Tag Archives: outreach

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.

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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

Another day in the life

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…..

Hierarchies of presence

Through the archway - the fabulous Shine Dome at ANU

Last week I attended the inaugural conference of the Australasian Association of the Digital Humanities, held at the Academy of Science’s Shine Dome at ANU in Canberra. I was there because of the interest at MPOW in our library supporting academic research and e-research in particular is becoming increasingly important to our role as Outreach librarians as we start to have conversations with academics about data management and access.

In an attempt to make some sense of the sometimes highly technical papers I went to over the three days, I will be blogging about a few recurring themes and also a number of individual papers, such as the one I’m talking about here.

On Day 3 I attended a paper by Dr Alice Gorman of Flinders University called ‘The personal is political: communicating archaeology and heritage through online platforms‘.  Dr Gorman is also known as @DrSpaceJunk and blogs about space archaeology at Space Age Archaeology.

There was a really good twitter back channel running throughout the conference, so while I was tweeting madly (my personal form of notetaking), I was also able to follow the comments of others – this was particularly helpful during some of the more technical sessions that were hard to follow. This from some of the twitter stream during the space archaeology presentation:
Now hearing from @drspacejunk about misperception of what archaeology and getting people interested in what it really is #DHA2012 (from @ellenforsyth)
Space archeology – who knew?! #dha2012 (from @LizzieM79)
@drspacejunk has divided audience – is space archeologist, crosses archaeology & space scientists, talking about bridging links #dha2012 (from @newgradlib)
Really interesting discussion from @drspacejunk about the importance of identity to help explain her field of interest #dha2012 (from @newgradlib)
Alice talked about the different roles her different public identities can take to help her reach a wider audience. As she said, @DrSpaceJunk can say and do things that Dr Alice Gorman can’t. Using what Alice called ‘heirarchies of presence’ her audience can be filtered up and down depending on their entry point to her work and their level of interest.

Hierarchies of presence: SM both passive & active backed up byacademia.edu & inst presence, supporting cred & authenticity #dha2012 (from @newgradlib)

I spoke with Alice after her presentation and a concrete example she gave me was an invitation she received (seemingly out of the blue) to speak to a group involved with something fairly obscure to do with plastic. It turned out, the event organisers found her because of a blog post she had written on cable ties. Because her various profiles and identities are linked back to her serious researcher profile, she was contacted as someone who had a valuable and serious contribution to make.

I have a strong personal interest in the area of social media and professional networks so this session was particularly appealing to me. I think it provided a useful take home message to start some discussions at MPOW about how we talk about some of this to our academics, particularly early career researchers (ECR’s) who do not have long and established publishing profiles and need to use a variety of ways to promote themselves and their work.

Thinking time

Unshelved 31 January 2012

I love this. I’m lucky enough to be ‘allowed’ to have thinking time at MPOW – it’s part of our job and often leads to new and interesting things. It’s not necessarily sitting-still-thinking, it might be an informal discussion over coffee with a colleague gathering ideas, or reading a blog post, or talking about twitter, or bouncing an idea for a research project.

All of this ‘thinking’ time means I am better prepared when I talk with academics, I know more about library services and options and I’m a more informed library professional. This is good.

A library day in the life – Round 8

A working day by Tupolev und seine Kamera via flickr CC

So, this week is Round 8 of the Library Day in the Life project and as I’m an occasional contributor to the project – here’s my day!

I am an outreach librarian within the Academic Services Unit at the University of New South Wales in Sydney. We ‘outreachers’ are the point of contact for academics and higher degree research students at the university and actively promote the research support services the library offers. In addition, I have recently taken on the role of collection co-ordinator within the Humanities, Creative Arts & Social Sciences Unit. As collection work and responsibility is spread across all academic services librarians here, there are 2 co-ordinators to keep track of the projects and tasks that form the collection part of our daily work.

8:00 arrived at work, did all the usual ‘waiting for my computer to warm up’ stuff – getting a cup of tea, chatting to the other early birds on the floor (there’s not many of us this early – it doesn’t take long!)

8:15 emails – not too many to deal with, accepted a meeting request for later today, put a couple of things in the ‘read/do something with later’ pile.

8:30 talked with a colleague who is new to twitter, answering a few of her questions, including looking at a couple of different twitter apps and comparing their features

9:00 met informally (as in, she wandered onto our floor so I grabbed the chance for a few words) with the manager of our Electronic Resources Unit (ERU) in my capacity as collection co-ordinator.

9:15 talked with (ie, sought advice from!) previous collection co-ordinator about a few issues that I haven’ t been able to resolve

9:30 realised it’s library day in the life week and that today may be a reasonably interesting day to write about so started writing this

9:45 read a document on producing reports from our back end catalogue system ahead of a briefing/training session on this later this morning. I desperately need to learn how to do this to get a pile of backlogged collection projects underway.

10:00 Coffee with a few team members 🙂

10:20 back to reading my training document

11:00 went off to learn in practice how to produce reports

12:30 lunch under a shady tree in the courtyard with a colleague

1:00 preparation for a meeting with the Centre Manager of one of the research centres within my Outreach portfolio. The centre is relocating to a smaller space and looking for advice on how to review their book/report collection – it’s mostly grey literature so I’m looking for some resources to point them towards. I’m also eating chocolate.

2:00 meeting at the research centre. Very successful meeting, leaves me feeling very positive about the relationship between the library and the centre.

3:15 quick coffee break with a colleague

3:30 at my desk, dealing with email that arrived while I was in the meeting and following up on a number of issues resulting from the meeting. Also set up a meeting with an academic from another centre who wants to get up to speed with the support we can provide for her teaching this semester.

3:45 quick meeting with a colleague who has been doing research around whether we continue to subscribe to a particular journal

4:00 debrief with my team leader on the significant 2pm meeting

4:20 home

It was really hot and muggy in Sydney today, I felt like I’d run miles when I got home. Most days I don’t mind public transport – some days, like today, I’d give my right arm for an airconditioned car.

New shiny in the workplace

iCat not included with purchase of iPad from icanhazcheezeburger.com

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
I’m sure there are lots of other things we could be doing with it – so far my list isn’t really anything I couldn’t do with a laptop – although taking a laptop on a library tour would be a bit tricky.
Any ideas shared in the comments would be gratefully accepted 🙂

A day in the life…

I know it’s not a designated Library Day in the Life date, but frankly, by the 23rd of June, I’m running out of puff for #blogjune posts (in spite of the crowdsourcing I did the other day – thank you, they are all firmly tucked away as ideas to be developed).

So, what did I do today in my still #newjob?

8am: arrived at my desk with coffee & toasted banana bread (believe me, to get here at 8am from my place I can’t have breakfast at home, I’d have to get up at 5.30am…). Did a bit of ‘how was your evening’ with some colleagues while waiting nearly 10 minutes for the work PC to boot up and labour to the point where I could actually use it.

8.15am: sorted through a few emails that had arrived after I left yesterday, mostly FYI, not much action required

8.30am: I’m reviewing the Libguides for one of my Outreach areas, so spent some time looking at what other Universities do in this subject area.

9.45am: Coffee with some team members – possibly my favourite part of the day 🙂

10:00am: More libguides, plus wrangling the University Handbook to try and work out what subjects are taught in this area and who teaches them, so I can make more informed choices about the Libguides review

11:00am: Quick scan of Google Reader led to some reading of interesting articles

12:00pm: Attended a University seminar The iPad in tertiary education with some colleagues.

1.30pm: Lunch – maybe my second favourite part of the day? Beautiful sunshine today, with semester break nearly upon us the Library Lawn is fairly quiet and there’s plenty of places to sit and enjoy the day.

2.00pm: Preparation for a meeting with an academic – well that was the plan. In reality? This is where my day departed from the planned. Instead of preparing during this time, I ended up meeting with the academic earlier than the original meeting time as she had some other issues to discuss and we needed more than the half hour previously allocated. My preparation therefore consisted of a 10 minute conversation with another of my team members enroute to the earlier iPad presentation…

2.30pm: Scheduled meeting (over coffee) with an academic to try and improve my understanding of what is taught in her area and find out what her personal research interests are. Of course, this meeting actually started at 2pm instead.

3:00pm: Evacuation procedures training (refresher?) from the new Help Zone on the main floor of the library – what we have to do if we are rostered onto the Help Zone when an evacuation takes place.  I ended up missing this – see earlier entry about prolonged meeting, which ran over time, didn’t get back to the library until 3.20, by which time the evacuation run-through was finished and I arrived just in time to walk back up the stairs with the rest of the team (thereby possibly managing to look like I had been at the run-through?)

4.00pm: Home! The very good thing about arriving at 8am is I can leave at 4pm and still accrue some flextime.

Actually, it was a pretty good day 🙂

A quick post from the new front line

From Confusion Hill by Hitchster via flickr CC

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.