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Libraries Australia Forum 2008.

Delegates at the 2008 Libraries Australia Forum in Sydney Photo: Phil Carrick

Dr Thomas Hickey speaking at the forum Photo: Phil Carrick

(L-R) Colin Adrian, Simon Porter, Linda Luther, Thomas Hickey and Eric Lease Morgan at the forum Photo: Phil Carrick

On 23 October 2008 the third annual Libraries Australia Forum was held at the Powerhouse Museum in Sydney. The forum followed an opportunity the previous afternoon for some attendees to participate in library tours to the Powerhouse Museum, University of Technology Sydney, ABC Centre, State Library of New South Wales, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Australian Museum, New South Wales Supreme Court Library, Corporate Central Services Unit and the City of Sydney Library. Libraries Australia staff acknowledge the work of the members of the local organising committee leading library tours and their assistance with the forum in general.

Guest Speakers

Jan Fullerton, Director-General of the National Library of Australia, welcomed forum guests and delegates in the Coles Theatre of the Powerhouse Museum. The 'futures' theme of the forum was the focus for presenters, who included Dr Thomas Hickey, who co-leads the Online Computer Library Centre's (OCLC) implementation of the Virtual International Authority File (VIAF) project; Mr Simon Porter, Information Manager (Research), eScholarship Research Centre, The University of Melbourne; Mr Eric Lease Morgan, head of the Digital Access and Information Architecture Department, University of Notre Dame, Indiana; and Dr Colin Adrian, CEO, Canberra Institute of Technology.

Dr Thomas Hickey spoke about the future of authorities and how they need to have wider coverage. This data is being created not only by information professionals but also by scholars, researchers, genealogists and enthusiasts. Matching of names in WorldCat is done using a program written by Dr Hickey, updating 20 records per second. He also spoke about the VIAF and OCLC working collaboratively with the Library of Congress, Bibliotheque nationale de France (the National Library of France) and Deutsche Nationalbibliothek (the National Library of Germany) to create links between authority files from around the world. Dr Hickey concluded his presentation with information about WorldCat Identities, an OCLC project that creates a summary page for some 25 million personal and corporate authors mentioned in WorldCat.

Simon Porter gave an entertaining presentation on The University of Melbourne's 'Find-an-Expert' database, which integrates information collected for other purposes by internal administrative tools such as finance, research and human resources, and presents them as a publicly available research portal. One of the main objectives of the database is not to create further requests for information but rather to make as much use as possible of existing information resources. The decision to link the database with the human resources component of THEMIS (The Melbourne Information System) by the end of 2005 showed that a website could be created that publicly profiled each researcher in the university with information such as grants, publications, awards, memberships and qualifications. By combining sources of information about researchers, facts become identities. Mr Porter also discussed the harvesting process of university expressions of identities into People Australia.

Eric Lease Morgan provided a thought-provoking presentation on the next generation of the library catalogue, reminding us that the way libraries work is changing--'If you think about books, you don't have much of a future, but if you think about what is in books, then you have a future.' The processes of collecting, preserving, organising and re-distributing won't be replaced by technology, but rather technology will change the way they are achieved.

Mr Lease Morgan sees the next generation catalogue as more of an index than a database. Users can experience annotation, create tag clouds or cite quotations, for example. Libraries must know their users to have a greater understanding of what types of information they are seeking. Mr Lease Morgan asked participants to accept that the way we do things is changing and therefore we need to change our attitudes to explore new ways to take advantage of this altering environment.

Dr Colin Adrian, from the Canberra Institute of Technology (CIT) is overseeing the upgrading of facilities and functions at CIT with a $250 million investment over the next 20 years. The CIT Library will become a learning commons area providing students with 24-hour access to online facilities, as well as new and innovative methods of learning delivery. To start the transformation, CIT examined its brand. Concerns about perceptions of its longevity, the reputation associated with TAFEs, how to maintain influence, the introduction of new technologies, and fixing a position in a shifting market led to new marketing and positioning strategies.

Links to full presentations can be found on the Agenda page.

Libraries Australia Presentations

Parallel interactive sessions with Libraries Australia staff on aspects of Libraries Australia services were also run before and after lunch. Participants could attend sessions on cataloguing, reference, document delivery or the record import and export services offered by Libraries Australia. Staff highlighted a number of services, along with newer features, and the ways that libraries can take advantage of these to enhance user experiences, improve workflows and maximise their membership of Libraries Australia. Staff welcomed the opportunity to hear about issues and experiences first-hand from the library community during discussion times and the refreshment breaks.

Dr Warwick Cathro presented the Libraries Australia Report for 2007-2008, focusing on the achievements of the year and future directions for Libraries Australia. He also hosted a short question session.

Ms Linda Luther, the University Librarian at the University of Tasmania and chair of the Libraries Australia Advisory Committee, presented an interactive session looking at the future of the Libraries Australia Forum, giving participants an opportunity to share their thoughts.

Mary-Louise Weight

Marketing Coordinator, Libraries Australia
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Author:Weight, Mary-Louisie
Publication:National Library of Australia Gateways
Article Type:Conference notes
Geographic Code:8AUST
Date:Dec 1, 2008
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