

Too much real-world “404 Not found”, “403 Forbidden” in institutions and collections.

“Our front of house staff need to be our fail whales”

“We can’t afford to have our visitors to be feeling stupid and wrong”

Feels the need to have more emotion, personality in our institutions. “Visitors are hungry for experience and we need more emotion in our galleries.” Can our institutions become places where we experience emotions that have fallen into disuse, or are unfamiliar? What about the ability to search our collections by emotions?

Concurrent Sessions

Digital Initiatives in post-quake gallery: David Simpson

The Christchurch Art Gallery website was never intended to tell the story of a gallery that was closed. Website needed serious emergency management once it became clear that the website was all they had to engage, get repeat traffic.

First step to re-brand the blog – Bunker Notes. Considered other names including Bob Parker’s Arts Hole. 🙂 Set themselves a task to blog once a day. Unpredictable nature of the blogs made it different to other blogs from galleries. From light hearted to serious.

Also started to improve database by adding Getty tags.

Commissioned a mobile site.

Started to work hard on social media. Been on Twitter but grew Facebook.

New website launched – blog features heavily because it’s the most dynamic. My Gallery an attempt to engage community (like a pin board). Gets used by curators to plan, educators and people use it for fun.

Worked with Gapfiller to launch into community which reflects change in focus for audience – no longer international, national visitors. Now looking more to locals, passers in the street.

Don’t have a period of normality to compare the new website with.

Level of involvement of staff in the website, social media has increased, cultural change. Improves relationship with clients.

Conceiving the born digital museum: values, technologies and approaches: Suse Cairns

The way that technology’s disruptive change is changing fundamental museum practices.

“new media do not make old media obsolete; the assign them other places in the system” ~ Friedrich Kittler

Digital is beginning to assign museum and info to another place in the system.

“institutions tend to want to preserve the problems to which they are solutions” ~clay shirky, 2012

Mission and practice, acquisitions, conservation, research, communication, exhibition, tangible and intangible heritage, study and enjoyment – all affected by digital/internet.

Tensions emerging between:

  • museum time vs Internet time
  • opaque, Uni-directional authority models vs changing shape of expertise
  • closed vs open
  • preservation vs innovation
  • objects vs data
  • agile, kieric institutions vs slow burning developing institutions

Now becoming important to museums to be open, responsive. Co-operation and co-curation becoming important. Transitory space rather than being the destination.

Transparency eg Dallas Museum of Art’s Dashboard. Transparency is about integrity, authenticity for an institution. Talking about what works and what doesn’t. Wikipedia provides transparent record of edits why don’t cultural organisations? Contextless items without curatorial interpretation – leads to people making their own interpretations.

Are we remaking the museum in the image of the internet? and if so, what does that mean?

Digital channel strategy: onsite and online: Karen Mason & David Reeves

Working with an external partner about re-doing the website but turned into something bigger. Future museum project

Digital channel= technology based pathway used by museum to communicate to audience.

Challenge – audience focused and collections.

Social media channels to drive people to website and then out to other areas eg databases, blogs etc

Guiding principles: 1. digital guardianship (caring for them) 2. sustainable delivery 3. universal access

1. Collection data and context are an essential foundation but don’t have it all in digital form yet. Re conceptualise the traditional collection database? Could an item in a collection have a kind of “Facebook” page with a timeline, comments, go to events, like things?

3. Universal access. Rapid tech evolution recommends against over investment in hardware solutions in the short term. We need to pilot, evaluate, prepare. Concept of BYOD of interest to museum.

Lightening talks

Jock Phillips, Roadside Stories

Made an audio tour of NZ with photos. Available as an app on the Google play store and ITunes.

However, main way people accesed it was through Youtube.

Illustrates the value of making content that can be distributed in other places. Value of short films.

War story: george bollinger

Max Sullivan, Digitising sensitive material

Digitising Salient magazine from the 60s. Context very important. What will offend people? <– Very hard to determine. Good to develop a defensible position that is apparent to all visitors.

Have decided to display Salient in full but block all Salient images from search engines and will display an image policy. Report in http://researcharchive.vuw.ac.nz

Stuart Yeates, Web statistics

Goog analytics etc good for some kinds of questions.

We value the remix, reuse etc of our content but few report this up the food chain.
No plan to report = plan to fail. Unless you measure that stuff even you don’t know whether you’re got good stuff.

If we want to be kaitiaki we need to let go of the broadcast media mindset.


Chris Thomson, Digitising a Bibliography of Writing by Māori in English

OxGarage: turns txt into xml (?) other formats

Clarion Wells, Zombies and NZ On Screen

1. Use the right tools

2. Find your peers and work with them

3. Find allies outside of your peers

4. Make yourself known to the public

Optimizing crowdsourcing websites for volunteer participation: Donelle McKinley

1. Show the value of participating.

2. Motivation includes being involved in cultural institution, involvement in research, community interaction, personal interest.

3. Incentive – eg. project progress, leader boards, use of the stuff they have contributed.

Sources of friction include too many steps.

Keynote 3: Nate Solas

Cats, content and community: a year of long tails on walkerart.org

Walker arts museum launched a new website. No longer an island on the internet. Looks more like an art news magazine. Tells a story from the Walker arts centre. Provides context from Walker arts perspective and also the outside world.

People will engage with your organisation if you provide them with content that delivers value.

Connect the dots for them. Auto-suggest for searching (Google has set the bar for this now). Included some fun stuff.

Long term investment was made in the web team because the museum sees the web site as critical to the success of the institution.

Can’t separate the thinking from the doing.

Lots of daily content.

80 days: it’s in the long tail. New approach. When good articles are online, they persist in the long tail. The cost/benefit in making content web accessible. The people are searching for this stuff and they are new users. Two weeks on the home page = year in the long tail.

External search drives the long tail, people seem to need it more and maybe an opportunity for monetising.

Online community exists in the overlap between authenticity and audience.

Weather widget anchors site to physical and community, gives it an authentic voice.

Found that event pages didn’t have much activity post-event until they allowed commenting. Don't kill the event – that kills post-event discussion.

Sees the new website for the Rijks museum as the new standard for museum sites. Very simple, easily converts to mobile viewing,

Stop inventing, start iterating.

Do the obvious thing excellently.

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NDF Day 1

I was fortunate to attend National Digital Forum in Wellington, held at Te Papa. These are some of my brief soundbites from the sessions I attended.  I believe the sessions were videoed and assume they will be made available from the NDF website shortly.

Conference organisers address

  • Digital is part of what we do along with all the other stuff.  We’re building a digital ecosystem of datasets, websites etc.
  • If someone wants to use your content, let them, don’t get in their way, don’t charge them, get attribution.  Participate fully in the digital ecosystem.

Vikram Kumar: Opening address

  • Kumar’s address was similar to the one he gave earlier in the year at Nethui. One of the things he does is curate stories about the Internet.  It’s driving massive disruptive change.
  • He quoted from Marshall McLuhan & Quentin Fiore, (1967). The medium is the message.  “We march backwards into the future” and used this as the framework for his address.
  • He played an excerpt from this TED talk from Thomas P Campbell, of note is this quote about museums and galleries are about “Bringing people face to face with the objects … with passionate scholarship.” Campbell also says our job is to “capture people at that moment of discomfort where their curiosity can expand”
  • What should we be doing?  Don’t extrapolate the past to define the future.  Wrong way to think about the future.
  • Is the future of the GLAM sector to be the kaumātua of New Zealand?
  • Kumar mentions television and the effect that medium had on society at the time.  He quotes again from McLuhan, “A medium affects the society in which it plays a role. Not by the content delivered through it but by the characteristics of the medium itself.” Marshall McLuhan. (2005). Understanding media: the extensions of man
  • The medium of the internet challenges the whole basis of copyright.

He then goes on to bring out 6 points about the internet.

1. Ubiquitous – the Internet is ubiquitous and everywhere.  (I would argue it’s not distributed evenly though).

2. End-to-end principle, layered architecture -things that are built on top of the internet is what is really interesting.  Based on simple bits of data packets being sent from one place to another.

3. Everyone can be a producer eg. crowd sourcing, digitising meta data

4. Openness – permissionless innovation. Deep engagement.. leverage this to get people involved. eg. crowd source funding (Pledge me)

5. Bottom up evolution

6. Global, universal

What is the future you want? Use the next two days to work out how to deliver it to you.


Keynote 1: New memory palaces and the sublime

Piotr Adamczyk

There is tension between how closely we’re tied to the physical when looking at collections. We’re now visualising collections through different ways when move away from the object as a physical item and use the digital version.

Google Art Project

  •  in 40 countries, 180 museums
  • targets 4000 pixel scans OR… higher (to get brush stroke detail).  This detail is higher than we’ve ever been able to see these things with which enables new ways to interact with the collection.
  • They added in a Google Hangout function where you can share a screen of image and take a tour with educator

What can we do with the digital object that we can’t do with physical? What we can do with the digital image that we can’t do with the original?

Piotr mentions memory palaces which are a memory technique to aid recall.  The archive (of stuff) can be overwhelming and we try and organise it in particular ways. We’re driven to the exposure of the personal eg “what’s in your bag” projects on Flickr.

Implications arise because we can see patterns in data visualisations – are they meaningful, what should we do with them?

New art is being created as a result of the Google Art Project.  People are creating new paintings from the art blurred out due to copyright.

Curation language and practice needs to change in the new world of digital – bringing together online collections from disparate institutions with different meta data creates new challenges. Collections no longer exist in the same way as they do physically (5% on show physically, but more can be on display online).

Richness of big data and content still requires human intervention via metadata.  That’s how we give meaning. How do we keep curating and also add meaning to this fire hose of information?

Do people who view the Google art project spend more time in the physical place when they visit?  The ability to see analytics data as a result of the Google Art Project means museums and galleries can analyse the use of their digital collections.



Lightening sessions

Beyond social: DK

Social media is all about reward.

Tweriod – a tool to see when your tweets are going to have the most impact.

“Culture eats strategy for lunch” – Peter Drucker.  Need a culture of social media in an institution, not a strategy.

Become a lot more curious of other people’s work, not just from GLAM sector.  Look sideways.  Look for intersections not the destination.. It’s not about people coming to the destination but about going there and jump off to somewhere else (eg. airports, Google).  Pull people to you and push them off to somewhere else.

Cultivate a culture of commenting on others blogs and interacting with their social media platforms. You have to add value to other people’s spaces before expecting them to add value to yours

DK told a story about his cheat sheet of the book, Rework : change the way you work forever  by Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson.  Lesson from this is to share stuff.  Create content and give it away.

Look closely at desire paths – this is a good way to have a social media “strategy” or culture. Cultivate culture over strategy –  do we have a culture strategy?


Sembl, the game of resemblance: Cath Styles

Game from National Museum of Australia. Connecting objects =  creating interestingness.

First used paper, iPads and post it notes, then developed the iPad game.  The game provides a link between museum artifacts, and the technology creates engagement. It is about play, being a maker of meanings and thinking differently.

The game promotes co-authorship, a dialogue between museum and visitors, between visitors, and between things.

She quoted from Paulo Freire, Pedagogy of the oppressed but I can’t remember the quote!  Also quoted from David Bohm, Dialogue “…the ability to hold several points of view in suspension…”

At present, this is a game based social learning in a museum but they are aiming for a game based social learning network and perhaps even bigger than that.

Sembl allows users to create their own context & connections from their experiences for understanding museum artifacts.

Resemblance the way to knowledge.


The tales we can tell: Tim Sherratt and Chris McDowall

Stories + data = ?

Linked open data is not an engineering project like connecting up the plumbing of the Internet.  It can be created with love, with anger.

Western thought – relates knowledge with accumulation of stuff. But linked open data can be more than just more stuff.  It can have meanings.


“Accessibility” not just the power to consume but also the power to create.

“I want an army of data artists creating a glorious confusing infuriating, WONDERFUL tapestry”

Mitchell Whitelaw’s TED Talk

“wondering the walls / brushing up against history – i want that experience online”


The future of products: Dave ten Have

Ponoko: asked how do you design a 21st century factory? Answer: “keep point of creation as close to point of consumption”

Ponoko see themselves as part of the mass individualisation movement <– from mass production. In the lineage of the company, the great grandma is Ikea, with Etsy, Cafe Press and Zazzle in the DNA mix.  Ponoko fits well with the maker movement, re-embracing manufacturing as a local concept rather than something that happens overseas.

Concept of relevance – enabling geeks to do industrial design. They approach it the same way they approach open source software. So, things like patenting the designs are irrelevant becayse by the time the patent is accepted, the iteration is into it’s 10th.

Eco-system moved from Kickstarter (market testing, funding)

–> to Techshop – local prototyping, local fabrication, traditional tools

–> to Ponoko – remote prototyping, digitised fabraication, digital tools (?)

Ponoko aims to build the physical environment just like people build their own digital environment.  e.g. Bootstrap solar


Going Mobile: lessons learned

Francesca Ford & Brooke Carson-Ewart

Designed and built new apps to deliver content via mobile phone and tablet devices.  They also provided iPads in the galleries. Didn’t lock iPads down – children were the ones willing to take it beyond the app. Positive deviance.

Eventually made cases for them that locked down especially the home key. Stays now on the app.

Moved on from making app for exhibition to having a mobile web site with ability to have exhibitions on it. Didn’t want to replicate the the desktop site with it’s navigation problems. Experimented with alternative labelling.

User testing – went with impromptu, elicited feedback

Sustainability the issue rather than technological challenges.


Ways of seeing: collections, stories, language and place

Eleanor Whitworth

Where do you come from? Place or an area?

Culture Victoria has a mandate to bring culture to the people. Have stories as a way to search/discover on their site.

Language groups don’t fit under one point on a map, they are areas so they had to look at borders.  Legal borders don’t always reflect the lived experience of place.  Had to “determine” the borders of the language groups but this difficult so tried to be representative not definitive. Places overlap. Some simple shapes, others not.

Differing spelling variations had to be catered for.


WW1 centenary

New truths, old truths with new perspective

Dedicated NZ History section

WW100 site

The centenary is an opportunity to show what the GLAM sector has been doing.  Opportunity to fill in the missing pieces eg the home front, conscientious objectors.

Cenotaph database from Auckland Museum – needs more entries and additional information.


Keynote 2: Aaron Straup Cope

I have to admit, some of what this keynote was talking about went over my head.  However, it was well received and others clearly got plenty from it.  I think it’s great that NDF appeals to such a wide variety of people.

Aaron asks, ‘why do we keep stuff’ and ‘how are we sharing it?’ These are good questions that keep coming up at NDF.

What ARE we doing online? Is it to get people in the building? Is the building really an “expensive perk?”

Parallel flickr – shadow services that aren’t in competition to the bigger service but that could rebuild themselves.


Lightening talks

Nate Solas

Listen, accept the offer… build on it, reincorporation.

Leverage existing tools that reliably get work done. Sometimes it is correct to use the shiny tool, but have in your back pocket good reliable tools to call on.

John Sullivan

John asked some provocative questions about privacy, copyright and images in collections.  He feels there are good reasons for not showing some images online.

Kim Baker: NZ On Screen

Kim spoke about her role at NZ on Screen as a rights manager and what is involved in that role.

Brian Flahery: Matapihi Future

Brian asks should Matapihi be managed under a palliative care plan or should the plug be pulled on this portal.

Emily Steel: Little slide dress

Emily presented on her research to create a functional piece of clothing that combined technology.


The formidable live blogger Deborah has more detailed blogs about the sessions. I am in awe of her ability!

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Having got my first conference presentation out of the way the day before I was feeling pretty chipper about Day Two!

The first keynote was presented by Agnes Kukulska-Hulme, a softly spoken professor from the Open University in the UK.  Her presentation entitled “Self directed learning with mobile devices: where is it taking us?” underlined the trend mentioned in the Horizon Report [pdf] that mobile learning is here and becoming more and more important.  It was interesting to me to hear about the projects her teams have been involved in because we’ve just launched our mobile library site.  Her presentation involved a text heavy slide presentation which I’m hoping will be available online somewhere because she mentioned many print references I’d like to chase up and read.  As you do.

#icelf keynote on Twitpic

Some of the projects she mentioned were:

Kukulska-Hulme says there are many choices for mobile learning, both informal and formal, especially for areas like language learning. So what can educators learn from these mobile learners?  She refers to her research paper to answer this.¹

Learning environments are varied and include at home, out and about, on transport and so on.  This has implications such as privacy to undertake learning in such spaces.  Motivation for learning with mobile devices varies, but most express a desire to have a mixture of spontaneous and planned learning experiences.

Two of the keynotes from this day were from top geeks working for IBM and Vodafone.  Personally I felt they did not add anything to the conference knowledge as I felt their content had already been addressed in earlier keynotes.  I would recommend that if you’re invited to give a keynote that you actually attend the other conference plenaries to get a flavour for the audience and adjust your presentation in response.

Of the parallel sessions I attended, I enjoyed hearing about

  • Peerwise – a tool that supports students in the creation, sharing, evaluation and discussion of assessment questions.  It seems like it would be helpful in revising for some content heavy courses.
  • Intelligent tutoring tools – computer programs that teach people and respond to their learning
  • The use of augmented and alternative realities in teaching – this one has made my brain tick a bit about the structure and design of some of our orientation activities.

The last keynote from Judy Kay showed us some projects her students are working on involving touch tables, a way of monitoring group participation and a project aligning course outcomes with accrediting body standards.

The overall themes to the conference appeared to be the importance of personalisation (of tools, curricula, pedagogy etc) and mobilisation (of tools, curricula, pedagogy etc).

1. Kukulsha-Hulme et al (2011). Mature students using mobile devices in life and learning. International journal of mobile and blended learning, 3(1), 18-52. Retrieved from http://oro.open.ac.uk/28367/

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Today I attended the International Conference on Elearning Futures which was hosted by MPOW.

The conference opened with a keynote from Steve Wheeler (@timbuckteeth) who is well known in the elearning world.  His keynote did not disappoint, managing to be inspiring and amusing at the same time.  He had been asked to present on elearning futures – to do a bit of prophet-like horizon gazing for us.

I was interested to hear his reponse to the question of how to keep up with change?  As he points out, we’re (i.e. those of us in the education industry) trying to prepare young people for careers we don’t know exist using a model of education designed for homogenisation born out of the needs of the industrial revolution.

These days, it’s not about “what you know” but about the “how”.  It’s also about making connections, because if you don’t know, you need to ask “who do I connect with who does?”.  Which is where the importance of having a PLN comes into play and the value of distributed cognition.

Steve made some statements about the future of learning, namely that it is

  • social
  • personal
  • augmented
  • non-touch (think gesture based like Wii)

Unfortunately he didn’t quite complete all his slides, but I imagine they’ll be available via his blog shortly.

Other sound bites include:

  • technology is often resisted by people because of worries about threats to their future, because they have vested interests in maintaining the status quo or fear of more work
  • speaking about the importance of maintaining the “gift economy” on the internet and promoting open knowledge, creative commons and so on he made this statement “knowledge is like love, you can give it away and still keep it”

The keynote was followed by a number of parallel sessions in streams following the themes of strategy, pedagogy, technology, technology workshops and languages.

I presented a presentation on the library’s involvement in the institution’s elearning strategy:



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Day three began with a great keynote from Michael Houlihan, CEO of Te Papa.  I was looking forward to this one because I do love what Te Papa do with their social media presence and engaging with their public.  Houlihan suggests that now Te Papa is a “spotty adolescent” there are questions that should be addressed to move the institution forward in the next 10 years to maturity.  These are good questions to ask ourselves too.

  1. Who are you here for? Why are you here? Where to invest? What to invest in that will help the place run as a business so people’s visits are comfortable (Te Papa has to keep the toilet rolls coming in)!
  2. Are we transformational? The impact we have on our audience is really important.  This was a theme that came through in this conference and is a good one to look at although, in some places can be difficult to measure and report on.
  3. Are we being a forum for the future –  how do we interact with events and public interests?
  4. Have you got an issue to focus on? E.g. Te Papa are looking at sustainability, environmental issues
  5. Treasuring the treasures? For example, where do we go for the history of science and technology in New Zealand?  It’s not just about arts.
  6. Connecting with people? Are we doing this and focusing on the learning outcomes?  Museum collections are becoming more about individual’s stories and less impersonal.  Houlihan illustrated this in an effective way by passing around “a piece of rubbish”.  At the end of the presentation he expanded on this item which turned out to be a part of a boot heel from a Welsh soldier he had picked up from the field of battle at Mametz Wood.  He showed a photo of the memorial at the battle field and described the carnage that occurred.  (As it happened, I was holding the boot heel at the time it was so poignant).  As Houlihan said, we were touching history.
  7. Are we sharing authority? With iwi, with our clients, online and IRL.
  8. Going digital? There are always a lot of ideas on how and what to do with this, but not so much input about the how.
  9. Are we keeping fit? Are we a learning organisation?
  10. Are we staying touch? Are we keeping people involved?
  11. Getting down to business and providing value for money?
  12. Telling your story? There are people and venues where our voice needs to be heard.  Are we actually doing that?  Where is our political voice?
  13. Are we building sustainable leadership? Where are the leaders of tomorrow for our institutions?  Houlihan sees this as a real issue in New Zealand and others at conference agree.

Houlihan says libraries and museums unlock a world of information and provide context – we should never loose sight of that.

After morning tea I attended Cherie Tautolo’s session “Tai Tokerau taniwha rau: empowering students to achieve” where she illustrated what she has been doing in in Whangarei to support the students there.  The student population there is almost an even split between Māori and non-Māori. Cherie has made physical changes to her space to improve the wairua of the library so students feel more comfortable there.  She advocates creating a sense of familiarity and providing a mix of spaces within a library.  For example, areas that allow discussion and noise are appreciated by Māori who find the idea of a “silent” space off putting.  I would comment that we find many students of all kinds of cultures are the same – group work and discussion areas are heavily used at MPOW.  Much of what Cherie passed on is good customer relations practice – make connections (personal as well) with your students, know their names and so on.  This is easier to do at smaller campuses, but it is possible to do this also at larger places.  As with all populations, building relationships with users is always fruitful.  Cherie also participates in campus events which facilitates relationships too. Cherie referred to a survey that found one of the major reasons Māori feel uncomfortable is the lack of Māori staff and students there.  Normalising the presence of Māori in the library will assist to make the place more inviting.

I also attended a workshop on Empowering users, empowering libraries: interactive user interaction, activities and games that work and a research session More than a quiz.  Both these sessions were more affirming than informative for me, but I am still glad of the affirmation!  Sometimes it helps to know that we’re doing stuff the same as other libraries.

Andrew Booth’s presentation pimped the importance of evidence-based library and information practice (EBLIP).  This is something I’ve heard before but I appreciated his highlighting some of the biases and myths we perpetuate in the profession.  For example, myth number 2: the librarian always knows best or The Divine Right of Librarians. This is something I’m always saying – we have to be very careful about thinking we know what our users want.  Booth says librarians have two primary cognitive bias:

1) status quo – the tendency to like things to stay relatively the same

2) deformation professionalle – a tendency to look at things from the point of view of one’s own profession rather than from a broader perspective

Booth posits (somewhat tongue in cheek) that if we’re not practicing EBLIP we may be performing some of these alternative practices (Isaacs & Fitzgerald, 1999)

  • Eminence based library and information practice
  • Vehemence based library and information practice
  • Eloquence based library and information practice
  • Providence based library and information practice
  • Diffidence based library and information practice

The conference dinner was a blast – pictures here.

Day Four began with Jenica Rogers presenting a motivational keynote advocating project managing your dreams.  She had many good things to say – but Deborah has ably summarized it better than I, so I’m going to defer to her on this one.  One thing that did resonate with me was her final commentary pointing out that farmers everywhere in the world always say “it hasn’t been a good year”, but they still keep farming anyway.  It’s easy to look at all the obstacles and difficulties that we face and feel daunted by it all.  But it’s never been a good year for libraries so we should just suck it up, get over it and get on with it.

As Lianza11 ends, the conference convenors for Lianza12 take over the reins for next in Palmerston North, 23rd-26 Sept with the overarching theme of Ipukarea (which refers to our ancestral homeland, a place that representing our history and a place to go for rejuvenation) plus additional themes of celebrate, sustain, and transform.

Overall, for me the conference was more about affirmation than anything new and exciting.  I’m glad I went because it has given me an opportunity to present a couple of posters and reflect a little on where I am and where I want to go.

Isaacs, D. & Fitzgerald, D. (1999). Seven alternatives to evidence based medicine. British Medical Journal. 319 (1618). Retrieved from http://www.bmj.com

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