UKSG Annual Conference 2013 #uksglive

UKSG conference

UKSG conference

This week some of Evidence Base staff attended the UKSG Annual Conference and Exhibition in Bournemouth. It was a packed conference schedule covering a variety of different topics – open access, discovery services, innovative technologies, patron driven acquisition, mobile technologies and more.

Some of the key themes which stood out to me included:

  • The need to improve dialogue between publishers and librarians

This was my first UKSG conference and I was pleasantly surprised by the mix of publishers and librarians. Quite often I have attended conferences where the exhibitors have felt very separate from delegates but this wasn’t the case at UKSG. Many of the publishers and exhibitors attended the sessions, the socials, as well as presenting (sharing some of their research or things they are working on rather than the traditional sales pitches). As the closing plenary speaker, T Scott Plutchak, highlighted, librarians and publishers have a shared goal of helping link people to information, and there’s a lot of information about users that both librarians and publishers find valuable. There does still seem to be a barrier though, and I think it old be beneficial to improve communication between librarians and publishers both at conferences and outside conferences.

  • Different business models for acquiring content

One of the stand out plenary sessions (everyone was talking about it!) was from a postgraduate medical student, Josh Harding. He demonstrated how he had moved completely paperless and does all his studying and activities out on medical practice through his iPad. I could relate to a lot of what he was saying (I’m writing this blog post on an iPad and made all my notes and tweets during the conference on either a tablet or mobile phone), but it’s great to hear about his workflow in detail. He uses a number of different apps to help him with his studies – for searching and accessing content (interactive textbooks, medical reference resources etc.), annotating, note taking and voice recording in lectures. He uses Inkling to download ebook chapters to his iPad and add annotations (using GoodReader) which he then stores in the cloud (Dropbox) and can access from any device. Sharing his experience caused many of the librarians and publishers at the conference to consider how to support this workflow.

We also heard from Coventry University who have worked with Ingram Coutts to provide all students with a pack of books to support their studies (and I had discussions with people about how to do something similar with electronic content such as giving students a tablet or e-reader with all the content preloaded) and there were a number of presentations and discussions about patron driven acquisition (PDA). It’s clear that the traditional business model which has been used for print materials is not fit for purpose for electronic materials, and it’s really interesting hearing about new developments to support models which may suit electronic content.

  • Importance of understanding the behaviours and workflows of our users 

There were a number of presentations and discussions about the information-seeking behaviours and the workflows of users. This is something that has always interested me, and it was good to see it covered during the conference as I think it’s something that spans across most of the delegates. Understanding more about this behaviour and user workflows helps libraries provide support throughout the process and helps publishers and other suppliers provide tools to help facilitate effective searching and content consumption. I was interested to hear about some of the research happening and hope there will be ways to continue to share this sort of information to help us better understand different types of user groups and how new developments are changing behavious (e.g. mobile devices).


There were of course many other things discussed at the conference (I was really impressed with how broad the coverage was), but these are the key ones that stood out to me. The conference gave me lots of food for thought and I’ve come away with plenty of ideas for things to follow up on and future topics for research. I of course also managed to get some conference goodies and very much enjoyed the conference dinner which included popcorn, candy floss, dodgems, hook a duck and laser quest in a massive inflatable maze (as all good conference dinners should!).

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