Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Live! from the Conference 2 - Degrees of separation?

Yesterday I met people who know people I've met in the blogosphere...well person actually. When Doug Johnson visited my "booth" and asked whether I had seen what Singapore does for its young people, I replied that, actually, I was an active blogger and had contact with The Rambling Librarian who had directed me to some info about Jurong. Well blow me down if he wasn't also a fan of Rambling. So this is the first case for me of the global equivalent of "you're from x, do you happen to be acquainted with y?" - would that be a second degree of separation? And then seeing that Veronica Boudville from Singapore National Library was speaking at the Conference, I strategically positioned myself to sit next to her and let her know that I had learned a lot of things about Singapore libraries from reading The Rambling Librarian, who of course she knows well, and we had a little chat about blogging. However, I think I remain in the very minority of bloggers at this Conference - if they're about they're lying very low...still stunned/politely disinterested or pained looks when I mention blogging...Maybe I could do a paper at the the next conference??

Veronica's presentation on "The virtual library 2010" was info packed and quite mindblowing. Perhaps the biggest point of interest (if I understood her a-right) was the experiment with the "DIY enabled" service points which do away with library staff altogether and just have a "concierge" who looks after security, and a "cybrarian" for contact - either screen based or telephone based. (?How do the books get reshelved - I just thought of that.) Very scary stuff for library staff!! But apparently a necessary response in a climate where the government has told you that you will not get extra staff but you still have to provide a service. And does it meet people's needs well? Maybe it does for convenience. Although Veronica did say that they were thinking of reintroducing some staff to these libraries. It's obvious that Singapore libraries are thinking very hard about what they want to achieve for their society and how this can be achieved in different ways from the traditional - imagine lending/vending machines at the airport for instance, or book pick ups at Macdonalds!! And the imponderable opportunities when ebooks really take hold...

The next speaker had some very sanguine things to say about adopting RFID especially how to choose a vendor. Always keeping in mind what YOU want to achieve, not what the vendor wants to achieve. He gave some very good advice and we'll be seeing him again tomorrow when he'll talk specifically about self-serve loan technologies. Something I'm hoping to implement in stages starting with our Youth Library, and certainly this will be integral in the design of our new main library, so this is very timely for me.

And finally the traditional "hype em up, make em feel good" motivational speaker who demonstrated the trademarked "FISH!" program for customer service. "Have fun, Make their day, Be there, Choose your attitude". I am a sucker for these presentations, no matter how many times I hear this sort of presentation I get fired up..I'm a pushover.

Yet another enormous conference lunch awaits...


  • Thanks for blogging this conference Deb, very interesting! Is Doug Johnson, the Doug Johnson of Blue Skunk blog? Oh, wait, I just had a look and it is! Lucky you to get to hear him speak, he has a lot of interesting and good things on his blog.

    I still think it's a pity you won't be coming out West to Click 06, it would have been nice for us bloggers to meet :)

    By Blogger CW, at 4:17 PM  

  • Hi Debbie, ah so that's where my colleague Veronica went! I loved how you described meeting Doug. LOL. Web 2.0 in action, eh? Regarding the DIY library and your comment about "scary thought", I must say that's usually the reaction -- that "DIY library" equals "removing all library staff" or "there are no staff". On the contrary, there are staff around. Much of the transactional work that requires little specialised training (like shelving) is contracted out. The Concierge infact handles some of the preliminary circulation/ transactional type of customer enquiries. The professional staff gets rotated around branches rather than have to stay at one particular location. There are of course tradeoffs (which system doesn't?) and things need to be refine. My UNOFFICIAL view is that the DIY experiment shows how certain staff competencies have been taken for granted, rather than prove that a library can run without professional staff.

    By Blogger Ivan Chew, at 11:16 PM  

  • Debbie,

    It was a genuine pleasure getting to meet you in Cairns. I don't know about anyone else, but I had great fun at the conference. I found your blog via Ivan... Slowly working my way through over 500 blog entries waiting when I got home.

    Keep up your good youth services work in Queensland.


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