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‘The Wild Wild West of Records Management’! An Award Winner’s Conference Experience

By Vanessa L Platt, on 8 June 2015

irms‘Welcome to the Wild Wild West of Wales’ was the theme of the opening evening of the Information and Records Management Society (IRMS) Conference 2015, held from 17th – 19th May.

As well as reflecting the new Welsh location of the Conference for 2015, at the rather spectacular Celtic Manor Resort – a change of scene from the Conference’s usual residence at the Hilton Metropole Brighton – this (rather tongue-in-cheek) theme of the opening night resonated with the broader purpose of the Conference: to explore the reality that information professionals are working at the frontiers of cutting-edge new advances of understanding around the uses of information, records and data. The emphasis was on dialogue, learning and discovery around what this means for our sector, our society, our world – even human progress at large.

I was lucky enough to attend the full conference courtesy of the Society, being this year’s recipient of the Alison North Award for New Professionals. The prize – full conference attendance and the opportunity for mentoring time with RM author, consultant and award sponsor Alison North – is awarded annually for the best essay submitted by someone in the first 3 years of their career in the sector, based on a reflection on their information and records management experience.

Before I began my Archives and Records Management MA with UCL, I spent some time working in public sector records management, in a large professional team with an advanced electronic document and records management system (EDRMS) in place. This RM programme, like countless others, makes heavy use of a network of 250+ non-professional office staff, trained to assist their colleagues with information management matters and to administer their local area of the EDRMS. This arrangement struck me as less than ideal, especially as this additional role was not voluntary, not salaried, and on top of an employee’s daily work (as is invariably the case elsewhere), and my entry to the Award was a critique of this element of so many business-as-usual RM programmes. I feel that there are better ways of encouraging end-user buy-in and take-up that keeps records management systems as a help, rather than a hindrance, for all users.

Award presentation with Alison North, Award Sponsor (left) and Meic Pierce Owen, IRMS Chair (right).

Alison North (far left) and IRMS Chair Meic Pierce Owen (far right).

Consistent with the intrepid theme of that first evening, and indeed of the entire event, this conference was a new experience for me. Such an opportunity to meet, network and engage with experienced professional colleagues is truly irreplaceable, and I learnt a great deal not only about the enormous value (in every sense of the word, including fiscal) that can be ascribed to the information we create, receive, manage and use, and to our professional endeavour, but also of the huge potential that there is in this sector for interdisciplinary, cross-profession collaboration, dialogue and learning: I heard talks by experts in digital preservation, information architecture, system, software and storage developers, international business, asset management and information compliance, as well as from the Deputy Director of the US Department of Navy’s division for records management – a speaker who generated a lot of audience interest.

The official theme of the conference was ‘Information: the new currency’, and this bold statement elicited strong responses in disagreement as well as in agreement – as I am sure it was intended to. In the breakout sessions I attended, there were memorable arguments both for and against, from both practical and theoretical perspectives. Jon Garde from RSD (an international Information Governance solutions developer) proposed information as actual currency, something to which we ascribe value as a medium of exchange, with a fluctuating market value in business, using ideas from Infonomics (Information + Economics). He closed by suggesting that the Information Managers of the future will be the ‘Information Accountants’ of businesses.

P1010020

IRMS Conference 2015

At the opposite end of the spectrum of information value, Alan Bell from Information Compliance at Dundee University posited that information today is so ubiquitous, it is not a currency at all, but rather a commodity. He drew on the thinking of UCL’s own Geoffrey Yeo in exploring the nature of recorded information, as well as managing to weave Elvis and Fifty Shades of Grey (or was it Records Management…?) into his talk.

I took away from these contrasting viewpoints that ‘information’ today remains malleable and context-bound in nature and value, as well as in form, and that this malleability poses questions as well as opportunities for all of us. Does information decrease in value to us because there is more of it, or does it rather increase in value? For me, it is the very volatility information’s value today that presents us with the greatest opportunities in human history, as well as, arguably, the greatest risks.

The IRMS Conference 2015 was altogether a superb experience, and will remain a landmark in my career. My thanks must go to the fantastic IRMS Exec, who made me so welcome and the event so memorable. I also thank the Archives and Records Management programme staff here, who brought the award to my attention and whose excellent guidance and teaching over the last year has encouraged me to see that a new professional such as myself can – and should – share my thoughts with the wider profession. Everyone has something to offer, perhaps now more than ever. It is a challenging but certainly exciting time to be an Information and Records Management professional.

I should also say that the Wild West-themed opening evening did not disappoint: a rooftop garden barbeque was accompanied by highly appropriate entertainment – I will always bear in mind that a Bucking Bronco acts as an excellent ice-breaker!

Sarah Hume Awarded SLA Early Career Conference Award

By Anne Welsh, on 2 April 2015

SarahHumeCongratulations to Sarah Hume on being awarded an Early Career Conference Award by the Special Libraries Association Europe.

Sarah is completing her MA LIS part-time while working as a Library Assistant at the Geological Society of London and the London Library, and is active in student life, at UCL, where she is helping to organise our upcoming employers fora, nationally, as Chair of Cilip’s Student Committee, and internationally, as a contributor to Hack Library School.

ECCA are highly sought-after, providing accommodation, travel and registration for the SLA annual conference. UCL’s last ECCA holder was Marie Cannon, who now works for a leading international law firm and is a well-respected conference speaker. Sarah’s award is the first to be co-sponsored by the Competitive Intelligence Division – an area of library practice that is of particular interest to Sarah – and she is looking forward to finding out more about it, and meeting practitioners from Europe and beyond.

Image: @sarahfhume

Juggling/Slaying the dissertation dragon part 1 – Hack Library School

By Sarah F Hume, on 18 February 2015

Image by Luis Alejandro Bernal Romero CC BY-SA 2.0

Image by Luis Alejandro Bernal Romero
CC BY-SA 2.0

The whirl of studies and jobs stopped me from cross-posting my last blog post for Hack Library School on juggling your responsibilities and expectations, so it’s a two for one today with my latest post on dissertations – Slaying the dissertation dragon part 1.  Inspired by the departmental dissertation boot camp this week, I was surprised to learn that the majority of library schools in America don’t require students to undertake a dissertation, so many of them won’t do an extended research project until they reach PhD level.

This is the first in a series of posts taking advantage of our excellent research skills teaching on the MA LIS here, in which I hope to make research seem a bit less daunting.

British Museum Libraries Visit – by George Bray

By Anne Welsh, on 5 December 2014

British Museum Panorama

Following in the tradition of independent visits to libraries, a group of UCL LIS students organised a visit to some departmental libraries of the British Museum on the afternoon of Wednesday 19th November 2014. The libraries which we were able to see were the Anthropology Library and Research Centre (in the Department of Africa, Oceania and the Americas), the Library of the Coins and Medals Department, and the Library of the Middle East Department. It was really interesting to be able to compare these libraries, which were very different (with the exception of the typical library issue of a lack of space for the collections!) despite being within the same broader institutional setting.

Once we had arrived and obtained our security passes, the group split into two smaller groups and spent about 30-40 minutes in each of the Coin and Medals- and the Middle East libraries, before reconvening at the Anthropology Library where we had a chance to talk with some of the staff more generally about the libraries and the profession.

Coin and Medals (Mary Hinton)

An exhibition of German medals from WWI immediately outside the entrance to the Department gave an interesting example of the way in which the physical, archival and library collections can complement each other to create public exhibits. It was good to see that the librarian’s working space is an integral part of the Department as a whole, which helps to strengthen the relations between the curators and the librarian. This was further demonstrated by the fact that the Coins and Medals physical collection is located in the same space as the library, something facilitated by the size of the objects themselves, which makes them easier to store in a smaller space. It was also very interesting to hear that a large proportion of the Department’s acquisitions are donations, which shows how important such gifts can be in helping to fill out a library collection beyond the capacity of the acquisitions budget.

Middle East (Rupert Chapman)

The main room of the library is the wonderful Arched Room, which was originally designed to maximise light in the room without creating the risk of a fire. It features a mixture of cuneiform tablets, library books and some of the Department’s archival material; being surrounded by high shelves of neatly-arranged clay tablets and seeing the further two floors of shelved books above creates a rather unique atmosphere . We were also able to have a look at some of the Department’s rarer books, which are located deeper within the staff-only section. Our discussion with the librarian-curator was very interesting and informative, covering topics as diverse as the conservation of the older physical books, through the in-house classification scheme, and even the collection management software that the library uses.

Anthropology / Africa, Oceania and the Americas (Hannah Thomas)

The main difference in nature between this Departmental library and those of the other two which we saw was that the majority of the library collection is actually accessible to researchers who can browse the shelves themselves, rather than request items to be brought to them. This is mainly due to the fact that part of the library’s stock comes from the Royal Anthropological Institute, whose members also have borrowing rights. It was also very exciting to hear about an upcoming project to re-classify, tag and barcode the entire collection. In our talk with some of the library staff, we learned more about the position of librarians and Departmental libraries within the museum as a whole, and were pleased to hear further evidence of the ways in which the librarians and curators work together on projects, very much to the benefit of the public and researcher. It was also interesting to hear how varied Hannah’s library working experience had been before coming to work at the British Museum, and the benefits of having such a wide range of skills to draw on as a result were very apparent.

The group would like to thank Hannah (a former UCL LIS student), Mary and Rupert for their time and effort in making the visit both possible and highly enjoyable.

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George Bray (@NexGenGB) is studying for his MA LIS this year, while working part-time.

Image: Ryan O’Shea, copyright commons, some rights reserved.

Note: the appearance of the byline on this post is auto-generated, indicating that it was postedby Anne Welsh. George Bray is the sole author of this piece.

 

“Evaluating Information Literacy Educators’ Practices”: Journal Club Report by Emily Delahaye

By Anne Welsh, on 5 December 2014

ResearchBlogging.org

Andretta, S. (2011). Evaluating information literacy educators’ practices before and after the course facilitating information literacy education: from tutor to learner-centred Health Information & Libraries Journal, 28 (3), 171-178 DOI: 10.1111/j.1471-1842.2011.00946.x

Article summary:

Susie Andretta analyses the impact that an intensive course at London Metropolitan University, ‘Facilitating Information Literacy Education’ (FILE), has had on healthcare librarians, and their ability to teach information literacy (IL) skills. FILE aims to change teaching by librarians, from being tutor-centred to learner-centred. It also aims to make teaching more evidence-based, reflecting the importance of evidence-based practice in healthcare, and evidence-based library and information practice. The author surveyed students that had completed the course between 2007 and 2010, to learn about their teaching styles before and after attending the FILE course. 19 out of 21 respondents stated that FILE had had a substantial impact on the way they delivered IL training. One librarian volunteered that they now incorporated hands on activities into their sessions to make them more learner-centred. However, having too large a number of participants in IL training was identified as an obstacle to becoming learner-centred, as some librarians did not have time to learn about the needs of all their users in advance of sessions. The research in this article will be followed by interviews with participants to gain more of an insight into this area of study.

Discussion:

Discussion began with talking about the focus of the article – teaching healthcare librarians how to teach IL to library users effectively. It was suggested that the article was particularly appropriate to us, as MA LIS students, as we are sharpening our own digital literacy skills in order to complete our work, and, after graduation, we will be going out into the world of libraries to pass this onto users. The role of journals in scholarly communication was also touched on. This article represents the preliminary part of Andretta’s research, and instead of waiting to finish her research and then publish, it makes sense to disseminate as you go. Journals are the perfect format for that.We then looked at the article in more depth. Methodology was the first topic raised. One member of the group felt that the number of people surveyed was too few to enable the author to draw strong conclusions. Out of 58 librarians invited to take part in the survey, only 21 responded.

We were also not sure why gender had been used as a means to distinguish anonymised participants, e.g 19M and 12F . It was speculated that there might have been an explanation for this which, when the article was edited, was thought of as unnecessary and taken out. Alternatively, it might have been hypothesised that gender would have an impact, and this turned out to not be the case. Another suggestion, following on from the first comments on disseminating findings continuously throughout the research process, was that gender might play a role in the author’s larger research project.

The article uses a self-reflective survey as it’s methodology. Following this we questioned what other measures could be used to analyse teaching, and to test whether this type of  training had an impact on teaching or not. It was suggested that to see if there was improvement, a researcher would first need to define goals that teaching needed to achieve, to be classed as successful.

In the field of healthcare, a skills needs assessment was proposed as an appropriate method for collecting information about what users need to know, which can be followed up on in training. This was put forward as appropriate, as evaluating needs and prioritising is what happens in healthcare constantly in order to provide good care. In the article it did focus on the evaluative process that librarians brought to their sessions, as a result of FILE, in order to have learners reflect on what they have learnt.
This was the last journal club meeting of 2014, looking forward to more sessions next term!
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Emily Delahaye (@EmilyDelahaye) is studying full-time for her MA LIS, while working part-time.​ 

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. Emily Delahaye is is the sole author of this piece, drawing on the contributions of the students at Journal Club on Tuesday evening.

Get better search results

By Tara-Lee Platt, on 4 December 2014

Image modified under Creative Commons Licence. Indexing and abstracting databases are key to producing good, robust research but they can be daunting and  confusing and it is tempting to stick with the familiarity of Google and Google Scholar.  To get some advice on  searches for your assignments, come along to a search skills surgery, where you can pick up some tips and develop your confidence in using A&I databases.

The surgery, run by Tara your subject librarian, will take place on:

Tuesday 9th December 11:00-12:00 Room G31

This is a drop in session so come along at any time within the hour, armed with any troublesome searches and questions you have.

We’ll primarily be looking at the following databases as they’re key to DIS:

  • LISA  – Index of journal articles in librarianship and information science, including archives and records management, publishing and some material relating to Digital Humanities. Includes abstracts from over 440 periodicals from more than 68 countries and in more than 20 different languages.
  • Library and Information Science Source – Content includes full text for more than 460 publications and indexing for hundreds of high-quality journals, as well as books, research reports and proceedings. Subject coverage encompasses librarianship, classification, cataloging, bibliometrics, online information retrieval, information management and more.
  • INSPEC – a bibliographic information database covering the fields of physics, electronics, computing, control engineering and information technology with more than 7.7 million records taken from 3,500 technical and scientific journals and 1,500 conference proceedings.
  • SCOPUS – multi-disciplinary database containing references to journal articles, conference proceedings, trade publications, book series and web resources.

If you can’t make this session please feel free to drop me an email with your queries.

Please note these sessions are only open to students in the UCL Department of Information Studies

Networking for Introverts – Hack Library School

By Sarah F Hume, on 4 December 2014

My nuntitled - by ashraful kadir, Creative Commonsame is Sarah, I’m a part time student on the LIS course and this year I’m one of Hack Library School’s contributing writers.  I’m the first Brit to write for the blog so I’ll be exploring the differences between UK and US library culture and I’ll try to give the US audience a taste of how we do things here! I’ll be linking my posts here when they’re out in the world, roughly once a month.

My first post, Networking for Introverts, went up yesterday. I’m particularly interested in hearing other peoples’ experiences so please do leave a comment if you’ve got any tips!

 

Image: Used under Creative Commons Licence, (c) ashraful kadir, untitled

INSTG012 Historical Bibliography Print Techniques Workshop at the UCL Art Museum by Nikki Gregory

By Anne Welsh, on 28 November 2014

ArtMuseumFollowing Simone’s post about our class visit to St Bride’s Printing Library, I thought I would share our experience learning about different print techniques using materials from the UCL Art Museum

The practical session on the methods of printing led by Curatorial Assistant and print artist J. Yuen Ling Chiu (@yuenlingchiu) was an hour’s worth of hands on experience with printed pictures. Have you ever looked at a print and wondered how it was made? Well wonder no further with this module session.

We started by each choosing a printers tool which was used to make one or more of the printed images displayed around the room. After a few minutes of studying the images, we were asked to guess which tools were used to make each of the prints. Firstly we looked at some woodcut prints, made with a ‘u’ tool, which is used by scraping lines in the wood. This imprints very defined straight lines which are tapered at the ends where the tool enters and leaves the wood. The ink is then rolled onto the remaining sections of wood to create the print. This is known as relief printing. We also looked at copper engraving and etching (in which acid is used to cut into the metal).

One of the forms of etching I found most interesting was the aquatint, where a cloud of blue dust is thrown into the air and left to settle onto a piece of copper sheet. Wax is then placed on certain sections, before the sheet is dipped into acid which burns through the dust to leave white flecks on the print. The print is then built up with layers of wax and acid to for the picture.

Another interesting technique is mezatint, where the surface starts very black, and layers of white are created on top using a tool which had grooves running along the edge, ending in little teeth. These teeth were used to ‘smoosh’ (technical word!) the dots together by rocking the tool from side to side.

After this quick induction we were set loose on a new set of prints, discussing which method of printing was used to create each print. On the whole I like to think we got more than half of them right between us.

If this doesn’t convince you that Historical Bibliography is a good optional module to choose, then the seminars on collation and quasi-facsimiles will top the balance! I am looking forward to the remaining seminars that this module has to offer.

Editorial Note: UCL Art Museum is closed for refurbishment until April 2015, but its programme of teaching and public engagement is continuing off-site. We are very grateful to J. Yuen Ling Chiu and Dr Andrea Fredericksen (UCL Art Museum Curator) for delivering this regular session for INSTG012 in the Haldane Room this year. You can find details of the Museum’s ongoing programme of events on its website. Staff also contribute to @UCLMuseums on twitter, UCL Museums and Collections facebook page, and the Museums & Collections playlist on UCLTV on YouTube. — Anne Welsh, INSTG012 Historical Bibliography Module Coordinator.

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Nikki Gregory (@NikkiG434) is a full-time student on the MA Library and Information Studies.

Image: Anne Welsh.

Note: the appearance of the byline on this post is auto-generated, indicating that it was posted by Anne Welsh. Apart from the editorial note, Nikki Gregory is the sole author of this piece.

Search skills drop in surgery

By Tara-Lee Platt, on 27 November 2014

Image modified under Creative Commons Licence. Indexing and abstracting databases are key to producing good, robust research but they can be daunting and  confusing and it is tempting to stick with the familiarity of Google and Google Scholar.  To get some advice on  searches for your assignments, come along to a search skills surgery, where you can pick up some tips and develop your confidence in using A&I databases.

The surgeries will be run by Tara, your subject librarian and will take place on:

Tuesday 2nd December 14:00-15:00 Room G31

Tuesday 9th December 14:00-15:00 Room G31

The surgery will run as a drop in session so come along at any time within the hour, armed with any troublesome searches and questions you have.

We’ll primarily be looking at the following databases as they’re key to DIS:

  • LISA  – Index of journal articles in librarianship and information science, including archives and records management, publishing and some material relating to Digital Humanities. Includes abstracts from over 440 periodicals from more than 68 countries and in more than 20 different languages.
  • Library and Information Science Source – Content includes full text for more than 460 publications and indexing for hundreds of high-quality journals, as well as books, research reports and proceedings. Subject coverage encompasses librarianship, classification, cataloging, bibliometrics, online information retrieval, information management and more.
  • INSPEC – a bibliographic information database covering the fields of physics, electronics, computing, control engineering and information technology with more than 7.7 million records taken from 3,500 technical and scientific journals and 1,500 conference proceedings.
  • SCOPUS – multi-disciplinary database containing references to journal articles, conference proceedings, trade publications, book series and web resources.

Looking forward to seeing you there!   If you can’t make either of these surgeries, please feel free to drop me an email with your queries.

Please note these sessions are only open to students in the UCL Department of Information Studies

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

By Anne Welsh, on 21 November 2014

 

Cambridge

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.

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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.