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JISC Conference: April 13th 2010

Posted by gazjjohnson on 15 April, 2010

Round the corner from the conferenceThis Tuesday I travelled down to the Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre in a very sunny Westminster to attend the annual JISC Conference.  This event draws a lot of senior people from across the educational sector; and it’s possible to run into more than a few VCs over coffee.  It’s also a rich opportunity to hear from the broadest cross section of educational computing projects.  What follows are my notes

 The day was introduced by Malcolm Reed and Chair of JISC then JISC Chair Sir Timothy O’Shea. Spoke about current value as well as what the impact the UK election and reduced funding means we as a sector will be dealing with.  The next 10 years will be difficult as the environmental impact as well as funding will impact on HE computing.  He highlighted an article in the Guardian (14/Apr/2010) on HE, commenting that it complemented the lively pre-conference debate 150 people yesterday led by JISC Vice-Chair.  Suggested to go back and have one key thing to implement.

Martin Bean, VC OU: The Learning Journey: From Informal to Formal

A packed hall of listeners

An anarchist at heart who sought to spark discussions and possibly put a few backs up; with imitable Australian bravado.  Distance education is on fire – because you cannot build enough brick and mortar institutions to keep pace with growth in HE; and thus need to look at alternative delivery modes.  Distance learning is growth area, as cannot build enough brick and mortar HEIs.  But 1/3 HE students are in private institutions – going to see a growth in private organisations providing this kind of educational role.

 Challenges for the custodians – need to educate citizens for new kinds of work.  STEM is key for a competitive workforce for the next 10-50-100 years for innovation.  Need to think about transformation of information into meaningful knowledge.  John Naisbitt book Megatrends was mentioned.  Learning in the workplace needs to become essential, and supported by HEIs more.

 Modern students need constant stimulation and hate complexity (among other aspects of their  desires) but does this mean we need to dumb down our degrees, or shouldn’t we adapt to the modern student expectations?  Is there nothing to be said for a proper old fashioned solid and complex education, I wondered  – where does that take us in terms of teaching critical thinking?

 What can be done to break down the barriers?  Multichannel.  YouTube and iTunes university – 342,000 downloads a week for the OU – in the top 10 in U channel; and most of that traffic comes from outside the UK, pay off is that many of their new students first encounter the OU in this way and are drawn in by the brand.  Informal learning, more cooperative environment and need for flexibility for educational institutions.  LLL need the ability to move in and out of HE formally and informally.  Comments that the D.E. Act is going to seriously interfere with this ability to evolve and use new patterns of education, research and training.

Living with IPR – the web, the law and academic practise

View out the window at lunchCharles Oppenheim opened with a passionate and scholarly dismantling of the appallingly poorly debated and rushed through Digital Economy Bill (now Act).  Then Jason Miles-Campbell (his sporran is a wifi hot spot allegedly) from JISC Legal spoke.  In the next five years there is unlikely to be changes to copyright protected items, you need to find an exemption. Gave an overview of the small changes in the law and clarifications under law for reuse of items.  Digital Economy act – what’s going to happen to institutions – some time to go to see if we are subscribers or ISPs as there will need to be case law.  Note that D.E. Act calls for a graduated response to infringement.  Talked about the Newsbin vs big media companies case.  Newsbin was indexing infringing material – in court case they were found to be infringing.  Court noted what we need to do to have an exemption for such a thing; Newsbin was effectively authorising infringement – encouraged copyright infringement by employing editors.  11 words effective of being substantial.  No good making a large amount of material available to staff, if they’re unsure if they can legally use it.  Patchwork licenses are a problem – different aspects of resources covered by different legislation.  May mean we need to ditch some resources that we won’t be able to use.  Need to make life easy, but we also need to be able to take risk decisions – e.g. like driving – there are times when 32mph in a 30 zone can be okay, but you have to make the judgement call.

Naomi Korn and Emma Beer, Copyright Consultants spoke next about orphan works- those where author is unknown or untraceable – they are significant barrier to public access, due to length of implicit copyright.  The internet is a major source of orphan works.  Items hundreds of years old can still be in © until end of 2039!  In a project 302 staff hours were spent to give only 8 permissions received for use in the British Library sound archive – massive staff effort to little effective impact.  EU Mile Project -registry of Image Orphan Works.  EU ARROW Project – accessible registries of rights information and orphan works.  One thing is clear dealing with orphan works even for major bodies and projects requires a lot of work and staff time, something that those of working in open access can be aware of.  In D.E. Bill Clause 43 tried to offer an exemption.  The D.E. Act means that for now you should only use orphan works within a risk management framework, as not clear quite what the impact of this will be.

Project OOER – best name of the day? #jisc10 Organising Open Educational Resources.  Barriers for sharing different levels of IPR awareness, licensing awareness etc.

 Open Access Session, Neil Jacobs (Chair)

Talked about the report authored by Charles Oppenheim et al late last year.  Moves to electronic only can help reduce costs in the scholarly communications sector.  Alma Swann gave an overview of the work looking at three models of repos gold, green, and role of repos as locations of quality assurance and publication – described by Alma as more futuristic.  Libraries do things differently, and this affected the model that they created.   Though unis increase in size the benefits don’t necessarily.  The Salford VC and Librarian of Imperial College spoke about how they’ve gone about making a strong case for open access, fiscally, at their institutions.

Community Collections and the power of the crowd, Catherine Grout

In a fascinating session looking at crowdsourcing and citizen science we heard from Kate Lindsay (Oxford, WWI Poetry Digital Archive) Arfon Smith (Oxford, Galaxy Zoo), William Perrin (Web innovator and Community Activist) and Katherine Campbell (BBC, History of the World) about 4 very different areas of community engagement.  From sourcing and augmenting first world war artefacts from across the country (including a roadshow – turn up and digitise!), though the power of Galaxy Zoo’s galactic classification project – which I’m proud to say I’m one of the thousands involved in.  What was clear from these two talks is the scale of what is achievable is amplified many, many times beyond what can be achieved through using more conventional team based approaches, and that the successes far outweigh the concerns over quality (indeed the “normalisation” of so many repeated analyses ala Wikipedia was touched on).

 William took a different approach building up a resource from the ground up, and using it as a focus for drawing a community together physically as well as virtually.  He showed some excellent examples of what you can do when a community develops a local Web resource rather than just one activist (I am reminded of the local Sileby village Website for an example of how NOT to approach this – locked down and run by a small clique).

For the twitter over view see here, here and here

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Posted in Staff training, Web 2.0 & Emerging Technologies, Wider profession | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

JISC Legal Copyright Day March 31st 2010

Posted by gazjjohnson on 12 April, 2010

On the last day before Easter I escaped from the office to head to a rather chilly University of Sheffield to attend a JISCLegal Copyright event. As neither of my copyright officers were available to attend, hoped I’d glean some much needed insight into the latest developments in copyright legislation and practice. What follows are my notes from the event with a few comments where appropriate

Digital Images, John Hargreaves, JISC Digital Media
Formerly the organisation was known as TASI. It is based at the University of Bristol. John gave an overview of their role and services; highlighting their new two weekly online surgery which is open to all. Opened with a note on the relative impenetrability of copyright law (which in the light of the last session of day I can heartily concur with)– however, in this session he aimed to demystify aspects of image © law.

Despite what many people assume just because an image is on the internet doesn’t mean you can use it. Since all images are inherently copyrighted, normally to the creator, there is always a rights issue unless the creator/rights owner has clearly waived it – and indeed even then there might be some constraints.

He highlighted the vast growth in digital images, more user generated content, more sharing, ease of access and proliferation of web 2 services like Flickr and Google Images; services that allow dissemination. Traditional legislation is unclear in a digital context, and also laws are constantly changing and tightening. The suggestion today is that balance of rights lies with the rights holders not public access; something that seems to fly in the face of the open access agenda. Copyright in images will change on formats, something that isn’t born digital might have several different rights holders (original photographer, owner of a photo in a gallery, digitiser etc). The length of time that these rights remain as well for each format can differ.

While rights stay with the rights holder normally, if you create something while contracted to work for an organisation the user might not hold the rights. One line that I liked from John was that copyright exemptions aren’t rights to use, they are defences if you are challenged over your use.

So to avoid some of these problems then you should make use of trusted resources, such as JISC Image collections [LINK]. Commercial sites exist as well, although there might well be per-use or subscription fees to pay. Some sites deal with copyright exempt issues like stock.xchng for example. Also mentioned Flickr and advanced creative commons search for images for re-use. However, some people may well mount images in which they don’t own the copyright – assume the owner doesn’t understand copyright. Look through their images and see if the images in a users collections have the same look and feel, a good guide to seeing if they are the creator of them.

If you want to use images draw up your own license, or at least a clear description of how you would like it to work and the uses to which you will put the images. Even if you don’t directly use it with the rights holder it will help form part of your audit trail documentation, and will clarify discussions. You should consider the various possible rights within an image e.g. moral rights, data protection, expired rights due to age and clear statements of ownership. Joint ownership can be an issue where you need to clear the rights with more than one location. Web2rights.org.uk  has sample copyright permission letters that you can use.

Think for anything you or your users create to check that permissions to include images are covered. Consider how long a period of time permission is for (forever for a printed document, or a period of time for a web site for example). You also need to think of any related rights that might need to be cleared up at the same time. Is it appearing on the web and will you archive them or the document in some way. What do you expect the users of your object to be able to do with the images? Indeed if you have these issues clear in your head you are making it much easier for the rights holder to grant clear permissions. And all of this must be clearly documented – permissions, what you can/can’t do, who can use it, what can be done with it, what time limits that exist and the context of use of the object.

Creating image metadata to associate with the image and your use of it can be valuable. It allows you to attach the rights and permissions to the object so it can be passed to other people with these usage restrictions clearly accessible. Finally John talked about importance of asking for size/resolution of an image and how this will impact on where you can use it effectively. Print and screen have different requirements, and if you want high resolution images you are unlikely to find them on free sites – likelihood there will be fees to pay.

Music Copyright, Beverley Dodd, Birmingham City University
Fundamentals of music 1) copyright© is traditional copyright for music, lyrics, artwork etc well established. 2) (p) and this applies to the sound recording itself – p = phonographic. Different copyright laws apply to music around the world. E.g. in the UK the life+70 year rule applies, but there are changes planned. The exemptions are very limited for music copyright. For examination purposes students can perform any music behind closed doors, but photocopying of music is not allowed. Noted that now music in shops has to have a license paid for it; so does that mean more musak?

The power shift in the digital age is towards to rights holder, the major corporations, extending (p) on sound recordings from 50 to 95 years; which is a pretty horrific approach. But this has come because the record companies own the recordings but not the original songs, which remain the ownership of the artist.

CLA licenses do not cover printed music, including the words. Some music cannot be purchased, it can only be hired from publishers. The PRS for Music (Performing Right Society) is the main collecting society in Britain – for live performed music must be declared to them and be licensed, even if given for free or charity. Even more true for music used to communicate to the public in the digital media. License charges vary depending on size and type of performance. Note in the US there are some exemptions for some public places e.g. Bars and Grills.

There was a suggestion of using the old postal method of protecting copyright, a sealed envelope with composition inside date stamped, for musicians to record their rights; which seemed horribly antiquated.

The PRS are very litigious and have even challenged people who work to music on their own, or in private or to horses. Note that YouTube and PRS had a spat in 2009 which saw all premium UK music videos dropped from the site for a period. Noted that some police constabulary (e.g. Wiltshire) refuse to pay the PRS fees and claim an exemption. Even a singing granny in Scotland was slapped with £1000 fee, although they backed down after a slew of negative publicity. The key here is they will pursue just about anyone they consider requires a license. There is a code of practice for University’s available from the PRS.

At BCU they have a conservatoire, and so music copyright and reuse rights are very important to them. Future music © trends as noted are tightening up and locking down. Noted wifi and the Digital Economies Bill means that universities will be required to police and cut access to any illegal use as defined by the UK’s restrictive copyright laws.

eTheses at the University of Sheffield: a case study, Clare Scott
Ethos kicked off by aiming to digitize 5000 high use theses across the country, with 500 supplied from Sheffield. Not all of these were digitized due to issues at the BL. EthOS soft launched 2008. At Sheffield works in a very similar manner to Leicester, including a period of embargo allowed for. Mandated deposit to all students registered from 2008. 3 faculties broadly in support, 2 have particular issues, and 1 is strongly opposed. Issues that have come up included:

  • Prior publication concerns
  • Book publication
  • 3rd party copyright and finding permissions
  • Plagiarism.

In practise hard copy submission will continue for 5 years (2013) and will be reviewed at that point. So far on a day to day basis it hasn’t been a massive change.

Benefits to students include readability and accessibility on a global scale. Hopefully this means their impact will be more immediate and that (eventually) download statistics will be visible. It also offers a taste of self-marketing and promotion for the student. Has helped students when they come to publish as they are seeking copyright permissions earlier that they would otherwise struggle to obtain. Embargo reasons are much the same as ours, including political sensitivity. All theses have to be uploaded, even those embargoed as they can go into the dark archive and not be made visible – but it does mean that an electronic version is available. Problems with commercial exploitation of material when a commercial company took every one of the medical depts, so need to make sure any license doesn’t allow for this to avoid conflicts with academic’s later work.

Sheffield are paying £8,000 a year towards the £40 per theses digitisation fee. Pay up front model is causing problems and concerns from students who expect university will pay. They don’t ask author permission, and in terms of older materials don’t worry about copyright and other issues – reliance on takedown policy. Librarians get asked to download and add to stock, but permission for this is not given. Result is a lot of questions remain, like changing to asking author permissions, or desire from alumni to see theses live. The problem of rising third party copyright questions will continue to rise, and if the training is sufficient to equip the students with the skills to deal with the issues.

Copyright & the cultural sector, Tim Padfield
Developments in copyright law – in policy terms copyright is most important IPO legislation, over patents which actually brings in more money. Libraries and archives are regarded as trusted intermediaries, between rights owners and users, which means it should make things easier for us to seek permissions. A contract can override copyright, and this can be a problem.

Digital Economy Bill Orphan works – Anyone can become an authorised body to license orphaned works, via application to secretary of state. However, every work must be investigated before it can become an orphaned work and so doesn’t really help facilitate mass digitisation.

Exemptions including reprographic copying to cover films and audio, to allow external access to VLEs. Exemptions don’t apply if there’s a licensing scheme in active. Notable that just because an organisation does education, does not mean it is classed as an educational establishment for the purposes of the exemption. Fair dealing is designed to expand to all forms of media beyond text; but only to work carried out by students or staff at a prescribed educational establishment (for private study or research).

Undefined terms and concepts, Tanya Alpin
The final session of the day was rather a disappointment, as it was delivered at an expert academic practitioner level and as such was all but incomprehensible to me.  While doubtless there were some in the room who could follow the legalese, considering the accessibility of the rest of the day’s sessions this was a shame. The one piece of advice I did manage to glean was on the role of originality – the less original a work is, the easier it is to reuse fairly.

Posted in Copyright & Course Packs, Staff training, Wider profession | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

EMALink Event On Subject Librarians Part 2

Posted by selinalock on 26 March, 2010

Developing the information literacy practitioner; the OU’s training needs analysis by Wendy Mears.

  • The context of Wendy’s talk was that the OU needed to know what training information literacy librarians needed in order to learn new technology, cut the time needed for course production, and deliver increased return on income for library resources.
  • Information literacy integration in OU courses is seen as a key indicator of library success.
  • Mary Auckland undertook a training needs analysis based on the current and future demands placed on information literacy librarians.
  • This included a literature survey, conversations with key thinkers, anonymous survey of the libs (using survey monkey) and focus groups.
  • Some of the skill gaps identified were: influencing & persuasion skills (for use in meetings), making a case for information literacy in pedagogic terms, marketing & advocacy skills, assertiveness and creating generic information literacy materials.
  • There were also gaps in technical knowledge with regards to Moodle, Word, Powerpoint, Elluminate, social networking, web2.0 and Excel.
  • A development plan was produced with ten recommendations, such as librarians taking OU courses, updating job descriptions, keep a watching brief in new technologies, develop key competencies and research support skills.
  • As with anything, budget was a major factor in responding to the training needs so some needs will be met through existing channels e.g. staff developement hour (hour for training every week), appraisal process, visit from external speakers and University internal training events.
  • New initiatives included: using internal experts, bringing in external experts to provide tailored training and supporting external events/qualifications.
  • Four months in it is difficult to tell if the new training initiatives have had much impact, but it helped define librarian roles as well as training needs.
  • It highlighted existing good practice and ways to use internal resources where possible.

Students, Librarians & Marketing the Library by Becky Laing, Loughborough University.

  • Becky outlined how the library became in a marketing module that is run by the Department of Information Science for their PG students.
  • The library was asked to produce marketing briefs for the students to work on, and the students had to present their marketing pitch to the academic librarians.
  • The briefs were for marketing the library journals, subject librarians, information literacy & study skills, Metalib (library portal) and Library space.
  • The students were also given a subject librarian they could contact for more information if needed.
  • The students came up with some interesting ideas that the library found very useful. (See Becky’s slides for more info).
  • For example, they suggested a leaflet and video to advertise the subject librarians, and more targeted marketing to encourage different groups of students to use the journals.
  • The library also learnt some things about how students perceived the library services, for example, the library had been thinking about rebranding their study skills sessions with a more exciting name, but the students thought study skills was the best way to get across what it was to other students.
  • Overall the module was a big success as the students found it useful to work on real briefs, and the library will be taking some of their suggestion further.
  • So, always good to get hold of tame students!

Overall I think the most useful part of the day was the reminder to continually review what we do, where we’re heading and how to show our worth.

Posted in Meetings, Service Delivery, Staff training, Subject Support, Wider profession | Tagged: , | 1 Comment »

Introduction to Management in LIS and IT

Posted by gazjjohnson on 14 December, 2009

Last week I spent three days on a Leadership Foundation for HE course on management, specifically aimed at Library and IT people working as middle management for the first time.  I’ve always enjoyed management training (it formed a rich part of both my previous degrees), and welcomed the opportunity to go on this.  I must say especial thanks to the Staff Development Office for funding my attendance too.

One thing I’ll be up-front about were the rules of the room – anything we discussed in-depth with real world implications had to stay in the room.  It made for a very free and frank exchange of experiences, but it’s a bit of a shame as I would love to tell people more about them.  But those where the rules, and far be it from me to breach them.

What I really learned was that a lot of people in positions similar to mine face a lot of the same challenges – and with the delegates taken entirely from HE we had a lot in common to start with, even based as we were around the UK.  Quite a bit of what we covered wasn’t new to me, although much of it was well worth going through again.  Some aspects and topics were on the other hand quite new – Edward de Bono’s colour of hats for thinking/decision making is one that really resonated with me.

The three days started with the personal, taking stock of ourselves and our skills using a Myers/Briggs test – which for most of us revealed what we already knew.  However, being aware of it allowed us to shift roles within the group exercises to make maximum advantage of our proclivities and talents.  From team roles and effective communication we shifted to people management and motivation on the second day.  Then leading, delegation along with problem solving.  The last day looked at managing yourself and real world issues and examples.

Throughout this was a very hands on, kinesthetic course with exercises, management games, discussions and tasks.  Very much my prefered way of working, although I’m still quite tired out by it all some days later.  it was just that full on an experience.  Certainly the 24 people on the course bonded quickly in the face of this shared adversity, and discussions over drinks and food continued long into the night.

Our team's effort - in 15 minutesOf especial worth of mentioning were the two extensive business management exercises.  The first looked at setting up a Dot.com buisiness from concept to pitch.  As the team (and possibly the room’s) biggest extrovert communicator I can honestly say my role as Executive Head of marketing was a plum role; indeed one of the other teams started bidding for my services.  The other exercise saw me heading a team, with very limited resources, in construction of a ship – to be judged against predefined characteristics.  While we didn’t win, our team worked effectively and efficiently – and at least we produced by far the best looking boat.

There may be an underlying metaphor there – but I’ll skip on.

If there was a low point for me it would be the talk from the real head of service.  Contrasted with the interactivity and engagement of the rest of the course it felt dry, and I can;t say I took away anything of especial value from it.  Not helped by the fellow legging it as soon as he finished talking, a debate and discussion about translating theory to practice at senior level would have been a wonderful capstone.

But I have come back with a lot to think about, and the feeling that I’m not alone in the daily challenges I face (from the minor to the not quite so).  I’d love to take some of the ideas further, and will certainly be following up some of the suggested reading to broaden my understanding of the concepts and techniques covered.

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Open Access Week: UoL OA Event 28th October

Posted by gazjjohnson on 21 October, 2009

While it’s not falling within open access week there is still a chance for University of Leicester academics, researchers and postgraduates to find out more about the current developments in open access and scholarly publishing.  The Research Office (RSO) and the University Library are presenting an Open Access Information Event, Wednesday 28th October 1pm onwards (that’s a week today). 

The afternoon is broken into two sessions:

Session 1 is suitable for staff and research students in all disciplines.  Speakers include Christine Fyfe (UoL), Astrid Wissenburg (ESRC) and myself.  The focus is on the requirements of the UK HE funding councils and the Leicester open access perspective.

Session 2 is aimed at staff and research students working in disciplines covered by UK Pub Med Central (principally biosciences, health and medicine).  Margaret Hurley and Alison Henning (Wellcome Trust) will be speaking about their specific funding policies and the new UKMPC grant reporting services.  Finally Juliet Bailey (RSO) will talk about the Wellcome Trust OA fund at Leicester.

There will be a break for refreshments in the middle, as well as a chance for formal and informal questions to all the delegates.  The LRA team will be there in force, so it’ll be a really good chance to talk with us about what we can do to help you fulfil the various institutional, funding and theses mandates here at Leicester; as well as making sure your publications are read as widely as possible.

To reserve a place and for a full programme contact Laura Roberts

Posted in Leicester Research Archive, Open Access, Research Support, Staff training | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

The Repository Fringe 2009 (Part 2)

Posted by gazjjohnson on 5 August, 2009

The second half of the first day of the Repository Fringe was given over to Pecha Kutcha sessions.  These are quick fire presentations which followed very strict rules of 20 slides with 20 secs a slide;   giving a maximum time of just under 7 minutes each.  Some of my notes on these sessions were.

 Session 1: Enhancing Repository Infrastructure Scotland
Couldn’t really follow this presentation.

Session 2 Les Carr, Repository Challenges
Researchers are not used to doing science in public.  Repositories need to offer effective and efficient service to all users.  ‘Pimp your research ride’ with repository output.  Repository services should provide a holistic service, but won’t do this alone – uses other resources.

Session 3 Guy McGarva, ShareGeo
ShareGeoa resource using DSpace which handles Geospactial data from people like OS and BGS.

Session 4 Richard Jones, (Symplectic repository tools)
Showed off the deposit tool and user interface for researchers – though the interface still looks very texty and slightly impentratble for the average for academic user in my view.  They’ve drawn in an integration with SHERPA/RoMEO showing the copyright colours for each article submitted.  The system pulls in (meta) data from archive and external archives.  SWORD and AtomPub are the way the two systems talk together.

Session  5 Julian Cheal, UKOLN (AdobeAir deposit)
How get data from academic to repositories – by capturing information at source, using Adobe Air SDK.  The idea brings web and desktop together.  AdobeAir is cross platform so it should work for most if not all researchers.  Julian pointed out that Ebay, Twitter, BBC iPlayer and advertising companies use it.  Academics want this sort of thing, a one button deposit almost.  He demonstrated a quick prototype built in AIR, based on Flickr up-loader – one button was deposit possible.  It uses Names Project for author ID and SWORD for interfacing.  He promoted a JISC event in October dealing with single deposit and all the various interfaces.  I would hope someone from the LRAPG with a more technical bent could get along to that event, as this possibilities of this interface were rich.

Session 6 Hannah Payne, (Welsh Repository Network)
Hannah talked about the RSP inititated WRN recently set up and the work they are doing.

Session 7 (University of Southampton)
A slightly different talk saw the Marketing Officer for Dept of Electronics and Computing describing repositories as telling stories.  Universities are more competitive at marketing themselves now than 20 years ago.  But she noted that most talk about research but don’t make use of the social media resources that exist that would generate a story with better legs (pulling together the project blogs, twitter feeds, other publicity) – giving more meat to the bones.  She suggested in time you could aggregate these resources to create stories automatically, though I wandered if that might have the unwanted impact of doing away for the need of a departmental marketing officer… 

Session 8 William Nixon, (Glasgow, Enrich project)
He talked about bringing disparate research systems (research, money, innovation products etc) together.  80% of traffic to their repository comes from Google and associated search services.  Key elements for success include good relationships across the institution and  underlying policies underneath everything they do.

Session 9 Jo Walsh (EDINA, Tools for linking and searching archives) 
She talked about Geoparser software to find geographic locations mentioned in text.

After lunch their was a presentation on Open Journal Software – an overview of the software that lets you make and run your own scholarly journal.

Enovation Solutions– Dspace Customisations
This company are working on changing the UI of Dspace to offer more interesting user experience.  The speaker talked about work with a repository (governmental), which replaced on old CMS with a document management plug in.  They standardised author names by linking to a find peopleroutine to a central personnel database.  They also standardised the keywords in the metadata descriptors.  They added a news WYSIWYG news editor and added additional content.  In many regards their work took the rather bland but functional vanilla DSpace installation into a more modern looking and more user friendly resource for administrators and users alike, simple but effective.  He gave a few examples of projects they’re working on, but couldn’t name the companies due to client confidentiality.  He commented that that the old looking interface of a repository can really put all stakeholders off using it.  The best news was that rather than offering this as a stand alone product or series of plugs ins, Enovation are trying to feed this into the main Dspace kernal (something I confirmed in discussions with a DSpace contact in New Zealand later that day).

 SWORD Deposit talk
A detailed level talk about a project for batch upload of data at Glasgow

Symplectic
Danial Hooke worked through the Symplectic interface which doesn’t look drastically different to when I saw it last year.  Nor did this session tell me anything especially new.

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The Repository Fringe 2009 (Part 1)

Posted by gazjjohnson on 5 August, 2009

Last week I went up to a two day conference in Edinburgh at the Information Forum.  Glancing at the delegate list it seemed that the majority of the participents were from Southampton University, UKOLN and EDINA and a bit thinner on the ground with actual repository managers.  Before the conference I anticipated an event filled with hyperbole and spectacle, though thin on practicality.  Thankfully I was wrong, and it was a throughly useful and iformative two days.

Opening
The opening speaker suggested that credit crunch is a driver for real change in scholarly publication habits, as libraries and publishers alike have to re-examine closely their financial situation with respect to journals.  Open access repositories or open access publishing become much more attractive considerations in this climate it was suggested.

 

Keynote (Sally Rumsey and Ben O’Steen) – Where are Repositories Going

Sally looked at the historical parallels with the Bodleian Library (in terms of storage and content) followed by catalogues (search).  Users of the libraries resources grew over time, and how they were served evolved jsut as much as how to collections were acquired, curated and accessed.  From this she said the lesson for repositories is one of patience, overtime they will grow just not overnight.  There is a realisation that they act as catalyst for change, and this moment of realisation can be as important as the change itself.  What we are beginning to see is the migration from simple single repository as storage, and they’re integration to other services (ala the REF and moves to embed within the RIS) and systems.  Therefore repositories are becoming a set of services.  Repository staff are catalysts for change within the institution, since they speak across and with people in all levels and sections of an institution. 

 Ben spoke about how the Internet can be viewed as a distributed repository, where services and storage should be separate; and in this way be robust – the loss/upgrade of one will not devastate.  Therefore Ben suggested looking at ways to make your IR work more like the Web does.  People search for things, elements of information, not the whole documents – not the packages they come in.  I didn’t 100% agree with this view point from what I know of Arts & Humanties researchers whom doubtless want the entirety of a document.  However, I can agree that it is a interesting point for STM researchers.

Sally moved on to say that policies should be driving everything that goes in and out of repositories; though many still lack real preservation policies.  Assured secure storage and permanent access needs to be well-managed.  This was a topic that came up again in discusions I had around the Fringe, and a potential area for IRs in the UK to think about practically in the future much more. 

The talk moved on to suggest that repository people are reinventing too many wheels; for example don’t get materials out of mainstream repos (e.g. Slidehare/Flckr etc) just link out to them. Sally showed a very complex diagram from Bill Hubbard of how a researcher now has to deal with funder mandates.  Current open access publishing models and options are too complex currently, but are likely to continue for some time.  Interestingly this had raised worries about versioning from academics and an increased need for automation (self-archiving) in order to deal with the levels of ingest.  She also mentioned that the Nature Publishing Group is now offering an automatic deposit service into subject repositories, and perhaps will also do this for IRs in the future. 

Ben talked about disproportionate feedback loops, like high scores in video games – they seem trivial but seem to satisfy far more than you’d expect.  In this way usage stats and reuse stats are major satisfiers for academics when they look at their papers in a repository; something I agree with in my experience here and at Nottingham.  He also said that increasingly there’s a need for access to the entirety of research output, since the research article is only summary of the whole body of work.  Thus data archiving becomes more critical as well as ensuring multiple objects across multiple repositories can be linked together readily. 

There was asuggestion that repos are currently in the trough of disillusionment in the hype cycle which means the move to steady productivity remains as of yet elusive. 

Finally the talk looked at three current crucial trends: (1) entering period of steady growth and change, (2) embedded withing a set of services at institution systems and (3) the need for unique name identification of authors.  Other areas of concenr include the need for continued collaboration with all research stakeholders and for the long term access to research 

 

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CILIP Umbrella 2009 (Part 2 of 2)

Posted by gazjjohnson on 17 July, 2009

After a good breakfast the final day of the conference began with more breakout sessions.

Maltesers mean answers: a sweeter service for students based on user feedback: Angela Horrocks & Davina Omar, Kingston University.
Kingston University talked about their annual survey run every March for many years by the library with a chance to win Wii or Ipod, but maltesers for everyone. The incentive was small but drew in a good number of students. This survey is in addition to national student survey, but helps gets them in the answering frame of mind to complete the major one. The library survey fills a very important need that the NSS doesn’t cover, for both students and library services. Having a clear purpose for the survey is very important, as otherwise the risk of the students getting survey fatigue could be high. Kingston focus on how students learn and this is the U.S.P. of the survey. Knowing the paths students use to access (e.g. mboile/vle etc) is very important in shaping how and what they teach to students, something I thought was especially interesting.

In terms of resources Kingston use software bought in from Priority Research, allowing their customisation, to handle the survey online along with the analysis. There are some issues

  1. The silent majority (10% return on population) and so worries over accurate representation.
  2. Contacting non-users → how to approach them
  3. Setting the questions → to be open and not drive students down a particular route.

In terms of staffing, need to give the staff the time and the top down support to do the user survey. Have to be prepared to trust the outcome – if students make a demand clear, need to respond appropriately. Kingston suggested you might need to think about quotas – departments, levels, ages or other demographic factors that you want to achieve in returns for appropriate representation. Thinking about how/why you might want to include as many of these as you can. Early surveys (1993) very much targeted at specific user groups, thought to be especially disadvantaged or in need. Yearly surveys since early 90s allow trends and rising (and reducing) priorities for student bodies to be clearly demonstrated.

In 2008 reintroduced 1-2-1 interviews on top of focus groups and surveys. A dozen done to test the waters, as an approach to non-users. Also now do additional focus groups at start of academic year to test early responses to changes put in place. Worry survey is contributing to sample already engaging users rather than non-users. 100 1-2-1s done in 2009 – gave a good snap shot of individual user experiences, rather than anonymised, average student point of vein. Survey moved to online this last year (partly environmental) but also reinvent survey (at least look and feel) – still offer maltesers to those that come to bank of computers. Comments and response from previous year’s survey included in next year’s, so the students can see how library has reacted. Drawbacks include lack of benchmarking with external entities, survey fatigue

The changing landscape of libraries: Tim Leach, BDP
This session was about buildings and architectural considerations. Tim said that library user needs strictly speaking haven’t changed in centuries, light and study space for example, just the ways in which we use technologies and building designs to accommodate them. As technology allows users to work in other places than our library spaces, we have to ensure that our spaces continue to meet their needs and make a welcoming environment they want to visit. The UCL masterplan takes the inherent problems with their historic building and tries to provide as many solutions within a limited rebuild. The key issue was space – due to earlier renovations over the years the original building space is not what it was. There is a need for positive first impression from the first moment walking through door. The building must be legible and accessible, the use signage as a sign of failure (not a point I agree with 100%).

Architectural furniture and fixtures define use of areas, and are not flexible but are suitable for certain environments (e.g. where levels of privacy is desirable). However, they can be a block to interaction between different spaces. Natural light and ventilation provide an environment that can be comfortable for most people. Use technology to change way materials stored and accessed, not just treating shelving as the only answer. Even get people on roofs of buildings by building structures into the environment that surrounds them.

The great good place Andrew Cranfield, IFLA Library Buildings and Equipment Section
Library as the third place (between home and work) was the theme of Andrew’s talk. Library environment and impact of the building resign on staff functions – the two are not independent and need to be considered together. Commented that many libraries today remain too conservative in their redesigns. Monopoly of information provision from libraries is now gone, and must address other approaches to provide services to users. Ambitious libraries (buildings) today seem to reflect new ways of thinking – no longer temple of knowledge to stand for generations but a right here/right now environment with more akin to the retail experience. Non-compartmentalisation of environments – books and café culture should be intertwined (e.g. like the idea stores).

Cerritos Public Library has a books entrance way and 1.2 million visitors/year for tiny local population. Andrew talked of his distaste for elitist colour schemes (black and white starkness) much better to have welcoming colours. Very, very white buildings in 6 months need repainting (e.g. Amsterdam central library). Cultural Black Diamond in Copenhagen – no feeling coming into library, almost too far the other way as a cultural centre, but not a library at all.

Libraries Change Lives Awards
The most interesting part of the awards was that the news of the winners (Leeds Central Libraries) was out on twitter 30 minutes before the start of the ceremony.  Andrew Motion spoke briefly too.

Building a successful library Web 2 service James Smith (Sunderland Libraries) and Nick Stopforth (Newcastle Libraries)

The session was based on things they have done and have learned through trial and error. They shared with us their 7 lessons (well 5 as they over ran and the session ended before they could finish) they have learned through using Web 2 resources such as twitter, wikis, podcasting etc. They did demonstrate a very interesting mashup with Google maps, World War II bombing maps of Sunderland and eye witness accounts of the bombing. The session was mostly full of public librarians, who are it seems less clued up than HE libraries on this sort of technology and how/where it can fit into their working lives (3/4 of the audience had not even heard of twitter for example).

That brought the conference to an end. It had been a packed two days, and I would have loved an extra day either before or after to more fully digest everything that had been discussed. The highs would have to include my session, the networking and the updating of information and skills in general. The lows, well the “gala” conference dinner, lack of hands on sessions and only two days for a very intensive conference. All the same I hope to be back for 2011!

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CILIP Umbrella 2009 (Part 1 of 2)

Posted by gazjjohnson on 16 July, 2009

This Tuesday and Wednesday I went down to CILIP Umbrella for the biennial all UK libraries conference. I always enjoy this particular event, as it’s a real chance to meet librarians from across a board spectrum of sectors; not just HE or FE. It’s never heavily populated by HE librarians which I think is an especial shame as I’ve always benefited from the very different insights.   Nearly 700 delegates were registered to attend!

Umbrella has 9 parallel tracks as well as keynote sessions, which means it’s impossible for any one person to attend it all. So what follows is part 1 (or 2) of my notes of the sessions that I was in. I make no claims to completeness (nor lack of bias) but I hope it gives you a flavour of the event, and maybe perhaps guides you towards attending in 2011.

Umbrella delegates gather

Tuesday morning shortly after 10am saw the conference was opened by the CILIP President and Ian Snowly. This was followed by the keynote.

Charles N Brown: Not evolutionary revolutionary (plenary) from Charlotte NC.

Talked about public
Library service and their aspirations, and how they met them in terms of improving library services. Rated 5* and regarded as one of the top in the USA. Saw his role a there to shake things up and people out of their silos. Staff engagement was a detailed part of the efforts to organisational transformation, with about 20% of the whole staff were directly involved. Their buy in was critical for real transformation and their knowledge and experience of what worked and what didn’t was crucial for planning. Also looked to retail sector (e.g. Target) for models that could be used in terms of customer satisfaction, service delivery, marketing and opening new markets. Untapped talent in organisation needed to be tapped, even if the standard requirements for a post are not met (e.g. masters in librarianship) – STAR Behavioural Interviewing. Lots of updates (weekly) to staff on what was going on, brown bag lunches with service director, intranet pages as well as formal meetings as well. Though this still didn’t defeat all of the rumour mill. He ended with a couple of personal favourite quotes “Change should be as common as breakfast cereal” and “If you want to make enemies, try to change something.”

After the session I attempted to get onto wireless network, but looks like once again the Linux based netbook is excluded by HE wireless networks. Eduroam does seem to have issues with Xandros and wireless access, as this is second location I’ve had issues. Yet at Huddersfield the week before, no problems.

After tea it was the breakout sessions.

Captive audiences – adding value in FE audiences (out of my silo): Susan Tailby, Eastleigh College
This session focussed on FE audiences (14-19 year olds)– looking to build up students experiences during college time, and what they can to enhance this experience. One example was taking lessons from book shops. Covered graphic novels and film tie ins as an example of engaging readers. Use reading groups or virtual groups to draw customers.

ID target groups as first step. Start as a pilot, easier to start small. Requirements such as wanting users to listen to CDs may well mean new kit is needed; or possibly just more than you’ve had in the past. Also need to think about what do you do once a particular engagement or activity is over – you’ll have to store resources for example. Need to think about space and disruption to other users from activities, though at the same time can draw in passing people who might not otherwise have joined.

For ESOL Reading Groups the key is to build in time for reflection in any engagement activities – which I thought was a good point, too often much of what we teach is in a deliver and move on paradigm. The speaker moved on to talk about the Six book challenge aimed at adult learners. Noted libraries can be scary for those with poor English. Be creative, build relationships, build self-esteem of students and work collaboratively with librarians in other sectors.

Reading takes the biscuit (Kathryn Harrison and Judith Robinson) Kirklees Council, library services
Major USP was adaptability to users → get involved by making sure the sessions were available at times and locations to suit as many people as possible. Summer 2006 was the pilot scheme – welcome new users in informally and getting them to met staff. Ensured that they wanted to come back on their own. The Birkby Fartown group leaders worried about how to engage with the readers. They worried that making them talk from day one could be difficult, so refocussed on hands on activities to start with and let the speaking grow organically from that.

In the first case this was sewing. They needed a lot of support, but thanks to collaborations with the local school this was very successful – and ended up winning an ALW award for the work.

They have also made a key part of their engagement local sponsorship with people including local football and biscuit company. Lack of captive audience means they spend more time trying to get people together. It is time consuming building partnerships and relationships initially; but in the long run this pays back in strong relationships and easier future collaboration. It also helps in terms of proving value of service, due to the wider number of stakeholders able to speak out about the value the library service has added to their activities,

It seemed from this the message I could take back to HE is that if you want to engage with the users you need to go out to them and engage at a time and place that suits them. This doesn’t work easily with current working practices and would require a rethink of how and why we do things.

Conference meal venueAfter more tea I ran my workshop on visual communication. It was a very hands on affair, since as an activist learner I believe others need to get stuck in as well, and went down very well. Certainly for the rest of the conference other delegates kept coming up to me and saying how they’d heard all about my great workshop and wished they’d gone!

The evening meal at the Hendon Airforce Museum was an interesting affair (great surroundings, ok meal, terrible after dinner speaker) but with great company and excellent networking. I’ll draw a veil over the karaoke that followed. Sleep beckoned before the second and final day of the conference…

Twitter feeds from the conference #cilipumbrella #umb #umbrella09 #umb09

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There’re Mash(ed Libraries) Oop North

Posted by gazjjohnson on 8 July, 2009

Brian Kelly speaksThis Mon and Tuesday I was up at the University of Huddersfield at the 2nd Mashed Libraries unconference.  Monday evening was all about networking and meeting a fair number of the delegates who like me had come the night before, and was a splendid affair complete with a tour of the city centre ending at the state of Eric Morcombe* by the station.  I just wish I’d decided not to walk the 3 and a bit miles into town and the same at the end of the evening!

The main event was held in the uni’s relatively new Creative Arts building, which is a very impressive space.  Despite some early wifi problems everything went fairly smoothly.  Delegates were badged according to their perceived experience with mashups.  Greens were n00bs (like me), yellows had some experience, oranges were experts and blue were local staff helping to facilitate.  We also had our areas of interest on the badges so you could see at a glance whom might share your areas of enquiry.

The day was made up of parallel sessions, breakouts, lightning talks and collaboration; so there’s no way one person could experience the whole event.  The first session I went to was by Brian Kelly entitled Enthusiastic Amateurs and overcoming institutional inertia.

University of HuddersfieldMash ups are exciting Brian said says demonstrating some simple ones such as Thumbalizr (thumbnail shots of series of web pages on one screen), then Google Custom search, GoogleMap geolocating unis in the UK.  He then showed off some of Tony Hirst’s mashups which demonstrated and tracked down press releases; and how often these were being reused into the blogosphere.  In this way freely available data could be analysed to provide useful information. 

He moved on to talk about barriers, taking a straw poll from those in the hall about their IT services.  Most saw them as a barrier to innovation; though not everyone shared this view.  It did appear that the smaller, more agile universities were more willing to allow overt experimentation.  For everyone else an audience member suggested that you should seek to experiment in alignment with stated institutional business goals, which should help you to get more support centrally.  Another suggestion was to experiment in your own time and space, and then introduce senior staff once a more polished object was ready to demonstrate; akin to how we’ve developed this blog.

Brian enthused that greater openness to your data is a good thing, as other developers could build services and resources on top of your data, meaning you don ‘t need to do the development.  He also stressed the importance of documenting what you do via blogs and the like to show others how to approach the same things.

Next I went to a session by Brendan Dawes (www.brendandawes.con) entitled Somewhere I Have Never Travelled.  He noted that a lot of the web is based on print paradigm, which isn’t great for everything.  His site is a playground for him – a way to represent data in a way that interests him – with no set goal.  While there were some wonderful graphical interfaces and perhaps very exciting way of presenting data I imagine most of our users would be terrified rather than enlightened if we started using them.  On the other hand selling them to people would seriously have the wow factor. 

DelegatesThe next session I was in with Mike Elis was about using APIs without knowing technical details.  Unfortunately this session licked along at such a rate that rather than exploring a lot of the technical or practical details this turned into a long list of resources you could use.  While some were familiar names (like YahooPips) others (Dapper.net, YQL) were very unfamiliar.  Rather than listing them here, I’d suggest you go to the Mashed site and have a look at the slides yourself.

Before lunch we broke into small discussion groups.  We were supposed to be moving between these a bit during the session, though this didn’t really seem to work (I got trapped in a corner).  I was in a group talking about overcoming institutional and other barriers to innovation, which was quite interesting – though one group member (not I) did slightly dominate discussions.

Following an excellent lunch the rest of the day was given over to various lighting talks on aspects of mashed technologies that might be of interest, as well as elements and applications of Web 2 that delegates might be interested in.  This had a much less formal feel to it, and whilst the organisers expected only small audiences for the talks most of the participants stayed in the room to listen.  Bit of a shame as it was during this time that there was the best opportunity for hands on collaboration, but few people took up the option.

Overall this was an intensive, but very interesting day.  I came away if not with more hands on experience of technologies, but a greater understanding of some of the activities that are going on in the library world today.  The next mashed event will be towards the end of the year, entitled Middle Mash.

 *Yes I know it’s Harold Wilson, but frankly the post he’s in is more Eric and Ernie than politician.

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Managing Change course

Posted by gazjjohnson on 4 June, 2009

On a very sunny Tuesday this week I travelled to the Nottinghamshire Archives to attend a training day entitled Managing Change.  This had been organised by the Libraries and Information Group (East Midlands), and was hosted by Diane of Bridgford Consultancy.  It was good to go to a library event where people from across the sector, not just academia, were represented.

To say it was a packed day would be an understatement, there was a lot to get through and I’m still digesting it and thinking about it even today.  Thankfully though a lot of it was interactive, so plenty of group work and discussion.  Some of the things we went through included the change cycle, communications, and practical steps for managers and team leaders to take when enacting change in their organisation.  We also had to develop points for action for use on return to our organisations.

There was a real focus on the people element, not so much as getting people to change, as leading them through the process and out to the otherside.  One of the groups I was in came to a conclusion during our discussions that in reality not every member of staff will be able to remain throughout a major change process.  A sad fact, but we looked at ways in which we could support people in moving sideways as well as out as an effective way of still offering them management support.

We also did a fair bit on effective communication, something fairly familiar to me.  I brought up the use of social networking technologies (as might be expected) in discussions, since the focus seemed very much on organisation 1.0 approaches in terms of dissemination and information.

All in all a very useful day, and one that I can highly recommend.

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Higher Education in a Web 2.0 World Reprise

Posted by selinalock on 1 June, 2009

Higher Education in a Web 2.0 World: Cover

Higher Education in a Web 2.0 World: Cover

Following on from Gareth’s earlier post on this subject, here’s my thoughts & questions:

  • Information Literacy is a major component of this report – it argues that it is a growing area that students are deficient in. Recommends that it is a high priority for HEIs to train their students in & keep their staff updated on.
  • “Information literacies, including searching, retrieving, critically evaluating information from a range of appropriate sources and also attributing it – represent a significant and growing deficit area”
  • However, no mention anywhere of how to do this or that libraris have been struggling to get this on the agenda for years.
  • Q: What do we do with this report? Take it to VC? Take it to teaching & learning committees? What strategies & solutions do we suggest for training students & staff? Do we take a take roots approach with lecturers? Do all of the above?
  • Web 2.0 skills (communication, networking, sharing) are becoming employability skills.
  • Students are living in a Web 2.0 world and might expect Web 2.0 solutions in the future – though at present they expect a traditional face to face approahc in HE and do not equate social software with learning. This may change as the next few generations come through the school system.
  • Students are currently consumers of content in the Web 2.0 world rather than creators – we need to find hooks i.e. show them how the technology helps them.
  • Q: What are the hooks for staff and for students in using Web 2.0 in a learning context?
  • Three types of online space: Personal (emails & messaging), Group (social networking sites) and publishing (blogs, wikis, youtube).  Students will not want us in their personal space but there is scope for utilising group and publishing space for learning & teaching.
  • Information literacy should incorporate other web awareness issues e.g. plagarism, data protection, personal data on the web and online identities.
  • Q: How do we do this? How do we work with others in the institution who teach/train on these issues? How do we update ourselves in all these areas?
  • Upskill staff on e-pedagogy: as this will be needed for them to take advantage of using Web 2.0 technologies.
  • Q: How skilled are we as librarians in this? What training do we need in order to offer the information literacy teaching the report advocates?
  • Report suggests there are already examples out there of good practice in the use of digitised materials and online learning resources at module level. Though no specific examples included. It asks how these can be supported and used on a wider/larger scale.
  • Q: What good practice are we already using or aware of with regards Web 2.0? Does it upscale? What opportunities are there for us to work with other colleagues inside & outside the institution to provide services?
  • Take into account the prior experience and the expectations of students.
  • Q: How do we do this? Do we cultivate more links with school librarians in the UK? What about overseas, distance learning and mature students?
  • Digital divide still exists – don’t forget that!
  • “Means of access will be multimedia, mobile and pocket-sized”
  • Q: Are we prepared for the next wave of multimedia and mobile type resources?

Overall, this report is good for librarians and the information literacy cause as long as we DO something about it. Take action & not just talk about it!

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