Thursday, May 29, 2008

National Library treasures to be on ABC TV


10 episodes of a wonderful new series by Film Australia in association with Early Works and the ABC:

Former director of the National Gallery of Australia, Betty Churcher, presents an insider’s guide to some of the library’s art treasures, which are rarely on public display. From her unique vantage point, Churcher makes intriguing historical connections between paintings and engravings, photography, manuscripts and artefacts, illustrated journals and diaries. This series of short documentaries tells the story of Omai, the first South Sea Islander to visit London; investigates the mystery surrounding the death of Captain James Cook in Hawaii; reveals the exquisite paintings of 18-year-old colonial painter George Raper and Victorian flower hunter Ellis Rowan; and speaks with artist John Olsen about his struggle to paint the biggest commission of his career, the Sydney Opera House mural. These are fascinating tales about the creative process and the works themselves that offer a tantalising insight into Australia’s culture and heritage.


It is a brilliant series! And a wonderful raising of the profile of libraries for potential students and recruits!

Victorian Government Publications Index

The State Library of Victoria has advised that the Index will no longer be updated or maintained from 30 May 2008. The index will remain accessible on the Library's website until late 2008. It has listed all Victorian state and local government publications received and/or processed in the State Library of Victoria from 1987 to 2008. Publications include books, reports, new serials, annual reports, microfiche, microfilm, maps, local laws, ephemera, CD-ROMs, videos, sound cassettes, Internet publications and databases, ministerial statements and notification of administrative changes (including the establishment and abolition of agencies).

To find Victorian government publications you can use:

Learning commons: developments at Charles Sturt University

Learning commons: developments at Charles Sturt University. Shirley Oakey gave a marvellous presentation to the ACT ALIA and AGLIN groups on Wednesday 28 May. Her presentation will be put on the web shortly. She covered the many issues involved in establishing physical and online learning commons which are spaces that enable students to interact with each other and the learning spaces using technology to provide support. It evolved from “Information commons” which started out more like extensions of computer laboratories and responds to:
  • Changes in the way students behave
  • Changes in the way they learn
  • Changes in the way they are taught.
A very interesting and informative concept paper can be found online at and the implementations in Bathurst and Albury (Thurgoona) have led to significantly increased us of the spaces and online resources.

Monday, May 26, 2008

E-books hype or the way ahead?

E-books have seemed to be on the library horizon for a decade or so now – during which we have seen evolutions in readers (to a limited degree), developments in content and changes in companies which some failing, some merging and some continuing.

This week I read two interesting articles on e-books which led me to think that we need to look again at their potential.

“But I want a real book”: an investigation of undergraduates’ usage and attitudes towards electronic books by Cynthia L Gregory is published in the Spring 2008 issue of Reference & User Services Quarterly. She reports that students have mixed attitudes about e-books, students will use e-books but prefer using traditional print books.

“The elusive e-book. Are books finally ready for prime time?” by Stephen Sottong in the May 2008 issue of American libraries is quite provocative. He criticises e-book readers as ergonomically unsatisfactory. And notes that the problems do not go away with the younger “born digital” generation. He comments of the new Kindle readers “The reason they will fail is the same one that doomed the Rocket e-book: why would anyone pay $300 to $400 for a dedicated reader device when display and interface are not as good as a paper book? “

I am reminded of an earlier study based on US universities which found that the most popular e-books in a number of libraries were those where the print copies had been stolen. I think computer sciences was one of the disciplines for which the e-books seemed to be successful, possible because not just had the print books been stolen, but the information is not generally read from page one to the final page but is used in segments, eminently suitable for use electronically.

This all gave me an opportunity to review Project Gutenberg again ( and wonder why I have never read anything that is available there. Perhaps it’s that at work I read many reports published electronically (on the computer) and that at home there remains nothing like curling up in front of a fire with paper….ah well.

E-books I am sure is something we should try out, not just watch with interest!

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Back to life

Hi Folks

Sorry to have been away for a while - have been blogging in recent months on the ALIA Blog and now that I have passed the Presidential mantle on the Derek Whitehead have time for my own blog! We are in a bit of a whirl in the ACT with Library and Information Week - wonderful to see so many terrific library techs last night at the Soul bar in Philip. And I did enjoy a glass or so of sparkling burgundy with colleagues (particularly Anna Maria) - bring back memories - and it was a very good Victorian one!

Today we have a Library and Information Week lunch at La Pasa in Civic and around 20 celebrated - thank you very much Kym and Karna . We launched the ALIA ACT blog - do have a look - its at

Our next event is on 28 May on the CSU Learning Commons (AGLIN/ACTive ALIA Information Sharing Forum) Time: 4.30pm. Venue: National Library of Australia, Conference Room, Level 4. Speaker: Shirley Oakley, Executive Director, Library Services, Charles Sturt University For more information, contact Karna O'Dea, ph 02 6252 7717,

seek you more often on the blog!