Monday, 13 May 2013

Josh Harding's 'The Student Information Relationship' - Blogged by Stephanie Robinson, BL



A presentation which sparked a lot of discussion at this year’s UKSG was ‘ The Student Information Relationship’ presented by Joshua Harding.  Josh is a second year postgraduate student at Warwick University studying medicine.  Prior to this Josh studied Physiology at the University of Newcastle.

What struck me about Josh’s presentation was how much student experience and expectations have changed in such a short amount of time.  To illustrate this Josh showed a photograph of the output of his studies at Newcastle which was a pile of 11 hefty print text books and an equally tall pile of A4 ring binders full of printed, handwritten or annotated notes.  Josh said that this pile of analogue items had all the answers he needed to successfully complete his course, but that they were just too big and heavy to carry around and they weren’t easily searchable. 

Josh’s solution to this problem was to switch to digital – he bought an iPad .  Three years on Josh considers himself to be a completely paperless student, he even goes as far as to say that everything he needs to study medicine is on his iPad and that the only supplementary source of information he needs is the internet.  Josh gets slides from lectures on his ipad, has a textbook library on his iPad and organises his notes into notebooks on his ipad.  What I did find interesting was that Josh still makes notes in an analogue way – he uses an app (Notability) to handwrite his notes directly onto his ipad as he thinks this a better way to learn than typing – an interesting mix of digital and analogue.

The benefits of having all his content digitally on one device are that Josh can easily and quickly search across all of his content and resources, he can seamlessly switch between note taking, resource apps and electronic text books all of which improves his efficiency, reducing stress and increasing satisfaction.  As Josh states tablet computing provides students with a powerful personalised education tool  and he predicts that in as little as 18 months tablets will be adopted as the norm for students.  Josh expects that as a minimum students will demand access to their most used resources digitally and that will want enhanced education resources. 

Josh who is currently on an orthopaedics and anaesthetics clinical rotation in a hospital continues to make full use of his iPad.  He uses the calendar as a diary, the Notability app to take patient history, he uses his iPad to enable him to answer questions with confidence, he is able to refresh his memory on procedures he hasn’t seen or done in a while which ultimately enables him to perform with confidence.  When Josh comes across drugs he isn’t familiar with he uses apps like the British National Formulary app (BNF) to find them providing him with instant information. 

A good example Josh used to demonstrate his use of apps was that he had been asked to scrub in on a  radical neck dissection, he hadn’t studied head and neck anatomy for a while, but was able to use resource apps on his iPad, in this case Pocket Body, to immediately recap this bringing the information to the forefront of his mind and providing anchor points for new knowledge.

Back at university Josh uses his iPad to download lecture slides before his lectures and he then exports them into notability where he is able to annotate the lectures and record the speaker.  During the lecture he is able to consult resources like electronic text books, resource apps, old notes and the internet which allows him to produce a near complete set of notes as he goes along, unlike other students without tablets who after the lecture often have to fill in gaps in their notes from analogue sources.  

Josh then goes on to talk about interactive, multimedia eBooks from Inkling which allow the purchase of individual chapters.  He described these ebooks as the future of the text book and believes we are reaching the end of the paper text book, although he does concede that the nails aren’t quite in the coffin of the print text book just yet.

So if using a tablet is so beneficial to the student why aren’t all students digital students?  Josh argues that this is for two reasons; awareness and costs.  Josh hinted that the role of the Librarian should be changing and that we should consider using student advisors who are familiar with the new ways of learning and how they link together to demonstrate the full capabilities of tablet devices to new students.  In relation to costs aside from the obvious upfront cost of the tablet the costs of eBooks and subscriptions to educational apps all of which have to be paid by the student are high.  There is also the problem of fragmentation, there are multiple eBook formats often these restrict use, multiple eBook Platforms, multiple third party DRM apps all of which add to the costs and frustrations of the end user.

In his ideal world, and Josh admits himself that this is probably a pipedream, the interactive textbook would be as standard in a single DRM free format on a universal platform which can be viewed on any device and can be loanable, like a print textbook can be from a library and that there would be institutional subscriptions to important apps.  He also suggests that interactive textbooks of the future should include analytics so that they can study the student as they study informing them of their progress adapting content to the user – in effect becoming a personal study buddy. 

I personally don’t think this should be a pipedream, but I do agree with Josh when he says that because publishers and libraries have to plan so far in advance basing decisions on evidence, they are not currently able to deal with the rapidly changing demands of the digital student.  A prime example of this was in the Q&A session at the end when Josh described a student who had a print copy of a text book but who had broken the spine and manually scanned each page to create a digital copy of it which they could use restriction free on their tablet – if the textbook had been available in a DRM free format and at a cheaper price or if individual chapters had been available to purchase, or if the textbook was loanable or even rentable in a suitable electronic format then Josh suggested that students would happily pay for them rather than taking these seemingly extreme measures. 
  
Josh’s use of his iPad is impressive, others at the conference later described Josh as a ‘super user’, so I should say that the impression I got from delegates from the University Libraries was that Josh’s use of his tablet isn’t typical…….. yet.  With more and more schools introducing tablet computers the demand for accessible digital resources from students is only going to grow.  Libraries and publishers need to take note of Josh and really think about the way users will want to access and interact with their content.   The big question Josh posed to the audience was ‘are you ready to meet this inevitable demand?’ I’m not convinced librarians or publishers are quite there yet.

Friday, 3 May 2013

So What Happened This Year at UKSG?

I posted this on the SAGE Connection blog and thought I'd share here also along with all of the other conference posts. 

Guest post by Bernie Folan, Head of Library Marketing in London.

Last week saw the annual UKSG conference take place in Bournemouth on England’s south coast. For those who may not be familiar with UKSG, more information can be found here. UKSG exists to connect the knowledge community and encourage the exchange of ideas on scholarly communication. It is the only organisation spanning the wide range of interests and activities across the scholarly information community of librarians, publishers, intermediaries and technology vendors.

This cross-industry focus enables a valuable forum for the exchange of ideas and healthy discussion around current themes. Working groups, projects and innovative initiatives have in the past sprung from these discussions. Counter and Project Transfer are two well-known examples.
There was a wealth of information to be absorbed via plenary sessions, breakout groups and lightning talks.  This short post highlights those themes that were to the fore, and of interest to us at SAGE in our efforts to disseminate teaching and research on a global scale.

Data
The value of data was a recurrent theme. Whether in talks about the importance of good data governance within publishing companies or the ORCID initiative (which is gathering pace with 107,000 researchers registered) the power of good data was evident.

Under this theme also sits Mendeley which calls itself “the best free way to manage your research”. Mendeley enables research to be organized, shared and discovered. News broke whilst at the conference that it had just been bought by Elsevier and time will tell what impact that makes. Mendeley has 2.3 million users and 90 million unique articles in user libraries in the cloud. It is growing by 69k users a month.

User behaviour and workflows
A really interesting session was lead by Joshua Harding, a graduate medical student who relies solely on his iPad for all aspects of his study – including note-taking (handwriting app), downloading lecture notes, reading eBooks (and annotating, highlighting sections), and even for taking patient histories during ward rounds. He describes himself as a “paperless student”.

Despite his success in losing the print, there are barriers. For example, he can access print copies for free but not all of the digital copies he needs. There is also variable quality. He wants to be able to buy eBooks from one universal store, view on one universal platform or borrow for free from his library. He cried out for digital textbooks to be both SMART and interactive. He feels that publishers have not yet scratched the surface on making the most of fully interactive textbooks. 


For instance, he’d like features that enable assessment whilst reading, and to be alerted to areas 

that he has not read sufficiently.
SAGE is currently exploring many options in the eBook arena to make our content as useful and accessible as we can. Joshua urged publishers to get ready; he explained that although many of his colleagues are not reliant on one device, future students will expect to work this way as they have grown up in the “on demand” generation.

Business models for acquiring content
In both sessions and meetings with customers we heard a lot about changing content acquisition models. Particularly prevalent were conversations about evidence-based eBook purchase (as opposed to eBook package purchase). This is where a librarian assesses which content is used from a large selection before committing to specific titles. Purchase is based on usage and automated. Many librarians are already using this model with aggregators and direct with other publishers. Will customers move away from collections completely? SAGE is working on developing models in response to discussions with customers.

Publisher-Librarian collaboration and dialogue
In a thought-provoking closing plenary by Scott Plutchak, the relationship between publishers and librarians was addressed. We were reminded that we share the same values and aims – we are on the same side and need to work together even if we don’t always agree. Plutchak urged us to reject caricatures that have been built up such as “publishers only care about the money; librarians are hopelessly, wilfully na├»ve; publishers want to lock information up; librarians don’t care about quality”. Recent discussions around budgets and Open Access are examples of where there have been clear “us and them” attitudes on display that do not help drive forward our shared goals.

He offered us some practical tips:

  • Librarians: Cool it with the emotions. Attend some publisher conferences. Be educated by your knowledgeable faculty.  Buy a publisher a drink once in a while!
  • Publishers: You are not great at telling your own story. Be more transparent. Be more open about your mission and your decision making. Sit in on some of the sessions at the library conferences you attend

Both publishers and librarians ultimately need to gain a deeper understanding of each other and a deeper knowledge of what each other do in order to work together effectively.

As we all expected, Open Access was the subject of the opening plenary, but I won’t address that topic here, keep your eyes on SAGE Connection for Lucy Robinson’s (Journal Publisher at SAGE) presentation slides on OA. I would say though it was a less of a hot topic than I expected. 


Much more was discussed from altmetrics to initiatives to help libraries better understand their content.  A wealth of other insights and information can be found at the following sources
On a personal note, this was my first year attending the conference as UKSG Marketing Officer and main committee member. Apart from 3 paid staff, UKSG is made up of volunteers drawn from one of the constituent groups it serves.

It was hugely satisfying to see all of the hard work and discussion coming together to form the biggest annual conference to date and, if early feedback is representative, one of the most popular. Planning for 2014 starts in June!

Monday, 29 April 2013

Charlie Rapple on UKSG top takeaways: “open or broken”, intelligent textbooks, research stories

Several years ago, I started the UKSG blog to report on the organization’s annual conference, which provides a forum for publishers and librarians to network and share strategic and practical ideas. Between 2006 and 2012, I enthused on the blog about topics including metrics, publishing evolution, innovation, research assessment, user behaviour and workflows. All those topics still fascinate me today (expect more on all of these from my Touchpaper postings) – and they were all covered again at UKSG this year. But this year – shock, horror! – I wasn’t blogging about them; my role for UKSG has changed, and others are carrying the blog torch now. 


This frees me up to take a more reflective look at what I have learned at UKSG, rather than trying to capture it all in realtime for those who can’t attend. So – here on “my” new blog, TBI’s Touchpaper – is my snapshot of another great conference:

1. Let go of “publish or perish”. Accept “open or broken”. 

UK academics’ submissions to REF 2020 (the process by which government evaluates academic institutions) *must* be OA at the point of publication. That is surely the game-changer that will mean, from this point on, academics will be trying to submit their best work to a publication that supports immediate OA. We may not yet have completely worked out the kinks, but events have overtaken us; it’s time to satisfice – adopting an imperfect model, refining it as we go. The lack of additional government funding for article processing charges (APCs) means that this particular mandate will have to be met as much by “green” self-archiving OA as by “gold” version-of-record OA. Both publishers and higher education institutions need to be sure that they have a clear strategy for both. (More from Phil Sykes’ opening plenary)

2. Information resources should be SO much more intelligent.

We were all blown away by student Josh Harding‘s vision of textbooks that “study me as I study them” – using learning analytics to identify a student’s strengths and weaknesses, comparing this to other students, adapting content as a consequence, reminding the student to study (“telling me I’m about to forget something because I haven’t looked back at it since I learned it”) and generally responding to the fact that we learn not just by reading, but also by hearing, speaking, and (inter)acting with information. (The highlight of the conference – Josh’s talk is must-see inspiration for all publishers’ product development and innovation.)

3. Authors need help to tell better stories about their research.

With increased pressure to justify funding, and the need to communicate more effectively with business and the general public, researchers need to be able to highlight what’s interesting about, and demonstrate the impact of, their work. Journal articles are but one node in a disaggregated network that together makes up a picture of their research. That network needs to be more cohesively visible. At the moment, the journal article is the hub but it doesn’t do a great job of opening up the rest of the network. I think publishers’ futures will be shaped by the extent to which they help academics surface / tell that whole story. (More from Paul Groth and Mike Taylor‘s breakout on altmetrics).


Click here for the original article and more from Charlie Rapple

Tuesday, 23 April 2013

Breakout C: PIRUS: a new COUNTER standard for article level and institutional repository usage statistics


Peter's slides: http://www.slideshare.net/UKSG/shepherd-pirus-april-2013
Ross's slides: http://www.slideshare.net/UKSG/mac-intyre-irusukuksgapril2013



This talk was given by Peter Shepherd (COUNTER) and Ross MacIntyre (MIMAS).  Peter first told us about PIRUS (Publisher and Institutional Repository Usage Statistics) and its draft code of practice - a full report on the project is available at the given link.  There were many reasons for the development of PIRUS, overwhelmingly an increasing demand for statistics, as well as increases in the number of electronic journals in general, and also as the number of journal articles held in institutional repositories and the desire to track their usage.  COUNTER has now implemented XML compatibility and the SUSHI (Standardized Usage Statistics Harvesting Initiative) protocol, both of which should make reliable usage statistics down to article level easier to collect and report.

The draft code of practice, an outcome of the project, addresses how statistics are collected.  It is meant to "provide the specifications and tools that will allow COUNTER-compliant publishers, repositories and other organizations to record and report usage statistics at the individual article level that are credible, compatible and consistent. COUNTER-compliant publishers may build on the existing COUNTER tools to do so, while an alternative approach is provided for non-COUNTER compliant repositories, which is tailored to their systems and capabilities".  It covers many aspects and measures, amongst them article types and versions to be counted, data elements to be measured and definition of these elements, content and format of usage reports, requirements for data processing, requirements for auditing and guidelines to avoid duplicate counting when intermediary gateways & aggregators are used.  Peter went into detail about each of the various aspects of the code of practice (which can be found in his slides with illustrations), then addressed the next steps, including using feedback to develop a definitive code of practice which publishers will be invited to implement.  There should also be consolidation of usage data from different publisher sources, as well as development of the Central Clearing House.

Ross then talked about IRUS-UK (InstitutionalRepository Usage Statistics UK) and making statistics count.  IRUS-UK, an outcome of PIRUS2, was funded as part of UK RepositoryNet+ and is being led by MIMAS, along with Cranfield University and EvidenceBase at Birmingham City University.  It enables UK institutional repositories to share and expose statistics based on the COUNTER standard; its main objective is to collect raw usage data for all item types within repositories (not just articles, and downloads rather than views), then process the data to be COUNTER-compliant statistics which can then be reported to the repositories.  Data logs are processed daily, using perl scripts and identifiers - then items are split into "known" and "unknown" and metadata is obtained.  Ross showed service screenshots (in his slides, linked above) as well as a live portal demonstration of up-to-date summary statistics of different types.  Searches can be made on DOIs and cross-institution, to for example locate the same article in different repositories.

There are 17 repositories involved at present, with almost 72,000 items and 2.5 million downloads (over 100,000 downloads this month!).  These are pioneering sites sending data to IRUS (from both ePrints and DSpace repositories - interaction with Fedora repositories is in development), with others in the pipeline. MIMAS are currently working on ingest scripts, a portal UI (which will be basic until informed choices can be made) and publicising IRUS-UK. Community engagement has been very helpful when defining and evaluating user requirements - the project staff have been speaking to authors and repository managers, and also running IRUS-UK webinars aimed at both repository managers and tech managers.  The final project webinar will be held in mid-July.  Information can be found on their website (linked above).

Friday, 19 April 2013

Electronic resources and ILL - a self-contradiction?

In this breakout session Helle Brink of Aalborg University, Denmark talked about the inter-library loan system in Denmark, specifically focussing on access to electronic material.

Firstly, Helle gave a brief overview of the library system in Denmark, which has:
  • Royal Library;
  • State and University Library;
  • 98 public libraries;
  • 6 regional libraries;
  • 6 big research/university libraries;
  • 11 university college libraries;
  • 30 institutional libraries;
  • 250 smaller research libraries. 
Denmark also has DanBib, a National Union Catalogue. This fact was particularly interesting to me as I work for SUNCAT, the Serials Union Catalogue for the UK. It was also very interesting to hear about the Danish ILL system as I used to work in a ILL section of an academic library.

There is an automated ILL system in place in Denmark. The delivery service covers 93% of its libraries, and also includes Norway and Sweden. There are approximately 3.9 million requests in 2012 and approximately 3 million materials delivered. Helle noted that some people do not agree with titles being driven around Denmark, but many think that this is better than having the titles sitting on shelves.

DanBib holds information on all materials found in Danish libraries. This includes electronic resources if these are Danish. However, it is an individual library's decision to make foreign e-resources visible in DanLib, at least at article level. All Danish electronic resources are also accessible, but foreign published e-resources are not. There is almost no sharing of electronic resources. IFLA has produced guidelines for ILL and Danish guidelines were updated last year.

DanBib is produced by the DBC, which is publicly funded.There are two ways of searching and requesting using DanBib. The first is Netpunkt.dk, which is for professional access. The second is library.dk which is for public access.

When you search DanLib you can see on the search results page the options available to you to access get the e-book. The Table of Contents, abstract and 35 pages or one chapter of the book can all be offered through ILL.

E-articles can also be requested. There are approximately 65 million electronic articles searchable in DanBib. A pilot project has just been set up to send articles from library to library, where a printed version of an article is sent to the local library for the requester to pick up. In 10 months 16,000 articles have been delivered in this way, though this is a very small number of the overall number of articles. 155 libraries all over Denmark are involved in this pilot. The articles are delivered from the State and University Library, which is the Danish legal deposit library, to libraries. These are not sent electronically but are sent in print format.

In Aalborg University licensing and ILL rights details are manually added to the bib record, which takes a lot of time. Helle remarked that the way this information is recorded in bib records needs to be standardised.

Another project was set up in 2007 whereby the library pays fees to the Denmark Copyright Agency which allows the State and University Library to scan material from about 30,000 Danish and foreign journals. The scanned copies then put into an archive for re-use and any copies requested through library.dk are sent directly to the user in Denmark. In this initiative approximately 150,000 copies have been sent out and approximately 298,000 have been put in the archive.

New models for partial access need to be explored, including:
  • Walk in use
  • Pay-per-view;
  • Reading - no downloading or printing;
  • Voucher solutions, e.g. 10 articles per year;
  • ILL access e.g. after 3 months
In Denmark ILL is free for end-users, and they want to keep it this way. ILL is not declining, even though items are now available on-line. It seems that the more people find on Google and other information sources the more information they actually want. Also, the point was made that some materials cannot be bought, so they have to get these through ILL. Obtaining e-resources through ILL is a kind of contradiction but it is a way of creating partial access to e-resources for all library users.

Helle mentioned that only the British Library requires a copyright declaration, which means getting a signature from the requester and keeping it for 5 years. This is why they try not to use the BL for ILL. Someone in the audience asked how long it takes for a requester to get the material. Helle replied that it takes one day to find and scan an item, and 3-5 days for an actual item to be delivered.

I thought that this was really interesting session. Learning about what other countries are doing to deal with specific issues is always a good thing.

Wednesday, 17 April 2013

PDA checklist for academic libraries

In this breakout session Karin Bystrom and Karin Perols talked about a Swedish project to develop a checklist with important factors for academic libraries to consider before starting with Patron Driven Acquistion (PDA).

PDA is a method of buying resources offered by e-book aggregators, which involves showing un-owned e-books in a local catalogue which then become loaned/rented or purchased under certain conditions set by the library.

The project ran between February to November 2012 and its purpose was to create a base of knowledge that could be useful to other libraries interested in implementing PDA. This would be done by:
  • Collecting earlier experiences;
  • Carrying out a PDA vendor survey (completed by Dawson, EBSCO, ebrary, EPL and MyiLibrary);
  • Having a test period (April - September);
  • Creating the checklist;
  • Publishing a report in December 2012.
The checklist would be written as a result of experiences and be intended to be used by other libraries so that they can be better prepared through thinking through the prerequisites.

Possible PDA objectives were identified as: better collections; better service; saving money; and replacing manual purchasing.

Creating a PDA profile
This involves limiting the titles offered. This can be done in a number of ways, according to: subject categories; publishing year; language; publishers; classification; readership level; price cap; keywords (using include/exclude).
Which limits does your library want and which profile settings are important? Choose your vendor in accordance with your requirements.

In this project the university libraries of Malmo and Uppsala had it set at 3 loans before each purchase was made, whereas at Sodertorn it was 2 loans. At the end of the project it was concluded that  for Uppsala it would have been better to have 2 loans rather than 3 before the title is purchased.

PDA functionality
What functionality is required? Borrowing; loans; mediated function; number of loans per person/per day; interface layout; multiple accounts.
Which PDA model and settings are important? Choose your vendor in accordance with your requirements.

Vendor collection
Look at: the readership level; type of books; publishers; updates to the collection.
Check if the collection from the vendor meets the library's needs.

Accessibility
Think about how the PDA titles will be made accessible: making PDA e-books visible through the local catalogue, union catalogue, etc.; getting MARC records supplied; use of a link resolver; authentication.
Consider where to make your e-books visible. Try to avoid a separate platform login.

E-book functionality
Look at the platform; use of DRM; downloading; mobile interface; speech synthesis; simultaneous users.

Managing the collection
  • De-duplication (only against other e-books). A few members of the audience mentioned the fact that de-duplication is a major problem, especially as some titles have two records, one for the print and one for the electronic version;
  • Unique e-ISBNs (some e-books have different e-ISBNs according to publisher, even though the book itself is the same!);
  • Managing titles already purchased;
  • Updates.
Consider which method for de-duplication is most effective. Create a structured schedule for updating the PDA collection.

Support
What are the library's wishes and demands regarding support, e.g. start-up help and response times?

Statistics
What statistics are needed? Is it important to be able to separate out the use of PDA titles from 'ordinary' titles?

Economy
Look at: Budget (Decide what you can spend at the beginning of the process.); price model; economy reports; invoices; deposit.
What does the vendor's price model include?

Organisation
Look at: workflow; involvement of all staff; competency development; coordination; assessment.
Analyse how PDA will affect workflows and identify possible bottlenecks. Analyse the need for organisation.

A short English version of the report with full checklist is available (http://www.kb.se/dokument/Bibliotek/projekt/Slutrapporter%202012/PDA%20English.pdf).

Conclusion
There are both pros (e.g. getting users involved in choosing library material) and cons (e.g. unpredictability) to PDA. You will need to learn as you go and be prepared for change. Although academic libraries will have their differences, is is hoped that the experiences of the Swedish university libraries will help them to prepare and plan for PDA and help minimise any possible problems.

Tuesday, 16 April 2013

'Towards an 'open' approach for discovery

In this breakout session Kamran Naim from USAID (the US Agency for International Development) provided an overview of work funded by the organisation related to research discovery specific for Africa, but also has a potential global application.

Kamran started by talking about the need to support the global research system. Global research depends on information and collaboration between the developing world and others. Good research depends on good access to information and information sharing.

The USAID Bureau of Science and Technology was established in 2012 to help support research services in Africa. There is limited access to research in Africa, so they are not participating in global scientific conversation. This is a lost opportunity for African researchers. There are 27,000 papers from Africa per year - less than the Netherlands. In Sub-Saharan Africa research output is falling. However, there are positive trends in Kenya. During 2000-2010 research output has gone up. The rate of growth has grown slower for just Kenyan authors, who are dependent on collaborative programmes. There are no citations from research from Kenyan and collaborative researchers. There is also a need to improve the visibility of African research.

Availability of research is not such a big problem. There are a number of access programmes, e.g. the UN's Research4Life, and other local initiatives. Out of the top 20 journals representing 22 core disciplines 80% of journals are available - not unlike in Europe. Kenya has its own consortia and it has about 75% of the top journals. Access to law articles is the biggest problem, as most research is US-based and not much relevance to African law. Maths and geology research is also a problem, but it is getting better.

Accessibility is an issue. Internet infrastructure in Africa is improving. The KENET network covers 90+ institutions in Kenya.There are still some constraints. There are still not many computers on campus. Demand outstrips supply.

Usability, i.e. locating and downloading, is a particular issue. Library resources are more complex. Poor usability comes from poor understanding of use of resources.
One example is Jkuat Library, which has a list of electronic resources. There are a number of silos by category. Separate websites, e.g. Gora, Oare and Hinari, ebook resources, research gateways, OA resources, institutional OPACs, databases involve separate log-ins and passwords at institutional level. There are severe penalties if the password is abused. This makes it a big issue as librarians are very protective of the password. There are very little interoperability between these silos. People are frustrated when the library doesn't have access to a journal.

When looking for resources convenience wins. People go first to Google and library resources go unused. Gateway services are the brokers of access. User expectations: full-text delivery; customisation; easy to use. The ACARDIA study was undertaken in 2010. It showed that there was a low level of awareness and understanding of information resources. Only 40% of respondents had high or good awareness.

A project was set up to address the issue of poor usability, through consolidation of resources and provision of remote access to resources. The aim was to enhance usage, engage researchers and students more and support access programmes. Multiple means of authentication and issues of scale (250 institutions in 4 countries (Malawi, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania)) had to be addressed.

The solution was to try and achieve web-scale 'open discovery', making Research4Life, DOAJ, Citeseer, Archiv, institutional repositories and other free content available, thereby increasing the visibility of African as well as international research. This was achieved by building an open index based on what institutions could access. LibHub was chosen as the discovery system. There is a single search box and the system authenticates students when they click onto it. It is fully searchable and can be integrated within the OPAC and library website, via APIs. It is a resource management system which gives complete control to librarians. In Kenya the collection includes 17,765 journals, over 200 publishers, 35,219 books, searchable using one single search interface.

Case study
Iraq Virtual Science Library (IVSL) was launched in 2005. At the beginning the website had a very poor interface. This was then updated in 2009 when LibHub was implemented. IVSL usage was 70,000 article downloads per month. Now it is 90,000. There have been dramatic results with one interface. Also, Iraqi research output in general has increased. Hopefully, IVSL has had a part to play in this.

Some Problems
Work needs to be done on the following:
  • Exorbitant prices for publisher metadata.
  • Competing interests - aggregators policies.
  • Sustainability - local management.
  • Local hosting - improved, high-speed searching.
  • Authentication - for remote access.
  • Mobile delivery - making resources available on smart phones across Africa.
Future
Discussions are taking place to extend access to the system. There has also been work done on using VIVO, which is a networking tool for scientists. This collaboration enables research cooperation and communication. Technical training is also needed, with the building of MOOCs which promotes greater research capacity.

How to participate
  • Advocate for open communication.
  • Libraries - review metadata provision policies. You shouldn't have to pay for it.
  • Publishers - participate in access programmes and global networks; reach out to African scientists.

I really enjoyed this very interesting breakout session. It was great to hear what steps have been taken to successfully improve accessibility and usability of information resources. Much can be learnt from the work done in Africa.


Butterflies, Publishers and Librarians - final UKSG plenary session


We started out with 'free-range archivist' Jason Scott of the Archive Team and the Internet Archive (home of the Wayback Machine).  His talk, "The twenty-year butterflies: which web cookies have stuck to the internet's pan?", can be watched on YouTube - and I'd highly recommend watching it, as it made me laugh at the same time it really made me think about the ephemeral quality of digital data.  As Jason said, he deals in emotions rather than academia and citations!

Jason started off with the 'Bang with Friends' Facebook app - surely the first time this has ever been discussed at UKSG! - and how it uses the full infrastructure of Facebook to facilitate hookups.  He went on to a discussion of the evolution of internet access - the 1983 Compuserve ad touting electronic mail by saying 'we call it email' made me laugh!  Then he showed us a montage of 'bad idea' ads and promises across the years; think babies 'preserved' in cellophane, children's wallpaper impregnated with DDT, floppy disks guaranteed for 100 years from 1983, text messages sent from 30 years in the future - you name it! 

He used all of these topics to illustrate how so much of the world is now ephemeral machine/person interfaces.  In effect we are cyborgs - and our recovery from that starts with admitting it to ourselves.  And as in collecting rarity is confused with 'expensive', in the world there is no gone, there is only forgotten. The Archive Team was started by people who were bemoaning online losses of wholesale site closure - their philosophy is to grab everything from sites closing down as fast as they can, so that nothing will be lost to the whims of corporate hosts.  Their 3 virtues are rage, paranoia and kleptomania and they have downloaded 500 terabytes of information since they started!

It was frustrating to see his list of sites that had closed down with so much personal information and data deleted.  He focused on the Geocities 2009 shutdown (artists are now studying these sites via the Archive Team's copies, though curators bemoan the lack of metadata), as well as the Tabblo photo site, where people thank the Team for saving their only copies of family photographs. (I loved his idea to replace 'cloud' in any statement with 'clown' - 'saving to the clown' - it may be about as darkly comical someday when sites close down.)  Also, when Twitter decided to delete Posterous, the Archive Team downloaded all the data so fast that Posterous asked them to stop!  They do not make friends with sites, but they don't feel that's important if data is being saved.  It is worth considering Jason's issues with URL shorteners and how he feels they are the worst recent internet idea - what happens if the link to the link doesn't work?  The Archive Team is saving as many of the original links and their shorteners as they can to keep this information from being lost - though I hav eno idea how this would be implemented, I appreciate their effort. 

It's worth checking out Jason's collection of website 'under construction' GIFs at http://textfiles.com/underconstruction - which was later made into an exhibit in the Museum of the Moving Image! 

In conclusion he showed us his 20-year butterfly - a smudged, pixillated image created on an emulator of how an old Macintosh paint program looked on a crap monitor!  Like someone would still think this is worth celebrating, there is always going to be someone that will thank the Archive Team for what they have done and will do.  We also need to remember that human beings are the best and most destructive force on the earth - if anything exists, it's because humans decided to do nothing.  We should encourage inactivity - we don't know what these sites that were deleted would have become in 50 years.  And Jason celebrated his friend Aaron Schwartz - like the Archive Team, he dealt with quasi-legal areas to do what he thought was right in preserving data. 

T. Scott Plutchak of the University of Alabama at Birmingham then gave his talk 'Publishers and librarians: we share the same values, why are we fighting?'.  Those of us (at UKSG) are some of the luckiest people alive - we are living in an era with innovation and we are part of it (this is our Gutenberg moment!).  We are constantly reinventing the way research is done and how it is documented - there are myriad capabilities and opportunities in front of us.  However, there are many challenges too, including technological, cultural and social ones. In this era, publishers and librarians look at each other through caricatures; they are so intimately connected but yet separated by the caricatures and lack of communication between them.  He said that libraries are advocates of social media [though I'm not sure if this is true across the board], where publishing is the antithesis of social media networking - they ensure they get things 'right', it doesn't have to be quick.  Also, publishers tend to hoard their information where librarians of course want to circulate it - they are devoted to the exchange of information, without the barriers of market forces, where publishers see market forces as a mean to exhanging information.  C.P.Snow's 'The Two Cultures' elaborates on a similar 'parallel worlds' split between the science and humanities disciplines. 

We are missing the chance to create new scholarly communication due to ignorance and lack of trusted spaces.  However, when you push the buyer-seller relationship out of the way, there is so much in common between publishers & librarians.  Knowledge will make us better negotiators, partners and collaborators - this doesn't mean we always have to agree, because we won't!  He gave advice to librarians: cool it with the emotions, attend some publisher conferences, be educated by your knowledgeable faculty - and buy a publisher a drink!  He then said to publishers: you are lousy at telling your own story, be more transparent, be more open about your mission/decision making, and it's worth sitting in on some library conference sessions to hear what librarians are really talking about (when they're not discussing pricing with you!).  Willingness and openness are needed to realise that we are all good-hearted people who can work better together!  This talk can be watched on YouTube and the slides are on the UKSG Slideshare page here.