29 Nov 2013

Three librarian webinars in December

...and one in early January. Below is this year's
final set of interesting cpd webinars. Topics covered include collection management, reader services, web design and cataloguing.

Weeding: The Good, the Bad, and the Musty
Wednesday, 11th December,  4pm – 5pm GMT (Provided by Nicolet Federated Library System)
Weeding is not a dirty word. Change your attitude about weeding and take charge of your collection. Learn the essential steps to make your collection more useful, comfortable, and attractive for your users.

Extreme Customer Service, Every Time
Thursday, 12th December, 6pm - 7pm GMT (Provided by WebJunction)
Commitment to great customer service goes beyond “service with a smile.” It is a commitment to truly engage and communicate with patrons and to find ways to extend the experience above and beyond their expectations. Building on the success of the Darien Library, whose reputation is known internationally for providing “extreme customer service”, presenter Gretchen Caserotti will provide you with practical and actionable ideas that can help your library, whether small or large, commit to excellent customer service.

Web Trends 2013-2014: Where to Invest Your Pixels
Tuesday, 17th December, 6pm - 6.45pm GMT (Provided by Systems Alliance)
In the last few years we have seen progressive - and monumental - changes in technology that have begun to transform the way websites are designed. Responsive design, sticky navigation and web typography are no longer just buzzwords but important elements considered in every design project. But separating the fads from the trends and identifying those trends worth investing in can certainly be challenging. This webinar takes a look at trends in web design that have emerged in recent years as well as those anticipated for 2014. Trends examined by Systems Alliance include:
- Responsive design
- Web typography
- Minimalist and flat design
- Parallax scrolling
- Infographics and data-driven graphics
- Sticky navigation
- One-page websites

Transitioning from MARC to BIBFRAME: The Environment and the Format
Wednesday, 8th January, 5pm - 6pm GMT (Provided by UW-Madison School of Library and Information Studies)
MARC is dead! How many times have you heard that during your career in libraries?

This time, though, it might really be for real. In 2011, the Library of Congress (LoC) announced that it was transitioning away from the MARC format for bibliographic data.

In the summer of 2012, LoC hired Zepheira to investigate the possibilities of linked data as the carrier for library descriptive information. In November of 2012, Zepheira and LoC published a report, Bibliographic Framework as a Web of Data: Linked Data Model and Supporting Services, often referred to as the BIBFRAME Primer.

You can follow BIBFRAME developments at BIBFRAME.org, but to help you get started, UW-Madison SLIS Continuing Education Services is providing two free Webinars, taught by Kevin Ford of the LoC MARC Standards Office, and BIBFRAME Initiative.

The first 100 attendees to sign up will be able to watch the webinar live; those who sign up later will receive emails with links to the recordings.
Posted on Friday, November 29, 2013 | Categories:

26 Nov 2013

Information literacy, graduate attributes and employability

As an academic librarian, I think one of the key reports in recent times is Project Information Literacy's How College Graduates Solve Information Problems Once They Join the Workplace. A large proportion of our IL instruction often focuses on 'library' resources such as subscription databases and journals, and aims at achieving learning outcomes that can help students succeed during their time in University.

The bigger picture of course, is that once our students graduate, the information landscape of industry, policy-making and the professional world often bares very little resemblance to 'the library'. After 3 or 4 years of using JSTOR, Web of Science or Scopus we now expect them to be able to go out into the world and know where to find the information they need to help them in their jobs. In healthcare (where PubMed is freely available) or in large financial companies that may have subscription resources, the transition to information-seeking in professional life may be more manageable. However, retail managers trying to analyse market trends or an engineer in a small practice looking for information on measuring environmental impact may find themselves trying to climb a glass wall with no familiar footholds for leverage.

As instructors we help our students to recognise that being able to find, evaluate and manage information effectively is a key transferable skill, but I wonder do we emphasise this enough? If we highlight the long-term value of being information literate (and in particular the advantage of possessing a set of competencies and attributes desired by employers) students may also be more willing to invest time in the process of learning and developing their skills. Perhaps we need to think of how we can package or state our typical IL objectives and outcomes, in a way that is directly linked to the world of work?

The aforementioned report from PIL (2012, p.9) highlights the three baseline competencies required by employers at the recruitment stage. These same competencies are of course inherent in probably every third level information skills curriculum across the globe. However, do we emphasise the point enough that these are also key skills required by employers? Do we really sell how transferable many of the skills needed in using information in everyday life really are?

What Do Employers Expect from College Hires?
1. To know how and where to find information online, without much guidance
2. To use a search strategy that goes beyond Google and finding an answer
on the first page of results
3. To articulate a “best solution” and conclusion from all that was found
(How College Graduates Solve Information Problems Once They Join the Workplace, 2012, p. 9)

The Report also includes the findings from the 2011 NACE Survey, where employers rate the importance of candidate skills/qualities on a scale of 1 (not important) to 5 (extremely important)

1. Ability to work in a team structure 4.60
2. Ability to verbally communicate with people inside and outside the organization 4.59
3. Ability to make decisions and solve problems 4.49
4. Ability to obtain and process information 4.46
5. Ability to plan, organize and prioritize work 4.45
6. Ability to analyze quantitative data 4.23
7. Possession of technical knowledge related to the job 4.23
8. Proficiency with computer software programs 4.04
9. Ability to create and/or edit written reports 3.65
10. Ability to persuade or influence others 3.51
(How College Graduates Solve Information Problems Once They Join the Workplace, 2012, p.9)

Again, our instruction can often hit several of these to some extent at least, through collaborative learning, promoting and supporting digital literacies, helping students develop skills for managing and organising information, fostering critical thinking skills and developing effective processes for solving research problems.

Given the importance of context and relevance in teaching IL, I still feel that it is essential to try and reach students when they are most receptive and faced with a real information need or problem, such as completing an assignment or essay. Targeting instruction which can hit this specific gap at the right time will no doubt be more effective than pitching it as a set of vague or bigger picture attributes desired by employers. However at the same time, I think it could be useful for us to explore how we can anchor our IL instruction to employability and the 'real world' a little more.
Posted on Tuesday, November 26, 2013 | Categories:

18 Nov 2013

Germany’s green road: a 2012 census overview of German open access repositories

Back in 2012, Paul Vierkant and his team of three at the Information Management Department at the Berlin School of Library and Information Science conducted the most thorough snapshot survey of German open access repositories to date.

For practical purposes, Vierkant et al. developed their own definition as to what a digital open access repository denotes within the context of their census project. “The Census "[...] definition of Open Access Repository includes repositories that are institutional, cross-institutional or disciplinary providing (in the majority of cases) full-text open access scientific publications together with descriptive metadata through a GUI (with search/browse functionality). The repositories are registered with a functioning and harvestable base URL in at least one of the following registries: ROAR, OpenDOAR, OAI, DINI and BASE." (Vierkant, 2013).

Repositories that host digital collections, open access journal aggregators and research data were not included in this snapshot survey as they are difficult to compare due to their significant differences in character, scope and content. The survey took place on 14th February 2012.

Repository sizes and amounts of content
Within the context of the above definition, 141 active open access repositories are operational in Germany to date.

Size ranges of and software used for open access repositories in Germany (Source: Vierkant/D-Lib Magazine)

In total, over 704,121 items are accessible through open access. The majority (57) of individual repositories contain ≤ 1,000 items. Nordrhein-Westfalen (the most populated Bundesland) hosts 27 repositories, followed by Baden-W├╝rttemberg (28) and Bayern (22).

The top five largest open access repositories are 1) elib Publikationen des DLR (46,136 items), 2) EconStor (45,268 items), 3) German Medical Science (41,753 items), PUP – Universit├Ąt Bielefeld (32,695 items), 5) ePIC – AWI (29,480 items).

It is interesting to see that one third of Germany’s open access repositories avail of hosting services: the smaller the repository, the more likely it is that they are hosted off site.

Value-added services
German repositories offer the following basic services, but they are not collectively present in all instances. Bibliographic export is offered by 56%; usage statistics is offered by 24%; checksum provision is offered by 36%; RSS feed services is offered by 48%; Social bookmarking services are offered by 45%; Social bookmarking (such as Facebook, Twitter or AddThis button) is offered by 11%.

The reasons given why German repositories (don’t) offer value-added services are speculative in the report.

Repository software and metadata formats
Germany is considered to be “OPUS-country”: 77 out of 141 repositories use OPUS (open source).

National distribution of repository software in Germany (Source: Vierkant/D-Lib Magazine)

Only 9 repositories run DSpace, which is the biggest open source software platform for repository services. Simple Dublin Core is supported by 99% of all repository instances.

The full results of the survey can be accessed here.

As an aside, UKSG will be running a 45-minute webinar on 20th November: Managing Open Access in the Library (it offers a thorough introduction to open access and explains how open access advocacy and other related procedures can be integrated into libraries).

8 Nov 2013

Four librarian webinars in November

Below is a bunch of interesting and free webinars that take place this month. The topics cover MS PowerPoint 2010, Website re-design challenges, services for vision impaired patrons and where to find essential graphic novels for the adult reader.

Getting the Most out of Microsoft PowerPoint 2010
Wednesday, 13th November,  6pm – 7.30pm Dublin
This webinar covers working with Microsoft PowerPoint to present and deliver information to your audience. You will learn about new features and time-savers to help in your day-to-day work. This session is good for beginner, intermediate, or advanced users – everyone will learn something!

Over Budget and Out of Time: Common Pitfalls of a Website Redesign Project and How to Avoid Them
Tuesday, 19th November, 6:00 PM - 6:45 PM GMT
The task of keeping a website relevant, engaging and on-trend with modern technology can be a daunting, costly, and stressful process.  Even website redesign projects with the most detailed project plans and requirements often fail due to a number of common mistakes. Don’t let your website redesign be next – avoid these pitfalls and ensure you start off on the road to success.

In this webinar, we will examine typical reasons why website redesign projects go over budget, out of scope, and launch beyond the initial timeline. We’ll discuss each pitfall in detail and how to avoid it. Pitfalls include:
- Unrealistic budget
- Too many stakeholders
- Surprises
- The curse of content entry
- Lack of internal resources to support the digital strategy

Itasca Community Library's Vision Center: Library technology for patrons who are blind or have low vision
Wednesday, 20th November, 7pm – 8pm GMT
Does your library provide assistive technology for patrons who are blind or have low vision? Or is this a goal for the near future? Join this session to learn from the Itasca Community Library (IL), which provides special technology, services, materials and equipment for patrons with vision impairments. A Vision Centre was created in the library.

Graphic Novels for Adult Readers: Recommending the Best
Wednesday, 20th November, 5pm – 6pm GMT
Are you wondering how to recommend graphic novels to adult leisure readers? Are you uncomfortable talking with adults who want to discuss graphic novels because you’re not the “staff expert”? Do you know where to find essential graphic novel titles that should be included in most library collections? 

Even though graphic novels continue to become more visible in library collections, adults often don’t consider reading in this format. Staff providing reader’s advisory may also feel at a loss when attempting to include graphic novels as suggestions.

This hour-long webinar will help staff broaden their skills by adding graphic novels to their recommendations. It will show how to locate satisfying and often little-known graphic novels that respond to both the subject interest and personal appeal factors in readers who have little experience with the format. Ideas for encouraging experienced comics readers to move to graphic novels will also be discussed.

Collection development staff will learn sources for graphic novels that are essential to most collections for adult leisure readers.

At the end of this one-hour webinar, participants will:
- Know the history and key elements that make up the graphic novel.
- Be able to discuss the literary appeal graphic novels will have for adult readers.
- Recognise literary genres in graphic novel form.
- Have techniques for recommending graphic novels to adults based on their other reading interests.

This webinar is aimed at those who work with adults and with materials published for the adult reader market. It will be of interest to readers’ advisers and collection developers at any type of library serving adults.
Posted on Friday, November 08, 2013 | Categories:

4 Nov 2013

Research, Evaluation and Audit by M.J. Grant, B. Sen & H. Spring (eds.) (Review)

Sometimes it surprises me just how many books on research design and methods have been written without the practitioner in mind. Whilst I understand that the majority of texts may be principally aimed at the academic sector, research and evaluation are also fundamental skills in most workplace contexts. LIS is one such case, and indeed a sector that has seen the philosophy of evidence based practice grow steadily over the past ten or fifteen years to a point where assessment, metrics and evaluation are now cornerstones of service design and delivery.

Research, Evaluation and Audit brings together many of the key names who have been involved in both the emergence and development of EBLIP, in a book that is written and packaged firmly with the practitioner in mind. From the outset, it is evident that the editors understand the real challenges when it comes to librarians and practitioners undertaking research. It is not just a simple matter of learning how to carry out research from a technical perspective, and which methods are appropriate and why; it starts at a much more fundamental level. Indeed in some cases, the concept of evidence based practice requires developing a new mindset - one that continuously questions, seeks and appraises rather than relying on experience, habits and traditions.

The contributors to this book clearly recognise and acknowledge the complexity of this challenge. The editors have skillfully managed to curate and incorporate the broader issues involved in adopting an evidence based approach, including the need to develop a curious and analytical mindset; cultivating the habit of asking the right questions; practical aspects like writing a project plan to give clarity and keep things on track; ethics and best practice. It's refreshing to see that it is nearly 100 pages before research methods are discussed in any detail, and that the second chapter is dedicated to the broader issue of building confidence is indicative of the holistic focus of the book. This breadth however, means that the second party of the book, which deals with methods and data analysis, may be too introductory and brief for some. It really serves as an overview, and provides a diving-off point for researchers who can consult the recommended further reading for more specific information on methods or techniques. A chapter on research tools is a welcome and unusual addition, and provides some useful links and applications for current awareness, reference management and surveys.

Peppered throughout the book illustrative case studies of 'real' research demonstrate just how intertwined research and evaluation are with service delivery. It serves as a reality-check for those who may claim their job is to 'support research, not to undertake it'. Research is not something that should be viewed as disconnected and separate from our day jobs, but about finding answers to the key questions that affect our services. Finding the best quality evidence helps us to do our jobs better, as well as to ascertain and demonstrate impact in an era when the need to communicate our value is greater than ever.

To me this book is not so much a one-stop-shop for those undertaking research in LIS; instead its greatest value lies in how it gently steers the reader through the research terrain, highlighting both the pitfalls and best routes to take, and giving them the context and insight to navigate and reach their own destination. Indeed it is likely that once the reader gets involved in any kind of project, this will be just one of several research texts that they reach for. However, it might ultimately end up being the most essential, by being the one that started them on their journey in the first place.

Research, Evaluation and Audit: Key steps in demonstrating your value by M.J. Grant, B. Sen & H. Spring (eds.) is published by Facet, October 2013.

1 Nov 2013

Getting Started in Digital Preservation - dpc Workshop, Dublin 1st Nov. - Review

Today I attended a one-day introductory workshop delivered by the Digital Preservation Coalition, which covered the nuts and bolts of digital preservation. It became quite clear from the outset that attendees' ideas, needs and priorities on this tricky topic differed. These ranged from arguing the business case to secure funding for the preservation of particular materials to identifying the general requirements for a successful digital preservation project and the particulars of approaching risk analysis.

Essentially, this workshop delivered a high level walk-through on how to accomplish a successful digital preservation project, which will deliver on the needs of all stakeholders involved. It also provided us with a substantial list of information resources that can make this happen.

The first presentation introduced us to the idea of getting started in digital preservation activities. Much digital information requires long-term preservation as it represents value to particular users in the present, whilst at the same time creating information contexts and opportunities for users of the future. Preservation means migration (adjusting file formats to ensure accessibility), emulation (intervening in an operating system to ensure that legacy software continues to read information), hardware preservation (maintaining the physical computing environment to read information), and research and development of new preservation and access solutions.

Various challenges arise when engaging with digital preservation activities, which consequently require careful planning and execution. See the presentation "Getting Started in Digital Preservation: what do I need to know?" for details on those challenges, approaches and related support tools.

The next presentation introduced us to identifying appropriate file formats for preservation. This included a practical showcase using Pronom + Droid, a public file format registry. I found this quite useful as it highlighted the challenges inherent in the changing of file formats over time (i.e. identifying 'robust' formats versus 'proliferating' formats versus 'conformant' data containers).

We were then shown how to implement a workflow for digital preservation. Six basic steps apply:
1) Know what you have, 2) Prioritise the risks, 3) Plan what to do about them, 4) Test the plan, 5) Implement the plan, 6) Check the plan has worked. Practical planning tools include PLATO, DMPonline and OAIS. This presentation is particularly valuable if your are new to the field of digital preservation as it introduces a step-by-step protocol to executing digital preservation projects.

The reality is that successful digital preservation projects rely on considerable planning, manpower and expertise (appropriate funding is a separate question altogether). This workshop helped me to better understand what's ultimately required, including which information resources to consult to make sure that projects get properly off the ground.