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Archive for the ‘Policy’ Category


It must be that time of year again, as libraries battle councils feeling the money crunch.

User-pay income rise needed at the library From the Gisborne Herald

LIBRARY users could be asked to put their hands in their pockets to help maintain the service and could be called on to have their share of library costs increased to 15 or 20 percent.

Some parts that just had me steaming…

“As calls were made at the committee meeting yesterday for the H.B. Williams Memorial Library to increase its revenue, chairman Brian Wilson said he was looking at a scheme that had not been tried anywhere else in the country.”

Ok lets hear it…

“Referring to an article on the library on the front page of The Gisborne Herald Weekender last Saturday, he said the efficiency committee might have to consider holding its meetings with the public excluded to prevent people from undermining it.”

Gosh you wouldn’t want the public to have a say in how their money is spent would you…

“Mr Wilson said he and Graeme Thomson had some ideas for raising more income from the library. A fee of 50 cents to $1 for books could raise a worthwhile sum of money. Children’s books could be excluded.”

We have never seen that before… I will scurry off and see if there is any literature on that topic later today.

“Graeme Thomson said the library could be compared with sports fields, for which clubs had to pay a rental. The library had been described as the living room of the community. Many people would say Rugby Park on a Saturday afternoon was that.”

Not really. The Rugby park is the deck you use on the weekend.

“Both Mr Thomson and Mr Haisman challenged the statement that 5000 people a week visited the library, saying they had never seen it even half full.”

And words start to fail me… That is only 104 people an hour… I know how big Gisborne library is and it would be easy to have that many people in there and it to seem “half full”… 

“Mr Thomson said he believed the library could use volunteers more. He had seen that done in Opotiki when he was young, Librarian Pene Walsh, who joined the meeting said the library already had 40 volunteers and was carrying out a volunteer drive.”

Poor Pene…

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Webstock used to be my no-miss conference until this week. It’s like a combined rock festival and party for geeks – the learning and fun are intense and amazing. If Webstock was a keyword it would be “awesome”.

Nethui was not a rock festival, and less of a party in terms of headiness. Yes, there were superstars like Lessig. Yes the were miraculous acts of collaboration like the special on-off licence for that audience in that room granted by the BBC for a one-off showing of their documentary The Virtual Revolution. You might have watched it, but you can’t say you’re one of the few people in the country who have done so legally. Both of those wonderful things were not what the three days were about – quite the opposite.

The three days were about New Zealanders coming together to look at the challenges of the future and start the conversation around the question, “What do we do now?” It is easy to be brave in an environment in which one’s heroes are on the stage. At Nethui, we were required to be the heroes, in all our everyday ordinariness, speaking in that drab accent we wince at when we hear it from our neighbours and carrying all of the feelings of cultural unworth we New Zealanders seem to cherish.

There are plenty of good summations of the event available – I recommend Russell Brown‘s usual solid effort as a good starter for ten. You can even be a virtual attendee of large parts by viewing the videos collected here.

But if you weren’t there, and you had a question, answer or idea nobody else in the room did – then it wasn’t just you that missed out, it was all of us.

Don’t worry, libraries were well represented. In the last combined session on access, someone at one of the mics said the following:

“It’s not like you can go down to your local library for a lesson on how to use the internet.”

“Yes you can,” came a voice from the far side of the auditorium. I’m not sure who – but I have a suspicion it might have been a new friend from Dargaville. *waves* Whoever it was, they have my applause. *applauds*

When you’re “at the mic” you can often can only keep one thought in your head. “No, but you can’t just go your local library and…”

And then what you really should have been there for happened.

We, all of us from libraries, sitting wherever we were gave him the SHOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOSH!

Zippy Shut Up. by stev.ie
Zippy Shut Up., a photo by stev.ie on Flickr.

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During the recent exchange on NZ-Libs around the selection of vendors for the Kotui shared LMS initiative, a topic I will probably touch on in one of this month’s posts, Paul Sutherland ended with a throwaway line around developing a collaborative Public library of New Zealand.   

The idea of a “National Public Library” or “Public Library of New Zealand” is one that I have often tossed around in my head. I think that it would quite exciting to have one public library system that covers the whole of the country. I think that there are many reason why this would be a good idea, and many reason why this would be problamatic to create. I am yet to decide whether the difficulties would be insurmountable, however I think a conversation could be had around this.

So for my “Blog Everyday Day of June” posts I will be looking at the various pros and cons of such a service.  

The first post will be on LMS… 🙂

 

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I’m recently relocated back to my hometown of Brisbane, so I hope I’ll be forgiven for continuing to post the odd morsel from across the pond.

There has been recent media kerfuffling over here about the dumbing down of universities- this isn’t anything new. More specifically though, the de-bookifying and starbuckisation of the university library has been given some airplay. Of course, anyone who works in a university library knows that what looks like throwing out perfectly good books and installing funky armchairs is actually the intersection of digitisation, space restrictions and a shift in student information seeking behaviour. I’m not saying throw out all the books (like most librarians, I’m something of a bibliophile) I’m just saying, the times they are a changing, and this is no Fahrenheit 451. See the Sydney Morning Herald article “Books get the shove as university students prefer to do research online” and the letter “Truth stranger than fiction as uni pulps books”.

Illustration by Cathy Wilcox

I love some of the gentle psychological warfare going on in these articles- claims that libraries are throwing out all the books on morality for example seems a little to obviously aimed to inspire outrage. I also find the comment that “most libraries see their function as an archive” curious- funny, but I thought it was archives that felt that way.

My new workplace, Queensland University of Technology, has just undergone massive revamping thanks to the generous purse of the dearly departed Rudd government. On paper, QUT has become another Starbucks library. It hurts anyone who loves books to see them end up in a skip, but then most of us know this has nothing to do with love. It has to do with space, time (particularly, the last circulation date) and money. If we could more often save old books from landfill and get them into the hands of people who need and want them, would there still be anything to complain about?

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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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Reputation


There is always an element when publishing something, either officially or unofficially, off being conscious of ones reputation and role. It is something that is constantly in the back of the mind as I write here, and on my other blogs. From your writing people will get impressions about you, and they may even get impressions of your workplace, even when you stress that ‘the opinions are your own and in no way reflect…’

I was struck yet again how difficult this is in today’s instant media age, and how easy it is to damage not only your reputation, but that of the place you work at.  In this morning’s New Zealand herald there is this story:

Tolley upset at paper on standards

Education Minister Anne Tolley is to complain to the Speaker Lockwood Smith over a Parliamentary Library research paper on national standards in primary schools.

Mrs Tolley said the paper was “unprofessional”, “highly political” and so biased it could have been written by the union opposing the policy.

Mrs Tolley wants the paper withdrawn and rewritten.

Library researchers frequently produce papers on topics of the day, on the economy and legislation before the House.

They are displayed in the library, in the Beehive cafeteria and some are available on Parliament’s website.

You can read the offending paper here.  I haven’t read it fully yet, so I can’t comment yet on whether the criticism is valid. Of concern to me is that a Minister felt they needed to complain to the Speaker in the first place.  The Parliamentary Library has for many years had an unblemished record of impartiality. It will take only one paper to tarnish that record. I hope that the Parliamentary Library has dotted it’s I’s and crossed it’s t’s. What it does mean is that I will be thinking about what the meaning of impartiality is. Is impartiality adopting the position of the government? Does it mean you can’t publish anything critical? I certainly don’t think so, but it does mean that if you do publish something critical it must be above reproach.

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A Moderation Dilemma


On the library blog I like to occasionally post on something that isn’t really related to the library, but maybe of interest to readers. You know, those random little titbits’ that make you think have that’s weird/interesting/sad/cool.  On Friday I blogged on the Tararua District Library blog about a new web service in the States called Rentafriend. It’s a service that allows you to hire someone to act as a friend or acquaintance for an evening or a day.  It was a “say what?” sort of story, mixed with a “yeah right” Tui reaction.

The trouble being that someone commented on it, and I am unsure as to whether I should leave the comment up, or moderate it into the cyber waste basket. The comment itself isn’t spam, so not an instant delete type comment. In fact it’s an interesting comment that is quite relevant to the topic. The problem is it seems to be from an escort agency in the UK with a link back to said escort agency. So I find myself going back and forth, between trashing the comment and leaving it up. I suppose I could just delete the link.

What to do?

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