Voracious Vs Vulnerable

A few months into blogging and my unpublished list grows and grows. I get a feeling for a blog, then an idea fills in the spaces and I start tap tap tapping away enthusiastically. It flows and flows, from my brain to my fingers to the page. Baring my soul. Revealing my life away from cyberspace. Stripping away layers and layers of me, for once you peel away the surface, it’s the inner bits that hold all the passion. The passion gets me writing.

And then I stop. Reread what’s written. Wonder just who reads this blog amongst the millions out there. Ponder on how much of ‘me’ the virtual world needs put out there, among the dotsam and netsom. The blush rising up my cheeks is usually a good indicator I’ve gone one layer or more too deep. Too too much. It happens in real life too, but it’s teary eyes that indicate my vulnerability then, much to my horror.

Once again, my voracious need to communicate, in whatever medium suits, comes into direct conflict with my urge to lurk in the shadows. To “not let the bastards see your pain”. Though who these bastards are and why them seeing my pain would be so awful remains a mystery to me. Somedays I think this is paranoia, other days it feels utterly sensible. Nurture versus nature? Hormonal rushes? Or good old common sense?

I’ve always thought (hoped!) there’s a book to be written hiding inside of me. In my brain sits a tiny 1950’s style stenographer, taking notes and organising the information flowing in and out, taking details of my phone calls, sorting the wheat from the chaff, all the while managing to look as fabulous at the end of the day as she did in the morning (like I can never manage). What a huge job! If there is ever a book, she’ll get thanked first.

If only the battle between voracious versus vulnerable within ends with a white flag swung by both sides.


Doing the Dewey

So the next Very Important Thing I have on my list, besides feeding the family, doing the school run, making sure they all have clean clothes…oh gawds I’m putting myself to sleep… feeding the pups and doing my actual homework, ya know, the usual, mundane but no less worthy than the extraordinary, realities of life as I know it, is – memorising the Dewey Decimal Classifications. I’ve gotta tell y’all, I am ridiculously excited about this!

Excited enough that I raced home from class and printed off a list of the Dewey Decimal System (by tens) from http:/library.mtsu.edu/dewey/dewey.htm and popped it on our kitchen table, which seems to be the hub of our home (for me, the rest of the family merely park there for food or to place notes from school requesting money). Thus I had no choice but to notice the Dewey list. Genius idea! Every time I walked past it (about a hundred times in one afternoon/evening), I’d work on a mnemonic to help me memorise the tens.

As a long time book and information lover slash library lingerer, I figured I’d have this all important for Librarians-to-be list stored to memory quicksticks. From the very first moment I stepped into a library I’ve been drawn to the 100’s – Metaphysics, Epistemology, Paranormal, Philosophical, Logic, Ethics, Ancient, Medieval, Oriental and Modern Western Philosophy’s. The 460’s take my fancy every time I decide I really should learn Spanish (that’s once every five years or so, so far, ugh, ¿por qué hago esto a mí mismo?!?).

Ever since my brood discovered Masterchef et al, I’ve been hanging out in the 640’s, desperately searching for something that will “plate well” and be loaded with hidden healthfulness, for a family cannot live on croquembouche and macarons alone, no matter what the kids say! Then there are the 700’s – for me, the kids and my sanity. Ooh, it’s school holidays for the next six weeks? Let’s go borrow some craft books from the library to keep us entertained. And sane. Did I mention that?

And don’t get me started on the fiction stacks, or as I call them, “My Idea of Heaven”.

I thought it would be a cinch to pop the Dewey Decimal Classification’s in my memory. But of course it isn’t; I wouldn’t be studying Library and Information Services at all if it was that simple. But my brain loves mnemonics so I’m sure it won’t take long before it will be selected and ordered in my brain. Then it will be acquired, accessioned, catalogued, end processed and shelved in, you guessed it, my brain. Perhaps also in the 020’s, 160’s, 370’s, 410’s and perhaps the 650’s (I’ll look into that).
I absolutely love big-thinking-able-to-make-mnemonics-and-memorise-things brains, they are THE coolest thing about being a human being.

In case you’re wondering, here’s where I’m at on my mnemonic Dewey Decimal tens – “General Phil Chology is Religious about Social Sciences and Language”. Which translates out of my brain into the world as – Generalities – 000; Philosophy and Psychology – 100; Religion – 200; Social Sciences – 300; Language – 400.

Only six more to go…

Inspired #1

“What a week!”, our heroine exclaims early Tuesday morning.

I don’t bother to point out that Tuesday will never be the end of any week. Tuesday can sometimes be a start. It can, maybe, be the beginning of a week, after a public holiday, but not ever is it anywhere close to the end of a week.
You do this for people you love, you hold your thought. You listen and wait for the words to unfold.

“So many endings and beginnings!”
Everything said with an exclamation at the end.
I wait to hear some more.

“It’s all so exciting! And a little sad!”
I wait again. Anything I have to say can wait too.

“I can’t wait for it to begin!”
I hesitate. And then wait some more. I love a good story, a happy beginning, the excitement and newness of it all. So I remain, waiting.

And I’m thinking, while waiting, happy endings are never a guarantee my love. No life can be assured of the grand finale we dream of before it occurs.

Happy beginnings? Well, who wouldn’t want to start any adventure, or any day, like that?

I wait. And I listen.

Where It’s At – Reflecting on Social Media and Libraries

Cartoon by Tom Gauld @ myjetpack.tumblr.com/

Cartoon by Tom Gauld @ myjetpack.tumblr.com/

Reflecting on our Social Media unit and how libraries are embracing the phenomena across so many platforms ~ to sum it up in a word; interesting. It’s one of my favourite words, even the way the word rolls off the tongue is, well, interesting! I love being interested. I’d like ‘Always interested’ to be the thing I am remembered for, the words engraved onto my headstone, the final word on me and from me. I can think of no higher honour to bestow upon a human, an event, a situation, a thing, a life, than to think it interesting. There is just so much to be interested in in this world. 

I have thoroughly enjoyed our journey through Social Media and how it can be utilised by libraries to reach new patrons. Growing up in Australia – such a large and, except for the coastlines, a mostly desolate country, way down the bottom of the world – every now and again a story would appear on TV or in the paper about children living far from the rest of us, on cattle stations, or huge farms, 100’s of kilometres from their neighbours, 1000’s of kilometres from me. I was always a little heartbroken for these outback kids who couldn’t get to libraries, though the thought of school being held in your own house, over a CB radio was something I envied. But to not ever be able to get to a library? How awful for those kids! The sensitive (and perhaps overly empathetic) child I once was need not have worried and fretted quite so much. Since my childhood,  the big old world wide web has brought us all a little closer. It has brought libraries closer. Books and information are but a few clicks away for a substantial amount of us, here in our lucky country.

The many different social medias that libraries use to connect with users did not really surprise me. The fact that I hadn’t thought to find them, however, astounded me! I’m a book lover, a library lingerer, an information junkie. I have, and frequently use, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. I’ve used YouTube for years, I’ve looked at a gazillion cake photos on Flickr…why had I never thought to add or search for libraries on any of these sites until this year? It’s a ponder-full question, one that will bug me until life gives me a heap of new ‘whys’ to consider and wrack my mind over. My brain likes a good hard think. This unit certainly provided that, in abundance.

I found Facebook and Twitter to be my favourite social media platforms to connect with libraries, perhaps because I am familiar (and then some!) with them both? Instagram is currently my favourite way to connect with the social media world, though that could change in a heartbeat. I’m a flitter-er like that, depending on how busy my Mum-ing, working, studying life is at any given moment; Instagram is ideal for now, for a quick squizz, a small chat, a double tap to show you like what you see and thankyaverymuch, that’s all folks. I delve in and out of Facebook, deactivating often because it is waay too easy for me to spend every spare moment I have lurking catching up with what’s happening to my fb friends, and then wasting time wondering why I’m not having quite as much fun as my online friends are, rather than being present and living my own life, right now. There is even a name for this 21st century affliction – FOMO, as in, fear of missing out. And everyone’s life looks fabulous on Facebook, it really is a modern day album of all our best moments. Adding libraries to your newsfeed is a sure fire way to ease some of that FOMO, fo’ sure.

YouTube was fun, I didn’t really expect it to be, having used it for years as merely a music source and nothing more. My sons LOVE YouTube, they would quite happily spend all of their weekends on the site if I let them. After researching libraries and YouTube though, I’d happily spend all weekend on there too, if I could. But I can’t. So I won’t. Parents setting good examples to kids and all that stuff…I’ve bookmarked a huge amount of pages though, for that rainy day in the future when time is mine again, yaknow…retirement.

All in all, social media is a way for libraries to connect with current patrons, possible patrons and future patrons, in ways that have never been available to us before. I believe it is a necessary channel of communication if libraries are to maintain their relevance in this century. Libraries are information centres. The way forward for libraries is to embrace the information highway. Social media is the guaranteed way to ensure maximum publicity for minimum cost. And what’s not to like about that?




Libraries and Policies on Social Media. Or – You’re Safe From Trolls When You’re Hanging Out at a Library Site.

“Computers are no more your friends, and no more increasers of your brainpower, than slot machines…”

So said the late, great Kurt Vonnegut, who passed away in 2006, thereby just missing the social media juggernaut released by Facebook, which though founded in 2004, only really hit the popularity jackpot in 2007. What would Kurt have made of the world we live in today? It’s not often that I disagree with Mr Vonnegut, but computers are indeed our friends, they do increase our brainpower. One of Kurt’s biggest themes in his books was that all the trouble we humans make for ourselves, is because humans are lonely, now we’ve lost our tribe, our village of family, of like-minded people. In this century, computers and in particular social networking, enable us to be connected – all day, all night even, if we want – to people all around the world. Are we still lonely sometimes? Guaranteed. But we now have the ability to connect. And if that isn’t nice, I don’t know what is! (another KV quote, lovely isn’t it?).

If you are lucky enough to live in a country with a steady supply of electricity, you probably have some form of social media. Or you’ve looked at it, have heard about it, or know plenty of people who can’t live without it. It’s pervasive, addictive and all encompassing. The 21st century plague. The reason optometrists grow wealthy (all that staring at computer screens and smartphones is making us blind, my optometrist tells me this every time I visit for a stronger prescription, and he says this with a wickedly gleeful smile on his face). Oh, and the most important thing about social media, it is SO. MUCH. FUN. 

Libraries are no longer just about borrowing books, and they haven’t been for years. You will be hard pressed to find a library in the first world without computers, free wifi, a dedicated and up-to-date DVD collection and notices up all over the place letting patrons know that, yes, you can indeed eat and drink here, just please not near the computers! Libraries are information centres, not just about books. We live in the Age of Information; libraries, being all about information way before it was cool and fashionable, have kept up. Researching social media use by libraries has been a lovely adventure, I consider myself both a book and information lover, and a social media maven, yet I had no idea how many libraries were tapping into social media. Until I looked. And here is where the problem lies for libraries – unless you are really, REALLY interested, you will not even think to search, to find that which you weren’t even looking for. It’s a shame, these pages, links, blurbs and clips are so interesting. In an internet full of dotsam and netsam, where do we begin to look?

I’ve found Facebook to be the most relevant social media source for libraries to reach out to the public and garner new patrons, mainly because almost everyone has it! I won’t quote statistics in this blog, I’ll just note that I only know of two people in my life who do not have it, one is over 70 years old and doesn’t have a computer, the other is incredibly stubborn and terribly private, even the thought of ‘sharing’ on Facebook gives her conniptions. I still love them both though. So if I average that out, that is only 2% of my family, friends, colleagues and associates who don’t have social media in some form or another. Wow! How fast things change?

Twitter is the next best way for libraries to connect with the public. The infamous “Twitter Trolls” seem to avoid causing controversy on library sites. Or maybe their pages are just well moderated… Whatever the reason, libraries do it and do it well, keeping their message succinct and to the point (well, that is what micro-blogging is all about!). A quick post containing 140 characters or less, an interesting picture, hit tweet and it’s out there. People notice the tweet, comment on it on Twitter, or even better, comment in real life and the message begins to flow through the ether and into your mind – follow this library on Twitter/let’s go to the author reading/see their latest exhibition/read ‘The Fault in Our Stars’ before we see the movie. Not too hard at all, is it?

YouTube, Instagram and Flickr seem to be the hardest social mediums for libraries to crack. As someone who’s only ever used YouTube to watch music videos, I couldn’t believe how many libraries and library related clips came up every time I searched. I had a blast watching singing librarians, time-lapsed behind the scenes videos, educational clips…I’m pretty sure my kids thought I’d gone bonkers, with all my giggles and snorts of laughter (yes, actual snorts, there is some very funny stuff library related stuff out there!) floating out of our study at all hours of the day and night. Although I’m pretty sure my kids think I’m bonkers, full stop. Instagram and Flickr have a much smaller audience, perhaps because of demographics? Instagram appears to be where the youngin’s hang out, far away from their Facebook loving older relatives. Flickr seems to be for people who take their photography seriously, and highly esteemed major libraries, and parents of young children with relatives who don’t live close enough to visit often. Though I could be pigeon-holing, Flickr just didn’t grab me like I hoped it would?

Social Media Policies are essential to maintaining library sites – public, scholastic and private. Maintaining the integrity of libraries has no doubt made many a library and information worker go grey – trying to work out protocol, guidelines and explaining to teenagers just why dropping the ‘f’ bomb on a social media site isn’t really the greatest idea. Most humans have caught on fast – what you write on the internet today, will most definitely come back to haunt you. Within the next 10 years. For sure. It is out there, just waiting for a future employer/potential partner/your parents to discover. “Keep it clean, jelly bean” is a motto well worth sticking to!

The link below is to the State Library of Queensland’s Social Networking Policy. After reviewing a few different library’s social media policies, it does well to cover all bases- protecting the library from comments posted by others, the definitions of terms used regarding social media policies and acceptable use of social media by staff and site visitors. My kids may think I’m bonkers, but it all seems like common decency to me!

Picture This – The Benefits of Libraries Using Instagram

First, a disclaimer – I LOVE Instagram. It gets me. And I get it. Since joining Instagram a few years ago I find myself looking at everything with the eye of a wannabe amateur photographer. There is just so much beauty and information in our world that needs to be recorded and shared. Photo sharing sites such as Instagram and Flickr allow us to turn our smart phones into top quality cameras – just snap, crop and choose a filter – and almost any photo can look like a shot worthy of a Time magazine cover.

So, enough of my gush fest. Libraries and Instagram, is it a beneficial relationship? Absolutely! Libraries are all about the visual, and so is Instagram. Instagram also has the market cornered amongst the younger demographic; according to Yellow (TM) Social Media Report from May 2013, 71% of Australians aged between 14 and 29 have an Instagram account. The other 29% must be grounded.

While Facebook slowly becomes ‘boring’ and ‘uncool’ amongst the younger generation – as parents, relatives and grandparents join up to the social media giant, ‘get connected’ and post embarrassing comments all over the place (this is what my kids say, so it must be true!) – Instagram steadily holds its own with the tech-fad lovers that are Gen Why Y. Libraries seeking new members can use Instagram to their benefit, attracting the technologically inclined type of patron, people who may have only thought of libraries as places to go when doing assignments or projects for school. I can’t think of one teenager I know who doesn’t have a smart phone constantly attached to their hand, so it stands to reason that being a presence on ‘fun’ photo sharing sites such as Instagram – tapping into the hashtag phenomena, letting potential patrons know that libraries are more than just books in the 21st century – is a definite way to catch ’em while they’re young and keep ’em ’til they’re done.

I follow a number of libraries on Instagram, not just because of my Social Media studies, but because they are interesting, informative and post fascinating photos that often inspire me to seek out a particular book or Google an event or author. The State Library of New South Wales (follow them on Instagram at publiclibrariesnsw) suggest on their blog, available at http://blog.sl.nsw.gov.au/pls/index.cfm/2013/12/19/hashtag-instagram-and-nsw-public-libraries that public libraries in NSW should hashtag pictures posted on Instagram and Flickr with #nswpubliclibraries to showcase libraries and link photos with this hashtag to a group, encouraging discussion and a flow of new followers. This was posted on the State Library blog in December 2013 and so far there are 99 pictures on Instagram with that particular hashtag. By clicking on any photo, you are taken to the page where the picture was originally published and from there you double tap on the image to ‘like’ it, then tap on the name at the top to view all pictures posted by that library, press ‘follow’ and voilà! You are now receiving pictures in your Instagram feed from your favourite libraries.

Bond University in Queensland, Australia, recently ran a “Join The Dots” competition on Instagram during its 25th Anniversary celebrations, which coincided with National Library and Information Week. The idea was to encourage students to use the library’s resources to “get untwisted” when preparing for assignments. The prize was the Twister game, of course! It was a very eye-catching and clever idea by the obviously very clever and tech-savvy library staff at Bond Uni. Each picture posted was of a letter in a circle and underneath, a short informative blurb containing tips for study and staying on top of assessments and assignments – J for journals; O for orientation, I for information, N for news – and so on. An absolute genius idea! And the library’s followers increased substantially during the competition!

Pictures from Instagram – Bond University Library @ bondlibrary

Hell, they certainly grabbed my attention and I live over 800 kilometres away!