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Posts Tagged ‘jisc’

Innovations in Reference Management Part 1

Posted by selinalock on 19 January, 2010

So, on Thursday January the 14th I made my way down a very foggy M1 to the Innovations in Reference Management Event, hosted by the JISC Telstar Project in Milton Keynes. 

I’m going to break the event down into a couple of posts, so this first one deals with the interesting things people are doing with RefWorks.

Telstar Project: Integrating References into VLE: Moodle & RefWorks (Owen Stephens and Jason Platts)

 The aim of this part of the project was to bring together references in a standard, structured format which could be inserted into course materials, and various parts of the VLE. It also allowed students to download, copy of annotate references so that they could become more active participants.

All OU material and sites have to sue the standard OU Harvard style for references, which has been made available via RefWorks. What bliss, to only have one style for the whole University!  We can only dream…

Reference links with the moodle course site have persistent, dynamic links via OpenURL/SFX where possible, or no links if it’s a printed resource. The students can select the references and export into their moodle, MyStuff area, or RefWorks or collaborative area or download as RIS or RefWorks XML content.

Constructing the reference lists: option in moodle to import the references from a standard data set, which then interacts with RefWorks to produce a OU Harvard style reference list. the same can be done via a RefShare RSS feed. The same system is used for inserting references into OU structured course content using a Word template.

MyReferences moodle module: powered by RefWorks. A “RefWorks Light” that allows students to use RefWorks functionality without leaving the VLE.  So they can create bibliographies within moodle as well. All the data in MyRefs automatically appears in their RefWorks account as well, in case they want to use the full RefWorks functionality at any time (e.g. the cite’n’write options). Staff have extra functionality which allows the creation of shared accounts and reference lists.

To allow students to share references within te VLE they can export them from a reading list to the collaborative area. This creates script which they can then cut and paste into forums etc and it will then be rendered in the MyRefs format to allow others users to select/export etc.

I thought this looked fab for OU students, so they can easily get all the references from their course into their own area and create bibliographies in the OU style, which could be cut and pasted into their assignments. Obviously not an option for Leicester as it is based aroud Moodle modules and no mention of Blackboard equivalent.

Feed me weird things: Using RefWorks RSS for new title lists (Paul Stainthrop, University of Lincoln)

Their catalogue doesn’t have an option to create lists of new resources bought/received so they were still creating manual/printed lists for their users. Paul looked for a way to do this electronically using existing or free resources.

Solution: Subject librarians imported new book data into RefWorks ~ shared the RefWorks folder and created RSS feed ~ yahoopipes was then used to process the feed (takes the ISBN & scrapes Amazon for product description), it formats the html and inserts the book cover from Amazon, creates link back to library catalogue for the title & creates a “clean” RSS feed ~ Googlefeedburner then used to create a short URL & allow email subscription to feed & gives usage stats ~ used Feed2JS (freeware) to create a java script that could be embedded in Blackboard etc.  also includes buttons fro links to services such as export to RefWorks, Catalogue, GoogleBooks & xISBN service (allows notification of new eds).

This looked like a nifty and ingenious solution for a service short on time and resources. Paul was concerned about the stability of the service and whether he’s created an expectation that the same thing could be done for journal table of contents!

With our current RefWorks subscription here at UoL we can’t create shared folders or RSS feeds because we don’t have the RefShare functionality, which is a separate subscription for us early adopters! All newer RefWorks subcription get it included (like Lincoln). In response to me asking about RefSahre at the event one of the RefWorks reps told me that all subscriptions should include RefShare in future, so *fingers crossed* we’ll get extra functionality to play with in future.

The rep also confirmed that the license now includes alumni use – which means any student who creates a RefWorks account while studying with us can continue to use that account free of charge after they leave as long as the University still has a subcription. Yay! Just waiting for official email confirmation before advertising this to students.


Posted in Meetings, Referencing, Research Support, RSS | Tagged: , , , , , | 5 Comments »

Online Catalogue and Repository Interoperability report

Posted by gazjjohnson on 11 November, 2009

I’ve just finished reading the OCRIS final report, a weighty 74 page document that looks at the interaction (or as it transpires lack thereof) between HE IRs and OPACs.  I can’t say from reading the report that this conclusion shocked me, I can only think off hand of a couple of institutions where there have been any significant moves towards this.  That said the study comes at a rather useful time for us here at Leicester, as we look at how to make the LRA interact with more systems with a mind not only to enhancing data exchange, but also to make the information within the repository more readily discoverable.

Some highlights that caught my eye

  • p17/8 System Overview: An overview of library OPAC and IR systems in the UK.  A useful set of quick reference tables that I’ll be referring back to in the future I suspect.
  • p25 Services: Those currently supported by IRs.  If anything this is a handy tick list to spot if there are any holes/opportunities in activities we are running at Leicester
  • p31  Vertical searching: I’d not come across the phrase really before, but the idea of segmenting search discovery certainly sounds interesting.  I’ll be watching out for more on this in the coming year.
  • p52 WebBridge: We’ve a links resolver here that we’re looking at linking in more closely with the repository.  A necessary first step to draw our paid for and freely provided information resources together, and encourage reuse of LRA objects by staff and students.
  • p56 Recommendations: A page I hope that will be read by more than just myself – spelling out the potential benefits from establishing greater inter-system interoperability.  Noting as well that only 2% of their sample consider their IR and OPAC as definitely interoperating at the moment.
  • p58 Flexibility:  The focus on bibliographic staff and their work across IRs is slightly odd, when few institutions explicitly use cataloguing staff – although I know this is on the rise.  Certainly our LRA team uses more specialised support for creating records and copyright investigation, but that wouldn’t mean I wouldn’t be keen to explore how our cataloguers could lend a much needed hand.
  • p58 Leverage: I do have my doubts though about the ready availability of in-house experts to modify IRs to interoperate.  In my experience and with those I’ve spoken to around the country, often technical support time is something that is much valued by other services, and something for which the IR has to compete to arrange.  Certainly the expertise is there, but is the staff resource? 
  • p60: Fragmentation: “Forward thinking library staff don’t want [system] fragmentation.” I’d agree, but wanting it and achieving it are a big challenge when you look at the mix of proprietary and open source resources that make up a HEIs information infrastructure.  Certainly we work towards it, but I think we’re a long way off from achieving it.

Others with a more technical mind may well get even more out of this report than I did.  It’s certainly a very useful and eye opening read in some places, whilst in others I found myself nodding along with conclusions that I’ve certainly experienced.  It does offer more grist to the mill for those trying to find support for achieving inter-operability, and it also provides a useful snapshot of the current UK HEI IR/OPAC scene.  While I don’t 100% agree with all of its suggested recommendations I will remain interested in seeing how JISC and the community respond to it.

Posted in Open Access, Technology & Devices, Web 2.0 & Emerging Technologies, Wider profession | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Open Access Week: JISC OA resources

Posted by gazjjohnson on 20 October, 2009

JISC has rolled out a very useful page and set of resources today in support of open access week.

In clear, plain english the page details the case for open access as well as the role JISC has been playing in supporting and developing the infra-structure in the UK to make it happen.  As well as the general overview of the benefits of OA there’s also a selection of resources for researchers, institutions and publishers; detailing why OA matters for them.  It includes a link to a wide range of resources and reports giving the scholarly background information that so many academics crave.  I’ll certainly be reading through some of these over the coming weeks.

The section for publishers is aimed mostly at those whom are embracing open access publishing – be it as a pure OA journal or a more traditional one offering a pay-up-front option (a fee to make an article available as open access where normally it would be available to subscribers only).

Interestingly the site also offers a section on the business case for open access, something that I know is close to the hearts of many senior institutional administrators.  I think this economic case is one I’d certainly like to know more about myself, as some of the discussions and 1-2-1 meetings I have with academics and staff at all levels move away from the philosophical “Open access is good for the research environment” and into the realm of “But what does it mean for the university as a business”.

The site also offers all the reports on a single page at the end, and while I know I’m never going to have a chance to read them all myself – they are certainly a worthy resource.  I can see that this site will be helping me shape the workshop I’m running in December for new academic staff, as well as those I offer to PhD students.

Posted in Open Access | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

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 »

Sharing the Web 2.0 experience

Posted by gazjjohnson on 20 July, 2009

In between heading off to what seems like a conference a week at the moment, I’ve taken a moment to share some of my experiences on Web 2.0 with the JISC SIS Landscape study.  You can read my comments in full, though regular readers of this blog will be pretty familiar with them.  I’m one (of a few) case studies they’re doing as a follow up to their original survey, with lecturers, libraries and institutions all getting a few more details in.   Speaking with one of the as yet unrevealed other case study people I know that more of the individual studies will be going live over this week, so it’s probably worth checking back over the next week (or using one of those new-fangled RSS feeds) to see when the new material is added.

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

JISC Landscape Study

Posted by gazjjohnson on 11 June, 2009

Hopefully you’ll have spotted the announcement that UKOLN on behalf of the JISC are doing a study about those of us in HE and how we’re using Web 2.0 tools and resources.  It’s well worth going along to and adding your comments on working practices, favourites or indeed those tools that are perhaps less in favour (Second Life for example) with some.  It’s being run on a WordPress platform, so if you’re familiar with commenting on blogs, you should find it easy enough to use.  If you’re not familiar with blogs – you’ll probably also find it easy enough.

So please go to the site (linked to above) and share your experiences.  The more comments they receive the more representative the outputs of the project will be.  And don’t forget to tell them you heard about it on our blog!

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

Higher Education in a Web 2.0 – some thoughts

Posted by gazjjohnson on 12 May, 2009

I’m currently reading through the the HEA and JISC’s report “Higher Education in a Web 2.0 World “ that’s just been published on the Web.  A few thoughts and highlights follow.

p8 – “Students are looking for traditional approaches, notably personal contact, in a modern setting…The bridge between Web 2.0 in social user and in learning is as yet only dimly perceived by students“.  I’m taking this to mean that students are viewing Web 2 as more of a social thing, and not a learning activity.  I know talking with people like Alan (Cann) that students can take a dim view of our intruding on what they view as their “personal space”.  There is the broader debate of the where the divide between private/public lies in social media (mine are certainly blended and intertwined) that has to be remembered – do the students really want us being their “friends” on Facebook or following them on twitter – or vice versa.

p10 Recommendations “HEIs to take steps to keep abreast of the prior experience and expectations of their student bodies“. Er yes, always useful – question is how? In the past I’ve been involved in pre-assessing students (for future ICT skills training) and the picture has been spotty and incomplete. Asking students about their skills base is not a good metric, most of them either considerably over or under estimate their ability.  On the other hand, this might mean HEI has to work more closely with secondary education – OK for the UK, but what about for our thousands of overseas students?  Sounds quite a job.

HEIs support staff to become proficient users of an appropriate range of technologies and skilled practitioners of e-pedagogy” Well yes I agree, but this might be with some considerable reluctance – going on the experience of people I meet at conferences, those of us up skilled and enthusiastically engaging in this area is still very much in minority right now.  A lot of time and resource will be needed in training, and from senior levels in advocating staff to really engage here.

p15 I see in their definition of Web 2.0 and social software that “Media sharing” is mentioned, but doesn’t include “file sharing”. I wonder as I delve further in, if the culture of free/open access sharing of information, music etc is going to be included as a consideration.  It might breach (c) laws left right and centre, but I bet a lot of students are doing it, and don’t see if as a problem.  Online essay banks might be the least of our worries.

p19 The Five principal perspectives on the Social Web.  I’m a point 4 man myself (force for good and offers possibilities – IDIC I say!).  I seem to know a lot of people who’ll embody the other points though.

p20/21 Ah good, access and the digital divide is getting  a look in.  I keep worrying that we’ll get to a point of assuming students have a certain skills/access base but won’t require them to have it to join an institution.

p23 “Students may think they are doing this [checking validity of courses] although their methods may not be sufficiently rigorous”.  Oh yes indeed, as I said about p10 – self perception of ability can be seriously flawed.  On the other hand on the same page there’s a good quote in support of peer-peer enabled support.

p24 “Information literacies…represent a significant and growing deficit area“. Not news to we librarians who have (all of my professional working life at least) been striving to get these onto the agenda across institutions (with mixed results).  This might well be the single most important point for us LIS types

p29-32 Focus is on current Web 2 being used, bit thin on details to be honest “Facebook and Second Life presences for most HEIs”.  Would have preferred a few exemplars in here, maybe even some best practice models.

p34-35 Back to focus on information literacies – will it actually mention the key role librarians have been playing here? Nope, they raised my hopes.  All the same what the report stresses are important considerations are well worth the read (if nothing else) for librarians involved in supporting learners.  Which is, let’s face it, all of us.

p37 Some very timely comments about the danger to HEIs in the UK if they continue to focus on throughput and efficacy, rather than excellence and relevance.  I’ve commented elsewhere on this myself, so it is sobering but timely to see this appearing in black and white in this report.

p40 The new learners and the old HEI structures currently co-existing, but for how much longer? One of the themes of this report that it keeps coming back to is that the learning styles and mores of school carry over into HE.  I don’t think personally I’m familiar enough with how secondary (or even primary) educators are training their students in terms of information literacy and ICT skills, let alone their approaches to study and learning.  I’m sure I’m not alone.  Perhaps that’s the key lesson I’m taking away from this report – a need to understand the adjacent educational realms more.  The stark phrase in the report “The next generation is unlikely to be so accommodating” – sent more than a few shivers down my spine.

This is a very readable report, with a lot of very interesting points made in it – if you do get the chance, I’d certainly advocate reading it yourself; don’t take my interpretations for gospel in any way!  Access the report directly here.

Posted in Staff training, Web 2.0 & Emerging Technologies, Wider profession | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 14 Comments »

Modelling the Library Domain

Posted by selinalock on 20 March, 2009

JISC have just released a new briefing paper: Modelling the Library Domain, which is part of the TILE Project (Towards Implementation of Library 2.0 & the E-framework).

Here’s some of the key points that I managed to pick out of the JISC Speak:

Library Domain Ecosystem Diagram from Briefing Paper

Library Domain Ecosystem Diagram from Briefing Paper

– Libraries need to look at providing widgets: integrate resources into web environments of the user’s choice.
– Supply value-added services.
– Tailor content to different types of users & encourage user generated content (reviews, ratings, comments).
– Regarding the diagram above: Corporation refers to content providers (Unis, Libraries, Publishers), Channel refers to the means of delivering the content & Clients are users involved in academic work.
– Libraries can either concentrate on managing and delivering their local assets/content, or look at widening their remit to include working with other channels in Higher Ed (e.g. reading lists, feedback, VLEs etc).
– “The wider role empowers libraries to provide a full set of services to meet a rich variety of locally identified user needs, potentially an institutional unique selling point.”
– More must be made of the user activity data available e.g. circulation data, number & types of downloads, which could possibly be linked through to student information (course, subject) without compromising data protection. This could provide the spark needed to engage user communities & encourage user generated content.
– “captured click streams rather than volunteered contributions (eg ratings, reviews, lists) are the surest source of intelligence about ‘users like me’.”
– If Libraries wish to provide more channel type services then the paper suggests encouraging concentration of services/content fro particular user groups & understand how they can become a trusted channel, the way services such as google are.

Posted in Digital Strategy & Website, Service Delivery, Subject Support, Web 2.0 & Emerging Technologies | Tagged: , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Digital Curation Centre evaluation focus group refelctions

Posted by gazjjohnson on 2 March, 2009

On Friday I travelled down to London to take part in the DCC (Digital Curation Centre) Phase 2 Evaluation Focus Group. Digital curation and preservation is a topic that scares me when I try to address how it will work with the systems I work with, so I was very interested to see what I would learn from the day. That said in essence the day was perhaps more about what the DCC would learn from us about its future direction. I was rather delighted to discover that also in attendance were a few old friends and colleagues including William Kilbride (Digital Preservation Coalition Executive Director), Paul Ayris (Director UCL Libraries) and Neil Jacobs (JISC). Kevin Ashley, Terry Morrow & Julia Chruszcz introduced the day which was about looking forward to the remaining year of DCC Phase 2 (to Feb 2010), and potentially beyond. They noted that while the DCC has spent some time previously talking to DCC members, today was about talking to people outside of the service whom might have some insight to bring.

Following brief introductions from those present Neil Grindley (JISC Programme Manager) talked about the JISC’s objectives to evaluate the effectiveness, outputs, tools and value for money of the DCC’s activities throughout Phase 2, and potential for evolving into a Phase 3. He noted that from today JISC wanted the delegates to take part in the evaluation, and a longer look at what the community and stakeholders want from the DCC in the longer term future. He pointed out that the JISC had earmarked effectively £600-800k for the proposed work of the DCC in a Phase 3, but that nothing was certain. He added that the final Phase 2 report was expected by the end of April 09.

Next Terry gave an overview of the DCC. It was established in 2004 with three years of initial funding with a role to actively offer advice and expertise in digital archiving, preservation and curation research. Four partners were the universities of Edinburgh, Glasgow (HATII) and Bath (UKOLN); along with and STFC (Science and Technology Facilities Council) at Rutherford Appleton Laboratories. The DCC had effectivly13.5 FTE staff for the Phase 1 period (many of whom are part time, so the warm body count was actually much higher – close to 22 actual people). In 2006 it performed an externally moderated, reflective self-evaluation and was funded for 3 more years as a Phase 2; with an increased focus on scientific and other forms of data. This phase effectively reduced the number of FTEs the DCC had available. Terry outlined the DCC’s vision of what their service offered; in essence the UK centre of excellence for all matters of digital curation and preservation; the minutiae of what they do was highlighted in a brochure that they made available to all delegates. He finished with outlining the major achievements of the DCC including their journal, conference and workshops.

He continued repeating that today’s focus groups were looking to review the purpose and role of the DCC, hopefully provide guidance for the next 12 months and establish priorities within the wider informational landscape. The assumption was that funding would continue beyond Feb 2010 and that the work of the DCC would continue in some form.

The session then broke into two groups to focus on the broader issues of how, why and where the DCC fit into the current informational landscape. In these the issues relating to data curation from the various delegate standpoints were discussed. I was concerned this might be at a high level, but actually we were discussing it at every level (with repositories and library view points coming from me in our group). It was a very interesting and illuminating discussion. The groups reported back, and it was notable that the other group focussed more closely on the questions of how and what the DCC should do; where as our group had focussed very much on the complexities and drivers stemming from the landscape within which the DCC provides support and advice. The general feeling is that the DCC was valued by a broad audience, though potentially too large an audience for them to directly interact with. One very interesting point was that the OA community has a lot of experience with outreach and interaction with a broad range of stakeholders that the DCC should be able to pull on. Or at least examine the models and experiences that exist in this community that could be usefully applied.

After lunch we went back to our focus groups this time to discuss the priorities for the last year of Phase 2 (my group) and 2010 onwards agenda. For the long term future the other group noticed that there was a mismatch between the various proposed Phase 3 activities, and the resources available to the DCC. To this end one of the first suggestions was that the DCC could potentially reduce their core staff and enable more activities to be supported and developed within the community itself. The group then outlined how they had divided the suggested activities into priorities and non-priorities.

The day ended with participants feeding back on what they had learned. For me it a much broader appreciation for the work of the DCC, the services they and advice they provide along with a desire to really feed this into my own networks and to advocate the use of the DCC more. I’ll certainly be reading through some of their briefing papers in the next few days when I get the chance. Data curation is a real challenging role for libraries and repositories, and I believe it is one that we’re not engaging with on a practical level to the extent that we should on a day to day basis. If that’s the one lesson I take away today, then it was a day well spent.

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EThOS Moves to Beta testing Phase 2

Posted by gazjjohnson on 20 January, 2009

A quote from the EThOS press release this morning:

EThOS goes into the second phase of beta testing phase this afternoon (20th January 2009). This means that you will now be able to order theses from and, should researchers request theses from your institution, you will be requested to send them to The British Library for digitisation.

You can read that news in full here.  Naturally this may cause more excitement for our document supply colleagues, but I thought you might all appreciate being brought up to date.

Posted in Leicester Research Archive, Open Access | Tagged: , , , | 2 Comments »