Sunday, 29 May 2011

What I've been reading in May

The Future of Libraries

The Librarienne, If reference is dead, why am I so tired at the end of the day?

Tim Carmody, A Budget for Babel (well worth a read. Would you pay $100 a month for unlimited access on any device to everything ever printed?)

Seth Godin, The future of libraries

Andy Woodworth, "Bring me the head of Seth Godin!"

Save Libraries

Ian Anstice, Special Report: Newsnight

CILIP, National Libraries Day launched


Simon Barron, Four Things Kindle Can Help You Do (I don't have a Kindle but am saving up tips for when I do get one eventually!) 

Josh Catone, Digital Publishing and the Imperative to Preserve the Integrity of Print

Fred Stielow and Raymond Uzwyshyn, Back to the Future: The Changing Paradigm for College Textbooks and Libraries  

Social Media and Technology

Boyhun Kim, Tech Skills for New Librarians & Me (Seeking Advice)

Kelsey Gagliardi, How to use Social Media to Engage Students (Google doc)

Ian Clark, A tiny contribution to the debate (some reasons why ereaders won't, or shouldn't become 'as expensive as Gillete razors' (see Seth Godin's post above)

Phil Bradley, Zanran (seems like a useful numerical data search engine)

Aaron Tay, Libraries and Augmented Reality, Adding Video Reviews to Books - Aurasma 

Library School

Sam Wiggins, Learning from librarianship

Librarian_101, Please promptly remove head from sand

Theatregrad, Theatregrad’s top advice on getting the most out of library school

Nellie Akalp, 9 ways to increase your productivity while working from home (filing this one away for dissertation time next year!)

Public Libraries

Lauren Smith, Public Libraries and Adult Learning 


Maria Giovanna De Simone, Queen: Stop this Nonsense! (Thoughts on Annie Mauger's CILIP East of England talk a couple of weeks ago)  

Laura Wilkinson, On the Road to Chartership 

Job Titles

Andy Woodworth, Bikes, Branding and Bellyaching (Does it matter if patrons don't know the difference between a library assistant and a qualified librarian?)

Laura Wilkinson, Job Titles - What's in a Name?


Karen Loasby, Managing information about people 

Becky Woods, "The move to co-working is a move from a culture of me to a culture of we"... 

Wendy MacNaughton, Meanwhile, The San Francisco Public Library (Really beautiful watercolours illustrations of patrons at San Francisco Public Library. Go and look.)

Bethan Ruddock, Presenting 

By Moriza on Flickr

Saturday, 28 May 2011

I want the world to stop

...just for a few days would be brilliant, kthx! There's lots of exciting things going on at the moment, as a result I rather feel like I've been spinning around in circles a lot this week!

On Tuesday the results of the LISNPN competition were announced, and I'm amazed/delighted/proud to say my  entry won second place :D Therefore on 20th June I'll be off to Manchester for the New Professionals Conference 2011 - really looking forward to that. Let me know if you're going too, will be great to meet some more people I only know online! Check out Jacqueline and Katie's entries as well, because they are fantastic.

At some point soon Rory and I are going to start serious flat-hunting. So far we've been looking at websites and emailing flats to each other going "ooh that looks nice!" but not got a lot further than that. Gotta get moving!

Meanwhile, things are coming together for the two 23 Things programmes I've been involved with organising: for Cambridge librarians we've got Cam23 2.0, and for, well for any information professional that wants to take part really, we've got 23 Things for Professional Development. I'm planning to take part in both, so I think I'll start up another blog for one of them to keep them separate, and learn about a new blogging platform. I'm slightly mad I think.

As you may have guessed from the title, despite being a bit stressed, I'm really looking forward to seeing Belle & Sebastian tomorrow night! This is a slightly early birthday present from my parents, and before the concert we are having dinner with Andrea, Rosie and Daniel when I can give Rosie her *very* late birthday presents, so it'll be a festive occasion!

Saturday, 21 May 2011

Actually nothing at all to do with exploding zombie monkeys.

Sorry Jack, it's not all about you.
After clicking 'publish post' the last time I blogged, I thought "oof, my blog's been a bit serious business lately!" Seems like a while since I posted about exploding zombie monkeys (or maybe I got a few posts mixed up there...) Anyway, CILIP, Arcadia and all that stuff is great, but I also will try to get back to more lighthearted blog posts now and again :)

This is also a bit of procrastination, because I've been writing an application for some funding for my MA and as always am finding it difficult to write about myself! (So I'll go and blog, some great logic there...)

Last night Rory and I went to see the latest Pirates of the Carribean, which was good fun but I think they have pretty much lost the plot by now. On that note if anyone who's seen it can tell me what the pig was doing there that would be great! But as Rory said, it's Johnny Depp and he's beautiful. (Actually I think he was being sarcastic then...)

Next weekend I'm off to London with Rory to see Belle & Sebastian, and hopefully will be meeting up with Rosie Daniel & Andrea, who I haven't seen for ages or so it feels.  I'm also looking forward to the launch of two 23 Things programmes I've been involved in organising, a rerun of Cam23 for the library folks in Cambridge, and 23 Things for Professional Development which is for absolutely everyone and (obviously) is focused on professional development. More on those soon!

Monday, 16 May 2011

Our Professional Future is looking bright

'Construction work' by gullevek on Flickr
After work today I popped over to the UL to hear Annie Mauger (CEO of CILIP and all-round lovely lady) give a talk to CILIP East of England branch on 'Our Professional Future: Building Together'. This event was apparently suggested by someone on Twitter, and whoever it was that suggested it, thanks! It was an interesting and a really enjoyable talk.

Last year CILIP took a good look at the future of the profession and of CILIP itself, conducting surveys and talking to members, and coming up with a report titled 'Defining our Professional Future'. (This can be read here.) The event this evening was about how the findings of this report will shape the future of the organisation. In the face of big external issues such as cuts to library services and undervaluing of professional staff, members expect their professional body to put up a strong front and be a voice for library advocacy, but meanwhile CILIP is also facing internal challenges - the biggest being financial struggles and being relevent to its members.

As a response to that last challenge, Annie laid out three areas that had come from the report as being key to members' expectations and needs from CILIP:
  • Advocacy and thought leadership
  • Networking and community
  • Continuing professional development
For many people, and for me, advocacy is the most critical of these at the moment. We're really lucky in Cambridge to have so many libraries packed so closely together, and to have local groups like the Cambridge Library Group, so there's already a really strong community, and being a member of CILIP has so far not added a whole lot to the networking side of things for me. Chartership is (thankfully) a lot further in the future than I'm thinking about right now, and I don't have a lot of use for CILIP's training courses when at Cambridge we have so many excellent free training courses put on for us by Librarians in Training. However, I can totally see where Annie is coming from when she says that these three areas support each other and are all essential for the organisation as a whole. Big advocacy events such as Save Libraries Day are impossible without a strong community. And if in a couple of years time I find myself newly moved to a new area to take a job as, say, an information officer at a business, going to meetings of my local branch would be one of the best ways to meet librarians in an unfamiliar place.

As for the advocacy, one thing I thought was great was Annie describing the move away from a reactive stance to a proactive stance on campaigning and dealing with the media. More public material is going up on the CILIP website, including campaigning toolkits. A 4-day press release approval process has been cut to 4-minutes!

To bolster the financial side of things (I don't think I've ever used the word bolster before. Good word!), CILIP have set an ambitious target of reaching 20,000 members by 2020 (there are currently about 17,000). The structure of the organisation is also going to have a bit of a revamp, including streamlining branches and groups (for more background see Emma's blogpost on this) and trying to minimise admin stuff and duplication of effort.

Above all else, the theme of this talk was CILIP's members. who really seem to be at the heart of their new plan. I haven't been a member of CILIP for very long, so I can't really comment on how much better or worse the future of the organisation is likely to be, but I definitely came away feeling very positive.

Sunday, 8 May 2011

Arcadia seminar: Digitisation and Print on Demand

Ed Chamberlain gave a really interesting Arcadia seminar the other night on the topic of his Arcadia fellowship: digitisation and print on demand technologies.

For his fellowship, Ed investigated ways to better automate the digitisation process of Cambridge library collections, which would in turn give the collections more exposure, and better meet the reader's expectation that "everything is online nowadays". (Digitisation is also used as a preservation technique, but that wasn't the focus of this seminar.)

Ed identified three main barriers to digitisation projects - and it's interesting to note that the barriers mostly have little to do with the technology and software being used:
  1. Complexity of copyright legislation
  2. Cost/time
  3. Users mostly prefer to read printed materials rather than reading from a screen.
The technology to solve these problems exists, but the question is, is an efficient use of money to invest in these technologies?

1. Complexity of copyright legislation
Solution = speed up copyright analysis
Tool = Copyright calculator

'On demand' has become a feature of our society whether we like it or not, but wrangling with copyright law can take a lot of time and slows down digitisation projects. Luckily there are several copyright calculation tools around, Ed mentioned those developed by the Open Knowledge Foundation and Europeana Digital Library, and showed us how a calculator such as this could be integrated into the library catalogue, so that users could tell straightaway what they could and couldn't do with any given work (well, most of the time - unless there's no author death date in the record) . 

2. Cost/time
Solution = explore automated scanning
Tool = Kirtas book scanner

Automated scanning is quicker than manual scanning, and apart from the thousands of pounds it would cost upfront to buy one of these machines, it would then save money in staffing costs etc. Interestingly 66% of academics would be prepared to pay up to £15 to get a full e-copy of a work. However the quality of the end result may not be as good as it needs to be - students want clean, searchable text when they're reading on their Kindle or iPad - and Cambridge University Press who have 2 Kirtas machines do a post-scanning cleanup job on their scanned books, adding 2 weeks to the processing time. So still very expensive and perhaps not quite good quality enough scans to run an on-demand scanning service.

3. Preference of printed forms
Solution = Print on demand services
Tool = Espresso book printing machine

Blackwells has had one of these machines in their Charing Cross shop for 2 years now, which can print paperback copies of digitised books, in 5 minutes apparently! In a library context, it would mean that public domain works could be printed off for students and we perhaps could do things which publishers might not do, for example include lecturer's notes at the back, insert blank pages for students to scribble notes in etc. However like the Kirtas scanner, this is a very expensive bit of technology, and if we were to charge students and staff for their newly printed copy, aren't we turning into bookseller rather than book lender? One of the worries with this is that we'd risk going into competition with some of our key supporters, for example CUP and Blackwells.

It was fairly clear that there are still problems with these new technologies, but it is also fairly obvious that obeying copyright law isn't a massive priority for a lot of students if they can get around it and avoid paying £50 for a new textbook. There's maybe not a lot we can do to change that, but it would be great if we could make it really easy for those that do want to use the library instead of downloading an illegally digitised copy from a torrent site. It would be really cool if when they went to the library catalogue and saw "All of our copies are out on loan at the moment" it would also say "Would you like to download the work as a pdf instead? Or visit our printing department to get your own copy hot off the press!"

The Future of Books by Emilie Ogez on Flickr