UoL Library Blog

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Posts Tagged ‘technology’

USTLG Spring Meeting (May 2010)

Posted by gazjjohnson on 12 May, 2010

Wordle from tweets about the dayMay is the month where I seem to be spending a lot of time on trains to London (not counting the meeting at CILIP I had to send apologies for last week). Today was the first of these when myself and Selina travelled down to attend the University Science and Technology Librarians Group spring meeting. Not that I’m pretending I’m still a subject librarian, rather I was invited there to give a short talk about getting the most out of blogging and microblogging.

After the day was introduced by long time friend and colleague Moria Bent (Newcastle) the first session of the day kicked off. What follow are my notes on the four talks.  Hopefully there will be some more notes in a future post from Selina, so you can get her views of the day’s highlights as well.

Jon Fletcher, Nottingham Trent University
Embedding resources into the curriculum via a VLE (for scientists).
Becoming embedded has become somewhat of a mantra at NTU – noted could run as many training sessions as you like, but this doesn’t mean they engage. Hence taking their resources to where the students are spending more time on the VLE. Their educational resources repository (Nottingham Trent Online Workspace, now.ntu.ac.uk). There is a block of library resources and training materials on this system. Referenced from all their course pages that relate to science.

Jon’s 5 step guide to embedding resources on the VLE

  1. Consult/design
    1. Talk to the students
    2. What would they find useful
    3. What formats would work
    4. Avoid overlap of effort
  2. Get permission and access
    1. Need rights to edit, otherwise academic might not do what you expect them too.
    2. Resources can be embedded by academics
    3. Need to sell what you do and be realistic.
  3. Embed resources
    1. Plan – get an idea of time scale, workload and commitment
    2. Work with your academic stakeholders and deliver according to your planned schedule, or else they won’t be impressed.
    3. Need to consider longer term – how will you maintain and update resources once live? NTU’s tech allows them to make global changes.
    4. Expect it to take longer than you think
  4. Sustainability
  5. What’s next
    1. Always consider next iterations – need to revise and update, preferably as part of an ongoing cycle.
    2. Keep items up to date.

Doing this has helped make the library (and Jon) more visible to the academics.

Royal Society of Chemistry Library - we didn't get to look in here.MyLibrary: building a library dashboard application
Mark Galvillet, Newcastle

An open source web resource that can be downloaded and customised by anyone. It draws information from various different sources. MyLibrary is built on the back of analysing overlong customer journeys to resources, students should be able to access all the resources from a single point of access without having to go through multiple intermediary stages. Also interfaces with the library catalogue so can access your record, renew books etc. Provides a news feed as well, although that is under review. Calender for opening hours and events etc, driven by Google calendar, is also included. In many regards MyLibrary pretty much provides a single point of access to all of a student’s needs. While for the academic there may be a requirement for a more sophisticated resource, this was fairly impressive and doubtless would be well received by the student body.

RSC Publishing Beta – have your say
Richard Blount & Louise Peck, RSC

Talked about RSC Publishing Beta website for their hosted journals, ebooks and databases. Customisable for each user. Chem Spider.

Advocating Professional Social Networking to Academics
Paula Anne Beasley & Linda Norbury, University of Birmingham

Training sessions to library staff to bring them up to speed on the basics of Web 2.0 so they can use it or not based on their own experiences! Made them think about what the academics needs were with respect to these resources, and if there was a need to train them. Facilitated training in a supporting environment, so people didn’t feel foolish and where they could see the clear benefits of producing them. Surveyed their college staff via email – free-text response. Fewer responses, but more dialogue from those who did respond.  Aimed to run sessions for 25 people, at least that was how many they anticipated.

Gareth J Johnson
Do Librarians Dream of Electric Tweets?

And that was my day in London. Next up, the RSP Advocacy Workshop!

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Posted in Service Delivery, Web 2.0 & Emerging Technologies, Wider profession | Tagged: , , , , , , | 4 Comments »

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.

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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

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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 »