UoL Library Blog

Develop, debate, innovate.

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

Posted by benwynne2 on 28 June, 2013

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

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

University of Virginia

Scholars’ Lab

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

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

Scholars’ Lab

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

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

SHANTI

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

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

Digital Media Lab

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

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

Digital Media Lab at the University of Virginia Library

Digital Media Lab

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

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

Staffing

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

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

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

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

Learning commons floor of the undergraduate library

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

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

NCSU

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

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

Staffing and culture

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

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

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

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

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

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

One of the DLI team’s mobile apps

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

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

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

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

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

Hunt Library

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

Entrance area to the Hunt Library, North Caroline State University

Hunt Library entrance area, North Carolina State University

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

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

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

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

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

What you can create with a 3D printer

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

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

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

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

The bookBot at the Hunt Library

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

What about staffing such a  facility?

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

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

So what?

So, you visited UVa and NCSU – so what?

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

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

Data visualisation lab at the Hunt Library

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

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

I’d be interested to hear your views.

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Digimap Training (19 June 2013)

Posted by JackieHanes on 24 June, 2013

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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BIALL Conference 2013 (Glasgow)

Posted by JackieHanes on 24 June, 2013

JackieHanes:

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

Originally posted on eLegal Librarian:

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

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

Justis

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

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Meeting with Lexis Library / Nexis Rep

Posted by JackieHanes on 20 May, 2013

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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EMLIP Meeting (Friday 12 April)

Posted by JackieHanes on 12 April, 2013

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

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

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

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

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

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

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EMALINK Research Data Management Meeting

Posted by selinalock on 27 March, 2013

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

RDM at the University of Northampton (Miggie Pickton)

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

RDM at the University of Nottingham (Laurian Williamson)

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

Common Themes among all the Universities attending:

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

At Leicester:

RDM Website and cross-service working party.

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

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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 arxiv.org 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).

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LILAC 2013

Posted by sarahw9 on 26 March, 2013

I was lucky enough to attend this years LILAC (Librarians’ Information Literacy Annual Conference) this Monday.  Here is my summary of the sesssions I attended. 

Location of LILAC 2013

Creating time for learning: strategies for flipping your library classroom.
Erin Davis and Kacy Lundstrom (Utah State University).

Erin Davis and Kacy Lundstrom described their experience with experimenting with this teaching model.  Students are sent instructional videos prior to the teaching session so that the teachers don’t spend their time demonstrating.  The teaching time is spent with the students working on researching their own projects. 

The session was run partly as an introduction to the idea of the flipped classroom and partly as a workshop to enable participants to begin on designing their own session. 

There was discussion on how to ensure the students have done the homework in advance (for example making completing the videos monitored in the VLE).  At Utah the videos are created so that the students have to click in the relevant part of the screen to continue the demonstration, mimicking the effect of doing the search live. 

One interesting suggestion from the floor was to ask students to bring in their own examples of what they have done and showing others.  This is beneficial as they nearly always haven’t all done the same thing, and might learn from seeing each others alternative approaches. 

The bulk of the teaching I do with the medics, biological sciences and psychology runs along similar lines, although we do both parts in the classroom.   At the moment we give students instructions to follow themselves rather than videos, partly because making the videos was perceived as too time consuming.  Whether that is the case is certainly worth revisiting though, especially if we are going to use them for many sessions. 

It seems that in Utah a lot of the teaching done that would be done by learning development (for instance writing and synthesis of information) was being done by the librarians in their teaching sessions.  I have been thinking about how we could work more alongside our colleagues in learning development as there is so much overlap in the skills.  Perhaps there is scope for asking them to participate in some of our teaching?

 

The Keynote Steve Wheeler (@timbuckteeth)

This was one of those zeitgiesty ‘where things are going’ talks done by a speaker who is good at this.  As it was full of soundbites and intended to be controversial I’ve listed some of the statements and ideas that stood out to me:
• Einstein quote ‘I never teach my pupils. I only attempt to provide the conditions in which they can learn’. This applies to teaching but also the function of libraries more widely. 

• Do we like books or do we like reading? Just because students don’t read books doesn’t mean they don’t read. 

• Any library that could be replaced by a computer should be…Libraries are more than storage house of books = content, services, space, skills

• The future is user generated content.  In education this allows students to participate in culture.

• Transliteracy defined as the ability to communicate equally well whatever the platform and information literacy is a part of this.

• Students still need to understand how to check if something is true.   Darwikianism – survival of the fittest online. Wikipedia = breadth.  Peer reviewed content = depth.  Students need to know both and cross reference between them.

I particularly like the idea of getting the students to check if something is true as a teaching activity, especially as an opening task to get students attention.  It integrates the aspects of where to look as well as evaluation, so I’ll be looking into this. 

 

Embedding digital literacy at Leeds Metropolitan University
Erin Nephin & Wendy Luker

Digital literacy as a graduate attribute for employability was launched institution wide at Leeds Met last year.  The graduate attributes at Leeds met are:  having a global outlook, being enterprising, and digital literacy.  Every module at the University had to be reviewed to ensure that these graduate attributes are embedded and this enormous task was supported from the top of the institution. 

The librarians wrote a learning and teaching guide for digital literacy for academics and also ibook which explains the process and stakeholders for instance learning and teaching or learning technologists. 

The whole process has resulted in very positive results for the library and information literacy as awareness raising with academics and also staff in other roles such as learning technologists and administrators. 

The library also ran training on topics such as ‘Using OERs to support your module’, ‘Current awareness tools and searching’, ‘Finding business and company info for employment’, and  ‘Managing your profile online’. 

I don’t’ know of many institutions that have moved this far with digital literacy and employability.  I liked the training session ideas, there is alot of scope for development.

 

Supporting information literacy and study skills with Open Educational Resources (OER)
Vivien Sieber and Miriam Tarron,

This workshop was in practice a session in exploring the Jorum website and resources and considering the copyright and practical implications if we wanted to use them.  

The fact that producing good elearning is expensive was given as a reason to use OERs.  Whilst that might be true, it isn’t a good reason to use either poor OERs, or use good ones in the wrong way, which will be counterproductive and ultimately more costly.   I admit I was surprised to learn that powerpoints and word documents are actually OERs, I expected more ‘dynamic’ content.  Likewise I was surprised to hear from those sitting around me that the copyright on some of the resources said  they could only be linked to rather than repurposed; I had been under the impression that repurposing was a crucial feature of OERs. 

I have to confess in the past I’ve looked at this website and not seen much I would really want to repurpose.  When I looked again I realised that I could probably make use of things there, in particular quizzes that could be used in teaching or short animations to illustrate a point or put into our own elearning.   A resource such as this is much needed.  It should continue to grow so I would recommend returning to it to see whats there. 

 

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Reflections on “Communicating your research as a comic strip workshop”

Posted by selinalock on 24 January, 2013

prezi_screenshotInspired by some of the initiatives by PhD Comics and the rise of factual graphic novels I offered to run a workshop for PhD students at the University of Leicester on communicating your research as a comic strip. This allowed me to combine my job role (Research Information Advisor in the Library Research Services Team) with my love and experience of comics as a small press comic writer, editor and publisher.

The structure of the session:

  • Introduction to factual comics and graphic novels. I took along some graphic novels from my own collection.
  • Read and comment on some online factual comic strips using wallwisher followed by a group discussion. (You can view the comments on the wallwisher).
  • How I might turn research into a comic strip – using some example pages from Lady of the Skies (written by me, illustrated by David O’Connell, published in Ink+Paper #1) A biography strip about Lady Grace Drummond Hay and her voyage on the round the world zeppelin trip.
  • Summarising your research – the attendees got into pairs to discuss their research and how it might work as a comic strip.
  • Language of comics – the elements that make up a comic page and how a comic script is written.
  • Exercise – attendees had a go at writing or thumbnailing a comic based on their research.
  • But I can’t draw! – suggestions on how to find an artist & comic creation software available.

You can view my Communicating your research as a comic strip prezi online.

What worked…

  • The session went well overall – 2 attendees rated it as excellent, 9 as good, 1 as satisfactory and 1 as poor.
  • Wallwisher was a good way of sharing the online comic strips and allowing people to comment.
  • Feedback said the students liked seeing the examples of the comics (online & in print), found the content interesting and some were very enthusiastic about the whole idea.
  • Most of the participants didn’t generally read comics, but found them a clear way of presenting information and ideas.

Issues & things to improve…

  • My intention with the workshop was to give people another way of thinking about how to communicate their research using words and pictures. I thought this could then be applied as a whole comic strip, as one of two cartoon illustrations or to how they prepared posters/presentations BUT I didn’t state this clearly enough.
  • Even if they did a comic strip, where would they publish it? We ended-up having a discussion about this, as academic publishers aren’t likely to want you to submit a comic strip instead of a journal article! We thought possible uses might be in poster presentations, conference presentations, online to the general public, in internal publications or meetings, or to explain research when recruiting participants.
  • Presenting your research in comic strip format might be a risky move, especially for an early career researcher, as it’s not an accepted form of publication – so the workshop could be seen as a waste of time and irrelevant to their studies.
  • Participants said it would have been nice to feedback to the group after they discussed their research in pairs – to see what ideas people had come up with.
  • Biggest barrier to actually creating a comic strip – cost of an artist. PhD students do not have the resources to pay for an artist and all those who attended this workshop were not artists.
  • Perhaps I need to find some kind of interested community of artists to work with? Look at setting up some kind of network?
  • So, although most of the attendees found the session interesting it might be very hard for them to apply the knowledge and create a comic strip…

We had several people who wanted to attend but couldn’t, so we’ll probably be running the session again after Easter, and I’ll be tweaking it based on the feedback.

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Visit to Coventry University Library (16 January 2013)

Posted by JackieHanes on 16 January, 2013

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

cpd25: Support for researchers (7 December 2012)

Posted by Helen on 2 January, 2013

Senate House

Senate House
Shared via CC BY-SA 2.0 licence

Towards the end of last term I attended the ‘Support for researchers’ event hosted by the M25 Consortium.

It was very nice to be in Senate House and to meet lots of new colleagues. The discussion sessions clearly showed that there is no ‘one size fits all’ solution when it comes to research support. Longer time in the discussion groups would have been useful but unfortunately it was only a half day event.  I have summarised the three speakers below and included some questions raised in discussion.

Miggie Pickton & Nick Dimmock (University of Northampton) started the event by talking about collaboration between the Library, Graduate School and the Research Office at Northampton. The Research Support Hub is a joint initiative between the three teams. It is a WordPress hosted blog, designed to be a one-stop shop for researchers needing information about funding and training. Nick described how there had previously been a very scattered presence and no single place for researchers to find information. The site has only been live since October 1st but has had a good response. There are eight regular contributors and categories/tags are used to maximise discoverability. There is also a section which links to other University blogs and a FAQ page to avoid repetition and aid enquiries.

The repository (NECTAR) is a mutual interest between the Research Office and the Library. The Research Office provides the administrative support; the Library covers the technical issues, metadata and IPR. NECTAR is the main source of data for the REF. In terms of disseminating research, the team are involved in an annual poster competition, annual research conference, and measuring impact.

Benefits of collaboration were increased visibility and increased perceived value of Library services.

Miggie concluded with some tips for making collaboration work:

  • Share common goals and common interests.
  • Actively look for opportunities to collaborate internally
  • Communicate frequently and share knowledge and expertise
  • Present a shared point of view at formal committees.

Jenny Evans (Imperial College London) discussed the Research 2.0 programme at Imperial.  A version of this programme has been running since 2008 but it was only in 2011 that it was integrated into the professional development course for students. The six-week programme was delivered face to face and online, covering productivity, networking, developing an online digital identity, and legal & ethical issues. The advantage of the course was that it raised the profile of the Library and allowed researchers and staff to build their network and collaborate. It was regarded as innovative. However, the blogging part didn’t work so well. Because the course was part of mandatory Graduate School training it was hard to get the researchers to finish the course or stick to deadlines.

Jenny was also involved in filming five interviews with academics about their use of Web 2.0 tools and technologies. The interviewees were at various stages of their career and the aim was to show researchers how a ‘real’ academic was using such tools. The video can be found here.

Jenny’s talk raised a number of issues including:

  • Should we give students guidelines on what technology to use?
  • Should the focus be on the specific tools or the output?
  • How do you evaluate success with Web 2.0 workshops?

Tahani Nadim (Goldsmiths) recently completed her PhD and gave a short talk about her experience of research support. Tahani felt that the Library has a role to play in signposting throughout the PhD, not just at the start. Induction week can be overwhelming and information quickly forgotten. The PhD is an incredibly solitary venture and it is hard to imagine how subsequent years will pan out. Tahani suggested that videos of different stages of the student experience would be useful. She also suggested that Library pages need to answer the question “I need help with…”. Too often they can be buried and messy, when they really need to be simple and clean. The difficulty with a PhD is that you often don’t know what help you need until you need it! This means that problems are often figured out amongst colleagues and the PhD cohort; an informal and valuable network for recommendations.

A number of discussion points were raised:

  • How can the Library’s expertise and resources be used to support research?
  • How can the Library actively participate in the university’s research culture?
  • What role can they play in advising on version management?
  • What about students who aren’t part of the daily research culture?

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Implementing Finch (29 November 2012)

Posted by Helen on 13 December, 2012

This conference was hosted by the Academy of Social Sciences and looked at the implementation of the recommendations of the Finch Review for Open Access publishing in the UK.I attended the first day of the conference which focused on the impact for those involved in the arts, humanities and social sciences. It was an informative day and it was particularly interesting to hear the sharp differences in opinion voiced by PVCs, administrators, librarians and individual researchers.

A full report by the Academy with photos, presentations and video will shortly be available at http://www.acss.org.uk/  but I have included a few short summaries of the key speakers below.

Janet Finch
The authors of the Finch report were an independent group commissioned by government. The Government had a clear objective of what they wanted to achieve and the group were asked to advise on this. They were not there to debate whether change was necessary or advisable. It was not part of their remit to look at data, only peer reviewed publications (journal articles). It was seen as a moral imperative that if the tax payer pays, the tax payer should be able to access the research.

The main recommendation of the working group was a mixed economy between subscription journals and ‘author pays’ for foreseeable future. The balance should shift over time. The Finch report did not say that we should immediately move to gold open access, simply that policy should be set in this direction. It was envisaged that University presses will have an increasing role in the future. The transition should be gradual to avoid destabilisation. Disciplines will have to move at different speeds to accommodate these changes. Positive engagement is needed, particularly in the Arts & Humanities.

It was envisaged that University presses will have an increasing role in the future. The transition should be gradual to avoid destabilisation. Disciplines will have to move at different speeds to accommodate these changes. Positive engagement is needed, particularly in the Arts & Humanities.

Paul Hubbard (Head of Research Policy, HEFCE)
Academic publishing is at a crossroads. In the print age the subscription journal had an important role to play but it is no longer necessary.  The business model will have to change. HEFCE are very keen on institutional repositories because they ensure sustainability and cement the notion that it is the job of the research community to look after their output.

It was suggested that for REF 2020 items should be as freely available as possible, with regard to practical constraints and to requirements and policies of other research funders. Considerations for REF 2020 would include the format of the text and the level of open access (likely to be gold). Due time would have to be allowed for compliance, monitoring and verification. It was emphasized that none of this had implications for REF 2014.

Charlotte Waelde (Professor of Intellectual Property Law, Exeter)
It was hoped that copyright would play a small but key part in the open access landscape, but in fact it has no part. The law of copyright is not an impediment to the Finch implementations. But attribution is still vital as is respecting the integrity of the work. It was deemed vital to get the chain of permissions correct so third parties can use with confidence. CC BY is suggested as the best Creative Commons licence to use in the Finch report. CC BY means that credit is required for the author, moral rights are not affected, and the content can be shared, remixed, and used commercially. This enables broadest possible use by third parties.

Jude England (Head of Social Sciences, The British Library)
She discussed the implications of Finch for libraries but emphasized that the Finch report sits within the changing information landscape. The focus of her talk was on libraries of the future and what they will need to do to adapt. The role of libraries has changed, as has the physical appearance. There is now more collaborative space, longer opening hours, and more electronic provision. In terms of the growing areas of data management, rights and permissions management, and open access, it was crucial that libraries should provide training for staff and students in what all of this means.

The speed of transition from print to digital was discussed and it was suggested that by 2017 no print-only journals would exist and only a small percentage would exist in parallel with digital editions. How will libraries cope with the huge digital storage requirements?

Open Access was viewed as eventually resolving the issues of access, permissions, authentication barriers, subscriptions etc. that libraries always have to think about. In an open access future librarians would need to advise and help with discoverability. It was envisaged that OA would reduce the importance of libraries in developing institutional collections but increase role of managing the institutional repository. Libraries would increasingly need to work together to share functions and resources. Librarians would play a significant role in helping students understand the new landscape.

Lynne Brindley (Former Chief Executive, The British Library)
The Finch report was described as a ‘tour de force’ and praised for raising consciousness of open access. It was acknowledged that the path to implementation was contestable and that it was vital to make the transition without imploding the system.

Gold OA means that publishers receive the revenues from authors rather than those who read the articles. Research articles are freely accessible and conditions around reuse are minimal.

Green OA is seen as the only true route for many OA advocates. Articles in post-print version are made available in institutional repositories subject to embargoes.

How does this apply to arts and humanities? The focus of Finch was journal articles but they do not represent the highest volume of research output for the arts and humanities. Research monographs must be included in the wider debate, as must the peer review process.

Lynne discussed four key areas:
1.    Institutional publication funds. How is the mechanism for allocation going to work in the individual university? Who is going to decide and how transparent will this process be? Will the library budget be raided?
2.    Learned societies. If the subscription model goes, what happens to the other activities of the society? They would need adequate time for adjustment.
3.    Big commercial publishers. Does the Finch report hand publishers victory on a plate? Will we be paying twice? Paying journals up front (APCs) feels like a defeat for green OA advocates.
4.    Libraries. Opportunities and threats. They have long played a role in licence negotiations and are now involved in institutional repositories. How sustainable will repositories be in the new environment? Services will have to develop to support the publication fund.

She concluded by saying that it is disappointing that there is no implementation plan because the report has given an impetus to progress. A more extended period for awareness raising would be ideal.

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