Andrew Eynon’s Library Blog

A blog about librarianship in Further Education

Archive for September, 2008

September FE library update

Posted by andrewey on September 30, 2008


There were a couple of interesting articles on Web 2.0 in academic libraries published this month:

Sarah Cohen, ‘Taking 2.0 to the faculty‘, C&RL News, September 2008 – about persuading academic staff of the educational value of Web 2.0 tools.

Karen Markey et al, ‘The effectiveness of a web-based board game for teaching undergraduate students information literacy concepts and skills‘, D-Lib Magazine, Vol 14 (9/10) Sept/Oct 2008.


TechDis have published  a ‘Guide to obtaining textbooks in alternative formats‘ – there is also a database of publisher contacts to obtain such titles.

Information Literacy

Some useful sources of information on information skills delivery:

Journal of Information Literacy – full text is freely available, some useful book reviews in the current issue

ALISS (Association of Library & Information Professionals in the Social Sciences) – includes some good links on delivering information skills

The Internet Detective is now available as a Welsh language download to import into your VLE.

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Book review of Nancy Courtney (ed) Library 2.0 and beyond

Posted by andrewey on September 24, 2008

This book contains a collection of articles by academic and public librarians (from the States) on the application of a wide range of Web 2.0 tools. Each article is between 10-16 pages and covers:

  • What is Library 2.0
  • Catalog 2.0 (OPAC 2.0)
  • Being ‘where the user is’ – social networking
  • Folksonomies
  • Wikis for staff communication and internal collaboration
  • Second Life
  • Mobile technologies
  • Podcasting
  • Digital story telling
  • Video games
  • Mashups

The sheer scope of the book is very impressive considering it is only 152 pages long. The introductory chapter consists of a very balanced overview of the various conflicting definitions of Library 2.0 and whether or not the development of Libray 2.0 marks an evolutionary or revolutionary change to library services.

The chapter on wikis includes a useful discussion on how library services can use them for internal communication and internal collaboration.

I’ve been reading this book over a period of time and I came across another recent review which has taken the same approach as I intended – which is to focus on the chapters that stand out the most.

I particularly liked Michael Casey’s chapter on ‘Looking toward Catalog 2.0’ which describes the Web 2.0 features that OPACs should incorporate. As we are about to get an upgrade of our Web OPAC I’ll be interested to see how many of these features will be included:

  • Relevance ranking
  • Clean interface – a simple unclutered search facility like Google
  • Spell checker –  a prompt, as Google’s ‘Did you mean’ does, to make sure your search terms are correct  
  • Faceting – I know there will be some faceting in our upgrade but Michael suggests the ability to filter by age, level of ability, category etc
  • Full text searching
  • Book reviews – links to professional reviews and the facility for readers to add their own reviews
  • Similar searches – like Amazon the  ability to find related titles easily
  • User defined tags – so that readers can create their own tags which reflect personal search terms or popular terms
  • Share facility – the ability to send links to library resources to colleagues or fellow learners
  • RSS feeds – so that learners can set up their own notifications for new material in their chosen subject areas
  • Citation creator – something which already exists in some of our e-journal and e-book databases

Like Reflections from a small college library I also found Chris Kretz’s chapter on podcasting very informative. Chris describes the varied potential uses for a library podcast:

  • Book talks
  • Promote displays/exhibitions
  • Librarian talks
  • Create interactive library exercises
  • Deliver information skills
  • Library news
  • Cover/record live events
  • To share library policies
  • Local history – record oral history 

Chris also covers the legal and practical considerations when podcasting in some detail.

I will review some of the other chapters that I thought stand out in a later post.

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Learning resources self-assessment quality toolkit for England

Posted by andrewey on September 22, 2008

The electronic version of the FE quality toolkit for learning resource services (LRSs) in England, mentioned in my August update, is now available on the CoFHE website.

The toolkit includes an introduction giving the rationale for such a toolkit and a vision statement on the role of college LRSs in the 21st century.

There is a brief section on how to use the toolkit – it would also be possible to provide blank proformas for self-assessment to be made available on the CoFHE website.

The toolkit itself consists of 5 Key Questions which have been mapped to the 5 Key Questions in the Ofsted Common Inspection Framework.

Each Key Question is broken down into a series of quality indicators and key prompts. Each one of which is given a performance indicator, ‘who responsible’ and example sources of evidence.

For each Key Question there are also grade illustrations describing what a Grade 1,2 3 or 4 LRS would possibly look like. These are indicative as all colleges will differ in both their strengths and weaknesses.

CoFHE is currently working on producing a printed copy of the toolkit for distribution to all colleges in England and dissemination events are being planned – which will hopefully be delivered in co-operation with the JISC RSCs in England.

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Websites to support Reader Development

Posted by andrewey on September 17, 2008

As part of the Applications of ICT in Libraries course candidates complete a unit on the use of online resources to support reader development. Here is a quick overview of some of the relevant resources that could be used:

Resources to support readers

Which Book– this enable readers to select fiction on the basis on content (eg how much or little violence, sex, humour etc) and character/plot (eg gender, country, race etc). The site contains book reviews (written by library staff I believe) and links to UK public library catalogues to check holdings. 

Reader2Reader – another site aimed at readers with book reviews and supported by the People’s Network.  

Reader Development

Opening the Book – company specialising in staff training and equipment relating to reader promotion. Now hosts the archives for the English and Welsh Reader Development initiatives prior to 2006:

Branching Out – English public library initiative to support reader development – with resources, case studies etc

Estyn Allan – Welsh public library equivalent of branching out (contains bilingual resources)

Adult literacy initiatives – supports literacy initiatives such as the Vital link, ‘Quick Reads’ and RaW, also includes a library reader development toolkit and a calendar of reading events. – supports reading initiatives in libraries

Welsh interest sites Site supporting books in Welsh and of Welsh interest, includes book reviews Welsh Books Council site, includes Wales book of the month and awards for Children’s and Basic skills titles

Discussion lists

JISC Mail Reader Development list – forum for discussing Reader Development

Other online resources

Book review, publisher and bookseller websites also make good resources for Reader Development (see my post Using Amazon for Reader Development for an example)


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Libraries in co-operation (LINC)

Posted by andrewey on September 16, 2008

CyMAL has recently released a report on inter-lending activity in Wales amongst FE, HE, health and public libraries as part of an ongoing process of extending access to library collections in Wales. In north Wales the LINC y Gogledd scheme is long established and was the first in the UK, I believe, to allow members of the public borrowing rights in academic libraries. The scheme provides free inter-lending between member libraries and free personal membership of each library service.

Our expectation was that the service would mainly be of benefit to our HE students wishing to access material from our local university (Bangor University) but in practice over half of the loans are by FE students and over 20% of loans are from public libraries. I know this is not the experience of FE colleges in other parts of Wales but I think it does show that Inter-library loans (ILLs) do have relevance to FE.

We made 222 requests through LINC in 2007/8 (and our use of the British Library remained constant at around 60 requests) – this may not sound a lot by university standards but looking at the CyMAL data we are doing as many ILLs as some local authorities and smaller HE institutions in Wales. In terms of a cost saving this represents, on a conservative estimate, £4,400 in material we may otherwise have purchased or a £1500 saving on material we may otherwise have borrowed from the BL – although our involvement in the scheme was of course to provide an improved library service rather than to save money.  Although the fact that these loans are free is obviously an incentive to borrow there is also the convenience factor to consider as many of our learners could have borrowed the material through their local public library instead. The feedback we have received from learners about the scheme has been very favourable – particularly the convenience factor.

In terms of what we have lent then there has been little effect on our resources in that we are only lending out about 20 items per year through ILL. However, personal memberships have impacted upon us – only 18 of our learners have applied for personal membership of Bangor University (in the two years we have been operating LINC) whereas 46 members of the public have joined our library in the same period. There are some restrictions on what LINC personal members can borrow – they are not allowed to borrow short loan material (including AV material and journals) – but other than that they have the same borrowing rights as our FE learners. Opening up the library to members of the public in this way hopefully acts as a marketing tool for the college although as yet we have no hard evidence to show that these personal members become students at the college.

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Reflections on ‘Sharing made simple’

Posted by andrewey on September 12, 2008

I attended the CyMAL Sharing Made Simple event on Wednesday at University of Wales, Newport. The event was delivered by Brian Kelly of UKOLN – Brian gave a comprehensive overview of Web 2.0 technologies and facilitated group discussions on the opportunities and barriers to introducing Web 2.0 into library, museum and archive services. Brian has also created some very good and very simple hands-on guides to adopting a range of Web 2.0 tools.

There were also a couple of case studies – Paul Bevan from the National Library of Wales gave a very interesting talk about the NLW’s moves to make its collections more accessible through wikipedia and other Web 2.0 technologies. I spoke about our Library 2.0 in FE project and in particular I plugged the Library web quest we have developed to train staff in the use of Web 2.0 tools.

There was a lot of enthusiasm towards adopting Web 2.0 tools and a range of Web 2.0 initiatives were identified as ‘low hanging fruit’ that could be introduced quickly without too much difficulty such as the use of blogs to promote services, creating a presence on social networking sites, social bookmarking to create reading lists, creating/using RSS feeds and even setting up Web 2.0 services such as a Instant Messaging reference service.

The main barrier (other than the standard issues of staff time, cost and software selection) was seen as organisational resistance in terms of issues around ownership, support and control of what would be seen as an offical, but externally hosted, web presence.

The event will be repeated at Bangor University on 24 September and is free to library staff in Wales.

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The impact of ‘helicopter’ parents on academic libraries

Posted by andrewey on September 10, 2008

There was an article in today’s GuardianUmbilical cords just got longer‘, 10 Sept 2008, about the rise of ‘helicopter’ parents after UCAS announced that parents can now become their child’s ‘agent’ when applying for university. This made me think of Meredith Farkas’ example of Rochester University, in her Building academic library 2.0 presentation, which had carried out some research that showed that students tend to consult their parents first for advice when undertaking assignments. Consequently the university library service offers a library ‘orientation breakfast’ for parents to promote the library’s services. If the Guardian article is correct in saying that this parenting trend is even more prevalent in the UK, than the US, then perhaps we should also be marketing our library services directly to parents?

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What’s he blogging about?

Posted by andrewey on September 9, 2008

I thought I would clarify the purpose of this blog after reflecting on my first couple of months or so of posts. According to my blog statistics the ‘About’ page is the second most viewed post on this blog – on it I state that I will be posting my findings on the Library/Web 2.0 CyMAL Inspiring Learning project I’m engaged in. This probably needs some expansion as in fact my blog is being used to evaluate different types of blog post and how those posts are received. I would group my posts so far into the following types:

1. News items – originally regarded as one of the primary functions of a blog but I’ve only used this blog to pass on information I have come across (or I’m privy to) which may be of interest to other (FE) librarians.

2. Reflective journal – the original function of this blog was as a reflective account of the Library Web 2.0 Quest that the Coleg Llandrillo staff are currently engaged in. 

3. Book reviews – the college library staff are keen to promote virtual reading groups and to post book reviews (and have discussions) on the books read. My book reviews have been more specifically aimed at being a literature review of Library/Web 2.0.

4. Testing Web 2.0 tools – ‘playing’ with web 2.0 tools is I think one of the key learning experiences in terms of developing Library 2.0 (or specifically Librarian 2.0). It was commented externally that my screencast post was simply ‘look here’s what I can do with a Web 2.0 tool’ – in fact that was partly its purpose but it was meant to be ‘look here’s what anyone can do with this Web 2.0 tool’.

5. Applying Web 2.0 tools – at the end of the day it is what you do with the Web 2.0 tool that matters, so I hope to blog about practical application of Web 2.0 tools such as my ‘Ten uses for a FE library service blog‘ post.

6. Reviewing best practice – I’ve tried to refer to and comment on best practice in Library 2.0. However, as a source of information on best practice I’ve preferred the use of wikis (see the Library 2.0 in FE and Library 2.0 in Wales wikis I’ve started).

7. Staff development – I would like to promote staff development in the area of Web 2.0 by blogging about events and training issues/skills in relation to Librarian 2.0. This has been supplemented by the Library Web Quest created by a colleague at Coleg Llandrillo.

8. Scholarly activity – another key aim of the blog was to engage with current thinking on Library 2.0 by commenting on various theories of Library/Librarian 2.0. Within FE there is a difficulty with engaging with scholarly activity in its more traditional forms in terms of published academic research. Instead scholarly activity in FE has been more loosely defined – see Rob Jones (2006) ‘Scholarly activity on the context of HE in FE‘ and John Widdows (2003) ‘HE in FE and scholarly activity: a discussion paper, which makes blogs a good way for FE teaching staff to engage in such activities.

9. To blog on contentious issues – this is more challenging in that I wanted the blog to remain relatively impartial although I’m keen to develop a coherent stand on what Library 2.0 is. I will steer clear of genuinely controversial issues (whilst doing the project) but I did put in the post about library fines to test the water in terms of trying to find out which contentious issues librarians will comment upon.

10. Professional activity – by this I mean how Web 2.0 can support traditional library activities such as Reader Development or Information Literacy. This also ties in neatly with the Applications of ICT in Libraries course that I deliver.

11. Reviewing and promoting events – the blog seemed an ideal way of commenting on and widening the discussion in relation to ideas that I pick up from events/conferences that I attend.

12. Share research findings – the primary aim of this blog, although as yet other than the survey of teaching staff post the project has only generated anecdotal evidence, although the great advantage of the ILFA framework, that we are using to evaluate the project, is that it is very good at capturing and coding this anecdotal evidence.

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Library Web Quest wiki

Posted by andrewey on September 5, 2008

As part of our Inspiring Learning project Coleg Llandrillo library staff developed and piloted an online tutorial (using a combination of the library service’s blog, a wiki and our Moodle VLE) to train library staff in the use of Web 2.0 tools. The tutorial is based loosely on PLCMC’s established Learning 2.0 programme and having been piloted the content is now freely accessible as a self-contained wiki.

I will be attending two CyMAL Social Web events delivered by Brian Kelly of UKOLN to talk about our Inspiring Learning Web 2.0 project and to promote the Library Web Quest wiki.  These events take place at University of Wales, Newport on 10 September and Bangor University on 24 September and are free to library staff in Wales – see links for more details.

We found that the web quest worked well with an administrator to support staff undertaking the quest and to monitor their reflective blogs. However, most staff completed the web quest simply by supporting each other and by sharing their reflective blogs.

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Using Amazon in Reader Development

Posted by andrewey on September 1, 2008

Whichever definition of Reader Development you prefer they all entail broadening the reading experience – many readers stick to a very limited range of writers and one of the main challenges of reader development is to widen this range.

Although there are websites specifically designed to promote reader development in this way eg Reader2Reader and Which Book you could also achieve the same sort of result using a website the reader may already be familiar with ie Amazon. The other advantage of Amazon is that it also includes academic material so can also be utilised in an academic context for general subject enquiries of the type often encountered in FE.

Although Amazon enables you to search for works by the same author with ease it is its other features which I’m going to highlight for use in reader development. A good starting point is to identify a book the reader has read recently which they found enjoyable (or useful in an academic context). As an example I will use Vasily Grossman’s novel Life and Fate, which is a contemporary fictionalised account of the battle for Stalingrad in World war II.

1) ‘frequently bought together’ link – which gives you the most likely complementary title. In this case it is an obvious one – a collection of Grossman’s own writings of the period as a reporter with the Red Army.

2) ‘Customers who bought this item also bought’ – this usually gives you a wide range of similar titles. In this example there are over 80 titles in this category. The nature of this book means you have fiction and non-fiction titles including works of Russian literature, Russian History and Stalinism. 

3) ‘Customer reviews’ – there is some concern over review sections on websites in that they may be impartial (Amazon does give authors and publishers the option of reviewing titles openly). My main concern with review sections, whether it be Amazon or iTunes or other similar database, is that it seems reviewers give 5 stars to everything they like rather than just to outstanding works. Therefore reading the reviews is probably the best way of gauging how impartial the review is and why that person thinks the item is so good or poor. Amazon does give you a quick tally of ratings – in this case Life and Fate has thirteen 5 star ratings, one 4 star rating and nothing any lower – so a pretty impressive range of scores.

4) ‘Product description’ – often no more than the blurb from the back cover but still more information that you are likely to find on an average library catalogue

5) ‘Search inside’ – offers you the chance to actually read part of the book online (this usually includes at least the contents page and index for academic titles)

6) ‘Customers who viewed this item also viewed’ – this gives you some more possible titles beyond the 80 plus identified above. 

7) Tags – customers can now add their own tags to supplement the subject index already created by Amazon

8) Comments – there is a discussion forum and there can be comments posted on individual (book) reviews

9) ‘Listmania’ – these can often take you to obvious choices eg other great works of Russian literature or to lists which are more personal in their selection – of works that readers have enjoyed or think complement each other.

Posted in ICTL, Reader Development | Tagged: , | 1 Comment »