Mid-year musings, at 40,000 ft.

Serious, unexpected illness called me back to Brisbane over June/July to nurse, to keep house, and to care for my daughter’s 2 babies.  There was seldom an opportunity to stop and think.  (Whoever scoffs at homemakers should try it and see how long they last!)

Allow me to share this pic…



life is so hard







…and this one… 😉



artist in the making







Four weeks later, while boarding the plane in Brisbane to return home, I had no inkling of the drama that would shortly play itself out, merely because I chose to drink the awful coffee served on the domestic flight to Melbourne (specially requested because it was cold on board; sending it back would’ve seemed ungrateful, or so I thought).  The rushed transfer to international departures consisted of an ungainly jog, long queues & just-in-time arrival at the gate.  Four hours later, at 40,000 feet, all I wanted was to lie down and die. Sick as a dog.

When you’re stuck on a plane for 10 hours, so sick that even a movie holds zero appeal and sleep escapes you, you think.  A lot.  Reevaluate. Take stock.  It’s amazing how priorities have a way of changing rapidly, as you face up to truths that you usually prefer to evade… like aging.  As an expat.  Like having the feeling of not belonging, to any country really.  Like contemplating the importance of family relationships and friends, and work-life balance.  Of realising that you were deluded in thinking that the immigration visa would take 18 months to 2 years, and hearing that it may take 3 years, or longer.

Facing up to truths…like not having a job. Of knowing you can’t afford to embrace the big R…Retirement. Of calling yourself a librarian and knowing it isn’t true in the world’s eyes, at least until that title appears on your name badge, officially.  Of knowing those chances are slimmer with each passing month which encroaches on 60 years of your walk upon terra firma.

Yet…there must be a way. To realise a dream.  To earn a living. To earn the title.  To exercise a passion. To make a difference. To do more than just survive!

Is it in trying to beat the 20-somethings, fresh out of uni, with a hit resume? No, especially not as a foreigner. (An ‘aging’ foreigner at that.)  Is it in the mastering of one particular area of librarianship?  I think not. Librarianship, in the true sense of today’s meaning, requires multi-disciplinary, tech-agile, super humans. (To stakeholders, preferably younger ones.)

Is it in volunteering for 5 years henceforth, with the hope of getting a toe in the door?  Nope! Firstly, volunteering won’t put bread on the table, nor pay the rent. Secondly, the age clock ticks on relentlessly…tick-tock, tick-tock!

Entrepreneurship? Now there’s a thought! Ah, but… this is not an area for just anyone to venture into is it?  And yet, for years now, the thought has held appeal. Could I pull it off? Mmmm… Yes!

Earning a living online is not easy. Earning a living online with information as a commodity is absolutely not easy! After all, libraries are there, for free!  I can only imagine that it would take dedicated input, continual marketing, versatility, innovative thinking and absolute integrity.  Knowledge of your subject. Knowledge of your environment and business competition. A good business acumen. A bulldog-like tenacity.

And experience!, I hear the sceptics shout.

On a side note: we all know that to provide value, (not only as a commercial resource), information needs to be organised, locatable, retrievable; utilisable; applicable to today’s dilemmas or needs; preferably connected and searchable in today’s user language.  Therefore, the drive to modernise knowledge organisation systems to those that encourage open access, shareable metadata, linked data, is vitally important.  To this end also revolutionary cataloguing, and catalogers like Alissa,  who question existing, often archaic, rules that no longer make sense.

On IFLA’s website I found the Statement of International Cataloguing Principles (ICP) 2016 .  Note no’s 10 & 11:

10. Interoperability. All efforts should be made to ensure the sharing and reuse of bibliographic and authority data within and outside the library community. For the exchange of data and discovery tools, the use of vocabularies facilitating automatic translation and disambiguation is highly recommended.

11. Openness. Restrictions on data should be minimal in order to foster transparency and conform to Open Access principles, as declared also in the IFLA Statement on Open Access.5  Any restriction on data access should be fully stated.

These combine to make one hopeful of even more ease in future data availability, access and retrieval, of global connectedness.  Okay, sorry, I’m rambling.

Returning to my musings at 40,000 feet…my thoughts went to freelancing. Could I pull it off? A domain where many have met their match.  Yet, no one knows where that might lead until one actually tries? Minute by minute, I felt my anticipation and resolve growing. By the time the plane had landed, my mind was made up. Without much to lose, but a lot to gain, I’d make it happen or die trying!  Libsandy. Infopreneur.

Two weeks later, having shaken off food poisoning, jet lag and the effect of a fall from standing (I’d fainted on board that damn plane), I have these in front of me…

… and exploring for more on the web, like Metadata for information Retrieval and Management, by David Haynes.  The knock to my head might’ve resulted in fuzziness for a while, but my resolve is unchanged…to offer a personalised info service! Librarian for hire.  Vitalis informatio facile.

Oh the dreams…of being on the move, a different schedule each day; meeting clients’, discovering needs; untethered to a desk, working with info across all formats; exploring across different sectors; perhaps cataloging, or indexing; possibly training; or interviewing folk, documenting stories, creating knowledge. So many possibilities.

It’s time! Rise up. Refresh. Review. Prepare. Equip. Move forward.

After a few years, when we arrive (God willing) upon the shores of our new country, I shall throw all I have into an infopreneurship venture. Until then, I’ll use whatever means I can to plan and to equip myself, not only for survival, but for successful survival!

My librorum journey is far from over. I am determined!


Gif: https://giphy.com/create/gifmaker

Images: public domain (woman in office and featured image) taken from unsplash.com


Thing 23: Bringing it all together

Once a day I endeavour to check my Twitter feed.  For me, it’s the most important time of my day, as it is the source of the majority of my library-related information and PD.  I click on links, read about new ideas, new technology, library life, it’s struggles and victories, and engage with blogs via links that are posted.

I try to log in to LinkedIn once a week.  This gives me a chance to catch up on the groups I follow and to find new contacts. I don’t have a large network on LinkedIn because I choose not to link with people I don’t know. Many whom I do know, are not on LinkedIn. Especially enjoyable are the posts from individuals, groups or companies I follow.


Social media and donuts by Photo Giddy on Flickr (CC BY-NC 2.0)

Pinterest is a social platform that I engage with when I have time, or when specifically looking for ideas on a topic.  Of course, once you start on Pinterest you need to know that you have, at the very least, an hour to spare.  It is the greatest visual fun and a real eye-opener to the innovative nature of humans.

Instagram – well, that’s a different story…I began my account as a public one, hoping to soon be in a library job, where I could share books, events, ideas, news etc., along with personal bits along the way.  However, that has not happened, so I post things of interest to me, now and then, but more importantly, I use it to follow librarians, libraries, museums and topics of interest in the GLAM sector.  In this way I get to see campaign ideas, displays, makerspaces, new books, and more.  I love it! For this, I log on probably every other day.

But, here is a secret…I operate another Instagram account, with which I engage VERY frequently every day…and were you to stumble upon it, you would shake your head with pity, and declare that that woman is touched in the head! It is my dog’s account…yes, you heard right, my dog’s account.  If you haven’t yet discovered the ‘doggie world’ on Instagram, or indeed, even the ‘kitty world’, I suggest you take a look at the #dogsofinstagram or #catsofinstagram hashtag and go exploring.

As an aside, it has opened up a world that, I believe, can only exist virtually in the social media realm!  One where people regardless of colour, nationality, culture, religion, geographical confines, age, interests, status in life, or whatever, can connect, challenge each other, support each other, chat, share tips, mourn and laugh together and love each other, unconditionally.  All through the name of the dog, or the dog’s account. No stigmas, no expectations, no mockery, no bullying…only fun and unconditional acceptance.  It is wonderfully therapeutic, brings a smile to one’s face every time, creates happiness and disperses loneliness.


Dog by Rodrigo Monteiro on Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

I use Facebook to follow library-related accounts and pages of interest, and to connect with a few family members afar off.  For me, the most beneficial page to follow has been the ‘Troublesome Catalogers and Magical Metadata Fairies’ group…I have learned quite a bit in the month since I have joined this group. Because I find that Facebook can quickly become addictive to me, I have confined use of it to my iPad, and do not log in on my PC or my phone, so that it is not constantly intrusive to my daily routine. I take a moment over a cup of coffee every other day, to catch up on the newsfeed.

The ‘Reader’ function on WordPress is a great way to keep up with other bloggers, and those I follow are all wonderful library blogs. Blogging on WordPress has been somewhat of a challenge since I created my first blog in 2010.  I discussed my lack of ‘blogging drive’ before in a previous post, but Rudai23 has put paid to that. 🙂  Posting once a week over the last 23 weeks proves that it is indeed possible, even when you don’t feel like it. Of course, from now forward, it would also mean finding content or a topic to write on, but it won’t be weekly for me. 😉  However, I am more encouraged on the topic of blogging, and have lost most of my fear of ‘being out there’ in case the grammar police are on patrol, or the syntax is incorrect.


Hootsuite by Wes Schaeffer via Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

The  above 6 accounts are the main social media accounts I engage with.  After signing up with Hootsuite, I decided to link only 2 – Twitter and WordPress.  I did not agree with the App’s permission requests for Instagram or LinkedIn, for privacy reasons, and so cancelled those.  Here is a snapshot of my dashboard from this morning…


I found Hootsuite easy to use, although I worked through the tutorial at first.  I can see how it will help to bring social media accounts under one umbrella for ease of monitoring.  I look forward to using it to monitor the hashtag of the next Twitter chat I attend.

It must be super helpful when used within a library situation, where many social media accounts are monitored and regularly posted to, specifically because of the time constraints of a busy workday.  I love that Tweets etc. can be drafted and scheduled to be posted at different times, so engaging with different users/followers throughout the day.


Content curation: how does it build value by Stefano Maggi via Flickr (CC BY-ND 2.0)

At this point I’m cracking open the (virtual) champagne bottle, and getting out the crisps and dip.  CELEBRATION time, as I come to the end of Rudaí’s 23 Things! Thank you to the team who developed this programme – it has truly been a beneficial learning experience.  A time of personal and professional growth.


Champagne by CycloneBill on Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)

As always, thanks for stopping by.  😀


Featured image:  Embracing social media by RDECOM on Flickr (CC BY 2.0)


Thing 22: Mobile Things

“…did you know that in just one hour mobile users will have carried out 68 million searches on Google, generated $3 million worth of ad revenue from Google ads, and made 8 million purchases through their devices with Paypal? In the same time mobile users open 2 billion emails, send 1 billion WhatsApp messages and 768 million text messages, while 29 million will have accessed Facebook .”                                                                    (Dealsunny.com 2016).

The use of smart phones and other mobile technology for seeking information is growing. To illustrate, take a look at this real time graphic  on mobile usage statistics shared on Stephen’s Lighthouse blog, from Dealsunny.com. 😮  It will blow your mind.

“Nearly two-thirds of Americans are now smartphone owners, and for many these devices are a key entry point to the online world.”

“More than half of smartphone owners have used their phone to get health information, do online banking.”                                                          (Pewinternet.org 2015)

The above quotes are from a 2015 Pew Internet Research study of American smartphone usage.  I would confidently say that the trend may be global.  This book review provides a look at new research on children’s and adolescents‘ info behaviour.  And in developing countries smartphone usage is rising rapidly, increasingly being used to access information, especially health-related information.


Public Domain Image by Olu Eletu via Unsplash.com

As librarians we need to be on top of our game as far as mobile apps are concerned.  We should not only be seen to be using them, but we should be able to confidently teach people how to use the popular ones.  It is therefore important for us to remain abreast as best we can.  Articles such as this one I saw shared on Facebook a few days ago – Librarian Approved: 30 Ed-Tech Apps to Inspire Creativity and Creation – are a huge help.

After reading Rudaí23 Thing 22, by Wayne Gibbons, I was interested in finding out about the Gum app, since I had not heard of it before.  It was quick to locate on the App Store, simple to activate, and really user-friendly. I scanned the barcode of one of my favourite textbooks, and left my first comment, or ‘gum‘.


Looking at their website, they’ve used a clever marketing strategy…alliteration…  “conversations on comics”, “poems on products” and “notes on novels”.  😀  That says it all.  The  potential for library users’ to converse about books internationally, right there on Gum, is huge. This article from a blog ‘The Library Voice’, shows how it was used successfully within a library situation. (Thanks to the author of Thing 22 for sharing this link.)

Gum is a super user-friendly, free app. There is no need to first enter an email address and create a password or user account.  It loads, requests access to the phone camera, and you get scanning.  To leave a ‘gum’ the app asks to create a user name. Once you create your comment, you ‘stick’ your ‘gum’, and it appears on your ‘wall’.  Gums can be managed, edited, deleted, and products unfollowed.  Apparently new gums on the same products create an ‘alarm’ that rings on your phone.

If we were to promote this app by means of posters in the library, or even face-to-face, it could really take off within a library community or reading club.  The apps for Goodreads and LibraryThing etc., are fantastic, but a user account is required. Also, Gum is not restricted to books only, so we can get info on popular household products, food items, PC games, tech tools and more.  There is a 12+ age restriction to the app, because, besides the user T & Cs,  there is little control of who posts what. So teachers beware.  However, there is a reporting tool, that, when activated, opens a ready-to-send email, guiding you on specific info sought regarding the product or comment.


Another app that I personally enjoy is Adobe Spark Video. It is one of the trio belonging to Adobe Spark – Spark Post, Spark Page and Spark Video.  Admittedly, it is only available on Apple products, (sorry Android users …) but oh my!…it has never been easier to quickly create interesting presentations, lesson aides, info slides, portfolios and more. *shows thumbs up* 😀

What better way to use that old iPad or tablet, lying around in the library…set it up as an info display.  iPads are increasingly used in classrooms worldwide; teacher librarians can utilise this app to create interesting lesson segments.  Public librarians can have presentations which they all share to guide or instruct on certain topics upon request from users. Voice-overs are easy to record, as long as you know what you want to say.  I created this presentation on Information Literacy for a MOOC that I was doing a while ago.  It is far from perfect, but was fun to make. The target audience was a year 11/12 group of school children; please, academics, be forgiving as you keep that in mind. 🙂

When you’ve tried Adobe Spark Video, do let me know how you feel about it via the comment box below. Most of all, have fun. 🙂

I am super excited to know that I’m on Thing 23 of 23 Things next week.  Woohoo!! Really looking forward to ‘Making it all work together‘.  Until then, thanks for stopping by. 🙂


Featured image by Frederic Koberl via Unsplash.com (Public domain)
Clipart used from clipart.com



Thing 21: Infographics

Well, that was fun! 😀 I have always loved looking at the wonderful infographics one can find on Pinterest and elsewhere, but have never sat down to explore methods of making one.  Thank you Rudai23 Thing 21, for requiring me to do just that.

I was at a loss to know what topic to cover, not having time to research one.  As I was reading an online newspaper a few days ago, my eye fell on an article The Nobel Prizes in numbers.  Interesting facts that few of us know or recall.

I signed up to a free account on easel.ly.  I found it user-friendly, especially if you are acquainted with desktop publishing. The graphics available on the free account are limited, so I used  images  from Clipartpanda.com. I needed a little extra info which I found on Wikipedia. I have cited my sources on the infographic itself.

Admittedly, it would take some practice to make a really good infographic that is eye-catching and informative.  That said, I’m quite happy with my first effort.   I used as much as I could from the article, without cluttering the image to death.


On second thoughts, it is a bit cluttered, but hopefully easy to read.  When I signed up to easel.ly I was mailed a link which I thought I would share on this blog: A complete guide to Infographics. There are some great tips which I would have to incorporate the next time.

These, from the writer of Thing 21, Michelle Breen, are just as important to remember:

  • Create an attention grabbing headline for your infographic;
  • Know your audience and tailor the content like you would do in a presentation;
  • Keep it simple – highlight key items in your data rather than displaying everything;
  • Cite the sources of the data used in the infographic and check your facts;
  • Keep it fun by using distinctive colours and illustrations.

Talking about gorgeous infographics…look at this: The Benefits of Handwriting vs Typing, via Stephen’s Lighthouse.  Oh my! I love it. And then of course, there are the wonderful infographics that are made by the talented Sylvia Duckworth…they must adorn many a classroom in schools worldwide.  I also stumbled upon this article claiming to present The 100 Best Infographics.  It targets North America, but has some amazing examples, with only a couple that I recognise.

Because of the visual learning experience I would imagine that, depending upon the space available within a library, it would be great to have infographics up on display, covering many different topics, throughout the year. They are adaptable to young and old, informative and decorative. A really valuable form of information presentation.

Until next time, when we discuss ‘mobile things’.  😀   Thanks again for stopping by.