UoL Library Blog

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Using New Technologies for Delivering Research Skills & Professional Development Training (27 March 2014)

Posted by Helen on 28 March, 2014

This event was hosted by the UK Council for Graduate Education at Aston University. I gave a talk with Denise Sweeney (Academic Practice Service) on our use of webinars for the thesis forum. Our talk was very well received and prompted lots of questions. I hope we inspired the audience to explore the options available at their own institution for including distance learners and making events available online.

A number of talks raised interesting points for our work with doctoral researchers, and some were applicable to our teaching & learning activities across the AL team.

Sarah Hainsworth (Leicester) introduced the day with three key questions:

  • How do we deliver skills training to a disparate group of students?
  • How do we get engaged behaviours from students and supervisors?
  • Can new delivery modes and new technologies help in our quest?

Maggi Savin-Baden (Coventry) discussed student engagement and problem-based learning (PBL). She argued for getting rid of outcomes and objectives, and sending Bloom’s taxonomy and the behavioural model of learning to the bin! Her argument was enjoyable to hear, especially given the PG Cert Module A I completed earlier this year. Maggi wants to see problem-based learning used more, particularly for our users who are ‘digitally tethered’. She examined language very carefully and made an interesting distinction between training, instruction, initiation and induction, based on Stenhouse (1975). She argued that induction “involves the introduction of someone into the thought system of the culture and critical stance towards it.” Maggi questioned how valuable it was to train students within their discipline and argued for getting rid of this approach. She sees problem-based learning as a way to organise curricular content around problem scenarios, not subjects or disciplines. I have a paper version of Maggi’s handout with much more information on this if anyone is interested. She concluded with the suggestion that we aim to embed PBL and connectivist principles into our PGR work. We should design PGR education that is negotiated, constructed and embodied as a social practice.

Christine Sinclair (Edinburgh) spoke about her experience of being involved in a MOOC. Edinburgh used Coursera to host their first six MOOCs. Christine worked on the E-Learning and Digital Cultures course. This was designed for first year undergraduates, but 61% of participants were postgraduates. It was interesting to note that it was often PGRs already engaged in further study who were using such resources. Another notable point is that the use of Google hangouts was very well received. Ultimately the users wanted to see the lecturers and have some face-to-face contact. We once ran a thesis forum where we hid the video during each talk and just had the powerpoint slides. We received feedback from the online viewers that they would much prefer seeing the speaker, even if the video was very small, rather than have them hidden. Christine recommended Bali & Meier, ‘An Affinity for Asynchronous Learning’ (2014). This might be useful reading for the Research Services team as we consider our programme to create online learning resources.

**There was much informal discussion around how to engage distance learning PGR students in skills development. One university found that changing the start of their workshops from 10am to 11am really helped with the DL/part-time students who travelled by train. It allowed them to get an off peak service and still arrive for the workshop. Another university prioritises DL/part-time bookings on their version of PROSE.

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History Lab Advisory Committee (7 February 2014)

Posted by Helen on 14 March, 2014

On Friday 7th February I visited Senate House in London for the annual History Lab Advisory Committee. I was elected to the History Lab Plus Committee in January this year, acting as a regional representative and the representative to the Royal Historical Society. History Lab Plus look after the interests of early career historians and are supported by the Institute of Historical Research (University of London). The committee meeting was a chance to reflect on events held last year and look forward to the plans for 2014. Although the focus of the group is on historians, the issues discussed were applicable to early career researchers across the wider disciplines of Arts, Humanities and Social Science. Unsurprisingly open access was a key topic and the Committee discussed how independent researchers in particular could be helped in this area. IHRCMS-preface-top-historylab-plus

The Grants Officer for the committee is also based in Leicester and will be involved in organising an event here on ‘Historians, Heritage and the Media’ in April. There was also talk of a possible event on Digital Humanities at Leicester for the autumn. I hope that being involved with History Lab Plus will help me forge better links with some of our early career researchers here at Leicester, and also help get the Library involved in a few more events. One issue which I’m hoping to raise is the lack of provision for those unable to make it to events. History Lab Plus does really well at spreading events around the UK, but there are no webinar or recording options at the moment. I would like to think we could pilot this with an event at Leicester next academic year.

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HEA Teaching Research Skills to Law Students (5 February 2014)

Posted by JackieHanes on 7 February, 2014

Originally posted on eLegal Librarian:

I attended and presented at the HEA workshop on Teaching Research Skills to Law Students at the Institute for Advanced Legal Studies in London. The event was attended by both librarians and academics, and was so popular even the reserve list was full.  Not even the TUBE strike prevented a full house!

Recent developments in legal information literacy by Ruth Bird, Bodleian Law Librarian, University of Oxford

Ruth set the scene for the day, outlining the information skills gap of new university students, and some of the key information literacy standards, and developments in legal education.

Rosemary Auchmuty (University of Reading) made…

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Visit to Hallward Library, University of Nottingham (31 January 2014)

Posted by JackieHanes on 6 February, 2014

I visited Tony Simmonds, currently the Law Librarian and Faculty Team Leader (Social Sciences) at the University of Nottingham, and formerly my colleague of 10+ years at the College of Law.

The Hallward Library supports the Faculties of Arts and Social Sciences at the University of Nottingham, and it is based on the University Park campus. It’s a large and imposing 1970s building, over 4 floors, with all the original (but now retro) architecture and decor.

The top (3rd) floor of the library is occupied by the arts, and the 2nd floor by the social sciences and law. The 1st floor is the main entrance, cafe and short loan collection, and the ground floor is dedicated to group study. The ground and 1st floors are lively social areas; whereas the 2nd and 3rd floors are more academic – and virtually silent. I was particularly impressed with the informal group study areas on the ground floor.

The two faculties are supported by two small teams of academic liaison librarians – who are responsible for enquiries, books and serials, as well as teaching and learning. Interestingly, the library’s special collections and administrative staff are located at a different site on their Jubilee Park campus. Even in the largest of libraries – space is a real premium!

Tony was keen to hear about our success with Talis Aspire and More Books, as well as our use of EDI ordering with Coutts. (Their book order process requires considerable form filling, and transfer of books between library teams and campuses).

I was impressed that Nottingham had access to State Papers Online (a very expensive historical database), which was purchased by special project funds. I was also amazed that Nottingham still purchase and individually catalogue print copies of all UK parliamentary publications. We spent some time discussing our move from Public Information Online to Official Publications Online.

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TeachMeet Leicester (1 October 2013)

Posted by JackieHanes on 7 November, 2013

JackieHanes:

I attended a TeachMeet in Leicester last month. I’m afraid it’s taken me 6 weeks to write up my report!

Originally posted on eLegal Librarian:

I attended my first TeachMeet at New College Leicester one dark night in October.  TeachMeet is a forum for teachers to share ideas and good practice.  I attended as an observer only – not quite brave enough to present!  The evening comprised about 12 short presentations – either long (7 minutes) or short ( 2 minutes).  The event was organised by Dan Williams (@danwilliams1984), and it had a wild west theme: presenters were awarded sheriffs badges and/or shot with a (toy) gun if they ran overtime!  As a librarian from higher education - I was in a minority of one.  Most of the teachers were from primary or secondary schools, with a few from colleges of further education.

There were some excellent presentations – I was particularly struck by the imagination and enthusiasm that some teachers have for their both their teaching practice and the pupils in their classroom.  For example, at one…

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History, Learning Resources and the National Student Survey (NSS) (31 July 2013)

Posted by JackieHanes on 1 August, 2013

I was invited to attend a roundtable discussion at De Montfort University – also in attendance were librarians from universities of Loughborough, Nottingham, Northampton and Warwick. The invitation was timely, because our National Student Survey score for learning resources in history fell considerably in 2012.  In the last academic year, I have been working with the School of History to improve library resources and student satisfaction. 

The Higher Education Authority (Carrigan 2010) found that history students were dissatisfied with Learning Resources (NSS questions 16 (library) and 17 (IT)).  This was an experience shared by all (but one) of the librarians at the roundtable.  It was heartening (but also saddening), to find that I am not alone, and that our experience is ‘normal’. 

The roundtable started with presentations from Chris Powis (Head of Library and Learning Services at the University of Northampton), and Neil Skinner (Assistant Librarian and History PhD Student at De Montfort University).  Chris outlined the problems and solutions of history and learning resources; and Neil described his current research project into history and learning resources.  We then began our discussions, which I have attempted to summarise by theme.

Problems with history and learning resources

  • Length of reading lists (500+ items per module)
  • Lack of differentiation on reading lists (essential/background)
  • Preference for monographs on reading lists (over journal articles)
  • Availability of items on reading lists (out of print, print only, no ebooks)
  • Focus on directed reading (reading lists do not encourage independent research)
  • Theft and vandalism of the library’s history books
  • History students seek help from academics (not from librarians)
  • Attitude of (some) history academics towards the library

Solutions to history and learning resources

  • Liaison librarian (increased liaison with history department)
  • Liaison librarian (increased contact with history students)
  • Library recovery plan for departments with low NSS scores
  • Use evidence (statistics) to support case for change

Research project on history and learning resources

  • Review of available literature
  • Survey (online questionnaire) of history students
  • Interview with history academics
  • Roundtable discussion with history librarians

NSS Question 16

In the NSS, the library is evaluated by a single question:- “the library resources and services are good enough for my needs”.  The question is rather simplistic, and open to different interpretations.  The question relates to library resources and services, not to facilities or the environment.  Yet student comments often relate to opening hours, study spaces, and noise.  A library refurbishment often leads to an increased NSS score.  This may have increased our NSS scores in 2010 and 2011, with the 2012 cohort returning to pre-refurbishment levels.  It was noted that the library tends to perform better in other surveys.  However, we can not change the NSS question, and it is our key performance indicator.

Modules

Our School of History offers a large number of modules, including special subjects in second and third year, which reflect their academics research interests.  Core modules  have large student numbers, but optional/special modules have comparatively small student numbers, yet the library must resource all modules, and each module comes with a lengthy reading list (see below).  Also, staff changes means that new academics bring new research interests and develop new modules of study, which again need to be resourced by the library.  It takes time to develop a collection of library resources. 

Reading Lists

Is the history reading list part of the problem, and not the solution?  What is the purpose of a reading list?  Should it provide students with key introductory readings to a subject, or should it be a complete body of knowledge on a subject?  The history reading list is a work of wonder – perhaps more accurately described as a bibliography.  Students (rightly) expect all items on their reading list to be available in their university library.  However, financial constraints mean that the library struggles to provide one copy of each item on a history reading list, let alone providing multiple copies to cope with high student demand.  

All of the universities had an electronic reading list system (either proprietary or in-house), but were at various stages of implementation, with some university’s mandating it’s use, and others using in on a voluntary basis.  There is a reluctance to use electronic reading list systems from academics with long reading lists.  While the electronic reading list system gives the library access to reading lists; it does not appear to resolve problems regarding resourcing reading lists.  All universities experienced problems purchasing adequate resources – regardless of the generosity of their library budget. 

Skinner found that history academics want their library to provide a broad range of resources (multiple titles not copies), and they are generally pleased with their library’s collection.  However, the history students’ most common complaint is that the library “does not have enough books” (multiple copies of a single title).  Academics want their students to become independent learners and researchers, and to go beyond their reading list.  Yet they continue to provide long reading lists for modules, including recommended reading for essay titles, which does not encourage their students to conduct independent research, and use other library resources. 

To what extent can librarians advise academics on best practice in teaching?

eBooks and Short Loans

Electronic books (particularly multi-user licenses) can be useful in making high demand titles more widely available (replacing the need to purchase multiple copies).  New titles are often published in both print and electronic formats, yet history reading lists often include old and out-of-print titles, which are not available electronically.  Where e-books are available, the format may not be popular with students.  In my focus group with history students in 2012, I was surprised to find that students preferred short loan print books to e-books. 

Traditionally, high demand titles were placed in the library’s short loan collection.  For history, this often meant that the only copy was placed in the short collection.  Short loan collections are unpopular (hard to find, short loan period, and high overdue fines), but perhaps a necessary evil if we want to circulate resources effectively.  One university had interfiled their short and normal loan collections (to the horror of their history department) – but had found that use of resources increased. 

Library Inductions

All librarians had some contact time with first year students, however this varied from 15 minutes, to 1 hour to 8 hours (as part of an academic skills module).  Follow-up sessions tended to come in the second year, as students prepared for dissertations.  Outside library inductions, librarians had little contact with history students, who appear to be quite self-sufficient.  Yet, the students do not communicate dissatisfaction with library resources or services during their course, just in the NSS survey at the end of their degree programme.  Perhaps we can improve our liaison and marketing with history students as well as history departments and academics?

Primary Resources

We briefly touched on student access to primary historical resources.  Do we expect our undergraduate students (to travel) to use archives and special collections at other libraries?  Along with the Russell Group universities, we are fortunate to have a good special collections department, and to have purchased digital collections of primary resources.  Others are less fortunate, and do struggle to provide adequate primary resources to support study and research.

Conclusion

The roundtable discussion was very interesting, and has left me with more questions than answers.  The afternoon passed very quickly, and we could have talked all day.  We can not change the NSS question, the reading lists or our library budgets.  Perhaps we can change the attitudes and expectations of history academics and students?  I will be very interested to read Neil Skinner’s final research report.

 

References

Carrigan, B (2010) History Departments and the National Student Survey (Coventry: Higher Education Academy) http://www.heacademy.ac.uk/assets/documents/subjects/history/br_carrigan_nss2009_20100526.pdf

National Student Survey (2013) http://www.thestudentsurvey.com/content/nss2012_questionnaire_english.pdf

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Visit to the University of Virginia and North Carolina State University libraries

Posted by benwynne2 on 28 June, 2013

Thanks to the generosity of my employer, I had the opportunity to visit the libraries of the University of Virginia (UVa) and North Carolina State University (NCSU) during the week of 17 June 2013.

Both libraries have a strong track record of digital library innovation of different kinds. The University of Virginia is a leader in digital humanities and NCSU has gained a reputation for creating user friendly, Web interfaces to Library services and resources, in particular.

University of Virginia

Scholars’ Lab

UVa Libraries is home to the Scholars’ Lab – a service which supports and enables the use of technology in humanities scholarship by the postgraduate and research community at the University. There are three strands to the service:

  • a ‘walk in’ facility where students can use high end computers and applications (GIS and statistical applications, for example) with access to specialist help (provided by fellow, experienced students employed by the Library)
  • a programme of workshops and training opportunities. In particular, the Scholars’ Lab runs a graduate fellowship programme where about 6 lucky students each year are trained and supported to work together on a particular project – developing valuable technical and ‘soft’ skills (including project management)  in the process.
  • a research and development team of Web developers – from a research background – who work with academic staff on development of specific projects.
Scholars' Lab

Scholars’ Lab

This all adds up to an impressive service. The Lab benefits from some endowment funding and, unusually, the research and development team is funded from the core Library budget – not from short term, grant funding.

Recent work includes the creation of Neatline – a platform for creating digial exhibits as overlays on maps with timelines.  This is just the sort of thing we wanted to try out as part of our Jisc funded Manufacturing Pasts project – but ran out of time and didn’t have a suitable platform.  Neatline is built on Omeka – a content management system created at George Mason University. Both are open source and if you have – or can have – access to a LAMP server (which I eventually did for Manufacturing Pasts) – it doesn’t sound too difficult to try them out …

SHANTI

UVa is also home to SHANTI – the Sciences, Humanities and Arts Network of Technological Initiatives. SHANTI isn’t part of the Library but is based in the ‘main’ library – the Alderman Library – as is the Scholars’ Lab.

SHANTI provides practical support and guidance for researchers who want and need to use information technology to carry out research – but who aren’t ‘techies’. The resources it has created include a Knowledge Base – which includes a suite of software tools – many of which anyone can use.

Digital Media Lab

The Digital Media Lab is part of the Library and provides an impressive range of resources and support for use of multimedia by the University community – including creating videos, large scale data visualisation, a ‘telepresence’ lab and use of video clips for teaching. A lot of the technology is Mac based.

The Lab is based on a newly refurbished floor of one of the site libraries which is gradually being redeveloped as the ‘learning and teaching’ library (this redevelopment also includes the provision of social learning spaces).

Digital Media Lab at the University of Virginia Library

Digital Media Lab

The Lab has its origins back in the University’s audiovisual service which became part of the Library many years ago. It has evolved to become more about the creative use of technology in learning and teaching – than the simple provision of hardware and software as such – although, clearly the two need to go together.

While many libraries provide high end, ‘self service’ multimedia facilities – providing an expert, staffed service of this kind is unusual.

Staffing

Compared to many UK university libraries – and certainly compared to us – UVa Library is big – with 220 staff, 11 libraries and a complex structure.

That much is predictable for a major, American university library.  But some aspects of how the Library is organised are less obvious.

The people I met were from a diverse range of backgrounds – the outcome of a decision over ten years ago to seek applications for vacancies from both formally qualified librarians and other relevant professions.

View of part of the Learning Commons floor of the undergraduate library at the University of Virginia

Learning commons floor of the undergraduate library

The head of the Scholars’ Lab is an ‘academic’.  The Deputy University Librarian comes from an IT background (she joined the Library to head up its technical services, originally).  The head of the learning and teaching focussed library is a learning technologist.  A recent appointee to the University’s very impressive Special Collections Library has a background – amongst other things – in the rare books business.

Some recent senior retirements and resignations have led to a decision to ‘flatten’ the structure – removing some second tier posts and bringing the managers of some of these specialist, newer services into the management team.

NCSU

NCSU Libraries won an award from the ALA for its Web site in 2011.  In 2010, it won an award for its Library Course Tools project.  Back in 2000, it won the ACRL Excellence In Academic Libraries Award.

So, what has enabled NCSU to sustain this consistent record of service development and success?

Staffing and culture

Like UVa, NCSU Library is a big department – with about 220 staff and a budget of about $20m.  The University has 35,000 students.

Again, like UVa, the Library has quite a complex staffing structure.

One thing which is notable about this structure, is that there is both a Library IT and a Digital Library Initiatives (DLI) team.  Unusually, also, the Library IT team runs both servers and storage for the Library – not just Library specific applications (this wasn’t the case at UVa Library where – like us – they see servers and storage as clearly being part of central IT infrastructure).

I met some members of the DLI team.  As the team name suggests, their focus is on developing and implementing new services – such as the Library Course Tools service noted above.

The team has existed for about 12 years – and grew out of a small service which the Library had created to support use of GIS and geospatial data.

Banner promoting mobile app tour of the Hunt Library, North Carolina State University

One of the DLI team’s mobile apps

Most members of the team are librarians – who have become skilled Web Developers during the course of their careers.  As librarians, they understand the context within which they are working and the services that are being provided – and this understanding combined with the technical skills clearly makes for a powerful combination.  This is also true of some of the members of the Library IT team – with the person responsible for the specification and installation of the very extensive IT facilities in the new Hunt Library (below) being a qualified librarian with an Arts background (who then developed a specialism in IT).

NCSU has a ‘Library fellowship’ programme.  This means a number of two year, fixed term posts which are open to newly qualified library professionals.  Postholders are based in a ‘home’ department and also work on a project.  Some of these projects are very significant.  For example, one Library Fellow is developing a Web based application for browsing the contents of items in the Hunt Library’s new ‘bookBot’ (see below).

About 50 people have been through this programme since it started.  Interestingly, many members of the DLI team originally joined the Library through this route – so, it clearly seems to have worked as a way of attracting capable, highly motivated people who – crucially – are looking for on-going opportunities to learn and develop on the job.

I was interested to find out how the DLI team communicates with other teams.  The picture that was painted was of lots of horizontal communication i.e. between teams.  Ideas for service development are as likely to emerge this way as be from ‘top down’.  They said this works because individuals take responsibility to make communication with their colleagues work – they don’t wait for a ‘manager’ to do it for them.  Later on I spoke to a member of staff in a public services, student facing role – who sung the praises of the DLI team – so, she clearly saw them as student focussed and helping her to do her job.

There is still, structured, organised decision making because there needs to be.  But they have a pragmatic straightforward process for specifying and agreeing projects that are going to be resourced – taking a 2 sides of A4 approach to make sure objectives, timescales, responsibilities etc. are clear (something we have tried to do consistently in recent years).

Hunt Library

The Hunt Library is a major development for the Library, the University and the evolving concept of what a ‘university library’ is and what it is for.

Entrance area to the Hunt Library, North Caroline State University

Hunt Library entrance area, North Carolina State University

The Hunt Library opened in January 2013.  It cost $110m and, so, represents a huge investment by the University (and its primary funder the state of North Carolina).

It joins the University’s other primary library – the Hill Library – which dates from the 1970s and is a ‘traditional’ ‘book tower’ library – lots of shelves, lots of floors, lots of single study spaces (although in 2011 the entrance floor of the Hill Library was totally redesigned in ‘learning commons’ mode).

The Hunt Library is on the university’s technology park – which is also the home of its large Engineering and Textiles teaching programmes and research (NCSU is – largely – a science and technology institution).

There are a lot of things about the Hunt Library that you would expect in a modern library.

  • lots of natural daylight
  • lots of social learning space of different kinds (including 100 group study rooms!)
  • high quality interior design and fit out
  • single integrated service point and staff ‘roving’ to provide help at point of need
Some objects created using a 3D printer

What you can create with a 3D printer

Where the Hunt Library is really different is in the scale of the IT facilities it provides.  These go way beyond access to desktop PCs/Macs and wireless networking to include:

  • lending of a huge range of equipment – and accessories – including laptops (of different kinds), high end filming and photography equipment, storage devices etc.
  • data visualisation lab with very high resolution screens
  • 3D printing
  • ‘creative’, multimedia lab which includes creation of virtual environments
  • a gaming lab

The technical facilities aren’t just used by the engineering students etc. but also by their Arts and Social Sciences departments (they do exist).

View of the bookBot at the Hunt Library, North Carolina State University

The bookBot at the Hunt Library

The Hunt Library is also about books – but most of these – 1.5m – are stored away in an automated, high capacity, racked storage system (the bookBot!).  Users request items through the Catalogue and they are delivered to the Hunt Library service point within about 5 minutes (some staff intervention is required).  This system cost about $4m to install.

What about staffing such a  facility?

No new money was available to staff this library – so existing staff have been allocated between the Hunt Library and the Hill Library.  Students are employed to help at the Hunt service point and with the bookBot.  There are 4 people on duty ‘front of house’ at most – this is between 10.00am and 4pm.  So, lean front of house – which reminds me of the Information Commons at Sheffield.  The Library is open 24 hours – with staffed services continuing overnight (two Library staff employed for the purpose and a student helper – a model they already had at the Hill Library).

While use of some of the high end facilities is by appointment with specialist staff, most of the facilities can be used directly by students and they have found that students have needed very little ‘training’ to use them.

So what?

So, you visited UVa and NCSU – so what?

This clearly was a great opportunity for me personally as I have long wanted to see something of the large, North American university libraries in action (because, one way or another, what happens in the North American academic world has a huge influence on us and we are almost entirely dependent on library systems and resources provided largely for the North American market).

Data visualisation lab at the Hunt Library, North Carolina State University

Data visualisation lab at the Hunt Library

But there are also some specific questions which I think we could realistically ask ourselves based on the experience of these libraries – despite the fact that they are clearly much larger and much better resourced than we are (although they don’t necessarily support a very much more students than us).

  • How do we provide the Web development expertise – focussed on library services and context – which we are going to need to develop our Web services further? (not everyone may agree with me on this – but I see this as absolutely essential and I don’t think that the advent of cloud based services reduces the need.  We are still going to need to integrate services and build services which draw on disparate, underlying services.  That is a large part of the ‘added value’ that we can offer our users);
  • What opportunities do we have/can we create to attract technically able, highly motivated, early career professionals and then develop them on the job?
  • How do we improve access to generic software tools/solutions for digital scholarship/humanities projects at Leicester – including exploiting the tools identified/created by SHANTI, George Mason University and others? (there is a Web developer need here as well – currently the subject of a bid to the University’s Research Infrastructure Fund which Simon Dixon and Dan Porter-Brown have put together).

I’d be interested to hear your views.

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Digimap Training (19 June 2013)

Posted by JackieHanes on 24 June, 2013

I attended a 1 day Digimap Collections training course run by EDINA and hosted by Birmingham City University at their Millennium Point campus in Birmingham.  I resisted the urge to spend a day in the Think Tank (Birmingham Science Museum), and headed on inside learn about Digimap with a section of geography and built environment librarians and academics. 

Our Digimap subscription includes the Ordnance Survey, Historic and Geology collections.  As liaison librarian for archaeology and history, I deal mostly in Historic Digimap enquiries.  EDINA is launching an Environment Digimap, which will be free to current subscribers, although we have to apply to JISC to activate. 

Ordnance Survey is the current (up-to-date) map collection.  It includes maps from very small scale road atlas size (metropolitan view), through small scale Landranger (city view), medium scale Explorer (street view), and large scale Mastermap (plan view).  It is easy to search by place name, postcode or grid reference using Digimap Roam.  The zoom functions allow you to switch between maps of different scale.

Useful tools on the Task Menu include Map Information which displays map product, date, coordinates and print scale information; and Map Content Control which allows you to swap between Raster maps and Vector maps, and select different map Themes (views).  Raster maps are essentially map images; whereas Vector maps include layers of data, and are customisable (add/remove specific map features).  You can also save maps using My Maps.

Once at your desired map, you can use the Annotation and Measurement Tools to mark up features and distances.  For example you can add point, lines, shapes and labels. Annotations are a bit fiddly, especially when you go wrong, and try to undo your mistakes, but they can look very effective. Annotations can also be saved.

Historic Digimap includes Town Plans from 1848 to 1939, and County Series maps from 1846 to 1996.  It works in a similar way: search for a map by place, postcode or grid reference, zoom in and out to find maps of different scale, and view maps from different periods of time.  If the map is blurred, you may be looking at an overlapping map (one location was surveyed by two or more maps – especially as county boundaries), and select a single map view. My second favourite feature in Digimap is the ability to view two maps from different historical periods on screen using the 2 Up View icon. 

My favourite Digimap feature, is the interoperability of Annotations between Ordnance Survey and Historic Digimap.  For example, in Ordnance Survey you can search for your postcode, mark your house, and save annotations; and then go Historic Digimap and open your annotations to view the location of your house across time. 

All maps can be printed, and you can select the area and  print scale.  You can print maps as image or PDF files.  The maps include a copyright statement that allows use for educatonal (non commercial) purposes.  You can also export data to use in GIS (Geographical information Systems) software.  We had a go at exporting data for use in ArcGIS – although this is a little out of my comfort area! 

The Digimap Resource Centre includes a variety of guides and tutorials (from quick reference to technical data downloads) that can be used by liaison librarians with students. We also learned about a new open access Fieldtrip GB mobile map app for iPhone and Android.  This may be useful for students collecting data on archaeology and geography field trips.     

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BIALL Conference 2013 (Glasgow)

Posted by JackieHanes on 24 June, 2013

JackieHanes:

‘Highlights’ for non law librarians are second day sessions on the Flipped Classroom and Open Access …

Originally posted on eLegal Librarian:

I attended the British and Irish Association of Law Librarians (BIALL) annual study conference held on 13-15 June 2013 at the Hilton Hotel in Glasgow.  The theme of this year’s conference was “The Business of Law”, including “Business for Managers” on the final day.  The BIALL conference is the annual gathering of law librarians from all sectors across the UK, Ireland and beyond.

The conference began with a game of ‘spot the law librarian’ at Glasgow’s airports, train stations and hotel receptions on Wednesday afternoon.  I attended Justis Publishing’s legendary pre-conference social event on Wednesday evening.  This year’s theme was “100 Years of Bollywood”, and it was held at the Kama Sutra restaurant on Sauchiehall Street.  The dinner, drinks and entertainment (our unique take on bollywood dancing and gangnam style) were fabulous – photographic evidence is available.

Justis

The conference was formally opened by James Mullan (BIALL President) on Thursday morning. …

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Meeting with Lexis Library / Nexis Rep

Posted by JackieHanes on 20 May, 2013

Sheree and I met with Caralyn Duignan – our Lexis Library and Nexis Account Manager. 

We were updated on Lexis Library enhancements over the last 12 months:- there has been a particular focus on journal content, including the acquisition of 50 new full-text journals, including many OUP and CUP titles.

We looked at database usage statistics – there was a clear spike in October / November during induction period. Also the (new to us) employment law module is already one of our most highly used resources. 

We discussed problems bookmarking Lexis Library in Talis Aspire.  The problems are now being raised by academic law librarians across the UK.  I was assured that Tom Laidlaw (Head Academic Development at Lexis) was working with Talis Aspire. I will also be raising this in the Academic Forum at the BIALL Conference next month.

We were informed of a new platform – Lexis Advance – coming to the UK in Summer 2015!  It is expected to work with federated search engines – so looks promising for Summon.  It is currently released in the US and Australia, so some students with experience in large global firms may come across this database before we do.

We were asked if we were taking the ICLR Online 1 year free trial to The Law Reports etc on ICLR’s own platform.  Lexis (and Westlaw) are currently licensed to provide the content, but are concerned that ICLR may pull this at next contract renewal.  (ICLR tried this a few years ago – Lloyds were the other big name to pull content).  Something to watch out for … 

As regards Nexis, we were informed that their license to provide the Financial Times had been renegotiated, and there would be a 30 day embargo on all newspaper articles from 1st September (currently 24 hour embargo).  Obviously, FT.com are pushing their own database!

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EMLIP Meeting (Friday 12 April)

Posted by JackieHanes on 12 April, 2013

I attended the quarterly East Midlands Legal Information Professionals (EMLIP) meeting at Shoosmiths in Nottingham.  We had invited Simon Watson and Dexter Smith from JustCite to give an update and demonstration of their products.  I am a huge fan of JustCite, we are subscribers, and I have their API embedded in my law subject page, so I was not expecting to learn much from the demo.  How wrong was I …?!

JustCite have made a few useful innovations:- a ‘golden arrow’ highlights the most authoritative law report, and an ‘information icon’ links directly to the Cardiff Index. Also, citations are shown in context, displaying the relevant paragraph from the law report.  Dexter also explained that JustCite have a team of legal editors, who add all citation links by hand.  They are more selective than automated citation services, and only add those of legal significance.  

Justis (a full-text product we do not subscribe to) has acquired the full-text reported and unreported judgments of the civil (1951-) and criminal (1963-) divisions of the Court of Appeal.  Justis enables better keyword searching, and users with personal logins can create current awareness alerts.

Simon finished the talk by showing an early prototype of ‘JustCite for Word’, a legal citation checking service (similar to Lexis Check).  The service allows you to check the authority of cases, to standardise citation formats, and create tables of authority.  I think it would be a useful tool for academics updating teaching materials. Given the technology, I asked if JustCite would be able to develop their product to enable export of citation information from JustCite to RefWorks and EndNote (a subject dear to my heart).  Fingers crossed!

After the demonstration, the main business of the meeting was a discussion about training opportunities for law librarians.  I found myself talking about increased student contact time, innovative teaching methods in lectures, and massive open online courses (MOOCs).  There was also discussion about the use of technology to deliver training at a distance.

JustCite were kind enough to treat us to lunch at the Living Room, and what a treat it was!  Teriyaki chicken skewers with satay sauce, and steak frites with salad, all washed down with a chilled glass of white wine.  We were joined for lunch by the legend that is Mr Brian Marshall – who managed to fit us in between games of golf …! 

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EMALINK Research Data Management Meeting

Posted by selinalock on 27 March, 2013

Several of us attended the EMALINK meeting on Research Data Management (RDM) at the University of Northampton on the 13th March, 2013. Here’s some of the main points I picked up on:

RDM at the University of Northampton (Miggie Pickton)

  • In 2010 little was known about the RDM needs of researchers so undertook a project using the ‘Data Asset Framework Methodology‘ (DAF) from the Digital Curation Centre (DCC).
  • Interview with research leaders, online survey of researchers and follow-up interviews to look at types of data, storage and access needs and funder requirements.
  • Found some good practice and some uncertainty about RDM.
  • A research data policy was drafted and approved, but not mandated.
  • Behaviour changes takes time and advocacy.
  • Research Councils started to bring out policy frameworks for RDM – led to research data roadmap.
  • Reflections: DAF allowed meaningful dialogue with researchers, raised awareness of RDM good practice, embed RDM training for new research students, up-skilling of library/support staff to support researchers.
  • More training, advocacy and awareness of RDM needed.

RDM at the University of Nottingham (Laurian Williamson)

  • Much bigger and more research intensive university than Northampton.
  • JISC funded project: A Data Management Infrastructure for Research (ADMIRe)
  • Looking at infrastructure, tools and policies.
  • Surveyed 366 researchers: survey and analysis available.
  • Wide types and locations for data.
  • Remember: Not just digital data!!
  • Need technical infrastructure but also human infrastructure: skills, workshops, materials & training needs.
  • Pre-requsite for any RDM service: approved policy, technical infrastructure, up-skilling of support staff, advocacy, tailored training, buy-in.

Common Themes among all the Universities attending:

  • Early stages of institutional RDM efforts.
  • Cross team skills needed (library, research support office, IT services etc) – no funding for RDM posts.
  • Staff need up-skilling before real advocacy and training can start.
  • Need to understand needs of researchers, institution and funders.
  • Can draw on expertise of DCC.

At Leicester:

RDM Website and cross-service working party.

Library Research Services Team: Think about how to offer RDM training – possibly use MANTRA for PhD students.

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