Monday, March 29, 2010

Top 10 Books Written by Librarians according to AbeBooks

Librarian Literature: Top 10 Books Written by Librarians

AbeBooks loves librarians. Librarians love AbeBooks. (And we think everyone else loves librarians too aside from the bean-counters who keep cutting their budgets.) This email salutes those great lovers of books, literacy and reading - the world’s librarian community - and we’re highlighting some wonderful books written by librarians themselves.

Who but a person surrounded by books could be better qualified to write? Many an author has been born and developed in the stacks. The list does not feature the following librarian/writers - John Braine, Lewis Carroll, Archibald MacLeish, Nancy Pearl, Kit Pearson, Benjamin Franklin, Christopher Okigbo, Marcel Proust, and Ina Coolbrith - but we could easily have included their books.

Top 10 Books Written by Librarians

The Less Deceived

Philip Larkin

The 1955 poetry collection that made his name - Larkin was a librarian at the University of Hull.

The Aleph and Other Stories

Jorge Luis Borges

The Nobel Prize winner was a municipal librarian in Argentina - this 1949 collection is one of his best.

Star Man's Son

Alice Mary Norton

A post-apocalyptic tale from 1952 - Norton was a librarian in Cleveland and the Library of Congress.

The Accidental Tourist

Anne Tyler

This former librarian won the National Book Critics Circle Award in 1985 with this novel.

A Wrinkle in Time

Madeleine L’Engle

Her 1962 sci-fi/fantasy classic (rejected by many publishers) - L’Engle worked as a librarian in New York.

Little Big Man

Thomas Berger

This 1964 novel became a movie in 1970. Berger worked as a librarian and journalist.

Out Stealing Horses

Per Petterson

An ex-librarian AND bookseller, Petterson’s novel was one of the NY Times’ books of the year in 2007.

The Middle Age of Mrs Eliot

Angus Wilson

A librarian in the British Museum, Wilson’s 1958 novel won the James Tait Black Memorial Prize.

Eagle in the Snow

Wallace Breem

Breem was a legal manuscripts librarian in London - a Roman General is the hero of this historical novel.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Cost benefit analysis: outsourcing acquisitions, cataloguing and processing in NSW Public Libraries

In early 2009 the NSW Public Library Network Research Committee commenced a project which considered and analysed the costs and benefits of outsourcing acquisitions, cataloguing and processing in NSW public libraries.

The project developed an informed comparison between outsourcing, in house provision and a combination of these collection management models.

Please refer to for a copy of the final report and associated evaluation tool.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Western Sydney Way of the Future

We have been invited to visit which was launched this week as a way for people and organisations in Western Sydney to tell government what kind of future they want to live in.

Already, with very limited promotion, there has been a lively discussion going on around issues like transport, housing, where suburbs should be, urban renewal, learning, sport and recreation and the environment.

The aim of the website to let people express their aspirations for life in 2030 and beyond, and then bring those ideas to our panel of experts who can help us paint a picture of what Western Sydney should look like in 2030.
Armed with that vision the people of Western Sydney will be better able to influence government decision making in a much more informed way.

Other features of the website include links to more information about a range of subjects, the ability to organise forums or community events about issues, and soon they will enable people to email relevant politicians and Ministers about issues that matter to them.

It’s a work in progress and they are waiting for your comments both on the site but, more importantly, on what matters to you about Western Sydney’s future.

All comments will be fed into a submission from WSROC.

With both state and federal elections coming up in the next twelve months, this is a great opportunity for people in Western Sydney to have their voices heard.

Please forward this to all your personal and business contacts. The more people that are involved in this discussion - the better the outcome!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Grunge graphics for week-long celebration

‘Edgy, grungy and a little rock and roll’ is how ALIA describes the look for
its Library and Information Week promotional material. The event takes
place from 24 to 30 May. Download images at

Monday, March 8, 2010

Local Government Cultural Awards People's Choice

The People's Choice voting is now open.
There are some great entries from public libraries (see below) so go to the website and vote for your favourite now!

Good luck to all those libraries that have entered.

Library and Information Services
Auburn Living Library goes to Oberon!

Children's Book Week Safari 2009

Emerging from the Green

Lake Macquarie Seniors Program

New Lives, New Australians - Snapshots of Greta Migrant Camp, 1949 - 1960

Picture Coffs Harbour

Randwick: A history book

Storyworx: a story-based educational program for young adults with an intellectual disability at Kogarah Library and Cultural Centre

Volunteering for life-long learning

Waverley Words Literary Festival 2009

Cultural Infrastructure - Ingleburn Library and Community Centre

Dennis Johnson Branch Library, Stanhope Gardens. Co-located with Blacktown Leisure Centre, Stanhope.

Surry Hills Library and Community Centre

Friday, March 5, 2010

SWITCH 2009: Public Libraries in a Changing Environment Output Statement

SWITCH: Public Libraries in a Changing Environment
2009 NSW Public Libraries Conference & Exhibition Output Statement

Key Facts about the NSW Public Library Sector
1. NSW public libraries:
Generate over $4 of real economic benefit and $3 of real economic activity
for every dollar invested.
Contribute to 5 key areas of the NSW State Plan, and support and enable
NSW State Government initiatives and programs including communities’
ability to access Government Agency websites and information.

2. 372 public library delivery points in NSW provide services and access to over
50% of NSW’s now 7.1 million population, one third of Australia’s population.

3. Visits to NSW public libraries increased by 17.5% over the past five years, and
notably in the last two years during Australia’s changed economic

4. Over 90% of the annual funding of NSW public libraries is provided by Local
Government, with the remainder provided by the NSW State Government.

5. The NSW State Government’s $3.50 per capita contribution to the NSW public
library sector is the smallest contribution made by any Australian state or territory government to a public library sector.

In late 2009, the Public Libraries NSW Metropolitan Association
hosted the largest public libraries’ conference and exhibition held in Sydney for many years - SWITCH: Public Libraries in a Changing Environment.

SWITCH provided an ideal forum for over 300 conference delegates from across
Australia’s local government and public library sectors to consider the current and
future roles of public libraries in their communities’ economic, social, cultural
and environmental sustainability.

The 152 NSW Local Government Areas were widely represented by their Library
Managers, Library Staff, Councillors and Council Executives.
Over 60 representatives from 40 local, national and multinational library sector
vendors interacted with and exhibited their products and services to delegates.
Michael Pascoe (Economics and Finance Commentator), Hugh Mackay (Author and
Social Researcher), Frank Panucci (Australia Council for the Arts) and Professor
Tony Masters (University of Sydney) each contributed valuable insights and facts
relevant to the four sustainability themes.

Together with seventeen conference speakers from the Australian local
government and public library sectors, the State Library of New South Wales, library
industry vendors, and from the American Public Library Association, and with
interactive, facilitated discussion between these speakers and the conference
delegates, the following key messages were identified from SWITCH 2009 - the
NSW Public Libraries Conference & Exhibition.

Key Messages

1. Economic Sustainability

Public libraries: Engaged in a dynamic, changing environment in which
their partnerships with all levels of government and business are integral
to their local communities’ economic and social development.
Michael Pascoe presented an optimistic future for the Australian economy,
acknowledging the impact of the recent global financial crisis.
Speakers commented on the changing landscape in which local government and
public libraries are operating, which is initiating new service delivery models.
Partnerships with all levels of government, with the corporate, commercial and
not-for profit sectors, will be integral to these models.
Oliver Freeman of the Neville Freeman Agency, presented an overview of the
strategic alternative futures project undertaken in 2009 for the NSW public library
sector, titled “Bookends Scenarios – Alternative Futures for the Public Library
Network in NSW in 2030”.
John Ravlic, CEO of Local Government Managers Australia, commented that local
government in the future will deliver a range of community services, and in some
instances will act as a broker and partner for other organisations to deliver services
that assist in achieving social inclusion and community development outcomes.
Kathleen Chau, American Public Library Association, commented on the importance
of advocacy for funding, and the work of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation in
assisting US public libraries to develop and fund their public access computing
Stephanie Kelly, Manager, Economic Development, City of Canada Bay, discussed
the partnership between the library and local businesses, which are themsleves
encouraged to use the library to promote their enterprises, conduct meetings and
seek business related information and advice.

2. Social Sustainability

Public libraries: A respected, collaborative partner and service provider
that enhance local communities’ social inclusion and education.
Hugh Mackay spoke of the changing face of Australian society and how these
changes affect the way we live our lives. Regardless of the increase in online social
networking, people will continue to crave the social interaction that comes with a
public community and cultural space such as the local library.
George Osborne, Program Director, Hume Global Learning Village in Melbourne,
with Dr Leone Wheeler from RMIT, commented that the Hume Council takes the
view that both economic and social development are inextricably linked and that
partnerships and innovative collaboration benefit the community.
Laurence McDonnell from the Warringah Library Service in Sydney outlined a very
successful collaborative initiative between several public library services and local
high schools, which has enhanced students’ research capabilities and their access
to a wide range of online information resources.
Tony Iezzi, Vision Australia, presented on a virtual global library service that will
increase access to relevant library materials for people with print disabilities.
Suzanne Lipu of the Charles Sturt University discussed social inclusion and its link
to empowered communities, increased social capital and cultural growth.

3. Cultural Sustainability

Public libraries: Operate in strategic partnerships that enrich the cultural
fabric of local communities.
Frank Panucci, Australia Council for the Arts, commented on the importance of
engaging communities and working with community organisations and individuals
to “co-create the future”.
Frances Sims, State Library of New South Wales, provided an update on a range of
key projects and initiatives that are assisting NSW public libraries and their
services to local communities.
Penny Amberg, Bega Valley Shire Council and a former Australian Government
Cultural Attaché to Washington DC, provided insightful comment on Local
Government, the government closest to the community, which recognises the
importance of libraries to the cultural vitality of communities, and which
strategically places libraries in Cultural Plans to support community cultural
Paula Kelly, State Library of Victoria, provided perceptive contribution on the
importance of reading to babies at an early age and the consequent improvement
in their literacy levels in later years.
Anne Hall of Sydney’s Fairfield City Council, discussed the website that provides access to search engines, web directories
and news in over sixty different languages – a most valuable tool in promoting
information services to diverse cultural communities.
Marvis Sofield, Library Manager from Broken Hill in NSW’s far west, emphasised
the social and cultural importance of public libraries to regional areas and how
Broken Hill has maintained, with government financial support, a successful
Writer’s Group.

4. Environmental Sustainability

Public libraries: An established information network that enables all levels
of government to reach local communities, and an example of sound,
implemented environmental management practice.
Professor Tony Masters, University of Sydney, spoke passionately and
entertainingly on climate change which has been recognised as a scientific reality
for centuries. The effects of man on climate in the last 150 years, some would say,
have been catastrophic. Professor Masters encouraged librarians as information
specialists to continue to provide ready access to communities to factual
information on this important subject.
Michelle Kline, Randwick City Library Service and Joanne Smith, Lake Macquarie
City Library, presented on their respective Environmental Management initiatives
that involve collaborative activity between Council Departments and the library
service in involving, informing and educating communities.
David Sharman, City of Sydney Library Manager, discussed the new Surry Hills
Library and Community Centre in the context of the environment being a core part
of the “2030 Vision for a Sustainable Sydney”. The aim of this vision is to create a
green, global and connected Sydney.
Richard Siegersma, Executive Chairman, DA Information Services, discussed the
changing environment, including that in the publishing industry and the
implications and opportunities for public libraries and their communities.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Update to Chattering classes invade library quiet

Latest News
Library Responds to Quiet Spaces Debate
1 March 2010

The Library's CEO and State Librarian, Anne-Marie Schwirtlich, has submitted a letter to the editor of The Age newspaper discussing the changing ways people use the Library and the increase in Library visitors.

Ms Schwirtlich's letter was in response to Dr Leslie Cannold's opinion article published in The Age on 23 February, which sparked public debate about the ways quiet spaces in the Library should be used.

Ms Schwirtlich's letter was published in The Age in part on 27 February and is presented here in full.

To: The Editor

It is with disappointment that I read Dr Cannold's comments, and letters of some of your respondents to this page, about using the State Library of Victoria.

I am disappointed because there seems to be a vein in the discussion that seeks to polarise – be it around the use of technology; around what is seen as civil and uncivil; between what is ‘true’ use of a library and what is not.

At a time when there is concern about the participation of young people in the life of cultural institutions, the State Library – like so many other libraries – has seen an increase in absolute numbers and in the use made of it by young people. Is this not cause for celebration of the success of the redevelopment of the Library and its services and programming and of the relevance of libraries in general?

In 1854, Sir Redmond Barry conceived of the Library as 'the people's university' – a place where the world’s knowledge and information would be freely available to all citizens of the growing colony of Victoria, regardless of their social status, financial resources, age or gender.

This defining concept has guided the State Library of Victoria through 156 years of our history, re-emerging in different expressions over the years, but remaining fundamentally the same – providing Victorians with ready access to a continually expanding world of knowledge.

In 2010 the demand for this service has never been higher. We are the only major cultural institution in Victoria to have experienced increased patronage in parallel with Melbourne’s rapid population growth.

In the last 12 months more than 1.5 million people visited the Library. They came for many reasons – some for research and study; others to see our collection materials on exhibition; others again to attend an event, or access the internet, or read to their child, or discover their family history, or to sit in the La Trobe Reading Room and study the ribbon of words around its circumference.

Of course with such massive growth in patronage come the issues of how best to manage the increasing demand on our facilities. There are times when the number of people wanting to use our facilities outweighs the number our building can currently support. There will be times when the simple hum of a full room may distract those who can only work in silence. These issues simply reflect the popularity of library services today. For this Library it is preferable to be stretched by demand than under-utilised or irrelevant to our population.

We are constantly examining how best to meet the expectations of our growing user base. We recognise the tensions raised in these pages and welcome the feedback. These letters, in addition to the many responses delivered online, demonstrate the different opinions and expectations Victorians have in relation to this Library.

The fact is that libraries have changed as have the ways people use them. They have changed because information is now accessed, processed and shared in ways beyond the imagining of our 19th-century founder.

For the State Library of Victoria providing access to information remains paramount. We are adapting to service the new demands of an increasing user base and changing information landscape. We are digitising our unique Victorian collections to make them more accessible than ever before. We are showcasing the collection through exhibitions on site and throughout Victoria, with learning programs and public events and we have invested in better catalogue resources making it easier than ever to explore the millions of items in the Library's collections. In doing so we believe we are strengthening Victoria’s culture and reducing disadvantage.

I hope that Redmond Barry's vision of universal access to information resonates more truly with Victorians than an attitude which would seek to exclude. I hope that the next generation of researchers is welcomed here. I hope that the many different ways people use the Library will be celebrated and the increasing patronage of this Library is hailed as a success and one of which Victorians can be proud.

Anne-Marie Schwirtlich
Chief Executive Officer and State Librarian
State Library of Victoria

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Chattering classes invade library quiet

LESLIE CANNOLD Source: The Melbourne Age
February 23, 2010

It was a fascinating discussion. ''Hello John, this is Susan. Just thought I'd ring to see if there were any employment opportunities going. [Pause] Yes, I thought that might be the case. Could you advise me what to do from here?''

John could, and did, for what seemed like ages, while Susan hemmed and hawed and posed all manner of pertinent questions, until I just couldn't take any more. So, for the fourth time that day, I packed up my books and computer and went in search of a quiet place to work.
Welcome to the State Library of Victoria.

The State Library is Victoria's major reference and research library. Opened in 1856, it has about 1.5 million visitors a year and employs the equivalent of 345 full-time staff. It is a beautiful and cleverly renovated building, offering students, scholars and creators a wealth of resources through its specialised collections and facilities for group and individual study.

I began working at the library last year - my teenage children sometimes return home from school as early as two, rendering the home-office solution unviable, and my publisher wants the edits for my first novel by June. With the quiet confidence of the ignorant, I marched through the security checkpoint on that first day, computer in hand, and settled myself in the famed domed reading room beneath a sign that said, ''QUIET ROOM: This room is a designated quiet area for silent work and study''.

But it wasn't to be. Quiet, that is. Especially by afternoon, when the secondary school hordes descended and the whispering, giggling, texting and flirtatious dashing from one table to the next began.

So it went, day in and day out. I am not backward about coming forward. I rise regularly from my seat to ask for quiet. I do have the occasional victory (a note I dropped in front of a young man having an extended mobile phone conversation in Genealogy did see him take it outside) but am largely ignored. Offenders simply nod politely, then wait for me to turn my back before resuming their activities.

Appeals to the librarians are useless. They are largely invisible, and when cornered seem to have abandoned all hope of restoring order. ''It's not like it was in the old days, love,'' an old codger told me.

''But no one spoke in the old days because librarians wouldn't let them,'' I protested.

He shook his head. "They sit right outside our office and talk. I tell them to be quiet and five minutes later they're at it again. Have you tried Genealogy? Sometimes it's quiet in there."

Some of Melbourne's most celebrated authors work - or used to work - in the State Library. Writers such as Helen Garner and Arnold Zable. Garner wrote Monkey Grip there in 1976 at a time when she says, ''you spoke aloud at your peril''. She now finds it a waste of time to set foot in the place, instead renting a room a few blocks away.

Zable says that at certain times of the year the din is ''extraordinary''. As a result, he only ventures into the magnificent domed reading room that he ''fell in love with'' when writing his BA honours thesis in 1968 at select times: in the mornings, and in the months between the midyear and end-of-year exams.

I say it's not good enough. Libraries are not just repositories of books but sacred spaces for research, creation and reflection. Melbourne was recently designated a UNESCO City of Literature, but what kind of literary city cannot provide writers with the most basic creative fertiliser known to humankind - silence?

Perhaps young people are different. My children have come of age in a world where multiple sources of stimulation are the norm and silence poorly tolerated. They play computer games and update their Facebook page while watching a video and messaging friends. They plug into iPods for even the shortest car and tram rides while simultaneously texting friends, surfing the net or playing games on their phones. Increasing numbers of waiting rooms, bars, cafes and even restaurants have screens that stream news or music videos.

Governance requires the consent of the governed, and younger people may flout requests for quiet for the simple reason that these requests make no sense to them.

My own partisan view is that silence is a precious resource, however few value it, and at least some sections of all libraries must be places where quiet is found. After all, for those who wish to talk, the rest of the world is just beyond the library doors.

Certainly, false advertising at the State Library must stop. Library staff must either enforce their own rules about quiet or publicly admit defeat and withdraw them. It's time to take a stand.

Dr Leslie Cannold is a Melbourne writer. Her first novel will be published next year by Text.

Age Reader comment: Hear hear! What happened to Libraries being quiet sanctuaries? I've tried studying at my local library - St Kilda - and it's often absolute chaos - it's more like a rowdy pub than a library and the staff (and presumably management) just don't care. You can be noisy everywhere - why is what made libraries different being allowed to fade away? We might as well just run combined pub/videoshop/cafe style places and drop the pretense.