All entries for November 2005

November 18, 2005

I love psychologists!

Not literally – as I think my wife would be that impressed! I refer to the psychologists I've been working with this morning as part of the 2nd phase of a project with Martin Skinner's 2nd year social psychology students. We've been looking at reading lists, students’ perceptions & reactions, as well as dipping into their confidence with searching skills.

1stly Martin's level of co-operation and facilitation of my work has been pretty much second to none. Not only does he let me pop into his lecture today at the start to hand out questionnaires, he enthuses about what we're doing and made his students fill them in whilst I waited. He is a star! I think he’s going to become the model level of co-operation we expect from academics when we do this sort of work – if they want it to be successful and representative.

2ndly the students were great as they co-operated and dutifully filled the questions in. Ok this time there was no incentive (thanks to a debatable policy on the matter in house) just working for the greater good. However, without the willingness of the students to participate I'd have no data to work on.

I know I used to be a Psychology subject specialist at the Uni of York and I'm probably biased, but they remain just about my favourite department and student body to work with. Wonder if they need an on-site library & information specialist for reasonable pay?

If you're a second year undergaduate psychology student and wanted to take part in this project survey - drop me an email or pop into the RIU office on the third floor and pick up a survey form. Likewise if you've filled one in and had a comment you forgot to add to the sheet, please do get in touch - your opinions are always welcomed!

It made a nice break from reading list analysis I can certainly say too! And this afternoon interviews in the Grid – joy! :)

November 16, 2005

Interviews at the grid

Both Jen and I have been over to the Learning Grid today (I'm actually still there typing this) to interview some students as part of the Grid's ongoing efforts in user satisfaction**. Always nice to chat with the student body – after months cooped up with nothing but a cold reading list for company it's a real breath of fresh air!

One thing that struck me in each of the interviews I did today is that when I mentioned that the Grid was part of the Library – none of my students knew this. I think the Library is really missing out on a major PR plus here! The Grid always does very well in user surveys whilst the perception of the Library is (shall we say) less wholesome. If perhaps more people realised that the Library was behind this funky all singing, all dancing, all eating and chatting information commons environment maybe our ratings might go up.

Maybe it's time the Library's Marketing group got their heads around this one…

** Had this long talk at a conference this year about how the term should be "user gratification" not satisfaction, but I think that's a bit of a pejorative term with some rather less than family-friendly connotations.

November 15, 2005

Audio tour online – who's looking at it?

Writing about web page

I do mean looking at the audio tour. Our statistics so far show how many people have accessed the web pages for the audio tour, but we don't actually know whether people have listened to any of the files all the way through.

I can't really say who is looking though, just that some people are. We started out asking people to log in before they could see the audio tour web page, which meant that we could tell if they were staff or students. However, we decided to remove this barrier, and now we can't really tell. Most seem to be students rather than staff, where we can tell.

The most interesting fact that the statistics have brought to light is that the Welcome file is the most accessed one of all the audio tour sound tracks. This is the first file listed on the page, naturally. The Conclusion file is the least well listened to, which is a shame because it does contain valuable information. The tour was designed so that the in between files were optional, so important stuff was put into the Welcome and Conclusion files. It was designed for someone walking around the library with a handset, rather than for those downloading it online. However, if we do decide that we want to meet the demand for an online audio tour specifically, we should be sure to get all our important information in the Welcome file! I think it might actually require a different type of script, too, without the filler information that is provided for whilst people are walking around.

Watch out for my Audio tour feedback report, which will appear on StaffWeb sometime before Christmas…

Libraries and Terrorism

Writing about web page

Or more accurately CILIP's guidance on the recent bills which propose giving police and security services the rights to scrutinise borrowing records or internet sites visited by particular individuals. As featured in last Tuesday's education Guardian this is an area of concern for librarians across the country who might have ethical dilemmas with it.

Thankfully CILIP has obtained legal advice on the issue, reproduced in their press release I've linked to – that's probably well worth a read by all library staff.

UC&RG National Committee meeting

Spent yesterday travelling all the way up to Newcastle for the National UC&RG committee meeting. Rather a long day as travelling up from Loughborough is hardly the most direct of routes. Surprisingly Newcastle was far warmer than Loughborough!

A good (if long – one day we'll have less than a 4+ hour one) meeting for which I mostly able to write up the minutes on the train ride back. One advantage I guess of long journeys. The good news is that the Library Futures event that's being hosted at Aston University in the next few weeks may well be repeated in the new year – such has been the demand to attend. Naturally, this will all depend on the speakers agreeing to take part again (or replacements if they aren't).

There was also a fair amount of discussion on the SIG review, and contrasted with CoFHE I believe the UCR are taking a far more positive approach to the whole exercise and no matter what the outcome really want to do the best for our membership. Also heard an update on the 2006, 7 and 8 conferences which are shaping up nicely – just hope I get the chance to attend, as the UEA hosted on next year looks like being real fun – though not 100% convinced by the chill out zones! Am I attending a conference or a festival?

November 11, 2005

Communications and the library

Just had a very interesting meeting with Gabriel Siles-Brugge from PAIS' SSLC. He was interested in the various projects the RIU has been involved with, how they relate to what actually happens within the depts. Gabe was one of our earliest willing participants in the World Politics project interviews, so it was kind of a change to have the tables turned and be the one interviewed.

Probably the highlight of the day – I miss chatting to students informally, but as a non-subject librarian here you don't get that opportunity quite so often.

Blogging about talking about blogging

What a clumsy title. Anyway, I've been putting off starting this for a while. I've been booked to speak at two conference towards the end of the months on librarians and blogging. One's a more formal presentation on their pros, cons, uses etc in a LIS workplace setting, whilst the other is a discussion panel with me, the Guardian and Nokia all setting out our vision for exploiting such social media collaborative tools for a lot of men in suits.

While for the latter there's a handy conference wiki(1) for me to collect my thoughts, but for the other one I guess it's going to be the old ppt slide and entertaining talk. Thankfully having spoken with folks in eLab, the comms office and our very own Learning Grid I've got some ideas where my talk might go – but how do I tell a bunch of librarians "Don't write dull blogs" in a polite manner?

I'm part of a Google group of librarian bloggers and I have to say I've not been that impressed (or indeed stimulated) by the stylistic approach that a lot of them take. Librarians do seem to have a problem with making themselves interesting when they write (I'm only a librarian by trade rather than calling, so hopefully I've got a slightly punchier style).

sigh So if anyone has any stunning suggestions that I can expound to them with a maniacal, but professional, glint in my eye, let me know.

(1) I'm sorry, but every time I hear/type the word "wiki" all I hear in my head is Will Smith and "Wiki wiki Wild Wild West". I've been trying to shake that for months…

November 10, 2005

Reading lists: Analysis result 1

Sorry about the dull title, but it's late in the day and my creative juices have long since evaporated and dried up.

Working on the analysis of the reading lists and I appear to have my first result of the project! And what a shock it is (not) – from my sample it appears that reading lists as presented to students do not on the whole recommend books for purchase. The modal value for both the undergraduate and postgraduate sets in the analysis is No purchases suggested (92.3% of U/g depts courses, and 95.7% of P/g dept courses).

Of course we were only able to sample just over 40% of reading lists, but all the same it's the first food for thought. Though 5 months of effort to reach this somewhat unsurprising conclusion does seem a bit much!

November 09, 2005

Digital switchover and the north/south divide

Writing about web page

So what would you say was the wealthiest region of the country? Probably the South-East. So which region do you think would be best equipped to buy new digital receivers for when the government turns off the analogue signal – probably one and the same right?

So interesting that according to this plan the South-East will be the last region to get it, and the rest of the country has to fork out first! Bah! On the other hand Tyneside also appears to be in there at the end – not quite sure how that fits into my equation.

Don't know what I'm worrying about, I've had Sky for years…

Car Park 8: Roped off?!

So I arrived to park in CP8 this morning as usual, yet was shocked to discover that a whole row of bays on the ground floor had been roped off – though with 3 cars inside the barrier. No sign to explain why this had happened (over night I'd assume). So whilst I was in the gym I formulated some ideas:

1) Car parking patrols had run out of clamps for naughty overnight parkers and hoped a thin piece of tape would stop them removing the car.

2) By decreasing the apparent parking areas more people would be forced to park "university illegally" and be clamped, hence increasing the revenue streaming for the parking patrols

3) That the area behind the tape wasn't safe to park in and three naughty scamps just ignored the tape.

4) Student prank (though not up to their usual high standards I'm sure)

5) A half hearted response to some kind of threat from one of the cars in question…

I wonder if the day will shed any further light on this one…

November 2005

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