Sunday, 30 September 2012

September Book Reviews

Beautifully written coming of age story about first love. River and Flynn are from different schools, but when they come together to perform Romeo and Juliet sparks definitely fly. But as the star crossed lovers become closer not everything is always at it seems.

An amazingly thought provoking story with one liners that will stay with you long after you've finished the book. Eddie has had a humdrum life but as he dies and is made to look back he realises just how much of an effect you have on those around you without realising.

An excellent kids story set in the wonderous Whippet Hotel. This isn't just any hotel though... set between the floors are hidden rooms, mysteries and tunnels that lead into the beyond. Leo the maintenance man's son and employee of the Whippet has two days to find out just what mysteries are to be discovered with the help of Remi (the doorboy) and Betty (the duck!). A brilliantly magical story for 7-11 yrs.

This can be seen as along the same lines as Split Second - a situation seen from may different perspectives. A child murderer and the resulting consequences on his family and the family of his solicitor. The question is not innocent or guilty but at what cost do you follow principles and how far are you willing to go to protect those you love

Wednesday, 19 September 2012

A Future for OA in Academic Libraries?

The movement towards OA has always been a point of interest for me since I studied the Green and Gold roads during my MA year in Sheffield.

 For those who may not know OA (open access) is exactly that – a move toward access for everyone to academic papers and publications via either the gold road (funded by authors, institutions or funded for the author) or green road (published in institutional repositories, OA journals or hybrid journals where some articles are author paid and others are traditionally published). An acknowledged definition is

“free availability on the public internet permitting any users to read, download, copy, distribute, print, search or link to the full text of these articles, crawl them for indexing, pass them as data to software, or use them for any other lawful purpose, without financial, legal, or technical barriers other than those inseparable for giving access to the internet itself”.
                The Budapest Open Access Initiative (2002).

The implications for the access and dissemination of research through OA are staggering but like anything there are pros and cons. The work contributed by academics and researchers and the models put forward for OA by publishers and librarians are making institutional repositories more and more valuable. Therefore I was very interested to see the news in Update regarding the SAGE commissioned report that came out of a round table on OA attended by academic publishers and librarians earlier this year. This report Moving towards an open access future: the role of academic libraries focuses on the next steps of OA, still in its relative infancy, and how Academic Libraries factor into it. ( )

Reading through the report I was struck by a few things – mainly the global reach and potential of OA and whilst those in attendance at the round table believe that there could be a growth in OA papers of between 20-50% in the next ten years it is a far cry from the Horizon analysis of OA that predicted that by 2015:

                “Digital anything, anywhere, anytime, and anyhow will be the expectation.”
ARL Digital Repository Issue Taskforce (2009: 32).

And there is still a discrepancy between what is published by OA routes in different subjects. There is no doubt that OA is seen as more transparent than subscriptions and there are benefits for students to collaborate on a global scale, not to mention partnerships with affiliated institutions over the world.

Reading this report there is no doubt that the growth and success of OA can be influenced by Academic Librarians. They play a key role in information access and as OA grows it will be Academic Librarians who will be looking at collection development, promotion of materials and the budgets allotted. It will also be Librarians that help in the teaching of the information found in these OA articles and Information Literacy will play a big role. One point made, a con of OA, I’m going to put in simple terms, is what’s to stop students bypassing the library if articles they require are OA, freely available via Google or links on Wikipedia. One answer to this taken from the report is

 ‘We’ve collected materials so people can read them. The challenge is to make unique materials widely available in the digital world’.

Librarians work in a dynamic and evolving society and part of our job is to evolve with technology and culture. This can be seen with the introduction of RFID technology, the changing role of information and access and the need to advocate our unique selling points.

For OA to thrive there will need to be closer working between publishers and librarians and there may be issues of budget to overcome but OA is definitely a player in the future of research and therefore has implications for academic librarians the world over. I am glad that this is an area which is thriving and getting the advocacy and focus it deserves.

Sunday, 2 September 2012

Catch Up Time... Online Tools (Things 12, 13 and 14)

Back to the library stuff! Needed a bit of a catch up on my 23 things so am being cheeky and rolling social media, Google docs etc and referencing all in one!

Thing 12 – Social Media

The first question how social am I on social media... yes I have IDs on the main social networking sites Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and am getting more familiar with LISNPN but I do feel like I’m still a bit of a lurker in a professional capacity. I’ve caught up on a couple of #UKLibchats after they’ve happened and had a brief foray into #chartership chats but never gone further than this. It may be the English in me but there seems to me something strange and slightly rude in just randomly picking a twitter “friend” and striking up a conversation. Yes, I have colleagues who I have bumped into once or twice at conferences and work shops but these “relationships” are small talk at best. There’s a fine balance in a working relationship and I suppose I haven’t found that yet, mixing the social with the professional for whatever reason it may be but this thing has given me a push to try and start becoming more involved in the online community whether it be through forums, Twitter chats or the odd email back and forth. I suppose what I’m saying is I may have to get over myself slightly!

Thing 13 – Google Docs, Dropbox and Wikis

I have had brief experience with each of the above through different projects I have been involved in whether that be inter-organisation or on a CILIP or networking level. Google Docs is very often used for #uklibchat agendas and I can see the advantage in this when you have a large group using and working on the same document. This, if I had thought about it, would have come in very handy a few months ago on a project that I was working on with colleagues at different sites in Wiltshire but the issue I have with a lot of these new resources is the downloading of different packages, applications etc and this isn’t always possible at work with the nature of our corporate firewalls and security. When you are working on a network that is accessible from anywhere it negates the need for things such as Dropbox and Google Docs but I can understand that in the future when I may be working with different authorities on regional issues that these applications will come in very handy.

My first experience with contributing to Wikis has been very recent when I was involved in LibcampSW. Again, this is an excellent tool which leads to multi-agency working and is a great aid in collaborative working. This would have also been very helpful when at university for societies and project working. Unfortunately just a few years too late but I look forward to finding a way to use this tool in the future.

Thing 14 – Zotero, Mendeley and CiteULike

These are all referencing tools and in all honesty since my dissertation I have thankfully not had a need to use them although I will revisit them when compiling my Chartership portfolio. When writing my MA dissertation I used Endnote as it was championed by teachers and students and I was given the program for FREE! (Probably not the best reason I know!) I found it very easy to get to grips with after initial struggles but I suppose in my techno-phobic ways I have never felt the need to use it again or explore it’s further attributes.
Whilst in my current role I can honestly say I’ve never been asked for referencing tools but taking part in programs such as CPD23 helps to keep my awareness up and I imagine if I changed sector the information learnt here would hold me in good stead for interviews and day-to-day enquiries.