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EMALink Event On Subject Librarians Part 1

Posted by selinalock on 25 March, 2010

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Social web experiences

Posted by gazjjohnson on 12 March, 2010

I realise it has been a few days since the last post on the blog, but then as term has picked up it’s been a busy time for everyone at the library.  As we approach the Easter break I’m hopeful that there will be time for more posts from myself and my various compatriots on what they’ve been up to in recent weeks.

For my own part I’ve had my head down dealing with the various elements that make up the section I manage, along with a couple of things I’ll be able to talk more about next week.  I did enjoy  making a (brief) visit to the UoL tweetup last Friday.  Being in a such a disparate group of  academics, librarians, administrators and even a visitor from DMU with such a shared interest made for some lively discussion.  Really helps once in a while to push the virtual away and move into the physical.

This morning I’ve been thinking back to that meet up, as I’ve been asked to go and talk about Web 2 here at Leicester from my library perspective next week in Nottingham, on behalf of UKOLN.  Short notice, but as I was one of their interviewees a year ago there seems to be thankfully quite a bit there I can draw on.  I’m trying to avoid the temptation to go to down the preaching route and try and base my talk around the more concrete elements that Web 2 has developed here at Leicester; along with a few life lessons on good netiquette that have evolved along the way.

To kick off writing the presentation yesterday I made a sketch map of my own, personal, Web 2 presence and how it all interacts.  After a few minutes my piece of paper was covered in red ink (my prefered working medium).  I’m not sure if this picture will make it into the final presentation (a version of it anyway) but it did rather neatly illustrate the different roles the different social web services play in my professional and personal life.

I’m looking forward to hearing what other people in LIS services have been doing, and what’s worked for them and perhaps more importantly what hasn’t and why.  These shared experiences are always invaluable for thinking about what we could try next, or even what we should hold back from trying.

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

Repositories and the Cloud – conference report

Posted by gazjjohnson on 24 February, 2010

Now that's magic!Yesterday I travelled (via a slightly circuitous route) to London and the Magic Circle Headquarters to attend the JISC/Eduserve event Repositories and the Cloud.  Billed as a technical and policy event I was a little concerned that it would be too high level, but as things turned out it seems my understanding of such things is better than I thought.  I can only capture my main thoughts on the day, as 10 minutes in my netbook power died and I had to drop back onto my HTC Magic to continue my Web 2 participation.

The day was split into three main chunks.

In the first session Michele Kimpton (DuraSpace Foundation), Alex Wade (Microsoft Research) and Les Carr (EPrints) talked about their repository platforms, and how they are looking to engage with the cloud.  I was especially interested in what Michele had to say; since DSPace and Fedora are now under one umbrella corporation I anticipate big changes in what we use currently as our repository platform.  Talking to other delegates at the event it seems the smart money is backing Fedora to emerge as the sole winner, but I guess we’ll have to wait and see.  I have to confess I’d never even heard of Windows Azure before today, and as it turns out I wasn’t the only one.  That Microsoft are making a play into the repository market is fairly significant, as increasingly it seems that proprietory software platforms may be in all repository manager’s futures.

A lot of what they focussed on (from my P.O.V.) was the using of off-site cloud storage for large chunks of repository contents; for preservation, for reasons of perceived economic savings and maintenance of access.  I was quite surprised as well to hear just what a big player Amazon are in this market; it seems their ambitions in the library and information sphere goes far beyond the supply of cheap books.

After a lot of lunch time discussions we moved onto the second session with Terry Harmer (Belfast eScience Centre).  Terry’s presentation seemed more technical, and so I must confess some of the finer points were probably lost on me.  However, he did raise a point about trans-national data storage and security that interested me.  The fact that under British law it’s not permissable to just host any data about people off-shore is a definite challenge to moving into the cloud.  Then again, how many of us are already doing such a thing if only in a small way.  He touched on the need to use either EU based servers, or ensure that (for example) US hosts had signed up to safe harbour (or harbor I imagine) agreements, whereby they would agree to respect key elements of UK and EU data protection laws, where they would otherwise not apply.

He also touched on the risks involved with using a major host (for example once again) Amazon – by being a bigger target as such there was a greater risk from griefers or hackers in general for DDoS attacks (taking out access to your data) or worse.  As he pointed out, most IRs are far too small to bother with; although I know that this doesn’t make them invisible or inviolate from assault.

The third part of the day broke out into two discussion sessions – one technical and one policy.  Paul Miller facilitated the policy one I attended, and there followed two hours of wide ranging discussions about using cloud resources for repositories.  A straw poll in the room revealed that most participants were using cloud resources already on a daily or regular basis, and a sizable number were doing this for work based activities and even with the blessing of their management.  However, a lot of the group noted a certain corporate or personal reservation about trusting to the cloud to the Nth degree.  One point that particularly resonated for me was the comment that “We’ve been spending a lot of time and energy advocating local repositories as something controllable, accessible locally mounted to placate certain academic worries – to suddenly shift to trans-national locations might well start ringing alarm bells for many of them.”  A feeling that was expressed by some in the meeting, and in the discussions that followed, that while cloud computing options were certainly exciting the repository field itself is still insufficiently mature to go for them wholesale just yet.

Me, and the founder of the Magic CircleThe event concluded with a reception where the discussion continued into the evening, or until the Magic Circle threw us out.  I spent some of the time planning some possible collaborative work with the RSP team in among sharing experiences and feedback on the day.

Overall this was a challenging day of thought and discussion.  Am I convinced that cloud computing is the saviour of repositories? No.  Do I think real economic savings can be made with them?  Not yet.  Do I think they’re relevant to the future of the repository community?  Almost certainly.  It will be a field well worth the watching, and doubtless there will be more about it in the months or years to come.

A twitter stream from the event is available.

[Edit: Presentations from the event can be found here]

Posted in Open Access, Web 2.0 & Emerging Technologies | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

UKCoRR Meeting – University of Leicester

Posted by gazjjohnson on 19 February, 2010

Today we’re hosting repository managers from across the UK, and I’m going to attempt to keep up with the key points of the event here as the day goes on.

10.30: Jen Delasalle (Warwick) and Louise Jones (Leicester) opening the event.

10.40: Jen is standing down as UKCoRR Chair, oh no.  Wonder if I should run? Or maybe I should let someone else go for it.

10.42: RCUK looking to set up a central system to record their research outputs.  So does this mean we need a CRIS as well or is this taking over from local recording of research?

10.45: Discussing remit of group and membership criteria, and the elephant in the room of funding the longer term development of UKCoRR.  Should we pass the hat round each meeting?  Always tricky – once you have funding you are beholden to your funders, be they members or institutional and can be called to account.  Would this change the organisation too much?

10.50: Looking more at the RCUK outputs and capture, and the role of the repository.

10.55: Journal TOCs project – an API drawing on 13,000 journal outputs.  Nick Shephard (aka @MrNick on twitter) will be talking about a project related to this later on this morning.  Idea is to allow searching for publications for local authors, which is useful – but you need to build a tool to exploit the API, we’d ned someone else to build us the tool.  Perhaps this is what Mr Nick will be going to do for us all?

10.58: Role of publishers and repository managers working together with authors.  And the idea of publishers selling us metadata – erm, no thanks.

11.00 Nicky Cashman (Aber) now talking about her work at CADIR and Aberystwyth. Her main role is advocacy around the university.  Noted that UKCoRR now has 182 members, impressive – when’s our three day conference in Hastings then?  She’s gone on to give us an idea of how much stuff they now have in their repository.  first mention for Webometrics – which is interesting as Nicky and I were discussing this last night; how much do we really trust their data – even if senior management love it when we rise up the tables.

11.15: Talking about Bartrum and the Seals in Medieval Wales (SiMeW) project.  Interesting that Aber and CADIR are more embedded within their departments – is this due to the size of the institution being smaller than Leicester?  I’ve heard this comment from other unis with smaller academic numbers that it has been easier for them to work together with their academics directly.

11.20: Talking Ethos and mandates for theses.  Something I’ll be talking about here at Leicester later on this morning.  Currently the’re an opt in institution for thesis deposits, so I can understand the difficulties they must face.  They are a first requester pays organisation for theses, which I think is going to an increasingly popular choice for institutions, and increasingly unpopular choice for readers.

11.25: Aber is doing a survey on ethesis deposit mandates, comment from Southampton that they (like Leicester) are an opt-out mandate institution.

11.30: Breaking for tea.  After this Nick Shepard and then me are on. Not quite sure I can present and blog at the same time so might have to fill that bit in post-hoc.

11.55: Nick and Wendy Luker from Leeds Met talking about the Bibliosight Project (querying Web of Science from the desktop).  JISC RI project .  Uses Thomson Reuter’s Web of Science Web Services (WSLite/WoSAPI) – sadly live demo hasn’t worked out for today, but thankfully Nick has a back up to show us.  Idea is to down load and autopopulate the repository with data from the WoS.  They aim to use it to promote deposit from and tie this into the REF.

12.10: Distracted by sorting out network keys, so will have to look at Nick’s presentation later.  However, he’s now giving us a screen capture demo of how the queries work, which I assume we’ll be able to view later as well.  Plan is to take the data out (as XML) and convert using SWORD into repository ingest.

12.13: Readiness for REF, looking at the wider issue of data capture (R4R), from) Les Carr of Southampton.  Questions about how this works into the workflows of the repository e.g. with so many records downloaded how do you get them in, authenticated and cleanly.

12.15: Some questions still outstanding – see Nick’s presentation.

12.20: Off to do my talk….

12.55: And I’m done.  Got some laughs in the right place, which was good.  Interesting comment from Gill Hall (Herts) that I could have just as easily have been telling her story as a repository manager.  That’s the good thing from UKCoRR, it really is the best community to belong to (well along with FIL) – everyone seems to share the same sort of problems and issues.

12.57: Dominic Tate is now up talking about the RSP, and their new series of events.  Sounds promising I hope I can get to some of those, as they’re good networking and training days.  There will be an event based on the forthcoming economics of open access report written by Alma Swann (June 17th probably).  Aimed at senior university management, rather than repository workers.

13.03: Talking about his work representing UKCoRR as well.  Including the JISC Persistent Identifier Working Group.

13.05: Important for repository mangers to work more closely with their research staff.

14.14: Post lunch and after a whistle-stop tour around the multi-awarding David Wilson Library, Hannah Payne from the Welsh Repository Network talked about their work.  They are launching two new objects on metadata use in repositories.  Also comments about non-standard collections (e.g. ceramics) and how to get them into repository, like UWIC has.  National Library of Wales looking to expand role in terms of collecting and storing digital items like theses, but question about how that relates to Ethos.

14.25: Integrating repositories with the REF and satisfying their requirements is something they still looking at; not a big surprise.  WRN is planning a repository and CRIS event, which will be held at Leeds Met University and will be open to all.

14.30: Question about a cross searching tool, stemming from WRN Google custom search tool.

14.31: Jane Smith now on talking Advanced SHERPA/RoMEO.  Demonstrating the new features of the search tool and the new output, that allows you to add in funder name.  Also records now no longer list all the funders automatically, can opt for none, 1 or all.  Remember DOAJ open access journals don’t all support archiving in a repository, and as these are now listed on RoMEO important to go and check their actually policies.

14.37: Jane now showing all publisher lists and the information you can garner from them.  It is now possible to even generate list of payments needed to make items open access.  S/RoMEO’s monthly updates are displayed on a regular webpage.

14.47: Peter Millington from SHERPA is now speaking about the RoMEO API.  Journals may appear in one or more data sources (Zetoc, DOAJ and the RoMEO journals database).  Different sources may list different publishers, and this can be a problem to identify which is the right one to use.  Who is the publisher, and who counts for copyright and whose’s policy takes priority?  There are some clear cut cases, but where two publishers appear to have the rights, then they may not be compatible.

14.55: Difference between current RoMEO and trial RoMEO being illustrated, I think right now though this looks like muddying the water until things roll out for use.

15.06: Moving onto coffee and copyright.

16.54: Finally back at my desk after cleaning up the room and sorting out the leftovers.  The copyright session was good, but I think we really needed a couple of hours to dig into some of the issues.  But useful all the same.  And with that UKCoRR is over again, which is a shame – I could have done with two more days to really get round and talk to all the people I needed to, and indeed wanted to.  Sorry if you were one of the ones I had to rush by today – I really would have loved to have time to talk to you all – but it’s been a hectic day.  More like this UKCoRR please.

Thanks to the committee and everyone involved in running today’s event – it was highly stimulating!  A twitter stream of comments on the day can be found here.

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

Open Access Week: UoL OA Event 28th October

Posted by gazjjohnson on 21 October, 2009

While it’s not falling within open access week there is still a chance for University of Leicester academics, researchers and postgraduates to find out more about the current developments in open access and scholarly publishing.  The Research Office (RSO) and the University Library are presenting an Open Access Information Event, Wednesday 28th October 1pm onwards (that’s a week today). 

The afternoon is broken into two sessions:

Session 1 is suitable for staff and research students in all disciplines.  Speakers include Christine Fyfe (UoL), Astrid Wissenburg (ESRC) and myself.  The focus is on the requirements of the UK HE funding councils and the Leicester open access perspective.

Session 2 is aimed at staff and research students working in disciplines covered by UK Pub Med Central (principally biosciences, health and medicine).  Margaret Hurley and Alison Henning (Wellcome Trust) will be speaking about their specific funding policies and the new UKMPC grant reporting services.  Finally Juliet Bailey (RSO) will talk about the Wellcome Trust OA fund at Leicester.

There will be a break for refreshments in the middle, as well as a chance for formal and informal questions to all the delegates.  The LRA team will be there in force, so it’ll be a really good chance to talk with us about what we can do to help you fulfil the various institutional, funding and theses mandates here at Leicester; as well as making sure your publications are read as widely as possible.

To reserve a place and for a full programme contact Laura Roberts

Posted in Leicester Research Archive, Open Access, Research Support, Staff training | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Repositories and policy – SUTEr Event at the National Library of Wales

Posted by gazjjohnson on 19 February, 2009

I was at an event in Aberwyswyth at the National Library of Wales yesterday on repository policy. This perhaps sounds like it might not be the most exciting of topics but since I’d been invited to come along and share my experiences in this regard I was happy to attend. A mammoth car drive later I was there. Aber is a very pretty town to visit, but I don’t think I’d fancy living there – it’s a bit Ultima Thule.

The best part of the day was a workshop looking at policy, splitting the delegates into groups of have and havenots in policy terms. I was in the discussion with those present whose repositories do already have policies in place. I found it interesting that whilst we all had used the OpenDOAR policy tool, each had set slightly different policy. I was especially interested during the discussions about the idea of allowing repository metadata to be reused commercially. The LRA does not allow this currently, in contrast Northampton does with a mind that the more this is exposed to commercial re-use the more likely the repository’s contents is to be found. I think this is a good point, and one that the LRA should reconsider – indeed we are indexed by SCOPUS, which is itself a commercial site – so strictly speaking we already allow this.

Delegates hard at work in the workshopAfter lunch we had a series of mini-case studies, starting from Kultur (Andrew Gray). This is taking in every kind of material and all formats, especially multimedia. They have an advisory group with representation not just from senior management, but also research administrators. Also have associate members on the group, who are pulled in from time to time as they are needed. Next was Ann from Buckinghamshire New University/ Bucks Knowledge Archive. They have a PhD deposit mandate and are facing in particular the challenge of archiving web based resources or other not easily quantifiable outputs, e.g. computer games or furniture. She mentioned that they are considering the use of holograms to record complex data which sounds very SciFi.

Helen Standish Manchester Metropolitan University (Espace) talked next about Mandates. Their’s is a research repository and has been in existence since April 2005. They used existing library staff to man it, although currently they are using JISC funding to free up manager time from other duties. Helen mentioned that initially she contacted over 700 academics, but only a handful responded. The repo has about 30% full-text items (comparable to the current LRA) and that this level is something she is seeking to improve. The Re-Space project is finishing at the moment, and has been seeking to embed the repository more firmly within library and institutional workflows. She also talked about their Open Access Publication policy, which is technically a mandate though they have avoided the terminology due to its negative connotations. In essence their policy is to make all non-commercially funded research output freely available…through e-space. They have academic champions at a high level to represent and support the repository which works successfully; although the loss of senior staff (retirement and moving on) who were driving the process forward has stagnated the process of adoption of this policy significantly. In the last few weeks they are looking more closely at embedding the repository into workflows, including EthOS. The hope is that they will soon have a mandate for deposit in place. However, when project ends Helen will no longer be the repository manager; and the repository will need to be run and supported by the library and other central services.

Next Miggie Pickton from Northampton spoke about NECTAR. They used the OpenDOAR tool like most other people to formulate their policies, and also made significant re-use of other people’s sites to clarify other issues (notably Loughborough). She talking about their steering group, which in composition seems closer to the LRAPG, though serves a more strategic rather than practical role. She tried to show the NECTAR Briefing Sheet – clearly laying out the purpose of the repository; to showcase and preserve at the heart of its role, but was thwarted by the version of acrobat installed on the PC. In essence she explained that they turned principles into policy and then took the policies back to the community once they were set up. The University of Northampton annual research report is generated entirely from NECTAR; and material that is not ingested is not considered within the promotion cycle.

Then Nicky Cashman from Aberystwyth spoke about mandates and etheses and CADAIR. Noted resistance to mandate for theses internally, with concerns over student resistance to attend Aber as a result. However, currently nearly 30 universities have mandates in the UK she argued and that Aber risked being out of step as a result. Noted arguments coming especially from the humanities sector, so spoke directly to publishers. They agreed that a thesis and a monograph are very different entities; though publishers unwilling to decide this out of hand. Problem was policies for dealing with printed materials were well hidden, so they realised that they needed to make any policies more visible; something I agree whole heartily with. Like Miggie Aber made heavy use and reuse of other institutional policies. In the future Nicky will be raising OA issue awareness for students and staff.

Finally Sarah Hayes from Aston spoke, mostly about her work at Worcester with the DRaW Project. They drew up (no pun intended) a plan of action to guide decisions, rather than strict statements of policy. On the other hand policies dealing with content going into their repository for learning and teaching materials (CoRE) were much stricter. Practicality forced their hands in some respects as staff can choose whom has access to their teaching materials; but this seemed to be a barrier to uptake. She explained that there is a difference in finality between a research output and a learning object. Research goes into a repo as a final object, where teaching materials can be considered as works in progress constantly and hence this was where the reluctance to deposit them was arising from. She talked briefly about the Language Box software for learning object archiving. This was a very different kind of repository and the policies and challenges around it quite different from those we face at the LRA.

As one of the creators of OpenDOAR, I was very proud to see how much my many months of hard work were actually now benefiting the community.

Slides and notes from the day’s event will be available from the SUTEr Wiki in the near future.  And as before, a twitter feed from the event:

Posted in Open Access, Wider profession | Tagged: , , , , , , | 1 Comment »