Monday, 24 October 2016

Internet Librarian International 2016

Last week I was given a last minute opportunity to attend one day of the Internet Librarian International  (ILI) Conference in London. This is a conference that has always been on my wish list so I jumped at the chance!

I attended on the Tuesday which was the first of two days of sessions on the theme of innovation in libraries.

Towards a sustainable environment - what libraries can learn from the 2030 agenda for sustainable development
Stuart Hamilton from IFLA began the day by talking about how libraries can contribute to the goal of sustainable development. Looking at the United Nations Development Programme goals it's easy to see how the mission of libraries fits with many of these. Perhaps the most important of these is access to information which is vital to sustainable development. Libraries can also be seen as safe spaces in an often complex world and they need to work to make sure this is known. Hamilton concluded by asking libraries to be ambitious and pursue a global agenda. 

How big data is changing libraries - and librarians 
Big data is a term with no given definition and can often be a contentious topic for the information profession who are being asked to cope with another change. 

Rafael Ball from ETH Zurich courted controversy when he talked about the advent of big data being the end of the 'ideology of accuracy' that has ruled libraries for years. Previously the information profession has dealt with comparatively small data which they could spend time analysing and creating perfect records for. This just isn't possible with big data but that doesn't mean that our skills are not still in demand. Librarians have always been able to adapt to changing formats and sources of information and I don't think big data will be any different. It will require us to think in a slightly different way, something Ball referred to as shifting the librarian way of thinking (structured data with expected results) to the big data way of thinking (unstructured data with surprise results). Hopefully colleagues will view this as an opportunity to develop their skills rather than a threat to their work.

Tools for the library innovator
This session featured two presentations on using innovative tools to showcase your information service. The first was a fascinating session from Kenn Bicknell from the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority on Strategic innovation tools for every library type. Bicknell highlighted different ways to reach out and engage both new and existing audiences using examples from his work with the transportation archives of LA. The library uses different social media tools and websites to create engaging content using both text and images and the response has been positive. Bicknell's key message was to link all of the tools together rather than using them in isolation. Too many people start using these tools without a clear reason other than wanting to use the latest site available. If you spend some time planning and creating a strategy you can start to push people towards the content you want them to see and achieve great results.

This was followed by a demonstration of 15 sites for library innovators from Marydee Ojala. These included some sites that I had heard of and use regularly but I also picked up a few tips. The Directory of Open Access Journals provides a well indexed list of open access publications whilst Science Open allows authors and researchers to share their research in an open way. One site I hadn't come across was Smart Briefs which skims the internet, collates information on certain topics and then delivers it to you. This has the potential to be a real time saver for librarians and users.

Something to learn, something to teach: the mentoring librarian
I've taken part in the International Librarians Network (ILN) twice now and found it a really worthwhile experience. This talk by Alyson Dalby, one if the ILN founders, looked at the programme as a mentoring relationship. ILN offers a semi-structured peer mentoring relationship for participants with guided discussion topics. Unlike traditional mentoring relationships where one person has more experience and guides the other, participants can be from any career stage. Having an international online relationship can also help to overcome some other mentoring problems such as finding time to meet face to face. The group have recently published a research report on their website outlining their success which I'll be exploring in more depth.

The responsive librarian
Milena Kostic and Vesna Vuksan from the University Library Svetozar Markovic in Belgrade talked us through their approach to being The responsive librarian. Every year they run courses aimed at training their colleagues in new skills such as digital marketing, digital storytelling and social media. These courses are linked to a wider learning plan and attendees receive credits which they can use towards their annual professional development total. These in person courses have proved very popular with attendees and new courses are being developed. The courses are also well supported by library managers which is great to see. I took a lot of lessons away from this session to incorporate into my own teaching practice. 

Digital scholarship: new technologies and new behaviours
Following on from this Mia Ridge gave the second keynote of the day on her work with digital scholarship at the British Library. Some librarians are afraid of the impact of digital scholarship on their work as they are used to people coming through the doors to use the physical library rather than working online. However there is no way to avoid this so it's a good idea to develop new skills. Ridge showed that the best way to learn about digital scholarship is to actively participate but it can be hard to keep up with the tools. The British Library have developed several ways of learning about new tools from formal training to 'Hack and Yack' sessions where participants gather together to work through an online tutorial on a tool.

This keynote also included my favourite statement from the conference - that metadata is like being promised cake but instead being given the recipe. Users think that they will see the whole digital resource when what often happens is that they can access the metadata. We need to give them the tools to make the cake which means we need to understand how to use them.

Open all hours: using shared and open data in learning and the teaching of data skills
Virginia Power talked about her work educating new library professionals at the University of the West of England. Unless these new professionals improve their data literacy they will be adrift in the library of the future. Librarians need to know how to interrogate the data and there are few courses which teach this through the traditional methods. Power is currently developing a module to meet this need and I can't wait to see it. This is an issue which is very close to my professional interests and I am currently involved in research to explore the area (more on that in future blog posts).

Digital data labs
The remainder of the session was a presentation on digital data labs in Copenhagen. A data lab is "an open platform and space for education and events focusing on digital methods in the academic sciences". These online learning spaces are reflective of the fact that a lot of human activity now takes place in the digital domain. Regardless of what you think about this it does mean that it's a place where libraries need to get involved. Building data labs also helps cooperation between libraries and faculty - something which many academic libraries strive for.

A collaborative approach to developing new library services
Much of Julia Barrett's talk on developing a new scholarly communication service at University College Dublin (UCD) struck a chord with me as I've been working in a similar area. Barrett spoke about the confusion researchers have around the terminology of scholarly communication and compliance issues. Library staff need to work to demystify this, something we have been actively doing in Cambridge. Currently UCD are working to develop a single portal which brings together all of the services on offer to researchers at UCD and tie this into the research cycle. Again this is something we are currently working on in Cambridge so I look forward to seeing the results. 

From vision to reality: developing a collaborative library and information service for nature conservation
The last presentation I attended was given by two Cambridge librarians - Andrew Alexander from the Judge Business School and Lizzie Sparrow from the Cambridge Conservation Initiative (CCI). The presenters talked about their roles in creating a new library service from scratch - an opportunity that doesn't come up every day. They wanted the library to be central to the new conservation centre but at the same time to be a user centred service that reached out to people at their desks. With the idea that the librarian is more important than the library they have created an effective and well used service which is at the heart of the CCI.

If anyone gets the chance to attend the conference in the future, it's definitely one I would recommend. I was only there for a day but I've come away with many contacts and ideas which is always the sign of a day well spent! 

Monday, 3 October 2016

Reflections on IFLA WLIC 2016

This is the last in a series of posts about my experience of IFLA WLIC 2016. Other posts can be found here.

I've been back from Columbus for just over a month now and it feels like I'm finally catching up with everything I missed when I was away. Now is also a good time to think back and reflect on what I learnt at IFLA and how I'm applying it at work.

Firstly I want to say that everything you have read/heard about large international conferences is true - they are completely overwhelming. I don't necessarily mean this in a bad way but one thing I learnt was not to underestimate the importance of taking time out if you need it. I tried to go to EVERYTHING as I'm well aware this could be my only chance to attend an event like this. Thinking back I should have built more time into my schedule for downtime from the start. The days were really long with sessions lasting from 8.30am to 6.00pm and I was often hopping from one to another meaning that lunch was constantly eaten on the go (if at all!). I'm quite introverted so I need that bit of quiet time to recharge and I should have included this in my planning.

Another thing I learnt was that it is indeed perfectly normal to switch sessions. Each session was about two hours long and made up of several 15/20 minute presentations so there was a natural pause in proceedings if you wanted to get to another session. It took me a few days to work up the nerve to switch sessions but I'm glad I did as I wound up going to some great sessions I would otherwise have missed. It's not rude in any way, it's just about learning as much as you can. I'm still not sure that the practice will ever take off here in the UK but at least if it does I'll be prepared!

I've talked to a lot of colleagues (both in person and online) since I've been back and they've all been curious about the experience of attending such a big conference. It's one thing to read about people attending events like this but another to have someone you know describing it to you. Everyone has been curious about different aspects of the conference (the opening ceremony in particular!) and it has been really great to share my experience with them. Hopefully I've helped to demystify the whole conference thing a bit and other people will think of applying to attend in the future. 

One really useful thing to come out of the conference is the contacts I made. I did some 'pre-conference networking' online before I went and then met with various people at the actual conference. This turned out to be really useful as we were able to talk through plans and issues and get things off the ground. Having this personal contact has really helped to move the projects forward and I think they are in a much better place than they would have been had we just talked online. I also met lots of new people of course and it was a great way to expand my network.

Talking to people from around the world and listening to their presentations I found it very reassuring that we are all facing similar problems. One thing I particularly wanted to explore was the problem of staff engagement with professional development and many of the sessions I attended gave me some really good tips. Chats in the lunch line or at the vendor exhibition were also really helpful. I have to say that it was in situations like this where the elevator pitch we had to practice as part of the CILIP Leadership Programme really came in handy! It stopped a lot of awkward pauses and led to lots of interesting conversations. 

I've also been putting a lot of what I learnt into action since I got back. There will be times when I'm sitting in a meeting or having a brainstorming session and I find myself saying "I saw this thing at IFLA....". Many of the sessions I attended were really inspiring and I came away with lots of ideas of things to try. I have my previous blog posts to refer back to but I also filled a notebook with notes which are sure to come in handy! So many libraries around the world are doing really innovative things and having a chance to ask about them in person was a real bonus. I've also passed ideas onto colleagues where appropriate and I know they've found that helpful.

So this concludes my IFLA experience (on this blog at least). If you want to know more there will be a conference report on the CILIP website and a piece in Update very soon. IFLA 2017 is being held in Wroclaw, Poland and although nothing is certain it's possible I might get a chance to attend again to show off the fruits of collaborations started at IFLA 2016. I hope that these posts have been helpful in giving a flavor of the conference experience, including planning and preparation. If people take away nothing else from these posts I would just like to encourage everyone to apply when you see bursaries offered. The worst answer you will get is no but I promise you that if you get a yes it will be SO worth it!!

Saturday, 20 August 2016

IFLA WLIC 2016 - Cleveland Rocks!

This is the tenth in a series of posts about my experience of IFLA WLIC 2016. Other posts can be found here.

Even though the IFLA WLIC officially finished yesterday I've planned one more library centric day before I leave Ohio. IFLA runs a number of library themed trips both during and after the main conference and being this far from home I didn't want to miss the opportunity to explore some libraries in the US. I chose to attend the Cleveland Rocks tour which visited the Cleveland Public Library and the Rock n Roll Hall of Fame Library and Archive. I must admit, Cleveland has ever been top of my list of places to visit but the lure of the Rock n Roll Hall of Fame Archive was too much!

Our first stop was the Cleveland Public Library. The first thing I noticed was that it was guarded by large plastic animals including these colourful snails. This was part of an art installation taking place across public spaces in Cleveland and they certainly brightened up the outdoor reading garden. Hosting public art such as these animals is just one facet of the outreach that the Public Library practices. Inside we were treated to multiple exhibitions from a Shakespeare folio to signs made by homeless people asking for help. Both were interesting and moving in their own way.

The main library branch is made up of two buildings - the original building dating from 1925 and a modern extension added in 1997. Good use is made of the space which is connected by an underground walkway and even though the buildings are quite distinctive the library does feel like one entity. There are a mixture of traditional and modern services in each building including a learning commons, a computer lab and a well used makerspace. Our visit to the Rare Books department was a particular highlight. As well as housing the world's largest chess library the department was also home to a collection of material on Alice in Wonderland and an impressive collection of miniature books. The department also featured an exhibition highlighting past presidents as Cleveland had recently hosted the Republican Party Convention. One particularly interesting item was a signed copy of Donald Trump's autobiography which had also been signed by Meredith McIver - speech writer for Melania Trump! Given recent events this lends an added significance to this item!All of these items and services combined to create a really well used public library service - something more policy makers need to pay attention to when they say no one uses libraries!

Our next stop was the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Library and Archive (which is sadly not in the museum but stored on a local university campus). For anyone wondering why the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is located in Cleveland the term rock and roll was coined on a local radio show in 1951.

The library building houses a reading room with collections related to artists inducted into the Hall of Fame. This includes a vast range of material from biographies, image collections and journals to children's books. I spent some time reading a children's book from the early 1990s on Madonna - needless to say it glossed over some aspects of her career! In addition the library collects music such as box sets of an artists greatest hits. It has an impressive selection of CDs which made many on the tour jealous...

The real treasures of the collection are kept in the archive and we were lucky enough to be given a behind the scenes tour. The archive collects material related to its inductees, either collected by them or compiled by others. The material is available to researchers and is an invaluable source of information that they might not find anywhere else. Highlights of the collection include handwritten lyrics by Elvis, Bob Dylan and Jimi Hendrix. Another favourite was Buddy Holly's high school diploma. As well as preserving these items for research purposes the archive lends them for exhibitions and display in the Hall of Fame Museum. If I ever get back to Cleveland I'll definitely be making a visit to check them out!

That concludes my IFLA adventure and it's been a blast! Once I've settled back into the real world I'll be writing a final reflective blog post on how I have applied what I've learnt and what my next steps will be....

Friday, 19 August 2016

IFLA WLIC 2016 - Day Five

This is the ninth in a series of posts about my experience of IFLA WLIC 2016. Other posts can be found here.
The conference is over and it's almost time to go back to reality. I've had a great time and learnt a lot but I can't deny that it will be nice to have a break.
Knowledge Café: Continuous Learning in Libraries and their Communities
The Knowledge Café is a guided discussion session where you move round to cover three tables/different discussions. This was a last minute session change for me but I'm glad I went as it proved one of the most useful sessions of the whole conference for me.
The first table I joined was discussing Learning strategies for staff. I got some great tips here which I can apply to my own role. A lot of the discussion focused on how to prepare staff when they first start in a role. This included ideas from traditional induction programmes to in-depth training where people take time out of their work to visit other departments and get a real feel for the organisation. We also talked about knowledge management in an organisation. Too often someone leaves an organisation and takes years of knowledge with them. You can avoid this problem by scheduling a formal exit and handover process. It sounds simple but often doesn't get done as there are other priorities. However taking the time to do this can really save time in the long  run and works well for the organisation. Finally we discussed skills assessments. One institution carries out both a self and management assessment of the employee's abilities. These are then compared, discussed and used to inform a personal development plan. We are looking at both our induction and appraisal processes so this was valuable advice.
The next table discussed Team building and team leadership. Having just completed the CILIP Leadership programme this really appealed to me. We mainly discussed the concept of trust and how fundamental this is to building a successful team. The team needs to trust each other and their leader but more importantly the leader needs to trust the team. It's important to remember that not everyone will want to be best friends with people on their team. Some people are there to get the job done and then go home and it's important to respect that rather than trying to force them into something. This way you will earn their trust and keep them happy in their role.
The final table looked at Sharing innovative programs. One of the best ideas to come out of this session for me was the Organisational Citizenship programme being planned at McGill University. This both supports and rewards staff for being good citizens in the workplace and for developing their skills, for example learning to communicate effectively in meetings. I really like this idea and I'm already thinking about ways to adapt it for Cambridge.
Evaluating our Worth: How Can we Quantify the Value of Libraries and Information Centres
I've done some research into impact so I know how complicated it can be. The room for this session was standing room only which shows how popular the topic is.
I was pleased to see that the discussion focused on both qualitative and quantitative measures of impact as I think both are important in their own way and incredibly powerful when they are used together. In the session libraries were described as a merit good which means that even though their value cannot easily be quantified they should be kept open by governments. If someone could tell the UK government this I would be very grateful!
The session also looked at the lack of understanding over what impact actually is and how libraries should be valued. We were told that we need to make a shift in our mind-set from thinking about a return on investment to looking more at ways in which libraries change the lives of our users. I know that this kind of impact can work wonders with stakeholders and I think it's a lesson we can all take on board.
The Role of Libraries and Librarians in Scientific and Technological Data Management and Archiving
I regularly teach research data management to both librarians and researchers so I was keen to attend this session. The most relevant part of the session for me was Mary Ann Kennan's talk on Knowledge and skills required in research, scientific and technical organisations. Kennan has carried out research into the skill sets needed to work in this area and identified several gaps that need to be filled. As well as the obvious topic related knowledge, people who work in this area need to develop their soft skills. They need to be good at communication in order to put together presentations and get the message across and they also need to be comfortable with change as the area is quite fluid. Kennan described the role as a "librarian with more" - something I am trying to create in Cambridge. She also talked about a new specialist course which has just been launched in the area at Charles Stuart University, something I will be following up on.
Closing Session
The highlight of the closing session was the review of the Columbus Conference and the look ahead to next year in Wroclaw in Poland. There was also the announcement that IFLA WLIC 2018 will be held in Kuala Lumpur which led to some celebration from our colleagues form that part of the world. The session also featured the closing address by IFLA President Donna Sheeder. She urged us to keep working as libraries were changing lives all over the world for the better.
Overall the conference was great fun and I've learnt a lot. It will take some time to process everything and think about how to fit what I've learnt into my work. Although today was the last day of the conference tomorrow features the post-conference visits. I'll be going to Cleveland to visit the public library and the Rock n Roll Hall of Fame Archive and it's safe to say I can't wait. I'll be blogging about the visit before I take a little break from blogging for a while. Stay tuned for the last onsite IFLA report tomorrow!

Thursday, 18 August 2016

IFLA WLIC 2016 - Day Four

This is the eighth in a series of posts about my experience of IFLA WLIC 2016. Other posts can be found here.

It's now gotten to the point where I'm having to check previous posts on this blog to make sure I know which day it actually is! As much as I'm enjoying the experience my brain feels like it's on information overload right now. So much so that I've taken a break from this afternoons session and have come to write this blog post instead. 

It has taught me a valuable lesson about taking time out though. It can be tempting with an experience like this to try and cram in as much as possible, especially if it,s not likely to be repeated any time soon. However I would urge people to plan some downtime otherwise all of the sessions start to blend into one a little bit and you wind up not being able to take it all in. I'm quite introverted so a little bit of quiet time is always welcome.

Plenary Session
This morning began with an address by the David S. Ferriero, Archivist of the United States. He talked about his appointment under President Obama and his management of the forty-three institutions which make up the Archives, including the Presidential Libraries. One thing that the Obama administration sought to do was to create a culture of open government and the archives naturally played a big part in this. Holding the records of government, it's the job of the archive to preserve these and then make then available for the nation. In this way the people can hold the government accountable. At a time when political misinformation is a hot topic in the UK this can hopefully only be a good thing! Ferriero concluded his message by calling for all librarians to continue their work of sharing information to make the world a better place.

Hot Topics: Re-Envisioning or Re-Inventing - New Journeys for Academic and Research Librarians
The second session of the day focused on future roles for academic and research libraries and librarians. Given that my job is working to prepare librarians for a change future on academic libraries this session was a goldmine. The first speaker, Lorcan Dempsey highlighted a crucial marketing problem that libraries have. Over the past few years we have gone from thinking about the user in the life of the library and how we can provide services to thinking about how the library fits into the life of the user. This is exactly how it should be and how successful business models have done it for years. What libraries do need now is to position themselves as solving university level problems. What can we use our skills to help the university with? Answers include areas such as research data management and access to research. This is essentially what we have always done but we need to frame it in a different way and make it part of our story.

Another interesting talk from this session was delivered by Suzie Allard who talked about the role of the library in helping researchers to manage their data. Some academic and research libraries are already doing this and doing it well but a worryingly high number don't. A concept that Allard introduced that really appealed to me was the incubator model where a library that is having success with this mentors a different library through setting up the process. Is is something I'm very keen to be involved with. We do a lot of this type of education and training at Cambridge and I'd really like to help share this knowledge more widely. It's something I've discussed with my line manager so watch this space! After the presentations we had a great discussion at my table about the various issues raised and I came away knowing more about the international landscape and with more ideas to try.

Failing Successfully in a Librarian's Career: Is a Setback an Opportunity to Grow or Just an Unwelcome Incident on the Road to Success?
Failure is a funny thing. We've all experienced it but no one wants to talk about it. When it happens to you it's easy to feel that you are the only person in the world who this has happened to but this session contained some really good advice on dealing with failure.

New professionals are usually super keen and willing to try everything that comes their way. This will inevitably lead to failure due to both the law of averages and that fact that innovation is linked to risk. If you keep trying new things then some of them are bound to fail. There is no shame in this but you do need to be prepared for the fact that not everything will go your way. You can except this and learn from it or get let it get to you. The advice of the session (and my advice) is to go with the former!

Even when you get a bit further in your career and land that seemingly perfect job remember that things may not live up to expectations. Job satisfaction isn't something that comes automatically like a leave allowance or a salary, you have to work at it. This isn't about loving your job but rather about not letting the little things take over and turn into big problems.

Other advice from the session included trying to turn negatives into positives, addressing problems sooner rather than later, seeking advice from more experienced colleagues and if all else fails and nothing is working, consider removing yourself from the situation. The final conclusion to the session was to continue to take on new challenges, even if they're risky. Great advice that I know I wish I'd figured out sooner.

Looking Beyond Conventional Information: Big, Open and Research Data
Working with researchers and teaching them how to store their data is a big part of my job so I was interested to attend this session to find out about the international perspective. I was a bit taken aback to learn that colleagues in the US are finding getting the message across a bit of a struggle given how enthusiastically the UK community seem to have taken to it. Kathleen Shearer described research data management as a three legged stool comprising policies, culture and infrastructure/support services. We need to strengthen all three if the culture of open data is to be a success.

A phrase that kept cropping up was data literacy which is the ability to manage and store data. This is a good way to describe it and in a world familiar with information literacy may help understanding from both researchers and librarians. Libraries have a crucial part to play in supporting research data management so staff need to be up to speed.

General Assembly
The final session of the day was IFLA's General Assembly or AGM. The strategic directions for IFLA were outlined as below and updates given on each:
  • libraries in society - providing access and opportunities for all
  • information and knowledge - access in any format and at any place
  • cultural heritage - preservation and conservation
  • building capacity - strengthening the ability of IFLA to advocate for change
This was part one of the general meeting with part two closing the conference tomorrow. Thursday is the last official day of the conference followed by the visits on Friday. Since I'm visiting the Rock n Roll Hall of Fame I have a feeling that will be a blog post people will want to read!

Wednesday, 17 August 2016

IFLA WLIC 2016 - Day Three

This is the seventh in a series of post about my experience of IFLA WLIC 2016. Other posts can be found here.
It's now day three of the conference for me and the fatigue is starting to set in. It might just be jet lag or it might be that I've never been to a conference that is this full on (or long) before. By this time in the process things are usually winding down and I'm getting ready to leave but the conference still has two days to go plus n all day visit on Friday. I'll be glad to get to my vacation afterwards!
Today was a bit of a mixed bag session wise and I ended up jumping around quite a bit. This is common practice in US conferences but something it has taken a bit of getting used to. At first I was quite British and polite and didn't move sessions. Then I realised that if I'm not learning anything I really needed to go somewhere where I was. IFLA sessions are structured as lots of little sessions within a larger one, so even if you join one halfway through you will be able to catch up.
The Other Wes Moore: One Name Two Fates
Wes Moore is in his own words "a youth advo­cate, Army com­bat vet­eran, social entre­pre­neur". He speaks candidly about his past and is passionate about education for young people. He talked about the importance of libraries, not just to him personally but to everyone. Everyone is welcome in libraries, they are places which don't (or at least shouldn't) discriminate against who uses them. Moore talked about how important this is to those who have no other access to safe spaces to learn and showed how easily young people can get lost in a system. He talked of living up to expectations and how these are often imposed by other people. If people think you won't amount to anything you begin to believe it yourself. Libraries are working to help change this by offering educational opportunities. It was a powerful message and a great start to the day.
All About E-Learning: Toward Connection, Collaboration, Community
My current role involves a lot of teaching so I was keen to attend this session. The talk that stuck with me the most was given by Sheila Corrall of Pittsburgh University. As someone who teaches LIS students, both in person and online, she had a lot of insight into the transition to e-learning. There has been a huge increase in the uptake of online courses in recent years but people are still cautious due to perceived stigmas about digital courses. They are sometimes seen as lesser by employers and participants as they think that they are not as rigorous as in person courses. However Corrall showed that online learning produces students who are more engaged and better able to take part in communities of practice in the future. Learning online suits some people who feel better able to reflect and communicate in that environment.
Corrall also talked about the online course which Pittsburgh offers to its instructors to prepare them for teaching online. This three week course not only looks at creating content and assessing learning but gives participants a chance to do some online learning. This is an advantage as it gives them a chance to experience what their students will be going through. Online learning is an adjustment from face to face learning and I think sometimes those who create online content forget this which is why this course is a great idea.
One of the ways in which LIS students learning is assessed is through their online interactions and message boards. They take to this with enthusiasm but this results in a lot of work to be marked. To solve this problem the course practices a self-assessment model where students pick their three best posts, assess them against a rubric and then submit for instructor marking. This way they get the chance to interact, reflect and get feedback from a teacher. A similar model is applied to creating a research plan - students work on it section by section, submit it for both instructor and peer review and then rework it. At the end of the process they have a fully formed and assessed plan.
I'll be taking a lot away from this session to use in my own work. The cogs in my brain are already turning.
How to Get Published in Journals
I'll admit that I attended this session with an ulterior motive. We are just about to start offering something similar to our research community and I wanted to do a little spying! Aside from the obligatory advertising this session by Sage and the IFLA Journal was interesting and contained a lot of good tips. It's not good practice to submit the same article to more than one journal simultaneously but it's quite common. This is a question we get from researchers all the time but I was surprised to find out how widespread the problem is.
Data Across Borders: Discovering and Describing Rare Materials
This session felt like a return to familiar territory. I worked as a cataloguer for a number of years so the discussion was familiar. I came in late so missed much of the discussion but caught the part about the guidelines proposed for metadata for rare materials. There was a lot of discussion about people who are not information professionals preparing metadata for their collections and whether this should be standardised. At what point do we become a hindrance rather than a help when it comes to forcing our systems on others? Maybe we should be thinking about how to make people more aware of our existing systems so they don't reinvent the wheel rather than trying to force them to use something without explaining why.
Tonight is the 'cultural evening' (read: party) where we will be exposed to food an entertainment from around the US. It's also going to be a chance for me to meet with people I've talked to on Twitter so hopefully it will prove a lot o fun. Photos to follow tomorrow...

Tuesday, 16 August 2016

IFLA WLIC 2016 - Day Two

This is the sixth in a series of post about my experience of IFLA WLIC 2016. Other posts can be found here.
Day two of IFLA started with a thunderstorm. I'm told it's not usually this hot and humid here but the weather seems to be making an exception at the moment! I suppose it doesn't make much difference if you'll be inside all day (and I REALLY appreciate the air conditioning!).
Brave New World: the Future of Collections in Digital Times: Services without Content OR Content in Context
The first session kicked off the competition for longest title at the conference. I wanted to attend this session as it talked about born digital content and open access, two areas that are directly related to my work. The session started off with a difficult question - what will the library of the future look like? Will there be librarians at all? Hopefully yes or I'll need to start my career again! The session asked us to think about a world where librarians remained unseen and content is king but users still trusted us to put the information they found into context for them. This set the scene for the talks that followed.
Dan Cohen from the Digital Public Library of America (DPLA) talked about the way in which his organisation brought its content to a wider audience. He described this as maximal access - not only making the information available online but connecting it with its audience. If Open Access is the how, maximal access is the why of sharing information. This really stuck with me and is certainly something I will be reporting back. He also shared the Rights Statements website which provides twelve clear and machine readable licences which can be applied to different types of material. The difference from other licences is that these allow the user to search by what they want to do, for example search an image database for all images they can use in a school report. Having taught copyright to confused users I think this is a great idea!
Another highlight of the session for me was James G. Neal's talk on born digital content. There is a wealth of digital content out there from research data to government information and if we don't preserve it we won't be able to give access to it in the future. Is this content going to be the end of libraries or a great opportunity? Librarians are ideally placed with the right skill set to help preserve this content and I think we are up to the challenge.
Guidelines for Continuing Professional Development: Principles and Best Practices
This interactive workshop promised to be a real highlight of the conference for me and it didn't disappoint. We divided into three groups - employers, training providers and members of professional associations - and discussed the Continuing Professional Development and Workplace Learning section's Guidelines for Continuing Professional Development.  I was in the Providers group as my job involves teaching and training. The results of the discussion can be seen in this Padlet (results from the Employers and Associations groups can also be seen). It was really reassuring to me to see that others had the same concerns as I do. I've been in my role for less than a year so I often feel like I'm still finding my feet and any reassurance is gratefully received. One important point that was made in my session was that it's important to build in iterative evaluation or you run the risk of leaving it out. I've been evaluating my own teaching programme at work but as a result of the session I need to think more carefully about how I do it. We were given homework to create an action plan. I've included mine below to make myself follow it through!:
  • plan iterative evaluation of the Research Ambassador Programme
  • determine a time allocation for staff development with key stakeholders
  • collect evidence on the value of professional development to demonstrate importance to library managers
The Role of Stakeholders in the New Serials World
The final session of the day looked at issues surrounding Open Access. This is a subject I've come to know well during my time in the Office of Scholarly Communication but it was interesting to see the approaches taken around the world. Gaelle Bequet from ISSN International highlighted the problem of predatory publishers who appropriate journal titles in order to target early career researchers. We need to do more to equip our research community with the information literacy skills to avoid these sort of pitfalls. One website which aims to do this is Think, Check, Submit which gives researchers the chance to check the journal they are submitting to. I knew about the site but I think I need to work harder on educating our research community.
Birgitta Hellmark Lindgren from Stockholm University talked about the opportunities for libraries to get involved in the publishing process. At Stockholm they felt that this was a good fit for their existing portfolio of services. University libraries have access to and knowledge of their research communities and getting involved in publishing is one way to extend the help we offer them.
Tomorrow night is the cultural evening so the blog may be shorter (and possibly more photo based). As much as I'm looking forward to the sessions I'm also looking forward to meeting new people outside of the conference!