Saturday, March 31, 2007

NLB Staff Jam at the library@esplanade, 31 March 2007

[Update: Videos posted here]

The sudden downpour made me think twice about going to the library@esplanade, to attend the NLB Staff Jam. But then I'd already left a Twitter message announcing my attendance. So I braved the rain in case someone read the message and expected me to show.

Which was a good thing, 'cos it was a great performance (I used to be in the jam... maybe that's why it's better now!)

The show had already started when I arrived at 6.30pm.
NLB Staff Jam - Library@Esplanade, 31 Mar 2007

NLB Staff Jam - Library@Esplanade, 31 Mar 2007
NLB Staff Jam - Library@Esplanade, 31 Mar 2007

The diners at the Singapore Art Cafe (located within the library, and literally one foot away from the performance area) must have got more than they paid for, with a free performance:
NLB Staff Jam - diners at the Art Cafe

Tonight's performance were all cover pieces. The show was interspersed with brief introductions to things like the artists, genre, and musical instruments. It was a great way to add that learning element into the show, while letting the band rest between songs. Here's Indra (a Library Officer with library@Esplanade, aka our resident Guitar Shredder) sharing with the audience about guitar strings, e.g. tuning, types of strings for the different types of guitars.
Indra - on guitar strings and tuning

During another break between songs, Indra's brother (yeah, they are brothers in real life, but he's not with NLB) explained more about percussion instruments. Hey, sorry dude, I know your name but I don't know how to spell it!
Explanation on the various types of drums

Here's Ridwan (another Friend of the Library) explaining what this instrument was -- which I promptly forgot.
Explanation of a (whatcamacalit)

I would have failed the pop quiz just before the last song or two. The quiz questions were based on the information shared earlier (e.g. the guitar string tuning, the type of percussion instrument). Here's one of the participant enthusiastically raising his hand to answer the question.
Pop Quiz!

The prizes weren't elaborate (some simple library tokens). But a few participants won free coffees from the cafe -- thanks to the generosity of this guy, Jonathan. He's the owner of the cafe, and he plays the piano in the jam session too. Talk about supporting the library!
Jonathan - owner of the Art Cafe at Library@Esplanade

And while they were giving out prizes, I noticed this little girl who sneaked onto the set and tinkled a few keys on the piano when no one was watching. I think we have a musical prodigy here, 'cos her random notes sounded quite nice (I think she's the daughter of Jonathan).
Sneaking in a tune
Musical prodigy in the making

The band belted out their last song, to enthusiastic applause from the audience. Here's the band members posing for pictures. It's about a 50-50 mix of staff and their friends.
The Jammers

They invited a regular library customer, Raymond, to pose with them (earlier, they made him go up on stage to be part of the performance, which he sportingly obliged).
The Jammers, with an EPCL regular

Borrowing Machines, Library@Esplanade

The session ended at about 7.30pm. I noticed this quotation on the glass wall. Pretty apt for tonight's session.
Writing on the Light Wall

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Guitar prodigy on Youtube

This kid is amazing!

His Hammer-on/ Pull-off/ Tapping guitar techniques would be the envy of any amateur guitarist.

I didn't know Pachelbel's Canon could be played like that. I thought FunTwo's video (that took the Internet Video world by storm some months ago) was great, but that kid just stole his thunder.

Thanks to Boon for the heads-up.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Experiment: Announcing the "Singapore Social Media Directory" (via a wiki)

Announcing a "Social Experiment" -- the Singapore Social Media Directory -- -- (a wiki, btw). But I'm ahead of myself here.

Singapore Social Media Directory

You could say the wiki came about from the question: "Where can I look for blogs, especially those in Singapore?"

Participants in the blog-related talks and workshops I've given would always ask me that without fail. The simple answer is to use things like Google Blog Search or Technorati (just to name two). But they aren't very precise when it comes to looking for Singapore-based blogs. Or if we wanted to browse for Singaporeans who blog (i.e. no specific Singaporean blogger in mind). A directory would be a better tool for this purpose.

Why a directory?
We have Tomorrow.SG and Ping.SG, which are great at highlighting Singapore blogs (they call themselves "meta blogs"). But they don't keep a running list of blogs featured.

There are some directories focusing on Singapore blogs (e.g. and But the way they are organised -- by Subjects -- are more suited to listing websites than blogs. With blogs authored by individuals, the subjects and issues discussed in the blog are wide ranging and very fluid. I mean, how do you classify an individual's blog if he/ she writes about politics today and food the next?

Why a wiki?
Ever since I started thinking about wikis, I've wondered if a wiki could be used to create such a directory. Then about a week ago, I created a wiki for the first time, using Wikispaces (hat-tip to Kevin). BTW, the wiki went from idea to reality after a brief discussion with the folks in the Media Socialist group.

What's the focus?
The directory would focus on Singaporeans/ People or groups based in Singapore. Instead of just blogs, I decided to include all social media platforms being used (e.g. mailing lists, blogs, services like Twitter, Flickr, allconsuming, bookmarks, wikis). Any platform that individuals or groups used to facilitate dialogue, interactions, networking and resource sharing.

How it's organised
The directory would be used like the printed Yellow Pages. Instead of organising it by subjects, I thought alphabetical listings would be more effective. Each entry would be listed like this:
  • Name (real and/ or nickname, of the individual or group)
  • Description (concise statements of what the blog etc. is about)
  • Up to 20 phrases/ keywords (to further describe the blog/ medium)

Categorising by Subjects was useful, just that it wouldn't be effective as the main entry point. To compensate for this, that's where the "20 phrases/ keywords" come into play, where additional information not covered in the name or description could be provided. This allows the built-in search engine to retrieve the entry.

E.g. Try searching "librarian" Vs. "librarian ivan". Also try "singapore heritage" Vs. "heritage singapore".

The result, I hope, is a more effective way to organise and access individuals or groups -- catering to users who either want to browse or search.

How is this a Social Experiment?
Because the wiki will be opened for anyone to edit. You read me right. ANYONE. You don't need to be a registered member. Just click on the edit button, add your blog/ group, and save.

See, it's always easier to start something than to maintain it. Same with this idea of a Social Media Directory. allows three levels of access to the wiki -- Public (anyone can view or edit); Protected (anyone can view but only wiki members can edit); Private (only members can view or edit, but this is a paid service).

Between "Public" and "Protected", I opted for the first one. Understandably, none of the members in the Media Socialist group could afford the time to maintain the directory constantly. If people emailed us to include their site,a bottleneck is likely to result (of course there might be zero submissions, but I'm an optimistic guy).

So that's the experiment. It's to see how this directory would be maintained. How entries would be created, with what frequency. Whether some one would delete the pages (doesn't matter if it's by accident or out of malice).

I think the fear is more of the last one. All it takes is just one idiot to ruin the party. We could trace the IP address of the culprit but that won't prevent the damage from happening in the first place. But I'll just have to maintain backups regularly (that's a feature from wikispaces). I'm also curious if the community would help maintain and restore vandalised pages.

It's worth trying out the idea. The cost of failure isn't that high. The world won't end if this experiment crashes and burns. No one will die of embarrassment if nobody responds to this.

So let the Social Experiment begin!

[Update: Social Experiment Update, Jan 2008]

Monday, March 26, 2007

Thinking Aloud: "MICA forms Advisory Council to examine impact of new media"

I've so many blog posts still outstanding (recent ones include the Nexus 2007 conference last Saturday; a Yesterday.SG Sunday brunch meetup and an upcoming book launch by one of the friends of Yesterday, Dr. Tan Wee Kiat). So little time (story of every blogger's life, perhaps).

But somehow I'm compelled to blog this -- it was published at the CNA website just a few hours ago:
"MICA forms Advisory Council to examine impact of new media"
According to the Ministry of Information, Communications and the Arts (MICA), the council will also recommend to the government how these issues should be managed while keeping pace with the development of the sector in Singapore.
Read the full article here.

Perhaps I'm compelled to write about this because I suspect the news will generate lots of doubts and snide comments in the Singapore Blogosphere. I mean, to have words like "legal", "regulatory", "implications", "government", and "manage" appearing consecutively in the paragraphs -- it's a sure-fire way to get some SG bloggers all riled up with conspiracy-theories/ "big brother wants to clamp us down" posts, heh. : )

Even I can't help myself. For instance, "why now?" Is there some implied intent? Because things are getting "serious" enough to warrant a closer look at developments in the "Interactive and Digital Media (IDM) sector"? Is regulation the main intented intended outcome here?

If IDM, i.e. "New Media", is a "new emerging industry that has been identified as a promising growth industry for Singapore", how come there's no mention of words like "encourage" and "promote" or "increase public awareness and adoption"?

That being said, I certainly understand the need to examine the social and legal implications from developments in IDM (btw, I prefer the term "Social Media"). My reading is that the powers-that-be are taking a considered and thoughtful approach towards understand what "New Media" is about, and its implications.

We bloggers sometimes forget that those who aren't into blogging are simply not clued in to the culture and mindset. So when they say they want to "examine", I say we SG Bloggers should welcome them with open arms, I mean, blogs.

Invite them to blog. Or never mind blog. Invite them to leave comments. Offer to do demos for them.

I'm not worried about any government clamp-down on the Blogosphere. To do so would be a step backwards for Singapore. Besides, such a clamp down would have happened a long time ago. No need to set up an Advisory Council just to put up a charade. The government knows the voters aren't naive.

So the last thing SG Bloggers should do -- or need to do -- is to get all hot and bothered about it. I hope no one starts a tirade. That would reinforce negative perceptions about the blogging community.

Interestingly, I came across this word, "spectrophobia", meaning "Fear of Ghosts". Medicine.Net has a longer definition:
An abnormal and persistent fear of ghosts. Sufferers of this fear experience undue anxiety even though they realize their fear is irrational.

My late grandmother didn't persuade me (when I was a child) that ghosts were non-existent. What she advised was if we've nothing to hide and we've done no wrong, then there's nothing to fear, be it ghosts or otherwise.

So let's not be 'Spectrophobic' each time the government says there want to look into New Media.

Welcome them. Show them how it's really done in the Blogosphere. Try in our own ways to share insights to all the socialisation and community-bonding that happens around scattered but tightly-knit groups. Maybe that will give non-bloggers a clue why bloggers persist in doing what we do.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

You'll suck at what you do, for a long time, but...

Who's Ira Glass? Nevermind. Watch this video first (hat-tip to David Silver). David wrote that it's "five minutes and nineteen seconds of smart advice". I've transcribed the parts which I felt was the essence of the video.

Starting from 0:39 min:
"... For the first couple of years that you're making stuff, what you're making isn't so good... ... it has an ambition to be good but it's not quite that good.

But your taste... ... is good enough that you can tell that what you're making is kind of a disappointment to you. You can tell that it's still sort of crappy. A lot of people never get past that phase... ... they quit.

The thing I would just like to say to you with all my heart is that... everybody I know, who does interesting creative work, they went though a phase of years where... ... they knew that it fell short... ... it didn't have that special thing that we wanted it to have. ...Everybody goes through that.

... You gotta know that it's totally normal.... ... the most important, possible thing, that you could do is do a lot of work. Do a huge volume of work.

Put yourself on a deadline, so that every week or every month, you know that you have to finish one story... whatever it's going to be... ...even if it's not somebody who pays you, but you're in a situation where you have to have to turn out the work.

It's only by going through a huge volume of work that you're actually going to catch up and close that gap. And the work that you're making will be as good as your ambitions.

At 2:30min, Ira plays a radio news report that was aired eight years ago, when he had been in the radio broadcasting business for a long time. He criticises his own performance:
"What am I talking about? Every part of this was ill-conceived... the writing is horrible. You can't even follow what I'm talking about... ... here's a tip -- You don't underline [stress] every third word for emphasis, because it sounds really unnatural. What you want is to talk like how you normally talk.

This is year eight. I'm not a beginner. I'm like deep, deep into it.

...It takes a while. It's going to take you a while. It's normal. You just have to fight your way through that.

You will make things that aren't as good that you know in your heart that you want them to be, and you just make one effort after another."

Now that I know who's Ira Glass, the message is even more convincing. My personal take-away: We'll suck at what we do, probably for a long time. But that's no excuse to not try, and try again. There's no short-cut getting from here to good.

Winston Churchill was perhaps more succinct (the context was different but the philosophy applies): "Never give up. Never surrender."

Taking myself less seriously (or, "Shall I turn off the "comment anonymously" feature?)

First thing that greeted me this morning when I checked my email was this anonymous comment pending moderation. It was a response to an earlier post, "Five Things about Ivan Chew (that you might not know)":
y didnt u die.u noe y u have to write "Five Things about Ivan Chew (that you might not know)" bcos u r such a loser n u noe u have no substance YET,U R SO thickskinned...(erm thanks 4 ur comments this shows that u care) guts to face critics huh?dont bother to reply.....cos im juz expecting same old "answer"to my only true comments amongst the "comments disrespect to those who adore rambling librarian...pls wake up

I wasn't angry or particularly bothered by it. Could've deleted the comment. However, I published it and left a comment of my own. It was good practice in NOT taking myself too seriously, heh.

Kevin and I was on IM, tossing ideas for a meet up/ library programme. I mentioned the anonymous comment to him, joking that I've achieved "Blogosphere Fame" when I start getting trolled and flamed. Kevin felt he had to respond as a friend (thanks, friend -- I appreciate the gesture; just don't call me a hero! I'm bound to get more trolls and flamers, lol).

Seems that Anonymous Commenter left an earlier comment too, for this was the clue: "... erm thanks 4 ur comments this shows that u care". Quite likely a reference to my response to this comment to my "Off to Beijing" post.

I asked myself if I should change the Blog settings to disallow anonymous comments. At present, anyone can comment in this blog.
screenshot_Blogger Comments setting

screenshot_blogger comment boxUnfortunately, by setting to "Only Registered Users", it means the option for "Others" is unavailable, i.e. genuine bloggers who are not registered with can no longer leave comments by typing in their name and blog URL (which was one of my "complaints" about

Ideally, should allow me to turn off "Anonymous" and leave the option for "Other".

While it's not necessary for everyone else to blog, it would be great if people started posting comments. You don't need to have a blog in order to engage with bloggers.

So for now, I'll just leave all my settings as it is. I already have my comment moderation feature turned on, to filter out the really nasty comments. It's more to filter out libelous or insensitive comments about other people, rather than myself.

I'll allow the occasional rant against me. As I mentioned earlier, it's a way to remind myself that I shouldn't take myself too seriously. : )

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Saturday Humour: Smart Fox!

The fox in the picture was probably photoshopped. It got a smile out of me in any case.

Photo source: Ken Camp (via Euan Semple)

Meetup with Kevin & Siva

I never know what I'll learn when I meet with Kevin and Siva. We met at 7 pm and chatted till 1.20 am. What could we have talked about non-stop for 6 hours? Obviously too many things to be written here.

We talked about so many things -- well, most times Kevin and I let the affable Siva (the oldster in the group) do most of the talking. I'm not complaining. Siva is a master storyteller. I've always felt he's a storyteller first, then teacher/ researcher/ conservation activist/ volunteer manager/ mac geek (in that order).

When I met them at the Events Plaza, they had already started a discussion while standing up, seemingly oblivious to a mass workout event (maybe not Kevin, 'cos he took the picture on the left).

Once we sat down, I don't think the conversation paused for more than 15 seconds. Siva regaled us with his stories like:
  • His recent experience as a volunteer crew on board the reconstructed 18th century sailing ship, the Götheborg (Siva started this blog to chronicle his 3-week voyage, and still updates the site from time to time);
  • Work with the International Coastal clean-up;
  • War-stories about managing and working with volunteers;
  • Organising Mac meetups (that guy analyses responses from list members via an Excel sheet to determine the best place for the meetup!);
  • Tips and observations on lecturing, teaching and training, like this one on Web 2.0. that Lekowala did for teachers. See also this Google document (via LeafMonkey);
  • Siva tells his NUS zoological science students they don't necessarily have to blog; just leave comments. And that if "if you don't comment, then you're a parasite". I guess the parasite reference meant a lot more to zoological science students than us lay people;
  • About how he advises younger Singaporeans that "instead of trying to change the world, we should try to change our own neighbourhood first" (see Kevin's reference, para 3, on the "Hump that Siva calls his own")
We got round to discussing about my second talk on blogging at CSC. Siva asked if it was the content or my delivery. While I don't rule out that my delivery being off, he'd suggested that I'd allowed some participants (those who didn't appear receptive) to affect me. I might have been overly sensitive, he says. Sometimes we have to tune out those with the wrong attitudes. If I let the minority affect my delivery, it's a disservice to the majority who are there to learn.

Memorable quip (about why volunteer organisations have to continue publicising their events) -- "If a company like Coca Cola, whose product is well-known, has to continue advertising at soccer matches, then you jolly well have to continue promoting your cause."

Kevin got all excited when Siva asked for suggestions on video compression. I learnt that Kevin is a walking reference library when it came to on video compression, codecs, the subtleties, pros and cons of various video sharing services.

Oh yeah, Kevin convinced Siva and I to try out Twitter. Here's mine (

Read what are Siva's and Kevin's thoughts on the meetup. Heh, for someone who had so much to share, Siva wrote far too little in his own blog!

[Update, 18 Mar 07: Here's a longer post from Siva on the meetup. He must have looked at the posts from Kevin and I, and felt his was grossly inadequate, LOL!]

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Post-course reflections: Session 2 - The "W" & "H" of Blogging

Conducted the second session of the talk at Civil Service College on Wednesday, 14 Mar. This time, I felt I didn't deliver as effectively as the first. I would just rate myself a 5.8 to 6. I felt the participants were less responsive than those from the first time.

Based on the feedback from the previous run, I included a "live" demo on publishing a blog post, inserting pictures from Flickr, and inserting hyperlinks. Unfortunately, the slow Internet connectivity created some awkward pauses. I tried to compensate for that by going to the talk and checking back on the uploading at intervals. Upon hindsight, I should have just skipped the "live" demo if it wasn't working.

One feedback from the previous session was to include more details on how search for blogs. Hence I also updated my slides and included a "live" demo on searching for blogs using This was a gem of a find from the search; the participants had a good laugh from reading it. I thought it was a brilliant example of how the library could find out how customers used the library, what they thought about the collection, and what areas we could improve -- in this instance, perhaps publicity of where the library was located.

As always, for a talk of this nature, the participants came with varied experiences, knowledge, and expectations. As with the previous session, some expected the talk to go in depth on the "ABCs" of creating a blog. Either the course objectives and outline wasn't clear, or they didn't read it before signing up. Maybe the marketing brochure should specify clearly what the talk would not cover.

I hope to get the participants' feedback from Civil Service College (CSC). The CSC folks were kind enough to grant permission to share a summary of the participants' evaluation and feedback from the previous run (23 Feb):


Course Title:
The “W” & “H” of Blogging – Understanding Blogging
Course Code: CSMU-06001
Course Date: 23 Feb 2007
Trainer(s): Ivan Chew
No. of Participants: 95
No. of Respondents: 67
Trainer Overall Mean (TOM)*: 4.26
Performance Overall Mean (POM)*: 4.03
* Out of a possible score of 5

How did you benefit from the course? How would apply it to a) your work b) your personal life?
  • Better understanding
  • Blogging – create may own blog for students’ feedback comment and reflection on lesson conducted
  • Just wanted to find out about blogging and how one can search for blogs.
  • Some knowledge of blogging gained.
  • Create a blog; Connect to my student; leveling up to what my students have been doing.
  • May want to try it out.
  • Able to advise pupil who intend to blog.
  • I know what is blogging all about now.
  • A good intro for me.
  • In the promotion of new media and new media arts in the school, it adds another perspective to what we see.
  • Get to know blogging; Get to know its relevance to personal life.
  • It is useful for me to know about blogging so as to share information.
  • Learnt a bit more than what I already knew about blogging in particular latest blog sites.
  • It gives me motivation to try it out myself.
  • I found out more about RSS. Get a RSS online account@Blogline.
  • Important for keeping up with communication in personal life.
  • Good powerpoint presentation; new terms like RSS feed etc.
  • Will set me thinking to start a blog.
  • Informative.
  • Interesting overview; Good to understand what blogging was all about.
  • Great insight and good knowledge.
  • Good introductory course.
  • Simple intro to creating blog.
  • More knowledgeable on the concept of blogging.
  • Try blogging
  • Better understanding about blogging. Changed some opinions about blogging. Will help me when I blog on my library’s blog.
  • Its importance to us (me) to know the basic training and to know more about ‘news’ and interact to global.
  • I need to know the basic hands-on session on blogging, how to view others’ blog. Don’t understand what is ‘feeds’, ‘RSS’.
  • Thanks for basic understanding.
  • Better understanding; blog as a tool, blogging as means of communication.
  • More blog-savvy now.

Areas done well
  • Speaker has made his presentation simple and easy to understand.
  • Knowledgeable and enthusiastic trainer
  • Good practical examples
  • Practical examples and tips.
  • Printouts of terms and terminologies to me can try out on our own.
  • I like your presentation and the mode.
  • The horse’s mouth.
  • The trainer interacts well with audience and has a friendly way of delivering his content.
  • Training Materials
  • Presentation
  • Clear presentation. Interesting examples.
  • Humorous. Engaging. Presentation notes succinct, short, simple.
  • List of sites/references provided.
  • Good speaker.
  • Speaker – Practitioner.
  • Handouts – good reference list.
  • Comprehensive on “why” and guidelines on blogging.
  • Very impressive powerpoint slides.
  • Slides instruction
  • Good info, good examples, extra tips – books to read.
  • The trainer giving the talk is very appropriate.

Areas not done well
  • Noted insufficient contents.
  • Practical hands-on session – to encourage the participants on blogging; print out powerpoint slides or notes of the slides.
  • Should have taught us how to locate specific blogs.
  • Live-link so that the instructor can create a blog.
  • Internet connection. Training venue should have an online access.
  • Hand-outs.
  • Recording of George Yeo & video too soft.
  • No hands-on.
  • Soft from mic is little soft.
  • The videos was not clearly heard.
  • Not much was mentioned on how to get into a ‘blog’ for a complete stranger on blogging.
  • Audio too soft.

Are there any sessions that should be improved? If so, why?
  • Too general – does not really tell how one can search for particular blog spots.
  • Creation of blog, a hands-on session would have benefited the participants.
  • Improve the volume of the interview and video.
  • More live-video.
  • There should be hands-on so that we can learn how to really blog.
  • Show what bloggers are doing in their blogspots.
  • Include practical session on blog set up.
  • It would have been good if there were live demonstrations.
  • Have hands-on sessions.

Other Comments
  • Ivan ! You Rock !
  • Do you provide talks for schools on blogging ?
  • IRAS has an internal blog for staff.. Since 15 jan 07, we have a set of simple guidelines known as ‘Blog Etiquettes’.
  • The blogging session did not touch on topic of people using blogs to attack each other.

"Live blogging demo": Blog Talk at CSC

This is a "live" demo of how an entry can be posted to a blog. When asked what were the expectations of this course, a lady offered, "To learn how to blog". Another asked, "Excuse me, how do you get to this webpage."

This picture was posted "live":
01 Setting Up

Example of how to hyperlink to NLB.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Announcing the "Librarians In Singapore" googlegroup

It started off as an idea (right after I posted this). Two people librarians responded positively to the idea. One included this statement in the reply: "Just do it".

So I did. Spent a few hours after dinner for the past week, working on the googlegroup. Then experimented with Google Page Creator, and now there's a webpage to go with it. Sent invitations to a few people whom I think would be interested.

It's now ready to accept more people -- Non-Librarians, Librarians, Singaporeans, Non-Singaporeans etc. Sign-up here:
An informal networking group for librarians living & working in Singapore. But you DON'T have to be Singaporean or even a librarian. Join us if you're interested/ curious about "Libraries and Librarians".

screenshot - Librarians In Singapore group webpage.jpg

Details of the Whys and Whats, at the webpage:

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Pictures from the "I Love My Library 2007" campaign launch

As promised, here are some pictures from the launch of the "I Love My Library 2007" campaign at Bishan Community Library (BICL) on 9th March.

After their respective speeches, Dr. N Varaprasad, Chief Executive of NLB (left) and Dr. Balaji Sadasivan, Senior Minister of State for MFA and MICA (right) were given a small panel each, to be mounted up. One said "Your Library:" and the other was "Use it. Love it!"
"I Love My Library 2007" - The Launch

Then they're joined by the campaign mascot, Dino (mentioned in the press release). Incidentally, there's a librarian under the dinosaur suit. :)
"I Love My Library 2007"

One of my librarian colleague took the initiative to contact Innova Junior College, after she learnt that the Junior College (JC) was named the "Centre of Excellence for New Media and New Media Arts" (PDF article here). She asked if their students would be interested in making a video to go with the launch. They were, and the end result was a short comedy film of sorts .
Library Etiquette Video, Innova Junior College
As I recall, the storyline went like this: Guy goes to the library. Guy ignores all library etiquette. Beautiful Librarian comes along. Speaks firmly to Guy. He falls in love. Guy becomes ardent supporter of library etiquette. Guy tries to woo Beautiful Librarian. Then Beautiful Librarian gets harassed by Library Punk. Guy comes to Beautiful Librarian's defence -- not resorting to violence but using his intellect and public spiritedness. I can't remember if Guy goes out with Beautiful Librarian.

Right after the film, I joked with some one that the moral of the story was to hire pretty-looking librarians to deal with guys. Heh.

Right after the Innova JC video, a few students from Assumption English School -- and two NLB staff -- put up a Mime. They gamely posed for a shot after the launch.
"I Love My Library 2007" - The Mimes, Assumption English School & NLB Librarians

There were exhibits of art works contributed by students, based on the "I Love My Library" theme.
"I Love My Library 2007" - Student Art works

Guests were also given heart-shaped pieces of paper to write their Love-Notes on why they love the library.
"I Love My Library 2007" - Love Notes

Here's my note (I wasn't rambling, for once -- LOL):
My Love Note - "I Love My Library 2007"

Friday, March 09, 2007

Media press release: "I Love My Library" 2007

The following press release was issued to the media on the launch of NLB's "I Love My Library 2007" on 9 March, Friday 2007.

I was at the launch at Bishan Community Library (BICL) this morning. I took some pictures for posting in our department's Intranet Blog, to share with colleagues who couldn't make it. I'll share some of those pictures in the next post.

Meanwhile, here's the press release. For enquiries about the campaign, please contact NLB.
National Library Board continues in its efforts to encourage civic-consciousness amongst library users with "I Love My Library" initiative
  • Year-long campaign aims to encourage Singaporeans to practise good library etiquette and instill the need to respect the library as a shared space
  • Highlights include a roving exhibition with a new mascot for "I Love My Library" to reach out to young library users
Singapore, 9 March 2007 - The National Library Board today launched its annual "I Love My Library" campaign to encourage library users to practise good library etiquette at all times. The campaign also aims to reach out to Singaporeans to reinforce the need to respect the library as a shared space.

In recent years, the library has seen an increase in the number of visitors as well as the number of books borrowed. Last year, in NLB libraries alone, when compared to figures in 2004, visitorship has increased from about 30 million to 32 million, and loans from 26 million to nearly 28 million.

With the large number of library customers, we have received feedback of unsocial behaviours by some patrons. The majority of the complaints received were on the noise level in the library. Another common behaviour observed was that of users who do not place browsed items back into book bins/ trolleys. The other two most observed behaviours were discussing or talking loudly in the libraries, followed by sleeping or napping.

"Even though many civic-conscious users have raised their disapproval of these improper public behaviour, the minority responsible for such acts has been nonchalant about it. Therefore, in 2007, we felt that it is imperative to continue encouraging good library etiquette." said Dr Varaprasad, Chief Executive, National Library Board.

NLB hopes that the 'I Love My Library' initiative will encourage library users to take ownership of the public libraries by playing their part in being civic-conscious and to practise good library etiquette. This is in line with the Singapore Kindness Movement's mission to inspire graciousness through spontaneous acts of kindness and making life more pleasant for everyone. We hope that this initiative will remind library users that displaying courtesy, kindness and consideration toward others will benefit not others, but oneself.

To reach out to all patrons through a series of tongue-in-cheek comics, well-known local cartoonist Lee Chee Chew has also lent his support to the campaign for the second year, illustrating how the library is being misused. These comics will be displayed as posters, pillar wraps and bookmarks in libraries across Singapore to remind users of good library etiquette and how their actions may lead to a loss of knowledge for other users.

Besides these visual reminders, there will also be a series of events and initiatives held throughout the year (See Annex A). The campaign will also be fronted by a new mascot, Dino, who will travel to libraries around Singapore with a roving exhibition that aims to raise users' awareness on good library etiquette and to instill a sense of civic-consciousness in young users.

NLB will also be holding a Customer Appreciation Day in May to recognise patrons for their considerate use of the library. This will be supplemented by activities such as regular children's storytelling sessions where storytellers will spend the first ten minutes highlighting good library manners and other special activities such as a crossword puzzle on library etiquette and skits by students on library etiquette. These events will be lined up for users at selected community libraries throughout the year.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

RSI radio Interview with Rambling Librarian

Was doing some email-housekeeping and re-discovered this radio interview with Joel Chua from Radio Singapore International (RSI) back in November 2006.
Think of the most exciting jobs around and “librarian” would probably be somewhere at the bottom of the list. And that’s something even most librarians wouldn’t disagree with. But this week on Blogwatch, we speak with the Rambling Librarian, who, despite the nature of his job, has managed to attract his fair share of cyber fans.
Listen hereClick here to Listen.

Here's the transcript (note: the link to the audio on this transcript page may not be for the correct interview ~ thanks to Joel for the correct page).

Cyber fans?
You sure you got the right Rambling Librarian, Joel? LOL

Hmm... I still find it awkward when hearing myself speak, although the goosebumpy feeling gets lesser with time. Shan't be too hard on myself. At least I sounded coherent most of the time.

I'm definitely better at writing than speaking off the cuff ('cos when you write, you have time to re-write). It's a good thing Joel did an excellent job in cutting out the rambling parts from the original interview. If not, Joel would have to re-title the episode to "Interview with a Librarian who Rambles Badly"!

Can anyone recommend a book to this librarian on something like "Speaking Well, Spontaneously"? Heh.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Updates: Disability-related groups and events

Recent posts from

i-CREATe 2007

Thanks to Dennis for the heads-up on this event — i-CREATe 2007 ( He informs the mailing list that, “NLB is the venue for inaugural International Convention for Rehabilitative Engineering & Assistive Technology (i-CREATe) 2007″.


Photography website for People with Disabilities (PWDs)
Alvan says: Looks promising and interesting, as a shutterbug myself...


Disability-related groups at


Flying Librarians of Oz

What a catchy title -- "Flying Librarians of Oz: What’s all the fuss about Second Life and what’s it got to do with libraries?"

Check out Kathryn's slides. Read her blog post here.

Slide 16 outlines "what libraries do in Second Life"; Slide 17 addresses the all-important question of "Who Pays?"; Slide 18 outlines the libraries that have started offering their services in Second Life.

I'm curious what sort of responses Kathryn received from her audience. Did any manage to answer "what the fuss was about"? :)

Personally, I feel there shouldn't be any fuss. All in a day's work of librarians proactively exploring the possibilities, with the aim of enhancing their services to customers and remaining relevant in the road ahead.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

If Online Storage is the future, where do libraries come in?

Quite some time ago, I'd skimmed through Jeremiah Ow-yang's posts on the future of Online Storage (e.g. this and this one). At that time, the topic of Online Storage didn't really make a deep impression me.

That was until I dug up these two posts "from the past":
  • Kenneth lamented about the loss of his computer data. His hard disk failed and he didn't make backups of his music, photos and document files. *Ouch*
  • Vanessa was considering a hassle-free system to backup her data. She needed to deal with her growing collection of digital files that were rapidly exceeding her various physical storage spaces.
With Kenneth's and Vanessa's posts fresh in my mind, I re-read Jeremiah's. I feel Online Storage is something to watch. I'm not predicting that Online Storage is the Next Big Thing. I'm saying it bears watching.

I suggest that developments in Online Storage will be of relevance to libraries and librarians.

Data retrieval from the respective Online Storage services
One obvious area would be how librarians can effectively search and retrieve the data. The assumption is that individuals will make some of their privately-owned data (stored online) to be publicly accessible -- like what we see with Flickr and PicasaWeb, just to name two.

The respective Online Storage services would have their own search features that mines for their specific data. Those search features may require variations in search syntax, and/ or require users to know where and what to look (interface-wise).

"But there's Google and Yahoo!"

Well, good as they are, they will not be the complete solution in information retrieval. For instance, as of now it's still more efficient to search directly in services like Flickr and Technorati if you have specific formats or information in mind.

Perhaps in the future, advances in Search Engines and personal computing power may allow end-users to custom build their own "Federated Searches". However, the limitations of Federated Searches are likely to be persistent.

Even if there exists an efficient and effective "Single Search" service, one also has to consider the growth in the data. The resultant mega-listings of search results would likely force users to narrow their searches using the respective search features of the Online Storage services.

Tagging & Folksonomies; Informal Classification and Indexing Systems
As users upload and create more files and data, they would naturally recognise the need to index, categorise/ classify their data. We already see this happening with services like Blogger (Labels), Wordpress (Categories), Flickr, Technorati and (Tags).

My observation is that the term "Tags" has become generic (like "Escalators" and "Elevators"). What used to be a practice limited to Librarianship is now being adopted by the masses -- in principle, if not in form.

I'm not suggesting that libraries should enter the fray and propose a formal taxonomy for Online Storage services. What librarians can do is to leverage on this increased awareness and educate users on concepts like Controlled Vocabulary.

As search systems get easier to use and our customers becoming more sophisticated, our user-education classes would be less library-centric, and more user-centric (e.g. how they can effectively organise their own data using their Online Storage service of choice).

The more effective the information is "tagged", the greater the efficiency and effectiveness of the librarian in searching for the information (on the behalf of users). Implied in this is that as the availability of data grows, the more -- not less -- the customer would appreciate and rely on the professional services by libraries and librarians.

** *** **

All the above are conjectures of course. What I'm certain though, is that it would be worth our while as Library and Information Professionals (where our general strength is in Information Intermediation) to anticipate issues and opportunities that might help the profession remain relevant in an increasingly dis-intermediated industry.

Saturday humour: Who's the real blogger?

Xylo the Cat says, "Rats! Caught in the act. Now that Siva has discovered that I can blog, I'll have to get rid of him."
"Rats! The secret's out. Now you know who's the REAL blogger behind Otterman Speaks."

Seriously though, did you know there's a computer program to "detect cat-like typing?" (Siva rediscovered it, thanks to his cat Xylo).

Friday, March 02, 2007

Book: "Social Software in Libraries" by Meredith Farkas

Thanks to Redha (no blog?) -- who was one of the attendees at the WebSG Meetup #2 -- for dropping me an email, alerting me to Meredith "Librarian, Author & Tech Geek" Farkas' new book:
"Social Software in Libraries: Building Collaboration, Communication and Community Online" by Meredith Farkas

Foreword by Roy Tennant:

Here is the first book to explore the growing phenomenon of social software and how these technologies can be applied in libraries. Social software lets libraries show a human face online, helping them communicate, educate, and interact with their communities. This nuts-and-bolts guide provides librarians with the information and skills necessary to implement the most popular and effective social software technologies: blogs, RSS, wikis, social networking software, screencasting, photo-sharing, podcasting, instant messaging, gaming, and more. Success stories and interviews highlight these tools’ ease-of-use—and tremendous impact. Novice readers will find ample descriptions and advice on using each technology, while veteran users of social software will discover new applications and approaches. Supported by the author’s Web page.
Here's her companion blog to the book.

Meredith has anticipated librarians asking "Why Should Librarians Care About Social Software?", and explains it in this preview chapter. The last paragraph sums it pretty well:
Libraries need to look at social software applications as valuable tools for communicating with and serving their current patrons, as well as attracting new library patrons. Social software can provide libraries with a human face beyond their walls. It can provide them with ways to communicate, collaborate, educate, and market services to their patrons and other community members. Social software can also help libraries position themselves as the online hub of their communities. Technology can make libraries more relevant to people who think they can get all their information from the Web, while attracting a brand new population to the library.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

A librarian at a Web Standards Meetup? What gives?

As I was drafting the post about the 2nd WebSG meetup, the following question came to mind: "Why would a librarian/ non-web-developer like me be interested in Web Standards and participate in a meetup?"

I suppose there are three reasons:

1) I'm interested in how this particular community thinks.
What are the possible role(s) the library can play to engage such a community, especially one that shows potential for growth? My interest comes partly from this aspect of the NLB L2010 Report: "Organise around Customer Communities"
NLB will work towards an end-to-end customer relationship management process, offering personalisation and customised services to customer communities. NLB will require customer intelligence to offer users a satisfying experience. Real time customer information, preferences and profiles will enable the library to provide users with leads and connect them to other users with similar interests.
I've taken a more literal interpretation of "organising around customer communities". But somehow I believe (and I'm trying to verify) that establishing a working relationship with self-help communities like Web Standards Singapore would be one of the many ways for public libraries to remain relevant. After all, a group like Web Standards Singapore have setup their website, organised their own meetings, and probably obtain their own reading materials -- all without the involvement of the library. And they will continue to do so. If they are a community that will grow, then why not make some sort of symbiotic relationship?

2) Because Library Classification and Cataloguing systems are about standards.
Sometimes a good way to understand or analyse something is to look for parallels or similar examples. In this case, how a community advocates and adopts a "standard" could provide some insights relevant to a library setting. OK, I'm stretching this a little... maybe it will. Maybe it won't. Doesn't hurt to "try and see how".

3) The knowledge or awareness would come in handy when dealing with web development projects for the library.
I'm certainly more conscious of web standards and "standards compliance". In a recent discussions with colleagues about requirement specifications for a proposed web development project, I asked if we should include web standards as requirements. I know little about web development and coding but I'm interested in what the vendor would propose re: standards. The site will need maintenance and it may not be the same vendor who will do it. If they propose Flash as the main navigational feature of the site, that says something about potential maintenance issues (Flash is not W3C-recommended).

4) I'm learning a new concept outside of my immediate job scope.
Doesn't hurt to know an extra piece of knowledge. At least if colleagues ask me, "What's Web Standards", I'd be able to articulate something coherent. Let me try it now...

'Standards' are akin to a common "language" to share information and/ or maintaining process. We use standards all the time. Spelling & grammar are standards used in writing. If we can appreciate the need for consistent practices in spelling & grammar (which become rules) then we'd appreciate the need for web standards. Imagine you spell "intelligent" one day, and "inteligen" another. And another person spells it "inntelegent". You could decipher it eventually but it would take that much longer. Where web development is concerned, translate that inefficiency to the time and cost of hiring a developer to redesign your library website.

Makes sense? Did I pass? : )