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 libaraies 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 unviversity 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 th role of e library in healing researcher 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!
 


Monday, 15 August 2016

IFLA WLIC 2016 - Day One

This is the fifth in a series of post about my experience of IFLA WLIC 2016. Other posts can be found here. This post marks the start of my attendance at the conference.

When they tell you that these conferences can be overwhelming, they're not kidding! IFLA is BIG. Fortunately it's also friendly and there are plenty of volunteers to point you in the right direction if you get lost.

Newcomers session
The first session I attended was aimed specifically at those who were attending IFLA for the first time. It was a useful session to get an overview of the way things worked and information about our host city. As part of her address, IFLA president Donna Scheeder reminded us that everyone who sits on the board of IFLA was once a newcomer to the conference. You never know what might happen in the future! The session was also really valuable as it meant I could see how many other newbies there were in attendance - reassuring in such a daunting environment.
 
Opening ceremony
I'm not sure what I expected from the opening ceremony - maybe the usual welcoming remarks and wishes for a nice time in Columbus. We certainly got that but also a lot more. I've never been to a conference opening where there were dancing sweets and a real live penguin! The opening ceremony showcased the best of Columbus through history and even included a message from Barack Obama welcoming us to the US. Very impressive!

Photos from the event (which are better than anything I managed to take) can be seen here.
 
Copyright Matters: Libraries and National Copyright Reform Initiatives
This session on copyright took up most of the afternoon. The aim of the session was to look at copyright and its exceptions in a global context by highlighting the challenges faced by different countries.

Kenneth D Crews from WIPO has recently conducted a study into copyright and exceptions in countries worldwide. He spoke of how the mission of libraries and the mission of copyright is intertwined - copyright works to encourage the creation and dissemination of knowledge in a safe way whilst libraries work to provide access to this knowledge. In many countries exceptions to copyright for libraries are an integral part of copyright law different countries use them in different ways. This lack of consistency often leads to confusion for both librarians and users. There is also the digital challenge to deal with - copyright laws have traditionally been drawn up specifically to deal with analogue methods of copying. This is obviously out of date now and countries need to work together to come up with coherent solutions to the problem.

Nancy E. Weiss talked about the US experience. Weiss is Senior Advisor to the Chief Technology Officer for Innovation and IP, The White House, United States. She talked about how in the information society there is a greater need than ever before to preserve digital information. This goes hand in hand with users' who have an evolving view of the services that libraries should provide. The US government is currently looking at copyright law, particularly in relation to areas such as Open Educational Resources which have become a trend in recent years. The US is one of the lucky countries where fair use policy has helped in a number of areas where flexibility is needed.

Jessica Coates from Australia talked abut the advances being made in terms of access for people with disabilities. Although these rules are not yet mandatory, Australia are making voluntary best practice changes and hope other countries will follow their example. The country is also looking at preservation, safe harbours (extends ISP protection to online providers such as libraries), ending perpetual copyright for unpublished works and simplifying copyright for educational purposes. Given that the Australian Copyright Law is over 700 pages long anything that simplifies it must be a good thing!

At the other end of the spectrum was Mya OO from Myanmar National Library in a country recently emerging from a 50 year period of military rule. They currently use the 1914 copyright law which carries no explicit exceptions for libraries. Fair dealing for private research and review is allowed, works are protected for life of the author plus 30 years and there is no protection for foreign works. A proposed new law has been under review since 2012 and will hopefully make progress soon. Challenges in Myanmar include low bandwidth, lack of consistent IP addresses and the changing role of the library. Mya OO highlighted the need for libraries to be involved in policy making when it comes to copyright as they are familiar with their users' needs.

Finally Monika Mitera talked about the situation in Poland (site of next year's IFLA congress). Poland was the first country to have a copyright law which captured the concept of 'work' as the subject matter of copyright and is working hard to apply amendments to deal with digital material. Mitera  also highlighted the Copyright Forum - a group which brings together stakeholders to discuss laws and suggest changes that are needed. She also talked about the fact that not all libraries are viewed as educational institutions - something which has implications for copyright.

In conclusion it was shown that there is no one best model for copyright that will suit everyone but the better solutions move us all towards a worthwhile solution. It was also noted that all copyright legislation falls short when it comes to digital preservation - a problem libraries need to work to address.

Exhibition opening party
The final part of the day was devoted to the opening of the exhibition and poster sessions. Anyone who has ever been to a conference with an exhibition will know the feeding frenzy that happens when freebies are on offer. I talked to a couple of vendors and poster presenters but will go back and have a proper look another day as I was tired out.

Overall the first day was a success. Role on day two....

Saturday, 13 August 2016

IFLA Conference Schedule

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

Hopefully if I've timed it right this blog post should be going out as I'm in the air on my way to Ohio for IFLA WLIC. It's going to be a very busy week and I'll try and keep up to date with social media during the conference. If people have questions or want to hear about something specific then let me know in the comments section here or via Twitter.

I've included below a link to my provisional schedule so you can see the sort of sessions I'll be attending. Things happen so it's not set in stone but hopefully it will make it easier to follow along. There are a lot of sessions happening and I'm sure I will get lost at some point! Luckily the conference organisers have made it easier by providing an online conference planner which is how I produced the schedule below. 

Claire's conference programme (subject to change)


I've been thinking long and hard about which sessions to attend and I've tried to pick a variety that will be useful for leadership (as a grant from the CILIP Leadership Programme is enabling me to attend the conference) and for my role in Scholarly Communication. I've also included some sessions that are a little outside my comfort zone as often these are the sessions that turn out to be the most interesting.

I'll be back soon with another conference update....




Thursday, 4 August 2016

Getting Social at IFLA

This is part of a series of posts about my experiences of IFLA WLIC 2016. Other posts can be found here.

Funny story: I once wrote on a conference bursary application that I wanted to attend in order to "expose myself to the profession". It was only when my friend was proofreading the application that she pointed out that might not be the wisest choice of words! I took the phrase out and ended up not getting the place (although I'm sure for other reasons). 

However as my time at IFLA approaches I'm thinking about all the different ways I promised to share my experiences with the wider library community. I'm fairly active on social media and I know the value that it can bring to those not able to attend conferences so it seemed like a sensible place to start.

What I'm really aiming to do with all this is demystify the experience of a major international conference. I'm hoping that if I can show via social media what it's really like it will encourage more people to apply for bursaries when they see them. I know a lot of people hold back from applying because they think they're not good enough in some way but it's not true. The worst people can say is no and if you don't ask you don't get!

With that in mind, below is a list of ways that you will be able to follow me at the conference as it happens:
  • Blog - blogging gives me a chance to reflect and share things at the same time. One thing I really wanted to do with the conference blog is show people the full conference experience which is why there have been so many posts leading up to the conference itself. I'm aiming to blog about highlights when I'm in Columbus and then again once I am settled back into real life and putting into practice what I've learnt. 
  • Twitter - as most people know I'm REALLY keen on live-tweeting. It helps me to record my thoughts and also allows people to follow along in real time. The time difference between here and the USA will have an impact on this but I plan to be tweeting as much as I can from the sessions I'll be attending.
  • Facebook - I have a 'professional' Facebook so that I can keep my personal account private. If people are still using Facebook then I'll be sharing updates on there but it's more likely to be links to blog and Instagram content than anything new.
  • Instagram - recently I've been thinking about different ways to follow along with conferences. I have seen a few people posting video reflections at the end of the session but I don't think I'm brave enough to try this. However, I know that sometimes a picture is worth a thousand words and I've joined Instagram to share quicker, visual updates. 

This does all come with the caveat that I am only human! There is only so much I can do at one time but hopefully I can keep these channels updated at the conference. I'm also going to be pretty dependent on technology so say a prayer to the gods of tech that everything keeps working and that I remember to pack my chargers!

Next stop Columbus, Ohio!