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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 🙂

 

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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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When a library is hit by a yarn storm…

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Once upon a time a yarn storm hit the suburb of Coburg in Melbourne resulting in Victoria street mall being adorned with yarn bombs everywhere. Such a pleasure to walk through the mall and observe the tactile interaction of passers by. It is difficult to not smile and feel fuzzy. It was interesting to observe people walking by, stopping and tidying doilies that appeared to have moved out of place…

This project was was funded by Moreland city council and enacted by Moreland libraries. Always a pleasure to see creative engagement with community.

The following photo provides more detail of Wild and Woolly. The photos that follow are just a touch of the numerous examples of the wonderful work.

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Posted by on July 4, 2012 in 029 ~ [Unassigned]

 

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The benefits of the hashtag aka #

Having just completed a subject devoted to Describing and analysing information resources as part of my studies, I can now look back at my initial understanding and chuckle. It was limited to MARC and Dewey, an idea of subject headings, authority lists and a very vague idea of Z39.50. Oh dear, how little my knowledge base was….

Whilst, there is still a great deal to know in this field, concerns about what is relevant seem unchanged since Younger (1997). Younger asserts that the basis of cataloguing is still the same, in that resource creators want their resources to be found and information seekers want to be able to find resources (p.463). Furthermore, it is clear that a uniform approach is not an easy achievement, nor even a desirable one. Information agencies have different requirements in terms of resource description. Hence “One size does not fit all” and a focus on interoperability between standards becomes the imminent aim (p. 465).

This post, however, will not be focussed on the different standards. The weblinks embedded in my blog provide examples of the standards. Instead, the focus is the benefits of keywords or hashtags, as provided by ordinary people, in the facilitation of information retrieval.
Guy and Tonkin (2006) define folksonomy as “a type of distributed classification system…. usually created by a group of individuals, typically the resource users. Users add tags to online items, such as images, videos, bookmarks and text. These tags are then shared and sometimes refined.” Furthermore, hashtags are a useful addition to formal classification though not a replacement. Moulaison (2008) points out that the application of tags is defined by the purpose of the tag and ranges from personal retrieval needs with exo-tagging to promotion of user generated content with endo-tagging (p. 101).

In assessing the usefulness of tagging for web retrieval I have chosen the mobile photo sharing application Instagram (IG) that can be viewed online via web.stagram or with statigram. The experience of tagging in IG corresponds to Moulaison’s (2008) concept of endo-tagging user-generated content in the form of photographs that are uploaded and shared with the larger IG community internationally.

Moulaison (2008) suggests that user generated content that is uploaded such as videos or with photo sharing apps the tags can be “more stable and long term”. (p. 107). This is definitely the case with IG where the app has a search function embedded. You can search by users or tags to find either contributors or actual photos in defined categories. The result of the tags, and this search function in IG, is a system where the majority of contributors apply mostly accurate tags that benefit all. Beyond this, the tags applied are endo-tags by the contributor of the photo and they can be modified or added to at any point. This ability to modify at any point is great because you can correct misspellings. Other users will often pop in to comment feeds and provide suggested tags that may have been missed or the contributor may not have known, for example an artists name of the artwork photographed. This tag is often then applied enabling this photo to be located in this category or location.

Critiques of folksonomy include the perception that they are imprecise, inexact and too personal (Guy & Tonkin, 2006). Moulaison (2008) citing Tennis (2006) also mentions the idea that social tagging is for personal benefit (p. 108) as a type of filing system where one can locate resources quickly at a later time. In IG elements of personal benefit are evident with the more obscure rogue tags assigned that only one person contributes their photos to. This is evident with some travel photos shared for instance where the tags incorporate the name of the person contributing the photo and place eg #sarahinparis.

In my photo-sharing experience with IG, the tags assigned are often agreed tags by the larger community. However, as there is no limit to the amount of tags you apply, you essentially can incorporate a mixture of tags that are both for a broader benefit, where everyone can search and locate the photo with other similar resources, to more personal tags that an individual can search to locate their own personal category where the photos are only contributed by that person and pertain to something specific. An example may include a series of photos that act as a photo essay and grouping them together with a specific hashtag such as #photoessayeiffeltower2012. However, as Guy & Tonkin (2006) point out the use of single purpose tags are not the dominant. As the purpose of IG is to share to a wider audience the consensus on shared meaning becomes the norm.

Another critique of folksonomies is the argument by Shirky as cited in Guy and Tonkin (2006) of the lack of synonymous relations. In IG the manner in which some users have tagged photos suggests the idea of synonymous relationships as present. As an example, #wheatpaste, #pasteup #poster provide the relations between these three words as being synonymous with each other and act as descriptors of the same type of art within the broader category of #streetart and #graffiti, two tags that are also often applied as synonymous categories. Users often apply as many synonyms as possible thus enabling the photo to be located in each of the tagged areas in IG. This is very useful when searching as a person may only be aware of one term and yet still be able to locate this resource because the different terms have been tagged. Beyond this, as an international app, often the tags from contributors in countries where English is not the dominant language will have tags ascribed in both English and the language of the home country too. Potentially multilingual descriptors could be applied.

Tags in IG demonstrate a type of hierarchy with broader categories and narrower categories. They enable relationships to be defined between terms for example defining the photo as streetart (what it is about) tagging what type of street art such as “stencil” or “pasteup”, tagging the artist name of the streetart (creator) and tagging the location (geography) from broader to narrower #Australia #melbourne #brunswick #laneways #zombiedancelane and so on. Effectively, tags supply metadata and the more tags supplied in IG the more specific is the description.

Some tags also suggest what equipment the photo was shot with eg #iphone #iphoneography #nikon300, the shutter speed and may indicate if the photograph has been modified with filters or even with apps. The interrelations of users can be indicated via tags too. For example there are IG meetups organised, where groups do a photo walk and then post the results to the tag of the #instameetup with place. Another example is #mobilephotogroup of photographers dedicated to the use of mobile phones in photography. People share photos with each other by making them available to specific hashtags dedicated to the purpose of taking and modifying or altering the original and then reposting the result. They organise exhibitions and have dedicated hashtags that repost the happening or attendance.

In resource description the focus has been on controlled vocabularies as a process of increasing uniformity in description and disambiguating terms. Consequently, the use of natural vocabulary or folksonomies is perceived as problematic. A point worth mentioning,  is the suggested solution by Hider (2008 p. 183-184) of the imposition of a selection of controlled vocabulary terms that can be chosen by users for tags. However, having participated in a number of photography sharing apps including StreamZoo, PicYou, Tadaa, EyeEm and mobli, the apps that have provided a designated vocabulary list to choose from and, imposed limitations on how many tags to assign, produce description results that end up being too broad and less specific.

As an example, EyeEm only allows the assigning of one category for the type of photograph and the assigning of location. It does not allow further elaboration except what you may include as a title for the photo. If I took a photograph of street art that is a Paste-up of a deer by the artist Kaff-eine in a particular laneway at Fitzroy, Melbourne, Australia, with EyeEm all I can assign is “Streetart” “Fitzroy”, “Melbourne”.  This is very limiting and not specific enough. Whilst the resource is placed in the broader category of Streetart and the location, these are the only two areas I can search to locate the work.

The audience base and user generated content of the other photo sharing apps appears significantly smaller than IG thereby it is still easy to locate the specific resource. However, on IG, Streetart, as a broad term, produces a result return of over 500000 photos. Consequently, the need to search more specific terms becomes paramount. In EyeEm there is no ability to search for the artist or the specific type of art either, which may produce a more accurate and specific result.

It is very useful to be able to search by artist for a streetart piece as well as by sub genre and even for far more specific locations. This is the advantage of applying more tags; as the description becomes more specific and enables the resource to exist with other resources that are also identified as having that specific category too.

This just touches on some aspects of how tags are utilised within IG and some of the purposes that tags demonstrate. The benefits of tags in web environments are certainly evident and not just related to a personal filing system. I suspect like other types of classification systems tagging or folksonomies will continue to evolve with purpose and function. Tags in IG do indicate an ability to effectively apply descriptions and can increase in specificity of description because there is no imposed limit on how many tags can be applied. The ability to title work or even contribute a mini or longer write-up about a photo further contributes to the description.

Guy, M & Tonkin, M. (2006) Folksonomies: Tidying up tags? D-Lib Magazine, 12(1)

Hider, P. (with Harvey, R.) (2008). Organising knowledge in a global society. (Rev. ed.). Wagga Wagga, NSW: Centre for Information Studies, Charles Sturt University.

Moulaison, H.L (2008) Social Tagging in the Web 2.0 Environment: Author vs. User Tagging, Journal of Library Metadata, 8:2, 101-111.

Younger, J.A. (1997). Resources description in the digital age. Library Trends , 45(3): 462-481

 

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Library 2.0 Inspiration

I love this TED talk and I came across it via the Library as incubator project. This fits my philosophy perfectly!

 

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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 6

J.J. Eller wins 120 yd. Hurdle 1911 (LOC)

J.J. Eller wins 120 yd. Hurdle 1911 (LOC)-cc licensed Library of Congress

Oliver conversion data and trial phase ~ Hurdles and What a Day!

Just over two weeks ago, Softlink informed the school that the conversion was set to begin and provided a timeline of what was involved. I went in one morning to compile a report that included screenshots of the various screens in Athena relating to records, patrons, loans and other items and emailed it to the Softlink conversion team. The data from the Athena LMS was sent via the Web to Softlink for conversion to Oliver.

In response to the report sent, the Conversion team at Softlink sent back an analysis of the data with detailed descriptions of how the data was to appear in Oliver. From this point we were provided with two weeks as a trial phase within which we were to analyse the data; both in the written conversion report and online. This was to determine if any anomalies existed and to provide an avenue for feedback to ensure the data is converted correctly during this trial stage. It was understood that anything new we added to Oliver during this stage would be lost once Oliver went live. The trial stage was purely a stage to iron out any problems, missing data and so forth before we went live. This stage is critical for if we fail to detect any anomalies and inform the conversion team, when we go live the problems will continue to exist. Furthermore, they are much harder to rectify once live.

The Information Technology coordinator has been working closely with me in the process of the upgrade to a new LMS. During this trial process we organised a day where Mary; the Library technician, Bec a teacher who is taking on library responsibilities, the Information Technology coordinator and myself could spend the day working with Oliver analysing the data.

Whilst we spent a great deal of time working through modules, speaking to technical support at Softlink and finding our way around Oliver, it became apparent that there was something missing. The actual data!

It was not until 3pm that we contacted technical support to discuss some of our concerns and it was affirmed that the data does was not there. We then contacted the Conversion team- who happened to be in a meeting… an email was sent and messages left…

Two weeks later we have received an email from Softlink stating that they have had problems with the data conversion and have now set a new date for this to occur… Ho hum.

While we learnt a great deal about the new program, enjoyed the company and learnt a great deal about navigating around Oliver, it is difficult to coordinate four different members to be able to take time away from other duties and provide focus to one task in a school setting. One extra hurdle but hopefully the next date, when coordinated, will run smoothly. Stay tuned for part 7…

 

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