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!

Still more free eBooks from the Internet Archive

A group of libraries led by the Internet Archive have announced a new, cooperative 80,000+ eBook lending collection of mostly 20th century books on OpenLibrary.org, a site where it’s already possible to read over 1 million eBooks without restriction.

According to the Internet Archive post/release, any OpenLibrary.org account holder can borrow up to 5 eBooks at a time, for up to 2 weeks. Books can only be borrowed by one person at a time. People can choose to borrow either an in-browser version (viewed using the Internet Archive’s BookReader web application), or a PDF or ePub version, managed by the free Adobe Digital Editions software. This new technology follows the lead of the Google eBookstore (which we don’t yet have in Australia!), which sells books from many publishers to be read using Google’s books-in-browsers technology.

Openlibrary.org is worth a visit, if only to see some of  1,000,000 free ebook titles available.

The World’s classic literature at your fingertips!

How about Down with skool!  A guide to school life for tiny pupils and their parents published in 1953. That’s one I have to check out – should be funny or perhaps frightening, depending on what’s inside!

But really – this sort of development is exciting. While the books are ‘old’ – they also include some quality literature. Lot’s of  good reading to while away the time, or expand the mind.

Six months later how is this magazine fan going?

Funny how quickly you can adapt to a new way of doing things – when it works!  I’m a magazine collector – I like to read magazines to keep up to date, read quietly over a cup of coffee, or take when out and about. One of my favourite things to do is to grab the latest copy of New Scientist before boarding a plane!

But I’ve never enjoyed the stockpile of back issues, and hated making the decision of when to throw them out. I hated this so much, that I even stopped subscribing to magazines as an escape.

Enter my new iPad – and the installation of my Zinio App.  The Zinio Magazines and Book App can be used to browse all my magazines after I’ve  purchased individual issues or bought a subscription. There is an extensive range of magazines from around the world to to make my subscription choices from.

My Zinio library can be synchronised with any of my computing tools,  so my magazines are then available on all of my fixed and portable devices.  Magazines can be viewed in portrait or landscape mode, and hyperlinks can be used to navigate between pages as well as online content.

My paper magazines were never this flexible!

Zinio is not a totally new multimedia experience. It’s been around for years apparently but does seem to have come ‘into its own’ with the iPad.   Zinio simply aims to duplicate the print magazine reading experience in digital format, with zoom and hyperlinks thrown in. For now, I’m happy with that, because that’s what I enjoy. I’m not looking for embedded video files or interactive games. I’m not that interested in the iPad Magazines: Pros and Cons, so much as just wanting to read my magazines, pay less for them, and have them stored digitally. Happy!

When a new issue of a magazine I have subscribed to is ready for pickup – I receive an email. Love getting my Mac World :-)

I don’t bother with reading Zinio on my computer screen, though I might be tempted if I had a Mac Air. However, an additional handy feature is the way that Zinio adapts to the iPhone interface. While you wouldn’t use an iPhone instead of an iPad all the time, the functionality is excellent.

First see the page, then toggle between page view and mobile view with ease. It handles all menu choices, and is as easy as reading newspapers or blogs maximised for use on small devices.

Zinio on iPhone

One of the pleasures of my iPad was re-discovering magazines. Zinio is still developing, even though its been around for a long time. I am sure they will add additional functionality in time, like  sync between devices for latest page read which is common for other e-readers (but not such an issue for a shorted publication like a magazine) and pages being slow to render the first time the magazine is loaded.  I do like that fact that I can delete magazines from the device  too – something like this is not important now, but will be the longer term. Magazines are also backed up in iTunes. The computer interface allows me to search through my magazines, and print pages I want.

But wait – there is more!  I’m amazed that we aren’t talking more about the potential of this tool for our schools and libraries. Education Today from Canada is already available via Zinio. Our professional associations could jump on board.  Thanks to Tammy for highlighting to me “that  Zinio also allows readers to digitally annotate (ink on a tablet) by highlighting and putting notes on text.  Zinio Labs also has their “Digital Classics” library.  There are versions available in Mac and Windows.  There’s also an iPhone version. McGraw-Hill has some textbooks available using Zinio as well.  Here’s an example of the reader window with annotations”.

Kids of Dreams – 2010 marks 21 years!

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It’s not long since our wonderful Friday evening launch and celebration of the 21st edition of our annual Kids of Dreams publication which celebrates literary and artistic talent. Student’s  prose, poetry and artwork from Years 7-12 are included in the publication.

It was an amazing night! Why?  Well it was ‘special’ for a number of reasons.  I was the main editor of the production this year, along with my wonderful Teacher Librarian colleague Kirsten Reim (who wrote a wonderful editorial for me), supported by my ever efficient library team. We came to the job a little late this year, so it was a complete scramble to the end, making sure that everything was as right as possible.  So much writing, so much art, so many decisions about layout and presentation. It was an amazing and rewarding experience to be able to work on a publication that showcases the work of our students who have the courage to speak up in artistic forms.

Author Brian Caswell provided the judging of the student’s literary works. Brian was Writer in Residence at the College earlier in the year.  Brian’s comments for each item he chose for an award are worth reading – so much so, that this year I included the judge’s comments within the publication itself  as a record of achievement for the students.

Kids of Dreams was  launched on Friday 19th November with the help of my talented Twitter friend Mark Pesce (inventor, writer, theorist, panelist on #newinventors, obsessed with language, communication, social networks).  I was able to tell the audience that Mark was the first VIP guest to come to the College as a result of an invitation arranged through Twitter!

Mark provided an inspirational keynote/official launch presentation – and focussed on the power of creativity to drive our learning and thinking. Creativity and inspiration is inside us all, and around us every day. How we harness these talents and opportunities is up to us, and how we share them with others is the key to change and development of value in all we do.

Hey! I never thought I would be MC at an event with Mark!!  Thanks very much Mark for making out 21st celebration a stunning success.