Saturday, November 29, 2008

Finally "LIVE" - Singapore Creative Commons licenses

It's finally "live"! Singapore is now listed under the country of jurisdiction when you choose a CC license.

Creative Commons Singapore licences - Now "LIVE"!

In case you're wondering what's the difference between this announcement and the previous one that announced the "porting of licenses", this might give you the background.

Why choose a Singapore-based CC license? Giorgos answers this here:
... if you are a Singapore-based author/creator there is nothing stopping you from using another country’s license from the Creative Commons website, but it makes all the sense in the world to use the Singapore-specific licenses - these are crafted with a language that is tailored to Singapore law and this will be helpful for local legal experts and courts in case you ever need to take legal action against unlawful uses of your content.

So, you’re doing yourself a favor if you use the Singapore-specific Creative Commons licenses (and of course you’re also making those of us who worked on them happy to see the licenses used in practice)!

Congrats to the CC-Singapore team, namely Anil Samtani and Giorgos Cheliotis from NTU, Warren Chik and Ankit Guglani from SMU.

If you're a Singapore-based author/ creator and are interested in sharing your work online AND ensuring your rights are properly articulated, do spread the word about the Creative Commons and the availability of the "Singapore" option in the list of jurisdictions when you choose a CC license.

I'll probably take a few weeks months to update the CC-licenses on my respective sites to reflect the Singapore-based ones.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

The Laughing Buddha Cab Company/ Chris Mooney-Singh

[First published at RoughNotes]

The title shouted from its cover: The Laughing Buddha Cab Company.

A Buddha's face, an open palm, an old-style taxi cab at the bottom-right.

And the poet himself -- a Caucasian face under a Sikh's turban.

Laughing Buddha Cab Company

Scanning through the pages quickly, some words and phrases caught my attention: "Monkey men", "Metallica dreams"...

Didn't mean anything to me (as yet) but certainly very intriguing.

And so I read the poems on the way home.

This was one poetry book that connected with me, for some reason.

Maybe because it revealed more layers to the poet, as a person.

Chris Mooney-Singh gives his readers a peek into his life and experiences, through the poems drawn from jaunts in taxi cabs, in Singapore and India.

The piece titled "Taxi Pantun" (page 57) was quite poignant. About a cabbie relating his woes of his wife (the cabbie's) battle with cancer to his passenger. Not knowing that his passenger emphatised more than one might think.

Speaking of empathy, lines like these made me ponder:
"I watch the bats
outside the MRT
where taxis stop
as we return
with troubled looks
from anxious jobs.
Their circling wings
match out heartbeats,
a comforting flutter
above our heads."

From p. 65 - "Urban Dwellers"

I thought these were beautiful words:
"Light scaled your hair last night.
A moon rising between apartments
sent down its white ladder through
the window while you were sleeping."

From p. 68 - "Views from My Apartment"

In this collection, Chris' poems gives me the sense that there's an air of acceptance; a coming-to-terms with whatever life has thrown at him.

"Children, Darling, are no longer an option.
Children cannot pour like jellybeans

from old jars. Sweets may not be good
for us, after our half century. Better they

stay away. We can go to other homes
as uncle and aunt and give out Toblerone...
From p. 72 - "Views from My Apartment".

I know I shouldn't draw the conclusion that this collection is about Chris and his life.

But I can't help but think that he's giving the reader hints of his life, a peek into his mind.

Overall, I'd say this collection is "Quietly Colourful".

The poems are contemplative and reflective.

Come to think of it, this collection could be said to be like Chris the poetry-man himself.

The words burst with a performer's flair at times.

Colourful, like Chris the performer of poetry.

And quiet.

When the stage lights dim and the performer steps off.

Perhaps into a taxi cab.

Chris Mooney-Singh. Laughing Buddha Cab Company

See also:

Friday, November 21, 2008

I've been Remixed! in this video on video on "Healthcare Support Groups in Virtual Worlds"

Nice of John to email me that he used my CCmixter samples -- Saying Goodnight and White Nights -- for his video:

John wrote that the video is part of a healthcare support room he created in Google's virtual world, "Lively" (which is soon to be defunct though, as Google is closing it down).

Anyway, thanks John, for using the samples. Glad they worked for you.

[Also posted at MyRightBrain]

I've been Remixed! by The Caffeinated Writer

[First posted at Starfish Stories]

When a stranger uses an original song of mine in his his podcast, it's a "Woot!"

When he wants to adopt it as his permanent Intro and Outro for his podcast, AND actually follows up on it -- double Woot!

I just love these lines (from his podcast #1):
We woke up from the sleepy hangover haze of the 1990s, straight into the screaming morning horror of September 11, 2001...

The city of Philadelphia felt like a sack of wet farts baked in summer time sizzle. But we bore the heat, ignored the smell and pressed on anyway. Because that was what needed to be done.

Check out The Caffeinated Writer.

Thanks for using the music, Frank.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Quick update from CCKPL blogger's preview

There were a lot more bloggers for the CCKPL preview on Tuesday evening (maybe there was more time for people to respond).

Eight of them turned up, hosted by the CCKPL branch manager, Ms. Lim Puay Ling (and treated to a nice dinner spread -- sorry we didn't have that for YIPL preview, mrsbudak!)

There was a nice mix of familiar faces and new ones.

Preetam was one of the familiar faces. I took a shot of him demonstrating the Bookeen's Cybook eBook reader. He makes good use of the NLB eResources, regularly downloading stuff to his Bookeen.
Bookeen's Cybook Gen 3 eBook reader Bookeen's Cybook Gen 3 eBook reader

Yi Chie was a new blogger I met. He's also the first to blog about the exclusive preview session.

He told me he was an "Infographic Journalist", working for a newspaper publisher here. Next time you folks read the papers, check out the soccer infographics (hint-hint) and see if you can find his name.

I was much impressed when he related how he got his current job, based on what he'd picked up from the library's collection of books on Photoshop and Illustrator. In fact, I don't think he's a unique case in this aspect (picking graphic skills from library books, I mean).

Will update this post if the rest of the bloggers publish something (we really left it to them).

Choa Chu Kang Public Library opens this Friday, 21 Nov, at 11am.


Thursday, November 13, 2008

Yishun Public Library blogger's preview

[From this post]

Two bloggers emailed me saying they were interested in the Yishun Public Library preview tonight: mrsbudak and Paul.

Unfortunately, Paul couldn't make it, as he was still at work at 6.30pm (he did qualify that be might not be able to make it down, and he was nice enough to email me when he was still stuck in office).

My colleague, Isaak, led the tour.

We had a nice chat with mrsbudak. At one point, I expressed surprise that there was any response at all to the call for bloggers.

mrsbudak responded:

"Why not?"

"I love libraries."

Ah, library users like her.

Makes this job worthwhile.

YIPL officially opens tomorrow, 14 Nov 2008, at 11am.
Yishun Public Library
Yishun Public Library

Update: mrsbudak's YIPL flickr set (she's got a good eye for camera angles). And her views about libraries new and old (warning: contains smatterings of adult-oriented language).

Paul might not have made it for the preview session but he blogged about his visit.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Call for bloggers in Singapore: Preview of Yishun and Choa Chu Kang public libraries

I've been given permission to issue this open call for bloggers in Singapore, interested in attending preview sessions for two relocated public libraries: Yishun Public Library and Choa Chu Kang Public Library.

You'd get to tour the library (or libraries -- you can attend one or both) before the official opening. Check out Have a first look at what's new on the shelves.

You'll be able to take photos and videos (without the usual crowd jostling you for space and camera angles).

The library manager and staff would be there to answer your questions, and receive your feedback and suggestions. Refreshments will be served.

#1 - YISHUN PUBLIC LIBRARY (reopens 14 Nov 08, 11am)
Yishun Public Library Yishun Public Library - new arrivals
Bloggers preview session on:
Thur, 13 Nov 2008, 6.30pm - 7.30pm
Northpoint Shopping Centre, 930 Yishun Ave 2, Level 4
(Please email me, with your blog URL, at, by this Thursday 13 Nov, 12pm latest)

#2 - CHOA CHU KANG PUBLIC LIBRARY (reopens 21 Nov 08, 11am)
Choa Chu Kang Public Library Choa Chu Kang Public Library
Bloggers preview session on:
Tue, 18 Nov 2008, 6pm - 7.30pm
21, Choa Chu Kang Ave 4, Lot 1 Shoppers' Mall #04-01/02
(Please email me, with your blog URL, at, by Mon 17 Nov, 12pm latest)

Feel free to forward/ blog this message to those whom might be interested.

I hope there would be bloggers, who are fans of the library, who'd respond to this.


[Related: YIPL bloggers' preview]

Thursday, November 06, 2008

HKLA 50th Anniversary Conference: Part 4

[From Part 3]

"Mass digitization, Scan Robotics, and more: The digitization strategy of the Bavarian State Library as in International Research Library". By Dr. Klaus Ceynowa, Deputy Director General, Bavarian State Library (i.e. the National Library of Bavarian), Germany.
Dr. Klaus Ceynowa - HKLA 50th Anniversary Conference

They are 450 years old this year!

They operates 7 days a week, 0800 hours to 2400 hours daily.

See themselves as an "European Universal Library" and an "International research library".

Target audience are researchers, scholars and students -- worldwide.

Rich and deep collections dating back to the 16th century. Most notably its Medieval manuscripts, including an original Gutenberg-pressed bible.
Dr. Klaus Ceynowa - HKLA 50th Anniversary Conference

Bavarian state lib has 16,000 oriental & Asian collections. Including Dun Huang manuscripts dating back to 1651.

Their digitisation strategy (i.e. their approach to funding, and collections to be digitised)
For funding, they have decided to partner with Google but only for manuscripts from the 17th and 19th century. Says there is an urgent need to preserve the collections. And only Google has offered that amount of money.
Dr. Klaus Ceynowa - HKLA 50th Anniversary Conference

For materials from the 20th and 21st century, Dr. Ceynowa said something about these still being under copyright so they won't be digitised for now (if I got my facts right).

As for their Special Collections, maps, music supplies, these will be digitised in the future, from funding by the European Library (or was it Council)?

They have decided to go for mass "industrial-scale" digitisation, rather than a highly-selective approach. No selective picking. They would scan everything (within the identified collection period) with the aim towards volume.

Main challenge is logistics. They designed a workflow to track every item, at every step of the procedure. And in a manner that doesn't interrupt the normal day-to-day workflow.

Dr. Klaus Ceynowa - HKLA 50th Anniversary Conference

They're using something called "ScanRobots", which they jointly developed with a German firm. The machine automatically flips the pages, captures the pages in very high resolution -- two facing pages at the time.
Dr. Klaus Ceynowa - HKLA 50th Anniversary Conference

Target is to scan between 1,000 to 2,000 pages daily.

Their partnership with Google
Without revealing any specific contractual details, Dr. Ceynowa shared that Google will complete the digitisation (of the agreed materials) within 10 years, at no cost to their library.

Scanning is done within Bavaria; the materials will not be transported out of their country.

Google and the Bavarian State Library will get digital copies, and the Bavarian State Library will also own the "digital data" (i.e. they have the source digital scans). Their library is subsequently free to provide the scanned documents "via OPAC, website, and the library web services". And they can freely share the object metadata.

The Bavarian State Library is not allowed to give the digital objects away.

The contract is non-exclusive (i.e. Bavarian State Library can choose to scan the same materials with another partner; doesn't mean Google has the exclusive rights to scan the materials).

Dr. Ceynowa ended his keynote speech by saying that they are choosing to be a digital library, rather than a library with the physical objects.

Says to survive in the world of information, libraries have to be a place within the online world.

To that, they have reconstructed their building in SecondLife.

Their premise is that if more people use the digital collections, then more people will eventually find their way to use the physical library.

[Next: Part 5]

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

HKLA 50th Anniversary Conference: Part 3

[From Part 2]

Dr. Colin Storey (University Librarian), University Library System, The Chinese University of Hong Kong.

I found myself agreeing with most of what Dr. Storey had to say. And disagreeing with some.

His talk was titled "Ur-librarian to un-librarian, or Ur-librarian to Uber-librarian?"

The parts I agreed
He suggested there were "8 professional distinctions":
  • ICT-literate library school graduates
  • Need to know about books and intellectual history
  • Librarians need to be serious readers ourselves
  • Professionally global in perspective
  • Have a sense of importance in our work, coupled with common-sense and a sense of proportion
  • Totally committed to the free flow of information
  • Expert in public relations
  • Totally vigilant with our spending of public money

Colin Storey - HKLA 50th Anniversary Conference Colin Storey - HKLA 50th Anniversary Conference

And "5 personal distinctions":
  • Out-going personality for outreach
  • Brave and persistent
  • Quick-thinking and articulate of speech
  • Sharp political sense (to survive in senior policy committees)
  • Steadfastness and humility
Dr. Storey says library managers and librarians have different expectations about library 'brand'. Meanwhile, users have another.
Colin Storey - HKLA 50th Anniversary Conference

Thinking readers "know everything" is a great mistake.

The parts I disagreed
My understanding of what Dr. Storey terms an "un-librarian" was a person who called oneself a "librarian" but who betrayed the "tradition" of librarianship.

In his paper, he gave the example of how librarians "spend time on un-librarianish things, and less and less on helping the users". He took issue that "librarians are appearing at material handling and logistics conferences along with storage container facility managers" and suggested librarians had better use of their professional time.

Maybe he's relating to a different context, and I don't know what went on during the meetings Dr. Storey mentioned , but I feel librarianship is ultimately about access.

In a sense, libraries are really in the "information logistics" business. Our job was is to bring books from publishers to the readers (to the library, but perhaps via home delivery -- who knows).

The logistics aspect was part of "Access to Information". If going to meetings with storage facility managers helps, then why not? (Wasting time at unproductive meetings is a separate issue).

Another area Dr. Storey took issue was how "centuries-old cloister of the mediaeval French monk and of the Qing Dynasty scholar is being quickly jettisoned in favour of cafes, sofa beds, multi-coloured neon lighting, concert halls, and wi-fi hotspots so that the digital native kids can get Face Book".

I think we have to separate the issue of "bad taste in furniture" Vs. "the need to re-invent library spaces".

Multi-coloured neon lighting? Maybe that's questionable.

But how are cafes wrong? Or Wi-fi access for that matter? I think we have to judge the decisions on space planning and design on customer's needs and relevance. I can't make the connection with those examples and the acts of un-librarianship that Dr. Storey is suggesting.

If my notes are accurate, in his presentation, Dr. Storey says "librarians should try new things and move forward. But still have to cherish our traditions."

I totally buy that. But I think the contention is "What is our tradition?"

Seems to me it depends on how broadly (or narrowly) we choose to define what is tradition.

Additional "five professional distinctions"
Dr. Storey ended his presentation by suggesting the "8 x 5" distinctions should be "8 x 5 x 5". The additional five being:
  • To be more informal in formally organising access
  • Not to dumb down to get readers
  • Remain non-commercial and/ or unbiased
  • Not disclose patron history
  • Try to assist in searching for and access to "library-watermarked sites" (approved sites?)

So, I don't quite agree with everything Dr. Storey said.

But I totally agree with his last slide:
Colin Storey - HKLA 50th Anniversary Conference

[Next: Part 4]

HKLA 50th Anniversary Conference: Part 2

[From Part 1]

"Building a service culture in a major Asian academic library". Presented by Peter Edward Sidorko (Deputy University Librarian) & Esther Woo (Administrative Services Team Leader). The University of Hong Kong Libraries.

"This is not about technology. This is not about digitisation," said Peter (it's a wry sort of library humour, if you will).

Peter Sidorko - HKLA 50th Anniversary Conference

"No one escaped" in their quest to improve customer service ratings for their libraries. They targeted librarians to cleaners.

Mentioned global pressures as one reason for drive towards greater customer service improvement.

That, plus the results from their customer survey and feedback.

Their paper cited the "Service-profit Chain Model" (Haskett et al, 1994). The model is based on the premise that profit and growth is derived from customer satisfaction and loyalty. Which is in turn derived from a customer sense of value received, and the capability, productivity, satisfaction and loyalty of employees.

Peter, in his presentation, cited the BBC report (2005) on how librarians suffered the most stress, compared to firefighers and the police (one reason being a lack of support structure for librarians to handle work stress).

In that light, HKU believes that "stressed librarians cannot provide good service".

They modified their organisation logo to reflect a consistent image to go with their new taglines relating to customer service.

Their main approach in improving their customer service levels:
  • Clarify (internally) what is expected in terms of customer service levels (rather than assume all staff & management share the same view)
  • Improve internal communication (they have 240 staff, considered big for academic libraries)
  • Improve skills through formal and informal methods (they looked at interpersonal skills as well)
They developed three modules to address those areas:
  1. The Philosophy of Customer Service
  2. (3 Parts) Focusing on Library Customers/ Problem-solving Process/ Communication with Customers
  3. Internal Communication

Esther shared how they carried out their internal staff training programme.

Esther Woo - HKLA 50th Anniversary Conference

They called it Sharing Sessions rather than "training". One reasone was some staff, who were asked to conduct the internal training, had doubted if they were qualified enough to conduct training sessions per se.

[I wonder if they should have a formal "Trian-the-Internal-Trainer" programme, where their own staff become trained Trainers to champion service quality].


Some personal rambling reflections
Seems to me HKU Libraries tried to look into the Process, Awareness and Attitude aspects. Of those three, "Attitude" seems the hardest to tackle, i.e. measure and address.
[note to self: email Peter and ask him about this]

I was also wondering how successful organisations influence staff to care about the quality of work.

Of course the word "care" was loaded with subjectivity. Also, it would be hard to measure, wouldn't it? How would you tell if one employee "cared more" that another?

Which led me to ask myself, "Are there any reliable indicators that employers can use or questions to ask, during the interview and recruitment phase, to better ascertain the candidate's attitude towards service quality?"

'Cos nothing beats addressing the problem at the start, I think.

Then I thought about "service channels".

For instance, are staff using the same channels available to external customers? Or do they use some other means not available to those outside the organisation?

If the answer to the latter is 'yes', it may be an indication of some areas for quality improvement.

So the long term objective would be to raise the level of the service (to external users) to become equal to the "special internal service", isn't it?

I think experienced librarians will tell you most customers will walk away satisfied when they feel the librarian has done their best, even if they do not get the information they are seeking.

Perhaps it's HOW you do it, as well as WHAT you deliver.

[Incidentally, I just read from CNA that Singapore improves world ranking in customer service].

[Next: Part 3]

Monday, November 03, 2008

HKLA 50th Anniversary Conference: Part 1

[This is Part 1]

Off to Hong Kong in a few hours time.

To present a paper at the Hong Kong Library Association 50th Anniversary Conference.
Looking Back, Moving Forward: Asian Libraries in the World of Information November 4-5, 2008, The Hong Kong Central Library

My paper is on the various digital/ new media initiatives our Public Library Service initiated (starting in 2005 with this event, then this in 2006, followed by this and also this in 2007, then this being latest for 2008):
By Mr. Ivan Chew, Manager, Adult & Young People's Services (Public Libraries). National Library Board, Singapore

Teenagers (13 to 19 years) are a user group that the Singapore public libraries find difficult to reach. One reason is that the typical library programmes (e.g. talks and lectures) do not appeal to them. In response, the Singapore Public Library has been using digital mediums like blogs and Instant Messaging in its programmes and activities for teens. The strategy has been to leverage on teens being IT savvy, so that programmes for teens are relevant and meaningful to them. In addition, the library also seeks to involve teens overseas, through various overseas partners.

This paper presents case studies from the NLB Public Library's programmes for its teen library users. It will share the learning points in conducting those events, and also discuss the library's future plans.

Two other NLB colleagues -- Ivy Lee (National Library), and Ian Yap (Public Library) -- will also be speaking at the conference.

Looking Back, Moving Forward: Asian Libraries in the World of Information November 4-5, 2008, The Hong Kong Central Library

Looking Back, Moving Forward: Asian Libraries in the World of Information November 4-5, 2008, The Hong Kong Central Library

Say, all our names start with "I", lol.

After the 2-day conference, Ian and myself will be on a study-visit to a few libraries of the Hong Kong Public Library.

As usual, I'll try to share what I can (where appropriate) from the conference proceedings, and from the library visits.

[Next: Part 2]

Saturday, November 01, 2008

"McCain Can't Type, but YES WE CAN!"

With Social Media, ordinary people now have a voice.

An open-described and captioned version (for people who are blind and deaf) is available here.

Of course, to be fair to McCain, read this and this.

Now, I'm thinking -- this is really a mental roller coaster ride.

Chronologically, it started with this, then this, and now this.

Will Singapore politics go this way?

Maybe the real question is: When Singapore politics go this way, how will voters and politicians react?

What's clear is that Social Media is a reality.

What is less clear are the consequences, intended or unintended.