Nov 07

OK – final, final, session now – some closing remarks from Dave Errington
(CEO Talis), and prize draw to win an iPhone (fingers crossed)… drum
roll … the suspense … not me :(

written by ostephens \\ tags:

Nov 07

OK – final, final, session now – some closing remarks from Dave Errington
(CEO Talis), and prize draw to win an iPhone (fingers crossed)… drum
roll … the suspense … not me :(

written by ostephens \\ tags:

Nov 07

The last session of the conference, which is a presentation by the Antony Brewerton from the Unversity of Warwick about branding and libraries. He wrote an article called "Wear lipstick, have a tattoo, belly-dance, then get naked: The making of a virtual librarian" – he suggests if you enter ‘Antony Brewerton naked‘ into Google, you’ll be suprised what you’ll find!

So – to start with we should consider what we mean by brand, particularly the ‘library brand’ and review the options for re-imagining the brand.

Brand is more than just the logo. "A set of ssets (or liabilities) linked to a brand’s name and sybmol that adds to (or subtracts from) the value provided by a product or service" – David Aaker from Building strong brands, 1996.

Walter Landor (an ad guy) said "Simply put, a brand is a promise". The Building Brands website has more on brand definitions.

To start with, What is a library?

The OCLC perceptions report (Question 807) found that the first thing people thought of was – wait for it – books. The point that Antony makes, that if this is what people think a library is, then when you try to have a open, flexible learning space without books (such as described by Les Watson this morning see the comment from Les Watson below, more accurately I think Les described flexible learning spaces, but wasn’t suggesting that there should be no books) then you are going to get resistance rather than support.

The library includes:

  • Stock
  • Space (for study, but not necessarily traditional library space)
  • Support

OCLC perceptions report 812b found negative associations with the library were grumpy/mean librarians – but support should be one of our USPs.

But the world is changing:

  • Stock

books more affordable – buy instead of borrow
students only want electronic texts

  • Space

non-library users coming into HE – digital natives, they are used to reading on the net, not going to the library
library as the ‘third place’ (see reference to this in the post on Les Watson’s talk)

  • Support

community support
decline of authority figures – students don’t relate to authority figures

Historically three waves of brands:

  • Wave 1 – Brands as a guarantee of physical quality – e.g. St Michael
  • Wave 2 – Brands as statements to express personality/community – Gap
  • Wave 3 – Brands as partners with consumers, with consumer influencing desing, plaing a more active role in the brand community – e.g. howies

Libraries probably got in at Wave 1, never really got Wave 2, but there is now an opportunity for Wave 3 – engage our users (Warwick got users involved in the library redesign – specifically they seemed interested in the stairwells for some reason)

We need to research users concerns/interests more – user surveys and focus groups – but also feedback to users about the results – what have you done because of the survey results etc. At Oxford Brookes they found (for example) that students didn’t care about food and drink in the library, but they did care about noise. They decided to use 7" singles to promote different zones of the library:

  • It’s oh so quiet – bjork
  • Happy Talk – Captain Sensible
  • Silence is Golden – The Tremeloes
  • Hanging on the Telephone – Blondie (area where you could use phones)
  • Dead Ringer for Love – Meatloaf (area where you should put your phone on silent)

Posters with illustration of single and song title, with explanation.

When doing marketing, have to focus on results and outcomes – so don’t say ‘Database Training’ but focus on what the students will get out of the training ‘Save time and improve marks’.

So – promote resources, services and benefits – not the Library.

At Oxford Brookes started to bring in references to specific collections – e.g. National Brewing Library, with accompanying ‘drinks’ campaign – e.g. Get A Head with a picture of a pint of Guiness advertising library training etc.

Outreach activities are important – like Freshers Fair (at Imperial we have a library stand at Freshers Fair). Also get out on campus, on the library floor offering help – more approachable than someone sitting behind an enquiry desk.

One of the things that is really noticeable is the quality of the material Antony is using – clearly a flair for design.

written by ostephens \\ tags:

Nov 07

The last session of the conference, which is a presentation by the Antony Brewerton from the Unversity of Warwick about branding and libraries. He wrote an article called "Wear lipstick, have a tattoo, belly-dance, then get naked: The making of a virtual librarian" – he suggests if you enter ‘Antony Brewerton naked‘ into Google, you’ll be suprised what you’ll find!

So – to start with we should consider what we mean by brand, particularly the ‘library brand’ and review the options for re-imagining the brand.

Brand is more than just the logo. "A set of ssets (or liabilities) linked to a brand’s name and sybmol that adds to (or subtracts from) the value provided by a product or service" – David Aaker from Building strong brands, 1996.

Walter Landor (an ad guy) said "Simply put, a brand is a promise". The Building Brands website has more on brand definitions.

To start with, What is a library?

The OCLC perceptions report (Question 807) found that the first thing people thought of was – wait for it – books. The point that Antony makes, that if this is what people think a library is, then when you try to have a open, flexible learning space without books (such as described by Les Watson this morning see the comment from Les Watson below, more accurately I think Les described flexible learning spaces, but wasn’t suggesting that there should be no books) then you are going to get resistance rather than support.

The library includes:

  • Stock
  • Space (for study, but not necessarily traditional library space)
  • Support

OCLC perceptions report 812b found negative associations with the library were grumpy/mean librarians – but support should be one of our USPs.

But the world is changing:

  • Stock

books more affordable – buy instead of borrow
students only want electronic texts

  • Space

non-library users coming into HE – digital natives, they are used to reading on the net, not going to the library
library as the ‘third place’ (see reference to this in the post on Les Watson’s talk)

  • Support

community support
decline of authority figures – students don’t relate to authority figures

Historically three waves of brands:

  • Wave 1 – Brands as a guarantee of physical quality – e.g. St Michael
  • Wave 2 – Brands as statements to express personality/community – Gap
  • Wave 3 – Brands as partners with consumers, with consumer influencing desing, plaing a more active role in the brand community – e.g. howies

Libraries probably got in at Wave 1, never really got Wave 2, but there is now an opportunity for Wave 3 – engage our users (Warwick got users involved in the library redesign – specifically they seemed interested in the stairwells for some reason)

We need to research users concerns/interests more – user surveys and focus groups – but also feedback to users about the results – what have you done because of the survey results etc. At Oxford Brookes they found (for example) that students didn’t care about food and drink in the library, but they did care about noise. They decided to use 7" singles to promote different zones of the library:

  • It’s oh so quiet – bjork
  • Happy Talk – Captain Sensible
  • Silence is Golden – The Tremeloes
  • Hanging on the Telephone – Blondie (area where you could use phones)
  • Dead Ringer for Love – Meatloaf (area where you should put your phone on silent)

Posters with illustration of single and song title, with explanation.

When doing marketing, have to focus on results and outcomes – so don’t say ‘Database Training’ but focus on what the students will get out of the training ‘Save time and improve marks’.

So – promote resources, services and benefits – not the Library.

At Oxford Brookes started to bring in references to specific collections – e.g. National Brewing Library, with accompanying ‘drinks’ campaign – e.g. Get A Head with a picture of a pint of Guiness advertising library training etc.

Outreach activities are important – like Freshers Fair (at Imperial we have a library stand at Freshers Fair). Also get out on campus, on the library floor offering help – more approachable than someone sitting behind an enquiry desk.

One of the things that is really noticeable is the quality of the material Antony is using – clearly a flair for design.

written by ostephens \\ tags:

Nov 07

This talk by Richard Wallis from Talis. Talis are basing their approach on the Talis ‘Platform’ which they describe as a Semantic platform – this talk is meant (I think) to say something about what they mean when they talk about a semantic platform.

Richard starts by covering the development of the ‘library catalogue’ – from hand written cards, to the latest iteration of the Talis online catalogue. Now covering the different approaches to ‘union’ interfaces – z39.50 vs physical union of records.

Now, demonstrating problems with searching for ‘paris hilton’ when you want the hotel – if you use Trip Advisor it’s great, because the context is explicit, but if you use Google, then you get a lot on the person. He does another example with Ford Prefect using Google and ebay. To some extent this is true, but in both cases Google managed to return Hotel, and the car respectively in second place on the search – so actually this suggests that Google does a pretty good job. I’ not necessarily saying you get ‘better results’ from Google – but it shows that Google does a pretty good job – although it doesn’t know what you want, where there are two meanings the 1st and 2nd hit in these scenarios exemplify the two meanings.

Richard is just playing the video of the sketch about the first IT professional – to everyones amusement.

Anyway, Richard is arguing that Trip Advisor and eBay work better for the examples above because they have good metadata. I’m not sure about this – they have context as well, so at least it isn’t just about the metadata – if Trip Advisor ‘catalogued’ celebrities as well as hotels, then would it have been any better than Google? I’d guess not on a ‘all fields’ search. To take a slightly contrary example, if you search for ‘Ford Prefect’ on Amazon then you might well be looking for the Hitchhikers Guide books – but what you get is manuals for the car.

So – Richard’s point is that libraries have standardised metadata – so we should be able to exploit this.

Moving onto a different tack, Richard is describing the drop in cost of both storage and computing power. You can now buy a laptop for under £250 (http://www.asuslaptop.co.uk/products.php?cat=53)  (I so want one)

So – the Talis Platform – big data store – about bringing data into a single store – but more than that. However, difficult to describe as it has no user interface – Richard says it’s like trying to describe a new petrol – he can say it’s better, but how to show it? Talis have now started to build interfaces on top of the Platform (for those who are interested, it’s an RDF store) – I’ve seen a few demos yesterday and today of products built on the platform, and there is an online demo of their ‘Engage’ product built on the platform – this is for community information. The point Richard makes is most of the power of the product comes from the Platform – the interface is quite a thin layer over the top…

So – starting to talk about the ‘semantic web’ – what are semantics?

Semantics (Greek sēmantikos, giving signs, significant, seebma symptomatic meaning, from sēma (σῆμα), sign) refers to aspects of meaning, as expressed in language (from Wikipedia)

The Semantic web is about being able to express meaning relating to content in a machine-readable way, so software can start to link content together based on meaning. At the moment there is some semantic meaning in links – and this is one of the things that Google exploits – the wording I use in the text of the link gives some meaning to what I link to (which is why I try to avoid using links like this)

The Platform is structured in a way that can start to exploit the semantics implicit in metadata – and obviously specifically library metadata (although not exclusively, as the Engage product show, you can apply it to other non-library metadata just as easily)

Once you have metadata in a semantic format, then you can start layering different interfaces on top. If you have a standardise the representation of the metadata – then anyone can layer tools over the top (an example is the Relation Browser)

 

I think what I need is an introduction to some of the ‘under the bonnet’ stuff – I understand the concepts of the semantic web, and I kind of know what RDF is, but my knowledge tails off shortly after this (I know that RDF triples exist, but not why they help) – what I need is RDF for Dummies or something.

written by ostephens \\ tags:

Nov 07

This talk by Richard Wallis from Talis. Talis are basing their approach on the Talis ‘Platform’ which they describe as a Semantic platform – this talk is meant (I think) to say something about what they mean when they talk about a semantic platform.

Richard starts by covering the development of the ‘library catalogue’ – from hand written cards, to the latest iteration of the Talis online catalogue. Now covering the different approaches to ‘union’ interfaces – z39.50 vs physical union of records.

Now, demonstrating problems with searching for ‘paris hilton’ when you want the hotel – if you use Trip Advisor it’s great, because the context is explicit, but if you use Google, then you get a lot on the person. He does another example with Ford Prefect using Google and ebay. To some extent this is true, but in both cases Google managed to return Hotel, and the car respectively in second place on the search – so actually this suggests that Google does a pretty good job. I’ not necessarily saying you get ‘better results’ from Google – but it shows that Google does a pretty good job – although it doesn’t know what you want, where there are two meanings the 1st and 2nd hit in these scenarios exemplify the two meanings.

Richard is just playing the video of the sketch about the first IT professional – to everyones amusement.

Anyway, Richard is arguing that Trip Advisor and eBay work better for the examples above because they have good metadata. I’m not sure about this – they have context as well, so at least it isn’t just about the metadata – if Trip Advisor ‘catalogued’ celebrities as well as hotels, then would it have been any better than Google? I’d guess not on a ‘all fields’ search. To take a slightly contrary example, if you search for ‘Ford Prefect’ on Amazon then you might well be looking for the Hitchhikers Guide books – but what you get is manuals for the car.

So – Richard’s point is that libraries have standardised metadata – so we should be able to exploit this.

Moving onto a different tack, Richard is describing the drop in cost of both storage and computing power. You can now buy a laptop for under £250 (http://www.asuslaptop.co.uk/products.php?cat=53)  (I so want one)

So – the Talis Platform – big data store – about bringing data into a single store – but more than that. However, difficult to describe as it has no user interface – Richard says it’s like trying to describe a new petrol – he can say it’s better, but how to show it? Talis have now started to build interfaces on top of the Platform (for those who are interested, it’s an RDF store) – I’ve seen a few demos yesterday and today of products built on the platform, and there is an online demo of their ‘Engage’ product built on the platform – this is for community information. The point Richard makes is most of the power of the product comes from the Platform – the interface is quite a thin layer over the top…

So – starting to talk about the ‘semantic web’ – what are semantics?

Semantics (Greek sēmantikos, giving signs, significant, seebma symptomatic meaning, from sēma (σῆμα), sign) refers to aspects of meaning, as expressed in language (from Wikipedia)

The Semantic web is about being able to express meaning relating to content in a machine-readable way, so software can start to link content together based on meaning. At the moment there is some semantic meaning in links – and this is one of the things that Google exploits – the wording I use in the text of the link gives some meaning to what I link to (which is why I try to avoid using links like this)

The Platform is structured in a way that can start to exploit the semantics implicit in metadata – and obviously specifically library metadata (although not exclusively, as the Engage product show, you can apply it to other non-library metadata just as easily)

Once you have metadata in a semantic format, then you can start layering different interfaces on top. If you have a standardise the representation of the metadata – then anyone can layer tools over the top (an example is the Relation Browser)

 

I think what I need is an introduction to some of the ‘under the bonnet’ stuff – I understand the concepts of the semantic web, and I kind of know what RDF is, but my knowledge tails off shortly after this (I know that RDF triples exist, but not why they help) – what I need is RDF for Dummies or something.

written by ostephens \\ tags:

Nov 07

The last of this morning’s talks (we seem to have fitted a lot in this morning), is by Marshall Breeding, Director for Innovative Technologies and Research at Vanderbilt University. Marshall tracks and has written about the library automation market, some of which is at http://www.librarytechnology.org/

[Wow – there is a lot in this talk, so the notes below are a bit sketchy – I’ll try to pull this together into some more structured thoughts at some future point]

The landscape is that most of the ILS products from commerical vendors are mature – none less than a decade old, and possibly approaching the end of their lifecycle. However, there seems to have been a lack of success in launching new systems (e.g. Horizon 8.0, Taos).

Marshall has put up a slide showing when current systems were architected – the only very recent system is Evergreen (2004) which is open source. The oldest is Unicorn (which we use at Imperial) at 1982.

There has been quite a lot of consolidation in the industry recently (Sirsi & Dynix, Ex Libris & Endeavour) – this is narrowing the choice for libraries (essentially in UK HE there are 4 suppliers – Talis, SirsiDynix, III and Ex Libris). In conjunction with this narrowing of choice, there seems to be increasing dissatisfaction with the products in the market.

The current level of innovation falls below expectations, and companies are struggling to keep up with enhancements and R&D for new innovations. However, some companies are moving forward – not all suppliers are equal.

Marshall is observing that very few libraries change systems except when forced (e.g. supplier goes out of business). It’s hard to justify investments in the ILS to the enterprise/University. There is more money available for next-gen interfaces, federated search, linking, ERM).

A successful pitch for new automation software is one that enables significant transformation toward current visions of the library – you can’t keep doing the same thing in the same way.

We are moving to an age of less integrated systems (this is not just true in library automation) – increasingly we see the ‘core’ ILS supplemented by additional systems (Link resolver, federated search, ERM, etc.)

Many companines involved in library automation are not involved in ILS – e.g. OCLC, Cambridge Information Group/Bowker, WebFeat, Muse Global etc. – none of these produce an ILS.

There is an increased interest in Open Source alternatives – Marshall believes that TCO (total cost of ownership) isn’t significantly different, so perhaps Open Source is a risky alternative – but actual the commercial options also carry risk, so we may just be choosing between different risks.

Some Open Source intiatives:

  • Koha Zoom
  • Evergreen
  • OPALS-NA
  • Delft Libraries

and in ‘Next Gen’ catalogue interfaces:

  • VuFind
  • C4
  • Fac-back-OPAC

So, Open Source is a very small percentage of total picture – but successful implementation breeds confidence and will grow the share. Companies are starting to appear that sell support for Open Source library systems (Index Data, LibLime etc.)

Open Source then is a form of competition for the commercial vendors – which hopefully will lead to pressure to increase innovation, decrease cost, make systems more open, and generally disrupt the Status Quo (in a good way Marshall believes)

To date, the implementation of Open Source in ILS has been based on philosophical reasons – Opern Source will need to compete on a level playing field with realistic ideas of cost etc. to get real traction in the market. Marshall makes the point (which I definitely agree with) that the Open Source systems aren’t actually doing anything different – Evergreen and Koha are modelled on the traditional ILS – it would be good to see more different approaches coming (either from Open Source or Commercial).

We spend ‘at leat half’ of collections budgets on Electronic resources – but the traditional systems don’t help us with this. This is a point I made to Sarah Bartlett yesterday when talking about the Talis ERM project.

So, it seems that libraries are ready for a new approach. Current systems are not fulfilling library need, they are monolithic and complex to administer, and they miss out large areas of functionality (ILL, Book binding, Remote storage management)

Libraries are demanding more openess – this doesn’t necessarily mean Open Source, but open/documented API (beyond proprietary APIs). The ideal is an Industry-standard set of APIs – but this may not be realistic. However there is a current NISO effort to define API for an ILS for decoupled catalogues.

Marshall believes that you can be ‘open’ and ‘commercial’ (I think this will chime with Talis). Looking for Open Data – well documented database schemas, APIs for access to all system functionality. Also more customizability, better integration. Marshall suggests that the key differentiation for vendors will lie in service and support.

A vision of a suite of interoperable modules, with a single point of management for each category of information (we currently do a lot of multiple management – especially with e-journals holdings data) – but not necessarily a single monolithic system. A more lightweight approach – more elegant and efficient, easier to install and administer, automation systems that can be operated with fewer technical staff – the technical team are now dealing with more systems than ever.

The boundaries around the library are getting blurred – online catalogue/library portal/institutional portal – where is the ‘library’. Circulation/ILL/Remote Storage merge, Collection Development/Acquisitions/budget admin; library acq/institutional procurement systems; etc. – all blurring in terms of where boundaries lie.

We are already seeing a clear move to separate the front-end (OPAC) from the back-end with the Next Gen interfaces – this coming from both vendors and open source. This is healthy as (currently) the technology cycle is much faster for the front-end than for the back-end. We don’t want to have to build a new ILS to get a better search interface.

Service Oriented Architecture – this is to some extent what Marshall has been describing – gives flexibility, and this concept is increasing being adopted by the IT industry in general (although there are plenty of sceptics)

Marshall believes we will staft to see massively consolidate implementations – state/province wide ILS implementations, more reliance on consortia, increased use of Software as a Service (SaaS).

Libraries have to both fit within their local enterprise but also the ‘Global Enterprise’ – Google, Google Scholar, Microsoft Live etc.) OCLC Worldcat – why have a local OPAC when you can have Global one? These are issues we need to tackle. Libraries need to leverage the content in enterprise discovery systems to drive users toward library resources – this I think is interesting.

Marshall has given an example of using Search Engine Optimisation techniques (SEO) to get the library records appearing in search engines, driving ‘paid for’ use of the library, funnelling searchers into the library collection.

Marshall is making the point that we are approaching a post-metadata world – the full digital objects are available, and that is what the users are searching – we need to start adapting to this.

We are competing in a crowded field of information providers – commercial web destinations like Amazon have an overlap with services offered by libraries.

So – what can we do? We need to break out of the marketing/consumer model when interacting with commercial partners – we need a substantial dialog that shapes the direction of product development (which is of course what Talis is saying as well). To date we have had 35 years of a evolutionary approach – perhaps we need a revolution – we have to let go of the ILS legacy and find a new model. Web 2.0 has invigorated libraries to think about a lot of the issues  – Web 2.0 isn’t the solution, but it has kick-started thinking.

written by ostephens \\ tags:

Nov 07

This session is about Talis’s approach to managing electronic resources. I met with Sarah Bartlett from Talis yesterday and had a chat about what they are doing in this area – they have a project called Xedio which is working with customers, and representatives from the sector to develop a product – and she invited me to join the group, which I was very happy to do. From my point of view it is an opportunity to feed into a potential product, as well as get a feel for how other sites are dealing with the issues in this area. I know a couple of the other non-Talis customers on the group, and it sounds like they have put together a good and well informed group.

Project Xedio is a development project. Interestingly I just had a chat with Ross MacIntyre from MIMAS over coffee, and he mentioned a UKSG project to look at the issue of Knowledge Bases which underpin products in the e-resource area (Link Resolvers, Federated search, and of course, ERM) – it will be interesting to see what the Talis take on this is. I’m not sure whether the project Ross was talking about was the ‘Link Resolvers and the Serials Supply Chain‘ that has just published its final report, which might be worth a look.

The Xedio project is being run using the ‘Scrum‘ methodology, which Talis has been using in it’s development recently (for Talis Engage and Zephyr). The advisory group is currently prioritising requirements and feeding back to Talis, after this there will be a Webinar for feedback and discussion.

Now Chris Armstrong  from ‘Information Automation‘ is talking about eContent. He doesn’t like the phrase eContent, and feels it is unhelpful. He suggests that there is a myth that users are format agnostic – but he doesn’t believe this to be the case. He believes this is being used by Aggregators
to talk up their databases. He feels it is more useful to talk about e-journals and e-books. Although I agree with him partially – it is important that a student understands the difference between a peer reviewed paper published in a journal, and a book chapter, I think that the point that the article is ‘peer reviewed’ is the important bit – not the format of publication.

The JUSTEIS project showed that although levels of provision were quite consistent across different types of content, but levels of use were quite different – essentially Search engines got used, everything else wasn’t very used. Chris argues that we don’t solve this by ‘dumbing down’ and bundling everything into a google type interface, but to teach users about the resources as part of Information Literacy. I don’t really agree with this – I think that Information Literacy has to apply when a user has found a resource and is assessing it, not at some pre-qualification level, where they only search ‘approved’ resources.

Chris hopes that Information Literacy will start to be taught at younger ages – specifically in the 16-18 age group (6th form students).

Chris believes that e-books are going to become a serious scholarly medium – and e-book readers will become more significant, digitisation will grow (Google Book Search, Open Content Alliance etc.) and new models will become accepted using Social Software "Blooks". Also social software for reading – e.g. Book Glutton (here is an explanation of how this works)

Now Frances Hall is talking about the experience of dealing with e-journals at the University of Wolverhampton. There are many models to subscribe to a single title, with different rights attached. There are different levels of management required – e.g. for free titles, aggregated titles etc. However, users are only interested in finding the content they want at any particular time.

Frances is describing the ‘e-journals’ lifecycle, and highlighting some of the issues – the complexity of deals on offer etc. At Wolverhampton in their workflows they differentiate between journals and e-journals because of the different requirements – although for e-books they have a better integration between e-book and print book workflows.

In terms of setting up access, it tends to be the smallest resources that take up the most time – ones from suppliers not used to supplying the HE sector.

Finally in the lifecycle they have ‘cancellations’ – the Schools have the final say in theory, but the nature of some e-journal subscriptions, especially the ‘big deals’ means that they have had cancellations for print titles that they have had to reinstate, because they aren’t allowed to cancel the print under the electronic license. The usage stats informing cancellations tends to be reactive rather than proactive.

Even after cancellation, there are ‘post-cancellation’ access issues where you need to ensure you continue to have access to any backfiles you have the rights to.

I’m sitting here feeling rather smug, as think Imperial is doing a pretty good job at a lot of this (that’s not to say we have solved all these problems, but relatively we are doing well) – what we need is systems that help us with these problems, and allow us to do this work more efficiently.

written by ostephens \\ tags:

Nov 07

The second talk this morning is by Les Watson who was responsible for the Saltire Centre at Glasgow Caledonian University. This has been influential as a concrete example of the way a library can become a ‘learning space’.

Les sees education as the only way ‘we’ (presumably the UK) can compete in the global ‘conceptual’ economy, and sees libraries as a fundamental part of education. A recent SCONUL survey showed a drop in library visits from students, libraries are in a period of immense change in the ‘information environment’ (Les reference ‘The Black Swan‘ – a book about unexpected change.

Les is going to argue that buildings can influence our education system. He says that the best starting point is to be unhappy – this gives you motivation to make radical changes. "All Buildings are Predictions" – when we build something that is going to last tens of years, we are trying to make a prediction about requirements.

The Saltire Centre cost £23million (start saving for your very own Saltire Centre now) – this comes with pressure to deliver!

Les is making the point that now a large proportion of the population is going to HE education (now in Scotland at 46%). We have a increasingly large and diverse population of students to serve. We need to consider what hte students want and need as they come into the University – if we don’t we are failing our ‘customers’ – of course Glasgow Caledonian is a post-92 Uni, with a teaching focus. I guess I would want to also emphasise the role of researchers as ‘customers’ of the library service in a research led University such as Imperial.

Les is showing the ‘Vision of Students today‘ video – well worth a look, along with the other videos from Mike Wesch at http://uk.youtube.com/user/mwesch.

Les is making the point that we need to engage with pursuits we may generally dismiss, but are central to the life of a ‘digital native’ – texting, gaming (100% of US College students play video games) – Les suggests that we need to create a ‘play ethic’ as opposed to a ‘work ethic’.

Les is describing how too much of our ‘learning’ is passive and extrinsic, where it should be active and instrinsic – our eductation institutions are stuck in the 19th Century, whereas the student are from the 21st century.

I suppose I see myself as on the cusp of the ‘digital native’ generation – I grew up at a time when computers were becoming common in the home (ZX81, ZX Spectrum, Commodore 64, BBC B etc.), but I don’t use texting a huge amount, I only game a little (mainly SingStar!)

"Technology is stuff that doesn’t really work yet" – Bran Ferren.

Technology is always moving, we need to exploit it, and it needs to be as invisible and seamless as possible. If we are going to serve ‘digital natives’ well, we need to be engaged with the technology they are using.

Les sees Design as fundamental – and something we perhaps don’t put enough into (he doesn’t use it, but the classic example now must be the iPod – design is fundamental – read Stephen Fry’s inaugral blog post and his comments on the Sony Ericsson 990i to see how poor design can frustrate – its a long post, so just search for 990i to find the relevant bit).

Les believes that open plan space is a way of coping with the changing environment, and making predictions. He also says we need to stop doing "No Cell Phones, No Eating and Drinking". Interestingly on the latter point I think it is often not (or not just) the librarians who have this attitude, but academics, and even sometimes students – we get complaints about these things…

Les believes that the Library should become ‘the’ place on campus. We’ve been thinking too much about library operations, where we should be thinking about how we support teaching and learning (IMO Les needs to incorporate Research into this picture somewhere).

Les feels that the best thing about the Saltire Centre was some US visitors mistook it for the Student’s Union – Les felt that he had acheived what he wanted. That’s not to say it doesn’t have some more traditional ‘silent’ space for study – but it is a mixture of environments built around student need – one student said "it’s like home".

Les says our aspiration should be to take space, and turn it into ‘place’ – a 3rd place (an idea from Richard Florida in his book ‘The Rise of the Creative Class‘ that is a place that isn’t work and isn’t home). Les mentioned the ‘Creative Class’ a few times in the talk – there is some more information here http://creativeclass.com/ but sounds like the book would be worth a look.

I asked about the question of ‘research’ – Les argues that he doesn’t think of ‘research’ and ‘learning’ as separate – we do personal research as we do personal learning. Les suggests we need to unite these things, rather than divide them. Perhaps the issue is not research vs learning, but the fact in general the researchers tend to represent ‘Digital Immigrants’ rather than ‘Digital Natives’ – a point made by Ruth Jenkins from Nottingham is that they had resistance from some, but they said "lets try it" and they still have traditional library space as well.

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Nov 07

The opening keynote for today is from Roy Clare CBE, the Chief Executive of the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council (Roy has only been CE for MLA for 9 weeks).

Roy is relating how when he started working in Museums, he was told ‘oh, we don’t do it that way, we’re a museum’. However, for Roy we are basically just people doing ‘stuff’ – and so their is a lot of practice that is transferable even though this might be alongside things that are unique to museums – perhaps the same is true of libraries.

Roy is saying that as professionals we have debates about the services we provide, and are really engaged with it – however we need to move the debate from inside the profession, to outside the profession. For example, Birmingham have put forward proposals to spend £193 million on a new Library together with the Birmingham Rep – but this doesn’t seem to have broken what Roy calls the ‘public surface’.

A few of the conversations I had yesterday touched on the differences between Public libraries and Academic libraries. My own feelings are that Academic libraries have a much more focussed customer group (staff and students of the Institution) and mission (support teaching research) – we may debate how we best do this, and I don’t think the answers are obvious, but the mission is relatively clear. One of my fellow delegates (from academic libraries) said yesterday that her ambition was the library should become invisible to the users – she wanted the users to get the resources they wanted with as little fuss as possible. This became a bit of a debate, and perhaps to a relatively provocative stance (surely not) – but the point is that this might be OK as a vision for an academic library, but would probably be deadly for public libraries. Lorcan Dempsey touched on ‘invisibility’ of library services in a blog post, having picked up the Macquarie University Library strategic plan which states "In this new electronic environment we aim to become ‘invisible’ – by
making our services and resources available in a seamless fashion
within research, teaching and learning workflows."

Roy just mentioning the ebook readers – saying the Sony ebook reader is a lousy way of reading a book, although it is the best electronic book reader he has used, it still looks poor next to the physical book.

Roy’s talk (or at least the topic) clearly stirs deep passions – as you might expect – some impassioned comments/questions to him on how public libraries ensure they are talked about, used, and funded.

(Roy’s description of Museums and Libraries as just a "group of people doing stuff" reminds me of the Dr Who quote "People assume that time is a strict progression of cause to effect…
but actually, from a non-linear, non-subjective viewpoint, it’s more
like a big ball of wibbly-wobbly…timey-wimey…stuff.")

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