Sunday, October 12, 2008

The End (for now)

Well, I'm glad to be at the end of this as it's been time-consuming, but it has been an interesting journey. The highlights for me were the web mashups - especially the maps and images, as I can see a use for them for our local history work. The mashup applications around at the moment still aren't at the level of sophistication I'm really looking for - I'd like to be able to use our own historic maps and add images to them rather than add images to the google maps - but I'll keep an eye on what is happening with those as they will surely keep developing.

I also liked the online word processing options like Zoho - those could be very useful, especially if laptops keep coming down in price, as it will make it that much easier to be mobile if you can cart around a cheap basic notebook and get online via a wireless connection from pretty much anywhere. I know you can do that now, but most laptops are still pretty heavy as they need processing power to run Word and all the rest. Shifting both the software and the storage of your files to the net means the hardware needn't be so complex, costly and heavy. PDFs and iphones sort of do that for you now, but I don't like their squitty little screens - for people who seriously need to WRITE, a decent size screen and keyboard are still important.

The blog itself is likely to be a useful format for our local history work at the library - I wouldn't use it for personal stuff, but as a means of bringing together online unpublished info we find about the shore, combine it with our digital pictures, and get feedback from knowledgable locals, it could be good. Once we've all had time to think about this Web 2.0 technology, it would also be valuable to go back through what we've covered and look at what we can co-opt into our regular, professional library work.

On a personal level - my favourites were YouTube, the Image generators and sorting out once and for all how to set up RSS feeds. (I would have liked to put one final YouTube link in here but the site keeps coming up in Chinese - that's been an issue for most of us right throughout this Web 2.0 program and it happens in Blogger also - if there's a solution out there I'd like to know it!!).

Thanks to the people who put this program together - your hard work is appreciated. - Custom comment codes for MySpace, Hi5, Friendster and more
Anna L

Monday, October 6, 2008

Libraries Online

Nice to see the number of libraries that already have profiles on MySpace and Facebook - I can see the value of this especially for building relationships with younger library users who are at home in the MySpace world. The blog by Meredith Farkas was helpful and she raises some very good points - for instance, about making your site truly 2-way (which is what Web 2.0 and social networking is really all about) by inviting comment, contributions, suggestions for purchase. We already talk at our users via our own websites - having a library portal somewhere like Facebook is a chance to talk with them.

With the right kind of promotion, this kind of outreach can move beyond the teen audience to embrace older users too - Kete Horohwenua (set up by Horowhenua Library) used Web 2.0 technology to reach out beyond their library users to the community at large, and did so in part by enlisting older contributors through promoting their site to the Senior Net people, who then went on to enlist and train others. They also set up workstations in the library itself that people without pcs at home could come and use to scan and post photos, documents, blogs - you name it - to the Kete site. It's a great example of local content built by its users - the library maintains a loose monitoring role, but the main contributors are the locals themselves.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Bebo, Facebook et al.

I can see why these sites are so popular - they are great places to invent (or re-invent) yourself online in relative safety, but as with so much of this social networking technology you still have to wade through the usual legions of adolescent diaries and lame groups where they all argue about the virtues of evlish versus klingon, or whether Bladerunner or Star Wars was the greatest SF movie in the universe to get to the bits worth looking at. I'm still not sure I want so much personal info just out there for the world to see. Back when we all wrote our diaries the old-fashioned way they often had keys, or you hid them where your Mum and your sister couldn't get at them. It was called privacy, and back then, I valued it.

I've had a look at the three sites, I've created an account and a basic profile (Facebook) - but do I feel moved to keep using the site? Proably not, for now anyway. I'd rather talk to actual friends in a real cafe while drinking coffee I can smell and taste - the virtual world is fun, and occasionally useful (see last post) - but I still prefer the offline world. It has better bandwidth.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Books Online

Better accesibility to e-books is good news for the print disabled - most people with vision impairments read in this format rather than braille. It's also good news for the leisure reader - I had a friend whose husband was a long distance truck driver and he loved listening to audiobooks while he was driving. The range of titles is so much better now than the Catherine Cookson- style Victorian romances and westerns that dominated the old audiobook on tape and CD format.

For the serious researcher though, the preferred digital format is full text online rather than audio. Why? If you live in this part of the world and your research area isn't NZ-related (or even if it is), you need access to out-of-print and often very fragile old texts that in the past you would have had track down and use in a rare book archive in some overseas uni or national library archive. Project Guttenberg started it all off, and the NZ equivalent is the NZ Electronic Book Center. Having this material online makes access so much easier and cheaper, and (a plus for the library that owns it) it protects the old book from rough handling. Here's one I tracked down via Google Books and used while researching my PhD at Auckland Uni. It isn't available in hard copy in NZ.

People interested in full text online versions of out-of-copyright New Zealand books should try the NZECTC site - it's a goldmine for those interested in NZ literature and history.

Thursday, September 25, 2008


Had a look at the podcast directories - again, lots of American content, so I don't know how often I'd actually use those to look for things to subscribe to. Mostly I find podcasts on the sites I'm already interested in anyway, or find out about them by word of mouth. National Radio has podcasts from their various shows and I've put a feed on my Bloglines site to their regular movie review guy, who is very good. They also archive many of their interviews. is where you will find all their feeds.

What will be more helpful in the long run is the tutorial material on how to create your own podcast - I can see this being good for book launches, Heritage Week - that kind of thing - especially now our new PA system allows us to digitally record events.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008


I think we all know this site and regularly trawl it - mostly for the funny/weird stuff that you often hear about via word of mouth (who really wants to trawl it just to wade through someone's Emo teen angst video diary?).

It's actually pretty easy to find things here - on Saturdays National Radio had a half hour slot where NZ comedians play their favourite comedy clips and you often hear alot of great old classics by people you've never heard of.

One of the ones I remembered was by an American guy (whose name turned out to be Alan Sherman) singing about being a kid and going away to summer camp - it was used in a funny yoghurt ad here about 5 or 6 years back - and I could only recall the first line of the song. Typed it in, and within about 2 hits, found it.

The clip doesn't include visuals, just the audio - for the curious, here's a link to the relevant YouTube page.

Hello Muddah, Hello Father song

And here's another funny cat cartoon (from the same "Simon's Cat" series as the one that did the rounds a few months back).

Anna L

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Checking out eSnips

Went to the Web 2.0 Awards List and had a look at quite a few of these sites - most seem very US-oriented, and a couple were no longer around (one link took me off to some US Insurance company's site) - so you'd want to be a bit careful about what you end up uploading to some of these sites, especially those that offer internet storage and online sharing options for your documents (in other words, back them up if you need to keep them). (And don't use them to store confidential work-related stuff - that should be a no-brainer).

A few are sites we've probably all seen before, but some were completely new. I can't see a direct work-related use for many of them - they fit into the 'fun but use them at home' category - but I would use the mapping tools for creating local history content. Wayfaring looked nice, and so did Community Walks, (though even with broadband they are slow to load and to navigate).

I also set up an account on eSnips - one of those Facebook-y type sites - though it's slightly worrying how much personal info you are invited to post there. Good to have an alternative online identity. Not sure how much I'll use it, but we'll see.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Zoho Blog

The tools here are easy to use - easier than Word, since you don't have the menu structure to wade through - and if you are comfortable with Word you won't have any problem using Zoho. It does seem a bit prone to crashing though - this is my third attempt to write and save something without getting the 'we are about to kick you off the internet' error message. Not sure why - it may be something to do with the way it interacts with our local network.

Comments are easy to insert, making this a useful tool for documents being developed collaboratively. (Though I noticed that when I published my Zoho document here in Blogger it didn't bring the comment itself across - it only remains visibile in Zoho.) And publishing the text directly to the blog was no problem. I also like being able to save the doc as a pdf (or as a web page), since I don't have Adobe installed on my work pc - that gives it quite a bit of flexibility for online use. It's also useful to have the option of writing and storing documents online - I will be interested to see though whether there is a file size limit, and whether you can create a web link within a wiki direct to a document here without having to upload the document to wiki. If you can, it would solve one of my current wiki problems (see earlier blog for the boring details). Haven't experimented with that yet, but will try it out and report back.

Tried adding a picture which I browsed to in my C drive - added it OK in the Zoho doc, though using drag to re-size it doesn't work as well as it does in Word, Picture Manager etc. You only seem to be able to resize in one direction (horizontally or vertically) at a time - you can't drag a corner in and resize both dimensions at once, which means that the proportions of the image get out of whack if you aren't careful, and the image distorts. Will experiment with that further.

[Next paragraph added while editing the above text in Blogger].

I have also discovered since publishing the text I wrote on Zoho here on my blog that while the image I inserted while in Zoho did originally appear here on my blog, it disappears again if you then go into your published blog and edit it. Had to browse back to it from within Blogger and then insert it again.

- here -

which actually worked better anyway, as Blogger handles images better than Zoho and resizes them without the distortion. (BTW, The Victorian gent in this image is David Barr, a great uncle from Wanganui. He was about 21 when this was taken, and this is his visiting card).

Anna L.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008


Had a look at this. It's a nice idea, a site that lets you create a search tool that works across your favourite sites, but in practice the results it brings back aren't that great, and on the whole seem to be a pretty good demonstration of why librarians are actually still needed when it comes to searching out targetted info using sites specifically developed for that purpose.

A metasearch tool like this is always going to struggle when it is being asked to operate across a disparate range of sites with little behind-the-scenes consistency. I probably won't use it - actually, I found it pretty irritating - as I wasn't that impressed with the search results it brought back from the Rollyo of local history sites I created. Why?
1. The only successful searches were with very generic searches that were too unfocussed to be useful - anything more specific and you got nothing.
2. It only searches text on the site itself, and if you work primarily with sites that are interfaces to behind-the-scenes databases, it isn't able to pick up info at the individual record level.

Can I see a role for it? No, not if you are wanting to search online databases, like our Local History Online, or Matapihi, or Auckland Museum's "Street Search" - but if all you want to do is pull together info actually written on the site itself in xml or whatever, then yes, it could be useful.

Not sure whether this link will work for other people, but anyway, here it is:

Tuesday, September 9, 2008


Nice site, and very easy to add titles - no cataloguing required, which is pretty good. I can see the value of being able to link to other booklists belonging to people who have read the same book - what you like tends to be such a personal choice, and being asked by library borrowers if I can recommend good books is always difficult if you don't read the same kind of thing they do.

Link to my catalogue (so far)

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Image Generators

Used Generator Blog to check out some of these and found one called Old Photos which turns recently taken digital photos into ones that look like old heritage images. Here's the before and after shots.


and after:

It's pretty effective, even down to adding a 'silvering' halo effect in the center of the image, which you get with old photos. Here's the url:


I liked this - it's a bit more intuitive than the Wikipedia style wikis, and adding the blog link wasn't hard. Will explore this further as I can see some useful applications for it. It's quite similar to Fitch in terms of the way you use it.


I have used wikis before as a shared workspace for a group project involving staff from Rodney and Waitakere Libraries and from Datacom - it was a good solution for a working group that was geographically spread not only across Auckland, but across NZ (one member was based in Christchurch).

The pros - it was a good one stop shop for providing overall management of the project, and also as a home for recording decisions once they had been made. It's also a good place for setting up frequently asked questions.

The cons? For some members who didn't use it much, having to log in each time (and remember their log-in) and then remember how to edit was too much of a barrier to its regular use, and most tended to revert to email for the day to day correspondence. The other negative - becasue it's web-based, it's fine if you want to link to other web pages, but not ideal as a repository for large project-related documents stored on local drives.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Library 2.0

The video clip The Web is Us/ing Us ( was great - the description of the difference between html and xml markup language and the way xml allows you to separate out a site's content without also having to define the way that content displays was probably the most valuable part of it - that, and the very cool way it used the very same technology it was describing to describe that technology.

It's that ability to strip out the display formatting tha makes the content, or metadata, so easily exportable, mash-upable and re-combinable - and it's from that that ability to recombine that Web 2.0 emerges in all its diversity and creativity.

What it will mean for us? The digital library as a virtual branch of the NSL system is already part of the overall vision, but we can't affoard to get lazy and leave this stuff to the web team to implement on our behalf, or put them in a position where they become the technology gatekeepers - not if we want jobs ourselves in the future. Young people coming into the profession are already comfortable with this kind of technology, and what's needed now is an environment that gives those staff and patrons who want to use this technology the tools and support to make it happen in a collaborative way. That's where the true value of Web 2.0 technology in libraries comes in.

And yes, you can include the patrons in this - for a great local example of a library that does exactly that, check out Kete Horowehnua ( , a community site hosted and (very lightly) mediated by staff at Horowhenua Library.


Had a look at this site. Visually it's a bit busy and I'm not sure the quality of the material it retrieves is any better than you'd get doing a google search - but it does search across blogs, images, sites etc and generates and presents search results from the one home page, which Google doesn't do. But on the whole I prefer the uncluttered look of Google. I see this one as being more useful for hobbies, pop culture searches - that kind of thing.


Had a look at the Delicious site - created my own login for this one so I can continue to use it after the Web 2.0 program is over. It seems OK , pretty intuitive to use, but I won't need it for for personal stuff - Explorer Favourites works fine for that. It will be more useful for sites on specific work-related issues, like copyright and digital images. Tagged a couple of sites I already had in my favourites list. Will reserve judgement on this one until I've used it more often.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Feeding the RSS Addiction

Adding an RSS feed is actually pretty easy - I use a customised google screen as my home page when I log on and had already subscribed to a few via google anyway. Adding an RSS feed to that is basically just a couple of clicks. You don't even have to use Bloglines to find them - if you are just having a general surf and find a site you like that has a feed, you can subscribe to it directly. Most sites offering feeds use the red RSS icon - the Mash-up Awards site I subscribed to doesn't, but if you click on "Subscribe" you get there anyway.

As far as Bloglines goes, it's also reasonably straightforward to use, but you are spoiled for choice and can be tempted into adding more feeds than you can deal with. You can end up getting bogged down - it's like having a permanently full email box, and no time to read it It';s best to be selective - stick with the ones that are actually useful, and save the fun-but-potential-timewasters for the home pc. (Or be prepared to delete ruthlessly).

For those with an interest in Web 2.0 and things digital in the NZ library context, check out the National Digital Forum site at They don't have an RSS feed, but they do have links to the presentations at each of the NDF conferences (held over 2 days at the end of each November).

Maps, photos and mash-ups

There sure are some interesting mashup applications out there, and you could spend WAY too long investigating them. The kind I guess I'm looking for are the map-image mashups - I could see some really great uses for something like that in local history, where you could maybe combine maps of an area from different time periods and then link in old photos or interesting historical info about the places on that map.

You can actually do this stuff on google earth, but you have to use their maps - what I'm looking for is a way to scan in our own historical maps and then link our images in to them - not just play with this technology for its own sake (fun thought that is), but to put it to work by using it to tell stories about where we live and how we live.

Anyway, Kate found this very cool one, Tag Galaxy, which picks up Flikr tags and displays the associated images in a spectacularly creative way.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Auckland Storm

We didn't see so much of the recent wild weather over on Auckland's west coast, but when the first storm came in from the east in the last week of July and whipped up 6 metre swells in the Waitemata Harbour, a few hardy souls went out with their cameras. The Herald published a couple of great ones of some guy at the end of the wharf at Devopnport absolutely dwarfed by the waves, but those ones are copyright (go the NZ Herald NewsPix website if you want to see them) so I did a trawl around Flickr and found this one, of the Tamaki Waterfront (Focus Photography, They sell their images online and have more of images of the same storm if you want to check them out.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Remembering Frank

Tonight we've got a big event at Taka Library - Never Enough - Remembering Frank Sargeson. The timing's less than immaculate - Council have just posted storm warnings for another weather bomb to all staff- so that may well cut down the numbers, but if everyone who rsvp'd does actually turn up it it should be a good crowd. Sargeson mentored many Auckland writers, and some of them ended up living on the Shore becasue he was here. Back then the Shore was a looser, far less suburban place where you could find a bit of peace without entirely forsaking city ammenities, most of which were just a ferry (or later on a bus) ride away.
Frank's house is very visible from Esmonde Rd, but back in the day this was a dead-end road leading down to mangroves and estuary, and his house had a large and dense hedge, so it was pretty quiet - ideal for a writer. The privacy went when the harbour bridge went up and the motorway went through in 1959, and the hedge came down when Esmonde Rd was widened in 2007, but it has been replanted and in time some of the original sense of retreat should return.

The Friends of Sargeson House have organised tonight's knees-up and have bought down some of the more portable bits and pieces from his house to go on display, including a truly vile substance called Lemora, which used to be brewed in Henderson, was lemon-flavoured and 29% alchohol. We will be recording the event - Graeme Lay, Kevin Ireland and Christine Cole Catley will be speaking - and all going well I'll post some photos.
The image above is of the bust of Sargeson by Anthony Stones.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Dear Diary...

23 July 2008

Coming up this week? School holidays are over so things are a little quieter at work. I'm currently working on an exhibition of photographs from our library photograph archive for Heritage Week in thee first week of November. It will focus on Milford beach between the 1920s and 1950s, during its heyday as a seaside destination for local North Shore families, and for Aucklanders coming over to the Shore by ferry - before the Auckland Harbour Bridge was built in 1959.

Before the bridge, it was the local ferry service that connected the Shore to the rest of Auckland. In the mid 1920s a tramline was constructed from the Bayswater wharf to Takapuna, and from there it looped around Lake Pupuke, passing through Milford on the way. There were a handful of very smart residences on the shores of Lake Pupuke. The most famous of these was Sir Henry Brett's three storey Victorian mansion - it burnt down, but the old photographs remain to give some idea of the kind of house it was. It had beautiful gardens, as did the original Mon Desir hotel on Takapuna Beach. That Edwardian building was also replaced by the better known 1960s Mon Desir, and that gave way in turn to the apartments that now occupy that site. Gone but not forgotten.
Edwardian visitors to the Shore came over for the races at Devonport or to go boating or picnicing at Lake Pupuke rather than to visit the beach, but after the 1920s the beaches at Takapuna and Milford came into their own. It's interesting looking back at the old photos to see just how much happened down at the beaches at Takapuna and Milford. There were life-saving teams - both male and female, political rallies, a flying boat passenger service for a while, a visit from the aviator Charles Kingsford-Smith in the Southern Cross.

There was also the old Pirate Shippe, a restaurant at the northern end of Mildord beach, and a big open air swimming pool. Both are gone now, but in their time they drew big crowds.
Pirate Shippe on opening day 1929
If you didn't want to hang out at the beach, there were other things to do too - there were two or three dance halls and movie theatres, including the old Picturedome, and in the 1960s a venue called Surfside that was popular with the locals.