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550 Librarians at a conference gala dinner
AND An entertaining band
AND Lots of merlot
OR Lots of sauvignon blanc
NOT Any sense of self-consciousness

YOU HAVE FOUND: Lots of fun. It was all valuable networking, honest. Hic.

(See the latest photos here)

This morning's session from a librarian at Freiburg University (celebrating it's 550th anniversary!) was my favourite paper so far. He had logged a massive amount of catalogue sessions and analysed the results. There were too manyy facts and figures to relate here, but here are the ones that stood out:

- Less than 4% of users opt for the advanced search screen
- 80% of searches use a single search box (the interface allows for author/title/subject heading from the first screen)
- 99% of searches using more than one field use the AND operator (OR & NOT are hidden on a dropdown - the figure drops to 80% if radio buttons are used)
- 33% of sessions used only a single query - is the user satisfied or do they give up?
- There were anomalies from ISPs in training rooms, i.e. from training sessions. This activity did not appear to translate into "real world" searches

There was plenty here to cogitate on with an impact for OPAC design, cataloguing, IL strategy etc. I would urge you to read the proceedings of this paper when they are published in a week or two - we'll let you know when it's available.

The other highlight so far was seeing a mentoring medal awarded in absentia to Dianne van Sommers, as nominated by Trish Blatch. Hurrah!

Here we go again

21 September, 2006

Well, we sampled the Dogbolter Beer last night and now I'm raring to go for what looks like the most exciting day of the conference. We've all felt that the concurrent sessions are the real "meat" of the experience and today I'll be going to talks about the following:

- Client information seeking behaviour on OPACs
- What is a library OPAC?
- SMS reference services
- Print vs electronic reference resources
- And, yes, podcasting

Anything in particular you want me to ask about?

Tonight it's the Spanish themed conference gala dinner. 700 librarians drinking sangria and dancing the night away. It should be a sight to behold...

Welcome to Country from Mort Hanson of the local indigenous people.
Official opening from Kenneth Michael, Governor of WA.
Short address by Dagmar Schmidmaier, ALIA President

Keynote Speaker: Josephine Bryant – Toronto Public Library

Much of the talk concentrated on public libraries in the community – important but not very relevant to USyd. The most interesting stuff was about her general approach to change/restructure.

Amalgamated 7 libraries following local government reorganisation – 10% budget cut and staff cut. Had to thrive on ambiguity and uncertainty. Scary but conducive to innovation. Managers were deliberately posted to unfamiliar areas (geographic and organisational) in order to encourage staff to challenge assumptions and rethink ideas of user services/best practice. User satisfaction remained constant throughout – unusual for organisational change.

Another interesting approach was a proactive approach to media coverage – how good are we at generating positive publicity?

Click on comments to add any thoughts or questions..

I visited 5 libraries on a bus tour to look at their architecture and other features. There were various items of interest but what I was looking for was anything that we could apply directly in our uni libraries, so I’ll stick to that here:

Medical and Dental Library, UWA

Zoned quiet areas – Ground floor for group work, 1st floor for quiet work, 2nd floor for silent work. The librarian assured me that this was self-policing once the signs were introduced.

Diagonal seating in the training room, ensuring that all seats face towards the front rather than sideways – neat.

Staff area has large windows looking in/out of the public areas in a fishbowl style. Some of our group weren’t sure, but I thought it was much better than tucking ourselves out of sight.

Cambridge Public Library

Ingenious lighting at the top of the shelves. Everybody loved this – could it be a solution to the gloomy stacks in Fisher?

Acoustic panelling in the ceiling to reduce noise levels – it’s also attractive and eco-friendly.

Osborne Public Library

Open access reserve shelves. Combine with self checkout and users are able to complete the transaction with no staff intervention.

Please comment if you think any of these have applications in our libraries.

Arrival

19 September, 2006

Well, we are in Perth and the big fun starts today. I'm off on a bus tour concentrating on library architecture while Sarah is doing a walking tour of some of the specialist libraries in the CBD. By the look of the gloomy weather, I've got the better end of that deal.

We arrived at lunchtime yesterday and hotfooted over to Curtin University Library for a look at some of their initiatives. We met with Constance Wiebrands who was very informative and kindly took us out for food afterwards. That's networking right?

Curtin have a number of interesting ideas on the go, including a library blog and podcasts. Perhaps we should be looking at these tools at our library?

Arrival

19 September, 2006

Well, we are in Perth and the big fun starts today. I'm off on a bus tour concentrating on library architecture while Sarah is doing a walking tour of some of the specialist libraries in the CBD. By the look of the gloomy weather, I've got the better end of that deal.

We arrived at lunchtime yesterday and hotfooted over to Curtin University Library for a look at some of their initiatives. We met with Constance Wiebrands who was very informative and kindly took us out for food afterwards. That's networking right?

Curtin have a number of interesting ideas on the go, including a library blog and podcasts. Perhaps we should be looking at these tools at our library?

Crikey, it’s nearly September! ALIA 06 is fast approaching and as it looms larger in my mind, I’ve started thinking about what preparation I should be doing now.

I’m a conference virgin, so maybe you can suggest things that are obvious from your experience but I may have missed completely.

Some questions:

• What should I take? My list at present includes a laptop and a bunch of business cards. Anything else?
• How ambitious should I be? At present I want to attend every session, check out every trade stand and socialise (sorry, “network”) until the wee hours. Is this feasible?
• Anyone have any good tips for eateries in the area of the Holiday Inn and Perth Conference Centre?

All comments greatly appreciated!

Crikey, it’s nearly September! ALIA 06 is fast approaching and as it looms larger in my mind, I’ve started thinking about what preparation I should be doing now.

I’m a conference virgin, so maybe you can suggest things that are obvious from your experience but I may have missed completely.

Some questions:

• What should I take? My list at present includes a laptop and a bunch of business cards. Anything else?
• How ambitious should I be? At present I want to attend every session, check out every trade stand and socialise (sorry, “network”) until the wee hours. Is this feasible?
• Anyone have any good tips for eateries in the area of the Holiday Inn and Perth Conference Centre?

All comments greatly appreciated!