Thursday 29 December 2016

2016 In Review

The end of year blog post is becoming something of a tradition for me. I like to use it as a chance to reflect on the previous twelve months and make some plans for the future - if I share them there is more chance that I will actually stick to them!
This time last year I was only a few weeks into a new role and still figuring out how everything in my new office worked. After just over twelve months in the job I hopefully have everything figured out by now! This role marks my first permanent full time role and aside from the relief of not having to constantly apply for new jobs it's been a relief to actually put work plans into place and know that I'll be there to see them through. Short term contracts are great for getting experience but you sometimes feel like a placeholder and it can be frustrating not to see projects that you start through to the end. One of the largest elements of my current role in the Office of Scholarly Communication is supervising the Research Support Ambassador Programme which aims to educate library staff in order to provide a higher standard of support to the research community. The second cohort of participants has recently completed the programme and there are plans for another run in 2017.
One of the highlights of 2016 was the chance to attend IFLA WLIC in Columbus, Ohio. This came about thanks to a grant from CILIP and I learnt so much from the process. A series of blog posts about my experiences can be found here so I won't go into too much detail. The only thing I will say is that if you ever get the chance to apply for similar bursaries then go for it. It took me a while but I was eventually successful and it was a great experience. I've also attended other conferences this year, both large and small. Two that stick in my mind are Internet Librarian International and the CILIP Conference and each provided a different experience. CILIP have recently announced that Dr Carla Hayden, the new Librarian of Congress, will be a keynote speaker at the CILIP 2017 conference so I'll definitely be looking to attend.
I also attended the LISDIS Conference in November. This conference is aimed at allowing recent library graduates to showcase the research they have undertaken and I was really impressed with the quality of their presentations. I attended the conference to give one of the keynote presentations on carrying out Research in the Workplace which was really interesting to research and deliver. I'm currently in the middle of conducting some research into the educational background of people who work in scholarly communications - another project for 2017. I've also submitted abstracts for a couple of other presentations and I'm currently waiting to hear if they have been successful. One I do know about is our local Cambridge Libraries Conference which will happen in January. I'm presenting a poster on the Research Support Ambassador Programme and talking about my professional failures as part of a panel discussion (another blog post to follow on that in the new year).
Although I've been busy at work I've tried to keep up my extra-curricular professional activities. I completed the CILIP Leadership Programme in the summer which was a great experience that gave me a lot of practical tips to put into practice. I feel much more confident in my leadership abilities as a result of the programme and would recommend a repeat run to anyone. As part of this I wrote articles about my experiences for CILIP Update, including an article on attending IFLA WLIC. I've also been busy developing my writing skills in other ways including submitting my first peer reviewed article. I'm currently waiting for the feedback but hopefully there will be some good news to report in new year. Finally I've been working on conducting and writing about my own research both on this blog and others, including this literature review posted on Brain-Work - the blog for the Centre for Evidence Based Library and Information Practice.
I've been active on the committee front as well, continuing to work as Candidate Support Officer for CILIP East and Social Media Manager for CILIP Cataloguing an Indexing Group. As my work interests have changed I've expanded my committee positions in 2016 by working on the Editorial Board of the New Review of Academic Librarianship. I've learnt a lot from this role and it's interesting to see the publication process from another perspective.
All in all it's been a busy year but that doesn't mean I don't have plans for 2017. I started a teaching course in 2015 but was unable to complete it due to work commitments. I hate leaving things unfinished so I'll be starting that again in the new year. I do a lot of teaching in my role so this seems like a sensible qualification to pursue. I'm also looking at Fellowship of the Higher Education Academy for similar reasons. I also have another goal in 2017 - to address my work/life balance. The images in this post were taken when I visited Chicago in the summer on my way back from IFLA (for those that don't know it's the Cloud Gate sculpture which I felt fit the reflection theme well!). I had a great time and it was nice to have a few days break from work. People often ask me why I do so much outside work and the short answer is that I have been trying to secure a permanent job and add to the CV. For now at least this goal has been accomplished so I can devote a bit more time to relaxation. I think this is something people often forget to do for various reasons but I'm aiming to make it a priority next year - and maybe even have another holiday!
I hope you all have a great 2017!

Monday 19 December 2016

Research in the Workplace

One of the 'perks' of my current role is that I get to carry out some research. Working in scholarly communication and dealing with the research community in Cambridge conducting my own research helps me to better understand the process they go through.
A few weeks ago I was asked to speak about doing research in the workplace at the LISDIS Conference. This conference is a chance for LIS students and recent graduates to share the research they have undertaken as part of their qualification. What happens when you have finished your qualification though? During your studies you are supported to undertake research but what happens when you're in work? How do you fit research into your day job?
This were the questions I set out to answer in my keynote on Research in the Workplace. Preparing the presentation was actually a great learning experience for me and helped me to focus on some of the things I have been doing over the last few months. The slide deck is included below:

If you're thinking about carrying out some research in your workplace then my advice would be to go for it. It doesn't have to be a massive, complicated research project. It can be a small change that you want to look into or a problem that has been niggling you for some time. Hopefully this presentation will give you a few ideas to try and overcome common barriers and plan your own research project!

Wednesday 14 December 2016

Changing Roles and Changing Needs for Academic Librarians

The Office of Scholarly Communication (OSC) has recently joined the Centre for Evidence Based Library and Information Practice (C-EBLIP) Research Network and as part of that commitment will be producing regular blog posts to Brain-Work, the Network blog. The first of these posts is a literature review that I conducted with Dr Danny Kingsley as part of a larger piece of research into scholarly communication education. The blog has previously appeared on both Brain-Work and Unlocking Research - the blog of the OSC. The post is reposted here via a CC-BY licence.


Changing roles

There is no doubt that libraries are experiencing another dramatic change as a result of developments in digital technologies. Twenty years ago in their paper addressing the education of library and information science professionals, Van House and Sutton note that “libraries are only one part of the information industry and for many segments of the society they are not the most important part”.

There is an argument that “as user habits take a digital turn, the library as place and public services in the form of reference, collection development and organisation of library resources for use, all have diminishing value to researchers”. Librarians need to adapt and move beyond these roles to one where they play a greater part in the research process.

To this end scholarly communication is becoming an increasingly established area in many academic libraries. New roles are being created and advertised in order to better support researchers as they face increasing pressure to share their work. Indeed a 2012 analysis into new activities and changing roles for health science librarians identified ‘Scholarly communications librarians’ as a new role for health sciences librarians based on job announcements whilst in their 2015 paper on scholarly communication coaching Todd, Brantley and Duffin argue that: “To successfully address the current needs of a forward-thinking faculty, the academic library needs to place scholarly communication competencies in the toolkit of every librarian who has a role interacting with subject faculty.”

Which skill sets are needed?

Much of the literature is in agreement about the specific skill set librarians need to work in scholarly communication. “Reskilling for Research”identified nine areas of skill which would have increasing importance including knowledge about data management and curation. Familiarity with data is an area mentioned repeatedly and acknowledged as something librarians will be familiar with. Mary Anne Kennan describes the concept as “the librarian with more” – traditional library skills with added knowledge of working with and manipulating data.

Many studies reported that generic skills were just as much, if not more so, in demand than discipline specific skills. A thorough knowledge of advocacy and outreach techniques is needed to spread the scholarly communication message to both library staff and researchers. Raju highlighted presentation skills for similar reasons in his 2014 paper.

The report “University Publishing in a Digital Age” further identified a need for library staff to better understand the publishing process and this is something that we have argued at the OSC in the past.

There is also a need to be cautious when demanding new skills. Bresnahan and Johnson (article pay-walled) caution against trying to become the mythical “unicorn librarian” – an individual who possesses every skill an employer could ever wish for. This is not realistic and is ultimately doomed to fail.

In their 2013 paper Jaguszewski and Williams instead advocate a team approach with members drawn from different backgrounds and able to bring a range of different skills to their roles. This was also the argument put forward by Dr Sarah Pittaway at the recent UKSG Forum where her paper addressed the issue of current library qualifications and their narrow focus.

Training deficit

Existing library roles are being adapted to include explicit mention of areas such as Open Access whilst other roles are being created from scratch. This work provides a good fit for library staff but it can be challenging to develop the skills needed. As far back as 2008 it was noted that the curricula of most library schools only covered the basics of digital library management and little seems to have changed since with Van House and Sutton identifying barriers to “the ability of LIS educational programs to respond” to changing needs such as the need to produce well-rounded professionals.

Most people working in this area learn their skills on the job, often from more experienced colleagues. Kennan’s study notes that formal education could help to fill the knowledge gap whilst others look to more hands-on training as this helps to embed knowledge.

The question then becomes should the profession as a whole be doing more to prepare their new recruits for the career path of the 21st century academic librarian? This is something we have been asking ourselves in Office of Scholarly Communication (OSC) at Cambridge. Since the OSC was established at the start of 2015 it has made a concerted effort to educate staff at the one hundred plus libraries in Cambridge through both formal training programmes and targeted advocacy. However we are aware that there is still more to be done. We have begun by distributing a survey to investigate the educational background of those who work in scholarly communications. The survey was popular with over five hundred responses and many offers of follow up interviews which means that we have found an area of interest amongst the profession. We will be analysing the results of the survey in the New Year with a view to sharing them more widely and further participating in the scholarly communication process ourselves.


Wherever the skills gaps are there is no doubt that the training needs of academic librarians are changing. The OSC survey will provide insight into whether these needs are currently being met and give evidence for future developments but there is still work to be done. Hopefully this project will be the start of changes to the way academic library staff are trained which will benefit the future of the profession as a whole.

Dr. Danny Kingsley and Claire Sewell

Originally posted on Unlocking Research on November 29th 2016.

Tuesday 6 December 2016

IFLA WLIC 2016 - Conference Report

Attending IFLA WLIC has definitely been one of my professional highlights of 2016. In case you didn't get enough insight about my experiences via the blog you can now read my conference report here. For more detail all of my live-ish blog posts from the conference can be found here. Enjoy!

Friday 2 December 2016

From CopyWRONG to CopyRIGHT: Updates from the CLA

One thing I am always asked for is copyright training. From years of sitting on various professional committees I know that I’m not alone in this – librarians always want copyright training. It can be really hard to know where to start as everyone has slightly different needs so it’s best to just dive in!

Working in an academic library I have become quite familiar with the CLA (CopyrightLicencing Agency) Licence which allows educational institutions to reproduce material from copyrighted materials legally. The CLA itself is a collection management organisation which provides different types of licence depending on the needs of the licence holder. Already we are starting to get into confusing territory so I thought it best to call in the experts so I arranged for a representative from the CLA to come and talk to Cambridge library staff.

The obligatory warning: this post is a write up from notes taken at the above talk and does not constitute legal advice.

CLA Licence Overview 
The Licence covers books, journals and magazines in both print and digital format. I hadn’t realised that the CLA actually predates the Copyright Act by five years, having been formed in 1983 to deal with the growing use of photocopiers in schools.

It’s important to realise that the CLA Licence doesn’t cover material that students copy for their own private research and study. This is an exception to the Licence as long as people are using the materials for themselves.  It should be noted that this is NOT the same as using things for group study, that falls under the terms of the licence. More details on legal exceptions not covered by the CLA Licence can be found hereThe Licence also excludes films or images where they are not used in published works or music.

Material copied under the CLA Licence needs to be owned or subscribed to by the University to be eligible. Under the Licence material can be copied for students on a course of study e.g. a defined cohort participating in a class. Students can access the material for the rest of their degree of study, making revision easier. This access must be restricted to the ‘originally completing cohort’ – if another group wishes to use the material that means a reassessment under the terms of the Licence.

Works published in the UK have an automatic indemnity – everything is available to copy unless expressly forbidden. However there are always exceptions and changes so the CLA recommends using their Permissions Checker tool just to be absolutely safe. This operates on a simple traffic light system of red, amber and green with over 90% of material being tagged as green and therefore available under the Licence.  

Changes to the CLA Licence
As of August 1st 2016 the Licence has been updated, largely in response to feedback from bodies such as the UK Copyright Working Group. There were a number of changes, the most important of which are highlighted below:
  • Exceptions for parody or quotation – copyrighted material can now be used for ‘parody, caricature or pastiche’ without having to obtain express permission from the author. This has to be under fair dealing (ensuring that you are using a fair amount of the work rather which doesn’t infringe on the ability of the copyright holder to make money). Further details are available here.
  • Increase in the extent limits – under the terms of the Licence it is now allowed to copy either a defined amount (one whole  chapter from a book, one whole article from a magazine/journal issue etc.),  or 10% of the total publication whichever is the greater. This is an increase from the previous amount of 5%. Articles in particular often come in at under 10% of the total publication which means that more may be copied.

The changes and an overview of the Licence are available via a handy user guide from the CLA website.

CLA and the VLE
Virtual Learning Environments (VLEs) are possibly one reason why so many librarians have a copyright headache.  Institutions need to make sure that digital material is available via secure access which is only available to staff and students and this is typically done via a VLE.  The material needs to be confined to an area accessible only to those enrolled on a particular course of study. Libraries need to make sure that they are not in effect creating an online library of work accessible to all.

The CLA recommends trying to use the digital format of a work wherever possible rather than scanning a paper copy and uploading this. Under the Licence single chapters of a book may be uploaded to a VLE and this can help to overcome access problems with ebooks. If a lecturer sets a chapter from an ebook as required reading this can cause issues when more users than are allowed try to read the chapter concurrently. Uploading the chapter (as long as it’s within the terms of the CLA Licence) can be helpful to students here.

Copyright notices are required on all copyrighted material that is used on the VLE. This should include the course name, title of the work, author and publisher details. The name of a designated person responsible for copyright matters at the institution is no longer required. 

Any digital copies of material must be reported annually to the CLA. This is important not only as good practice but so that copyright holders can be reimbursed correctly. Material does sometimes come out of the Licence so it’s important to check that only appropriate material is included.  The CLA will not ask institutions to remove any material during the year to avoid impacting student learning but it will need to be removed the following year if needed.  The CLA have a new tool to help with reporting – the CLA Content StoreThis is available as part of the Licence and reports automatically to the CLA.

Further information
Below are some websites which might be useful if you want to learn more about copyright:

I hope the above information is useful for anyone looking to learn more about copyright. As stated at the top of this post this is not intended as any sort of legal advice (I really don't get paid enough for that!). Please use this information as guidance only and double check everything. Also if you spot any errors please let me know so I don't leave up incorrect information.