Online resources

During this time, there are many lists being shared that can help you find quality resources to support online learning in your school.  We look for institutions that we know produce reliable and authentic information, and are collating a page of links to resources, guides and useful information HERE for ease of access. We will continue to update this page as we find new resources to share.

 

Labrary – experimental library makerspace

Labrary was a 37 day experiment that trialled the idea of a community makerspace that extended beyond traditional library walls. The project was developed by a team of students and staff from Harvard University’s School of Design in collaboration with the Librarian/Assistant Dean for Information Services, Anne Whiteside.

While based on key principles that underpin any library – ideas, information and culture – Labrary encouraged collaborative activities, experimentation and sharing. Labrary, as the name suggests, was a ‘lab’ and a library at the same time. It was designed to be a place where you could explore, experiment and test ideas and where failure was accepted as part of the creative process. More importantly, it gave people the opportunity to develop new themes, and to share interests – providing meaningful projects for the community. Labrary was also community driven so anyone could  walk in off the street and do whatever they wanted, rather than being something procured by an organisation or institution from the top down.

Some of the activities in Labrary included:

Inflatable reading room – A portable bubble for group discussions or a quiet space to chill out. A space within a space designed to transcend and take you to other worlds.

Time/Slice – A crowd-sourced digital bulletin board that opened the library up to different users, letting them discuss, collaborate, extend their personal research and include others’ resources organically. It’s also a way library sanctioned events could appear on a calendar alongside informal meetups and pop-up events.

There were also a series of discussions labelled Library Futures that explored how libraries could work in the future.

Libraries are well known for their role as transactional entities – people come to libraries to find information, then off they go to make sense of it. Labrary gave people a chance to work together to make information meaningful together. This didn’t eliminate the space for quiet solitary thought, but rather, was an additional resource – rich knowledge curation evolving in real time in a networked community.

In terms of how we work in our own libraries, the idea of having a space for experimentation in a library makes good sense because there’s access to information, and space to put that information to use. Working in groups to problem solve, create, and discuss changes the dynamic of work and progress, creating one that collectively builds on our passionate energy, becoming a reserve for everyone involved.  Experimentation encourages risk in learning, with rewards for new ways of doing things, learning and creating that we couldn’t have imagined before.

For more information about the project, you can read an Library Journal article on the Labrary project here.

World War I centenary resources

With the centenary of the First World War set to begin in July this year, many institutions will be launching new sites, programs and resources for schools. But there’s already a lot out there to explore.

Locally, the Australian War Memorial is a key institution when looking at the Great War and the history of ANZAC. They also have an education blog which includes mystery objects, details of new resources, acquisitions and personal stories from the collection. The ANZAC Centenary website from the Victorian Government and the existing ANZAC website from the Department of Veteran Affairs are also great resources looking at the Australian experience of WWI.

For a different perspective, the BBC’s Schools WWI site is a wonderful resource to explore Britain’s involvement and includes relevant media from their archive. The British Library’s WWI site has over 500 primary sources and articles from experts and academics looking at what life was like at the time. The British Library is also a contributor to the Eurpeana 1914-1918 site which provides collection materials, commentary and perspectives from different collections all over Europe. The National Archives UK WWI website is also a beautiful resource including personal diaries and an extensive collection of digitised material.

The American broadcaster PBS also has an interesting website from their documentary series The Great War  and the Shaping of the 20th Century.

These resources are just a taste of what is currently available and many more resources, digitising projects, programs and events are likely to begin mid 2014.

 

 

 

 

 

Ebooks at the State Library of Victoria

Libraries in all sectors are working to provide access to ebooks. Vicki Nelson, Redmond Barry Collection Librarian at the State Library of Victoria, describes the process from the perspective of a collecting institution with millions of items. She talks about developing processes around acquiring ebooks on a large scale.

The State Library of Victoria (SLV) has been working hard to increase access to our collections so Victorians can use material from anywhere, not just within the building. This in part comes from the ongoing process of digitisation, as over 600 000 heritage pictures, newspapers, manuscripts and out of copyright Victorian books are now available online. We also provide home access to subscription databases for Victorian registered users and have moved many of our print serials online, so ebooks was a logical next step.

Initially we ran an ebook trial in 2012 where patrons selected books for acquisition. The success of this trial fed into a working group which identified suppliers and streamlined selection, acquisition and cataloguing processes. As a result, SLV made ebooks available for general use in July 2013.

We made the decision to use two suppliers as it gave us the opportunity to choose from a greater range of books.  SLV currently uses EBL and EBSCOHost as our ebook providers.  Both link to our normal overseas book supplier’s selection and acquisition process.  Both are for a single user, although EBL does have the flexibility of multiple users viewing the same book at the same time, but limits the overall number of times a book can be looked at in a year.

SLV has chosen wherever possible to purchase rather than rent ebooks, so they are permanently accessible. Of the titles we select, there are still only about 40% of overseas books available to us as ebooks.  Australian publishing is even less ebook ready – we purchase books as they are published and the ebook version may not be available for months after this date. At this stage we are not ready to move to an Australian ebook selection process, so we will monitor the Australian situation until there is a change.

One of the main reasons we moved to ebooks was so that we could make them available to our Victorian registered users. Ereaders require you to download free software onto the device but once that is done an ebook can be downloaded and used for up to 7 days.  We have created a guide to help new users access ebooks from our collections and there is a link to this on every ebook record in the catalogue.

If you want to find out which ebooks we have available, the quickest way is to search for a topic and add the word ‘ebooks’, eg ‘History ebooks’ and then refine your search using the filters on the left hand side.

history ebook

You can also filter your search by ‘Genre’ and select ‘Electronic resources’.

genre

Like print books, the general model is one person at a time but this varies depending on where we purchased the ebook.  For example, EBL ebooks allow more than one person to access the same item at the same time, but limits the total number of times the ebook can be looked at during the year.

Whatever the number of ebooks in your collection, the process for selecting a provider is the same – trial as many as you can, test the platforms based on your needs and make a checklist of  titles you want and see which companies provide them. If you can, test systems with your users and see how books work on their equipment.

Even though ebooks cost more to provide, there are a number of advantages for patrons. Ebooks can be used immediately by users inside your library and from anywhere they have web access. Ebooks are also ready to use as soon as they are purchased without the need for processing or shelving.

SLV has over a million print books and is continuing to add to this collection. Not all books are available as ebooks or on the platforms that the library is using.  So at this stage, the State Library of Victoria will continue to be a hybrid library of print and electronic resources.

eCOGSS – a collaborative ebook project

Rachel Fidock reports on an innovative ebook service developed by four secondary schools in the Goulburn Valley, Victoria.

Many school libraries across Australia are choosing to create ebook libraries – online libraries where students are able to borrow and read ebooks on their own devices. But how easy is it to create an ebook library, and would our students prefer physical books?

In the Goulburn Valley of Victoria, teacher librarian Helen Taylor, formerly of Shepparton High School, took up the challenge of creating an ebook library with a difference. The result is eCOGSS (eBooks City Of Greater Shepparton Schools) ebook lending facility, an online service that caters to not one, but four secondary schools in the region. Of the six secondary schools approached to be involved, Goulburn Valley Grammar SchoolMooroopna Secondary College, Shepparton High School and Wanganui Park Secondary College chose to take part (one non-government and three government schools).

Accommodating the needs of four schools in one service may seem like a daunting task, but as a consortium, the combined experience and ideas of the group proved to be a great advantage.

In the development stage, according to Helen Taylor, Library Managers from each school took the idea back to their administrators and IT departments as the project’s success depended on these groups. The project group chose Wheelers to provide the ebook lending platform due to their competitive pricing and willingness to accommodate their needs. Meetings on Skype with representatives from Wheelers, Library Managers and school administrators gave everyone the chance to discuss ideas and refine the group’s requirements.

Taylor believes that the model they developed – where each school has their own account, chooses their own books and pays for them – made the process of sharing a common elibrary highly successful. And by sharing resources, the schools were able to create a service where all ebooks are now available to all students, regardless of the school that paid for them – improving access and value for money. In March 2013, the eCOGSS ebook lending facility opened for business, with 8% of enrolled patrons borrowing more then one ebook.

Given the success of the project in terms of the schools involved, what do the students think of eCOGSS?

In early December 2013, Bright Ideas conducted a survey of 24 students ranging from years seven to nine, from Shepparton High and Mooroopna Secondary College, to determine if the students were using eCOGSS, if they preferred ebooks to physical books and what they thought the future of school libraries might be.

The survey results show that 54% of the students borrow from the eCOGSS ebook lending facility, while 13% prefer to get their ebooks elsewhere (Wattpad is a popular choice, especially given the amount of self-publishing which occurs on this platform).

54% of students preferred not to get their books online (17% were undecided). Some of their comments included:

  • I like paper books because you can find more out about them before you borrow.
  • I prefer books to technology.
  • The books in the library I can take home but the books online I can’t access at home.
  •  I find it really annoying having to set up your laptop and etc. just to read a book. I hate reading off a computer. It can’t be good for your eyes. And I like reading a paper book that you can take anywhere and is easy.

For those students who did prefer getting books online in the form of ebooks, some reasons were:

  • There is a wider range of books
  • It’s easier than going to a public library
  • It’s easier then carrying [books] around the school
  • You don’t have to carry them around and there are books here that are not in the library

Students were asked what they thought about the future of libraries and school libraries. Some of their comments are featured below:

  • There will be fancy scrolls that when you open them you can flick through pages like an ipad and everything will be stored on them (every thing!!!). [Student doesn’t use eCOGSS but reads Google Books]
  • I think libraries will be using technology and ebooks more than they do now. [Student doesn’t use eCOGSS but prefers to get books online
  • I think libraries will die out because of the internet and online reading. [Student doesn’t borrow from eCOGSS. Reads ebooks from Wattpad]
  • In all honesty I don’t think that libraries will change that much because there will always be people who like paper books.
  • I think they should stay the same. Maybe you can put in an order on-line to borrow it but then go pick it up and read a book not a text on a screen.
  • They won’t have libraries if people always use online.
  • Please continue helping us, finding books. Thank you. [Student doesn’t borrow ebooks]
  • I think it’s a great opportunities for readers to get a chance to do what they like. [Student doesn’t borrow ebooks]
  • Have a library and ebooks. [Student borrows ebooks from eCOGSS]
  • While it’s a good idea that books are easily obtained and read, nothing really beats a good old book. Though I do enjoy ebooks very much. [Student borrows ebooks from eCOGSS]

While it’s interesting to see the opinions of this group of students, only a small number were surveyed, so it would be interesting to see whether students in the broader community use their school elibraries in the same way. It’s also important to note that students’ like or dislike of elibraries ebooks often depends on their exposure to and abililty to access them. The evidence from this survey suggests that there are students using eCOGSS and some students prefer reading ebooks. However, the results also suggest many students prefer to read physical books.

It’s clear to see that eCOGSS ebook lending facility is a great example of how collaboration and partnership between schools and teacher librarians can lead to better library services across school communities and large geographical areas.

Story Box Library

Story Box Library is melding the mediums of film and storytelling to create authentic online literature experiences. Australian content is delivered from a diverse range of storytellers for primary school aged students. The site also includes teacher resources, Australian curriculum links and a behind-the-scenes look at the creation of the stories. Teacher librarian Sharon McGuinness has discovered the extensive toolkit of Story Box Library and shares her use of it with us:

I am the teacher librarian at Thirroul PS which is just north of Wollongong on the NSW south coast. We are a school of approximately 360 students across 15 classes, with the vast majority of students speaking English as their first language.

The new NSW based Australian English curriculum, with its emphasis on literature, presents teacher librarians a golden opportunity. At Thirroul, our Stage 1 staff have been working with students using ‘Language, Learning and Literacy’ or L3,a NSW program which encourages the use and study of literature in the classroom. Working with staff, I have further expanded the suggested literature titles and am completing a similar task with regard to the suggested titles within the new curriculum – particularly those featuring sustainability, Australia’s engagement with Asia and Indigenous and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

My aim is to make it easier for staff to use literature in each classroom and avoid duplicating titles across stages and grades.

Part of this strategy also includes using related online literature resources – whether it be author/illustrator websites, book trailers, interviews or multi modal texts. Story Box Library will bring more of an authentic literature experience into the classroom with its range of online storytelling segments. It also aims to give students the background of how the books are created, and classroom ideas. As a school we have already signed up and teachers are exploring the site, using the online storytelling segments on their interactive whiteboards in the classrooms. Teachers also appreciate the accompanying teaching notes and ideas as this fits in perfectly with our Stage 1 L3 program. I have also added several of the titles on the SL website to our Stage 1 L3 list of suggested texts.

Over the past couple of years, I have noticed the staff’s usage of printed teaching resources greatly decreasing and recognize that staff now rely on resources available online. Story Box Library fills a gap in resourcing online Australian children’s literature.

We are looking forward to the site’s further growth and development as it has the ability to provide us with a ‘one stop shop’ for a range quality Australian children’s literature.

To find out more about the services provided by the site, visit Story Box Library.

Mining the treasures of Trove

It’s sometimes easy to forget how lucky we are to have so many digitised items freely available online. Institutions from around the world are making their collections open to people who could never have previously accessed these items. When this is combined with user uploaded content that is being added to sites like Flickr, the amount of digital content can almost become overwhelming.

Given this, it’s no surprise that educators see the importance of developing strong search skills in students. We’ve often written about choosing the right search term, filtering results and honing in on what we want. That’s great, but there are also some interesting ways to discover new items, or even items that we didn’t know existed. Here we’re going to take a quick look at three tools that tap into the incredible range of collections in the National Library of Australia’s Trove site. If you’re not familiar with Trove, prepare to spend the rest of your day there! It’s a unified search of items from many libraries across Australia, including books, newspapers, manuscripts, pictures and more.

Trove has a pretty familiar (yet very powerful) search feature. Make sure you go there and have a play. But for now, let’s look at three other tools that harness the amazingly open nature of the site. All of these tools are still quite experimental, so you may see some bugs or glitches, but they are well worth an explore.

The first of these is Trove Mosaic, built by Mitchell Whitelaw. This site lets you enter a search term and then displays a mosaic of images, which can be sorted by collections, titles or decade. Clicking on an item will take you to the record on the respective library’s website. It’s a brilliant way to explore the amazing digitised pictures available from across Australia.

Trove Mosaic displays images in a lovely sortable mosaic. Here we’ve sorted our search for ‘rabbits’ by decade.

The second tool for exploration of Trove is QueryPic  This tool  searches for terms within Trove’s digitised historical newspapers collection, and displays a graph showing the number of results for that term per year. You can add multiple terms and searches to a graph. In this way you can see the patterns of usage of a particular term over time. Clicking on a particular year in the graph will show you the related articles, and this then leads you directly to each digitised article.

QueryPic works on a similar principle to Google’s Ngram viewer, which searches and displays the usage of phrases in digitised books over time. Of course, it is important to remember that not every newspaper from the time has been digitised, but it’s definitely an interesting tool for analysing the frequency of phrases, like in our example below where use of the term ‘bushrangers’ peaks in the mid 19th century,  whilst use of the term ‘theft’ steadily rises.

Our search for theft (in red) and bushrangers (in blue) shows some interesting trends

The final site is a brand new tool built by the One Week, One Tool team. This team of coders are aiming to build a new tool each week, and one of their first projects is a seredipity site called Serenidip-o-matic. Paste in some text (such as a bibliography, essay, blurb) and then see what is returned based on keywords from your passage. The site searches sources like Flickr, Europeana & the Digital Public Library of America. It now also includes Trove (thanks to the work of Tim Sherratt at NLA). As you’d expect from a serendipity machine, results aren’t always completely relevant, but they are certainly interesting.

All of these sites show the possibilities presented by digital collections when they are built with open architecture. Trove’s open API means that tools can harvest the collection and present items in very different ways. We’re lucky to not only have such amazing collections, but also people who want to work with them to build these wonderful tools.

Archiving digital resources for our cultural heritage

The British Library announced some time ago that they have expanded their legal deposit collection to include UK websites, ebooks, and posts from social networking tools such as Facebook and Twitter.

Ever since the 17th Century, the British Library has been archiving every published book in the UK, with Australia, New Zealand, and the USA following suit. Legal deposit has been widely practised around the world with the intention of capturing social history and thus providing future generations with information about our past.

Previously, legal deposit was made up of published monographs – works that had been carefully drafted and edited but now, with the advent of micro blogging and Facebook, different kinds of publishing are being considered for collection. Although it can seem like a mish mash of spontaneous thoughts and ramblings sometimes, social media provides an important insight into our society. But does it represent how we really feel? Have we lost the art of reflection?

Nevertheless, our chatter can be a good thing because it documents everyday details often overlooked by historians. History books usually concentrate on the broad view, sometimes missing personal narratives. Now future generations will be able to access the minutiae of our lives down to the words we use.  They’ll be fascinated by what we had for breakfast, or feel appalled by the way some of us are in denial of global warming.

One way we can begin to imagine what it might be like for people to study our Facebook posts one day is to read the diary of May Stewart – a Melbourne teenager from 1906. May Stewart did a lot of mashing (flirting) and smooging (kissing), had tea at Coles (Coles supermarket apparently had a tea house back then), she went to the races and ‘had a splendid’ (had a wonderful time). This valuable diary describes how an average teenager from North Fitzroy spent her days, and the document now lives at the State Library of Victoria for everyone to enjoy.

As cultural institutions begin to collect social media, this new dimension of legal deposit will provide us with much to celebrate.

Bookish

Bookish website

Bookish is a new book recommendation and e-commerce site competing with the likes of GoodreadsLibrary thing and Amazon. Although some question the effectiveness of these sites, Bookish promises a different experience based on the resources and expertise available to publishers driving the project.

Bookish is a collaboration between a group of major publishers  claiming their recommendations engine, with input from real editors, is the best yet. With publishing heavyweights like Penguin, Random House and Scholastic on board, the site has already collected an impressive list of contributors, 400 000 author profiles and 1.2 million books in their catalogue.

At this stage, Bookish is leaving the social aspect of recommendations to established sites like Goodreads although they do link to Facebook. Their focus is editorial content – delivering magazine style essays, articles, news and reviews written by authors and professional editors.

Bookish represents an interesting commercial model for publishers to position themselves as an alternative to community based book recommendation sites. Whether Bookish stays impartial, only time will tell.

Shelflife: Harvard Library Innovation Laboratory

The Harvard Library Innovation Laboratory has piloted a number of projects looking at how their collections are accessed online. One of the most interesting is the Shelflife/LibraryCloud project.

LibraryCloud  aggregates collection and usage metadata from a number of different libraries and feed them into Shelflife, a sample front end for how this kind of information might be viewed and used by library patrons.

Main features of the interface include:

  • use of the visual metaphor of a book shelf (Stackview) to help people browse popular titles trending at libraries across America
  • all books appear in context and have their own page with recommendations and tags

At this stage Shelflife is a testing environment which is best introduced by taking the online tutorial, although you can also explore the site independently.