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Visit to Coventry University Library (16 January 2013)

Posted by JackieHanes on 16 January, 2013

I visited Sue White, the law and official publications librarian, in the Lanchester Library at Coventry University, to discuss library inductions and reading lists.  I attended a CILIP event at the Lanchester Library shortly after it opened, and it was interesting to return a decade + later to see how it had fared/aged.   

The subject librarian team have a very different structure to us: the team is much larger, librarians are responsible for only 1 or 2 subjects,  and they are supported by a large team of library assistants.  However, they provide services to both taught-course and research users, and they are responsible for their enquiry service too.  Lanchester had enquiry desks on each of their three floors (science, social science and arts).  But these have been closed, and replaced by ‘roving library enquiry staff’ to limited success.  Sue is currently involved in a project to train students to act as roving library enquiry staff. 

The law collection is classified using Dewey, but shelved out-of-sequence.  The collection includes a large number of print journals and law reports, which Sue feels are at risk, because of space pressures in the library.  Sue is also the EDC librarian: although her enquiries are very low in number, the print resources are well used, but she feels they would be better used if inter-filed in the main collection.

Coventry University provide all undergraduate students with a copy of their course textbooks as part of their £9K course fees.  While library footfall continues to increase, levels of borrowing and shelving are noticably lower.  It’s not yet know how this will affect library provision in the future.

Coventry University have used the Talis Aspire reading list software for about 5 years.  Subject librarians initially create module reading lists and handover responsibility to academics.  I was disappointed to discover that Sue has also failed to make Talis Aspire work with the LexisLibrary and Westlaw law databases.  Workarounds include linking to journal title level, rather than article level; and linking to judgments on BAIILI, rather than authoritive law reports.  She is also unable to use Talis Aspire to help with editions checking, and has employed her library assistants to manually check reading lists on an annual basis.

As regards library inductions, Sue is far more embedded into the curriculum than me.  She delivers a library welcome lecture in the first week (1 x 200 students), and then sees all students in their seminar groups during the second week for a legal research practical session (10 x 20 students).   In later weeks, Sue delivers lectures on official publications (jointly with an academic), and Westlaw and LexisLibrary database training (jointly with a third party database trainer).  By way of contrast, I delivered a library welcome lecture in the second week  (1 x 400 students), but was unable to deliver practical sessions, and met with resistance from timetabling.  Coventry University also used Echo 360 technology to record library training events and make them available on Moodle.

Sue was interested to learn more about our subject pages (they do not have an equivalent on their library website), my legal research online tutorials, and our experiences with the JustCite legal search engine. 

Lunch was not on the agenda, but I did enjoy a very nice coffee and black-forest brownie …

Posted in Collection management, Law, Offical Publications, Subject Support | Leave a Comment »

New strategies for Digital Content: 18 March 2011

Posted by benwynne2 on 23 March, 2011

I recently attended a one day conference organised by JISC on new strategies for creating digital content which was partly about presenting the outcomes of projects funded under JISC’s e-Content Programme (2009-2011).

How to ensure the sustainability and impact of digitisation initiatives were two major themes of the day.

Nancy Moran of Ithaka provided an update on their research into the sustainability of digitisation projects. This illustrated the continuing importance of the host organisation but also of developing different sources of income. One example she highlighted was the Encylopaedia of Philosophy at Stanford University which has been raising funds – largely from libraries – to build up an endowment to assure its long term future. In the meantime, Stanford has been filling the funding gap.

Alastair Dunning of JISC and David Hunter of the National Library of Scotland highlighted the importance of making your ‘content’ findable and visibile from as many different places as possible in order to increase its impact, with Flickr and the Internet Archive cited as examples. However, you do need to ensure that your institutional logo or other form of attribution is clearly visible.

‘Joining up content’ was also presented as a key aspect of increasing the visibility and impact of digital collections i.e. finding ways for related content to be found and brought together.

This brought us to a particularly interesting presentation by Andy McGregor of JISC. Andy has been closely involved with the ‘Resource Discovery Task Force’ (RDTF) over the last year and more – an intiative of JISC and RLUK which has been exploring what sort of resource discovery tools the UK libraries, musuems and archives sector needs for the future.

While the Task Force did not agree on what sort of resource discovery services would be needed for the future, there was clear agreement on the need to ‘aggregate’ metadata from different sources and to make it available in such a way that others could create services using it. This is seen as providing future benefits in terms of search, enriching metadata, collection management, mashups and visualisations and shared cataloguing to name a few.

JISC is funding exploratory work on use of open, reusable data as part of realising this vision and will also be making guidance available to metadata creators on how to make their data as reusable as possible (while recognising that it is not always appropriate to make all data open and reusable). One initiative which JISC is funding in this context is the use of data derived from COPAC to inform decision making on collection management (on de-duplication of monographs, for example) by the White Rose university Consortium of Leeds, Sheffield and York. The intention is also to make metadata aggregations available for Web developers to use. The use of ‘linked data’ is very much part of this intiative and thinking. One practical example of linked data in action which Andy cited is the BBC Wildlife Finder site which makes its data available in a number of different formats.

Further information is available on the Resource Discovery Task Force blog and an RDTF area on the MIMAS web site.

Against this background, my short presentation on future challenges for us at Leicester in sustaining our digitisation intiatives seemed at one level rather pedestrian but on another very much in line with the main themes of the day. The challenges were: strategy (being clear why we are doing it and for what benefit), money (how are we going to pay for it) and people (who is going to do it and how do we develop and sustain the necessary skills and expertise). Our JISC funded project to create the My Leicestershire History archive has given us a very good base from which to build (having previously not undertaken significant digitisation work for a number of years). The immediate response to these big challenges is short term and pragmatic – redeploying some existing staff time to this area of work and increasing the visibility of what we have done as much within our university as outside – in order to retain a capability from which we can build in the future.

The day concluded with some brief information about a likely forthcoming JISC Call (possibly in April) for a number of large digitisation projects – with key issues being embedding, partnerships and innovation. So, very much furthering some of the themes from the day …

Posted in Collection management, Projects | Tagged: | 1 Comment »

Health Libraries Group Conference 2010

Posted by sarahw9 on 21 July, 2010

The Lowry, Salford QuaysI’ve just returned from my first ever Health Libraries Group conference in Manchester, well, Manchester was in the conference title, although we were told in no uncertain terms from a local that the conference location The Lowry is in fact in the city of Salford.

 I admit at first I was a bit concerned this was going to be too NHS-y for my job, but there was more than enough that was relevant to academic libraries, although I didn’t meet many folk who weren’t employed by the NHS.

 I doubt anyone wants to read a summary of all of the sessions I attended especially when you will soon be able to download the presentation yourself from  the conference website, so I’ve made a summary of points that caught my eye.  You can also read the tweets from the HLG conference searching under #hlg2010. 

Elearning vs Face to face training

Two very different messages came from  two presentations on teaching information literacy to nursing students and practicing nurses.  Mark Raynor & Alison Brettle from the University of Salford showed us the results of their study comparing the effectiveness of face to face training sessions with training that was entirely online.  They found no difference in the results or skills retention of both groups, although a vocal minority just did not like the elearning approach.  I admit in general I would rather learn something from a person telling me than from online instruction, and I’m convinced I remember more.  Whether that’s just a personal preference or an illusion that I remember more is another matter of course.  That could just be me slipping into pre web 2 mode.  If online learning is well designed and it’s a process you follow through rather than just a list of instructions then perhaps its just as good.

Tatjana Petrinic from the University of Oxford spoke about how the popularity of their generic training for nurses (in practice not students) had fallen off, but that 1 to 1 training was very popular – to the point that they no longer have to advertise it, nurses contact them for training.  This has developed into supporting nurses to publishing. They cover literature searching, referencing, complying with the journal style.  Nurses don’t get this kind of advice elsewhere and Tatjana said as a group nurses are very supportive of each other in the process (compared to other professions which will remain nameless).

I think where done well, face to face training can offer more support for people who are unconfident and who prefer a more human approach.  In reality where there are large numbers of students involved well designed elearning can do the job very well, but I can’t help thinking it always helps if you have a friendly face you can ask. 

What are librarians good for?

Two thought provoking presentations by Lyn Robinson and Andrew Booth , whilst very different, came to the similar conclusion that its not so much ‘technical’ skills such as information retrieval that librarians can offer which is unique, as an approach to seeing the bigger picture to facilitate the flow of information and knowledge either across organisations or from creator to user.  Andrew Booth started with the memorable finding made by Paul Glasziou that the longer doctors practised the less effective they were (they don’t keep up to date?), and had wondered whether this could also apply to librarians.  Are the experienced over confident and novices under confident about what they can do? Another perhaps less surprising observation Andrew found in the literature was  a study that concluded that more experienced staff (not necessarily librarians or doctors) tend to have a more ‘passive implementation of the curriculum’ than novices, in other words they are less inclined to innovate (I presume that’s what is meant).  I’m not sure a total novice is always keen to innovate, unless they are completely foolhardy, but perhaps there is somewhere in between.

Reinforcing the original point about the use of librarians was Emily Hopkin’s presentation on how she set up a library service (or rather an information service) with no physical library or stock at NHS North West.  She went about all the informal ways of gathering information about the organisation going to meetings, talking to people in corridors, finding out what was going on.  She discovered all sorts of places where people had information needs she could help with.  Unsurprisingly she found people had little understanding of what a library service is beyond books in a room and that asking people what they wanted was not the most fruitful approach.  To show what she could do she sent them information she knew they needed based on her ‘spying’, and before long they were sending her requests for more work. She found the thing people most wanted was for her to do internet research where they simply don’t have the time or they want a more comprehensive search.  This sounds like great practice; going to grass roots to find out what people are actually doing , and providing a valuable service they never knew they could have.  Its just as relevant to academics libraries as anywhere else.  I think us subject librarians could learn a lot here, in particular with supporting research or even supporting not only the academics but all sorts of administrative staff.  Of course we have known all this for years, but implementing it seems to be another matter.  I had a similar job for PricewaterhouseCoopers (doing internet research / enquires for their staff and writing summaries, briefings and current awareness bulletins), and that was over 10 years ago.

 Other highlights:

Critical Appriasal teaching: Michelle Madden showed  us her excellent wiki for supporting librarians teaching critical appraisal.  She had surveyed attitudes to teaching CA and found three quarters of librarians think they should teach it, but despite the majority having had training that only one third actually do train others.  There were some organisations barriers to this, but often it was down to lack of confidence in knowledge of statistics and medicine.  She has set up a support wiki CATNiP – Critical Appraisal Tookit Navigating into Practice which includes lots of support material include preappraised articles.  I’ve requested access to this site, which I hope I get as it all looks very useful. 

LibraryThing – to update core collections: Helene Gorring and Helen Buckley Woods are using LibraryThing to update the core collections of books for medical libraries, the mental health version is the first they have tackled.  It’s a great idea to do this collaboratively and get direct input from everyone, so get inputting and rating here:  http://www.librarything.com/catalog/corecollection

The Health Informaticist  and collaborative blogging: Alan Fricker and Hanna Lewin talked about their experience of producing their collaborative blog The Health Informaticist.  Unlike our very own collaborative blog, the four writers come from different settings within health information  (a charity, hospital library, governmental body and a private company).  Perhaps we could claim though to have very different specialisms even if we all work for the same organisation.  It was interesting to see another very different collaborative blog in a related field of interest.  On a purely trivial note I did think to myself its time we improved the look of our blog – unless the strictly functional style is what we prefer.

And finally… 

Thanks HLG  I enjoyed this event.  There were lots of useful practical things I could take away, and that’s not just the free pens and post-it notes.

Posted in CILIP, Collection management, Research Support, Service Delivery, Web 2.0 & Emerging Technologies, Wider profession | Tagged: , , , , , , | 8 Comments »

Innovations in Reference Management Part 3

Posted by selinalock on 25 January, 2010

Moving Targets: the role of web preservation in supporting sustainable citation (Richard Davis & Kevin Ashley)

This was a rather different talk to most of the others at the event as it was looking more at the question of how we can cite the preserved version of ephemeral type of data, such as blogs, that we often see on the web these days.

  • Some web preservation already happening: URI/DOI/Handles & other solutions, Wayback machine and UK Webarchive.
  • Are we educating people to use links to sustainable archives/ Should we be recommending linking to the UK Webarchive version and not the original version?
  • Used the example of citing a blog post that might disappear.
  • Will our “collections” look different in future, will they be blog type posts rather than journal articles or books?
  • Talked about the JISC project ArchivePress which allows you to use a RSS feed to create a preserved blog archive: this will allow Universities to create their own repository of blogs. For example, it could integrate with Research Repositories that use applications like DSpace. Should the Leicester Research archive be looking into preserving research blogs as well as other research outputs?
  • Heidelberg University and others have created a Citation Repository for transitory web pages: this was specifically to deal with the problem that their researchers were having when researching China, due to the volatile nature of the Chinese internet. There might be rights issues with this approach but many of the original web pages had disappeared.
  • Should we be teaching people about sustainable resources/publishing as part of our information literacy efforts?
  • Can argue that citing a URL is like citing the shelfmark of a book in a library, as it’s the location of the information rather than the information itself. Should we be looking for a better citation system?
  • Possible solutions: Institutions can offer archive mechanisms, authors need to use archive mechanisms, if a blog is being preserved than it needs to expose that permanent citable link for people to use (e.g. ArchivePress link) and permalinks should be a bit more “perm”!

Help me Igor – taking references outside traditional environments (Euan Adie, Nature.com)

Euan gave an overview of some of the projects they are working on as part of the Nature.com remit:

  • Looked at how referencing might be achieved if you were using GoogleWave as a collaborative tool to write articles etc.
  • Decided to create a 3rd party GoogleWave widget called Igor.
  • Igor lets you fetch references from Connotea or PubMed and insert them into the Wave: it does this by typing in a command in Wave.
  • Igor uses an open API to retrieve data (XML or RDF) and is only a proof of concept widget at the moment. it is OpenSource and people are welcome to develop it further.
  • Euan did point out that the formats that most reference software uses (RIS/BIBtex) are not very easy to use with web APIs.
  • Mentioned ScienceBlogs: an initiative to aggregate well known science blogs through Nature.com. E.g. finds if blogs link to Nature articles (via html, DOI, PubMed): blogs already comment on articles when they’re published so Nature wants to link the comments/blog posts to the articles.
  • Have a API available that allows you to feed in am article DOI and see what blogs aggregated through Nature.com mention that article.
  • Mobile devices: have made Mac app Papers available on iPhone. thinks people are not as likely to read articles on mobiles but save the reference for later instead.
  • Nature.com always willing to experiment and collaborate with other projects.

Posted in Collection management, Meetings, Referencing, Technology & Devices, Web 2.0 & Emerging Technologies | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

The death of the textbook?

Posted by knockels on 16 June, 2009

I first heard about Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s proposal to replace textbooks with online materials while driving to work the other day.   Since then, it has attracted my attention in a number of places.

The report I heard first was on the Radio 4 Today programme and suggested that he wanted to replace textbooks with websites and laptops.   This might, it was suggested, be as expensive as the textbooks.    But then another report I read (and I can’t remember where, sorry!) suggested that he wanted to replace textbooks with ebook readers.  And then it turned up on Have I Got News for You?, the BBC satirical news quiz.   There it was dismissed by one participant as a bad idea, in a tone that suggested that there could be no other reaction.

I think the most important thing, whether it is websites or ebooks, is the thing suggested by John Dunford, the head of the Association of School and College Leaders, who appeared (metaphorically) on the Today programme – the main issue with this replacement of books with electronic content is the issue of quality.  How will students know that the material they are reading is of good quality?   Of course, this is an issue with books too, and exactly the same issue is present in the same way if ebooks are used instead of print.  But if it is really websites, the issue has a new dimension.

Finally, on the HIFA2015 discussion list (HIFA2015 is campaigning for access to health information for all by the year 2015), several contributors have extended Governor Schwarzenegger’s suggestion to a developing world context and pointed out that access to electronic information is much more difficult there, so replacing books with anything electronic just does not work, for most people, yet.

Posted in Collection management, Technology & Devices | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

I’ll take a satnav any day

Posted by gazjjohnson on 13 August, 2008

I’ve been a “proper” librarian for a change today, and that means I’ve been out of the office and moving things around on shelves.  One of the many tasks I’ve had on the to-do list for a bit was updating our guidance for geological surveys in the library.  Having reformatted the page, I thought I’d best wander to the physical stock and check it all tallied.

It did…for the most part.  However, there were a few nasty little errors and a handful of omissions to correct.  There was also a shelf and a half of books out of sequence for…well I’m guessing a while looking at the dust on them.  I decided that it would be more effective to shift them myself – given that by the time I’d worked out whom to ask to sought this out and waited for them to fit it into their work-plans it could be term time!

Thus when I link to the geosurvey help page from Rooms2, I’m going to quite content in the knowledge that it’s an accurate guide!

[Edit: And the page is live…]

Posted in Collection management, Subject Support | Tagged: , , , , | 4 Comments »

 
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