29 Nov 2012

Arrive prepared: emergency response management in the library

Last week Trev and I attended an instructive seminar on emergency response management for archives, records, libraries and museums hosted by Harwell*. Some sensible and very practical advice was given on how to optimally prepare for the ghastly spectre of a smoked out and/or flooded library.

Take a look at this stream of images, captured by Jim Miles of the University at Buffalo Law Library.

Water damage and recovery from July-August 2006,
University at Buffalo Law Library
They very much illustrate what sort of damage a flooding incident can do to your library and information service. Calamities of all proportions were discussed, which I’m sure cross your mind every now and then but never really come to the forefront until disaster strikes. Chaos, operational downtime and the possible (irreversible?) loss of library resources can be contained if you arrive on the scene prepared.

Being prepared means to kick-start a well-thought through set of appropriate countermeasures. Instantly. Without delay. Time is of the essence: recover everything wet within 72 hours.

We were walked through various flooding/fire examples and the specific responses to each of these incidents. Of primary concern was the importance of implementing an optimal recovery strategy that meets the specific demands of your collection context. This includes appropriate handling procedures, avoidance of secondary damage and the action of effective salvage strategies.

Health and safety issues were also discussed (e.g. the risks of foul-water flooding, mould growth and generally hazardous environments).

Check out the full presentation for detailed information.

Harwell also kindly provided us with a template disaster plan (long version vs. short version).

*Disclaimer: the above piece does not constitute a commercial endorsement of Harwell.
Posted on Thursday, November 29, 2012 | Categories:

27 Nov 2012


Check out libraryjobs.ie. This is a new online service recently launched by Margaret Irons aiming to to be your comprehensive single point of reference when searching for library industry related jobs in Ireland.

The objective here is to consolidate the search for you: this is your one-stop shop for finding the job you need.
Posted on Tuesday, November 27, 2012 | Categories:

"Do you want research support with that?" - The art of the library cross-sell

Marketing is now an essential aspect of library management, but communicating your value to customers achieves very little if you don't create conversions. Cross-selling (think of McDonalds and their "Would you like fries with that?" tagline) and up-selling (getting a customer to upgrade to a higher value product) are two classic sales techniques that are frequently used to great effect in retail. This idea may seem a little clinical to those working outside the corporate environment, but the basic principles behind these sales strategies - encouraging your customers to use more of your products or to try higher value services - are common objectives for many of us. Marion Ryan from the Entrepreneur Soul blog believes "The key is to think of upselling as additional benefits and better ways to serve the client". Additional benefits for customers? Better ways to serve your users? Sounds like a good thing to me.

Don't sell your services, offer solutions

Marketing in libraries should be all about benefits. Most libraries and librarians talk about their services; what they offer; the comprehensive list of their resources. But many users (and perhaps more importantly, non-users) will not connect with this; this information is meaningless to them unless they can immediately see 'what's in it for me?'. So stop talking about yourself and start thinking about your users (this is not the same as thinking that you are thinking about you users, you have to really do it!). In fact, cross-selling and up-selling are the easiest opportunities you will get to promote your services as you already have a captive audience (library cold-calling anyone?), so why don't we take advantage of this? If we only focus on the user's short-term query or need (which is obviously still of primary importance), we miss the moment that can turn good customer service into great customer service. Instead, by offering personalised expertise we can deliver a service that maximises our value to our users, creating loyalty, engagement and trust.

Think long-term, not transactional value

So how can we use cross-selling and up-selling effectively in practice? It requires being proactive, taking an interest in your users' broader needs and time. At a busy reference desk the latter is often in short supply, but more often than not, investing a little extra time reaps dividends in the long-run. The most important thing to remember is that it must bring a direct, relevant benefit to your user, otherwise you will be wasting their time, and risk turning a positive experience into a negative one. With a little creativity, a routine transaction such as a student enquiring how to find resources on medical ethics can provide the perfect opportunity for cross-selling an information literacy workshop. A researcher trying to track down a conference paper can be easily up-sold to a broader suite of research support services. In the public library setting, a reader borrowing a copy of Norwegian Wood presents a great chance to cross-sell the DVD or even to up-sell the monthly bookclub. These are just a few of the ways that a single interaction can be turned into a longer-term relationship by actively promoting your services as solutions that your users need, even if they don't know it yet.

21 Nov 2012

Why Research Impact Is About Promotion, Not Impact Factors (and Why This Is Good News For Libraries)

A paper published in the current issue of the Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology (paywall, sorry :( ) estimates that the proportion of highly cited papers published in high impact journals has declined substantially in recent decades. In 1990 45% of the most cited 5% of papers were published in the top 5% of journals ranked by impact factor; by 2009 the proportion had dropped to 36% - representing a 20% fall in market share in 20 years. This is partly due to the growth in the number of publication outlets generally over the period, however it still appears a high impact factor is no longer the sine qua non it once was.

In my view, this is just the beginning. The increased use of altmetrics has already shown that tweets, bookmarks and other social sharing tools can have a substantial impact in disseminating research quickly. However, channels like these only represent the tip of the iceberg when it comes to promoting research. Whilst twenty years ago getting your paper into a high impact title like Nature or Science was enough to ensure it would be widely read, in today's competitive research environment it counts for a lot less. Now, research promotion is almost as import as research itself.

The video below is an excellent example of this idea. This short film essentially functions as a 'trailer' to promote a research paper by Cross & Wheatland (the YouTube URL links to the pre-print), and with over one million views to date is a simple but effective example of how creativity and promotion can increase research visibility - and potentially impact. This doesn't mean that every author should start making videos to accompany their journal articles, but it does provide an opportunity for libraries to position themselves as research promoters as part of their overall research support package.

This is an area where libraries can provide a real value-added service to researchers - leveraging their existing expertise and networks to help package, distribute and promote research. In most cases, libraries are already doing this on a lesser scale e.g. through open access initiatives, promoting institutional respositories and advising on bibliometrics. However the benefits from ramping up these efforts into a more co-ordinated and creative package, including aspects like SEO and social-media, are potentially significant. As Brian Mathews argues in this article in the Chronicle: "It’s no longer about just publishing a paper but creating a suitable outlet and campaign to share the findings. Our [librarians'] job becomes producers: designing and developing the channels, methods, processes and metrics to repackage content (academic papers) into formats apt for expanding the audience".

20 Nov 2012

Our Wonderful World: Making Connections Courtesy of Information and Communications

Guest post by Emily Weak, Hourly Librarian at City of Mountain View

LSE, Geography Department, 1986
I often think about what it would have been like to try to embark on a career in librarianship in the olden days. And by olden days I of course mean that dark time before the internet existed.

What really blows my mind is how easily we can now communicate, not only with that tiny handful of people we know, but with the great sea of the world’s librarians. And librarians are such nice people. They will surely help you out, if you just ask politely.

I started the blog Hiring Librarians at the end of February 2012. I was about four months in to my own frustrating and demoralizing job hunt. I was mystified by the strange rituals of library hiring – the inscrutable government lists for public library employment, the enigmatic rituals of academic processes, and the lack of even a hint as to where to find special library jobs. I wanted work, but I didn’t know how to get it.

So I started asking people who hired librarians to answer some basic questions for me. I started by emailing a few people from my own tiny pool of library contacts, posting their responses to a short, online survey. Then I sent out requests to listservs such as PUBLIB, collib-I, AUTOCAT, LIBREF-L, LM NET and ILI. Only one of these refused to let me post (telling me that it was off-topic).

Further Questions
I made it really easy for people to respond to my questions, and I didn’t require anyone to leave a name. But some did! And then when readers brought up questions that hadn’t been included in the initial survey, some of those non-anonymous people agreed to answer them, and this is how the Further Questions feature got started.

Growing Content
I also started to send out emails to individuals. Both Barbara Stripling and Gina Millsap, who were running for ALA president, responded. I also was able to “interview” some employers with open positions, at the request of readers who were applying. The innovative AnyThink library was one such respondent. I also found and contacted people via Twitter. Librarians love Twitter.

Megan Hodge and Nicole Spoor emailed me because their own research focused on library hiring, and then were gracious enough to write a guest post describing their findings. Since then I have been able to include guest posts by other researchers and authors, such as Priscilla K. Shontz and Rich Murray, who wrote What Do Employers Want? A Guide for Library Science Students and run the blog LIScareer.

Mind: Blown
I am amazed by the number of people who have been willing to take time to contribute to this project. As of November 12th, 2012, 161 people have responded to the original survey and 235 have responded to a second survey about interview clothes, created in collaboration with Jill of the blog Librarian Hire Fashion. 25 people let me email them hiring questions on a weekly basis. And I’ve been able to work with several other researchers, bloggers, and authors on guest posts, either for my blog, or for theirs, as I am doing here on LibFocus.

Journalist Lucy Morgan with video camera and phone, ca. 1985
None of this has happened face to face, or even over the phone (with the exception of one individual). I only met a few readers in person just recently, when I attended my first library conference. Could I ever have worked with this number of people, from all over the globe, without the glorious internet? Can you imagine carrying this on via written correspondence? I could not have created and distributed my survey without Google Apps, and I certainly couldn’t deliver transcribed content daily without my best friends, copy and paste.

What a wonderful world.

18 Nov 2012

Introducing the Hurdy Gurdy Museum of Vintage Radio...

Ye Olde Hurdy Gurdy Museum of Vintage Radio
On a hill in Howth resides the Hurdy Gurdy Museum of Vintage Radio in the historic setting of Martello tower no. 2. Since 2002 Pat Herbert, the curator, has housed all manner of artefacts, relating to Marconi and the history of communication.

Various constraints meant that the museum's catalogue remained undeveloped, until this year. So when looking to jump into a cataloguing project, choosing the Hurdy Gurdy was not a difficult decision. The criteria? A greenfield in terms of cataloguing, a rich collection and an agreeable management team. Evaluating the IT infrastructure within the tower, it was apparent that a local server solution was not feasible. In order to promote the museum’s collection an online public catalogue would be preferable. Financially speaking open source was the only option, and so Omeka.net ticked all these boxes.

Omeka.net was constructed for museums to archive their artefacts in the cloud. Functionalities such as exhibiting collections online and Google analytic plug-ins made the site attractive. Dublin Core metadata is the primary descriptive method on Omeka. Visually attractive, Omeka would allow the team at the Hurdy Gurdy to exhibit online their various collections in an effective and informative manner.

Downstairs exhibits
Dublin Core suited our collection considering the wide variety of objects in the museum. There are a number of specific collections within the museum, such as radios, valves, household products and historical documents from the foundation of the Irish state amongst items relating to the history of telecommunications.

With the upcoming anniversaries relating to the foundation of the Irish state such as 1913 lockout, 1916 Easter Rising, 1919 War of Independence and the 1922 Civil War, we recognised that certain areas of the collection would generate interest.

As we became more familiar with the various aspects of the collection, we began to formulate a cataloguing policy.

Rental receipt from 1922 with (Irish Free State) stamp
As we began to virtually classify items, the activity surrounding this allowed us to re-evaluate the exhibits within the museums physical space. Fuelled by tea, Wagonwheels® and a love of all things vintage, we classified items within specific collections on Omeka. As the catalogue took shape online, we began to construct mirrored collections within the museum itself, areas such as a valve corner, an Irish history space and an Ever Ready® dry battery display. This has only enhanced what is already a splendid collection of radios, valves, artefacts and batteries, this is an untapped treasure trove of historical items within the Howth environs.

So far a thoroughly rewarding endeavour and will hopefully continue to be so.

Marie-Therese Carmody - Cataloguer Hurdy Gurdy Museum of Vintage Radio
Sarah Connolly - Cataloguer Hurdy Gurdy Museum of Vintage Radio

15 Nov 2012

Turning E-Learning into Engaged-Learning

Last January I registered for Codeacademy brimming with good intentions and motivation. The first few weeks I was a model student, but after a month or so I started missing the weekly deadlines due to work and other commitments, and shortly afterwards I gave up completely. It wasn’t a conscious decision, but once I fell behind by a couple of weeks it was all too easy to forget about it altogether (I am still getting the weekly reminder emails, which are a constant source of guilt!).

I also signed up for a Coursera course (Computing for Data Analysis) a few months ago, thinking a shorter time frame may be more manageable, but unfortunately the programme commenced at a very busy period for me and I never seemed to find the time to even get started with it. I did make it through Google’s recent Power Searching MOOC (I was primarily interested in seeing what Google view as the key issues and skills), though I admit it was a struggle, and in some cases I played the videos in the background whilst doing other things. Maybe online learning is just not for me?

So I was really interested to see the post-course reflections of Roger Peng, the tutor of the aforementioned Coursera module: Some Thoughts on Teaching R to 50,000 Students (further information on the participation levels and attendance of participants is detailed here). Peng took away several lessons from his initial experience of delivering instruction through MOOC infrastructure including: 

    • 50,000 students is in some ways easier than 50 students.
    • Clarity and specificity are necessary.
    • Modularity is key to overcoming heterogeneity
    • Time and content are more loosely connected

      Peng will also be running the course through his Simply Statistics blog shortly. It will be interesting to compare the feedback and experiences of users across both platforms (read the comments accompanying Peng’s post for feedback from the Coursera participants).

      I don’t believe that truly effective online teaching can ever be a case of simply videoing a face-to-face lecture and uploading it to YouTube, even though I have experienced several examples of this in the past. To do so, is largely missing the point; even if the 'content' needs to be broadly the same, it requires very different packaging. In the same way that active learning strategies are so valuable in the classroom, interaction and participation is just as important (if not more so) with online and asynchronous learning.

      My own lack of success to date as an online student may partly be due to time pressures, but I am a great believer that if something is important enough you will make the time. Maybe I just wasn’t passionate enough about the topic to really push myself to see it through? But surely one of the characteristics of good instructional design involves stimulating interest and encouraging engagement (within reason)? I also get discouraged easily when faced with the prospect of lengthy presentations and videos – in this respect I think Peng’s comments about modularity are key. Personally, I am far more engaged as a learner when presented with a menu of resources each covering a single concept or idea, rather than a single longer presentation. With the former I can select the relevant content I need, achieving an immediate pay-off that motivates me to continue. I can essentially tailor the content specifically to my personal learning needs even within the infrastructure of a generic programme or module. Conversely, with the latter my interest quickly tapers off when presented with less relevant material or aspects I'm already familiar.

      Most recently, I have registered for a Coursera module on Elearning and Digital Cultures starting in January 2013. A pre-course email circulated this week recommends that participants should use a blog to record and share their learning, so depending on my success this time around, you may see my own reflections on the Coursera experience here in the near future.

      13 Nov 2012

      A view from Zimbabwe

      Ireland getting you down? Fancy moving to a country with one of the best climates in the world and helping to get a new generation of Zimbabweans back into their libraries?
      If so, read on…

      Here in Harare there is a grassroots movement underway to renew our city libraries. Harare City Libraries consist of the main library on Rotten Row in the city centre and 5 other suburban branches. Efforts this year have seen reading and storytelling session carried out by volunteers to encourage our next generation of readers to make use of this important community resource and to bolster membership of our libraries. The city of Harare libraries is also hard at work sourcing new books to renew the collection and to raise funds for essential repairs to the libraries, in particular the main library.

      This was established in 1902 as the Queen Victoria Memorial Library, celebrates an important anniversary in 2012.  This year, the award winning building to which the library moved in 1962, turns 50. When it was completed, the building was awarded a medal by the Royal Institute of British Architects as one of the best designed buildings in Southern Africa during the period between 1948 and 1962. This is one of only three Bronze medals ever awarded in the whole of Africa. Sadly over the last 10 years the library has fallen into a state of disrepair. 

      Many thousands of people have used the library facilities.  A generation of Zimbabweans fondly remember Saturday mornings sitting in the light and airy building as they benefitted from reading the library’s huge collection of books. Our aim is to create these seem memories for a new generation of Zimbabweans and this is your opportunity to be part of this important and exciting initiative!

      Through Voluntary Services Overseas (VSO) we are looking for a senior librarian and a community librarian who can work with us to restore the City of Harare Libraries to their former glory! At present, there are two paraprofessional members of staff who have obtained diplomas from Harare Polytechnic however there are no fully qualified and experienced professional staff. We’d like you to remedy that!!

      If this sounds like something that you might be interested, please get in touch with either Deirdre NĂ­ Cheallaigh dnicheallaigh@trocairezw.org or Katrina Wallace-Karenga Katrina@yoafrica.com for more information about the two posts. 
      Read the blog at: http://thehararevillager.blogspot.com/

      We look forward to hearing from you soon!
      Posted on Tuesday, November 13, 2012 | Categories:

      9 Nov 2012

      instaGrok (find out about stuff and pin it down)

      …is a discovery tool that explicitly targets the learning and education audience out there. I played around with it and surely feel that it represents a very effective alternative to using well-worn mainstream search engines when it comes to finding out about things and conducting topical research.

      instaGrok uses an interactive mind-map that displays concepts based on any given subject you’re interested in. Enter a subject term (keyword or a short phrase) that is of interest to you, and suggested concepts are retrieved that link to related resources.

      Say for example you’d like to find out more about Marx, his philosophical roots and ideas about the proletariat, bourgeoisie and the curse of capitalism. Enter Karl Marx into the search and the following result presents itself:

      It is possible from the outset to adjust the level of detail when running this (any) search (see slide at the top). Each concept node links to various other nodes and relevant resources (look out for key facts, websites, images and glossary etc. on the right hand side). You can plot a conceptual route by pinning down nodes as part of the discovery process, whilst at the same time removing nodes that you’re not so much interested in. This can be a very useful filter mechanism when conducting research on a narrowly defined topic.

      A search history keeps tabs on the subjects of interest that you looked at previously. You can play with instaGrok without creating an account, but you might as well do just that in order to sample its very useful core features, namely the customising of concept maps, keeping a search history and creating a personal journal.

      The study journal function is really quite handy as it enables you to document your research results for later use in a new information context (say you're adding stuff from readings that you took off the bookshelf in the library). The journal is quickly populated as you can freely note down ideas around nodes and pin related key facts, videos and images and then email the same to yourself.

      What I like most about instaGrok is that it utilises crowd sourcing for the purpose of selecting and rating recommended information resources. To sum it up here, instaGrok is an intuitively to use search engine that lends itself as a good starting point for pulling in Web resources (and conceptually map them), that will enable you to quickly answer more complex questions.

      Career Development #irelibchat Summary - 7th Nov 2012

      Many thanks to everyone who participated in this month's #irelibchat, which was the most popular yet. Below is a brief rundown of some of the key ideas and issues discussed on the night.

      Sources for finding job vacancies and internship opportunities:
      A number of people raised the need for a central LIS jobs hub where all vacancies can be advertised/shared. @JadaJelly, Chair of the new LAI Career Development Group, stated that this is one of the areas that the Group is currently looking at in collaboration with the LAI website taskforce. A number of useful websites were suggested by participants including: The LAICDG mailing list, other LAI mailing lists, the UCD SILS Facebook page, activelink.ie, publicjobs.ie and the EURES website.

      How easy is it to change sectors?
      There were different perspectives on this issue. Some believe that experience from another sector is just as highly valued as it can bring a new dynamic or a fresh approach to existing teams. However, many described their difficulties in moving to other sectors e.g. from the school library setting to the academic sector due to the differences between roles, especially when there may be other candidates with more relevant experience.

      Non-traditional and emerging roles for LIS professionals including freelance opportunities:
      All participants believed this is an area which is underdeveloped in Ireland at present with opportunities for co-operative groupings of individuals or for a a new LIS recruitment agency for short-term contracting or freelance opportunities (e.g. cataloguing and records management for commercial firms; project-based research officers; training etc.). More information, advisory services and support regarding tax issues and rights of self-employed workers etc. may help to encourage such roles.

      Career Development issues
      The lack of employment security was highlighted by several with one participant noting that "3 year contracts are the new permanent". Flexibility was identified as a key attribute in this respect: professionals must be adaptable and create opportunities to learn new skills outside their current role; as one participant stated: "If you are lucky enough to be employed, you have to look for opportunities to gain a variety of experience where you are". Networking and conferences were highlighted as being of particular value in this respect, as well as technical knowledge and understanding: "Networking is key; understanding the sector is key key!". Volunteering was generally seen as a positive opportunity, providing it is not utilised as a means of job replacement by employers.

      The full archived spreadsheet of tweets is available online.

      Thanks again to all those who participated. #irelibchat will be taking a Christmas break but suggestions for January's topic are welcome!

      8 Nov 2012

      RSP webinars on Institutional Repositories

      Two free RSP webinars are scheduled for December:

      The role of institutional repositories after the Finch report - December 4th, 3pm (GMT)

      Three repository administrators, Dr. Miggie Pickton (University of Southampton), Dominic Tate (Royal Holloway, University of London) and Sally Rumsey (Oxford University) will discuss the current role of the institutional repositories, the developments and implications after the Finch report and the necessary actions that each institution needs to take into consideration.

      Registration is open at http://www.rsp.ac.uk/events/the-role-of-institutional-repositories-after-the-finch-report/

      Impact metrics for repositories - December 12th, 11am (GMT)

      In this free RSP webinar, Mark MacGillivray, PhD candidate at the University of Edinburgh and founder of the Cottage Labs, will present why repositories' metrics are useful and which type of metrics can be collected. Mark will give a brief introduction on the technical developments on repositories' metrics and will present some examples from his current work.

      Registration is open at http://www.rsp.ac.uk/events/impact-metrics-for-repositories/

      [Reposted from the JISC Repositories Mailing List. I have attended previous webinars from the Repositories Support Project and they are always excellent!]

      7 Nov 2012

      Twitter List of Librarians in Ireland

      I recently put together a list of librarians in Ireland who are on Twitter. There are currently just over 100 accounts listed, but I am sure I have missed several so just send me a tweet @libfocus or @mishdalton and I will happily add you. Similarly, if anyone wants to be removed for whatever reason just let me know! Just to note, the list is not designed to include Irish libraries but rather those of the individuals working within the profession.

      The list is publically available from the @libfocus Twitter account at https://twitter.com/libfocus/librarians-in-ireland. You can subscribe to the entire list in a single click to easily keep track of what librarians are up to or you can browse the members if you want to look at what librarians are currently tweeting.

      All feedback and suggestions for improvements are welcome!

      2 Nov 2012

      If the management literature tells us one thing, it’s that some business failures, particularly in the wake of the international financial melt-down, have been due in part to lack of ethical decision making and awareness.

      Guest post by Stuart Ferguson, Assistant Professor, Knowledge & Information Studies, University of Canberra

      I recently returned to Canberra from a study tour of Ireland and Britain, which was part of a project designed to investigate changes in the field of information ethics and the ways in which ethics is taught to information students and novices within the sector. The starting point for the study was library ethics – indeed, one of the main outcomes is expected to be a set of case studies designed to highlight aspects of the Australian Library and Information Association’s statements on values and ethics - but the intention was to expand the study to include the broader field of information ethics and policy, related collecting institutions (e.g. digital libraries, e-repositories and digital archives) and the impact that digitisation and enhanced electronic access have on our information policies and ethical decision-making.

      The study tour included conversations with a wide range of information practitioners, academics, professional associations and PhD students and covered the fields of libraries, archives, public records, digital collections, institutional repositories, Freedom of Information (FOI), digital humanities and applied ethics. One of the advantages of interviews over, say, requests to e-lists or surveys is that many interviewees start out believing that they have nothing to tell but in the course of the conversation come up with interesting observations.

      These conversations have been a rich source of scenarios for the study, for example: whether professional associations should sanction volunteers staffing core library services if the only alternative is library closure; misuse of web images that are part of personal archives donated for academic use; external funding and donations from dubious political sources; access to material such as emails that refer to third parties; use of internet filters, even on staff PCs; FOI requests to access staff personnel files; pressure from public authorities to put reports on the public record without the material that went into the investigation; police requests for libraries to take bomb-making books off the shelves; agencies trying to join chatrooms, with potential to recruit members.

      Professional codes of ethics are often not particularly helpful. These generally fall into at least one of three categories: aspirational/inspirational, regulatory/prescriptive and educational. The first address values and principles; the second contain rules that provide ‘solutions to ethical dilemmas’; while the educational category may include the first two elements but ‘also provide explanations and examples’ (Shachaf, 2005, p.515). Many, including the LAI code (before it disappeared for review) and the ALIA one, are largely inspirational and don’t provide solutions.

      The trouble with a prescriptive code is that, even if we were happy to have a detailed set of rules to follow uncritically, we would have problems designing rules in sufficient detail to cover the complex problems we face. What do we do when our principles or our obligations clash? As Robert Hauptman put it, in conversation with Elizabeth Buchanan, ‘we do have extremely complex problems, problems that become dilemmas because they’re basically insoluble’ (Buchanan, 2008, p.254).

      Case studies are often employed, particularly in codes designed to be educational, precisely because they can capture that complexity and to some degree the ‘insoluble’ nature of some of our ethical dilemmas. Some professional associations have developed case studies to assist their members, such as the Society of American Archivists and the Australian Computer Society and for the present CILIP in the UK provides links to sets of relevant case studies.

      Of course case studies are not enough in themselves because we need some kind of framework with which to analyse each case – hence  the tendency over the years to draw on various philosophical perspectives, most notably the consequentialist approach (what would be the impact of our decision?) and the deontological one (what is the right thing to do?). Again, none of these approaches in itself provides an answer, only a means of analysis and of sharpening our critical reasoning.

      Underlying all this of course is the nagging question ‘Do ethics matter?’. In the information sector, our decisions may not have the same impact as those in the upper reaches of business and finance, but we have seen concerns over privacy, for instance, increasing. Jean Preer (2008, p.15) sees  codes of ethics as significant statements of professional identity. My study so far suggests strong links between ethics and information policy and, while I have to acknowledge the impact of self-selection among participants, my conversations have encountered passionate concern over ethical issues far more often than indifference.

      If you have stories or ideas that you think might be useful, please post here or, if you prefer not to use an open forum, email me directly (stuart.ferguson at canberra.edu.au). All stories/case studies collected for the research will be de-identified before being published in any way. I’ve gone through rigorous ethics processes!

      Buchanan, E, 2008. On theory, practice, and responsibilities: A conversation with Robert Hauptman. Library & Information Science Research, 30/4, 250-256.
      Preer, J, 2008. Library ethics. 1st ed. Westport, CT: Libraries Unlimited.
      Shachaf, P, 2005. A global perspective on library association codes of ethics. Library & Information Science Research, [Online]. 27/4, 513-533. Available at: http://dx.doi.org.ezproxy1.canberra.edu.au/10.1016/j.lisr.2005.08.008 [Accessed 22 October 2012].

      1 Nov 2012

      Libfocus is 1!

      Libfocus is officially one year old today! I am sure I speak for all of us when I say a big thank you to everyone who has read and supported the blog so far, and also to all of our guest bloggers who have contributed some really excellent posts.

      If you would like to contribute a guest blog post to libfocus, just get in touch with us via Twitter (@libfocus) or email (libfocusguestpost at gmail.com) or contact any of the regular contributers listed on the right hand side of the blog. Posts about anything library- or information-related are always welcome.

      Posted on Thursday, November 01, 2012 | Categories: