Monday, May 27, 2013

Fallout Vault Boy card - with Instructions

I've been playing Fallout: New Vegas lately and I'm gradually coming to the uncomfortable realisation I may have to own up to liking it more than Skyrim. Which has dragons so that's a huge achievement.

This could make a RADical birthday card with a stamp inside... I'm also tempted to frame it.

I've had a few new card ideas brewing in my head now so it was time to use one of those. The method I used to make this card makes it very difficult to reproduce exactly so there is no full tutorial but I'll give you some instructions, if you've got some crafty tendencies that should help if you're interested in making something like this.

First I found a graphic of vault boy/fallout boy and sized it the way I wanted it. I printed three copies on printer paper then printed a copy of his face with no surroundings - cutting his face in cardboard wasn't plausible but I didn't want full printed outlines.

I chose the coloured card from a set of many colours I have so that everything would have the same texture. You could easily use different textures/patterns to achieve an interesting effect too.

I stuck the printer paper templates to the coloured card just outside the cutting lines for each colour and used my exacto knife (and a brand new blade) to cut out the pieces. The dark blue is the full size of the suit, although you could cut it smaller layering makes one piece appear behind the other. If you start with the big pieces you can re-use each template a few times. To cut the face I held the paper template and card with printed face up to the light to line them up. All the pieces were stuck together onto a piece of black card and then trimmed so that any overhang was eliminated.

The base card is 4x6 yellow card in the same texture as everything else. To make the background I cut a piece of printer paper to 4x6 and sketched the mountain and mushroom cloud. I cut the mountain first then the orange section - the template for which I cut down again to make the red sections and then finally cut the grey. By cutting from the same copy of a template I increased the chances of everything fitting neatly.

I lined everything up before finishing but it didn't look complete - I cut the road freehand and then added the road line and the ring to the mushroom cloud.

Some foam tape to add a bit of dimensionality and a shadow and he was done!

I'm very pleased with this guy - I have a few more ideas I'm working on now, including a dalek - I'm not satisfied with my design yet but I hope to bring him (and many other geeky cards) to life soon.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Afterlife of books

Creative Commons licenced by anneheathen

Following on from last week's blog - I mentioned that we don't take the books out the back and burn them, so after weeding is done we have to come up with some way of moving on the weeded stock. I've come across many variations on the theme but there are three main methods - sale, donation and disposal. If you know of any others please do let me know - the more knowledge the better!

First, of course, debited books have to be deleted from the catalogue and then defaced - the word has some nasty connotations but for most it means a cancellation mark and a cross through the barcode and spine label. This helps prevent books doing a boomerang impersonation and showing up repeatedly. It happens to some degree regardless. I've worked in a library which owned substantially more valuable stock that embosses a page in weeded books - this prevents people from faking the marks as a custom embosser is an expensive object. In a few rare cases the defacing is more drastic. But I'll get to that later when it's in context and doesn't sound so dire...

Many libraries run book sales - they might be occasional promoted events or a single shelf that's restocked as required. Larger sales, especially those held by more prestigious libraries, can be massive events that draw large crowds. I've been in book sale rooms where the people are packed in like sardines and still coming. Who benefits is an interesting question. Sometimes it's the library or a chosen charity that benefits but it might well go into the revenue stream of the governing body.

Donation of the books is also a popular option and here there are a lot of choices. The type of book might dictate which options suit. Locally child care centres are great for picture books and large print items often go to nursing homes as their high cost make it difficult for these organisations to establish good collections of their own. Other libraries who are establishing a collection from scratch, recovering from disaster or are experiencing tough financial situations might be able to use some items too. Libraries and museums with specialist subject collections might have some interest too. I once sent off a collection of very aged workshop manuals that were no longer of use to the public library I was in to a car museum that was very glad to have them. Prison libraries might appreciate donations, though they can be understandably choosy about subject matter. Charity bookshops can also be quite choosy as they want items that will sell rather than become permanent shelf occupants.

Some international aid groups also take books, especially those supporting schools in developing nations. In more than one library I've worked with there has been a regular representative from one of these charities who comes by to pick up items to send off. When one library had a large sale of books in many languages a charity group came in at the end and packed up every last remaining book to distribute to refugee groups and foreign aid projects.

Some books you cannot give away. Sometimes nobody shows interest in them for sale or donation, sometimes they're the risky items like pharmaceutical reference guides or mouldy books I mentioned in my last library post. These items still have to go somewhere, which is where we come to the least popular option, one which some libraries have to hide because public reaction can be so strong, and that is disposal. I love this quote for just this situation:

"Whether fortunate or unfortunate, many people regard books as sacred objects and have difficulty throwing them away … we need to remember is that it is not books that are sacred, but rather the thoughts, inspiration and accurate information they contain." - Doug Johnson

Libraries I have worked in mostly recycle old books that cannot be re-homed. Some books require the cover to be cut away first, this is the more drastic method of defacing I mentioned before. The first time you do this it feels almost criminal, but if no new home can be found after significant effort a chance to be another book in future might be the best that can be offered.

 The methods above are by no means exhaustive, I'd love to know what other methods you've come across. One of the more unconventional I've seen is shown in this photo that came from a post about the Hutt Street Library Outdoor Reading Room where they used a number of old books to create some really fascinating decorations. Sometimes a craft class held in a library might be able to do something with old books too though the attendee's feelings on this may vary! A quick Google search reveals vast numbers of book craft ideas that might be possible.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Found Alphabet - N

The cast iron decorative features in this town might just about form an alphabet by themselves - I found large number of Ns all the same - a couple were unfortunately a little fuzzy as it has been a quite dim day so here's a selection of the rest of the best.

With this post I skim on past the halfway mark of this project - it's been quite a week for projects for me! A lot of landmarks and while this is the smaller of the projects I have ongoing it is a milestone all the same.

So far I've learnt to see things in a whole different way - there are possibilities everywhere. I'm looking forward to continuing this.


Saturday, May 18, 2013

Weeding - a necessity, not an evil

Photo by ryan junell from oakland, USA (Providence Pilgrimage '06 Uploaded by mangostar)
[CC-BY-SA-2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

Librarians do not take piles of books out the back and set them alight - though the reactions from people I discuss weeding with might sometimes suggest otherwise. Today I visited a friend whose reaction was not so severe - but she was surprised.

This inspired me to write about weeding - this post was written considering people without library experience but might well be of interest to those who work in libraries.

Weeding is a commonly used name for deselection, the last, and sometimes neglected, stage of a book's life in the library. Before I worked in libraries I imagine my reaction would have been very much like that of my friend today - but experience has helped me see why this is a necessary part of collection management.

I have worked in school, public and academic libraries who all apply different standards and criteria to suit their purpose. Every library I have worked in thus far has undergone a substantial weed while I was there - none of these have been initiated by me but I have been part of the team, and at times have had to advocate to colleagues and members of the public on behalf of these projects. I am currently in a position where, in many collection areas, I am the one making the calls. Seeing varied reactions has been extremely interesting.

If a library wishes to continue buying books sooner or later it will have to start weeding - a library only has so much capacity and sacrificing other functions or accessibility to more shelving is simply not acceptable. Materials also deteriorate with use - a ten year old book in a public library that is in pristine condition has simply not been read, and in that case, it is probably time to bring in something that will be used. The contents also become irrelevant or inaccurate. Old pharmaceutical texts are downright dangerous. Much of the information is probably right - but nobody but a medical or pharmaceutical professional can accurately pick which bits are not.

The Australian Library and Information Association's standards for public libraries give some guidelines on what age is appropriate (page 24). Some libraries weed to tighter goals because space restrictions require it but most are pretty solidly at that standard. Generally public libraries do not keep items as long as school or academic libraries where financial restrictions or library goals require different approaches.

Selecting items for weeding is something I find challenging (whatever the observer might think...) simple rules about age of items and usage statistics are the most objective way of weeding and are my first indicator of items for assessment but by no means spell the final fate of an item in themselves. Certain areas warrant earlier deselection than others - travel manuals such as lonely planet guides are very quickly inaccurate - new editions are far more appropriate. Some qualitative criteria enter the mix too - items of local, family history or heritage interest are entirely exempt from weeding unless they become a physical danger to the collection and cannot be saved (mouldy, usually). At present my current library is treading softly around the subjects of the two world wars due to the approach of the ANZAC centenary and anticipation of an increase in demand in this area. Premier's Reading Challenge books are also generally exempted due to the large demand for these.

It is very important that I avoid subjective criteria as much as possible. Certain subject areas or authors I find particularly sad to weed, but my interests cannot enter into this process. The reverse is also true - personally, I find certain arguments frustrating but I can't use weeding to exert my prejudices or as a form of censorship so I am careful that I apply the same standards as I do elsewhere.

This is far too big and contentious a topic for me to tackle in one go so I imagine it's not the last you will hear from me on this subject. For a thorough and very well laid out article on weeding and why it matters I suggest the discussion by SCIS under the name secret library business.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Found Alphabet - M

This view is through the top of a church steeple - I considered trying to take it again in better light and closer up so that my definition would be better. But my chances of getting a bird to sit just so again were pretty slim - so I ran with this one anyway!

The runner-up is actually from the same building. I've seen more single and triple arches on churches, but a double arch certainly makes for a good M!

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

I, Librarian

This isn't a review of the comic above (which is excellent and I am sorry to say my copy is in storage), nor is it the photo post that should be here - or rather should have been a week ago. That is coming. First I need to look at a topic I've been neglecting.

Up there in the title of my blog is the word "Librarian". Hardly any of my posts have touched on libraries or librarianship. The word's not just up there to be decorative though - I am a librarian, and at present I'm very fortunate to be a "real" librarian - it's taken six years, a lot of learning and no small number of reality checks.

I'm not going to pretend to be a source of enlightenment for new librarians, especially as I am still very much one of those - I'll leave that to letters to a young librarian. I'm not going to pretend to be an expert on any other topic either. But I'm going to start putting up some of my experiences and interpretations of the library world I live a large part of my life in. One of the reasons you've heard so little in the past has been that I'm careful about what I post. I'm conscious of what I say about my experiences and the people I have met but don't need to avoid the library topic altogether.

I came to Information Studies as a person who hardly went into libraries. In primary school and for the first few years of high school I practically lived in the library. By the time I left school for university that had changed. At first I felt I had no time to spend there, eventually the library-going habit was simply lost. I do not recall ever considering a career in libraries.

I spent four years at university studying marketing and management because I didn't know what I wanted to do and it was the current "thing". My marks were respectable but not good enough for a graduate program. A few months after graduation I did what I thought I was supposed to want and got a job.

My first full time job was with a company with a small office. I served customers; quoted custom work; processed work orders; redesigned the system for handling order paperwork; analysed costs, prices and profit margins; looked at OHS... my job was good, the people I worked with were a good team and I had an opportunity to use my skills. Despite these positives I realised that the path I had put myself on didn't go where I wanted to go. I was looking for a new career within the year.

With a bit of research and reading of university course descriptions I had two options - I could go and teach English in Japan (which sounded like fun and also felt a lot like running away) or I could take the parts of my job I'd liked the most - seeking and working with information - and head back to university to become a librarian. I can't quite put my finger on why I went one way and not the other. I believe I made the right choice.

I took to the studies with great enthusiasm and a year later I had a degree, an academic award and professional recognition. At that point I thought I was there, that I'd made it, I knew how to be a librarian and that a nice secure job was right around the corner. It took a number of reality checks to see just how far I still had to go and how much I had to learn. I still have a lot to learn - and I know that there will always be more to learn.

I've spent the last five years in various voluntary, temporary and contract positions learning from a number of amazing people while progressing from library assistant to library officer and now to librarian. Before I started in my current position a senior librarian told me that with this opportunity to be a librarian I would learn for sure if I was on the right path and if I was not learning that would be a positive outcome in itself. Two months in I can't give you a final answer. That will have to wait until October - but so far I am finding the work challenging but enjoyable.

Despite not having a final answer I'm hopeful that in libraries I've found a direction that challenges me and allows me to work in areas that interest me with the objective of improving the lives of others.