Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Friday, 25 November 2011

#LIKE31 - Information Literacy

On Thursday I went to another London Information and Knowledge Exchange event, this time a panel discussion on Information Literacy. The discussion was chaired by Dr Susie Andretta from London Metropolitan University, and on the panel were Adjoa Boateng, Rachel Adams and Caroline De Brun. Each of the panellists works in a different sector (Higher Education, legal and health respectively) and it was interesting to see the common problems faced by people working in different sectors. Sarah Wolfenden has also written about this event on her blog, The Wolfenden Report.

First up was Adjoa Boaten. She began by passing around a copy of the reference librarian's bible, Know it All, Find it Fast, first published nearly a decade ago. Today, the information environment is even more complex and harder to navigate for both students and librarians. As well as learning how to get information, students also need to learn to navigate all of the new platforms we have. Barriers to information literacy include:
  • jargon
  • specialist databases
  • fast-changing technology
  • lack of interoperability
We need to help students develop the skills to learn, and to put into practice what they have learnt. The resources librarians choose now will impact on how information literate students will be in the future.

Next was Rachel Adams talking about her experiences working in law firms. It can be difficult to sell information literacy to a workforce. How can we argue the case for information literacy training?
  • It saves time
  • It saves money
  • It saves stress - minimising information overload!
She found that information literacy training was most effective when it was "just in time" rather than "just in case". Often, information literacy training is focused on trainees and new recruits, at a time when they are being bombarded with information. Training given at the point of need sticks better, and timing refresher sessions close to a looming deadline gets people through the door.

Last but not least was Caroline De Brun, who works at the Royal Free Hospital. The term "information literacy" is not commonly used in the UK health sector, "evidence based medicine" is a more common phrase. This means that decisions should be based on best research and clinical expertise, which requires information literacy skills to fulfil.

Training and outreach are important in the health sector. Clinical librarians support clinical teams in hospitals and on wards, and GP librarians support practitioners in local surgeries. Appointment turnaround is very fast in GP offices, so the librarian's job is to offer training in short bursts, raising awareness and getting a foot in the door. The aim and the main measure of success is of course an improved patient experience.

This event was a great way to pick up tips on information literacy training from other sectors, as well as having a fab meal with lots of interesting people to talk to! Apologies that this was quite a rushed post, I've been wanting to blog since Thursday but Collection Management Policies (*sigh*) got in the way!

Friday, 18 November 2011


Urban Dictionary tells us:
The irrational fear of acronyms. One might have been in a very confusing conversation, not knowing what they were being told because of the excessive use of acronyms. When they hear an acronym, or see one, they have similar panic attacks and feelings to that of other phobias.

Dude, I've got Acronyphobia. I can't bear to hear or see an acronym, and just talking about it makes me shudder.
The following acronyms have been bandied about in the last week at library school:


by NinaMatthewsPhotography on Flickr

By next September will I know what all of these stand for?

Friday, 11 November 2011

A rather curious number

Yesterday, after posting about conservation and augmented reality, I realised that my next post was going to be my 111th, otherwise known to us hobbits as eleventy-first. And what was the date? Random happenstances like this make me happy, so here is a totally unneccessary blog post, cobbled together solely for the purpose of scheduling it for 11:11 on 11/11/11.

As a happy eleventy-first present, I've dredged up a few of my recent and not-so-recent YouTube favourites for you. Hear! Hear! Hear!

Thursday, 10 November 2011

Looking after nice old things and playing with shiny new things!

We had two guest lectures last week that between them seemed to sum up a lot of librarianship - looking after what we've got and coming up with innovative ways to introduce it all to new people.

For our Collection Management and Preservation module we had a guest lecture by Fred Bearman, UCL's Preservation Librarian, who was talking to us about the best ways to preserve our libraries' collections, and conservation of damaged materials. Fred's talk included a few horror stories of fires, floods and building collapse, but also more day-to-day dangers such as pests, dust and changes in humidity or temperature. Most of the preventative measures taken were common-sense stuff, but I picked up a few tips I hadn't heard before:
  • While cotton gloves are not recommended, if you are handling something you don't want to touch with bare hands, latex-free, powder-free gloves are another option.
  • If you're boxing materials to protect them, beware of unscrupulous people who steal the contents of the box and put the box back on the shelf.
  • Dust is abrasive and also home/food to various pests and mould spores.
  • If there are lots of spiders in your library, it means they are hunting something else which may be eating your books!
  • When putting photos etc. in Melinex sleeves, do not seal up the sleeves because... [I've forgotten why, all I have written in my notes is "DO NOT SEAL!" Anyone know why not?]
UCL Special Collections are looking out for volunteers to do some of the dusty work, I might volunteer next term when I have fewer lectures!

Friday's Digital Resources in the Humanities lecture was very different but no less interesting. We had some staff from the Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology come to talk to us about digital imaging techniques, and then in the practical session we got to play around with some 3D digital versions of museum artefacts and (oh the excitement!) iPads and an augmented reality app.

In the lecture, Mona Hess and Kathryn Piquette took turns to talk about some of the techniques they have been using to create 2D and 3D images to accurately document the objects they are curating. These included close range photogrammetry, laser scanning, and even GPS for documenting buildings or larger sites. All of these techniques are non-contact and non-invasive, which is very important in conservation. Mona showed us how a broken vase could be reconstructed after being photographed systematically from lots of different angles.

As well as taking images of all the sides, it is also useful to capture the same side many times, changing the direction of the light source each time, so that all the nooks and crannies can be captured. For this, Reflectance Transformation Imaging (RTI) is used, where the object is placed inside a rather spacey looking lighting dome, and photographed with the light source moving each time. Then software such as RTIviewer allows the user to move the light around to see different parts of the object in light or in shadow.

For the practical session, Giancarlo Amati arrived bearing iPads (this was what I'd been itching to get my hands on, I have serious tablet envy at the moment!) and showed us the Petrie Museum's augmented reality app. This is still a prototype, but when released will allow iPhone or iPad users to scan markers which will bring up an interactive version of the museum object. They plan to have a few iPads to loan out within the museum for those of us sans tablet.

I've seen videos of AR but hadn't tried any myself before. I was impressed by how interactive it was - I have no idea how it worked but as well as being able to turn the object by moving it with your finger on screen, you could also reach around into the empty air behind the iPad and "pick up" the sarcophagus or whatever it was you were playing with. Weird...

Obviously this is great in a museum setting as most of their collections can't be touched. When smartphones/tablets become more prolific I can imagine AR being used in a library, for instance to provide review videos when you scan a marker on a book, or to watch the trailer of a DVD. The fun thing about the Petrie Museum app though was it's interactivity, so it would be cool to work that aspect into any library AR apps. It may be a bit of a gimick, but it sure is a fun gimick!