Tuesday, March 31, 2009

CAVAL Visiting Scholar 2009 - Dr Michael Stephens

I am very excited and honoured to publicly announce a project I have been working on for the last six months or so, with Richard Sayers from CAVAL and Michael Stephens.

The formal media release:

Internationally recognised US Web 2.0 commentator, writer and library academic, Dr Michael Stephens, has been appointed the 2009 CAVAL Visiting Scholar.

In a world first for CAVAL and its project partners CityLibraries Townsville and Dominican University Graduate School of Library and Information Science, Dr Stephens’ research project will seek to measure the value and effect of Learning 2.0 programs in Australian libraries.

“The intent of this study is to understand the impact on library staff and institutional culture and makeup after a Learning 2.0 program“, Dr Stephens says.

“The critical questions for libraries looking forward are to what extent has Learning 2.0 impacted institutional culture and staff confidence, and to what degree has it improved the ability of library staff to use emerging technologies?”

Dr Stephens notes that “More than 500 libraries in 15 countries have implemented Learning 2.0 programs in 2 years but we know very little about their effectiveness. Nearly 10% of these Learning 2.0 programs are Australian, ranging from large State and University libraries through to public and special libraries and a small school library in New South Wales.”

First developed by the Public Library of Charlotte Mecklenburg County under a Creative Commons license in 2006, Learning 2.0 is an online learning program that encourages library staff to explore and learn about emerging Web 2.0 technologies. Web 2.0, also called the Read/Write Web or Social Computing, enables users of all ages and walks of life to create, change and publish their own Web content. Blogs and social networking sites such as MySpace and Facebook are common examples.

Working with a co-researcher from CityLibraries Townsville, Dr Stephens’ research aims to develop a world first model for what he terms “an exemplary Learning 2.0 program for Australian libraries.”

For Dr Stephens’ acclaimed Tame the Web blog, visit http://tametheweb.com/

For more information about the original Learning 2.0 program, visit http://plcmcl2-about.blogspot.com/


CAVAL is an Australian not-for-profit company established in 1978 to support leading libraries in Australia, New Zealand and Asia. CAVAL is owned jointly by 11 Australian universities and provides a range of specialised services to the library sector including storage and digital preservation, training and consulting.

Dominican University's Graduate School of Library and Information Science was founded in 1930 and has grown to become one of the United States’ largest Masters of Library and Information Science degree-granting programs. More than 600 students attend classes in River Forest, Greater Chicago, and St. Paul, Minnesota.

CityLibraries Townsville was formed by the merger of the Townsville City Council and Thuringowa City Council in March 2008. Three library branches, mobile services plus a virtual branch serve the whole of Townsville - from the inner city to Magnetic Island, from the suburbs to the rural communities. Each branch offers specialist services and facilities that provide for a diverse community

(end media release)

There will be more detailed information about the research project announced over the coming days and weeks, so keep and eye out here and on Michael’s blog, plus our Twitter streams.

Position Vacancy: Information Services Librarian

I don't often post about my actual job, but for this I'm sending the message far and wide!
I have a position vacant in my team at CityLibraries Townsville:

Information Services Librarian - permanent full-time.
Purpose of position is to provide excellent library customer service through:
  • the day-to-day management of the library management system (Spydus)
  • facilitation of a customer-focused, up-to-date library web presence, and
  • the facilitation of the reference and information services team.
More information and application guidelines available at: http://www.townsville.qld.gov.au/apps/jobs

Looking forward to seeing your application soon!

Friday, March 20, 2009

The ties that bind

Three things popped into my line of sight this morning, two via blogs and one by email.
Somehow they are all related to freedom (and restriction) of thought, artistry and activity.

What started me thinking was a short article by Cory Doctorow writing for Harvard Business publishing blogs.
The High Priests of IT — And the Heretics gives a very brief history of corporate IT departments, and how power/control (access to information and resources) has swung back and forth between IT departments and users, as resources moved from mainframe computers to desktop PCs. These paragraphs sum up where I see a lot of organisations currently are at:

The dirty secret of corporate IT is that its primary mission is to serve yesterday's technology needs, even if that means strangling tomorrow's technology solutions. The myth of corporate IT is that it alone possesses the wisdom to decide which technologies will allow the workers on the front line to work better, faster and smarter — albeit with the occasional lackluster requirements-gathering process, if you're lucky.

The fact is that the most dreadful violators of corporate policy — the ones getting that critical file to a supplier using Gmail because the corporate mail won't allow the attachment, the ones using IM to contact a vacationing colleague to find out how to handle a sticky situation, the incorrigible Twitterer who wants to sign up all his colleagues as followers through the work day — are also the most enthusiastic users of technology, the ones most apt to come up with the next out-of-left-field efficiency for the firm.

Because of that article, somehow these next two posts about copyright and Creative Commons resonated with me more strongly than usual - I usually only follow discussions about copyright and creative commons by skimming the surface, pausing now and then to dip in to an article to get a better understanding of a particular issue or development.

Sita Sings the Blues - story on story by Paul Reynolds tells the story of an animator who spent three years making a film, only to find she can’t distribute it because of music licensing issues. QuestionCopyright.org says:

It's a classic example of how today's copyright system suppresses art, effectively forcing artists to make creative choices based on licensing concerns rather than on their artistic vision.

To read more about the issue, visit How Copyright Restrictions Suppress Art: An Interview With Nina Paley About "Sita Sings The Blues"

The very next post in my blog aggregator was by Neil Infield (British Library)
Professor James Boyle and the fight for Creative Commons . In his short post (visit the site for links to some valuable links), Neil writes about a talk that Professor Boyle gave to staff at the British Library.

One of his most memorable points for me was the deafening silence from the US Copyright Office when asked how he could make his work copyright free. His point being, that the law has been extended to cover all creative works with no regard to the views of the authors who want to allow access.

I have no answers or insights to contribute to this discussion, but I am left with a lingering doubt, maybe even sadness that a vibrant, exciting section of our culture is being restricted. But then I am reminded of a quote (which I have not been able to find – it is attributed to a former IBM executive I think) along the lines of “networks are designed to find ways around roadblocks”. So perhaps the creative community will find a way…