Our State Library

The scene before me was mesmerizing. I stood at the entrance to a cavernous room: circular in plan, the walls soared upwards on all sides towards a domed ceiling; shelves of books lining the walls. Ladders were propped intermittently against the shelves on various levels. There was a hush over the interior; this was a library – the State Library of Victoria. People sat studying at wooden desks that were arranged in rows like spokes of a cartwheel converging at a central hub. Green reading lamps glowed across the room illuminating the study areas and softly lighting the gloomy interior. This first memory of mine was when I was about five or six years old and already having a love of books and reading, this cathedral of books validated my own obsession. This awesome vision planted the seed of my desire to become an architect. It is ironic that becoming a librarian did not occur to me.


I had cause to visit the State Library of Victoria again this week and it never ceases to inspire me. The thoughtful and spectacular renovations have brought the library into the 21st century. I could not resist a visit to the domed reading room that is no longer gloomy as the skylights have been rebuilt. The Redmond Barry Reading Room is such an inviting place I wished I could stay all day. Their approach to their collections and exhibitions also send out firm messages that this is not an old stuffy and irrelevant institution. With offerings such as Inside a Dog for teenagers, Mirror of the World for book lovers, SLV21 for electronic media, and their new Ergo site for student researchers, they truly do try to engage and inspire us all. I looked in at the Medieval Books exhibition that was so busy it was difficult to squeeze in between other people to see the rare books on display.

I love a sunburnt country

Dorothea MacKellar’s famous ode to Australia echoes loudly down through the generations.


The harsh Australian sun has taken its toll on my fair freckled skin after a youth spent outdoors. This week I have had a basal cell carcinoma removed from my forehead.


Bay swim about 1991Spending my childhood and teenage years outdoors without a hat or sunscreen was normal for me and my generation. I spent most of my free daylight hours outside playing tennis, swimming, and water-skiing. Cracked lips, peeling noses, and sun burnt skulls were badges of honour as proof of sun-worship. My skin did tan to a light golden colour and to me this was some kind of validation of my Australian identity, shunning my English, Scottish and French ancestry. I inherited my skin type from my mother and aunt and they both have had many nasty things cut and burnt from their skin. My aunt who will turn 90 years of age this year has had so many cuts made to her face that she looks like she has been in a car accident. She is not the slightest bit vain about it and I admire her common-sense and practical attitude.


I still enjoy an active outdoor life but nowadays I wear a hat and sunscreen. Unfortunately the damage is already done and I fear this little operation may be the first of many.


The recent Web 2.0 conference resulted in some new connections with suggestions and requests for more work. With a couple of days off work I know my workload is piling up. I have lots to do. I need to report on the conference; think about writing an article for an organisation whose representative approached me after my presentation, create more wikis, find some appropriate videos for classroom projects, transfer the library content from our intranet to the new content management system, as well as my usual library work. Not to mention catching up on reading the email, blogs and twitters that will be accumulating.

Wiki wacky

Wiki software allows any dummy to create a website. No need to know html code, nor be able to use intricate web creation software like MS FrontPage or Dreamweaver. No need for access to servers. It’s all free online.

Wikipedia provides this definition of wiki and tells us that it is derived from a Hawaiian word meaning “fast”.

As a person who knows html code, takes pride in my use of website creation software, and works diligently to create webpages that are well designed both graphically and informatively, I find the wiki tools to be extremely restrictive. The wiki people control the look and feel of the finished wiki. Attempts to push these constraints to the limits are frustratingly awkward and never provide the desired result.

My job as the eLibrarian in the school though means that I have been using wiki tools to create wikis for the staff and students. So far this year I have created 30 wikis. There is no doubt that wikis provide an online platform that is perfect for collaborative projects; and the web-wise students take up these tools with ease and enthusiasm. So I create the wiki skeleton, invite the participants, provide the access points on the library website and in the library catalogue, and provide any training and assistance as it is required.

This week I presented at the SLAV Conference in Melbourne on the topic of wikis. My session was a joint effort between myself and work colleague and Web 2.0 convert Jenny Luca.

Typically as a Librarian I am an introvert and not a confident public speaker, however I know my topic and this helped. I could sense that the audience was keen to hear the practical how-to steps into the Web 2.0 world, so I concentrated on delivering that content to them. As I spoke I could see them taking notes in earnest. I gave the URL’s for the instructional information I have placed online and hopefully this will help others to take up this tool in a thoughtful way. How to create a wiki and How to create a wiki using pbwiki2

The keynote speaker was Will Richardson and his opening address was thought-provoking, informative, and rich with knowledge from an obvious expert in this field.

Just do it!

Just do it! A term coined by a man I’d bet. Many women who are mothers don’t have time to “just do” anything else except be a mother.


Trying not to lose track of the lap count in my head, I thought about my exercise routine as I enjoyed my early morning swim. I have always tried to be active but when women have babies their bodies are not their own, and then when the babies grow into children and teenagers, the mothers time is not their own. Twenty years can disappear in the blink of an eye while all the attention for nurturing is on the children, not oneself.


It feels like a luxury for me to do as I please now without having to first consider the schedules, demands and needs of others. Having said that, I miss the daily conversations and interactions with my children, that I enjoyed for all those years.


So I swim, do pilates, lift weights, practice yoga, cycle and walk; all of these regularly. It feels great and I feel stronger, fitter and healthier than I have for a long time.


Given the choice I would exercise before I went online. A walk outside breathing in the fresh air interests me more that surfing the net. I admire those who have a regular exercise routine and use their web time to try to inspire others to exercise by logging their efforts. Keep it up Leo.