Archive for the ‘Conference’ Category

LILAC 2011, 18th-20th April

April 27, 2011

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

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.

BLA Conference 2010 Liverpool

July 16, 2010

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.