5 bits

Having started with 5 articles a week or so back, I thought it might be worth aiming for 5 articles each time. Was tempted to go with 7 but whittled it down to 5. This is a bunch of articles I’ve read and tweeted in the last week.

That’ll do.

shelf by shelf 12 – library stuff

Well some stuff, some bits and even a rock. A shiny rock. I can’t quite remember the origins of the rock though I’ve had it since I was a child. It’s not a particularly pretty rock but it does have lots of flecks of shiny, mirror-like bits. Maybe I found it in the bush, or at school or perhaps someone gave it to me. I’ve had it since I was very young.

At the far end of the shelf to the right, I have several years worth of the Australian Library Journal. I still need to add a couple of the recent editions to the shelf and I think the latest edition arrived in the last week. A few years ago I tried to track down a full set in print but didn’t have much luck. I always meant to hunt around some more but there always seems to be other books to pursue. Alongside the journals is a history of LIANZA I picked up at their annual conference a few years ago.

Also on the shelf is an old, old memory: Gareth Powell’sMy Friend Arnold’s Book of Personal Computers“. Many, many years ago in the 80s, Gareth Powell used to edit the computer section in the SMH. He’d actually been the travel editor or writer and somehow moved from there into computers. Lots of computer folk hated him as he was never sufficiently techie nor especially precise. I loved him as he knew how to write and was always throwing in cute affectations “…down in the potting shed I call my office..” and such. His approach was all about being accessible and interesting, and he was willing to take the piss out of himself. Around that time, he put out on a book on how to use computers for folk who didn’t know much about them…like his fictional friend Arnold. I picked up it a copy secondhand a few years ago.

My Friend Arnold’s Book of Personal Com
My Friend Arnold’s Book of Personal Comput
My Friend Arnold’s Book of Personal Compute

in 5 years time…

After yesterday’s 2005 post, I’ve been revisiting some of my old posts from the era. I didn’t use a blogging platform in those days and only started to when I moved to wordpress in 2007. The site started out as a single page template that I grabbed from a template site. Over time, I modified it substantially, moved columns, and eventually achieved a separation of style and content. I learnt stuff around html, css, and even a little xml. The rss feed was painfully handcoded for each post in xml. No easy generation, no scripts; just chunks of reusable code. Even that site was a relocation of an older site that was little more than a basic weblog with occasional commentary.

Brixton Tube Station
Brixton tube station

The handcoded version lasted from 2002 to 2007 which brings me to this post from April 2004 ie just over 10 years ago.  It was all about the old interview question of where do you see yourself in 5 years time? My answer at the time talked about how much my life had varied over the years and ultimately concluded

Grab opportunities when they arise but I’ll be buggered if I can think beyond that.

10 years later and that still rings true for me. Not long after that post I ended up in a place I never expected to be: working on vendor-side for a digital content provider. Spent 7 years there and had lots of fun, one of the best jobs I’ve ever had. I was one of those librarians who thought vendorland was the dark side and to be avoided at all costs. I no longer think that.

Detroit fire hydrant

These days, I’m on library-side once more, working at the State Library of NSW again. I wouldn’t have predicted 5 years ago that I’d be at SLNSW, and I certainly couldn’t have predicted working for a vendor at all. I’ve recently had to re-apply for an updated version of my position and was successful. Oddly, this was something of an affirming result. I’m still doing mostly the same sort of job, though there’s room for it to broaden in interesting directions. I have a bit of a sense I had when I initially got the position two years ago, that there were interesting things to be done, and new ways to go.

I still have no idea where I’ll be in 5 years time. As I said 10 years ago, I hope I’m still grabbing interesting opportunities as they arise.

snail i am

snail. A name I call myself…I’lll stop there lest I sing out loud.

I realised on Sunday that it’s probably been 25 years since I started calling myself snail, initially online and later offline. I think I started using it in 1989 and I’ve been online since I discovered electronic bulletin boards (Adventurer’s Realm, Viatel) in 1984…connecting via the wonderful tones of the 1200/75 baud modem that plugged into the cartridge port of my Commodore 64.

I tend to prefer being called “snail” in person though some prefer to use my real name “Sean”. At work, I’ve always defaulted to “Sean” but occasionally wonder whether it’s something I should, or could, change. I remain ever flexible.

snail and snailThere’s big restructures at work (State Library of NSW) and I have recently had to apply for my own position; or rather an updated version of my position. In happy news I have made it through and as of Friday, my job title will change from “Online & Licensing Librarian” to “Online Resources Specialist Librarian”. I first got this job 2 years ago and I s’pose it’s something of an affirming experience that I have been successful in retaining it.

I first worked as a contractor for SLNSW around 10-12 years ago and while I did and learnt lots, always felt I hadn’t quite got the hang of the place. I seem to be doing better this time round, some of the time at least. I used to travel around NSW training librarians in how to search online. In the intervening years, I was an electronic solutions consultant on the vendor side. Best job I ever had and I loved it much. 7 years was enough and a good time to move on. Prior to that I was part of the reference team at Bankstown Public Library and have also worked in the NSW Parliamentary Library and a big law firm.

I’ve been blogging on one platform or another (previous versions were handcoded) for more years than I can remember and my posting has become, #blogjune aside, increasingly erratic. That’s ok, it’s still my space; I have other spaces too.


I wrote up a splendid summary of filmfest on Sat…but was using a wordpress tab that had been open a few days…I thought it was saving ok but it died when I tried to publish – lost the entire post. Not been in the mood to blog since….#firstworldproblems as they say on twitter. Right now, I’m two weeks into new job and a job where end of financial year matters. It feels a little like I have to learn the entire job in two weeks…with that said, it is going well and I have a lot of background knowledge to bring in to play. I just had a day of liaising with vendors, discussing price points and getting a discount or two. Got all the hard stuff done.

Tomorrow I seem to be presenting again…just a 5 minute talk on the fascinating topic of OAI and API…probably to a not so technical audience of librarians. There’s currently a good chance that my 2 co-speakers won’t make it. If that proves to be the case, I have a backup topic where I can talk about Trove lists and DigitalNZ sets…and lo, some bright spark has created a digitalnz fan tumblr. I even put together a quick set on snails. Actually, I think I’m having more fun with my backup topic :-)

a day for chilling

It’s wet. Again. I don’t mind as I’ve mostly been indoors with filmfest so I’ve not been affected greatly but it would be nice to see some sun. Today is the second last day of filmfest and I only have two movies to see starting around 6pm tonight, with the final two (a two parter) tomorrow afternoon. I had to get up early as there was potential for the annual visit from the smoke detector inspector. Alas there was no sign…or I didn’t hear the knock.

It’s been an exhausting week, combining filmfest and first week in a new job. The job in question is in a busy time itself as the end of financial year is important, though it wasn’t in the previous one. It’s a busy job and I’m busy learning the ropes. With that said, whilst I’m still getting the hang of the basics (how do I get an order number, who do I give invoices to…etc) I already have a sense of ownership. It’s a pivotal role in dealing with the provision and access of information online. There’s basic stuff and there’s thinking stuff and future thinking stuff as I explore how to bring my own perspective to the role and push it forward.

Today, I can’t be bothered thinking. Due to the weather, I’m having a very pleasant afternoon chilling at home. I’ve been up the road for brekky and got a table inside for a change. Outside would have been fine as there’s no wind today and no physical chill. The downside of my current cafe is that inside can be a bit dark to read the papers. The only other plan today was to get a new pair of sneakers, for which I was going to drive out to Homebush to the direct sales outlets. Thankfully, a local shoe shop had the brand I like, and in my size though not as big a range as the outlet store. Plus they were on special. I was able to get new sneakers and avoid a drive and carparks on a wet Saturday arvo.

Instead, I am sitting at home, sipping on a cider and reading various articles online eg

  • Here be bogans – a discussion from an outsider’s perspective of Sydney’s segmentation
  • Storm Publishing – this is a comic site belonging to some of my oldest friends, and promotes the comics they create. Friends for whom I am alas, long overdue to visit. I grew up with them.
  • Biblioburbia – exploring Sydney’s libraries (via ALIA Sydney’s blog)

another change

Been an odd few weeks. As I mentioned a while back, I have a new job. Today was the last day in old job, and I start the new job on Tuesday. Whilst I’m looking forward to the new position, it’s also sad as I’m leaving a job I was 10 months into. I’d found my feet and had settled well, getting on fine with the boss and team.

I s’pose a difference between the two positions is that the old was something of a leap, though a leap I was handling. Whereas the new job follows on from my previous positions, particularly working on the vendor side, not to mention my consortia experience before that. The new position is responsible for managing relationships and subscriptions with vendors of online resources including of course, the company I used to work for. Needless to say I will, and should, be under greater scrutiny. With that said, I do have industry-wide respect and everyone in SLNSW is keen to support me in the position. So too, I’m curious what I can do with it, and where I can take it; it’s an area that will continue to expand.

This afternoon, I packed my belongings and moved my stuff upstairs to my new desk. They’ve already moved the computer to a more sociable position: previously it faced the end wall with back to the entire floor. Now it faces everyone else and I can interact with people passing by. This is also important as my partial deafness means that I often miss conversation behind me. One of the side effects of learning to use hearing aids is that they mess with your perception of distance and direction – that might be a post for another day. In addition, they’ve thankfully installed a widescreen monitor. I’ve been using such for several years now and I would struggle to return to one of the old square ones. The extra width is nice meaning I can have several windows visible, and so many columns on spreadsheets :-)

Hmmm…I keep getting distracted from writing film reviews this year. For the record, I’ve seen 4 films at filmfest so far including a lovely film from Rachel Perkins called Mabo, about the life of the man behind the historic case.