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Archive for February, 2008

If you are a regular reader of my blog, you will note that I post interviews given to my previous library students or staff. Meredith started with us at Urbis in December 2007 and I sent her an interview that shows the consolidation of her educational and work experience and how she’s putting her past and current experience to work at Urbis. 

Jill – Welcome to Urbis Meredith, can you tell us a little bit about yourself

Meredith – Well, to start with, I’m really pleased to be working with you here at Urbis. I guess I’ve taken a fairly indirect path to get here, via a range of admin roles and English teaching, but I’ve always been been interested in finding out information and organising it for others. These general interests led me to enrol in the Graduate Diploma in Information Management at RMIT and I’m due to complete my last two subjects in the first half of this year. Jill – So, you are studying at RMIT, what have you learnt from some of the courses at RMIT and then applied to the workplace?

Meredith – I’m really glad I enrolled in the RMIT course as it’s provided me with a good overview of information management issues, concepts and standards (and what many of those acronyms and jargon words mean!). I’ve gained confidence in learning new software, researching unfamiliar topics, ascertaining end-user needs and tailoring information. The group projects develop time management and teamwork skills and help you get to know other students – and I’ve met some really great people. The course can’t prepare you for everything because there are so many potential work environments for students to move into. However it does introduce you to networks such as professional associations and industry blogs, which you can access to develop specific areas of knowledge. The work placement program offers an opportunity for hands on experience and also helps you to discover what kind of work environment you more likely to be suited to.

Jill – It’s ideal that you have worked before in a planning company (name the place)?? and then for Melbourne City Library in their Planning Library (your experience is uniquely matched to our library), are there any similarities you are seeing at Urbis, compared to the other two organisations?

Meredith – Well, I worked with Coomes Planning, a small planning company in a temporary admin role for a few months before I started studying information management. This was a small business environment where staff pretty much looked after their own information resources and documents, according to their work areas. I became aware of the kinds of projects, resources and documents used in the planning industry. Later when I worked in a short-term role assisting in the Corporate Library at the City of Melbourne, the range of resources was considerably wider, given the size of the organisation and the breadth of Council interests and activities. The library was also unique in that it was an information resources centre for Council staff, but was managed by the Yarra-Melbourne Library Corporation as part of the network of public libraries in the cities of Yarra and Melbourne. It was a great to learn practical ways of keepng up to date with information resources on a very broad range of subject areas – such as, setting up subject profiles with publishers for alerts on upcoming releases, using topic-based email lists, and building an accessible and frequently updated library intranet page so staff can find information easily themselves. This was especially helpful for staff who were located in other buildings or sites and couldn’t just drop in to see what was available. Now I’m here at Urbis where there are interstate offices and a diversity of business units and resources, but the Librarian and Knowledge Management team are based in Melbourne. There is a small physical library for the general reference books and serials here, and more recently, final copies of planning and property reports are being included too (see response below re shelving!). Email is a convenient means of communicating with library staff, and the intranet is a major source of centralising information. It’s a constantly evolving process, and I think the next version of the intranet (with a search facility) is due to be launched soon.

Jill – Our library has a range of shelving systems here, I think there are about four (4) distinct systems, what is this teaching you about classification systems and special libraries?

Meredith – As a general comment, special libraries aren’t static – they reflect the organisation they serve (and all the changes they have undergone, or may occur in the future!) They need to be end-user focused in order to be viable, so the library staff here have had to work out how to categorise a diverse range of resources so other staff can access what they need. As I’ve discovered, Dewey classification isn’t the full picture, although it is useful for cataloguing general resources. However it doesn’t work as well for the planning and property resources which are more easily located by municipality or regional area. So the library is split up into different sections, and once you get used to that, it does become initutive where things are likely to be. Clear shelf labels and signs are really important (many thanks to my predecessor, Katy Li!) Fortunately, shelving space is not an immediate concern, and there’s still room for multiple copies of some items, and also for a fiction book swap. In the future, it may be necessary to reassess what the physical library should contain and how it should be catalogued – especially in the interstate and overseas offices.

Jill – What sort of technologies are you interested in? And what do you think you will learn at Urbis in that regard?

Meredith – I’m not a real techie-type (eg. don’t have an i-pod or digital camera, and didn’t know the difference between GIS and GPS – shock/horror!) but at the same time I’m curious about technology and Urbis is a great place to see what is available and how it enhances business services and facilities. I went to a presentation recently by a new business unit in Urbis and saw how virtual reality (3D modelling) is being used to explore planning proposals. Really amazing! I’m also interested in intranet development and the Knowledge and Information Management team here have done a lot of work to make the breadth of Urbis information resources accessible via portals on the homepage. They’ve also developed a project summary database which is linked to resources in the library catalogue – so staff can find out information independently. I attended a brainstorming session a few weeks ago to help with the intranet search keywords (ie. yellow stickers all over the wall!) I remember doing something similar in a class about thesaurus-building at RMIT. I’ve also had some involvement with archiving procedures and can see how document management is an integral part of a general information strategy. So, in a nutshell, there’s lots to see and learn!

Jill – Anything else you’d like to share with us

Meredith – Well, I’ve been here at Urbis a couple of months now (sorry to take so long to get these answers back to you, Jill!) It’s a dynamic and ever-changing environment to work in and I’d encourage anyone interested in information management to make the most of any opportunities to work in a special library environment. Thanks Jill.

Thanks Meredith, you sound like you are enjoying your work at Urbis and have benefitted from being involved in many activities, including those that preclude to the Intranet. It shows what skills library and information can bring to a role/company. Keep enjoying what you are doing and learning and your last semester at Uni !

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Last week was the 11th Aurora Leadership Institute and a few bloggers, who went in 2007 have been blogging about their reflections the last week or so, including Kathryn and Fiona, Kathryn gives a truly wholesome view of how Aurora affected her and what she has continuted to learn in her life afterwards, her post shows true courage as a leader and shows she’s not afraid to share what she has learnt. Fiona, you are the same as me in the fact that you think about Aurora every day. Three very impacting moments on my life include living in Perth for one year in 1995 (some people still want to know the stories about what happened over there), traversing Europe and Asia for 7 months in 2004 and attending Aurora in 2007. Compare the time lengths of each, 365 days, 220 days and 5 days !! How’s that for Aurora Impact !! 5 days and it can turn your life around. I don’t think the changes straight after Aurora were evident, but as I say, it provided me with a toolbox that I could gather new items on the way, or discard old items or newly tested ones that I didn’t like.

Would I have travelled the path I intended if I hadn’t gone to Aurora? As I was the person called up about 2 days before, because there was a spare space, I had started to set my path in other directions, like career coaching. I had a rough plan of what I wanted to do, but I believe Aurora helped me to see the “yellow brick road” with more clarity. I don’t think I would have had the confidence to get up and present papers at conferences if I hadn’t gone to Aurora. However, I always had an ability to do it, but was frightened. I used to let people talk over the top of me, and let them have the floor show, but now I ensure I can get in there and express how I’m feeling or what I want to say. And I have learnt that it’s okay to also let those people have the floor show if I feel I don’t have anything to contribute, I can listen and learn. I have become involved in many extra curricular library activities, but have now had to trim them back. And my future direction for this sort of work will involve more personal and introverted activities like writing papers or doing research, than organising a function.

I still don’t profuse to know everything, as I know I will be learning all my life and working on various aspects of my persona, as well as travelling the world. That’s the joy of life and having a career. However, Aurora taught me to be more analytical and critical of the things I do and the experiences I go through.

Aurora has also given me a *Fantastic* group of people who I can call my peers  and mentors, and I thank them for that. They allow me to bounce ideas off them, and vica versa, which continues our growing process. And I think that’s one of the main things I have become richer for, since going to Aurora.

Aurora is a truly personal and impacting experience, and if you are up for it, you should consider it.

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A Kosovo Experience

I was speaking to a lady at work today about the people of Kosovo and their joy at independence and the Serbian people’s riots over their liberation, and it struck me that I can share a unique experience I went through nearly four years ago when I drove through Kosovo, in one day.

My husband and I were travelling all over Europe and living in a van, when we hit Croatia and were busting to go to Turkey, but were hestiant due to the southern countries standing in our way. To drive through Albania meant you would probably get robbed, or your car stolen, and the only other way was to go through Montenegro (previously Yugoslavia), Kosovo, Macedonia, to Greece then Turkey. As we started to plan our trip it was looking unlikely that we’d get into Turkey with the car and we didn’t want to leave it anywhere, so we settled on at least getting to Greece and enjoying the sunshine, food and people there.

We talked to a few tourists that we met, as many didn’t speak english, read our travel books and decided to make a “run”for it, through those countries described, in a day.

Montenegro seemed pretty hard up and still grappling with their own poverty. However, it had some very beautiful elements, that you see in the lastest James Bond “Casino Royal” movie, that is shot on a beautiful island with dramatic mountains and water scenery, see these two pics, that describe Montenego’s beauty.

montengro.jpg    montenegro.jpg

Anyway, to the crux of this blog, KOSOVO

As we neared Kosovo, we were not sure what to expect, as we’d been stopped by quite a number of police in Montenegro and we were wondering would Kosovo be even worse than this?? Well, it was actually quite civilised, the police and border guards were on their best behaviour, there was a UN presence everywhere, we noticed the proliferation of children playing on the street or swimming, which we hadn’t seen for quite a few days. People seemed happy and they were all out busy working in the field. I believed they were keen to rebuild their country quickly and felt very proud of their country. They must have been robust to recover so quickly from the disasters of the 1990’s. And maybe they were happy to be rid of communism?? I wouldn’t know. After Montenegro, that was full of mountenous country, Kosovo offered farming land that was flat and farmable. It seemed like it’s land would provide riches if people were able to gain access to land.

Here are some photos of Kosovo. Note, they are taken from a car, so you may notice the cars window’s showing up in the photos, but I think it will paint a good picture of the place for you.

dcp_5237.jpg dcp_5239.jpg dcp_5240.jpg dcp_5241.jpg dcp_5243.jpg dcp_5242.jpg 

Since I have learnt that the people of Kosovo have gained indpendence from Serbia (old Yugoslvaia), I felt very happy for a people who are so proud of their own country and heritage.

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Well, being pregnant has finally caught up with me. I must have been in denial that it would affect my career, my learning and ability to write and present papers at Conferences, as I have had to withdraw from the ALIES Conference next month and a number of other activities. And I know my paper would have complimented the others on Web 2.0, but sometimes, some issues make you decide to slow down a bit.

Also, a very wise industry expert called me and gave me her advice, to start – well – not start, but to STOP! Stop doing everything. I appreciated that advice, as it legitimised for me that I can’t keep on doing what I used to do and that my body is now working very hard, and I need to keep my energy reserves in stock. I guess I’ll be calling on alot of that energy in less than 5 months ! Thanks for the advice! You know who you are.

So, it leaves me a bit bare with what to talk about on my blog. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated. And no smart comments from some of those cheekier readers 🙂

Give me a bit of time to think about it, and I’m sure I’ll be back soon…however, my feet will be up this weekend!!

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Hi there happy readers / bloggers,

Happy New Year !! Yes, this is my first blog for 2008, and I feel terrible that it’s already February, but I have been contemplating the content for this blog this year. However, a few bloggers have commented that they love my blog – thanks for that – and I’ll keep continuing on my merry way and stop the procastination and evaluation.

2008 is going to be a biggie, it’s already been big, with Feb being the climax of some important work at Urbis. We are implementing a search engine on our Intranet, and since we don’t have one yet and I have never implemented a search engine, it’s a *real* learning curve. You know, I know all the academic terms of keywords, best bets, synonyms and metadata, but to actually knuckle in there and do the work, weeelllll, that’s a toughie. How to start?? Do a bit of planning with the Intranet Team, well done team, you are ACE ! we did some card sorting with terms and synonyms using post it notes, boy, did we cover two walls in a room! And then…during the next few weeks, myself and the team are doing the hard yards.

Today our graphic designer also showed us the intranet frontpage redesign, which we’ll launch with the search engine, on Friday February 29 ! The day I’m at a Leap into Leadership workshop, a group of us have devised together. Last time we had an intranet launch and I was also out of the office, so 2nd time around it’s okay, as last time the “big bang” theory of mine didn’t happen. I can always make a phone call to check in and see if there has been any comment by staff.

What else is happening in 2008?

  • I’m presenting at a ALIES Conference in March on Web 2.0 Technologies we are using at Urbis
  • I”ve just been to beyond the hype, Web 2.0 Conference in Brisbane, I hope to blog on that
  • Leap into Leadership at the State Library of Victoria on 29th Feb.
  • Oh, and not to forget the NLS4 Conference in Melbourne, December this year

There have been other things I’d like to do, but have had to take it a bit easier and say no to some things to ensure I’m not doing too much.

So, why the slower-ness of my pace?? Well…I’m nearly 4 months pregnant ! SO am taking a change in my career, from being full time worker / career focussed person, to focussing my life on a new little person whose about to enter the Stephens’ life. I have been contemplating whether to blog this news as I don’t want the little one to become a “Truman Show” extrodinaire (sorry about the spelling), but I will aim to give you a balanced view of my change in life. And yes, there is a small bump forming now. So it”s all becoming very real. One other blogger commented that they couldn’t get off the couch during their pregnancy, as seriously, they are all very different, so I guess I am achieving alot considering I”m carrying a little one.

I”m off to watch some spicks and specks, but will aim to be back sooner, rather than later !

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