Friday, July 15, 2011

BLA 2011

Trying to reflect on a three day conference the first thing that comes to mind is how uncondusive to reflection the conference format is. If you were to design an event to prevent reflection you might well gather a lot of people together in a small space, say a conference suite, then pack in one event after another all day long and fill any small gaps with exhibits, meals, posters, coffee, and social events. It would probably help to move people regularly from one room to another and above all bombard them constantly with words, images, ideas and challenging questions.

The best I could do was try to keep hold of what seemed to be the most relevant and potentially useful points from the flood of information and note down enough about those points to allow reflection some time later. In practical terms this means several pages of notes and four * symbols in my notebook.

Sessions that didn't include a * symbol in my notes were not necessarily uninteresting, they just didn't directly connect with any live issues for me at the moment. I know from previous experience that, however inspiring the presentations and training sessions I attend are, thinking through how they could be applied and actually doing something with that inspiration once back in the day-to-day job is a challenge. If I try to act on too many issues I may end up doing none that embody the conference theme - impact!

So what were the four points I want to think about some more, and maybe act on?

1. From Antony Brewerton's Keynote talk on the first day: the library brand is overwhemingly books, books, books and moreover, books. I am a big fan of books myself but this is a dangerously limiting brand image at a time when we need to do more than usual in terms of making a case for spend on online information resources and in encouraging their use.

2. From the Question Time panel: medical students and trainee lawyers get the connection between expertise in using relevant, good quality information sources and employability, but do business students? How can we emphasise the practical usefulness of information skills beyond the academic and into the workplace? Do we need to do more to promote the more 'practitioner' sources we offer?

3. Also from the Question Time panel session: the 'joining a gym' metaphor for students as customers in higher education. I like the idea of a university or a library as a 'brain gym' and the implication of the effort required to make the subscription worthwhile. A good metaphor is a powerful thing - especially in marketing - and this is an excellent one!

4. From Barbara Humphries contribution to the members sharing sessions: the idea of sending postcards to new research students letting them know what the library can offer and asking them to respond with information about their research topic, then responding to this with a personalised guide to resources. I like the way this structures an introductory conversation and, hopefully, encourages a closer relationship between researchers and librarians.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

A pause for thought

It seems that I haven't been very reflective lately. I think I've become too narrowly focussed on the day to day job. I'm off to the Business Librarians' Association conference tomorrow so thought I might use that as a prompt to step back a bit and look at the broader professional landscape.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Where do first year undergrads go for information? (Second level)

Wordle: First year undergrad info sources (second level)

In this Wordle we took out the top four words to show the less frequently mentioned sources.

Where do first year undergrads go for information? (Top level)

Wordle: First year undergrad info sources

We asked a lot of first year business students for a one word answer to the question, "Where do you look first for information when you have an assignment to do?" Four words dominated the results with 'internet' being by far the most common.

I was surprised by the predominance of the word 'internet'. I expected to see more reference to Google, or possibly other search engines, but very few specified any particular site.

[MyCourse is our Moodle based VLE.]

Monday, September 13, 2010

Library associations

I asked a group of MA Business students what they associated with the word 'library'. The results were interesting.

Friday, September 03, 2010

Seth Priebatsch: The game layer on top of the world | Video on

How is this going to change higher education?

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Interesting day on Friday at the ARCLIB architecture librarians conference. Was there with a colleague giving a presentation. It seemed to go ok even though we hadn't as much time for preparation as I'd have liked, with so many projects going on and things to get done over the summer. I suspect I tend to *over* prepare, given the chance.

It was good to get a glimpse into the world of a different subject area, even though it meant missing the BLA (Business Librarians Association) conference which, in a bit of bad timing, was on exactly the same days. At least I managed to get some idea of what I as missing there thanks to Twitter.

Have brought back some notes of Web 2.0 tools to look at, or to look at in a new light, after the other presentations.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

The important/urgent balance

I'm trying to do too many things at once lately and, as a result, am at risk of not giving important jobs as much time and attention as they deserve. Need to get back into the habit of sorting the important from the merely urgent. I know this, but I need to keep reminding myself. Self - pay attention! Consider yourself reminded!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

A nudge

On Monday I've got an all day training course. It'll be good to get away from the desk for a while - sometimes you focus on the detail of the job so hard for so long you need a nudge to remind you to be a bit more reflective.

Monday, March 01, 2010

JISC online seminar on Twitter

I 'attended' a lunchtime online seminar about Twitter today, put on by the JISC Regional Support Centre. This was excellent timing as a few of us have just started Twittering as @SolentLibrary.

I was relieved to find that most of the content, even on third party apps, was familiar to me - I have been trying to keep up with developments - but still noted some things that I'd like to explore further. Notably Hootsuite which looks like it may have advantages over Tweetdeck in allowing multiple panels for different views, multiple account tracking and so on, and also a very handy looking 'pending tweets' feature.

I feel like I'm fairly confident now about the nuts and bolts of how to use Twitter, but I'm not sure anyone has yet pinned down just what its best used for beyond the obvious observation that it's a quick and easy communications medium.

One thing I'm fairly sure of is that some of the things I used to do here - new database announcements etc - could be better communicated via @SolentLibrary. Which probably leaves this blog as more of a reflective journal.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Essay writing

I gather some 'essay writing services' have been advertising locally. Beware - the quality of work is often dubious (you can probably do better yourself) and the use of them is a serious academic offence.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Want an argument?

An academic argument that is. Now on the 'New Book' shelf on floor 1A of the library How to Argue by Professor Alastair Bonnett.

Monday, February 08, 2010

Information is beautiful!

If you're interested in data visualization visit the Information is Beautiful site and see how you can win a copy of the book. Or wait a little while and borrow the copy the library has on order.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010


Some people say libraries are boring, but there's no evidence of that. Is there?

Friday, January 15, 2010

When evaluating information sources really matters

Evaluating information sources is not just an academic exercise. This article from PC World warns of the despicable and inevitable Haiti online donation scams that are appearing. If you want to donate make sure you go to a reputable site such as the Disasters Emergency Committee.

Look for the 'https:' on donation pages indicating that the page is secure. Make sure your donation doesn't go to the scammers!

Friday, December 11, 2009

RefWorks 2.0

RefWorks 2.0 is coming!

Monday, November 09, 2009

A chance to win $100!

Proquest, publishers of ABI Inform and European Newsstand, are asking for your feedback and offering the chance to win a $100 prize.

Friday, October 23, 2009

RefWorks competition!

RefWorks is running a 'Tweet and Seek Challenge' competition next week - prizes include iPods and gift vouchers.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

New media literacy

It's been an interesting week for thinking about information literacy, media literacy and such things. Old media have spent a lot of their time recently reporting on what's been happening in new media. This article in The Media Blog has an interesting graphic of what's been going on.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Swine flu

Swine flu is one of those subjects where there is a large amount of information available, some reliable and some not.

For those looking for reliable information about swine flu at work XpertHR have now added a dedicated swine flu resource, available to staff and students of the university. Follow the 'Shibboleth' option and use your university username and password to log in.

Friday, October 02, 2009

Information literacy

It's Information Literacy Awareness Month in America. This reminded me that I was once asked how to correctly format a reference in Harvard style for a web page that didn't have a personal or a corporate author. While it would be technically possible to resort to 'Anon' I couldn't help wonder why anyone would trust information if they had absolutely no idea where it had come from.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Tour guides

While I was on holiday this year I visited a wildlife conservation centre and, for some reason, during the talk in the great ape area I got to thinking about our induction week tours. The guide was struggling against the wonders of modern technology. Her mike crackled and popped and then gave out half way through. So she carried on without it. She didn't have a particularly loud voice but the group gathered around to hear because what she did have was real enthusiasm for her subject and that communicated itself without any need for amplification.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009


I can almost feel the brain cells stretching to accomodate all the various communication channels I am tuned into these days. Today I've sent and answered email, am following colleagues tweets from the CILIP Umbrella conference, have commented on a JISC blog and am helping prepare a script for a video intro to our Second Life island. All before lunch!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009


Got a good turn out for the TGI training last week. Much searching was done on what sort of people buy Innocent, and not so innocent, drinks!

It seems we are the first university to sign up for this service, although others are showing interest. So, for the moment, our students have an advantage in being able to get to know how an information source that's widely used in the business world works. Definitely something worthwhile to put on the CV.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Brave new web 2.0 world?

Have been reading the JISC report Higher Education in a Web 2.0 World and wondering if I was born in the wrong generation. I've always seen the web as social and interactive. That's how I've always used it. One of the first things I found the brand new internet/web thingy to be good for was collaborative writing experiments. I was on discussion lists and bulletin boards from way back in the mists of time. I saw my first flame war break out in 1996 on a birdkeepers mailing list called BIRDTECH-L. I was in virtual worlds when they were text-based and known as moos and you had to move around by typing 'go north.'

Ok, so the applications are much better and easier to use these days, but it's always been possible to see the web as a facilitator of two-way or multi-way communications rather than as a broadcast medium. I'm slightly at a loss to understand why this is seen as some kind of scary new development that us old people can't understand. After all, it's just a matter of making the online world more like 'real' life, by making the online life social.

Thursday, May 07, 2009

MetaLib (no, it's not a librarians heavy metal band!)

I now have a much better idea of what MetaLib can do for us - thanks to the willingness of fellow info professionals to share their knowledge and experience!

Hopefully it will allow us to present our databases better, allow some of them to be cross-searchable, add features such as alerts, bibliography and reading list style outputs, and provide (via SFX) quicker and more reliable links to full text. All good things that I'm pretty sure will be appreciated by staff and students. I think I might enjoy training sessions more with once it's up and running.

Maybe we'd get better attendance if we spread the rumour that it is a librarians heavy metal band though?

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Twittering librarians

Attended a meeting via Twitter yesterday, which was a first for me. Can't say it had quite the same sense of 'being there with others' as meetings I've attended in real or Second Life, but it did at least allow me to be somewhat involved in a meeting that I had no hope of attending in person due to work commitments.

It was also excellent in that it was discussing how librarians and specifically CILIP (1) could make use of web 2.0 tools, and it was doing it by.... making use of web 2.o tools! What a good idea!

The only realistic way I've found of discovering which web 2.0 tools I might have a use for and which I don't is to try them. It's also almost impossibly difficult to convince anyone of their usefulness in the abstract but a demonstration, or better yet opportunity to try them out for real, can be a lot more persuasive. (Hmmm, that probably applies to information skills too!)

Lots of interesting issues were raised but I think the only vaguely useful input I made was to suggest that CILIP might look to the ALA (American Library Association) as a role model. I've since realised - after being reminded by a colleague - that the US SLA (Special Libraries Association) also does a lot of good things.

If you'd like to see how it went here is a Twitter feed transcript and wordle.

(1) Note for any non-librarian or non-UK based readers this is the UK librarians professional body.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Open access lectures

Academic Earth looks interesting. Video lectures from the world's top scholars - or so they say themselves. I haven't had time to have a proper look at it yet, (I am on leave today after all!) but the entrepreneurship section could be useful. Thanks to David Burden for alerting me to this resource.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Buying books

Went to Blackwell's bookshop in Oxford today. Bought a lot of books for the library and one for me.

Friday, April 03, 2009

JISC Libraries of the Future debate

Now THIS is the sort of thing that Second Life is good for. I was interested in the JISC Libraries of the Future debate, but it coincided with a day of in-house SFX training. The option to attend via Second Life meant I could - just - do both.

It's always interesting to attend a combined Second Life/'Real' Life event. (I do dislike the way that terminology implies I am somehow less real when mediated by an avatar than I am when physically present.) The focus is - in my experience - always firmly on the physical meeting. This event was better than most in that respect, with someone aware of what was happening in both spaces and chanelling communications between them. When it came to questions though, the sl audience only managed to get - if I remember correctly, and it's quite possible I missed some - two communicated to the panel.

As to the substance of the debate I was surprised to hear that the future of libraries is to be buzzing with activity and groupwork. I must have time travelled and be living in the future right now! I enjoyed the lively debate started by the speaker who had some good, if provocative, points to make about the relevance of libraries to the scientific research process, and the madness of a system whereby universities buy back the products of their labours from publishers at outrageous prices in the form of journal subscriptions. Long live the glorious Open Access revolution! Or maybe not?