Indie-visits to Libraries: LIS Students Out and About by Ivan Donadello

By Anne Welsh, on 21 November 2014



The one-year spent in the full time Masters course passes by very quickly. You start and, all of a sudden, it is January and Term 1 has gone. Then you find yourself putting together that case study and after a minute you are writing up your dissertation. In all this, visiting libraries is a (very) good idea.


The idea came about spontaneously to my classmates and me. As comprehensive as it can possibly be, a LIS course could never cover all the possible aspects of libraries in all their fields. Academic libraries are the first and most common example for library students, but we wanted to explore a bit more what there was out there. Departments would organise visits as part of their curricula, but self-organised students visits respond more to the students’ natural curiosity. And it was fun!


How? We pulled together the resources we had and we used our contacts. Those who had spent a year in a Graduate Traineeship relied on the relations in the previous workplace: simply, they asked their previous supervisor whether they where willing to host a visit by eager library students. Others used personal contacts and their network to arrange a visit. We have never tried to directly contact a library we were interested in, presenting ourselves as “UCL LIS students”, but I am confident that very few libraries would have turned us down: sharing and teaching are at the core of the profession!


What? Our visits were approximately two hours long: enough time to look around and have a relaxed chat with the staff. The more questions, the more engaging the experience was – and it also helps a lot to think critically about ideas and experiences one might have. We managed only 3: the more the better, but studying full time and in some cases having part-time jobs made it difficult to do any more. For the same reasons, each time the group was not too large: trying to fit a visit into everybody’s schedules was of course impossible – doodle helps a lot. We have been to the library of Lincoln’s Inn, one of the four Inns of Court in London and to the Idea Store in Whitechapel, a new concept of public library that aims at serving at its best their community. We also treated ourselves with a one-day trip to Cambridge to visit the library of Trinity College. Here and there, a couple of pubs.


Why? It has been a great way to think about libraries out of the “write-that-assignment” frame of mind and to build stronger relations among ourselves beyond the university walls. It has been useful in terms of inspiration and a good exercise in planning and organising. Meeting professionals in a more informal situation also allowed us to ask more questions and free up your own curiosity. I believe we gained an awareness of the diversity and the options that exist in libraries.


Ivan Donadello (@ibancelafa) was one of the MA LIS class of 2012-13, and is now Senior Library Assistant at UCL Institute of Ophthalmology.

Image: Trinity College by Laura Newman (@librarylandL), used with permission. Pictured, from left to right: Ivan Donadello (@ibancelafa), Natalie Kent (@natalielkent), Richard Hobart, Fiona Watson, Ella Taylor and Alexandra Kohn.

Note: the appearance of the byline on this post is auto-generated, indicating that it was posted by Anne Welsh. Ivan Donadello is the sole author of this piece, and Laura Newman holds the copyright for the image.

Reading for Excellence by Becky Scott

By Anne Welsh, on 17 November 2014


I recently attended the School Library Association’s Reading for Excellence one day conference.

Wendy Cooling MBE, founder of Bookstart, opened the day with an inspirational talk on her own journey of reading and libraries. Reading for her meant two words: power and passion. Reading, she believes, gives young people power and without it they have very few choices. Passion, as librarians, is what we all have for reading and we have a responsibility to ignite this in our young people.

Dr Clare Wood then presented a number of studies conducted from the Reading Research and Insights into Achievement centre at the University of Coventry. A recent study by PHD student Emily Harrison investigated the link between children’s ability to hear speech rhythm and their progress in reading. Her research is not yet in the public domain but previous research by Corriveau et al on auditory processing skills and language and literacy achievement is available.

Clare also spoke about a study by Smith et al on reading enjoyment and how despite a steady improvement in children’s reading ability between the ages 8 – 12, their enjoyment and self-efficacy declines. As a school librarian working with children in this age group, this is of particular interest to me. One finding of the research suggested that 80% of pupils enjoyed books that they selected for themselves. This highlights the importance of reading for pleasure and the need for us as adults, librarians, teachers and parents to reconsider what we view as legitimate reading and the importance of validating pupils’ own reading selection choices.

Karen Goulding, Learning Hub Director at the University of Reading, challenged us to consider our library space and ask ourselves: “Are we making a substantial impact on all children? How do we decide what to include? Do we realise that means we make choices about exclusion too?” This was a powerful insight into thinking about school libraries. Karen advised us spend time simply observing how pupils move around the space, what sections they are drawn to and which areas they overlook. She also emphasised the need to engage with our users and develop a clear strategy for moving our libraries forward.

There was also the chance to participate in a workshop. I selected Thinking Skills and Reading because I want to develop a deeper understanding of the role of reading across the whole curriculum. Sue Dixon, founder of the Thinking Child, stimulated us with a range of practical activities which we could take back and explore with our pupils. Sue highlighted the importance of pupils as social and political critical thinkers in our information rich society. The activities were designed to promote curiosity, imagination and questioning.

The day concluded with a talk from Marilyn Mottram, Her Majesty’s Ofsted Inspector, Deputy National Lead for English and Literacy. The audience welcomed the recognition of the importance for reading for pleasure in the new curriculum. Marilyn identified that 10.2% of pupils aged between 8 – 16 do not enjoy reading at all. This is a challenge for schools to overcome and it is through partnership that it can be achieved. Everyone in education has a role to play. It begins with being a reader yourself and as a librarian being ready to share your subject knowledge and passion with teachers, parents, and of course, pupils.


Becky Scott (@the_bookette), School Librarian, St Aubyn’s School, is completing her MA LIS part-time.

Image: St Aubyn’s School Library by Becky Scott, used with permission.

Note: the appearance of the byline on this post is auto-generated, indicating that it was posted by Anne Welsh. Becky Scott is the sole author of this piece, and also holds the copyright for the image.

Some Things I Have Learned as the Student Systems Developer of the Linked Open Bibliographic Data Project by Natalia Garea Garcia

By Anne Welsh, on 17 November 2014


As a MSc in Information Science student at the department I applied for the student systems developer position to help create an Open, Linked and Interactive Educational Resource for Bibliographic Data and was appointed in late September.

I could not summarize in a blog post everything I have learned so far but here are some highlights.

Semantic Web, Linked Data and RDF

Search engines have made the job of finding our way around the Web much easier. But we still have to go through the results of a search and take a few more steps until we get exactly what we want. That is because Web content is in a ‘human readable’ format and computers have a limited understanding of it. This understanding can be improved and there are several approaches to do so. One of them is the Semantic Web.

Honestly, I could not possibly explain better than the people from How Stuff Works what the Semantic Web is. Have a look, their Star Wars examples are insuperable.

Similarly, who could explain better Linked Data than Sir Tim Berners-Lee on his TED talk? He says Linked Data is about using identifiers for resources, those identifiers contain data in a standard format and, this is very important, relationships.

The standard format Berners-Lee talks about is Resource Description Framework (RDF). If you are interested in it, read the RDF primer or chapter 3 of Semantic Web Primer. Copies are available at UCL’s Science Library.

RDF allows to make statements, also called triples, composed of a subject (a resource), a predicate (a relationship) and an object (a value or another resource). Using the How Stuff Works example:


We are telling the computer that Anakin has a relationship ‘isFatherOf’ with Luke but we need to give the computer a bit more information. We know things that the computer does not know about this statement like:

  • Anakin and Luke are both people and they are both male.
  • Only males are called ‘father’ and in this context it describes the relationship with another person.
  • Anakin is Luke’s father which means that Luke is Anakin’s son.

In RDF terms:

  • Anakin and Luke belong to the subclass ‘Male’ of the class ‘Person’.
  • Only resources belonging to the class ‘Male’ can have the property ‘isFatherOf’ (domain restriction) and only other resources that belong to the class ‘Person’ can be the objects of this property (range restriction).
  • There should be another property named ‘isSonOf’ to explain the second relationship. Again it will have the domain ‘Male’ (a son can only be a male) and the range ‘Person’ (either a female or a male).

Classes, properties, domain restrictions and ranges can be defined in a RDF Schema (RDFS). RDF does not make any assumptions so the user can create any classes or properties.

SPARQL, which is the query language for RDF, is something else I have briefly had a look at. I will soon be learning about the practical side of publishing Linked Data as well.


The Bibliographic Framework (BIBFRAME or BF) is the standard replacing Machine Readable Cataloguing (MARC). Since the late 1960s, MARC provided bibliographic records with a structure that allowed computers to interpret and exchange the data they contained.

The new standard is now focusing on the Web environment and its objectives, as pointed out on the primer document, are “to differentiate clearly between conceptual content and its physical manifestation, focus on unambiguously identifying information entities and leverage and expose relationships between and among entities”.

With BIBFRAME we will be representing the valuable metadata libraries held until now in databases as Linked Open Data. Hopefully, this will lead to users being able to find information easily, search engines to direct people to library resources and to allow innovative uses of the metadata sets, increasing their value.

BIBFRAME is what the project I am helping with focuses on. I have read much of the content available on the official site, tried the editor, the comparison service and the transformation service. I have gone through examples and tried to create my own BF records which has helped me to learn about the use of the vocabulary elements. I have also joined the BIBFRAME list serv and keep an eye on what people are saying about it on social media.

If you are interested in learning more about BIBFRAME I would strongly recommend to start by reading the primer document as well as the FAQ section, then check out the vocabulary description and have a look at the vocabulary category view. This video of Eric Miller’s keynote at the DCMI 2014 sums up quite nicely what BIBFRAME may mean for the library community in the future. It lasts 80 minutes but it is worth it.


Natalia Garea Garcia (@ngarea) is studying for her MSc IS and is the Student Systems Developer for the Linked Open Bibliographic Data project, for which staff in the Department of Information Studies (Antonis Bikakis (Project Lead), Anne Welsh (Project Coordinator), Simon Mahony and Charlie Inskip) hold an E-Learning Development Grant. Further blog posts and reports will be published periodically. A key output of the project is collaborative co-learning between staff and students, and this blog post supports teaching today in INSTG004 Cataloguing in which Natalia, Antonis and Anne are sharing knowledge and practical experience with students on the MA LIS.

Image: Overview of the BIBFRAME Model, Library of Congress

Note: the appearance of the byline on this post is auto-generated, indicating that it was posted by Anne Welsh. Natalia Garea Garcia is the sole author of this piece.

MA Publishing Does Children in Need by Amy Davies

By Anne Welsh, on 14 November 2014

PublishingBBCCiN2 PublishingBBCCiN3

On Thursday 14th November the Publishing MA students took a literary theme and combined it with baking and dressing up to raise money for Children in Need.

As well as a book-themed Bake Sale in Foster Court, there was a course-wide fancy dress competition which yielded creative and enthusiastic contributions. Jayne Osborne and Jane Sceales won the competition with their take on Fred and George Weasley, complete with bandaged ears, ginger wigs and matching Hogwarts jumpers. The duo won a Limited Edition Tracey Emin “Books Are My Bag” tote, a “Books Are My Bag” t-shirt and a copy of “The Coat Route” by Meg Lukens Noonan, as kindly donated by the UCL Publishing teaching staff.

Thanks to the hard work and enthusiasm from everyone involved in the running the Bake Sale and fancy dress competition, and of course the generosity of donators, UCL Publishing raised over £175 for Children in Need. The amount will be included in tonight’s Grand Total on the Official Children in Need Appeal Show, which airs tonight from 7.30pm on BBC1.



Amy Davies (@amy_davies) is studying for her MA Publishing.

Note: the appearance of the byline on this post is auto-generated, indicating that it was posted by Anne Welsh. Amy Davies is the sole author of this piece.

INSTG012 Historical Bibliography Visit to St Bride’s Printing Library by Simone Charles

By Anne Welsh, on 14 November 2014

Simone printing

On Monday 13th October, 2014 as part of our Historical Bibliography module, half of the class visited St. Bride’s Printing Library on Fleet Street, while the other half visited the British Library. As I was part of the group that visited St. Bride’s, I felt compelled to write about the experience there as it clearly impacted on the learning objectives of the course.

St. Bride’s Library, which opened its doors to the public as a printing school in 1895, is part of the St. Bride Foundation. On arrival we were met by our facilitators, Bob and Mick, who both had no hesitation in describing and demonstrating some of the collections. We were shown excerpts of the Catnach, Kindersley as well as the Gill Collections, all of which were unique in their own right.

Of particular interest to me was the Catnach Collection as his broadsides are forerunners of tabloids in the United Kingdom. From the plain and simple to the gory, this collection is quite remarkable and is well preserved along with the other collections.

Despite this wealth of materials, the aspect of the visit that peaked our interest the most was that of the printing press room. This room which could most certainly also be described as a small museum, has working original models of hand presses used between the 18th and 19th centuries. These include the Columbian Press (1822), the Albion Press (1828), and the Stanhope Press (1830). The Library is also home to an immaculate wooden Compositor’s Box from Oxford University Press.

Additionally, we were shown some wood engraving techniques whereby blocks of wood were engraved with various illustrations, placed between text and hand pressed during the Victorian era. Our visit then closed with each of us hand pressing selected designs given to us by Rob and Mick.

Having read and researched 19th century newspapers from Trinidad and Tobago over time, I never actually thought of the actual process that went into printing. This visit to St. Brides was truly an enlightening one and can serve to be a true asset to anyone wishing to delve into the field of Rare Books and Special Collections Librarianship or to become knowledgeable in the history of the printing press on a whole. For further information on the library please visit http://www.sbf.org.uk/library or follow them on twitter (@stbridelibrary) or facebook.


Simone Charles (@allyj414) is studying for her MA LIS, specialising in Bibliography, Book History and Cataloguing.

Note: the appearance of the byline on this post is auto-generated, indicating that it was posted by Anne Welsh. Simone Charles is the sole author of this piece.

“How Today’s College Students Use Wikipedia”: Journal Club Report by Helena Hollis

By Anne Welsh, on 13 November 2014


Head, A., & Eisenberg, M. (2010). How today’s college students use Wikipedia for course-related research First Monday, 15 (3) DOI: 10.5210/fm.v15i3.2830

Article summary:

This article presents the focus group and survey data from on-going research by Head and Eisenberg in the US. It looks at the usage of Wikipedia by university level students, specifically addressing how much Wikipedia is used, when it is used, what it is used for, and what other information sources students also report consulting. Findings show that Wikipedia is not used alone, but with other sources also, and is predominantly used for early stages of searching as a familiarisation reference.



Discussion commenced with a comparison of how we ourselves use Wikipedia, with the main consensus being that it is used to look up definitions. In this respect, our own behaviours with Wikipedia use were similar to the findings of the paper. It was also noted that Wikipedia is used for fun, with the serendipity of following Wikipedia links to new information being desirable and enjoyable. It was also noted that Wikipedia is useful for looking at subject matter with which validity is not a high priority. The familiarity of the Wikipedia layout was identified as a key attraction.


Looking at the paper itself, the data gathering methodology was criticised. The sample size of the focus groups was very small, and these focus groups were used to formulate the wider questionnaire. No comment was made as to how focus groups were selected. The wider questionnaire itself had a more substantial sample size. However, this was a largely female and humanities-studying sample, and therefore is not generalizable to the wider university population. It is worth noting that the authors are aware of this constraint, and present their conclusions with this clearly stated.


Some specific findings of the survey were discussed and critiqued. For instance, the authors found that Google users were more likely to use Wikipedia. This could be due to Wikipedia typically ranking highly in Google search results. However, since Google users made up almost all of the respondents, and non-Google users were limited in number, this conclusion is not as clear as it may first appear. It was noted that 2 year institutions had better research methods training than 4 year institutions, which was a surprising finding.


Discussion moved on to comparing the findings of the study with experience of school librarians, thinking about how college students compare to children in their use of Wikipedia. The school librarians felt that children use Wikipedia, and they are aware that is not credible. It was pointed out that in the past, children would simply use a paper encyclopaedia – this may not be better than Wikipedia, and is still a single source, therefore is arguably as ‘lazy’ a research strategy as relying on Wikipedia today.  It was noted that this is perhaps the main source of hostility from teachers and librarians towards Wikipedia; it is not necessarily the fact that it contains misinformation that can be the problem, but that it is treated as the only research source.


We then discussed the importance of Information Literacy (IL) training. It was agreed that IL could be taught early, leading to better searching behaviours, which would help curb the extent to which Wikipedia is used as the sole source of information. The observation was shared that students from different schools coming into a library can show different levels of preparedness, leading to very different searching methods. In the UK, the EPQ qualification was talked about as an example of a very good IL teaching programme. Some broader issues in IL were talked about, and it was noted that a good source can still be used badly, and therefore Wikipedia should not be treated as the epitome of bad research.


Overall, it was felt that this paper was interesting, and the findings were inline with our experiences. The authors’ honesty about their limitations was commendable. Their conclusions seemed justified.​


Helena Hollis is studying part-time for her MA LIS, while working in an academic library.

Journal Club takes place once a month, and is facilitated by Charlie Inskip and Anne Welsh, with organisational support from Laura Keshav. This year we are discussing three articles on the theme of Information Literacy and three on more general topics. Discussion is led by students, and covers the research methods of the article and its contents, which are then used as a springboard to students’ experiences with regard to the topics raised by the article. The Club is open solely to students in the Department of Information Studies.

Note: the appearance of the byline on this post is auto-generated, indicating that it was posted by Anne Welsh. Helena Hollis is the sole author of this piece, drawing on the contributions of the students at Journal Club on Tuesday evening.


Bake Sale in Foster Court TODAY

By Anne Welsh, on 13 November 2014

Looking for a sugar fix at lunchtime? Call into Foster Court (opposite UCL Science Library) today for the MA Publishing students’ Children in Need bake sale:

Bake Sale

The Stationers’ Company Postgraduate Bursary by Charlotte Middleton

By Anne Welsh, on 12 November 2014


Editorial note (Anne Welsh): UCL DIS is fortunate to benefit from the Stationers’ Company Postgraduate Bursary Scheme, with a member of the MA LIS cohort under 25 years old being selected each year for the generous financial and mentorship package. On 27 October, the bursary holder for 2013-14, Charlotte Middleton was made free of the Company, alongside Aislinn O’Connell, who holds an award from the Stationers for her PhD in Publishing. This year’s recipient, Tavian Hunter, also attended the ceremony to receive her bursary certificate and meet her mentor.

In this blog post, Charlotte describes the award and what joining the Stationers’ Company has meant to her as a new information professional:

Receiving one of the Stationers’ Bursaries has been fantastic. In addition to the bursary itself – which contributes considerably to the cost of the Masters’ fees – bursary recipients also receive guidance and support from a mentor, provided by the Stationers, in their studies, their work and in their interactions with the Company. My mentor, Sarah, was kind and friendly; she showed me around her work, encouraged me to attend Stationers’ events and introduced me to other members of the Company.

Recipients also receive the first three years of your membership of the Stationers’ Company for free which is, in my opinion, what sets this scholarship apart. Membership of one of the London Guilds is a rare honour, as well as being excellent fun.

Since receiving the bursary I have attended several new members’ evenings which are a great opportunity to meet other young and new Stationers, and there are always excellent wines and canapés. I have visited the Stationers’ Library and Archive on several occasions, attended the Printers’ Carols Service at Christmas and enjoyed several networking events.

I have also attended several excellent talks: the first about the digitisation of the Stationers’ Registers; the Annual Lecture about the printing of currencies and passports; and another about the history of private printing presses in Britain.

I also attended the Lord Mayor’s Show Luncheon after last year’s parade, and this year I have had the privilege of helping to organise the Stationers’ float and walk in the parade.

Being a member of the Stationers’ Company is a tremendous honour: to be granted the opportunity to be part of a Guild with such a prestigious six hundred year history in the book trade, to meet fascinating people and to drink excellent wine is by far the greatest aspect of this bursary.

I would encourage anyone who is thinking of applying to do so.


Charlotte Middleton (@Middletonwest) was the Stationers’ Company Postgraduate Bursary recipient for UCL in 2013-14. Having completed her MA LIS, she is currently building a portfolio career in Special Collections, and is one of the panellists at the CPD25 event ‘Applying to Study Library and Information Science’ on Tuesday 18 November 2014.

Applicants for the MA LIS who are under 25 are encouraged to apply for the Stationers’ Company Postgraduate Bursary Scheme and will be contacted by the Department at the appropriate stage in the application process.

Note: the appearance of the byline on this post is auto-generated, indicating that it was posted by Anne Welsh. Charlotte Middleton is the sole author of this piece.

Press Release: UCL Publishers’ Prize for Student Writing

By Anne Welsh, on 12 November 2014

UCL Publishers' Prize

PRESS RELEASE 10/11/2014

CALL FOR ENTRIES: We are pleased to announce the 2015 UCL Publishers’ Prize for Student Writing.

Submissions for the 2015 UCL Publishers’ Prize for Student Writing open at 12 noon on 14 November 2014.

For guidelines on how to enter please refer to our updated terms and conditions available on the UCL Publishers’ Prize website.

The Prize was launched in 2014 by ten students from University College London’s MA Publishing course to support aspiring writers and discover the next generation of talent. We hope to follow the success of the inaugural Prize which produced an impressive collection of original short stories, putting our own twist on the legacy with the addition of flash fiction. The 2014 anthology is currently selling at Waterstones Gower Street and we are thankful to all past, present, and future sponsors, advisors, and supporters.

The 2015 Prize is open to all 2014-15 undergraduates and postgraduates, including part-time and PhD students. The shortlist of stories will be chosen by our new committee of six MA Publishing students and the winners will be selected by a panel of well-established professionals from the publishing industry. In the short fiction category there will be cash awards for the third, second and first place winners, including a Faber Academy creative writing day course for the first place winner. There will be a cash award for the first place winner in the flash fiction category.

The Prize celebrates excellence in creative writing and is looking for bold new voices to build upon the tradition of brilliant writing at UCL. Please follow us on Twitter and Facebook for writing tips and details of our upcoming events.

The deadline for submissions is 11.59 pm, 16 January 2015.

Please note: Those previously shortlisted for the 2014 Publishers’ Prize cannot apply.



Note: the byline on this blog is auto-generated, indicating that it was posted by Anne Welsh. The UCL Publishers’ Prize for Student Writing Committee is the sole author of this press release.

UCL Publishing Thought of the Week: “DO judge a book by its cover” by Lucy Broughton

By Lucy Broughton, on 3 November 2014

Have a look and this weeks thought from the UCL Publishing Blog – “DO judge a book by its cover” by Lucy Broughton.