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apleD australasian public library electronic Digest vol.1 no. 1.

Welcome to the first issue of australasian public library electronic Digest. The digest is intended to be a source of useful information for the Public Library Sector in Australasia and we welcome all contributions.

Readalike Site

Denise Jeffrey at the State Library of Tasmania has developed a readalike website which may be accessed at: http ://

This website suggests alternatives to established bestselling authors such as Patricia Cornwell and Tom Clancy. It is a developing site, with regular updates of existing pages and the addition of new pages to the site. Denise is interested in any comments from others accessing the website, also from anyone in Australia providing a similar service. She can be contacted at

Public Library Section in Queensland

In a positive move for the state, the ALIA Public Library Section for Queensland has been restarted. Chris Gissing has been elected as President of the section and a programme of events for the year is being drawn up. Contact Chris Gissing at and stay tuned for future events. Chris Gissing

ACT Library Service Harnessing Power

The electricty and water authority in the ACT, ACTEW, is trialling the use of broad band cabling through one of the suburbs - Aranda. The project is called TransACT and involves integrating service ultilities and broad band network cabling of very high capacity into the utility infrastructure, or burying big pipes. Using this initiative the ACTLS is developing a number of services with the local community. These include an online video conferencing reference service where participants can dial in and ask any questions related to finding information on the Internet to the librarian on the screen. In cooperation with the local schools they are also developing a homework help site that ties in directly with their assignments and is developed around using information literacy principles. The ACTLS plan to have online sessions with students after school and during class and consider it a great breakthrough to work with schools ahead of time in providing assistance for assignments. Out of this they have developed online pathfinders which help library staff and students to discover resources on a particular topic whether it may be a book, journal article, multimedia resources, Internet site or perhaps an alternative information organisation. Also tied to this project is YOL a web site being created by local teenagers usng software called Frontier. It allows them to enter content, links, reviews and photographs directly onto the site. Their aim is to develop a Canberra based site for and by teenagers. The University of Canberra has joined in on the project and has given some of the teenagers further experience using FrontPage, Macromedia Director, Adobe Photoshop and other high end multimedia tools. These more sophisticated sites created by the teenagers are also being added to the main site. They envisage that the they will also explore the possibilities of videoconferencing during these next holidays.

Have a look at the ACTLS web site Nicky Lo Bianco

NSW Public Library News

The Public Libraries Branch of the NSW State Library could soon be releasing an electronic version of the Public Library News. To quote a State Library source the new publication "will be concentrating of course on NSW public libraries, and see the publication as a means of promoting/celebrating good news stories and as an alerting device for public library staff re events, grants, new resources etc. This will free up PLN to run with more `meaty' articles". Victoria Anderson


The Federal Government moves back to the future with attempts to censor the internet and thereby protect us all from temptation. While the Howard government saw fit to allow One Nation full freedom of expression during the last 24 months, internet porn and other "offensive" material is worth legislating against. The Electronic Frontiers Australia organisation is leading the way and provides a comprehensive view of the current internet censorship situation and effective ways to lobby the key ministers.

Pay rates

There has been a lot of talk about rates of pay for Librarians recently, how we're the lowest paid for our years of education and so on. We are not alone. Our colleagues in the United States are just as concerned about what they get at the end of the day and if the discussions on the ALA's PUBLIB discussion list is anything to go by, there is an enormous variation across the profession. The St Charles City-County Library District has recently posted its 1999 Salary survey at office/reports/ salarysurvey/1999/index.html which makes for an interesting comparison with our own rates as posted at the Alia web site.

Public Space in Cyberspace

Libraries for the future has released a short booklet on maintaining equity of access in the digital age. "Public Space in Cyberspace" and I quote "outlines the importance of preserving a public space in the digital world. It includes profiles of innovative public libraries operating computer centers, community computer networks, cable access TV centers, and satellite TV equipment. The booklet also includes a beginners policy primer on our legal right to the affordable use of telephone networks, the Internet, and TV services. It encourages all public library and information advocates to work together in promoting a communications network for everyone.

For more information contact Libraries for the Future who are based in the U.S. but are not a million miles from the State Library of NSW who state that "The role that public libraries can and do play as community access points for electronic information and services in supporting the social good needs to be supported. If small local communities are not to be left behind then there is a need for national commitment to ensuring that equitable access becomes a reality across Australia." (see "Internet: a core or value added service? The response" A very comprehensive report has been completed in Britain by the Department of Trade and Industry looking at the convergence of technology and the issues this raises for the future approaches to information and knowledge. The report is available in both HTML and PDF from the DTI

Stump the librarian

The State Library's response to the concept of `a library without walls' has taken some interesting forms. One of these is the radio game `Stump the Librarian' that country Victorians now play with several of the Library's experienced reference librarians. Fortnightly on Tuesday afternoons, one of the librarians takes part in an ABC Regional Radio program - hosted by Derek Guille - to pit their wits against country listeners.

Listeners are encouraged to ring in with songs, poems or quotations they are trying to identify or requests for information. The librarians use their memories and a few key reference works to try to give immediate answers to questions. Other listeners are invited to call and provide answers on air. Questions that can't be answered during the program are taken away for further research by Library staff. Usually the librarians succeed in finding answers but on most occasions there's at least one question that stumps us.

The questions we receive are great fun and some requests turn up surprising facts. A recent question about Lady Godiva revealed that, although she was known in her own lifetime as a benefactor of the church, the story of her naked ride through Coventry did not gain currency until two centuries after her death.

Many of the questions relate to old poems and recitations learnt in childhood and these most frequently stump the librarians. But these are also the questions which listeners are able to answer--or at least put the librarians on the right track.

I know that the other reference librarians in the team share the great satisfaction that I find in the program by being able to reach so many people who are unable to actually visit the State Library. On one occasion I had a call from a country listener who said, `I heard you while I was driving my tractor'. That certainly gave a new meaning to the term drive time radio and it also symbolises the way in which the Library is making use of all channels of communications to reach its users.

Jan McDonald, Australian Literature and History Team Coordinator, `Stump the Librarian' program
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Article Details
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Publication:Australasian Public Libraries and Information Services
Geographic Code:8AUST
Date:Jun 1, 1999
Previous Article:Letter.
Next Article:A library for all times: Malmo's new public library as vision and reality.

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