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.
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:
- What are the benefits of libraries or librarians getting involved in e-research projects?
- What are the challenges of libraries or librarians getting involved in e-research projects?
- 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
Yesterday I finally presented back to MPOW on the Digital Humanities conference I went to in March.
Because it’s mostly pictures, to make any sense of this presentation you’ll have to go look at it on Slideshare – I didn’t realise the embed code doesn’t bring across the notes. I’d like to thank my colleagues for listening so attentively – I find presenting to people I know the most difficult thing to do. I’d rather talk to 1000 incoming undergraduates than 20 of my workmates…..
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.
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.