Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Proud of my state library - its history

Is valuing and preserving history and knowledge an essential characteristic of civilisation? If so, is the formation of free public libraries an integral development of a civilisation? I'm not sufficiently curious to research that at the moment. I became only slightly curious on that point when I began to wonder whether the fact that I personally highly value the philosophy of free public libraries is simply a consequence of being a product of my civilisation and culture. In which case, it would not be surprising that I connect with the objectives of the founders of the State Library of Victoria who built cultural institutions to provide access to useful knowledge to assist in the growth and development of our society. And it would also then only be natural for me to be grateful that Sir Redmond Barry envisioned a ' great emporium of learning and philosophy, of literature, science and art'

And yet, I've visited the State Library only three times: first as a secondary student when the museum was still located on the same site; secondly with my godfather who introduced my sons and I to the chess room; and thirdly thanks to my library technicians' course including a rapid but comprehensive tour including glimpses behind the scenes. Still, while I've never accessed the State Library of Victoria for my own research, my knowledge of my world includes awareness that knowledge gained by others in my society is valued, accumulated, collected, preserved and accessible should I ever need it. Just how much we make use of that knowledge in constructing our future is a bunch of different questions.

Reading the history of the State Library of Victoria online I was engrossed:

  • I appreciated the foresight of the founders' criteria for building design that it should be capable of expansion (and since the tour which mentioned the leaking & service issues that have come with expansions, I wonder whether those experiences have contributed hindsight for architecture and building).
  • I bless the government who wisely passed the Copyright Protection Act in 1869 (and later the Libraries Act 1988) 'requiring that a copy of every book, magazine, pamphlet and map published in Victoria should be lodged at the Library by the publisher' even if that meant providing 'everything' Victorian rather than just 'the best of everything' desired by Sir Redmond Barry.
  • I wondered about the experiences of the people who perhaps struggled with the decisions and circumstances through which the library evolved over time:
    • the travelling libraries scheme, 1859-1981
    • the lending service, 1892-1971
    • understandable diversion of resources to universities,
    • changing focus to acquire Australiana since the 1950s,
    • overturning original rules of exclusion to include items of popular culture and contemporary material (I was
    • the onsite library training school, 1948-1970 (what was it like to train there? what were the assessments like?)
    • building expansions and preservation to retain the 'order, class and magnitude suitable to the prospects of the country'
    • sharing then not sharing location with the museum and art gallery,
    • introducing automated cataloguing.

While I can't afford to buy Treasures of the State Library of Victoria, from which the text of the online history is taken, I certainly plan to read it next time I'm in.

I'm glad I had the opportunity to take the tour in person - to explore and experience the building so well restored and developed. While the online tour offers a little taste, on site was entrancing.

Monday, June 26, 2006

*&^%$#@! assignment time again

The unit: Develop and apply knowledge of library information services.

The first assignment: 

Write a report (1000 words for each library) on the State Library of Victoria, The Museum Library and one other Academic or Public Library.  Report should include: brief summary of the library's history; account of the information role of the library and its relationship with its users; summary of management and reporting structure; discussion of key issues facing the library; summary of key legislation which effects (sic)(?affects) library's role and performance.

Why it is *&^%$#@!:
I hate writing solely for the purpose of being assessed on what I've written.  Valuable purposes of formal writing are to compose information useful in content and style to the work's reader.  My assessor already knows this stuff so what I write can't be useful to her.  When "what is in it for me" is only a grade I feel sick.

So: To get around that I have to:
  • find a personal motive, maybe:
    • a focussed series of entries for my blog
      • What this unit contributes to my industry knowledge
      • How that new knowledge could contribute to my future work in the industry
      • Preferably: what I enjoyed learning or found interesting or personally relevant
    • if I had a workplace I might "report" to a staff meeting or staff blog / wiki - but I don't yet;
    • career planning - too far away: I'll be homeschooling for a few more years.
  • maybe alter my 'educated' notions of what a report looks like
    • (boring... headings, sub-headings, prose content, conclusion)
    • play with the assessment criteria invitation to organise it 'innovatively'
Priority: Get it done!
  • Writing to format frustrated me to tears
    • eg SLV have pages galore dedicated to the areas relevant to the inclusions for my short report
    • all of which I find interesting
    • I would have to summarise what has already been extensively summarised.
  • Break it into pieces
    • There are two more assignments in this unit due in 28 days
    • := 9 days each
    • := 3 days each library of this one.
    • := 1/2 day per element to include.
    • leaving hopefully enough time to wrap it all up in a report!

Saturday, June 24, 2006

xrefer brainteaser: learning ... guessing ... knew

I knew that Judas Iscariot was the name of the disciple who betrayed Jesus Christ for thirty pieces of silver.

I knew that a "buttinski" is a 'Mr Pointy Nose', one who interferes, a meddler ...?a social worker?

I guessed that Williams Shakespeare was the dramatist wrote the words "Cowards die many times before their deaths"

I described a "martinet" as a bossy-boots, a tyrant, a control-freak, an iron-gusset, one who insists things be done by the book - is that close enough to ""?

I learned [again] that a "Dutch nightingale" is a frog.

I guessed from vague recollection that a dodo was a large bird native to Mauritius though I wasn't certain it wasn't Madagascar [it wasn't]

I learned that the poem "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner" about a sailor shooting an albatross - was written by Coleridge and thanks to the electronic text center of the University of Virginia Library I now know the source of the phrase " Water, water, every where, Nor any drop to drink."

I guessed that the Roman deity Janus had two faces, though I'm going to have to re-check who that was.

I described a "dotard" as a dotty old person.

I learned that the American politician was known as "the Illinois gorilla" and "the original gorilla" was Abraham Lincoln.  Issy & Lotsofstuff recognised that piece of information, Issy thinking they recognised it from the Simpsons.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Answered by Fire

I'm glad Answered by Fire was produced, but... what people do to other people breaks my heart.

Friday, June 02, 2006

Cataloguing my library

Is it another waste of time?  I've taken the plunge with LibraryThing. I'm not sure why.

I already have a database/inventory of my books in Access, including facility to track books I loan out. 
My real desire is to create MARC records - I've loved the first cataloguing subject in my course. 
No, well yes, but no, really what I need is to organise my books. 

My collection (of books [and games, kits, toys] is begging to be sorted ... I wonder how, after thirty years of devoted (okay: obsessive), orderly arrangement of my books, I can have shelved them so haphazardly and left them so for almost two years.  I remember when starting to shelve that it felt ridiculous to be taking the time (an excess of time because I am conflicted between Dewey and my own categories) to properly order the books when I had allowed my marriage to fall apart and was so fearful about how I would manage our life.  Waiting until I learn more about cataloguing in the library course (although I cannot conceive how it will ease the conflict) seemed like a reasonable justification, although the state of the shelves is a constant irritation.  For some time when I thought about tackling the task, it triggered the same guilt/fear complex so I guess I shall be grateful that such feelings have faded with time.  The last remaining obstacle is settling to a system of organisation - regretfully likely to be Dewey?

While I won't be creating the MARC myself, LibraryThing may help with the latter by telling me the Dewey classifications of my books, at least for those that have ISBNs. 


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