UoL Library Blog

Develop, debate, innovate.

Archive for the ‘Web 2.0 & Emerging Technologies’ Category

OCLC EMEA Regional Council Meeting 2013

Posted by benwynne2 on 26 March, 2013

OCLC’s Regional Council Meeting for members and customers in EMEA (Europe, Middle East, Africa) took place over the 26 and 27 February in Strasbourg this year.

I had the opportunity to attend as I was asked to contribute to a workshop before the start of the conference proper on CONTENTdm, OCLC’s digital asset management system. We have been using this successfully over the last few years for our My Leicestershire History Website. The workshop was very practical with a number of people like me outlining case studies of using CONTENTdm. We all agreed that it is an easy system to get to grips with but, like any system, has its limitations – one of which is “customisability” (especially if you are using the hosted service).

The theme of the conference was sharing data which – given the context – largely, though not exclusively, meant sharing library metadata in new and more efficient ways to increase the visibility of ‘library resources’ on the Web and provide new services.

The programme opened with an excellent presentation from Jean-Baptiste Michel of Harvard University on how he and colleagues have used a huge dataset derived from Google Books to analyse the changing prevalence of words. The resulting dataset is well known and can be queried online. It vividly illustrates the power of large scale data analysis – in this case, using data not originally created for this purpose. It also illustrates how important re-use of data is to enabling new kinds of research. The team at Harvard are now moving on to use Open Library, JSTOR, the New York Times and as further sources of word occurences for analysis. Michel saw potential for libraries to develop services in this kind of area – providing tools and support to enable researchers to analyse data in new kinds of ways.

Roy Tennant, Senior Program Officer at OCLC, then outlined how OCLC is working to make WorldCat a source of linked data on the Web, thereby opening up access to library resources at ‘Web scale’ level. This presentation demonstrated how important persistent identifiers are in the linked data world and the challenges of creating and maintaining them. How do you identify an author uniquely and persistently, for example? Good old library authority files are being seen in a new light in this regard with OCLC, national libraries and others working together on the OCLC hosted Virtual International Authority file initiative. The Library of Congress is now working on a linked data model as part of its BIBFRAME initiative.

A presentation from Marie-Christine Doffey of the Swiss National Library illustrated that open licensing and harvesting of metadata is now mainstream activity for European national libraries.

Jay Jordan, CEO of OCLC, spoke about OCLC’s new ‘Web scale’ platform for libraries – WorldShare. Continuing the theme of identifiers, his presentation included mention of OCLC’s involvement with development of the International Standard Name Identifier system – ISNI. And, as regards researchers, there is also, of course, ORCID. Most WorldShare sites are currently in the US or Australia. A first site is about to launch in the UK – at Bishop Grosseteste University.

Not everyone was happy with this emerging environment of cloud based services and open sharing of metadata. Some concerns were expressed about the loss of national control of metadata and associated services. Others, however, noted that national authority files were still needed and indeed becoming more important to enable data linking – suggesting that the future of national bibliographic authorities lies in this area. ‘Catalinking’ to re-coin a term from the conference …

(p.s. A first set of presentations has now been made available on YouTube).

Posted in Web 2.0 & Emerging Technologies | Tagged: | 1 Comment »

EU Law Seminar (10 December 2012)

Posted by JackieHanes on 12 December, 2012

I attended a joint BIALL (British and Irish Association of Law Librarians) and CLIG (City Legal Information Group) seminar on EU (European Union) law held at Field Fisher Waterhouse in London on 10 December 2012.  Rather aptly, the course occured on the same day as the European Union was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize 2012

Maria Bell (EDC and Law Librarian at the London School of Economics) provided an overview of the formation, history and enlargement of the EU and its main institutions.  The European Council and the Council of Europe should not be confused.  The Treaty of Lisbon (2007) has renumbered the founding treaties again.   Directorates-General (DGs)are EU government departments. 

Maria also provided an overview of EU legislation.  Primary legislation are treaties; and secondary legislation are regulations, decisions and directives.  There are also non-legislative acts (non-binding recommendations).  Regulations and decisions apply directly; but directives require national implementation.  There is no easy way to trace national implementation of EU directives: Eur-Lex includes some National Execution Measures (MNEs), and N-Lex will link you to national legislaton websites (in national language).  The last resort is to see if the EU has started proceedings against member states in the ECJ for non-implementation of legislation.  Pre-Lex (from European Commission) and the Legislation Observatory (OEIL) (from European Parliament) enable you to trace draft EU legislation (similar to a UK bill tracker). 

David Percik (Library Manager BPP Waterloo, and formerly EU Librarian at the Law Society) provided an overview of the EU courts and case law.  The two major EU courts are:  Court of Justice (ECJ) (C-cases) and the General Court (T-cases) (formerly the Court of First Instance).  There is also an EU Civil Service Tribunal to adjudicate in internal employment disputes.  Do not confuse the European Court of Justice (ECJ) with the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR). 

The ECJ will give preliminary rulings (advice to national courts on EU law), infringements (non-implementation of EU law by member states), and annulment / failure to act (judicial review of EU law). After application to the court, the most important stage is the written stage, whereas oral stages (hearings) are optional. The Advocate-General (AG) will give an advisory opinion, and the Judges give their judgment later.  Judgments are published on the ECJ website on the same day, but are not official until they are published in the European Court Reports (ECRs), often with a considerable time delay.  Although EU case law is available on Eur-Lex, David recommends Curia as a better source, because of enhanced search interface. 

Els Braedstreet (European Commission Publications Office) provided an introduction to the new Eur-Lex database (currently testing in beta-version).  Most significantly, the new Eur-Lex will bring together Eur-Lex and Pre-Lex, to give a single source for draft and in-force EU legislation.  The new Eur-Lex will include a new search engine, and enable a full customisable service.  It also makes use of web 2.0 technologies to provide updating services.  It looks to be a great improvement on the current database, and I can’t wait for it to go live.  Eur-Lex are actively seeking users to join their test-panel, and particular welcome interest from academics and students.  Email for further information and to join the test-panel.

The seminar provided a useful refresher to EU law, but I did not make any earth shattering discoveries, so perhaps I know more about EU law than I credit myself with? 

No fancy lunches to report on this time, although chocolate biscuits were provided with the refreshments. I had to satisfy myself with a toasted panini for lunch, as the cafe had sold out of the soup I so deperately craved to warm me up on a chilly December day.  Finally, a personal highlight was seeing of few of the capital city’s iconic sights for the first time, located conveniently close to our host venue: Tower of London, Tower Bridge, the Gherkin and the Shard. 

Tower of London

Posted in Law, Web 2.0 & Emerging Technologies | 1 Comment »

Mendeley Institutional Edition

Posted by selinalock on 25 April, 2012

Mendeley Institutional Logo 


Mendeley (the academic reference manager and social network site) have partnered with library suppliers Swets to produce the Mendeley Institutional edition, and I had a webex meeting with product manager Simon Litt to find out more.

Mendeley End User Edition

The end user edition is bascially what is already available for free from Mendeley:

  • Desktop reference management software, which allows you to organise nd cite a wide range of reference typs.
  • Desktop software also allows you to upload, read and annotate PDFs.
  • Desktop links to a web-based system which allows you to synch and share your references.
  • Web system also works as an academic social network with groups etc.
  • 1GBWeb space, 500 MBPersonal, 500 MBShared, 5 Private groups, 10 Users per group

Mendeley Institutional Edition

  • Upgrade to end user edition (normally £4.99 per month) to
    • 7GBWeb space, 3.5 GBPersonal, 3.5 GBShare, 10 Private groups, 15 Users per Private group
  • Upload a list of library holdings (journals) to allow fulltext access for institutional members.
  • Turn on institutional OpenURL.
  • Institutional groups – any mendeley users signed up with an institutional email will automatically be added to institutional group & can add further members.
  • Analytics – who’s publishing and reading what.
  • Reading tab – See what your users are reading (adding to Mendeley) by journal title and compare with library holdings.
  • See most read/popular articles.
  • Publishing tab – where your members are publishing.
  • Impact tab – worldwide usage of your members published articles e.g. most read.
  • Compare your institution with other Mendeley institutions with regards to impact/how read your institutions articles are.
  • Social tab – what groups your users are in.

The main thrust of the institutional edition is the analytic functions that Swets have worked with Mendeley to add. The pricing models are currently being worked on so no idea what the price this would be.

When I previously reviewed Mendeley (alongside RefWorks, EndNote, CiteULike & Zotero) in 2010/11 the main issue with using it an institutionally recommended product was that the desktop software needed admin access to be installed and updated regularly on user machines. As far as I can tell this issue hasn’t been addressed in the institutional edition, as user would still download the free desktop software from the Mendeley site or just use the wbe interface.

My questions surrounding the institutional edition would be…

  • Would it be able (be accepted as) a replacement for EndNote and/or Refworks? As there seems little point in getting the institutional edition for the analytics if our users were not using the desktop/web reference software.
  • Do the analytics give us enough “added-value”?
  • How does the analytical information compare with other types of bibliometris from IRIS or InCites?
  • Are the analytics only going to be useful to certain disciplines as they currently only look at journal articles and titles?

Posted in Referencing, Research Support, Web 2.0 & Emerging Technologies | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Lecture capture

Posted by Andrew Dunn on 24 April, 2012

Tony Churchill gave a presentation at DL Forum on Tuesday 24/4/12 on lecture capture.  He talked about a project funded by Echo 360 – a supplier of lecture capture software.  The project looked at uses of lecture capture software beyond simply recording and posting lectures for students to revisit.

The project looked at taking recorded lectures and cutting them up into 15 minute snapshots which can then be used a subsequent year to support students’ learning.  The snapshots could be posted in VLEs before face-to-face lectures to provide students with background knowledge and free up time in lectures for more interaction and discussion.  Recordings of face-to-face lectures can be used to support DLs.
Short snapshots of lectures can be made publicly available and used as effective recruitment tools.

Denise Sweeny reported on a lecture capture project going on at the University of Leicester at the moment.  Using Adobe Connect and/or open source software OpenEyA (see for more information) lecturers from Media and Communication and from Chemistry have captured 5 hours of UG lectures and 12 hours of PGT lectures and have posted them in Bb with no guidance or instructions on how students should use them.  This term they will measure use of the captured lectures using Bb Analytics, focus groups, an online questionnaire and extended interviews.  They want to measure how often the lectures are accessed and how students use them.  They will also gather data on student demographics and their preferred modes of study.

If you want help and advise on capturing your own teaching sessions contact Simon Kear in BDRA.

Posted in Projects, Research Support, Service Delivery, Subject Support, Technology & Devices, Training, Web 2.0 & Emerging Technologies, Wider profession | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

Copyright Masterclass

Posted by taniarowlett on 6 March, 2012

Aslib’s first ‘Copyright Masterclass’  took place last week with Naomi Korn at the helm.  We started with a brain storm on what we actually knew about IPR (which was a bit mean at 10.15 in the morning and considering we pretty much only knew about copyright).  Anyway, the general consensus was that it  covered a broad range of areas and could be extremely complex, with some parts of the ‘family’ needing to be registered (e.g.patents, trademarks), others not (e.g.copyright), and still others could be registered or unregistered.

Highlights of the day included Naomi:

  • Using a great analogy for IPR – you can essentially do the same things with them as you can with a property: buy, sell, rent (licence) and bequeath.  I shall be incorporating that into my next training session.
  • Introducing me to the term bona vacantia.  This where you have no idea who owns the rights to a work or item (e.g. if someone died intestate or with no known next of kin, or the item is an asset of a dissolved company).  The Treasury Solicitor handles the administration for such things, and will try to trace any living blood relatives of the deceased or handle the sale of a company’s assets.
  • Explaining that none of us present (a mix of people from museums, HE institutions and private firms) are either purely commercial or non-commercial, we are mostly going to be a mixture of both (ie. Commercial firms will run internal or free of charge training sessions, non-commercial activities such as teaching could be deemed commercial if students pay fees).
  • Providing an overview of the Hargreaves recommendations and the progress and timelines of the IPO consultation.  Potentially we could have draft legislation by Autumn 2012.
  • Giving an update on the DEA and how it could potentially affect Universities if we are classed as service providers, although responses to OFCOMs consultation have called for them to provide a category for ‘Non-qualifying ISPs’ under which Universities could fall. 

One other particular area of interest to me, due to my work on the Manufacturing Pasts project, was that of orphan works.  Apparently such works are estimated to constitute 50% items held in archives, and over 50 million of them exist in the UKs Public Sector alone.  I recently carried out my own analysis of the the Special Collections works we wish to digitize in our project, and estimated that approximately 60% of them are orphan works.

We also talked about the benefits and detrimental effects of contract overriding copyright law in the UK and how we handled the multitude of differences between each contract, along with recent cases (NLA v Meltwater and the Red Bus (not its real name but this seems to be what everyone knows it as)) and an overview of Creative Commons and its licenses.

 I should at this point finish by a. saying if you get the chance, go on this course, it is extremely interesting and helpful, and b. giving a plug both to JISCs IPR toolkit, which for anyone starting out in copyright will be of huge benefit as it includes model permissions templates and contract/license clauses, along with JISCs new OER IPR short video: Turning a Resource into an Open Educational Resource , which is exactly what it says on the tin.

Just one more thing, ASLIB currently run four communities of practice (COP): Business Information; Engineering and Technology; Education; and Translation and Technology, which they are keen for people to engage with.  So go on, have a look and see if you can get involved.

Posted in Copyright & Course Packs, Projects, Training, Web 2.0 & Emerging Technologies | Leave a Comment »

Heron User Group Meeting

Posted by taniarowlett on 15 December, 2011

I recently attended, along with my colleague Rob, the 25th Heron User Group Meeting at King’s College London.

The programme sat well with me as I am currently dividing my time between my usual Copyright Administrator activities and managing a JISC funded digitisation and OER project ‘Manufacturing Pasts’.

The presentations from Jane Secker (LSE), Donya Rowan (Derby) and June Hedges (UCL) about their recent OER projects activities and findings were therefore very interesting, and in many ways they encountered the same 3rd party © issues as I did as IPR Administrator for the Phase 1 OTTER project.  In speaking about her work on the OSTRICH project, I was pleased to hear Donya mention OTTER, and see that she found my ‘Copyright and OERs: Do’s and Don’ts’ factsheet useful when assessing/clearing material.  It was good to see Derby’s adaptation of OTTER CORRE process model too.

In was very pleasantly surprised to hear June talking her success in empowering contributors to risk assess their own materials before their release as OERs.  By asking them to list content they weren’t sure about, and discard anything that wasn’t integral to their materials, the outcome was a minimal amount of 3rd party © requiring clearance.  Whilst this was music to my ears I’m not sure whether it’s possible to roll this approach out institution wide.  As Copyright Administrator part of my role is to educate module writers about the legalities of including 3rd party material, and alternative sources of © cleared materials, but the one thing I can’t do is give them more time to stop and check their materials.

Following on from this the CLA very bravely stepped up to answer questions from the floor.  Sarah Brear confirmed that the CLA hoped to have a new licence agreed for the next academic year, and confirmed that the USA lookup tool was still in it early stages, but the intention was to roll it out to other territories once it was up and working properly.  There was also a request for the CLA to release anonymised photocopying data, which Sarah promised to look into.

During the afternoon George gave a presentation on Heron’s Packtracker software, which we started using earlier this year.  Although we knew the basics, it was very helpful to see some of the areas we don’t currently use fleshed out, so both Rob and I picked up a number of potential ways to streamline our processes, which we hope to put into practice shortly!

Posted in Copyright & Course Packs, Document Supply, Open Access, Service Delivery, Web 2.0 & Emerging Technologies | Leave a Comment »

Social media and networking – my friend or my foe?

Posted by gazjjohnson on 1 December, 2011

Yesterday, while some folks were otherwise engaged, I was teaching the first version of our new staff development course Social Media Friend or Foe?: Navigating the Legal Minefield Successfully.  As regular readers will remember I flagged up a few months back that myself and Tania Rowlett the Copyright Administrator had been asked by the Staff Development Office to run this course.  At first we thought this might be a simple amplification of some elements from our popular Copyright for Academic Modules session, but it rapidly became clear that this wasn’t going to work.

It does rather seem that over the past three weeks I’ve done little else other than eat, sleep and breathe Web 2.0 copyright (although strangely my diary seems to indicate I’ve done a heck of lot of other things as well).  My especial thanks to Tania who has had to put up with me constantly appearing at her desk to help me clarify a point and provide a lot of guidance into the structure and content of the course.  I can say that it has been a challenging but deeply interesting exercise, trying to distill down the wisdom of others into a bite sized course.  I did slightly jokingly suggest to Tania that each of our slides could last an hour if we really got into the details – but as our intention was to really flag up the various risks, and ways around them that wasn’t likely to be a working format.

In the end the session and the slightly-longer-than-I-intended-booklet did come together well enough for a furst run through.  I’m hopeful that we’ll be able to offer this session again in the new year with a few more delegates, as from the feedback those in attendance found it well worth their while.  I can exclusively reveal that I’ve already sketched out a number of revisions to the 2.0 version of the session, more interaction, more case study elements and hopefully even more quality content.  Although that’s going to push the session length up to a good 3hrs (the v1.0 was 2hrs and felt a bit rushed at times as a result).

As normal we’ve made the materials for the session available on the Copyright webpages for consultation, and continue to welcome feedback and comments from anyone working with or in the social media/networking field.

Posted in Copyright & Course Packs, Web 2.0 & Emerging Technologies | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

LILAC 2011

Posted by sarahw9 on 5 May, 2011

LILAC logoI was able to get to the third day of LILAC Conference 2011 (Librarians’ Information Literacy Annual Conference) this year held in London on the final day at the LSE.  I’ve put down the main points I picked up from some of the sessions I attended.

Does information literacy have a future? Geof Walton & Alison Pope.

Perhaps it’s a sign of the times that people are concerned about their future in an economic climate of cuts that this session was so well attended.  Geof Walton modelled a session on enquiry based learning by giving us all a set of questions to discuss in small groups and report back.

It was a discursive session that covered a lot of ground, here is a selection of the type of issues that all the groups came up with:

– How do we manage the expectations and perceptions about the library and information of various groups; from students to academics / researchers to admin staff.
– How to make more connections to get more timely training/ teaching into student’s courses.
– Information Literacy as a birthright, related to literacy in general being able to read. Its not a luxury but a life skill.
– Need to be able to demonstrate the positive outcomes.
– Teach alongside academics so they can contextualise information literacy skills.
Geof Walton emphasised the need for research informed teaching, and enquiry based learning. Information literacy is the scaffolding to enquiry and it can blend with technology supported learning.

Information Literacy beyond 2.0. Peter Godwin
Peter Godwin had trouble getting any sound for his video clips, but that didn’t matter as he is direct and entertaining enough without needing to resort to videos.  He favours big global themes and here are a few he mentioned:

– Web 2.0 is old now, but actually no one knew what it was.  Its settled down but not gone away and we are all influenced by it.  Students don’t know what web 2.0 is although they experience and use it themselves all the time.
– We are heading for an increasingly mobile and social world and that won’t change. Our job is to accommodate to that.
– There are early adopters and slow adopters.  People don’t change quickly.  We can watch the early adopters and watch from their mistakes.
– The nerds are a minority.  Most young people use tools but don’t have a techie understanding of them.
– Younger generation are not good at sharing and neither are academics / researchers or librarians.  We need to reallocate the time we have and change the way we behave and work.
– Only when you try to write something for wikipedia do you realise how difficult it is.

He had some engaging thoughts on information literacy, for instance it has been ‘pampered’ by its attachment to academia, he suggested we should be thinking of it in the context of transliteracy.  This made me think that information literacy as we know it is based almost entirely on textual information rather than visual or audio.  We are dealing with increasingly multimedia information for instance from the familiar such as video to emerging technologies for instance Mike Matas; A news generation digital book and augmented reality / virtual reality.  New media is in perpetual development but on a day to day basis our students need help dealing with old media and communication tools.  Perhaps the gap between the two is where we come in at present.

This links in with Jesus Lau’s keynote speech on the UNESCO project to develop international indicators of information literacy. He has been developing this alongside folk from the media world to develop Media Information Literacies.  The focus is on everyday experience for instance access to news media rather than academic information. The competencies are based on how these intertwine

Information Literacy of Health Students: assessment and interventions. Lana V. Ivanitskaya

Led by faculty member who is not a librarian Lana Ivanitskaya is an academic in industrial / work psychology.  She designs tests such as personality tests and has to assess them.

Her first point was that competencies are not just knowledge and skills but also attitudes and beliefs.  If you only focus on the skills you will miss a lot.  Students own knowledge of their skills gaps is a familiar scenario for librarians. First year students think there is nothing you can teach them (often), PhD students seem to have the opposite attitude.  Lana Ivanitskaya described the RRSA (research readiness self-assessment) online survey which includes tasks such as evaluating websites and application of knowledge.   The survey includes ‘soft’ questions which assess the students’ beliefs as well as their results and they have found this is very predictive of their level of attainment.

The RRSA survey also found some interesting differences between students and experts at information skills. They found experts better and that students overestimated their skills.  In fact the experts under estimated their skill the more expert they were. 

Lana stated that students still find how to do research hard and are not taught how to do it.  She compared the number and quality of references cited in student papers between those who had completed the RRSA and those that had gone through library information literacy training.  She found that the impact of library teaching was three times better than the RRSA, but that the students preferred doing the RRSA and were more willing to do it.

So the message? Lana wondered if we should focus more on online training.  Without seeing in detail what either the RRSA consisted of compared to the library training its hard to say of course.  Perhaps its down to the old messages of getting to the students at the right time and place and using the right voice.

Knotworking as a means to strengthen information skills of research groups.  Elija Nevalainen & Kati Suvalahit.

Finding new ways to connect with colleagues across campus that work isn’t always easy.  At the University of Helsinki they had success using ‘Knotworking’ a way of working developed by one of their academics, Professor Yrjö Engeström.  The process brings together different groups from across the organisation to work more quickly and less hierarchically than team structures.  ‘Knots’ are formed to find solutions to specific problems, and the problem they wanted to address was how to re engage with researchers. 

Here is my summary of what they found:

– Research groups think information literacy is for the good but they have no time to do it, its best aimed at Masters students.
– Information skills still important to research groups are; bibliographic tools, searching databases, current awareness, obtaining material you can’t get locally, establishing networks of contacts, organising references, consulting library staff. 

Interestingly the librarians learnt that their changing role put them in the same boat as the researchers, and they learnt a lot about the researchers from this project. The project also had the unexpected effect of gelling together the researchers as a group.  The project reinforced the value of personal networks and working with user groups. Working with researchers as equals also had a beneficial effect on the library staff who developed greater confidence in working in emerging subjects and services they don’t yet have expertise in.  These themes are not new of course, but success in developing a change in culture is something often dreamed of but not realised.

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

Mobile access to information resources

Posted by benwynne2 on 14 April, 2011

UKeIG ran a very informative workhop on mobile access to information resources given by Martin White on the 13th April 2011.

This was good timing for me as we are currently working on a new Library Web site. ‘Mobile’ has obviously been on our minds although it has also been clear from early on that we would not be able to address the delivery of mobile services within the immediate project which needs to be completed by the end of August this year.

We also need to think about the whole of our Library ‘Web presence’ – the formal Web site but also the Web interface to the Catalogue and the associated Library user account, our Open URL Resolver, Summon (which we are implementing at the moment) and our digital institutional repository.

Then there is what publishers and other information providers are doing and this varies widely.

While I already realised that the options in developing mobile services are not clear cut, this workshop underlined the point!

Do you make your Web site ‘mobile friendly’ so that it is usable on smartphones and other mobile devices or do you create a bespoke Web site for mobile devices?

Do you provide mobile or Web apps? Mobile apps deliver specific functionality and are designed to run on the operating system of a specific device i.e. using Android, Symbian or other. Web apps also offer specific functionality but are designed to run in a Web browser – so have the advantage of running on any device but it must be connected to the Internet for the app to work.

What sort of mobile device are you trying to cater for anyway? Smartphones? Tablets? Or both? Tablets and smartphones are very different propositions given the much larger screens which tablets have.

What do your customers want to be able to do from a mobile device?

Not surprisingly, this is the most important question of all and it is certainly a question that we currently do not know the answer to.

Having started testing access to our Web interfaces from an iPad and smartphones recently the ‘user experience’ certainly differs radically from different devices.

Our existing and new Web site are perfectly usable on an iPad as is our Catalogue and Summon.

But the ‘experience’ using an iPhone and the HTC Wildfire we have tested to date are very different.

This is not surprising given the tiny screens and rather fiddly touchscreen keypads involved.

While our new Web site works *technically* on these phones, the interface is so compressed that it is virtually unusable. Yes, you can move about the screen and expand different parts of the page but it is a laborious process. Entering usernames and passwords to login into library accounts and resources is even more tedious than it is on a desktop.

My own experience and this workshop have led me to the following conclusions at this stage:

– don’t even think (if you were tempted) of making all your content and services available from small mobile devices (although you can do a lot more with tablets)

– understanding the context and motivation of the user is key. Where are they going to be using their mobile device and what are they going to want to do with it? (And here you also need to really think about what it is actually practical to do with one of these small devices i.e. alerting service for new journal articles sounds a useful application – but reading a journal article??)

– start again when defining and designing the content and services to provide (this doesn’t necessarily mean a completely different site as bespoke stylesheets can be used for mobile devices)

– keep it simple!

– do not try and support everything – you will not be able to

– remember what is really different about ‘mobile’ and play to the advantages that these differences offer. One of the real biggies here is that if a mobile device has GPS capability (as smartphones do) you have the option of providing location specific information to the user

We need to start with some user research to find out what our students and staff would want and find *easy and convenient* to use from small, mobile devices.

One of my fellow workshop participants was from another university library and they are a bit further ahead than us in their thinking on this. They plan to start with quick, ‘look up’ type information such as opening times and PC availability and they have some user feedback which supports this.

And what Web sites are doing ‘mobile’ well? Examples mentioned included:

(The following sites display the mobile interface if you are coming from a mobile device):


(The following site has a specific URL for the mobile site which will render on any device):


Note that these are all sites with the commercial imperative and income to get it right.

The American Chemical Society and Nature were mentioned amongst publishers who see major uses for ‘mobile’ – in providing alerting services to newly published research, for example.

Note these publishers use of ‘apps’.  An NHS librarian amongst us noted the demand they were getting from some clinical staff who originated from the States to be ‘apped up’ to access content available using local subscriptions – suggesting what might be an emerging need i.e. support with installing the appropriate apps.  Although how far can you take this?

And on the libraries front?

New York public libraries.

They have gone for the specific mobile site – which works well if you know it exists but, if you don’t, and you go to the ‘regular’ site you get a very different experience.

And, noted by my colleague Sarah Whittaker – North Caroline State University Library

Finally, we were pointed to an article in issue 64 (July 2010) of Ariadne which outlines how mobile delivery of information and services is being treated as an integral part of developing Birmingham’s new ‘central’ Library – the Library of Birmingham.

Posted in Digital Strategy & Website, Mobile technologies, Web 2.0 & Emerging Technologies | 3 Comments »

Opportunities in Difficult Times: UKOLN social networking event

Posted by gazjjohnson on 23 February, 2011

On Tuesday I went down to the Museum Studies dept to speak at a UKOLN event, aimed mostly at the museums and curation sector – so it was nice to go and talk with a different group of folks for a change.  It was also nice to finally make it into one of the few depts where I’ve not done a personal appearance in the past three years at Leicester (think there are still a few more left though).

The day opened by Ross Parry from Leicester giving a welcome and overview of the work and research of the Dept of Museum Studies, which was interesting background material.  Following that we went around the room to gauge the level of experience with social networking which was from a few folks dipping their toes in through to some wanting to do a whole lot more with it.

Ann Chapman then opened up with her first talk – What Web 2 can do for you, which gave a clear overview of Web 2 environment; which for a fair number of people in the room seemed to be right up their street.  While a lot of the material was familiar to me, it was interesting to see them presented in the span of children to OAPs; rather than my usual focus on like-minded professional engagers.  She spent a bit of time talking about character based tweeting as a way of engaging new groups, a serious aim or a more fun option.

We moved on a group exercise looking at generating a business case for a Web 2 resource.  The group I worked with discussed using LibraryThing as a way to get around catalogue software restrictions…I’m sorry, I mean enhance the  accessibility of reading list resources.  A lot of our conversation circled around the idea of how to overcome the barriers that might stop us stone cold dead in the water, but not letting them be the major driver.  We also discussed how important it was to have an aim and objective and an exit strategy, and how to deal with feature creep (as senior managers add new objects to a project in progress).

Next up Ann came back to talk about some tips for getting Web 2 right.  Following on from the business case she talked about the planning you need to do to convince senior management and IT about what you want to do, how you’re going to achieve it and whom will be doing the work, let alone where this fits into your policy.  Some good advice on using the resources followed – obvious if you’ve been working with these for a bit, but much needed for new folks – thinking about spam, thinking about regularity of posts etc.

After lunch Ross Parry came back to talk about distance learning courses in the Museum Studies dept and their use of social networking,  He started off giving an overview of the school and how they have developed over the 50 years of the school, culminating with the Digital Heritage course.  He talked about keeping the print resources that they have developed over the years with the DL reader in mind, whom will likely be time poor and want everything to engage with right there at the point of need.

He talked about technologies and wanting to find an area of co-currated space for the students and staff to use and interact with.  At the same time they were thinking about building relationships with individuals, groups and the sector as a whole through this interaction.  They mounted a blog (Common Room) that was accessed via BlackBoard to give the students a feeling of trust and security, as well as a University feel.  He makes use of Skype video chat for interaction, that really helps the interaction with student.  The DL Curriculum Shell is the way they think about the whole set of environments and student interaction.

Next up I gave a talk expanding on some of the professional experiences I’ve had over the years using social networking environments within Higher Education libraries.  after this there was chance in groups to have a look at some of these social tools, although in my group we spent most of the time having an extended Q&A and demonstration of resources from me than working through the worksheet (sorry Ann, but I think my lot found that useful!).

Finally Ann capped off the day drawing together the various themes – making a case, taking those first steps, ideas for practical experimentation and overcoming obstacles.  A brief discussion followed and then we closed for the day.  I really enjoyed the discussion I had with the various delegates, and as always it’s a sheer pleasure to help out UKOLN whom do offer such an excellent range of expertise and training events across the sectors.

The event programme and presentations can be found here.

Posted in Staff training, Web 2.0 & Emerging Technologies | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

Growing Knowledge at the British Library

Posted by emmakimberley on 5 January, 2011

On Monday 13th Dec Terese Bird and I paid a visit to the British Library to take part in an assessment session for the Growing Knowledge exhibition. The purpose of the Growing Knowledge exhibition is to showcase ‘innovative research tools’ to researchers. The exhibition space itself provides a futuristic space for experimenting with new technologies. Attractions include a tweet-o-meter, computers with 2, 3 and 4 screens as well as a touch screen, and a Microsoft Surface. The idea is to evaluate how researchers are working in different ways: we’re doing more things at once, so do we need more screens to support the multi-faceted nature of research work?

The exhibition room

As part of the evaluation we were let loose to play with the research tools on this range of devices. Terese Bird and I used the touch screen computer to look at some of the academic initiatives online, including the Allen Brain Atlas, Semantic Web Applications in Neuromedicine, Jane Austen’s Fiction Manuscripts and the Journal of Visualized experiments. Each of these shows ways in which the web is being used by scholars in diverse fields for research, collaboration, visualisation and dissemination.  

Terese has identified the Microsoft Audio Video Indexing System (MAVIS – a software system using speech recognition technology to allow searches of audio and video files) and the Galaxy Zoo as her stand-out tools in her blog post about the day. Both of these tools facilitate research that would be arduous or even impossible without them. My own favourites were the Journal of Visualised experiments and the eDance project.

JoVE leads the move toward making the communication of research more visual by presenting research methods in video format, thus “allowing the intricacies of new methods to be demonstrated far more effectively than is possible in text.” This is the kind of knowledge that really benefits from being shared in non-written media.

The eDance project has developed tools for collaboration between performance and practice-led research in dance, enabling researchers to chart movements in three dimensions. While I didn’t have time to gain a full understanding of how these technologies can be used, they seem symbolic of a shift in ways of thinking when it comes to research in the Arts. The idea that description and comment can happen on the artwork itself, rather than as a separate piece of writing, surely has implications for research into any kind of visual or moving-image text.

My favourite piece of hardware was the Microsoft Surface, which displayed a digital version of the 19th century Garibaldi Panorama – the world’s longest painting – and shows how the challenges of viewing and collaborating on such an artefact can be overcome.

Microsoft Surface Table

As a whole, the exhibition raises questions about the role of libraries in storing and curating digital heritage and in supporting new academic behaviours, some of which are discussed in the podcast of the British Library debate: Is the physical Library a redundant resource?

Posted in Web 2.0 & Emerging Technologies | Tagged: , , | 1 Comment »

Legal Issues in Web 2.0 and cloud computing

Posted by taniarowlett on 29 November, 2010

Last week I had the pleasure of attending the above named UKeiG course.    The day consisted of a full  programme jam packed with useful information, knowledge and anecdotes, all provided by Professor Charles Oppenheim in his usual engaging manner.

The morning focussed on IPR issues, both in relation to the ‘rights holder(s)’ of user generated content produced via Web 2.0 applications, but also the incorporation into such content of different types of 3rd party material, which of course is a completely separate but equally important issue. 

Charles helpfully directed us to the Web2Rights materials, which I have found useful in the past for their flowcharts and diagnostic tools, and tested us with a number of scenarios.  As I and my fellow participants were from a wide range of copyright/IPR/Web 2.0 technology backgrounds it we interesting to see that we were all fairly consistent with our responses/approaches to the issues raised. 

The most interesting sessions of the day for me were those covering the issues of defamation and data protection.  The increasing adoption of Web 2.0 technologies as part of educational engagement means content generators need to be aware of UK defamation law, and what can constitute libel, even if said in jest.  

Whilst many of us know the basics of the Data Protection Act (DPA), it might come as a surprise to those who have embraced cloud computing that personal data such as that covered by the act should not be moved outside the EEA, unless the recipient country has an ‘adequate’ level of protection themselves, and that data held in a ‘cloud’ is often moved around the world, albeit temporarily, to maximise system efficiency. 

It was a day that provided much food for thought, and I think it would be very easy to get weighed down in the detail and the intricacies of the Acts. However, in the first instance I think I shall just draw up some guidelines to include in my training materials!

Posted in Copyright & Course Packs, Digital Strategy & Website, Service Delivery, Staff training, Web 2.0 & Emerging Technologies | 1 Comment »