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Book Review ~ The Promise: The Town That Never Forgets

The Promise: The Town That Never Forgets/Noublions jamais lAustralie by Derek Guille, illustrated by Kaff-eine, translated by Anne-Sophie Biguet, ISBN 9780987313959, One Day Hill. Hardback $24.99

The Promise

This non-fiction book depicts a century old relationship formed between a town in France, Villers-Bretonneux and Australia. The commitment to never forget the help provided by Australians, who saved them in World War I is expressed. Australia helped rebuild the town by providing some funds raised by school children in Victoria. Almost a century later, the people of Villers-Bretonneux returned help to Victorians after the bushfires that ravaged country towns. The article, ‘Bound by history, French children honour their debt’ in the Australian, provides information of the children from Villers-Bretonneux raising money to help rebuild the Strathewen primary school, and this is the event that forms part of the book.

Nelson Ferguson, a cornet player and artist, was a stretcher-bearer from Australia in Villers-Bretonneux, during World War I and suffered injuries. His grandson was inspired to travel on this journey and learn more about the town and the history. He invited musicians, from the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra (MSO) to form a brass band to play a private memorial at the Australian War Memorial, located just outside the village. Geoff Payne was amongst the musicians on this journey. Beyond the historical basis, of the connection between the two places, the book conveys a personal and emotional journey by Musicians from the MSO during a 2007 tour accompanied by the journalist and author of the book Derek Guille. It is the personal story of Geoff Payne that resonates with emotion in this journey. Whilst there, he discovers a photograph in the Memorial depicting his great uncles grave. The emotional impact of this discovery transfers to his ability to perform later that same day at the memorial.

I came to this book via a passion for the street art by the Artist Kaff-Eine. The artwork beautifully conveys the emotions depicted in the true story of the journey by musicians from the MSO in 2007 and it is the emotional connection that resonates. When Geoff Payne discovers a photograph a sense of feeling the shattering moment is captured in the artwork. The actual playing at the memorial heightens the emotional moment and affirms the enduring connection of the two countries. The artwork, by Kaff-Eine, is poignant in depicting the moments of emotion. The beautiful water-colour illustrations convey the story with a gentleness and contribute to the humanisation of this story about the harsh realities of tragedies and how they extend to affect people today.

This book was acquired for the school library and was placed on the display shelf as part of the lead up to ANZAC day. It is a bi-lingual book with the English story written on the top half of the page and the French translation written directly beneath. This contributes to relevance for Languages other than English (LOTE) programs in school, particularly if French is a subject studied. It is a great inclusion when exploring diversity and world connections with other cultures too.

Most non-fiction books, about history and war, in our collection depict prosaic iterations of history and its events. There aren’t many resources providing personalised perspectives, nor mapping a connection between Australia and another country over a significant period of time.

The Promise: The Town that Never Forgets, does not depict actual war experiences in detail, however moments are intertwined within the story of a modern day journey of musicians revisiting a town in France to play music at a private memorial. In the end it is a celebration of a connection formed during times of extreme situations. It’s a celebration of human bonding across borders and helps to make the world a somewhat smaller and friendlier place. It provides a faith in human capacity to provide support at times of greatest need.

Being able to review books, whilst working in a school library, contributes to greater knowledge of the library collection and assists in ability to provide recommendations to the school community about specific resources that are relevant to the curriculum. This book provides a fantastic avenue to explore the historical events mentioned by connecting with other available sources. Considering, History is now compulsory in the Australian Curriculum from Year 3 upwards, an evaluation of resources available in the library to support the curriculum is vital.

 

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The effect of a book

I love this clip and what it says about the generational impact on humans. I also love books and can relate to the gestures translating to our use of digital technology such as iPhones, iPads and now with a trackpad for iMacs. Amazing how body memory affect other aspects of relating in the digital sphere.

The Effect of a Book, Extending Beyond The Form from João Machado on Vimeo.

 

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The Future is Now ~ Are you ready for a Library 2.0?


Shattuck_C28620, Spider webs, near Bungendore, NSW

Spiderwebs near Bungendore, NSW cc licensed and shared by SouthernAnts


The concept of ‘Web’ takes prominence today in how we view information and links to information. This is an important visualisation to ponder as it is this particular visual that holds the key to our future and present as an information society. The metaphor of the web and its importance in conceptualising and realisation of networked information societies continues. A web as a visual, not only represents network links and strength but acts as a metaphor for a basic Web 2.0 principle of harnessing collective intelligence thereby strengthening the overall web. O’Reilly (2005) points out that as the web works via hyperlinking, the addition of new content and new sites by more users provides the basis for the strengthening of the web. This is because as other users link to content via discovery the links bind and strengthen and hence the overall structure is strengthened. Not unlike how synapses in a brain strengthen with repeated associations (O’Reilly, 2005).

In imagining a future, I want to start in the past of future imagining. The following clip is an example.
http://www.dailymotion.com/embed/video/x35r4m
The Future is Now (1955) by donaldtheduckie

This clip is part of a long line of what can be termed ‘futurists’, Coyle (2006).  Another work of significance that I have recently discovered is Bush(1945), ‘As we may think’. In this work the conception  of the ‘memex’ and the vision of a hyperlinked and networked future is inspired by the workings of the mind in its ability of moving by association through information; not unlike O’Reilly (2005) linking of the Web to concepts of association strengthening the synapses in the brain.  Tim Berners-Lee the inventor of the World Wide Web and html (Hypertext Markup Language) is a further extension and development of this initial ‘futurist’ vision by Bush (1945). Here is the clip where Berners-Lee discusses the history and his vision of the Web.

In the context of Web 2.0 as something more than technological tools, examining what Library 2.0 is becomes pertinent. Anderson (2007) contends that libraries have been too focused on the user and the use of technological tools as being what Library 2.0 is. Hence missing some key philosophical principles of Web 2.0. In the myriad of information out there about Library 2.0 and as an extension Librarian 2.0, I would have to agree that the definition is not clear enough and there does appear to be a disproportionate focus on technological tools. Library 2.0 is not just about the technological tools it is much more and the philosophical principals and design principals of Web 2.0 as outlined by O’Reilly (2005) are worth exploring in detail and translating to a library 2.0. Casey (2006) travels part way to the principles outlined by O’Reilly(2005) and it is the principle of the ‘long tail, even if it is user focused, that captures concepts of diverse representations as embodied in community cultural development practices. This is of prime importance when considering the principle of harnessing collective intelligence.

The following slideshare provides a good understanding and explanation of Web 2.0 as applicable to Library 2.0.

Last week and for quite some time I have been discussing my dream of what a library means now and in the future. How would I create my ideal library service? What will it include and what can it contribute?

By drawing on Web 2.0 as a philosophy, rather than a set of web technology tools, I want to translate this philosophical vision as a possible take on Library 2.0. This is not an all encompassing Library 2.0 but something that can contribute quite significantly. It is further grounded in principles of community cultural development. Within this structure the Library 2.0 acts as the nexus, platform or service that brings everything together. It connects community, specialists and resources and contributes to the shaping of the now and future of a unique community repository of information. This happens alongside many of the traditional functions of a library service. However, this Library 2.0 is now participating in the creation, storage and dissemination of information similar to the concept of a Commons Based Peer Production as outlined by Krowne (2003). Furthermore, the Library 2.0 is a node in a wider network of Library 2.0 services participating in similar community building of unique information repositories. This then feeds into a larger central repository of National Archives Australia and beyond.

I take as a given that we are living with various technological tools that we are connected to and utilise to make connections, source information and for various other purposes in life. I also accept it is a given that technological tools will be part of our work, life and play. Therefore, as a part of the larger society and world, the Library 2.0 will also be connected and utilising the various technological tools at our disposal. However, it is not the tools that define this philosophy of Library 2.0. Rather, it is how we work and integrate them in our life that is the important aspect. It is this aspect that remains the focus of my Library 2.0 in understanding what benefit they contribute to this vision.

Web as a platform transforms to Library as a platform in my vision. The Library becomes the microcosm of the larger workings of interconnected information. The library is the platform upon which the links are made and expanded upon as more and more users connect to services and contribute to services. The Web as a platform is a service providing links and strengthening associations and as an extension the Library 2.0 is this very same thing. It is a service providing the associations relevant to the specific communities it serves. Every library 2.0 will have its individual contributions based on the community that it serves and connects. No communities are alike they are all different and have their own contributions to make.  This is the key. At the same time, all libraries are connected in the overall Web platform and share their unique contributions thereby contributing a diversity of voice, ideas and experience as drawn from the contributions of unique individual communities. This is community building and connectedness. This enables diverse representation in a way that we have not seen before.

As a public and civic space the library is the perfect platform for community to connect and contribute to the growth of the community, continuing conversations and sharing information.

The following conceptions of a Library 2.0 are the basic tenets that provide strength to the Library as the hub or node of the community that branches out to link to more nodes:

  • Library as a community service
  • Library as a civic space
  • Library as community builder
  • Library as a community repository
  • Library as contributing to community history preservation and building.
  • Library as conduit connecting the skills, resources, people and sharing with community and the world
  • Library as a node on the web acting as the web itself within its community in the platform it creates.
  • Library as community hub

To illustrate this Library 2.0 I will provide an example of how I see it working in the wider Web 2.0 world.

Coming from a community arts background, it is the lack of documentation and archiving of projects that inspires me in the Library 2.0 being a platform to enable this. A few years back where I worked on many grass roots arts projects with various and diverse communities, I was struck at how few of these projects are documented effectively. As a result, a youth theatre project ends with the performance and not much else beyond that. Nothing is stored as an archive for others to access and enjoy or possibly learn from. If there is an attempt at documentation, it may consist of copies of the script and possibly a video recording existing either in archive boxes at the youth theatre or tucked away in someone’s home. Projects from the 1980’s may exist on a VHS tape or a beta tape and the possibility of viewing is fast diminishing. Theatre is only one example, there are oral history community projects, film projects, writing projects, music projects, photographs and the list continues. These projects occur throughout Australia and the world. They are about connecting communities, artists, audiences and sharing information. They are about providing access and voice as well as representation and yet there aren’t any definite practices in place to connect the outcomes and disseminate with wider communities and audiences.

In my Library 2.0 the library becomes a place where such projects can occur. Linking communities with writers for community writing projects by providing the space and resources for this to occur. Beyond this my Library 2.0 takes this unique data created by the projects of the community and feeds it into our repository to be shared now and into the future. As an example, an oral story project with new arrivals (as the community) can be created with a community arts workers facilitating the project. The Library 2.0 provides the space for the communities to connect and carry out the project. Utilising the tools in the library the stories can be recorded, edited and stored for access and sharing. Thereby, a unique community repository of information that is shared and owned by the community that created it. Audacity is a free program and very simple to use that can enable this. The Librarian does not have to even know how to use this software program. Instead, it is possible to connect with artsworkers who have the skills and as a result the library facilitates the connections and provides access to the resources to enable the process.

Looking at the dibrary~National Library of Korea provided the inspiration for this direction as a Library 2.0. I was particularly drawn to the multimedia production capabilities present at dibrary. The blogpost Make Music at the Library. published by Tame the Web  on August 8th, is another example of how a library as a platform or service can enable this process in a Library 2.0. If the skills in production are present in the library service then the library can share this with the wider community also. The scope of imagining a Library 2.0 is boundless…

Clearly, many library services are already on this path. The State Library of Victoria has the Wheeler Centre next door linking the library with resources of writing. City Library has an art gallery space providing access to artists to share their work as well as a piano for use by the public. However, it is taking the next step and moving into creation of community repositories that my Library 2.0 will really come into being. It is creating the spaces and means to store, share and disseminate this unique community data and information that I can see being the move in the Web 2.0 wider world. No Shelf Required published the following blogpost on August 8th, titled enhanced ebook and portal books-Publisher/library partnerships delving into the concept of the library as the platform in the creation of and contribution to an archival repository via collaborative links.

Library 2.0 as a node in the wider Web 2.0 world helps to build communities and provides access to diverse groups to share their stories and build upon the wealth of the world.

The ideas are here and the Future is Now!

Anderson, P. (2007) ‘All that Glisters Is Not Gold’-Web 2.0 and the Librarian, Journal of Librarianship and Information Science, 39(4), 195-198

Bush, V. (1945) ‘As We May Think’, Atlantic Magazine, retrieved from http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/1945/07/as-we-may-think/3881/

Casey, M.E. & Savastinuk, L.C (2006), Library 2.0: Services for the next generation Library, Library Journal retrieved from http://www.libraryjournal.com/article/CA6365200.html 

Krowne, A. (2003), Building a Digital Library the Commons-based peer production way, D-Lib Magazine, retrieved from http://www.dlib.org/dlib/october03/krowne/10krowne.html

O’Reilly, T. (2005) What is Web 2.0, retrieved from http://oreilly.com/web2/archive/what-is-web-20.html

 

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Information is unstoppable!

‘The end of the library’ is a catchcry that many studying information studies have had to endure in one form or another over the past five to ten years or so, maybe even longer. Some of the following headlines and related stories point to the continuance of this threat and are an indication that the threat to information provision and libraries is far from over. Clearly, as the articles indicate, this is not specific to Australia but something that is happening in other countries including the United States and the UK.

Libraries fear funding cuts

Libraries fire up over funding cuts

Maroondah Library services cut as funding goes

Councils united in fight against library funding cuts

Funding cuts closing book on all 62 branches in Queens Library

Cuts threaten survival of Michigan Libraries

Michigan Library Community suffers ‘a perfect storm of funding cuts’

Library closure threats spark campaigns across England

In times of economic downturn, it appears that information provision is an easy target. How easy is it for an individual to be complacent within the sphere of the web and accept without question that the internet will provide the information sources without bias and in a timely manner. The corporate imperatives and controls are easily overlooked (I only need to draw your attention to Google as a corporate entity and its expanding control of the cybersphere as an example). Our trust in the altruism of information provision is not wavered, not even for a moment when we are confronted with concepts of privacy invasion, and if it is, we are somewhat apathetic or more realistically paralysed in our attempts to protest. What can we do? Can we refuse to participate? Is this possible? And if it is, then what class in society do we then occupy as a citizen in the information Age that we now reside in?

Choosing to take on the study of Master of Information Studies has been something that I absolutely love and relish. My learning has been immense and it appears this journey is occurring at the right time in consideration of my passions and skills. Right now, my love of all things audiovisual, coupled with my desire and urgency to document all things audiovisual so that we can share this heritage from the past,  now and in the future has been ignited further with my studies. My passion for democratic access to information has been reinforced and my belief in freedom of expression has been reinforced with my belief in participatory culture that is evident in the world of Web 2.o. Beyond this, I believe in a free web, free of controls and surveillance and one that can encapsulate human rights as elaborated in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. These ideals, I have discovered are encapsulated in the ideals of Tim Berner’s Lee and his vision of the World Wide Web. See the following clips for some inspiration.

What is my point in this post, I ask myself (beyond passion!)… I suppose what I am trying to emphasise is that the world of information is not dying. It is part of our DNA (in fact our DNA is an example of information, Gleick (2011.) as it encodes and shapes who we as individuals and as a society are) We are information and the way we relate is information. No matter how we/they try to control, block or divert the information and the sources of information provision, information will find a way to flood and flow. It is not something we can control, divert or suppress…. Even with funding cuts!

Gleick, J, (May, 17 2011, 11am), Mornings with Margaret Throsby, ABC Classic fm accessed from http://www.abc.net.au/classic/throsby/stories/s3218973.htm

 

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Naidoc Week ~ 3rd to 10th July 2011

Moreton Bay Fig Tree, Wellington Point, Australia

Moreton Bay Fig Tree. cc licensed and shared by Henriette Von Ratzeberg

This week is Naidoc week. For more information visit the Naidoc website at

http://www.naidoc.org.au/

For more information about events visit the Local Naidoc Events Calendar.

You can listen to ABC Naidoc on ABC Digital Radio.

 

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Sorry…

National Sorry Day is meant to start the healing process

National Sorry Day is meant to start the healing process

Please visit http://www.nsdc.org.au/

http://australia.gov.au/about-australia/australian-story/sorry-day-stolen-generations

 

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History as Absence

Absence of proof is not proof of absence.
William Cowper

Absence of... By Ky Olsen

When I first started this blog, as a response to starting my Librarian studies, my mind traveled to the library moments that were defining to my love of all things library. In my first post Hatching, I discussed a childhood experience of volunteering at a local sub-branch of Marrickville library called “The Warren”. I used to spend many afternoons there, after school, as both my parents worked late and I had no-one to answer to. My choice as a child was to go to the library until it closed. After writing that initial post, spurred by an early memory, I decided to investigate further and find out what ever happened to this sub-branch of Marrickville library. Who to ask was easy “Ask a Librarian”. I looked up Marrickville Library and on their website I came across a History Services link. After trawling through the history archives online, I realised my search was futile as there appeared to be no mention of the sub-branch called “The Warren” anywhere. I tried their search with “Warren”, “sub-branch” and other configurations but proved unsuccessful. Was this a figment of my imagination? I am sure this is not a made-up memory. Is this how I imagined my ideal childhood, spent at the library amongst books, every afternoon and sometimes on Saturday mornings? I needed to further my investigations so I sent an email to Marrickville Library, explaining I was trying to locate some historical information, based on a childhood memory, of a sub-branch that I frequented? Could they help me with information, photos, details of the branch etc…. Below is the response I received.

“Thank you for your enquiry regarding ‘The Warren Library’. Surprisingly, there is very little information on this branch and its history.

The Warren Library was indeed a small children’s library and was open each afternoon for several hours. In one of our books published by our previous historian, there is a small mention of the dates that the branch was open, from September 25, 1965 and was then subsequently closed in 1985 (no exact date given). It also mentioned a couple other smaller branches closed in the same year, but there is no mention as to why.

Unfortunately, there was no other information available in any of our local history files or local history collection.

Thank you again for your enquiry, alas that we could not find more information for you.

Kind regards,

Jo Stacey Acting Local Studies Officer | Marrickville Library & History Services

Marrickville Council I PO Box 79 Marrickville NSW 1475 I www.marrickville.nsw.gov.au

P 02 9335 2167 | F 02 9596 2829 | E libassist02@marrickville.nsw.gov.au

Now, in considering this information, my topic broadens and I start musing on concepts of ‘Absence’ and the connection to storying in Hi”story”. Why was this information on this branch deemed not important enough to be archived? How are such decisions made? What is the criteria in place and what values are in operation in making decisions to enable ‘absence’ at a later point in time? In essence, how do we decide what is important historically and what perspectives end up getting lost, made absent and hence inaccessible. How is value determined of historical existence and what is missing from our narratives as time travels?

Many other ideas are inter-related of course. For instance, Ruby Langford Ginibi, argued strongly years ago about her book “Don’t take you love to town” needing to be included as an historical text in the History curriculum of NSW.  Being an autobiography, it is reasoned that it is a primary source of her account as dispossession and displacement in the history  of Australia and our post-colonial past. It has not been accepted as an historical text, and the question applies here too, why not? Why is it not perceived or valued as a primary source? An account exploring these ideas is captured by Carole Ferrier.

As another extension of the idea, a few years back I read “The Orchard” by Drusilla Modjeska and within this book I came across a passage beautifully written that linked erasure of female identity to erasure of female name. The premise is, if naming throughout time, in the western tradition, is based on the women receiving the fathers surname on birth, then the maternal link to heritage is broken. Furthermore, if a woman then takes the husbands surname upon marriage, then there is a further break with history of women. Hence, ‘absence’ of women through “his”tory.

‘Absence’ is a powerful concept when we consider how our storying of existence takes shape.

I love Marrickville

I love Marrickville cc licensed and shared by Lachlan Hardy

 

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