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Posts Tagged ‘management’

Symplectic User Group Conference 2011

Posted by gazjjohnson on 25 May, 2011

This Tuesday saw me down in London once again (a whole 4 days since my last trip down for CILIP Council) for the Symplectic User Conference 2011 at Hamilton House – so here are my notes – apologies for any typos as I was typing these on my knee! 

The day was split in two with talks in the morning and workshops in the afternoon.  Daniel Hook kicked off the day by announcing that Symplectic had partnered with Digital Science to work in the open science community.

Hamilton House, London - venue for the dayThe first speaker was Lorna Mitchell of the Brunel University talking about the BRUCE project.  She mentioned BRAD (their Symplectic Elements) and repository BURA (which coincidentally I helped formally launch back in 2006).  They have linked BRAD and BURA together, although they noted that this was a longer process than they expected.  They both a mandate, of which many academics remain unaware, but also a OA publishing fund for researchers to bid to for OA publishing.

BRUCE was a JISC funded project.  Their aim was to facilitate the analysis and reporting of research information from existing data sources, using a CERIF framework. It brings together a lot of different sources of information from across the university system and generates bespoke reports based on them.  While the focus is often the REF, there are other university management areas of interest for the outputs.

The next speakers (Sarah Mallory, Rachel Proudfoot and Nicola Cockarill) spoke about the RePosit project (I’m on the expert group for this one).  The aim of the project was to increase the engagement with repositories to generate more content for them.  A lot of the focus was on advocacy but also to engage with the repository community as well.  The project has 5 HEI and one commercial partners, using one CRIS and 5 different implementations.  The question they asked was does simplifying the process of deposit increase the level of ingest for the IR.  At Queen Mary part of their problem was low visibility, and so their engagement with stakeholders aimed to get them up the agenda.  Embedding it within college strategies was key in this respect.

Plymouth  rolled out their SE alongside their repository (PEARL) – but noted it was tricky in terms of time.  Not for the first time we head about how much of a time sink setting up crosswalks between SE and the repository has been too; something I know will occupy a lot of my time in the coming months.  Plymouth are considering moving to a self-deposit model, as they feel this mirror the model of staffing and library service.  However, noted that speaking with other repository managers Emma noted that there were various concerns to address.  Their advocacy was met with mixed reception, some were very enthusiastic.  For others though they struggled to see where it fitted in with their research outputs.  However, illuminating academics with the knowledge of how restrictive (or not) publishers in their sector are with open access is a role all subject librarian staff should be very experienced and engaged with.  Highlighting metrics of downloads and demonstrating that students want or indeed expect to be able to download their local academics research from the repository, important for keeping student experience levels high.

The third case history was from White Rose Repository Online (Leeds, Sheffield and York) where a similar experience to Leicester, 25% engagement from academics even after a protracted advocacy campaign including direct email contact.  Awareness of WRRO was generally low.  Making deposits as easy as possible was a major point, as academics are simple creatures with time poor lives.  They also suggested that there is a need to build a community of interest in CRIS related systems, not solely within Symplectic but across the IR, research support and IT environment.

Next up was Jonathan Breeze talking about research data management, from more of an IT and data life cycle POV.  Researchers think a lot about their data but how do you keep it or even what do you keep.  Research funders are increasingly expecting or requiring data as well as publications to be shared, and curated for long-term access.  Ownership of data is unclear, even within the institutions let alone whom or how this will be captured and stored.

Finally for the morning Peter Murray-Rust made a call for open bibliographies.  He declined to use PowerPoint or PDF on the grounds that they “Destroy information”.  He went on to say that we should use volunteers to gather bibliographic data rather than paid for systems.  He spoke a lot about community performing the data gathering or aggregation functions, but I must confess that while he raised some interesting points practically I think a lot of what he talked about was aspirational rather than functional.  Most academics I’ve worked with over the years have very little interest in collating the literature, they’re more focussed on their own area of research and outputs.  What Peter was suggesting was certainly laudable, and may have worked in the isolated examples he suggested but one has only to look to the Arts or Social Sciences to see where the technical knowledge or awareness may prevent many academics from engaging with his one.

After a sandwich free (but tasty) lunch we broke into two groups for workshops.  The one I was at looked at new REF functionalities for Symplectic, which as I’ve yet to have much hands on experience; and given this is more the research office’s forte, left me a bit flat.  Then we went into groups to discuss where the problems with REF submission functionality in Symplectic will be.  Again, somewhat out of my area of knowledge so not something I felt informed enough to contribute to.

All in all there was a lot to talk about with the other delegates on the day, and I especially benefitted from conversations with a number of my fellow repository managers; focussing on the implementation side of Symplectic Repository Tools.

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

Introduction to Management in LIS and IT

Posted by gazjjohnson on 14 December, 2009

Last week I spent three days on a Leadership Foundation for HE course on management, specifically aimed at Library and IT people working as middle management for the first time.  I’ve always enjoyed management training (it formed a rich part of both my previous degrees), and welcomed the opportunity to go on this.  I must say especial thanks to the Staff Development Office for funding my attendance too.

One thing I’ll be up-front about were the rules of the room – anything we discussed in-depth with real world implications had to stay in the room.  It made for a very free and frank exchange of experiences, but it’s a bit of a shame as I would love to tell people more about them.  But those where the rules, and far be it from me to breach them.

What I really learned was that a lot of people in positions similar to mine face a lot of the same challenges – and with the delegates taken entirely from HE we had a lot in common to start with, even based as we were around the UK.  Quite a bit of what we covered wasn’t new to me, although much of it was well worth going through again.  Some aspects and topics were on the other hand quite new – Edward de Bono’s colour of hats for thinking/decision making is one that really resonated with me.

The three days started with the personal, taking stock of ourselves and our skills using a Myers/Briggs test – which for most of us revealed what we already knew.  However, being aware of it allowed us to shift roles within the group exercises to make maximum advantage of our proclivities and talents.  From team roles and effective communication we shifted to people management and motivation on the second day.  Then leading, delegation along with problem solving.  The last day looked at managing yourself and real world issues and examples.

Throughout this was a very hands on, kinesthetic course with exercises, management games, discussions and tasks.  Very much my prefered way of working, although I’m still quite tired out by it all some days later.  it was just that full on an experience.  Certainly the 24 people on the course bonded quickly in the face of this shared adversity, and discussions over drinks and food continued long into the night.

Our team's effort - in 15 minutesOf especial worth of mentioning were the two extensive business management exercises.  The first looked at setting up a Dot.com buisiness from concept to pitch.  As the team (and possibly the room’s) biggest extrovert communicator I can honestly say my role as Executive Head of marketing was a plum role; indeed one of the other teams started bidding for my services.  The other exercise saw me heading a team, with very limited resources, in construction of a ship – to be judged against predefined characteristics.  While we didn’t win, our team worked effectively and efficiently – and at least we produced by far the best looking boat.

There may be an underlying metaphor there – but I’ll skip on.

If there was a low point for me it would be the talk from the real head of service.  Contrasted with the interactivity and engagement of the rest of the course it felt dry, and I can;t say I took away anything of especial value from it.  Not helped by the fellow legging it as soon as he finished talking, a debate and discussion about translating theory to practice at senior level would have been a wonderful capstone.

But I have come back with a lot to think about, and the feeling that I’m not alone in the daily challenges I face (from the minor to the not quite so).  I’d love to take some of the ideas further, and will certainly be following up some of the suggested reading to broaden my understanding of the concepts and techniques covered.

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Documenting my morning

Posted by gazjjohnson on 19 August, 2009

As I’ve mentioned earlier from the 1st of October I’ll be switching jobs to managing the repository and the document supply teams (or as they will be then the Document Supply & Repository Team, aka DS&RT).  While this date is a few months off, I’m already increasingly getting myself involved with the team and offering them what support I can. 

It is of course a big learning experience for myself, having never worked directly with inter-lending before.  So as a result of this, and being a very much activist learner, I’ve spent the morning shadowing one of the experienced members of the team (Marilyn) as she goes through their daily routine.

There was a lot to remember, and I have to say I was very impressed by her efficiency.  It looks like while a lot of the Document Supply role is routine in nature, there are many disparate elements to the job.  And this is even before I find out more about what we do with Distance Learner support!  There are also a healthy number of queries which thankfully I’ve been able to take a back seat to while the more experienced members of the team answer them.  Doubtlessly in time as I become embedded with the team I’ll be able to answer them myself, but right now I think that there would be a lot of very confused people out there if I took a hand.

Thus all in all this has been a very eye opening experience.  There was a lot to take in, quite a few things I’m going to need to think about some more and some very useful questions raised.  It might be a daunting prospect taking on managing such a diverse section at a time of real change for them, but I’m really looking forward to getting stuck in!

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Hail and farewell…or not

Posted by gazjjohnson on 27 July, 2009

There comes a time when you know you need to move on.  And following a job interview today, well that time has come for me.  I’ve learned a lot and shared some valuable experiences with the team of information librarians at Leicester, and I hope in part I’ve been able to show them a thing or two.  Or even three.  But soon that will be behind me.

But don’t despair blog readers, I’m not going far.  Actually literally.  I’ll be moving around 15 feet to my new post as our Document Supply and Repository Manager, bringing my experience of repositories, projects and service delivery into focus with a bigger team.  It’s going to be a challenge, and frankly I’ve a lot to learn.  But once again, I know my team will have something to learn from me.

Even if it’s only to occasionally read the blog posts!  But for now, I’ll be continuing in my current post as we agree a handover date for me to move finally to my new home.

Posted in Leicester Research Archive, Wider profession | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »