18 April 2013

Electronic legal deposit and Mendeley news

It seems like a long time since I posted last, but a couple of recent news items deserve a mention.

First of all, UK electronic legal deposit is finally a reality, with recent regulations having come into force on 6 April 2013. More information is available on the British Library's website here. The Library also this video overview of what this means.

Possibly one of the strongest arguments for the vital role of libraries in preserving digital as well as printed information seemed to me to be highlighted by the recent news of acquisition of the free reference management tool Mendeley by the publishing giant Elsevier. Andy Tattersall of Sheffield's School of Health and Related Research (ScHARR) recently carried out this fascinating brief interview with Victor Henning, co-founder of Mendeley, which is published in full on the ScHARR library blog.

20 February 2013

British Library and the Massive Open Online Course (MOOC)

There was a really interesting announcement from the British Library earlier this week about the Library's future involvement with FutureLearn Ltd, a provider of MOOCs from UK institutions. The news release is available here. The British Library is the first non-university institution to join the project, launched by the Open University last December.

24 January 2013

DNA as a new method of digital data storage

Quite the most exciting, extraordinary thing that I've read about recently: encoding information in DNA as a means of high density archival data storage. The Guardian has a news article about this: 'Shakespeare's sonnets encoded in DNA' and the original research is reported in an article in Nature 'Towards practical, high-capacity, low-maintenance information storage in synthesized DNA'.

21 January 2013

Links to the ALISS presentations

All three presentations from last month's ALISS Christmas seminar are now available on Slideshare.

Sharon Johnson's (Head of Content Development Implementation, The British Library) presentation "Are we nearly there? Measuring progress and success on the road to implementation" is available at: http://www.slideshare.net/alissinfo/are-we-nearly-there-measuring-progress-and-success-on-the-road-to-implementation

The presentation "Transforming our collections: How we reviewed over 1 million items in five years and got them all to fit!" by Paul Johnson (Head of Collections and Space, University of Reading) and Claire Cannings (Collections Project Co-ordinator, University of Reading) is available at: http://www.slideshare.net/alissinfo/transforming-our-collections-how-we-reviewed-over-1-million-items-in-five-years-and-got-them-all-to-fit

14 December 2012

ALISS Christmas Seminar

On Wednesday, I was very glad to have the opportunity to deliver a presentation about my research to the ALISS (Association of Librarians and Information Professionals in the Social Sciences) Christmas Seminar.

There were three presentations: Sharon Johnson from the British Library was discussing the challenges and opportunities presented by the process of developing a content strategy. I found the idea of strategy development and implementation as a journey very persuasive; it certainly resonates with some of the findings from my research. I also liked a matrix which can be used for deciding priorities for collection or content delivery, plotting potential benefits of different initiatives against their probability of success. I think that this matrix could be very useful for decision-making in collection development and management. It seems to me that one of the challenges of decision-making in this area is that it can be quite difficult to actually visualise issues relating to collections in a meaningful way.

This was followed by a presentation about a project at the University of Reading to review, relegate and deselect large amounts of printed materials, combined with the development of an off-site store. Paul Johnson, Head of Collections and Space and Claire Cannings, Collections Project Co-ordinator gave a valuable insight into the challenges of such a massive project. I particularly liked the photographs of the library reading rooms in the 1960s, compared with the same rooms more recently. In the 1960s the reading room was predominantly taken up with study space; in more recent years, storage of printed materials has encroached on that space, leaving just a small number of study desks around the outside of the room. It was very interesting to hear about the role of UKRR (UK Research Reserve) - a collaborative multi-institution project for the management of print journals - in facilitating some aspects of this local project to free up library space.

In my presentation, I talked about "Exploring concepts of 'collection' in the digital world", drawing on interviews and surveys conducted as part of my research. This is the presentation I gave:
I'm very grateful to the ALISS committee members for inviting me to speak and I very much enjoyed listening to all the presentations.

27 November 2012

Charleston Conference presentation

I've finally got around to uploading a version of my presentation from the Charleston Conference to SlideShare - it's embedded below.

19 November 2012

Charleston Conference 2012: part 6

This should be my final Charleston Conference post for 2012, about the final half-day of presentations, Saturday 10 November. After that, the sun set on the conference for another year.

On Saturday morning, I attended the "Long arm of the law" session. Winston Tabb (Dean of Libraries and Museums, The Johns Hopkins University) described IFLA's work on developing an international approach to copyright limitations and exceptions, charting some of the national variations in library exceptions (or lack of them) in different countries. In particular, Tabb discussed IFLA's recent recommendations (July 2012) for a Treaty on Limitations and Exceptions for Libraries and Archives (TLIB). Bill Hannay of the law firm Schiff Hardin then provided an overview of recent legal cases regarding publishers, book sales, authors and universities. Brilliantly, two of the cases discussed (USA vs Apple and Kirtsaeng vs Wiley) were summarised in song! Nancy Weiss from the Institute of Museum and Library Services explored further legal issues for libraries and museums including the implications of the Golan vs Holder case and the Authors' Guild vs Hathi Trust case, regarding digitization of published works to make them accessible to people with visual impairments. All these cases either have been or are going to be decided by the US Supreme court and it's difficult to know how relevant the cases would be specifically in a UK context, but of course the global reach of organisations such as Apple, Amazon, Google and the Hathi Trust does mean these judgements are bound to have international ramifications.

Then it was time for my 45 minute innovation session "Exploring concepts of 'collection' in the digital world". I was very pleased to see quite a large audience (around 25-30 people). I spoke for around 35 minutes, summarising some of my interview findings and a few very initial results from a survey I conducted over the summer and early autumn. The main part of the presentation explored ideas of collection-as-thing, collection-as-access, and collection-as-process. Paradoxically, I think that in some respects I tried to say too much and in other ways I probably didn't quite say enough about my findings. There was a really useful and interesting discussion after my presentation and I'm very grateful to all the audience members for their contributions. The major message which I've taken away from this discussion is to think more about immediacy, peripherality and convenience when thinking about 'collection'.

The morning concluded with a lively Hyde Park style debate, focused on the controversial proposition that "the traditional research library is dead". The motion was proposed by Rick Anderson (Interim Dean, Marriott Library, University of Utah) and opposed by Derek Law (University of Strathclyde). The debating style was robust and humorous, but ultimately focused on serious points which define the changing nature of library and information services. I thought both speakers made useful points, whether about the importance of library as space, the implications of the ending of a tradition in which information was trapped in physical objects, and that "uniqueness is not the same as vitality" (Rick Anderson), or about the continuing significance of the preservation role of libraries (Derek Law). In the end, the proposition carried the day, with a fairly evenly split initial poll (52% yes and 48% no) converted to a significant majority for the proposition (65% yes, 35% no). It seems the sun may be setting on more than a conference...