Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Just finished reading ... "206 Bones"

I do like a good mystery, with a touch of the macabre thrown in for good measure. Which I guess is why I enjoy Patricia Cornwell and Kathy Reichs so much.

I found 206 Bones a good read, particularly with the little twist in the end. The plot was not predictable, the characters underwent a credible development, the action was well-described. At times the use of language was a little heavy, but still eminently readable.

The downside was Ms Reichs' stereotypical portrayal of The Librarian, including the actual appellation of 'the dragon'. I guess I can live with this small flaw if I concentrate on the fact that this was the viewpoint of the character, not the author. At least I hope so. I'd have to check with the author to get an accurate assessment; it's always best to go to the source for confirmation. Isn't it?

I think that Cornwell may be a marginally better writer, with Reichs' a marginally better 'storyteller'; if that makes any difference to anyone.

This was one of my pre-Christmas purchases; with the closure of two major book stores at my local mall, I'm happy to say the book-nook (not its real name) is a pretty good substitute. Not a big range, but a more consistently interesting bargain table. What you throw up on the swings lands on the round-about? Or words to that effect ...

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Competition Notification: Random House

Whatever else I may be, I am consistent. I didn't win the recent mega-lottery ($35 million), nor any other major prize. Or minor one for that matter; although I did once win ten bucks in a game of chance. As far as I know that wasn't declarable on my income tax, but I guess I should have notified the Tax Office anyway, just in case.

Anyways, for those who like a dabble, Random House is offering chances in a prize. I can't give you the URL, coz The Usual Parties may well consider that I might be benefiting in some way - which past experience confirms that even one cretin with such a belief is sufficient to generate a complaint; two cretins sharing such an erroneous belief got me into huge pooh. Or poop, if you prefer.

And no, offering proof makes no difference to the determination; a review is apparently not an option. Nor does making an official complaint about the determination, the lack of investigation, and the clear denial of Natural Justice or even just a fair and unbiased investigation make one scrap of difference ...

I may have digressed there for a minute. Good luck with Random House's offering.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Season's Greetings, and Bah Humbug from the Cat

Although the family Christmas feast is still 24 hours away, Christmas eve dinner is already in the planning stages, although the actual 'menu' is still being decided.

In the mean time, the table is in the process of being 'dressed - and the cat is more than ready to start eating anytime some food might appear.

Northern hemisphere friends are likely to notice the air conditioner - instead of a fireplace or central heating-type climate control.

Expected temperature is around 28 to 30 degrees C. Humidity will be high enough to render a BBQ a little uncomfortable - at least here in Sydney.

Tomorrow is Christmas for us and ours. Whatever you do with your day, whatever your beliefs, may the day be peaceful, happy and safe.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Munching in the Twilight Zone

In the spirit of what is clearly the absolute worst of blogdom, thought there may be someone who'd like to know that a colleague and I have just returned from visiting our closest vending machine.

Although this was not quite haute cuisine, Family Christmas is but a few days away, where I'm sure I'll consume calories at levels that are neither healthy or safe. And more than likely enjoy every last nibble of the same, food wise.

I'm still searching for high-carb reading material with little or no redeeming literary merit. Yummy!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Yes. I am back.

A lovely two-week Long Service Leave has now finished, and I am back at my desk after a 14 day cruise to New Zealand. Pretty good, apart from 2 days of sea-sickness when the swell was over 4 metres (and remember that's an *average* height).

(I did embark as a passenger, but got rolled off as cargo at the end. Who'd have thought that eating almost constantly for two weeks would cause a weight gain?)

But what's almost even better, I'm back for only two days, then it's another five weeks of annual leave. Nice, huh? I think the world will manage to continue on without me at The Desk.

Of course, I will still be at a keyboard, although at a secret location known only to the Australian Taxation Office, the Electoral Commission, the Roads and Traffic Authority, local and state governments, my employer, Australia Post, and a few hundred other government and non-government organisations ...

Friday, December 2, 2011

Yes, we have no bananas?

I don't know what the library funding situation is in real-world Banana Republics, but it sure is thin on the ground over here in this part of the world. Particularly school libraries.

Our wonderful public libraries seem to be provisioned by very proficient bean-counters, or possibly very dedicated and scary Friends of the Library folk.

Media coverage of what appears to be completely unrelated events does help shine a feeble light on the matter though.

On November 29, the front page of the Sydney Morning Herald announces Federal budget cuts, complete with a table of figures to lend it that patina of gravitas. Then on December 1, we learn from Page 1 of the Sydney Telegraph that our politicians have been given a huge pay rise - by an independent tribunal, of course. So the Australian prime minister will earn more than the American president.

Of course, the purists will say that these are federal matters, and school funding is a state one. To which the answer is of course 'pffft', particularly given the official Government Response to School Libraries and Teacher Librarians in the 21st Century Enquiry.

Yep, things are grim. Nope, you ain't gettin' any money to fix it.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Best 'Book Competition of the Day'?

What would be a better prize, a years' supply of books, or a trip to New York?

That'd be easier to answer if the second option was four trips for one person?

What the heck! I'm happy to take either. Mind you, I'm not giving you the URLs for either one, coz there's this little tiny core of evil people waiting to make yet more assumptions and subsequent complaints to do with my being in the pocket of mega-multinational corporations and somehow making a squillion dollars. Which would of course explain why I am still in an entry level position - with a commensurate salary - in a school library.

What need to do now is find out how to phonetically represent that sound you make when you're drinking and laughing simultaneously, and the drink comes out of your nose.

eBooks: Still a long way to go

So, the retail store that was bankrupt into closing and has now re-opened as an online store sure has a whole truckload of items on offer, including eBooks. Time to load up the olde eBook reader for the holidays. Hmmm ... what to buy when mere cents are required?

Lets try the old 'humor' search and see what's on offer. And just who is this author?

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

How cheap can cheap books get?

Monday's drive out to Penrith in the stinking heat in a non-air conditioned vehicle was the pits; but well worth the trip to participate in the Western Sydney Region Teacher Librarians' 2012 National Year of Reading Think Tank, hosted by Penrith Public Library. Great ideas getting tossed around there.

As an extra special bonus, I got to visit the cheap book place everyone is talking about, in the adjacent Penrith Plaza. Sure does have a heap of quality books for the minuscule amount of five bucks. Good luck to my colleagues who are authorised to take advantage of these retail outlets. I'm still trying to figure out why that select group school principals, who control the working conditions as well as the budgets of school library folk would object to getting a little more bang for their buck.

Anyways, having traversed the shopping mall to get to the library, just outside the library were paperback spinners stacked with library culls selling for 20 cents each. Oh boy!

But in today's email came what has to be the cheapest of the cheap books. A company called Free eBooks wrote to tell me that they currently have a 50% off sale ....

Saturday, November 26, 2011

2011 Best Books?

The UK Guardian Newspaper has published its list of the Books of the Year.

I don't want to say too much about this list, cos there's a few 'personnel' who may complain to the 'authorities' (again) that it somehow shows I have a financial interest in the Guardian newspaper, and I'd be in yet more poop.

There's got to be something wrong with a government system that says they don't have to proved guilty of an unfounded allegation for which there is no proof; you that have to prove yourself innocent - when even Blind Freddy can see it's a malicious and vindictive complaint. Not to mention a backlog of allegations of which you aren't even informed!

No, no ... we're not speaking here of San Salvadore or any similar country. This is Australia, a Constitutional Democracy. Or so we teach in our schools.

A financial interest in the publication? Heck, I don't really even have an interest in their best books list ...

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Dessert. Yummy!

So you take your basic After-Dinner fare, and look at the choices for presenting it so it is a delight to the eye as well as the palette. Mmmmm. Add ice cream, cream, or both?

And just think! Shortly there'll be an addition with blood pressure apparently well on the way up!

Ah, the carefree life of library folk with the sound of the beeping of bar code scanners during stock take; the cheerful discussion about what eBook reader is best for libraries with very small budgets - not to mention various formats for eBooks and proprietary software for same; the future of the profession hanging in the balance once again; the generation of yet more policies, procedures and documentation.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

So much to do ... (Part 1)

Today I collected up all my borrowed stuff, and returned everything to the library. What exhausted me was the next six hours on the 'net looking for this picture. Isn't it brilliant?

Monday, October 31, 2011

Days of Celebration: Do we need a few more?

I was very disappointed to find out that World Zombie Day had come and gone (October 8th), without my even knowing about it. So, as one does, I went a-searching for any other significant day of which I should be aware.

Who knew that there was International Awesomeness Day? Given that it's on March 10th (Chuck Norris' birthday), there's plenty of time (now) to prepare for the next one.

Seems to me like there should be a whole raft of other days of international celebration. Anyone got any suggestions?

Saturday, October 22, 2011

This Week's Achievements

This week I completed over 2 thousand data entry units, plus relocated over two tons of resources. Luckily the resources were on wheels! And had power steering with air conditioning and quite a good sound system ...

The current gig is still continuing, but comes up for review in a week. Makes me think of the posters about "what has been seen cannot be unseen". A person could do worse with their time to do a Google image search for that. Just a thought, not a suggestion or anything, you understand?

Wise Words for today: Sarcasm

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Grammar is not a dirty word, is it?

Original author unknown. Will acknowledge when author is tracked down.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

The Bookcase Project

PhilipMSr responded to Rules for a Home Collection Weed (10/8/11), and wrote:

"I like the photo and wish you would add it to my bookcase photo collection site. I have two Australians which view the site, but not bookcase photos from them. Please share this comment with your fan base so there will be more representation from Australia."

So there you go, PhilipMSr. I hope you won't be too disappointed to find out that book cases in the Antipodes are pretty much the same as anywhere else on the planet.

Screaming Part 2: Stressed Librarians

After searching for suitable AV material for Information Literacy Lessons, I came across this invaluable piece of advice for library folk who need a good scream. I'm just about to go do the costings for this project, which I think should have top expenditure priority in any library. Picture hopefully coming soon ...

Friday, October 7, 2011

TED and Conventional Wisdom

I signed up with TED today. Did you ever see that bumper sticker [slash] t-shirt [slash] poster that said "Everyone's entitled to my opinion"? I suppose this is a reaction against that other saying "If I want your opinion I'll give it to you".

And speaking of supplimentary wisdom, I wish that I'd thought of this when I was asked (by someone 20 years my junior!) hadn't I heard about "not hanging out the dirty washing in public"? The circumstances you can guess at, but if I'd been in a different frame of mind I may well have countered with "is that like sweeping the dirt under the carpet?".

Ah well. Yet more of l'esprit de l'escalier.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Rules for a Home Collection Weed

In the interests of efficiency and sanity, and of course with the benefit of Hindsight, it would probably have been a better idea to finish the cull before the Garage Sale. Which is interesting at least from the perspective that October is Mental Health Month.

But the truth of the matter is there was so much junk in front of this book case, we couldn't get to the lower shelves - which is why all the upper shelves are neat and approximately "Dewey-ized". OK, it's just the sports books that are close together, but hey! This is my home library and I'll put books together on the basis of their size if it suits my mood at the time. I know that will sound rash and dangerous to some of my colleagues, but I'm standing firm on this one. Let them take me to court if it upsets them! We live in dangerous times, and I feel like I'm up to the challenge, at least on the matter of home library organisation.

But I have digressed. Is anyone surprised? Hidden on the lower shelves were the "resources" that were a bit iffy the last few times I was culling. Favorite picture books from my children's early years - fairly poor condition, but would these be something my children might like to pass on down to their children? Books I had picked up at sales (some at 90% of their RRP like "101 Things for Bright Boys to Do"), with the intention of including them in the Day Job library - but given the rejection of the application for reimbursement for the last Ripley's Believe it or Not (at less than $20), now headed elsewhere.

What are the culling guidelines for a professional library, as opposed to a home library? Frequency of use? Condition? Likelihood of future use? Bias? Currency? Relevance to the curriculum (school and academic libraries?) From my personal perspective, biggest difference is that of sentimental value - which should count for zilch in a professional library, but it's up there with the biggies in a Home Library Collection.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

New Donations Policy

We had a Garage Sale (Yard Sale for our US cousins) today. Mostly it was just the usual junk that isn't used or wanted - only horded away "just in case".

We've had them before, over the years. But this year marks a First Ever inclusion - books. Until now, I'd always given our 'pre-loved' books to whatever library I was working in.

As we are a family of diverse reading preferences, our cast-offs generally help fill a number of gaps in various collections.

This year, things have changed. Over the last four years, I've donated over 2000 bucks worth of books to a Library of My Acquaintance. As they say, "no good deed goes unpunished" ... those who know what's going on will understand. The others will just have to wait for my official autobiography. Which, I suggest, you will need to read sitting down. The movie rights are still open for negotiation.

Anyways, although only getting a dollar or two for books that cost over $40 originally, any funds raised will go towards additions to our Home Library. Seems fair to me.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Justice for all?

He was 14 yrs. 6mos. and 5 days old --- and the youngest person executed in the United States in the 20th Century

In a South Carolina prison sixty-six years ago, guards walked a 14-year-old boy, bible tucked under his arm, to the electric chair. At 5' 1" and 95 pounds, the straps didn’t fit, and an electrode was too big for his leg. Now, a community activist is fighting to clear Stinney’s name ... You can read the rest of the news report here.

Sixty years later, and folk are now interested in the truth. It'll scare you - especially when you find out that this is still going on now, and where YOU live.

Here in Australia, a hundred years after his execution, Harry "Breaker" Morant may receive a posthumous pardon (see here) following the investigation of new evidence by Australian Navy Commander James Unkles.

However, the British government, who conducted the trial in 1902, refused to grant the pardon (see here). Australian Navy Commander James Unkles commented ''It is pathetic. Dr Fox appears to have been advised by a group of faceless public servants. The responsee does not address the legal issues involved. We will grind on until this matter is the subject of judicial review. This is only the beginning."

Is this our new poster-boy for justice? The South Carolina case re-opened after 60 years, "Breaker Morant's" steamrolling investigated after more than 100 years.

Meanwhile, here and now in this state, if a government employee gets "investigated" due to malicious and spiteful complaints by a manager - you're likely to be found "guilty" - based on no evidence at all and exclusively heresay - even to the extent of ignoring the recommendations of its own internal investigator. Cases won't be reopened even only months after they've been closed - regardless of how compelling the evidence or how many primary witnesses come forth unsolicited.

Anecdotal evidence together with mainstream media reports would seem to indicate that the incidence of suicide by public servants is escalating. (Interestingly, the Australian Bureau of Statistics does not record the occupations of suicides.) Would a firing squad ultimately be more humane?

Thursday, September 15, 2011


Today was "RUOK Day". The purpose is to raise awareness of suicide prevention, and introduce small kindnesses such as asking someone who is stressed, troubled, in a crisis, etc if they are OK.

Then, of course, you have to be prepared to listen - really listen, not just stand by looking at your watch with one foot poised for take-off. That's the hard part.

You'll never know how much you can do for someone in a crisis situation, until you listen to what they have to say.

The three objectives of RUOK Day are:
(1) Help employees and students feel good about themselves by connecting with, and supporting others.
(2) Increase connection and support within groups.
(3) Through reducing stress and depression, help reduce Australia's suicide rate.

Stress and depression are the largest contributors to lost productivity in Australia, directly costing employers an estimated $10.11 billion a year (Medibank 2009).

The R U OK? at Work initiative is intended to help combat workplace stress by urging employers and business leaders to actively encourage positive, meaningful conversations between staff and ensure they know who to turn to when they’re not OK.

Every workplace can choose how they would like to run R U OK? at Work, all we ask is that when employees take time out for a coffee or a break on Thursday September 15, they're encouraged to start a conversation with someone they care about.

Interestingly, just a few weeks ago I was told - officially, and in writing - that under our employment conditions, there is "no entitlement to a morning break". This was in response to a number of other questions I asked ... I didn't even raise that issue, only those of parity and natural justice. Is it any wonder there are increasing instances of stress in our profession?

I really really wanted to make a few phone calls today, and just let a few people of my acquaintance know that its people like them, with their bullying, intimidation, inflexibility, self-serving selfishness, pettiness and abuse of their position are the reason why there are so many work-place related suicides.

I didn't make those phone calls. But I have third-party documentation witnessing that a number of workplace bullies read this blog - ironically so they can use it as fodder for their whining, trite complaints. It's possible that I'll be told to remove this posting. Also possible that I'll get yet another reprimand, and maybe worse. Guess what? I still figure that my employment arrangements do not negate my right to have an opinion and express it publicly. Last time I looked, Australia was still a democracy.

I will await the inevitable, and share the outcome.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Shame File: School Library Expenditure

How can a school spend $0.00 on their library, and then bank over a million dollars? These figures are from a school's annual report. Just to let you know that this is a government high school in NSW, but not one where I am employed (nor ever have been).

This is a public document available through the Internet, without any password etc requirements. You can locate it through a Google (or other search tool) search for "NSW school annual report" [insert year]. You will get a clearer image by clicking on this one, which will enlarge it.

At the bottom of the document it says "the school" invites you to contact them for more information. I wonder if anyone did.

Sort of makes me want to go check out some others ...

Hey! Just for comparison, this is the library expenditure for the geographically closest school to the one above. Interestingly, the schools are about the same size.

You can see this one spent more than $25K on their library, and banked "only" $708, 000.

Their income was $3,285,896 for 1165 students ($2820 per student). Library expenditure was $25231 ($21 per student).

Notably this school excels academically.

The first example's income for the same year was $2, 999,720 for 1200 students ($2499 per student). Library expenditure was $0.00 total, or equal to 0.00 per student.

Both schools are in an area of socio-economic advantage. Both are for the 2010 school year. Go figure ...

Sunday, September 11, 2011

It's so hard to get good help these days ...

... but when you think about the fishy pay, lack of training, not actually caring too much about the outcomes, toilet facilities, etc, then I suppose it's only to be expected. So here's a tip - don't expect much from your cat, except cat hairs in your printer. Sigh.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Where do YOU go to scream?

So it was just another one of those days, where somewhere back down deep in the reptilian part of your brain you know that a good deep scream will somehow help you cope. The question is where does one go, if you're in a city - let alone an office?

Back in the day where horror flicks were all the rage, one could have popped in and let loose with the general movie goers, at the appropriate times, of course. No one ever screams at the pictures any more - at least not that I've heard for maybe 20 years. Maybe I'm going to the wrong movies?

Folk in rural areas might be able to find a spot isolated enough for a belly roar - but for city folk by the time you've driven anywhere far enough away from folk who might become alarmed, the urge for a bellow will probably have passed.

In an office? Forget it. Someone will call in SWAT or ALA or something, and you'll have to fill out forms and be assessed and maybe even have your shoelaces taken away. Or so I believe - I'm not talking from experience here.

There's a woeful lack of soundproof areas available for primal screams. Under OHS (or OSH if you're in another hemisphere), someone should do something about it.

Just my thought for today.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Poster #2: Inclusive Education

Don't forget your artificial plants ...

Poster #1: Teaching and learning for horticulturalists

Give your potted plants clear instructions (click image to enlarge for easy reading).

The New Gig continues ....

... with another desk "make over". Ah yes, a few more lunchtimes well spent on workplace ambiance.

Not to mention an increase in the depth and scope of the Visual Resource collection. The ephemera off to the extreme right side is my lunch - you can't get much more ephemeral than that, can you?

Thursday, September 1, 2011

This I gotta see!

Today, I discovered an "undo" button on the office shredding machine. I'll try to remember the camera for tomorrow so I can prove I'm not making this up (who knew that the day would come when my word was not longer good enough).

I gotta try to work out how I can see the shredder working in reverse - I can't imagine how it's going to join up all those little strips of paper and return them back to the original document.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Did funding go down the toilet?

I know that one shouldn't laugh - but have just come across the (Australian) National Public Toilet Project. You can enter your location, or proposed location before you travel, and find where the toilets are, or even use the trip planner. How good is that?!!!

This is brought to us as a project of the National Continence Management Strategy. Really.

Which leads nicely into today's Critical Question: What happened to those Home Toilet Libraries? Perhaps the convenience of that particular multitasking could be enhanced to a community level? Imagine Public Toilets with a set of Encyclopedias available within the same building. Improve your mind while attending to .... errr ... other needs?

Completely unrelated is the news that in NSW, there will be $20 million funding available in tied grants for the Premier's Sporting Challenge. Sadly, such tied funding is not available (yet) for the Premier's Reading Challenge. Nor, obviously, such brilliant original reading promotion, and literacy supporting strategies, such as the above.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

The New Gig

At the moment I'm format-shifting public domain data. Same employer, different work site, different reporting line.

Initially the physical environment was a little bland, but was soon cheered up by (my own private funding) expenditure of less than twenty bucks. Sure, it's still not exactly vibrant or titillating, but at the moment no one is sure how long this gig will be - a few weeks or months? Maybe it needs a poster or two?

Sunday, July 24, 2011

What your favorite author says about you ...

... from Huffpost Books is quite interesting. This site says that if you are a Kurt Vonnegut fan, then you "... have an original and slightly absurdist way of looking at reality..."

So it really isn't your favorite author speaking about you personally. After all, how many people could someone like Kurt Vonnegut actually have met. Considering the billions of Internet-enabled folk world-wide, any of whom might land on that website, statistically it's pretty unlikely that he'd know any of them. Particularly as he died in 2007.

Nevertheless, the site does give food for thought. Shame the list stopped at only 12 authors. I wonder what the analysis would be for a reader with a passion for Chaucer? Or perhaps Matt Drudge? Or those that retire to bed with Library Management Policies ....

Saturday, July 16, 2011

The Knee: Part 2. Diversional Therapy

I can't believe someone was actually interested in my knee! Apart from the medicos who use their fees to put their kids through college. Thanks hugely, Felicity!

Since you asked - and I'll really try to keep this at less than 20,000 words - it's healing nicely. The strange thing though is that after I found out about The Site Manager's complaints about me last November, I pretty much lost interest in even reading. But in preparation for the convalescent (knee) period, I visited the most excellent Max Webber Library and borrowed heavily. They have a borrowing limit of 30 items, which doesn't seem like a 'limit' at all to me.

I also bought a few books at Bargain Basement prices, owing to so many fine bookshops going into liquidation. Very, very sad, really. Happy to say though, that I am now once more enjoying reading. Funny, that.

Friday, July 15, 2011

How disruptive can an unconscious Warrior Librarian be?

The Knee certainly seemed to have taken on a life of its own; I hadn't realised that - until at the dinner table one of the Resident Teenagers asked if there wasn't something else I could talk about.

Typical teenager. If it wasn't about them it wasn't interesting. I mean, this is about me! What could be more important than that?

So last Friday, I underwent the dreaded - although officially described as minor - operation. I was told that the knee surgery was very successful. Great news, huh? The fact that I stopped breathing ("transiently") and had to be resuscitated apparently made me "transiently" famous.

And I missed just about all of it, except the end part when I awoke to ECGs and oxygen masks and about 200 people running around me dressed in medical staff garb. OK, it may not have been 200. I didn't actually count them. And I wasn't in any condition to hand out survey forms and collate statistics.

But anyway, it just goes to show that even when I'm unconscious, I still inadvertently cause dramas. Sigh.

Friday, June 24, 2011

I wish I'd written this ....

I'm sorry if you're really busy doing important things, but you really do have to drop everything immediately and read the following article "An Honest Facebook Political Argument":

Huge thanks to the original clever author Chase Mitchell, who also has some other pretty good origina
l stuff at the same page.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Organising "Personal" Papers: I've been busy ...

Stage One is almost complete. At the moment, most of the labels have not been permanently fixed; as the archive boxes fill up, there's the usual shuffling about and starting new boxes.

Some of them are filled beyond capacity by single-topic files - gee, bet you can't guess which topics. Not.

Luckily my local stationer had few mark-downs recently. Added to which, of course, it's given me something to do.

Educational Value of Facebook?

The passage below is an excellent definition for the Fantasy genre of fiction - but lacks any attribution, statement of authorship, references ... nor paragraph structure.

Fantasy is a genre of fiction that uses magic and other supernatural phenomena as a primary element of plot, theme, or setting. Many works within the genre take place in fictional worlds where magic is common. Fantasy is generally distinguished from science fiction and horror by the expectation that it steers clear of (pseudo-)scientific and macabre themes, respectively, though there is a great deal of overlap between the three (which are subgenres of speculative fiction).In popular culture, the genre of fantasy is dominated by its medievalist form, especially since the worldwide success of The Lord of the Rings books by J. R. R. Tolkien. In its broadest sense however, fantasy comprises works by many writers, artists, filmmakers, and musicians, from ancient myths and legends to many recent works embraced by a wide audience today.Fantasy is a vibrant area of academic study in a number of disciplines (English, cultural studies, comparative literature, history, medieval studies). Work in this area ranges widely, from the structuralist theory of Tzvetan Todorov, which emphasizes the fantastic as a liminal space, to work on the connections (political, historical, literary) between medievalism and popular culture.

We are making progress, but by golly - there's still a long way to go.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Senior Moments: The Carjacker

Too good not to share ... but unfortunately attribution not yet available (I'm working on it). Click on image for a clearer and larger view.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

When LS meets RL: Part 2

I've never been in a library that didn't find it necessary to provide signage of the Bleeding Obvious type. And I don't believe there is a household in the Western World that has teenagers who are not Selectively Blind, as well as Selectively Deaf, regardless of how technologically proficient they are.

So here's a helpful little sign that is about to go into service. You are welcome to adapt to your own needs, be it at home or at work.

When Library Science meets Real Life ...

... or, I was so bored that not only did I actually did put the spice rack in alpha-order, but created a "closed stack" (actually "closed basket") for lesser-used spices. This will be shelved in a designated cupboard known as The Cupboard with the Other Stuff in it (COS).

That may well become the second in a series of two cupboards for such purposes, and thus will be known by the acronym B-COS.

But wait, there's more! I also used "promotion" of those products that I believe would be more popular if they were used more often (like, der!) . Plus, I "inter-shelved" non-spice formatted flavorings for A More Sophisticated Palate. Yes!!!

I gotta get out more, ya know?

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

When budget insufficiences call for desperate measures

"Surveillance cameras may be in use." Pictured is one of many notices on the [Sydney] CityRail network. Needless to say the may should be emphasised - because there really wasn't any.

It's a bit of a give-away when other signs around CityRail buildings say "24 hour surveillance in operation".

So, is CityRail, and by association the government, trying to "intimidate" the public? I figure a "reasonable person" (which I am reliably informed is terminology from our fine legal system) would consider this nothing more than an attempt to encourage appropriate behaviour.

Others may disagree. But here's the "rub"; such a sign in a library would be trying to achieve the same goal - particularly when said library may well not have a sufficient budget to actually install CCTV.

Interestingly, such equipment - which is now available at such a low price there really isn't any reason for even the smallest library to install same - has been proven to reduce theft, graffiti, bullying and many other socially unacceptable behaviour.

"Intimidating"? Only to those with evil intentions. Desperate indeed.

Friday, May 20, 2011

"Content-free" Information

Time for a laugh? Try the Uncyclopedia wiki, which describes itself as "content-free". A bit like The Onion meets Encyclopedia Britannica meets Mad magazine. But with all the digital search functionality that young folk in particular demand. Just my personal opinion, but I'd be introducing this to Information Literacy classes and those government instrumentalities (not local, as far as I know) looking to close school libraries.

There's no information as to copyright arrangements for images, so apologies in advance if anyone gets upset about this particular image - it will be removed immediately if it violates some law of which I am not aware, or any Intellectual Property claim if such is in existence.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Collection Culling: No need for panic. Yet.

This is a warning that intelligent, well educated and cynical (sorry, realistic) folk such as librarians will not need. Not all media reports are accurate. One example relates to the report that the University of Sydney's Fisher Library "disposing" of more than half a million books. (See also Media Reports such as )

The Fisher Library Librarian was on Sydney radio this morning (2UE?). The books are going into closed stack. They have about 60 retrievals a day from there. Students will still be able to borrow the books, but they won't be taking up the space needed for the one lineal kilometre of shelving needed for new acquisitions each year.

Those items being "disposed" are duplicate copies; unsuitable and unused donations; older editions that have been replaced by current editions; and journals where these is a digital copy available. There is *** no need to panic***.

Incidentally, the reports of protesters who intend to borrow en masse leave the library staff absolutely thrilled with the free publicity. I'd venture to suggest that records would show those registered as "protesters" haven't actually borrowed anything since their enrollment.

Personally, I have fond memories of the library, particularly of the vending machine "eatery" beneath the main building, immediately adjacent to the Edgeworth David (geosciences) building, where I spent 4 years of my life. (E.D., not the eatery).

[Pictured here outside the Great Hall with my "baby" sister, who is now one of two barristers in the family.]

As to the loss of 30 staff members ... that wasn't actually mentioned by The Fisher Librarian.

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Philosophy from Fiction: Opinions

Now on my third re-reading of this worthy and highly underrated tome:

All opinions are not equal. Some are a very great deal more robust, sophisticated, and well-supported in logic and argument than others.

The Salmon of Doubt: Hitchhiking the Galaxy One Last Time. Douglas Adams. ISBN 0-330-41843-2, p. 98

My next quest will be to try to locate a copy of The Experts Speak (Christopher Cerf and Victor Navasky) as recommended by the sadly missed Douglas.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Professional Development: A missed opportunity

"School" goes back tomorrow, but only for staff in NSW government schools; the kids go back the next day. This is to allow teachers and other school staff to be professionally developed in a "student-free" environment.

At my place of employment they are having a whole day lecture for the local learning community (the high school plus the surrounding primary schools) on Brain Based Learning. Colour me surprised! Just shows how little I know - I thought *all* learning occurred in the brain.

So anyway, in the hope that I would not be professionally disadvantaged in comparison with my classroom colleagues, I did a little research and reading from the 'net. I found the following recent article particularly enlightening:

Brain-(not) Based Education: Dangers of Misunderstanding and Misapplication of Neuroscience Research : " ... Oversimplification or inappropriate interpretation of complex neuroscience research is widespread among curricula claiming that brain-based approaches are effective for improved learning and retention ..."

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Wordle Fun

Click on image for enlargement.

Inspiring Websites

Check out for excellence in website design. If I was giving out prizes, this one would be a "first place" for innovation, use of coding, originality, etc etc etc. Purists shouldn't pay too much attention to the content (I didn't, but then I was looking for something else) - just the website design.

Imagine that level of digital excellence and creativity transferred to a library/book/author website. Or maybe just the capacity to purchase the necessary software and the intestinal fortitude to run with something so far removed from the "industry standard".

(Actually, JK Rowlings' site fulfils the above criteria - and look how brilliant that site is. By golly, don't you wonder how many books she might have sold if it were not for that website? Yeah, OK ... stretching it a little bit there.)

Monday, April 18, 2011

Not so smart - Google Maps

It's brilliant in so many ways; not to mention plug-ins like Google Earth. But it does seem to be a little flawed. If you ask for driving directions from Sydney Australia to New York, NY, you'll get the usual highly detailed street directions .... try it for yourself.

You'll get told that it is a 56 day drive, but instruction 123 on my test was "kayak across the Pacific" (from Tokyo to Hawaii) . I want to know why I would have to kayak, when there's perfectly good luxury liners offering passage. Is it something to do with carbon footprints, or an economy option?

Friday, April 15, 2011

Film adaptation of Challenged Book

Here in Australia, there was much concern in certain areas about "We need to talk about Kevin"; the film adaptation has been shortlisted for the prestigious Palme d'Or at the Cannes Film Festival, according to the Orange folk's Facebook page.

Just remember, you read it here second, or maybe third :-0

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Fair Game and a script-writing opportunity

Watched the movie Fair Game last night; what made it really really scary is the fact that it was based on a true story. Seems like there will always be a huge price to pay for being honest in a 'democracy' - but at least the perjurers and the protocol-fiends were brought to book ... eventually.

Which is sort of interesting from the perspective of a Teacher Librarian of my acquaintance, who sought advice on their employer's expectation in the case where a manager's instruction was contrary to the Code of Conduct. Having taken the query to the organisation's CEO, and been passed back down the line to the very same person that "caused" the enquiry [the causal agent], most bizarrely the matter became a disciplinary one - for the person seeking clarification.

Gained through Freedom of Information procedures is the hand-written notation (pictured) to "deal with" the Teacher Librarian; significantly not one of addressing the conflict between an instruction and the Code of Conduct.

This extract, and indeed the whole document, are available under FOI procedures (now called GIPA in NSW), so this isn't a "wikileak" style disclosure. Just to be clear on this. I have removed or obscured all names other than my own.

"Ring [causal agent ] re Credaro - discuss issue of dealing with her" refers to the query re conflicting instructions. "Deal with complaint as complaint" refers to the causal agent's complaint regarding the query.

Perhaps more interesting is the fact that although a thirty dollar application fee is mandated for GIPA/FOI queries, the government department now wants another five hundred ($500) to provide copies of other related documents, based on the vast volume of paperwork involved. Which is what that unit was set up to do in the first place. Figuring that one out is beyond me. Referred to the Ombudsman, who has in turn referred it to the Office of the Information Commissioner. Is it starting to sound a little "big brother"ish?

Sure, the vilification of a Teacher Librarian doesn't rate up there with the deliberate exposure of a covert CIA operative, but this continuing saga does present an opportunity for an aspiring script writer.

Book Budget Defence Resource

Something to show the bean-counters and the techno-twits who consider that your book budget money is better spent on gizmos and do-dads ... and then wonder why literacy rates and attention spans are plummeting. Or perhaps in those places where the technology budget doesn't quite extend as far as The Library ...

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Disaster Recovery Plans

Are you that special "one in three hundred"?

Never thought much about it before, but so many of my exceptionally talented colleagues are goal-orientated, intolerant of policies and practices that are illogical and counter-productive, have an exceptional eye for detail, are highly intelligent, often viewed by workmates as "a bit odd" (and sometimes downright weird), achieve "the impossible"; creative, original thinkers ... is there a common factor?

Just something to think about. You know how to find more information.

Friday, April 1, 2011

TV Serialization of Tim Winton's Cloudstreet

Watch for the world premier, starting 22nd May 2011 ... view the trailer:

The only other news is that today I found out - via the minutes of a meeting - that my substantive position is to be filled by a casual teacher "for the foreseeable future". That's a new one on me - I thought I was on sick leave, not dead. I appreciate the "heads-up" guys. Nice one.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

A brand new era?

See and See also:

The state elections are over, a new government will sit at Macquarie Street, complete with documented promises of what will be and won't be happening during their administration. The state's media are full of news from the last 24 hours, and promises unwrapped overnight like the Christmases of our childhoods. But there's particularly pertinent correspondence dated 23rd October 2007.

I wonder if our new premier is still reading his Facebook Blog?