Hands on the future – spotting Web 3.0.

I recently returned from an outstanding conference in our region, hosted in Singapore by the International School Library Network. I have not had the opportunity to previously attend this conference, but with nearly 300 delegates  and 46 workshop presenters the Hands on Literacy  2012 conference was certainly a success. I was there to present the Keynote to round up the conference day, and I hope that Preparing our Students for Web 3.0 Learning did that in some small way.

But first we started with school library tours the day before, visiting all the various libraries at  Tanglin Trust School, the Singapore American School, and the United World College of South East Asia. What wonderful ideas and new design ideas were captured in each of these schools! Sofa seats with bookend designs, book-swap bowl,  painted designs on chairs, the most gorgeous story corners, the cleverest display and promotion ideas, and so much more. If you ever have the time to join a conference in the future, and take the tour you won’t regret it!

My favourite was the huge sign outside the entrance to SAS – asking for contributions to the annual year book.  Cool huh? Particularly since I hear that some students spend a lot of time on Instagram, even in preference to Facebook.

Learn and learn and then learn some more – I think that was perhaps the underlying message throughout the conference. Hands on literacy took many shapes and forms, and the challenges were equally met by enthusiasm and a willingness to share. Joyce Valenza set the day perfectly with a bucket-load of challenges, so even before anyone hit the workshops their heads were spinning.

My message is really that today’s novelty is tomorrows norm, whether we like it or not. And tomorrows norm is going to take a shape and direction that many have not even considered, even thought the shift is already taking place before our very eyes.

Our personal information age may well have been launched in 1993  when the Mosaic 1.0 browser made the World Wide Web available for contribution and participation by anyone with access to the Internet.  It was a revolution. The future possibilities are likely to be just as different to those initial experiences – so are we ready prepared? Now in the “Internet of Things” anything imaginable is capable of being connected to the network, be come intelligent offering almost endless possibilities in human/technology interaction. Information and learning are at another cross-roads, and I like to think that teachers and teacher librarians are going to meet these developments with their eyes wide open.

Today we are surrounded by interfaces for discovery.  What do we want from technology? How can we create better experiences?  Our new networked society is going to fundamentally change the way we innovate, collaborate, produce, govern and sustain. Come with me on the journey. Now!

Image: Faces cc licensed ( BY SA ) flickr photo shared by heyjudegallery

The First Banned Books Video Calendar is Ready!

The Entresse Library in Espoo, Finland and FAIFE (IFLA Committee on Freedom of Access to Information and Freedom of Expression) have together created the world’s first Banned Books Video Calendar. The project has garnered international attention and is considered pioneering in many ways.

“Last year, Entresse created a Finnish video calendar of banned books. Due to the high quality of the final product, we decided to take it to an international forum,” says Director Kai Ekholm of the National Library of Finland and the Chair of FAIFE.

The project’s participants include leading figures in the library world, who introduce their favourite banned books: IFLA President Ingrid Parent presents Timothy Findlay’s The Wars; Finnish IFLA President-Elect Sinikka Sipilä talks about Mika Waltari’s The Egyptian; Kai Ekholm introduces Allen Ginsberg’s Howl and Executive Director Jill Cousins of the Europeana Foundation expounds on James Joyce’s Ulysses. Other books include Art Spiegelman’sMaus, Hitler’s Mein Kampf, Boccaccio’s Decameron and Walt Disney’s Donald Duck.

Each day a new window will open and a new book will be presented on several sites throughout the world. You may access the latestest videos at the Banned Books Advent Calendar on Vimeo.

The Advent calendar can also be accessed at kirjastokaista.fi/bannedbooks

Here is Day One from UBC University Librarian and IFLA president, Ingrid Parent,  who presents The Wars (1977) by Timothy Findley.

Plant a little library

Seems that small is good, in even more ways than I realised.  Take a look at these Tiny House Libraries – this  free sharing initiative also helps communities promote the  fun of reading!

These Little Free Libraries are about ‘paying it forward’. People can take a book and return a book when they can. The scheme is simple and generous. Plant a small box, kind of like a bird house for books, atop a post. Fill it with about 20 books. Tell friends…

Read more about it at http://www.littlefreelibrary.org .  Some of these are just so cute!

Small is an important [re]action in libraries

Seems the wheel keeps turning, when it’s powered by cultural and community interest.  I remember when I first moved to my suburb with a young family, over 20 years ago. Beecroft had it’s own children’s library, run and staffed entirely by volunteers. This was the greatest thing, and perfect for an age of literacy, knowledge, curiosity and excitement which was powered by the best in youth works in both fiction and non-fiction collections.

Beecroft Children’s Library was a vibrant and significant part of the Beecroft-Cheltenham community for over 50 years.  It was important for two reasons:

  • it was an important resource for the area’s youth, complementing the high quality schools the area is renowned for; and
  • it was a good example of volunteerism, with it’s fund-raising social activities a focal point for the community, as well as the volunteer staffing of the library.

In our connected era, the notion, purpose, and function of libraries are being challenged. In this context, it’s great to see the ways in which grass-roots action is positioning ‘volunteer’ libraries once again in new ways to meet new needs.

I love the the trend of teeny-weeny libraries in little playhouses. The Corner Library is the latest in a slew of “micro-libraries” cropping up at different locations across the United States. Currently situated in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, this treehouse-sized book shop is the brainchild of artist Colin McMullan. A mini replica of the classic public library, it contains everything from books to ‘zines to newspapers to comics, all available to check out for free- all you need is access to the lock code. Browse the titles and learn more here!

In much the same way the Great British Phone Box seems to be living on as a tiny library. The red telephone box is a British design classic. And many of these iconic boxes, as well as more modern boxes are getting a new lease of life as part of our innovative Adopt a Kiosk programme. Sometimes this newley adopted phonebox becomes a micro-library.

Meanwhile, the Town of Clinton in New York’s Hudson Valley recently christened a bright red British telephone kiosk as “America’s Littlest Library.” The Book Booth, a branch of the Clinton Community Library houses about 100 books and is part of the library’s book exchange program. Staino in the Library Journal  explains how the library’s Friends’ group created the branch library from the classic British telephone booth. The idea came from Claudia Cooley, a library Friend, who was familiar with the recent British trend of transforming no longer used booths into art galleries, toilets, and, in one case, a pub. Cooley envisioned upcycling the booth, which had long stood outside a local café, as a way to bring together a community that does not have a town center.

The Occupy Wall Street library encouraged readers to set up People’s Libraries around the country: “if you’d like to open a branch of the People’s Library in your New York neighborhood, find a [Privately Owned Public Space], bring down some books and meet your neighbors. It all starts with a few books in a box.”

Wow – public spaces that people own adopted for ‘libraries by people’ is great!

GalleyCat also suggests that we explore free eBook collections at eBookNewser, Project Gutenberg or the Internet Archive for ideas. Post your list on your blog, Facebook page, LibraryThing page, Twitter account, Goodreads page or Tumblr blog.

Seems to me that the small [re]action in libraries has a lot going for it!  It’s all part of the cultural voice crying out that LIBRARIES MATTER.

Don’t like the new Google Reader?



To be honest, I’ve always hated Google Reader, so the current round of complaints since the update have had no impact on my RSS reading habits.  One quick look tells me that the interface is more palatable, having adopted the new Google look common to it’s other product upgrades. However, my RSS reads also tell me that many are unhappy, and that one of the key issues is the social interface.

Google Reader’s  redesign  removes social features to other websites. The Google Reader team has prepared for the release to be unpopular with some users in the userbase saying in a preemptive post “we recognize, however, that some of you may feel like the product is no longer for you” adding that they extended the amount of exportable data.  “Starting today we’ll be turning off friending, following, shared items and comments in favor of similar Google+ functionality” and iterated “we hope you’ll like the new Reader (and Google+) as much as we do, but we understand that some of you may not. Retiring Reader’s sharing features wasn’t a decision that we made lightly, but in the end, it helps us focus on fewer areas, and build an even better experience across all of Google”.

Google Reader is certainly changing. In truth I am not at all ‘qualified’ to comment on the current iteration of Reader. Why?

I’m been a long time fan and user of Feedly. If you’ve been around in any of my presentations, you’ll know that I like Feedly so much that I recommend it all the time.


cc licensed ( BY SD ) flickr photo shared by heyjudegallery

If you currently manage all your feeds in Google Reader, Feedly is a nice way to transition to a different style of feed reader. Feedly syncs with your Google Reader account, but uses a more magazine-style interface. The minimalist interface thankfully doesn’t put as much emphasis on whitespace as the new Google Reader, either. The service offers support for a plethora of social media services, but doesn’t include any built-in substitute for Google Reader’s social features.

Just in time for the launch of the new Google Reader, Feedly also just launched version 7 of its web service

As an added bonus, there are also  various mobile and tablet apps for Feedly which work nicely now. However, when it comes to my iPhone I also have a friendly relationship with FeedlerPro!

Top image: cc licensed ( BY ) flickr photo by stylianosm

Our book passion – in an e-book age!

Last week I was fortunate to attend the 2-day  Reading Matters conference in Melbourne.  I learnt a lot.

This is a most wonderful annual event hosted by the State Library of Victoria, and brings keen librarians, teachers and teacherlibrarians in contact with authors (lots of them!) and the topics they write about. Names like Markus Zuzak, Cassandra Clare,  Melina Marchetta, Rebecca Stead, Jane, Burke, Kirsty Eage, Denis Wright, Lili Wilkinson, Lucy Christopher, Richard Newsome and more were a standout!

The book drama and the hosted discussion panel format was just sensational! as was the opportunity to just mingle with some of the world’s best writers and to have copies of their books signed.  So many authors in just one place and so many ideas really spun my head around.

@SLVLearn  from the  State Library of Victoria school program unit provided a wonderful collection of key points throughout the conference, and the discussion was interesting in the backchannel at #RM11.   I am not sure why this conference is not better promoted amongst the teacher librian networks in Australia. This is one of the great annual opportunities to hear the ‘inside’ story about the story and the passion of writing – from an adult perspective.

While you are thinking literature, check back to Inside a Dog from the State Library of Victoria. Their outstanding website has had a makeover – it’s better than ever! Not only can you engage your students with writing book reviews, but your class can also have a wonderful Book Club, regardless of where your school is actually located!

One of the passions I used to have was to collect signed copies of books of my favourite authors. But since I have adopted my Kindle for reading fiction, I have come to realise that I do not want to buy lots of paper versions of books anymore – but I would still have loved to collect some signatures.

I tweeted this thought:

cc licensed ( BY SD ) flickr photo shared by heyjudegallery

And a kind twitter follower pointed to the following possiblities.  Now that WOULD be a great addition to future literature conferences :-)  I wonder which one I might see this at in the future?

Guardians of good reading!

Launched on World Book Day, the brand new Guardian UK Children’s Books Site has been designed and curated with the help of a dedicated editorial panel of 100 children and teens from around the world. “They told us what they wanted, and we did our best to make it happen. And that’s how the site will work: by children, for children”.

Discover the team by reading their 10-word profiles and watching the ‘get involved’ video. Inspired to get involved yourself? If you’re under 18 and a booklover, we’d love to have you on board. Here’s how.

Thanks Guardian!