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Posts Tagged ‘digital’

Creating PDF/As – issues with protocols

Posted by gazjjohnson on 13 July, 2010

In the last few days I’ve been working on the protocols for converting supplied PDFs into PDF/A format, something I’ve been meaning to get around to for some time. PDF/A is the format in which we ideally want to be storing PDFs on the LRA; and while it isn’t the best digital curation format for our purposes and workflows it is the most practical solution.

However, I’ve hit on a snag that’s made me pull back.  When using Adobe Pro/Distiller to convert them across, once converted any attempts to copy/paste text out of the converted PDF/A format document displays as symbols or gibberish in Word or even note pad.  This is a problem for us in terms of creating the abstracts on the LRA, but more importantly I am concerned that this might in someway interfere with search crawlers indexing the full text of the PDFs.  Perhaps I’m wrong, but I’ll leave that for someone more technically minded to respond to!

For interest here’s the conversion protocol as it currently stands:


  1. Open the PDF in Acrobat Pro
  2. Select File | Print
  3. Select printer Name Adobe PDF
  4. Click Properties
  5. Under Default settings select PDF/A-1b:2005 (RGB)
  6. Untick the box Rely on system fonts only: do not use document fonts
  7. Click Ok
  8. Now click OK to proceed to printing PDF/A
  9. You will be prompted for a location and an alternative name so as not to overwrite the original.


As such I’m holding off for the time being on converting supplied PDFs until I can find a solution – if anyone is aware of one I’d be appreciative of hearing it!

Posted in Leicester Research Archive, Open Access | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments »

E-infrastructure in the arts and humanities

Posted by emmakimberley on 7 July, 2010

Yesterday I attended a workshop on the uptake of e-infrastructure services in the arts and humanities at KCL. In a growth area mainly developing through the science disciplines, the aim of the day was to assess various services and resources that can be used by arts and humanities researchers as well as looking at the barriers that prevent use. The workshop facilitators had recently run an e-uptake study, comprising interviews with researchers and research support professionals, and are interested in exploring the potential use of e-infrastructure in arts and humanities subjects. A database of their findings is available here.

e-Infrastructure services explored include: digital curation, text mining, the UK Data Archive, various grid computing services for researchers, Virtual Vellum, and a JISC-funded virtual research environments project working on ancient documents (eSAD).

 Some main points from the day:

  • Infrastructure includes tools and resources, but also needs to include training and dissemination opportunities.
  • Barriers to use include lack of funding, lack of knowledge of projects, and lack of understanding of which technologies may be useful.
  • Training alone won’t encourage use of services
  • It’s easy to provide support…
  • …but hard to provide the kind of support that helps potential users know which technologies to use.
  • Worked examples of uses in each discipline are essential: proof of value will encourage further use.

The consensus was that these resources have great potential to help arts and humanities researchers, but that there are still many barriers (both practical and psychological) discouraging engagement.

Posted in Research Support | Tagged: , , , | 3 Comments »

USTLG Spring Meeting Redux (Morning)

Posted by selinalock on 14 May, 2010

Royal Society of Chemistry, Burlington House

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Digital signatures and document supply – investigation continues

Posted by gazjjohnson on 19 January, 2010

Following on from this earlier post, I’ve had a couple of very useful interchanges with Anne Bell (Cardiff) and Graham Titley (Portsmouth) on this subject.  I was pointed in their direction and some other folks by quite a few of my followers on twitter – so thanks Mairie, Georgeina, Sarah, Damyanti and all the rest.  I’m waiting on a few other people I’ve contacted, not to mention those on a distribution list, to come back to me as well. 

hopefully this should give me a broad idea of the state of the art in the UK right now.  I’m editing together everything I’ve learned so far into a review document, distilling the experiences I encounter and raising the questions that we need to answer for ourselves before we can move in this direction for definite.  But since others have already gone down this path I’m hoping the only challenges we face are operational and technical, and not legal.

We’ll be having a meeting next week at which we’ll be discussing the initial thoughts and next steps, and at which point doubtless I’ll have more to report back on.

[Edit Tue evening: Thanks to Peter Suber for pointing out that Charle’s site has now evolved in to the Bibliography of Open Access Wiki.  The old site still contains some bookend material but is now static.]

Posted in Document Supply | Tagged: , , , , , , | 6 Comments »

Digital signatures and document supply – an investigation

Posted by gazjjohnson on 13 January, 2010

Like most universities we operate a document supply service.  For articles from journals we’re required by copyright law to collect a signed form for each and every request from our customers; in our case a print off of a webpage.  This isn’t an ideal situation since it means there’s generally a day between a request being placed and the signed form reaching my team – at which point we can place the request with the British Library.

So we’d like to explore moving to use digital signatures in some way.  I’ve started making some initial enquiries with some contacts around the country, but thought it was probably worth blogging about it too.  I suppose my questions at the moment are:

  • What is the validity of digital signatures under law?
  • Are there any kinds/types of digital signatures that aren’t acceptable?
  • What is the best/most effective approach to take?
  • What are the potential pitfalls and challenges (technological or otherwise?)
  • How was it finally implemented/introduced to the community – for everyone or just those who wished it?

I know Cardiff and Plymouth at least are certainly at various stages of implementing this and so I’ve dropped a line to both of them; but whom else is heading down this path and what wisdom can they share?

Posted in Document Supply | Tagged: , , , , | 1 Comment »

Digital Britain – governmental interim report from DCMS

Posted by gazjjohnson on 23 February, 2009

On 29 January 2009 the Government published a plan to secure Britain’s place at the forefront of the global digital economy. The interim report contains more than 20 recommendations, including specific proposals on:

  • next generation networks
  • universal access to broadband
  • the creation of a second public service provider of scale
  • the modernisation of wireless radio spectrum holdings
  • a digital future for radio
  • a new deal for digital content rights
  • enhancing the digital delivery of public services

You can read the report here (and yes there is a executive summary if you don’t feel like wading through the whole report – I know it’s a bit much for a Monday morning for me!)  Obviously, aside from libraries being under the DCMS’ umbrella, how the rest of the country are interacting with the digital society before they come to us will have a signicant impact on how and what they teach us.  This set me thinking that personally I’ve long since thought that the age of pure skills teaching (“this is how you search”) style of library educational activity is dying away; perhaps not totally but no longer as a core activity.  What we need to be teaching more is how to critically evaluate material (“Okay, why is that a good resource?”) as well as understanding your own informational search style.  Let me expand on this (and go slightly off on a tangent from the report)

Sadly this isn’t the sort of thing that can be taught standing at the front of a class of 100+ students running through a demo.  It’s a more interrogative and iterative style of teaching; something that requires all the more that user education from us is embedded within the curriculum rather than bolted on.  Are we equipped to teach this sort of thing?  Personally I’d argue yes; most librarian trainers I know are more than capable of; we just need to find the right in with departments (and I’m talking globally here, not particularly at Leics).  So how do we achieve this?

A discussion we had in the office last week was along the lines of “Should information librarians be effectively departmental staff first rather than library staff first?”.  I know some places embed their librarians actually within departments, rather than basing them in the library; from memory Australia is especially good at this.  Being within the department, physically and strategically would have the knock on advantages of keeping us as librarians better informed of what departmental needs and challenges are, getting us closer to our user communities and ensuring that when it comes time to turn to people to set up courses – well we’re close at hand and embedded from day one.

After all, just how beneficial is it for us to be based in a central building these days?  But I digress.  Doubtless there are examples of this kind of practise out there already; and perhaps we need to be paying closer attention to them to cope with the Digital Britain of tomorrow!

Posted in Technology & Devices, Training, Wider profession | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments »

The DCC Charter & Statement of Principles

Posted by gazjjohnson on 9 February, 2009

The Digital Curation Centre has released a draft Charter and Statement of Principles, and is open for public comment. Well worth a read if you get a moment. The DCC has always been a really useful centre for advice on the long term preservation and access to digital domain data – I know I run screaming from trying to get my head round some of the issues, and am more than grateful that there are people out there willing to tackle this major challenge.

Helpfully in the middle there’s a very nice little statement about just what digital curation is

Digital curation is maintaining and adding value to a trusted body of digital information for current and future use; it encompasses the active management of data throughout the information lifecycle.

That’s rather a good little statement I thought.

I’m attending a meeting in London on the 27th Feb hosted by the DCC where they’ll be talking about some of the issues we all face and the support on offer in much greater details. But in the meantime you can feedback to the DCC on their work at:

Posted in Technology & Devices, Wider profession | Tagged: , , , , , | 1 Comment »

No brief candle

Posted by knockels on 29 August, 2008

This is the title of a report from the Washington DC based Council on Library and Information Resources, a nonprofit body whose mission is to expand access to information.   The subtitle is “reconceiving research libraries for the 21st century” (the title is a quotation from Shaw – “Life is no brief candle to me. It is a sort of splendid torch which I have got a hold of for the moment, and I want to make it burn as brightly as possible before handing it onto future generations.“) and it is a set of papers and things from a conference.

There are interesting looking chapters on scholarly publishing and on changing faculty perceptions of librarians, but browsing through the list of contributors and chapters my eye was caught by a chapter by Stephen Nicholls, a professor of French at Johns Hopkins, and therefore Not a Librarian.   He talks about co-teaching with the library, and what a difference it can make being able to bring digitised copies of manuscripts into the classroom instead of scholarly editions – the world of French medieval literature, his field, is transformed by this, as students can enter more into that world.   He talks also about involving students and scholars in digital library ventures, as well as acknowledging the library’s role in academic ventures.  He ends:

“Since the library is often a separate division in the organization of the typical research university, faculty do not think to credit the library’s role in their enterprise.

But time and resources are on the side of the library. More than ever, research libraries generate projects once seen as the province of scholars working alone. Individual faculty now perceive that research libraries have become the venue for large-scale digital enterprises. If they wish to advance their projects, faculty will have to work with their library colleagues—not only a gain for the undertaking itself but also a sure winner when they go to teach it. At least that’s what I have found.”

The report is at [accessed 29th August 2008].

Posted in Research Support, Subject Support | Tagged: | 6 Comments »

Sign of the times

Posted by gazjjohnson on 7 August, 2008

Just come out of a brief brainstorming for the new digital signage that will be gracing the library’s Help Zone shortly.  Very productive meeting with a lot of ideas of what we could have up on this sign; ranging from the key information (when are we open, rules and regs) to highlighting resources and staff members ready to enable the learning/research experience here.

It will be interesting to see how easy this system is to use, as some of our ideas went a bit beyond the text on a screenparadigm.  The background system driving it isn’t a MS product, which is interesting – I’ve only ever used hands-on ones that used PowerPoint as their core display system; with all the usual foibles of using PP intact.  I’m hoping this might make doing some of the other stuff (moving images, split screen, timed dependant information) a heck of a lot easier on the staff who’ll be running it.

More news on this in a couple of weeks as the hardware is installed.

Posted in Meetings, Service Delivery, Subject Support | Tagged: , , , | 2 Comments »