Category Archives: Reports

CILIP SW Members Network Visit to the Plymouth Medical Society Historic Collection, report by Des Mogg

On Friday 9th February 2018 a small but select band of the CILIP SW Members made a trip to the Discovery Library at Derriford Hospital, Plymouth to have a private view of the collection of the Plymouth Medical Society.

First thing, we had a presentation by Sarah Johns, Discovery Library manager, about the background to the library and how it came about. The library at Derriford was originally housed in a small space on the 7th floor, so an appeal was launched to raise funds for a new purpose built library. Funding was eventually achieved from individual donations, charitable trust, a Heritage Grant from the National Lottery, and the largest sums from Peninsula College of Medicine and Dentistry and the British Antarctic Survey Medical Unit, which is based at Derriford. Sarah showed a slide of Sir Ranulph Fiennes opening the library in August 2007!

The current library service is funded by Health Education England South, which covers the South-West, Thames Valley and Wessex. The catchment is approximately 17000 people from Plymouth Hospitals NHS Trust, GP services, Livewell Southwest, and South Western Ambulance NHS Trust (SWAST), as well as students on placement from Plymouth Medical and Dental School.

The Heritage Lottery Grant was for the preservation of the historical collection, which had previously been kept in a cluttered basement room. Tom Arnold, librarian at the Discovery Library, gave an excellent detailed presentation about the history and practicalities of preserving and making the collection accessible. As explained in his presentation, the Plymouth Medical Society dates from 1794 (one of the oldest medical societies in the country), and the donated collection consists of around 400 items, some of which date from the late 1600s. The members used to share the texts among themselves, and the collection consists of many fine illustrated volumes as well as case and lecture notes among other items.

The main initial aims were preservation of the collection, according to established guidelines and standards, and conservation, which was done by professional conservators. Tom said that most of the collection was quite sound, with most conservation being repairs to bindings which were worn through use.

Secure storage was a requirement of the Heritage Lottery Grant. The collection is in a secure environment with security cameras in the storage and access areas. Access is supervised and the usual requirements for consulting rare materials are observed – no food or drink, clean hands, pencil only for notes etc.

Electronic access has been key to the accessibility of the collection. It was decided that some items would be digitised in their entirety, such as the John Hunter lecture notes and the Society minute books, as they are fragile and e-access would minimise handling.

An Image Database has also been set up from the many fine illustrations in the collection.  E-access can be found here: http://www.plymouthmedicalhistory.org.uk/

One of the strategic aims of the Lottery grant is to reach out and widen access to the collection. Approaches have been made to schools through the Devon Education Service, and Tom is using the collection material in a Special Study Unit (SSU) with 4th year medical students.

Tom summarised his talk with some advice for anyone who may be setting up a similar collection, to enable best practice and save having to ‘reinvent the wheel:

  • Use established standards
  • Use examples of best practice
  • Use institutions and experts who offer training and advice
  • Talk to people who have similar experience

Later in the morning we had a chance to have a closer look at some items from the collection.

We saw some beautiful examples of 19th century illustrated books while Tom explained the development of anatomical illustration, from skeletons in classical poses to hyper realistic depictions of dissections.

This was a fascinating morning, which really gave us a sense of the riches of a local medical society, and the value of preserving and making such an archive available.

Many thanks to Tom and Sarah, and to Valerie Bearne for organising the day.

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CILIP SW Visit to the National Meteorological Library and Archive, Part One

We are delighted to publish the first of two reports about a visit to the Met Office National Meteorological Library & Archive in Exeter on 15th November 2017. The event, organised by CILIP SW Member, Valerie Bearne, inspired two of its attendees, Chris Johns and Susan Lee, to write reports about their experience.

Chris Johns, Systems Librarian, at the Royal Cornwall Hospital describes the day:

“The tour was split into two halves, firstly to the National Meteorological Office Library and then after lunch to the National Meteorological Archive.

Intrigued by the venue and with my lack of knowledge of the functions and resources of the National Meteorological Library and Archive (NMLA) it was an easy decision to sign up to this event.  The opportunity to visit a more exotic corner of our profession with chartership in mind could not be missed.

I shall not describe the history of the Met office, nor the library or archive here. However should you wish to find more out then please visit their website at About Us.

As we met in the foyer the range of people attending from public library to healthcare and further college librarians gave an immediate opportunity to network with colleagues from across the region, each of us looking forward to a tour of this high tech modern building which was officially opened in 2004 when the service relocated from Bracknell to Exeter.

Met Office Library

We were welcomed by Sarah Pankiewicz who is the NMLA manager.

We started with a tour of the library, a brief recent history of the service and an introduction to the current staff. There are currently 6 team members based in the library who are from a range of backgrounds. Sarah is the only professional librarian on the team.

Main duties include:

  • meteorological enquiry service
  • cataloguing books and journals (print and electronic)
  • acquisitions both for library and other members of staff
  • system management and quality control of catalogue records
  • journal management both electronic and print
  • digitisation and quality control
  • sorting , quality control and cataloguing of archive records
  • item loans
  • on-site customer services including online access to e-journals and e-books, the catalogue and digital library & archive

These are all very familiar functions to many sectors, seeing the bound journals reminded me very much of the healthcare sector library I have experience of, but the type and range of some of the materials and information here  is quite specialist. Quite different from much of the information we supply to our users in the healthcare sector.

The service supports the Met Office staff of around 1700-1800 employees the majority of whom are based at the Met Office HQ.

The service is publicly funded and falls within the governance of the Met Office Public Weather Service . The archive service also has a remit under the Public Records Act 1958 to preserve and provide public acccess to the national memory of the weather. The forward plan states that a ‘key aim of the NMLA is to promote awareness of our collections and provide greater access to as wider a user community as possible’ NMLS Policies.

I wonder how many people realise this resource is publicly accessible; I didn’t.

The enquiry service deals with around 150-200 enquiries a month from e-mail, phone calls or in person. There is of course a limit to how long an enquiry should take and how much can be supplied within reasonable resource limits, however the rule is that each enquiry should take no longer than round 30 minutes to meet and should be turned around within 5 days.

Currently the service is undergoing a catalogue migration from EOS (SirsiDynix) to Soutron. EOS was designed for specialist collections. It has enabled the team to catalogue to both library and archive standards within the same system and Soutron will take this a step further enabling the archive records to be displayed in a hierarchical fashion with hyperlinks to to associated records and so providing much easier access to the collections. The new system is due to go live in March 2018.

With the increasing transition from print to online journals and a frozen budget of around £70-80k per annum comes the common issues of subscription management, budget allocation and usage statistics. Subscription management is carried out directly with the publishers, with collections and back files being supplied by Springer, Elsevier and Nature as well as many other key publishers

Online access to e-journals is negotiated on a commercial basis and so copyright restrictions apply accordingly, however due the public access policy of the collection there are personal use clauses that allow content to be supplied to members of the public. Online access may be given either on site or articles downloaded and suplied within copyright restrictions

Scanning of items for document supply to fulfil the requests of staff and the public as well as for storage in the archive has become a large feature of the service offer. Increasingly much of the information and resources are now being ‘born digital’. Though these items still have to be catalogued, managed and archived there are fewer physical resources that require digitization.

The library itself has a very modern, spacious and well lit feel to it, with high ceiling, motion sensored lighting and light coloured decoration and fixtures.

With familiar shelving and reading spaces around the library this offers a generous and welcoming atmosphere for researchers and the public to come and use the resource.

The physical collection contains the usual mix of academic journals, reference texts and reports however this collection also include the Daily Weather Reports back as far as 1860. The collection also has weather reports from many other countries and are often the single repository of many of these items. Requests are sometimes received from the country in which the Daily Weather Reports originated.

 

The physical collection contains the usual mix of academic journals, reference texts and reports however this collection also include the Daily Weather Reports back as far as 1860. The collection also has weather reports from many other countries and are often the single repository of many of these items. Requests are sometimes received from the country in which the Daily Weather Reports originated.

The ongoing digitisation programme ultimately feeds not only the digital archive but also the Met Office ‘super computer’, more on that in a bit. This digitisation supports the drive for preservation and access as well as linking to the government’s ‘transform and efficiency’ drive within the Civil Service.

The Met Office transferred a large collection of historical instruments and artefacts to the Science Museum ahead of the office relocation from Bracknell to Exeter. The library and archive do still retain a small collection of instruments many of which are on display in the library.

We were shown a Campbell-Stokes recorder  as well as the ‘sunshine cards’ that are still in use today. Some of the library team are engaged with sorting and quality controlling a huge collection of Scottish sunshine cards ahead of their transfer to the National Records of Scotand.

There is a world wide engagement in “Data Capture” activities (or for some parts of the world “ data rescue”) where original sourced meteorological records are scanned and the keyed so that the newly digitsed data can be added to exisiting databases including the Met Office observation database known as MIDAS. Increasing the digital record facilitates more accurate analysis and re-analysis of historical weather observations and provides more data for verifcation work . Ultimately this leads to improved accuracy of the forecasting and climate models that run on the Met Ofiice super computer. The archive activiely support these kinds of projects and for records they have already digitised this can help to speed the whole process up.

Sarah indicated that there will probably be a point at which the bulk of the journal print copy additions will cease but that there will still likely be a collection of reference texts, historical records and statistical reports. There is also a display of the history of the Met Office in the library which is an important part of the service’s heritage.

The decision to move from Bracknell to Exeter was made for many reasons, not least the need for a new and expanded site that could support the new ‘super computer’ and it’s power requirement. Of course staff vote favoured Exeter over other proposed locations, but also the restrictions on planning in other sites and the ability to consolidate offices from many locations into one place was another key driver.

The Street

Once the tour of the library had concluded and before lunch in the onsite staff canteen we were granted access to the staff area that members of the public are not given access to. Through a series of swipe access doors and we entered into a vast area that resembled a shopping precinct and which is known as The Street.

The vast atrium incorporated a restaurant, many meeting rooms, offices, access to the Met Office college and a small stream. We were led to a rather insignificant door. Once through that we entered a corridor and were greeted by Peter Johnson (Co-ordinating Installation Design Authority Engineer), an engineer who looks after the ‘super computer’ who took us to a rather noisy room.

This houses some of the cabinets and processors that forms the ‘super computer’ which is currently supplied by Cray . Peter listed some stunning facts about the amazing beast.

The supercomputer consists of three main systems – an identical pair of machines and a single larger system in a new purpose-built data centre nearby. The twin identical machines provide a highly resilient capability for running time-critical operational weather forecasts, whereas the third system provides research, development and collaboration capabilities,

The three new Cray XC40 supercomputers:

  • Are capable of over 14,000 trillion arithmetic operations per second – that’s more than 2 million calculation per second for every man, woman and child on the planet.
  • Contain 2 petabytes of memory enough to hold 200 trillion numbers.
  • Contain a total of 460,000 compute cores. These are faster versions of those found in a typical quad-core laptop.
  • Contain 24 petabytes of storage for saving data – enough to store over 100 years worth of HD movies

This power allows the Met Office to take in 215 billion weather observations from all over the world every day, which it then takes as a starting point for running an atmospheric model containing more than a million lines of code.

More information is here: https://www.metoffice.gov.uk/research/technology/supercomputer

Operations Centre

We left the highly sanitised area of the the computer halls and were taken back into The Street and up stairs to the Operation Centre. Andy Bowden (Operations Centre Manager) gave us a talk on the functions in the operations centre. The open plan office which is staffed 24/7/365 had  a massive wall of TV screens with an array of satellite images and news feeds.

This room houses the Chief Forecaster whose role it is to predict and summarise the conditions for the next 48 hours ongoing. The vast amounts of data is analysed and summarised here.

It was explained that even if a large weather event is forecast it is the potential of the impact that is a primary concern, not necessarily the scale of the conditions.

There were many areas sectioned off, each section the base for different operations teams.

These included:

Flood Forecast Centre –working with the Environment Agency to predict flood and produce warning

Natural Hazard Partnerships – liaising across organisations

Marine Centre – delivering weather and sea condition reports

Aviation Centre – highlighting and coordinating flight plans and informing air traffic control

Space Weather – long range  low probability yet high impact events

Media Centre – produce various weather summaries for TV and media forecasts

Industry and Commercial Support – include supermarkets, energy and surface transport companies

Customer Service Desk – fielding general enquiries

Met Office Archive

Catherine Ross, from the National Meteorological Archive took us on a 5 minute walk over to the building which is jointly shared with the Devon Heritage Centre across the road from the main Met Office site.

The building was developed as a joint venture due to the similarly unique requirements for storing archive records in temperature controlled strong rooms. The move of the Met Office
coincided with Devon Council needing to relocate the local archives at around the same time. The shared resource made financial and environmental sense.

As well as their remit under the Public Weather Service the archive has a statutory obligation to preserve and provide access to their collections under the Public Records Act. The collections are held on behalf of The National Archive (TNA) as a legal “place of deposit” and this status was recently ratified as part of the TNA accreditation which was awarded last year.

As Archivist Catherine’s role includes preserving and providing access to these largely unique collections. Conservation work is a different area of expertise and when materials are identified as requiring conservation work then these will be sent away or handled by the conservation team in Devon Heritage Centre.

Each strong room is temperature controlled, with the corridor leading to each room having a steady temperature. A barrier is created from the corridor temperature entering the room with an automatic air conditioning system that switches on with the opening of the door creating a buffer. This way an average temperature of between 15-18 degrees Celsius are maintained, though this is harder to achieve in the warmer months.

Gradual temperature increases are not such a concern, but any sharp jump in temperature can prove harmful to the items stored. Humidity is kept to around 55-65%. Managing the collection is made particularly difficult as much of the paper has an acid content which hinders preservation.

Photos are prone to cracking and reducing the development of mould or red rot is an ongoing challenge. Vinegar syndrome is a phenomenon that causes old film or acetates to explode, though Catherine reassured us that there were no such items in this archive collection.

A large part of the archive comprises weather observations – largely hand written from climate returns, register and ships logs. There are also numerous charts and trace recordings of observations. You will not find recordings of weather forecasts held here – partly because the copyright for these is held by the broadcasting companies but also because the archive largely focusses on the weather as observed.

We were shown the stacks of weather charts bound in monthly volumes going back as far as the 19th century and each one usually requiring 2 people to lift as they are so large.

Whilst work to digitally capture the original analogue data for transfer to MIDAS (the Met Office observation database), it is vital to preserve the original record as an important aspect of not only historic importance but also for quality control purposes. Mistakes can be made in the data interpretation process so having the original record allows for checking accuracy retrospectively.

The Met Office was founded in 1854 by Rear Admiral Fitzroy, who had had devised a way of forecasting the potential maritime conditions.  After the Royal Charter Storm on the 26th October 1859, which took approximately 800 lives and around 133 ships, Fitzroy established the Storm Warning Service, thought to be the earliest National forecasting service in the world.  One of the artefacts in the archive is the first chart produced by Robert FitzRoy and J H Babington which illustrates the conditions of the night of the Royal Charter Storm.

Other interesting artefacts include early weather observation equipment such as antique barometers, illustrations of frost fayres, a proclamation which has survived from the reign of King Charles II asking for people to undertake a 24hr fast and prayer in an attempt to end a period of heavy rainfall and the Meteorological Office grant of arms which includes an illustration of their official coat of arms. This is topped with a weather vane. The weather vane was the original Met Office logo and was affectionately known as the ‘Chicken on a Stick’.

Copies of the weather charts for the 5th and 6th of June 1944 demonstrated just how much impact an accurate forecast could have. The decision for D-Day was taken with great consideration given to the weather and sea conditions. The weather chart for the 5th June was all important as that was when the decision was made to go ahead with the allied invasion of Europe. Conditions were marginal and the German forecasters did not have such complete data as the allied forces. As a result they had thought the weather would not be suitable for the attack and so were less prepared than they might have been had they seen the same charts as the allied commanders.

The tour ended with a viewing of some rare texts which included the earliest text in the NMA, an illuminated manuscript by Albertus Magnus covering various aspects of Natural History including an early understanding of the nature of the refraction of light, and Admiral Francis Beaufort’s hand written weather diary including the first incarnation of his scale of winds.

This was an extremely informative and interesting day out. Providing insight not only into a fascinating topic which affects us all each day, but also into the similarities and differences our profession throws up in all aspects of its application. A visit is recommended.

Take away points/highlights

It is interesting how similar services are in spite of their specialist nature. We experience many of the  same challenges of resource procurement, electronic access barriers, resource management, staffing levels, proving value through KPI’s, digitisation challenges and service funding pressures. We may learn a lot of new ways of dealing with these pressures with more knowledge sharing.

I was surprised to learn how digitised historical data is being added to the modern forecasting models in order to continuously improve their accuracy. As official data, private collections and donations are added to the collections, alongside the advancements being made in technology, we are still learning a lot from the relatively recent past.

Great collaborative projects such as the joint project between Devon County Council and the Met Office to fulfill a common need with a shared resource like the Archive building are essential. Looking for alternative solutions to problems can bring many opportunities into sight.

Ultimately, weather forecasting is not about ferocity or severity but all about impact!”

 

Jurassic libraries: five go on a safari to deepest Dorset

On a lovely spring day in mid-March, we climbed aboard the Dorset Safari to visit a selection of libraries along the south-west coast. First stop was the Wey Valley School Library, where we learned how Eileen Harding, the Learning Resources Manager, had transformed the reading habits of pupils using the Accelerated Reader Programme (introduced in September 2014). From a standing start, when few pupils picked up a reading book, the most recent academic year saw pupils read over 1,700 books – that’s over 54 million words. How did she do it? Well, Eileen enlisted the help of Renaissance Learning software which matches children’s fiction books to pupils’ reading level and interests. The software then tracks their understanding via an online 34-question quiz after each book they read.

The questions are carefully phrased to check each pupil’s knowledge of the storyline as well as their understanding, and each book is selected to expand the pupil’s vocabulary. Eileen also uses the information to identify pupils with special needs, so that they can be given any extra help they require.

The software tracks the progress of individual pupils’. It has been noticed that boys, in particular, love to know how many words they have read over the term. The school now has dozens of word millionaires! The pupils are encouraged to set themselves targets and like the immediate feedback provided by the quiz, which motivates them to read even more. As a result, 89% of students have seen an improvement in their reading age during the course of the first year.

The Wey Valley School Library uses the Micro Librarian System to manage their stock, which includes the Reading Cloud, accessible via the Internet. It can be used as a social media platform, allowing pupils to chat to one another about books they have read. If they want, they can blog about books they’ve liked and make recommendations. It even allows pupils to add their own home reading books, so they can share them with friends.

Our second stop was The Verne Immigration Removal Centre in Portland, which houses up to 580 immigrant detainees while their cases are being assessed.

Originally, The Verne was designed as an impregnable fortress, built by convicts from Portland Prison between 1860 and 1872, to protect the harbour and nearby coastline from invasion. In 1937, it was being used as an infantry training centre, then converted to a prison after the Second World War. It eventually become a medium-security prison for over 600 long-term ‘Category C’ prisoners. Finally, in 2013, its function changed again when it was designated as one of the country’s immigration removal centres.

Even though most detainees are there just a short while (sometimes as little as a day), it is a requirement for all detention centres to have a library. Dorset County Council administer the one at The Verne, which stocks books, newspapers and magazines in a variety of languages. Elizabeth Bean, the Librarian, says there are currently 53 different languages spoken by detainees at The Verne, with the most common being Bengali and Chinese.

The detainees have free access to the Library every weekday, two evenings per week and at weekends. Elizabeth hinted that providing a library service for detainees can be emotionally challenging because they are often distressed. Given the predicament of the detainees, it is not surprising that the most sought-after books are on immigration law. The Library also offers a legal-aid booking facility and information about charities and immigrant support groups.

After a splendid lunch at the Jailhouse Café, we were driven inland to Dorchester Public Library, which opened in 2013. Apart from the normal library fare, it offers community spaces where locals of all ages can meet and learn. Spread out over three floors, the ground floor also plays host to various partners, such as tourist information, adult education (skills and learning) and the Dorset police contact unit. Within the complex, there are six classrooms that are used for various activities – many of which are oversubscribed. One new feature is the Changing Places accessible washing facility, that is available to members of the scheme even when the Library is closed. I imagine this will be a huge help to those with restricted mobility that cannot access facilities elsewhere.

The Library sees an average of about 1800 customers per week and also offers a Housebound Service to 71 residential homes in the region that get free delivery of books. This service replaced the mobile libraries that were abolished by the local authority during December 2016. Dorchester Public Library also acts as a hub for inter-library loans, which are handled in a busy back office. In total, there at least 10 staff are on duty each day in the Library, with over 20 in the team altogether.

Francesca Roper explained that space on the upper ground floor is divided into themed zones including Teenage Headspace with shelves of teenage literature and an easy access Children’s Library, where popular rhyme-time sessions are held twice a week. Another innovation, are the Library Gets Lively sessions for under 5’s and a Chatterbox reading group for slightly older ones, as well as a Youth Group for the 11+ children. In fact, since other youth activity providers have lost funding, this is now the only youth group in Dorchester. Classrooms are also used for adult skills and education, including the Reminiscence Sessions, where older members of the community can come in and share their memories and experiences. Digital Sessions are also popular, where members of the public can bring in their own equipment and get advice and guidance. Throughout the Library, the glass walls and pastel carpets and furnishing create a welcoming, airy, open atmosphere. The bookcases are also deliberately spread out, so that no space feels claustrophobic. At the back, an innovative Autism Room (designed in conjunction with the charity Autism Wessex), features dimmer lights, bean-bags and soundproofing to create a safe, soothing environment.

Just across town, the Dorset County Hospital Education Centre was our final stop on the Dorset Safari. Morag Evans, the Trainee Librarian, told us that they provide information and research facilities to almost 1000 registered members, in a variety of NHS posts. Within the Library a new digitalisation project was underway, archiving patient records. The staff organise educational events for doctors, including lectures and workshops. The library staff also conduct literature research and provide research training for doctors and other staff. In addition, they offer referencing and reflective-writing workshops. They also carry out Ward Rounds and make book deliveries to the workplace. Although most of the research is available online, they have found that some NHS staff insist on a printed version. It seems that nurses, in particular, prefer to look at something on paper rather than on screen.

Jonathan Edwards

Senior Library Assistant (Bournemouth and Poole College)

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AULIC research presentations event

An event showcasing recent research by MSc students and library practitioners from Bath Spa University, University of Bath, University of Bristol and the University of the West of England (UWE).

MSc presentations

Academic Library outreach: a view from the field – Katie Rickard, Bath Spa University

Katie’s background was in widening participation and she was interested in how that would translate to the academic library sector.  Her research focus was to identify forms of public outreach by academic libraries and to develop a toolkit of practice.  Academic library outreach was well documented in literature in North America but under explored in the UK, though there were good examples of public outreach and engagement work (such as The Hive in Worcester and UWE’s open door policy). The research involved semi structured interviews at three AULIC institutions and a UK wide online survey resulting in 34 responses from 32 universities.  Respondents were asked to reflect on their outreach activities in the last year and to describe their ideal outreach plans. The majority were women (72%), most worked part-time on outreach projects, many were subject librarians. There were high levels of unaffiliated visits but scare reference to outreach activities in job descriptions. Outreach mainly related to schools and college visits, including EPQ.

Recommendations for the toolkit of best practice included running events in libraries to create the link between the library and outreach, setting a limit on attendees to avoid overcrowding, and creating a robust portfolio of outreach resources with guidelines, policies and open access resources made available on a bespoke area of the library website. It was recommended that libraries develop a fair and equitable selection procedure and go beyond the EPQ – which is taken by those already intending to go to university and favours high achieving schools – and arrange such activities as author readings and special collections visits not linked to the EPQ. Use of university marketing departments and partnership working via networking events were also recommended, to tap into skills and knowledge of colleagues from other sectors.  To ensure ownership and autonomy an outreach agenda should be embedded within library agendas and included in job descriptions.

Conclusions were that outreach is gaining significance with UK academic libraries but is under acknowledged in literature.  Librarians are keen to do more to connect under-represented groups in HE.  UK university libraries are embracing and promoting the concept of the publicly engaged university, including open doors policies and academic-public library partnerships.

The academic information-seeking behaviours of Law undergraduates: a study at the University of Bristol – Rob Challis, University of Bristol

Rob has worked at the University of Bristol since 2000.  His research interests were information literacy and user experience, particularly in subjects where discovery tools don’t interface with key resources.

For the research ten second and final year law undergraduates participated in ‘think aloud’ exercises (they were given a series of information seeking activities and had to say out loud what they were doing), and in follow-up semi-structured interviews reflecting on how they undertook the activities.  Activities included finding material on reading lists and sourcing material on a topic (which resembled their final year research project). Four types of resources were focused on:

  • Library Search/Primo discovery tool
  • Lexis and Westlaw, key databases for Law (used separately as don’t interface with Library Search)
  • Google for accessing informal resources such as Wikipedia, news, NGOs’ sites
  • People (other students, family, librarians)

Findings indicated that Library Search was generally only used to locate books.  Westlaw and Lexis were the primary sources for ‘authoritative’ material, both known items and in more exploratory research. Participants tended to use either Westlaw or Lexis, for subjective reasons such as familiarity or ‘look and feel’.  Google was used for practical and contextual information in the early, exploratory stages of research. Students were happy to share with their peers generic information such as lecture notes but not more specialised information they’d discovered.

The information strategies of second & third years were enhanced with academic and discipline specific knowledge; when searching for information about a recent act, for example, they would also search for the original bill to increase results.  Students commonly used ‘Satisficing’ behaviour, to achieve an adequate or acceptable level in their research rather than best possible and often favoured convenience over legality, such as with eBooks.

Library research presentations

Open Access Citation Advantage at the University of Bath – Katie Evans, University of Bath

Katie is a Research Analytics Librarian and was interested in whether Open Access (OA) research outputs at the University of Bath had higher citations.  Pure (for Green OA papers) and a JISC spreadsheet with funds data were used and copied into SciVal to match up citations.   Papers from 2010-2015 were examined and 27% of both Green and Gold OA papers were highly cited, compared to a baseline of 18% of all papers.  This identified a correlation between higher citations and open access, but on a smale-scale and not necessarily a cause.  There was however a wide subject mix of papers so it could be surmised that the citation advantage of the OA papers was not coming from a subject advantage and overall it was felt that OA does have an impact on citations.

Education Resource Centre Project – Amy Jackson & Hannah Poore – UWE Bristol

The Library’s Education Resources Collection, a distinct collection of children’s material to support teaching practice, was reviewed and refreshed in 2012 with new resources and shelving, but usage declined by 75% in a four year period.  A further review was undertaken in September 2016, to determine the reasons for the decline and whether the collection was still value for money and meeting the needs of student teachers.  Usage statistics were examined alongside a survey, focus groups and comparison of two comparator institutions (Chester & Derby).  The data had not been analysed and fed back to library managers but reflections were made on what worked well:

  • Good level of engagement by stakeholders with academics encouraging students to complete the survey and participate in the focus group
  • Working with the Library Engagement Coordinator to use student communication channels to publicise the survey and focus group.

What didn’t work well:

Data collection period was informed by the need to move the collection to another part of the library which coincided with student placements.

Independent Learning Environments – Tom Rogers & Hilary Cooksley, University of Bath

An Independent Learning Environments project was conducted in late 2015 on the future of study spaces at the University of Bath.  This involved an audit of existing learning environments and study spaces, collation of LibQUAL feedback, focus groups and a survey. Strategies and ideas from other institutions were looked at via a literature review and practitioner based research and reports.

A report was produced on their findings focusing on five themes:

Types of space – need for a variety of flexible and reconfigurable spaces with an emphasis on social and collaborative space and a trend towards interdisciplinary and hands on space.

Space for researchers – trend towards dedicated PGR space with technology for presentations and information creation, meeting space.  Soft seating and food tolerant space was valued and a greater emphasis on quiet space, distinct from undergraduates and housing relevant staff (research support, OP, metrics librarians).   Good examples include the universities of York, Exeter and Warwick.

Staff & services – including qualified librarians in space is beneficial. There is a trend towards convergence of services.

Technologies – should be student centred, customised and value for money to reflect major changes in learning and access to information.   Learning needs to be experiential (for simulation exercises, problem based activities), embedded, across disciplines, beyond the physical space.  Information skills are for life and part of students’ academic and professional futures.

Aesthetics & design – this needs to communicate what the space is intended to be and give a sense of belonging. A good infrastructure (cleaning, food & drink) is required and a good interaction between different spaces.

Conclusions were that the focus should be on self-directed learning spaces, incorporating flexibility, providing social, collaborative and experiential environments.  Removing print in favour of increased study space is alienating students from resources and librarians; effective marketing strategies are vital.

Forthcoming dissertation research – Melissa Newell, Bath Spa University

Melissa is studying at the University of Sheffield and proposes to do a case study at Bath Spa on effective information literacy and its challenges.  Methods will include interviews, observations, data analysis and a possible questionnaire to AULIC colleagues – watch this space.

Presidential visit to UWE Bristol

Kirsten-Rose Brooks reports on talk by CILIP President, Dawn Finch

On 6th December, CILIP President Dawn Finch visited UWE Bristol to give a talk to students on the MSc Library and Information Management course and library staff. Her subject was ethical principles in LIS (Library Information Science) and codes of professional practice. While regarded by some as old-fashioned and no longer needed, Dawn stressed that library ethics have never been more important, particularly in the so-called ‘post-truth’ world as false information proliferates and concern mounts not only for the public good in general, but also the good reputation of the information profession.

Dawn talked about the problem of inappropriate bias in LIS; while some sectors and organisations cannot avoid a bias, such as the House of Commons Library and the military, an ethical code enables librarians and information professionals to fight against this pressure. She reminded us of the major issue of privacy, since the Investigatory Powers Act 2016 has received Royal Assent and the revamp of data protection laws loom.

After this introduction, we worked through some quick-fire ethical scenarios, identifying whether they involved business ethics, personal morals, ethical codes or a point of law. We were continually reminded that, in providing frontline customer service, librarians have seconds to decide what to do in a given situation. Some were really tricky, and there were some disagreements over courses of action, and Dawn emphasised that good training of staff and users is important to avoid ethical dilemmas or negotiate them appropriately.

Dawn used examples to relate ethics to current events, such as in Ferguson, St. Louis during the riots, where librarian Scott Bonner and his staff kept the library open despite pressure from the local authorities to close, in order to continue providing an information service to the community. Another recent instance was media scrutiny of libraries during the Jo Cox murder case. Questions were asked of the role of local libraries since Thomas Mair visited them to search for controversial material online in the lead-up to his crime. During discussions, Dawn said that library work is potentially a minefield, with several potential obstacles. I was reminded of the e-learning module on ‘Overcoming Bias’ we were recently encouraged to complete at UWE Bristol. In this module we were told that librarians and information professionals should be aware of the need to overcome unconscious bias and provide information and books to all users, regardless of personal beliefs. This did get challenged, however – if a library user asked you for details on constructing weapons, would you give them what they wanted straightaway?

There was an encouraging message at the end: our jobs are more needed than ever, if more difficult. Reliable information must be made available from all sides, with policy documents, ethical principles, and the work of professionals used to fight false information, censorship and violation of privacy.

Dawn herself is a very engaging and funny speaker, and I enjoyed the fast pace of the session; although we were discussing weighty issues, we didn’t get bogged down in too much deep discussion and could cover lots of different points. It was an intriguing session which left attendees with plenty to think about.

Kirsten-Rose Brooks

(Graduate Trainee, UWE Bristol Library Services)

Library Design- On Different Budgets:)

By Julian Wood, Library Assistant, University of Bristol Library Services.

I was lucky recently to visit The McClay Library (Queens University, Belfast) supported by AULIC. The library won the 2014 Sconul Library Design Award. Three of us from Bristol University (me, Dan Gooding and Angela Joyce) were shown around the library, and met a ‘leading light’ of library design, Karen Latimer. Karen sits on the LIBER working group on library design, and helped create this excellent checklist that anyone can use to assess their own library or learning space. She was also involved in setting up the ‘Designing Libraries’ initiative.

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With Karen Latimer in the McClay Library

We will be presenting a poster at the AULIC conference in June, and a number of groups will be sharing their findings at this event. (I will feed back here about this so watch this space…). This year’s AULIC Summer Conference will be held on Monday 20th June 2016 at University of Bath Chancellor’s Building and will focus on the theme of Library and Learning Spaces.

Of course, very few of us are designing a new building, or even a refurb. My visit to Belfast showed me that library design covers many aspects of interior design – how we use our spaces. In this time of financial stringency, there is still much we can do on a small budget or no budget. An example of this is the ‘Wellbeing Nook’ that has been developed at Exeter Health Library.

Pam Geldenhuys, Acting Library Manager of Exeter Health Library (Royal Devon & Exeter NHS Foundation Trust), reports:

“Health Education South gave us some funds towards the end of our financial year (31 March 2016) which meant we could have a small refresh so we decided to create a ‘Wellbeing Nook’ for all staff providing mood busting books, some comfortable chairs and wool with needles and crochet hooks (Twiddlemuffs dementia project at the RD&E hospital: http://www.rdehospital.nhs.uk/trust/pr/2015/Calling%20all%20knitters%20-%20Help%20us%20knit%20Twiddlemuffs%20for%20patients%20with%20Dementia.html ) as well as some adult colouring-in books with pencil crayons.

See https://twitter.com/ExeHealthLib

We also replaced our bay ends so we can display our leaflets and notices more prominently and are in the process of removing the top shelves so all will be the height as displayed in the photo. This will also allow a lot more light in.”

 

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Photos courtesy of Carol Giles, Exeter Health Library

We’d love to hear from any of you regarding how you’ve improved the design of your library (or part of your library), especially if you’ve done it on a small budget. Post in the comments below or e-mail us on cilipsw@gmail.com .

Interesting links:

And, for fun, these interesting little libraries are ‘completely free’:): Little Free Libraries

 

 

 

 

Report from the CILIPSW Members’ Day. Matt Ramirez: ‘The benefit of using Augmented Reality to enhance the student experience’.

In short, Matt Ramirez gave us a tour of the future! As JISC’s Senior Innovation Developer for Digital Futures, his presentation provided a wealth of examples of the implementation of Augmented Reality (AR) in education. He finds that, while Augmented Reality has been around as a new technology since 2010, it is reaching a trigger stage in terms of its cultural visibility. Consequently, there is likely to be an explosion of interest and an exponential growth in the AR user community this year.

My existing knowledge of AR and its potential was decidedly sketchy and two-dimensional, not lucid and three-dimensional as befitting augmented reality. However, while the technology is still a kind of scientific magic in my mind, I moved several notches forward in terms of my understanding during the members’ day! For a definition of AR I am taking an explanation from an earlier blog post by Matt on the subject:

‘Put simply, augmented reality is a technology that overlays computer generated visuals over the real world through a device camera – bringing your surroundings to life and interacting with sensors such as location and heart rate to provide additional information’.

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Matt Ramirez giving a glimpse into the future at the CILIPSW Members’ Day.

(Photograph by Stephen Hunt)

The take up of AR in research, education and museums, Matt argues, is particularly popular because it bridges the gap between theory and practice. There are some striking examples of this. Scientists from different parts of the world have been able to simultaneously view three-dimensional images from Mars in real time, to build collaboratively on their understanding. Post-graduates working in the Geology Department at the University of Manchester have applied their lecture theory in real world contexts in a novel way. They have used an app to see fossils in the living environment when studying markers of fossil faces and oil reserves during their field studies. Museums have used AR enhancements anchored in exhibits to bring exhibits to life, thus successfully encouraging deeper and ongoing interaction, reflected in an increase in families returning for repeat visits.

The take-up and successful implementation of AR in education and research depends upon adopting best practice and identifying a genuine pedagogic need. The initial ‘wow’ factor will inevitably diminish if it cannot be demonstrated that AR is adding value to the user experience and is able to help deliver actual measurable learning outcomes. For Matt it ‘must have a unique selling point rather than just being impressive technology’. To this end it is also important to consult users throughout the process and to continually reappraise the application of AR based on their feedback.

In this respect AR has already started to prove its pedagogic value some practical projects. The University of Manchester Medical School encourages informal collaborative learning by exploiting AR to complement face-to-face and independent learning. In the 24-hour resource centre at Leeds College of Learning, AR has been used to reinforce situated learning when academic and support staff are not present. AR has also proven its worth at the John Rylands Library where it has been used to foster a mixed team approach to research, enabling technical experts, curators and subject specialists to collaborate effectively on project work.

Matt’s own work in the implementation of AR through JISC (Joint Information Systems Committee) has been in his foundational role in the development of the Special Collections Augmented Reality to Enhance Learning and Teaching project (SCARLET). This shaped his thinking about the need to implement AR carefully in order to demonstrate its worth, ensuring its future take-up and development. A central application was to make rare and fragile objects and artefacts accessible in a new way to those who do not necessarily have a technical background. In this way that they can visualise what is not usually on show, whether a fossil or a brittle literary manuscript. ‘I knew, said Matt, ‘if we were to embed and have longevity within educational learning space I knew there had to be something behind it beyond replicating pretty pictures’. An example of the potential of AR was SCARLET’s experiment in the presentation of Dante’s Divine Comedy.

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Attendees at the Members’ Day in Exeter experimented with Aurasma Augmented Reality Software, tiny Raspberry Pi computers and code bugs, like this little fellow

(Photograph by Stephen Hunt)

The recent transformation in digital technology was the impact of mobile technology during the first decade of the century. Matt predicts that the ‘next paradigm shift will be about consuming information through wearables’ during the next ten years. Pioneer products such as Google Glass explorer glasses are already available, although, as to be expected, there are teething problems. In his initial trials Matt found his head overheating and that the sensor devices were extremely battery hungry! Nevertheless, Virtual Reality visits to the world’s leading museums and art,  may not be far into the future.

So the future is likely to be one in which the application of AR places the user at the centre of the learning experience. The significance for our profession is that students will have to engage with these learning technologies across all subjects and will need to develop skills in this area for future jobs.

Matt’s work with AR can be followed on Twitter at @Jisc_AR

 

Steve Hunt