Author Archive

MashSpa: Mash and Mashibility, 29 October 2010

November 25, 2010

Having never visited Bath before, I set off for the (un)conference with the double excitement of seeing somewhere new and hunkering down for a day of quasi-techy chat with a bunch of shambrarians.

The conference took place at the Chapel Arts Centre, a lovely little venue (ignoring the suspect wifi) and was presented by the very dapper Julian Cheal, who kept the day running smoothly (no small feat when faced with a group of varyingly-rowdy librarians).

There were three talks planned for the morning, with the afternoon being set aside for workshopping and general consumption of cake (at least according to my personal itinerary).

The first talk of the morning was by Ben O’Steen, who talked about open bibliography. This is the idea of publishing bibliographic information under a permissive licence to encourage indexing. Ben argued that one of the great advantages of this for the end-user would be an ability to discover a wider web of information through more complex and accurate cross-indexing. However, he also raised the issue of consistency of standards across data sets and the need to clean-up a lot of existing data – an idea that might be met with resistance from cataloguers, who take great pride in their work. Ben strongly advocated the need for open bibliography to be embraced, and illustrated the power of a few with a funny video.

The second talk of the morning came from Dan Williams of Pervasive Media Studio, who talked about the need for information professionals to help manage cyber-data, and also threw around some novel RFID ideas. One of the most interesting themes of Dan’s talk was a discussion on the link between the virtual and physical world, citing many examples where people have moved Internet technologies to more primitive vehicles. For example, many people have created books that feature a compilation of tweets, blog posts, or even entries from Wikipedia, transforming data from an evolving environment to a static one.

The third talk of the morning, from Lukas Koster, was probably the most technical and therefore the one requiring the most concentration on my part. Thankfully, the tea break that preceded Lukas’ talk gave me an opportunity to take a quick caffeine hit and scoff as many biscuits as was decently possible, leaving me in a prime state for information ingestion. Lukas described a project he was working on for linking data between the catalogue records of the University of Amsterdam and the Netherlands Theatre Institute. The concept Lukas described was based on an entity-relationship model, but it was quite technical and my notes don’t make a lot of sense a month down the line, so I won’t attempt to describe it any further than that.

Having concluded the most formal part of the conference lunch was served, which was a great opportunity to meet a few new people (especially as I didn’t know anyone, either in the virtual or real world). Lunch itself was a pleasant surprise; expecting a standard buffet I was inappropriately excited when a huge vat of soup appeared accompanied by warm bread rolls.

The afternoon was split into a range of workshops. I attended the least techy groups possible and ended up discussing empirical ways that libraries could demonstrate their worth (most of which made the inner-scientist in me recoil in horror – thankfully I restrained myself from pointing out some of the methodological flaws for fear of being overly serious), and then ways social media could be integrated into libraries to improve the end-user experience. Finally, I sat in on a session where ideas for RFID mash-ups were thrown around.

All in all it was a really interesting day and I enjoyed looking at a variety of differently technologies and how they could be used to benefit libraries. For those who haven’t been to a Mashed Libraries event before I thoroughly recommend it.

Finding the Passion: CILIP New Professionals Day, 1st October 2010

November 18, 2010

Having signed up to find some passion I was only mildly disappointed to discover ‘Finding the Passion’ was not a glorified speed dating day for lonely librarians but was in fact a great opportunity to meet and network with fellow-graduates who were considering a career in librarianship, or were indeed already on their way to being an information professional of the most qualified variety.

As well as enjoying the company of some very fine young librarians and wondering at the sheer density of tweed in some quarters there were plenty of interesting talks to be enjoyed during the day.

As somewhat of a technological curmudgeon I was surprised and pleased to enjoy Lex Rigby’s talk on using social media to network with other professionals. As someone who has the sum total of one blog post and three tweets to my name I actually found the presentation very involving and certainly felt inspired to enter into the strange and confusing world of twitter, foursquare, and various other electro-sites, more regularly.

Equally, as someone who dips in and out of a range of technologies I found Ned Potter’s technological library map interesting. I have spent the last year and a half working in an academic library, figuring out where I would like a career in libraries to take me, and what skills I would need to get me there. Listening to Ned talk about some of the different knowledge sets needed for different roles really offered a great overview and gave me a few pointers too.

Nicholas Robinson’s talk on embedded librarians and on his own background was also really interesting too. In keeping with the theme of the day I can happily say that I have rarely been around so many people full of passion for libraries and irritatingly I suspect a little of that might have rubbed off on me. Now someone bring me a twitter-ready phone so I can tell the world (or my 4 followers) that I <3 libraries!

SCONUL E-Measures Pilot Libraries Workshop

April 30, 2010

As you might imagine, being a graduate trainee I am always eager to hear what experienced librarians have to say about their field of expertise and their various roles as information professionals. Therefore, it was with great enthusiasm and vigour that I anticipated the SCONUL e-resources pilot workshop hosted by the University of Westminster – not only a chance to enjoy robust discussion about the imponderable wonders of collecting e-resource statistics but also a day out in the big LDN.

Having navigated the underground, quaintest of all transport systems, I bounced from the station to Westminster’s campus at Marylebone. Unimpressed by my sunny demeanour the receptionist informed that I was 15 minutes late for the meeting. Unperturbed I launched into a serious exploration of the modern university campus or, if you prefer, got lost.

Being the politest of people none of the librarians questioned why a dishevelled vagabond had wondered into their important meeting mid-flow. As one who is intellectually vacant at the best of times I resigned myself to the role of spectator as the rest of the group discussed the intricacies of filling in their SCONUL return.

As an outside observer, things I observed where these; as the return is in its early days there is considerable scepticism about the validity and reliability of any results obtained. The usefulness of the data was also questioned and there were general enquiries about the reasoning behind the inclusion of particular items and the exclusion or design of others. There was a general feeling in the room that the problems with the current design meant the return had been pushed down most people’s priority list.

From the point of view of an aspiring librarian I enjoyed the chance to hear the views of more experienced professionals and look forward to being involved in the future when I might be able to discuss with parity some of the issues facing e-resource librarians.


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