Thursday, November 09, 2006

Library Lounge - Upper Riccarton Library

Library Lounge - Upper Riccarton Library
Originally uploaded by Stained glass waterfall.

Inside Upper Riccarton library...

Upper Riccarton Library - Cafe

Upper Riccarton Library - Cafe
Originally uploaded by Stained glass waterfall.

'red' cafe at Upper Riccarton Library - the joint use library (high school and public) library in Christchurch.

It only took me a week or so to catch on to why they named the cafe 'red', and it has nothing to do with the colour of the furniture....

Back to work...

Yup, it is just as I suspected......back at work and the chance to finish up blogging the conference just seems to disappear!

Well, I gave it a go, and had fun doing it. I don't think there will be too many more updates to this blog, until the next conference.

I'll try to post a quick summary of the rest of my conference experience here, and then may add a few observations and thoughts about NZ public libraries later on....

So, still on day two of the conference.

At lunch I sneaked into the EPIC meeting. If you work with online databases and are interested in collaborative / consortia subscriptions, you've probably heard of NZ's EPIC (Electronic Purchasing In Collaboration). If not, go check it out. From what I've heard it's been a very successful venture, and I hope that the Australian "National Licensing Proposal" project is as successful.

In the afternoon I went to a two hour session with Stephen Abram. He was able to go into a little more detail of his ideas which was good.

On the third (and last) day I enjoyed the keynote address by Professor Martin Nakata, a fellow Aussie. We were on the same flight back to Sydney the next morning, so I got to chat with him for about an hour (at 4.30am...!) at the Wellington airport.

The other session I attended on the final day was about the Upper Riccarton joint-use library (public and high school) in Christchurch. I managed to have a look through the library while on holiday before the conference, so it was good to hear some more details of how the idea of a joint-use library developed, and how it (successfully) operates.

So that's it! I flew home the next day, refreshed and inspired by New Zealand, by the amazing environment, food and wine, by the wonderful public libraries, and by the excitement and enthusiasm that NZ library professionals seem to have. Well done LIANZA, and well done New Zealand librarians, on a successful conference!

Friday, October 20, 2006

Tara Brabazon

What a dynamic speaker, and a perfect complement to Stephen Abrams. Tara was the second keynote speaker, and started day two of the conference in a way that really *made* the conference for me. Her presentation was what switched the lightbulb on in my head.

Where Stephen spoke about the rapid change in the online world, and how librarians must take up free, easy-to-use web 2.0 tools to engage with our customers, Tara spoke and about the need to put some depth and context into the online experience. Here are some dot points I made from her presentation - not sure I agree with every detail, but her overall direction gave me food for thought.
  • spoke about Wikipedia and blogs and the rise of mediocrity
  • there is a great need for information literacy
  • use of google by undergraduate students - subtle wearing away of the value of research
  • there is an (incorrect) assumption that if people get millions of results from a google search, that they have the intelligence to interpret those results
  • the whole ethos of google search is based on mathematics, not humanities / social sciences
  • google page-rank results in confusion between popularity and quality
  • blogs - people overvaluing the minutia of their day
  • wiki contributors - anti-intellectuals with time on their hands
  • are we prepared to trade speed for accuracy? (ability for wikipedia to quickly update to changing circumstances)
  • Tara has observed a general decline in comprehension skills by her students - if they see text on a screen, it must be true
  • She struggles to get undergraduate students to find and use 10 references for assignments
  • Librarians and teachers need to highlight the quality websites to our students and users
  • google scholar is an important development - at least it is alerting people to the fact that there are different kinds of information
  • problem is not google, it is the google-effect. The degradation of education, the flattening of intellectual curiosity
  • Libraries do not provide information - we provide a way through information

I'll take away from this a renewed interest in information literacy (and how we can make it useful and fun for our users), a renewed appreciation of the value and potential our Searchlight column has, and a renewed commitment to the value of public libraries.

Room with a view

Lion Harbourview Lounge
Originally uploaded by Stained glass waterfall.

This is the Lion Harbourview Lounge where we presented....except it was filled with about 100 people....

Thuringowa and Manukau Libraries: Building a model for a new customer experience

Our fleeting moment of fame and glory! This is the paper that I wrote and presented with Kim Taunga, Botany Library Manager at Manukau Libraries, on Monday afternoon.

We had about a hundred people turn up to the Lion Harbourview Lounge which was pretty exciting!

Our paper and presentation was about how our libraries are moving from customer service to a customer experience. Kim talked about the how Manukau Libraries used Botany library to model a new way of offering a customer experience in a public library. They have innovative architecture and design, specially recruited staff, and have made good use of technology (RFID). I talked about how Thuringowa Library has used some of the features of the Botany Library model in the planned refurbishment of our existing library space, and how changes are being made using our existing library workforce.

Our library managers first heard about Botany Library at the 2005 QPLA conference in Toowoomba, where Manukau Libraries Manager Chris Szekely spoke about Botany Library. At the 2005 LIANZA conference I heard Kim speak about Botany Library, and since then Kim and I have kept in touch by email - mainly me asking her things about Botany Library. Our current library refurbishment has been influenced (in a good way!) by many of the innovative and creative things I saw at Christchurch City Libraries and Botany Library.

Somewhere in the last 12 months one of us suggested that we should do a joint paper at a library conference in NZ or Australia, and before we knew it, we had an accepted abstract for LIANZA 06!

Many emails flew back and forth across the Tasman, and a paper made it in by the deadline. Some more emails got a presentation started, and then I took two weeks holiday to explore the south island before the conference, so Kim and I met and finalised the presentation an hour and a half before a practice presentation to Manukau Library staff, and only three days before the conference. It was great fun, and it all came together wonderfully in the end.

The accessibility of NZ library web sites

The Accessibility of New Zealand Public Library Web Sites toPeople Who are Blind or Vision Impaired - Melanie Brebner & Mary Parkinson

I only made it to the last part of this session, and I wish I had been there for the whole thing.
We are currently redesigning our library website, and the information that these two speakers had to share was very timely and useful for me. I'm looking forward to having a good read of their paper.

Their study examined a number of library websites through the use of different enabling software, like screen-readers and screen magnifiers.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Conference photos online

The photographs from LIANZA Conference 2006 are now available on the
LIANZA website

Conference proceedings now online

All submitted papers from LIANZA Conference 2006 are now available online.

Visit LIANZA's online library and enter author, title or keyword

The programme that lists papers and authors can be found at:

Papers are PDF files. Apparently PowerPoint files where available will be added to the online library soon.

Another library blogging celebrity!

Michael Stephens this time!

Michael visited Wellington via the web, and presented the "Top Ten Technologies for Librarians 2006", with the assistance of Brenda Chawner who acted as Michael's eyes and ears at the session. I was very impressed how the session ran. Michael is an experienced and polished speaker so it was very easy to follow his presentation even though he was on the other side of the world!

Once again, most of Michael's ideas were familiar, but it was good to be reminded of these things:

  1. Plan early and often.
  2. Re-read and use the OCLC Perceptions report
  3. Blogs enable conversations with our library users
  4. Be finable - use RSS to advertise library services, events, news etc
  5. Collaboration - use wikis to enable staff to collaborate
  6. Be available - use IM for reference work, podcast library news, events and training
  7. Convergence of handheld devices (mobile phones etc) - txt reference service
  8. Connections with people - MySpace
  9. Content - user created content. Must check out "The Future of Music" book
  10. Enriched catalogues - Amazon leading the way

(Those ten points were my headings, not Michael's.)

Millennial's Panel with Stephen Abram

After morning tea Stephen had a group of about 22 teens on stage, and after getting them to introduce their name, age, and school (good mix of private and public), he simply asked them a series of questions for about 45 minutes.

The idea was to give ye olde librarians an insight into the lives of the next generation.

Q: “What was the last song you listened to, and what device did you listen to it on?”.
A: mostly iPods and CD players.

Q: “If you’re going out with friends on a Friday night, how and when do you organise it?”
A: Usually organised at the last minute, by txt messaging.

Not much new for me here, but the most disappointing part of the session was the group of older female delegates sitting behind me and “tut-tutting” the “bad” answers that the kids were giving. They just didn’t seem to get the fact that because a teen had not visited a public library for years that maybe it was the fault of the library, not the teen….

Monday 9th - first day of speakers

Stephen Abram - blogging celebrity and keynote speaker number one. Stephen only had an hour to speak, and although I took lots of notes I didn't come away with a central message. I think a lot of the ideas he talked about I've already read on his blog and associated writings. That's not to say he had didn't anything new to say, but rather he reinforced a lots of messages he already writes about. Here are some dot points I made of comments that stood out for me:
  • We need to change to the name of 'information literacy'. Who would want to come to a class where you have to admit you're illiterate!
  • The average gamer is female and 31 years old!
  • Referred to a recent Pew Report - The future of the internet. I must catch up with that one...
  • Banning kids from using MySpace - you don't teach road safety by banning children from crossing the street...
  • Book aren't at risk - libraries and their role in society are
  • How to libraries react to this? Create an experience, immersion, learning opportunities and support communities.
  • Google scholar may not be very 'good' by librarian's standards....yet....bit it's only 2 years old. What will it be like when it's 15 years old?
  • Need to focus on the experience of the customer, not the library's needs
  • Chance to use lots of new web 2.0 tools that are free and easy to use, to connect with our communities. IM for reference work, RSS for promotions and news, YouTube for marketing and tutorials etc
  • Death of DVD format within 5 years. How to libraries deal with content without a box?
  • LibraryThing is the 50th largest library in the US (not sure how this was measured, maybe number of items catalogued?)

I attended a longer session with Stephen later in the conference where he presented for a bit over 2 hours, and gave a more structured, considered talk.


I made it back home to Australia on Thursday 12th and back to work today. I'll start going through my notes an add some thoughts and reflections on the conference.

Some general thoughts first...
LIANZA conferences are amazing! I was lucky enough to attend LIANZA 05 in Christchurch, and it set a pretty high standard, which Wellington lived up to. The conference was well organised, the keynote speakers were excellent, and by good luck or good management the themes of each keynote speaker complemented and contrasted very nicely with each other.

The social program was good, and a few vendors I spoke with (who attend a million such things each year) said that NZ librarians are always a very social, friendly group.

There is a lot that Australian public libraries can learn from their NZ colleagues.
I hope the word gets out and more Australian librarians can cross the Tasman to experience either a LIANZA conference or a tour of NZ libraries.

Here at work we were first alerted to the status of NZ public libraries in 2004 when John Stanley and Fiona Emberton took a party of librarians from the USA, Australia and the United Kingdom on a library tour of New Zealand.

Since then I've kept an eye on developments in NZ and the two visits to LIANZA conferences have been great to build relationships and make new contacts.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Photoblog of LIANZA

Day two - the light bulb goes on...

End of the 2nd day of the conference and I haven't blogged a single session. I think the idea is to have your own PC so you can go back to your room and write slightly considered opinions about sessions. The internet lounge at the conference venue is good, but it can be hard to find the time to sit and write between sessions, or during lunch breaks.

Anyhow, it has been a good conference so far, and today made it for me. The keynote speaker for day one was Stephen Abram, who only had an hour to articulate some of his ideas. It was good, but not as inspirational as I thought. In contrast, I have just been to a 2 hour presentation by him, and he had a lots more time to explain some concepts, which I found really rewarding.

My highlight was getting the chance to have a coffee with him and talk for about half an hour. Good fun!

Tara Brabazon was the keynote speaker for today and was inspirational too.

Being a reflective thinker, I'll probably try to post my thoughts and impressions once I get home, and everything has had time to percolate for a bit. But so far, the themes I'm getting out of the conference are only confirming what I've been reading and thinking about lately:
  • It's all about the customers. Libraries need to stop spending time and money worrying about processes that suit libraries and not customers. Spend time and money on customer focussed procedures instead.
  • Library spaces are about giving our customers an experience.
  • It's all about building social contacts and building community.
  • It's about learning
  • It's about being nimble and able to take up new, free web.20 tools to improve the customer experience
  • It's about using the tools (instant messaging and texting) in order to communicate with a large part of our non-users (teens)

Umm...that's about all for now. Off to the conference dinner.


Sunday, October 08, 2006

Made it to Wellington

Here I am in Wellington, registered and ready for the conference to begin!

We've had a great two weeks touring the South Island, and have managed to see some amazing libraries.

Upper Riccarton Library in Christchurch

Botany Library - Manukau

Clendon Library - Manukau

Auckland Central Library

Wellington Central Library

Paraparaumu Library - Kapiti Coast District Libraries

Whitireia Community Polytechnic Library

Off to the Welcome Drinks now, and then getting ready for my presentation tomorrow.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Well, here goes....

"Everyone else is doing it, so why not I?"
Here's my umpteenth attempt to play with a blog. My motivation this time? Attendance at a conference. I've really appreciated the efforts of others who blog library conferences, so I thought I'd try to return some of the same to the library world.