Wednesday, 14 May 2008

Word of the day

Today's word is footer-mullet, and thank you to Dana for this one. The word is described in the Userslib web usability blog. A footer mullet is a website that has the business, the main content, at the top, and the news and "fun stuff" hanging down at the bottom - like a mullet. You can see an example at the site above.

If you are confused by the word mullet, which describes a hairstyle, then the best thing is to look at Mullets Galore, a website providing more illustrations of mullets than any reader of this blog could possibly want to see.

Tuesday, 13 May 2008

Barry and Clarke

The Future Australian Race is a wonderful play, currently being performed at the State Library of Victoria until 24 May. It has also had great write-ups in The Age and The Australian, among other places. Its authors, Sue Gore and Bill Garner, have a track record of dramatising libraries and librarians - something we do so poorly for ourselves - with their 1999 play The Terms and Grammar of Creation, performed in the Domed Reading Room of the State Library of Victoria, and dealing with the introduction of the Dewey Decimal Classification system.

Do see The Future Australian Race if you can. Defiantly nerdy. Definitely chic. Ring commonplace to book.

Sunday, 11 May 2008

Cool librarian: where do you look?

This was the heading on a recent article in The Age - a review of a show (Librarian Idol) by Andrew Finegan, a Darwin librarian.

"There are some professions which are quintessentially cool", the article (by Fiona Scott-Norman) begins, and even this early in the piece, we know where she is headed. "And then there are professions . . ." such as librarian, definitely uncool. I guess that there is good news and bad news here. We are always banging on about being recognised as a profession, and in this piece we are. On the other hand we are not seen as a cool profession.

But Andrew suggests that "being nerdy is becoming cool these days. Look at Harry Potter."

Rebecca, in a comment on a post last December, when I first used the term nerd chic, suggested: "I have heard less flattering terms than 'nerdy chic' used to describe librarians' unique style, Derek. Perhaps we should embrace the 'nerd chic' phenomenon. There certainly seem to be a lot of Dr Who / David Tennant fans in libraries ..."

Leaving aside the issue of Dr Who and his fans, should we as librarians embrace the nerdy chic tag? Is that the way we wish people to see us? As Rebecca says, we could (and often do) do worse, and I think we do need to embrace it, although not necessarily every exponent and exemplar of the style.

Now that I am about to assume power (almost certainly the wrong word) as President of ALIA, perhaps I will be able to use the formidable powers of the position (almost certainly a self-delusion) to nudge Australian librarians along the nerdy chic road. But how? I will put it as one of five goals in my first columns in our monthly journal, Incite. But how will we achieve it? I agree with Andrew that it is about the journey rather than the destination, and concepts like "arriving" and "victory" are not really relevant.

How about some suggestions of what we should be emulating? In clothing, the whimsical nerd style seems to have taken off - and here too. Librarians are often mentioned in this connection, as exemplars. But its not all about clothing (and glasses, of course). Librarians are curious and know things too. Like Harry Potter and Doctor Who.

Word of the day

One of the words which arose at the IATUL Conference was reverse mentoring. As many younger people look at me pityingly when I disclose ignorance of some absolutely fundamental, axiomatic, known-to-every-child-over two technological skill, the need for this expression becomes plain. Mentoring makes sense, but it works both ways, and isn't only an older to younger (or experienced to inexperienced) thing. How do you start it off? There is already a website dedicated to it, run by a US company which "offers products, training and tools for organizations with a mix of a younger and older generations in the workplace." There are lots of articles like this one in the Financial Review. I'm sure a sensible enterprise could work out the principle and some strategies for itself.

IATUL, of course, is the International Association of Technical University Libraries, and it met in Auckland Next year Ludo Holans is organising its meeting, which is at the University of Leuven, in Belgium.