30 June 2011
His vision and leadership leaves behind a lasting legacy that has taken UTS Library from mediocrity to extraordinary. We are now recognised as a clear leader in service design, digital library services and e-Scholarship. His inspirational future vision will be realised by the new Library that is now being planned for the centre of the UTS campus, driven by new technologies that open up the library spaces for people and deliver fast and relevant services in both the physical and virtual worlds.
Beyond UTS, Alex is widely respected as one of the most accomplished senior librarians internationally and he has contributed much as both a Board Member and President of the International Federation of Library Associations. Alex has also had strategic leadership with a number of significant national projects such as his role in shaping the direction of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Data Archive and earlier work on developing protocols for the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Library and Information Resource Network. He has also contributed substantially to the growth of cooperative/collaborative arrangements to share collections between different universities like Bonus+.
Alex is also recognised by those who have been fortunate enough to work closely with him as a man of multiple talents and wisdom in so many fields, from literature and the arts to politics, history and languages. He is into everything. He makes his own bookends and he is sketching and print-making at the moment. He meets up with someone he studied French with once a month to practice his French conversation skills. He made ‘from Russia with Love’ for our edible books day. He regularly attends plays, operas, and musical performances. He has friends from all walks of life from countries all around the world, including a best friend who is Polish. He is an intellectual who understands deep conversations about philosophy, politics, literature, religion, history, as well as someone you can sit down and have a beer with.
He is a particularly generous leader who genuinely trusts his staff and is not afraid of having some fun at work. He often told us to push our initiatives even further than we had suggested to him: he encouraged us to “push it over the edge”, unlocking our imagination and giving us the freedom to experiment and truly innovate.
His has been a very humane and consultative style of leadership and he is respected as a sound decision maker, but a fair, honest and open judge. Alex is passionately committed to equity, accessibility, fairness for all and an open form of management.
We will miss his intellect, wit and wisdom in so many fields but all of his colleagues in the Library wish him the very best as State Librarian for NSW.
27 June 2011
23 June 2011
A culture that believes it is better to ask forgiveness afterward rather than permission before, that rewards people for success but gives them permission to fail, has removed one of the main obstacles to the formation of new ideas.
22 June 2011
21 June 2011
20 June 2011
19 June 2011
17 June 2011
16 June 2011
(Completely unrelated image.)
1. You just don’t like to. (Fair enough really.)
2. You are too important to stop. (Of course you are.)
3. You are far to busy to stop. (Snap.)
4. You were smoking or drinking. (Quite right too.)
5. You were using your phone. (And that is O.K.)
6. This is a very busy road and people should cross elsewhere. (Why didn’t I think of that?)
7. You wear a dark suit (see #2 above).
8. You were simply following the car in front. (One must keep that traffic flowing.)
9. YOU HAVE CHILDREN IN THE CAR! (Bingo: you win this beautiful lounge suite.)
10. You have a pet on your lap. (How did that get in there?)
11. You were listening to music or the radio. (Lalalalalah)
12. You needed to adjust your hair. (I flick my hair back and forth.)
13. You really don’t like to use the clutch and the brakes. (We must all be environmentally responsible.)
14. The pedestrian wasn’t directly in front of your car. (Face palm.)
15. You don’t like pedestrians, runners, bike riders, people who don’t drive cars, etc. (Double face palm.)
14 June 2011
1. The book I’m currently reading:
Rouleur Photography Annual 2010 (Vol 4) Edited by Guy Andrews (See image above.)
10 June 2011
Storytime. Last year a few of us from UTS Library were invited to go and talk with students and then help to assess their augmented reality (AR) application concepts that could be applied to the UTS campus. They were advanced Visual Communications students working with some pretty clever and inspiring academics, including a visiting lecturer (Dr Keir Winesmith) who is normally the technical lead for SBS Digital Media. From memory, nearly all of the concepts they came up with were influenced in some way by the students’ use of and experience with social media. One of the concepts was tightly focussed on the Library and based on mobile service including mobile search and discovery and mobile check out.
The student library application included many features that they expected to see and use to search and discover our library’s collections: a basic item record; tags; ratings; reviews; comments; AND the item’s history of use. The history was represented graphically to show frequency and periods of use and even whether the item had been the subject of a fine for late return. We have taken their suggestions very seriously and it has confirmed our belief that we needed to add a basic social media layer to our “discovery layer” with new features such as folksonomic tags, ratings and reviews or comments. We are also looking into the feasibility of adding the item’s history of use.
This experience started me thinking about a number of things. Are we really offering true “discovery”, i.e. the chance of uncovering something accidentally or serendipitously that you may not have been specifically searching for in our online search interfaces? I don’t think so, not yet. They are mostly enhanced search, federated search or unified index based searching. Are we offering our clients, or users, or readers (or whatever you want me to call them Kathryn!) the kinds of services they are expecting to find online now based on their use of social media and various online services and applications that enable profile sharing and which deliver a more personal or shared experience online? No again I’m afraid. To do that I think we need to find out what our clients are doing, observe their behaviours and also talk to people from outside the library world to find out how we might leap ahead of what the predictable, slow-moving crowd that sells us library management systems and so-called discovery layers has to offer. In short, we need to stop walking like Egyptians and learn some new dance steps.
Now, in case you still don’t get it, here are some suggestions that might lead to enhanced serendipitous discovery. They are taken from my own experience with social media and other online services that I think are a long way ahead of our offerings. They enhance your ability to discover new things accidentally through your network of contacts or friends or through the “muddy foot prints” of others who have gone before you and altruistically shared their experience. For me I think it all comes from understanding the power of connections and sharing that is now offered by the web.
For a start, we definitely must start offering these features for our catalogues and search layers: comments (e.g. Flickr); folksonomic tagging (Flickr, Twitter); easy to use ratings (iTunes, LibraryThing); virtual browsing using Cover Flow (I know some libraries are already offering this); and reviews (Amazon, Expedia, iTunes Store).
And now a listing of the other features I like to use and would like to see some of us playing with:
- Little icons that quickly allow you to share a link to what you are viewing on Twitter, Tumblr, Facebook or a blog (Flickr does this very well now). I was also going to suggest little icons to social bookmarking services like Delicious and Diigo, but maybe the toolbar icons that are now added so easily in browsers like Google’s Chrome account for that?
- “Like” icons (Facebook, Tumblr).
- Reblog, retweet or re-post options (Twitter and Tumblr again, and yes Kathryn, I think we have much to learn from the pr0n industry online).
- The optional ability to establish, customise and share online profiles (last.fm) for “your library” that then facilitates the use of favourites (Flickr), “following” (Tumblr, Twitter), asking (Tumblr, Twitter) and things like wishlists (Amazon) which for libraries could mean things like planned reading lists stored for later and shared with friends or colleagues. I see this kind of thing being really useful in facilitating peer-to-peer help or advice that would be helpful to those using our databases or journals.
- Online profiles would also enable features like “scrobbling” your reading, use, borrowing history (last.fm). These profiles allow us to explore through the eyes of others. It works for music because people can easily find music they might like that is well beyond the boring and repetitive play lists of most radio stations.
- A check-in or currently reading/viewing service that might operate something like FourSquare. So, instead of locating yourself geographically, you are sharing where your headspace currently is in the library.
- Randomly exploring what you already know but have forgotten (Apple's Genius) related items (iTunes Store Genius recommendations).
- "Looking within" or sampling from a catalogue entry (Amazon & iTunes: e.g. listening or getting sample of an e-book before you buy).
- Is anyone offering an “I’m Feeling Lucky” button yet (Google)?
- Item use history (UTS students), including the application of late fees!
- Stumbling (StumbleUpon) another opt-in service that tracks your searching, browsing, use or borrowing history and then feeds you other items you might also find interesting or relevant.
I realise that doing all of the above isn’t feasible, nor would it be wise. We do, however, need to try a few of those features and when we set them up we must make them really easy and simple to use. I’ve probably missed a few things, so please let me know what you think.
This post also appears over here:
07 June 2011
Seven Things that Scare Me
- City traffic (when I'm riding my bike)
- City traffic (when I'm driving my car)
- Tony Abbott
- Extreme heights
Seven Things I Like
- Plain chocolate
- Abstract impressionism
- Calligraphy & illumination
Seven Random Facts About Me
- I get on well with most of my ex-partners (let's not try counting them all now
- I worked in London for a while doing intelligence analysis
- I've rafted the Franklin River in Tasmania twice in an individual raft
- I never miss a vampire series on TV
- I now own a Pinarello Prince (bike)
- I painted an Australian coat of arms that was signed by HM The Queen (and dated by the DoE)
- I own rather a lot of shoes (maybe it is a gay thing?)
Seven Things I want to Do Before I Die
- Visit NYC
- Visit Italy
- Return to Sweden & visit Norway
- More painting, calligraphy & photography
- Develop better bike handling skills
- More surfing
- Read more and see more movies and live music
Seven Things I Can Do Well
- Run (well, I used to)
- Cook fruit cakes (like Xmas cakes)
- Coach swimmers and triathletes
- Get on with a lot of animals
- Quickly digest and analyse complex data or facts
Seven Things I Can’t Do But Wish I Could
- Play a musical instrument
- Fly an aircraft
- Ride a track bike
- Graphic design
- Be more tolerant of idiots
Seven Phrases I’m Known to Use
- Okay (& okey dokey)
- Hang on . . .
- For s*** sake!
- Look . . .
- Hey . . .
- You d*** head
03 June 2011
Christopher Nicholls the founder of Sistema Australia was up next and spoke of the power of unlocking imagination through culture and technology. His initiative with Sistema brings to Australia a program started in Venezuela that transforms the learning and development of disadvantaged students through the power of music. He says it develops their ability to imagine and that is lacking in our current learning structures, possibly because of too many boundaries, rules, measures that do not value creativity and competition between institutions.
Finally Sharon Clerke from the Foundation for Young Australians/NAB Schools First program spoke of the benefits of deeper community involvement and partnerships in school education programs.
The discussions after their short presentations stressed the importance of social connections, sharing and a future in which personal and learning connections extend well beyond physical and institutional boundaries. The panelists saw great benefit in immersive sharing and the use of social capital if it is accessible as well as blurred boundaries between school, community, home and work. There was some talk about performance measurement and assessment in schools and how that fails to properly recognise the humanities and creative skills.
When asked to quickly sum up their key points for the future these were their final messages:
- We must unpack all of our current assumptions about education;
- We should embrace change now because it is only going to become more rapid;
- We must understand our humanity; and
- We need to increase our openness to community & our willingness to share.
01 June 2011
So here is my suggestion for the process we should follow now, with thanks again to Perian Sully who first suggested it. It comes from a slide I used at ALIA InfoOnline in a keynote a couple of years back:
Oh, and just in case you are interested, for this month I'm going to use several different platforms (including this blog) just to add a further layer of confusion and chaos. These platforms include, but are not limited to: