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Preview: One New Thing

One New Thing

Weblog of Lynette Reville, a librarian in Australia, who is on a library-like quest to find One New Thing to learn every day.

Updated: 2017-12-26T22:48:12.597+10:00




It's Blog Action Day today!


Here are some questions to ponder, inspired by Blog Action Day: how environmentally friendly is your library? Do you...
  • turn off lights and computers and printers when they are not needed, such as overnight?
  • Donate discarded items for re-use?
  • Recycle holdings lists, picking lists, all those other lists that accumulate in libraries?
  • Have a recycling bin in the lunchroom?
  • Have water-saving fittings in the bathrooms?
  • Look for companies producing products that have the least environmental impact?

There's lots of tips on the web for making offices more environmentally friendly; have a look around and see if you can apply any of these strategies to your workplace. The InterALIA newsletter from September 2004 has a few tips specifically for libraries; so there might be a good place to start! :)



One New Thing: reCAPTCHA.

Well, it's been a long time between posts. But I've just found something very cool I'd like to link to: reCAPTCHA. CATCHPAs are those images with words in them that you have to type into some webpages - reCAPTCHA is a project that takes words that can't be read by OCR software when pre-digital-age books are being digitised, and displays them as CAPTCHAs in places where real live people can identify and type the word correctly. Spam prevention and book digitisation combined!

Link via EcoGeek, which is a very interesting blog that you should check out if you don't know it already. :)



Some New Things: More choir library tips.

I know there are lots of choirs, orchestras and other musical community groups out there, so I hope some of the things I post on here will be useful to those people who are the “librarians” for their societies. My group has just had a concert where lots and lots of music got loaned out then returned (over 800 individual scores, in fact), so here are some of the new things I've learnt from that experience:

  • In community groups where you are loaning out your own resources to members, you have to look out for people who run out of time to participate and stop coming to meetings or rehearsals. I'm thinking two weeks missed in a row, and then I will be calling them to check if they plan to come back – with our music!

  • When making lists of who has what music, I had been making one list per score, but this got silly if we gave out multiple pieces of music in one night (i.e. “Can you please write your name down on these seven lists for me?”). So I have designed a new loans form which is in the form of a table, where the names of the people go down the side, and the titles go across the top (printed sideways to allow for more columns). Then I can write the score number in the appropriate boxes – every second row is shaded, to make this easier. One double-sided sheet can have about 60 names and 12 individual pieces of music. It should also make it easier to see if someone didn't receive a piece, and is also easier to back up.

  • My group returns music directly after concerts, which means the librarian gets a very big pile to sort through. Bringing many small boxes seems to be the trick if there are multiple pieces of music being returned, because that way people can sort as they return and when everything is back, you'll actually be able to lift the boxes.



One New Thing: To do lists.

It's probably very obvious that I need to be better at making useful to-do lists: for example, writing on this blog is one to-do list item that I haven't gotten to in months! I also need a list at work, to make sure that I remember all the little things I offer to follow up do get done. Having one slip of paper for each task worked quite well for me for a while, but became chaos whenever a breeze blew past my desk. So I made an actual list... half the stuff got crossed off in a day, the other half is tasks that will take several days or weeks to get through. That was when I realised that I needed professional help with list-making and ended up at 43 Folders, Building a Smarter To-Do List.
My big error was putting single tasks on my lists that actually involved a bunch of smaller tasks. e.g. If I was moving house, it would be silly to make a to-do list that included tasks like “Pack everything”.
I'm still trying to find or design a nice to-do list template that works for's on my to-do list. ;)

Meanwhile on the topic of being organised I really want to share a very cool little app that I just discovered. PocketMod is a way of creating a little pocket-sized disposable organiser. All you need is one sheet of paper and a printer. Try it – it's fun! (Also a good way to use up old paper with only one side blank!)



One New Thing:Where to find fundraising ideas.

Some time ago I made the comment that for those of us on library committees – ALIA ones, or otherwise – it can be hard to come up with different events. I finally went and researched events, particularly fundraising events, right where I should have started – in the library! I found a book I got a few ideas from, although of course it wasn't a book about library events; it was actually aimed at sports clubs. So if you're looking for ideas for next year there is stuff out there, it just may not be where you expect it to be.

I'm still hoping to have the Library Olympics – shelf hurdling, trolley races, relay races with a book balanced on your head...



One New Thing:Guy Kawasaki's Ten Things to Learn This School Year. (found via Stephen's Lighthouse)

This is a great list. :) I remember what I learnt at uni, and I know what I do in the workplace now, and these are so very useful and so very true! Read and learn.



One New Thing: How to Make Friends and Influence People.

More from the recommended reading list from my leadership course – I think this one's a classic now, although it doesn't read like it was written 70 years ago!

My first impression of this book was probably established back in high school, when we found it on the library shelves and laughed at the title. When I picked it up a few weeks ago and looked at the chapter listing, it all looked a bit - submissive. Now after reading it, I see the point. Rather than actually just being friends with everybody, it's about getting to the stage where you and other people can comfortably communicate. And then, so that you can achieve what you set out to achieve and have the other person feel they have achieved their aims as well. If you work in any sort of client support role, or you have friends, or a partner, or children, read it. ;)

What's funny is that I picked up and flicked through a few more recent books on communication and dealing with people at the same time as this one, and although the terminology was different and the scenarios more up-to-date (e.g. emails), the concepts were pretty much the same. People mustn't have changed much...we've just given them technology, so they can have more avenues in which to be frustrated. :)



Several New Things: Communicating with Clients Using New Technologies: Reprise and Update.

That's the title of the QULOC workshop I went to today. As the program (PDF) indicates, there were some presentations then some workshops. I found the presentations most interesting and useful. (I guess if you're a librarian but work in IT you need to look a bit harder to find library-focussed workshops on technologies you haven't come across before. Or, start running workshops!)

Anyway, some glimpses into how libraries are using the technologies at their disposal to communicate with their clients. Specifically, people talked about blogs and wikis, PDAs (mobile access to resources), instant messaging, webcasting and podcasting. There was a lot of discussion throughout the day regarding the generational issues when it comes to using these technologies – that for me was almost as interesting as the use of the technologies themselves. There were comments about the clients – whether universities with a high proportion of mature aged students would really benefit; if communicating in new online spaces is really what those clients would be demanding – but also from within the profession. I didn't see who in the room asked it, but my favourite question of the day was: how does Librarian 2.0 convince Librarian 0.9 that Library 2.0 is the way to go? :)
(Related statistics: someone on the NewGrad list posted a link to the Librarian occupations page on the Australian Jobsearch page. The median age is quite high. And only around 10% of us are under age 34! Not that age alone makes Librarian 2.0, but that's a low number for digital natives.)

A few of the ideas I heard today that stuck out for me were:
  • using wikis for FAQs, bibliographies, help pages etc – allowing visitors to edit them so you get more ideas about what they want to know
  • using podcasts to deliver training, e.g. for infolit-type workshops, or self-guided library tours. Also to promote library services throughout the year. (Check out what UNE's radio station TUNE!FM does to help out during university orientation!)
  • using webcasts to share information about specialist collections
  • making sure you search student blogs for unsolicited feedback on your services – students in some courses are given the task of creating blogs for assessment, although you might find personal blogs from students out there as well.
The overall advice I picked up from the day was:
  • if you want to use technology, first make sure it will meet your needs and your clients' needs – then don't release anything until you have thoroughly planned and tested and prepared
  • use the technologies to be where your clients want you, when they want you
  • don't forget to apply traditional principles when you're using a new technology: evaluate the value of the content often, and have a weeding policy
  • involve your IT people early! The IT section's security and policy needs seemed to be an issue for everyone.
Hope this post isn't too long and boring – might make up for a few missed weeks, again. :) I'll end with what would normally be a Friday link, but is more relevant today: Dave Pattern's Library 2.0 Idea Generator. (Warning: may make you laugh out loud...better not read it on the ref desk!)



One New Thing: A small triumph with a favicon.

I'm pleased with this because I tried it in the past and it didn't work; today it did. I made myself an image in .gif format and using the online tool FavIcon from Pics I converted it to an .ico file. Put in the two lines of HTML code that Wikipedia recommended for favicon standardisation, and now when you visit my webpages or bookmark them, you see the image beside the URL.

I forget why I wasn't able to do this before – I think I got stuck trying to create an .ico file.



One New Thing:Skills for the 21st Century Librarian, by Meredith Farkas (link via

I like this list – could be just the area that I work in now, but project management, technology and software evaluation, and evaluating user needs are skill requirements that tend to come up a lot. Every time a client says “Hey can I use *insert name of new technology or software* here?” you're on the road to evaluating user needs, evaulating and comparing available technology or software, and setting off on a project to implement something!

I decided today that my old trend of only posting amusing links on Fridays isn't going to work I'll just be random and post them as I find them. :) Recently I've come across two very catchy songs which have both come into being due to the Net Neutrality issue (this guide was produced by Google). One of these song says it all...Broadband's God Save the Internet. The other...well if you haven't heard the whole story, it's great, chase it up! Senator Ted Stevens features in the techno track A Series of Tubes.



One New Thing: Seven habits!

I've just finished reading Stephen Covey's “Seven Habits of Highly Effective People”. I realise it's not the sort of book you're supposed to read cover to cover in one sitting but I had to (because I have to take it back to the library!) and I actually found it quite easy to read and understand this way – lots of examples to make it easier to understand how the habits can actually be used in real life. I like the fact that it's not just about managing people in a workplace, that it also covers relating to friends and family- I should have read this book when I was working in childcare years ago, it might have made it easier to settle playground arguments!

I particularly like the Circle of Influence, which I've come across in other courses before; but right at this moment I'm still pondering on the bit at the very end of the book where the activites of a day are prioritised according to different management theories. I'll let you read it rather than go into detail, but (spoiler approaching) I'm still trying to determine if it's really possible or practical to organise a day so that none of the “urgent” stuff actually gets done as listed on the to-do list...? (I hope I'm right in assuming it gets harder to work this way when you have to do client support. Even in the midst of creating new was of streamlining workloads...I still have to answer my phone!)

If you're wondering why the sudden interest in reading books on management theory - I'm doing a course on Fundamentals of Leadership through work, and this was recommended reading.



One New Thing: More advanced SQL.

I saw a colleague do something with an SQL query today that I didn't know you could do: return a count(*) column for every row in a query that returns several rows.
For example, if you had a table of data on books of varying topics, you could query the number of books in each topic by using SELECT topic, count(*) and making sure you GROUP BY topic.
I've only ever used count(*) to SELECT one total count for one column, so this is a very exciting discovery for me. :)

In trying to learn more I googled around (this depth of information isn't in the w3schools SQL tutorial) and discovered this Word doc of SQL Tips. I have no idea what the context of the document is, but it's from a university website and the structure of the queries looks vaguely PeopleSoft-ish to me. If you're interested in learning SQL (or more SQL than you know already) finding pages of queries like this is a cool way to pick up how it works.



One New Thing: Budgeting and finance calculations made easy....or at least easier!

Some wonderful tools for Australians to use to set up their personal budget and calcuate other financial information is availabe at FIDO, the Australian Securities and Investment Commision (ASIC) website for financial tips and safety checks. Look for Calculators – Other Calculators for the list. There's lots of other useful info on the site as well – if the financial books are always out on loan in your library, stick this URL to the shelf where the books ought to be!



Some New Things: On Friday I went to two presentations sponsored by QUT's Information Use Research Group:
Blogs, wikis and reference services: Discovering the Australian library context by Kate Watson and Chelsea Harper. Kate and Chelsea are doing a study into the use of blogs and wikis in reference services in Australian libraries. The results of the finished study will be presented at conferences at a later date – so I can't reveal what they told us. :) They did invite us to play on the wiki for the project at

Also Bill Johnston and Sheila Webber of the Information Literacy Weblog presented on their findings of UK academic conceptions and pedagogies of information literacy. Some of the points I found most interesting is that teaching info lit skills as well as the actual subject matter for a subject can be quite challenging; also, when it comes to using technology, the person teaching really needs to be comfortable with using the technology themselves before they can be critical about the way it is used.

How true this is for learning management systems. ;)



One New Thing: A brave new way of sharing teaching resources.

Found via KeptUp: a setup like eBay, but for teachers. Teachers who design and develop their own original teaching resources can register and sell these resources to other teachers via the site at

Anyone working in educational technology can tell you about the learning objects trade – e.g Blackboard's Course Cartridges – but this site is different in that there are all sorts of resources, designed for use in various ways in the classroom, so they aren't necessarily going to be electronic. I like the idea of current classroom teachers being able to share their everyday teaching tools with wider audiences.



Hello. Remember me? I used to blog here. :)

The initially unplanned hiatus was due to a combination of holidays over the Christmas period and then a truly spectacularly busy period at work until about April. Now I have a little bit more time, I'll see how I go with keeping things going blogwise.

The eagle-eyed amongst you may have noticed my New Librarian's Resource Page going for a bit of a wander. The site is now back up at my ALIA webspace:

Hard to think of all the new things I might have learnt in six months – so maybe I'll stick to the things right in front of me tonight! My drafts of blog posts are now being written in Open Office – I reinstalled my computer and can't find my MS Office disk! - and I'm a convert. Particularly that one little button that instantly turns your file into a PDF. Very nice indeed – everything I write is going out as PDF these days.

In a completely unrelated topic, I've just stumbled upon and been reading the Second Life Library blog. I'm not a Second Life user yet, although this little project is interesting enough to make me consider visiting.
Does anyone know if there are libraries and info lit courses happening in World of Warcraft too? :)



Some New Things:

I’ve been busy with many things of late – namely, the following:

At work I’ve been helping out with the web (catalogue) interface to the library system. Having had library experience, then systems experience, it’s good to come to a point that the two areas combine – for one thing, my memories of MARC (learnt at library school but not used much since then) came flooding back pretty quickly. My skills at navigating through a UNIX environment are improving a lot because I am doing it more often than ever was necessary before, and I have mastered the art of not messing up files when editing with vi (the UNIX file editor). Practising vi by using WinVi proved quite useful. I’m only making one constant mistake when editing files now: and that is if I’m using the “L” key to scroll right, when I want to scroll up, I tend to reach for the “I” key. If you know vi, you’ll understand why this can be a mistake. ;)

At the other end of the library scale, I came up with a loan-tracking system for the choir library, which works by having the choir members as well as the choir librarian keep a list of the music that is borrowed, and when music is returned, the choir members must get their list stamped/signed by the librarian. Time will tell how well this system works, so I’ll update on that in the new year. The catalogue will remain in its current format: a list in an Excel file. Why? Because it is easily created, easily maintained, easily backed up, easily sorted / searched, not likely to have its compatibility affected by updates to the Excel software for a few years to come; and most importantly, can be printed out and taken to the library, which doesn’t have a computer in it.

I’m quite enjoying this pre-technology approach to managing a library (well, except for the Excel file). This month it is five years since I completed my Graduate Diploma in Library and Information Studies, with so much focus on how to work in a digital environment; and here I am trying to remember how library loans and card catalogues worked before they brought computers into my primary school library!



Some New Things: It’s been a while since I’ve posted one of my ‘discoveries’ on this blog, so here you go: did you know that in a PowerPoint 2003 Shows you can right-click on the slide, use the mouse as a pen to draw diagrams or highlight things, then save the scribbles as part of the file? I wonder if that is making life easier for people who do presentations with non-standard characters or diagrams – being able to draw them right into the slides?

I have just taken on a new library project, which is doing an overhaul of a small library of music owned by a choir. This is the second time I have had the opportunity to voluntarily take on a small collection and work on all aspects of it, from looking at the cataloguing system and storage requirements to developing loans procedures. I had a quick look online for information on what other librarians have done to organise such small collections and couldn’t find anything easily: so in the interests of finally finding a use for the Wiki I set up many months ago, if you have a story you would like to share about setting up a very small library, please add it to the Very Small Library Collections – Stories.

So far, I have learnt that sheet music ought to lie down, not stand upright, and that it needs to be in some sort of archival-quality storage in order for it to last: such as these The Best Box music storage systems. Real archival quality is far beyond the budget I am working with right now however, so I am investigating other options, and open to ideas! Sheet music is particularly problematic because musicians need to write on it, and it can be quite fragile as it isn’t protected by bindings (even before people take erasers to it). I can already advise that you shouldn’t secure it with paper clips before putting it in storage.



Updates to this blog will resume shortly!!



One New Thing:Thoughts on changing teaching methods, and libraries.

A new-to-me blog I stumbled on tonight (following more links from Teach and Learn Online) is Dave's Educational Blog. Looks like a good place to go if you are interested in thinkings and theories of education and e-learning. As a librarian I’m intrigued by Dave’s idea of the feedbook. We already have the technology, and judging by the blogs, Wikis, and wikibooks that are already being constructed by experts in their fields, this is the kind of proposition that could be put into practice any day now.

In any library, could librarians be involved in the selection or dissemination of information provided via this or a similar model? It bears a vague resemblance to a scholarly journal: one “publication”, multiple authors. In the same way that online provision of course reading lists, lecture notes and assignment topics has made it easier for academic librarians to find out what resources students need access to throughout the year, imagine being able to quickly access exactly what they are covering in class on a day-to-day basis. Imagine, in fact, “books” where the information is up-to-the-minute. (Imagine a bibliography where timestamp is a required annotation!)

I can think of many impacts on libraries when would-be library patrons can have more direct access to information straight from the experts – widening of the digital divide, information literacy needs, fee vs free publications - all of which we are already aware of and will probably hear a lot more about as technological and pedagogical opportunities present themselves.

I hope the librarians, educators and IT staffers in institutional environments are chatting to each other about…possibilities. :)



One New Thing: Evidence Based Librarianship.

The EBL (Evidence Based Librarianship) conference was held last week in Brisbane and although I didn’t get to go to the actual conference, I was able to see a couple of the presenters doing a shortened summary of their papers. The concept of EBL is fascinating to me: it’s really so simple – practising librarianship based on evidence revealed through research, statistics, and client feedback. Yet applying EBL theories to particular projects for the libraries and librarians who presented has been very successful for them. My particular favourites of the papers I saw presented were Transaction log analysis @ State Library of Queensland (pdf) by Scott Hamilton / Helen Thurlow, and What can students' bibliographies tell us? - Evidence based information skills teaching for engineering students (pdf) by Fei Yu / Jan Sullivan / Leith Woodall.



Some New Things:

Leigh Blackall of Teach and Learn Online has some interesting thoughts on Everything You Need to Teach and Learn Online (there’s a part 1, 2 and 3 – this link is to Part 3 so you can work backwards). If you’re delivering course content online, you could do it entirely using freely-available tools such as Blogger, Gmail, Flickr…the list goes on. Interesting thought, particularly for those of us involved in any way with the world of commercial courseware.

Leigh always has lots of interesting stuff popping up on his blog: this essay on Connectivism: A Learning Theory for the Digital Age is an article which extends on some themes about learners and how they learn that I remember from my studies in teaching a few years back: except this looks at how this fits into the trend towards the use of digital resources in teaching.

Another interesting article is Lawsuit Charges Online University Does Not Accommodate Learning-Disabled Students, a story about a student filing charges against an institution following their implementation of WebCT, because he has learning difficulties which made it hard for him to learn to use the software. It’s thought-provoking to look at how many web standards are in place for users who have physical disabilities, and then to think about the lack of guidelines for users with other disabilities. Particularly with commercial learning management software, where end users don’t really have a lot of choice in the way the courses or the communication/assessment tools within them are accessed are constructed: you have to take what they give you, for better or worse.



One New Thing: Firefox, Google and Prefetching.

Google has introduced a new “feature” for those using Mozilla browsers: prefetching the first hit in your Google results list.
A post from LISnews on the issue points to: Google's new feature creates another user privacy problem. If you’re a Mozilla user, read it now!!



One New Thing: Where to find info on preservation of library materials.

Looking for resources on preservation of books and paper documents, I’ve found a site that has an incredible amount of information on preservation of library and museum artefacts. It is the Conserve-O-Grams from the U.S National Parks Service Museum Management Program, and the site includes not only your traditional library items such as books, tapes, photographs, but also furniture, biological specimens, textiles, and even stone. There’s also some “Salvage at a Glance” material that could be very useful in the case of an emergency – bookmark this site now, just in case!

I found the wonderful Cyndi’s List has a good list of links for Preservation and Conservation if you are looking for more.



One New Thing: New technologies in libraries.

Last week I went to a half-day information session on new technologies in libraries (PDF). Definitely some interesting concepts for libraries to consider trailing for themselves: including ideas like using a wiki to build your FAQs on your website, so your clients can add/edit information as they wish; providing RSS feeds for new titles and items out on loan; and providing reference services and library hold/recall notices via SMS. What is great about these services is not only are they something that clients might use because the technology is already part of their everyday lives, but that the costs and maintenance of these services don’t cost all that much, according to those who have trialed them: some are even set up completely in-house by IT-savvy staff. (The libraries involved are listed on the flyer, if you want to visit their websites and find out more about what services they offer.)