LEADING THE WAY
Major libraries will lead the way.
The title of five-year strategic plan of National and State Libraries
Australasia (NSLA), Re-imagining Libraries, suggests that NSLA
libraries are engaged with Jim McKerlie’s new paradigms. Wendy
Quihampton reports NSLA progress on consortial purchasing, one-step
discovery spaces, digitisation programs, access to subscription
e-resources, copyright legislation, document delivery processes, and
collaborative collecting, disposal and storage strategies.
Busting paradigms is one of the
themes in Garry Conroy-Cooper’s paper on the development of LINC
Tasmania, involving the integration of 500 personnel from 5 separate
library, archive, adult education and community service agencies and
‘casting them into the melting pot of 21st century change.’
A number of presenters write about
tools to guide future strategies. Steve O’Connor runs through the
benefits of scenario planning. Two other presentations highlight the
importance of the right data for decision-making when they tackle
perceived shortcomings in the use of Council of Australian University
Librarians (CAUL) statistics and client satisfaction surveys. Margaret
Pembroke, based on work by Southern Cross University Library,
proposes new measures that are more relevant for the digital
environment. Dana McKay and Gary Hardy report on Swinburne
University of Technology Library’s investigations into the
differences between reported success and actual success. And Lisa Miller
reminds us that good management of people is one of the best ways to
move into the future.
Signs of change are reflected in
the way libraries are changing their physical spaces.
Janine Schmidt (Mukurta Consulting)
and Gülçin Cribb (Özyegin University, Turkey) give a global context. In
their paper, they provide perspectives from their Australian, Canadian,
European and Turkish experiences. Initial views that online technologies
would reduce the use of library space, they write, have not come to
pass. Much change has occurred but the physical space remains important.
A number of common themes have come to the fore: the need for
flexibility, the importance of technology, the emergence of self-service
points, and the continuing need for human intervention. High tech still
requires a high personal touch.
Annie Talvé focuses on developments in Australia and
comes to much the same conclusions. During the mid 1990s, she says, the
buzz was that the library as physical place was doomed. A dualism
emerged, persuaded by the hyperbole of the dot com revolutionaries. The
virtual library emerged as ‘a disembodied space fuelled by an
irrefutable supply-demand proposition.’ By contrast, the
library-as-place scenario was less clearly defined and more uncertain.
Fifteen years on, this dualism is less stark. A hybrid has emerged with
digital and place-based notions of a library holding equal currency.
Libraries are now ‘funky, layered, dynamic places that people are
flocking to even when they don’t have to.’
An example of a funky space can be found in the paper
of Rory McLeod, who describes the State Library of Queensland’s
initiative, The Edge digital culture centre. Developed with
funding of more than $10 million from the Queensland Government, the
Edge opened in 2010 as a centre, with children and young people in mind,
for ‘showcasing Queensland innovation, invention and imagination.’ The
Edge’s first seven months of operation, when 100 programs and workshops
across 7 content streams were presented, attracted 30,500 physical
visits and 220, 000 page views to The Edge website. Visiting the website
at http://edgeqld.org.au/ is one good way of getting a feel for what’s
More modest manifestations of changing library spaces
are explored by Alexander Sussman and Steve Richards on Ryde Council’s
new central library, Andrew Finegan on changes at the Princes Hill
Secondary College library and by Carmel O'Sullivan and Jill Benn on the
University of Western Australia’s Science Library. These experiences
have involved ideas such as the adoption of book shop design features,
outsourcing traditional library functions, making the most of technology
and broadening the nature of engagement with users.
Kim Allen Scott (Montana State University), in his
paper, urges that more attention be given to developing national and
regional facilities to house legacy collections and duplicate material,
an issue that would reverberate in the media after the conference.
Moving the library furniture around has been
accompanied by work on the shop window.
Trove (http://trove.nla.gov.au), a culmination of
more than 60 years of collaborative discipline, is now bringing the
richness of collections to a wider public. Rose Holley’s paper
describes recent work and plans that have driven its ‘find and get’
strategy. Initiatives include data enrichment, improvements to the
interface, and access to authenticated resources for affiliated users.
Trove contributors are invited to become involved in deeper linking to
holdings of contributing libraries, data improvements and maintenance,
planning digitisation of regional newspapers and other local content,
digitisation-on-demand services, print-on-demand functions, and
purchasing mechanisms. Australia, Holley says, ‘has a fantastic
opportunity now to demonstrate to the information world and our public
at large that we can deliver on find and get better than anyone else.
Let’s do it.’
Work in individual libraries is represented by two papers about the
implementation of Serials Solution’s Summon, one by
David Howard and Constance Wiebrands about its
successful introduction at Edith Cowan University Library, and one by
Cathy Slaven, Barb Ewers, and Kurt Vollmerhause about the experience at
Queensland University of Technology Library. Both projects called for
considerable energy in helping staff and users adapt to the change.
Implementation of the BiblioCommons suite of products using Drupal open
content management system at Yarra Plenty Regional Library is explored
by Christine Mackenzie. The experience of Claudia Davies and
David Bratchford in developing a library portal at Legal Aid Queensland
threw, in their words, a harsh light on the gap between the tools
client groups use and those provided through the library services.
Moving to a new approach involved ‘breaking cataloguing rules, breaking
our own rules, flagging data in new ways and giving up the notion of the
catalogue as the heart of library services.’
Indeed, Bruce Heterick from Ithaka and JSTOR takes
issue with the ‘last desperate attempt to promote the institutional
online catalog as the starting place for discovery.’ He questions the
investment in this 'field of dreams'. If we head down that path, he
writes, we should think about a more holistic solution involving, in a
much more robust fashion, not only the libraries and the discovery
services providers, but also the providers of the content.
IN THE BACK ROOM
At the VALA 2010 conference Tom Tague from Thomson
Reuters’ OpenCalais had urged librarians to focus as much on the back
end as the front end.
At Information Online 2011, Philip Hider and Ying-Hsang
Liu from Charles Sturt University address a big question for the people
in the back room by looking at the Resource Discovery and Access (RDA)
standard. With implementation of the RDA standard on the horizon, they
say it is timely for libraries to review core elements and make
decisions about future cataloguing policies. Stephen Pugh (Orranjarrra
Partners) writes on the potential roles of and benefits for
publishers, aggregators, and other third-parties in further development
of metadata for e-books, journals and articles, particularly in academic
Work within institutions is represented by Evan
Bailey and Irvin Flack from the NSW Department of Education and Training
Centre for Learning Innovation (on the challenge of explaining to
people who are not interested in metadata why it is important for them
to become interested), by Hazel Bowley from Cybersearch 2 Pty Ltd
(on the challenge of getting agreement on the semantics associated with
enterprise systems), by Sally Newton (on the use of an enterprise
classification scheme at the University of Melbourne), by Robyn Van Dyk
(on the implementation of a digital asset management system at the at
the Australian War Memorial) and by Ingrid Finnane, Carmel McInerny and
Linda Groom (on the development of an in-house rights management system
at the National Library of Australia to address difficulties in
accessing information, data inconsistencies and inefficient workflows).
Dealing with the customers was a
theme that dominated the parallel sessions.
Developments in information
literacy and related academic programs attracted Jayanthi Joseph and
Gaby Haddow to discuss a project at Curtin University Library, which is
using data to examine the relationship between library use, student
retention, student socio economic status and age. Su Hanfling, Rebecca
Goldsworthy and Gaith Bader discuss the use of multi-purpose interactive
online learning resources to develop student information and research
skills at the University of Sydney. Jemima McDonald and Sophie McDonald
report on the strategy at the University of Technology Sydney, involving
support for researchers across the research life cycle, embedding staff
in faculties and using Web 2.0 technologies, mobile apps, QR codes,
games, and other mechanisms. Judith Peacock writes about the Queensland
University of Technology Library's suite of e-literacy online resources.
And Lizzie Chase and others analyse issues relating to e-literacy for
primary and secondary students.
The use of games surfaces through David Di Muro, who
writes that designing games is an effective alternative to producing
outmoded online tutorials and how-to guides. Ellen Forsyth’s
paper is devoted to the potential of games for reference and local
studies services in public libraries.
Social media, not unexpectedly, drew several
presenters to the Information Online platform. Ellen Forsyth and Leanne
Perry focus on the provision of training in the use web 2.0 tools by
public library staff. Kate Freedman from La Trobe University Library and
Naomi Doessel from the University of Queensland Library chart the
benefits and pitfalls of working collaboratively using Google docs,
Twitter and other media. Michelle Liu and Marie-Thérèse Barbaux report
on the use of Facebook and a blog to promote resources in a specialist
language library at the University of Sydney. Kathryn Greenhill from
Cottesloe-Peppermint Grove-Mosman Park Library and Sue Cook from the
CSIRO discuss the use of Wordpress MU to promote services in their two
libraries. And Anna Raunik promotes the NSLA Re-imagining Libraries
program called Libraryhack, aimed at encouraging the public and library
staff to create new content using the library data sets.
The benefits of self-service mechanisms are explored
by Shaun Brady and others, who report increased efficiency and usage in
the libraries that have adopted self-service strategies. Gillian Wood
provides a commentary on the use of mobile information technologies by
clinicians in Northern Sydney Central Coast Area Health Service. And
Aaron Tan reports on the successful testing of an online reference chat
service by Public Libraries Singapore.
On the website usability front, Janet Fletcher
discusses the process and outcomes of a study by the University of NSW
Library, in which eye tracking, viewed as heat maps, gave a very clear
understanding of what works and what doesn't. Users dislike reading busy
websites. They can be impatient with jargon and bored with complex
explanations. They like a simple search box.
The risks and legal minefield of using web 2.0
technologies are navigated by Professor Anne Fitzgerald from the
Queensland University of Technology Law Faculty. Brendan Sinnamon
and others report on an evaluation of ebook readers at Queensland
University of Technology Library. And Jenny Ellis, Graeme Connelly and
Richard Siegersma describe a print-on-demand facility
using an Expresso Book Machine at Melbourne University Library, a
project that is leading to exploration of options for producing
monographs, conference papers and online journals, student reading
packs, and out of print titles.
Specialist services often point to
opportunities for libraries to engage in a wider online landscape.
This year’s crop includes a paper
by Peter Read and Suzana Sukovic on the History of Aboriginal Sydney
project based in the Department of History, University of Sydney. The
performing arts is represented by a paper on by Jonathan Bollen and
others on the Aus-e-Stage Navigation Networks visualisation service, one
of three new components being deployed to operate alongside AusStage's
text-based search-and-retrieval service. Simone Wise, at Queensland
University, flags the potential, despite limited development so
far, for collaborative use of the participatory web by Australian local
studies librarians. And Jan Titcombe explores the challenges of
transforming services at the cash-strapped Royal United Services
Institute of New South Wales military history library, which serves a
wide range of age groups with limited exposure to technology.
One particularly interesting paper is offered by Judy
Hutchinson, Roxanne Missingham, and Philip Anderson on the development
of an automated system to assist selection and classification of a
substantial digital newspaper clippings collection and its integration
with a thesaurus used for ParlInfo Search at the Library of the
Parliament of Australia. The project has had a positive impact on
workflow, morale and productivity. Articles are now available online
within minutes rather than hours.
Institutional repository developments are explored in
three papers. Duncan Dickinson and others describe work at the
University of Southern Queensland for the dissemination of creative arts
multimedia outputs to complement the ePrints service for text-based
research outputs. Martin Borchert and Colleen Cleary write about the
strategy of the Queensland University of Technology ePrints
institutional repository to pay author publication fees for university
authors wishing to publish in open access journals of a range of
publishers including BioMed Central, Public Library of Science, Hindawi,
and Bentham. And Mary Anne Kennan from Charles Sturt University
looks at the importance of an actor, such as a mandate or deposit
policy, to encourage universities and authors to participate in
institutional repository programs.
Developments in data curation attracted one paper by
Craig Milne, Ellen Thompson and Lance De Vine, who describe work on
projects funded by the Australian National Data Services at Queensland
University of Technology to describe research datasets, aggregate
metadata from multiple repositories and administration systems, and feed
them directly to Research Data Australia.
The work of corporate libraries is represented by
Emma Taylor on the Water Corporation Library's experiences in provide
e-services to an organisation with 3000 staff located in over 45
locations across the state. Melinda Stewart describes service delivery
at George Weston Foods, a fast moving consumer goods manufacturing
business. And Amanda Magnussen tells how electronic services are
delivered at IP Australia using ‘ingenuity, workarounds and
technological fudges’ because the library lacks access to most of the
Web 2.0 tools used by other libraries.
PROFESSIONAL IDENTITY AND SKILL
The conference suggests that the concept of
librarianship is still a moveable feast. Kim Allen Scott from Montana
State University queries the predilection of ‘angst-driven
colleagues’ to adopt the mantle of ‘information scientists’ in the quest
for a role in the online universe. Kate Davis and others report on the
Queensland University of Technology’s work in seeking to define best
practice in delivering ‘blended learning’ in its Master of Information
Technology course. Kim Tairi from Swinburne University asks whether the
Aurora Leadership Institute has succeeded in its objective of
positioning library leaders ‘as dynamic and effective voices in our
sophisticated information environment.’ Paula Callan and Martin Borchert
explore training library staff for research support services at
Queensland University of Technology. And James Cook University’s Anne
Lahey looks at mentoring practices and professional development
opportunities for library and information science graduates.
FACING PERSISTENT CHANGE
The keynote speakers had flagged future
imperatives, opportunities and challenges in their environmental scan.
Those in the parallel streams of the conference seemed to have their
finger on the pulse: persistent change is simply part of doing normal
business. But is the reach far enough and is there anything else to
The nature of change
Change is likely to be shaped by life cycle theory.
Charles Handy put it one way, as a sigmoid curve, in The Empty
Raincoat. Clay Shirky, courtesy of Chris Winter at the conference,
put it another way in the form of a social surplus created by the
internet and social media. And Deloitte’s The Shift Index for
macroeconomic trends puts it yet another way in attempting to measure
the forces of change.