This blog has now moved

I’ve been keeping 2 blogs for a few years now, one professional and one personal. However, over time I’ve found that I really only need one – and so I’ve moved the content from this one over to my other blog. All the old content is still here, but any new professional musings and ramblings will now appear on my Family Librarian blog. Hope to see you there!

 

 

Making informed decisions

This, yesterday from Unshelved. Says it all about libraries really. Not just the things in our collection, but the information we provide about research impact, copyright, collection management or just about anything else. We are about providing the information so that our user community (client? patron? customer?) can decide what’s best for them, in their situation. Everytime.

My Dewey Life

One of the fun things about being a reader and commenter during #blogjune is the variety of stuff on offer!  With thanks to Kate, who brought this to my attention – a meme of sorts! Go here to express yourself as a Dewey number. I do talk a lot I guess…..

Clare’s Dewey Decimal Section:

406 Organizations & management

Clare = 32185 = 321+85 = 406

Class:
400 Language

Contains:
Linguistics and language books.

What it says about you:
You value communication, even with people who are different from you. You like trying new things don’t mind being exposed to unfamiliar territory. You get bored with routines that never change.

Find your Dewey Decimal Section at Spacefem.com

Blogging in June

The past few years I have participated in an activity known as ‘Blog every day in June’. It’s a collection of (mostly) librarian types taking on the challenge to blog every day for a month. In 2013 I’m taking a year off this project, although I’m going to keenly follow the list of participants on Flexnib’s blog. My aim this year is to read and make meaningful comments – sprinkling my reading liberally across as wide a range of blogs as I can manage.

Good luck everyone! If you’re a first time #blogjune participant, hang in there. It doesn’t really matter if you miss a day or two here or there, it’s just a great excuse to challenge yourself to write something every day.

Conference support from afar

On Monday this week, I had the opportunity to be involved in a presentation to NLS6 in Brisbane. While staying in Sydney.

Using twitter, @alysondalby and I sat in a room in Sydney providing links and information while our colleague @katecbyrne did the standing-up-in-front-of-a-crowd-thing in Brisbane to present on the benefits of international librarianship and launch the International Librarians Network pilot project. How did we know where she was up to? A muted telephone call (that was declared up front) and lasted through the presentation so that we could hear what Kate was saying and follow along on our own copy of the powerpoint presentation. Keep it simple!

I have captured the whole thing on Storify – both our tweets from a room in Sydney and the participation of the audience in Brisbane. There’s even a few hellos from the international librarians who kindly agreed to take part in our presentation via video.

It was a great example of the collaboration and participation from afar that social media – and twitter in particular- makes possible at conferences. We felt part of it here in Sydney even though we were unable to make the trip to Brisbane and I hope our participation helped to spread the message about the pilot far and wide as our tweeting was designed to include links and shout-outs to our international connections.

The pilot is about to close but there will be another round later in the year that will also incorporate any feedback we get from the pilot.

Creating international connections

globe in hands by noticelj via flickr CC

After a trip to IFLA last year, a colleague at MPOW dreamed up a project to facilitate online peer-mentoring relationships between librarians from around the world and as sometimes happens with this particular colleague, got a few others (including me) involved.

The International Librarians Network invites librarians to participate in a 6 month facilitated program where the co-ordinators will match you up with someone you don’t know, based on a few details you give about your professional interests. Relationships are then supported over the 6 month period with discussion topics and suggestions about ways to communicate and professionally connect.

For the first 6 months in 2013 the program will run as a pilot and there is still time to join up – go and sign up today! The program is keen to attract librarians from as many different parts of the world as possible to give it a true international flavour and ensure a widespread sharing of ideas.

Much more information about the program can be obtained from looking at the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) page on the program website.

I’m pleased and proud to be associated with this project and just sorry I can’t be at NLS6 in person next week to help launch the pilot.

The copyright and licencing minefield

Copyright? What copyright? from edans via flickr CC

I currently have a research project for work related to copyright and licencing for digital repositories. Essentially, what do we need to know at MPOW to make sure we keep up with industry best practice and best meet the needs of those depositing to our repositories?

I’ve been working on this on and off since mid November and all I can really tell you dear reader, is that I now know for sure that I don’t want to be a lawyer when I grow up.

I was at a UTS seminar a couple of years ago, not long into my career as a professional librarian, when I first heard Derek Whitehead from Swinburne University of Technology in Melbourne state that in his opinion, we need more lawyers working in libraries. At that point, I didn’t really understand what he meant, digital rights management was very new to me, but now! Particularly since I’ve started working in library repositories I’ve become very aware of the tricky-ness (a completely made up word meaning, more or less, complexity) of the issues of licencing in particular.

Creative Commons is the go-to answer, but part of my brief is to see what else is out there – are we just automatically using CC or is it in fact the best product for the wide and varied range of ‘stuff’ deposited to our repositories? It’s not helped by the fact that a lot of the literature on this comes out of the US – where the copyright laws are quite different to here. UK and European literature is also prolific and somewhat helpful, but it is the Australian and New Zealand stuff that is gold.

As always, my PLN has been invaluable in pointing me towards practitioners and I have a mountain of reading still to go. I’ll go get on with it shall I? Oh and if you have a useful resource for me, let me know?

Data management is exciting!

Trust me.

No, this is a reflection of the level of enthusiasm we were asked to have as part of our data management subject at Uni this semester. Our first assignment was to write a press release explaining research data management to the general public in a way that wouldn’t send them straight to sleep. I chose to take a narrative approach and promised that if I got a good mark, I’d reproduce it here. If you work in data management, skip the next bit – but if you’re not in an academic or research library and you’re curious about what we are all talking about with data, you might like this.

Sydney is playing host this weekend to social science researchers from around the world as the inaugural Social Science Research Futures conference gets underway.

“Managing research data output will be a focus of the papers presented”, conference organiser Clare McKenzie said today. “Imagine the impact on your life if you lost your laptop with all the contacts, photos and other personal information in it. Now imagine you are a researcher on a project that has interviewed 500 homeless about their situation and that the laptop was storing all the responses to the questions.”

While such loss of data can be catastrophic to a project, managing research data is not just all about avoiding disaster. As many research projects are funded with public money, there has been a push in recent years to make the results of that research publicly available at the end of the project.

What exactly are research data? Broadly, they are the factual information collected and recorded during a research project in order to prove or disprove the original research question (Carlson 2011). The Australian public’s responses to the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) census are data, as are the daily air temperature recordings a high school science student collects as part of a school project. The data are rarely meaningful without analysis, so the ABS puts the data together in combinations to look for trends and the high school student may graph the daily temperature to compare against the average for the time of year in order to draw conclusions.  All of this is research data.

Making arrangements for back up and proper storage of research data is just one aspect of data management and is part of what’s known as data management planning.  Jane Smith, a senior social sciences researcher at City University has developed a data management plan at the beginning of her last two research projects and likens it to the idea of business planning. “You don’t normally plan for your business to fail, but you can fail to plan for your business” she says. “Research projects are the same. If you don’t plan for the fact that someone may wish to access your data in twenty years when the technology is different and the original research team long dispersed, then all your hard work during the project can’t be shared or expanded.”

Researchers need to think about planning for storage, rights of use by others, naming the data in such a way that others can find it, putting details of the data in a repository where it can be found, as well as the possibility that files created today may become an obsolete format in the future (ICPSR 2012).  These details are known as metadata – literally “data about data” – and are a way of attaching useful information to an object such as a dataset.

When it comes to data management planning, it doesn’t matter whether the research is social sciences or the ‘hard sciences’. Both McKenzie and Smith advise that time spent creating a data management plan (DMP) at the start of a research project can save a lot of time further down the track, particularly if the project is large and collaborative with many individual researchers. Establishing file formats and file naming conventions such as the complex file naming system the ABS use (Australian Bureau of Statistics 2009) ensures consistency and accuracy of records no matter who is working on the project at the time. Smaller projects need not go to this level of complexity, but writing it all down in a DMP can help ensure these details are not forgotten or lost. In fact, some research funding bodies have made preparation and submission of a DMP a condition of applying for a grant (Van den Eynden et al 2011).

Sharing and re-use of data becomes easier if that data has been managed properly. Making data accessible to others or allowing re-use and re-purposing of that data later on for another project is part of making research more collaborative and reduces the chance that money will be wasted on ‘re-inventing the wheel’ (Van den Eynden et al 2011). It also may help establish trends, such as comparing the interviews with the homeless (from the lost laptop scenario above) to information collected again in five years time.

Smith comments that for one of her recent projects she was able to search Research Data Australia (RDA http://researchdata.ands.org.au/), an online catalogue of research datasets, to find details of a project from a number of years ago that had data relevant to her project. Through contact details in the RDA listing, Smith, in her words “got access to the most wonderful population data from five years ago that I was able to re-use in the context of my current research project”.

Like preparing a DMP, research funding bodies in Australia and overseas are beginning to make continuing access to research data a condition of the funding.

The future of publicly funded research in Australia is going to depend on good planning.

I enjoyed the subject, it was serendipitous timing with my secondment to Library Repository Services and like all my uni subjects, I’m now glad it’s over.

Libraries as e-research partners

This post is a joint contribution from myself and my colleague Kate (@katecbyrne). We are presenting a BoF (Birds of a Feather) session at the E-Research Australasia Conference at the end of October where we hope to spark debate with our topic “E-Research and Libraries: A Perfect Partnership?”. We recognise this is at times a controversial space and the background to our approach is described in full in our abstract on the conference website & partially reproduced here:

Libraries have had long histories with many of the challenges facing e-research including interoperability, metadata creation, sustainability and ensuring that systems meet the needs of client communities. By earmarking academic and research libraries as potential collaborators for e-research projects, both researchers and libraries can maximise limited budgets and draw from the complementary expertise of both sectors. This includes capitalising on existing librarianship knowledge bases such as classification, metadata schemas, ontologies, taxonomies and thesauri. Many of the demands of data management and respository services are similar to the demands of information management, the heartland of librarianship. However,  potential benefits increase as other departments within an academic or research library are involved,  allowing libraries to capitalise on existing relationships with researchers and exploit the library’s interdisciplinary focus and knowledge of projects, policies and networks across the university.

These partnerships are not without challenges. Libraries often have limited budgets which are allocated carefully to meet a broad range of needs across the university. They often cannot offer financial support or vast amounts of server space for data storage and as such independant project funding must often be secured. Not all libraries are comfortable in the e-research space and leaders in this field are still experimenting. There are parts of the e-research space such as respositories and bibliometrics in which libraries are more established; though fields such as research data management are undergoing rapid development.

A brief literature review reveals that for many academic or research libraries,  e-research services have tended to cluster around repositories, either creating them as products or providing technical support. Several libraries also appear to be offering services exploring e-literacy for research. However,  few have been identified as wholistically linking e-research services to the strategic aims of the library.

Now here’s where you come in. We recognise that there are many different arrangements in the e-research space and we would like to hear from librarians and researchers who have been working in the e-research space and are willing to share their perspective on library/e-research partnerships. We have three questions on which we are keen to crowd source opinions as conversation starters:

  1. What are the benefits of libraries or librarians getting involved in e-research projects?
  2. What are the challenges of libraries or librarians getting involved in e-research projects?
  3. Is the library involved in e-research initiatives at your university or research institution?

Please also let us know if you are willing to be identified with your quote. If you would prefer for yourself and/or your institution to remain anonymous please let us know if you are willing for us to describe your institution (eg. a mid-sized regional university) and how you would like us to do so. Leave your answers in the comments, or contact either one of us (@newgradlib or @katecbyrne) to get email details.

Thank you for your involvement and we hope to have you join in the conversation at our session if you are attending the conference.

Kate and Clare

A bit of stats excitement

Blog stats that is… @katecbyrne is currently in Helsinki attending IFLA2012 and she very kindly viewed my blog yesterday, just so that I would have  a Finnish flag in my stats!

A Finnish flag!

I am easily amused. Where are the strangest places you’ve had ‘hits’ from?

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