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.
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
Today was the kind of day that would have been perfect for the library ‘day in the life’ project – it was a really interesting day at work and a great example of why I love working in a large academic library. Of course, I can just write about it anyway…
First up was an interview with the first of a small group of international students as part of a research project gathering information about the students’ experiences following a research skills workshop we ran for them. I’m not part of the project at all, but the interviews are to be done by someone who had no involvement with delivering the workshop sessions, so that’s where I came in. We had to record audio of the interview – I discovered there’s no native voice recorder on the iPad (who knew?) so ended up setting up Evernote to record the interview. This actually worked out quite well as exporting the recording to the research team using the web client was simplicity. I haven’t actually used Evernote very much so this has been a good learning experience for me.
Next up was being a play tester for a third year game design class from the Media school. They are using the concept of plagiarism as the basis for designing a Serious Game so the library has been involved from the beginning – providing a design brief as the ‘client’ then acting as play testers for the students over the next few weeks. It was lots of fun and great to interact with students at such a detailed level. There are some seriously creative and clever young men and women out there!
After lunch I survived my 6 monthly performance review. We don’t actually call it a performance review at MPOW but whatever it’s called, it was an opportunity to sit down with my team leader to review my achievements to date and make a few suggestions for some professional development opportunities and goals for the next 6 months.
There was also everyday routine stuff of course. I replied to some emails, liaised with some faculty co-ordinators about the planning for the library’s involvement in a program for indigenous high school students that will be run in the mid year break, did some trouble shooting for an academic and had a discussion with a colleague who is working on a collection project that I’m co-ordinating.
During the afternoon I proof-read another colleague’s draft conference paper and provided some feedback, followed by a phone conversation with an ALIA staff member in my role as co-ordinator of the ALIA New Generation Advisory Committee. Somewhere during the day I also took the time to do some reading on the digital humanities and digital libraries as I have to present back to staff about the conference I attended a few weeks back and I’m still trying to get my head around the concepts I heard about, let alone explain it to others.
It was a busy, productive day – without being overwhelming. I had spaces between my meetings and that doesn’t always happen. The last few months have thrown up many days like this – a variety of interesting projects and things to do that don’t always seem to be related to my job description. If only I could move the university to a more convenient location…..
We haz an iPad in our team and we are downloading your apps…
The Outreach teams at MPOW have been given an iPad to use in our work. We have to share it, but it’s a pretty damn exciting piece of equipment to be allowed to play with, particularly as buying my own is not about to happen anytime soon. It’s early days, no one has taken it out of the cupboard (except I suspect the team leaders have possibly been playing with it – just a bit) and while I’d love to make full use of it, I want my time with it to be productive and useful.
I can think of a dozen things straight away that I could use an iPad for in the workplace – but they mostly relate to the way I organise my day, do my job and communicate with people rather than the way the team might use it. The thing with an iPad or other mobile device is that they are designed to be personal – to provide you with access to the functionality you need to get on with the things you do. Figuring out how to share it and still have it be a productive and useful tool is important.
So, library peeps, I am crowdsourcing. Are you in an outreach/liaison position? It could be any type of library – doesn’t have to be an academic focus. Do you use an iPad as part of your work day? What apps do you find useful, what functionality is important, HOW do you use it in your work day? Remembering that we can’t use it to keep track of email, tweet on the run or check the time of the next bus because we’re sharing it, what CAN we use it for?
Some of my ideas so far:
- I do library tours with groups of international students – would be handy to have the iPad with me so I can also follow along with the virtual tour at the same time – point out that they can book rooms then show them immediately on the library website where they can book rooms
- Collaborative work with another team member creating a document on the run in a meeting room or other space that is not our desktop
- Note taking in a meeting with a School or academic
- Access to cloud services such as dropbox when away from my desk
It’s nearing the end of my third week at my new job, although because of all the public holidays I’m only up to about my 10th or 11th day (I can tell by the stamps on my coffee card – I get a free coffee today!).
First impressions? I’ve come from an organisation with about 25 staff in total (including teaching, admin, IT, library, marketing etc) to one with 160 library staff alone. That’s a lot of people to meet, sort out in my mind and fit into the organisation chart and a lot of potential office politics to negotiate. Fortunately, I’m an old public servant from way back so in many ways this is a very familiar environment.
My role is outreach – to academics, post graduate students and faculty generally. I’ve got a few research centres to look after to start with, a project or two looming on the horizon and a supportive and welcoming team in which to work. I’m gradually getting a feel for the context of my role and working out how what I (will) do fits into the rest of the library service and with the university community as a whole.
I’ve been working so hard to concentrate and learn new things that I’ve temporarily dropped out of the blogosphere and twitterati – professional development is taking a back seat to learning the nuts and bolts of my job.
I’ll be back.