LILAC 2011, 18th-20th April

April 27, 2011 by

On a beautiful sunny morning I boarded a train to London to attend the seventh (and my second) Librarians’ Information Literacy Annual Conference which was held at the British Library Conference Centre (day 1 and 2) and LSE (day 3).  LILAC is a very busy conference with around 250 delegates, 3 keynote speakers and 4 parallel sessions running simultaniously throughout the day all focusing on information literacy.  This blog post will highlight some of the key themes and presentations over the 3 days.

After arriving in time for lunch and an opportunity to network with delegates the conference was officially opened by Caroline Brazier Director of Scholarship and Collections at the British Library.  The first keynote speaker was Professor David Nicholas from UCL who talked about how the virtual revolution is transforming our lives and how librarians can intervene to moderate the worst excesses of information seeking and usage in cyberspace.  His presentation opened with a picture of a child on a laptop – this is the future and the future is now!

The four D’s:

  • Digital Transition – creates access to everything, need search and evaluation skills
  • Disintermediation – results in fast and massive choice.  Google creates do it yourself culture. We are all librarians!
  • Devices – mobile reading devices and ebooks
  • Decoupling – What happens when you know less and less about more and more people? Professional meltdown

Remote access:

  • behaviours happen remotely and anonymously
  • 15% of use occurs outside traditional working  hours.  Can argue that libraries increase productivity


  • Over half of visitors typically view 1-3 pages from the thousands availale. “Bounce” because of search engines, choice, an acceptance of failure, poor retreival skills, direct result of disintermediation. Young people bounce the most.
  • Viewing has replaced reading.  Prefer to power browse.  15 mins is a long time online.  Articles aren’t viewed for more than 5 minutes or so.

Simple and fast

  • Love Google, avoid carefully crafted discovery systems
  • Only librarians use advanced search
  • Like immersive environments like Amazon and Facebook with personalised serivces

Issues for Librarians:

  • Users rely on first up on Google answers
  • Inability to evaluate information
  • Bouncing and skittering – chips away at capacity to concentrate and contemplate which leads to reading problems
  • Brain provides a reward for finding something but not for reading!


  • Librarians need to understand information behaviour in the digital space
  • We’re using the wrong language – not information literacy but information investment
  • Need to work with publishers

Andrew Walsh Martini information literacy: how does “anytime, anyplace, anywhere”-access to information change what information literacy means? Andrew’s presentation linked in with the theme of bouncing and skittering and focused on providing access to information via mobile devises.  He highlighed the need to develop simple, easy to use interfaces which quickly take the user to the type of information they are looking for.

Kaye Towlson The information source evaluation matrix, a creative approach to making information evaluation easy and relevant.  Kaye said that existing online tutorials are largely ignored as users need to invest too much time (that bouncing and skittering again!).  At De Montford University they have developed an Information Source Evaluation Matrix which enables the methodical evaluation of different kinds of material.  It’s straightforward to use and raises student awareness of the necessary skills required for information evaluation.

Matthew Borg and Carloline Fixter Food for thought? Information literacy, library a la carte and Sheffield Hallam University.  Matthew and Caroline reported on a project to develop interactive online information literacy tutorials using the Library a la Carte

Day two opened with the second Keynote presentation by Nikki Heath School Librarians Do Make a difference! Reading for pleasure and information literacy at Werneth School.  Nikki outlined what she does including a number of reading initiatives at her school.  I particularly liked the summer challenge each year where £500 was given away in prizes!

Sarah Thornes Above and beyond: an online tutorial to develop academic and research skills described the development of an online tutorial at the University of Leeds which was to address the support provided to distance learners and part-time students.  Sarah highlighted visual communication as being more important in e-learning than face to face.  When asked how much time it took to create the tutorial Sarah said it took 100 hours to create 1 hour of content! This seem like an awful lot of work and myself and other delegates where interested to find out about usage, but dissapointingly the response was it’s difficult to evaluate online objects.  In fact there were a lot of librarians at LILAC presenting the development of online tutorials who were unable to effectively evaluate use. I would question whether students have the patience to work through these kind of tutorials?

I particularly liked Dina Koutsomichali’s presentation Using online polling systems in IL sessions.  As someone who has played with Clickers in the past and has had varying success with the technology, this looked like an interesting option.  The advantages of online polling are live anonymous interaction with large groups; it can be embedded in a powerpoint, VLE or webpage.  Dina advised that you use it only 3-5 times in a session otherwise students get bored.  Good sites to use are, and  Unlike Clickers you don’t need any handsets or specialist software.  Students can vote by texting on their mobile or online via their laptop.

Overall a good conference with lots of good ideas and thoughts to come away with.


MashSpa: Mash and Mashibility, 29 October 2010

November 25, 2010 by

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 by

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 ❤ libraries!

BLA Conference 2010 Liverpool

July 16, 2010 by

On 7th July 65 Business librarians decended on the Hilton Hotel Liverpool for the Business Librarians Association Annual Conference.  The theme of this year’s conference was “The Research Agenda” with a promise of addressing the following questsions:

  • How can Business Librarians discover and meet the needs of researchers?
  • Would we be better placed to help researchers if we have some involvement in research ourselves?

This was my first BLA Conference as a newly fledged Business Librarian and I was looking forward to the opportunity to network and share ideas/expertise with other Business Librarians and I wasn’t disappointed! A lot was packed into the 3 day conference and I have decided to provide a summary of the highlights from each day below.  For a complete report of the conference take a look at Andy Priestner’s blog Libreaction

Day 1

After a warm welcome from Andy Priestner the day kicked off with the Library Director’s presentations by Maxine Melling (Liverpool John Moores University (LJMU)) and Phil Sykes (University of Liverpool). One of the key strategic drivers at LJMU is to support the sustainability of the research culture.  Maxine outlined some of the strategies employed in supporting researchers at LJMU including: providing space for researchers; research support web pages; targeted spending on research based resources and the development of digitial collections.

Phil Sykes started his presentation with a quote from Tale of Two Cities  “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…” He used this to illustrate that the environment in which Business Librarians currently operate is the “worst of times” and that we need to plan for adversity and look for opportunities in which Business Librarians can contribute to the competitive success of business schools.  Some of the opportunities he outlined include:

  • In the traditional way by providing timely and appropriate information provision which is embedded, evangelical and evidence based.  We need to be better at proclaiming the value of the library and demonstrate that what we do adds value
  • Helping to promote and disseminate the fruits of research through institional repositories
  • Developing links with the private sector and research sponsors

To finish of the first day there were a couple of members’ sharing sessions.  Carolyn Smith gave an interesting presentation on how they support PhD students at Cass Business School.  The types of services they are currently providing are: small group inductions; 1-2-1 appointments; a PhD library guide; posters on library services in PhD offices; engagement with research supervisors and a research support seminar series.  They had tried to hold a focus group to find out what they want from the library but nobody turned up and Carolyn asked the delegates for ideas.  Suggestions to attract more participants were to provide some sort of payment (cash or vouchers) and there should be a neutral person (non library) leading the focus group to encourage open and honest discussion.

The final presenter of day 1 was Lydia Matheson who spoke about the small scale research projects that have been undertaken at Aston University.  Projects included the use of smart technologies, VLE inductions for distance learning students, information literacy, a reading list project and an enquiries blog.

Day 2

Mark Greenwood (Manchester Business School) provided the third members’ sharing session with his presentation on Manchester Business Answers 24/7 an online FAQ database which was set up to help students navigate around resources.  Mark gave a live demonstration of the databases which is searchable and can be accessed anywhere at anytime.  All the answers in the database are tagged so that users have the option to browse or search for answers.  Mark explained that it is another way of getting to the information which is already on the library website.  As well as the answers links to online tutorials, guides and materials provided by other libraries.

Following on from lunch on the second day was a panel discussion on support for research.  The panel was made up of Val Stephenson, Head of Research & Learning Support at LJMU, Stéphane Goldstein (RIN), Professor Andy Young (Director of Research at LJMU), and David Glauert (Academic Account Manager at Thomson Reuters).  The key message from the panel discussion (and the conference as a whole) is that librarians need to demonstrate impact in supporting research in the academic community and beyond.  Any Young made some particularly thought provoking points on the key challenges ahead:

  • Funding cuts not only affect research but research support
  • Research is funded by public money so needs to reach a wider audience and researchers need to demonstrate the benefits of their research to UKPLC
  • To increase invisibility there needs to be a widers dissemination of research results.
  • Integrated research management systems help to make life simpler for researchers and academics.
  • Librarians have a role to play in supporting researchers through providing advice and guidance (particularly to early career researchers) on where to publish and interpreting journal rankings

Day 2 ended with a chance to explore some of the sights of Liverpool followed by a fantastic gala dinner at Liverpool Town Hall.  A great night was had by all.

Day 3

Day 3 began with the BLA AGM followed by the option to attend one of three interesting workshops on ‘mind mapping’, ‘healthy lifestyles’ and ‘colour me beautiful’.  I attended the healthy lifestyles workshop where we had an interesting group discussions led by a team from the Food and Nutrition Research Group at LJMU.  We worked in small groups and were meant to cover five topics but our group just had a general discussion on nutrition and exercise.  One of the Research Group Deborah was facilitating our group and provided a wealth of knowledge on the science of nutriton and measures of health.  I came away from this workshop feeling good about my current lifestyle and eating habits.

The final session of the conference was the Members’ Forum where we had the opportunity to discuss in groups a number of issues surrounding supporting research.  The three topic covered were: how can we measure the impact of the library service and its training? How are we coping with budget cuts? and ideas for the BLA Conference 2011.

So what did I think of my first BLA Conference? As a new Business Librarian I found the conference an excellent opportunity to network with fellow librarians and I have come away with lots of ideas and new contacts.  Even the journey home was inspiring where  Emma Cragg and I had an excellent brainstorming session on ideas for teaching and inductions! I hope to be able to attend BLA 2011 in Sheffield next year.

SCONUL E-Measures Pilot Libraries Workshop

April 30, 2010 by

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.

Information Skills for Library Staff

April 22, 2010 by

Yesterday I ditched the car and jumped on the train to London to attend an Information skills for Library Staff, CPD25 event at Birkbeck, University of London.  The day did not get off to a good start.  I arrived just as the event was due to start and didn’t get the opportunity to grab a cup of tea and a muffin before the first speaker!  I was not happy and hoped the day was not set to continue in this fashion.  Luckily it turned out to be an interesting day…

Sarah Arkle from the University of Bedfordshire was first up and she gave an introduction to LolliPop.  LolliPop is an information literacy (IL) course for enquiry desk staff. The programme develops IL skills and teaches enquiry desk staff to transfer these skills into the work place.  The programme originally called POP-i was developed for public library staff and with a few changes evolved into a tutorial for HE staff.  Sarah provided feedback from the first pilot which tooko place at Loughborough University and University of Hertfordshire.  The course ran for 13 weeks, with 27 participants and covered 10 units.  Staff were given 1-2 hours a week to complete the course.  Various activities were included such as: keeping a reflective journal; forums and formative quizzes.  Feedback from staff included: too much reading and not enough doing; liked content; liked quizzes; liked informs tutorials and they liked the forums.  Following on from the pilot a second version called Evidence Based LolliPop was developed.  This time it included tools for learning such as wikis, blogs, Flickr, Twitter, Delicious, YouTube etc.  The pilot group for version 2 were University of Bedfordshire, University of Worcester and Worcester College of Technology.  The aim of the course was the up-skilling of staff over the summer for the new academic year. This looks like an interesting course that we could perhaps deliver to our front line staff?  The advantages of LolliPop is that it has been written in HTML, therefore can be uploaded into any Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) or onto a website. Content changes can be made easily using Dreamweaver. LolliPop is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 2.0 UK: England & Wales License.  The disadvantage is that some staff will not enjoy learning in an online environment (you can’t please everyone).

Next up was Craigie-Lee Paterson and Helen Stephen from Goldsmiths and they talked about their experiences of studying for the Open University course “The Evolving Information Professional: Challenges in a Digital World“, a course which is wholly delivered online.  The course was based around the concept of the ‘magic triangle’ consisting of you, your users and your service and how they connect together.  Overall they enjoyed the course and thought it was relevant to their job.  They felt there was a lack of collaboration with no interaction with other students.  The course states that it will take around 30 hours to complete but it took both of them much longer than this.

After a well deserved coffee break and opportunity to network we heard from Anne Pietsch and Brian Kilpatrick from Roehampton University who provided an evaluation of the LolliPop scheme at their University.  They condensed the course into an 8 week course and did a HUGE amount of editing for it to work within WebCT (you wouldn’t need to do this for Moodle).  I think their approach to the course worked well as pre-course they had a training day for participants.  There were six onine learning units to be completed which were released weekly.  The advantage of this was that everyone was at the same place.  At week 3 the group had a feedback session with tea and cake (i particularly liked this approach) and at the end they had a project evaluation survey and quiz.  Feedback from the participants was good.  Overall the volunteers enjoyed the experience and learned from it.

Over the course of the day it was quite clear that a lot of University libraries are removing their enquiry desks and replacing them with one desk staffed by library assistants.  The frontline staff are then expected to deal with enquiry work and with this comes a need for a systematic approach to enquiry based training.

University of Sussex are one such institution which are going through a library refurbishment which will result in the ‘information hub’, a one-stop point of contact for enquiries.  Some library staff at Sussex have raised concerns about the planned changes and have asked for additional enquiries training.   Emma Walton, Learning and Teaching Support Manager took the opportunity to look at new ways of training staff to reinforce exisiting enquiries skills and she came up with the University of Sussex Library – “Pub Quiz”.  The staff worked in teams with use of a laptop.  Questions were organised into rounds consisting of 3-4 questions.  Prizes were given to all participatns with a larger prize for the winning team.  As a fun way to end the afternoon we all took part in a short CPD25 Information Skills for Library Staff Quiz to give us a taster and prizes were awarded all round!  I really liked this as one approach to staff training as it allows groups to work together, it’s informal, it’s fun for both participants and the host and it’s just a different way of delivering a staff development session.  I am already planning on running a similar session for library staff at RHUL and thinking about how I can combine this with the clickers?!

M25 Conference Friday 23rd April 2010

April 22, 2010 by

Looking forward to the M25 Conference tomorrow:

It will be interesting to see how strategic thinkers see the use of technology and online services developing in the current economic climate (and exactly how ‘enhanced’ an ‘enhanced VLE’ actually is). When money’s too tight to mention the conflict between spending on discovery technology vs content always comes to the fore ….

Also looking forward to seeing the screenshots / prototype of the M25 (virtual) Staff Room. The recent ‘ideas session’ for it held at LSE was really fruitful and buzzing with energy (nice to indulge in unfettered thinking ). If this is implemented effectively (and i’m sure it will be) then I think it will provide an excellent and fun (yes fun, I said FUN) social and professional networking environment for all library and information services staff in M25 Libraries. Exciting stuff …

Blog resurrection

April 21, 2010 by

This coming Friday it will be a year to the day since ourlast blog entry. During this time we have seen Damyanti, the original creator of this blog, move on to a new job and Graham has retired. Both of these posts were vacant for some time, and adding new blog posts wasn’t really a priority in the face of refurbishments and in particular coping with our busiest term of the year with only 3 information consultants.

However we got through it (just), and in the last year Matthew Smith joined our team as a graduate trainee in September, and Russell Burke and Lucinda Lyon joined in January as our new Information Consultants.  So now is a good time to look at this blog and decide what to do with it. This  blog is really for professional development, so I’m going to ask the team to report back on conferences/events/courses they’ve been on via this blog. This will hopefully build up a picture of the different types of professional development we’re experiencing across the team, but it doesn’t have to be restricted to conferences/events – essentially it can be anything relating to professional development that they fancy writing in the blog, which will be useful for us a team and with a bit of luck for any other library-related people out there with an interest in the subjects we’re covering.

Right, now to get people to add some posts. It’s no coincidence that Lucinda, Russell and Matthew are all going on different courses this week…

Talis Aspire – online reading/resource list

April 23, 2009 by

Following on from recent posts about online reading lists, I recently attended a Talis Aspire day and thought I’d share a little. Talis Aspire, for those who don’t know, is a next gen online reading list system, or, as it’s now called, an online resource list. Various people spoke during the day, so to find out more (and in case I misunderstood anything!) go to


Talis Aspire takes into account the rise of e-content, evolving pedagogy techniques, higher student expectations and user-generated content. Talis are fairly sure that they got the stock management aspect right with Talis List, so they took as the starting point of development the needs of students and academics, as well as the library. Essentially the VLE is still seen as the hub that co-ordinates services, and Aspire is designed to work with existing systems. . A lot of academics seem to be using Moodle to provide their course reading, but at present it still mostly consists of links within Moodle to word documents or PDFs. Aspire has been designed to fit in with the look of the institution so that it can work with Moodle without the students necessarily knowing that they have even left Moodle. It integrates with e.g. Shibboleth/Athens and student registries, so that it’s possible for students to be presented with the relevant lists as soon as they start a course (rather than having to seek out their lists). One of the goals of Aspire is to maximize the value of e-resources, so in-line content plays a big part – library catalogue information is displayed on the page, and you can embed e.g. e-books, articles and videos within the list. This looked particularly useful so the students can get to content quicker and should help them to access more e-resources. YouTube is easy to embed, but I was pleased that they were currently talking to the BUFVC to see if Box of Broadcasts could be directly embedded.


Lectures can get feedback from the lists, as Google Analytics runs across Aspire. It’s also much easier to input items using a drag and drop system. In order to create a list you drag a bookmarklet into your toolbar, and then click on it when you are e.g. at a catalogue record you want to add or reading an online article. For the latter the system uses DOIs and Open URLs and they have been working with partners to get the metadata in. They use the metadata supplied to Crossref when the DOI is obtained. In this way 95% of the information can be added to the list without the need for manual input. Once you’ve clicked on the bookmarklet you can add the item to your bookmarks or add it directly to the list. Once in a list you can drag and drop items from your bookmarks and use drag and drop to re-order the list. List creators can also share all their bookmarks.


The layout of the list is clean, and usefully displays item information (e.g. whether it’s a book or article). The list can be displayed in full, or as a table of contents – the latter would prove particularly useful for my giant History lists. Each item has its own page, so for instance a book item would display library catalogue information, but there is also the potential (if the institution wants it) to display availability on Amazon or a campus bookstore. This currently works at the system level, so it is not at present possible to turn features like this on and off at will. However it is possible to add alternative sources as extensions, and if something becomes a possible extension it could become part of the product. Students can also sign in via e.g. Athens (single sign-in would work best) to add notes or comments on books they have read.


Aspire is designed to work with other systems, so as ever it would be reliant on the quality of the information in existing systems. A question was asked about linking one item to different editions, but this only seemed possible if the library management system could do this already. You could however list an alternative option in the record, which would help with this problem. The question of how it would work with existing lists arose. Unfortunately there’s still no way to systematically convert Word documents into the system, as when Talis tried this every Word document was created in a different way. We use the LORLS system so we would in theory be able to use the system number or ISBN to migrate our current lists into Aspire. My big concern would be those entries which aren’t linked to our library management system. I can’t see an easy way of converting any unlinked manual entries into the system, so it may produce gaps. The system seems very well designed for creating lists from scratch, but it may not be quite as effective at converting existing lists. However Talis acknowledge that their aim is to improve existing data rather than just convert it.


A lot of the acquisitions work is still in development, but by the time the full release is available, Aspire should be able to support purchase suggestions, reporting and e.g. reconciling books on order so that the catalogue record appears on the list. Also to come are the collaborative and sharing tools, as well as more advanced content annotation. Having not been able to use our current system extensively for collection management, I’m very interested to see these features, but I’ll have to wait a little while yet to see them in detail. The Beta phase ends in August, so it will be easier for me to make a full evaluation at that point. They will also work on the ability to transfer the lists into bibliographic management software.


However what’s encouraging at the moment is that Talis and the developers have been asking the same sorts of questions that I’ve been asking regarding the lists. They’ve clearly addressed many issues and tried to look at what a resource list should do from different angles, so the product does initially look good. I don’t think we’ll be able to purchase a new system right now, but it’s definitely worth thinking about. It’s definitely a step up from previous systems, but we’d not only need to compare it to e.g. LORLS and Talis List, but also to e.g. the capabilities of Moodle and RefShare in order to determine whether it represents value for money. In summary it looks very promising and I’ll be closely watching developments.


Refshare as reading list system?

March 12, 2009 by

At Royal Holloway we have recently acquired Refshare and I’ve been asked to have a look to see if it could potentially be used as a reading list system. I’ve only looked at this quickly, but here are some initial thoughts.

The biggest advantage over our current system is that we would be able to display the lists in the citation format required by the departments (the question of output format for our current system has been raised by some departmetns). Also the RSS Moodle import would be useful.

I’m not sure how it would work with our library holdings, as we currently link via the system number or ISBN (though I’m reasonably ignorant of how this is achieved technically). We really need to get to our holdings/e-resources with as few clicks as possible, and I’m slightly concerned that it won’t be too obvious how to do this with RefShare and it may take more clicks than currently. We could use SFX as the link, and I’m sure the Refworks data would be better, but I think there’s a tendency amongst users to only use this feature for electronic access, and even then they tend to look for more direct weblinks. I’m assuming that we could link objects directly from Equella with Refshare?

If academic staff are happy using Refworks, it may make the creation of lists easier for them. However I’m not sure that very many of them are creating lists from scratch – I think it’s more likely that they will be amending current lists (inevitably in Word). We’d also have to think about existing lists (particularly the very long lists) which we already have on our system, and how we could transfer them.

My final thought (for the moment) is about collection management. We are aiming to use reading lists for collection management, but I’m not sure how Refworks would help with this, as it would remain quite separate from the catalogue (wouldn’t it?!).

Obviously this needs to be explored more, as I’ve only just started looking at Refshare and I’m unsure about what we can do with it in practical and technical terms.