Reviewing, reflecting and rethinking

I have been preoccupied today with work, which included a lot of meetings, between which I sandwiched lunch, a visit to Haigh’s (Dark Chocolate with Cardamon for anyone interested) and some work on a report due next week.

My report entails a review of the library intranet at MPOW. I’m reviewing the information architecture of the site, for the purpose of having it revised when we move it to a new Content Management Sstem.

There has been consultations with staff, analysis of web analytics, an heuristical review of the Information Architecture and a review of a survey undertaken with our users last year on their information seeking behaviour.

There is a lot to synthesise in order to form a cohesive plan for the site, but I keep on coming back to the mission of the library as stipulated in a recent annual report that we provide timely, accurate and confidential information to clients though our reference service and research service.

As a whole the Library (as its mentioned in the report) also assists clients with information literacy programs, provides a range of services to its users, as well as electronic information resources and services.

Should the site simply be a collection of resources, or reflect what the Library does as a whole? I have begun to lean towards the latter, as I suspect the resources are used more frequently by library staff to assist our users than by the users themselves. From reading our surveys of users over the years, our clientele see the Library as an entity which is there to help them, a collection of people rather than just books, reports and documents.

Now lies the challenge of conveying what I want to do by finishing the report :).

Santa Claus is coming to Town

After much discussion, it has been decided to leave out some gingerbread and a glass of apple juice for Santa, as this is what Master BG likes and some carrots for the reindeer. (Mental note: may sub the apple juice for some whiskey…)

As a Christmas present to my family and my overloaded brain, I am spending time away from the PC- no emails, facebook, twitter and definitely no blog until my return to work on the 4th January.

As a Christmas present to you my dear readers, (and I think I know every one of you by name), here is some holiday reading. I hope you all have a happy and safe Christmas, read lots, eat lots, drink lots and love lots- which is what I hope to be doing :). If anyone is still wondering what to get bookgrrl for Christmas, I would like David Tennant in my Christmas stocking. Failing that a kiss under the mistletoe is always welcome…

Much of the links involve looking back over the past decade and looking at what will be.

According to Mashable, Marketing in 2010 will be about Data-the article also mentions issues of privacy and the concept of metadata. Actually the world has been becoming about data for a while, especially if you consider a search engine company is about to enter the world of telecommunications, real estate and is sitting on mountains of data, not just the web, but our thoughts, dreams, desires and viewing habits. Speaking of viewing habits, also check out the top trends in Twitter, and Digg.

The 15 Biggest Internet Controversies of the decade– mainly social networking issues (MySpace, Twitter and Facebook), also issues of censorship (China and Amazon’s censorship of gay and lesbian literature), filesharing and net neutrality. I just remember in 2001-2 telling other librarians in a zine about Google when it first cam out. A lot has happened since then.

Another myth busted, namely the 3-clicks rule, which stipulates that any content on a website or intranet should only be three clicks away from a home page. Usability testing by Jared Spool has shown that users don’t mind how many clicks are involved, provided they know they’re on the right path. What is entailed then, is designing navigation that is intuitive and allows users to ‘scent’ the information.

More library blogs– Lisnews published every year a list of 10 library blogs to read each year, here is a retrospective list of the last four years. Some are good, some are not so good…

I’m stranded

Wednesday is the day the boss appears in my workspace, which is quite distant from the actual library. She works from a ‘hot desk’ on that day in order to get away from construction work currently going on outside her office window. Another manager has also appeared, presumably to get away from the noise. Given this is a busy week for us, his presence as  a senior reference librarian is needed more in the library than here. Needless to say, the atmosphere is quieter than normal. So far the only comic relief has been observing the  two senior managers’ attempts to pick up phone calls.

An interesting look at the distinction between user experience and information architecture-I just wish I had been at this workshop.

Usability testing demystifiedhaving done and seen it done, it’s always good to get people’s perspective on the process.

How keywords determine site architecture – another way to look at constructing an information architecture.

And I am sure there are stories out in libraryland to match these . The stories I could tell about Laurence the demon spawn and his mother, or the guy known as the poo-man would make your stomach curdle.

I have two more subjects to complete for my Masters and am leaning towards more web related subjects namely web usability and web design. It would more or less consolidate what I know. Another option is Social Networking for Information Professionals, which feels like going on Facebook and Twitter for my course- Mr Bookgrrl would NEVER buy that …:)

How wonderful life is when you’re in the world

“Some friends are new, some friends are old, new friends are silver, old friends are gold.”

One aspect of moving to Ballarat which concerned me was losing contact with friends. It’s funny that while I have lost contact with some, other friendships have endured and strengthened despite the distance. I am in contact with the lovely Ms S more regularly now, and I think the onset of children has helped. Commuting to Melbourne allows me to catch up with work colleagues from past and present workplaces.

I have made some lovely friends here in Ballarat, but they still feel new. I can’t tell them everything like I can with my older friends. And I don’t think I could develop a product like these friends have. Being here has made me appreciate the older friendships even more, and whatever time is spent with friends is very precious.

A topsy-turvy night last night, with both children unsettled and requiring lots of cuddles in the middle of the night. Miss BG’s favourite position to cuddle is lying on my chest in bed, which she did three times last night and early this morning. Master BG was requesting songs at 5.30am this morning, so I had to sing ‘Twinkle Twinkle, little Star’ as quietly as possible. It’s at moments like these you heart aches with love for them.

I’m not a casino person, but I would love to attend the 2009 OZ-IA Conference at Sydney’s Star Casino. May if I hopped onto the tables, I would be able to recoup the cost of attending 🙂

Bringing order out of chaos

Apparently librarians are supposed restore order out of chaos. With a part time job, study, two kids and a husband, my kitchen/dining area can get a tad chaotic. The dining table is a defacto laundry sorting station, bag station and homework station. At least I know where everything is :). There are days when it feels if I can get a meal on the table (after clearing it) and everyone is wearing clean clothes, I’m doing okay.

And to answer some questions which I have been asked:

1. My books are organised according to size, subject matter and use. All my art books, history, politics, biographies are grouped together. Popular books such as a tattered dictionary, atlas and Jane Austen books are arranged within easy reach on the bookshelf. Mr Bookgrrl’s books are arranged in a similar fashion- there was strangely, little overlap in our book collections when we merged, apart from a copy of The Outsider by Camus, which we both read in high school. Mine was in French for VCE French, his copy was in English as he was going through his existential phase. The cooking books are in the kitchen, the kid’s books are in the dining room and their bedrooms.

2. Music- again little overlap (though he has purloined my New Order and Duran Duran CDs). The CDs are not arranged alphabetically by artist, but by genre. Mine are arranged in a box under my bed, as I have largely transferred what I want onto my iPod.

Another reason why I’m studying Information Architecture.

I am lucky to state that most of my bosses have been pretty nice (even the married one with three kids who made a pass at me), but I have worked with managers that thought they could boss me around, despite the fact I did not  report to them. I therefore feel fortunate I never had to work with these guys

Reasons why I am a library nerd (Part 2 of an occasional series)

I am not a library nerd in the classic book sense. I do not fall in a heap when a new version of Dewey is released, for example. I do however enjoy organizing things, particularly online. That is probably the reason why I am studying Information Architecture.

When I first started studying librarianship, I was about three weeks into the course when it clicked in my brain and it felt “right”. I was never the ‘ever since I was three I wanted to be a librarian’ type. I had played school with my toys and a recalcitrant younger sister who never did what she was told.  Yet when it came time to do further study after my undergraduate degree, my friends who were recent teaching graduates were largely unemployed, and librarianship offered a marginally better employment rate than publishing…

So I had the same click in my brain when I first started studying Information Architecture. It has followed on from my dabbling in web design, writing web content, usability testing, and website/intranet upgrades.

I like to think my experience as a librarian in a public library has made me appreciate the need to structure online information so anyone can access it easily and intuitively- is that nerdy enough for you?

A great look at Dilbert from a user-experience perspective from 90 percent of everything

Welcome to the House of Fun

Just so you know, I’m insane.

I mean who else would decide to undertake a Masters Degree with two young children? I remember the day in December when I received the letter informing me of a place in the Masters in Information Architecture at Charles Sturt University– because the day before, I had been to the doctor who confirmed that I was pregnant with baby no 2.*

I thought it could be done- I was working part-time, I could study in the afternoon when the kids were napping. And so far it has been done, despite the eldest deciding he didnt need to nap a year into my course :). So the afternoon sessions went out the window.

Now it’s usually a late night task or when I’m working, a study session on the train to work. Which takes over an hour and is another story in itself.

Why am I doing it? Apart from the obvious (I’m insane), it was a way to expand my horizons beyond the library walls and focus on a course that was a hybrid of IT and librarianship. Ideally it would be great to set up an IA/usability consultancy from home, so when the children are in school, I’m not commuting to work full time. Yet who knows what the future holds.

*Yes, two children- boy and girl, 4 and nearly 2. Both into books (where that comes from is anybody’s guess ;))