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Posts Tagged ‘future’

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!

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

Messages from the plenary lecture at the Vitae Researcher Development Conference 2009.

Posted by emmakimberley on 14 September, 2009

The plenary speakers were each concerned with reminding researcher developers of their formative role in equipping future researchers with the skills needed to enter a changing research environment in the digital age. Interdisciplinarity, web 2.0 and blue-skies research were high on the agenda.

vitaeconference_plenary_b_2008

 Prof. Ian Diamond (chair of RCUK) emphasised that the UK requires a research force who think across disciplines, as well as achieving excellence in their own fields, in order to face the new challenges ahead. These researchers need to be “responsive to new knowledge, new technologies and new strategic economic and social needs”.  

 Prof. Brigid Heywood (Pro VC for Research and Enterprise at the OU) shared her vision of a future researcher capable of reacting to a fast-changing digital academic environment, embedded in an active research community, interacting with other academics and the public on both local and global platforms. This researcher engages in a range of new academic behaviours in a web 2.0 environment. Examples of projects included:

 Prof. Alexandre Quintanilha (Director of the Institute for Biomedical Engineering, Porto) urged the academic community to place less emphasis on the traditional methods of evaluating the quality of graduate training (publication output, funding, etc.) and to focus on training researchers to address some of the major challenges of the 21st century. These challenges often require a mixture of blue-skies thinking and applied thinking, as well as an interdisciplinary approach, involving research methods that have been seen as risky, vague and a threat to disciplinary foundations. Prof. Quintanilha outlined the obstacles facing postgraduates who wish to enter these areas of research that are the most valuable in terms of long-term impact, but frequently also the most challenging in terms of immediate career progression (because of difficulties in publishing and getting funding because they cross evaluation boundaries; unclear departmental affiliation; accusations of lack of focus), and called for graduate training programmes that recognise their role in producing what the research community needs:

  • Curious, imaginative people willing to move across disciplinary and geographical boundaries to follow their dreams
  • People excited about tackling new challenges
  • People prepared for the complex challenge of tackling major world problems of the 21st century

 All three speakers agreed on the importance of developing communities of researchers across disciplinary boundaries, championing academic role models who visibly practise what they teach, and training future academics to be adaptable and responsive to the challenges of a new digital research environment.

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The Repository Fringe 2009 (Part 3)

Posted by gazjjohnson on 5 August, 2009

Day 2 of the Fringe was more about discussions between the participants, formally and informally.

Round table discussion on impact of mandates
QMU, Edinburgh have had mandate in place Feb 2008.  Academics feel a push to research, and especial resistance to OA publishing have been encountered.   The discussions went around a lot of points in the hour including the fact that those with mandates are still reporting a low level of compliance with them (approx 25% at best) after a year.  The concept of whom should be chasing academics to comply, was felt by the room to be irrelevant – the most important role of the mandate is to affirm the institutions dedication to open access to research publications, and less a picture of attempting to garner 100% compliance.   

Round table discussion on data repositories
This was a little above my head but focused on questions of cost of storage, size of data, length of curation and even just what was suitable data to archive

Round table discussion on future of repositories
The focus in this session, looking 5 years ahead.  However, discussions quickly bogged down due to some vocal contributions focusing on the issues of the centralisation of author identification and copyright issues.  To be honest I felt that this discussion was somewhat blinkered byu the problems of the next few years, rather than really looking ahead to the situation 5 years hence. 

Implementing Open Data
This final session was given over to a presentation from US Copyright attorney looking at legal issues around open data and the concept of copyleft.  While it had its moments, it was a little difficult to reconcile a session on licensing of material in repositories with an open access ethos.

Overall.
So was the event worth the 8 hour journey there (and then back again?).  Yes for the most part.  I certainly got more out of the first day than I did the second.  Indeed I could have left at lunch on day 2 and not feel I’d missed anything critical.  It would have been nice to have a pre-event meet up the night before day 1, as I was left twiddling my thumbs in a hall of residence.  On the other hand the informal arrangements for the following evening of the conference while anarchic did make for an enjoyable evening of discussion.  The catering and venue was excellent, and the Wifi worked (eventually). 

Would I go next year?  Maybe if the programme was comparable.  I might hope for more discussion on day one and the presentations spread out across the two days.  All the same, a big thanks to the organisers for all their work.

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The Repository Fringe 2009 (Part 2)

Posted by gazjjohnson on 5 August, 2009

The second half of the first day of the Repository Fringe was given over to Pecha Kutcha sessions.  These are quick fire presentations which followed very strict rules of 20 slides with 20 secs a slide;   giving a maximum time of just under 7 minutes each.  Some of my notes on these sessions were.

 Session 1: Enhancing Repository Infrastructure Scotland
Couldn’t really follow this presentation.

Session 2 Les Carr, Repository Challenges
Researchers are not used to doing science in public.  Repositories need to offer effective and efficient service to all users.  ‘Pimp your research ride’ with repository output.  Repository services should provide a holistic service, but won’t do this alone – uses other resources.

Session 3 Guy McGarva, ShareGeo
ShareGeoa resource using DSpace which handles Geospactial data from people like OS and BGS.

Session 4 Richard Jones, (Symplectic repository tools)
Showed off the deposit tool and user interface for researchers – though the interface still looks very texty and slightly impentratble for the average for academic user in my view.  They’ve drawn in an integration with SHERPA/RoMEO showing the copyright colours for each article submitted.  The system pulls in (meta) data from archive and external archives.  SWORD and AtomPub are the way the two systems talk together.

Session  5 Julian Cheal, UKOLN (AdobeAir deposit)
How get data from academic to repositories – by capturing information at source, using Adobe Air SDK.  The idea brings web and desktop together.  AdobeAir is cross platform so it should work for most if not all researchers.  Julian pointed out that Ebay, Twitter, BBC iPlayer and advertising companies use it.  Academics want this sort of thing, a one button deposit almost.  He demonstrated a quick prototype built in AIR, based on Flickr up-loader – one button was deposit possible.  It uses Names Project for author ID and SWORD for interfacing.  He promoted a JISC event in October dealing with single deposit and all the various interfaces.  I would hope someone from the LRAPG with a more technical bent could get along to that event, as this possibilities of this interface were rich.

Session 6 Hannah Payne, (Welsh Repository Network)
Hannah talked about the RSP inititated WRN recently set up and the work they are doing.

Session 7 (University of Southampton)
A slightly different talk saw the Marketing Officer for Dept of Electronics and Computing describing repositories as telling stories.  Universities are more competitive at marketing themselves now than 20 years ago.  But she noted that most talk about research but don’t make use of the social media resources that exist that would generate a story with better legs (pulling together the project blogs, twitter feeds, other publicity) – giving more meat to the bones.  She suggested in time you could aggregate these resources to create stories automatically, though I wandered if that might have the unwanted impact of doing away for the need of a departmental marketing officer… 

Session 8 William Nixon, (Glasgow, Enrich project)
He talked about bringing disparate research systems (research, money, innovation products etc) together.  80% of traffic to their repository comes from Google and associated search services.  Key elements for success include good relationships across the institution and  underlying policies underneath everything they do.

Session 9 Jo Walsh (EDINA, Tools for linking and searching archives) 
She talked about Geoparser software to find geographic locations mentioned in text.

After lunch their was a presentation on Open Journal Software – an overview of the software that lets you make and run your own scholarly journal.

Enovation Solutions– Dspace Customisations
This company are working on changing the UI of Dspace to offer more interesting user experience.  The speaker talked about work with a repository (governmental), which replaced on old CMS with a document management plug in.  They standardised author names by linking to a find peopleroutine to a central personnel database.  They also standardised the keywords in the metadata descriptors.  They added a news WYSIWYG news editor and added additional content.  In many regards their work took the rather bland but functional vanilla DSpace installation into a more modern looking and more user friendly resource for administrators and users alike, simple but effective.  He gave a few examples of projects they’re working on, but couldn’t name the companies due to client confidentiality.  He commented that that the old looking interface of a repository can really put all stakeholders off using it.  The best news was that rather than offering this as a stand alone product or series of plugs ins, Enovation are trying to feed this into the main Dspace kernal (something I confirmed in discussions with a DSpace contact in New Zealand later that day).

 SWORD Deposit talk
A detailed level talk about a project for batch upload of data at Glasgow

Symplectic
Danial Hooke worked through the Symplectic interface which doesn’t look drastically different to when I saw it last year.  Nor did this session tell me anything especially new.

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The Repository Fringe 2009 (Part 1)

Posted by gazjjohnson on 5 August, 2009

Last week I went up to a two day conference in Edinburgh at the Information Forum.  Glancing at the delegate list it seemed that the majority of the participents were from Southampton University, UKOLN and EDINA and a bit thinner on the ground with actual repository managers.  Before the conference I anticipated an event filled with hyperbole and spectacle, though thin on practicality.  Thankfully I was wrong, and it was a throughly useful and iformative two days.

Opening
The opening speaker suggested that credit crunch is a driver for real change in scholarly publication habits, as libraries and publishers alike have to re-examine closely their financial situation with respect to journals.  Open access repositories or open access publishing become much more attractive considerations in this climate it was suggested.

 

Keynote (Sally Rumsey and Ben O’Steen) – Where are Repositories Going

Sally looked at the historical parallels with the Bodleian Library (in terms of storage and content) followed by catalogues (search).  Users of the libraries resources grew over time, and how they were served evolved jsut as much as how to collections were acquired, curated and accessed.  From this she said the lesson for repositories is one of patience, overtime they will grow just not overnight.  There is a realisation that they act as catalyst for change, and this moment of realisation can be as important as the change itself.  What we are beginning to see is the migration from simple single repository as storage, and they’re integration to other services (ala the REF and moves to embed within the RIS) and systems.  Therefore repositories are becoming a set of services.  Repository staff are catalysts for change within the institution, since they speak across and with people in all levels and sections of an institution. 

 Ben spoke about how the Internet can be viewed as a distributed repository, where services and storage should be separate; and in this way be robust – the loss/upgrade of one will not devastate.  Therefore Ben suggested looking at ways to make your IR work more like the Web does.  People search for things, elements of information, not the whole documents – not the packages they come in.  I didn’t 100% agree with this view point from what I know of Arts & Humanties researchers whom doubtless want the entirety of a document.  However, I can agree that it is a interesting point for STM researchers.

Sally moved on to say that policies should be driving everything that goes in and out of repositories; though many still lack real preservation policies.  Assured secure storage and permanent access needs to be well-managed.  This was a topic that came up again in discusions I had around the Fringe, and a potential area for IRs in the UK to think about practically in the future much more. 

The talk moved on to suggest that repository people are reinventing too many wheels; for example don’t get materials out of mainstream repos (e.g. Slidehare/Flckr etc) just link out to them. Sally showed a very complex diagram from Bill Hubbard of how a researcher now has to deal with funder mandates.  Current open access publishing models and options are too complex currently, but are likely to continue for some time.  Interestingly this had raised worries about versioning from academics and an increased need for automation (self-archiving) in order to deal with the levels of ingest.  She also mentioned that the Nature Publishing Group is now offering an automatic deposit service into subject repositories, and perhaps will also do this for IRs in the future. 

Ben talked about disproportionate feedback loops, like high scores in video games – they seem trivial but seem to satisfy far more than you’d expect.  In this way usage stats and reuse stats are major satisfiers for academics when they look at their papers in a repository; something I agree with in my experience here and at Nottingham.  He also said that increasingly there’s a need for access to the entirety of research output, since the research article is only summary of the whole body of work.  Thus data archiving becomes more critical as well as ensuring multiple objects across multiple repositories can be linked together readily. 

There was asuggestion that repos are currently in the trough of disillusionment in the hype cycle which means the move to steady productivity remains as of yet elusive. 

Finally the talk looked at three current crucial trends: (1) entering period of steady growth and change, (2) embedded withing a set of services at institution systems and (3) the need for unique name identification of authors.  Other areas of concenr include the need for continued collaboration with all research stakeholders and for the long term access to research 

 

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The End of Institutional Repositories! (or not)

Posted by gazjjohnson on 24 July, 2009

I’ve just been reading an article “Basefsky, Stuart. (2009). The end of institutional repositories and the begining of social academic research service: An enhanced role for libraries.“.  With such a shocking title you’d expect revlations of a major order, and to be honest the opening page or so does rather continue in that vein.  Indeed there’s a slightly superior author style that runs through the whole paper that rather grated on me as I read it.  That said Stuart does raise some interesting points on the first couple of pages about the driving forces and assumptions behind the creation of institutional repositories (IR).

The idea behind the paper is that librarians and academics should be working together more closely, using social media and other tools in support of the research process of a whole.  I can certainly support that, and hope through the local contacts I have via twitter here at UoL that in some small way I’m already offering that level of service.

He goes on to consider the generally understood paradigm underlying IRs (the shop window/increased exposure to academic research) to be only one opportunity – as he puts it “Is this all the value we can extract from an IR?”.  This is a theme I was hoping he’d explore in more detail later in the paper, but this rather seems to disappear as the second half of the paper dissolves into an effective list of “things I am doing”, rather than maintaining this earlier scholastic tone.

He does make some good points along the way nevertheless.  When talking about the partnership twixt libraries and institutional repositories he comments

“Libraries welcomed this attention since they were fearful of being marginalised…IR would help the library maintain an important role in academic life in this time of disruptive technological change”

However, he than makes some rather caustic comments about the lack of vision of library services, suggesting their involvement in repositories is merely an attempt to maintain visibility and apparent viability in the new media age; rather than an actualised devotion to enabling further scholastic endeavour.  I take issue with these statements somewhat.  Perhaps two or three years ago this was a more robust argument, but certainly in the major research universities like Leicester this is not so.  The repository is at the heart of the institutions preparations for REF and visibility of research.  As the repository manager increasingly my time is spent working with the Research Office, or discussing research visibility issues with our academics, helping them do more with what we have.  Not to mention making them aware of the developing scholastic publishing landscape.

The next third of the paper focuses more inwardly on the Catherwood Library, so is of less immediate interest or relevance to the casual reader.  However, with this framework the author then extends his views point to wider library scene; pausing only for a barbed comment about library leadership that I shall pass over.

He does have a salient point here that I agree with “too many libraries take the attitude that if they build it users will come”.  I think this is an unfortunate truism about the library sector.  We have many enthusiasts for new services and resources, and too often we offer them on an already overloaded information platter.  As a LIS researcher and project manager at heart, I always believe that we should be answering real needs with our services and making informed decisions based on an strong evidence base.  Indeed he spends the next page making his argument, which seems useful if overlong by the end.

As I mentioned earlier the rest of the paper is a guide to services that the author has employed in the deliverance and indeed furtherance of the research support agenda.  It seems strangely at odds with the earlier half of the paper, moving to pure practicality from scholastic theory and review.  In many regards I would have been interested to read this in some more detail as a paper in its own rights.

Finally he devotes the last page to suggested new directions and possibilities for supporting academic endeavour.  However, what he fails to do (IMHO) is explain the challenge of his title.  Throughout the work whilst he points out the arguable flaws in IRs and their implementation and exploitation by libraries and institutions, he does not clearly to my mind exposit exactly why IRs days are (in his view) numbered.

Thus this is a flawed but detailed and intriguing article to read that anyone working with research support, IRs or indeed academic libraries should take a few minutes to glance through.  You may have other insights that differ to mine, so let me know your thoughts!

Posted in Open Access, Research Support, Web 2.0 & Emerging Technologies, Wider profession | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments »

Libraries of the Future dissected

Posted by gazjjohnson on 23 July, 2009

Watching the recently released JISC Libraries of the Future video.  Some reactions and thoughts, with time stamps so you can jump to the right point.

  • 00:20 Long intro for a 9 min video
  • 00:32 Indeed, the physical space of the library isn’t the be-all and end all anymore.  Nor has it been to be honest all the years I’ve been a professional.
  • 00:45 Who are these people?  On screen names might have been a good idea – most of these talking heads haven’t got immediate recognition factor (I know if I’d been on there no one would know I was without a caption!)
  • 01:12  First mention of Google.  Is this the library of the future?  These two guys I will say are pretty typical of most of my students.
  • 01:25 Oh that’s who she is, Director of Oxford Libraries. Would have been useful to know earlier.
  • 01:39 Yep, mobile devices are the future (and indeed present) of an increasing number of students accessing information.  How many of our information resources we provide are m-compatible?  Indeed hands up those of you who have access to mobile devices comparable to the students to test them out?  Thought so…
  • 01:50 More clued up information literate student comments.  Uses books too, that’s a shocker – can’t be a scientist.
  • 02:12 Technology as enabler not driver?  I think it’s a bit of both personally.  24/7 global access is real demand, and usually satisfied I’d say.  24/7 support on the other hand…
  • 02:40 Really warming to Sarah Thomas (Oxford).  Never met her, but she seems an insightful individual.
  • 02:53 Oh now you suggest technology is a catalyst for change as well. 
  • 03:00 Technology lets you work smarter, but you have to change to make use of it. Yep, agree, old paradigms just don’t hold in Library 2.0.
  • 03:20 Popular themes for libraries of the future.  First talking head still talking about the library as a physical space, I think less and less that the space will be so crucial.  But that’s only opinion.  But a fair point raised about study space, rather than storage space as a crucial continuing role.
  • 03:58 The library will be like a bee hive?  Filled with workers, and drones thrown out to die when their purpose is through?  Not quite the enabling metaphor I’d have hoped for.  I don’t think bees show excitement, more a work ethic.
  • 04:25 Sounds like the DWL fullfils many of these criteria for a future library, which is quite heartening.
  • 05:06 Libraries as contributors to knowledge base.  Nothing new, this is what we’ve been doing for years, exposing our catalogues, websites and information and making sure the metadata is discoverable.  Certainly the repository is doing this!
  • 05:13 What does the future hold for the librarians?  Early retirement somewhere hot would be nice.
  • 05:29 The old fashioned librarian is a “detail oriented, highly introspective individual”. Erm, not me then, ah but the modern librarian is an entrepreneurial, enthusiastic and more outward looking.  Yeah, that’s me, clearly I’m future proofed.  But what do we do with all the old librarians who don’t meet this specification? Retrain?
  • 05:55 Loss of face to face contact with users.  Sad but true, hence the need to engage with them through other channels.  Blogs, twitter etc.
  • 06.28 Academic image and card catalogue juxtaposed.  Surely no one is using those in academia anymore?
  • 06:39 This video brought to you by JISC and the number 9.
  • 07:12 Libraries need to change the way they work and support learning, teaching and research.  Ah, but many of us are already.  Good to hear about levels of investment from JISC though towards this end.
  • 07:51 The sound track hardly screams modern with its classical violins.
  • 08:16 Global environment, but no mention of potential competitors for library services.  Whither Google University and the like.  I think there are some big sharks out there that we need to be aware of, ready to pounce unless we’re more mobile/adaptable and promoting the real USPs that we libraries and librarians offer to our fee paying users.
  • 08:29 This year long JISC campaign and debate, don’t recall engaging in it myself.  Or is this the start of the debate, discuss!
  • 08:56 Libraries are happening places.  Groovy man.
  • 09:12 Agree, libraries need to act now and plan to meet the future challenges. 

Well that was well worth watching, despite my misgivings at the start.  Quite a bit of food for thought, even if most of the conclusions and points raised were hardly news to me.  So the debate has begun.  But at what level will it happen?  Since all these talking heads were either very senior librarians or students, I didn’t see a lot of input from those of us exploring, experimenting and adapting technologies and techniques.  Then again, I am blogging about this – so maybe I am starting to kick into the debate. 

Okay people – what do you think?

Posted in Digital Strategy & Website, Technology & Devices, Wider profession | Tagged: , , , , , , | 8 Comments »

Showdown at the KO Corral

Posted by gazjjohnson on 22 April, 2009

It might not have escaped your notice in recent months, but there’s been a Web 2.0 storm brewing twix CILIP and some of the more vocal Web 2.0/social networking proponents in the sector. No, sadly not me – I’m more garrulous than vocal.  It all stems from an original posting by CILIP Chief Exec Bob McKee All of a Twitter, which by now more than eleventy million people have commented on (well, close).    Well known tech evangelist and sci-fi fan Phil Bradley crafted the most marvellous reply which about the same number of people (yours truly among them) commented on.

It has rather illustrated to myself at least, an organisation that is supposed to be leading on information and communication rather getting stuck in the past.  And this at a time when CILIP’s long term future is ever in doubt, given the state of its finances.  I think it would be a real shame if this were to be the lemming onto the bonnet that sent the CILIPmobile hurtling over the cliff.  I’ve got a lot out of my engagement with the membership and the executive team down in London over the years, and it would leave a bit of a void in my professional life.

But not an irreplaceable one.  Given my networks on Facebook, twitter and in real life that I have available there are already many (in some cases more relevant and immediate) ways in which I get my professional support, training, advocacy and development. 

However, to give CILIP its due, they have rallied and invited Phil, along with Brain Kelly, to address their Council and interested parties in open session on the 29th April.  I’d love to be there, but the chances of getting work to stump up hundred plus quid for a two hour afternoon discussion session are somewhere between “none” and “less than zero”.  There isn’t a live Web feed (for shame!) but at least they have announced a hashtag(#CILIP2) for the event; so the twitter enabled will be able to tell us more.  I’ve already marked the date in my diary and will be following the developments withinterest (and probably making the odd comment myself).  As I know one or two CILIP folk who are already tweeting (huzzah) I hope there will be a good steady feed of information for those of us out here in the barren wilderness beyond the M25…

Posted in CILIP, Web 2.0 & Emerging Technologies, Wider profession | 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 »