I’m distracted. I’m co-writing an abstract for a conference. It’s the first one I’ve done so it’s a learning experience. I’m one of those people who usually has trouble getting up to the word limit in an essay because I’d rather say it in one sentence than 3. This is not necessarily an attribute of course!
To some extent, I’m inspired by last year’s ALIA Sydney event on writing a conference paper, but I’m also encouraged to do this at MPOW and am finally leaping in. I must say it’s nicer to be sharing it with someone who’s done this before (rule 1: get a mentor!).
So, with that and a few more things going on professionally this week, my blogging mojo is a little thin. And to be fair, I am also drafting a guest post for ALIA Sydney’s #blogjune effort.
In casual conversation at morning tea on the final day, Professor John Unsworth of Brandeis University in the USA (one of the keynote speakers at the conference and vice provost for Library & Technology Services at Brandeis) said he thought there was a role for libraries to be represented at a much higher level. In his opinion, the participation rate of the LIS sector at the international Digital Humanities conferences is much higher.
The conference participants list outlined delegate’s institutions, not their affiliation within that institution so it is difficult to tell what representation there was from the LIS sector. My sense is that the audience was overwhelmingly academics – stumbling upon other LIS sector representatives was luck rather than management.
I turned to twitter (as I often do) and asked
Morning tea chat with Prof JohnUnsworth Brandeis University – he says international DH conference has up to 1/3 LIS delegates?
Some GLAM representation here but overwhelmingly academic presence, lib tweeps, what barriers were there for you in coming?
I didn’t get a lot of response to this – but the responses I did get were around awareness. It’s an emerging field in librarianship, I get that. Although I had done some reading on digital humanities before heading to Canberra, it is the reading I’ve done in this area since that has crystalised some of the concepts for me.
Like any good LIS professional, I began with a google search and after reading many, many forum postings, blog posts, conference presentations and journal article abstracts I found this from the wikipedia entry:
The digital humanities is an area of research, teaching, and creation concerned with the intersection of computing and the disciplines of the humanities. Developing from an earlier field called humanities computing, today digital humanities embrace a variety of topics ranging from curating online collections to data mining large cultural data sets. Digital Humanities currently incorporates both digitized and born-digital materials and combines the methodologies from the traditional humanities disciplines (such as history, philosophy, linguistics,literature, art, archaeology, music, and cultural studies) with tools provided by computing (such as data visualisation, information retrieval, data mining, statistics, computational analysis) and digital publishing.
Being a humanities librarian at the moment, I guess it’s natural that my specific interest is in this area, but through another project I am doing with a colleague I’m beginning to examine e-research and the role of libraries in a wider context.
I told you much of this month’s #blogjune will be about data.
I’m away for the weekend with 12 amazing women from my bookclub, my past, my life. Whenever I spend time with this group of women (or any combination of them), I am reminded of The West Wing episode These Women. If you’re not a West Wing fan that probably won’t mean much.
Anyway, I got up early & did some of the reading I brought away with me. I sat in front of the fire with a cup of tea & the company of one of these women, also up early in PhD writing mode.
None of these women are LIS folk, so once others started getting up, I put away my book on digital libraries & the digital humanities. At this moment these women are more important than my work goals. Off to drink more tea.
I knew it was June, really I did. I even put my name down to do a post for ALIA Sydney as part of Blog every day in June. Still, I was taken by surprise when @jobeaz’s first #blogjune post popped up on twitter.
Which is why I’m now stabbing out this very short piece on the smartphone as I wait on a street corner for a lift to a weekend away with some friends. I’m taking plenty of work related reading away, all neatly filed on the iPad as I’ve got some personal & professional deadlines next week (including the aforementioned ALIA Sydney post!).
Mostly it’s data & eResearch on my mind. More of that as June unfolds.
I thought this was a perfect topic to wrap up my contribution to Blog Every Day In June.
On WordPress’ Freshly Pressed page today was this hilarious post about the very serious topic of all the projects and tasks we start in our lives and then just never finish. Read this bit – you’ll get some idea:
See, that’s the problem: I have no follow-through. I’ve tried a bazillion things and moved on from just about all of them. Honestly, the things that I’ve managed to stick with I’m either legally obligated to do (like paying my mortgage), need the money (like my day job), simply can’t reverse (like being a parent), or would die if I stopped (like eating and, while I have been testing this theory, bathing)
I must admit I have a pretty bad case of this follow-through-less-ness myself, and judging from the number of comments following the post, I’m certainly not alone.
Finishing my undergraduate library science degree took me 9 years part time. A whole lot of things contributed to that, but if I’m honest, there was some degree of losing interest, particularly towards the end when my library subjects were finished, I was battling through a management major and going through serious change in my personal life.
What got me through? The knowledge that throughout my life I had shown a tendency to not follow through. I suddenly developed a fierce determination that this was not going to happen this time. I had invested many hours and thousands of dollars into my degree and really wanted to finish it. It was a major personal success for me just to complete the degree.
When I think about it, I’ve actually demonstrated follow through quite a few times in the past couple of years. I’ve participated in #blogjune for 2 years running now – and each time I have followed through and finished it. I think I missed one day last year and none this year, I’m pretty sure that shows staying power. The same goes for #1pic1thoughtinAug last year, I managed to get a photo uploaded every day. Maybe, just maybe I’m better at this than I first thought?
Cue forward 18 months, to the very last day of #blogjune and I’ve just enrolled in the Masters of Information Studies – essentially to convert my undergrad qualification to a post-grad one. It’s not going to make much difference to my employment or professional recognition but there’ll be a certain satisfaction in finishing it. Stay tuned.
Earlier this year, I attended a one day ‘Research for LIS practitioners‘ seminar put on by ALIA in Sydney.
Last year, I completed a FOLIOz course in Evidence Based Library and Information Practice (EBLIP), also offered by ALIA.
This is a little story about the blurring of the lines between the two.
One of the criticisms I hear (and agree with) about our profession is the dearth of original research that furthers the profession as a whole. I loved being at ALIA Access last year and I enjoyed watching the twitter stream from ALIA Information Online this year – but much of what is presented at these conferences is yet more examples of ‘what we did in our library’, which, while interesting and useful and worthwhile, don’t do much to further the profession overall and seem to be examples of EBLIP. Very good EBLIP, don’t get me wrong.
I’m sure it’s not unique to LIS professionals – but we seem to be very good at telling each other about the things we are good at (and the things that didn’t go so well) – the problem is, we are often preaching to the converted anyway so it is all just more of the same. Following Online, there was much discussion among my twitter PLN on the future of the conference format – but that’s probably another post.
The ‘furthering our profession’ research seems to be most likely to come from the many PhD proposals that were discussed as participants took turns outlining their reasons for being at the seminar.
Meanwhile, I struggled a bit with the EBLIP course as I didn’t quite understand at the beginning the difference between research and using evidence based practice to make workplace decisions. Much of what was outlined in the EBLIP literature was to do with evaluating previous research (or actually, previous ‘what we did in our library’) to build a business case or plan for proceeding with something in the workplace. The whole point was to avoid re-inventing the wheel.
It didn’t help my confusion that the ‘burning question’ I formulated during the course proved to be something that there actually wasn’t very much literature on – further blurring the line between EBLIP and research (for me). I forget the details of the question, but it was to do with international students and information literacy instruction as that was something I was dealing with at work at the time.
I had hoped to get over to the UK this year to attend EBLIP6, partly to further my understanding of these 2 different, but overlapping areas of research (and partly to see my brother who lives over there!) but it was not to be. I look forward to following the progress of the conference via the twitter stream and the papers that come out of it.
In the meantime, I continue to be a bit confused.
I’ve mentioned before that my book club uses a rating system on books – we put a score out of 5 against our name on a card in the back of the book and then everyone else knows who enjoyed it, who couldn’t finish it and so on. This is really useful in a group where everyone’s reading preferences are different – you can work out who else likes the same books you do and pick those up to read.
The rating system over the years has been controversial. At the very first meeting more than 10 years ago we decided on a scale of 1-5 where 1 = couldn’t finish it and 5 = couldn’t put it down wish I could read it again tomorrow. We have never allowed half points – preferring to make people commit one way or the other. Some of us love the no half points, others hate it and it comes up for discussion at least a couple of times a year.
I was thinking about this system in relation to some quantitative outcome measurement we do at MPOW. One of the measurements we use is ‘significant’ – in the context of has this resulted in significant change from the way things were before. I had a meeting on Thursday that I think had ‘very significant’ outcomes – but just like my book club, there are no degrees of significance in the system so we can’t sit on the fence, and I don’t think it merits the next measurement up in the scale, so significant it shall stay.