Following my decision to depart St Scholastica’s at the end of last year, this blog will be taking a new direction. If you are looking for old content, it can be found on their library portal page. I have kept a few of the older posts that are still relevant today, but I will be using this blog to add ideas that I would have normally passed on as well as to formulate new ideas about the nature of learning.


Action Plan

The role of a library is to provide information services that meet the diverse needs of its community and to cater for this diversity in both the resources that it holds and the way in which those resources are made available.

It is my view that you need to look carefully at the way Aboriginal people are portrayed in libraries, and you need to reach out to Aboriginal people and show us that we are welcome to participate in an area which we were excluded from for a long time. (Mick Dodson, 1993)

The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Library Information and Resource Network (ATSILIRN) has developed a series of protocols for best practice for libraries and information services. www.aitatsis.gov.au/atsilirn/protocols.php.

In response to this, I have developed some protocols for at my previous library. The main changes are greater consultation with the local community, the addition of places, names and languages in our subject headings  using the Pathways thesauri and the use of a variety of strategies to improve awareness of indigenous authors.

What’s app?

Wandering around the library at lunch last week I saw a student designing an infographic. She showed me the app she was using, called Canva. The interface was easy, the look was modernist and the production values were high. Now the school holidays have arrived, I’ve decided to try out the app for myself. I produced this infographic on leading literacy. I haven’t figured out how to make it scalable and at this stage, Canva do not support embed codes other than through Facebook, so the only way to get a larger image is to add a second larger image to the document library (as a pdf). When you click on the image, it will take you to the pdf.


Readings from an anechoic chamber

I’ve been re-reading Wallace Stevens after I finished Colum McCann’s fabulous new book Thirteen Ways of Looking .

Stevens is an American modernist poet famous for writing about loss and nothingness. A friend of mine alerted me to the similarities between Wallace’s The Snow Man and a new poem by Joseph Massey. But Stevens lived a privileged life where he was  able to describe nothingness beautifully as a noun but he had never experienced it as a verb, whereas Massey has spent his life in poverty. Stevens could walk back into his warm house after writing about the cold, but Massey can’t. The contrast between the vicarious and lived is quite stark.


courtesy Marcus L (Morguefile)




It really makes you think about empathy (and mercy). If you haven’t read Pope Francis’ book The Name of God is Mercy It is much more Massey than Stevens in its approach to mercy.

Wallace Steven’s Collected Poems, Colum McCann’s Thirteen Ways of Looking and Pope Francis’ The Name of God is Mercy are all available in the library.

Anyhow, here are the two poems for your contemplation:



Half-sheathed in ice

a yellow double-wide trailer


mirrors the inarticulate morning.

The amnesiac sun.


And nothing else

to contrast these variations of white


and thicket

choked by thicket


in thin piles that dim the perimeter.


Every other noun

frozen over.


Joseph Massey 2015





One must have a mind of winter

To regard the frost and the boughs

Of the pine-trees crusted with snow;


And have been cold a long time

To behold the junipers shagged with ice,

The spruces rough in the distant glitter


Of the January sun; and not to think

Of any misery in the sound of the wind,

In the sound of a few leaves,


Which is the sound of the land

Full of the same wind

That is blowing in the same bare place


For the listener, who listens in the snow,

And, nothing himself, beholds

Nothing that is not there and the nothing that is.


Wallace Stevens 1921

Information seeking behaviour in the 21st Century

How many times have you heard or made the comment “I’ve Googled it and couldn’t find anything”?

Have you tried Google Advanced Search and read my search tips brochure but still can’t find what you are looking for?

Well it turns out that you are not alone- searching is difficult… really difficult. Based on the research carried out by Dan Russell from Google Search Quality & User Happiness, here are the key ideas to consider.

The Principle of least effort

Most information seekers will use the most convenient search method, over and over again, even if it proves to be unsuccessful. This is called the Principle of Least Effort. To avoid this, try a different search engine, use different search terms, look beyond the first page of results, or use Firefox or Chrome instead of Explorer for searching. Try to match your search tool to the actual task rather than using Google all the time. Something simple like changing your internet browser can make a difference: Chrome, for example, has a lot of extensions that can be added on to improve Google searching like this one to search synonyms.

Memory failure

Your memory is actually terrible -your recollection is often very different to reality.  Sometimes you remember incorrect details so vividly they skew your search results when your memory turns out to be faulty. Last term I was searching for a TV mini-series about Mustapha or Mohammed- these details didn’t help because it was actually a documentary about Mubarak. Pull back on some of the details when searching. Look for reasonable alternatives such as different names, dates, etc, and see if that works.

The Vocabulary mis-match problem

If you get people to describe the same concept, on 80% of occasions, they will use different terms, even if they are experts in the same field. This is the hardest problem to overcome- there is no clear research on how to solve this issue. Reading widely is seen as the most effective strategy as it increases your vocabulary and allows you understand how others think and use language. Stemming is another useful technique for finding the appropriate word.


Good searchers need to develop intuition.  You need to understand what is possible and tailor your searches for things that should exist.

Control-F function.  

90% of Google users do not know how to search within a webpage. Use Control-F (Command-F on a Mac) to search for the occurrence of a search term in the document retrieved. On an i-pad, enter the search term in the address bar at the top of the page- at the bottom of the page, click on Search in this document.  This is especially useful for searching large pdf files.  If you are lazy and use Chrome, you can add extensions that can highlight the search terms in your results for you


Reliable websites and documents found on the internet usually include references. There is no better way of improving the success of a search by either following the references forwards and backwards in time or using vocabulary found in these references in these future searches.


The best way to improve web searching is to make notes as you go. Use applications like OneNote, Evernote or Zotero to keep track of sources and search results.

The Boat by Nam Le

SBS has produced an interactive graphic novel version of The Boat, by Nam Le

It has been produced to coincide with the 40th anniversary of the fall of Saigon. It has been illustrated by New York based Australian artist Matt Huynh, whose parents left Vietnam for Australia in the years following the fall of Saigon.

The novel can be found at http://www.sbs.com.au/theboat/