Posts Tagged ‘libraries’

Together we are stronger – some highlights of ALIA 2014

September 21, 2014

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It’s always easy to have good intentions about blogging every day of a conference. But once the programme starts you find yourself sucked into a vortex of keynotes, daytime sessions, breakfast sessions, the conference dinner, catching up with old friends and colleagues, meeting new friends, chatting to exhibitors, scrounging stationary from said exhibitors, eating, drinking etc etc. Then all you have the energy to do when you return to your hotel room is empty that day’s goodies from your show bag, play with some of the ideas from the sessions, and then get some rest before the next days whirl begins.

So here I am, on the third fourth day after the ALIA2014 conference finished, and all I’ve written up is the pre conference, self guided, walking tour of Melbourne CBD libraries.

Even since the conference finished things have been pretty full on, with a library coach tour and then two days of private sightseeing and activities.

Hence this post is a random collection impressions of what stuck out for me – more considered rumination may illuminate other things of significance (especially once the papers are up on the conference website!)

Fun Things

Lego

We had a puzzle to solve in the downstairs exhibition hall – a giant, pixilated Lego mural – to be filled square by square starting something like this…

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3D Printing

I finally got to see a live demo of 3D printing in the exciting breakfast session Print your own workshop : intro to 3D design, printing and application run by my West Australian compatriot @edwardshaddow

We saw the delights that can be made by the experienced :

IMG_0820.JPGWinged Victory of Samothrace aka Nike

We saw an expandable bracelet being printed out:

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We looked at TinkerCAD, browser based software for designing objects, and heard we may need Netfabb to analyse and fix the results!

We asked ourselves if we needed a 3D printer in our libarary and the answer was yes!, no!, maybe, probably not…

I couldn’t use TinkerCAD on the iPad, and I hate missing out on the fun, so that night I downloaded the 123D Design app from the same publisher and made a basic TARDIS shape.

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I was thrilled that a LibraryBox was set up to provide handouts and downloads – like a 3D Printer, I’d heard of Librarybox but never seen one in action.

I want all of this! (But as my mother would say “I want never gets!”).

Getting users back to the library via Wikipedia

Wikipedia is ubiquitous, and, like any encyclopaedia, it can be a good starting source, with the added disadvantage that it can be prone to vandalism. We learned how to lead Wikipedia users (especially undergraduate students) from Wikipedia to broader world of published resources?

US librarian John Mark Ockerbloom has created a simple bit of code that adds a Library Resources Box to Wikipedia articles. The box directs a search to any one of a number of libraries catalogues using VIAF or LC headings.

In their session Digital doorway: Gaining library users through Wikipedia, Andrew Spencer and Brendan Krige gave a live demonstration of adding this box to the article on Douglas Mawson:

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I got so fired up by the simplicity of this that I spent way too much time that evening adding boxes to Wikipedia entries for J S Battye, Elizabeth Jolley, Tim Winton, Randolph Stow and Albert Facey. And I fiddled with the Douglas Mawson box to add links to books by him, online and in libraries…

A caveat – the box doesn’t show in the mobile version of Wikipedia – you need to be in the full site to see it.

Copyright

Yes, copyright and fun in the same sentence! Trish Hepworth from the Australian Libraries Copyright Committee gave a packed out room the wildly entertaining romp Everything you ever needed to know about copyright – in 15 minutes which was followed by a passionate panel session Copyright and libraries: Practical challenges and innovative solutions.

Librarians are passionate about copyright reform and intellectual freedom so the crowd left the session ready to storm the copyright barricades bearing the banner of Fair Use!

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(Backstory of this image here)

And of course the Melbourne Laneway themed conference dinner

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Interesting Things

Using the Guidebook app to arrange your conference schedule. Once we’d got the hang of the venue the app made it a cinch to work out where you had to be next (and if you switched streams you got plenty of exercise as there was a goodly walk between the meeting rooms!)

Why did I not already know about the Australian Government Web Archive? Fortunately Allison Dellit enlightened us. It is still in its early stages, but goodness, it promises to be a treasure! Although the name needs to change – AGWA is already used by the Art Gallery of Western Australia.

I learned to look at the ANBD (Australian National Bibliographic Database) in a different way – thanks to Monika Szunejko’s paper Building Our Australian Cloud. We librarians have been doing cloud computing before the term was invented!

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Things you should avoid

Populating PowerPoint slides with detailed screenshots of Exel spreadsheets and then looking at them in surprise and saying something like “oh, sorry, you can’t really read this”. Your presentation is supposed to attract our attention and make us want to read the detail later…

Ploughing on with your presentation when the session chair has rung the time bell (twice!)

Fortunately these were the exceptions!

Inspiring things

As told by my tweets…

Content

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Keynote by Roly Keating (BL CEO) – The British Library in a globalised world

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Marie Ostergaard (Aarhus Public Libraries) – Dokk1 : a performative library space? – lots about design thinking!

Collaboration

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Keynote by Susan Benton (President and CEO Urban Libraries Council) – The essential collaboration.

Capabilities

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Keynote by Dr Marianne Broadbent (Managing Partner NCS Global) – Building professional and personal leadership capabilities.

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Majella Pugh (UQ) – Yes we can! Communicating library value to a parent body.

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Cheryl Hamill, accepting the award of Fellow of ALIA.

What was it?

We didn’t quite finish our Lego mural, but it’s guardians put in all the coloured base plates to give us this result…

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Thanks

And finally, thanks to the ALIA Committee for the work putting the conference together, to the staff at the Pullman for the food and service, and to the exhibitors for all the fun freebies and giveaways…

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Food, Music and Libraries – meandering in Melbourne on Monday

September 16, 2014

Impressions of Melbourne…

Still on Perth time so slept in till 8, then trotted up to a nearby 711 for the essential Myki transport card. Can’t use Public Transport in Melbourne without it.

Took a crowded commuter tram up St Kilda road to the city and made the long hike up Bourke St to Kinfolk cafe for breakfast. Kinfolk have volunteer waitstaff and direct all their profits to four development projects, and the food is delicious.

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Once fed and coffee’d it was time to see how many libraries I could visit from the list of Fabulous and Famous Libraries in and Around the Melbourne CBD (a suggested pre or post ALIA2014 Conference activity).

(I did make a little detour into the enticing Wunderkammer on my way)

I began with the august surrounds of the Supreme Court Library. No photography allowed so I’ll have to paint a word picture of this domed and galleried space with two stories of bays of law tomes radiating from the centre like intellectual spokes from a wheel. The casual visitor is impressed by the many portraits of Judges and Justices in their robes and wigs (dead(?) white males with one exception), and amongst them in sombre black an portrait of the first librarian. Also sombre, in one of the display cases, is the judge’s black cap. A more frivolous note could be struck on the grand piano – the staff on duty were relative newcomers and couldn’t tell me when and if it was played.

Crime of a more cheerful sort could be found up the road at the Atheneum Library. From it’s origins in 1839 as a Mechanics Institute Library the Atheneum has survived and grown to fill a unique niche as a successful subscription library with a particular strength in Crime Fiction.

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I chatted to Tom about the library’s history and took advantage of their hospitality to conference delegates (otherwise it’s members only) with a cup of coffee and some classic crime.

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Survived my departure via one of Melbourne’s oldest working lifts

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Here, behind an unprepossessing facade in Flinders Lane I found a buzzing hub of books, people, study rooms, arts projections, and an art gallery in a friendly rambling warren of a repurposed building.

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I also found another piano, this time very much in use with musicians welcome to play at almost any time – I wandered to “Misty” and left listening to “Nature Boy”.

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More music accompanied me back to meet and lunch with a colleague at Kinfolk – a cellist in a lane way (with the poignant sign “this cello for sale”) and a violinist serenading Collins Street.

Refreshed by lunch I took a tram back up to Swanston St and the rather overwhelming State Library of Victoria. The facade is modestly swathed for renovations and the entrance and information centre areas don’t strike the eye so it was a shock to pass in to the grand Redmond Barry Reading room

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and a greater shock to pass into the iconic domed main reading room – of course I’d heard of it, and seen pictures but nothing prepares you for the sheer scale of the place!

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I took some time to look at their collection of art depicting Melbourne, children’s book illustrations, and, in the Dome gallery, Mirror of the World which traces the human urge to write and create from manuscripts and incunabula to pulp fiction and artists books.

I left the Les Miserables exhibition for a later visit. Victor Hugo’s words are emblazoned in French and English on the walls of the information centre.

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After that rarefied excursion into the breadth and depth of human knowledge I needed something to bring me back to earth so I crossed the road to The Little Library at Melbourne Central – a funky shop front book exchange in a shopping centre.

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Unfortunately I had not saved the best till last, as I found when I dropped in to RMIT library – which looked like your standard tertiary library, functional and visually unexciting, so I moved across the road to see the new and trendy Swanston Academic Building with its many “informal learning spaces” which in my tired state looked a little like dark, uncomfortable and depressing alcoves in the many corridors.

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Maybe I needed to see it in the morning.

There were several more libraries on the list but I’d come to the end of my time and headed back to my hotel to have a rest and get ready catch the bus to Brighton to sing with Sing Australia – but that’s another story…

Sydney Libraries 2 – I want a sustainable library with a robotic stack retrieval and returns system; a Chinese OPAC; and a grand piano…

July 23, 2012

Well, the ALIA 2012 conference is over and my resolutions of blogging each day were blown out of the water by the pace and intensity of the programme. Now a couple of weeks have gone by and it’s time to revise my notes, remember, recap and extract the best of what I’ve learned.

An early highlight was the pre conference tour of libraries in Sydney’s North. A coach load of 45-50 librarians met at noon at the Pitt Street entrance to the Hilton and taken to three newly opened libraries to hear how they were developed and see what we could learn from their experiences.

The first visit was to Ryde, where a bleak, dark 1970s library moved across the road to a light, bright, accessible space in a newly refurbished shopping centre.

Here was a library that is truly a third place. Accessible from the street and from the centre the library was warm, bright (a green carpet that couldn’t be changed led to a green and orange colour scheme) and inviting. Staff had worked closely with architect and project manager on the design. Much planning and training had also gone on ahead of the move to prepare staff for the very different style of operations the new library engendered. The collection was weeded and rearranged to be browse-able (discoverable?) in subject and genre themed “rooms”. The bookshelves were on castors and could be moved to create space for library events. I particularly loved the giant chess set and the grand piano – both of which (if I remember rightly) had been brought in temporarily for the opening festivities and kept as permanent features…

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Our next visit was to Macquarie University where a brand new library building replaced a 70s brutalist structure. The new building is a sustainable building with a green roof, lighting that responds to the presence of people, recycled water for flushing the loos (because the water is brown they warn you not to keep flushing in the hope that the water will come clear!). Light wells to the lower levels were planted with bamboo, and our guide pointed out the toy gorilla that had been left in the thicket as a parting gift from the builders.

The intelligent heart of the building is its Automated Storage and Retrieval System. By using a four storey high robotic industrial racking system they were able to store 70% of their collection in stack, where it is instantly retrievable. 900,000 volumes are held, with room for double that number. They are shelved in metal tubs and identified by bar code so there is no need to shelve them in order. This has doubled the floor space available for student study areas, the two upper floors are all study area, with no collections and separate access so they can be opened when the other library services are closed. High use collections are on the lower two floors along with practice presentation booths fitted out with the same equipment as lecture theatres and tutorial rooms. Lots of powerpoints are available and the number of private study booths had to be increased due to student demand. A separate postgraduate study area was so popular that they had to change the access card system after access cards started turning up for sale on eBay!

We were mesmerised by the ASRS (with a touch of humour and humanity each robot crane had been named…) and only the promise of an excellent afternoon tea bribed us away from it. A brilliant solution to the problem of competing demands for space from collections and students but, I suspect, a very expensive one!

Our final visit was to Chatswood library. Here the library was part of a new (sustainable) community centre. I was particularly impressed by their Chinese OPAC which had a touchpad and stylus for searching using Chinese characters. If you want to know more about it you can read the full paper presented at the conference.

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They also had a rather snazzy automated returns sorting system.

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We then returned in our coach to Sydney heads spinning with what we had seen… Which is when I summed it up:

I want a sustainable library with a robotic stack retrieval and returns system; a Chinese OPAC; and a grand piano…

Sydney Libraries 1 – SLNSW

July 10, 2012

I’m here in Sydney for ALIA2012. The conference starts tomorrow, but I’m here a day early for a pre-conference tour of Sydney’s North. Having a morning to kill before that tour I walked down to the State Library of NSW to say hello to Trim and have an incognito look around.

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Highlight for me at SLNSW was finding this fabulous collections statement (next to the very big Footpath Philosphers book):

Library collections provide a fundamental record of a country’s history and society. The State Library collects the biggest and the smallest, the academic and the popular, works of greatness and works of everyday Australians. These essentially democratic collections are vital for building an understanding of the history and culture of this nation.

I wish I’d written that! It encapsulates so beautifully what heritage collecting is about.

On a more pragmatic level I was interested to see that you have to pay for a locker ($2 for four hours), and, one bank of lockers offers charging facilities for laptops and phones.

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Had a look at the lovely Wedgwood exhibition (highlighting Australian connections), and the astonishing Shakespeare Room – thankyou Marilyn for sharing your knowledge. Peered into the wonderful traditional reading room of the Mitchell Library (evoking nostalgia for SLWA’s old Hackett Hall!). Passageways between old and new buildings are enlivened by displays of treasures from the collections.

Meanwhile I’m using the library as a “third space” to write this blog post, amongst the newspaper readers, internet users and sundry others (there are several spaces to do this, the verandah (more for individuals and small groups) and the glasshouse learning space (for collaborative work)).

Now for the libraries of Sydney’s North!

How many librarians does it take to change a light globe?

June 16, 2011

It’s been a busy and slightly trying week so here’s a video essay of library humour guaranteed to improve the mood:

An old joke retold (as dramatised by me using Xtranormal):

For those of us battling with introducing new technology:

For those of us who’ve had one of those days with the customers:

Even though some of those customers may be kind’ve cute!

We may feel the desire to take this approach:

It could be worse (or why we only allow pencils in rare book reading roooms):

We can always go home and read in peace and quiet:

Thanks to all the people who’ve shared these videos with me over the years…

And…

How many librarians does it take to change a light globe?

I don’t know but I can look it up for you!

On the Stanford Integrated Digital Library Project

June 10, 2011
Googleplex entrance

Courtesy of Scott Beale / Laughing Squid, http://laughingsquid.com/

Did you know that one way of looking at the genesis of Google is it grew from a project to improve library searching?  This is one of the gems I got from reading Little bets

Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin didn’t set out to to create one of the fastest-growing startup companies in history; they didn’t even start out seeking to revolutionize the way we search for information on the web.  Their first goal, as collaborators on the Stanford Digital Library Project, was to solve a much smaller problem: how to prioritize library searches online [my hyperlink and my emphasis]

Little bets / Peter Sims, 2011, p4

Sims goes on to show that the breakthrough page rank algorithm grew from using the (familiar to librarians and academics) concept of citation analysis.  Given this I find it ironic that we are still bemoaning the ineffectiveness of many library catalogue search engines.  Take a look at Marshall Breeding’s articles (both articles are also available from EBSCOHost’s Australia New Zealand Reference Centre):

The state of the art in library discovery  2010 / Marshall Breeding IN Computers in libraries,  January 2010

and

Discovering Harry Potter Barn / Marshall Breeding IN Computers in libaries, March 2011

This harks back to the Principle of least astonishment  – do library catalogue clients get results that are relevant to their search terms? Given that most libraries buy their library management systems, how can we make things better?

Yale card catalog

The obsolete card catalog files at Sterling Memorial Library, Yale University

iPhone in the library – How to use your iPhone as a library card and barcode scanner

December 3, 2010

I’m a librarian in my day job, and I love my iPhone so recently I’ve been exploring ways I can use it to search library catalogues and in bookshops by scanning the ISBN barcodes you find on the back of  books and even by scanning the library barcodes that libraries stick into their stock.  On the way I’ve also found that you can generate the barcodes from your membership and loyalty cards so they display on and can be read from the screen of  your phone.  Not all of this works perfectly yet, but there’s enough working  successfully to make it worth a go…  so if you’re in the profession, be ready for customers waving the phone at you rather than their library card!

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pic2shop

I first found out about using the iPhone as a barcode reader a few months ago (I think it was on a local librarians’  email list).

pic2shop search result

pic2shop search result

It suggested using a free app called pic2shop.  Like most of the barcode scanning apps it’s primarily a shopping tool enabling consumers to compare prices by scanning barcodes on goods (and a common complaint is that currently the Australian coverage is poor). However if you scan a book’s ISBN  it does include a “see local libraries” option:

As long as you’ve set your country preference, it will pull up records from WorldCat .Click on the library name and it will take you to the library catalogue.

pic2shop local libraries

pic2shop local libraries

I’m amused to see as I scrolled down that the next batch of libraries are in South Australia, followed by Victoria – it’s a generous definition of local!:

RedLaser

RedLaser

A similar app that also connects to WorldCat is RedLaser, you can read about using RedLaser to link to WorldCat on the WorldCat site.  At the time of writing RedLaser has become a free app.  RedLaser also enables you to create custom barcode reading apps – more on that later…

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zbar

My favourite barcode reader so far (and I’ve not done a mass of reasearch) is ZBarit’s free and easily customizable, even by amateur geeks like me! I found out about ZBar by Googling for information on using iPhones as barcode scanners in libraries.  The best information was in a great post in Aaron Tay’s blog Musings about librarianship – How to check your library catalogue by using your IPhone as a free barcode scanner – ZBar & RedLaser.    His instructions for setting up ZBar are really clear so I won’t repeat them here!  I played around with customizing it search the State Library of WA’s catalogue using ISBNs.  Quite easy to set up using Aaron’s instructions but I did have some troubles as some of the information required to display the results correctly (for the technically minded it’s the scoping data ) was in the suffix of the search URL.

If you do an ISBN search in the SLWA catalogue the resulting URL is:

http://henrietta.liswa.wa.gov.au/search/i?SEARCH=9780349117737&sortdropdown=-&searchscope=2

Setting up Dymocks search in ZBar

Dymocks on ZBar

To set up a ZBar search string you need to drop everything after the first =, but in that particular catalogue you also need the searchscope data for the result to display correctly.  I’m no expert in the inner workings of catalogue softwear, however I realised I needed to be able to specify the scope data earlier in the search string.  I fiddled around in the Innovative Users Group listserv (where the catalogue system geeks come out to play) and found an alternative that seems to work:

http://henrietta.liswa.wa.gov.au/search~S2/i?SEARCH=

(select ISBN-13 as the barcode type)

i.e. the ~S2 has the same function as searchscope=2.  It works, but I’m prepared to be corrected by the experts if there’s a reason you shouldn’t do this!

You can easily set up other customised ISBN searches as well, I’ve done the same for my LibraryThing account and for Dymocks:

ZBar SLWA barcode

ZBar SLWA barcode

Of course ISBNs are not the only barcodes used in libraries, individual items of stock have barcode stickers that enable library staff to quickly stockcheck, and loan individual copies of items in their collections.  With a bit of inside knowledge I was able to use this string to set up a ZBar search that scans the State Library’s item barcodes and brings up the catalogue record:

http://henrietta.liswa.wa.gov.au/search~S2/b?SEARCH=

(select Code39 as the  barcode type)

The only downside is that I can’t get the camera in the app to lock on to  the very long Code 39 barcodes used by the library – it may be better if you’ve got an iPhone 4!  There is a slightly cumbersome workaround – go into camera, take a picture of the barcode (use landscape mode and tap to focus, zoom may also help).  Then open the ZBar app and instead of using the camera icon in the centre of the bottom taskbar, use the picture icon (mountains in a frame) on the right hand side – you can then select the picture of the barcode and proceed as normal.  I’m going to contact the app developers about this as it seems to me to be the way the app uses the camera that is the problem.

RedLaser Custom Apps

RedLaser Custom Apps

You can use the same search strings when setting up custom apps to search for ISBNs at libraries and bookshops using RedLaser (only for the ISBNs, RedLaser won’t read Code 39).   Note that if you are using a later operating system for your iPhone you’ll need to use the send icon in the middle of the toolbar to save the app, rather than the suggested +.  At time of posting RedLaser has a glitch where you get a blank screen after scanning.  You’ll need to use the send icon and select “Open with Safari” to see the result (this has been reported by others to RedLaser so should be fixed in a future update).

CardStar logo

CardStar

Now, from identifying media to identifying clients – as mentioned before I’ve had a play with CardStar – again this hasn’t been developed as a library app but it does enable you to create a virtual library card on your iPhone.  At the time of writing the option to scan the card in is freezing the app [it’s fixed! 21 Dec 2010], so it’s “type in the numbers and try different symbologies until the image on the screen matches your card” time!  I’ve generated a whole bunch of virtual cards, which I won’t show here (nice though it would be) as I’d like to keep my identity private!  I have tried scanning a CardStar generated library card with two different barcode readers – an old one read it perfectly, the newer more powerful scanner wouldn’t read it at all, so this isn’t yet a complete solution – however it does point to future trends that the profession need to keep an eye on!

Last of all here are a couple of youtube videos from WorldCat User in the USA on using pic2shop and RedLaser to search WorldCat:

and

Web 2.0 and Creative Commons – two events

September 3, 2010

Went to two presentations at work yesterday. 

ALIA Access 2010 logo

ALIA Access 2010

 

The first was a webcast from ALIA Access 2010 on Information literacy and Web 2.0 in libraries with presentations from  Louise Pieper at Gold Coast City Council and their online book club in the form of Book Coasters blog – we had some tech problems with the streaming but I gather it was an overt book club but also a covert Web 2.0, information literacy tool for staff and clients.  The next presentation was from Christopher Stephen at Read How You Want – a publisher who’s taken advantage of the long tail and publish-on-demand to re-publish books in tailored large print, e-pub, braille and audio formats for print handicapped customers and libraries.  Really neat niche operation that profit shares with the big publishers.  I was sorry to miss the third presentation on Online Learning and Web 2.0 from the session from Linda Barron at SLQ but I had to go to my next event for the day! 

Creative Commons Roadshow 2010

Creative Commons Roadshow 2010

 

The main show for the day was the Creative Commons Roadshow 2010, best described by them as: 

designed for those interested in finding out about CC for the first time, looking for an update on recent developments and the Australian Version 3.0 licences, or wanting to know how CC is being used by people in their local area 

Great presentations which I won’t recap here (the links in the description take you to the information), but I do want to capture some sites that were mentioned that caught my attention (listed here in no particular order, grabbed some of these on the iPhone as they were mentioned): 

There were a whole bunch more some of which I wrote down but I don’t have access to my notes right now, I’ll add them when I get a chance…
15/9/10 – Here are some more links (somewhat at random!):


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