The Open Source Experts
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Learning from the Aussies

November 18th, 2008 by

I just returned from a five-city”road show” hosted by CAVAL and VALA. I spoke about open source in libraries while Lizanne Payne of WRLC spoke about mass storage. In two weeks we visited libraries in Sydney, Brisbane, Perth, Adelaide, and Melbourne.

(I think Melbourne was my favorite, but that’s because I grew up in San Francisco, which looks and feels a lot like Melbourne — two cities with Victorian gold-rush roots.)

As always, I learned a lot from these visits. First I learned from all the preparations I did for my talk — piles and piles of books about library history, going back to the mid-1900s. I tried to tie together a full century of library innovations to the open source movement today. Then, as always, I learned from the visits themselves.

There were many good things to see throughout my trip (and some delish cream scones at our next-to-last library stop), but Brisbane City Library made my socks roll up and down. I encourage you to visit the entire Flickr set (just click on the picture above).

Some innovations at this library include:

* A highly-sophisticated self-check system where patrons can watch their books disappear into the automated-sortation area

* Tools and space for gaming and media that as Bibliotheka points out has resulted in a bump in library use among males aged 18 to 35

* Color-coded Dewey shelving (“Go upstairs and find the pink shelves…”)

* A lovely glass meeting room that floats celestially above the first floor

* Comfy, attractive furniture that can be angled around the terrific city views from library windows or pulled together into impromptu study circles

* A business center staffed by city experts

It’s not that I haven’t seen bits and pieces of all these innovations in various libraries — but this library has a sustained “wow factor” that keeps going and going. Should you happen to find yourself in Brisbane, do stop in.

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3 responses to “Learning from the Aussies”

  1. […] Robins (4 hours north), so I’m taking it very easy and old-ladyish tonight, doing a little work blogging and uploading hundreds of photos to both my personal and work accounts while soup simmers on the […]

  2. Gem says:

    Could you give more information about the business center? I went to their website but didn’t see an obvious link for more information. What type of “city experts” do they have?

  3. Kath says:

    Aww shucks! We are so very proud of our “baby” in Brisbane Square.

I’ve been administering, designing and building software systems for nearly two decades, and half of that has been with libraries.


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