Tag Archives: australia

Making mistakes in our daily work: A TTW Conversation between Warren Cheetham and Justin Hoenke

Warren: Hi Justin! I found this weird avant garde art video online that you’re featured in! I didn’t realize you were into that – tell me more!

Justin: No, not an art video…I was actually testing out On Air Google+ Hangouts with my co-worker James McNutt. We’re using the On Air Hangouts to record the guest speakers we have for our DEV DEV:<summer of code/> camp at the Chattanooga Public Library.

W: So it was just a test? Why put it online?

J: Yah, just a test.  We put it online because that’s the whole point of the on air hangout…to record a conversation and share it online.  Plus, it was kind of neat to watch how we worked through any trouble we had.

W: When I visited Chattanooga Library a few weeks ago, Nate Hill explained the concept of staff working in the public area on the 4th Floor, being visible to everyone, showing the library work processes on the big public white-board wall etc. – is sharing this video an extension of that thinking?

J: Yes. What we’re doing on the 2nd Floor of the Chattanooga Public Library (our space dedicated to ages 0-18) lines up really well with what the 4th Floor is going for.  We want to try neat things and see if they stick.  We’re happy to show our successes, failures, and the road we took to get there.

W: Can you share any other ways you’re putting your tests and trials out there?

Photo by Warren Cheetham, June 2013.
Photo by Warren Cheetham, June 2013.

J: Sure!  We’ve got a bunch of extra tables just sitting around as we remodel/reshuffle how the 2nd Floor looks.  Instead of them just sitting around collecting dust, we’ve made them into what we’re calling creation stations.  One has a button maker sitting on it that kids and teens can use to make buttons.  Another has a whole mess of art supplies.  Another has a bowl in the shape of a bear that I found sitting in a closet.  That bear is now the AWESOME BEAR. Anyone can come up to it, write something awesome on a slip of paper and put it in the AWESOME BEAR.  The AWESOME BEAR will then share all of the awesome things kids and teens see around their community!  Somedays it works, other days it doesn’t.

W: But isn’t that embarrassing putting all the errors and mistakes out there for the public to see?

J: Not at all. Part of the fun is trying out new things and seeing how the community reacts.  If they don’t respond to something we do on the 2nd Floor, all that says to me is “keep on thinking, keep on trying.”  It’s actually pretty exciting.

W: That’s very cool. I think it’s good for us to remember that while we might be good at librarianship, and a few others things, there are people in our community who use our libraries who are much better at certain things, and their input and observations on our library processes and trials can help build better services.

So I see you’re doing a summer coding camp at Chattanooga – what is that teaching the teens about keeping your mistakes open and public? Software development is a wonderful example of how something (like computer code) can get better and better the more it’s distributed and developed by many people.

J: When I was a teen, I used to think that adults never made mistakes.  They were the ones in power and they never messed anything up.  Boy, I was wrong.  That way of thinking had a big impact on me as I grew into adulthood.  I put a lot of pressure on myself to be that “perfect adult” but what I was doing was something that I could not keep up with.  No one is perfect.  We all make mistakes and you know what?  We grow from those mistakes.

I think making these mistakes and keeping them public is a great thing.  It shows that we’re all human and that we’re all learning and growing.

W: We’re messing around with a 3D printer here, and one of my first pieces was dodgy so we finished the print before it was complete. I was going to throw it out but Neal my co-worker stopped me and pointed out that the print actually showed the insides and structure of a 3D print. Turns out, it’s a piece that other staff look at and are intrigued by the most!

3D print

J: That’s so rad to hear! When we create something, of course we want it to be perfect.  But our colleagues and friends will see things a different way.  Your idea of something that is junk may be someone else’s idea of gold.

A few weeks ago when you visited Chattanooga, you talked about how Australia is planning and implementing a country wide fiber optic system.  With a project that big, there’s gotta be some mistakes that are made along the way.  How has your country been managing this project and any mistakes that are made?  I can imagine that if there are any bumps along the way there may be a huge public reaction.

W: Such a big, expensive project comes with a lot of scrutiny, and every mistake or misjudgment can easily get blown out of proportion by the project’s critics. One thing that this and other technology related projects has taught me is the economic concept of ‘opportunity cost’. Some of the criticisms leveled at Australia’s National Broadband Network include the idea that we should wait until the relevant technology gets cheaper, more reliable, etc. The opportunity cost is that while we’re waiting for that time, we miss out on the benefits that implementing that technology now could bring.

I think this thinking helps to round out the idea of ‘making mistakes’ in our daily work. By not making mistakes, by not taking responsible risks, by waiting until someone else makes it perfect before can adopt it, we miss an opportunity to benefit from any success of the project now.

Mistakes

-Post by Warren Cheetham  and Tame The Web Contributor Justin Hoenke

 

 Warren Cheetham is the Coordinator of Information and Digital Services at CityLibraries Townsville. He has worked in public libraries for twenty-one years, and his professional interests include the application of technology to public libraries, and how to best deliver information services, reader engagement, corporate research services and training to library staff and customers in an online environment.

Flinders University Graduate Trainee Librarian Program – Adelaide, South

I met Chris O’Malley in Australia. I was very interested to hear about the trainee program he’s in. I asked him to write a little bit about it for TTW:

Librarianship is a competitive profession to break into.  Getting that first professional role was a proud moment for me, which felt like the culmination of a lot of study, a lot of thought about where I wanted to be and what I wanted to do, and even dealing with a little rejection along the way.  This seems to be a reasonably common experience.  Of course, now I have broken through that barrier, there are many more that I have faced and am yet to face.  Maybe another story for another time.

My chance to enter into the profession came through a program run by Flinders University Library (Adelaide, South Australia).  Officially titled the ‘Flinders University Graduate Trainee Librarian Program’, it has been running for about 15 years now, and is still going strong.  The traineeship is 3 years in length, and is specifically targeted at librarians who are newly qualified or who have yet to have their first opportunity at a qualified role.  I’m currently about 15 months into my 3 years, and have recently started my second placement in the library.  My first gig was in Cataloguing, and although at times it seems to be a maligned art, I must admit that I liked it.  It gives a good foundation for a whole realm of librarianship, and has influenced me even when weighing in to debates such as the merits of folksonomical and taxanomical classification.

Non-librarian friends don’t quite get as enthused at times about such things, funnily enough.

Part of the program is that each trainee changes roles at least once in order to gain a diversity of skills and understanding, but some do change more than once.  I am now about 2 months into my second role, which is a dual role in the Law Library and the Special Collections.    

The Law Library aspect has a large reference component to it, amoungst other duties.  The Special Collections is part library, part archive, and if I don’t mention it too much I’ll be able to lure the curious of you out there to check it out at:

http://www.lib.flinders.edu.au/resources/collection/special/ 

The learning curve again is steep, and the dual job both interesting and rewarding. I’ve found that the traineeship has been a great way for me to enter into the world of librarianship.  The following is the link to the pages which show the history, philosophy and objectives of the program, as well as some past and current trainee experiences.  

http://www.lib.flinders.edu.au/info/trainee/index.html

There are a number of different ways for organisations to think about new librarians.  It will be interesting to see if this traineeship resonates as an option for anyone out there reading this.

Flinders University Library