My Setup – blogjune day 21

This blog post will use the suggenstion raised in Paul’s blog, see

So I will answer the following questions:

  1. Who are you, and what do you do?
  2. What hardware do you use?
  3. And what software?
  4. What would be your dream setup?

Ad 1) Who are you, and what do you do?

I have a few different hats, but am writing this blog post as Petra, the PhD student. My thesis is about the impact of conference attendance in the field of Library and Information Science, and I am at the chapter-writing stage (4 out of 6 done!!)

Ad 2) What hardware do you use?

A standard (old)  Dell laptop, given to me by my university when I started in 2011. Also, for recording of interviews I used my old iPhone4, and an iPad as a backup.

Ad3) And what software?

The laptop runs on Windows 7. I am using the following pieces of software:

  • Office 2010 (husband’s comment: “amazing anything still works on it really”)
  • Firefox and Thunderbird
  • NVivo
  • Endnote
  • Evernote
  • Dragon Naturally speaking
  • iTalk and Skype
  • Xmind 2013
  • Cold Turkey
  • Dropbox and Google drive
  • Canva
  • Twitter, Facebook, WordPress

Ad 3) What would be your dream setup?

My dream set up would be to…

  • …work on an Apple laptop. I used to have one, until I poured a glass of milk onto it – and decided I had to finish the PhD before I was allowed another one. Also had the Dell for so long now that it feels like I need to finish the thesis with this laptop – we will get this thing done together!
  • …sort and make sense of data with my hands, in a big empty room with lots of sticky notes.  I actually printed off my initial codes thinking I would do just that – but I had 1800 initial codes, so needed to do it with software instead. NVivo looked good at the beginning, but I have grown to dislike it intensely. Not intuitive, does not have functionality you would expect or need when analysing data. Never investigated other options though, just lacking the time to do so…
  • I would love to be able to write while walking, somehow. Always sitting to write is no fun.
  • It would be great if I could convince the academic world that 20,000 word chapters with just a few tables and graphics are the least engaging way to communicate what I know about my topic! Imagine if I could take you to a virtual room, and show you all papers that are part of my literature review, and walk you through how I see them all being connected and linked… and then in the next room, my methodology, and then the findings room….


Past students, current students….what has been your fave unit and/or favorite elective if you did one? #blogjune day 20

I thoroughly enjoyed Information literacy and Management of Information Services. I loved learning about human behavior, information seeking, leadership styles, all that stuff about how we behave, what makes us tick. It was very insightful, especially in understanding my children’s learning behaviors better.

My favorite elective so far has been Social Media, Communities and Networks through the school of internet studies. We drafted a paper on a topic relating to the unit content, then published it on an online conference which went for three weeks, we promoted the conference to the outside world, tweeted the heck out of it (#SNCON17), a heap of learning, hard work and fun was had. Here is an article where our tutor quoted me saying how “I’ve never worked so hard on a paper – purely because it could be available to the public”. A very outside-the-box learning experience.

What has been your favorites?

How much googling occurs in an academic setting? (#BlogJune Day 19)

This is a follow-up from my earlier post about ‘googling’.
I’m interesting in finding out how much ‘googling’ really happens in academic information seeking.

Recently, Curtin academics and students were asked:

‘How would you normally start a search when you are looking for information for academic purposes (e.g. research/assignment/project/article/publication)?

The data below is represented as the statistical mean of the five-item scale responses of ‘most often’, ‘often’, ‘sometimes’, ‘rarely’, and ‘never’ (1 = ‘never’, 5 = ‘most often’) for each of the predefined answers.


They were given 6 predefined answers to choose from, also with an ‘other’ option for any other feedback. The ‘other’ option did not get much feedback other than some clarifying that when they say they use Google, they mean Google Scholar.

The participants include academic staff, post-grad and undergrad students. The typical participant profile is as follows:



What do you make of this data?


How do you do all-the-things? #blogjune18

How do you do all-the-things?

The working, the studying, the caring, the house-holding, the networking, the socialising, the reading, the keeping up, the relaxing, the looking after, the cleaning, the communicating, the staying healthy, the sleeping, the…, the…, the …..

At the moment, I am at a stage where my answer to above question is: badly.

With me, maybe with you as well, the feeling of being completely overwhelmed at all that I think needs to be done, comes and goes.

For weeks, or months even, all the balls are in the air, and I think I can do it all. Some things don’t get done, of course, and I have crazy thoughts like “but next week I just give 150%, and then I’ll be able to fit them in too”. If any of my friends told me they are thinking that way, I would tell them that sounds just really stupid. Why am I doing it then?

When I wrote this blog post for #blogjune last year, I was in such a phase. It actually made me laugh reading it again this year. I make it sound as if it’s all so easy, and as if feeding the kids MC occasionally is the worst it gets. Just a few weeks after I had written that post I was at a stage where I cried every time I thought about my PhD. It got so bad that I had two mentors cheering me on every single day to work on it for 20 minutes. Those twenty minutes were as exhausting as if they were 20 hours…

Last week, after a big fight over nothing, my husband said something like “you need to have more fun” – and my first thought was – there is no room on my to-do list for another thing! He is right, of course, but I don’t know what to drop, what to say no to. So I can fit in the fun. Sad, isn’t it.

Anyway, sorry peeps for slightly negative post. Just thought it might be useful to someone else if I tried to be more honest than last year (wonder what I will say next year :-)… And I am sure so many of you are in similar situations.

So, tell me, are the balls in the air? Is something giving? Are you thinking it will all work if you only gave it 150%?

How are you all doing all-the-things?


What do you know about street libraries? (#BlogJune Day 17)

It’s been a long time since I was in the receiving end in a classroom setting of an LIS course. The last being in the year 2000. So much has changed since then hasn’t it?

I noticed this street library early this year. I now see it twice every day doing the school rounds.

The first time I saw it I, of course, did a bit of googling on it. To my surprise, “little free library”, “mini library”, “neighborhood book exchange”, and “street library” are something that has been happening on a large scale for a few years now. Especially in the United States. Gasp! I had no idea 🙂

I’m curious to find out how much of an attention street libraries have received in Australian LIS curriculum.

Decision fatigue #blogjune day 16

It’s a thing, this decision fatigue, and I think I’ve got it today! What with juggling all the things that we each do in our lives it’s no wonder there is such a thing. Over the first half of #blogjune there have been some interesting thought provoking discussions, and I need to catch up on reading and responding to some of the comments, not just on the CURTIS blog but other #blogjuners too, so I propose today can be a day of reflection on the topics and conversations we’ve been having lately.

Is Information Literacy the new Reference Services? | #BlogJune Day 15


Now don’t get me wrong, I’ve really enjoyed the undertaking our Reference Services unit this semester… but in so many ways, it has felt like we are studying how libraries used to work.

In an age where more people are likely to ‘google it’ themselves than ask a librarian, is Information Literacy a more important area of scholarship?

What is ‘googling’? (#BlogJune Day 14)

Image source:

Note on the image: Preparation of catalogue card entries was the central lesson in my earlier library qualifications in the early 1990s. Decisions on the main entry card, and the alternative entry cards… how much information to include… We have come a long way, but the basic information that goes into the online catalogue record still revolves around just that. But anyways, that is not the central premise of this post.

As a LIS research student interested in understanding the future of libraries in the googling phenomenon, one central question I seek answer to is:

What do you mean when you say ‘I googled it’?

I have heard statements like “I can google it”, or “just google it!”, “ask google!” quite often for some time in the academic environment of the Maldives, where I come from. In the few instances where I asked further about this, the conversation that ensued were about how library is now obsolete and that people want everything online AND also that people found information online (on Google). It follows that there was a lot of dissatisfaction with the library services in the country.

Based on this, my offhand conclusion was this was a manifestation of disappointment with that specific library (in the Maldives) given the shortage of access to scholarly databases and eBooks.

So here I am, at Curtin University, exploring these questions. A day studying at the Curtin Library, at a desk/computer in an open area, gives me plenty of opportunity to overhear the same “I googled it” conversation. One student explains to another student how he/she found the information ‘on Google‘, or one student will helpfully hint to the other student to ‘google it!’.

It apparently does not mean just searching using or Google Scholar or Google Books. It also could mean searching on the internet. Internet being anything online (including library). Really?

Which services are missing from the libraries you use? Day 13 of #blogjune

Basically, this is me writing as a user of libraries, and two ideas I have for services that I would use if there were offered:

Book-parcel service at my public library

We read a lot as a family. Apart from the occasional book given to us as a present, we get all our books from our public library. While I love taking the boys to the library and choose new books, I don’t always have time for it. So, the service I would occasionally use works like this:

  • I send the library an SMS that says “Will pick up book-parcel on Wednesday”
  • On Wednesday, I take borrowed books back and receive 15 new titles based on our usual reading habits, including a few that take us outside of those habits and surprise us.
  • If this could be done as a drive through, that would be amazing. I would be happy to pay for this service too.

Borrow-a-person service at my academic library

I have had this idea/thought for a while, and have blogged about it before. Basically, what is missing for me at my university is a structured way to find other students/academics who are similar to me, so I can meet them, have a chat and learn from their experience (and they from mine). At the moment, this does happen of course, but in the very ad-hoc and serendipitous way of networking and meeting people, and I find this, at times, frustrating. As libraries should connect people to ideas, and some ideas are only accessible when connecting with people, why not connect the people to the people. So, the service would look like this:

  • You index people who want to participate, according to certain criteria, like field, research interests, experience with certain research methods, availability,… . You add records to a searchable database (a subset of the catalogue?), and voila! The library has just connected an LIS PhD student with an interest in Grounded Theory with an early-career researcher from the School of Physiotherapy who is working with Grounded Theory, but also new to Curtin and wanting to expand their networks…

I do know that both ideas would require resources, funds, staffing time etc etc, but sometimes it’s nice to ignore possible limitations…

So, over to you! Which services are missing from your library?

Petra Dumbell

What is more important – great unit content or great lecturers? Day 12 #blogjune

Personally, I think both are equally important and not one more than the other, but I have to say that when I’ve had dynamic, enthusiastic and interested (in the unit) teaching staff it just infuses the whole unit with that extra something, and I’ve gotten much more joy out of the content AND retained the learning better. I guess this question also depends on peoples learning behaviors. When studying online, without much contact from the staff, the unit material is hugely important, but again, that material can exude the enthusiasm and knowledge of the teaching staff, or whoever wrote it…or it might not.