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Visiting Libraries….

A Web of interconnections

This past session, one of the subjects I completed included the study visits to various information agencies. Interestingly most people visiting the Melbourne organisations were from other States of Australia or regional areas and I was definitely amongst the minority from Melbourne on the visits.

The places visited include

I’m not going to venture into detail about each of the organisations but rather provide a focus on Melbourne Library Service.

In previous posts, I have mentioned some of their innovative programming such as the Gallery Space hosting exhibitions, the cafe poet, the public piano and various workshops including Zine making workshops. It’s incredibly exciting to learn about the community engagement offered by Melbourne Library Service and how it provides a glimpse to the changing nature of libraries as space and how they are utilised.

In line with the rise in the creative maker culture, Melbourne Library Service reflects this, not only in their programming of workshops but in their collection building too. For instance, the Zine creation workshops lead to Zines that become part of the library collection that a wider audience can borrow, just like books, ebooks, audio books and CD’s. In effect this is an example of ¬†great community engagement by a public library facilitating publishing and sharing.

Another interesting transition, exemplified in their plans for the library that is being built at Docklands due to open in 2014, is the incorporation of multimedia production facilities, a performance space and a Green room (for special effects). With these facilities, enabling multimedia production, they are planning to employ two multimedia technicians to facilitate the process and enable community to create films, audio recordings and even have performances or screenings.

Clearly, exciting times are ahead for public libraries as they transition to being the Hub of the community. The public library provides meeting spaces, resources and enables creative engagement. It provides connections to artists and community and facilitates the sharing of a local voice to a global audience.

Funnily, the study visits were meant to clarify the kind of information agency I would like to end up in. Currently, I’m in a small school library and for a few months I was convinced it was audiovisual archives and preservation that I wanted to focus on. After the visits, I came away liking all of them and have now broadened my choices rather than narrowed… Maybe next year I’ll narrow it down and the sky will provide a clear and narrowed focus ūüôā

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Building Libraries ~ A Celebration

Last week was the opening of the Boyd Library and community facility in Southbank. This building is an old school site of a Girls High School that was shut down during lean times in the 1990’s. At that time the demographics of the city were markedly different to what they are now.

In the last 20 years, the shift in the demographics of the city of Melbourne has transformed the city and the need for services is a challenge. Many people have moved into the city, embracing the highrise lifestyle. Initially, it was believed that the demographics would be comprised of childless couples, singles and retirees. However, families comprise a significant portion of the groups that now reside in the city of Melbourne and the city still has no local school to service this community. The needs of the community have outpaced the delivery.

In terms of public libraries the City library of Melbourne Library Service is the busiest library in the State. The library opened a few years ago and provides innovative services and programs, including a gallery space, live performances and even hosting a cafe poet in residence. Amongst the vision of Melbourne Library Service is the building of libraries to service the needs of the changing demographics of the city of Melbourne. In the pipeline is the building of a new library at Docklands.

This post, is a celebratory post about the building of libraries and community facilities and is focussed on the Boyd library and community Hub. Today, the old school site incorporates artist studios, a library, a cafe, child and maternal health services, play group area, meeting rooms and an outdoor area. Last week was the opening and I attended. The opening was well attended with performances and activities for all to participate. Amidst the gloom of constant funding challenges for libraries around the world. It is great to celebrate a focus on building libraries. Fantastic!

Tall people and Dragons greet us.

Tall people at the entrance and the Dragon getting ready

Boyd Library ~ just a snippet from the opening day.

 

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Library Design for Community spaces

Silence is not so golden in the modern library  and this is a very interesting point to consider when thinking about the design of a library. As I have been musing about library design, the focus is on the purpose of libraries in communities and how library spaces and resources help to facilitate knowledge creation and conversation.

Lankes (2011) states “the mission of librarians is to improve society through facilitating knowledge creation in their communities” ¬†(p. 31). With this in mind, the design of a library should accomodate resources, spaces and facilities that enable creation. Zoning spaces for groups, both small and large, quiet and loud areas with adequate access to technological resources and expertise helps fulfil this mission.

I have been visiting libraries over the past few months that have been recently built or refurbished to gleam an understanding of design principles applied to facilitate this mission. The following presentation was created after visiting City Library of Melbourne Library Service, Waurn Ponds Public Library and Lara Public Library of Geelong Regional Library Corporation and Deakin University Library, Waurn Ponds.

A better view of the photographs can be obtained from my Flickr photo feed.

Lankes, R.D. (2011) The Atlas on New Librarianship, The MIT Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Armitage, C. ‘Silence is not so golden in the modern library’, Sydney Morning Herald, March 6, 2012.

 

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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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Evolving to an Information Commons

Library at the San Jose Normal School

Library at San Jose Normal School ca.1904

cc licensed and shared by San Jose Library

The photo above clearly indicates an era that is over 100 hundred years old. The absence of technology certainly stands out, as does the segregation based on gender lines (women sit at women’s tables and men occupy male only tables). However, what does come to attention is the concept of communal tables and shared workspaces. Also evident are the lounges and as an extension the idea of leisure and comfort in a library space. It is relevant that this design occupies the central space of the library and all the books are up against walls in bookshelves behind glass doors. It speaks volumes about perceptions of how we occupy space in a library and how those spaces are utilised.

This communal space of work, reading and communicating reminds me a little of the current ideas around communal spaces to share ideas and work together in groups. However current spaces go a step further as is evident in the idea of an information Commons.  In considering contemporary libraries and the impact of technology on change, a shift towards communal space or a reiteration of the importance of social interaction in learning spaces is evident in contemporary design. However, as is apparent from the photos that follow, the focus and integration of technology appears of greatest importance in a library space today. Another interesting feature is the move towards all things digital. The impact of this becomes apparent in the diminishing presence of physical books. See also my post on the dibrary ~ National Library of Korea

 

Loyola University Information Commons

Loyola University Information Commons

cc licensed and shared by Michael Stephens

Inside the Information Commons

Inside the Information Commons

cc licensed and shared by artq55

 

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