The SALIN and LexisNexis Top Hats! Cocktail Party

28 November 2003

Review by Nel Fredericks, with introduction & photos by SALIN

Food…drink…prizes…new information professionals…and 20 library leaders all wearing silly hats! This was the concept behind SALIN’s biggest event yet, the SALIN & LexisNexis Top Hats! Cocktail Party.

Inspired by the Meet the BigWigs party at the New Librarians’ Symposium 2002; the SALIN committee approached library leaders from all sectors and associations to participate in the social event of the season. And boy did we get a great response! On the night, over 100 SA library professionals gathered at the Hotel Adelaide for fun, food and frivolity.

Nel Fredericks from the State Library of South Australia gives us the lowdown on this very special event…

SALIN LexisNexis Top Hats Cocktail Party on Friday 28th November was a fabulous success!

This was the first event of this kind for SALIN, but I suspect it won’t be the last. As intended, the Top Hats all looked more much more approachable when wearing something a little bit silly and many new, not-so-new and soon-to-be graduates took the opportunity to schmooze with them in a friendly environment.

The hats were most impressive- Eleanor Whelan won the prize for best hat with a princess style cone hat, and the honorary mention goes to Philip Keane for his homemade foot high stovepipe.

Alex Pring (LexisNexis) and Eleanor   Whelan
Alex Pring (LexisNexis) awards Eleanor Whelan a prize for her hat.

There was a wide mix of attendees from public and special libraries, academics, students and vendors and everyone seemed to seize the opportunity to make some new contacts. I saw many resumes changing hands! It was also a great opportunity to make new friendships and cement old ones with our peers, and to talk shop in a venue with gorgeous views.


Sponsors LexisNexis, Kelly Services, Raeco, Australian Law Librarians’ Group and UniSA School of Communication, Information and New Media gave out door prizes for some lucky attendees, and each gave a short presentation. We all paid strict attention in case it earned us another bottle of wine!

The delicious finger food and free drink for everyone made us all very relaxed, and broke down any barriers we may have imagined between experienced and new librarians. It was a pleasurable mix of work and play, and an ideal way to wind down for the weekend.

Cheers SALIN!

SALIN exec
The SALIN executive committee

Jenny Jeremy, Margareta Nicholas and Liz   Walkley Hall
Jenny Jeremy, Margareta Nicholas and Liz Walkley Hall

Kelly Services
Kelly Services stand (Carol Kay, Jana Skillens, Richard Bithell)

Thanks to our additional sponsors:


Australian Law Librarians Group


and our fabulous Top Hats!

Technology Trends: Unravelling the web

9 October 2003

Review by Benjamin Wheal

Reviewer’s note:
It was with some trepidation that I agreed to take notes on a seminar about XML, RSS and CMS. Years at uni taught me that my preferred learning method of sitting in the front row and nodding gravely does not guarantee any understanding of what anyone actually says. Recent attendance at another XML seminar confirmed this. On the bright side, hopefully I have made several technical errors in the following synopsis which will stimulate lively and entertaining debate.

It was refreshing to listen to speakers who complimented their impressive knowledge by enthusing about their topics too.

Content Management Systems

Sean Abel gave a brief introduction to Content Management Systems, speaking from his experiences at the State Library of South Australia.

Content management refers to software developed for the maintenance of internet and intranet sites.

The central concept of content management systems is that they separate the control of content from the control of presentation. Examination of a line of html code illustrates the difference between content and presentation:

<i>the quick brown fox jumped over a lazy dog<⁄i>

where the <i> tags control the presentation of the content that sits between them (the text) to produce a result that looks like:

the quick brown fox jumped over a lazy dog

Traditionally, web pages are static, and managed through editors such as frontpage or dreamweaver. However, maintenance of a large website can be difficult with these editors. Updates, such as style changes, that apply to every page may need to be applied individually to every page (which can become a tedious exercise).

CMS’s overcome this problem by using a single presentation template for an entire website. CMS’s let individual editors provide the text (or content) which is then uploaded to the template so that the presentation, look and feel of the website is kept consistent. (CMS may even let editors add menus, links and buttons that match the template).

And so, if an organisation undergoes a change of image (e.g. wants every page to become yellow) all the webmaster has to do is change the template once and all pages will change. Or, if the address of a page on a website changes, then the CMS can assure that all internal hyperlinks to that page may also change.

Obviously this frees up the webmaster’s time for more important tasks (which apparently involve risotto).

CMS’s also allow for workflow to be regulated. Restrictions may be placed so that people can only change pages from their own area, and mechanisms may be introduced so that pages must be reviewed by the webmaster or approved by management before they are uploaded.

A CMS may even allow a site to be “rolled back” to a historical record of the site which is kept on file (and generated from previous templates). This is a handy preservation tool where the prior content of websites has legal implications (e.g. for government websites that produce and make public legislature or determinations).

The tendering and planning process for a CMS for a large organisation is a long and complex process (it took 2 years for the State Library of South Australia). Sean emphasised that it was important to engage with a CMS software provider who was easy to work with and willing to work through problems (and it was fortunate that the successful tender applicant was local).

The SLSA choice for an XML based system turned out to be the right choice – XML has taken off in a big way. But Sean modestly said that is important to know when you are lucky and when you are clever.


Arne van Zilj spoke with fervour about some topics relating to XML.

Arne observed that librarians and information techologists are two sides of the same coin – the former disseminate, locate and preserve information, the latter process and provide the machinery for doing so.

XML is an initialism for Extensible Markup Language (yes, it should be EML but that’s not as cool sounding is it?). XML is a language for writing language.

As library and information workers what we need to understand is that it XML bridges the gap between different file formats, making possible the translation of data between systems. An example of this is an online catalogue which is a browser friendly representation of the information contained in a library’s database of MARC records. Potentially, using XML software, a searcher for information can access a number of different databases, library catalogues and content from a single portal.

RSS (Rich Site Summary) is an example of an XML language for capturing metadata. RSS: Rich Site Summary is an XML-based language which can be used by developers to describe their sites and to make their content available to others (for example, for syndication; that is, for dispersing information to a wide variety of consumers in different formats).

However, for RSS to be effective for all users the developers of the language need to settle upon some kind of standard.

However, the progression of new IT developments (and IT standards) can be hampered by the corporate imperative of the organisations which develop the technology – a competitive mentality often discourages cooperation (rather than fosters it) , which runs against the grain of efforts to make cross-format data sharing easier.

There are currently 2 or 3 different parties laying claim to the “standard” for RSS, manifest in “the Blog Wars”. (Blogs (or Web-logs) are sites that allow users to submit simple text files, which then turn the submitted text into a formatted page. This uses RSS.) The main Blog competitors (Userland, Moveable Type and Blogger) are developing their own RSS standards. This may hamper the development and universality of the standards.

It is contentious to determine who should lay claim to ownership of a “standard”. Ultimately a standard must be simple to use, have some traction and momentum (i.e. become popular) and usually needs to have the backing and interest of large IT companies.


Helen Walkden spoke about portals, giving a front-end view of what the back-end technical stuff actually means for many of us.

She introduced the SA Public Library Network’s online portal.

Its features include a “24 hour library” of web resources organised in a subject tree (the Computing: Dictionaries and Glossaries branch proved very helpful when working out what my own seminar notes actually meant). There is also a “Locate a Library” page which lets you locate the nearest public library by entering a post code, street name, locality etc. A groovy map pops up showing the locations and listing the street addresses.

Portals may allow simultaneous searching across many resources (I assume using some of that XML magic). For example, the National Library of Australia’s Public Library Portal is a website that will provide access to diverse information services (e.g. National Bibliographic Database, Picture Australia, Australia Public Affairs Fulltext) from a single entry point. Searches across all of these resources may be simultaneously carried out through a single search query which retrieves, bib records, photos and more.

Speaker biographies

Sean Abel (State Library, South Australia)

Sean Abel is an information and communication technology (ICT) project officer at the State Library. Sean has taken a rather non-standard pathway towards the role of a computer systems worker, through studying zoology at Adelaide university and completing graduate studies in environmental management at the Mawson Graduate Centre for Environmental Studies. He is not a librarian by training.

Arne van Zilj (UniSA)

Currently – web coordinator UniSA Library. Previously worked in the development of the connectsa SA government web portal project. Also, previously e-learning resources and web developer with Flinders University.

Helen Walkden (PLAIN)

I have been employed by PLAIN for the past 7 years, starting as a cataloguer and moving to the P2 development project. I am currently Manager Technical Services and have been in the position for almost 3 years.

Me, myself and I: marketing yourself & your library

27 May 2003

Review by Kristel Petrou

Last night SALIN put on one of its excellent networking-professional development events. The theme for this event was Me, Myself and I: Marketing you and your library. The setting for last nights event was the CPA building in Pultney St and it provided a new, professional and fresh atmosphere for the evening.

After a brief introduction by committee member/co-organiser Sarah Morphett, Ann Luzeckyj spoke on how to market yourself by using your past to develop your future. Having worked in various trades (paver/bricklayer/women’s refuge/clerk etc etc) and travelled extensively, Ann realised she had gained many skills that have enabled her to progress and develop through many careers and jobs, to her current position as Campus Librarian at UniSA’s City West campus.

Ann explained that by moving out of her comfort zone to speak in front of people (which she assured us always makes her nervous, despite the fact she always looks calm and confident) she has gained a skill that can be transferable to other personal and professional situations in life. Using her varying past jobs and personal achievements, Ann explained how all these previous achievements are not only relevant, but useful, sustainable and transferable. Her career examples included:

Job as a Paver: shows you can cope with boredom and tedium in the job. Travel: shows you are good outside your comfort zone and possibly a bit of a risk-taker Women’s Refuge: shows you can work with a diverse range of people in varying situations. Customer service: shows you have good communication skills.

Using real-life scenarious in answering interview questions, to prove your skills is also an effective way to market yourself. According to Ann, ‘if you can plan a wedding, you can plan anything!’. Other examples Ann gave were, planning a dinner party or renovating a house – both provide you with invaluable, transferable skills in project-co-ordination and negotiation and are useful ways to market yourself to any potential employer.

Along with these real-life professional and personal experiences, Ann touched on other methods of marketing yourself such as CV development, team involvement (such as being a member of a sports team) and getting on executive committees like SALIN and ALIA group committees, and helping in the development and planning aspects. Ann’s final point was to encourage everyone to enjoy the challenge of finding out about what you want to do in the Information Profession and to use opportunities from South Australia’s very welcoming and highly active library network.

As is often the case at SALIN events, attendees were divided into groups (first by a color code, then by Positive ‘P’-word), and the first groups’ activity was to read a Case Scenario where someone held a previous job (outside the library industry) and now has the opportunity of an information profession job. The activity was designed to build on Ann’s talk and show transferability of skills (For example: Mike the Mechanic/Car Detailer is injured and placed in a position as a cataloguing assistant => His transferable skills are: attention to detail, follow-up communication skills, negotiation skills, practical problem solving skills, ability to learn a trade and recognise errors/mistakes and correct them).

Following Activity 1, Roz Davidson from Fisher Jeffries Barristers & Solicitors spoke thoroughly on Marketing your library to your organisation. As a solo law librarian, Roz markets her library’s services to her firm’s 100+ staff (including 45 practitioners) over 3 floors, by using many different methods.

The location of the Fisher Jeffries library is behind reception on the first of the three floors and, as such, is a highly accessible and somewhat central area with door entrances either end. Roz finds the library’s location enables staff to pass by and this creates marketing opportunities because people will stop for a chat, see new items on display, and often remember a query/request they need the library to research/chase up. On the occasions that Roz leaves the library (to hand deliver a request – another in-your-face marketing tool), she always takes pen and paper ready to jot down any sudden requests staff may require. This shows initiative, organisation and professionalism.

The way Roz looks at marketing the library to her organisation is through Appearance and Action. Both the library’s appearance (tidy, reshelved, classified by the law library classification system MOYS for universiality) and personal appearance (dresssing professionaly). Roz’s view on marketing is to present yourself and your service to your organisation, to show our profession adds value, through actions such as: Setting up Current Awareness services, daily newspaper alerts specific to the firms’ Practice groups; recognising, after completing a request, that other staff may find the information useful, and distributing it.

Recognising the intangibility of the library’s service within the firm (and in most organisations) becuase most organisations determine value by billable hours and profits, Roz has found ways to prove to management the service is valuable through the use of statistics documenting the library’s various services and using her skills as a librarian coupled with the resources the library has electronically and in hard-copy, to obtain timely and accurate information on request – saving the practitioner’s time (which can then, of course, be freed up to be billable time!). With the law being ever-changing, Roz needs to be aware of changes and pass on any relevant updates to respective members of the firm.

Roz also touched on the importance of marketing the library through the Intranet – by acknowledging that different staff will search for information in different ways, the Intranet needs to be set up with multiple access-points so the information is accessible to all staff. Other useful marketing methods Roz spoke of were getting involved in office meetings and social events, to put yourself our there and let the organisation your resources and services and therefore help them gain a sense of the value of the library and the librarian. Roz feels the most important marketing tool is in delivering what you say you are going to.

After Roz’s talk, new groups were formed for Activity 2 – Discussing three actions that you can do to market your library to non-library colleagues. My group came up with: Using the Intranet page to post a FAQ’s link; putting coloured marker flyers with the library staff names on each hard-copy completed request/current awareness service for instant identification; regular newsletter circulation with images and tips relevant to staff; using ‘buzzwords’ from office meetings and researching them post-meeting to send up-to-date information to relevant staff; Add-on services etc.

This concluded the evening – A big Thankyou to Ann and Roz for their excellent, informative, inspriational and entertaining talks. And, of course, a big thankyou to Sarah Morphett, Robyn Ellard and Gewain Letheby and the rest of the SALIN committee for producing yet another excellent and entertaining professional event.

Do You Speak My Language? Understanding your working relationships

25 March 2003

Feedback from Jennifer Osborn

I really enjoyed last week’s SALIN session “Do you speak my language?” (communication, personality types and the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator) … but then, I would, wouldn’t I? 🙂 As an ENFP who is “energised by interacting with people”, likes to talk about ideas and do lots of networking, this kind of workshop was perfect for me! (although it was mildly disconcerting to discover that my personality “type” as a librarian suits me for work as a “Children’s Librarian” when I’ve been very happily working in academic libraries for a number of years…)

Okay, that aside, I would like to stress the view that the MBTI has “SOME value for increasing self-insight, and for helping people to understand individual differences in personality types.” But because it is “user friendly” and easy to administer, it gets over-used and over-valued.

Obviously, there are other interesting personality tests and theories around; for example, one current one emphasises the “Big Five” personality domains (extraversion, agreeableness, conscientiousness, emotional stability, intellect or openness) The Myer Briggs is fun to take, and great for helping you with insights into your own personality and values (which is what we were doing in the SALIN workshop), but it needs to be seen in context with other work in this area of psychology.

For an interesting article on “State of the art: Personality” research, see Sarah Hampson in The Psychologist, vol. 12 (6) June 1999, 284-288.

Reflections from Benjamin Wheal

At the very enjoyable SALIN “Do You Speak My Language” Personality-type Workshop the other night I heard several people speaking as if to equate Extraversion with Leadership. It was therefore interesting to read the findings of Jim Collins in his book “From Good to Great” (ISBN 0712676090).

Collins’ book concerns a study of large companies that have continually performed extremely well. Amongst various organisational factors the research team found that the successful CEO’s consistently had softly spoken, modest, almost self-effacing personalities (they were also very focussed and committed to the long-term success of the company, and always ready to credit their company’s successes to the people that they worked with rather than themselves; interestingly they started off by recruiting good people before coming up with a big plan). By contrast, CEO’s with “rock star” personalities were not found to be the most successful leaders. (accessed 27/3/03).

Food for thought.

Is the Reference Librarian Dead?

Is the Reference Librarian Dead?

31 October 2003

Review by Sarah Morphett

So what do ‘Reference Enquiry, Banshee’ and ‘SALIN Xmas Dinner’ all have in common. NO – it is not a portrayal of a Banshee librarian eating those who dare to ask a reference question. They are of course all pictionary clues that were drawn with various degrees of success at SALIN’s Halloween forum: Is the Reference Librarian Dead?

October 31st in the Ira Raymond Room at the Barr Smith Library, and

The night was dark and stormy
The lightening lit the sky
The witch got out her broomstick
And cackling off did fly!!!

Bec Van Diemen and Michelle Cox
Bec Van Diemen and Michelle Cox

This was indeed the scene as members of the executive committee dressed as witches to welcome those joining the coven for a lively debate on whether the reference librarian has passed over.

Jennifer Osborn (Reference Librarian) argued that the reference librarian is dead (making her one of the living dead!). She suggested that this was due to three main causes:

  1. Seduction
  2. Stagnation
  3. Senility

Very helpfully, Jennifer also suggested potential jobs for soon to be redundant librarians. A crowd favourite was writing popular fiction, since we too want to be the proud author of a title such as ‘Nympho Librarian’. Unfortunately , ‘net nanny’ parameters restrict the cover being shown at this time! Sorry *grin*!

Steve Cramond (Electronic Information Resources Librarian) took the opposite side confirming that there is hope for the reference librarian. Steve argued that while the day to day role and perhaps even the physical location of the reference librarian may change due to the impact of the Internet and technology, it is thus that is reinventing and rejuvenating the librarian. Indeed it is the mass of information (perceived and/or real) now available that makes the reference librarian more important than ever.

After the formal debate had concluded, participants broke into a number of groups for a brief ‘meet and greet’ and to discuss the following.

  1. The internet is effectively challenging the reference desk in two related, but distinct ways:
    1. As a source of easy-to-find, ready information (accuracy et. al. notwithstanding)
    2. As the means by which commercial reference providers can operate and be easily accessible.

Do you agree? Do you think they are a challenge or threat to the traditional reference desk service? What can be done in the face of these?

  1. “If the truth be known, as a place to get help in finding information, the reference desk was never a good idea” – discuss…

The groups talked about their own experiences – how they have observed that some people find the reference desk as slightly intimidating, and strategies that are implemented to encourage users to approach the desk!! There was discussion about the amount of information that is not on the internet – refereed and scholarly journals, etc. Also a lot of discussion that many users do not want user education; they want it done for them – they do not want to learn complex search strategies, they just want stuff fast.

The final section of the evening was taken up with a very contentious, but exciting and boisterous game of pictionary. Apparently in hindsight we ignored some rules, and the topic coordinator seemed a little biased (note – not for the winning group either) but that didn’t seem to matter at the time. Topics were either of a library nature (e.g. reference enquiry), about Halloween (e.g. Banshee – arguably the hardest to draw and/or guess) or a combination of both (e.g. SALIN Christmas Dinner – and a very good night that was on the 15th at Ottomans as well). Actually I think this was a library topic – but it was still hard to draw! Bags of Halloween lollies went to the winners -well those brave enough to eat eyeballs and Dracula teeth! Oh and if you haven’t eaten the teeth yet – my advice is DON’T!

Thanks go to the two speakers Jennifer Osborn and Steve Cramond (both of the Barr Smith Library, Adelaide University), all the willing participants, and finally to the executive committee of SALIN for providing an evening of both Trick and Treats!

Trends and Opportunities: Library Employment for the New Generation

Trends and Opportunities: Library Employment for the New Generation

22 August 2002

Review by Alice Dodd


  • Tania Paull, Associate Director, PLAIN Central Services
  • Bronwyn Halliday, Director, State Library of South Australia
  • Melissa Osborne, Recruitment Consultant, Scansearch Library Placements


This event was a resounding success, with an audience of sixty people from all sectors and levels in the field of Library and Information Management. It was great to see a number of LIM students, as well as management from special libraries, public librarians, technicians, as well as those in the academic libraries.

The speakers shared valuable information and knowledge which came not only from their positions in the industry, but also their personal experience and perceptions. Equally valuable was the opportunity to hear the questions and answers raised at the end of the session.

The presentations, and discussions ensuing from these, addressed how to break into the profession, move up in the management structure, sideways within an organisation or into another sector. As each speaker discussed the qualities and skills looked for in an employee, as well as the trends in their sector, common themes and some hot tips emerged. Below are the bare bones.

Tania Paull’s career has included working in the Peterborough, Pt. Lincoln and Salisbury Library Services before her role as Associate Director at PLAIN. PLAIN (Public Libraries Automated Information Network) provides centralised acquisition, cataloguing, processing and distribution to 148 public and community libraries.

Growth areas in this sector include Information Sevices, Marketing and Promotion, and the Public Library’s role within their community as a facilitator and centre for life long learning and education.

The qualities and skills particularly important in working in public libraries are:

  • people skills; being able to interact and enjoy working with a wide variety of people
  • technology skills; especially in using the Web, records management and knowledge of the IT management system
  • innovation, initiative, problem solving skills and a ‘can – do’ team approach
  • being multi skilled and prepared to take on a variety of tasks, from devising IT user education to dressing up as a fish for the local Tunarama festival.

If applying for a position in a public library, one is considered favourably if they are a user of that library and know that particular community. Be prepared to become involved in the community. For example, a country library is more interested in someone who is going to spend their weekends in the community. Look at the automated library system and computing software the library uses. A basic knowledge of the ‘Library Skill Set’; use of the PLAIN, Automated Library and shelving systems is also a good start.

Once in the Library: move ahead by learning from others who do well, finding mentors, looking at the broader picture of the organisation and its strategic directions and being confident enough to share your ideas with those above you. As Paull suggests, “don’t be afraid of your boss.”

In order to move into management in public libraries and serve your community and council well you need to be able to “speak the language” of other managers in the council. Know your council’s strategic vision and have one for the library within that. Work on having an understanding of financial management skills. Be able to talk about what your library can do for the council and community, for example, in terms of life long education.

Postgraduate qualifications in Human Resources or Management are useful.

For those wishing to break into the sector, taking on a casual evening and weekend position is a good idea. Voluntary and work experience positions are another realistic option. Taking a position in a country library is an ideal opportunity to learn the spectrum of skills involved in library work.

Bronwyn Halliday’s talk focused on the trends in the services provided by the State Library and consequently, the types of skills and qualities required in individuals working there. She then described the recruitment process.

The Library’s role in education is increasing exponentially, with numerous school tours and activities planned in the next year. Reference and Information Services is another expanding area. Storage and management of materials is, literally, ever expanding!

As you can imagine, the State Library requires candidates with people, IT and Web skills and an interest in marketing and promotion. However, the preservation of materials is also a major role of the State Library and conservators will also be required. In fact, there is a worldwide shortage of conservators, so if that’s an interest of yours, go for it now!

The Library will be recruiting fifteen graduates from 2002/3. Technicians and Librarians will be required. Watch out for the advertisements put out by the Office for the Commission of Public Employment, in the Advertiser. These will appear possibly as soon as the 7th of September. Unfortunately, a graduate is classified as someone who gained their qualifications in the last two years. This leaves a lot of us out, but it is part of a deal with the State Government. Perhaps an opportunity for some radical campaigning? Once again, going for a position as a Retriever or Shelver at the SLSA whilst studying is a good way of getting your foot in the door.

Melissa Osborne gained her Graduate Diploma in Information Studies in 1999. Prior to becoming the Recruitment Consultant for Scansearch, she worked at State Records, TAFE and in the CPA Library. Her presentation featured “The Seven Deadly Sins” of graduates and those recently entering the profession. She was generously candid in relating examples from her own experience. Perhaps the least obvious but most common one is that of having too high expectations upon graduating. In short, be prepared to take on work you might consider below your theoretical training; by doing your work well and looking for opportunities with a positive attitude, you will advance. Osborne also suggested that one should identify an area they love; Web development, client services or cataloguing, for example; and specialise.

And here’s a hot tip: technicians are in demand and there is a shortage of good cataloguers in Adelaide.

Positions that Scansearch do not fill immediately are advertised on the Web at Mycareer and CareerOne.

The perennial question of whether a LIM course prepared one adequately for a library position was raised at the end of the session and the general consensus was that there is no substitute for on the job training. Get in there and get some practical experience!

Overall, the evening left me with the impression that there are a great number of opportunities in the LIM field and more importantly, that one could capitalise on their own diverse interests within this. The speakers own histories demonstrate that one should, to use a hackneyed phrase, think laterally when considering their qualifications and the trends and opportunities out there. After all, a Masters in Business Administration can lead to managing a library whilst a Graduate Diploma in Information Studies might lead to working in Human Resources!

Thanks to Tania Paull, Bronwyn Halliday, Melissa Osborne and the SALIN Executive Committee for a genuinely informative and stimulating event!

Kate Sergeant speaking to the attendees
Kate Sergeant speaking to the attendees


Bec Van Diemen and Robyn Ellard
Bec Van Diemen and Robyn Ellard

Brodie Millsteed and Sarah Townsend
Brodie Millsteed and Sarah Townsend