Social media and your library

Libraries use social media for a whole range of objectives these days, to communicate and promote information, events, and generally build community. How well this is done of course depends on a range of things – in particular the skills and knowledge of those who establish and drive the various initiatives.

It helps to have information to have a white paper to look at for general applications, as managers often respond favorably to evidence quantified this way.

A white paper from Taylor & Francis from back in October 2014, which I have just stumbled across, is one such useful document.  The white paper titled Use of social media by the library: current practices and future opportunities was researched and compiled to provide an overview of current practices relating to the use by libraries of social media, from a world-wide perspective.

Social media has the potential to facilitate much closer relationships between libraries and their patrons, wherever they are based, and however they choose to access library services and resources.

The document provides a useful benchmark, if you are still developing your strategy, and covers key areas, that I find are often missed in peoples thinking. Knowing not only social media objectives, but also how to choose channel applications, and co-ordinate approaches between them is critical for a social media presences. Good policy is also vital!

Visit the Taylor and Francis LibSite where you will also find visualisations of key findings from the white paper.  There is also a webinar to help you discover best practice (including a transcript of the session) and you can Read the Storify to see what the library community has made of the white paper results. But wait – there’s more.  You will just have to go and visit the Libsite!

Image: flickr photo shared by heyjudegallery under a Creative Commons ( BY-SA ) license

Guidelines for Parliamentary Research Services

Guidelines for Parliamentary LibrariesThe Guidelines for Parliamentary Research Services, a joint publication between IFLA and the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU), was launched on 13 August at the Section’s pre-conference in Cape Town, South Africa.

A working group comprised by members of the Section on Library and Research Services for Parliaments, led by Sonia L’Heureux, Parliamentary Librarian for the Parliament of Canada, compiled the guidelines based on their experience and in consultation with other members of the Section.

These Guidelines for Parliamentary Research Services are a new step in the capture of our collective knowledge. Developed in response to a persistent demand from members of the Section for guidance in strengthening research services for parliaments, this publication is an example of how results can be achieved by working together and by mutually supporting each other in our professional work. The Guidelines are grounded in the work that librarians and researchers carry out every day, in the reality they face while serving the institution they work in, and in the collective expertise and knowledge grown in the Section through cooperation, collaboration and the sharing of ideas.

The result is a document that takes into account different realities and parliamentary contexts, capacities and levels of development, organizational structures and institutional environments. As underlined in the publication,

“many considerations can shape the design of a parliamentary research service. The observations offered here should not be construed as strict recipes to be followed. Ultimately, they must be assessed and pursued with deference to the culture and context within which the parliamentary research service is established”.

The IPU translated and published the guidelines.

NMC Horizon Report: 2015 Library Edition

2015-nmc-horizon-report-library-EN_pdfWhat is on the five-year horizon for academic and research libraries?  Always provocative, and worthwhile reading arrives again with the publication of the NMC Horizon Report: 2015 Library Edition examines key trends, significant challenges, and important developments in technology for their impact on academic and research libraries worldwide. This publication was produced by the NMC in collaboration with University of Applied Sciences (HTW) Chur, Technische Informationsbibliothek (TIB) Hannover, and ETH-Bibliothek Zurich. To create the report, an international body of experts from library management, education, technology, and other fields was convened as a panel. Over the course of three months, the 2015 NMC Horizon Project Library Expert Panel came to a consensus about the topics that would appear here. View the work that produced the report on the project wiki.

>Download the NMC Horizon Report > 2015 Library Edition (PDF)

Our connections and the flow of knowledge

Learning is the process of acquiring knowledge, which is an active process and operates at both individual and social levels. When it comes to information behaviour within this context there are a wide range of theories and models which represent thinking and research investigations in this field. Existing models have elements in common, though most models in library and information science focus on information seeking and the information user, while those from the field of communications focus on the communicator and the communication process.  It is certainly worth stopping and revisiting these models, to better understand the ‘cognitive actors’ or other influences at play (Robsons & Robinson, 2013)

What I’m particularly interested in are the Information seeking behaviours and places of information seeking which are constantly changing, and of course growing in possibilities all the time. While we can study models in depth, as academic or professional pursuits,  when we consider how we think in the digital age, Bradbury hits the nail on the head for some of our common issues:

Our modern-day information processing is both careless in how it is consumed and how it is related back to others: rarely do we intentionally seek out an article, comb through it, and then selectively disperse it to an appropriate recipient. Rather, we come across it online, skim the headline or sound bites, and blast it indiscriminately via social media.

The complexities of information behaviour are so important to understand and be responsive to.   What can we hope to do about this, or what is being done? After all, you could say that digital technologies tend to outsource much of what could potentially be reflective thinking to an external device that provides a quick, pre-formed answer!

I was quite taken by a reflection on the Fourth Age of Libraries, and will share an example here from author Sean McMullen:

Recently,  for a story that I was writing, I researched intelligence in crows. So my first stop was to type ‘intelligence and crows’ into Google. I was instantly offered 8,180,000 links. At 5 seconds per hit, working 12 hours per day, it would take about two and a half years to check them all. Everyone can surf the Internet, but librarians can do it effectively. Since I am more interested in using information than finding it, I will continue asking librarians for help.

Yes! Information seeking, and good information behaviours will continue to involve quality curation and equally open information dissemination processes.

Two reports

Two reports I picked up this week add to my pool of readings to help with my thinking about the information era dilemmas.

We  have to nurture the ability to read – and read well!  Measuring the impact of thousands of libraries across multiple countries is quite a formidable undertaking, but with support from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation,  an external research team examined from Room to Read examined  libraries in Laos, Nepal, India, Sri Lanka, Zambia, and South Africa. To establish a baseline, they began evaluations at the schools before a Room to Read library was established and tracked progress in reading habits over the course of two years.

The most exciting takeaway from the study is that they have been able to confirm empirically that  libraries are helping children become independent readers.
Read the full report summary.

The second useful report to examine comes from the Knowledge Exchange, and the report Sowing the seed: Incentives and Motivations for Sharing Research Data, a researcher’s perspective. A qualitative study, commissioned by Knowledge Exchange, has gathered evidence, examples and opinions on current and future incentives for research data sharing from the researchers’ point of view, in order to provide recommendations for policy and practice development on how best to incentivize data access and re-use. Researchers’ experiences, data sharing practices and motivations are shown to be heterogeneous across the studied research groups and disciplines. Incentives and motivations ask for development of a data infrastructure with rich context where research data, papers and other outputs or resources are jointly available within a single data resource. Different types of data sharing and research disciplines need to be acknowledged. This  report that shows what a long journey is yet ahead of us, to beat the general google-grabbing of low-level information, because better quality material is hidden. Download the study ‘Sowing the seed: Incentives and Motivations for Sharing Research Data, a researcher’s perspective’

Moving forward

So let’s focus on technology and supporting services.  Libraries are a significant focus point in our communities, and technology is the other. As we invent more technology and forms of media, we also need to reinvent our community interactions as virtual and physical spaces of exchange for cultural and knowledge development. Libraries can continue to lead the way in this – from the national services to the quality services in your small local school library.  Building reading along with development and refinement of information seeking strategies and long term information behaviours,  educators and organisations need to remain open and responsive  – skipping the fads that are not supported by research and proven to stand the test of rigorous investigation.

The good news is that libraries are morphing. Read the Near and Far Future of Libraries .As archives become digital and machines become smarter, what function will libraries serve ten years and ten thousand years from now? See what some interesting experts had to say!

Our priority has to be our connections, and creating a flow of knowledge for all ages, across communities, nations and people. Our connections and the flow of knowledge is vital through building on critical thinking, communication, collaboration, and creativity.

If you love something – set it free!


Andrew Robson, & Lyn Robinson. (2013). Building on models of information behaviour: linking information seeking and communication. Journal of Documentation, 69(2), 169–193. doi:10.1108/00220411311300039

Image: creative commons licensed ( BY-NC-SA ) flickr photo shared by whatmattdoes

Are you curious about RDA in school libraries?

The story of knowledge is a story of history, and one that directly relates to the way we have wanted to infl uence and educate the young members of our society. Recorded information, and the documents or carriers which carry information forward, has come a long way since the emergence of oral traditions and records on clay tablets and the like. The Library of Alexandria was in many ways the fi rst grand repository of information, organised and made accessible as an offi cial repository for scholars.

For hundreds of years libraries consisted mostly of printed books and journals, and so these were mostly what library catalogues described. As information technology developed, new kinds of information resources were produced, which information agencies such as libraries also started to collect, such as photographs, sound recordings (phonograph records, tapes, CDs), films and videos. School library collections were almost entirely books up until the 1970s when audiovisual resources along with the proliferation of educational print resources such as charts and ‘big books’ brought a wave of change. At about this time librarians started to talk about ”materials’ or ‘resources’ as the generic name (rather than ‘books’ or ‘volumes’) for what they dealt with in their collections, and started to describe a much larger range of materials in their catalogues.

So from a school library point of view, library catalogues have been an important example of an information organization and access tool, since a catalogue is essentially a database with a complex range of access points (metadata) to information resources using data elements in the record, such as author or title. Until recently this structured and consistent approach to cataloguing in our school libraries was built on the Anglo-American cataloguing rules  (AACR2) ensuring uniform accessibility to information in whatever format was wanted, because of the resource description detail that is embedded in such a catalogue record. However, these catalogues were stand-alone end points to what was in a particular collection, and typically had to even be used within the walls of the library.

Fast-forward to the digital era, and the rapidly changing information environment that is has brought. We see that we have reached a period of time where information has never been more abundant and accessible, and conversely the need for efficient management of that information more critical than ever in the history of human information and knowledge endeavours. We now have the technology to provide global connection anywhere on computers – that also includes the digital capabilities of mobile and tablet devices.

This change in the information environment has generated a significant shift in our understanding of shared information resource description and access across connected systems, organisations, and in web environments outside of the catalogue.

So what IS RDA?

Librarians and other information professionals were among the first to realise the importance of the Internet in the provision of information services, and it is also they who have understood the impact of digital environments on the production, distribution, storage and consumption of information.   Information agencies have worked hard to provide the cataloguing details required to ensure that information can be retrieved, and it is because of this that the Resource Description and Access  (RDA) and it’s specific ‘vocabularies’ were developed and implemented around the world.

In fact, it was June 2010 that AACR2, the cataloguing standard in use for the last thirty years, was challenged with something new – the publication of RDA as a replacement cataloguing standard.  As the biggest change in bibliographic standards since the adoption of MARC21 ten years ago (coming from USMARC), the new rules have inspired much discussion in the cataloguing community and beyond. RDA is a new standard for metadata description of resources held in the collections of libraries, archives, museums, and other information management organizations. Building on AACR2 it aims to provide a comprehensive set of textual guidelines and instructions for creating metadata covering all types of resource content and media. RDA focuses on the data elements needed to meet the user tasks specified in the FRBR (Functional Requirements for Bibliographic Records) and FRAD (Functional Requirements for Authority Records) conceptual models. The use of FRBR concepts allows the relationships between multiple versions of a resource to be presented to users in a meaningful way including being displayed in a simpler, clustered format making it easier for the user to locate the item required.

RDA essentially standardizes how metadata content is identified, transcribed and generally structured, although it is independent of any specific metadata encoding. RDA also identifies a general set of metadata elements, and can provide a controlled vocabulary for use as the content of an element. Although RDA is being developed primarily for use with resources curated in a library environment, consultations have been undertaken with other information management communities, including publishers and those operating in the digital world, to try to ensure effective alignment with the metadata standards used in those communities.

RDA is proving to be an important building block in the creation of better catalogues and resource discovery systems. It provides for the creation of metadata, which meets users’ needs for data content and also facilitates machine manipulation of that data for searching and display.

RDA in Australia

Metadata standards relating to elements, format and transmission used for descriptive cataloguing in RDA have gradually been adopted around the world, including Australia and New Zealand during 2013. So once the National Library of Australia announced that it would implement RDA in early 2013 it became important for all people working in the library and information industry to have some understanding of the purpose of RDA and its implications for the library catalogue.

Resource Description and Access, is designed to help us transition to the technological capabilities of the Internet, today and into the future by having us identify the entities and relationships at the element level that machines can use better than they have been able to in the past in our MARC records.  RDA will also work when we package the elements in MARC records as we will have to do for some transitional period. RDA is not an encoding system or a presentation standard for displays, but instead specifies how to describe the things in our bibliographic universe – resources, persons, corporate bodies, etc., and the relationships among those things.

The RDA Toolkit provides instructions necessary for implementing RDA in libraries. Although the preferred way to access RDA is online via the RDA Toolkit, print copies of the RDA instructions are also available for purchase.

RDA is not completely different from AACR2, but it is more than just a new edition. Some of the most notable differences include:-

  • Fewer abbreviations
  • Allowance for local cataloguing standards to meet the needs of the community
  • Specific format descriptors for non-book and electronic resources
  • Record information as it is presented on the item
  • Explicit identification of each possible element for inclusion
  • Record all authors and contributors
  • Dropping of the rules to do with the (ISBD) arrangement of elements, making the new code ‘format neutral’
  • Elements covering both the attributes of the library resource and the attributes of the people and organisations associated with the resource (so that it covers the creation of authority as well as bibliographic records)
  • These elements are based on the FRBR user tasks (finding, identifying, selecting and obtaining), and, in the case of the attributes of people and organisations, the FRAD user tasks
  • Covers the construction of records for abstract ‘works’ that an item might be a manifestation of, as well as for the manifestation itself
  • More international in outlook (e.g. doesn’t prefer English names)

Whether RDA will give rise to a ‘cataloguing revolution’ is as yet unclear, as it will be possible to continue producing records using it that look remarkably similar to those based on AACR2. The question is whether libraries will implement it more fully, and use it as an opportunity to integrate their cataloguing data with other metadata elsewhere across the web!

The real power of RDA is derived from the implementation of the new conceptual models for catalogues:

  • Functional Requirements for Bibliographic Records focuses on what the user needs to find, identify, select and obtain.
  • Functional Requirements for Authority Data focuses on what the user needs to find, identify, contextualise and justify.

A library management system that embeds RDA, along with FRBR and FRAD, can provide a very rewarding search experience for the user. Once library management systems embrace these concepts and fully implement RDA, catalogues will truly be there for the convenience of the user! We will have complementary ways of organizing things to open up more pathways for users to find what we have in our library collections and related resources beyond our libraries.

Access the National Library of Australia information about RDA at

Extract from:  O’Connell, J. (2013). RDA for school libraries: The next generation in cataloguing. ACCESS. 27(3), Vol. 27. September, 4-6.

Image: cc licensed ( BY NC SA ) flickr photo shared by Vicki & Chuck Rogers

Metadata and your Big Data?

Humanities is an area ripe for exploiting big data, enabling scholars to analyze topics more broadly and deeply than ever before – whether in the form of books, artworks, music, or any other digitizable format.  In this video, Amanda Rust, Assistant Head of Research & Instruction, Arts & Humanities at the Snell Library of Northeastern University, Boston, MA tells us about her experience of and visions for the use of big data and digital humanities.

23 Mobile Things everyone should know

Holiday time or not, the time is right for you all to go and investigate 23 Mobile Things – a wonderful professionally delivered opportunity to learn a few important life-skills for working and living in online environments!

The background

I’m sure most of you have heard about 23 Things for Professional Development – an open-source program for librarians. There are many variants of this course which was first developed in 2006 by Helene Blowers and the team at the Public Library of Charlotte and Mecklenberg County, and now the newish kid on the block is 23 Mobile Things, a course revolving around digital and mobile technologies.

Who created this course?

“The first version of 23 mobile things was developed in Danish by Jan Holmquist. This version of the course is an international collaboration, Jan Holmquist from Guldborgsund-bibliotekerne (Denmark) and Mylee Joseph and Kathryn Barwick from the State Library of New South Wales (Australia) are working together to build the English language version of the course. You’ll learn more about this excellent initiative and how you can learn more about the potential of mobile tools at 23mobilethings

In Australia we have had a few derivatives of the original 23Things program, some of which charge hard cash to participate, which is not in the spirit at all of the 23Things model that was openly shared with the global community.

So it’s a real pleasure to see this latest initiative! The course is open to anyone with a tablet or smart phone. It is a self-paced learning course, with the 23 things providing a framework of resources to look at and information to consider. It can be done at anytime; there are no time-limit or deadlines for the course.

So it’s time for you to consider getting started – jump on into the self assessment survey, then head on over to investigate The Things.  Great for anyone working in libraries, and schools.  This new 23MobileThings is a fantastic initiative. Thank you.

23 Mobile Things …. the list.

  1. Twitter
  2. Taking a photo with a mobile device:  Instagram / Flickr app / Snapchat
  3. eMail on the move
  4. Maps and checking in
  5. Photos + Maps + Apps: Historypin / What was there / Sepia Town
  6. Video: YouTube and screencasts
  7. Communicate: Skype / Google Hangout
  8. Calendar
  9. QR codes
  10. Social reading: RSS / Flipboard / Feedly / Goodreads / Pocket
  11. Augmented reality: Layar
  12. Games: Angry Birds / Wordfeud
  13. Online identity: FaceBook and LinkedIn
  14. Curating: Pinterest / / Tumblr
  15. Adobe ID
  16. eBooks and eBook apps: Project Gutenberg / Kindle / Overdrive / Bluefire / Kobo, etc.
  17. Evernote and Zotero
  18. Productivity tools: Doodle / Remember the Milk / Hackpad / /  30/30
  19. File sharing: Dropbox
  20. Music: / Spotify
  21. Voice interaction and recording
  22. eResources vendor apps
  23. Digital storytelling

Image: 23 cc licensed ( BY ) flickr photo shared by erix!