Thursday, 6 January 2011

Libraries@Cambridge 2011

Today I was at the Libraries@Cambridge conference, and had such a good day hearing from loads of great projects, groups and individuals. I was planning to tweet during the conference but kept getting error messages bah! So I settled for good old pen and paper instead. There were quite a few other people tweeting though, and they were using the hashtag #lac11. There were far too many people giving fantastic presentations to talk about them all in much detail or else this would be miles long! (I'll probably do another post at some point about the Graduate Trainees' presentation because that was a really good experience being involved in that - even though I wasn't one of the brave souls getting up to speak!)

First up was Alex Wade from Microsoft, talking about opportunities for libraries and the changing scholarly communication landscape. He talked about the fact that scholarly communication is moving away from static summaries (e.g. research papers) to information vehicles and new, dynamic and interactive ways of presenting scientific articles online. He quoted Jim Gray's call to action for libraries in the book The Fourth Paradigm, which can be downloaded as a free pdf here. Gray calls for the establishment of digital libraries and the funding of development of new authoring tools and publication models. Alex went on to show us some of the research tools that Microsoft has been developing, such as the Academic Search and the Chemistry Add-In for Word. Academic Search looked like it could be very useful once developed a bit further, at the moment it is really only for computer sciencey people. It has quite a cool feature where you can see a co-author graph:

Hovering over a link between authors shows how many times they have collaborated, and you can click on any author's picture to see their graph. As for the Chemistry Add-In well....I have to admit I didn't understand what this did! Oh well, good think I gave up Chemistry fairly early! Alex finished by saying that he believed libraries should be providing access to scarce resources that are hard for researchers to access. As an example, he mentioned the digitisation of the Garibaldi scroll by Brown University Library, the scroll is being made available on a Microsoft Surface Table allowing readers to view the scroll which would otherwise be very impractical to look at.

Next up was Ned Potter speaking about escaping the echochamber. This is something I've been reading about a lot over the last few months, and following Ned's blog, had seen the slides for similar presentations on the subject before. Nevertheless, there's nothing like the real thing, and this was a really interesting presentation, and a very pretty prezi too, voila:

As Ned said, the good thing about the echolib problem is that once identified, it's easy to start rectifying it! Just jump in and start talking to people about libraries! Adrienne Cooper got a mention for turning a question about her CILIP bag into a chance to advocate libraries to strangers on the tube, brilliant. I better make more of an effort in future! (Though I don't think I'll start carrying around the SWETS bag I got at today's conference...)

Ned Potter laying the smackdown on Newsnight!

For the breakout session I chose the special collections one. Either side of a helpful presentation on on the confusing issue of copywright were two presentations on very different collections - the Churchill papers and the Darwin Correspondence Project. Churchill's papers consist of 1 million items, including drafts for speeches and personal and political correspondence, all kept in the Churchill Archives Centre. The letters have been digitised by Bloomsbury. The collection of Darwin correspondence on the other hand, although a lot smaller (15,000 letters) is spread over 200 repositories in 20 countries. The Darwin Correspondence Project isn't a digitisation project, rather all of the letters have been transcribed with explanatory notes. Alison Pearn who gave the presentation on the Darwin collection pointed out that there's a difference between making a collection available, and making it accessible! It sounds like they're doing some really good things working with an education officer to make the material accessible to schools, and they've had a very good response from schools all over the country.

The session after lunch took a different format, with lots of short presentations by a whole lot of people! These were either 3 or 8 minute presentations, with a Q&A session at the halfway point and another at the end of the afternoon. We had...
Katie and said prezi!
  • Isla Kuhn talking about TeachMeet. Her slides are already up (quick work!) and can be found on the shiny new TeachMeet website.
  • Libby Tilley on Community Learning, something they are doing very well over at the English Faculty. Also the trainees made a cameo appearance on a slide showing their IT training room!
  • Lesley Gray from the Libraries@Cambridge team talking about what they do (besides putting on fantastic conferences that is!)
  • Clemens Gresser talking about the move from having a Head of Music at the UL and a Pendlebury Librarian, to having a Head of Music and Deputy Head of Music shared between both libraries - allowing for a more cohesive approach.
  • Katie Birkwood with another pretty prezi about Open Cambridge (I've really got to try and make a prezi one day!) Katie's made her presentation available online here.
  • Anna Jones on Librarians in Training.
  • Andy Priestner and Celine Carty reviewing the Cambridge 23 Things programme and giving feedback from the participants.
  • *drumroll please* Becky, Erin, Tom and Charlotte, doing a wonderful job of delivering our graduate trainee presentation! (Before you get out the lazy stick and beat me with it, Jen, Natalie and I wrote the thing and made the slides!)
  • Jayne Kelly and Catherine Reid on ebooks@cambridge.
  • Linda Washington talking about affiliation.
  • Natalie Adams and Jacky Cox on Janus (the gateway to Cambridge archives)
  • And finally Huw Jones giving a presentation on the first ever Cambridge Libraries stall at Freshers' Fair, complete with a reenactment of their success/stage invasion!
Charlotte, Tom, Erin and Becky, total pros.
 And despite my best efforts to keep this to a reasonable length, I fear it has rambled on a bit! Time to rest tired brain.


  1. You sneaky photographer you! Very well written, looking forward to seeing the CATALOG version x

  2. trainee presentation excellent - you would think you had spent years addressing audiences of 200 people, not a nerve in sight. Great summary of the day.


  3. Yes, I enjoyed the trainees' presentation too. It was informative and well-delivered. You'll be running libs@cam conferences soon ....