#1Lib1Ref Initiative

The #1Lib1Ref (One Librarian, One Reference) initiative is running January 15 – February 3, 2017.  The project targets librarians and information professionals and encourages them to engage with Wikipedia by improving citations and adding citations to existing pages.  The skills required to add citations draw on a lot of the research and reference skills that librarians excel at and adding a citation is an easy way to start editing Wikipedia.

Earlier this month via Arcan-L Danielle Robichaud reminded the Canadian archival community that archivists have similar skills and resources which can be used to contribute to the #1Lib1Ref initative.  Danielle suggested that archivists include citations from:

  • reference resources held in your reading room that are not currently available online; [i]
  • historical newspapers you have on hand in clippings files, on microfilm/fiche or as part of paid subscriptions;[ii]
  • print resources that your organization has digitized and have made available online or through the Internet Archive; [iii]
  • digital versions of finding aids, news features or journal articles that pertain to the topic at hand that have not been used elsewhere in the page.

I whole heatedly agree with Danielle and would encourage both librarians and archivists to become involved.  I have been working away at contributing citations to Wikipedia pages relating to residential schools, Indigenous activists, and members of the Children of Shingwauk Alumni Association.

New to Wikipedia and unsure where to start? The #1Lib1Ref page has a basic outline of the steps required to add a citation using either the visual editor or source editor in Wikipedia. You can also check out the visual editor guide or the short introduction tutorial. More importantly I would just suggest diving in and trying things out.  Citations are a really easy way to improve Wikipedia and the learning curve is relatively easy, even if you have never edited a page before.

On a citation spree and want to get folks at your place of work or a group of information professionals involved? There’s a “Coffee Kit” page that provides guidelines for organizing an event around #1Lib1Ref.  There are also lots of other suggestions of other ways to engage your library/archive with the wider Wikipedia community.


[i] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edna_Haviland#cite_note-Russell-1
[ii]
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charles_Thiele#cite_note-KWRBrief-9
[iii]
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Canadian_Indian_residential_school_system#cite_note-Bryce1906-38

Friday Reading: Gender and Outreach

A weeks end look back at some of the archives, public history, and library world readings that I’ve been pondering on this week.

Gender in Libraries:

  • “If You Give a Librarian A Cookie” a great post by Dani Brecher Cook on the gendered work, the challenges of letting gender expectations control actions, and the need to find balance between doing traditionally gendered work you enjoy and being seen as a professional.
  • “Knausgaard Writes Like a Women” An interesting piece on gendered writing and the idea that you can tell if someone is male or female based on their style of prose. Link found via Allana Mayer (@alanaaaaaaa) and her thoughtful twitter discussion of gender in LIS

Outreach in Academic Libraries and Archives

I’ve been thinking about different ways to promote university archives in engaging, informal, and low costs ways.

  • An older post on the Mr Library Dude Blog on general outreach initiatives at the UW-Green Bay Library  is about general outreach at the UW-Green Bay library.
    • The slideshow is worth looking at, particularly for the linked videos within it.  I particularly enjoyed the video of the edible books contest they held as part of the 40th anniversary celebrations.
  • I’ve also started looking at institutional twitter and Instagram accounts.  Do you have a favourite archives or special collections social media account?  Is there an institution that does a particularly good job of promoting their collections through social media?  Is it worth the effort?

Interactive Libraries: the New Halifax Central Library

Image from Wikimedia Commons, Citobun

The Current on CBC has been running a series recently focused on all elements of design.  By Design looks at traditional design as well as new technologies, education practices, and other human constructed ideas that shape our world.  This week By Design featured a segment on designing libraries in a digital era.

The feature focused on the design of the new Halifax Central Library.  Set to open in the fall of 2014 the library is the first of scale to be built in Canada in many years.  The library features gaming stations, meetings rooms, community spaces, cafes, and takes the approach of libraries as gathering spaces and communal spaces of knowledge.

The discussion questioned the future of libraries and placed libraries as much more than a place for books, but as an actively engaged center of a community. This sense of community engagement was integrated into the design process for the Halifax Library. Five public consultations were held which invited Halifax residents to provide input on the design and components of the library. Many of these sessions were interactive.  For example in 2008 library patrons were asked to write down what they wanted in a new library on a ‘graffiti wall.’

Interactive events including knit-ins, talking fences, and community art projects are other examples of the Halifax Library already beginning to engage the community through non-traditional means. The library is position itself as a welcoming multipurpose environment that encourage conversation.

It is great to see such a large scale library project being funded and supported by a community.  As the library opens it will be interesting to hear feedback from the community and see how this new community oriented space is being used.  

For those interested in checking out the design of the new Halifax Central Library a virtual tour is available:

Community Conversations and Libraries

Earlier this week I attended a music night at my local public library.  The night featured a couple of local musicians as well as Tenpenny Bit a traditional music group from out of town.  The evening was free to attend (but a number of people did give small donations), included a couple of hours of good music, conversation, and snacks.  The event was well attended and made me think about the relationship between libraries, art, and communities.

When I first moved to Northern Ontario I remember being baffled by the fact that the library wasn’t open all the time.  The town I grew up in wasn’t huge but it had enough people and funding to support a large library with great hours.  The library in the community I live in now is only open 29 hours a week but still manages to offer a range of programming.

In the past year the library has hosted a handful of small art shows and music nights.  The art shows and displays have featured works by local artists and the music nights have highlighted both local and visiting talent. The events bring people into the library that might not normally visit and provide a needed creative venue within the community.

The most recent music night also highlighted the idea of libraries as community spaces and places of conversation.  Most businesses in our small town close at 6pm.  But the library is open from 7-9pm four nights a week. The library also has a visible presence in the local paper, community nights, and local events. This presence might be as simple as offering hot chocolate and cookies during the winter ‘midnight madness’ event to encourage people to step into library.  The local library is an integral part of the community and actively works to engage locals outside of traditional library programming. 

I like the idea of libraries as being flexible spaces of engagement where patrons can engage with knowledge, arts, and community.  Books bring people together.  But so do free cookies, music nights, and children’s programming.

Digital Libraries and National Digitization Programmes: How Does Canada Compare?

My most recent post, Digital Libraries and National Digitization Programmes, can be seen over on ActiveHistory.ca.  The post looks at digitization initiatives in the United States, Norway, and the United Kingdom in comparison to recent efforts by Library and Archives Canada to begin a large scale digitization project.

Checkout a Person: National Human Library Day

Tomorrow, January 26th 2013,  is National Human Library Day in Canada.  The day is sponsored by CBC and invites Canadians to interact with ‘human books’ at 15 libraries and cultural centers across the country.  The CBC is also hosting an online component of the program where individuals can interact with human books via webcam, text, twitter, and online chat. 

The ‘human books’ are typically members of the community from different walks of life, that might show a perspective that many community members aren’t exposed to on a day to day basis.  For example, the Sudbury Human Library program features a transgendered woman, a former sex worker, a mine rescuer, a first nations Chief, among others.  Rather than checking out a book visitors to the library can sit down and have an informal conversation with a human book. The idea being that by talking to these people you might learn more about different aspects of society.

The Human Library program is great as it provides a reason for people who might not normally visit the library to participate in the event, it raises awareness of marginalized and under represented groups, and is very community oriented.  All the books come from the community and are typically checked-out by other community members.

I also like the idea that each of these people have stories that are worth sharing.  The story of each human book can be looked at as a personal history or an oral history.  The participants often talk about their personal experiences making their talks snippets of oral histories that they are sharing with others. 

In this particular incarnation of the Human Library, CBC has been heavily involved in promotion.  Local CBC programs have been playing recorded bits of personal stories in weeks leading up to the event.  These interviews are currently available on the regional CBC websites which conducted the interviews. The idea that at least part of these oral history experiences are being recorded appeals to the historian in me and brings to mind the importance of the digitization and transcription of oral history.  So many important experiences that can be provide insight to cultural, social and political history can be found in oral histories.

Digital Publishing and Contents Magazine

If you haven’t already stumbled across Contents Magazine go check it out. Contents is a digital ‘magazine’ platform that releases issues in segments, a typical issue takes about eight weeks to appear on the site.  The magazine focuses on “readers who create, edit, publish, analyze, and care for the contents of the internet.”  A lot of the material is applicable to archivists, librarians, and those working in the digital humanities.

I’ve never been a huge physical magazine reader.  I subscribe to Canada’s History and that’s the only magazine I read with any real consistency.  But, I do spend a lot of time online reading digital material, much of which is the length of an average magazine article.  It is interesting to see the branding of Contents as a digital magazine not as a group blog.  Contents includes design and illustration staff that are more reminiscent of magazine production than blog creation and it does have a visual element that many blog lack, so perhaps it is aptly named.

Personally, I like the emphasis that Contents places on open access and accessibility.  Most of the articles are the length of a longer blog post, include photos and are written in accessible language.  Considering Contents focus on digital mediums and the content that we produce online, it will be interesting to see if the site transforms to reflect trends in digital publishing and reading. 

The current issue’s Editor’s Note focuses on the idea of archives as an ancient idea that has very real applications and hurdles in a technologically inclined world.  Considering the challenges of digital preservation that archivists face today the topic of issue No. 5 is very relevant.  It should be interesting to see what the rest of the content in this issue ends up being.

What are your favourite digital publishing initiatives?

Small Town Gossip and E-Books

Anyone who has ever lived in a small town has probably experienced the power of the small town social grapevine at one point or another.  You told one person news or did something unusual and suddenly the everyone you run into is asking you about it.  Sometimes it feels as though people are by hyper-aware of each others actions and options. 

Perhaps this small town mentality is what caused me to be so shocked when I heard member of the library staff talk down e-books and e-readers.  On a couple of occasions in recent months I’ve witnessed this person talk about how ebooks can’t compare to ‘real books’, that e-books dissuade people from visiting the library, and that ebooks can negatively impact your brain function.  After reflection I began to wonder how many other people in the library heard these statements and repeated them as fact.  Or have noticed that the library is one of the few in Ontario that seems to have opted out of Overdrive (the Ontario Library Service digital book portal).

I love my physical books.  I am also an active user of a Kobo and I routinely read online.  I also still visit my local library on a fairly regular basis.  In my mind there are distinct benefits to both physical and electronic forms of reading and I like each for different reasons. I can understand librarians (and users) being frustrated with ebooks terms or use and lending conditions.  But, being frustrated with a flawed usage agreement is no reason to discount an entire type of reading or user group. 

On any evening visit to the library the entire bank of computers is typically home to a number of local children and youth, all engaging in digital content in some shape or form.  I have rarely seen these same children/youth browsing through the physical stacks.  Anecdotally this might suggest that these library users are looking for a different type of library than one which focuses solely on physical books.  In this respect the local library is making strides by making a wii available, hosting community events, having an active facebook account and digitizing their local history collection. 

E-books have the potential to be just one of the many services offered by a public library.  Encouraging people to explore digital publications does not mean that libraries will cease to exist.  It merely means that the range of services and focus of the library expands to include digital formats.  Additionally, ebooks have a potential to engage younger users in reading in a way that physical books might not.  I really hope that the small town grapevine doesn’t spread the evils of e-readers and that people examine their benefits before making a decision about their value. 

Friday Links

It’s Friday and it is pouring rain outside.  I figure the weather calls for some public history cheer.

  • The #whatshouldwecallarchives Tumblr feed is fantastic.  It animates and pokes fun at a lot of common archival problems and concerns. 
  • A college of mine recently spoke on CBC radio’s Points North program about the work the Shingwauk Residential Schools Centre is doing.  The interview focuses mainly on the creation of a cybermap and the role of the Centre in preserving Residential School history.
  • The North Carolina Records Management Blog  recently posted a great post on three simple record keeping tips that can help start a more comprehensive records management program.
  • Library robots.  The bookbot automated delivery system at the James B. Hunt Jr. Library.

Architecture and Heritage Institutions

Resnick Pavilion

Architecture and design can have a huge impact on how a space is used.  This is true in family homes, libraries, art galleries, museums, and buildings of all shapes and sizes.  How space is configured, materials used, the amount of natural light, and numerous other factors impact how visitors perceive a heritage institution.  Architectural features can also enhance or limit display and gallery space.


Architype Review has recently published issues which focus on architecture in libraries, art museums, and performing arts centres.  The architecture featured in these issues varies greatly; some is very modern and innovative while other featured buildings are very simplistic and classical in style.  In addition to providing great images of each structure Architype Review provides descriptive details on the space and its construction.

Some of my favourite featured heritage institutions in Artchitype Review include:

  •   The Safe Haven Library in Thailand.  This library is part of the Safe Haven Orphanage and was built in 2009 using local materials and labour. The structure is fairly simplistic but the building was designed to meet the specific needs to the library.  A great timelapse video which shoes the construction of the library and be seen here.
  • The Lynda and Stewart Resnick Exhibition Pavilion at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.  The
    Wild Beast Music Pavilion

    Pavilion is a single-story, 45,000 square foot structure, and is currently the largest purpose-built, naturally lit, open-plan museum space in the world.  The fact that the space is naturally lit and relies upon open space is a very unique feature in the museum world.  

  • The Wild Beast Pavilion in Valencia, CA is a unique recital hall and outdoor performance space.  The space is multipurpose and is used for instruction, enclosed concert space, and open air recital space.  The numerous functions of the space combined with the visually pleasing design is what appealed to me about this particular design.

What are your favourite heritage institutions with unique architecture?