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USTLG Winter Meeting 2

Posted by selinalock on 8 December, 2010

This follow on with my report of the USTLG Winter Meeting.

Finding the known unknowns and the unknown knowns, Yvonne Nobis, University of Cambridge.

  • Talked about their development of the http://www.lib.cam.ac.uk/scienceportal/website aimed specifically at researchers (which I know some of our researchers rather like the look of!)
  • Researchers often don’t known what they’re looking for: unknown unknowns, as research skills might need updating, looking for something outside their field or don’t know where to begin.
  • Scientists don’t tend to use the Cambridge libraries (over 100 of them so confusing system) and they want everything electronically so looking for a way to meet their needs.
  • Found most visitors to the science library are those looking for historical (print) information, or students wanting a place to study.
  • ~95% journal are online and ~95% of monographs are still print only.
  • In response to this they will now scan on demand from their own collections for Cambridge researchers (currently a free service as charging would have copyright law implications).
  • As the staff would often need to retrieve these items from storage the scanning has not added too much extra effort.
  • Science librarians at Cambridge do a lot of training of early career researchers.
  • Science@Cambridge contextualises information within a subject area to help researchers start their searching.
  • Includes a federated search option where relevant databases have been chosen (to steer researchers away from just using Google Scholar as they don’t realise what scholar doesn’t index: unknown unknowns).
  • Trying to make resource discovery as easy as possible.
  • Have problems with making eBooks easy to access, especially individual titles on catalogue records.
  • Trialled using chat with subject  librarians but not really worked so looking at centralising enquiries more.
  • Training branded through College or Computing Services gets a better turn out than library branded training.

We use a similar idea to Science@Cambridge in our subject rooms, but could learn more from them when redeveloping our Rooms as part of our digital library overhaul? Hopefully using Summon in future will make resource discovery easier at Leicester

Lunch!

Obviously the most important part of any conference is the lunch provided. This time it was a good spread sponsored by Wiley Publishers, and in a very unexpected place…

USTLG Lunch in a Church!

Lunch in the Divinity School

USTLG Lunch 2

Citations Count! Experience of providing researcher training on bibliometrics, citations and Open Access publishing. Kate Bradbury,  Cardiff University.

  • Training in citation data in response to REF raising interest in bibliometrics, funders requesting bibliometric data, help deciding where to publish and to promote work. 
  • Training covers: WoS/Scopus/Google Scholar, looking for data in other sources (e.g. book citations, full text resources which include references), what each database provides e.g. impact factors, increasing citations, using open access publishing and repositories.
  • Format of training: 30 min talk and 1 hr hands-on using workbooks – activities such as finding impact factors, setting up citation alerts, looking at OA resource and using ResearcherID.
  • Also do shorter, tailored talks for Departmental meetings etc.
  • Sessions dones for subject librarians, staff development programme, specific schools/depts (e.g. Comp Sci, Engin, Psychology) and within seminar series.
  • Lessons learnt: avoid too much detail, stay up to date with new database features and REF, emphasis benefits to researchers, takes time to build interest in training, targeted sessions best, be flexible & adapt sessions to suit audience, be prepared for discussions about the validity and use of bibliometrics!
  • Stance taken: explain how to find information but leave it up to the researchers to decide if it is useful to them, including discussion of pros/cons of bibliometrics.
  • Types of questions asked:
  • How to pay for OA publishing?
  • Shouldn’t we just write controversial articles to up our citations?
  • What about highly cited, poor research?
  • My journals not indexed in WoS, how do I get citation info?
  • How to find book citation info?
  • What about self-citations? Will they be excluded from REF?
  • BMJ article said no observable citation advantage from OA publishing…
  • Can I import articles on in WoS into ResearcherID? (can do, but tricky)
  • What is a good H-Index to have?
  • Doesn’t H-Index just reflect length of career?
  • Where’s the best place to put an OA article?
  • I use a subject repository so why also use institutional repository?
  • I don’t want an early version of my work available…
  • What next in terms of training? – Continue with sessions, support subject librarians to run their own sessions, introduce Bristol Online Survey to collect feedback from attendees, respond to individual follow-up questions and do a separate presentation on OA publishing.

USTLG Lunch

Wiley Publishers: WIREs, Alexa Dugan.
Next up was our sponsor for the day Wiley talking about their new product:

  • WIREs = Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews.
  • Reference work meets journal review article –  a new concept in publishing.
  • Have been finding it difficult to find authors/researchers with enough time to devote to writing traditional reference works, especially as those works do not gain professional recognition .i.e. they are not indexed or cited.
  • WIREs is Wiley’s answer to this: invited content with high quality editorship, drawing on their research journal community ties (so like a reference work), but also managed to get them indexed in major databases and WoS so the authors can get recognition.
  • Each Review has a carefully thought out structure, which is kept up to date with a range of article types e.g. focus (news) articles, opinion pieces, basic reviews, advanced reviews etc.
  • Content is added every two months (so serial like a journal) & articles retain their title and DOIs for citation purposes.
  • One of their flagship titles: Climate Change Review has won several awards already.
  • FREE for first two years: wires.wiley.com
  • USTLG Conference

    Getting Interactive

Researcher@Library – becoming part of the research cycle, Katy Sidwell, University of Leeds.

  • Leeds, like many of us, have managed to get a certain amount of library training embedded or offered to PhD students, but what about Academics and other Researchers?
  • Started to think about how to support researchers so thought about the life cycle of a research project:
  • Ides (pre-funding) – Planning (finding application) – Action (research/life of grant) – Dissemination – Application (of research knowledge/transfer) – back to beginning of cycle.
  • They got us to think about how we all support these stages of the cycle & feedback (using post it notes – a good bit of interactivity to wake us all up!).
  • What they (and from the feedback, others might do) are:
  • Ideas = library collections, current awareness & literature search training.
  • Planning =  Identify funding sources ^ support research bids (though in Leeds this only happens in particular areas as it’s labour intensive and unscaleable).
  • Action = PhD workshops, bibliographic management, lit search support, data management advice, user behaviour research, friendly space for researchers.
  • Dissemination = RAE/REF support, etheses online, institutional repository, publications database.
  • Application = intellectual property advice (Business officer), market research for knowledge transfer e.g. patents.
  • Hard for researchers to know about training – where/how to promote?
  • Created a website for researchers to bring together the various things available to them (need user needs analysis to find out what to put there).
  • Researchers wanted a website that was not solely library resources/focused, not tutorial but advice that could be dipped into at appropriate time, simple navigation, no login but not really basic advice – appropriate to their level.
  • library.leeds.ac.uk/researcher
  • Work in progress – need to clarify purpose, look at navigation issues, obtain feedback and roll out across other faculties.
  • Where now? – created Library Researcher Support Group to continue the work and look at how it fits in with the new Vitae researcher development framework.

A good day all round. The presentations from the day can now be viewed at the USTLG site.

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Posted in Meetings, Open Access, Research Support, Service Delivery, Subject Support, Wider profession | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

All about OTTERS – a day on open educational resources

Posted by gazjjohnson on 3 September, 2010

Today I went down to the BDRA to attend a day on the OTTER project and OERs (open educational resources/repositories).  Educational object repositories are a little to the left of my working experience, so this was a great opportunity to find out a little more.  The aim of the day was to give an overview of OTTER and OERs in a broader sense.

We began by seeking to define what an OER was – something that could be reused, re-purposed, freely available, and discrete (not embedded within an environment).  The primary concerns over using them are currency, sustainability and quality control.  IPR/licensing to use/reuse is also an issue – especially third party rights of contents embedded within items.  Interestingly there is a lot of use of these objects by Leicester students for their revision, not simply those produced at Leicester.  Noted that MIT with their Open Courseware have been leading in this field for at least 12 years.

(Incidentally my favourite learning object is on  Kongregate – a game that teaches cellular physiology.)

OTTER is mounted on PLONE, and of course JORUM Open is more well known – as this links to OERs in all kinds of teaching environments. OTTER over-delivered on their target credits material – almost 500 credits worth of material.  Also the CORRE framework for creating and evaluating OERs.

CORRE

We started looking at Content gathering, and IPR/ownership questions were noted – the Uni generally owns copyright in OERs created here, but it was noted there are some cases where this might actually not be as cut and dried.  So OTTER worked with people where this wasn’t going to be a problem.  Even after the gathering there were questions over IPR and that some depts seemed to misunderstand what had been agreed to be supplied.  To get around this the BDRA devised a memorandum of understanding that was an agreement as to what partner depts would supply.  Noted that knowledge of copyright, let alone creative commons was poorly understood by the academic community and that education in this respect is needed.

Next is the Content screening – need to do some assessment of the content before you can decide that it is suitable for conversion into a OER.  OTTER used indicative questions to perform this analysis.  Interesting points about transnational issues over language and spelling were raised.  The amount of local references within OERs was an issue too – OTTER thought it was better to remove them and make them more generic, although other institutions didn’t always agree with this viewpoint – saying users could see past the local references to the reusable model underneath.

Then there is Openness – and the difference between creative commons and copyright.  In South America for example if it’s on the Web the normal assumption, even in the academic sphere, is that it is public domain and rights free.  The question of significant change to create a new object (and how much work is needed to demonstrate this) was raised.  Noted, like the LRA, that OTTER was very rigorous with copyright unlike some of the other projects – and had a series of indicative questions to be asked before an object could be progressed (developed with the consultation of Tania, our Copyright Administrator)

Next transformation – which is about enhancing the existing teaching materials as it becomes a OER, effectively making it an object independent of other resources that can be used on its own.  It may require restructuring – en.g. a lecture may be designed to work in a certain context, but as an OER its structure will need to be re-examined.

Then we looked at formatting and standardisation, making sure that final file formats are appropriate and openable by as wide a range of end users as possible.  It is also about making sure that metadata, and embedded metadata within the OER is  appropriate.  This was a manual process.  There was quite a discussion around the use of iTunesU and YouTube as alternative locations for mounting some OERs, the advantage being the discoverability would be enhanced by their search tools and greater visibility to a broader audience.  however, in contrast downloading of some objects can be restricted on these services, unlike from your own OER where you can control this more.

Now in Sahm’s words we move into a fashion parade – or Reuse and Repurpose – thinking about the end users and how they will be using it.  So these are questions to ask the various groups, although you can use your own in-house team to go through the tool kit questions.  Noted how they validated the materials by running it past real user groups e.g. EMALinc event with librarians.

Finally there is Evidence – this is about the impact and what is the value to teachers and learners around the wold, how do we measure it?  Senior management is more interested in evidence of impact, but as a teacher you will be more interested in the anecdotal evidence from learners on how these resources have helped in their learning experience.  like the LRA they use Google Analytics to track the quantitative data.  However, after all this effort and only 9 people use a resource the question of “worth” arises.  Hard to demonstrate what people get out of it – or what they would have not got, had the resource not existed.  Talked about MIT taking 10 years to demonstrate worth of their Open Courseware site. Akin to libraries making many materials available that few people use – but if they weren’t there, it would have diminished someone’s learning experience.

Applying CORRE

At this point we closed for lunch. After lunch we looked at some demos of objects in the Leicester OER, including a video with some upside down bits.  Following this we applied the CORRE framework to our own teaching examples – in my group’s case Marta from SDSS’ session on evaluating evidence.  We touched on the need to redesign teaching session objects from the ground up, if they were to fit through the CORRE framework – as they stand there is too little context to make them work alone, or too much referencing to other materials.

Finally the day reflected on how OERs and designing for openness has impacted on the work of the BDRA.  In particular thinking about stuff they are designing with this in mind from the start; alongside designing for the student.  They ask themselves “Can we make it open and can we enhance visibility for ourselves and our work through making it into an open resource?”

——–

Overall this was an enjoyable and engaging day, and the chance to think about CORRE I think could have filled an entire day if we’d worked through it methodically.  Even though I don’t do that much teaching these days I found plenty to think about, and look forward to future engagements with the BDRA.

Slides will be available on the OTTER sige, along with the podcast from the day (with the odd audible comment from me on it).

Posted in Open Access, Projects, Subject Support | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

The complexities of Chemical Information

Posted by katiefraser on 29 June, 2010

Royal Chemistry Society London headquartersIn May I visited the London headquarters of the Royal Chemistry Society in Burlington House to attend an event entitled ‘Chemical Information for the Chemist and Non-Chemist’. As I’m new to the world of Chemical Information (albeit armed with my knowledge of information resources and an A level in Chemistry) I’d been looking out for a session to expand my knowledge and this seemed perfect. For those interested, the slides are available on the CICAG (Chemical Information and Computer Applications Group) website – just click on ‘previous meetings’, but here I wanted to talk a little bit about what I learnt about chemical information in general at the event.

Since I started getting up to speed with Chemical Information resources I’ve been fascinated by the unique search mechanism of molecular structure. The majority of chemistry-focused databases cross-reference the literature with  molecular structures.. This means you can draw a molecule, and then search for articles referring to it. As David Walsh (whose presentation has informed much of my thoughts in this particular post) noted at the event, the naming of chemicals changes constantly according to fashion, the property of the chemical that a particular scientists wants to emphasise, and according to commercial concerns (for example, using trade names, or local laboratory numbers). Drawing the chemical allows you to by-pass a large number of these problems.

Molecular structure of phenylethylamine, used under Creative  Commons licence, courtesy of http://www.flickr.com/photos/ideonexus/

Molecular structure of phenylethylamine, used under Creative Commons licence, courtesy of http://www.flickr.com/photos/ideonexus/

This seems like  the perfect search tool! Surely a mechanism allowing such exact searching means that the core information professional’s toolkit – define your keywords, perform the search, alter keywords, perform your search, iterate until satisfied or exhausted – seems almost redundant? Well, unfortunately for simplicity, but luckily for making information professionals feel useful, this isn’t the case. A lot of the time there’s reason to search for something that’s either more or less specific than a molecular structure.

For example, when patents are registered for chemicals they usually use something known as the Markush structure – a molecular diagram which records certain key aspects of a compound, but allows for certain points on that structure to be substituted by a variety of different sub-structures. This indicates that a lot of the time one exact molecular structure can be too specific. On the other hand, sometimes a molecular diagram is not specific enough. For example, the stereochemistry studies at the arrangement of atoms within a compound. When compounds with the same molecular structure are arranged differently, this can give two apparently identical compounds different chemical and physical properties.

RSC newsletters inside Burlington HouseThese different degrees of specificity have interesting implications for the type of keyword generation that needs to happen in searching for chemical information. In a lot of subject areas I’d advise looking to see what’s available in the literature before deciding how specific to be in search terms: in a little studied area you tend to go quite wide and gather in a lot of related literature; in a widely studied area you can afford to be quite specific. However, in chemical information you can define up-front whether you’re interested  in a wide group of compounds or just a very specific isomer and use this to inform your search. The downside being that the beautifully simple molecular structure search isn’t always the one you want.

Over the summer I’ll be thinking more about how the different kinds of information used in Chemistry affect the way it can be taught, and learning more about the different kinds of notation that are used. I’d highly recommend looking at David Walsh’s slides, entitled ‘What Makes Chemical Information Different?’ from the event to get a good overview of many of the different types of notation used. However, I think cramming all of these into a one hour session might make students cry!

Posted in Subject Support | Tagged: , , , | 2 Comments »

Google Books & Libraries

Posted by gazjjohnson on 18 May, 2010

In the last couple of weeks Google Books has been something that’s been on the lips of myself and some of my colleagues. A confession, until last week I’d read a fair number of articles about it, but hadn’t actually pointed my browser towards it at all. No particular reason for not doing that, save for the face that I’d had no particular reason for doing that either. However, at first glance it is a very interesting site for the public and students alike that raise’s a few questions over how we, in the library, could/should be using it. And so like all good managers, I deputised one of my staff to find out more about it – and so my thanks to my Copyright Officer Tania Rowlett for the following notes.

US, UK & Downunder
It appears that Google books reached an agreement with the Association of American Publishers and the Authors Guild concerning the digitisation of their books, which essentially said the following in relation to books published in the US, UK, Canada and Australia:

  • In-copyright books could be previewed and purchased (unless the author/publisher ‘turned off’ the title) within the realms of fair use (a limited amount similar to our 5%/ chapter)
  • Out of copyright books will continue to be readable, downloadable and printable (which may be why it is more useful for Museum Studies/Archaeology/History documents)

HOWEVER, they also state that “Because this agreement resolves a United States lawsuit, it directly affects only those users who access Book Search in the U.S.; anywhere else, the Book Search experience won’t change. Going forward, we hope to work with international industry groups and individual rights holders to expand the benefits of this agreement to users around the world.”.

So, people accessing Google books from the US may be able to access more content than we [in the UK] can, but this should still only be within the above fair limits, which is supported by their statement: “whenever you can see more than a few snippets of an in-copyright book in Google Books, it’s because the author or publisher has joined our Partner Program and granted us permission to show you the Sample Pages View, which helps you learn enough about a book to know whether you want to buy it. This is something we do with a publisher’s explicit permission.

Overseas
In addition, Google books have not reached a settlement/agreement with other countries, and certainly France and Germany appear to be unhappy about the project, so books from other countries ‘may’ be available but may not remain so. Having said that, if an item is accessible, then it is likely to be so for the foreseeable future (I’ll keep everyone posted on developments), and might be a useful addition to the search process.

Information Librarian Support
What has been notable is when we look at some of the books on reading lists here at Leicester, certainly not all the books are available.  In addition even for those that are on Google Books there are sections and chapters that are missing.  Some of the books are even ones that we may well have access to in print or electronically by other sources too.  What it means for my team is something we will need to discuss in-house – should we for example start to check Google Books more as a resource for satisfying our DL and DS requests, or not?  There are a number of advantages certainly to the students (speed of resolution of requests for one) but how stable are the resources on there?  How frequently do they change?  And what steps are other higher education libraries taking towards embracing this swelling collection of accessible texts?

I might also add that there is also an information literacy component here, in that the students may need user and awareness training if they are to take to using Google Books as one of their regular resources.  Which again raises the question over the reliability of access.  It doesn’t look like it’s going away anytime soon, and so once again we may need to adapt to this new information frontier.

Posted in Copyright & Course Packs, Document Supply, Subject Support, Web 2.0 & Emerging Technologies | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

USTLG Spring Meeting Redux (Afternoon)

Posted by selinalock on 17 May, 2010

Following on from my post USTLG Spring Meeting Redux (Morning), here’s few notes on the afternoon.

Theme for afternoon: social networking.

Advocating professional social networking to academics. Paula Anne Beasley and Linda Norbury, University of Birmingham.

  • The subject librarians are well placed to advocate Web2.0 tech for gathering information via social networks.
  • Found a knowledge gap for those not using Web2.0 or not of the generation to ‘just have a go’ at things & prefer some training.
  • Surveyed staff in College of Physical Sciences & Engineering about their use/knowledge of Web2.0 using a free text survey.
  • Responses variable, but enough interest to offer training session.
  • Major issues from survey were whether Web2.0 tools were secure/stable, whether there was a University policy on using them and a lack of knowledge.
  • Anne & Linda managed to get the College Academic Enhancement Group interested in the session, and all invites went out from that group rather than from the Library.
  • The training session that was offered was originally going to cover blogging and twitter. However, as Linda got stuck abroad due to the ash cloud it became focused only on blogging on the day.
  • 31 attendees for session: academics, admin staff, researchers & Emeritus Professors.
  • Got very good feedback and the attendees were enthusiastic about blogging on the day.
  • They hope to follow-up with seminars on social networking and social bookmarking, plus a support course in Blackboard.
  • No-one else in their University is currently offering training in this area.

‘Do Librarians Dream of Electric Tweets?”, Gareth Johnson, University of Leicester.

The next presentation was from our very own Gareth, who gave a very enthusiastic talk on using Web2.0 technology for networking, and in library services.  Main points were:

  • Why use things like twitter & Blogs?
  • For professional networking, self-reflection, sharing experiences, staff development, answering enquiries, motivating staff etc.
  • Can be very powerful tools.
  • Like Gareth, I pick up lots of useful information and links to new reports via twitter now rather than by other routes.
  • When using these technologies it is important to be human: respond to people, don’t just broadcast, share things.
  • The best use of web2.0 csome when you allow it to overlap your personal, workplace and professional lives, but if you’re not comfortable with this level of engagement it can still be useful when used only in work hours.
  • Important to “find the right tools for you”.

Gareth’s full presentation:

Posted in Digital Strategy & Website, Meetings, Mobile technologies, Research Support, Service Delivery, Staff training, Subject Support, Technology & Devices, Training, Web 2.0 & Emerging Technologies | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

USTLG Spring Meeting Redux (Morning)

Posted by selinalock on 14 May, 2010

Royal Society of Chemistry, Burlington House

Royal Society of Chemistry, Burlington House. Photo by Matt_Fom_London via Flickr Creative Commons.

Gareth had already blogged about this event, but here’s my take on it too.

Theme for the morning: Go to the users, wherever they are online.

Taking your service to scientists: embedding subject-specific resources within VLEs. Jon Fletcher. Nottingham Trent University.

  • Talked about embedding library resources & links into the VLE so student “don’t have to remember where to go” to get stuff. Student feedback suggested that they often forget how to use resources between years/terms/f2f sessions.
  • University mandate that all courses should have a VLE site.
  • Includes links to catalogue, metalib, referencing guidelines, library homepage etc in all science courses.
  • 5 step guide to embedding: Consult/design resources using a team approach, get permission/access to VLE course, embed resources, consider sustainability & update when needed.
  • Often need to ‘sell’ the resources/need to embed to the academics, but once in a few courses then get a snowball effect due to good student & course team feedback.
  • Embeds all his teaching resources as well as core library resources.
  • Sustainability: think about time/workload required, timescales and the tools needed. E.g. previous html editor wasn’t up to the job so now uses Wimbacreate. There approach is to use a repository and link all courses to one version of core resources page so easily updated in one place by more than one person.
  • Updating: design so it only needs updating once or twice a year.
  • This initiative has led to more visibility, embedding of f2f sessions, more liaison with academics and more enquiries.
  • Currently a trial and only being done by Science team.
  • Just about to start using TalisAspire for reading lists.
  • Approx 1-2 weeks of time needed to build resources & embed them.
  • Moved subject-based library pages within the VLE and linked out to other types of library pages.
  • Stats on what is being accessed via the VLE.

MyLibrary – building a Library dashboard application. Mark Gavillet. University of Newcastle

  • Creating a MyLibrary dashboard app using a customisable online tool (JQuery UI). A project which will go live for students to trial in new academic year.
  • App draws info from various places e.g. library systems, shibboleth (for authentication, google etc.
  • Tracks what resources are being used.
  • Wanted to identify 80% of ‘start’ points for 80% of tasks that 80% of users do 80% of the time by asking 130 students where they look for resources.
  • Student feedback was that there start points for university work/resources were google, OPAC, reading list, Blackboard VLE, databases, library homepage or student homepage (in that order of preference).
  • The first place they go when sitting at a university PC: Uni email, Google, Blackboard, Facebook.
  • Key library services: ejournals, renew books, search resources.
  • They do not use the library homepage as anything other than a gateway & don’t read library news.
  • Happy to use search tools but unsure of finding the right search tools in the first place.
  • customer journey mapping of tasks such as finding an article form a reading list showed very convoluted routes to get there! Hope MyLibrary tool will help get them there quicker.
  • Can put MyLibrary button in variety of places they use frequently such as Facebook and VLE.
  • MyLibrary tool tabs for modules, resources, announcements, eResources/eJournals, MyItems(loans) & more.
  • eResources pulled from subject categories on Metalib.
  • eJournals via SFX (can search & choose favourites).
  • MyItems/MyRecord from Aleph library system & can renew via tool.
  • Opening hours & events from Library Google calendars
  • TOCs from JISC tic TOCs service.
  • GO TO WHERE THE USERS ARE, rather than expecting them to come to the library homepage. If the tool is successful then they will re-evaluate the role of the library homepage.
  • Several months work and development.

RSC Publishing beta – Have your say…Richard Blount and Louise Peck, Royal Society of Chemistry

Got a quick overview of the new RSC interface and they are very keen for librarian feedback. Either via their survey or as beta testers. Quick look at ChemSpider, an excellent, free chemical structure resource.

Posted in Digital Strategy & Website, Service Delivery, Subject Support, Web 2.0 & Emerging Technologies | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Information Literacy within our Institution: Thoughts from LILAC

Posted by katiefraser on 15 April, 2010

LILAC Tweet Wordle

Word Cloud of tweets during LILAC 2010 courtesy of http://www.flickr.com/photos/davepattern/

Just before Easter I attended the Librarians’ Information Literacy Annual Conference, held this year in Limerick, Ireland. It was my first chance to step back and think about my new role as an Information Librarian at the university, so great timing for me.

I attended a range of different talks on areas relevant to my own personal development (on librarians’ roles as teachers, and case studies of online tool use), but in this post I’m focusing on talks which I felt had institutional significance in terms of what we’re doing with information literacy, how we’re doing it, and what else we can do.

What are we doing?
The amount and kind of information literacy teaching inevitably varies within as well as between institutions: different courses and different disciplines have different needs. However, when responsibilities for information literacy are split between different departments and services across a university there are obvious benefits from tracking who does what: to make sure students acquire key skills, and to identify opportunities for collaboration. I believe librarians, as specialists in the area, have the responsibility to make sure these skills are developed, even if we are not always responsible for delivering them ourselves.

Gillian Fielding’s presentation on The Information Literacy Audit at the University of Salford described an institutional audit as one way of doing this. The team at Salford took a checklist of key information skills to programme leaders across the university to determine what training was provided, how it was provided, at which level (pre-entry, induction, year 1, 2, or 3, or at Masters or PhD) and by which department / service. Despite difficulties with timing of the audit 70% of undergraduate course leaders participated, and it seemed like a really good way of opening up dialogues between central services and departments about what needs covering and how it can be offered. It certainly sounded like information I’d find useful, although they did have large number of subject specialists to carry out the audit compared to us!

How are we doing it?
One of the big themes of the conference for me was about how the library collaborates with others in the university. In fact, the workshop I was at the conference to lead (focusing on central services’ roles in supporting research student communities of practice) was looking explicitly at the library’s role in the wider university community. Sophie Bury from York University in Canada covered a similar theme in her presentation on academics’ views of information literacy.

The academics she surveyed pretty universally agreed that information literacy skills (as defined by the ACRL standards) were important. Furthermore, the majority thought librarians and academics should be working together to deliver sessions, a finding that she noted was echoed in some previous studies, with others suggesting that librarians should be handling this area. However, she also found a fairly even split between academics believing that sesssions should take place outside or within class time. This is an ongoing issue: sessions which take places outside of class time are not as well attended, but it’s easy to understand why academics are reluctant to jettison discipline-specific content for more general skills. How we fit information literacy into the student experience AND the student timetable is something I’ll be thinking about more over the summer as I look at my teaching for next year.

What else can we do?
Finally, as well as more ‘traditional’ information literacy, the conference also got me thinking about ways in which information literacy teaching can impact on a broader range of skills (see also Selina’s previous post about Critical Appraisal). Stephanie Rosenblatt from California State University gave a talk entitled They can find it, but they don’t know what to do with it looking at students’ use of academic literature and found that students were already competent enough at finding scholarly literature (the main focus of her teaching) but that they didn’t know how to use the academic materials. Should librarians be developing a more rounded approach to teaching information literacy? Aoife Geraghty and her colleagues from the Writing Centre at the University of Limerick discussed a way in which centralised student services could work together to support such activities.

Lastly, Andy Jackson from the University of Dundee ran a workshop on generic graduate attributes, challenging us to develop attributes such as ‘cultural and social and ethics’ into teaching Endnote and Refworks use. This was immense fun (once we’d worked out that attribution and intellectual property could be seen as cultural and social ethical issues!) and made me think about all the different angles and educational opportunities that even the most basic software training workshops offer.

Where Now?
The conference ended with a Keynote from Dr Ralph Catts talking about developing our research methods and evaluation (in time for the conference next year!). The appeal for librarians to involve educational researchers in their planning and evaluation was a little misplaced for me (I have a background in educational research, and was rankled by the implication that librarians universally lacked the ability to evaluate, rather than the resources to do so). However, I think his message about the importance of evidence in instigating, developing and evaluating our practices was sound. I definitely hope to use the research I learnt about at LILAC in the next few months, and I hope to do more reflection and evaluation as I settle in to the post.

Posted in Staff training, Subject Support, Training | Tagged: , , , , | 3 Comments »

Critical Appraisal & Evaluation Skills

Posted by selinalock on 14 April, 2010

We had an interesting training session on Monday, run by our colleague Keith Nockels about critical appraisal. Keith went through the session he teaches to various medical and science undergraduates and postgraduates.

We had a really good discussion about based around appraising paper on crows using automobiles as nutcrackers!  Keith had found one of the difficulties with teaching critical appraisal was finding papers which people from various disciplines could discuss, hence the crow paper.

It made us think about whether the medical/science criteria could be applied to other subjects. For example, arts might be more interested in who’s writing the paper and their reputation, over the exact nature of the paper.

We would like to place more emphasis on appraisal and evaluation skills in future. Especially as studies, such as the Digital Information Seeker Report, still suggest that information literacy skills are lacking.  Plus, search technology is still moving towards resource discovery and single search boxes to search across many resources. To user the search seems easy so we need to make sure that they look more closely at the results they are finding.

We already include some evaluation skills in our sessions but there is certainly room for more, and more in-depth skills for postgraduates. At the moment we’re going to carry forward the critical appraisal discussion in our College Teams and look at what we can offer via a subject-specific route.

Some issues I thought we might want to consider were:

  • Do people need to understand better the type of information they’re looking at? E.g. website vs e-journal vs pre-print.
  • How about new ways of disseminating information like blogs or YouTube?
  • Are critical appraisal checklists useful? I thought it might be good to encourage people to write notes as they appraise and then use a checklist to ensure they haven’t missed anything.
  • What are the most effective ways of teaching evaluation/appraisal skills?

I’d be interested to hear what people out there think. What training do you think would be useful? Or what training do you provide?

Also love this little tutorial from our Student Development service on Being a Critical Student. We need to go pick their brains and see how we can offer complementary training.

Posted in Research Support, Subject Support, Training | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a 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 »

EMALink Event On Subject Librarians Part 1

Posted by selinalock on 25 March, 2010

On Wednesday the 17th March, I and several colleagues from Leicester visited the Pilkington Library, Loughborough University, for the EMALink event Subject Librarians…defining their mission, measuring their impact, preparing for the future.

Subject Librarians are feeling a little uneasy about their job security these days.  This is due to events such as those at Bangor University, where several subject librarians lost their jobs, and the more recent events at Warwick University, where subject librarians had to re-apply for their jobs at a lower grade. So, the aim of this event was to look at what we do and how we can show our worth.

The Impact of Subject Librarians on their academic communities” by Lizzie Gadd, Loughborough University.

  • Loughborough did a survey of academics in the Departments of Civil & Building Engineering, English & Drama, and Materials Engineering to assess the impact subject librarians have on their communities.
  • They got a 27% return rate and felt that they were probably preaching to the converted, as the respondents were generally those already known to library staff.
  • 25 out of 29 respondents knew they had a subject librarian and 22 could name their subject librarian.
  • What was interesting was the difference in how academics rated the skills they thought subject libs should have, compared with how subject libs themselves rated the same skills.
  • Subject knowledge (not just information resources knowledge) was rated highly by academics, as was the ability to keep up to date, whereas subject libs rated subject knowledge high but not as high and thought presentation skills were pretty important.
  • When asked which services subject libs should be able to help with the academics rated the top three as copyright advice, putting content into the institutional repository and finding journal impact factors.
  • Copyright came as a surprise as the University has a copyright officer who is not based in the library.
  • What also surprised the subject libs was the glowing testimonials that accompanied the surveys,a nd which they hope to use in marketing their services at a later date.  Comments such as “Invaluable”, “Important” and “Skilled Professionals”.
  • They tried to do some social network analysis based on the responses (i.e. how the academics and subject libs were related, who knew who etc), but the sample was too small.
  • They hope to further the research with a new bid for funding and would look at widening the survey to non-users, measure departmental use of the library management system and analyse subject libs communications with academics.
  • From the findings of this initial survey they are looking at the issue of offering copyright advice, offering research impact training to Depts (which has raised the usage of JCR), and marketing the subject libs better to the academics.

What are we here for? Developing a mission statement for Subject Librarians” facilitated by Chris Martindale, Derby University.

  • Chris did a short introduction to this session musing on what is a subject librarian?
  • Are we there to improve services? As experts in our field? As a gateway to collections?
  • Are we endangered? Should we have functional skills or subject skills? Do we suffer from poor job definitions (Pinfield, S, 2001)? 
  • We should be positive in response to change/challenges.
  • What do we do? are we moving into new roles? Do we need new ways of working (Roberts & Levy, 2005)? How do we demonstrate value?
  • We then split into groups to try to write a subject librarian mission statement (see photos). Our group got distracted by talking about the differences in what we did, whether we taught and how we supported research.
  • One of the things we identified with in Chris’ talk was  being compared to “middleware”, as we sat between the library and the department, and had to represent the views both to each other.

We then broke for a speed-dating lunch, but I was too busy chatting to people to do any speed-dating!

Posted in Meetings, Service Delivery, Subject Support, Wider profession | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Finding Journal Abbreviations

Posted by gazjjohnson on 11 December, 2009

A couple of good sites that are worth passing on:

All that JAS: Journal Abbreviations: http://www.abbreviations.com/jas.asp

CalTech Journal Abbreviations: http://library.caltech.edu/reference/abbreviations/

Thanks to my team for searching and suggesting them!

Posted in Referencing, Subject Support | Tagged: , | 1 Comment »

Alternatives to using a wiki to teach?

Posted by selinalock on 29 October, 2009

I’m looking for some advice or suggestions on alternatives to using a wiki during a session.

Last year I blogged about my experience using a wetpaint wiki with 1st year computer scientists which overall went well as the students liked the option to interact online, rather than interact verbally in the classroom. We found last year and so far with the group this year that they are far happier doing things in front of a computer!

Anyway, there are up to 70 students and I would like them to comment on issues such as the pros and concs of wikipedia during the session. The wetpaint wiki would not allow several people to edit at once so most of the students entries were lost or overwritten last year.

If anyone can recommend an alternative solution?

– wiki software that will let multiple people edit?

– chat room software that can deal with a big group?

– discussion forum software?

– would a blog allow lots of people to comment at once? Or would it fall over?

I only really need the software during the session, as I’m not expecting them to add to it afterwards, so it needs to be free and easy to use/register for. I would have used a Blackboard discussion board but this module isn’t using Blackboard!

Posted in Subject Support, Training, Web 2.0 & Emerging Technologies | Tagged: , , , , , , | 5 Comments »