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!).

BCU Technology in Education Exhibition

Mobiles in education (from ThinkStock)

Mobiles in education (from ThinkStock Photos)

Last week I attended a great exhibition hosted by my colleagues across Birmingham City University (BCU) focused on technology in education. I’ve always been interested in ways to utilise technologies to support teaching and learning, and much of my research has been into this area, including the recent M-libraries community support project. Most of the work surfaced in our projects is linked to libraries, so it’s always good to take the opportunity to find out about work outside libraries.

The Technology in Education Exhibition included a number of showcase projects from within academic schools and support departments such as IT Services (CICT) and our Centre for Enhancement of Learning and Teaching (CELT), plus some presentations and a Pecha Kucha hour. Some of the highlights of the day for me included:

  • Use of iPod touches in classroom to deliver teaching for fashion students. This enables the students to work at their own pace and pause/rewind until they mastered the techniques. It also freed up the lecturers to support those who needed it (easy to identify those who are struggling) without having to go over the same thing again and again for those who don’t need it.
  • Use of virtual worlds to provide training for things which would be unethical to do in the real world. Many of the courses at BCU are vocational, involving working with children, patients, and other members of public. For some situations it wouldn’t be fair to put students (or public) in these situations until they are fully trained. One example I was shown was a parent’s evening at a primary school where education students selected what they felt was the best approach and could then watch the parents’ (pre-recorded by actors) responses. BCU have developed Shareville and continue to expand this community to incorporate different courses (it currently has a school, hospital, financial district etc.)
  • MyCAT, a content authoring system for creating reusable learning objects. This has also been developed internally and makes it really simple for academics to create learning objects to include in their Moodle courses. It also links to ExpLOR, our learning object repository, which other staff can use to adapt their own versions.
  • Experiments with iBooks author. Two of the Pecha Kucha presentations (from different faculties) talked about how they had started using iBooks author to create content tailored to their courses which students can get from the iTunes store. They had included text, images, and embedded videos. I may need to add this to the list of things for the library’s mobile technologies working group to investigate!
  • Hearing about the potential future of our IT system utilising Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) that allows you to log in to your desktop through any computer with internet access and a browser (even tablets). It reformats appropriately to the device but gives access to all the software on your profile, even if it’s not downloaded on to the computer you are using to access it. At the moment this is still very early stages (needs to be pilot tested and costed) but it sounds great so I really hope it comes into fruition.
  • Learning that we have an institutional account for stock images (which is where the image for this blog post is from!)

I really enjoyed chatting to academics, learning technologies, and others interested in innovative ways of utilising technologies in education. I had no idea so much great stuff was being done in the university and hope events like this continue to help share good practice and spark new ideas across the departments.

CERIF in Action Workshop

CERIF in Action Workshop 2012 10 19

Evidence Base is currently working with the JISC-funded Digital Infrastructure programme. One of the areas of the programme is Research Information Management (RIM) that includes the adoption of the common European research information format (CERIF) by the UK higher education community. As one of the steps in data gathering, we attended the CERIF in Action project workshop on the 19th of October. The workshop brought together nearly 60 professionals working on research information management from higher education, library and commercial sectors.

The workshop was centred on discussing the current situation and future prospects of research information management from different perspectives, including those of Research Outcomes System (ROS), ResearchFish, Gateway to Research, UK Research Councils and others. Several surveys presented in the event demonstrated prevalence of and demand for submission of research information by bulk – that is, institutions submitting large amounts of research information to ROS in contrast to manual submission when principal investigators on their own submit to research councils. Such bulk submission reduces the community costs per submission by roughly half. It is possible that CERIF can further significantly decrease these costs. The new RIM programme manager Verena Weigert estimated that savings of 20 – 30% can be made if CERIF was made compatible with Current Research Information Systems (CRIS).

The workshop also brought together practitioners to produce possible steps for future activity for CERIF, extended use cases, ResearchFish/ROS and non-textual outputs during the break-out sessions. The main issue identified across all areas was the necessity to standardise terminology and definitions.

This event provided Evidence Base researchers with valuable information for their work. More information on the workshop including its materials will be made available on the CERIF in Action blog.

Evidence Based Discussion Group at ALA Annual Conference 2012

At the ALA Annual Conference 2012 last month, I attended an Evidence Based Discussion Group hosted by ACRL (Association of College and Research Libraries) ULS (University Libraries Section). It was a really interesting discussion and I’m glad I was able to attend (though sadly I couldn’t make the full session due to clashes). I think I was the only non-US participant in the discussion group which added an additional complexity as I kept having to ask for clarification over terminology, though I think this was useful as it got us each to question our assumptions and get to the core of evidence-based librarianship and what it means.

There were around 10-15 people attending, many of whom had different backgrounds but most worked either exclusively or partly on collecting and analysing library data for their university (often in a job such as an Assessment Librarian).

After each introducing ourselves, we began by discussing evidence-based practice (EBP) and what this means in librarianship. We discussed what it means in medical terms, which is probably the most common use of EBP. One of the participants was from a health background and explained that EBP in the medical sense is looking at a population and investigating by using an intervention with a section of the population, as well as a similar control group. We agreed that not much of the research in librarianship currently took this approach.

We spent a while discussing quantitative and qualitative data. Many of the group were concerned that quantitative seemed to be the focus for EBP but that this did not provide the additional context needed to make decisions which libraries usually need. Certainly from my own experience (and much of our work at Evidence Base), qualitative data is crucial for understanding the reasoning behind any quantitative data. For example if usage of a particular resource is low, is this due to lack of relevance to courses, lack of promotion, or it being listed in the wrong place? Traditionally EBP is quantitative but it doesn’t have to be – this is something one of the discussion participants had checked with Andrew Booth, one of the leading names in evidence-based librarianship.

We also discussed some different models for research including SPICE (setting, perspective, interventation, comparison, evaluation) and PICO (population, interventions, comparison, outcome).

Something which really interested me was the term assessment and what this means (and how it differs from evaluation). General consensus from the group was that assessment was more of a continual cycle, whereas evaluation was usually something done at a particular point in time (afterwards). Assessment seems to be fairly well embedded into a number of university libraries in the US (e.g. via an Assessment Librarian who co-ordinates information from across the service) and this is how information is used to influence strategic decisions.

We also discussed the importance of using existing literature in our research and also sharing the findings of our own research via appropriate dissemination methods. In order to further the sector as a whole we need to ensure we continue to add to the existing evidence base to support future decisions both from our own libraries and other libraries with similar aims (via academic and professional press such as the Evidence Based Librarianship in Practice journal as well as through events, and face to face and online discussions). This is something that has also been highlighted by the LIS RiLIES project, and something I am keen to work on improving. Wouldn’t it be great if we were sharing research data across the sector to enhance this even moreso and encourage replicable research studies?

Some examples of areas of innovative evidence-based research in librarianship were discussed, including:

  • Library Impact Data Project – looking at the correlation between library use (electronic resource access, book borrowing, library visits) and degree attainment
  • University of Minnesota – linking reference chats with library usage
  • STAR-Trak – using data from across the University to try to identify potential dropouts before they leave to enable support to be offered (with ultimate aim of improving retention)

I really enjoyed the discussion and hope these conversations continue to make steps forward in evidence-based librarianship.

LIS DREaM closing conference #lis_dream5

On Monday I attended the LIS DREaM closing conference at the British Library. Having found the previous LIS DREaM opening conference incredibly interesting (see blog post) and enjoyed participating in the LIS DREaM cadre workshops (see blog posts on workshop 1, workshop 2 and workshop 3) I had hoped to attend and was delighted to be invited to participate in the panel discussion in the afternoon.

The conference acted as a final summary of the LIS DREaM project (the funding comes to an end soon) and Hazel Hall opened the day with an overview of the project, its aims and outcomes. The evidence collected so far certainly proves that the project has been a success; it has built research capacity and capability, raised quality and standards (specifically in research training, practice, output, value, impact and influence) and secured a foundation for future research collaborations, particularly for those of us involved in the cadre and also for many who have followed the workshops from the excellent resources and options for virtual followers. The concluding conference (open to all) built on that with the keynotes and discussions during the day.

The morning keynote session was from Professor Carol Tenopir from the University of Tennessee. I have come across much of Carol’s work in the area of value and impact of library and information services, but hadn’t heard her speak before. Carol gave an excellent overview of why measuring the value and impact of library and information services is so important, what methods we might use, and how to communicate the information to different stakeholders (and even adapt the methods used depending on stakeholders and what appeals to them most). For example, Carol mentioned that for her institution, the senior managers are far more interested in the human side of things so they appeal to this by presenting quantitative and qualitative data as a portrait of success i.e. “here’s what the successful people do and how they use our library resources and services to support them”. For other organisations it might be that the headline figures are what matters in which case it will be important to collect relevant data to enable calculation of things such as purchase value. Carol also gave some information about the LIBvalue project which I will definitely be keeping an eye on. See the slides or video of her keynote for more information.

We then had 20 minutes of madness in the form of one minute madness presentations. I really like this approach to finding out about a lot of projects in a short space of time. Some of the people presenting had timed it perfectly too, very impressive! A particular highlight for me this time was finding out about how University of Northampton support their staff and encourage research across the library at all levels – Miggie Pickton spoke about some of the ways they encourage this, and Charlotte Heppell spoke about research active, the library and learning services conference which aimed to highlight research from the library to internal and external colleagues.

After lunch we had an invited speaker, Dr Louise Cooke from Loughborough University, who presented her findings from the social network analysis she did with the LIS DREaM cadre. We completed a survey for Louise at the first workshop, and again at the third workshop and she was able to demonstrate how the network had strengthened (fortunately for the LIS DREaM project!). It was interesting to see the clusters of connections, particularly when linked to job roles. Take a look at the slides or video to see the network before and after.

One of the few screenshots from the panel discussion I could get without my hands flailing around (which I seem to do a lot when talking)

Following Louise’s presentation, it was time for the panel discussion which I was involved in. It also included Professor Carol Tenopir and Dr Louise Cooke, as well as John Dolan, Chair of CILIP Council. I was there to represent the LIS DREaM cadre and discuss ways to sustain the network that the project has begun to build. Although I don’t have any answers yet, I found the discussion worthwhile. As well as sharing my views and those of others who had completed my short survey, it also questioned some of the ideas and thoughts I have had and I think it helped us to begin to move to the stage where ideas can start to become actions; as the LIS Research Coalition’s involvement decreases due to funding, it’s up to us as a community to continue the progress. (Related to this, the LIS RiLIES event the following day built on this in terms of sharing research outputs and having followed the tweets from this I’m looking forward to seeing what the outcomes of that will be). If you’re interested in watching to the panel discussion you can view the video.

Ben Goldacre at LIS DREaM conference

Following a presentation of the LIS Research Practitioner award to the North West Clinical Librarian Systematic Review and Evaluation Group, we then had the afternoon keynote given by Ben Goldacre. I’ve followed Ben on Twitter for a while now and was looking forward to hearing him speak. He was a very engaging speaker and I found it fascinating (and eye opening!) hearing about some of the ways drug companies manipulate what data gets published, as well as the ways the publishing mechanisms are skewed towards publishing positive results. In the medical world it’s obviously particularly important to ensure the information available to doctors (and patients) is the full picture, but at present the evidence base is skewed. Though it’s unlikely anyone will die if this is the case in LIS research, it’s obviously beneficial for everyone if there is wider reporting of both successes and failures. I know some of the most popular conference sessions are when people are brave enough to share the things that went wrong for their projects and how others might be able to avoid them. Ben didn’t use his slides but you may want to watch the video of his talk once it is available.

The day closed with some networking drinks and a prize draw. Sadly I wasn’t fortunate enough to win a book but I did get to see my name in print as I wrote a case study for Bethan Ruddock’s New Professional’s Toolkit (which she signed for those who won copies).

I found the day useful for reflection purposes, and particularly in terms of dissemination; I know it’s a weakness of mine in my research. I often present at conferences and events but rarely publish my research in practitioner or research publications (largely due to time constraints). I’m going to make a real effort to make time in future though as it’s so important for those wanting to continue research further or inform their practice. I’m also hoping I (and my colleagues at Evidence Base) can help sustain the network of LIS research by supporting publications, events and networking. Let’s keep the DREaM going!

I’m planning to collect more data on what people think about LIS research in the future and hope to write it up as a guest blog post for the LIS Research Coalition. I’ve reopened the survey and would really appreciate your response. It’s just five questions (posed by Charles Oppenheim) and should only take a few minutes to respond. All questions are optional so if some aren’t as relevant to you leave them blank. Please also feel free to pass the link to others. Thanks for your help.

Recent JUSP Presentations

Angela Conyers, Research Fellow at Evidence Base, was the keynote speaker at a conference at Stockholm University organised by the National Library of Sweden. The conference was on the evaluation of e-resources and there was great interest in the work being done here by the Journal Usage Statistics Portal (JUSP) which now has over 140 UK higher education and research council libraries as members. You can see a copy of the presentation below:


Angela also spoke about JUSP to an audience of publishers at a Digital Publishing Forum event on ‘Measuring the Reader’ organised by the Publishers’ Association and the Centre for Publishing at University College London. The presentation can be seen below:

More JUSP presentations and resources are available from the Events page of the JUSP website.

Mobile technologies in libraries: information sharing event

Opening the event

Opening the event

As part of the JISC-funded m-library community support project, Evidence Base (with support from Owen Stephens Consulting) organised a one day event for those interesting in mobile technologies in libraries. The event opened with a keynote presentation from James Clay, ILT & Learning Resources Manager at Gloucestershire College, who gave an interesting overview of the current situation. The rest of the event focused around a series of lightning style presentations (5 minutes for each speaker) and breakout sessions (45 minutes each). The breakout sessions covered the following topics:

  • Building mobile-friendly sites with responsive design (see blog post)
  • Augmented reality for special collections (see blog post)
  • Mobile devices in teaching and research: how do libraries support this? (see blog post)
  • Resource discovery on mobile devices (see blog post)
  • Bibliographic management on mobile devices (see blog post)
  • Developing a mobile strategy for the library (see blog post)
  • Mobile devices in the physical environment in libraries, exhibitions and galleries (see blog post)
  • Delivering existing library-owned content (e.g. historical maps) on mobile devices (see blog post)

If you’re interested in mobile technologies in libraries, please subscribe to the m-library community support blog (subscription links on right hand side): http://www.m-libraries.info