Tag Archives: blogeverydayofjune

Abstractedly writing

I’m distracted. I’m co-writing an abstract for a conference. It’s the first one I’ve done so it’s a learning experience. I’m one of those people who usually has trouble getting up to the word limit in an essay because I’d rather say it in one sentence  than 3. This is not necessarily an attribute of course!

To some extent, I’m inspired by last year’s ALIA Sydney event on writing a conference paper, but I’m also encouraged to do this at MPOW and am finally leaping in. I must say it’s nicer to be sharing it with someone who’s done this before (rule 1: get a mentor!).

So, with that and a few more things going on professionally this week, my blogging mojo is a little thin. And to be fair, I am also drafting a guest post for ALIA Sydney’s #blogjune effort.

Libraries and the digital humanities

Inside the Shine Dome – Digital Humanities Australasia 2012

During the digital humanities conference I attended in Canberra in March, it struck me as odd that there wasn’t more library presence – both as presenters and delegates.

In casual conversation at morning tea on the final day,  Professor John Unsworth of Brandeis University in the USA (one of the keynote speakers at the conference and vice provost for Library & Technology Services at Brandeis) said he thought there was a role for libraries to be represented at a much higher level. In his opinion, the participation rate of the LIS sector at the international Digital Humanities conferences is much higher.

The conference participants list outlined delegate’s institutions, not their affiliation within that institution so it is difficult to tell what representation there was from the LIS sector. My sense is that the audience was overwhelmingly academics – stumbling upon other LIS sector representatives was luck rather than management.

I turned to twitter (as I often do) and asked

Morning tea chat with Prof JohnUnsworth Brandeis University – he says international DH conference has up to 1/3 LIS delegates?#dha2012

Some GLAM representation here but overwhelmingly academic presence, lib tweeps, what barriers were there for you in coming?#dha2012

I didn’t get a lot of response to this – but the responses I did get were around awareness. It’s an emerging field in librarianship, I get that. Although I had done some reading on digital humanities before heading to Canberra, it is the reading I’ve done in this area since that has crystalised some of the concepts for me.

Like any good LIS professional, I began with a google search and after reading many, many forum postings, blog posts, conference presentations and journal article abstracts I found  this from the wikipedia entry:

The digital humanities is an area of research, teaching, and creation concerned with the intersection of computing and the disciplines of the humanities. Developing from an earlier field called humanities computing, today digital humanities embrace a variety of topics ranging from curating online collections to data mining large cultural data sets. Digital Humanities currently incorporates both digitized and born-digital materials and combines the methodologies from the traditional humanities disciplines (such as historyphilosophylinguistics,literatureartarchaeologymusic, and cultural studies) with tools provided by computing (such as data visualisationinformation retrievaldata miningstatisticscomputational analysis) and digital publishing.

Being a humanities librarian at the moment, I guess it’s natural that my specific interest is in this area, but through another project I am doing with a colleague I’m beginning to examine e-research and the role of libraries in a wider context.

I told you much of this month’s #blogjune will be about data.

Hard to think about work

I’m away for the weekend with 12 amazing women from my bookclub, my past, my life. Whenever I spend time with this group of women (or any combination of them), I am reminded of The West Wing episode These Women. If you’re not a West Wing fan that probably won’t mean much.

Anyway, I got up early & did some of the reading I brought away with me. I sat in front of the fire with a cup of tea & the company of one of these women, also up early in PhD writing mode.

None of these women are LIS folk, so once others started getting up, I put away my book on digital libraries & the digital humanities. At this moment these women are more important than my work goals. Off to drink more tea.

Blog every day in June

I knew it was June, really I did. I even put my name down to do a post for ALIA Sydney as part of Blog every day in June. Still, I was taken by surprise when @jobeaz’s first #blogjune post popped up on twitter.

Which is why I’m now stabbing out this very short piece on the smartphone as I wait on a street corner for a lift to a weekend away with some friends. I’m taking plenty of work related reading away, all neatly filed on the iPad as I’ve got some personal & professional deadlines next week (including the aforementioned ALIA Sydney post!).

Mostly it’s data & eResearch on my mind. More of that as June unfolds.

Finishing that which I have started

finish line by Sean MacEntee via flickr CC

I thought this was a perfect topic to wrap up my contribution to Blog Every Day In June.

On WordPress’ Freshly Pressed page today was this hilarious post about the very serious topic of all the projects and tasks we start in our lives and then just never finish.  Read this bit – you’ll get some idea:

See, that’s the problem: I have no follow-through.  I’ve tried a bazillion things and moved on from just about all of them.  Honestly, the things that I’ve managed to stick with I’m either legally obligated to do (like paying my mortgage), need the money (like my day job), simply can’t reverse (like being a parent), or would die if I stopped (like eating and, while I have been testing this theory, bathing)

I must admit I have a pretty bad case of this follow-through-less-ness myself, and judging from the number of comments following the post, I’m certainly not alone.

Finishing my undergraduate library science degree took me 9 years part time. A whole lot of things contributed to that, but if I’m honest, there was some degree of losing interest, particularly towards the end when my library subjects were finished, I was battling through a management major and going through serious change in my personal life.

What got me through? The knowledge that throughout my life I had shown a tendency to not follow through. I suddenly developed a fierce determination that this was not going to happen this time.  I had invested many hours and thousands of dollars into my degree and really wanted to finish it. It was a major personal success for me just to complete the degree.

When I think about it, I’ve actually demonstrated follow through quite a few times in the past couple of years. I’ve participated in #blogjune for 2 years running now – and each time I have followed through and finished it. I think I missed one day last year and none this year, I’m pretty sure that shows staying power.  The same goes for #1pic1thoughtinAug last year, I managed to get a photo uploaded every day. Maybe, just maybe I’m better at this than I first thought?

Cue forward 18 months, to the very last day of #blogjune and I’ve just enrolled in the Masters of Information Studies – essentially to convert my undergrad qualification to a post-grad one.  It’s not going to make much difference to my employment or professional recognition but there’ll be a certain satisfaction in finishing it. Stay tuned.

Defining research?

Doing research by Viewoftheworld via flickr CC

Earlier this year, I attended a one day ‘Research for LIS practitioners‘ seminar put on by ALIA in Sydney.

Last year, I completed a FOLIOz course in Evidence Based Library and Information Practice (EBLIP), also offered by ALIA.

This is a little story about the blurring of the lines between the two.

One of the criticisms I hear (and agree with) about our profession is the dearth of original research that furthers the profession as a whole.  I loved being at ALIA Access last year and I enjoyed watching the twitter stream from ALIA Information Online this year – but much of what is presented at these conferences is yet more examples of ‘what we did in our library’, which, while interesting and useful and worthwhile, don’t do much to further the profession overall and seem to be examples of EBLIP. Very good EBLIP, don’t get me wrong.

I’m sure it’s not unique to LIS professionals – but we seem to be very good at telling each other about the things we are good at (and the things that didn’t go so well) – the problem is, we are often preaching to the converted anyway so it is all just more of the same.  Following Online, there was much discussion among my twitter PLN on the future of the conference format – but that’s probably another post.

The ‘furthering our profession’ research seems to be most likely to come from the many PhD proposals that were discussed as participants took turns outlining their reasons for being at the seminar.

Meanwhile, I struggled a bit with the EBLIP course as I didn’t quite understand at the beginning the difference between research and using evidence based practice to make workplace decisions.  Much of what was outlined in the EBLIP literature was to do with evaluating previous research (or actually, previous ‘what we did in our library’) to build a business case or plan for proceeding with something in the workplace.  The whole point was to avoid re-inventing the wheel.

It didn’t help my confusion that the ‘burning question’ I formulated during the course proved to be something that there actually wasn’t very much literature on – further blurring the line between EBLIP and research (for me). I forget the details of the question, but it was to do with international students and information literacy instruction as that was something I was dealing with at work at the time.

I had hoped to get over to the UK this year to attend EBLIP6, partly to further my understanding of these 2 different, but overlapping areas of research (and partly to see my brother who lives over there!) but it was not to be.  I look forward to following the progress of the conference via the twitter stream and the papers that come out of it.

In the meantime, I continue to be a bit confused.

Blog link goodness – Sandy Fussell

In another short post about some of the blogs I follow and why – I introduce to you Australian children’s author Sandy Fussell.

Sandy is another of my children’s literature contacts from my CBCA days.  She is the author of (among many others) the Samurai Kids series and her novel Polar Boy was shortlisted for a CBCA Book of the Year Award in 2009. Sandy blogs at Stories are light and you can follow her on twitter as @sandyfussell.

Sandy is another Australian author who provides great support to the CBCA – she’s heavily involved with the Illawarra sub branch in NSW – a dynamic, active group of people around Wollongong who put on a constant stream of children’s literature events.

Oh – and her books are great!


Degrees of significance

Bowling Alley Score Sheet by Steve Snodgrass via flickr CC

I’ve mentioned before that my book club uses a rating system on books – we put a score out of 5 against our name on a card in the back of the book and then everyone else knows who enjoyed it, who couldn’t finish it and so on.  This is really useful in a group where everyone’s reading preferences are different – you can work out who else likes the same books you do and pick those up to read.

The rating system over the years has been controversial.  At the very first meeting more than 10 years ago we decided on a scale of 1-5 where 1 = couldn’t finish it and 5 = couldn’t put it down wish I could read it again tomorrow.  We have never allowed half points – preferring to make people commit one way or the other.  Some of us love the no half points, others hate it and it comes up for discussion at least a couple of times a year.

I was thinking about this system in relation to some quantitative outcome measurement we do at MPOW.  One of the measurements we use is ‘significant’ – in the context of has this resulted in significant change from the way things were before.  I had a meeting on Thursday that I think had ‘very significant’ outcomes – but just like my book club, there are no degrees of significance in the system so we can’t sit on the fence, and I don’t think it merits the next measurement up in the scale, so significant it shall stay.

More blog link goodness – Chris Cheng: It’s all about the books

Many of you will know that I spent 2 years working at the Children’s Book Council of Australia before starting my new career in libraryland.  During that time I got to know many wonderful Australian children’s authors and their work.  Most children’s authors in Australia have to also have  a day job – some are able to make a living from writing alone.

Some, such as Chris Cheng, are staunch supporters of the CBCA and its programs and awards.  Chris’ blog is a wonderful, colourful brain dump of ideas, events, friends, travel and enthusiasm for and about children’s literature in Australia.

Chris was awarded the Lady Cutler Award for services ‘above and beyond’ to children’s literature in 2009 and created a first for the CBCA by skyping into the Award dinner as he was unavoidably overseas at the time.  You can read Chris’ version of the dinner and the Award here.

I miss the contact with and immersion in the world of children’s literature and love that I can keep in touch by following blogs.

Privacy and security online

Security by CarbonNYC via flickr CC

This post is inspired by Vesna’s contribution to the ALIA Sydney blog today and by one I read over at danah boyd’s apophenia blog a few weeks ago.  As often happens to me, I went to comment on Vesna’s post and realised I had so much to say it was probably easier to write my own post!

Vesna questions our online security and how to manage it with all the different accounts, passwords and logins we have to manage both professionally and privately in the digital world we live in.  danah boyd’s post looks at the way teenagers view privacy online – slightly different focus but as I have both (ageing) parents and teenagers using online tools and asking me questions about security and privacy I thought it might be a good idea to post something combining my thoughts on both.  By the way, if you have teens, or work with teens, or even just know some teens, I highly recommend danah’s post on the way teenagers themselves view their online privacy – she brings us the opinions and thoughts of the teens themselves and it’s really interesting reading.

In response to danah’s post I wrote

I really enjoyed reading this ‘work in progress’. I have 3 teenage kids and your research has confirmed my gut feeling about their perspective on this issue of ‘privacy’. With particular reference to Facebook, I’ve tried to frame it for them more in terms of asking themselves what they would want people outside their friendship groups to have access to (eg prospective employers)and how to make it more difficult for the casual observer to see their ’stuff’. I’m also in the privileged position that all 3 of my teens are happy to be FB friends with me and I love the window into their lives that I can get without being obtrusive or invasive.

I think there’s a danger that we adults look at this with adult eyes rather than finding out just what the kids are thinking and doing and your research format lets us hear from the kids themselves. I particularly loved Alicia’s insight into the fact that we are imposing our ‘old values’ onto new technology, whereas they just don’t see it like that.

I don’t have particular concerns about my online privacy, I choose to participate in social media with my eyes wide open, but my online security is probably (definitely?) another matter. I know I make poor security choices, I use a handful of passwords across a multitude of sign ons, logins and accounts both at work and at home. I do use an iPhone app that has most of this information locked away behind a unique, very unusual password – but the reality is that most of my passwords are so easy, or repeated so often that I don’t often need to refer to the iPhone app, I can just remember them off the top of my head.

This is not good. Perhaps I need a touch of the paranoia or fear that Vesna describes as coming from some of the older people she teaches social media – I think I’ve become so blase about the persistent presence of my online identity that I forget it needs to be guarded.  It’s probably time to upgrade my passwords.