Posts Tagged libraries

23 Things – 16/23 Advocacy

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For me library advocacy is all about making sure our readers or potential readers understand the services that we can provide for them – if our users can see all that we have to offer, our value as a service should hopefully be clear.

In academic libraries, it is often the case, I think, that our readers are unaware of all of the skills and services we as librarians can provide – I know that when I was at university studying my MA, I had no idea there were such things as subject librarians or subject blogs, study skills sessions or group rooms where I could work with a team of people to prepare presentations.  Now I work in the  information sector, I am more aware and quite often amazed at just how much we have to offer our users!

So how can we make our users more aware of what we have to offer?  From what I’ve seen in libraries so far, three great ways to promote and advocate library services include:

  1. Marketing – showing off what we have!
  2. Out-reach programmes – going out to where our users are!
  3. Outstanding Customer Service – going the extra mile with a smile!

Marketing in particular is something I’ve noticed a lot of academic libraries/librarians are trying to push forward now – Ned Potter’s ‘The Library Marketing Toolkit’ for example!  I also saw some fantastic marketing strategies when volunteering at Sunderland University Library last year and was very happy to see their work rewarded with a recent Gold Award from CILIP!

Another great advocacy tool I’ve seen and used is the ‘Library Day in the Life’ Project – while it may mostly  attract librarians or people who want to be librarians – the project is out there and that means people can find it and see just how much libraries and librarians have to offer 🙂

I also loved reading about the LIS Advocacy Challenge – It made me want to think of something fun to do to advocate libraries too…maybe one day!


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23 Things – 15/23 Conferences, Seminars, Events

Thing 15 is quite a short offering as at this point in my career, aside my trainee sessions and library visits, I have not yet attended, spoken at or organised a conference, seminar or other library event.

I have heard about a lot of them, particularly those organised by CILIP, such as the New Professionals Day or the CILIP ARGL held in Newcastle this year.

I followed both conferences on Twitter and they seemed to be interesting, fun and informative events!  They are definitely something I’d like to take part in at some point so my main action point from this Thing is to start keeping an eye out for future events that I can realistically attend.

And I think I’d like to maybe attend some events before I think about speaking at or organising one… small steps!

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23 Things – 14/23 Mendeley and Referencing

The last time I had to write an essay using academic referencing, I had never heard of any of the reference tools mentioned in Thing 14.  This means that I did things the old-fashioned way, writing out references on paper and copying them into Word as and when they were needed.  I found that to be quite an efficient system at the time but as with most things, the world has moved on and now we have lots of shiny tools to help us make referencing easier, faster and more accurate.  Since I’ve just begun an MSc at University and further essay writing is now imminent, Thing 14 comes at quite an opportune time!

Out of the many referencing tools available, I decided to focus on Mendeley for this Thing in order to save time and because I’d heard good things about it from others!

Downloading and installing Mendeley was easy and the programme itself is pretty self-explanatory and simple to navigate.  I was able to manually add in some reference details which could be edited to fit different reference styles at the click of a button.  I also liked the drag and drop feature which lets you drop pdf articles saved on your computer into Mendeley;  the programme then extrapolates all of the reference data from the pdf – job done!  You can also provide a URL link to an article so that it can be easily found and accessed again – very useful!

When it came to inserting citations into a document however, I got a bit lost – I’m sure the video tutorials that come with Mendeley explain this in good detail but to save time I asked my on-site expert, Nora, who quickly showed me how it works. 🙂

As a brief guide (for MS Word users):

  • In Mendeley, install the MS Word Plug in via the ‘Tools’ tab
  • In Word, go to the ‘References’ tab and ‘Insert Citation’

  • This brings up the above pop up box, select ‘Go to Mendeley’ and choose the citation you want to insert.
  • The ‘Insert Bibliography’ button can be used at the end to insert a list of all the citations you have used in your work.

Once you have all of your references organised and saved in Mendeley, adding citations and references to your work is very quick and simple.  I’m looking forward to trying Mendeley out in an actual essay situation soon – I’m sure it has a lot of other useful features that I can discover along the way!

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Presentations and Social Media

This week our Graduate Trainee session was a chance for us to practice for our presentation showcase.  We have each been working on a project throughout our trainee year and are due to share what we’ve done in July. We were given lots of useful, practical tips for making sure we’re as prepared and relaxed as we can be on the day, such as:

  • Thinking about the objectives of our presentation – what we, our supervisors and our audience aim to get from it
  • Planning the presentation using a storyboard to ensure variation in techniques (e.g. telling stories, relating facts, displaying images)
  • Connecting with our audience by being in the moment, being enthusiastic and having a positive mind set!

As someone who isn’t generally comfortable giving presentations (yes, despite being a teacher in a past life!) I found the advice quite reassuring and positive.  Hopefully, all will be well on the day!

For part of the session we were asked to prepare a short talk so we could practise some of the skills involved.  I decided to base mine on the work I’ve been doing in the Library  on Social Media as it’s something I’ve really enjoyed getting involved in!

For those who are interested in finding out more about how we use social media at St Hugh’s here is the slideshow from my presentation:

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Open Access

[This post is based on a Graduate Trainee Session on E-Developments and ORA at Oxford University.  See introductory post here. ]

As an introduction to our trainee session on e-developments, we were provided with a BodCast link to a lecture by Mark Walport, in which he discusses the significance of Open Access Resources. The lecture provides a really interesting introduction to the topic and the challenges faced by those involved. Walport, in particular, emphasises the changing nature of education and that in order to maximise scholarship, we need to maximise dissemination of knowledge.  This is essentially at the very heart of Open Access.

However, Open Access is up against a number of difficult challenges.

Publication by academics in journals impacts on the University’s Research Assessment (REF) which means that the university receives greater funding for further research if they publish in a journal with a high impact level.   The demand for buying resources is therefore huge, in order to ensure that good research is carried out and good funding is given.

Unfortunately, the cost of buying journals is also huge and continues to increase, causing problems for libraries whose budget does not necessarily increase at the same time!

This is where Open Access fits in.  Its aim is to make research freely available in order to combat the rising costs of academic journals.  A number of universities now have an institutional repository – a central source for research outcomes produced by the university, which not only preserves the research but makes it easily searchable too.  For example, at Oxford this repository is ORA, at Sunderland University it is SURE.

A number of funding bodies also support this move and now require research they have funded to be made open access.  While this is welcomed by supporters of Open Access, the problem comes when academics want and need to publish in high ranking, high impact journals but these journals won’t allow open access depository!

It seems like a catch 22! However, that’s not the end of the story.  A number of journals do allow academics to deposit work in open access repositories (for more information see SHERPA) but there are still a number of complex copyright issues involved and concerns over regulation of what research is permitted and if it needs to be peer reviewed before submission to ensure quality.  There is also an issue of time – both in academics having to submit their own work and in others constantly reviewing and checking work submitted for copyright and quality based reasons.

An interesting one to watch!

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E-Resources are Cool!

[This post is based on a Graduate Trainee Session on E-Developments and my own experiences.  See the introductory post here. ]

Top 10 Reasons that E-Resources are Cool!

  • Online collections are more accessible. Readers have access to e-resources 24 hours a day, 7 days a week – whenever and wherever they are (as long as they have internet connection!)
  • E -books are always in stock so there is no need to wait for reservations, you can get a copy instantly.
  • Marking e-books is fine! E-books are personal and readers can highlight and annotate without destroying the original book!
  • When reading e-Books you can change the font style, colour and more to make reading more comfortable and enjoyable.
  • E-resources add value to service
  • E-resource opens up collections to new readers (e.g. distance learners)
  • There is no wear or tear on collections, the original book can be preserved and readers have access to a text in pristine condition – no missing pages or dusty covers!
  • E-books enable full text searches so you can find what you need quickly
  • E-books are portable! You can read on the go with a laptop, notebook, eReader or mobile device.
  • No more fines! E-books automatically remove from your device meaning no late fines!

And the downsides in brief…

  • e-resources can be expensive!
  • e-resources involve a lot of testing, we need to be certain that our resources will work on a number of different mobile platforms as well on the usual PC/MAC
  • Keeping up to date when technology improves can be costly and time consuming
  • Ensuring readers understand how to access and use the latest e-resources effectively is another challenge

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New Technology and E-Resources

There is no denying that the future of libraries is digital and a lot of my recent training has emphasised the latest digital and technological trends in libraries right now.

  • On a visit to Oxford Brookes University library we were given a brief talk about how their use of technology and social media has evolved over the past few years – emphasising the importance of ensuring library technology is up to date and used effectively.
  • During a trainee session on E-Developments we were given an overview of e-resources at the Bodleian Libraries and introduced to some of the issues facing the development of e-journals and Open Access Repositories.
  • At a talk at the Radcliffe Science Library, they detailed their experiences with new technology such as iPads, Kindles and QR Codes, looking at the benefits and issues new technologies bring to everyday life at the library.

Below are links to blog posts in which I’ve summarised and expanded on some of the ideas and challenges raised in these sessions.

Yay for the New Shiny Things!

QR Codes

E-Resources are Cool!

Open Access

One of the main ideas that came across from these sessions was that libraries need to constantly evolve and try new things – even if they don’t work out as expected.  As the caretakers of information and knowledge, it’s important (perhaps now, in the digital age, more than ever) that we adapt to changes in the way information and knowledge is both produced, stored and absorbed by readers so that we can provide the best service possible.

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