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Friday, 14 December 2007

More fun with weeding

Things found today:
  • a bunch of 1992 press releases from a company I've never heard of;
  • a government guide to decimal currency for businesses, prepared when NZ changed from pounds and shillings in 1967 - very cute and absolutely fascinating, but we've got copies in other branches where it's more likely to be used. I read it cover to cover before respectfully disposing of it;
  • a pair of books which perfectly fit our criteria to be disposed of (another copy in another branch; not quite in our subject area; have had practically no use) - but they were so lovely we couldn't bring ourselves to do it and they're now back on the shelves;
  • moths. As I pulled down several bundles of journals (tied together with binding tape a decade or so ago and clearly never touched since) a couple of moths flew out at me. I wasn't fast enough to dispose of them along with their erstwhile home, but with luck the tidier shelves will prove an environment too hostile for them to breed in.

Tuesday, 11 December 2007

What, will these hands ne'er be clean?

Our library is soon to be getting a new and much-needed lift, to make room for which we are undertaking a large collection management exercise (aka "weeding", though I personally prefer the "pruning" metaphor - getting rid of both deadwood and of nice enough shoots in order to make the collection as a whole bear more fruit) in part of our collection.

While studying for my MLIS, in a temporary fit of determination to actually study, I came up with a mnemonic for twelve ways pruning could benefit a collection. I can't remember it anymore, but I'm still a great fan of the process, so this post title doesn't refer to any kind of guilt, but rather much more prosaically to the fact that, while we're working our way through this, for approximately 7.5 hours of each day my hands are grey with decades-old dust.

My favourite candidate for deaccessioning so far is Objections to removal of Fendalton shops: shops proposal in doubt (this link may not work for very long...). It was a slim A5-sized thing, the kind of quarter-flushing-type work our bindery used to do decades ago. I opened it up to find the barcode and discovered it wasn't a bound report; it was a pocket. A pocket containing two newspaper clippings. From 1966.

It's now being recycled. The relatively nice books (duplicates and such) we put out for students to browse through, but the really ridiculously thick-with-dust what-were-we-thinking? ones we put in the recycling bin; we're green that way. We've also been dismantling plastic ringbinders to extract the cardboard inside for recycling, and tearing apart spiral-bound reports to recycle the paper and throw out the wire/plastic. Today (possibly a little bored by now of wielding the "cancelled" stamp) I used some spiral-binding wire to make a bracelet for my sister (Merry Christmas!); and my colleague, inspired by the artistic possibilities in the length of wire I tore from another ancient report, made the sculpture you see above, which she's kindly allowed me to name "Lampshade".

Tuesday, 4 December 2007

More fun things to do with Skype

We've been having a look at possible new designs for our library website and today we've been running usability testing on two favourites. What we do is have the tester in one room with a facilitator beside them, a note-taker behind them, and next door a group of observers watching a) a view of the computer screen and b) a closed-circuit video of the tester. (The note-taker is in the room in case the video link breaks. Testers are told other observers are watching but that we're not recording.)

Normally for the closed-circuit link we use video equipment booked and carted over from the AV department, but today when I arrived to do my duty as an observer I discovered they'd set it up using Skype instead. It worked well: there were problems with sound volume (a function of the hardware: we used our regular webcam, but a clip-on microphone for the tester would probably be better), but quality otherwise was just fine.

(The usability testing was, as usual, fascinating. Although it covered the library website as a whole, there were several points where testers were using the library catalogue (of which, I was recently part of a project group to find and fix as many things as we could fix for free in a short timeframe), and one question asked was if they'd noticed any of the multitudinous changes. Yes: they noticed the new colour scheme. On the plus side, they approve.)