Yesterday I took part in a session with Martin Weller and Grainne Conole pitching SocialLearn to the Library (Martin), exploring notions of a pedagogy fit for online social learning (Grainne) and idly wodering about how the Library might fit in all this, especially if it became ‘invisible’ (my bit: The Invisible Library):
As ever, the slides are pretty meaningless without me rambling over them… but to give a flavour, I first tried to set up three ideas of ‘invisibleness’:
– invisibility in everyday life (random coffee, compared to Starbucks: if the Library services were coffee, what coffee would they be, and what relationship would, err, drinkers have with them?);
– positive action, done invisibly (the elves and the shoemaker);
– and invisible theatre (actors ‘creating a scene’ as if it were real (i.e. the audience isn’t aware it’s a performance), engaging the audience, and leaving the audience to carry on participating (for real) in the scenario that was set up).
And then I rambled a bit a some webby ways that ‘library services’, or ‘information services’ might be delivered invisibly now and in the future…
After the presentations, the Library folks went into groups for an hour or so, then reported back to the whole group in a final plenary session. This sort of exercise is pretty common, I think, but it suddenly struck me that it could be far more interesting in the ‘reporter’ on each table was actually twittering during the course of the group discussion? This would serve to act as a record for each group, might allow ‘semi-permeable’ edges to group discussions (although maybe you don’t want groups to be ‘sharing’ ideas, and would let the facilitator (my experience is that there’s usually a facilitator responsible whenever there’s a small group exercise happening!) eavesdrop on every table at the same time, and maybe use that as a prompt for wandering over to any particular group to get them back on track, or encourage them to pursue a particular issue in a little more detail?
I’d prepared some slides – even rehearsed a couple of the mashups I was going to do – and then fell apart somewhat when the IE6 browser I was using on the lectern PC failed to play nicely with either Pageflakes or Yahoo Pipes. (I had intended to use my own laptop, but the end of the projector cable was locked away…)
“Why not use Firefox Portable?” came a cry from the floor (and I did, in the end, thanks to Daniel…). And indeed, why not? When I was in the swing of doing regular social bookmarking sessions, often in IT training suites, I always used the local machines, and I always used Portable Firefox.
But whilst I’ve started “playing safe” by uploading at least a basic version of the slides I intend to use to Slideshare before I leave home on the way to a presentation, I’ve stopped using Portable Firefox on a USB key even if I am taking the presentation off one… (There is always a risk that “proxy settings” are required when you use your own browser, of course, but a quick check beforehand usually sorts that…)
So note to self – get back in the habit of taking everything on a USB key, as well as doing the Slideshare backup, and ideally prepping links in a feed somewhere (I half did that on Monday) so they can be referred to via a live bookmark or feedshow.
Anyway, some of the feedback from the session suggested handouts would have been handy, so here are handouts of a sort – a set of repurposed slides in which I’ve taken some of the bits that hopefully worked on Monday, along with a little bit of extra visual explanation added in. The slides probably still don’t work as a standalone resource, but that’s what the talking’s for, right?!;-)
Instead, I ran through the Data Scraping Wikipedia with Google Spreadsheets mashup; somewhere along the way, the idea of a “speed mashup” was introduced… this is maybe something I’ll try out at the Mashed Library event tomorrow….. err, later today… One thing that did come out of the session for me is that maybe there really is an opportunity for some sort of roadshow/masterclass around the very idea of mashups, with some quick and effective mashup demos along the way (which are, apparently, quite “intimidating” compared to what you can and canlt do with educational system APIs…;-)
I’m very proud to announce that Library Services at the University of Huddersfield has just done something that would have perhaps been unthinkable a few years ago: we’ve just released a major portion of our book circulation and recommendation data under an Open Data Commons/CC0 licence. In total, there’s data for over 80,000 titles derived from a pool of just under 3 million circulation transactions spanning a 13 year period.
I would like to lay down a challenge to every other library in the world to consider doing the same.
So are you going to pick up the challenge…?
And if not, WHY NOT? (Dave posts some answers to the first two or three objections you’ll try to raise, such as the privacy question and the licensing question.)
He also sketches out some elements of a possible future:
I want you to imagine a world where a first year undergraduate psychology student can run a search on your OPAC and have the results ranked by the most popular titles as borrowed by their peers on similar courses around the globe.
I want you to imagine a book recommendation service that makes Amazon’s look amateurish.
I want you to imagine a collection development tool that can tap into the latest borrowing trends at a regional, national and international level.
What else… Library website analytics – are you making use of them yet? I know the OU Library is collecting analytics on the OU Library website, although I don’t think they’re using them? (Knowing that you had x thousand page views last week is NOT INTERESTING. Most of them were probably people flailing round the site failing to find what they wanted? (And before anyone from the Library says that’s not true, PROVE IT TO ME – or at least to yourself – with some appropriate analytics reports.) For example, I haven’t noticed any evidence of changes to the website or A/B testing going on as a result of using Googalytics on the site??? (Hmmm – that’s probably me in trouble again…!;-)
Or the “commendation” I got at the IWR Information Professional Award ceremony. I like to think this was for being the “unprofessional” of the year (in the sense of “unconference”, of course…;-). It was much appreciated, anyway :-)
Once upon a time, there was a simple answer to the question “where is the Library?”. But as library services move online, and the archival role of the library moves towards maintaining digital, rather than physical, artefacts, pointing to a particular building in answer to that question is no longer the best answer.
In this presentation, I will explore the notion of various ‘invisible library’ functions, identifying a role for “Library Inside” services that may go unrecognised by patrons in the same way that the manufacturer of the processor inside your computer is hidden away from you unless it is explicitly revaled through a marketing logo.
In particular, I will explore several different takes on the idea of ‘invisibility’ – invisibility that arises from the increasingly commoditised nature of information (do you want a coffee, or a Starbucks?); through a proxy (the Elves and the Shoemaker); or through an unacknowledged or misdirected presence in an unexpected place (invisible theatre).
Through the development of appropriate tools, it is possible to allow patrons to leverage library servics without having to access Library websites directly. One example of this is “invisible authentication” via the “libezproxy” bookmarklet. It works as follows: if a user has discovered the title page of a subscription article the user’s institution subscribs to, the click of a button will rewrite the URL so that the page is presented to the user via their institution’s subscription proxy. The user gets the full text of the article without going anywhere.
Othr invisible e-library services can be delivered through university VLEs – does the student need to know that the library has provided that list of resources?
One of the problems faced by many lending libraries on university campuses is the tendency of academics to hoard books. The distributed library shelf (the ‘inventoryless library’) removes the need for centralised holdings by allowing borrowers to keep books on their own shelves, and declare their location to a distributed catalogue. “The Fall and Rise of the Roman Empire”? Ah yes, Prof G. has a copy in their office, as does Dr W. As the price of books falls through resellers such as Amazon, rethinking a collections policy that allows individual users to buy books direct, and then loaning them on becomes thinkable…
Proactive invisible Library support can increasingly be offered through social networks – comments on blog posts, answers to tweeted questions (whether or not they are posted by “your own” patrons) helps keep knowledge moving around the distributed academy, and may lead to an unforeseen payback further down the line.
As far as the archival role goes, many university libraries are now responsible for maintaining online repositorys that collect together copies of the university’s research outputs. But you don’t really expect anyone to really go there, do you? That’s what Google’s for… So if your users are trying to access your content via Google, you need to work on your SEO… And to know that it’s working effectively, you need to keep an eye on your web analytics…
Here’s a quick post from under the radar… Apparently, folk from Cam Libraries get together every so often for an informal but issues related brown bag lunch somewhere… It seems like the where and whenabouts of these events is a closely guarded secret.
I think I’m ‘presenting’ at a brown bag lunch session next week, Nov 27th, but I don’t have access to the mailing list the announcement went out on so don’t know any more details than that.
i did, however, manage to grab a bootleg of a trailer for the what may or may not be this event based on what I think I said I could talk about if I managed to get an invite:
If the event is on, I guess I’ll be told immediately before the event and taken to the location blindfolded (presumably using a brown paper bag?)
I should have been presenting at libraries@Cambridge (#CamLibsConf), firstly in a session on innovation in the Library with Laura James and Huw Jones, and secondly the closing plenary (which I believe John Naughton is giving as I type); but snow made traveling up to Cambridge via Milton Keynes impossible on Wednesday, and the trains weren’t much help yesterday…
Laura and I had started out doodling a joint presentation, but when it became clear that I wouldn’t be able to make the event in person, I put together a random assortment of short video clips that I thought Laura could drop into the session (or not) as she wished; (the clips are available on Youtube, Audioboo and Screencast.com).
(The videos on screencast.com were intended for Youtube, but I messed up – the screen captures were recorded using Jing, but saved as swf files rather than the MP4 that Youtube will accept as an upload. I don’t have a desktop SWF2MP4 converter and the online service I generally use wouldn’t play:-(
I also compiled the clips into a couple of bundles using Slideshare.
I’ve generally been resistant to sharing spoken word offerings, notwithstanding Martin’s repeated attempts to try to encourage aspiring “digital scholars” such as myself to start getting into the podcasting thing;-) So as therapy, I’ll embed the embedded video slidecasts here and make another resolution to try and get to grips with audio sharing this year…
If there’s something “dataflow” related you’d like see explored here, please leave a request as a comment and I’ll see what I can do :-) I’ve also started a newsrw) category (view it here) which I’ll start posting relevant content to; (see also the datajourn tag).