CILIP Conference, Day two – Reaching people.

The theme that I have picked out from the second day of the conference is the way that libraries can reach everyone. This is specially true of public libraries. Neil MacInnes, Strategic Lead-Libraries, Galleries & Culture, Manchester City Council spoke of the work that Manchester Libraries are doing to bring information and literature to the people of Manchester. This has required quite a lot of revision of the service but they appear to have succeeded in getting more people using the libraries and perhaps significantly, more people using the items that have been held in archives for many decades.

For example, the geographic locations of the branch libraries were compared with the current centres of habitation, and it was realised that some libraries were not where the people are. This meant moving some of the services, some be co-located with other services. The Central Library, which was built in 1938, had become unloved, and so it was completely refurbished. Such effort brought in many more visitors. The overall remit is not merely getting people IN to libraries, but is also getting books OUT to people. They had a Shakespeare folio in the archives which had been seen by very few researchers. Now it has its own taxi and security staff and is taken to branch libraries where students and school children can see it. It has been viewed more times in the past few years than it has been for decades.

Work like this is so important to show that libraries are not dead archives for the intellectual only. Showing a precious object can inspire and stimulate a sense of history as well as showing off treasures to be found in ordinary libraries. Manchester is managing to shout out about their achievements. After Neil’s talk a delegate said to me “Oh, the Central Library from my city does many of these things too.” but that other city is being quiet about their achievement.  It is important these days to be Loud Librarians, to be one of the strident voices clamouring for attention and funding, and to demonstrate the impact on society and learning that libraries have.

And that brings me to the second workshop that I attended, “Loud Librarians” by Selena Killick (Open University) and Frankie Wilson (Bodleian Library, Oxford). And they are. Loud, that is. This workshop was very well attended, so many of us wanting to be loud!! Selena and Frankie had us working (always a good thing for a workshop), and considering:

  • Who were our stakeholders
  • What were the main outcomes they wanted
  • How we could record how we addressed those outcomes – not just numbers

It was a very practical session and I will certainly use their techniques, so simple, logical and effective.  They told us how we could demonstrate the ways that libraries are reaching out to people.

I then attended a series of seminars on the themes of Information Literacy and Literacy and Learning and the presentation that stood out was Dr Konstantina Martzoukou’s (Robert Gordon University) talk about trying to reach “Syrian New Scots” – how to give essential information to Syrian refugees in Scotland. The project was working with groups to find out what information they wanted and considered ways of giving them the information. The plight of the refugees was made very clear by the inclusion of a poignant video showing the city of Homs, before the current conflict and the devastation the conflict has caused.

Jason Vit of the Reading Agency outlined the current work that they are doing to engage people with reading. This included working with bus companies to put up posters on busses, and having “pop up” bookshops in certain places. They are developing “Hubs”, certain towns, where they are concentrating efforts to increase the literacy of disadvantaged communities. The Reading Agency take a down to earth and innovative approach to reaching people, wherever they are.

So, this conference consolidated my belief that libraries do get information out to people and that there are other organisations that we could work with to do that. We also have to realise that we are the vehicle by which the ordinary members of society can have objective, authoritative information, to balance the subtle persuasion of  internet giants or the noise of press and politicians. It means that we have to be very Loud Librarians shout about our services and successes instead of being quietly complacent.

 

 

CILIP Conference 2017

IMG_20170706_131200[1]

So, here I am, in Manchester at my first CILIP conference. This post is about three inspirational speakers that I heard in only the first day there.

Carla Hayden

Day one was very thought provoking and quite inspiring in a number of ways. The first Keynote speaker was Carla Hayden, the first Librarian of Congress who is female and of colour. Shockingly, she is only the third Librarian of Congress who is a qualified Librarian. She spoke amusingly with wit and charm about what she had achieved in Baltimore: about her interview for being Librarian for congress and about her visit to the British Library.

She said that she was initially unsure whether to apply for the post of Librarian of Congress as she has been instrumental in trying to open up access to libraries. She was not sure that a National Library, and archive as is the Library of Congress, would be the right place for her, but at her interview, with the President of US, Barack Obama asked about increasing access to researchers to their resources. She know then that she would be right for the post. Since then she has embarked on a programme of digitising many of their items.

She is visiting the UK with her mother, who on entering the British Library commented “This is just like a public library”. This, of course, is a good thing, because it is a demonstration of how a National Library can be welcoming and friendly. I believe that Carla Hayden wants to develop that feel at the Library of Congress, especially after she spoke to an American researcher there who told Carla that the British Library is “better” than the Library of Congress. The researcher had no idea who she was speaking to! Carla completely won us over, were are most definitely “Her UK People” and we gave her a huge round of applause at the end of her speech.

Luciano Floridi

The second Keynote speaker was inspirational in a different way. Professor Luciano Floridi of the Oxford Institute of Information presented us with some interesting concepts of power and the way that Library and Information services could ensure that Power is balanced democratically to make society fair and informed. He reminded us that information is about answering questions.

In the past Power has resided either with the people who answer the questions or with the people who ask the questions. He put forward the theory that currently Power is held by those that control the questions that people ask.  It is the role of Library and Information Science professionals to ensure that people can ask novel, innovative and surprising questions.  He suggested that it is important to gather the answers now of questions that may be asked in the future. This is how a democratic society develops.

Matt

The third inspirational speaker was at a workshop about using teenage volunteers in libraries to help at the annual Summer Reading Challenge.  Matt is a young man who was a volunteer at Bolton Libraries and Museum Service. He spoke passionately and enthusiastically about his experience and how it can help teenagers. Bolton Libraries and Museum Service set up a teenage volunteer group to help with the Summer Reading Challenge and organised training events for them. They enabled the volunteer workforce who were asked to come up with their own group name. They chose the word “Imaginators”, because the group believed that they were helping the younger children develop their imaginations through reading.

Matt worked as an “Imaginator” for a number of years and now has come tot the stage in his life where he is applying to university. He feels that being a volunteer has meant that he has an “edge” over other entrants, working with younger children is a good thing to have on his CV. His intention is to study the classics and he now has gained the skills to explain WHY he wants to do so. He considers that working in a library has inspired him to eventually become involved with Library and Information work. He actually did apply for  a paid post in the library, which he was successful in getting and now he has a Saturday job in Bolton libraries.

The way that Bolton Library and Museum Service have worked with a group of teenagers to plan, organise and develop a training programme, with a series of outcomes and rewards (Pizza and lots of biscuits) made me think about the reasons for using volunteers in libraries. The relationship that any organisation has to have with volunteers is that there has to be an outcome for everyone involved. Basically, there has to be a point to using volunteers other than exploiting free help.

From the volunteer’s view this could be training that helps with personal and professional development, or simply the feeling of well being that they gain. From the point of view of the organisation, they can show that they are investing in people and their skills as well has getting tasks done and providing their users with an improved and enhanced experience. This sort of win/win situation is not easy to achieve and takes time and effort to plan and instigate. Definitely a lot of food for thought there.

Books and Cycling

 

I have a Google alert that notifies me of anything that crops up about children’s mobile libraries and bookmobiles. This is because of my doctoral research into children’s mobile libraries and their effect on literacy. I am still fascinated by the subject, but these days I have little time to really read the alerts. I collect them with some false hope that one day I will collate all the information to produce the definitive work on children’s mobile libraries. Every now and then I have a little clear out of the data that have accumulated, such as vanished links or notices saying that Y will not be visiting X today because of rain/snow/mechanical breakdown. Actually, perhaps I should keep account of the days that mobile libraries are off road and the reasons for doing so. Someone, somewhere will no doubt really want that information.

But I digress. Today was one of the clear out days, and I found a fascinating podcast about a Bicycle Bookmobile. Like me, you may have seen some posts circulating around social media of bicycle libraries in developing countries, but this time I was really surprised to find that the podcast was an interview with a university teacher who has started a service in Arcata California. When I searched further I discovered that there are many “Bikemobiles” in the US.

The interesting feature of the Arcata bicycle bookmobile is that it combines the two passions of Melanie Williams, books and bicycles – which is obvious really. She was a university teacher that took a group of students to help reconstruct some libraries in a area of the US which had had a natural disaster, and she describes how that experience changed her life. She realised how important books are to literacy. She is an educator, and now in another role is promoting children using bikes to improve their health and to give them road sense before they become drivers.

While doing this it occurred to her that a bicycle bookmobile would be a great way to help literacy and promote bikes. All the books are children’s books with the theme of bicycles. She describes and recommends some in the interview. The podcast lasts for around 20 minutes, the first half is about books and the second half deals with promoting cycling. It is really worth listening to and can be found here.

 

COUNTER

I was a bit confused when I heard to term COUNTER compliant statistics because the word COUNTER has so many meanings. Could it be to do with those round disks you have use to go up ladders and down snakes in the board game?

roman gaming counter

“Glass mosaic counter or inlay” by Roman via The Metropolitan Museum of Art is licensed under CC0 1.0

 

Statistics is about counting, so that makes some sort of sense. It could not be a shop counter then,

lego counter

“View of counter” by Takanori Hayashi is licensed under CC BY 2.0

 

or a ticket counter, these are types of counter that help people to access something.

ticket counter

“Ticket Counter For Foreigner s” by Barney Moss is licensed under CC BY 2.0

 

or how about a kitchen worktop, some people call those counters. They are things to facilitate tasks. In the kitchen.

butterflycounter

“Butterfly on a counter” by Helena Jacoba is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Or indeed, counter also means against, opposed to, so counter compliance must mean that it is statistics that is not compliant.

No, I reasoned, it must be something to do with counting.

clicker counter

“Counter” by Marcin Wichary is licensed under CC BY 2.0

 

So after all my speculations I gave in and searched Google. I discovered that COUNTER is an acronym, as many things are these days. It stands for Counting Online Usage of NeTworked Electronic Resources. It is a standard code of practice that facilitates exchange of the usage data of e-resources. So, in plain terms, it means that when publishers count the number of views or downloads of a journal, book or database has had, they should save and organise that data in a standard format that can easily be shared with libraries that subscribe to the journals or have purchased a book. These are simple examples of a rather more sophisticated system.

According to the COUNTER Code of Practice the data are also arranged in standard reports, for example JR1 is a statistical report of all the views, downloads or attempted downloads an individual journal has had over a period of time – basically how many people have access the webpage for that journal. Similarly, BR1 is the statistical report of the number of views, downloads or attempted downloads of a book. There are a variety of other types of report as well.

Overall, COUNTER compliant statistics are a way of libraries being able to understand whether the e-resources that they have purchased or to which they subscribe are being actively used. In the day before electronically automated systems when physical books were stamped as they were borrowed, you could easily tell which were your most borrowed items. So, COUNTER is doing the same job, but better, because you could never count the number of times a book was looked at, a reference noted, a photocopy taken and returned to the shelf.

To learn more about this, visit the COUNTER project website where it explains things in more detail in a much better way.  However, I don’t think I was entirely wrong about COUNTER, it does include some of those other meanings. It counts people who are trying to read an article or book, it facilitates the work of librarians and publishers, it gives librarians access to data that they need to improve their electronic collections. It doesn’t serve cake though, which is a bit of a shame…

cake counter

“Sweet Counter” by terren in Virginia is licensed under CC BY 2.0

IRUS-UK Community Survey 2017

IRUS logoAnother of Evidence Base’s regular tasks is to compile and send out the IRUS-UK user survey. IRUS-UK is a Jisc community driven resource for Institutional Repositories in the UK. When a repository becomes a member of IRUS-UK the IRUS team collects the usage data of items that have been deposited in that repository and processes the data into COUNTER compliant statistics. I have promised to write a blog about COUNTER and I apologise for not doing it yet, in the meantime follow this Link to find out more about the project and the code of practice. The benefit to repositories is that they then have validated usage data about the work that has been deposited which can be compared  with other standardised data.

The annual survey ensures that the IRUS team are developing IRUS-UK to suit the needs of the Institutional Repository community and a great deal of attention is paid to the feedback that is received. Sometimes it is not possible to implement a suggestion, sometimes it takes time to make a change, but each suggestion in considered thoughtfully and steps are taken to impblue surveyrove the website and the service.

This year we found out that IRUS-UK is mostly used for identifying trends and patterns of usage. It is used least for SCONUL reporting. Other uses for IRUS-UK include:

  • Awareness raising
  • Checking records
  • Tweeting about statistics
  • Advocacy with researchers

I particularly like the idea of tweeting about the statistics. It is good to boast on twitter that a certain document has been accessed. Especially as I have just found out through IRUS-UK that one of my articles has been downloaded 185 times.

The IRUS-UK community consider that the most useful reports are Repository Statistics and Item Reports. Most people thought that IRUS-UK provided value because of the reliable and accurate counter compliant statistics, because it helps benchmarking and reporting and it helps to compare data. Moreover, it saves a lot of staff time.town clock

Some of the best things about IRUS-UK are:

  • It is easy to use and access
  • It is good at archiving Statistics
  • The community support is great

There were some requests for some new features such as some quick guides to reports, some more case studies and some bite sized videos to demonstrate how to use the reports. Members also wanted more data visualisations -sometimes only a picture will tell the story – and there was a request that IRUS-UK becomes Mobile friendly.

These and other suggestions are now under consideration by the team . Keep looking at IRUS-UK to see how it develops. And Thank You to the institutional repository staff out there that took the time to complete the survey.

CILIP joining in with #FactsMatter

This is a quick follow-up from my previous blog. As part of the forthcoming election, CILIP is starting a campaign to “to promote the need for evidence-based decision-making as a foundation of a strong, inclusive and democratic society”.

More can be found out about it here:
https://www.cilip.org.uk/news/cilip-announces-facts-matter-campaign-2017-general-election

So, as well as anyone interested in Libraries approaching candidates personally and on the ground, so to speak, CILIP is approaching the political parties to include key aspects of the work of information professionals into their manifestos. Remember then, not simply to ask your candidate “What are YOU going to do for Libraries?” but also to TELL them what libraries do for them, and the rest of the UK, or even the world. This pincer movement could begin to make politicians realise how essential Library and Information is to a healthy, prosperous society.

JUSP Community Survey 2016

JUSP logo

One of Evidence Base’s bread and butter jobs is to conduct the annual user survey for JUSP, which is the Jisc specialist resource for university or further education college librarians. JUSP tells them about the use of on-line journals or e-books that they have purchased or to which they have subscribed. By using JUSP a librarian can find out whether a certain journal or e-book has been used and how many times. In the old days, when everything was paper it was easy to work out if books had been taken out of the library, and if journals were looking well thumbed, or still in pristine condition because no-one had looked at them. E-resources are a different, with all sorts of possible metrics available you can find out if something has or hasn’t been downloaded, and from which IP address. Of course, it does mean that someone, somewhere has to collect and collate that information. Briefly, JUSP works by using SUSHI to harvest COUNTER statistics and it will then give you reports about the resources used by your institution. Currently, JUSP has a “Journal” portal and an “e-book” portal. If you have no idea what SUSHI and COUNTER mean, don’t worry about it, they are simply a means to an end and I will devote whole posts to explaining them in the future. Meanwhile, back to the survey…

survey

We finished the JUSP community survey at the end of last December, and the full report is now ready to read here: http://jusp.jisc.ac.uk/news/jusp-community-survey-2016-report.pdf . The results of the report showed that JUSP is a much wanted resource for university and college librarians which adds value to their service, provides them with reliable data and saves them time (somewhere in the region of 7 hours work a month). One commented JUSP has a “hugely positive impact on staff time… freed up for analysis rather than finding and downloading data files”.  Many respondents thought that JUSP was vital to their service because without it they would have to take staff away from other tasks; one even thought that they would not use usage statistics any more if JUSP did not exist.

Of the journal statistics that JUSP can calculate, the most vital one appeared to be “Journal Report 1 (JR1)” which can tell you the number of requests there has been for one specific journal per month, over a period of time which you can select. Users of JUSP use the Journal portal statistics for a range of tasks:

  • Ad-hoc reporting
  • SCONUL reporting
  • Considering subscription renewals
  • Answering general enquiries
  • Finding evidence to prove access rights
  • General annual statistics
  • Evaluating deals with publishers
  • Benchmarking against organisations
  • To put a list of “top ten journals” on the website
  • To search for anomalies in their data

E-book portal is less used, it is still in development and does not contain statistics from many e-book suppliers used by many of the libraries. Librarians can get the statistics that they need directly from the publishers. However, respondents did think that e-book statistics are important and the ones who do use JUSPs e-book portal (just less than half the respondents) use Book Reports 2 and 3 (BR2, BR3) in order to find out the number of times an e-book has been requested per month over a selected period of time (BR2) or the number of times access has been denied to an e-book (BR3). When a library users asks for a certain e-book, only to discover that they cannot access it indicates that the library does not subscribe to or has not purchased that e-book. Librarians like to know this so that they can understand what their customers want. So, our respondents tolde-book us that they use e-book statistics for:

  • Collection development
  • Choosing which subscriptions to renew
  • To see how the full collection is being used
  • To make purchasing decisions
  • To calculate cost per download

Overall, the JUSP users were satisfied with the service that it provides and they praised the JUSP team for the support that it gives to users. Some very appreciative clients there, so university and  college librarians out there who are not using JUSP, take a look at it, you may benefit from its use.