UoL Library Blog

Develop, debate, innovate.

TeachMeet Leicester (1 October 2013)

Posted by JackieHanes on 7 November, 2013

JackieHanes:

I attended a TeachMeet in Leicester last month. I’m afraid it’s taken me 6 weeks to write up my report!

Originally posted on eLegal Librarian:

I attended my first TeachMeet at New College Leicester one dark night in October.  TeachMeet is a forum for teachers to share ideas and good practice.  I attended as an observer only – not quite brave enough to present!  The evening comprised about 12 short presentations – either long (7 minutes) or short ( 2 minutes).  The event was organised by Dan Williams (@danwilliams1984), and it had a wild west theme: presenters were awarded sheriffs badges and/or shot with a (toy) gun if they ran overtime!  As a librarian from higher education – I was in a minority of one.  Most of the teachers were from primary or secondary schools, with a few from colleges of further education.

There were some excellent presentations – I was particularly struck by the imagination and enthusiasm that some teachers have for their both their teaching practice and the pupils in their classroom.  For example, at one…

View original 402 more words

Posted in Service Delivery | Leave a Comment »

History, Learning Resources and the National Student Survey (NSS) (31 July 2013)

Posted by JackieHanes on 1 August, 2013

I was invited to attend a roundtable discussion at De Montfort University – also in attendance were librarians from universities of Loughborough, Nottingham, Northampton and Warwick. The invitation was timely, because our National Student Survey score for learning resources in history fell considerably in 2012.  In the last academic year, I have been working with the School of History to improve library resources and student satisfaction. 

The Higher Education Authority (Carrigan 2010) found that history students were dissatisfied with Learning Resources (NSS questions 16 (library) and 17 (IT)).  This was an experience shared by all (but one) of the librarians at the roundtable.  It was heartening (but also saddening), to find that I am not alone, and that our experience is ‘normal’. 

The roundtable started with presentations from Chris Powis (Head of Library and Learning Services at the University of Northampton), and Neil Skinner (Assistant Librarian and History PhD Student at De Montfort University).  Chris outlined the problems and solutions of history and learning resources; and Neil described his current research project into history and learning resources.  We then began our discussions, which I have attempted to summarise by theme.

Problems with history and learning resources

  • Length of reading lists (500+ items per module)
  • Lack of differentiation on reading lists (essential/background)
  • Preference for monographs on reading lists (over journal articles)
  • Availability of items on reading lists (out of print, print only, no ebooks)
  • Focus on directed reading (reading lists do not encourage independent research)
  • Theft and vandalism of the library’s history books
  • History students seek help from academics (not from librarians)
  • Attitude of (some) history academics towards the library

Solutions to history and learning resources

  • Liaison librarian (increased liaison with history department)
  • Liaison librarian (increased contact with history students)
  • Library recovery plan for departments with low NSS scores
  • Use evidence (statistics) to support case for change

Research project on history and learning resources

  • Review of available literature
  • Survey (online questionnaire) of history students
  • Interview with history academics
  • Roundtable discussion with history librarians

NSS Question 16

In the NSS, the library is evaluated by a single question:- “the library resources and services are good enough for my needs”.  The question is rather simplistic, and open to different interpretations.  The question relates to library resources and services, not to facilities or the environment.  Yet student comments often relate to opening hours, study spaces, and noise.  A library refurbishment often leads to an increased NSS score.  This may have increased our NSS scores in 2010 and 2011, with the 2012 cohort returning to pre-refurbishment levels.  It was noted that the library tends to perform better in other surveys.  However, we can not change the NSS question, and it is our key performance indicator.

Modules

Our School of History offers a large number of modules, including special subjects in second and third year, which reflect their academics research interests.  Core modules  have large student numbers, but optional/special modules have comparatively small student numbers, yet the library must resource all modules, and each module comes with a lengthy reading list (see below).  Also, staff changes means that new academics bring new research interests and develop new modules of study, which again need to be resourced by the library.  It takes time to develop a collection of library resources. 

Reading Lists

Is the history reading list part of the problem, and not the solution?  What is the purpose of a reading list?  Should it provide students with key introductory readings to a subject, or should it be a complete body of knowledge on a subject?  The history reading list is a work of wonder – perhaps more accurately described as a bibliography.  Students (rightly) expect all items on their reading list to be available in their university library.  However, financial constraints mean that the library struggles to provide one copy of each item on a history reading list, let alone providing multiple copies to cope with high student demand.  

All of the universities had an electronic reading list system (either proprietary or in-house), but were at various stages of implementation, with some university’s mandating it’s use, and others using in on a voluntary basis.  There is a reluctance to use electronic reading list systems from academics with long reading lists.  While the electronic reading list system gives the library access to reading lists; it does not appear to resolve problems regarding resourcing reading lists.  All universities experienced problems purchasing adequate resources – regardless of the generosity of their library budget. 

Skinner found that history academics want their library to provide a broad range of resources (multiple titles not copies), and they are generally pleased with their library’s collection.  However, the history students’ most common complaint is that the library “does not have enough books” (multiple copies of a single title).  Academics want their students to become independent learners and researchers, and to go beyond their reading list.  Yet they continue to provide long reading lists for modules, including recommended reading for essay titles, which does not encourage their students to conduct independent research, and use other library resources. 

To what extent can librarians advise academics on best practice in teaching?

eBooks and Short Loans

Electronic books (particularly multi-user licenses) can be useful in making high demand titles more widely available (replacing the need to purchase multiple copies).  New titles are often published in both print and electronic formats, yet history reading lists often include old and out-of-print titles, which are not available electronically.  Where e-books are available, the format may not be popular with students.  In my focus group with history students in 2012, I was surprised to find that students preferred short loan print books to e-books. 

Traditionally, high demand titles were placed in the library’s short loan collection.  For history, this often meant that the only copy was placed in the short collection.  Short loan collections are unpopular (hard to find, short loan period, and high overdue fines), but perhaps a necessary evil if we want to circulate resources effectively.  One university had interfiled their short and normal loan collections (to the horror of their history department) – but had found that use of resources increased. 

Library Inductions

All librarians had some contact time with first year students, however this varied from 15 minutes, to 1 hour to 8 hours (as part of an academic skills module).  Follow-up sessions tended to come in the second year, as students prepared for dissertations.  Outside library inductions, librarians had little contact with history students, who appear to be quite self-sufficient.  Yet, the students do not communicate dissatisfaction with library resources or services during their course, just in the NSS survey at the end of their degree programme.  Perhaps we can improve our liaison and marketing with history students as well as history departments and academics?

Primary Resources

We briefly touched on student access to primary historical resources.  Do we expect our undergraduate students (to travel) to use archives and special collections at other libraries?  Along with the Russell Group universities, we are fortunate to have a good special collections department, and to have purchased digital collections of primary resources.  Others are less fortunate, and do struggle to provide adequate primary resources to support study and research.

Conclusion

The roundtable discussion was very interesting, and has left me with more questions than answers.  The afternoon passed very quickly, and we could have talked all day.  We can not change the NSS question, the reading lists or our library budgets.  Perhaps we can change the attitudes and expectations of history academics and students?  I will be very interested to read Neil Skinner’s final research report.

 

References

Carrigan, B (2010) History Departments and the National Student Survey (Coventry: Higher Education Academy) http://www.heacademy.ac.uk/assets/documents/subjects/history/br_carrigan_nss2009_20100526.pdf

National Student Survey (2013) http://www.thestudentsurvey.com/content/nss2012_questionnaire_english.pdf

Posted in Service Delivery | Tagged: , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

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.

Posted in Digital Strategy & Website, Research Support, Technology & Devices | Leave a Comment »

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.     

Posted in Service Delivery | Tagged: , | 1 Comment »

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. …

View original 803 more words

Posted in Service Delivery | Leave a Comment »

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!

Posted in Service Delivery | Tagged: , , , , , | 1 Comment »

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 …! 

Posted in Service Delivery | Tagged: , , , | 1 Comment »

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.

Posted in Meetings, Research Support | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

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).

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

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. 

 

Posted in Service Delivery | 1 Comment »

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.

Posted in Service Delivery | 2 Comments »

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 »

 
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 25 other followers