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    Vintage slice for copyright

    Posted in Lifestyle
    July 31st, 2015

    Happy Cooking for Copyright! (I have accidentally been typing this as Cooing for Copyright, which I really hope happens but I’d prefer for the pigeon to survive, than die in a pie for copyright reform).

    Lick it good

    Beat it

    Why is it all happening? FAIR (Freedom of Access to Information and Resources) have done a naughty thing and posted handwritten recipes to their website. Why would this make them “baddies”? It technically breaches copyright law:

    “FAIR claims copyright law reform is long overdue – and it’s focusing on the fact that in Australia copyright in published works lasts 70 years after the death of the creator, but for unpublished works, copyright lasts forever. This means old diaries, letters, even recipes are locked away.

    Sue McKerracher, spokesperson for FAIR, and CEO of the Australian Library and Information Association, said, ‘We’d like the same copyright terms for unpublished works as for published works. Then our libraries, museums and historical societies could put these treasures on the web for family historians, researchers, and everyone else who is fascinated by our social history.’”

    If you squint, it could also be Crooning for Copyright. That would be fun in quiet library reading rooms – barbershop flashbomb! They could sing from unpublished song lyrics. The combs in their back pockets would give them away, though. They’d be whisked out by the guards the instant they tried to see their preppy reflections in the silver embossing on book spines.

    My cooking was off to a good start except the caster sugar leaked all inside the shopping bag. Possibly this could be because of a self-serve checkout. Maybe the person that packed my bag just shoved it all in there and the vegan margarine box dented the sugar packet. I wish the food duopoly would just pay more staff so that I don’t throw everything into the bag in a rage because I’m paying them for me to be on the checkout. Mr Sonja said “no use crying over spilt sugar”.

    Up close crunchy ginger slice

    Crunchy ginger slice

    I baked Margaret’s vintage Crunchy ginger slice.  I’m not the best at following recipes, and was doing quite well till the topping. I started to worry that it wasn’t thick enough so I emptied the icing sugar bag into it. Then there were heaps of lumps (which are meant to be stirred out), it looked like the saccharine equivalent of swimming carnival when they fill the pool with corks and non-swimming kids have to grab them all. Like bobbing for apples except they are in a molten ginger lava and the apples are sugar lumps. I ignored the saucepan of topping for a few minutes because I was envisioning my slice being the equivalent of the skinny untanned guy at a competition for really swole golden body builders. How would it look compared to all the pretty #CookingforCopyright dishes? Then I turned back and all the lumps were gone! I’m sending thanks to my mysterious kitchen angels. I realised this meant maybe I had followed the instructions so I covered it in coconut.

    I licked the beaters and had my usual fear that even when they’re not in the machine, they’ll suddenly come to life and shred my tongue. Then I burnt my mouth on the topping spoon. But the slice looks good and I’m not embarrassed to take it to the library tomorrow! (which is almost as important as copyright reform)

    Book checkers

    Posted in blogjune
    June 2nd, 2014


    I often have overdue books. I like to think it’s because as a librarian, I spend a lot of time as a flesh equivalent of a due-date reminder for others about their own loans. At birth, we’re allocated a finite amount of brain power dedicated to returning books. Library professionals altruistically gift this allocation to their borrowers and in turn are constantly in the “recalcitrant borrower” shackles. Inspired by Hoi’s “Check in”.


    When I worked in a police library, it was a running joke to call librarians “book enforcement officers”. I am actually fairly relaxed, but borrowers with a guilty conscience see any library staff member, and gain an expression of melancholic despair (and sense of impending doom) as though they’ve suddenly noticed Jack Frost tapping on the windowpane. They back away slowly and whisper, “I was just about to return those…” I know of a library that has a lending policy date of several years, this alleviates their storage issues.


    Mr. Cat and library books

    Mr. Cat the voracious reader


    Here are some books we borrowed for a relative recovering for surgery – it’s luxurious being able to select lots of library books for someone as there isn’t the awkward burden of buying them the wrong book. However there is the need to return them! Shamefully overdue.



    Lorraine on looking great: my guide for real women by Lorraine Kelly

    I didn’t realise that Lorraine Kelly was famous, but I was lured in by the book cover which would be great to hold up to other passengers on the bus. Lots of exercise routines and a good suggestion of rolling a tennis ball under each foot (whilst sitting!) to soothe sore feet.


    The preserving book, editor-in-chief Lynda Brown with Carolyn Humphries and Heather Whinney

    I’d need to renew this to get the most out of it, I’ve only ever made jam in the bread maker and I was surprised at recipes like pickled walnuts – sounds dreadful!


    You are what you wear: what your clothes reveal about you by Jennifer J. Baumgartner

    The psychology of dress! Fun for understanding your own and others’ fashion choices. The thinking woman’s Colour me beautiful/confident. Lots of self-tests about overbuying and appearance anxiety, with chapters focused on lifestyle and not just clothing.


    Work your wardrobe... by Gok Wan, pp. [176-7].

    Handbag hoard


    Work your wardrobe: Gok’s gorgeous guide to style that lasts by Gok Wan

    An instance where you read the book in the author’s voice! There’s no way I could ever buy a white shirt despite it having “…such fabulous fashion potential!” p. [17]. I just don’t have it in me. A puzzling 2-page spread of a lady disrobed but for some handbags – a statement about leather? (pp. [176-7])


    Living normally: where life comes before style by Trevor Naylor; photographs by Niki Medlik

    “A show-home lifestyle is impossible for most of us. …Acres of paint, hours of TV and millions of pounds of advertising serve to idealize how our interiors should be.” – Naylor, pp. 6-7.


    A refreshing book that shows the importance of homes being welcoming and as working symbols of what is important, interior design programs do the same soul-crucifying work to houses as beauty magazines do to self-confidence.



    We did borrow books apart from ones focusing on appearance (which is a rather insensitive topic when someone’s been in hospital), but they have already been returned, so I guess these were the winners. Or as someone told me once “It took me longer to return this book because it was so boring, I needed more time to try and get through it.” At least both our patient and I enjoyed them, so that’s double value (like brewing tea several times – bargain! When you sacrifice your “return books” brain cells you need to save money somewhere to pay the overdue fines).



    Drugs library please with a cherry on top

    Posted in Lifestyle
    December 6th, 2013


    The Alcohol and other Drugs Council of Australia (ADCA) has lost its funding, so their library is also out like the baby with the bathwater. ADCA provides a drug resource service (National Drugs Sector Information Service, NDSIS) to support those working to prevent or reduce the harm to individuals, families, communities and the nation caused by alcohol and other drugs. This includes non-government agencies (such as those addressing homelessness); government departments, police and prison services, health professionals, professional organisations and more.


    Identifying and disseminating this supporting evidence is a large task done by some of ADCA’s 15 staff members: librarians, library technicians and experienced library staff – it’s a small yet important organisation. This national information clearinghouse for the Australian alcohol and other drugs field was established in 1974, and the huge collection has made an invaluable contribution to our health legislation. In addition to assisting ADCA clients, another benefit (Shelling, 2006) arising from the continual task of collating and curating this information is the DRUG database through RMIT, Informit. Without monthly database updates, the reduced currency of the database will have detrimental impacts on the health professionals that rely on it to provide contemporary research outcomes, meaning that they cannot provide the best patient care.


    Jane Shelling (Manager NDSIS at ADCA), discusses the important role of the ADCA library:


    “Perhaps the biggest benefit of working for this NGO [ADCA], and the reason staff retention is so high, is that you truly belong to a special sector. The NRC [National Resource Centre, now NDSIS] is assisting people from all over Australia who are working in varying capacities to help those with alcohol and other drug problems. Many are not well paid and are themselves working for a non-government agency but are passionate about their work and grateful to library staff who help them with research and information gathering.” (Shelling, 2008, p. 11).


    In a presentient article, Shelling also observed the growing trend of library closures in the addiction field in the US, and how in Australia, “…librarians need to speak out, advocate within our own organisations and out in the real world for quality information, libraries, and LIS professionals… Infiltrate and promote at all opportunities: special libraries are worth the effort not just to LIS professionals or researchers but to everyone. Find your voice and make it heard.” (Shelling, 2012, p. 3).


    We all need to find our voice to stand up for ADCA library, as without their contribution, people working with those most at risk will be deprived of evidence-based research assistance. The ADCA library has such a diverse range of clients because “…alcohol and drugs can touch all parts of society.” (Shelling, 2012b), and it is to everyone’s benefit to maintain this service.


    The Australian Library and Information Association (ALIA) is waging a campaign against the defunding, going directly to Assistant Health Minister Fiona Nash’s home town of Young, NSW tomorrow during the National Cherry Festival. It is hoped that this presence will highlight the damage caused by the decision to cease funding ADCA’s vital work. Please join ALIA in fighting for ADCA library! You can find out more about the campaign, visit the National Cherry Festival this Saturday 7 December (tomorrow!), tell others about the issue with the hashtag #saveADCA, and sign the petition, or text “save the books” to 0426 143 349.


    If this isn’t enticing enough, the National Cherry Festival itself has a wonderful program so you can display your ADCA library support at all the different activities. I can testify that the Wilders Bakery Cherry Pie Eating Championships are a highlight, registration is at 2pm on Saturday. Here is my less than successful attempt from 2009 – I have spared you the most graphic shots. I took my strategy from a portly young man competing before me. Perhaps I shouldn’t have viewed him as a mentor, as he was a bit unwell after competing in several heats. It’s a long story!


    Wilders Bakery Cherry Pie Eating Championships 2009, Sonja

    Amy (Cherry Queen 2009) watches the carnage


    My thoughts and best wishes are with ADCA and their staff, I hope that the festival stall on Saturday will contribute to a revision of the funding decision. Remember to tear yourself away from the pies, and find out more about ADCA library at ALIA’s stall, then even visit Young’s own South-West Regional Library branch (open M-F 9-5 and Saturdays 9:30-2).





    Shelling, J. (2006). ADCA recommends… alcohol and other drugs resources for the health library. Incite. 27, 25.


    Shelling, J. (2008). Working for a Non-government Special Library. Incite. 29, 11.


    Shelling, J. (2012a). Collective amnesia – are we complicit in the closure of special libraries?. Incite. 33, 3.


    Shelling, J. (2012b). A push technology personal librarian project. Australian Academic & Research Libraries. 43, 135-145.



    Book collage, Pets of Red Riding Hood

    Posted in Books
    October 31st, 2012


    Book spine poetry’s beauty lies in its simplicity and serendipity, a haiku writes itself on the shelving trolley or in wayward piles on a researcher’s desk. What is the next evolutionary step for book spine poetry? Perhaps movable type on books or automated book spine poems in the style of Philip Parker’s computer-generated books – see McManus’ article, “Dr Parker’s latent library and the death of the author: a philosophical inquiry”. Another possibility is a book collage, where monographs huddle together at night in schoolyard (classification) cliques behind the bicycle shed to create teeming undignified title clusters, a bibliographic laboratory of nonsensical petri dishes like this book collage:


    Collection of books showing animals, Red riding Hood, text and clouds.

    Book collage, Pets of Red Riding Hood


    Title links lead to Trove or National Library records:


    Pop-up stand-out dinosaurs

    Our jungle friends

    Red Riding Hood

    Light zine: dumb clouds and blowy guys

    Some things are impossible


    It just goes to show that Red Riding Hood could have faced a much worse challenge – dinosaurs, giraffes and hippopotamuses. The dinosaurs in the pop-up book are much more three dimensional than the impression given in this photograph of a paper Apatosaurus – presumably named as it’s an affection-loving sauropod. You can see only part of Our jungle friends, the giraffe’s story in the photo, so here’s an excerpt:


    Which jungle friend’s tall, slender, spotted?

    No doubt you’ll guess – Giraffe.

    He’s very fine and graceful,

    And yet he makes one laugh.

    I wonder what would happen,

    If he should go to buy

    A silken scarf

    or muffler.

    A collar

    or a tie?


    …I think what would happen is that the shopping talking giraffe would be rewarded with capture, for displaying such unique skills.

    Red Riding Hood is a facsimile of one of the first shape books published in America in 1863, you can see way the cover follows the shape of her silhouette. It’s also very tiny – 18 by 7 centimetres and kept in a little envelope. The Light zine: dumb clouds and blowy guys can also function as a lantern (it has lots of cut-out cellophane cloud bits) and is made by Poodle productions. The other zine, Some things are impossible is by Andrea Ryer and is a must-read.


    Even though book spine poems can be deeply insightful, sometimes they’re just a fancy version of the search engine BananaSlug –words smashing together to see what happens, a lovely creative bibliographic possibility (just like a library!).



    TEDxCanberra, sustainable living & food

    November 10th, 2011


    Thanks for visiting! An art practice sits within general life experience, so sometimes I will write about things which may not be explicitly art-related but might be conjuring up a body of work or some new ways of thinking.


    TEDxCanberra 2011 was over a month ago, but it still continues to inspire me – idea digestion takes a while! I’ll also justify this by noting that these events are meant to be a wake up call, so a delay is inevitable as ideas are put into practice.

    I was lucky enough to attend TEDxCanberra 2011 through a complimentary ticket from my workplace.


    I really enjoyed Nick Ritar’s talk about living sustainably – and from this, I have embraced permaculture in a small way by answering nature’s call in our garden a few times, but I will need to find a more long-term solution.

    Especially as we have recently removed the privacy-enhancing Diosma shrub from our yard.


    Nick spoke about the importance of growing our own food, and there are lots of ways to learn more – naturally from your library, which supports your community and encourages sustainable resource-sharing.


    Blatant book name-dropping (book-dropping?)

    Clive Blazely says that:

    “Growing your own vegetables is the single most important step to a sustainable, healthy life. When vegetables are grown at home they are fresh and free of chemicals, eliminating food miles and cutting CO2 emissions by up to 30%. It takes a few hours of work a week. In just 40 square metres you can grow 472kg of vegetables which is enough for four people.”

    From Growing your own heirloom vegetables: bringing CO₂ down to earth, p. 24. You can find out more about the Diggers Club here.


    Feasting on Floriade’s “Tasteful Sensations”

    Recently Floriade – a festival of flowers – was held in Canberra, with a “Tasteful sensations” display showcasing the beauty of bush tucker, herbs and vegetables. In the Floriade picture below, my culinary ignorance asserts itself as I can only identify parsley and perhaps rhubarb. A beautiful garden and knowledge of plants are definitely only aspirations at this stage!


    Floriade's Tasteful Sensations - detail


    Australian bushfood cuisine

    As well as growing our own food, we can minimise the environmental impact of our food choices by looking at sustainable, local Australian cuisine.

    Vic Cherikoff’s book Uniquely Australian: a wild food cookbook: the beginnings of an Australian bushfood cuisine is very readable with lots of glossy, lust-worthy food pron pictures.

    In his book, Vic discusses the possibilities of using eucalypt, desert wattles and desert oak saps as natural sweeteners. These could really change the landscape of the sugar and artificial sweetener industry, as we have seen with xylitol and stevia.

    You can find out more about Vic and his Australian recipes here.


    You may also be interested to read The urban homestead: your guide to self-sufficient living in the heart of the city which has very easy step-by-step instructions and down to earth advice about reducing your footprint. You can see Kelly and Eric’s blog here or follow them at @rootsimple


    Back to the source of inspiration – you can find out more about Nick Ritar’s Milkwood Permaculture here or follow him at @Milkwood_Nick




    Here is my burgeoning compost heap, resplendent with the TEDxCanberra catering floral decorations. The rest of our yard – for now – is a very successful dirt garden.


    Trove note:

    The book links above will lead you to Trove,   which is an Australia-wide discovery service – a catalogue for many libraries. To find a book in your local area, from the individual Trove book record, click on the “All libraries” tab and then the relevant state/territory tab. Click on the library name to go to that library’s catalogue. See the Trove help for more information.


    Happy reading and gardening!














    Welcome to the new website

    Posted in Art process, News
    October 4th, 2011

    Welcome to the new website, find out about Sonja’s art working process and follow Sonja on Twitter to hear about art, library and Canberra things.

    Work is underway for upcoming exhibitions exploring moles (both animal and epidermal), information retrieval (it’s that library flavour coming through) and hearts (in their medical and emotional contexts).