On the 26th I attended VALA Lighting Talks at the Library at the Dock. There were four speakers who all focused topics I am quite passionate about: digital collections and emerging technologies.

Brendan Fitzgerald talked about the ‘Homeless Assist’ app that Infoxchange created to improve homeless access to information and support for job services. The app accesses information from infoxchanges databases. It was their way of making the information in their databases useful and accessible. He told us that most homeless people have access to a smartphone and that the problem is keeping it powered (this is where public libraries come in). He left us with one thought ‘what resources can public libraries put towards solving an evil social problem of the world’.

Sarah Petchell revealed how the Australian Drug Foundation reinvented themselves into a mostly digital library. She also talked about their reinvented digital catalogue and services such as ‘the Other talk‘. But the service I have had the most fun with is the SMS drug information service.

0000_20141126_183221 Just text the name of the drug you want to know about to 0439 TELL ME (0439 830 563). What has really impressed me is this service also recognises common slang for drugs as well.

Sarah Slade talked about digital preservation and a tool the NSLA is developing to help libraries assess their resources and capabilities to undertake digital preservation programs. She discussed how today digital preservation means ensuring continued access to that information. Which raises the question how do we preserve apps?

Nathan Conners talk really inspired my imagination. As he talked I could see myself sitting in a virtual copy of the Library’s performance space with other virtual listeners and engaging in their conversations as they popped up in my peripheral experience. In my mind’s eye I could see myself selecting to travel to other parts of the Library and listen to patrons creating music in the virtual music studios, maybe even contribute to their discussions.

Nathan explained that is was his aim to create a similar immersive virtual experience for Library patrons. He talked about hardware called the Oculus Rift and how it is already filling the virtual world/experience niche. He expressed his hopes for future versions of this product.

The last talk of the night was from a representative of Curtin University. They won the VALA 2014 award for their Curtin University Library app.  An excellent app which allows patrons to access the catalogue, new books and even book computers in real time. It is only available on iPhones at the moment and I hope they release it for Android soon.

Till next time!
DFTBA (Don’t Forget to be Awesome)