Monday, 17 October 2016

Laugh Out Loud

Don't be too scared to laugh out loud when listening to 'Alcatraz Versus the Evil Librarians' a young adult novel from Brandon Sanderson.
The plot of the book revolves around the title character and a small group of freedom fighters operating against the cult of evil librarians that secretly rule the world.
The character of the title and the series - Alcatraz Smedry - is a young teen who is always breaking things. After receiving a bag of sand for his thirteenth birthday, he is involved in a strange set of events which begins with a group of librarians stealing his bag of sand, which turns out to have rather unusual properties.
The book starts with Alcatraz setting fire to his foster parents' kitchen. It is revealed that he has been in countless foster homes, always ending up with Alcatraz "destroying" things precious to the people taking care of him. Ms. Fletcher, Alcatraz's personal caseworker, arrives and scolds him for destroying his foster parent's kitchen.
The next day an old man arrives at the house and claims to be his grandfather. Grandfatrher Smedry informs Alcatraz, who struggles with his accident-prone nature, that it is in fact a 'Talent' - he has a special, powerful talent for breaking things. These talents are attributes that we might not normally see as an advantage, such as always arriving late, and tripping and falling in very dramatic ways.
Now suddenly young Alcatraz is fleeing from evil Librarians, releasing dinosaurs to create a diversion in the Fiction section, and learning that clumsiness can be a powerful talent. 
From his new family, he learns the true history - that there is a secret society called the Librarians, whose purpose is to conquer the remaining Free Kingdomers and rule the world. Only a group of strangely-talented allies stand against them.

Almost the entire story takes place at the downtown library, where things aren't always what they seem. And nothing is off-limits, author Brandon Sanderson makes fun of everything. He also does a great job shedding new light on the world we live in, by comparing it to a more advanced society where light bulbs are inferior to open flames (since lights can't set things on fire) and stairs are more advanced than elevators (because you get a work-out climbing them).
Who would have thought that the guy who brought us the gritty 'Reckoners' series could also produce such a riotous story of irreverent humour, and great library-centric jokes and word-plays. Sanderson's first novel for a young adult market recalls the best of 'Artemis Fowl' and 'A Series of Unfortunate Events'.
Our downloadable eAudio copy is narrated by Ramon De Ocampo, and runs for 6 hours 53 minutes.

Tuesday, 11 October 2016

Wild in the Grampians

Getting out and about on the weekend, saw me checking out this year's wildflowers up close at Heatherlie in the Grampians.
Some Blue Tinsel-lilies
Blunt Everlasting (Argentipallium obtusifolium)
Kennedia prostrata - the Running Postman
Blue pincushion buds
The Pale Sundew

Weather-wise it was a little early for many of the wattles and the heaths, but found a couple
Victoria's Pink Heath
Wax-lip orchid
The white heath

Grampians Guinea-flower (Hibbertia humifusa)
Slender Smoke-bush (Conospermum patens)
Grevillea aquifolium
Beaked Hakea rostrata
Slender Candles (Stackhousia viminea)
Cat's Claws (Grevillea alpina)

Pink Bells (Tetratheca ciliata)

Monday, 10 October 2016

Never say never

Can there be too many photographs of the Stick Shed?

The Murtoa Stick Shed was open to the public over the long weekend, as part of Murtoa's annual Big Weekend, and though Sunday was threatening rain, the dull overcast day provided better lighting of the interior of the shed, as there was less contrast between the outside and inside, even with the north-western corner blown in.
(The corner suffered minor damage in a wind storm and is yet to be properly repaired by Heritage Victoria with funds already committed).
The passageway along the north wall

Bottom of the conveyor & access doors

The conveyor & conveyor belt

The conveyor along the length of the shed

The shed lit by the hole in the north-west corner

Sunday, 2 October 2016

The wonderful Ingpen

Robert Ingpen received a Lifetime Achievement Award at this year’s Children’s Book Council of Australia book of the year awards.
Want to see a selection of Robert’s work?
Step into a magical world with this book of wonderful images, that have made Robert Ingpen a worldwide household name for children's illustration. Here you will find his own autobiographical tales, illustrator's notes, original sketches and illustrations from his award-winning publications. Robert leads us on his journeys into the wondrous landscapes of the classics he has so famously illustrated (Peter Pan’s Neverland, Otter’s Riverbank, The Wizard’s Oz, and Alice's Wonderland). 

Or step into the magical landscapes of his own imagination and the more real but no less magical scenery of his own beloved Australia, which reveals the places, stories and people that inspired him along the way (notably The Coorong, and Robe in South Australia). 

Robert, his wife Angela and their young family spent their summer holidays at Robe in the 1960s and 70s, where Robert drew and painted the old buildings of the town and surrounding farm buildings. Then came Colin Thiele's  "Storm Boy" and changed Robert's life as a childrens' book illustrator.
Storm Boy's humpy, on the Coorong
The Poppykettle

 Robert's astonishing creative vision has breathed life into more than one hundred books and delighted countless children around the world throughout his remarkable career as an illustrator. He was the man who gave us the Poppykettle and the Hairy Pervians, and retelling of many classic stories.

Peter Pan

Michael Morpurgo states that 'Ingpen's drawings are utterly compelling. Every brush-stroke of his beautifully conceived illustrations is a tribute to what is going on in the story’.

 “Wonderlands” is a book filled with original sketches and illustrations, and is a fitting celebration of Robert Ingpen's work as a master illustrator and storyteller. 
And a worthy recipient of the CBCA lifetime achievement award.

Wednesday, 17 August 2016

I Will

To my family I leave all my passwords…

It was one aspect of my life or death - that I had not considered - that family would need to access different password accounts at a time I was unable to tell them or tell them where to look.

Without being morbid, there are any number of accounts from your banking to social media that are password protected.

Have a look at what you have created, that your family will want admission to 

  • where are your digital photos? on your flickr or Instagram account?
  • how have you recorded your family tree? is it stored on a program like 'Ancestry'?
  • is your pc/portable hard drive/cloud storage/memory stick passworded?
  • who knows the combination to your bicycle lock?
There's still time for a codicil, must work on a list today!

Wednesday, 10 August 2016

The end of Things

Finally Mobile Thing 23 - 'Digital storytelling'
And it involves a couple of Discoveries, that I discovered some time ago, so it is good to re-discover them again.
The first is ABC Open, we did quite a bit of work with ABC Open when we had a local producer, but since Larissa left the district, not a lot has happened. But here are a few of projects we did.
A post titled 'The island of No. 2577', 'Coming to a town near you' and 'Treasure hunt for the 21st century'.

The other discovery was the Slideshare site, set up to "share what you know and love through presentations, infographics, documents and more". For this I compiled a couple of slide-shows.

Scary to think that was 7 years ago. And even scarier is how long ago it was that I created my Animoto videos - one was 9 years ago.

Water music

Then of course there are the millions of 'stories' on YouTube, that cover the whole gambit of themes and stories (one of the best would of course be the one on 'Wimmera in photos')

Following the 'Thinking Points', is the question - when considering archiving local history stories digitally, what is more important? to select your storyteller based on the interesting, informative stories they have to tell, or to utilise people with backgrounds and experience in film and digital technologies?
Really it is discovering what is of greater importance to get the story across with an authentic, but maybe untutored voice, or professionally produced that people will actually watch/listen to. I've seen some hopelessly amateur 'cringe-worthy' videos that would have benefited from some assistance. And some 'commercial' videos that were so full of gimmicky art techniques that you missed the message. In the end it is whatever gets the story told accurately with pathos.
So end'th the 23 Mobile Things story.

Wednesday, 3 August 2016

The books of the Bush

'Tis August, so must be time for another post.
This one is definitely bibliophilic -
It is a list of what Cal Flyn from the Guardian bookshop considered to be 'The Top 10 books about the Australian Bush'.

Heading the list is the quinessential book of the bush - Henry Lawson's "Drovers wife and other stories". 
Often included in the collections of his short stories, like "While the billy boils", "The Drover's wife" is his best known, originally published in 'The Bulletin' on 23rd July 1892. 
The drover is away with the stock, leaving his wife and children alone in a 2-room slab hut. While out at the wood pile she sees a snake go under the house, and knows that to protect her children she must stay awake to kill it when it appears, so she sits all night with just the dog for company, compemplating her lot in life.
The ...and other stories often include classics like "The Bush Undertaker", "The loaded dog", and "In a dry season".

The other essential element is to have "Down on his luck" (painted by Frederick McCubbin) as the cover image for the book.
Both speak of a time of swagmen, selectors, and dirt-poor farmers.

The second book on the list is the novel "My brilliant career" by Miles Franklin, which now elicits as much memories of Judy Davis in the film version, as it does Stella 'Miles' Franklin's depiction of her free-spirited heroine's coming-of-age. It was perceived by many to be largely autobiographical, and set in the area of New South Wales around Goulburn and Canberra.

The third book is definitely non-fiction - "The Bush : travels into the heart of Australia" by Don Watson. It is a journey through Australia's landscape, history and culture looking at our mythology and romantic views of the Bush. 

Number 4 was a mystery to me "All the birds, singing" by  Evie Wyld. Its Western Australian bush aspects are told in retrospect by an Australian sheep farmer now on an un-named British island.

At Number 5 is the book we chose to represent Australia in the 3 Horshams reading challenge (Horsham in Australia, West Sussex and Pennsylvania) - "The Secret River" by Kate Grenville. The historical novel of the conflict between William Thornhill & the first settlers who wished to tame the bush, and its indigenous inhabitants.

And the sixth book follows on the Aboriginal theme, it's Bill Gammage's "The biggest estate on earth : how the Aborigines made Australia". It describes the 'fire-stick' method of land management, that changed the landscape to a fire-resistant plant dominance.

The 7th book is "Letters from Victorian pioneers" selected by Thomas Bride. This was one of the first non-fiction books I had to purchase, as it relates to the Western District. It is a series of papers on the early occupation of the colony to Charles LaTrobe when he was Governor of Victoria. Written mainly by squatters it provides first-hand accounts of their view of the Bush.

Back to novels, at 8 is "Carpentaria" by Alexis Wright. It spans the gulf between the Dreamtime, the present and looks at the future. Set in the coastal town of Desperance where the Phantoms seek sovereignty against traditional owership of the land.

At number 9 is a perennial favourite, "Tracks" by Robyn Davidson. The tale of her camel trek through the deserts of Central Australia. Published in 1980, it was then made into a film in 2013.

And rounding out the Top 10 is  "The songlines" by Bruce Chatwin. Bruce took off to Robyn Davidson territory - Central Australia to search for songlines - the ancient labyrinth of invisible pathways sung by mythical totems in the creation of the country.

There are links between these books, but they are also very different in how they see or describe the bush. Would they be your 10 of the best?

Thursday, 30 June 2016


How opportune that Thing 22 is eResources and vendor apps, just at a time when we’re reviewing database vendors.

Some electronic resources (eg. databases, eBooks, eMagazines, etc.) are accessible via apps provided by the vendors. This Thing is designed to think about the experience when using vendor apps to access content, knowing that the experience can be variable depending on the device you have, the connectivity in your area and the compatibility of the app. 
It refers to a number of applications, including – Zinio, Mango Languages, EBSCO Host, Axis 360, 3M Cloud Library and OverDrive, just to mention half a dozen.

The Thinking Points are:

  • What information do the vendors collect from your clients via the app? – That varies and is dependent of things like their authentication protocols, and whether you are merely searching or actually borrowing.

  • What use statistics do you get from vendor apps? – That definitely varies from vendor to vendor, some are just brief raw searches or visits, others show trends, turnovers, and allow some level of interaction to generate particular statistical queries.

  • Are clients who use the app easily able to move to other library resources? – Another variable, often the vendor’s app and site are separate, but products like eResource Central aim to bring them all together under one discovery layer, just hurry on the day it all happens.

  • How do you evaluate vendor apps before offering them to your clients? – By playing, but also trying to think of all the ways people want to access and look/listen to the resources.

  • Which vendor apps could your staff use (e.g. library management system)? – that would be BookMyne
  • In what ways does offering core services via apps change the way that the library reaches people? - it is the whole self-service 24/7, and it also changes the way in which people interact with staff.

Monday, 27 June 2016

'Read' by listening

Thing 21 is Voice interaction and recording, and it covers a few different aspects and opportunities to create content for library collections and exhibitions by recording voice (eg. oral histories, local stories and literacy activities). 
  • I saw/listened to a wonderful application of this technology, when Ballarat Library staff used an ipad to record reminiscences at the Heritage Festival, then made a video of short snippets - different memories of the trams.
    The last of the Ballarat trams, 1971
  • Using assistive translation software technology to communicate with library patrons who read/speak other languages, be it text-to-speech or speech-to-text.
  • And the big one audio-books, specifically eAudio, but taking it a step further - choosing a text-to-speech option on eBooks, or switching seamlessly between an eBook and an audio-book.
You know things are transiting when the 'Wall Street Journal' thinks "The digital revolution may have dealt a heavy blow to print, but it is boosting literacy in other unexpected ways by fueling the explosive growth of audio books".
As commuters around the country, and around the world, retreat into their own world on their phone, tablet or other device, it has led to a proliferation of audio entertainment, and a take up of eBooks and eAudios by non-traditional users.