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Transforming to a Library 2.0 ~ Part 7… finale?

Work with schools, Library for the Blind : visit of blind Bo...

cc lincensed and shared by New York Public Library

It is nearly the end of the school year and I am still going in and checking the Oliver program transition. We can safely say that is is now live and Athena is no longer needed. When I went in last week I spoke with the IT technician about where the link to Oliver is on the system and how visible it is to the school community. Currently, you can access the library beyond the walls of the physical library. Great as this was one of the aims. However, the process is not too straightforward as you need to bring up ‘programs’ and find the link to the OPAC to go into the library management system. Too cumbersome for our current ‘information now’ clientele!

I suggested placing a library icon as the link on the front page of the school website. This will increase accessibility and enable students, parents and teachers to be able to logon from their homes. Being able to ‘see’ the library link on the front page is what we all want after all. This is now on the list and I was informed it is not difficult to achieve. Fantastic!

Through this journey, I have mentioned often that there is no dedicated teacher/librarian at the school and it is an area I have been advocating for incessantly during my time there. The new system has a fantastic and simple newsletter template that only needs an update monthly. It provides links to new items in the library, information about the library, links to websites and featured authors for the month. With the featured author, it provides a wonderful avenue where students can email suggestions for authors thereby increasing student participation. Hopefully this can open up more avenues for student contributions including student publications online. However, unless there is a dedicated teacher that will focus on the library much of this wonderful potential will be difficult to realise. I continued with my constant advocacy in this area and yesterday, Mary informed me that Bec may be provided some allocated time next year to focus on the library. She will be responsible for updating the newsletter and will run PD with the staff about the new system and the importance of the library. Fantastic! Bec has come on board this term and spent a great deal of time familiarising herself with the new system, looking into electronic resources and reading up on all things library. There is still a long way to travel but every step counts in cementing the importance of the library and extending this beyond the library walls and into the school community.

As for the new library management system, Oliver, the interface is fantastic and a perfect choice for a primary school, especially when you click on Olly and access the visual search. Even searching a subject, the box where you type your word is quite large making it easy for little kids to read. None of the other programs researched had such a fantastic interface with this level of accessibility for very young children.

Currently, the library is shut down for lending and only open for returns. This has been instigated to enable the smooth transition and ensure any difficulties are fixed before the next academic year. It will further enable training in the new system for staff. Only last week I was working through part of the training module with Mary and we identified that a key component linking to Word has not been downloaded and set up yet. This enables the printing of labels, letters and reports. Very vital!… This has been forwarded to the IT department and hopefully the situation has been sorted. I am going back in later this week for a final check and hopefully this is the finale in transforming to a Library 2.0.

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Transforming to a library 2.0 ~ Part 5.

Search Help

Search Help cc licensed and shared by mister bisson

Another exciting journey is about to begin as the decision on a Library Management System has been finalised and it is Oliver Junior, (for the various reasons outlined in the earlier posts).

Next week, Oliver Junior will be installed remotely to the network. Then the process of transferring from Athena to Oliver will take approximately a term to complete this transformation.

In the meantime, we are embroiled with the other logistics. For instance do we already have z-cataloging with SCIS and do we want the Syndetics module included.

Mary was a little concerned about the jargon, however after a couple of phonecalls to SCIS and Oliver support, we discovered yes we do have the z-cataloging and now have been enabled by SCIS for integration via Oliver. I understand there are a few more configuration details and hopefully Oliver support can help with the troubleshooting when the time comes to set it all up. Here are the SCIS Standards for Cataloguing and Data Entry.

Oliver’s support end calls the integration Z-39.50. In my speak, all this means is that you can search the bibliographic details via Oliver without needing to go to SCIS and import the MARC records directly. As a result, a more streamlined and efficient approach.

As for Syndetics, confusion set in as SCIS offers a module and we are not subscribed to this. When I spoke to SCIS, I discovered that this module does not integrate with Library Management Systems and was informed that Oliver has their own Syndetic module that can be integrated. Did we need this? was the question all were asking.

After looking up the benefit of Syndetics it is clear that it would enhance the system significantly. Not only does it allow the importation of book covers, but also other relevant information such as awards and author information. Clearly, this provides a better experience for the students and teachers. As a result, we chose to add this module via Oliver.

Where to now? Installation is next week and we are keying in some training sessions. It is starting to feel exciting but the road is still a way off and not too clear just yet… Mary has some trepidations at present but the playing is about to begin!

Visions of fall

Visions of fall cc licensed and shared by Kaitlin M

 

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Automate the library ~ cut some jobs?

I woke this morning to the following headline Students protest at library staff cuts in The Age. It appears that Melbourne University Library is moving towards more automated services and one of their spokespeople has been quoted as stating ”The proposed staffing restructure reflects the changes in library use that automation and digitisation have produced in research-intensive, comprehensive universities around the world,”. Furthermore, the article quotes “there had been a 45 per cent drop in ”across-counter loans” between 2008 and 2010, meaning ”staff need to shift from routine processing and lending activities to supporting students seeking help with research tasks and complex database access”. However, the staff are not being shifted to these areas of need, they are in fact being cut altogether.

With automation, as is the case in other industries, the people directly affected tend to be the lower skilled workers and in the case of Melbourne University libraries it is the library assistants and casuals that make up the count of about 30 positions to be cut. However, even if they employ 4.5 higher qualified staff, the question remains will this be enough to service the growing trend of library usage as indicated in other library service areas such as public libraries? Beyond this, why not transfer and retrain the library assistant positions to a similar classification as an Electronic Resources Assistant if this is the area of increased service need? The following job advert for an Electronic Resources Assistant gives an indication of what the job entails. Will the Melbourne University Library skimp in this area of service also?

While they point to a 45 % drop in across the counter loans, this may not be reflective as a statistic of library use overall. Many other library groups are reporting increased library use, as the following fact sheet from the ALA indicates and The Library Council of NSW  (2009) points out in The bookend scenarios: alternative futures for the Public Library Network in NSW, that there has been a “rapid growth in library usage in NSW over the past 5 years.”  Visiting the City Library for the past two weeks has corroborated this trend and the Sate Library of Victoria always seems a hive a activity at any time I visit.

We are definitely experiencing lean times economically and decisions such as the cuts to library services and staff are just another indicator of the mentality that cutting costs appears to be the solution. Well really?… Clearly this just leads to a loss or inadequate provision of essential services. Is this what we really want in the Information Age?

The following video is an interview with Marshall Breeding on Library Automation.

TWIL #43: Marshall Breeding (Library Automation) from Jaap van de Geer on Vimeo.

The article by Marshall Breeding Automation Marketplace 2011: The New Frontier from Library Journal provides further information specific to library automation.

 

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Communication skills in a Library 2.0

Old phoneboxes

Old Phoneboxes ~ cc licensed and shared by Steve Parker

The past week, my study has enabled me to focus on the necessary digital skills for librarians and offer up what I felt was the most important skill required of a librarian today.

In reading chapter 0 from Burke (2009, pp 3-9), the following list of technologies or technological skills used on a regular basis have been offered up by surveyed responses from librarians…

Table 0-1 from Burke(2009, p. 6)

Technology or technology skill

Percentage of respondents
E-mail 97.9
Word Processing 96.2
Web searching 94.1
Searching library databases 92.7
Using an integrated library sytem 86.3
Web navigation 80.7
Teaching others to use technology 79.1
Spreadsheets 78.3
File management/operating system navigation skills 62.3
Troubleshooting technology 61.9
Presentation software 60.01
Scanners and similar devices 57.8
Database software 54.1
Educational copyright knowledge 47.6
Creating online instructional materials/products 43.0
Making technology purchase decisions 40.2
Installing software 38.7
Web design 38.7
Instant messaging 36.7
Computer security knowledge 32.6
Blogging 28.4
Installing technology equipment 24.9
Graphic design 21.3
Assistive/adaptive technology 18.1
Network management 10.9
Other 9.8
Computer programming 8.5

In looking at this list, I questioned my own skills. I treated the list as if it is a checklist leading to an assessment of my own proficiencies and offerings to the field of librarianship. The following is a snippet from my forum contribution in the past week regarding my offerings and areas that I would like to develop.

One skill that I am embarrassed to admit I am not proficient at is creating and integrating spreadsheets. Most people present it as being incredibly straightforward and easy to grasp. It is an area I have never really mastered. (more learning needed!)
However, I am confident with Media Production and the use of media production tools and software as I have made films and worked with final cut Pro, photoshop and basic animation tools. I have made audio plays and documentaries with open source software like audacity.

In playing around with the blog I am definitely interested in learning and expanding my knowledge of html, and how to manipulate code for customization. CSS is something I would like to have a better grasp of.

I am very interested in audio-visual archives and the process. I was surprised to learn that there is no set standard in this area and felt somewhat baffled/concerned when you consider the importance of audio-visual material over the last one hundred years and earlier (not to mention currently). I believe this to be a very organic process that can even incorporate projects as a form of archiving or documenting. I discovered that National Archive Australia is engaged in this way and I find this very interesting and relevant.
Digital preservation and web archiving is something I am definitely interested in learning more about.

Accessibility and improving access is another area that I am very interested in learning about. This is where concepts such as elibraries and websites become important as well as understanding community and provision via outreach services.

I have only just started delving into shared online spaces and communities for learning or collecting sources whether they be videos, blogs or other relevant digital ideas. It is definitely an expansive world and learning how to organize and become efficient with various sources and ideas is something I need to develop further.

Social networking online is something I have always been wary of as I worry about the trade-off with Privacy. This is an area I need to explore and learn more about and how it relates to Library 2.0.

Copyright is something I definitely want to get my head around in the online world and the concept of mashups as a form of production/reproduction…

What I do question is whether it is necessary for one individual person to have all these skills mentioned or is the process of internetworking, communication and sharing information and skills a way to achieve this list. To put it another way for emphasis, do we as a profession multi-skill or do we share expertise and offer specific areas of expertise from our past specialisations  as a way to strengthen the whole?

When you consider the range of people studying the Masters in Information Studies and the vast variety of fields one can work in upon graduation or during study, it becomes clear that each person has their own specific skillset and expertise to offer to the field of librarianship/information specialist.

…So what is the most important digital skill needed today?

In addition to understanding databases, catalogues and how to search effectively, being adaptable in a constantly evolving technological environment and having an ability to instruct people in the use of technologies for information purposes, there is one other skill that I feel is vital in today’s information landscape. That is communication via various formats to improve access to libraries and information.

The following interview with Librarian in Black delves into the importance of communication and how technology tools can help in bringing the library 2.0 people and people to the library.

The Librarian in Black interview from Jaap van de Geer on Vimeo.

Burke, J.J. (2009) Neal-Schuman Library Technology Companion: A basic guide for Library Staff, 3rd edition, Neal-Schuman Publishers Inc, New York.

 

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Transforming to a Library 2.0~Part 4

Last week, Mary called me and asked me to come in and have a look at the demonstration disc of Oliver Library Management System that Softlink forwarded to the school. The school is coming closer to making a decision and would like the final assessment of the three systems with a recommendation. They hope to make a decision by the end of term three.

On Tuesday 28th June, Mary and I sat in her office and went through the demonstration disc together. After having a good look at it and discussing the benefits, we determined that Oliver, while more expensive than Destiny and Access-it,  appeared to have the easiest interface to navigate and appeared the most user friendly.

Visually it is the least cluttered, has a very appealing visual search and seems very straightforward to follow and hence easy to utilise. The system needs to cater to Primary school based clientele; Of the three systems Oliver by far seems to be the best able to cater to a younger clientele. It is the only system of the three that has a junior interface with the development of Oliver Jnr. The other two do not have any separately developed interface therefore they are a one size fits all from K-12 and would require greater input from a school to customize.

We determined that ease of use is at the top of the criteria in making a decision. Of the three systems we have looked at Oliver appears to be the easiest to navigate and use. Destiny and Access-it are both great but require more technical know-how; similar to skills required in websites or blogs. Access-it is the least prescriptive in appearance and requires a greater amount of time to set up in appearance. Destiny has a standard appearance that may be utilised but appears quite fiddly. Access-it and Destiny are quite similar in functionality but seem to be geared towards older students. While Access-it and Destiny both have a visual search interface you can choose, it is not as easy or accessible as the visual interface of Oliver. Oliver‘s visual appeal is strongest with the least cluttered appearance and a greater ability to provide access to very young students, including Prep-2. This makes navigation very easy for children who are just learning to read.

The school does not have a teacher librarian and as a result, ease of use as a consideration is further strengthened. The system needs to be easy to use by all patrons including Casual relief teachers, parents, students and teaching staff. A system that is easy to navigate without needing too much direct instruction is necessary. Of the three Oliver fits this criteria the best. During a library session, a CRT can easily step in and provide assistance with a system like Oliver as the interface is quite self explanatory.

Cataloging~In terms of cataloging, Oliver seemed to provide the easiest process. As all programs are web based, they integrate well with SCIS and reduce steps to importing MARC records thereby reducing the overall process. However, Oliver from the demonstration CD seemed the easiest to follow. More follow up is needed with regards to spine label types and suppliers though.

With Destiny we noted that at the High School we visited they were still trying to work out functionality of the program six months after implementation. They received initial training sessions and were awaiting another training session. They have a teacher librarian who can coordinate this and drive the process. This brings us back to absence of a teacher librarian at the school. If a school does not have a teacher librarian, they need a system that will prove very easy to adapt to and Destiny and Access-it may be a bit more difficult than Oliver in this regard. Mary liked the look of Oliver and the ease of use it presented compared to the other two systems.

Of the three systems, Oliver appears to be the one that can be set up and be ready to go without needing too much customisation. The other two systems needed greater customisation and an understanding of web creation tools to enhance the system will be necessary. Unfortunately, the school is very limited in this capacity and unless there is a teacher librarian, as a dedicated person to drive this aspect, then the system will not be able to meet its full potential.

All three systems will provide the ability to be networked beyond the library walls and beyond the school walls. The library can be accessed from homes with passwords connecting with the relevant links and pathfinders, students should be able to come to websites that have been evaluated via the system. Oliver has the added benefit of a built in simple newsletter template that informs patrons of new books/websites, events such as book week or author focus and so forth ~ useful in promoting the library and learning links.

In terms of making a final assessment, we still need to visit a school that is utilising Oliver. We can then see it in action and be able to ask questions of the school about their evaluation. Mary and I plan to organise a visit early next term for this purpose. Stay tuned for Part 5 in transforming to a Library 2.0…

All in all, the absence of a teacher librarian is screaming out loud and it is clear that no matter how hard one tries, a school library cannot meet its potential without a teacher librarian. The school library will always remain under-utilised, not resourced effectively and with core learning such as information literacy missing or misunderstood. It is difficult to thrust a school library to the centre of all learning when there is an absence of a teacher librarian.

On that note a bit of advocacy for Teacher Librarians is more than warranted; especially in our current lean economic climate with regards to schooling in Victoria!

Inquiry into school libraries and teacher librarians in Australian schools~2011

http://schoollibraries2011.wikispaces.com/

Myschool Library ~ for parents

 

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Excited about Interactive books

This clip was posted on TED. “TED is a nonprofit devoted to Ideas Worth Spreading. It started out (in 1984) as a conference bringing together people from three worlds: Technology, Entertainment, Design.” As stated in About TED of the TED site. Since then it has grown and is a site worth visiting with a mission being ‘Spreading ideas.’

Currently, I am fascinated with how technology and software impact on the way we read. There appears to be a convergence of print, audio, visual and interactivity that is incredibly exciting. Investigating what is out there is not only interesting but challenging to someone who loves physical books. Particularly as a great deal of the innovations appear to be driven by demand. As a librarian in training the implications are significant and worth pondering. I certainly need to embrace the information landscape and its transformations. Right now there is much to be excited about!

 

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Bridging the divide…

Work in a Hunter Valley dairy factory [n.d]

Work in a Hunter Valley dairy factory

Work in a Hunter Valley dairy factory [n.d] cc licensed By Cultural Collections, University of Newcastle.

My family lives in another city to myself and as migrants in Australia, they have never become proficient enough in the English language. They arrived here in their twenties, during 1970 and 1971 under an assisted migration scheme with the promise of wealth and opportunity. Seeking a life of opportunity, as most migrants do, they were thrust into work immediately without any lessons in English. They have somehow bumbled their way through life experiencing change and retrenchment from industry to industry. They have always worked in low skilled jobs; initially factory work including the PYE television factory, a wool factory, a plastics factory, meat factories/abattoirs, textiles factories, shoe factories and the building industry. I recall vividly the personal experiences of the various retrenchments as manufacturing underwent significant change and decline in Australia during the 1970’s and 1980’s. The most recent change my mother experienced was the decline in the textiles industry in Australia during the 1990’s as factories shut down and shipped offshore. My father experienced the decline in the building industry with the GFC.  This background paper gives a picture of manufacturing over this period in Australia. Now, whilst close to retirement, they both work as cleaners. An industry I gather will never be in decline!

I arrived as a toddler to Australia. Therefore I grew up here, was schooled here and as a result have not had to contend with barriers of language nor barriers of technology. I have not had to contend with such shifts in employment due to change from external forces both economic and technological. Although, arguably the change in the information landscape is certainly producing significant shifts in the field of librarianship. However, there is much that is incredibly positive with the growth for information specialists.

I am not sure I can fully grasp the emotions associated with the experiences of my parents. Courageous is certainly a descriptor I would apply to them along with adaptable, persevering and tenacious. Their spirit has been incredibly resilient despite the circumstances endured.

Last week whilst in Sydney, I visited my family and I noticed my father had eagerly signed up for the internet; he has always been an adopter of technology in life starting with photography and filmmaking in the 70’s and traveling through the various changes in formats such as VHS and then digital. The internet was somehow more of an enigma and as technology shifted from mechanical processes to digital the understanding became somewhat more difficult to master.

I helped set up the internet for my parents and went through a few capabilities. I also bookmarked some sites for them that were from their initial country of origin. I chose Google Chrome as their browser for its ease of use and visual style, particularly as the address bar acts as a google search. This removed steps and enabled them to feel that the internet was not too hard after all. It was a pleasure to observe them navigating the news sites in their own language and of course who can deny the delight of youtube; especially when you discover clips that relate to your own specific cultural background.

They informed me that in their country of origin everyone is communicating via computer with their relatives around the world. That’s right they are skyping and my parents wanted a part of this. They wanted to speak with their siblings overseas and even see them. They wanted to speak with me this way also and they wanted me to help set this up. They were bewildered with the possibilities and wanted a part of it.

So Skype was set up. We encountered a few difficulties and determined a headset was the easiest way to fix the problem and get them skyping!

Last night, whilst back in Melbourne, I had my first skype with my parents. My mum was in her pyjama’s and when she realised she could see us and we could see her she commented that next time she needs to ensure she is dressed properly for the ‘occasion’. Both my parents laughed a great deal and it is great to see how something so simple could bring so much joy. They are now trying to find all the contact details of family overseas. The last time they visited overseas was 1981 and I imagine there will be many tears of joy when they first connect.

Multilingual mac keyboard

Multilingual Mac keyboard cc licensed by 24oranges.nl

 

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