Proud dad moment

Today it was the turn of Thomas’ class to “host” the fortnightly Infants assembly. They introduce the teachers who are presenting awards, as well as perform an item. Their performance was a bit rock and roll, with the boys with their hair spiked and playing their guitars. Tom had a great time up on stage.

We had to wait until the end for Tom to say his line. He closed the assembly with “Thank you for being a part of KJ’s assembly. We hope you enjoyed it.” and spoke nice and clearly.

All in all it was a great effort from the kids. Proud of Tom, he did well.

Back in my day …

Thomas had a mufti day at school today. For those of you who haven’t heard of this phenomenon, it’s a day where the kids don’t have to wear their uniform to school, they can wear clothes that fit into the theme of the day (which today was “rainbow). The kids pay for the privilege, usually a gold coin donation, and this money goes to a charity or is used to raise funds for the school.

Now, when I was at school we didn’t have mufti days as often as the kids of today. I think the first one happened when I was in Year 5, and there may have been another one in Year 6. They certainly didn’t happen very often in high school, either. This year Tom has averaged one mufti day a term, and I imagine there’ll be a couple more before the end of the year. The kids today don’t know how easy they’ve got it.

Do you feel trendy?

The ACRL Research Planning and Review Committee has recently released their biennial report on Top Trends in Academic Libraries. Although it’s written by a US-based organisation, I think that the trends they identified are still relevant to Australian academic libraries (and possibly libraries in other sectors, too). The one unifying theme that emerged from the committee’s research was “deeper collaboration”. They then broke that theme down into some specific examples:

  • Data
  • Device neutral digital services
  • Evolving openness in higher education
  • Student success initiatives
  • Competency-based learning
  • Altmetrics
  • Digital humanities

I agree with the idea that collaboration has become more common among academic libraries in recent years, and that the examples above do reflect current trends. We’re lucky in Australia that we’re able to work with the Australian National Data Service (ANDS) to help us with our support of research data. The emergence of MOOCs is one example of the increasing openness within the higher education sector, but Open Access journals as well as Open Education Resources (OER) are also contributing to this. Librarians are sometimes asked to provide advice to academics on which resources they can use to teach a MOOC. As far as altmetrics go, they are certainly an area that is becoming more relevant to the work of academic librarians, as we are often asked to help academics decipher the various measures of research impact that have been developed. It will be interesting to see what is on the list of trends in two years time.

How and why I became a librarian

In one of my posts for last year’s #blogjune, I wrote about my first library job. Today I want to write about how I ended up with that job.

Firstly, I’m not one of those people who always knew they wanted to be a librarian. Sure, as a kid growing up I played “libraries”, but everyone does that (don’t they?) At high school my focus was on science, and I ended up going on to do a chemistry degree at Macquarie University. One of my third-year units was on “Chemical Information Retrieval and Processing”, and for one class we went to the library and a librarian showed us how to use the print version of Chemical Abstracts (this was in the mid-90’s, so CD-ROMs were the cutting edge of online information access). The Internet was in its infancy at that time, and we didn’t use it for any of our classes.

Once I finished my degree, I got a job in an environmental laboratory as a Client Services Officer. I spent nearly five years in that role (with a short stint “at the bench” doing some analysis of water samples). At about the four-year mark, I started thinking about a change in career. The company I was working for was taken over, and although my job was safe, I thought I’d look for a change of scene.

I’d developed an interest in OH&S while working at the lab, so considered getting my Masters in this field. During my chemistry degree I did enjoy visiting the library and finding information, so I was also considering studying the Graduate Diploma in Applied Science (Library and Information Management) through Charles Sturt University. In the end the Grad Dip from Charles Sturt won out, because it was only two years and OH&S Masters was three. I began the course in the middle of 2002, while still employed at the lab. I resigned at the end of that year, and was lucky enough to start as a Shelver at Macquarie University Library (MUL) in March 2003. Since then I’ve held a variety of roles at MUL, and really enjoyed working here. I think I was very lucky to start my library career here.

Looking back, I definitely made the right move in switching careers. I’ve had some amazing opportunities as a librarian, and have met some great people along the way. There’s always new things to learn, and I think I’ll be a librarian for a little while yet.

Systematic Reviews and academic librarians

A couple of weeks ago I attended a series of three workshops which provided an introduction to Evidence Based Medicine (EBM) and Systematic Reviews (SR) for librarians. The workshops were organised for the staff who work with the Faculties of Science and Human Sciences, as these are the areas where the demand for SR has been greatest. Traditionally, SR have been carried out by clinicians in the medical sciences, and medical librarians have worked as part of the review team. At Macquarie, we have been receiving requests for assistance with SR from non-medical academic staff in areas such as chiropractic and psychology. None of the librarians who support these areas have any experience in conducting SR, which is why the training was organised.

The workshops took us through the various steps of EBM, and outlined what is involved in carrying out a proper SR and where the librarian can play a role. Our expertise lies in searching the literature, so we can take the lead in developing the search strategy and conducting a comprehensive search of the published and unpublished literature. For me, the workshops helped to demystify SR and make them seem less scary. They also helped to clarify exactly what a SR is, and how it differs from a comprehensive literature review. This will be also useful, I think, to help the academic staff decide if they do actually need to conduct a SR, or if a literature review will be sufficient.

We’re now developing a model for offering a SR support service, with a policy and guidelines that outlines exactly what we can offer and what our expectations are e.g. including the librarian as an author of the review. I don’t think we’ll be overwhelmed with demand, but it will be nice to be prepared for any future requests.

Planes, trains and automobiles

Today I took the boys to the Powerhouse Discovery Centre at Castle Hill. This is the storage facility for the Powerhouse Museum at Ultimo, and every couple of months they have an open day based around a particular theme. Today’s theme was “Flight”, so they had aeroplane-related activities for the kids, and talks and displays highlighting relevant items from their collection.

The boys were too young to go on any of the tours or attend the talks, so we wandered around the exhibition space and took part in the activities. The boys loved making and flying paper aeroplanes, as well as a pair of flying goggles and an old-fashioned flying helmet. There were also some pedal-powered aeroplanes as well which they had a sit in (there wasn’t enough room for them to have a pedal, though).

FlightThe exhibition hall had a range of other transport-related exhibits, such as old trams and buses, and horse-drawn buggies and coaches. The boys also enjoyed having a look at these.

TransportUpstairs there was an area with a whole lot of display drawers that you could pull out and have a look at. There were mainly smaller items, such as toys, up here. The boys also had a go at an old-style video game.

Video game

We ended the day with a sausage sizzle for lunch, and a play in the playground. I also bumped into an ex-colleague. It was a good day out, and nice to have finally had a look inside, after driving past so many times.

On the run

At the end of last year I wrote a post about my attempt to get fitter by running regularly. I figured that now was a good time to provide an update (and get my #blogjune post for today done).

I finished the Couch to 5k program in February, and then did a few runs after that to keep up the momentum. I then started looking around for a training program that could help with preparing me for my Bridge Run attempt in September. The RunKeeper app has a range of free training programs available, one of which is a sub-60 minute 10k, and seeing that the Bridge Run is 9k, I joined the plan. It runs for 16 weeks and has 61 training sessions, and they vary in distance and include some sprints as well. I’ve completed 14 of the 61 sessions, with number 15 planned for this afternoon.

Most of my running happens in the evening when I get home from work, and over the last week or so it has started to get a bit chilly. It does make a nice change from when I was running in summer, though, as I didn’t really enjoy the humidity much.

I’m really surprised at how comfortable I’m finding the running. I was never really a long-distance runner at school and preferred the sprints of the athletics carnival to the longer distance of the cross country carnival. The Couch to 5k program was a great introduction to get me started with running regularly, and the RunKeeper plan is building on that. I can’t see myself running any marathons soon, but I think I might try and get a bit more involved in the running scene.


A library conference with a twist

This popped up in my Twitter feed yesterday. The UX Lib: User Experience in Libraries Conference will be held in Cambridge, UK in March next year (UX = User eXperience). It’s being billed as “A three day practical conference” (emphasis added), as it includes some hands-on experience for delegates. There will be the workshops, presentation and keynote speakers that you would find at any conference, but attendees will also work on  a user experience project with one of the Cambridge University libraries. I think this is a great idea, as it will be an opportunity to take the theory and ideas that will be discussed and put them into practice in the real world straight away.

The focus of the conference isn’t just on designing websites, which is what UX has traditionally been concerned with, but will look at the design and use of spaces as well. This sounds like a great conference to go to if you’re interested in learning more about UX, and how it can work for your library.

Academics and their use of social media

A report from the University of Canberra has recently been released which describes the results of a survey of over 700 academics from around the world about their use of social media. It found that:

  • 97% of respondents were using social media for work-related activities
  • The top five most-used tools were Twitter, LinkedIn,, Facebook, and ResearchGate
  • The benefits of social media included making connections and developing networks, openness and sharing, self-promotion, and keeping up with research
  • Drawbacks of social media that were noted included privacy and the blurring of boundaries, the potential for damaging one’s career, their colleagues’ perception that use of social media was frivolous, and the time pressures involved

So how does this relate to the library? Should we be providing training for academics on how to most effectively utilise social media? At Macquarie, we have run workshops for academic staff on research metrics, and we touch briefly on tools for creating their profile, but we haven’t moved into the social media workshop space, yet. I can see that using social media to promote their work could be one “hook” we could use to encourage academics to use social media. We could point them to studies (such as this one, this one, and this one) which have found that there is a link between the number of citations to an article and the number of tweets that it receives.

This is an area where I think it could be useful for librarians to form a partnership with their colleagues in the Learning and Teaching Centre (or equivalent) to develop workshops for academics on using social media. It is certainly an area where we can play a part, and show that the library is not just about books and journals.

Answers to the big questions

Due to a complete lack of inspiration today for my #blogjune post, I’m shamelessly copying librarykris and Justgirlwithshoes in answering these four questions:

1. Who are you?
I am the Geocaching Librarian

2. Where am I?
In the office/craft room at home in Sydney

3. How did I get here?
I caught the bus

4. Where are my pants?