The State of America’s Libraries Report

Central Minnesota Libraries Exchange

SOAL14_CVR.inddOn April 13, the American Library Association (ALA) released its report on the 2014 State of America’s Libraries during National Library Week, April 13–19, detailing library trends of the past year. Included in the report are trends associated with academic, public, and school libraries; ebooks and copyright issues; social networking; library construction; legislative issues; and intellectual freedom.

The report has a strong focus on the importance of school libraries.

“More than 90 percent of traditional public schools have a school library, but public schools continue to struggle with the impact of funding cuts. For public school libraries, that means that professional staffing has been targeted for cuts nationwide.

The ALA is on the forefront of efforts to shore up support for school libraries.

“On one hand, budget and testing pressures have led to decisions to eliminate or de-professionalize school libraries,” said Barbara K. Stripling, ALA president. “On the other hand…

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Connection box, Zig Zag Rail, Geoff Barker, 2005

Museum Conference Hack – Pirate video Channel for Museums Australia Conference 2015

The Museums Australia conference committee has been working hard on the development of the Museums Australia conference to be held in Sydney in May 2015. After some discussions with them they have approved in concept this idea – the setting up of a live (or as near to live as possible) pirate video channel to run in the months leading up to the conference and over the days the conference is being held. Continue reading

DIY Virtual Reality: Google Cardboard Android phone & C19th Stereoviewer

I was playing around with Google Cardboard yesterday and after making up a viewer using Google’s cardboard template and some Daiso lenses I had a flash of inspiration.

Some years back I was avidly collecting stereo photographs (the nineteenth century equivalent of Virtual reality Continue reading

Chronometers – timekeeping, longitude & latitude

John Harrison’s Marine Chronometers , http://vimeo.com/67741035

The invention of a marine clock (chronometer) which could be used to accurately measure longitude was arguably the most significant development in maritime navigation in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Before their invention ships had great difficulty finding their way from one port to another. Fog, bad weather, and inaccurate charts made navigation, when no land was in sight, both dangerous and time consuming.

Latitude and longitude can be thought of in the same way as the index of a city street map with the latitude being north/south and the longitude being east/west co-ordinates. Once both are known a position can be accurately pinpointed.

While latitude could be found by observing the position of stars longitude proved far more difficult to find. In fact an accurate means of finding an east/west position baffled navigators until 1759 when the clocks made by the Englishman John Harrison were finally acknowledged as being accurate enough to keep time at sea. Continue reading

Museum Exhibitions – some new approaches

Castle Hill Stores, Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences, photo by Geoff Barker, 2009

 Given the current level of interest within the museum surrounding exhibition development I thought it could be an opportune time to blog about this vital area of museum work and look at how some museums have been approaching the issue.

One of the most noticeable changes is the number of new, and affordable, technologies now available for the exhibition tool-box. While essentially a good thing trying to grapple with their integration into existing museum exhibition development processes is not always easy. But over the last year the Powerhouse has conducted a few of its own experiments such as theMinecraft Trial Program which ran at Thinkspace over the 2011-2012 Christmas Holidays. Continue reading

Australian Photogrpahy – Freeman Brothers Sydney

Unidentified man, from collodion negative, Freeman Brothers Studio, 1871-1880, Powerhouse Museum, H8504-22

Over the last couple of months I have been working on a previously uncatalogued collection of large format, 50.8 cm x 44.5 cm, glass plate negatives donated to thePowerhouse Museum in 1969. The 28 collodion portraits were found in a chest in our stores at Castle Hill and have been identified as all being originally taken by the Freeman Borthers Studio here in Sydney. We are currently conserving and cataloguing the photographs but hope to be posting them onto flickr commons by the end of the year for researchers to use.

The Freeman Brother Studio lays claim to being the longest running studio in Australia. It was established as the ‘Freeman Brothers and Wheeler’ by William Freeman and his brother James in George Street in 1854; it was still running nearly 150 years later. James was the more experienced of the two having worked in Richard Beard’s gallery in Bath before coming to Australia and was certainly instrumental in the success with which they plied their trade in Sydney.[1] Continue reading