Curriculum Day

Yesterday was a curriculum day for the teachers at the local primary school, so the little BGs and myself took off to Melbourne. I decided to take them to two places very special to me, the State Library, where I worked a very long time ago, and the National Gallery, where I spent a lot of time skipping uni classes cultivating a life long appreciation of art. I didn’t want to overdo the day with packing heaps of stuff in, but just them a taste of being on a fun day trip to Melbourne.

On the way to Melbourne! #curriculumday

We headed down on the train, armed with a variety of boredom busters including books, snacks and the tablet. In order to ensure little feet didn’t get tired, we took a couple of trams up to the library.

At the SLV

The kids were suitably awed by the library. Master BG made me a proud mum by confiding he’d love to work with books one day :). We played some computer games in the Experimedia space, oohed and ahhed over the Domed Reading Room, then went downstairs for a hot chocolate at Mr Tulk.

In the Domed Reading Room #melbourne #SLV #curriculumday

Followed by the obligatory pitstop at Readings, we stepped onto another tram down Swanston Street. When we got to the National Gallery, I introduced them to the water wall. The look of wonder and joy on their faces was priceless, feeling the water cascade on their fingertips. They could have stayed there for ages playing with the water!

Sean meets the water wall #curriculumday #melbourne #ngv

The next stop inside was the stain-glass ceiling, where I got them to lie on the floor and just look up. I think the word Master BG used to describe it was ‘Epic!”

Emily meets the water wall #curriculumday #melbourne #ngv

We headed up to the 19th Century European collection, mainly to see if there were any Van Goghs. There wasn’t, but there were a couple of paintings which caught their eyes, Ulysses and the Sirens for Master BG’s current interest in Greek mythology, and the toilette of Venus for Miss BG (‘she’s naked mummy!” she said, very scandalised).

Greek mythology at the NGV #curriculumday #melbourne #ngv

After another bite to eat, we headed for home. The kids behaved well, and really only started swinging from the luggage rails in the last 20 minutes of the trip!

Swinging#curriculumday #melbourne#train

My Top 7 moments of 2003

I was having a coffee with a colleague, when I realised I had known this person for 10 YEARS, which meant I had been in my job for 10 YEARS. Somewhat mind-blowing, let me tell you, as it has been the longest I have been in any position. So in resurrecting my top seven series, these are my Top 7 moments from 10 years ago.

In 2003…

1. I left my job at the State Library of Victoria to go to my present position in May. When I announced I had great news, my parents instantly said “You’re pregnant”. They were about a year off :). I was sad to go, but my new job was a promotion in terms of money and also security. I was given a beautiful leather satchel as a leaving present which still gets used today.

2. Mr BG and I bought a house in Mount Waverley in August. It was a 3 bedroom townhouse with three bathrooms, a walk-in wardrobe and walking distance to Syndal station. It was only a few years old and absolutely gorgeous. The house was  just around the corner from our rental house, and we noticed there was a viewing on our way back home one Sunday. We had been planning on visiting it, but the real estate agent we had spoken to on the phone had been quite dismissive and said “You can look, but it’s probably out of your price range anyway.” The agent who showed us around was a different person and very nice. He got the commission!

3. In December I went with the lovely Ms S to Telstra Dome to see Duran Duran play for the very first time. They were supporting Robbie Williams, and by the time we sat down we had missed thier first song Planet Earth. I lost it though when they started the clicking intro to Girls on Film (ie I reverted back to a 14 year who would scream hysterically). Robbie was good too :).

4. Mr BG bought me a Royksopp 12″ remix of Coldplay’s clocks for Christmas, which he then transferred from LP to CD at a friend’s house for me to listen to. Quite different from today where a song can be easily downloaded :).

5. I discovered The White Stripes, with this becoming my favourite song

6. Mr BG and I celebrated our 2nd wedding anniversary by going on a romantic weekend away to Castlemaine and stayed in a quiet cottage on a property. In fact it was so quiet, a couple of residents had moved into the cottage. We heard a rustling in the attic space and a whoosh of air around our heads when we went to bed. Turning on the light,  we thought it was a bird that had gotten trapped in the cottage. Whatever it was had gotten a bit scared with the lights and flew around, with one stunning itself against a pillar. When we realised that it was a BAT we were a tad freaked out, and we managed to get it outside. However, when we turned out the lights, the rustling and whooshing around our heads continued and we spent a cramped night in our small car trying to sleep. We left a day early with the apologetic owners refunding our money. ‘I thought we had gotten rid of them!’ was their response.

7. Mr BG danced with me, and I didn’t force him to. This is a man who refused to dance at our own wedding, but he danced with me as this was the only way we could spend 5 minutes together. It was my sister’s wedding day and I was the matron of honour. It was a lovely day, incredibly full-on from 7am when I woke up and went for a walk to 11.30pm when I loaded the car up with wedding presents from the reception, drove back to where we were staying and collapsed into bed! It was the nicest thing I remember about the day. a review

The new mobile site of the State Library of Victoria ( was launched today. Thanks to @Library_Vic who responded to an earlier tweet of mine regarding libguides and their exhibition on Melbourne Post-War Photography, I hopped on and checked it out.

The colours correspond to the red, grey, and black and white tones which are associated with the full site, making the transition from a full to the mobile version smoother.

The vital information- address, phone number and opening hours are listed at the top of the screen, with the address linking to Google Maps and the phone number linking to your phone to call them. There is also a search the mobile site facility located in the top right hand corner of the screen.

The navigation is quite simple, offering three links:

Visit Us– providing the user with further information on location and hours, access, events and the cafe and bookshop;

What’s on – linking to their exhibitions, tours and activities, which in turn then open up to provide more information about the event;

Services– information on joining the library, accessing the collection, computers and copiers (the bread and butter of any library). There is also information on Ask a librarian and how to contact them via chat, phone or email.

Below  these main links are ways to stay connected to the State Library via social media networks, such as Facebook, Twitter, Flickr and YouTube. The footer provides access to the full website, further contact details, about us and legal information.

The information provided on the mobile site is a good estimation as to what a user would be seeking on a mobile device- location, hours, what’s on and basic information. What I really liked is the infromation on how to access the wireless network using your laptop or wireless device. The richness of the content on the full site is best viewed via a desktop.

Further information which is available in the full version of the site is indicated with a crossed out mobile phone icon. Clicking on the link next to the icon, takes you to the full version on your mobile browser.

Even so, the mobile version provides a good user experience with its uncluttered layout and the use of white, which makes the navigation links really stand out.

The grey tones at the top of the page though, nearly made me miss the information about Ask a Librarian available from the Services link. It could also be the smallness of the text, but it would be good to have the Ask a Librarian text size increased.

What would be good to see further developed for the mobile site would be an online registration form to join the library and the email form to post a question to the librarians optimised for the mobile. Further content, such as libguides, which are thematic gateways into the library collection would also be good in a mobile format.

Above all, I like that the State Library has opted for a mobile version of their site, rather than resorting to an iPhone app which seems to be the default app by choice (spoken by someone who has an Android device!). By providing a mobile version, they are making their content freely available on all platforms, rather than just one, which aligns itself well with their 1854 mission to be

a place where the world’s knowledge and information would be freely available to all citizens of the growing colony of Victoria, regardless of their social status or financial resources accessed 1 July 2011

I’ll just add or choice of smartphone :).

State Library of Victoria, 328 Swanston Street

The first time I visited this building, it was to visit the old Museum. I had the best time there! Later in my life, I would visit it nearly every day, when I worked there for two years at the State Library of Victoria. I had some of the best times there :).

Early in the morning it is pretty quiet, save for the odd bird or two. At lunchtime the crowds from RMIT and workers  and tourists gather for lunch and a visit, and are joined by several more birds and seagulls…

The State Library of Victoria was founded by Redmond Barry as the Melbourne Public Library in 1854 and aimed to be the ‘people’s university’, and was one of the first free public libraries in the world. Today the ethos has expanded to

‘put information into the hands of all Victorians when and where they want it’

In some ways there is still a common element to it as in recent years the front of the State Library has been a rally point for striking library staff, anti-war protesters and the odd cyclists or two.

In previous years the group of buildings on the block were the home to the Museum and the National Gallery of Victoria as well as the State Library. Today it is home to books, ephemera, paintings, prints, photographs, rare books, computers and cables. There is also an excellent coffee shop named after the first librarian called Mr Tulk and a branch of Readings bookshop on site. There are also quite a few very nice library staff and IT  nerds geeks people who work there- *waves hello*.

Oh, by the way happy Library and Information Week everyone!

Rockin’ shopping centre

While I’m in Melbourne every week for work, my time to soak up all the glories of the CBD are largely restricted to an early morning walk via Mr Tulk or a brisk promenade up Collins St. Lunchtimes usually involve a mad dash for errands and lunch.

Being in the city on a day I would otherwise be home (thank you school holidays and accommodating grandparents), I had a spare hour or so before heading for the train back to collect the kids, and finally got to see “Til you Drop: Shopping a Melbourne History.

The exhibition is drawn primarily from the State Library of Victoria’s collection of engravings, photographs, ephemera and archival collections, and neatly packages a history of shopping and its impact on the Melbourne economy and psyche. It goes beyond the CBD to significant shopping precincts such as Chapel Street and Chadstone and touches upon the milk bar and the suburban shopping centre.

It looks at departed department stores, such as Georges, the Coles Book Arcade and Buckley and Nunn’s and with thanks to the Myer Archive, has a more extensive display on the history of Myer. One of my favourite parts of the exhibition was the ode to the Paris End of Collins Street and the photos of people shopping there inthe 1960s- very much a  Mad Men moment for me!

You could spend your lunch break there quite easily absorbing all the information and history. Many of the exhibit’s  information panels had quite  wordy explanations, and you can spend a lot of your time reading. The exhibition brochure in the shape of a shopping bag was very cute, but the content of the exhibition is so meaty, a booklet or coffee table-style publication could be published.

I enjoyed it thoroughly and saw it as a great way to highlight the non- book collections that the State Library holds.

Afterwards, I walked through Melbourne Central and Myer, catching the tram back to Southern Cross. There may have been some shopping involved…

Reasons why I am a Library Nerd (Part 5 of an Occasional Series)

I mentioned in my last post about enjoying visiting other libraries. One of the reasons is collections, the quirkier the better!

Libraries are often know for their collection specialities. Mental Floss has put together a list of universities libraries whose collections are a bit way out– showgirl memorabilia and Dean Martin are housed at the University of Nevada for example. Yet another reason to visit a library!

The last time I was in Belfast visiting my extended family, I happened upon the Linen Hall Library in the Belfast CBD. It was founded in 1788 and is Ireland’s last surviving subscription library- similar to the Mechanics’ Institutes in Australia. They had an exhibition of theirNorthern Ireland Political Collection, which comprised of 14,000 images, pamphlets, posters, books and audio-visual items. It was fantastic and showed all sides of the conflict.

I have yet to get to Italy, but it will be a little bit closer thanks to Google, who have signed an agreement with the Italian government to digitise over a million antiquarian books from national libraries in Florence and Rome. The works of Dante and Machiavelli and Galileo will be available for free.

Closer to home the State Library of Victoria has a myriad of eclectic collections, including art, treasures, and my favourite, the W. G. Alma Conjuring Collection. I mean, what’s not to like about a collection of magic?

When I was completing my librarianship qualifications, I did a placement at the University of Melbourne, which housed memorabilia from the composer Percy Grainger. Apart from some very unique instruments which he developed, there are some personal artefacts which are quite interesting… The library also houses a romance fiction collection. Sadly my dream of working at the University of Melbourne has never been realised :).

smart girls shine like laser light

Miss BG has announced that she wishes to wear underpants. This is in stark contrast to her brother who was resolute in his determination not to wear undies because that would mean using the toilet. While that is a plus, her enthusiasm is not matched by her aim. I am thankful for wooden floors at the moment 🙂

I’m also glad to know that my use of Google from its beginnings has not made me stupid. But it is very hard not to google something when it has escaped your mind. However, considering just how much information there is out there, can we really hold it all in our heads without blowing a circuit? And there is only so much useless information my head can hold…

Another day, another book about librarians– this one looks interesting…

I do feel sorry for Leslie Cannold, not being able to find a quiet space in the State Library of Victoria. I mean- it’s so big, with 10 reading rooms, 4 galleries and a cafeteria Mr Tulk (which does a fine coffee and yummy lemon tarts), that you would think there would be at least one quiet place. But it’s a busy place, with over a million of visitors annually who go there to study, research, visit the exhibitions, and just hang out. It’s a library with a buzz, which may not be to everyone’s taste.

Friday tomorrow and lunch with a mate- can’t wait!

Feelin’ Alright

There are some days when you feel overwhelmed- yesterday was one of those days for myself. You can get overwhelmed by anything- children, work, technology and information and the effects of information overload.  A man by the name of Conrad Gessner felt that the modern world was overwhelming people with data and this was harming people’s minds. He died in 1565. His preoccupation with data and information was around the printing press.

Thankfully if you do happen to feel overwhelmed with data, or at least how to search for a needle in a haystack, the State Library of Victoria has developed 21 research guides on locating information on topics such as Adoption and Bushfires in Victoria, through to researching what things cost in the 19th and 20th centuries.

This section of the SLV website is part of the new website which will be launched soon. It reminded me of an article on Everyday Usability, which provided a 14 point checklist to ensure maximum usability. One of the aspects which struck me was

You can nurture your website every day by remembering that you are the host and everyone who arrives wants to know what you have and how it will benefit them.

Updating the website regularly with new links or highlighting resources is a great way of keeping your website fresh, but the constant updating and evaluation is also needed.

A relatively quiet day, just the usual gym, laundry and kinder merry go round. I’ve felt grateful for the lovely late summer day, as the kids are currently playing in the sandpit.

Miss and Master BG in the sandpit

Comfortable shoes…

…are a prerequisite for a conference. I may succumb to flats for the final day, but my red dress and I look much better with heels.

In this case the VALA conference’s running joke seemed to be about dancing shoes, which was pretty cool. I’m sure there were a few kicking up their heels at the official and unofficial conference dinners on Wednesday.

As for me, I was looking forward to having a nice dinner of kebabs and salad cooked by (hopefully) Mr BG, seeing the children and putting my feet up to watch a bit of Spicks and Specks.

Meanwhile the sessions I saw that afternoon were interesting. Pat Gregory from the State Library of Victoria spoke of implementing a new form of reference service delivery in the form of roving staff able to handle queries on the floor with offsite questions (phone, online reference) consolidated in the one area. This was achieved with the implementation of Vocera wireless communication devices which staff wear around their necks and which can be used to request assistance from other staff on the public floor.

What was exciting is the change in the service delivery. The SLV recognised the need for flexibility as well as the need to maximise scant resources. The roving aspect satisfies the ability to help the user at the point of need, often with questions that can be technical in nature (help with photocopier, wireless), as well as free librarians up to undertake projects or answer the trickier questions.

I also managed to catch Roy Tennant speaking about APIs, Linked Data and Cloud Computing. I left the presentation with URLs galore, promising myself to check them out and learn more.