Strength in curiosity

It is telling when you still pursue information about a field of interest even when you are not currently working in that field. Of course this is what a true career path is all about. It also applies to hobbies, and passions.

Over these past few months (when I haven’t been designing our new house) I have been spending my time reading, watching, and listening to information about libraries. It is an interesting time for libraries worldwide, with the vast amount of resources now available online. Add to this the prevalence of personal devices, wide connectivity, and the sophisticated ability of the user to find and access that resource, then it is no surprise that library professionals are scurrying to remain relevant and required.

The biennial VALA Conference was held in Melbourne in February and I was disappointed that I was not able to attend this year. However, I readied myself to read and review the presentations when they became available online. And now they are; but it is so satisfying to find the whole multi-media experience available online. The audio, video, slides, and twitter-feed all on the one screen. So thank you to the VALA team for providing this amazing resource. I have been able to bathe like a duck in rainwater enjoying the torrent of inspirational presentations.

The keynote speakers were: Johan Bollen; Christine Boroman; Joe Murphy; Mia Ridge; Gene Tan; and Matt Finch.

Johan Bollen spoke about big data and how to use twitter posts for data visualisation and to analyse for predicting social trends. He pointed out that not only can one see what is happening as it is happening, but it is possible to see how people are feeling about what is happening. And this information is valuable.

Christine Borgman also spoke about big data and open access to data repositories, explaining in detail what that means in reality, especially for academics and research.

Joe Murphy talked about the future of libraries; his main point being that libraries will have a robust future if we all encourage curiosity.

Mia Ridge talks about libraries as maker-spaces for cultural heritage; making the point that libraries have always provided this service opportunity. For example: people writing their family history using the library and resources is using the space for making something that has value for cultural heritage. 

Gene Tan talked about the Singapore Memory Project, and organising multiple perspectives of moments in life with a random approach. Of significance is the project that gave every Singaporian a personal account for their memories, from which the library would organise, and store for prosperity. “Giving your past a present”. Gene has a unique and endearing style that really gets to the heart of people. Don’t skip the Q&A session at the end.

Matt Finch took off his clothes and redressed in another outfit on stage, to make the point that libraries are not just for hipsters but for everyone – even those dressed in regulation fluoro stripes.

I was validated by the comments made by Joe Murphy; that the librarian who encourages curiosity in her self and others is strong and will persist and thrive into the unsure future of libraries. I am that person who always wants to discover new things, and I am as yet unsatisfied with the answers to my questions about life, the universe and everything in it.

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