UoL Library Blog

Develop, debate, innovate.

Posts Tagged ‘review’

Open Access Week 2010: What did we learn

Posted by gazjjohnson on 25 October, 2010

So that was it for Open Access Week 2010, and while we weren’t perhaps bowled over by the number of academics we got to see during it (happening during half-term can’t have helped) those we did see were fulsome with praise for us coming out to them.  Certainly it’s something I’ll happily keep offering throughout the year, given that it still netted us an additional 101 full text publications for deposit onto the LRA, and I’ll be encouraging the team to get this on as a matter of priority.

Time to start planning open access week 2011 I guess!  Thanks to all those who took part and supported us throughout, it was very much appreciated.

Posted in Leicester Research Archive, Open Access | 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 »

REF Pushed back to 2013/14

Posted by gazjjohnson on 12 July, 2010

It’s not come as a big shock to anyone that the new Government have made good on one of their pre-election promises to push back to the REF-2012.  You can read more about it and the response from the sector at the following locations:

What this means for Leicester will be interesting to explore over the coming weeks, with especial reference to the preparations for REF that are already underway and the LRA in particular.

Posted in Research Support | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Digital signatures and document supply – investigation continues

Posted by gazjjohnson on 19 January, 2010

Following on from this earlier post, I’ve had a couple of very useful interchanges with Anne Bell (Cardiff) and Graham Titley (Portsmouth) on this subject.  I was pointed in their direction and some other folks by quite a few of my followers on twitter – so thanks Mairie, Georgeina, Sarah, Damyanti and all the rest.  I’m waiting on a few other people I’ve contacted, not to mention those on a distribution list, to come back to me as well. 

hopefully this should give me a broad idea of the state of the art in the UK right now.  I’m editing together everything I’ve learned so far into a review document, distilling the experiences I encounter and raising the questions that we need to answer for ourselves before we can move in this direction for definite.  But since others have already gone down this path I’m hoping the only challenges we face are operational and technical, and not legal.

We’ll be having a meeting next week at which we’ll be discussing the initial thoughts and next steps, and at which point doubtless I’ll have more to report back on.

[Edit Tue evening: Thanks to Peter Suber for pointing out that Charle’s site has now evolved in to the Bibliography of Open Access Wiki.  The old site still contains some bookend material but is now static.]

Posted in Document Supply | Tagged: , , , , , , | 6 Comments »

World Cat Local and ILL – a paper review

Posted by gazjjohnson on 11 December, 2009

Thanks to Keith for pointing me in the direction of this article WorldCat Local implementation: the impact on interlibrary loan.  Following on from a demo of WCL the other week, and with my ILL hat on, this is obviously of some interest to me.  Like us the University of Washington seems to have had a fairly steady state if high level of ILL requests to deal with over the years.  Like us not all of their information resources weren’t locatable via a single interface, which they suggest meant that most end users didn’t get as far as requesting an ILL to satisfy demand.

With WCL it seems that the system searches across all e-only and print collections, and if it is unable to retrieve an item flags up the ability to place an ILL.  This raises a question with me, knowing that a small but steady stream of users fail to search effectively before placing an ILL that is actually available locally (or via e-resources).  I can see that with a WCL implementation like this the big advantage for readers is that they are made more aware and able to seamlessly place pre-populated item requests. 

This will doubtless lead to an elevated number of requests being placed, of which my concern is that the same proportion will be of items requested inappropriately.  As we do check every item to see if we can satisfy the request from local collections, this might well have an impact on workflows.  Washington reports a 92% increase in loan requests placed, which is by any measure a phenomenal rise; although interestingly article requests did not significantly rise.  interestingly 17% of items delivered were never actually collected by their requesters.

The university did commit an additional 2.17FTE staff to deal with this increase (at 52,000 students and staff UoW is around twice as big as Leicester).  Interesting to note as well that with more items being requested, a broader spectrum of venues were used to source these requests.  It doesn’t take a big stretch of the imagination to see that as more institutions set up WCL (or similar) systems, that this means an increasing demand on research rich non-British Library collections like our own.  One final note in the paper was that resolving requests resulted in increases of 82% 07-08, and another 36% in 08-09 in terms of overall ILL costs to the institution.

Overall a very interesting case study, and while one can admire the increased service to the user community of the integrated searching, as an ILL member of staff I must of course reflect on the impact of increased demand on delivery of the document supply service.

Posted in Document Supply, Wider profession | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

A flick through Ariadne (Nov 09) – open access papers

Posted by gazjjohnson on 25 November, 2009

The latest issue of Ariadne (61) had a number of papers related to open access which I’ve decided to spend a few minutes reading through.

How to Publish Data Using Overlay Journals: The OJIMS Project
Sarah Callaghan, Sam Pepler, Fiona Hewer, Paul Hardaker and Alan Gadian describe the implementation details that can be used to create overlay journals for data publishing in the meteorological sciences.

I was drawn to this article on the back of the workshop for academic staff I’ve been working on in the last couple of weeks.  Whilst this workshop has now been pushed back to March ’10, it did re-awaken my interest in the reuse of repository and open access publications as overlay journals.  A few years back it seemed these were going to be huge, a major growth use of open access materials, but since then very little seems to have emerged.  This paper was looking at a slightly different aspect, that of open access data journals.  Interestingly one of the early issues that emerged from this study was the need for a dedicated journal staff to support the longer term role of any title.  I did like the idea of using the seasons as a guide to the level of peer review items had been subjected to, brining in elements of Web 2.0 collobarative review.  That the work established a business case for data journals, which will doubtless find itself referenced once more than a pilot title is established.

Enhancing Scientific Communication through Aggregated Publications
Arjan Hogenaar describes changes in the publication and communication process which will mean that the role of authors will become a more prominent one.

On a similar theme, this paper looks at aggregation of open access publications and data along a shared theme – termed Enhanced Publication by the author.  Again the social interaction (semantic web) with the research community is noted, with the ability to comment and extend the peer review process for life rather than simple as a static event that happens once in the publication cycle.  I can imagine this idea of ongoing review and comment may feel very alien for some authors, while for others it is a very natural iterative process.  The suggestion that the biggest problem with achieving this is not a cultural but rather a technical one is not something that I agree with 100%; looking at my own experiences in the field of open access.  However, it is a valid point that the tools to achieve this kind of successful aggregation are still emerging and have yet to be tested for true robust delivery and access.

UK Institutional Repository Search: Innovation and Discovery
Vic Lyte, Sophia Jones, Sophia Ananiadou and Linda Kerr describe an innovative tool to showcase UK research output through advanced discovery and retrieval facilities.

This paper looks at the Intute RS search, a service about which I have mixed feelings.  Given that open access discovery is focussed on making research globally accessible, developing a search tool that exclusively looks at UK research seems counter productive.  However, that said the next generation features that this search tool offers are of considerable interest – I’ve long wished for a resource that allows me to manipulate and refine my OA search results, and maybe (just maybe) filter out metadata only records.  For that reason I approached this paper with two minds.  It was an interesting overview, and I found the case example given of the academic searcher well fleshed out – although I’d have been interested in a broader range of alternative end users – members of the public, government, corporate researchers.  It was an interesting overview, and useful background reading for anyone working in the repository world, but hardly an essential read.

The RSP Goes “Back To School” Stephanie Taylor reports on the three-day residential school for repository managers run by the Repositories Support Project (RSP), held on 14-16 September 2009 in Northumberland.

I wasn’t able to go to this even due to other commitments, but Steph’s guide to the event at least gave me a flavour of what I missed.  Some interesting sessions, and some not so by the sounds of it.  Hopefully there’ll be another one in 2010 that I might get the chance to attend.

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

The Ongoing Open Access Debate in the THE

Posted by gazjjohnson on 12 November, 2009

Good article in the Times Higher today on the open access debate.  Required reading I suspect for anyone with an interest in scholalry communication.  Especially impressed that Salford’s VC appears to be championing open access there, if there’s one thing repository managers still need today it’s vocal senior administrative member speaking out in support. 

I was writing my workshop for academics on open access that I’ll be running next month (2nd December) via our Staff Development Office, so this kind of overview is smashing.  It’s something I’ll certainly be using to support the session and pointing my participants towards reading.  Actually it might well form part of the hands on portion of the session, as I’m planning to really get the people there thinking about their own publishing habits and those of their peers in relation to OA.

It also gives the publisher’s side, which while dissmissive in part of some of the research on OA (I wonder if they’re so sneery about research they publish that doens’t impact on their business model?) remains of considerable interest.  It even draws in the funders as well.  As a clear and plain english overview it’s not bad at all.

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

The End of Institutional Repositories! (or not)

Posted by gazjjohnson on 24 July, 2009

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Libraries of the Future dissected

Posted by gazjjohnson on 23 July, 2009

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

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

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

Okay people – what do you think?

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

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.

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

Sony Portable Ebook reader review

Posted by gazjjohnson on 3 December, 2008

Sony EBook reader

The Sony Portable Ebook reader

In preparation for the HRH visit tomorrow I was loaned the library’s portable ebook reader.  As it turns out the turn I’m doing in the end won’t involve using it, but all the same I’ve had a couple of interesting weeks playing about with it.

If you’ve not had a chance to get your hands on one of these (and considering Amazon lists them at £219 last time I checked that wouldn’t be a surprise) what is most striking right away is the screen.  Designed to look more like a conventional page would to the eye without tiring it, which is something it does quite well.  What is a slight niggle is that it displays text (monochrome only) even at the lowest magnification a little larger than I’d expect, which makes even short books pages more in length than their physical counterparts.

dsc00818

Page turning thumb buttons

Why does this matter?  Well due to the biggest failing of the current model to my mind – the page turn.  To turn a page is simply a matter of clicking the thumb buttons half way up the right hand side, which is quite a natural option.  There’s also a dial button in the lower left that duplicates that function.  However, when it turns a page the whole screen goes black and then the new page appears.  It didn’t bother me much at first but as I read through The Importance of Being Ernest it got a greater and greater annoyance.  It wasn’t giving me a headache, it just took far too long to flick to the next page of what is simply plain text. 

All that said I did read the book throughout quite easily at my desk, waiting for the train, sitting in bed.  The feel of the reader and its leatherette case is quite comfortable weighing about the same as one of the more hefty paperbacks; considerably less than a hardback.  I will mention that its metal case scores in terms of ruggedisation, but loses points for freezing your hands off on a cold train platform.  A thin plastic veneer around the edges would go a long way to overcoming that problem.  Or naturally a pair of gloves for the user.

Oh and whilst I didn’t test it (this being a loaner) it naturally failed the bath test; or at least I don’t think I’d want to risk reading one of the 95 preloaded books in the tub.

Downloading books

In terms of battery life it does better than quite a few other portable gadgets that I own (sat nav and PSP come to mind) in not just the longevity of the charge, but also how well it retains that charge when switched off.  If I don’t use my TomTom for a week it’s as flat as pancake.  With not using the Ebook reader for a week, it had over 3/4 of its charge left.  Vital for something that I might want to pick up and use at a moments notice.  Recharging, and downloading new books, is via a USB 2.0 cable with a UC-E1 end (the sort your digital camera has most likely). 

I downloaded a book on marketing from one of the free ebook sites we recommend which worked fine as a simple file transfer.  There is software that comes bundled to manage the ebook’s books, but from experience of mobile devices I’m happier using explorer to directly plonk items to the flash storage.  One less piece of bloatware to clear off the home PC (and obviously couldn’t install on the work machine).

Unfortunately none of our subscription ebooks I could find allowed download to portable readers, so I couldn’t test that out.  Doubtless if I’d bought an ebook for myself I’d hope this would be just as painless a process.

Ports and controls

dsc00819-copy

Top and bottom

In terms of other ports there is 5.2v DC in (not included with the reader I had), a standard walkman headphone jack and volume control on the bottom.  The top has twin slots for a PRODuo and SD cards as well as the sliding power switch.

dsc00821

Close up of screen and controls

 

Other controls on the main body of the reader include a bookmark, zoom, menu, menu navigation D-pad and numerical buttons down the right hand side.  Using these it is easily possible to navigate or jump to a specific page.  I confess I wasn’t overly fond of the numerical buttons in terms of look and feel; they felt a bit clunky and out of place with the smooth lines of the rest of the device.  But they worked, and function before form is something I can live with.

So overall a useful little device, with some software flaws and hardware niggles, but it does the job.  Would I buy one for myself?  The answer is no – I’d like to wait a couple of years for the developers to get the page turning faster and less looking like an etch-a-sketch at times, a revision to the numerical buttons and perhaps a warmer to the touch feel than cold metal.  And I’d like it for about £150 less and waterproofed thank you very much.  Not such a tall order is it?

 

Posted in Technology & Devices, Web 2.0 & Emerging Technologies | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

Blog Review meeting 2.0

Posted by gazjjohnson on 18 November, 2008

Keith, Sarah W, Selina and myself just held our latest blog review meeting.  In lieu of minutes here are a few brief notes on our discussions:

  • We reviewed the blog’s development to date and agreed that an excellent voice has been found for the posts by all authors.  As a result the blog could be regarded as a defacto standard for other potential Library blogs, along with a body of expertise to advise as needed.
  • The award nomination from Alan, and praise from CILIP for our work was noted.
  • We agreed that the community focus of the blog would remain those already invited to contribute (along with their successors and alternates) so as to ensure it remains relevant to the professional activities of the library.
  • PMG have asked us to go talk about the blog to them, so I’ll be asking them for a date and sorting out which of us will go along.
  • Questions from us to PMG include: whom should we advocate the blog to internally, whom would they be advocating it to, the matter of Twirl’s availability to those staff that require it and the possibility of PMG making a post occasionally (they are already encouraged to, but have not yet posted or commented).
  • The new Enquiry Manager will be invited by myself to become involved with the blog in some respect.
  • We agreed to take the requirement for each comment to be approved off to see if this increases the number of comments.  However, we’re not allowing anonymous commenting so we have an audit trail to follow if needed to the source of any comments.
  • We agreed to tell suitable local contacts about the blog, if we’ve not mentioned it already.
  • We agreed to notify all library staff about the blog, and invite them to comment.
  • We agreed that we will remove the block on search engines detecting the blog in January, thus making the blog visible to all and in keeping with the OA movement.  Noting that it is already visible if you are aware of the URL.
  • We agreed to meet to review the blog again in Feb/Mar 2008

So all in all, we are pleased with the blog as a tool

Posted in Blog admin, Meetings | Tagged: , , | 10 Comments »