Tuesday, December 23, 2008

People are sacred, objects are not

People (our customers, our colleagues) are sacred.

Objects (library books, library processes, computers) are not.

Pretend for a moment that nothing else exists and you have a choice between meeting the needs of an object or the needs of a person. Which would you choose?

Extrapolate that out to the everyday-ness of working in a busy library environment. Consider each and every transaction and decision. - which do you choose to be more important, objects or people?

People are sacred, objects are not.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Cool Christmas in Cafe Isabella


Cafe Isabella
Originally uploaded by Unbendable Girder
December in NQ, it's 33 degrees C outside, but these chaps look nice and cool inside the libary cafe!

Microsoft Surface in a public library

Microsoft Surface at Darien Library - found via John Blyberg's blog

The best part? They're putting it in the kids section!

From John's blog post:
We decided to put it in the Children’s Room for several very basic reasons. Kids will just “get it” immediately without any explanation. Kids are tactile creatures who are very comfortable with hands-on activity. If we can give them a piece of really cool technology they’ve never seen before and invite them to literally put their hands on it, I have no doubt they will not only be impressed, but empowered as well. They’re not going to ask silly questions like, “why would you put one of these in a library”, because they intuitively know why.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Moving use of a still image

Yesterday I caught up on a lot of reading (mostly online) and one of the few things that has stuck in my mind today is the following, found via Paul McGovern's blog - McGovern Online:

Every now and then you come across something that totally inspires you both in it's simplicity, and the power of it's underlying purpose....It's only one image - and a digitised one at that, which has then been edited and given a really beautiful sound track.

I'm not going to embed or link to the image, because I'd like you to head over to Paul's post and read his commentary on this truly beautiful, moving digital object.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Mo-vember - week 2


The moustache is coming along slowly. This picture was taken yesterday at our Library 2.0: making it work professional development day with our Mo-brarians team captain Keil, who is so brave he shaved a mohawk for Movember!
Movember is all about tackling men's health issues and being proactive in the fight against men's depression and prostate cancer.

To donate to our team you can either:
Click this link and donate online using your credit card or PayPal account,
or Write a cheque payable to
‘Movember Foundation', referencing my Registration Number 1723631 and mailing it to:
Movember Foundation
PO Box 292
Prahran VIC 3181

Remember, all donations over $2 are tax deductible.
The money raised by Movember is used to raise awareness of men's health issues and donated to the Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia and beyondblue - the national depression initiative. The PCFA and beyondblue will use the funds to fund research and increase support networks for those men who suffer from prostate cancer and depression.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Work / Life balance

This morning, in a conversation about work/life balance, a colleague said words to the effect of "you know, work/life balance is not something you get right and it carries on, it's something you have to make a decision about each and every day".
I've never thought about it like that before, and her comment really resonated with me for some reason...

Online reputation management

Found this morning via a Very Short List email:

Is your user name — the one you always register with online — unique? Use the Username Check to find out. The application searches Yahoo, eBay, Flickr, Tumblr, and 56 other popular websites, and tells you whether anyone else is using your favorite alias. If your name is available, sign up! — even if it’s a site you don’t use. (You don’t want to see some twit Twittering in your name, do you?)

Very handy for keeping track of where you have (or have not) registered.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Library service excellence is like making good espresso

Last week I enjoyed a three hour ‘espresso class’ – a wonderful birthday gift from my wife. I took our little espresso machine to a local coffee shop where the staff led us through the complexities of coffee making. My caffeine-fuelled brain was buzzing that night, and as I was thinking about the many steps of making a good espresso coffee, I somehow drew a correlation with library service excellence. In the cold light of morning, I think the link may be a bit of a stretch, but like a dog with a favourite tennis ball, I’ll run with the idea until it wears out!

A cup of coffee has many variables; type of coffee bean, origin of the coffee (altitude where it is grown, local soil characteristics etc), type of roast and blend of coffee beans in a roast, type and cleanliness of espresso machine, coffee grind, how the ‘basket’ is packed with coffee, pressure of hot water forcing the extraction, type of pump pressurising the water, length of extraction, texture and mix of the milk, plus a few more things I’ve probably forgotten. Get all of these things right, and you have an excellent cup of coffee. To earn a good reputation and loyal following, a barista has to get this mix right cup after cup, day after day. And that’s just the coffee. What about the café design and ambience, the cost of the coffee and the attitude of the staff. The morning after my espresso class, Timothy Greig tweeted this: hopes baristi realize their potential to change our world one coffee at a time: a short chat with Liz at Peoples' turned my :( upside down!

So how many elements are there to good service in a library – or any service/retail place? Location, design and layout, ambience, range and availability of stock, programs and events, wait times in queues, staff attitude, problem resolution, up-selling/value-adding etc. Like a good barista, library staff have the challenge of providing all of these elements, for every customer, every day, week-after-week. When all the elements are broken down like that, it almost sounds exhausting.

In helping to reach, then consistently keep high service levels, library staff face are a number of challenges.
  • We can teach customer service skills, but can we teach people how to genuinely love serving people? This has implications for recruitment. Do we recruit for skills and experience or attitude?
  • How do we keep experienced staff motivated and prevent staleness and boredom? Ground coffee is good for three weeks (I hope library staff last a bit longer than that!) but after a few years on a busy circulation desk, how ‘fresh’ is the customer service going to be? Perhaps there are opportunities for multi-tasking, job rotation, and self-governing teams.
  • A good espresso coffee is a blend of coffee varieties, each type chosen for its unique characteristics. Can library staff keep ‘folding in’ the strengths of other professions like IT, teaching, public relations, marketing, retail, performance and museums into the library field to help perfect the ‘blend’ of service that a library offers?

Some other points...

  • A barista constantly tweaks the coffee grind to suit the ambient temperature/humidity, the espresso machine and customer taste. How often do we tweak our collection development activities to match customer needs? Daily, weekly?
  • It’s important to keep an espresso machine clean and functioning. It is of course critical to stay on top of the cleaning and maintenance of our library facilities (physical branches and virtual spaces).

I’m sure there are a whole heap more correlations to be made. Each time I enjoy a truly good cup of coffee, I won’t help but reflect on the mix of things that make a library service consistently great.

Movember 2008


During Movember (the month formerly known as November) I'm growing a Mo!


This picture is day 1 - no mo. I'll post updates through the month.


Movember is all about tackling men's health issues and being proactive in the fight against men's depression and prostate cancer.


To donate to my Mo you can either:
Click this link https://www.movember.com/au/donate/donate-details.php?action=sponsorlink&rego=1723631&country=au and donate online using your credit card or PayPal account, or
Write a cheque payable to ‘Movember Foundation', referencing my Registration Number 1723631 and mailing it to:

Movember Foundation

PO Box 292

Prahran VIC 3181


Remember, all donations over $2 are tax deductible.The money raised by Movember is used to raise awareness of men's health issues and donated to the Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia and beyondblue - the national depression initiative. The PCFA and beyondblue will use the funds to fund research and increase support networks for those men who suffer from prostate cancer and depression.
Did you know:
Depression affects 1 in 6 men....most don't seek help. Untreated depression is a leading risk factor for suicide.
Last year in Australia 18,700 men were diagnosed with prostate cancer and more than 2,900 died of prostate cancer - equivalent to the number of women who will die from breast cancer annually.

More information is available at http://au.movember.com/.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

On a personal note...

I am immensely proud of my wife, who is in Brisbane today to receive a Peter Doherty Award for Excellence in Science and Science Education. She is one of five teachers in Queensland to receive an award in the category of Outstanding Teacher of Science. It's great to see her dedication, enthusiasm and passion for science teaching recognised in this way.

Amsterdam Central Library

Now this sounds like an amazing public library. Christine Mackenzie from Yarra Plenty Library has just returned from a round the world trip visiting some great libraries. Here she writes about the Amsterdam Central Library.

From Christine's post:
  • It is the largest public library in Europe, at 28,000 sq m over 10 floors.
  • It is the highest public point in Amsterdam and many visitors come for the view of the city.
  • There are 2 eating places, a small café near the magazine area and a restaurant.
  • The City of Amsterdam recognises that the library needs to be regularly refurbished and renewed. There is a budget for total renewal in 10 years.
  • A Radio station is located in the library, broadcasting in the afternoon and evening to a city and national audience.
  • There are 600 pcs, many of them Apple Macs.
  • The Theater van ’t woord is professionally designed with the latest in light/ sound/ recording technology. It seats 270 (the 10th largest in Amsterdam) and is linked with the library. Nearly everything is possible: film/ music/ lectures and it is also linked to catering and conference rooms.

My favourite point - Librarians work on the floor, the information desks are designed to consult with the borrower side by side.
Nice work folks!

Keeping up to date with What's New

Of all the blogs and email lists I subscribe to, there are a precious few that are 'must-reads'. An item falls into that category only if the content is consistently interesting, new and unique. What's New from Mary Ann Kajewski at the State Library of Queensland is a definiate 'must-read'.
It an excellent round-up of sites (with brief descriptions) that covers useful websites and online applications, webcasts and other such events, training tools and tips and more. It is posted to a few SLQ email lists, and is available on the OPAL Training blog. The content is always good, the decriptions are short enough to quickly scan, but detailed enough inform, and each edition is short, not too many items to wade through.
This is one skill of librarians that should be promoted and encouraged more to non-library users - in a time of information overload, who do you go to in order to find 'the good stuff'.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Library 2.0: Making it work - Townsville Professional Development Day

Over the last few weeks I've been working with some wonderful staff from JCU Library to help plan...


LIBRARY 2.0: MAKING IT WORK
Townsville Professional Development Day

Learn how Web 2.0 is being applied in Townsville libraries, from other local librarians.
This information and networking day will include presentations on Second Life, iGoogle, blogs, wikis, instant messaging, and future trends in technology by staff from the tertiary, government and public library sectors. Anna Raunik (Executive Manager, Resorce Discovery) from State Library of Queensland is a special guest.

A program of the Professional Development Day is available, but I haven't figured out how to link a PDF here...yet. Drop me an email (warrenbc * at * hotmail * dot * com) and I'll send it to you.

Date: Tuesday 11th November 2008
Time: 10:00am – 3:30pm
Location: CitiLibraries Thuringowa, Von Stieglitz Room. 86 Thuringowa Drive, Kirwan
Cost: $25 (includes morning tea, lunch and afternoon tea)
RSVP: By 4th November to Claire Swift claire.swift@jcu.edu.au

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Conference papers available - ALIA 2008

Some interesting reading can be found in the papers from Dreaming 08, the biennial conference of the Australian Library and Information Association (ALIA) which are now available: http://conferences.alia.org.au/alia2008/

Friday, September 12, 2008

Towards a taxonomy of blogs - what kind of blog is yours?

In a commentary (Towards a taxonomy of blogs ) for the Creative Economy, Margaret Simons writes:

Sometimes language can obscure as much as it reveals, particularly when the world changes faster than our ability to create new vocabulary.
I think we have reached this situation with “blogging.” Never the most beautiful sound, the word “blog” is now manifestly inadequate to allow us to talk in sensible ways about the many different things that are happening in internet based publication by individuals and groups.
We need new words.

...
I am going to make an attempt to invent some new words for different kinds of blog, in the hope that readers will dive in, add and improve.

Margaret then goes on to list:
Pamphleteering Blogs
The Digest Blog
The Advocacy Blog
The Popular Mechanics Blog
The Exhibition Blog
The Gatewatcher Blog
The Diary
The Advertisement
The News Blog

I wouldn’t pretend for a second that the above taxonomy of blogs is exhaustive or final. But I hope I have demonstrated that when commentators sneer at blogs and ridicule any suggestion that they could be a useful and important adjunct, or even replacement, for aspects of the mainstream media, they would do well to define their terms.
Blogs do some things very well indeed. Some of the things they do are old functions in new clothes, and some of the things they do are new.
I suspect that in a decade, the word “blog” will no longer be widely used. Instead we will have a whole lot of new words to reflect the diversity of individual publishing on the World Wide Web.


So, where does your professional blog / your personal blog / your personal blog about your professional life fall?

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Bloggers and Coders

Roy Tennant recently posted an interesting distinction between library bloggers and coders on his Library Journal blog. (For the record, I fall into the blogger camp, but would like to learn some more coding).

One of the most useful things I have read recently (apart from some great comments to Roy's post) was this post from Ryan Deschamps (The Other Librarian), titled "Under the Hood of Web 2.0 : the top ten programming concepts for librarians to understand"
Thanks Ryan!

Our Searchlight newspaper column

A few weeks ago Walt Crawford posted a question about library newspaper columns and blogs.
I responded with some information about our Searchlight column, and Walt kindly included it in two pages on the PALINET Leadership Network and one of my favourite wikis, Library Sucess: A Best Practices Wiki.
Thanks Walt!

Searchlight is a weekly column in the IT/Computer "Switched On" section of the Townsville Bulletin newspaper.

The aim of Searchlight is "to help make your internet searching more effective, efficient and fun, by reviewing search tools, providing hints and tips, and helping with tricky search topics."

Our aim is to take the search expertise of librarians, and make it available to a wide audience in a medium they regularly use (newspaper), using language that they understand.

You can subscribe to Searchlight via email (instructions here) and there is a blog, which stagnated for a while, but thanks to Walt's enquiry, I've started updating again as of last week.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Professor Lawrence Lessig at LIANZA 2008

The Library and Information Association of New Zealand Aotearoa (LIANZA) continues to attract supurb keynote speakers to their annual conference. This year Professor Lawrence Lessig will be speaking.
The full conference program can be found here.

I was very fortunate to attend LIANZA conferences in 2005 (Christchurch) and 2006 (Wellington). Actually the motivation for this blog was to record my experience of the 2006 conference. Based on just those two experiences, I highly recommend attendance at LIANZA conferences for Australian librarians. The range and quality of speakers is excellent and well-balanced, the organisation is seamless and I felt a very real and warm sense of community amongst the NZ library community.

Now I realise it is very difficult to obtain employer support to travel overseas (unless you're the CEO), but NZ is such a great place to holiday, and there are some truly world class libraries to visit, so it may be worth exploring a holiday alongside the conference.

Best wishes to those fortunate enough to be going this year!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Desktop vs. cloud computing and librarians vs. daytraders

ReadWriteWeb has an interesting article by Nova Spivack on cloud computing:

Everything is moving to the cloud. As we enter the third decade of the Web we are seeing an increasing shift from native desktop applications towards Web-hosted clones that run in browsers.

This article presents a good overview of the topic, especially the shift most people who work online are experiencing, with regards to managing information:

The Web is constantly changing and the biggest challenge is not finding information, it is keeping up with it. The desktop of the future is going to be more concerned with helping users manage information overload - particularly the overload caused by change. In this respect, it is going to feel more like an RSS feed reader or a social news site than a directory. The focus will be on helping the user to manage and keep up with all the stuff flowing in and out of the their environment. The interface will be tuned to help the user understand what the trends are, rather than just on how things are organized.

Spivack also uses an interesting perception of librarians as a profession:

Users are going to shift from acting as librarians to acting as daytraders. As we move into an era where content creation and distribution become almost infinitely cheap, the scarcest resources will no longer be storage or bandwidth, it will be attention....
...In order to cope with the overwhelming complexity of our digital lives, we are going to increasingly rely on tools that help us manage our attention more productively -- rather than tools that simply help us manage our information.
It is a shift from the mindset of being librarians to that of being daytraders. In the PC era we were all focused on trying to manage the information on our computers -- we were acting as librarians. Filing things was a big hassle, and finding them was just as difficult. But today filing information is really not the problem: Google has made search so powerful and ubiquitous that many Web users don't bother to file anything anymore - instead they just search again when they need it. The librarian problem has been overcome by the brute force of Web-scale search. At least for now.
Instead we are now struggling to cope with a different problem - the problem of filtering for what is really important or relevant now and in the near-future. With limited time and attention, we have to be careful what we look for and what we pay attention to. This is the mindset of the daytrader. Bet wrong and you could end up wasting your precious resources, bet right and you could find the motherlode before the rest of the world and gain valuable advantages by being first. Daytraders are focused on discovering and keeping track of trends. It's a very different focus and activity from being a librarian, and it's what we are all moving towards.


I think this is a great complement to librarians - it illustrates the authority and expertise the profession has been known for in the past - but it also presents a challenge. Our users are experiencing this deluge of information now - so how are librarians changing to meet the challenge? I know this shift is one part of Library 2.0 thinking, and learning programs like Learning 2.1 are keeping library staff up to date with new tools and techniques. But are there library programs out there (face-to-face or online) where librarians are helping users caught in the information flood?
I have a small amount of experience in a special library, and the biggest thing I learnt there was the value a librarian can offer by creating customised information 'feeds' for each staff member. That feed could be made up of table-of-content alerts, journal article alerts, new and relevant websites etc all delivered directly to the user. Public libraries have a much wider and more diverse customer base, but I can't help but wonder if the special-library approach is one way to help our users. Helping customers setup customised alerts on our online databases is just one way to help, especially if we highlight the authoritative nature of the contents of databases, and the fact that while we may be adding to their information stream, we are adding quality, useful information.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Web 2.0 + Music 1.0


Walkman
Originally uploaded by Stained glass waterfall
It just struck me that I've spent the morning reading a lot about various web 2.0-related projects... all the time listing to music on cassette tape on my old Panasonic XBS Walkman (with Auto Reverse!!) connected to some external speakers. The sound is muffled, muted and very definitely lo-fi....and it sounds great!

Monday, August 04, 2008

Learning PLUS...

Phew, the next few weeks will be busy.

I've made a start with All Together Now: A 2.0 Learning Experience being run by Michael Stephens and School Library Journal. It's fantastic so far, and I've enjoyed seeing the communication channels and discussions start to open up across the globe. I'm particularly thrilled to see a number of Australian librarians join the program. I've already met up with someone I met at a LIANZA conference a few years ago.

While the web 2.0 concepts are not new to me some of the tools are. I am wanting to complete the program as a participant, in the hopes of running a similar program at work sometime in the future. I've learned a lot about new tools, and am trying out WordPress for the first time for my learning blog.

In addition, today I start work on another online learning program, this one a bit more formal - Facilitated Online Learning as an Interactive Opportunity(FOLIOz) course ‘Evaluating Information Skills Training (InfoSkills2)’.

There are 52 librarians in Australia contributing to this seven week course being presented by ALIA and delivered by a team based at the School of Health and Related Research (ScHARR), University of Sheffield in the UK.
The course is based around a wiki and uses Google Groups for discussions.

By the end of this course, participants will be able to:

  • Understand and define the concepts of ‘information skills’ and 'information literacy'.
  • Evaluate the effectiveness of learning.
  • Design feedback forms for students.
  • Evaluate feedback from students.
  • Measure the impact of information skills training courses.
  • Evaluate training provision.
  • Engage with fellow course participants in discussing issues arising from evaluating information skills training.
Looks interesting...

Friday, July 18, 2008

Here's your chance to join a 'Learning 2.0' program

School Library Journal's 2.0 Program Begins July 21 - and you're invited to join in!

Have you heard of 23 Things, the self-guided program for learning about 2.0 web technology? It was developed by Helene Blowers a couple of years ago at the Public Library of Charlotte and Mecklenburg County and since then has been adopted across the world by public and school libraries, districts, and even entire states. It consists of a number of "things," or small exercises, that you do online to expand your knowledge of the 2.0 web and social networking, from blogs and podcasts to wikis and Twitter.

Folks at School Library Journal are going to do a program, and they've decided "why not open it up and invite everyone to join us?". Andy by everyone, they mean people from US, Canada, UK, Australia, etc etc...

Michael Stephens will be helping out and the whole thing starts Monday, July 21st. Michael will author a blog that will lead you through the different exercises, offer guidance, answer questions, and even provide a little hand-holding. They're calling it "All Together Now: A 2.0 Learning Experience."

Head to the blog and get going. And have fun!

Friday, June 06, 2008

(Almost) everything I know about Tablet PCs and Roving Reference

Introduction
Over the last few years I have led a project at work (Thuringowa Library) where we introduced a new model of customer service at the Information Desk. I thought I’d try to gather my thoughts, opinions, experience and links to other information all in the one place here.

Firstly, and perhaps the most important thing I have learnt, is that the success of this project has almost nothing to do with technology, and everything to do with people.

This project has involved three aspects;
1) Use of a wireless Tablet PC
2) Minimalist, flexible furniture as a service point
3) Staff training in roving reference and use of customer service standards



Formal reports
The background and early results of the project are described in two conference papers.
1) Thuringowa and Manukau Libraries: Building a model for a new customer experience LIANZA Conference 2006 – Wellington, New Zealand
A joint paper presented with Kim Taunga, Botany Library Manager, Manukau Libraries (New Zealand), so it has information about two library services, but it does describe the early stages of our project.

2) From Table to Tablet - How a Wireless Tablet PC could Help to Deliver a New Customer Service Paradigm in a Public Library (PDF 1.46MB) Information Online 2007 – Sydney.



Further information
Since these papers have been available online I’ve received a few enquires from colleagues around Australia and overseas about the project. What follows here is a summary of the replies to these questions as well as some thoughts on the success and failures of the project.



The Tablet PC
We are using a Toshiba Portege M200 Notebook. It is running Windows XP SP2, 1.8GHz processor, 512 MB RAM.

The only actual technical specification we gave our IT department was that we needed a wireless Tablet that could easily run all of the existing SOE (email, web etc) as well as our library management system (Spydus ILMS, from Civica).

Overall it has performed well. The size and weight is comfortable, and it never gets hot (just warm, but not uncomfortable or dangerous at all).

The longest I have carried it is about two hours – it wasn’t uncomfortable, but after two hours I was ready to put it down and have a rest.

The battery lasts approximately three hours when fully charged, and overcoming this issue was the biggest challenge (we use it for eight hours a day). We tried to find a separate battery charger and spare battery without success. Our solution is to have the power cord at the information desk and the Tablet is plugged in whenever staff return to the desk. This seems to work OK and it keeps the battery topped up during the day, and it is fully charged overnight.

The wireless signal works fine throughout the library and access speed is not a problem.
All Spydus client software works well on the Tablet.

The handwriting recognition software on the Toshiba is excellent and easy to use
We managed to break the clip on the stylus, which stopped the pen from clipping into the storage slot on the Tablet, but buying a replacement pen posed no problems.

One mistake I made was to overstress to staff the dollar value of the Tablet PC - I must admit I was scared someone would leave it lying around and it would get stolen - I think this scared staff from using it, they were worried it would get stolen, damaged, broken etc. It took some time to overcome that fear and make staff comfortable using it.

Most staff were concerned about having to carry the Tablet for a four hour shift. They asked for a pouch or bag to carry the Tablet but I didn't have much success in finding one to buy, and I didn't have the time to design one and get it made. We just carried the Tablet around, and after a few months people realised that they didn't actually carry it that much. We found that we often put it down on a table, book-shelf etc while we talked to a customer, and that even if we did carry it for a while, it wasn't too heavy or cumbersome.
We talked a lot about what was needed (if anything at all) at a minimalist information desk, and it was recognised that a least a place to put down the Tablet from time to time, and later on we discovered the need for a place to recharge it.


Roving / roaming reference and customer service
Our reference staff is only a team of seven people, but each had different responses to using the Tablet and taking up roving reference. For a period of a few months we had two models of reference service working - staff could choose to roam or to serve from behind the old information desk. Some staff started roaming right away, other took a few weeks to adopt to roaming (once they saw their colleagues doing it successfully) and two did no roam until the very end of the trial when we took away the old model of service (from behind a desk).

With regards to the 'people' side of things, I think the 'unknown' was the biggest barrier to staff - they simply didn't know what sort of reaction they would get from customers. I must admit I was very scared about getting out from behind the ‘protection’ of the desk – I had no logical reason for this fear, just that the old model of service was felt very safe and secure! Once everyone had tried roaming they saw that it wasn't so bad. We had regular team meetings where we shared successes and ideas for improving our techniques, which really helped staff.

I must admit we've probably gone backwards with the roaming a little bit lately. Staff seem to stay around the information desk and I don't seem them roaming as much. I think this is a result of not as many team meetings and the regular reinforcement of the value of roaming, and the encouragement of each other.

One thing that I kept reminding my staff was that this was a 'new' model of service, not a 'perfect' model of service, ie. roving reference has some advantages and disadvantages, just like sitting behind a large information desk has advantages and disadvantages! Our point was that the roving reference model provided a better level of customer service overall, despite some disadvantages

One part of the roving reference model involved us analysing our body language and behaviours at the information desk. As a team we came up with some guidelines for ourselves, which we made available as a brochure to customers. Here is an extract:

In addition to these standards, we will:
· Allow you time to enter the library and orientate yourself before we approach you
· Make eye contact, smile and use open body language
· Tell you our name
· Not ask you if you need help, but simply state that we are here to help you
· Be interested and curious about your requests
· Acknowledge you, even when helping someone else
· Break off conversations with other library staff, and attend to you first
· Leave you to browse and search by yourself. If you are looking lost or puzzled, we will offer our assistance


When seated at the Information Desk, we will:
· Be aware of you approaching and greet you first
· Turn in our seat to face you, not our computer screen
· Have a clean, uncluttered Information Desk
· Be ready to help you first and not be busy with other library work


We will also:
· Provide a range of written guides to help you find information
· Explain how we are conducting a search for you, so that you may also learn how to search
· Let our colleagues know if we are leaving the Information Desk
· Ask you, as you leave, if you found the information you were looking for, and if there is anything further we can help with
· Commit to staffing the Information Desk during advertised hours



Other resources I’ve stumbled across
Mentor Group Training - a Canadian company offering workshops about roving reference
They also have a forum which you can join and ask questions about roving reference.

Guide to Roving: An Essential Service for Library 2.0 by Joan Giannone —President, Mentor Group Training Inc. A SirsiDynix Institute Webinar



Comments / report about the project from other blog writers and conference attendees
Rambling Thoughts Blog by Neerav Bhatt

One Person Library Plus by Judith Siess

Connecting Librarian by Michelle McLean

Spydus Newsletter – April 2008


Embedding Librarians in a World of Dirty Data: the Information Online Conference 2007 By Paul Bentley


Conclusions

It's worth it!

If you are trying something similar I'd love to hear from you. If you have any questions about our project, I'm more than happy to answer.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Good stuff from the National Library of NZ

I've just used the "discover" function on Google Reader for the first time, and the link lived up to its promise!





I discovered a number of new blogs with some fantastic content, the best of which is LibraryTechNZ. According to the blog it is run by staff at the National Library of New Zealand, however it is not an 'official' blog.

Since early May they have been posting a weekly column called 'The Source: news about digital libraries and library innovations from around the web'. It is a fantastic roundup of recent reports, papers, articles etc.

From the blog: The Source is a weekly current awareness bulletin, sourced from the internet and compiled for the information needs of National Library staff.It covers a wide range of library-related topics including: Digital Libraries and Digitisation, ICT, Education and School Libraries, Public and National Libraries' issues and innovations, Knowledge Management and Knowledge Economy.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Re-imagine library services....for a whole country!

Last Friday (2nd May) I was in Melbourne with a group of other public librarians from around Australia, for a discussion with NSLA (National and State Libraries Australasia) about their Re-imagining Library Services Strategic Plan (PDF 803kb).

The strategic plan has some exciting goals:

Our new vision is:
In collaboration, the National, State and Territory Libraries of Australia and New Zealand will become leaders in empowering people to create, discover, use and transform our collections, content and global information resources.


We will deliver this vision through three strategies:
  • One Library will put the user at the centre. We will redefine services providing users with a consistent and easy experience across our libraries.
  • Transforming Our Culture will transform our culture and workplace. We will promote a new culture which supports new services and emerging technologies.
  • Accessible Content sees collaboration as the key to liberating our content. We will empower our users to find, share and create content.
It was an interesting and worthwhile discussion, with lots of great ideas shared and stories told.

My impression is that there was widespread support of the plan from public libraries.
As State Libraries start to undergo this strategic shift in their organisations and in their delivery of services to users (including public libraries), communication and consultation with public librarians will be critical, in order to bring us all along on the journey at the same time.

More thoughts on the plan and the workshop to follow...

Friday, April 18, 2008

Creative Stuff

My RSS feeds fall into three main categories:
- all about library stuff
- industries and stuff related to/aligned with libraries
- stuff with nothing to do with libraries

My favourite RSS feed in the middle category is Creative Economy Online - "News and research on creative industries, innovation and society".

Creative Economy is a gateway to research and commentary on developments in Australia’s creative industries and their cultural and social impact, hosted by the ARC Centre of Excellence for Creative Industries and Innovation (CCI). The site draws on the resources of Australian Policy Online, together with outputs from industry groups, consultants and other researchers and research organisations.

The feed is a valuable source of information about new reports and projects, and it often has topics about libraries, literacy, reading and publishing.

Highly recommended.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Innovative Ideas forum presentations

The Innovative Ideas Forum (National Library of Australia 10 April 2008) has Powerpoint presentations and audio files of each presentation available as links from the program.

Speakers and topics include:

* Professor Gerard Goggin (Professor of Digital Communication, University of New South Wales) - The Internet and the Mobile Phone: Histories, Possibilities, Challenges

* Kris Carpenter Negulescu (Internet Archive) - Digital Services and Online Research: The Future of Who does What and For Whom

* Richard Walis (TALIS) - Beyond Web 2.0 -The Continuing Journey

...plus a bunch more.
http://www.nla.gov.au/initiatives/meetings/InnovativeIdeas2008program.html

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Web 2.0 with the Connecting Librarian

1st April and I managed to escape any April Fools jokes. Instead, I got to listen to Michelle McLean talk about Web 2.0 and libraries, which was time well spent.

I was in Sydney attending a two day course title "Revolutionising Library Management" by the Ark Group. There were only 11 participants so there was a high level on interaction and conversation.

Michelle had the floor for the whole day and her energy never seemed to fade. She gave an excellent overview of the Web 2.0 world and touched on lots and lots of examples. Michelle is partly to blame(?) for me getting this blog going again. Thanks Michelle!

Anyhow, here are some dot points I picked up from the day:
  • in the 2.0 world, the user is at the centre, not the content
  • tagging is almost universal across 2.0 tools and not limited to a few
  • use del.icio.us account to to tag websites to do with 2008 Olympics, and then feed to website with RSS - instant subject guide!
  • must explore yahoo pipes again...
  • mobile devices (phones, PDAs) used to be fussy about what online content they could display. This is changing and devices are being made to read any online content. Great possibilities for libraries...
  • new ideas come through conversations - the web is one big conversation
  • use a widget to create a quick survey on library website
  • some libraries building OPAC search applications for facebook
  • use feedburner to track stats of blog subscribers (have since set this up with this blog - it works!)
  • Michelle made good use of Google Maps to map out mobile library stops and branch locations for her library service

Warren and Michael

At SLQ after Michael's Hyperlinked Library forum

Monday, April 14, 2008

Notes from the Hyperlinked Library

I took a lot of notes during Michael's presentation, but once I re-read them, three main things stand out:

Big Picture
I wasn't exposed to a bunch a new ideas that I had never heard of before, but rather was given an excellent summary of the best of what web 2.0 and library 2.0 mean at the moment.
It was like going up in a hot air balloon and getting a wide picture of the 2.0 landscape, and Michael is an excellent guide.

Best practice
I did learn some new things, when Michael chose some real life examples to illustrate a point. Won't list them all here, but I have a long list of programs and websites to check out!

It's all about people
The phrase that had the biggest impact on me came near the end of Michael's talk, and it was something along the lines "the library encourages the heart, the library is human".
When I talk with colleagues about technology, especially social software type stuff, it always helps to bring the conversation back to the fact that it's mostly about people communicating with and connecting with other people. The technology is just a tool, and it's people and their conversations that are important.

Meeting Michael

Sometime in 2005 I discovered library-related blogs.

I had been reading library blogs since 1999 without realising what a blog was (for example, Jessamyn West's Librarian.net) - back then they looked to me like normal web pages that were updated frequently and acted kind of like a diary.

I'm not sure what really started me onto library blogs in 2005 - maybe it was a comment on an email list, maybe an article in a library journal, but one of the first blogs I started reading was Tame the Web by Michael Stephens. Back then Michael worked in public libraries, trained people how to use the internet, and educated / enthused staff about new and emerging technology. He also was enthusiastic about library blogging, and through his blog I was introduced to a whole range of blogs written by people involved in library/information work, and information technology.

Over a period of about six months, I discovered an online community of peers who shared my professional interests and concerns. I did a lot of reading and only left comments or contributed to discussions on very rare occasions. Through the bloggers, I felt like I 'attended' major library conferences overseas. Library blogs helped me stay up to date with ideas and technology, all of which helped my day-to-day work, both on a strategic and operational level.

I felt my professional interests renew and refresh in a way that I don't think would have otherwise been possible, without the support of my online peers.

So it was a great thrill to be able to travel to Brisbane on March 13 to hear Michael Stephens give his Hyperlinked Library presentation at the State Library of Queensland. Better still, I managed to talk with Michael a couple of times during the day. To have the chance to meet in person, someone who has genuinely inspired me, has been the professional highlight of my year so far.

Thank you Michael for your generosity of time and your generosity of spirit to the library community.

(Michael covered a lot of Australia during his visit - organised by CAVAL).

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Dusting off and blogging again

It's been a while since the last post, and that's OK.... my intention for this blog was to only blog conferences and training I attend, however in the last few weeks I've had my vision of all things web 2.0 renewed, and so I might try expanding this blog to more than just reporting of professional training.

There are many, many excellent bloggers out there who already write about issues that I'm interested in, so I don't think I'll try to create too much new content, but simply report on things that catch my eye, and maybe share an opinion or two about the issue.

In the next little while I hope to write some notes from two very excellent professional development opportunities I've recently taken part in: