All entries for February 2007

February 26, 2007

In the spirit of the academic librarian 2.0

Writing about web page http://liblogs.albany.edu/library20/2006/11/a_librarians_20_manifesto.html

I would like to think we at the RIU are in this spirit. Do you share Laura’s vision of what academic librarians’ attitude should be? And is there anything else you would include in her Librarian’s 2.0 Manifesto ?

There seems to be an implication that librarians should avoid being over-cautious, or perfectionists, and that they should be more willing to make mistakes. I suppose she means to take risks and manage those risks.

The universal truth that any trainee librarian soon learns is that one cannot keep everybody happy all the time. To please one impatient user by imperfectly releasing a resource, often cannot be done without causing mayhem and disadvantaging other users.


February 22, 2007

Google Scholar has serious failings

Writing about web page http://www.uksg.org/presentations8/jacso2.ppt%232

The presentation that I’m linking to was delivered at last year’s UK Serials Group conference here at Warwick. I didn’t attend as I was seconded to the Careers Service at the time, but I have heard about it from a colleague who did attend. I’ve tried a couple of the examples out on Google Scholar today and there are still inconsistencies. However, it is in Beta, so Google have a good excuse for the performance of Google Scholar.

The performance itself is not a concern. It is the emerging acceptance and reliance upon it by the academic community that is a concern, given the lack of rigorousness or openness about how Google Scholar works.


February 21, 2007

Nvivo7 & qualitative research

Just been to a course for beginners on Nvivo 7 software and it is very good. I like it because it makes the whole process of coding interviews and focus groups so quick and easy, and it’s also simple to get reports about your data and so on. I wish it had been around when I did my Masters degree dissertation, and it’s so easy that I believe it could be used by undergraduates to practice the basics of qualitative research. Of course, they’d need to be taught some of those basics beforehand, but there’s nothing like having to handle data itself to really ram home the learning outcomes!

So next time we do a focus group or interview based piece of research then this software will be top of my list of resources needed.


February 20, 2007

How good is Google Scholar?

Writing about web page http://www.istl.org/07-winter/refereed.html

See the linked journal article describing how Google Scholar has been tested to see whether it can find accessible copies of key ecology journal articles. Interesting conclusion that libraries should decide how to support the use of Google Scholar, rather than focussing on getting library users to use subscription services.


February 19, 2007

User generated content & Nature's experiment

Writing about web page http://www.nature.com/nature/peerreview/debate/nature05535.html

The article I’m linking to explains how the scientific publication Nature trialled an open peer review process. They found that it was not well received by the academic community overall as only a few authors opted to take part in the open peer review process, and few substantial comments were made.

It’s interesting that Nature tried this process, and I note that they say that they “will continue to explore participative uses of the web.”

Perhaps we’re not ready for open peer review yet, but I look forward to finding more examples of user generated content within the academic community that will offer some quality assurance in a way that many user generated content does not.


February 12, 2007

Have you heard of Library 2.0?

Writing about web page http://cites.boisestate.edu/v6i2a.htm

I’ve heard of Web 2.0 and am still trying to understand exactly what it is. I think it’s a convenient phrase to describe the next generation of web technology, although at what point Web 2.0 is achieved and we all start talking about Web 3.0 I’m not sure. The general theme for Web 2.0 seems to be collaboration.

Piggybacking onto this trendy phrase, the library sector has invented “Library 2.0”, which is understood to mean different things by library practitioners. There are some practical ideas to do with user feedback and participation in libraries associated with this concept, and although different libraries will have already been doing this kind of activity for decades, the implication with “Library 2.0” is that they will now be done through the web (using Web 2.0 technologies). Other people insist that “Library 2.0” is not something that is just based on technology but is about engaging users through whatever means, especially the non-traditional users.

Here are some practical ideas that I have distilled from reading about Library 2.0 online (not all suited to the academic library!):

users writing reviews
users adding tags in the catalogue
users contributing to blogs and wikis
gaming nights for teens
collaborative photo sites
RFID: tags in books that help us to locate them

But if, when, how these kinds of things are introduced will depend very much on what you think your library is for. The phrase “Library 2.0” opens up a debate on the very purpose of libraries, as discussed by Walt Crawford in the Cites and Insights article I’m linking to. “Library 2.0” seems to mean just what the person who uses it wants it to mean.

Perhaps the very fact that we have a new moniker for innovative library practices that raises the debate about what libraries are for is what gives our users the chance to contribute their thoughts and opinions about what they want their library to be. Or at least it might make library professionals listen to their users!

It seems to me that if Web 2.0 is all about collaboration and involvement, then libraries ought to be encouraging library users to contribute to the development of their services and space.

Does the planned re-modelling of our own library make us a Library 2.0 service? Yes because we planned it based on feedback from students, but it will only continue to count if we continue to evaluate our provision. In my opinion, what makes it Library 2.0 is not the comfy chairs and planned additional technology provision, but the continued striving towards improved services for our users, based on what they tell us they want.


February 07, 2007

Web users shaping our search engines?

Writing about web page http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/technology/6335793.stm

An interesting news item that the founder of Wikipedia would like to create an alternative search engine. I like the comment:
“The way that things are sorted and ranked and presented to us, really does shape our view of the world.”

I’m not sure whether there is space for a new search engine, even if it is one with open information about how it works. It would have to be pretty comprehensive, whizzy and different to entice people away from Google, but I shall watch the space with interest.

There is, of course, already a directory site that you can contribute to if you’re interested in a user-led way of searching that you can (theoretically) contibute to and thus help to shape our view of the world:
http://dmoz.org/
and of course Google uses this Open Directory too.

Their site makes it sound easy to become an editor, but how easy is it really?
Then again according to the BBC article, Wikipedia have had to restrict in some way who can contribute what to their site, too, so perhaps it isn’t as easy as it once was to contribute to Wikipedia.


February 05, 2007

Make Google Scholar search Warwick's collection: print & online!

Writing about web page http://scholar.google.com

Thanks to those who commented on my last blog posting. You suggested that we make Google Scholar work with us… here’s how you can do that…

Below are some instructions as e-mailed to me by our electronic resources librarian. I think it has great potential, but I find it a little frustrating that once set up, when I do a search on Google Scholar there are precious few “Get This in Print” links in the results, and often they come up with no results either!

However, it is much better than nothing as a way of reaching the resources that the library has bought on behalf of its staff and students. Also, I find the “Library Search” link comes up quite often and that is good at linking through to our catalogue.

Go to Google Scholar ( http://scholar.google.com )
Click on “Scholar Preferences”
in “Library Links” box, type Warwick & click “Find Library”.
Tick the box against “University of Warwick Library (Warwick access)“
Save Preferences

Go & do a Google Scholar search  
Where ” Get This in Print at ” appears it means you can pass the link into WebBridge.
 
What’s the advantage ?
1.The WebBridge link lets you to authenticate with your Barcode & Pin. If you just click on the Google direct link, off campus users will find themselves locked out from fulltext
2. WebBridge will check the Google record against our holdings & only offer the link if we have access.
3. WebBridge (if it gets sufficient data) will offer to look the reference up in our web catalogue so can display print copies. 
 
Google only trawls our files once a week to pick up changes.


February 02, 2007

Other libraries & Google

Writing about web page http://library.northampton.ac.uk/blog/

Interesting to see what my former colleagues at the University of Northampton are blogging about.

The latest posting is about an issue that is affecting all info. professionals in HE settings. The prevelance of Google and the reliance on it amongst our students is something that we try to battle with our information skills tutorials.

I think that the problem is that Google does do such a good job. It’s great for finding out stuff. It answers most of your every day needs in the time it takes for you to blink. It can even find specialist academic material, if you know how to use it properly (and especially if you use Google Scholar).

But it can’t be healthy for us all to use Google for everything. There’s so much of the web that Google doesn’t index. And if you know that you want academic quality material, surely the best place to search is an academic journals database. You can be sure that Google doesn’t index all academic journals and although Google Scholar does index some, it’s coverage is patchy and its results will include material for which you will have to pay to have access. Whereas if you search the library’s collections (Look for your subject page on our website) you will get access to loads of academic journals for free.

How can we get this message accross?


February 2007

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