Thoughts on proliferation of new researcher tools webinar

A short while ago I attended a SpringerNature Webinar on How does the proliferation of new researcher tools affect libraries and publishers? One of the three presentations particularly caught my attention and I’ve written up a summary and some of my own thoughts here. The presenters were Bianca Kramer & Jeroen Bosman, Subject Librarians at Utrecht University.

Bianca and Jeroen presented results from a global survey of researchers they conducted in 2015-16. It was a large survey with over 20,0000 participants and versions in various different languages. The survey asked participants about what tools they used for different parts of their research workflow, and language specific tools were included in the non-English versions of the survey. Bianca made the point that with the aid of modern technologies, the research workflow does not have to be, and often is not, linear.


showing the non-linear research workflow.

 The results of the survey are all openly available on the project’s website – Most of the results Bianca and Jeroen presented were not a surprise to me, but there was one thing that jumped out – the high proportion of respondents sharing their research on ResearchGate (64%), particularly in  comparison with those using institutional repositories (36%). I downloaded the Excel data available from the WordPress site, and when I just looked at the UK data for this question, it was far more what I was expecting – 47% for ReasearchGate and 48% for institutional repositories – reminding me to expect global variation.
They had also looked at the links between different tools and had mapped out how many respondents using a particular tool for one activity used the various tools for another activity. Jeroen talked about librarians supporting the integration of the different tools, which resonated with me. When talking to my library users about tools or demonstrating them, the question of whether and how they integrate with other tools or software often comes up.
The heat maps produced to show the frequency of different tools being used together are available online and I’m wondering whether I could use them to help in my decisions of which tools to focus my user education resources on. I have a very long list of things I could produce resources on, and deciding which is most important is not easy. For example, if I know Google Scholar, Mendeley, R and Microsoft Word are popular with my users – what other tools do people often use with these? Do these linkages reflect ease or possibility of integration? Similarity in type/style of interface? Or do they depend more on which tools are pushed by individuals or institutions?
Although it’s obvious a lot of work has gone into this project, it had only a small amount of external fundraising. The project started from personal interest, and was mainly supported by Utrecht University providing time to work on project.

Finding images you can use – without paying for them or worrying about copyright

This is a summary of a training session I ran recently which I wrote for my library’s blog, but it might be of interest to fellow librarians – so here it is!

Featured image: Technology photograph designed by Jannoon028 – Information skills programme November-December 2016: Session 5 Do you find yourself needing images for use in print …

Source: Finding images you can use – without paying for them or worrying about copyright

Communicating copyright

Today there was an event run by LIS-Copyseek called Communicating the Copyright Message. I couldn’t attend in person, but thanks to the wonders of Twitter I still managed to engage with attendees and learn a few things.

  1. INFO: The CLA license terms are changing – I didn’t manage to catch from the tweets exactly what the changes are, so need to follow up on this one.
  2. IDEA: Call short training sessions a “Copyright Briefing” I think this would go down better with my users than “Copyright Training” – for a start it sounds shorter, and in some way I feel “briefing” has more connotations of providing lots of useful information and somehow fits better with the style of some sessions I am planning.
  3. IDEA: Copyright card game – going to investigate further how this works but sounds interesting. Could fit in well with my ambition to add an element of “play” to my training?
  4. REMINDER: Biscuits (or other food/drink-based encouragement) should be used at all library training sessions – it does actually encourage people to come.
  5. REMINDER: Try not to appear scared when teaching copyright – the audience will notice!
  6. REASSURANCE: I’m not the only one who worries about having to say “no” to people when the topic of copyright rears it’s head In sessions you can start from the point of view of what you CAN do, rather than what you CAN’T do, but this is harder when responding to a direct “Can I …?”, or worse “Yes, but surely I can …?”. I think the only advice I can give myself and anyone else on this one is have a selection of “No, but you could…” answers and remain sympathetic but positive.
  7. IDEA: The idea of a copyright community of practice is one to investigate further, and possibly apply to other topics – it might work as an approach for various info skills.
  8. REASSURANCE: This made me breathe a sigh of relief!

Finally, thank you very much to everyone tweeting from the event!

What am I doing here?

I’m writing this on the train on the way home from the CILIP 2016 Conference in Brighton. I don’t know if I’ll actually post it, but I’ve got a lot of thoughts swarming round my head, and I’m hoping writing some of them down will help me start making sense of them.

A conference that challenged

CILIP 2016 Conference has been the best conference I’ve been to in terms of my own CPD. It has challenged me to an extent that I am questioning some of my core beliefs about what it is to be a librarian, how I see myself professionally and how I see the library and information profession. This post is about only one of those questions. The one that is currently threatening an existential crisis [blimey, it’s a long time since I had one of those!].

Helping people

In Lauren Smith’s closing keynote she said “We’re not in the business of making money, we’re in the business of helping people”. This made me think. One of my primary reasons for joining the profession was that I enjoy, want to, and gain huge satisfaction from helping people. Much of my day-to-day role is helping people. I see helping people, both in my professional and personal life, as an important component of who I am.

However, I do not work for an organisation whose purpose is to help people, at least not as a primary function. I work for a nature conservation organisation. [Well, actually, a collaboration of nature organisations.]

“In the business of …”

I think it must have been the words Lauren used – “we’re in the business of” – that made me stop and think. I see myself as part of the information profession, but in the business of nature conservation. I’m not disagreeing with Lauren here, I believe she meant that as librarians and information professionals our role and service is about helping people. [Lauren, if you’re reading this, please correct me if I’m wrong.] It is just that her words got me thinking.

What is your organisation “in the business of”?

In some way, the parent bodies of public libraries, school libraries, FE libraries, university libraries and health libraries are all, in some way, in the business of helping people. But what about corporate libraries? Government libraries? Learned society libraries? What about me and my library? Corporate libraries have parent bodies who are in the business of making money. How does that fundamentally different purpose of the parent organisation of a library affect the library and its staff? Is there a clash between our professional ethics as librarians and our organisations’ missions?

**Edit added 21 July 2016**

Out of the echo chamber

Regardless of our sector, maybe there are positives to feeling strongly connected to two different “businesses” or professions. We talk a lot in libraryland (well, I do) about getting out of the echo chamber. I’ve just posted in a conservation-related group I’m part of on Facebook and it hit me – this is how I’m reaching out and taking our libraryland issues and concerns out of the echo chamber and into the community I serve. I often come across things posted on library blogs, or tweeted by library acquaintances, that I share with my conservation network. These are often things we talk about a lot in libraryland, but aren’t exactly high up on the conservation community network. It gets those ideas out there and getting the message across just seems to “work” so much better than in other roles I’ve had. Maybe, that’s because I’m sharing with people in their networks, or because I see myself as one of them and therefore they see me as one of them?

Now over to you

If you’ve read this far, thank you. But now I’m going to ask for some audience participation. Regardless of your sector or role, I’m interested in your answer to (or thoughts arising from) any of these questions:

  • Do you identify as being in the business of helping people?
  • Do you identify as being in the business of your parent organisation? e.g. nature conservation for me
  • If you answered yes to both the above, do you feel that those businesses are in some way at odds with each other?
  • Do you feel your professional ethics conflict with your organisation’s mission/goal/purpose?
  • Do you have a library mission statement? And if so, does it mention helping people?

Feel free to send responses via comments on this blog or via Twitter, openly or in a direct message to @library_lizzie. Or, if you want to be anonymous, umm … via carrier pigeon? Actually, I’m pretty sure you can comment anonymously on WordPress blogs. I really am interested in your thoughts!

P.S. If you were wondering, I did find writing all this down very useful and the impending existential crisis has been averted.

Conducting a survey? Take a handful of hardcopies to coffee break!

I’m currently running an information needs survey with my library users. But this post isn’t really about that – it’s about getting people to respond to your surveys.

I’ve found that by far the most successful way to get people to fill in the survey is to take a handful of paper copies and a bunch of pens to coffee break.

I don’t know why I’m surprised about this. When I was conducting research for my MA dissertation, I found approaching people the most successful recruitment method. I guess what surprised me was the different reaction I got when approaching people at coffee break compared to other times of the day.

Perhaps it’s the happy feeling that a cup of coffee (or tea) has, or perhaps it’s the camaraderie we have in the common room at coffee time that does it? Whatever the cause, it’s useful to know!