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Posts Tagged ‘report’

Research Data Management Forum – Engaging with the Publishers

Posted by gazjjohnson on 3 April, 2012

Southampton - venue of RDMF8Last week I spent two days in a very sunny Southampton at RDMF8, an event from the DCC that drew together librarians, repository managers, researchers, data scientists, funders and publishers and looked at issues around managing research data.  The particular theme of this event (there have been 7 previous ones) was looking at what publishers are planning to do with data.  It’s an area I can’t confess a broad understanding of, and so it was an opportunity to find out as much as possible about the various activities and consider how they might impact on work here at Leicester.

Speakers
Speakers from the publishing world included Ruth Wilson (Nature), David Tempest (Elsevier) and Rebecca Lawrence (Faculty 1000).  From the scholarly society side of the fence was Brian McMahon (International Union of Crystallography), Todd Vision (National Evolutionary Synthesis Centre. Finally representing the researchers were Simon Coles (Southampton) and Christopher Gutteridge (Southampton).

Publishers and Data
For the publishers there is a strong awareness of the value of data as the principle output from research, and the potential value it has to other scholars.  Elsevier noted that they were planning to incorporate data within “all their publications by the end of 2012”.  However, when the issue of reuse came up, they seemed to indicate that while they wouldn’t be hosting the data that it would be reused under “their licence terms”.  As one of my colleagues at the end commented, is this the beginning of another IPR land grab from the publishers?  I know many researchers whom are far more protective of access to their data than they are of their publications, and suspect this might be a hot topic in the not too distant future. 

It was suggested that unlike publications (which come with the potential for career boosting citation impact) data offers no career advantage to researchers, and as such they would be disengaged from worrying about its storage and public sharing.  There was also the issue of just whom owned the rights to share the data, given that most projects are carried out across multiple institutions and often countries.  Finally it was suggested that many researchers might well be concerned that they would lose primacy of research impact if some other researcher was to come along and obtain more revelatory discoveries from their data.

Hosting Data
The role of hosting the raw, and indeed structured data came in for considerable discussion.  Publisher view points were very much that this wasn’t their role, although they’d be seeking to aggregate it through their data journals allied to their publications.  Sadly most of the speakers went so far as to detail quite whom would be doing the data hosting, tagging and curation at a practical level; with the exception of Brian McMahon who demonstrated that Crystallography has a demonstrable and already in practice data management and curation workflow; all be it one that is not immediately replicable in other disciplines.  For those less ICT savvy researcher communities, the feeling seemed to be that there would be more need of national, regional or local support in these activities.

The presentation from Todd Vision focussed on Dryad, an international data repository for the biosciences.  At the point of submission researchers are prompted to provide metadata to augment rediscovery and use.  At the moment Dryad hosts around 15,000 “data packages” – with one package being outputs from a single project; charged at £30/50 a deposit.  Interestingly in terms of size he indicated that most were ~5-10Mb in size, which seems a suspiciously small size.  My own personal suspicion is much of the data produced here locally would be many times that in size.   Todd’s talk also flagged up the idea of data citations being different to publication citations, in that different authors would be highlighted in the companion data and articles.  This seemed to be the case for many of the objects that Dryad has ingested.

Breakout session
On the second day there were a series of breakout groups, and I attended the one focussing on national/institutional data repositories.  One issue that arose was the risk of allowing researchers, rather than LIS or digital curation specialists, to set the policy on data curation within these.  Many researchers it was argued would be heading on towards their next goal, and may not recognise the potential value buried within their datasets; that they themselves could exact value and meaning from the data sets would be enough.  It was agreed that it was desirable (among those in the room at least) that data was both curated and appropriately metadata tagged.  In addition the variance across disciplines in terms of believing in the value of data, or in its potential reuse was touched on as a barrier or least an area for further exploration on how to overcome.

Belgium - Don't store your data here?One debate that raised my eyebrows was the Subject vs Institutional data repositories as the best long-term host.  The first suggestion was that SRs are more natural hosts, given their transnational capture and in many cases ready, willing and able to perform data curation.  On the other hand a potential future war with Belgium or the USA (!) was cited as a strong argument against the international storage of data, and that institutions would be seen as more natural and long-term stable hosts.  It was agreed that separate repositories to publication based ones would be needed, given the technical architecture for discovery, curation and differing reuse policies likely to be applied.

Conclusions
I took away from the event a feeling that most of the focus and activity currently seems to be on STEM data management.  I learned the phrase “Data journals” as distinct from “research journals”.  I also learned that what is a “trusted repository” is an issue for many in the publishing sector – with scepticism of both subject and institutional repositories as appropriate hosts; and yet a total reluctance from the publishing sector to proffer an alternative.  It was refreshing to discover that far from being in a room where everyone had the solution, that most seemed to be still groping their way slowly forwards.  Research data curation on a large and systematic scale is still in its infancy, but I would not be surprised to see things leap forward over the next 18 months as both technology and policy w.r.t. it evolve.

A twitter stream with comments from the back channel is available.

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LRA Most Accessed Research April 2011

Posted by gazjjohnson on 6 May, 2011

  1. Facebook, social integration and informal learning at university: ‘It is more for socialising and talking to friends about work than for actually doing work’ (Madge, Clare et al)
  2. The Impact of Labour Turnover: Theory and Evidence from UK Micro-Data (Garino, Gaia et al)
  3. Social inclusion, the museum and the dynamics of sectoral change (Sandell, Richard)
  4. Writing up and presenting qualitative research in family planning and reproductive health care (Pitchforth, Emma et al)
  5. Educational Leadership: an Islamic perspective (Shah, Saeeda J.A.)
  6. The propagation of VHF and UHF radio waves over sea paths (Sim, Chow Yen Desmond)
  7. Authenticity in ELT Task Design: A Case Study of an ESP Project-Based Learning Module (Choi, Lai Kun)
  8. A cross-cultural study of predictors of self-handicapping in university students (Pulford, Briony D. et al)
  9. Optimal Number of Response Categories in Rating Scales: Reliability, Validity, Discriminating Power, and Respondent Preferences (Preston, Carolyn C. et al)
  10. Thomas C. Schelling’s psychological decision theory: Introduction to a special issue (Colman, Andrew M.)

The same paper as last month tops the charts for April, and sets a new record high for accesses (1019 accesses!); clearly a hot topic for the moment. Overall this month there has been a rise in all the items appearing in the chart; even while as a whole access to the LRA were down this month. However, the Easter extended shutdown likely affected the levels. Countrywise the same top ten countries continue to show up as last month.

  1. United Kingdom
  2. United States
  3. India
  4. Australia
  5. Canada
  6. Germany
  7. China
  8. Malaysia
  9. France
  10. Italy

In other news the LRA Annual report for 2010 is now available online for consultation.  One thing is very clear – this month’s top item scored almost as many accesses as last year’s annual top item.  It seems the use of research shared on the LRA just continues to rise month on month to new heights, which is a real credit to the LRA Administration team for making it possible!

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FIL @British Library St.Pancras – Nov 2010

Posted by gazjjohnson on 29 November, 2010

On the 26th November I travelled down to London to attend, and participate, in the Forum for Interlending’s (FIL) biannual British Library event.

The day started with Graham Titley, current FIL Chair, providing the introduction welcome and overview of the day. One of the things that struck me was the costs to FIL of organising the event at the BL and the newsletter. One thing that was clear is that FIL needs engagement for and with its members, something that resonates with my recent engagement with CILIP.

First on the programme was Richard Scobie from the BL sound and music collections, who gave an overview of one of the many collections and services within the BL that a lot of people might not have used. As we don’t have a music dept of Leicester this wasn’t of immediate practical use. However, one could easily foresee some of our depts (e.g. Media and Communications) having some call on these materials. I think I was most interested as to practicalities of how one of our readers might get hold of one of these recordings – the formats etc.

Richard talked us through their acquisitions policy, everything from legal deposit through to collecting representative samples from around the world such as sending representatives to record events like WOMAD themselves. A lot of access to materials is through the reading rooms (aka listening rooms), although print and manuscript music can only be read in the Rare Books and Music rooms. SoundServer exists to provide access to digitised materials. Access to archival sound recordings is via a subscription, which is free to HE and FE libraries (unsure about public libraries mind you). I was quite interested to hear about Petrucci music library which appears wiki for music scores, although for the largest part within copyright.

I was a bit frustrated as Richard didn’t show us any of these services or various links he alluded to during the session; which given music support isn’t especially in my remit I’m unlikely to follow up after the fact.

Following this session the group broke in half, one set to tour the BL and the other to take part in a discussion workshop looking at the challenges facing inter-lending, how to overcome them and to generally share experiences with the delegates. This seemed to go down well (so well that we re-ran the workshop in the afternoon with the other half of the delegates).

After lunch Elizabeth Newbold from the Science, Technology & Med Collections at BL talked about her part of the BL. Like Richard, her overview was ripe with detail but thin on demonstration and I confess that I found it a little hard to pick out particular value from her session. One point she made raised my eyebrows – she commented that generally universities are more clued up in the delivery of digital content and materials than the BL; and that the BL aspires to offer the levels of service that we HE/FE librarians do as a matter of course. I was deeply complimented, if not a little concerned that our national library should feel it wasn’t leading the way on these things.

After the workshop re-run the afternoon was concluded with Jason Murray giving a highly entertaining, and hands on demonstration of the BL’s technology for dealing with disabled readers. This was by and far the best of the BL sessions in the day, with Jason’s delivery alone raising the slightly flagging attention of the audience. He raised some valid points about supporting disabled readers and included some interesting points about dealing with students with mental health issues as well. He explained that mentioning a disability scares some staff, but that with proper training and plenty of patience it is possible to offer them excellent service levels

One other thing I did take away from the day was the sheer cost of holding an event at the British Library, close to £8,000 for the day, which meant that even with close to fifty delegates that FIL made a loss on the day. I suspect future events may need to relocate to another cheaper location in London, and include visits to the BL as an add on to the programme. A shame as the BL venue is nice, but sadly the return on the group’s investment doesn’t really seem enough.

Due to my organisational hat wearing role for the day, I wasn’t able to tour the BL, but I’m pleased to hear from Lyn (my accompanying team member) that it was well worth the trip! Hopefully FIL will be able to arrange something along the same lines as this next year (there’s already a March 2011 event going up to Yorkshire), although perhaps at a less costly venue!  Now if you’ll excuse me I’ve outputs from the workshop to type up and try and turn into a useful resource for those folks who couldn’t make it to the meeting!

Posted in Document Supply, Staff training | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Repositories and CRIS WRN event article

Posted by gazjjohnson on 23 August, 2010

Nick Sheppard, Leeds Met University (aka MrNick on twitter) has written a good article in the most recent Ariadne about the Welsh Repository Network/JISC workshop back in May looking at the interaction between CRISes* and repository systems.  As I was unable to get to this event due to prior commitments, it was good to have a chance to catch up on the discussions.

I was interested to note that a CRIS (Current Research Information Systems) can go by many names – given that the UoL Research Office often refer to them as RIMS – Research Information Management Systems.  They’re not alone as many universities seem to have renamed them as RMAS or ERA and the like.  But at their heart they are systems that not only gather in research publication data (and much more), but actively link to other systems – chief among them from my perspective interlinking with a repository.

The question “Is an IR a subset of a CRIS?” posed by one speaker (Simon Kerridge, ARMA) is an interesting one.  Having seen a number of recent CRIS vendor demos, it is one that is clearly approached in different ways by different organisations.  Some very much see the IR as a satellite system, fed largely (but not entirely) by the CRIS.  For others it is more of a subsumed system – with a visible front end peeking out, but the rest of the body absorbed by the greater whole.  I must confess so long as the workflows for such issues as rights verification and data management are still handled by the elite repository administration team I don’t have an especial problem either way.  However, if a CRIS/Repository union means that a repo is just a reflection of the CRIS data set, locked down without the additional resources embodied and ingested by the IR over and above the REF related items; well then I’m a little more uneasy.

The talk from St Andrews’ Data architect Anna Clements (which came with some interesting but not readily comprehensible diagrams) brought up the CERIF standard.  Interesting that St Andrews has been pursuing links to their repository for far longer than many other institutions, which has demonstrated the advantages of working closely together with research support personnel (something I’ve benefited from here at Leicester in the past two years and can heartily concur).

Meanwhile William Nixon and Valerie McCutchean of Glasgow gave a very useful overview of the integration of the repository with a CRIS.  I was able to plot from my own experiences whereabouts we are in this process here at Leicester.  They raised a valuable point about author authorities – something that has long concerned me as an issue to which I don’t have a ready solution.  In some regards I’m hoping the CRIS implementation here will allow us to tackle and resolve this at that point – given that unique IDing of authors is something that is key for bibliometrics and REF returns alike.  I notice William doesn’t appear to have offered a solution though in his talk, which is perhaps a slight concern for me.  I wonder how difficult it is going to be to match an author of a non-REF item that routes into the repository from beyond the CRIS with the institutional verfiied author list.  And what about external additional authors?  I suspect this is going to be a major issue for me and my team to resiolve and one that I’d welcome external insight on.

Finally my old friend Jackie Knowles talked about the pitfalls of implementation – most of which I am, thankfully, already well aware.  I think we definiely need more of these warts and all case study examples though; as at the end of the day those of us working at the sharp end of repository/CRIS interlinking will need to know how to work around so many of them.

It sounds like this was an excellent day (and perhaps in serious need for near future repeating!) and a definite must read artilce for anyone about to establish, or already working towards, a CRIS/Repository interlink.

Posted in Open Access, Research Support | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments »

Is copyright a help or a hindrance to UK research?

Posted by gazjjohnson on 30 July, 2010

Well I know one answer to that in recent months from Peter Murry-Rust, but today I’m reading a new report out from the British Library entitled “Driving UK Research: Is copyright a help or a hinderance“.  Interesting even before you open the 20 page report you’ll spot a disclaimer on the cover – that opinions inside are not necessarily those of the BL, which is rather odd given their corporate logo is slap bang on the top left.  What the report does aim to bring are the view points of various researchers across the scholarly UK community.  

The authors of the essays are listed within, and I must confess having never heard of any of them; which is perhaps less of a surprise given they have spoken to academics across the sector; rather than those working in the realms of copyright.  There is a superb pull quote from Lynne Brindley (CEO British Library) right at the start. 

There is a supreme irony that just as technology is allowing greater access to books and other creative works than ever before for education and research, new restrictions threaten to lock away digital content in a way we would never countenance for printed material. 

The essays are in essence case studies into the frustrations and triumphs, the needs and the opportunities, the barriers and the workarounds used today by academic researchers.  An interesting contrast given in some is that of the fair dealing defence as it pertains more liberally to US academic institutions in contrast to our own, which is a surprise.  Given what I had seen of US (c) related law, I suspected that our North American cousins were more restrictive than the UK; yet on the whole they seem to be more permissive. 

I was interested to note the experiences of some academics seeking to clear materials for inclusion in scholarly monographs, being frustrated by tracking down rights holders.  This is a conversation I’ve had more than once with researchers here at Leicester, not to mention within the course of my team’s copyright work as well. 

From the other perspective one good example of the restrictions of copyright on research is given in relation to music research and the consideration that European Commission is seeking to lengthen rather than relax the copyright restrictions on sound recordings from 50 years to 95.  While arguably academics could find workarounds under fair use, the concern is that the greater body of the public will be locked away from historical recordings as effectively as they are from recent commercial releases. 

Another study highlights the risks in creating a simple series PowerPoint slides incorporating images, films or sound recordings etc.  That each academic needs to be at least conversant with the basics of copyright is a given, but it seems today that there is a requirement for their expertise to go much further.  While here in the library we can offer support and advice (and some of my most challenging and fulfilling conversations with academics in the last year have been in this realm) there are only so many hours in the day. 

Throughout the report there is a sense of frustration in the restrictions blocking the research of the individuals in some ways – and in many respects the commercialisation of the rights for deceased authors falling into the hands of commercial entities seems to be a particular challenge to some researchers.  Again having experienced the length of time and often considerable sums expected to license the rights of scholarly object for scholarly purposes (like BlackBoard) I found myself nodding in agreement. 

The role that advances in technology have is mentioned in more than one places.  I’ve oft-repeated the saying I heard years ago w.r.t. “Leaps in technology, lumbering legislation”, and it seems the more routes and ways that are available to access information for researchers, and the more (c) restricts them, the greater their frustration and the likelihood that they will simply ignore it and use it anyway.  While personally I’ve strong sympathies, with my work hat on this is something that is going to cause difficulties in the future for the sector as a whole.  Just takes one litigious publisher to decide enough is enough, and suddenly we’re in the middle of a shooting war.  Legally that is. 

The executive summary neatly identifies four key areas of commonality, which in brief are 

  • Calls for an extension to fair dealing provisions under UK copyright law to bring them into line with fair use doctrine in the US.
  • Allowing the use of orphan works.
  • Enforcing creators’ moral rights in order to preserve future creativity
  • addressing the issue of text mining and data indexing in the context
    of the barriers posed by the existing copyright regime.

Are the findings eye-opening?  Yes to a degree, but from conversations and experiences in recent years I can’t say that I’m surprised.  One only has to look to the open access movement to see what happens when academics rebel on mass over restrictive rights issues.  This report is therefore a must read by anyone working in copyright in the HE or FE sector today, especially in the support services!

(with many thanks to Graham Cornish for bring the report to my attention, credit where it’s due after all!)

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USTLG Spring Meeting Redux (Afternoon)

Posted by selinalock on 17 May, 2010

Following on from my post USTLG Spring Meeting Redux (Morning), here’s few notes on the afternoon.

Theme for afternoon: social networking.

Advocating professional social networking to academics. Paula Anne Beasley and Linda Norbury, University of Birmingham.

  • The subject librarians are well placed to advocate Web2.0 tech for gathering information via social networks.
  • Found a knowledge gap for those not using Web2.0 or not of the generation to ‘just have a go’ at things & prefer some training.
  • Surveyed staff in College of Physical Sciences & Engineering about their use/knowledge of Web2.0 using a free text survey.
  • Responses variable, but enough interest to offer training session.
  • Major issues from survey were whether Web2.0 tools were secure/stable, whether there was a University policy on using them and a lack of knowledge.
  • Anne & Linda managed to get the College Academic Enhancement Group interested in the session, and all invites went out from that group rather than from the Library.
  • The training session that was offered was originally going to cover blogging and twitter. However, as Linda got stuck abroad due to the ash cloud it became focused only on blogging on the day.
  • 31 attendees for session: academics, admin staff, researchers & Emeritus Professors.
  • Got very good feedback and the attendees were enthusiastic about blogging on the day.
  • They hope to follow-up with seminars on social networking and social bookmarking, plus a support course in Blackboard.
  • No-one else in their University is currently offering training in this area.

‘Do Librarians Dream of Electric Tweets?”, Gareth Johnson, University of Leicester.

The next presentation was from our very own Gareth, who gave a very enthusiastic talk on using Web2.0 technology for networking, and in library services.  Main points were:

  • Why use things like twitter & Blogs?
  • For professional networking, self-reflection, sharing experiences, staff development, answering enquiries, motivating staff etc.
  • Can be very powerful tools.
  • Like Gareth, I pick up lots of useful information and links to new reports via twitter now rather than by other routes.
  • When using these technologies it is important to be human: respond to people, don’t just broadcast, share things.
  • The best use of web2.0 csome when you allow it to overlap your personal, workplace and professional lives, but if you’re not comfortable with this level of engagement it can still be useful when used only in work hours.
  • Important to “find the right tools for you”.

Gareth’s full presentation:

Posted in Digital Strategy & Website, Meetings, Mobile technologies, Research Support, Service Delivery, Staff training, Subject Support, Technology & Devices, Training, Web 2.0 & Emerging Technologies | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Web 2.0 and PEER – reports of interest

Posted by gazjjohnson on 4 February, 2010

I’m spending an hour or so this morning reading through a couple of reports.  One is from the Scottish Library & Information Council/CILIPS and is entitled A Guide to using Web 2.0 in Libraries (weighting in at a digestible 10 pages).  The other is from the LISU at Loughborough (including my team’s very own Valérie Spezi) and is called PEER Behavioural Research: Authors and Users vis-à-vis Journals and Repositories (93 pages).

Web 2.0

This is a handy sized report that while it perhaps tells me nothing new, is an excellent synthesis of the highlights of using Web 2 and social networking within libraries.  More seriously interested librarians might find it a little light for their taste, and the lack of references for further reading does harm its scholastic qualities.  However, for those looking to get a handle on the terminology and potentialities of these tools then this is a fine introduction.  The report moves through the why use it, the benefits and then into the implementation.  It also considers the staffing and potential legal implications of Web 2 (which in itself could have probably filled the whole report).  Finally it looks at integrating Web 2 within organisational systems (human and technical).

PEER

How authors view the whole journal and repository scene today is something that’s been of interest for a few years, so I was pleased to have a read through this report.  By its very nature it is very scholarly and gives an excellent overview of the scholarly communication and publications fields developments over the last ten years.  The comments on academic’s searching habits are quite telling (a narrowing of focus and restriction to trusted searches and information sources, replacing broader views).  From a library perspective the note that the average number of articles read by academic authors has increased over the years is a shocking one, as we try and maintain journal collections against rising costs (although healthy for the interlending and open access communities)

Ave articles read/year

  • 1977: 150
  • 2000: 216
  • 2009: 280

There is a very good overview of the citation enhancement effect of open access materials – and the questions that remain to be answered in this respect.  While it is one of those qualities of a repository that we IR managers so often espouse, there is a certain truth that should we ever reach a level playing field of 100% open access, that this advantage would dwindle to nothing.

The report also covers the dynamic and changing field within which repository managers operate, and the challenges they face; not least among them engagement and education of our local academic authors.  I know personally that I am still talking to many, many authors about the same issues as I was back in 2006.  These contacts are generally very positive, but it does indicate the somewhat herculean task we still face in bringing OA up the academic agenda.  As one academic I know often says “I’ve got so many other pressing and urgent priorities, the repository just isn’t one of them”.  No wonder we’ve seen the rise of the mandate.  And this comment is mirrored on p55 of the report.

The report goes on to detail the methodology behind their work.  I was interested to see that out of over 2400 scholars invited to attend their focus groups, only 21 attended.  I will feel less down-heartened next time I have a poorly attended focus group myself.

The report then moves on to look at the findings of the academics surveyed and interviewed, with respect to repositories and open access.  I would highly recommend any repository manager, and indeed any academic with an interest in scholarly communication, to read through these results.  They make for sobering, if not at all suprising, reading – at best 30% of academics are aware they have an IR.

I was interested to note (p32) that the study suggested arts and social science academics were more likely to deposit in the IR.  Here at Leicester it has been fairly even across the board from all disciplines.  The section on drivers/barriers to deposit is worth looking at (free access in #1 driver, whereas worries over (c) infringement are the top worry).  That said (p41) shows that 2/3 of the sample feel there is a role for repositories in scholalry communications, with most of the rest unsure rather than negative.  There are some good pull out quotes in the results of the focus group, although given their small sample it’s hard to attribute any great validity to them – much as I can see myself using them in future presentations (especially the “online access doesn’t mean the same as open access”

Information seeking for open access papers relates nicely to a question was asked in Cell Physiology, and seems in this study as well that authors seldom look to OA sources to retrieve their scholarly information.  Indeed it seems the grey trade in PDFs between authors (p61) continues to be the major route to access items that they are not subscribed to in many cases.

This is a very rich report and rather than comment on their conclusions, I’d simply point you towards reading it and forming your own judgements.  I found for my own part that a lot of what they elicited matched with my experiences across a number of universities.  The one thing I didn’t get from the report (and perhaps that wasn’t their aim) was the opinion or feeling of academics towards the effectiveness and operation of their institutional repositories.  If anyone knows of any work looking at that, I’d be interested to hear about it!

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

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 »

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?

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CILIP Umbrella 2009 (Part 2 of 2)

Posted by gazjjohnson on 17 July, 2009

After a good breakfast the final day of the conference began with more breakout sessions.

Maltesers mean answers: a sweeter service for students based on user feedback: Angela Horrocks & Davina Omar, Kingston University.
Kingston University talked about their annual survey run every March for many years by the library with a chance to win Wii or Ipod, but maltesers for everyone. The incentive was small but drew in a good number of students. This survey is in addition to national student survey, but helps gets them in the answering frame of mind to complete the major one. The library survey fills a very important need that the NSS doesn’t cover, for both students and library services. Having a clear purpose for the survey is very important, as otherwise the risk of the students getting survey fatigue could be high. Kingston focus on how students learn and this is the U.S.P. of the survey. Knowing the paths students use to access (e.g. mboile/vle etc) is very important in shaping how and what they teach to students, something I thought was especially interesting.

In terms of resources Kingston use software bought in from Priority Research, allowing their customisation, to handle the survey online along with the analysis. There are some issues

  1. The silent majority (10% return on population) and so worries over accurate representation.
  2. Contacting non-users → how to approach them
  3. Setting the questions → to be open and not drive students down a particular route.

In terms of staffing, need to give the staff the time and the top down support to do the user survey. Have to be prepared to trust the outcome – if students make a demand clear, need to respond appropriately. Kingston suggested you might need to think about quotas – departments, levels, ages or other demographic factors that you want to achieve in returns for appropriate representation. Thinking about how/why you might want to include as many of these as you can. Early surveys (1993) very much targeted at specific user groups, thought to be especially disadvantaged or in need. Yearly surveys since early 90s allow trends and rising (and reducing) priorities for student bodies to be clearly demonstrated.

In 2008 reintroduced 1-2-1 interviews on top of focus groups and surveys. A dozen done to test the waters, as an approach to non-users. Also now do additional focus groups at start of academic year to test early responses to changes put in place. Worry survey is contributing to sample already engaging users rather than non-users. 100 1-2-1s done in 2009 – gave a good snap shot of individual user experiences, rather than anonymised, average student point of vein. Survey moved to online this last year (partly environmental) but also reinvent survey (at least look and feel) – still offer maltesers to those that come to bank of computers. Comments and response from previous year’s survey included in next year’s, so the students can see how library has reacted. Drawbacks include lack of benchmarking with external entities, survey fatigue

The changing landscape of libraries: Tim Leach, BDP
This session was about buildings and architectural considerations. Tim said that library user needs strictly speaking haven’t changed in centuries, light and study space for example, just the ways in which we use technologies and building designs to accommodate them. As technology allows users to work in other places than our library spaces, we have to ensure that our spaces continue to meet their needs and make a welcoming environment they want to visit. The UCL masterplan takes the inherent problems with their historic building and tries to provide as many solutions within a limited rebuild. The key issue was space – due to earlier renovations over the years the original building space is not what it was. There is a need for positive first impression from the first moment walking through door. The building must be legible and accessible, the use signage as a sign of failure (not a point I agree with 100%).

Architectural furniture and fixtures define use of areas, and are not flexible but are suitable for certain environments (e.g. where levels of privacy is desirable). However, they can be a block to interaction between different spaces. Natural light and ventilation provide an environment that can be comfortable for most people. Use technology to change way materials stored and accessed, not just treating shelving as the only answer. Even get people on roofs of buildings by building structures into the environment that surrounds them.

The great good place Andrew Cranfield, IFLA Library Buildings and Equipment Section
Library as the third place (between home and work) was the theme of Andrew’s talk. Library environment and impact of the building resign on staff functions – the two are not independent and need to be considered together. Commented that many libraries today remain too conservative in their redesigns. Monopoly of information provision from libraries is now gone, and must address other approaches to provide services to users. Ambitious libraries (buildings) today seem to reflect new ways of thinking – no longer temple of knowledge to stand for generations but a right here/right now environment with more akin to the retail experience. Non-compartmentalisation of environments – books and café culture should be intertwined (e.g. like the idea stores).

Cerritos Public Library has a books entrance way and 1.2 million visitors/year for tiny local population. Andrew talked of his distaste for elitist colour schemes (black and white starkness) much better to have welcoming colours. Very, very white buildings in 6 months need repainting (e.g. Amsterdam central library). Cultural Black Diamond in Copenhagen – no feeling coming into library, almost too far the other way as a cultural centre, but not a library at all.

Libraries Change Lives Awards
The most interesting part of the awards was that the news of the winners (Leeds Central Libraries) was out on twitter 30 minutes before the start of the ceremony.  Andrew Motion spoke briefly too.

Building a successful library Web 2 service James Smith (Sunderland Libraries) and Nick Stopforth (Newcastle Libraries)

The session was based on things they have done and have learned through trial and error. They shared with us their 7 lessons (well 5 as they over ran and the session ended before they could finish) they have learned through using Web 2 resources such as twitter, wikis, podcasting etc. They did demonstrate a very interesting mashup with Google maps, World War II bombing maps of Sunderland and eye witness accounts of the bombing. The session was mostly full of public librarians, who are it seems less clued up than HE libraries on this sort of technology and how/where it can fit into their working lives (3/4 of the audience had not even heard of twitter for example).

That brought the conference to an end. It had been a packed two days, and I would have loved an extra day either before or after to more fully digest everything that had been discussed. The highs would have to include my session, the networking and the updating of information and skills in general. The lows, well the “gala” conference dinner, lack of hands on sessions and only two days for a very intensive conference. All the same I hope to be back for 2011!

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CILIP Umbrella 2009 (Part 1 of 2)

Posted by gazjjohnson on 16 July, 2009

This Tuesday and Wednesday I went down to CILIP Umbrella for the biennial all UK libraries conference. I always enjoy this particular event, as it’s a real chance to meet librarians from across a board spectrum of sectors; not just HE or FE. It’s never heavily populated by HE librarians which I think is an especial shame as I’ve always benefited from the very different insights.   Nearly 700 delegates were registered to attend!

Umbrella has 9 parallel tracks as well as keynote sessions, which means it’s impossible for any one person to attend it all. So what follows is part 1 (or 2) of my notes of the sessions that I was in. I make no claims to completeness (nor lack of bias) but I hope it gives you a flavour of the event, and maybe perhaps guides you towards attending in 2011.

Umbrella delegates gather

Tuesday morning shortly after 10am saw the conference was opened by the CILIP President and Ian Snowly. This was followed by the keynote.

Charles N Brown: Not evolutionary revolutionary (plenary) from Charlotte NC.

Talked about public
Library service and their aspirations, and how they met them in terms of improving library services. Rated 5* and regarded as one of the top in the USA. Saw his role a there to shake things up and people out of their silos. Staff engagement was a detailed part of the efforts to organisational transformation, with about 20% of the whole staff were directly involved. Their buy in was critical for real transformation and their knowledge and experience of what worked and what didn’t was crucial for planning. Also looked to retail sector (e.g. Target) for models that could be used in terms of customer satisfaction, service delivery, marketing and opening new markets. Untapped talent in organisation needed to be tapped, even if the standard requirements for a post are not met (e.g. masters in librarianship) – STAR Behavioural Interviewing. Lots of updates (weekly) to staff on what was going on, brown bag lunches with service director, intranet pages as well as formal meetings as well. Though this still didn’t defeat all of the rumour mill. He ended with a couple of personal favourite quotes “Change should be as common as breakfast cereal” and “If you want to make enemies, try to change something.”

After the session I attempted to get onto wireless network, but looks like once again the Linux based netbook is excluded by HE wireless networks. Eduroam does seem to have issues with Xandros and wireless access, as this is second location I’ve had issues. Yet at Huddersfield the week before, no problems.

After tea it was the breakout sessions.

Captive audiences – adding value in FE audiences (out of my silo): Susan Tailby, Eastleigh College
This session focussed on FE audiences (14-19 year olds)– looking to build up students experiences during college time, and what they can to enhance this experience. One example was taking lessons from book shops. Covered graphic novels and film tie ins as an example of engaging readers. Use reading groups or virtual groups to draw customers.

ID target groups as first step. Start as a pilot, easier to start small. Requirements such as wanting users to listen to CDs may well mean new kit is needed; or possibly just more than you’ve had in the past. Also need to think about what do you do once a particular engagement or activity is over – you’ll have to store resources for example. Need to think about space and disruption to other users from activities, though at the same time can draw in passing people who might not otherwise have joined.

For ESOL Reading Groups the key is to build in time for reflection in any engagement activities – which I thought was a good point, too often much of what we teach is in a deliver and move on paradigm. The speaker moved on to talk about the Six book challenge aimed at adult learners. Noted libraries can be scary for those with poor English. Be creative, build relationships, build self-esteem of students and work collaboratively with librarians in other sectors.

Reading takes the biscuit (Kathryn Harrison and Judith Robinson) Kirklees Council, library services
Major USP was adaptability to users → get involved by making sure the sessions were available at times and locations to suit as many people as possible. Summer 2006 was the pilot scheme – welcome new users in informally and getting them to met staff. Ensured that they wanted to come back on their own. The Birkby Fartown group leaders worried about how to engage with the readers. They worried that making them talk from day one could be difficult, so refocussed on hands on activities to start with and let the speaking grow organically from that.

In the first case this was sewing. They needed a lot of support, but thanks to collaborations with the local school this was very successful – and ended up winning an ALW award for the work.

They have also made a key part of their engagement local sponsorship with people including local football and biscuit company. Lack of captive audience means they spend more time trying to get people together. It is time consuming building partnerships and relationships initially; but in the long run this pays back in strong relationships and easier future collaboration. It also helps in terms of proving value of service, due to the wider number of stakeholders able to speak out about the value the library service has added to their activities,

It seemed from this the message I could take back to HE is that if you want to engage with the users you need to go out to them and engage at a time and place that suits them. This doesn’t work easily with current working practices and would require a rethink of how and why we do things.

Conference meal venueAfter more tea I ran my workshop on visual communication. It was a very hands on affair, since as an activist learner I believe others need to get stuck in as well, and went down very well. Certainly for the rest of the conference other delegates kept coming up to me and saying how they’d heard all about my great workshop and wished they’d gone!

The evening meal at the Hendon Airforce Museum was an interesting affair (great surroundings, ok meal, terrible after dinner speaker) but with great company and excellent networking. I’ll draw a veil over the karaoke that followed. Sleep beckoned before the second and final day of the conference…

Twitter feeds from the conference #cilipumbrella #umb #umbrella09 #umb09

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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 »