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.

Library of Congress: education blog

Library of Congress blogs

The Library of Congress has a range of great blogs looking at collection highlights and how to use primary sources in the classroom.

Some recent posts of interest from the education blog include:

What makes a primary source a primary source?

Looking harder: inspiring close observation

Selecting questions to increase student engagement

For similar posts, take a look at the Teaching strategies page. Their Teachers’ section also has useful templates and lesson ideas to help students engage with primary  and secondary source material.

The Library of Congress also has a photographic collection bloglegal collection blog and a science, business and technology blog.



Europeana is a repository for thousands of digitised resources from some of Europe’s premier research institutions. Over 1500 institutions have contributed source material and high resolution versions of many items can be downloaded and viewed on the site.

You can also create your own account to save searches, tags and items relevant to your research and contribute to their online community via Twitter and Facebook.

The Europeana blog, curated by a team of researchers, includes information about interesting, hard to find themes running through Europeana’s collections, including recent posts on famous Venetians, Italian painter Caravaggio and art of the First World War.

SLAV conference reflections: Hamish Curry

Hamish Curry, Education Manager at the State Library of Victoria shares his reflections on Monday’s SLAV conference where he presented on how to create with library data.

About 200 library technicians and assistants arrived at Etihad Stadium on Monday 17th October to hear more on SLAV’s theme of  ‘Activate the learning with emerging technologies’.

As always, the SLAV conference engaged us with tools, ideas, resources, and networks. There were a series of great presentations from the likes of Jenny Ashby (Epsom Primary School), Greg Gebhart (Australian Communications and Media Authority), and Camilla Elliott (Mazenod College).

Jenny Ashby took centre stage in the morning to help the audience ‘Activate your 21st Century Mobile Libraries’. There could have been no better example of this than in her great discussion of ways in which QR (Quick Response) codes could be adapted for and embedded in library practices. As her presentation progressed, with QR Codes displayed on the screen, audience members madly lifted their smart-phones into the air to decode and access the content.  My take-away from Jenny’s presentation is how easy it now is to integrate mobile phones into the normal business and learning of the school environment. Some of her great links included:

QR Code generators – Kaywa and Gorillascan

QR Treasure Hunt Generator – Class tools QR treasure hunt generator

After morning tea, Camilla Elliott did an outstanding job filling in for John Pearce, who was a late scratching. With a strong focus on motivating us to learn more about how Google works, Camilla also highlighted some excellent search tools that acted as great educational alternatives to Google, such as Boolify , Sweet Search, and DuckDuckGo.

Greg Gebhart from ACMA woke us all up with some startling realities about young people engaging with social media and various networks online. It was hard not to feel frightened of the online environment and worried about the growing numbers of primary school students participating online without guidance from teachers and parents. Cybersmart provides some useful resources and information to address these concerns, but ultimately it is the challenge of educators and libraries to model and mentor digital citizenship and digital literacy for all students.

The afternoon was a mind-blowing smorgasbord of presentations from Judith Way (Kew High School), Tania Sheko (Whitefriars College), Tony Richards (IT Made Simple), Vincent Trundle (ACMI) and Camilla Elliott. I attended Camilla’s presentation and it was chock-full of great sites and resources around maps. Highlights included NearMap, ScribbleMaps and Google Lit Trips.

My own presentation was titled “I’m a Library Hack!” and aligned with a number of the topics from the other presentations around the use of maps, augmented reality, social media, and library data to help engage and enrich the experiences of teachers and students within the school and online environments. A key focus was the Libraryhack competition run by the National State Libraries of Australasia earlier this year. My presentation is available here.

You can also follow some of the conversation from the day on the Twitter hashtag #slavconf.

Commons explorer

You probably know Flickr Commons, long an incredible source of images from some of the world’s greatest library and museum collections. All images in the Commons have “no known copyright restrictions” and can be used, mashed up, tagged and added to your own Flickr galleries.

Many of the big names are there: Australian War Memorial, Library of Congress, the Smithsonian, the Powerhouse, and the National Libraries of Australia, New Zealand, Ireland and Scotland.

There are also many smaller but astonishing collections which offer a wide range of digitised historical images of everything from maritime history to cowgirls to warfare to Antarctic expeditions. The number of institutions involved increases all the time.

Now there’s also a great new way of exploring the collections: commonsExplorer, from Creative Canberra.

Browse interface, CommonsExplorer

Browse interface, CommonsExplorer

It’s a quickly downloaded browsing interface that gives you, and students, a more visual view of the collections and the images. You can scroll through the list of all the participating institutions, then either search through the tag cloud or window shop through the pop-ups for images.

Tag cloud

Tag cloud

New research guides at SLV

State Library of Victoria provides research guides on their website that aid research on specific topics. Two new ones have recently been created. Victoria’s early history, 1803-1851 is a research guide that details Victoria’s early history, using published history and documents, including the library’s collection of Port Phillip papers, maps, and pictures. The other research guide is Picture research. Picture research focuses on how to find images in the Library’s holdings, and information about other places you can search for pictures. SLV has extensive holdings of illustrative materials. Whether educators use this in their own research on topics, or get their more senior classes examining the research guides, they are well worth investigating.

Picture research

Guest post: Kilbreda College Library by Louise McInerney

Louise McInerney is a teacher librarian and library coordinator at Kilbreda College, Mentone, Victoria. The library website of Kilbreda College has a wonderful catalogue of resources the library can provide, but, as Louise says ‘we also include links to six local public libraries on our Catalogue page’. In doing so, the students are not only equipped to use the vast collection of the college, they are provided with a list of libraries close to them, and are able to access their catalogues from the one webpage. The students of Kilbreda College are at an advantage in the search for great resources, and it is one that other school libraries can easily adopt by enlisting the services of their local libraries.

Kilbreda College catalogue

Kilbreda College Library website has other great features, such as the activities section offering a reading program, plenty of competitions, bookclubs, and links to bookreview sites. There is also a great section for teachers, and a thorough resource section, with links to news websites, databases, and the college’s subject resources. Have a look at the website for further inspiration to providing students with the resources they need:

Kilbreda College Library

Thankyou Louise for sharing your ideas on providing for the students, and creating connections with community libraries.

International Children’s Digital Library (ICDL)

The ICDL won the American Library Association President’s 2010 award for International Library Innovation. It is a wonderful site that aims to ‘…support the world’s children in becoming effective members of the global community – who exhibit tolerance and respect for diverse cultures, languages and ideas — by making the best in children’s literature available online free of charge.’  This digital library would be brilliant for LOTE classes. It may also be a nice way for ESL students to teach their fellow classmates about their culture and language, by finding novels written in their language and sharing these. It is just wonderful to be able to show children a digital library and watch them explore. If you haven’t already, take a look: