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www.chuukaku.com

Katie Fraser's blog and website

I'm an academic librarian, working in the UK Higher Educational sector, supporting academics and students. Prior to this, I was a researcher, working with social and learning technologies.

My interests include the application of emerging and traditional technologies, research support in libraries, learning spaces, evidence-based practice and the professional development of library and information workers.

You can find out more about more about me from the links to the left. Note that the views expressed on this website/blog are mine alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of any other individual or organisation.



USTLG Information Literacy Meeting

May 16th, 2011

This post is a copy of the original, hosted at the University of Leicester institutional blog at http://uollibraryblog.wordpress.com/2011/05/16/ustlg-information-literacy-meeting/. It is replicated here to preserve this blog as a central record of my professional development.

Programme for the day

Programme for the day

This Monday I attended the University Science and Technology Librarians’ Group (USTLG) Spring meeting on Information Literacy. It was my first USTLG meeting (regular blog readers will have gathered that we try and send at least one science librarian to each) and was at the University of Sheffield, where I studied for my MA in Librarianship. The full information literacy presentations are available on the USTLG website.

The talks fell into three themes: two on researcher support, two on outreach, and two on online tutorials, alongside a presentation from the British Standards Institution, which sponsored the lunch. I’ll tackle the talks in terms of theme, rather than in the order they occurred.

Researcher Support

Moira Bent, from the University of Newcastle, spoke about the revised version of the 7 Pillars model of Information Literacy. This model, well known in the library world, mapped the different skills an information literate person should possess. The revised model addresses some concerns which have been raised in recent years: it is no longer linear, the focus is not just on skills, and each ‘pillar’ has a simple name (Identify, Scope, Plan, Gather, Evaluate, Manage and Present).

To further increase the model’s ease of application, a ‘research lens’ has been produced: looking at which skills and attitudes researchers would find productive under each pillar. The lens draws some of its terminology from theResearcher Development Framework, the UK’s widely-endorsed model of researcher development, in order to ensure its relevance. Moira emphasised that she was keen to use other ‘lenses’ to more increase the accessibility of the model in the long-term, perhaps for schools, undergraduates, or the workplace.

Further pursuing this theme, Sheila Webber, from the University of Sheffield, spoke about the influence of PhD supervisors on information literacy. She related Brew (2001)’s model of conceptions of research and Lee (2008)’s work on conceptions of supervision to simply demonstrate how a supervisor’s views were likely to influence the types of training they directed PhD students towards. She also made the interesting point that information literacy might not look the same in every field: a small field might be relatively easy to keep up-to-date with, while other PhDs might require a broad interdisciplinary approach and need a student to access many different tools and literatures.

Outreach

The two talks on outreach looked at science / technology librarians working with academic departments: one from Evi Tramatza at the University of Surrey, and one from Elizabeth Gadd at Loughborough University. Evi’s was a real success story, about the work she’d done to embed herself into the departments she supports using a focus on shared ground, pilot lectures and the support of the wider library to make sure she delivered on her promises.

Elizabeth talked about a more specific contribution she’d made towards improving teaching for a Civil Engineering literature review assignment. Elizabeth’s talk really emphasised for me how useful evidence can be in developing teaching: she’d used simple measures of the quality of the reviews before and after the teaching was introduced to demonstrate its impact, and was building upon this with other departments. You can see more of the evidence she used in Loughborough’s Institutional Repository.

Online Tutorials

Lastly, the two talks on online tutorials. The first was David Stacey, from the University of Bath, talking about the library’s role in creating an online tutorial on academic writing skills. This was a great illustration of how different specialists across the university (including the library and a Fellow from the Royal Literary Fund) had worked together to obtain funding to create this helpful resource. Unfortunately the tutorial is not currently accessible to those outside Bath (there’s some screenshots in his presentation slides) but they may produce an Open Educational Resource (OER) in the future.

The second, I already knew a little about, as Leicester is an observer on the project. This was the East Midlands Research Support Group (EMRSG), represented at USTLG by Elizabeth Martin from De Montfort University and Jenny Coombs from the University of Nottingham, who have been working together to produce a resource for researcher training. Again, this project was a triumph for collaboration, with four different universities – Loughborough and Coventry being the other key players – working together to get funding. I was really pleased to see how far the project has come since the last meeting I attended: they have developed a fantastic resource, with videos of senior researchers explaining core concepts and plenty of interactivity. Again, screenshots are available in the presentation slides right now, but the group intend to make an OER available in Jorum and Xpert in the future.

Overall, this was a great event, with good breadth, and plenty of practical ideas to bring back (particularly the focus on evidence and collaboration). I’ll look forward to my next USTLG meeting.


Science Online London conference reflections

September 5th, 2010

It occurred to me recently that when I post to the University of Leicester library blog I lose the record of my activities in this, my supposedly central record of my activities! Therefore I’m going to experiment with linking in my contributions to this (and any other blogs) under the imaginatively named ‘contributions to other blogs’ category.

My reflections on Science Online London, an event looking at use of the web in science, can be found at http://uollibraryblog.wordpress.com/2010/09/05/science-online/ but I’ve also copied it in full below.

Science Online conference bag

Science Online conference bag

Yesterday I visited Science Online London (the second day). It’s subtitle is ‘How is the web changing science?’ but it’s a general mishmash of people from various walks who share an enthusiasm for science and the web, talking about what they’re doing, and how they can share this enthusiasm.

For me, the breakout sessions were the most interesting portions, so I’ll summarise those briefly with some reflections on what I learnt from them.

Tracking researcher identity: pragmatics and ethics

The first session I attended was looking at an author ID system, ORCID. Such systems try to avoid confusion between academic authors with similar namesby assigning them a unique ID. I’m already signed up to Thomson Reuter’s ResearcherID system, to give an example. This is a more top down alternative to the bottom up approach where databases use algorithms to try to differentiate between different authors. I understand these algorithms are usually successful, but perhaps because of my limited academic output, I’ve found myself lumped in with other “K Fraser”s on more than one occasion.

ORCID aims to overcome some of the reluctance researchers have to sign up to proprietary author ID systems, and offer a central, open and transparent registry instead. The session came alive in the discussion of what such a system could do – such as create a far more nuanced record of who had contributed what to a paper than the traditional author order could capture – and the ethics behind it – should a researcher’s ID keep track of rebuttals of their work? There are a lot of positives to such a system from a librarian’s perspective (easier author search, simplified tracking down of academics’ papers for the institutional repository) so it was great to have a balanced discussion from a range of stakeholders.

What scientists want (and how to give it to them)

The second breakout session I attended was part of the ‘unconference’ (essentially some sessions which were crowdsourced from attendees the previous day). This session focused on ‘users’ (which turned out to be scientists). The most interesting bits for me were a discussion of what scientists wanted from technology (they want better publication and information gathering tools: librarians take note) and one slightly awkward but fascinating section in which a marketing specialist tried to get the scientists to identify the best way to market to them.

Obviously I had my ears open for the marketing questions, as sometimes it’s hard for the library to ‘sell’ services to academics. The main message was that scientists will come and look for information as and when they need it, and so when they do come looking, you’d better be i) easy to find and ii) prepared with a pitch and some examples of how great your services are. I’m currently mulling over ways to achieve these two things as a librarian: suggestions welcome!

The “broken publishing system”: whose responsibility is it?

The last session I attended was ostensibly a discussion of open access publishing, but centred mostly on impact factors, a way of recording how widely read journal are, at the title level. Discussions with Nancy, our library bibliometrician have already highlighted to me that judging a paper by which journal it’s in is a flawed idea, but I was surprised to hear that no one in the room – publishers included – thought they were useful or valid. Somehow impact factors have been seized as a key evaluation metric, and everyone is only interested in them to the extent that others are using them to evaluate their output!

All were agreed that something should be done to avoid this focus on impact factors, but disagreement centred on whether small acts of protest at this system (opting out, voting with your feet) or a coordinated protest (demanding an overhaul of the system at the highest levels) were needed. Again, suggestions for action welcome!

Conclusions

Overall, this was an interesting conference to attend, and I felt I learnt a lot about how scientists view the services on offer to them. Oddly, however, I think maybe I’d be more comfortable presenting at it if I attended again: a lot of the sessions were based on the assumption that the audience was composed of scientists, and I felt like more like an observer than a participant in the discussion sometimes. However, participant observation is a time-honoured way of getting to know a culture better, and I’m sure I’ll use my observations to help inform the library’s development of services over the next year: maybe with something new to contribute to the discussion of scientists online at the end.


Mashed Library Liverpool

June 12th, 2010

This post was originally written by me and posted on the University of Leicester library blog at http://uollibraryblog.wordpress.com/2010/07/12/mashed-library-liverpool/. It is replicated here to preserve this blog as a central record of my professional development.

Liver and Mash, Parr Street Studios, Liverpool

Photograph of Liver and Mash, used under Creative Commons licence, courtesy of http://www.flickr.com/photos/rbainfo

I went to my first Mashed Library event, Mash Oop North, in Huddersfield in July 2009, had a fantastic time, and was pleased to go back to Liver and Mash in Liverpool in May this year. The Mashed Library events unfold in a relatively informal unconference format, with lots of discussion of ideas and ways of quickly and easily implementing mash-ups in library and information services.

This post won’t be so much a reflection on the event as a collection of tools and ideas which I found inspiring, and hope to come back to over time. Hopefully there’ll be something to inspire others too.

Liver and Mash started with an OCLC Mashathon, a workshop that OCLC have run around the world looking at how OCLC services can be used in mash-ups to create new uses for data. Karen Coombs from OCLC has blogged a little about the Mashathon here. OCLC offer a wide range of services and resources, here are a couple which caught my eye:

  • The Worldcat Basic API is available free for up to 1,000 queries a day (assuming non-commercial use) and can return a list of books held in OCLC’s comprehensive Worldcat Catalogue from a query. The list is returned in RSS or Atom format, and can be formatted by a number of standard citation guidelines. I’d be wary of using it long-term on an academic library site with the query limit, but there are further options available to those subscribing to OCLC services.

Unfortunately, we were lacking a reliable wireless signal on the day, so weren’t able to develop much on site. The second day, however, moved on to a wider variety of applications, so I was able to take notes and experiment later. Again, here’s a selected few:

  • Tony Hirst from the Open University spoke about gathering data on use of library websites (e.g. via Google Analytics), and segmenting users into groups by types of behaviour. Gathering behavioural data definitely sounds like something I’ll need to think about in our forthcoming redesign of the library website as part of the team moving the site to the University’s new content management system, Plone.
  • Julian Cheal from the University of Bath, demonstrated some ways of using RFID. I’ve long had a bee in my bonnet about the limited uses (issue and return) we have for RFID in libraries considering we’re one of the biggest users of the technology, and it was interesting to see demonstrations of library cards generating prompts and information as users entered the library or carried out library-related activities.
  • Lastly, John McKerrell talked about using maps in mash-ups. Maps are something I’ve seen used quite a lot on library websites, but only occasionally do these services go far beyond embedding Google Maps. Services which particularly stood out were Mapstraction – which allows web developers to switch quickly and easily between different map services, Get Lat Lon – which is a quick and easy way of finding latitude and longitude values for a given location, and OpenStreetMap – a free, collaboratively-edited map.

While I’ve not jumped in and used any of these services straight away, both the Mashed Library events I’ve been to have really opened my eyes to the wide variety of options available to me for using and integrating data on the web. You may see a few of these services turning up on the library website as we get further down the line with the Plone rollout! To finish the post, here’s a video of Liver and Mash, which I think catches the atmosphere and creativity of the event pretty well: YouTube video of Mashed Library Liverpool.