Nov 102016

I gave a workshop today with Janice Chan from Curtin Library as part of the Curtin Cultural Hackathon. Here are some resources from this.

I explained a bit about what an API is, analysed a Trove API query and then gave participants an activity to do. The activity is below the slides. If people had followed the instructions about how to get a non-commercial API key, they did B., if not, they used the Trove console to do C.

By the end, the two take-home messages that people had (because I said each about 20 times) were:

  • you are just making a URL to put in your browser
  • you should use <CTRL>F to search the Trove Technical Guide to work out what to add to the URL



1.Copy this standard Trove query URL<INSERT KEY>&zone=<ZONE NAME>&q=<YOUR SEARCH TERMS>

2.Enter your key in the right spot


3.Enter a Zone

Use one of

Parameter Possible values Required Default Description
zone book, picture, article, music, map, collection, newspaper, list, website, people, all mandatory none Allows searching in a particular zone. Multiple zones can be searched by separating them with a comma. If no zone is specified, an error occurs. To get a faster response, search only the zones you need.


4.Enter a search term

Use “%20” to represent a space


5.Test in your browser address bar

6.Convert file from XML to csv


(Or if that does not work, first use then )

7.Open in Excel


  1. Go to the Trove text console
  2. Copy this standard Trove query URL
  1. Enter a Zone

Use one of

Parameter Possible values Required Default Description
zone book, picture, article, music, map, collection, newspaper, list, website, people, all mandatory none Allows searching in a particular zone. Multiple zones can be searched by separating them with a comma. If no zone is specified, an error occurs. To get a faster response, search only the zones you need.


4.Enter a search term

Use “%20” to represent a space



Use the Trove API documentation to create a new Excel file of records that:

  1. Contains 99 records
  2. Contains records from the pictorial collection
  3. Contains theses on the topic
  4. Contains items in the Curtin University Library collection (HINT: The NUC code is “WCU”)
  5. Is the full list of newspaper titles in Trove

HINT: <Ctrl>F is your friend.



1. Trove API Technical guide.

2. Trove API Console

  • Use this to check your Trove API query while you are getting it right, or if you do not have your API key on you and want to see how it works

3. File converters to output something you can open in Excel

Jul 012016

I petered out on #blogjune 2016 a bit toward the end.

Two good reasons. My work style involves intensive all-nighters (into all-dayers) when I have something to achieve… and I enjoyed my time in South Africa so much that I got off the fence I had been sitting on since January and decided to travel to the UK in July for the CILIP conference and the Radical Librarians Collective meeting in Brighton, plus take some annual leave either side. Right now I am in a haze of caffeine and sugar fuelled online writing as I try to get everything wrapped up before I jet out on Tuesday.


Like Con, I have enjoyed writing again for #blogjune so much that I am convinced that I will keep it up, especially when I have something interesting and relevant to report on like the events in Brighton.Right? Right???  Instead of a conference dinner we are all getting fish and chips and a chance to ride for free the attractions on the end of the Brighton Pier (which I coincidentally visited this time last year) …

2015-07-19 20.30.26

I have been reading my feedly feed daily and really, really enjoying hearing the big and small news and thoughts of everyone. Reminds me that there are other points of view and of the interesting things I could be doing if I took the time to arrange something different, or even if I tried looking at the world with the perspective that others have – really what a community of bloggers should do. While it is easy to say “I should try looking at the world differently” actually walking in the shoes and mind of someone else – even briefly and even around something that they consider trivial or obvious, is such a bonus that blogjune brings each year. My imagination cannot stretch to have such empathy that I can imagine another point of view so accurately (which is not a failure on my part but really logical, because if I could stretch that far, then I would actually be seeing from my point of view…).

Just a few random bits that I really enjoyed (although I have enjoyed so many posts that I don’t want people not mentioned to think I did not appreciate or read their efforts. I did. Just that my Lindt-chocolate/Large-latte/I’ve-been-on-a-work-bender-for-two-days brain at the moment is filtering in random, not comprehensive, ideas)…

Big, big props to Peta for her effort to comment on so many blog posts. Keeping the conversation going, engaging and encouraging is so, so important. If I have one wrist-slap for myself it is that I did not take the time to comment when I knew how wonderful it is for a blogger to receive comments in these Days of Twitter. Maybe next #blogjune we should have a signup for commenters as well as bloggers? I’d be all for putting my efforts into encouraging and engaging with others (especially those brave, brave newbies sticking their toes in the water), instead of committing to posting.

Two blogs that I shoulda woulda commented on were Tony’s posts about his travels and Andrew’s intelligent and very generous sharing of his experience and reflection. Both were travelling to some of my favourite spots and I wanted to say “oh please check out THIS place, it is fab” ..but didn’t. Andrew in particular epitomises generosity and thoughtfulness in his posts – I always enjoy reading about his inspiring career path and his reflections on the experience. His posts are well written, avoid the boring bits and I always feel like I have learned something. Tony’s trip really did trace the path and places that I would choose, but then I was totally flabbergasted when he posted yesterday about visiting one of my favourite places on Earth on the way home, Tiger Balm Gardens. Really, truly…. here are my images Tiger Balm Gardens from my set of 60 photos when I travelled there in 2008, including a set of the Ten Courts of Hell. ( And check out what happens in the afterlife if you deface books.)

Kate-In-Canberra and Rachel-In-Queensland were two bloggers whose consistent and gentle voices I love to listen to. I think that they could write about how they prepare themselves weetbix or tie their shoelaces and could make it interesting for me. I love the wide-ranging subject matter they choose and the way they generously engage with the rest of the #blogjune bloggers. I enjoyed hearing life snippets again from Kate-In-Queensland, snail and Fiona … as well as continuing to engage with what Kim has to share, although she sets a great example to the rest of us and actually shares outside of June too…

The one blog that made the most impression on me, and has for the last couple of #blogjunes, was Elizabeth‘s articulate, confronting and ultimately very compassionate posts about her journey as a young archivist living with end stage cancer. I feel privileged that she shares what she does, how she does. It sounds a little trite and somehow too small to say that I wish her the absolute best that there can be on the rest of her journey and thank her with great gratitude for her blogging, but I do.

I now have a truckload of work to do before the weekend. I’m a little buoyed up again by the thought of taking my skates in my suitcase and doing some outdoor skating, although maybe not a hill like this from last year again…



Although some time in the next month or so, all things going well, I will be putting on my red shorts and getting out there in the UK and skating away…



Jun 262016

Now THIS is a case for crowdsourcing (and crowdpersuading if that is a word).

The most useful, versatile and FREE WordPress theme I have ever used has been discontinued from 22 June 2016, Suffusion not available any more . It will not be updated and is no longer available in the WordPress directory. You can see it here at Librarians Matter and how it is being used at the Grove Library .

Grove screen

I just discovered this because I am moving one of my WordPress MU installations and needed to install the theme on my new server. Nope. Not there. Luckily I had a copy of the theme in every single other blog I have ever created, so I could upload one to the new site.

In the post about it, Sayontan, who has been maintaining and updating this for love and service, rather than money, explained that there were unfounded concerns about security of the plugin and that to make it comply would require a complete re-write, which he does not have time nor inclination to do.

This really is a situation where either the thousands and thousands of people who use Suffusion should persuade Sayontan to quit his day job and maintain the theme (heck, I would pay $50 or more a year to support a project like this)… or for a community to form around the plugin, do the rewrite and continue to maintain the update.

Jun 242016

Here’s hoping tomorrow is better.

Just as I FINALLY finished editing one unit outline, ready to copy it to its Open University version, I saw THIS when I saved:


Like an optimistic fool, I phoned the IT helpdesk number on the right of the screen in the hope they could help. The helpful message on the phone (at 6:30pm) told me helpfully that the help desk is closed but is open until 9pm every weeknight. Last time I looked Friday was a week night.

And meanwhile, over in Europe the UK has decided to exit the European Union, causing the Australian dollar to keel over – and for some reason a German court has decided that there is a new kind of copyright “we have the physical copy of a painting in the public domain, so you can’t publish a photo of it” (even if you are the Wikimedia Foundation).

The world was a bit friendlier before bedtime last night. I think I will see whether calling it a day and going to sleep makes a nicer world to wake up to…

Jun 232016

Final marks are in at work. Boards of Examiners to be sat in the next couple of weeks. Online Learning Management System units to be re-jigged and unit outlines to be re-written. Readings and notes to be updated. Same as last year. And the year before.

People’s Network. (2009). Busy library. Retrieved from

People’s Network. (2009). Busy library. Retrieved from

If you teach undergraduates or postgraduates who follow semester-long cycles, you have a very predictable year of teaching commitments. The first few weeks of semester students don’t realise that they can, actually, do this and often need a lot of help to settle into the unit. Lots of emails. Just when you finish writing the final updates to the teaching materials, the first assessments start coming in. Then there are weeks of marking or moderation, along with releasing material, giving tutes or lectures, or interacting online. Then you see many students who find their feet and grow and learn quite independently,  far more than they had thought they would. The two or three students who, for a multitude of reasons, by this point in the semester need four, five, six exchanges of emails before they have sorted out their issue with the course/assessment/tutor/university/themselves/other students. Then the rush for final marks. Board of Examiners. Repeat…

For academics and academic libraries, the three weeks over Christmas tend to be so quiet that some universities (like my own) actually shut down the campus and ask staff to take holidays then. The last time I moved briefly from an academic library to a public library, which is where I had started 15 years before, I was shocked by the difference in busy-ness. Around Christmas time people who had forgotten the library suddenly materialise and there is demand from kids who are on holidays and people who are on annual leave. When I was a public librarian, this period was only beaten by Easter, where the day before Good Friday people seemed to presume that the library was closing for the next four weeks, not four days, and borrow as much as they could. I never understood this panic-borrowing. I don’t know whether it still happens.

I imagine that corporate libraries have similar ebbs and flows. I can see that parliamentary libraries would have very unbalanced and predictable cycles, with a good dose of “find me everything about this unpredicted thing that is happening NOW” and “let’s have an election” thrown in. Do health libraries have a similar cycle? Geological libraries? I am pretty sure that school libraries would have very similar patterns to academic libraries?

Does your library have a predictable cycle of busy-ness ?

Jun 222016

.. but sick in bed today. Just a cold and asthma, but have not slept well for 3 days or so, so am taking the morning off work to snuggle under the covers and listen to the rain outside and try to catch up on sleep. (Also gives my workmates respite from the continuous coughing coming from my office…)

This is a bit like the email that says “Thanks, I got your email”…

Jun 182016

When people ask me whether they should choose my first name (Kathryn) for their baby, I answer “nope”.

There are so many variant spellings, many as common as each other, that inevitably if someone else writes your first name it will be spelled wrong. Your options are then to:

  1. Correct the spelling and feel like Ms Pedant from Pedantville
  2. Not correct the spelling and feel like you are vaguely deceiving them

Of course, there is 3. “Just get over it”, but it’s not something I have been able to do.

This morning I ordered a latte at my usual Saturday morning place and was served by a young woman who had just started working there. As she took my order she wrote on the top of a lid “Latte +1 Lg Catherine”.

When I received my mug, however, this had been changed to “Latte +1 Lg Kathryn” (spelled the way I spell my name). I wondered aloud whether the barista had changed it. (As far as I knew, I had always taken approach number 2 in this coffee shop …)

Nope – the woman behind the counter had. But, how had she known? She said that she had seen the way my name was spelled on my credit card and then made the change before handing the lid on to the barista.

A small act of empathy than really went a long way toward putting an upward kick into my morning 🙂


Jun 172016

I won’t be in Perth for this, but you should go ahead and pay just $75 for an excellent day of Professional Development …



Registrations are now open for the ALIA WA Symposium 2016. All library and information professionals are invited to attend this full day PD event. Hear about and discuss some of the exciting ideas and activities that are happening in the WA library community under the theme of ‘The Unexpected’

The Symposium will be based on a ‘flipped’ conference model to encourage discourse and ideas. Papers will be provided to participants before the event to read and form ideas, opinions and questions. On the day of the Symposium, each speaker will give a short recap of their topic and a facilitated panel will be used to discuss the content.

Keynote Speakers

Megan Rosenbloom, recently named as one of ALA’s Movers and Shakers of 2016, Megan is the Associate Director for Collection Resources at the Norris Medical Library of the University of Southern California in Los Angeles. Megan has served on the editorial boards of the Journal of the Medical Library Association, and the Archivists & Librarians in the History of the Health Sciences. Megan is also actively involved in a number of ways in the Medical Library Association. Megan is the director and co-founder of Death Salon, events that bring together intellectuals and independent thinkers engaged in the exploration of our shared mortality by sharing knowledge and art. Megan is member of the multi-disciplinary team ‘The Anthropodomermic Book Project’, which is working toward identifying and scientifically test, the world’s alleged books bound in human skin.

Dr. Jack Sargeant is a writer specialising in cult, underground and independent films, as well as subcultures, true crime, and other aspects of the unusual. In addition, he is a film programmer and an academic. Jack has written and contributed to numerous books on underground film, including ‘Deathtripping: The Cinema of Transgression’. The book is about Cinema of Transgression filmmakers, such as Richard Kern and Nick Zedd, Naked Lens: Beat Cinema, and Cinema Contra Cinema, a collection of essays on alternative film. Since 2008 he has been Program Director for the Revelation Perth International Film Festival.

For full details of speakers on the day please see the ALIA West blog
When: Friday 15 July, 2016
Time: 9.30am-4.30pm
Where: Curtin University: Curtin University eLearning room (under Curtin Library) Building 105.107


ALIA Member – $75.00
Non ALIA Member – $100.00
Student – $50.00

Morning and afternoon tea, and lunch will be provided.

Registrations are open now:

Registrations close Friday 8th July, 2016 

Jun 152016

Last week when I went animal spotting in Pilanesberg National Park ,about four hours in we drove over a ridge and saw our second rhinoceros of the day. Far off in the bushes. With a tiny baby rhino behind her.

I spent about 20 minutes trying to get a clear shot, and this is the best one of the bunch. See the tiny grey rock on the right, behind the big grey rock on the left? Baby rhino.


You never, ever, ever get out of the car in a national park full of wild animals in Africa.

Charmaine very nicely suggested that I may want to hang out of the passenger window and lean on the roof, with my feet on the seat, to try to get a better shot. I was very glad to have spent some time doing situps in the gym because this is the position I struck for 10 minutes or so, trying to get my shot.

Eventually, we decided that we would have to just leave it and drive on…

So, five minutes later.  About 1 km down the road. This pair crossed right in front of the car..



And.. in the next half hour we saw another two rhinos, making it seven in the whole day.

Thing is, if we hadn’t spent the twenty minutes or so trying to photograph the first mum and bub pair, then we would not have been in the right place at the right time to see the second pair so clearly.

Just when we had concluded that all our efforts were fruitless, exactly what we had wanted was in front of us – but if we hadn’t spent all that time trying then we wouldn’t have had the opportunity.

Or – random stuff happens all the time and often it’s lovely…