Category Archives: Life-long Learning

Tech Savvy A-Z Apps Series: C = Communication

We live in a global village and technology is a big reason for this.  It makes the largest of distances, smaller at the click of a button.  Need something?  Why be limited to your physical location when you can jump online and find exactly what you’re looking for in Sweden, the US or the other side of Australia? Maybe you love to travel.  With travel costs and times getting better and better, you may have made many friends in many different locations around the world.  Communication methods have evolved at an astonishing rate in the past 5-10 years. No longer are we limited to picking up the phone and hoping your recipient is at home.  Email is the favoured method for workplaces, you can text your mates or family on the go and there’s a social media app for just about everyone!

textingSocial media can be wordy, quick, photographic or video based.  Many people (and we thank our readers for this) love to receive the latest blog post in their inbox.  Other’s prefer bite-sized updates and like to skim through the latest tweets to keep up with their social circle.  Maybe reading/writing isn’t your thing.

instagram-1594387Can’t help but take photos of the world around you?  Many out there are exactly the same. Amateurs to professional photographers and everyone in between have made Instagram a hugely popular platform for communicating with others via a visual medium.  Instagram have also incorporated video into their offerings giving people further options for expressing themselves.  Scroll through the images and videos…

 allows users to log in and express themselves in 140 characters or less.  This makes information sharing quick and if you add in a photo or link, you can get your point across without much effort. One of the biggest social media sites around, it has maintained this short, sharp and shiny method of communicating for the last ten years!
Vimeo is dedicated for those who love the moving image and it’s not just for amateurs with crazy cats or daredevil tricks.  Budding and professional filmmakers alike use the space for testing ideas, techniques and gaining support.


Facebook is one of the largest social media platforms that draws in people from all over the world, whatever your age.  The many apps and different ways Facebook have developed to communicate, have kept it’s followers keen to keep using it regardless of age or technical ability.

has become very popular recently with it’s instant, expressive and disposable photos and videos with fun edits sent to one or many.  You can grab a selfie, write onto the photo and send off to your mate.  They can then respond with text or another photo. It’s all fleeting though as one of Snapchat’s popular feature means everything self deletes after use.

So this leads me into the big issue with social media crossing borders; language.  This is where the image based platforms work best.  It takes no understanding of language or grammar to appreciate a photograph of a silly cat video, baby’s first steps, amazing scenery, travel adventures or creative short video. So what if these images and videos inspire you to get travelling, how can you prepare for crossing the language barrier?

There are quite a few apps now available to teach, assist and practice with new languages.  Many of them also include a network of community members that you can interact with to further your proficiency in your language of choice.

Google Translate – this is a free app from iTunes App Store & Google Play and is a simple, but very helpful conversion tool for travelling.  You can speak something in your own language and it will translate it into the language of the person you’re conversing with.  It works the other way too, get them to speak and it’ll be converted back to English.  It can also work with visual signage, which is very helpful for navigating around an unfamiliar place. There’s also an option to save certain phrases to repeat for later.

This is great if you’re going for a once-off trip somewhere and don’t plan to use the language again, but what if you get there and you’re bitten by the ‘travel bug’?  You’ll want to come back or explore more wonderful places around the globe.  That’s when you realise you’ll need to learn a language or two, because there’s only so far you can get with gesticulations and an expressive face…

Duolingo – is a great free app available from the iTunes App Store, Google Play & Windows Phone Store that teaches language using games and rewards to help your progress.  With a variety of challenges for each lesson, in bite sized chunks and hints on how to improve, it’s quick and easy to learn with this app.
owl-happy2xBabbel – free app from iTunes App Store & Google Play with in-app purchases.  A self paced learning style that gives you options on what part of the language you’d like to learn be it for travel or business needs. It will also keep you up to date with regular review sessions and speech recognition technology to make sure you’re really getting that pronunciation correct.

So whether you’re keeping in touch with friends and family in the same town, city or across the globe or admiring the view of the Canadian Rockies posted by an Instagram traveller, there are a multitude of apps you can choose from that will help you connect and communicate.

Post Contributor: Melinda Kennedy


What’s Your Dewey? 770s Photography – A Thousand Words or Less!

Is ‘a picture worth a thousand words’? Recent research into how we read and interpret information would suggest not. In his article As it turns out, a Picture is Not Worth a Thousand Words, Paolo Gaudiano states:

‘…just as words cannot really turn into pictures, pictures cannot replace words in terms of their ability to convey clear, (mostly) unambiguous information.’
[Full article: ]

Despite this, images as text  are on the increase and visual literacy is now as important to our educational development as digital literacy. This arguably rests with the technical advances in how we produce and reproduce images and the ease with which we are able communicate them widely.

51edvj4bf8l-_sx340_bo1204203200_Photography Visionaries by Mary Warner Marien is a chronological listing of the lives and images of 75 photographers spanning photography’s history from the 1800s to the digital age. Marien provides a fascinating insight into the art and inventiveness of some well known and not so well known photographers who have visually recorded and fashioned our collective view and memories for over 100 years. The imagery represented is captivating and indicative of the medium’s lasting impact. The list of inclusions is by no means exhaustive (and does appear to have a U.S. bias), however, there is great representative, historical detail to be found in the the photographs included.

We rely heavily on our visual interpretation of the world and visual literacy is as much about our world view as it is about what the world presents us.


In Photographs from the edge : a master photographer’s insights on capturing an extraordinary world by  Art Wolfe and Rob Sheppard, the enormity of the world’s diversity and complexity is on magnificent display. Wolfe’s expeditionary photography takes us to all corners of the globe capturing some never-to-be repeated moments in nature and culture. Many of these photographs will always remain a unique part of our visual history, and Wolfe shares the techniques, experiences and decisions that helped him capture them.

51k5mnnywtlWhile Wolfe’s work brings us a sense wonder at the largess of the world,  Macrophotography : capture magnified photographs of nature’s smallest subjects by Dennis Quinn draws us in to look more closely at the things we might miss. This unique book  teaches readers how to choose and use the tools needed to capture magnificent images of the smallest of the natural world. You’ll learn how to select and use your equipment and where to find your subjects. In each section of the book Quin shares the creative secrets behind some of his images as well as providing information on the life cycles of his subjects. This book is a fascinating mix of art and science.

Food photography : from snapshots to great shots by Nicole S. Young takes readers through the principles behind setting up, taking and editing great food photographs. The book contains some  large, vibrant photos, accompanied by expert shooting tips.  To look inside:

With the huge uptake of social media and smartphones, photographic images flood the internet and everyone has become an expert photographer, be it food, nature, fashion or portraiture.

Selfie : the changing face of self-portraits by Susie Brooks looks at the history of self-portraiture from the 40,000 year old hand stencils found in Indonesian caves, to famous painters like van Gogh & Picasso to modern photographic selfies. An interesting blend of stories, techniques and fashion insights into an activity that seems very recently trendy.

With Christmas just around the corner, getting a new camera or smartphone to record the festive celebrations may be on the agenda.

the-digital-photography-handbookNow in its 5th Revised Edition, The Digital Photography Handbook by Doug Harman is still considered one of the best guides to digital photography. The book includes expert advice on the art of digital photography as well as guidance to making the most of your current equipment and software or what to look for when replacing it. A comprehensive book well worth reading for anyone with an interest. Follow this link for a sneak peek:

The 770s also includes Computer Art, Cinematography and Videography, which is handy because the technology seems to have converged with cameras making movies, and editing software turning film into stills. Many words are written on the topic, certainly more than a thousand, so I think I’ll just close with one single picture!
Nola Cavallaro

Tech Savvy: Tech Recycling

As we head toward the end of National Recycling Week in Australia and we’re talking all things paper and plastic, what about that old digital camera in the cupboard or obsolete television sitting in your garage? That stuff is e-waste and we’ve got some great ideas for how you can safely dispose of yours!
National Recycling Week was started by Planet Ark in 1996 to get Aussies all over the country to focus on how they could do their bit at home to diminish waste. Twenty-one years on and the campaign has gained momentum and they’ve added other initiatives, like Cartridges 4 Planet Ark where you can drop your old printer cartridges into participating outlets.
 So what can you do, where can you go and what exactly can you recycle?  There are three options – sell, donate and recycle.
Depending on the condition of your tech, you could get an ad on a site like eBay or Gumtree and get some of your cash back.  Another option is to donate the item.  If you have some tech that you no longer use but is still in great shape, check around with organisations or family and friends to see if they’d like it.  Local primary or high schools might appreciate your old tech for their students as it’s hard to afford for many schools.
The HYPA (Helping Young People Achieve) group would love your old mobile phones for their at risk youth to have a contact option when suitable emergency accommodation becomes available.  You can find out more about this great initiative from this link:
The final option is to recycle.  There are many ways to do this and sometimes companies will even give you a cash back for your efforts like Apple who have a program called Renew.  Check out the details at the link  This website also contains instructions about how to delete your data from the device before submitting for recycling.
batteriesThere are a range of options for the many tech items we discard.
The Gawler Library is a drop off point for old mobile phones and batteries. So every time you come in for your books, DVDs or magazines you can off-load your old mobile phones and expired batteries and we will forward it onto the recyclers for you.
The major Australian technology companies have come together to fund a recycling organisation called TechCollect.  This is something the Australian Government  requires  of tech companies who import electrical goods into Australia.  It’s a free national recycling service, approved under the National Television and Computer Recycling Scheme (NTCRS) for computers, computer accessories and TVs (e-waste).  Their website,, contains great links, information about their activities and locations to drop off your old tech.  Worth having a look to see what you can recycle at your place.
The Australian Federal Government introduced the NTCRS in 2011 to assist Aussies with offloading their old televisions and computers in an environmentally safe way.  If you have any questions they have put out a factsheet to answer those frequently asked:
Other companies participating in a tech recycling scheme include:

Harvey Norman is a drop off point for the e-Cycle Solutions Scheme, which is also free to consumers.  You can recycle TVs, computers and computer peripherals (mice, keyboards etc) at your nearest Harvey Norman Centre.

IKEA have located in the entrance of their stores, a drop off where you can leave old light bulbs (regular and low energy), batteries, drink containers, cardboard and paper packing materials.

Camera Recycle Australia have partnered with specialist camera stores around Australia to offer a way to get rid of that old camera.  Since the rapid takeover of the digital image there are so many older film cameras sitting around that contain hazardous substances that need to be disposed of correctly before the rest can be recycled into new stuff.  This is also a free service to consumers, so if you’ve got an old camera, check out the link to find your nearest drop off point.

So whether you’re about to upgrade your phone, looking to buy a new TV or just having a clear out, check out the links above and get your old tech to a drop off point.  It’ll make a huge difference to our landfills and you’ll feel better with your new tech knowing your old gear is now being recycled, instead of adding to the problem!
Post Contributor: Melinda Kennedy

National Recycling Week: 7 – 13 November

Monday 7 – Sunday 13 November is National Recycling Week (NRW). Planet Ark founded NRW in 1996 to bring a national focus to the environmental benefits of recycling. We are promoting National Recycling Week in the Library through our Blog  What’s your Dewey (  if you missed it last week) and this week our Tech Savvy post will feature e-waste. We will also feature recycling in our Displays and our Craft-it! and Storytime sessions Tuesday afternoon and Thursday morning respectively.

nrw-web-headerWhat are you doing for National Recycling Week?  To get some ideas from the official National Recycling Week website, click here:

Here are some of the recycling initiatives we do here in Gawler?

growingplayingleaningIn the Library:

  • Collection point for old mobile phones and used batteries.
  • Power Mates to check power usage in your home are available for loan.
  •  Newspapers and Magazines for loan – better than buying!
  • Children’s craft activities using recycled material.
  • Information and Resources to give you recycling ideas.

Town of Gawler:

  • Green kitchen waste bins  available from our offices – a Town of Gawler/ NAWMA initiative.
  • Town of Gawler staff cycle between sites during the summer season as part of the Bikes People Places Project.
  • Purchase and use of electric/hybrid vehicles in the staff fleet.
  • All Town of Gawler sites undertake weekly recycling.
  • As part of the Gawler Going Green Project the Town of Gawler has provided access to the Community Energy Efficiency Program YouTube video which you can view here:

In the Gawler Community:

  • The Gawler Regional Natural Resource Centre has many resources and information to support sustainability, culminating in the Sustainability Festival each year.
  • Gawler has many organisations that accept and on-sell pre-loved items. They include the Gawler Community House, Salvation Army Stores, the Uniting Church Shopfront, Vinnies, RSPCA and LifeLine.
  • Regular Swap Meets are held in the community (the largest, the Gawler Auto Swap Meet, is usually held in September of each year).
  • Australia Post Gawler and Gawler Country Office National accept used printer cartridges.
  • Two of Gawler’s big supermarkets Coles and Woolworths now provide REDcycle bins for depositing all plastics that can be ‘scrunched up into a ball’. This plastic, which was not previously recycled, is now made into outdoor furniture. Find out more from this link:

There are many ways you can participate, not just during National Recycling Week but also throughout the year. If you want to locate recycling opportunities near you, follow this link:

Happy Recycling!

November Calendar of Events

This month the Library focuses on Children’s activities in acknowledgement of Universal Children’s Day on November 20th. See details below for activities you and your child can join.