Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Adelaide North Terrace Cultural Precinct

My last day in South Australia I spent in the Adelaide North Terrace Cultural Precinct. North Terrace runs east west on the northern edge of the Adelaide central business district, next to the Torrens River. Within a kilometer along the terrace are campuses of the Universities of Adelaide and South Australia, the State Library, Museum and Art Gallery.

I stayed in the Hotel Richmond, which is located in an arcade between the main shopping precinct (Rundle Mall) at the front and North Terrace behind.

On the next corner is the Centre for Defence Communications & Information Networking (DSIC), where I met the director, Dr Bruce Northcote who was giving a talk that evening to the ACS. The previous evening I had given a talk on how the IT industry could help defence. The building housing DSIC has a learning commons on the ground floor, with informal computer equipped meeting spaces for students.

As befits a high technology university building, the one housing DSIC had the most complicated lift buttons I have ever seen: to call am lift, rather than pressing a button for "up", you enter the floor you wish to go to. Presumably the lift control system then optimises the traffic.

I walked through the Adelaide University grounds to the banks of the Torrens Rive, where there are kilometres of cycling and walking tracks. A short walk up the river and around the corner was the State Library of South Australia. In the cafe I happened across Dr Genevieve Bell , Intel Fellow, Digital Home Group Director, User Experience Group, Intel Corporation, who talked in Canberra last week.

Labels: , , , , ,

Monday, March 22, 2010

Disaster Proofing Heritage Collections

The Australian Library and Information Association is hosting a symposium on "Disaster Proofing Heritage Collections" (registration) with Blue Shield Australia & DISACT, 6 May 2010 at the National Library of Australia, in Canberra.

Recently the International Council on Archives passed on a request to the international community for assistance in preserving the cultural heritage of Haiti. In addition to physical work to shore up buildings damaged in the recent earthquake and to remove cultural materials to safety the Statement of Requirements identified the need for IT staff and equipment to assist in digitising and recording cultural materials. When visiting Samoa to teach information technology for Museum staff, I heard of instances where artefacts were removed to "safety" because of a disaster, but were never seen again. As there were no good records, it was not possible to know what was missing or if it was stolen, or mislaid in a warehouse somewhere. Thus the need for records.
Developing updated guidelines for environmental conditions in collecting institutions
Julian Bickersteth
Guidelines for environmental conditions in collecting institutions have for the past 40 years or so been defined within fairly narrow parameters. ...
AICCM has established a Taskforce to develop guidelines for Australian conditions based on current international standards, which are changing as a result of these pressures. Julian Bickersteth is the chair of the Taskforce and will be detailing the progress that has been made to date on developing these guidelines ....

AICCM Victorian Division’s Response to the Victorian Bushfires of 2009: After Disaster Struck.
Alexandra Ellem
This paper presents key aspects of AICCM’s response to communities affected by the 2009 Victorian bushfires and the unique role conservation can play regarding disaster response and cultural heritage. ...

Centre for the National Museum of Australia Collections: a proposal for sustainable collections storage and management.
Greer Gehrt and Eric Archer
The National Museum of Australia (NMA) recently completed a functional design brief for the design and development of new storage and collection management facilities for the National Historical Collection.
As part of this process, the NMA has undertaken extensive studies into the use of passive building technologies. ...

Alert But Not Alarmed: A decade of the Disasters ACT Network.
Bernard Kertesz
DISACT (the DISasters ACT network) is a network of disaster preparedness practitioners operating in south-eastern New South Wales and centred in the Australian Capital Territory. Although largely driven, resourced and enabled by the major Commonwealth cultural collecting institutions, the network participants represent more than 25 Commonwealth, ACT Government and private sector organisations. ...

Meeting and Reporting “Conservation Standards” for Environmental Conditions; The Government’s Key Performance Indicators Versus The Real World
Jennifer Lloyd
It is not unreasonable that the Commonwealth Government expects the custodianship of the nation’s heritage collections to be a responsible one. Maximising the life expectancy of these collections is a priority for all cultural collecting institutions. ...

Blue Shield Australia - Building Disaster Resilience into the Australian and Asia-Pacific Heritage Sectors
Detlev Lueth
The Blue Shield is the cultural equivalent of the Red Cross. The distinctive emblem was specified by the UNESCO’s 1954 Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict. It is also the name of the International Committee of Blue Shield (ICBS), set up in 1996 to advise UNESCO on the protection of the world's cultural heritage threatened by wars and natural
disasters. With the permission of the ICBS in 2005 Blue Shield Australia was established. BSA’s vision is to influence disaster preparedness and emergency management in Australia in order to ensure the
preservation of cultural heritage within Australia’s areas of responsibility and influence. ...

Not If But When! Some Observations on Collection Disaster Preparedness Around Australia.
Kim Morris
Disaster planning for collections has been a feature of cultural activity in collecting institutions in Australia since 1985 when the National Library suffered a serious and devastating fire. Major national and state institutions recognised the need to prepare for collection disasters and began developing
response and recovery plans. ...

AICCM and a National Response Network
Kay Söderlund
Spurred on by the year that saw the Victorian bush fires and the Queensland floods, AICCM has started work on a project to develop a National Response Network in order to more effectively help communities and museums that have been devastated by disasters. Kay Söderlund, National President of AICCM, will briefly outline the project and the plan for the coming year. ...

Planning for Floods in a Drought: Cooperative Regional Responses to Disasters
Roger Trudgeon
The secret to good risk management is planning to deal with events that you would normally deem to be impossible. In the midst of the state’s worst drought in years, the Gold Museum, Ballarat was flooded on New Year’s Day in 2007. In the context of climate change and the increasing likelihood of extreme weather events it is essential to think ahead as to how we face such catastrophes. ...

From: Paper abstracts and biographies, Disaster Proofing Heritage Collections, Australian Library and Information Association, 2010

Labels: , , ,

Monday, March 15, 2010

ONE hundred exhibition

The State Library of NSW has the free ONE hundred exhibition on until June 2010.This is for the centenary of the Mitchell Library. There will be something to interest everyone from a manuscript hand written by Capitan James Cook to the manuscript of Reedy River for the New Theatre production. This is not on the scale of the National Library of Australia's 2005 Treasures exhibition, but still worthwhile. Unfortunately the state library exhibition is hampeed by a poor quality web site, which lacks an index to the exhibits.

Labels: , , ,

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Stack iPads for Library e-Book Display

Apple iPad video wall proposed by Clarke Hopkins ClarkeAccording to Gizmodo, architects Clarke Hopkins Clarke have suggested stacking hundreds of Apple iPads on a library wall to display iBooks. A wall of iPads in a library is an intriguing idea, but would cost twenty times as much as some alternatives. There are much more affordable and environmentally efficient ways to build a video wall to display e-Books.

Many libraries now use large flat panel displays. These can be used to show book details. The latest of these displays used LED backlit LCD panels, which use less power than old plasma screens. One computer can drive many displays, making the setup much cheaper. A video projector can also be used to make a wall size display which can show one large image, or well as many small ones. At the Australian National University's famous " CSIT building N101 seminar room" I have used the full wall display for presentations. Three high resolution projectors cover one wall of the room and a computer with three video interfaces knits these into one large desktop. The wall has also been used for video art display. The wall can display cinema style video, or when the room is needed for other purposes, simply switched off.

An Apple iPad has an area of about 0.05m2 and costs about US$500. The Dell G2410 24-inch LED LCD monitor has an area of 0.23m2 and costs about US$300. Allowing for the extra computer hardware to drive a video wall, the LCD screens would cost about US$500 each. These would cost the same as the iPads, but because the iPads are much smaller the wall would cost five times as much.

The wall depicted by Clarke Hopkins Clarke has thirty columns of iPads, ten high, or 300 in total. The wall would cover 15m2 and the iPads would cost US$150,000. The same wall area would require about 66 LCD screens and cost US$33,000. Using video projectors would cost about US$7,000.

Labels: , , , , ,

Thursday, December 31, 2009

What is a Bath Book?

It is a little frustrating getting my book "Green Technology Strategies" into the catalogue of the National Library of Australia. First I tried sending the details, then I tried an electronic copy, a preprint and finally a few weeks ago an actual published copy handed in at the library. So far the book has not appeared in the catalog. I found it in Trove, which indicates the details came from Libraries Australia, which is run by the NLA. Also I am curious as to why it is described as a "Bath Book".

Labels: , ,

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Green ICT at the Library of Alexandria

Senator Lundy blogged about my book in "New E-book: how to be green in ICT" and mentioned how the PM referred to the greenhouse gas emissions savings which could be made with broadband. In checking where the book would be available "print on demand" in stores, I noticed that one is the Bibliotheca Alexandrina (Library of Alexandria) in Egypt. It is somewhat of an honour to have a book available in the same place the ancients borrowed their books. For the readers at the library, the e-book is available translated into Arabic by Google.

Labels: , , ,

Monday, November 16, 2009

Eco-Annandale 2010 Exhibition

glass sculptureThe Eco-Annandale 2010 Exhibition runs 6 December 2009 to 30 January 2010 at the Leichhardt Library in Sydney.
Eco-Annandale 2010 Exhibition
6 December 2009 to 30 January 2010
Leichhardt Library, Piazza Level, Italian Forum 23 Norton St, Leichhardt

Monday-Friday:9.30am-8pm Saturday:9.30am-4pm Sunday:10am-4pm
  • Night Market: 5.30-7.30pm Wednesday 9th December 2009.
  • Night Market: 5.30-7.30pm Wednesday 16th December 2009.

Forestry and farming in the 18th and 19th Centuries, followed by residential and industry development denuded Annandale of most of its Local Provenance vegetation.

However, since 1995 a dedicated group of locals, who form the Rozelle Bay Community Native Nursery have propagated and reintroduced some of the plants which would have thrived in Annandale in earlier times. As a result of the reintroduction of this local provenance vegetation, native birds and animals which rely on these plants for food have followed. Insects, lizards and birds that feed on the lizards, insects and plants have established themselves in Annandale and provide the diversity of sounds in the dawn chorus.

A diversity of plants and animals provides security for food and air quality in an era of climate change. The diversity of species and genetic material means that particular plants may survive and others will die under new conditions. These plants enrich and secure the soil, filter the air we breathe and transpire the water that falls as rain in our dams and on our crops. The wider the range of plants the greater the chance is that there will be some which will thrive in new climatic conditions.

Plants absorb CO2 in the process of photosynthesis and are a natural Carbon Sink, making them an important in reducing Global Warming.

Plants such as Mangroves stabilize foreshores and mountainsides and protect against erosion and landslides, making them critical to mitigating the effects of rising sea levels due to Climate Change.

The focus of works in the Eco-Annandale 2010 exhibition (December 2009 and January 2010) will be Annandale's biodiversity. Entry to the exhibition is Free.

Marghanita da Cruz, Curator of Eco-Annandale.

Labels: , , , ,

Sunday, October 25, 2009

What Happened to the Ancient Library of Alexandria?

"What Happened to the Ancient Library of Alexandria?" is the intriguing title of a collection of papers from by the modern library of Alexandria. These were edited by Mostafa El-Abbadi and Omnia Mounir Fathallah , with an introduction by Ismail Serageldin. In brief they suggest the library was not bur down in on confligration, but siffered a gradual decline.

Labels: ,

Thursday, July 09, 2009

ACT Library Self Check Problems

The ACT Government has installed new Self Check Out machines in the ACT Library at Belconnen. While the machines work well mechanically, the printed instructions on the units do not match the actual operation. I asked the library staff member on duty and they explained that they were not permitted to change the instructions without permission from senior management. I suggest the senior management needs to visit the Belconnen Library, be briefed by the staff, authorise a change and have it done promptly. If the management can't do this, then Jon Stanhope, Minister for Territory and Municipal Services needs to replace the management.

Labels: , , ,

Monday, June 01, 2009

Brisbane Square

Greetings from Brisbane Square. This is the city of Brisbane's answer to Federation Square, Melbourne. Like Melbourne, this is a large open paved area, with wired modern sculpture, backed by a brightly coloured building with angular panels on it, opposite a historic building next to a river, at a transport hub. In the distance a large Ferris wheel is visible. In the case of Brisbane, the sculptures appear to be made from domestic cutlery baskets, the paving is not dangerously uneven like Melbourne's.

The transport in Brisbane is buses (the city foolishly scrapped its trams in 1969). Unlike Melbourne where the transport passes the square at ground level, the buses disappear into an underground station. This has less ambiance than Melbourne's trams, but also less noise and danger.

The building behind the square has cafes facing out, although it was uncomfortably cold and windy there today. Like many such squares, they need something to block the drafts.

There is a more comfortable cafe in the foyer of the building, which also has the Brisbane city library. The building has been cleverly designed to blend the public library spaces into the city officials offices. Up an escalator are public Internet terminals provided by the library on one side and places to pay rates on the other. There are children's books, magazines and newspapers. At the back are some community meeting rooms and behind these are council meeting rooms. The next floor up is the reference collection, with the rest of the building containing offices.

Labels: ,

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Peter Carey's Laptop

Greetings from the State Library of Victoria where the free exhibition The Independent Type: Books and Writing in Victoria is on until 25 October 2009. This has artefacts from Victoria's publishing history. There are Events, an Audio Tour, Education Resource and a Touring Exhibition.

Melbourne is the second UNESCO City of Literature, so the library can perhaps be forgiven for trying just a little too hard to make the claim for Melbourne's literary status. Most interesting to me were the differing technologies used by Peter Carey, Henry Handel Richardson, Tony Wheeler and Ern Malley.These include the typewriter used by Henry Handel Richardson for The Getting of Wisdom, that of Tony Wheeler's original "South East Asia on a Shoestring" (first of the Lonely Planet books), the Apple Mac Powerbook 3400 Peter Carey used to write "True History of the Kelly Gang" and the telegrams discussing the Ern Mally publication hoax.

The 27 minute Audio Tour is narrated by Ramona Koval, from ABC Radio National's The Book Show. It is available free as 13 mp3 files online in a podcast.

Labels: , ,

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Broadband, libraries and the creation of Australia’s digital culture

The National Library of Australia is hosting "Broadband, libraries and the creation of Australia’s digital culture" on Tuesday 18th November 2008, 9:00 AM, NLA Theatre, in Canberra:

With the new federal government establishing a Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy, maximising the potential of Australia’s digital culture has become a new strategic focus. Libraries, archives and related information agencies have a central role to play in exploiting these opportunities by helping communities and organisations – from the local to the national, and across sectors – come to grips with the possibilities that this focus on the digital world offers.

This seminar, the third in a series jointly supported by the National Library of Australia, Charles Sturt University and ALIA is intended to provide a broad overview of what this means for libraries and information agencies in strategy and in practice.

Labels: , ,

Monday, October 06, 2008

Computer desk redesign for the National Library of Australia

Sitting in the reading room of the National Library of Australia, I was using one of the computer workstations to research the design of desks for learning commons. It occurred to me that I was sitting at such a desk, so I looked around to see how it was done and what could be improved.

The NLA appears to use a standard desk for visitors in an attractive dark honey timber. These are about 1800 x 750 mm, providing two 900 x 750 mm workstation spaces. There is a surround about 100 mm high at the sides and back of the desks, which is useful for defining the user's space (the library can get busy and there can be competition for space). The same desk design is used for computer workstations, microfilm readers and for paper based work. There are also taller desks to the same design for computer workstations with high chairs.

The desks have a cable hole in the surface to the left at the back of the work surface. This leads into a cavity about 100 mm deep under the desk formed by two large locked doors. This arrangement keeps the cables out of sight and away from interference. Unfortunately the aesthetics of the desks are compromised by an excess of cables behind the Dell computers, along with a magnetic card reader and a security cable. It is not clear why all this excess cable is bundled up on the desks instead of under the desks in the space designed for it.

About on third of the desktop is taken up by the PC boxes. The fans for these computers are directly in front of the user and so in the quite library environment, the fan sound it very obvious.

The library might consider relocating most of the cable in the cabinet under the desk. A second hole could be drilled on the right, to allow the mouse and card reader cables to be shortened. The magnetic card reader could be fixed to the desk at the hole (the card reader is rarely needed and does not have to be so prominent).

Consideration might be given top placing the PC boxes under the desk, but it may be better to wait until they are due form replacement and use disk less, fan less smaller units. In the interim the NLA might want to schedule cleaning of the dust from the fan filters.

Any new desks could be equipped with a 150 mm curve cut into the front to create more space. The cable hole could be relocated to the center of the back of the desk. The desks could be simplified by replacing the full height cabinet at the back with a smaller shelf.

Some 450 mm cabinets for holding printers and ancillary equipment might be made and placed at either end of a row of two desks, allowing the seating to be alternating on each side of the desk.

The NLA might want to adopt the practice of many libraries in having no high chairs for casual use terminals. Having to stand encourages the users to let someone else have a turn.

Labels: , ,

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Small desks for blended learning

A curious trend I have noticed in universities and research libraries is to provide larger desks for those with a computer than those without. With a computer the desks seem to be about 1200 x 800 mm per person, without a computer 900 x 700 mm. The computer keyboard, processor and screen takes up space and so it would seem to make sense to provide a larger desk, but even so, the computer desks are much larger. This may just be because they are newer. After looking around it would seem reasonable that if you have just the computer and keyboard on the desk (no processor) box, then a 900 x 600 mm desk is adequate.

If there are two rows of desks pushed back to back, with the seating staggered (that is the people on one side do not directly face those opposite) then it should be possible to reduce the depth of the desk to 450 mm. For privacy and noise reduction, the usual library carrels could be used, but the monitors themselves will form a a partition down the centre of the desk.

See also books on:
  1. Designing Campus Learning Environments
  2. Library design
  3. Classroom design

Labels: , ,

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Computers at the new Unviersity of Sydney SciTech Library

The Unviersity of Sydney SciTech Library opened on Monday. So I went along yesterday to look at their computers for students. The library has an interesting design of modular hexagonal desk for computer users. But laptops are provided for group work in a closed room, which may not be such a good idea.

The Building

The library is on the Darlington Campus, with a pedestrian bridge across the road to the main campus. The SciTech Library combines the technology collections of the university, including architecture, engineering and mathematics.

The library is on Level 1 of the new Jane Foss Russell Building (160 City Road), which was previously the Sydney Central building. The building appears to be not quite finished, with the ground floor fenced off. There are two webcams showing progress: Webcam One and Webcam Two.

The only way I could find into the library, was through the ajcent student services building. While the building has striking colored panels on tdhe street side, it is a bit dull on the other and the library is discretely tucked in underneath.

The library appears to be on one floor, with most services at the front, books in the middle some student desks at the back and some glass walled teaching rooms along one side. It looks a lot smaller than I was expecting and there is the feeling of being in the basement (although the library is on the first floor).


There are some walk up computers outside the library and some just inside the door. The user interface did not seem to have been quite worked out yet. Clicking on the catalog button first brought up a text terminal window, a warning that all you could get to was the catalog and only then the actual catalog.

The general use computers were HP Compaq units with the LCD screen sitting on top on the desk.

A sunken area has one long sit down computer desk made of hexagonal components. Each hexagon had sides of about 900mm, with two computers per hexagon. The hexagons form a meandering line down the middle of the room. Cabling appears to be run under the desks in a central fixed pedestal and run up through grommets in the desktop. The arrangement seems to work reasonably well, in some places forming niches where several students can work together. The desktops are finished in brightly colored laminate (similar in style to the panels on the outside of the building). While the desktops look modular, they appear to be fixed in place.

The hexagonal desk shape looks good and appears workable, but does not appear to make efficient use of space. The workspace for each student curves away from them. With about half of the 900 mm of space taken up by a keyboard and mouse, there is little space for paperwork. The space beyond the 900 mm bends away from them, making it of little use.

Learning Rooms

The far right wall of the library has several learning rooms. The wall is made of multicolored glass (similar in color and patter to the outside of the building). The glass is slightly textured (possibly be the use of a plastic coating to provide the color), but not sufficiently to provide privacy for classes.

The largest room is equipped with seven clusters, each made up of three tables, with two laptops on each table. The tables are the same size hexagons as outside, but are in plain white laminate and are freestanding with one central leg each. Three tables are pushed into a star pattern, but could be separated or make into fewer large arrangements. The cables from the laptops run down in a gap between the tree desks to floor sockets. The desks appear to have no provision for cabling and the gap needed for the cables spoils the aesthetics, but probably has no practical impact.

The room has non-adjustable white plastic chairs, not the height adjustable ones preferable for computer users.

There were no video projectors, white boards or other teaching equipment evident, but the walls of the room are painted mat white and could be projected onto. There is a movable partition wall one third the way down the room, allowing it to be divided in two.

The room is nearby the bookshelves and does not look very inviting. Also the door to enter was not apparent. The glass walls appear to be fixed and the room locked, so that the computers can't be used by library customers when a class is not booked. In addition the use of laptops would make casual use more difficult,. The laptops are different to the desktop computers in the rest of the library. Also laptops make a very desirable target for thieves making it difficult to provide them in an unsupervised room.

The room appears to be designed for group activities with three people per computer, two groups per table. As with the hexagonal desks outside, the desk layout doesn't appear to make good use of space. It is not clear exactly what the room is intended for and perhaps this has not yet been determined. The room is perhaps too large for many educational uses and perhaps a second movable wall, to divide it into three smaller areas would be useful.

The library might want to consider modifying the room to open it out for use when not needed for classes, using a design similar to the Ezones at University of Queensland.

Labels: , , ,

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Greek temple in Canberra

After many weeks away in the Eastern Mediterranean I felt I had come full circle when I noticed the stone set into the foyer of the National Library of Australia. This is a marble block from from the Library of Pantainos in the Ancient Agora of Athens and was a gift of the Greek Government in 1973. The NLA building is in a style called "Stripped Classical", looking like a Greek temple, with all the fiddly bits removed. The library currently looks even more like a Greek site, as there is a large wire fence around part of it and a temporary steel roof, while refurbishment work is done. Just about every second public building in Greece seems to be having work done on it.

Labels: ,

Sunday, May 25, 2008

KL City Library and Student Design Display

To escape from the heat and noise of KL I visited the Gombak Setia branch of the Kuala Lumpur city library, located at one end of Dataran Merdeka (Independence Square), with the Royal Selangor Club. at the other.

The Library was hosting a display of work by graphic design students, including displays of multimedia, including video trailers to promote video games. The students were giving presentations about their work and being assessed.

The library is located above the display area. Visitors are welcome and there is no charge, but you have to sign in at the front desk. Malaysians write down their government identity card number so I guess visitors should use their passport number, but no one seems to check: just write your details and take a visitors pass.

Up the stairs there is a reasonable collection of periodicals and books in several languages and computers for research. There is also some sort of gimmicky looking virtual reality display. There is a computer training room somewhere, but I couldn't find it. There is also, curiously, the Abraham Lincoln corner, with a miniature of the statue of Abraham Lincoln in the Mall in Washing DC. Why this was there I could not work out.

Labels: , ,

Saturday, May 10, 2008

New Concord Library

New Concord LibraryGreetings from the Community Open Day of the New Concord Library Sydney. This is a new building. It has several different types of perforated metal sunshades on the north curtain glass wall, as well as what appear to be solar powered ventilation towers, with wind vanes on the top. Two candy cane shaped vents, each more than a metre across, come out of the ground at the western end of the building and are presumably part of a low energy ventilation system.

There are breakout rooms for about six people on the north side with glass sliding doors on both sides of the rooms. When open, these doors provide access between the stacks and a corridor between the curtain wall of the building. When closed the rooms can be used for meetings. The idea of having a space which can be opened for general use when not needed otherwise is similar to that used in the Biological Sciences Library Building, University of Queensland . Other alcoves are on on one side and have two rows of tree PCs. Other alcoves have no PCs and were used on the open day as booths for community displays.

The library is equipped with HP Compaq dc7800 Ultra-slim desktop PCs fitted to the back of HP L1750 LCD screens. This arrangement eliminates the desktop computer boxes, but there still a lot of wires packed behind the units. ASUS's "E-Monitor" built into an LCD screen would suit a library. Most of the PCs are on very functional and solid laminated plywood benches. The hard uncovered chairs might need to be replaced with more comfortable ones.

Curved - jelly bean- computer desks at the new Concord LibraryThere are also some of the "jellybean" desks in the open plan areas, similar to those at RMIT Library Melbourne. Unlike the desks at RIMT, these have very stable legs and may suit a . There are power/data points recessed in the floor under the desks. These are made from stainless steel and look very solid, however the edges of the steel covering plates are sharp and may be a hazard for small children and also careless adults (a run over the edges with a file should fix the problem).
Welcome to your new Concord Library. IT'S YOURS TO
Join us when the opening ribbon is cut by Mayor Angelo Tsirekas at
When: Saturday, 10 May 11am-3pm.
Where: Concord
Library, 60 Flavelle Street, Concord.
There's Something For
tour the library;
join the library;
face painting by Colleen
from Bunnings or Cheekie the Clown;
gift-making for Mother's Day;
feeding of farm animals;
kid's nutrition;
first aid;
public speaking with Concord West Toastmasters;
on Internet, email and databases;
information from University of the Third
Age (U3A);
Canada Bay's history and culture with Concord Heritage Society;
health checks at Health Expo on Level 3; and
meet your community heroes
from the Police, SES and Fire Brigade.
Concord West Public
School choir;
My Guitar School pop music ensemble group;
College performers; and
Funky Butts dance routine.
sizzle, soft drinks, tea, coffee and cakes.

From: Community
Open Day
, Concord Library, City of Canada Bay, 2008

Labels: , ,

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Bunbury Library and Data Center

While in Bunbury (Western Australia) to give a talk on Carbon Neutral Computing, I was interested to see a new Public Library and Commercial Data Center under construction. The upper floor will have a 1600sqm public library on the upper level , with a commercial data centre underneath.

Apparently the computer centre will be used by a local film production company for digital post production. This is an innovative bit of ICT industry development by the The City of Bunbury and State Government of Western Australia.
After weeks of careful preparation, cement for the raised Library floor was poured on 12 March 2008. Starting at 3am, the continuous pour was successfully completed by midday the same day. A significant undertaking, the floor is over 1,600sqm in size, weighs 1,320 tonnes, and required 550 cubic metres of concrete.

Once the concrete cures, work will resume to install tilt panel walls and structural steelwork to create the Library’s interior spaces.

Project construction information
Contractor Cimeco Pty Ltd
Architect Peter Hunt Architect
Structural and civil BPA Engineering
Mechanical Consultant Geoff Hesford Engineering
Electrical Consultant Best Consultants
Hydraulic Consultant Hutchinson Associates
Quantity Surveyor Davis Langdon Australia

From: Our new City/Regional Library Diary, Entry No. 6, City of Bunbury, March 2008

Labels: , ,

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Fast response from State Library of Victoria

While in Melbourne for a meeting, I visited the State Library of Victoria. I was checking if their computer desks are big enough (which is another story), and so typed my name into their catalog. Up came the entry for my book Net traveller : exploring the networked nation. I noticed a space for a web link, which was blank. So I filled in an "ask the librarian" form and today there is a link to the web site for the book. I wish I got get this fast and efficient service from the webmasters I have to deal with. ;-)

Labels: ,

Monday, July 16, 2007

Max Webber Library via the M7 Sydney Electronic Toll Road

The Blacktown Central Library relocated to a new building in western Sydney. The is was reviewed in Architecture Australia magazine, so I thought it worth a visit:
Surprisingly transparent, FJMT's new library for Blacktown seeks to draw in the community while also expressing the building's civic function.

The design of the Max Webber Library addresses the nature of public buildings in contemporary society and the meaning of this particular type of public building in generally under-resourced outer suburbs such as Blacktown in Sydney. Architects FJMT argue that, as a building type, the library is "the most meaningful twenty-first-century public building". ...

From: Max Webber Library, by Tom Heneghan, Architecture Australia, May/June 2006.
One thing the article did not explain is why the building is called "Max Webber", or which person by that name it is named for.

The library building is impressive, and functional. It is an oasis of calm from the adjacent shopping center. But the building is not perfect. The louvers in the glass walls praised in AA have not been correctly adjusted, admitting direct sunlight to the first floor reading area. This makes reading difficult. Also the staircase through the centre of the building looks impressive from a distance, but close up gaps beside each step are collecting dust balls.

Like the National Libraries and some state libraries, wireless Internet access is being offered. But this is only available to borrowers. Also the public access Internet terminals were not functioning when I visited.

Map of Westlink M7 MotorwayGetting from Blacktown back to Canberra was a high technology experience along the Westlink M7, (Western Sydney Orbital) electronic toll road. This 40km road runs north to south through the west of Sydney. Electronic tags and number plate scanning are used for tolling vehicles. The roadworks also have architectural merit:

Arcing across Sydney’s west, the new M7 motorway, by Conybeare Morrison and Context, is the result of a successful collaboration between the disciplines of urban design, landscape design and engineering. ...

The M7 team has achieved a high-quality outcome, sensitive to its sculptural form, to its structure, to its place in the city and to its local environment. The success comes from the integration of the skills of the urban and landscape designers with those of the road and bridge engineers. Perhaps the ensemble would have had greater success with the inclusion of a public artist.

From: Westlink M7, by Peter Mould, Architecture Australia, January/February 2006.
I thought the restrained use of some colour on the motorway was better than the over-scale "look at me!" sculpture of Melbourne's CityLink toll road.

e-TAG electronic toll deviceThe one account can now be used for several Australian toll roads.

As I don't have an electronic tag (which operates via microwaves) in my car I had to pay afterwards via a web site (my car number plate was recorded electronically).

electronic toll detector on Westlink M7 SydneyUnlike the Melbourne's CityLink electronic toll road, the M7 appears to only have toll detectors at entrances and exist to the road. This is likely to be less annoying for motorists than the Melbourne system, when the RFID e-Tag will beep several times during a trip to indicate an extra toll has been paid.

Cycleway  beside Westlink M7 SydneyThe M7 also features 40 km of sealed bicycle paths and walking paths with lighting along much of its length. There is no charge for cyclists or pedestrians on these paths. The highway goes through open countryside for much of its length, but for how much longer, with the road stimulating development?

Labels: , , ,

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

ABC Second Life island not attacked

According to Abigail Thomas, Head of Strategic Innovation & Development, Australian Broadcasting Corporation, the ABC island in Second Life was not damaged due to a cyber attack, as previously reported. There was a server error which caused problems with the site.

Abigail mentioned this at the start of her talk on "Technology and Media in 2020" at the National Library of Australia today.

One of the points she made that many of the new hot web applications sound very "lame" and uninteresting when described. You need to try the application and its social aspects to understand the impact. An example is Twitter.

Abigail pointed out that many of the examples of "new" web applications are not new at all. They existed on the Internet, but were only used by a few geeks before they had a slick web interface.

Some other interesting points were:

* Artificial intelligence will be used on-line.
* User generated content in real time and geo tagging,
* Your on-line activities will be recorded in your "life log",
* Each person will have multiple identities in different on-line worlds to preserve their privacy.

The questions were:

* How do we make money out of this?: How are the content creators compensated for their work, if all the content free and DIY? Abigail's answer was to work out how to integrate professional and user generated content. But it sounded like she was just going to let us rearrange the content from the ABC a little.

* How are professional journalists coping with integration of TV, radio and print: ABC staff now think about what they want to produce first, and the format (TV, radio, web).

* Tell us about ABC's second life island: Was an experiment. Started with an Four Corners program on TV and in second life, with discussion afterwards. Volunteers oversee DIY construction on part of the island.

But there will be some limitations to the future. One image of a phone shown on screen had on the bottom: "Available color: Jet black". While technology may expand our horizons, fashion will still dictate that black is the new black.

Labels: , , , ,

Thursday, May 10, 2007

The end of the library as a place

When traveling I like to escape to the local library for a while to relax and read in peace. However, the ability to do that seems to be disappearing. By assisting with e-publishing I am helping accelerate that trend, but it is still a little sad to see.

At one University library in Sydney I discovered I could not even get in the door. They have fitted card operated turnstiles, like at a railway station. Only staff and students with identity card are permitted into the library. This is presumably to stop the large number of students from under-equipped nearby commercial colleges from clogging the library.

On a trip back from Sydney I dropped into a newly refurbished university library. Past the reception desk on the ground floor are rows of computers. If you look carefully, there is a small short term loans book section behind a glass door and some low shelves with reference works, but otherwise there are no books or serials visible. Upstairs there are books, but after a wander around I asked where the new serials were displayed. I was told that what paper based journals there are (most are now electronic) are shelved straight away.

At the ANU Chifley library I went in to look at Michael Smith's book "The Natural Advantage of Nations: Business Opportunities, Innovation and Governance in the 21st Century". What I saw were rows of computers. When I asked where the book was, I was told it was on the top floor, which was not currently accessible.

The risk is that Libraries will become a sort of intellectual call center: where people sit at workstations working their way through the set e-work.

But not all the new library spaces have this battery-hen appearance. At another ANU library I saw a couple sitting arm-in-arm in a very comfortable looking two seater chair. Each had a laptop on their lap (presumably connected to the ANU wireless LAN). One was wearing a headset. The autumn sun was streaming in the window and it looked blissful. This then is perhaps the future of the library.

Perhaps to welcome the casual visitor, the library could have the high tech equivalent of the comfy chair with recent serials. This would have a workstation on a flexible arm at a low comfortable chair, offering a selection of recent e-serials. Or there could be screens built into the tabletops in the library coffee shop.

Labels: , ,

Friday, April 20, 2007

Digital Culture - Technology and Media in 2020

Digital Culture Talk
National Library of Australia

Technology and Media in 2020
Speaker: Abigail Thomas

Time: 12.30 to 13.30
Date: Wednesday, 30 May 2007
Venue: Library Theatre, NLA
Entry: Free
  • What will media and technology look like in 2020?
  • Do the seeds lie in current trends like the desire for user generated content, creativity, always-on connections and on-demand content?
  • Or should we look to science fiction to help us predict the future?
Biographical details: Abigail Thomas, Head, Strategic Innovation & Development, Australian Broadcasting Corporation

Abigail Thomas has nine years’ experience within the digital and new media environment in the UK and Australia.

In her current role in the ABC’s new Innovation Division, Abigail is responsible for strategic research and development and the creation of innovative projects across the ABC which utilise new media platforms and technologies. This includes interactive television, video downloads and virtual worlds such as Second Life.

Abigail joined the ABC in 2000 and has had a number of different roles including responsibility for project managing the launch of ABC2, the ABC’s digital multichannel, overseeing audience and industry research in the new media space as well as providing policy and strategic advice on corporate issues.

Abigail also worked in the UK for the Government’s Department for Culture, Media and Sport as Head of Commercial and Digital Broadcasting, with responsibility for government policy on the development of digital broadcasting, at a time when digital TV had just been launched in the UK. Prior to that she undertook a visiting research fellowship for the UK Government, researching digital TV developments in a number of countries (UK, Europe, US, Australia, New Zealand and Japan) and comparing government, industry and academic perspectives on the future implications of digital broadcasting and its regulation.

Bobby Graham
Web Content Manager
Web Publishing Branch, IT Division
National Library of Australia
Tel: +61 2 6262 1542
Previous talks in the Series:

Labels: , , , , ,

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Hitech Spanish Warship in Sydney for Bridge Anniversary

Spanish warship Alvaro de Bazan F101 in SydneyThe Spanish warship Alvaro de Bazan (F101) is on a sales visit to Australia. It is at the Royal Australian Navy (RAN), Fleet Base East, HMAS Kuttabul, Garden Island (accompanied by the F111). This is in the Sydney suburb of Woolloomooloo. In many countries the main naval base would be cloaked in secrecy and security. In contrast the ships of the RAN base can be photographed from luxury apartments of the Finger wharf hotel and the Pool Side Cafe, at the Andrew "boy" Charlton Public Swimming Pool. next to the Sydney Royal Botanic Gardens.

Defence Video of Alvaro de BazanDespite considerable military air traffic overhead things are quiet on the ship. It happened to be the 75th anniversary of the opening of the Sydney Harbor Bridge. Part of the festivities were fly pasts by a Catalina flying boat and paratroops descending from a RAAF C-130 Hercules, plus the Holden "blimp". My last visit to Garden Island was when I organized a meeting of the Australian Computer Society on board the Flagship of the US 7th Fleet.

The F101, is one of two designs in competition for the RAN "Air Warfare Destroyer". One confusing point is that the ship is described as "F100 class", but is the "F101", which is the lead ship of the new class.

The F101 is equipped with the Aegis combat system. It is smaller than US ships with this equipment. The Australian ships will use the locally developed radar antenna designed by CEA Technologies in Canberra.

The small size of the ship makes it less expensive, but not because less material is needed to build it but because it has a smaller crew. An Australian version will likely be larger due to the need to cover larger distances without replenishment. The worry for the Finance Department is that the RAN may be tempted to fill the extra space with expensive equipment and crew, rather than extra supplies.

The F101 is from the same Spanish shipbuilder who is one of the two designers shortlisted to build two "Landing Helicopter Dock" (LHD) ships.

If you would like to visit the Andrew "boy" Charlton Public Swimming Pool, take the 441 bus from the City.

By the way, thanks to the State Library of NSW for wireless internet access to post this item.

Labels: , , , ,

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Inaugural Australia-Japan Young Professional Exchange Network

Inaugural Australia-Japan Young Professional Exchange NetworkAnastasia Govan sent me her report from the Inaugural Australia-Japan Young Professional Exchange Network. A version will be published by the ACS, but in the interim, here are some edited highlights. Apologies for any errors I may have introduced:


The Australia Japan Foundation and Professions Australia worked together to facilitate Australia's young professionals to build long term collaborative relationships with their Japanese counterparts.

A delegation of young professionals took part in The Australia-Japan Young Professional Exchange Network to Tokyo from 13th- 17th November 2006.

The Australian Computer Society nominated Anastasia Govan, Australian Computer Society Board Director Young IT to Professions Australia for the Australian Young Professional of the Year award. Anastasia was successful and as Young Professional of the Year joined the exchange.

The objective of this initiative was to:

  • Advance Australian professional and business interests in Japan through support of a young professionals network that will initiate a range of activities (including study tours, workshops and conferences, exchanges, joint projects, participation in FTA-related discussions
  • Promote discussion sharing of ideas, and promotion of each countries interests
  • Build constructive and mutually beneficial relationships between young professionals in Japan and Australia (includes support of individual projects)
  • Engage business, the professional services sector, professional associations and their members as important stakeholders
  • Establish a dialogue on important cross professional and specific professional issues and to achieve Japanese counterpart support for the initiative
  • Identify a profession specific project to progress with Japanese candidates

Overview of ICT climate in Japan

  • Linux uptake is huge in Tokyo

  • Large commercial viability for consultancy and market infiltration of products supporting digital repositories, content management, workflow, Records/knowledge/electronic document management

  • Australia should consider investing in the large and popular ICT buildings such as Sony and BIC Camera in Japan and Computer Centres in Chaing Mai and Bangkok where any computer related hardware, software and peripherals can be purchased on multiple floors

  • IT and Finance were reported as the most difficult professions for women to enter and remain

  • In the last 10 years since the Japanese recession there has been an increase in the number of small businesses - particularly started by younger generation

  • There are large differences with the business etiquette of the older generation (traditional) to Gen Y (westernised)

  • Multi national companies may view English speaking westerners favourably for ICT with many recruiting firms set up to specifically meet this market and assist with working visa's etc.

  • Current ICT shortages in all areas

  • Development area is developing gaming for phones using java - requirement to speak Japanese

  • To acquire a working visa for ICT you need 10 years relevant work experience and a Bachelor or higher degree

  • It takes minimum 6-8 weeks to recruit a foreigner

  • Hospitalisation rates due to work related stress are high

  • Many foreigners enter to work in Japan as English teachers in the hope of finding work in their specialist field

  • Numbers are decreasing in ICT University courses - have very few mature age' Australian equivalents

  • Technologists are called Engineers along with several other separate professions in Australia

  • Recently held first ICT Career Fair in Tokyo

  • Free Trade Agreement negotiations based upon US FTA which has further ramifications for Australians complying with copyright in digital form

  • Trend is moving towards more temporary positions and hiring first through a recruitment agency before taking on ICT employee permanently

  • Knowledge of business etiquette

  • Knowledge of Language

  • Claustrophobia!!

  • Young professionals are often older than 35 years of age and male

  • Difficult to identify female and young professionals as really need to be introduced by a colleague


Digital Eve Japan

Over the last 10 years the Digital Eve group has grown from 8 to over 700 members. DigitalEve Japan promotes women's digital lifestyles by offering a supportive community and programs tuned to women using IT in their workplace and in their everyday lives.

The members are Japanese and foreign women living in Japan who span a wide range of ages, technical and cultural backgrounds, and lifestyles. Many work in technology-related jobs, such as web designers/producers, programmers, videographers, writers, information architects, content developers, graphic designers, project managers and recruiters, or are seeking jobs in the field.

Digital Eve's mission is to;

  • Empower members to become top-level leaders, professionals, role models and mentors in their fields through the understanding and use of technology.
  • Build, on all levels, an effective networking resource including strong technology industry relationships.
  • Create an international, bilingual community to share technology experiences and cross-cultural understanding.
  • Include all women--of all races, ethnicities, economic levels, ages, languages, abilities and lifestyles--as participants in our community.
  • Offer access to resources, information and a community-based network for women.
  • Develop low-cost, readily accessible educational opportunities in digital technology.
  • Encourage women and girls to pursue technology-related careers.
  • Advocate that women have economic, social and cultural equality in the field of technology
  • Promote positive, balanced working conditions and lifestyles for women using technology in the workplace.

National Institute of Informatics

As Japan's only general academic research institution seeking to create future value in the new discipline of informatics, the National Institute of Informatics (NII) seeks to advance integrated research and development activities in information-related fields, including networking, software, and content.

These activities range from theoretical and methodological work to applications. As an inter-university research institute, NII promotes the creation of a state-of-the-art academic-information infrastructure (the Cyber Science Infrastructure, or CSI) that is essential to research and education within the broader academic community, with a focus on partnerships and other joint efforts with universities and research institutions throughout Japan, as well as industries and civilian organizations. Founded in April 2000, the NII marked its new beginning in April 2004 as a member of the Research Organization of Information and Systems.

Ringo MUG (AppleMac group)

Tokyo's English speaking Mac User Group meet monthly at the Apple Plaza in the IT centre of Ginza and share information on life with a Mac or PC in Tokyo by meeting in person, through RSS feeds and bulletin boards online.

Skillhouse Staffing Solutions K.K.

Skillhouse Staffing Solutions K.K. (Skillhouse) provides specialty staffing services focusing on Information Technology (IT) and Administrative Support.

By focusing resources on these two specialty areas, Skillhouse are able to apply our best-of-breed due diligence, testing, qualifying and matching methodologies to ensure our clients have the best talent available to them.

Become Japan

Founded in 2004 Become Japan is an web based ebusiness assisting people to make ideal shopping decisions through provision of research, product and price comparison search engines.

Embedded Technology Conference

Embedded Technology 2006 is the largest trade show and conference for embedded system designers and managers. It introduces advanced technologies and solutions for emerging embedded applications, including digital consumer electronics, automotive, wireless/ubiquitous computing and factory automation.

  • Trianz: Indian consulting company merging into Japan market
  • Telelogic Japan (Telelogic lifecycle solutions:software change, requirements management and configuration management - delivering lifecycle control of your software assets being used by Westpac in Australia)

Australian Resource Centre, Australia Japan Foundation, Australian Embassy

The Australia-Japan Foundation, established by the Australian Government in 1976, contributes to the bilateral relationship by playing a strategic role expanding relations and understanding between people and organisations from both countries.

The Resource Centre operates a full on-line lending service available throughout Japan. It also houses a unique online database of over 1200 academic papers about Australia, in Japanese. The library runs a Salon Seminar series, provides materials on Australia to schools free-of-charge, and is a key contact point for Australian Studies scholarships and activity in Japan.

Links to other ICT groups

Suggestions for the Japan to Australia Young Professional exchange 2007

  • Invitations to NII researchers and young professionals to take part in a 2007 exchange to Australia

  • Japanese counterparts and the 2006 Exchange participants attend/present paper at the 2050 Conference

  • Japanese counterparts attend/present paper for the 2008 Sydney International Young IT Australian Computer Society Conference, present to associations such as Australian Library and Information Association and Australian Computer Society as part of their National education across the nation presentation.

Feedback on future Australia to Japan exchanges

  • Introductory business etiquette and language course by local Japanese community group/s before making contact for prospective meetings

  • Previous years exchange delegation involved in mentoring/providing leads for the new delegation maybe done during the proposed workshop of previous Australian delegates and current Japanese delegates in each country

  • Each year rotate professions taking part - possibly include Librarian, Records Manager or Archivist next year (only RMAA is a member of PA).


Labels: , , ,

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Getting a Second Life

Second Life: The Official Guide (Book Cover)After commenting on Kathryn Greenhill's talk on Second Life, I thought I should try it for myself. The registration process is much like other online services.

One difference is that you can't use you real name. You can enter your own first name, but then have to select from a limited set list of surnames. This may be to allow free reign to your imagination by using a pseudonym, but must be insulting for people from cultures where the offered names don't match what their names look like. I picked a name at random and then worried it may have some hidden meaning.

Second Life uses an optional step to register you with a payment system (I used my PayPal account). This seems to be to help authenticate the identity of the person, as well as allow you to pay for items in the system.

Then cam download the Second Life client for the computer. This is about 30 mbytes. It is downloading at 15 kbytes per second using the NLA's wireless connection. This raises the issue of access for those with limited bandwidth. I felt a little guilty about using up the NLA's bandwidth this way. But they did host a talk advocating Second Life for use by library patrons, so what can they expect. ;-)

When I tried to connect to second life I was unable to. It may be using ports which are blocked on the library connection.

Also I did a quick search on "second life" for the blind and came up with about half a million items, the first of which was about a class action for discrimination. Also I noticed discussion of a mobile hpne interface. This could use the same technology as an accessible interface.

From my home office I was able to start second life using my iBurst wireless connection. It worked fine on a 256/64 kbps link.

Your avatar starts on an orientation island where you have to complete a tutorial on basic use of the system, before you are allowed into the rest of the system. After completing one task (holding a "torch") the system froze and at that point I gave up.

This is not an extensive use of the system, but even after a few minutes I didn't like it much. If this were a conventional computer application the length and complexity of the tutorial needed before starting using the application would be unacceptable.

For those who like such games this may be a fun way to interact online, and they may find it natural, but I found it a very limiting and clumsy interface. I kept wondering why can't I have a plan view so I can simply click where I want to go? Why do these people have their names floating above the heads, that is not very realistic.

The blurry 3D graphics and spurious animation in the system made me feel queasy, but it was a lot easier to look at on my own screen than on the large screen in the NLA theater. Even so this seemed an uncomfortable way to interact with people and services online.

If Second Life become a long term success, then libraries and other organizations will need to have a presence there. However, they should ensure that the services they provide there are available with alternative interfaces for those who are unable or unwilling to use Second Life.

Work needs to be done on alternative more efficient interfaces for such systems. For those who ask "why is an alternative interface needed?" or "why bother building an interface for a few poor blind people?", consider the mobile market. In much of the Asian region the usual interface to online systems is not a desktop computer but a mobile phone. The interface for Second Life would need extensive changes for this environment.

Some books:

Labels: , ,

Second Life for Librarians

Australian Libraries Building in Second LifeKathryn Greenhill just finished her talk on Second Life, at the (real) National Library of Australia in Canberra. Second life is an online virtual world. Kathryn is a librarian at the (real) Murdoch University Library in Western Australia. She also co-ordinates the virtual "Australian Libraries Building" inside Second Life.

Kathryn gave an introduction to Second Life and an online tour of the Australian Libraries Building. The building is modeled on a real library, with interfaces to traditional online library resources, but done in a whimsical way.

One aspect which worried me is that Second Life is a for-profit company product. You can purchase an "island" to display your products and services. The Australian Libraries Building is on an island devoted to libraries around the world. While anyone can use second life for free, it costs real money to set up a building and it is effectively a virtual private gated community.

The interface for second life is a two dimensional rendering of a virtual 3d world. Each user of the system is represented by an Avatar; a graphical representation of the person. The avatar and the environment can be customized to look and behave differently, partly using purchased resources (using a local currency). The user interface is similar to that of a video game (but without the guns and violence, for the present).

All this made me feel old and alienated. Not being a computer games player I found the visual interface unnatural. I had difficult seeing the details and keeping up with the blurry, animated items. The overly rich visual design made me feel nauseous (much as a set of 3d goggles does after a couple of minutes use).

However, there was a great level of enthusiasm displayed by Kathryn and evidently a lot of effort being put in by other librarians. But will this translate into a mainstream product or be just for a few geeks?

At question time I asked if there was an alternative accessible interface for the blind. Kathryn didn't know and I was shocked that the audience of librarians laughed at the idea. I would have assumed that librarians would know they have a professional and legal obligation to provide services to the disabled. Not providing an interface for the blind, if is technically feasible and not too expensive, is unlawful. While Second Life may seem a virtual place, unlawful actions carried out there are within the jurisdiction of Australian courts (I had to do an expert witness report for an international online libel case a few days ago).
Correction 15 February 2007: Above I wrote that the audience of librarians laughed at my suggestion there should be an alternative accessible interface for the blind. Someone else there says they were laughing at were the antics of the avatars on the screen, behind the speaker, not at my question. My apologies to the audience if this was the case.
Another audience member asked a question about the bandwidth needed for the interface. Apparently the graphical interface required a lot of bandwidth. This would seem a fruitful area for IT research. It should be possible to optimize the the system to reduce the bandwidth needed and provide an interface for the blind at the same time. I might set it as an ANU e-Science project for the students to do.

This talk was one in the excellent NLA Digital Culture series. Unfortunately the NLA doesn't have a public web page about the series. But the next time they email me an invitation I will blog it.

Labels: , , ,

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Wireless at the State Library of Victoria

Greetings from the reading room of the State Library of Victoria, in Melbourne. Like the National Library of Australia the SLV provides free wireless access for registered readers.

Signing up at SLV was even quicker than at the NLA: I showed identification and had a reader card about 30 seconds later (there is a 15 minute delay while the wireless access is authorized). This contrasts to about an hour to register with complex forms and an interview at the British Library (the facilities of the BL were far inferior to the NLA).

While at the SLV have a look at the La Trobe Reading Room, under the library's main dome. This has been subtly restored with what look like old fashioned desks with inkwells, but actually have power for laptops.

Wile in the Library you can read three publications with my name on them:

Labels: ,

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Wireless at the Library

Greetings from the reading room of the National Library of Australia in Canberra. The Library provides free wireless access for registered readers. This takes some of the pressure off the limited number of workstations provided.

I signed up some time ago but because my previous laptop had a plug in wireless card (which I kept forgetting to plug in), I hardly ever used it. My new Twinhead 12D has wireless built in, so I decided to use it. Also my old computer had a noisy fan, which made it hard to use in a library. The keyboard on the new Twinhead is still not silent and I have to be careful not to type too fast as I make too much noise.

But why would you want to use a computer and Internet in a library? It makes it much easier to take notes when reading. I have been in the habit or reading something then going to a public terminal to look it up on the web and email myself the reference. With a working computer I can make notes as I go along.

Something else which will speed things up is spelling correction. I noticed that misspent words were being underlined in red as I typed them into the Blog software. I am not sure what is doing this. It seems to work in any web field I type into, so I think it is a function of the Mozilla Firefox browser, rather than the Blogger blog software. Whatever it is it is greatly speeding up my writing.

As well as using the wireless at the library I plan to use it at meetings. I have activated the wireless on my home router. This is connected to a iBurst wireless modem. I can plug the two units into a power point and the iBurst will receive data from the Internet and relay it locally via the WiFi. This is not quite as goos as having an iBust card in the laptop, but better than having to plug an Ethernet cable in.

When I bought my desktop iBurst modem these were cheaper than the PC Card units and the monthly access charge was lower for a desktop unit than a laptop one. The prices have changed so now the desktop unit costs more and there is no extra charge for mobile use.

Labels: ,