Day one of talks from last year’s National Digital Forum at Te Papa are now available on YouTube.

If you are interested to find out about all things digital in NZ’s GLAM sector this is the place for you!

Topics include WW100, creating a digital marae, the Dunedin flat names project, developing NZ sign language archive, terminology control (one for all you cataloguers out there), using volunteers in digitisation projects, digital publishing and more.

Presentation vary in length from around 10 minutes to half an hour or more.

Its always difficult trying to parse a conference as diverse as Webstock into a few lines of blog posts or a 1 hour talk. Sometimes I end up talking about a handful of the fascinating sessions, the ones that really resonated with me or the ones that seemed to have the most bearing on libraries, our work and our customers. Often I try to draw out a theme or two, as Webstock speakers often seem to have shared themes. It never does justice to either the speakers or the event as a whole. This year you’re getting a book/link list c/o BiblioCommons and a Wordle. Enjoy, explore, employ.

The Webstock 2014 book / link list

Cover of The year without pants by Scott BerkunThis list features books by Webstock 2014 speakers as well as those they refer to, their presentations where they’ve been posted publicly, websites that they have referred to or in some cases their own websites.

The books in particular are very interesting in that you’ll notice that NONE of them are to do with web specifically. In fact most of them are to do with psychology, or rather thinking, with some design and media stuff thrown in. That’s because, despite its name, Webstock is not really a web conference (any more?) – sure most of its speakers and attendees are doing stuff on the web, but then most of everyone is on the web these days. If you tied me down and tickled me for an answer I would say that Webstock is about creativity. Not (only) arty farty creativity but the creativity that makes us make and innovate, whether it’s a really great public service website, a music album, an orchestra, a park, a health programme; and creating the conditions that maximise that creativity.

My Webstock ’14 Wordle

Wordle based on phrases from webstock 2014

Check out that great big change. Not that that’s surprising – whether it was Liz’s “QUIT”, or Tom’s “revolution not evolution”, or Scott’s “‘what we’ve always done’ has no value”, there was a huge emphasis (see, a theme emerges) of making major changes to the way you do things and think about things, of letting go of the past and its baggage and reassessing where your plans are taking you. So to end this rambling summary I’m going to leave you with some of the snippets that made up the above and encourage you to have a look at the book/link list – I’ll be adding to it from time to time, particularly as the conference videos emerge.

Choose important over urgent… Erase the meanings that are holding you back.

Do it properly. Stop making digital services as if you’re buying something.

Don’t underestimate passion and human spirit. Take a leap of faith.

Don’t write a strategy, deliver. Go back to first principles, focus on user need.

Create patterns for personal serendipity. Create rituals.

Choose a gap, start small and run fast. Optimise for momentum.

The four keynote papers from last year’s National Digital forum can now be found on YouTube. They are:

All are well worth a look and last around 50 minutes.

The biennial conference VALA’s theme this year was ‘Streaming with possibilities’ and the conference featured sessions ranging from data to ‘the cloud,’ from user experience to social media.

The State Library of Victoria

Monday was a day for people to brush up on some of the subjects to be covered with VALA’s L-Plate series before the conference began proper on the Tuesday. I took some time on the Monday to visit the Melbourne Museum and the State Library of Victoria to see how they compared with the libraries we have here in Christchurch.

I found the State Library to be well-used – especially the use of the free wifi – but also the number of people using it for research. During one of the sessions at the conference, the presenter referred to the La Trobe Reading Room with its huge dome as having been designed along the same lines as a prison back in the 1800s, where all the tables pointed into a central point, rather like a star, where the librarian / warden could sit and see everything going on.

I liked the addition of art galleries within the library but it was the very stereotype of a library with little talk and or interaction and in the time I was there I only saw one librarian and no children at all.


The conference began with a brief welcome on the Tuesday followed by the first Plenary session. These sessions were easily the most informative. Two of them mentioned Christchurch City Libraries, both presenters, Gene Tan (Director, National Library of Singapore) and Matt Finch (Parkes Shire, NSW) saying that our response after the earthquakes was the reason they are motivated and inspired by libraries.

Gene said that when he is feeling down about his work he thinks about our response and what we did for the community and feels inspired again. His talk was on the Singapore Memory Project, which Cath and Dyane mentioned in their coverage of the IFLA conference, and how the idea came about, getting it off the ground and the ongoing struggle to keep it running successfully whilst dealing with the politics and pressures associated with such a large project. The project is an attempt to build a library of the entire Singapore experience. He wants to collect photos, memories, ideas (Where’s the richest place in the world? The graveyard because that is where millions of ideas have died along with their owners. If they had been tried or even recorded they would still have a chance), even video and social media posts, everything that makes up being a Singaporean. Gene hopes to have the Museum of ME – the library of social media – finished before the National Library conference in 2016. Sounds ominous and messy and Gene says it should be. People are too complex to be put into categories or demographics and that that is one reason to collect all the memories from Singapore.

Matt Finch on the other hand spoke about ‘The book of the world: crossing boundaries in culture and outreach.’ He spoke about his events with zombies  and getting the whole school and fire department involved so as to get real engagement from the participants.

Matt’s talk was called ‘The book of the world’ after a Dr Who script that was never made into an episode but floats around on the Internet. In it, the Doctor takes two librarians with him on his journey. The Tardis takes the visitor, both their body and their mind, on a journey just like libraries do. Librarians are like Dr Who, Time Lords who know to use the library / Tardis and can take visitors on a journey of exploration and adventure and books are like doors, opening up new worlds and enabling the user to explore as they see fit. Maybe the new library should be shaped like a giant blue telephone box, our own Tardis?

Public library websites

Two presentations were particularly pertinent to me. Usability of public library websites in Australia provided some interesting information on library websites in Australia. It said that a good website should be easy to use, have good, up-to-date information and be well designed. Most websites reviewed did not provide easy to find contact information or have up-to-date content and do not use web 2.0 technologies well (which she defined as social media only) or at all. It was good to see that we cover all of the bases and a surprise that so many do not. Speaking to someone afterwards, they said it was a reality and based on the fact that they do not have dedicated teams to do the work but it is a list of things to be done by a centralised Council web team or when a librarian has time i.e. never.

Journey into the user experience: creating a library website that’s not for librarians was given by AUT who have recently redeveloped their library website. This was done in response to the needs of the students having changed. They were bringing their own devices as opposed to using University supplied devices and the majority of these were mobile devices which necessitated a responsive website. Students were interviewed to get their opinion of the existing website, which was predominantly negative as it had too many links, most of which led to information the student had no interest in.

Google Analytics, expert reviews and heat maps as well as focus groups and interviews backed this up and showed that in fact students only used a tiny fraction of the links on the home page. Personae and a content audit was done and design went through several iterations before the final one was agreed upon. The site was designed with the user in mind, not the librarian and this meant that change had to happen not only to the website but also to the thinking of librarians. User-centric means basing the design on what the user wants, not the librarians.

Other things of interest said in the talk included remembering that the website is a gateway to other services and so it is important to get the vendors on board as well; you are never finished – there are always things to do and improvements to make – Go responsive. Users are increasingly mobile so delivering a mobile friendly site is more important than ever.

Finally they saw Instagram as the place youth are going to and have been focusing on that social media channel. I found this talk interesting as it showed that what we are doing is along the right path and that maybe we should be taking a step back from what we want on the site and going back to the basics and offering our users what they want in an easily accessible manner.

Social media and more

There were several presentations related to social media. The perfect storm: the convergence of social, mobile and photo technologies in libraries from Bond University in Queensland conducted a study of libraries from around the world using Instagram to see what their experiences were like from capturing and sharing photographs. Their research showed their were only 74 libraries worldwide using Instagram. A limited number of these participated in their study which concluded that the reason for using Instagram was to create a friendly and approachable image. Different libraries used it in different ways such as Singapore Libraries using it to show pets with books photos. The presenter’s library had more Instagram than Facebook followers and used a tool called Nitrogram for measuring use of Instagram.

Another presentation Is it Tweet-worthy? discussed use of Twitter by librarians and found that most are liberals and like cats. Seems nothing can be a cat tweet or Facebook post. Their research found that most librarians use their personal Twitter account to tweet about work and their personal life and are happy to mix these together, not concerned about their tweets being related to the organisations they work for. Librarians are also quite happy to tweet about their political views and controversial subjects even though their professional colleagues could see it. This research also showed that a lot of librarians share content on Twitter.

A plenary on social media as an agent of change  covered everything from American presidential campaigns and their use of social media especially with Obama’s campaign through to use of social media in the Spring uprisings in the Middle East. As the presenter Johan Bollen is from a University background and relies on funding and grants to do his research he presented a case in which he concluded that aggregating information from a crowd can yield better decisions than from individuals, even experts, a kind of collective intelligence. He suggested that if funding was distributed this way, the best people and projects would get the best money whilst at the same time saving billions in administration and application processes.

Michelle Hudson of Kiama Library talked about their journey to being one of the first libraries in Australia to connect to the national broadband network (NBN) and the challenges they faced, having to deal with state government, funding, training, digital literacy and the consequent increased use of ebooks and tablets.

Another on streaming archives was interesting because a local television station offered the Woolongong Library their 1964-1984 news collection. If the Library refused to take them they would have been dumped. There were over 1,000 reels of footage and associated scripts that had to be digitised and have metadata associated with it so it would be findable. The presentation detailed some of the hurdles they faced with technology, copyright and logistics to get to the point where the archives are now available to be viewed online.

Other sessions looked at data, what it is, how it can be manipulated, how important it is to make it accessible, the risks associated with that in regards to releasing all data related to research as well as doing data analysis using such tools as SPARQL, which is apparently a great tool for queries, and Openrefine, a tool for cleaning up and reconciling data.

On top of the sessions themselves there was the opportunity to meet other delegates and compare notes. This helps us in think about our services, our new Central Library, and what 21st century libraries  should be.

Here is the conference presentation from Sally Thompson:

Foyers, facades and fenestrations: new library spaces in Europe and Scandinavia

As well as the conference paper there is a power point which has  lots of interesting photographs.

The paper is the culmination of  facts and inspiration gathered on a five week adventure funded in part through the LIANZA Edith Jessie Carnell Travelling Scholarship. Sally visited over 20 new Central and large community libraries in England, Netherlands, Finland, Sweden and Denmark. The presentation also contains key themes and feedback from the NEXT Library 2013 conference in Aarhus Denmark as they relate to future libraries.

Christchurch City Libraries were well represented among the presenters at LIANZA 2013.

Sally also presented on her recent European trip and we’ll post that as soon as we have it.

The full range of conference papers from LIANZa 2013 can be found on the LIANZA website.

Carolyn Robertson and Kate Ogden are in Rotterdam at a meeting of the International Network of Emerging Library Innovators (INELI).

Carolyn reports back on their visit:

Kate gave a great presentation yesterday. This photo shows her slide showing our Maori resources web page.
Kate did a fantastic job highlighting our library network, projects and post-earthquake initiatives.


We have seen amazing presentations from the 27 innovators from across the globe. Many fantastic initiatives some on very small budgets providing services in developing countries against the odds.

We have heard about some relevant projects such as the new Aarhus Library. We are keen to capture their ideas and processes to develop new service models.


Today we are joined by the first INELI group, cohort 1, for an unconference on innovation, Tomorrow we will be visiting three libraries.

We  have been given an amazingly warm welcome by the INELI people, and are meeting so many new people and the buzz of excited conversations is  happening all around.

Kate and I also visited Delft on Saturday when we arrived and saw DOK the public library and the University of Technology Library which is new and very interesting.

The e-book session was a tale of three parts.

Part One: Framing the challenge: transformation of the media market

Dan Mount (Civic Agenda) commented on the e-book market. He said the user expectation is e-books anywhere, anytime on any device. The music industry removed drm after it was a barrier to users and that if e-books did this it would allow de facto ownership. The licence would dictate the terms of use.

He asked the question of whether the e-book should be a product or a service? E-lending can equal more sales.
There is scope for libraries and publishers to work together to socialise the use of e-books

The publishers perspective – YS Chi (International Publishers Association)
Nine e-words to describe the publisher perspective:
Excess – available
Easy – content needs to be easy to find and access
Expansive – ebooks do not equal less work for publishers, even though there is no distribution or printing, the print books have not gone away. Publishers are running two models – print and digital – digital has required investment in digital infrastructure. The role of publishers has expanded.
Enigmatic – uncertainty about the future
Experimental – all stakeholders need to think out of the box
Experiential – augmented reality. The book can be interactive, refer to other content not just text.
Ephemeral – some predict the demise of e-books by 2017..
Empathy – more you understand what is going on in the market the more you can help your readers
Eternal – book is not going anywhere and this provides an opportunity to redefine what the book is
He closed by saying that more content is being made available – citing the example of Harper Collins to open up access to children’s books in September 2013.
The solution cannot be one size fits all.
“Fail often but fail early.”

Part Two: The challenge world wide – e-book licensing policy/principles/issues around the globe

We literally heard from all the regions around the world about the state of the e-book market. This was fascinating and our New Zealand perspective is similar to the Australian experience.

South America – a fairy tale for libraries. Broadband is expensive and less coverage. The Digital natives (young people) expect immediacy. The access for e-books restricted by licences.

Africa – uptake not reached any significant amount, they are starting to set up infrastructure and add to libraries. They have very little budget. Kenya first launched an ebook store in 2012.
The users have a fear of the unknown and have a high level of comfort with print. They lack affordable e readers and there is a lack of ebooks in their languages. They lack a legal framework and there are issues privacy and piracy.

Singapore- Asia is a diverse market – in Singapore English is the main language but Chinese, Tamil and Malay are supported in print form.
There is a lack of a mature ebook ecosystem and Amazon and Apple do not sell directly to Singapore.
There are few e-books published in Chinese Malay and Tamil.
Two ebook stores were or are run by
They work with aggregators but the full catalog is not always available in Singapore. an iPad.

Australia – e-books and e-lending are well established in higher education.
67% public libraries lend ebooks – 98% predicted to do so in the next two years. The barriers: budget, technology, licensing and content.
E-books make up less than 5% of loans.
79% of customers are unhappy with little access to best seller material.
Overdrive / Wheelers are the main aggregators and the 3MCloud is not available in Australia.
E-books lack availability, have a high cost, no certainty of supply, the kindle is not compatible, and they lack integration with library discovery.
Book industry collaborarative council – came up with principles for consistent models for the supply of ebooks to libraries.
1. Role of library in reading culture
2. Model for supply
3. Availability of supply
4. Continuity of access
5. E lending right
6. Pricing fair for libraries
7. Device neutrality

These principles have gone to the Australian government but the government has changed so the future of the principles is uncertain.

Europe – e-book market varies from 1% to 17%.
Law – problems include lending right, price fixing and legal uncertainty.
Dutch libraries have gone to court to ensure they can lend ebooks.
Germany – uses aggregators.
Needs a copyright framework for the digital world.

USA – Transformation of libraries is a key theme in 2015 strategic plan for libraries.
Issues included:
Print to digital collections
Lack of ebook content
Licensing vs ownership
Role of intermediaries – overdrive

ALA worked with publishers, authors and intermediaries.
Issues identified were user privacy, problems with library consortia participation, user interface clunky, often multiple formats and transfer of titles from one vendor to another if libraries swapped vendors.

Publishers had issues – they feared bad publicity, selling more ebooks meant making smaller profits, business models of print and digital do not mix.
Friction – ebook seen as frictionless. By friction in the print works a user would come to the library, try to find the book, it might be out, they place a hold, eventually get the book. At each point there is friction (which may cause the user to give up and buy the book instead). The e-book does not gave these friction points.
Publishers were worried about piracy and napster like endeavours from library users.

Part Three:  IFLA answers

E lending working group have established E-lending principles.
They started with a quote “Amara’s Law”. “We tend to overestimate the effect of a technology in the short run and underestimate the effect in the long run”.
The e-book market is am emerging one.

IFLA World Library and Information Congress
79th IFLA General Conference and Assembly
17-23 August 2013, Singapore

Image of Five key trends

Five trends identified:
1. New technologies will both expand and limit who has access to information
2. Online education will disrupt and transform traditional learning
3. Boundaries of data protection and privacy will be redefined
4. Hyper connected societies will listen to and empower new groups
5. Global information economy will be transformed by new technologies

All the trends have a connection to technology

IFLA trend report

IFLA World Library and Information Congress
79th IFLA General Conference and Assembly
17-23 August 2013, Singapore

This session was a series of talks on the topic “the library and the city”.

Jens Thorhauge – Creating a model-programme for the building of future public libraries and their role in culture led design of urban spaces.

Jens’ first challenge to us as a profession “libraries develop all the time but changes are now so fundamental they require a new kind of institution”. He explained that access is everywhere so libraries need a new “raison d’etre”.

Two trends in Danish public libraries:

  1. Growth in activities that are not physical collection related
  2. 1/3 of public libraries have become self-serviced ‘open’ libraries.

This report is worth a read: A new model for public libraries in the knowledge society

Also this link:
A 2010 report Denmark – the public libraries in the knowledge society

The city in the city has three roles:

  1. A icon in the city – creating centres and identity in the city
  2. A place-maker
  3. A catalyst for change – such as revitalizing or renewing the spaces around the building.

Another challenge to us as a profession:
We need:

  • A national digital library
  • Open libraries prepared to meet a variety of needs from a broader audience
  • To build on strategic partnerships to meet true needs in a user-oriented way.

Maija Berndtson – Public Libraries and place-making

The use of the term “public” assumes openness, accessibility, participation, inclusion, and accountability.
Libraries are the “third place”. The project for public spaces website outlines principles for making great public spaces and these should be applied to our public libraries.

20130818-180824.jpg 20130818-180836.jpg 20130818-180846.jpg 20130818-180857.jpg 20130818-180908.jpg
These are examples of libraries that are great examples of public spaces: Seattle Public Library, Amsterdam Public Library, Ideastore Whitechapel, idea stores, Aarhus (in the process of being built) Helsinki city library – Library 10.
(images taken from Google image search)

Madeleine Lefebevre – The library, the city and infinite possibilities – Ryerson University Student Learning centre project.

Ryerson University is in the heart of Toronto – 38940 students, 100 programs and 440 PHD students.
The three goals of the project to build a new student centre were commitment to design excellence, density (had to occupy a small footprint, and people first – pedestrian friendly.

They wanted to create a gateway and window to Ryerson and address the need for study space. Their vision – access to digital resources (as physical collection has decreased as the university moved toward online resources), collaborative services and learning spaces, teaching space, versatile, interaction, inspiration, innovation and discovery.

Challenges: small site, 60% frontage must be reserved for retail, by-laws, connection with subway too expensive and the security of building and occupants. Spinning discs – declared a heritage site. Some benefits: They chose to use an urban umbrella – construction hoarding which is decorative in order to minimize the impact that construction was having on the area. Building relationships and the opportunity for collaboration.

Liz McGettigan – It’s time for the future – (City of Edinburgh)

Important aspects when building libraries for the future:

  • Creating content – local and national
  • Physical space – user driven
  • Social impact of the library in it’s community
  • Being Digital by desire
  • Involving the end users – she had the example of L4U – which was designed, furnished and branded by young people.
  • Important to monitor your progress against targets.

Sam Boss – intersection of design and culture – new Guangzhou Library

Three aspects 1. location, interior, exterior.

Location: The new library is in the Flower City Centre. The library helps the city to create a cultural living room. The square has outdoor art exhibitions, people use it to gather and relax, to exercise and for dining and shopping. Square is home to opera house, 2nd children’s palace and the museum. Architecturally unique cultural centre.

Exterior: architecture via symbolism – shape not meaning, complement the surrounding structures, pages of a book being turned. Exterior walls are composed of “layered books” – include reflection of Cantonese culture and rooftop gardens.

Interior: The modern library design is flexible creating spaces that can be easily changed, adopted or reorganized.
The reading experience area – open areas for quiet study, individual and group study rooms, 2 exhibition halls, 2 multifunction halls and 2 cafes.

Interior should be a reflection of local traditions, regional or period decor or art and artifacts.

IFLA World Library and Information Congress
79th IFLA General Conference and Assembly
17-23 August 2013, Singapore

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