Cultural Heritage

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ISKO-UK New Technologies for Cultural Heritage and Europeana

Posted by guestblogger on 19th July 2010

About this Guest Post

Stella Dextre Clarke writes about two events she attended recently.

Stella is an independent consultant who specialises in controlled vocabularies. She also chairs the Programme Committee of ISKO-UK. She can be contacted at

ISKO-UK New Technologies for Cultural Heritage and Europeana

Ann Chapman’s post of 10th June noted the excellent value for money offered by recent events for info pros in the Cultural Heritage sector.  I attended just two of them, and can confirm the benefits.

ISKO-UK meeting on 9th June 2010
Free for members of ISKO and only twenty pounds for non-members, the afternoon seminar “Seeing is Believing: New Technologies for Cultural Heritage” <> proved a very popular event, attracting over 90 participants. Even if you missed it, you can still listen to the audio recordings as you watch the slides, all now available on the ISKO-UK website.

In summary, the main technologies discussed were 3-D imaging of museum objects, QR codes (for attaching “memories” to objects), Crowdsourcing in a digitisation context, and federated search for museum buffs. Probably it was the idea of attaching memories to everyday objects that most tickled the audience, although I wonder how many of us really warm to the idea that a tee-shirt you pick up in Oxfam might talk to you about its previous owner. Whether you count yourself among the enthusiasts or the sceptics, see more about the project “Tales of things” at

tales of things home page

Tales of Things home page

And all the talks pointed to practical applications with real benefits.  While 3-D imaging is admittedly still costly, David Arnold showed us some convincing cases of effective exploitation. For example we  can still view in three dimensions those amazing Buddha statues in the Bamiyan Valley that were blown up by the Taliban – they have been pieced together from hundreds of photographs taken from all angles by visitors in the past.

In these days of shrinking budgets, crowdsourcing can be an attractive option for accumulating masses of data. Why would ordinary people willingly give up their time to help with the donkey work of transcribing the handwritten text of the 18th-century philosopher Jeremy Bentham? The answer is just as mysterious as why train-spotters are regularly found lurking on the footbridge at Didcot railway station, but the reality is that they do, and their cumulative efforts are building an extensive archive for philosophical research. Melissa Terras gave us a good overview of the potential and limitations of crowdsourcing, and Fiona Romeo reinforced her message with examples of how it is used at the National Maritime Museum. Do listen to her presentation to pick up more ideas for cost-effective applications of digital technology for museum visitors.

And finally the eMuseum Network assembled by Gallery Systems enables museums to share their catalogues in a federated system with powerful search and export features. The next step, said Sascha Curzon, will be to adapt it for Linked Data applications… but to hear more about Linked Data, you really must attend the next ISKO-UK meeting, an all-day event on 14 September. See for details.

Europeana meeting on 28 June 2010
This was another free meeting (well, free to participants but not to the taxpayer who backs all EC-funded projects) providing inspirations on what can be achieved if you put together the holdings of hundreds of museums, galleries, libraries and other collections. It was accompanied downstairs by the (again free) Collect Exhibition, showing everything a museum could want, from security glazing and identification of death watch beetles to collection management software.

The Europeana portal ( by now provides access to 9 million records, expected to become 10 million with the Danube release later in 2010. (Each successive release has a name such as “Rhine”, “Danube” etc. Inspired by the floods of data?)

Europeana home page

Europeana home page

Metadata management is all important in Europeana, because the aim is not to suck in whole collections, but to direct users to the websites of participating institutions. For each object, museums contribute just a link to a thumbnail image plus metadata complying with the ESE (Europeana Set of Elements) – an application profile of Dublin Core.

For the big national collections, metadata is something we take in our stride, and adding the ESE export format to all the others routinely required may not be a big deal. But for the hundreds and thousands of small museums in diverse communities across Europe, the M word is quite intimidating. Hence the importance of EuropeanaLocal, one of the many satellite projects attached to the main programme. EuropeanaLocal has had great success in helping local and regional libraries, museums, archives and audio-visual archives to sort out and contribute their metadata, sometimes via intermediary aggregators.

Other key projects described at this meeting were:
- CARARE (Connecting ARchaeology and ARchitecture in Europeana)
- Judaica Europeana
- MIMO (Musical Instrument Museums Online)
- ICON (profiting from 3-D digitising)
- the UK Culture Grid

In a panel session at the end, questions were asked about sustainability  - for how long the EC funding would continue and how would the portal be maintained after that? Remarkably (at this time when cuts in national budgets are dominating the news) the panel members sounded quite optimistic. Let us hope that when the digitisation and catalogue rejuvenation enabled by the current programme have been accomplished, exploitation of the products will contribute enough revenue to support their maintenance.

Questions were asked too about multilingual access and plans for exploiting controlled vocabularies. Somewhere in the Europeana family of projects, both these topics are being addressed, but not by any of the speakers at this meeting. With at least 26 languages in Europe to be accommodated, plainly the multilingual challenge still offers plenty of scope for hard work and imaginative solutions.

Links to the presentations can be found in the Collections Trust blog entry:

Posted in Guest-blog, Libraries, Museums | 1 Comment »

More about RDA

Posted by Brian Kelly on 16th July 2010

Free of charge trial period

Don’t forget that RDA Online is available to trial free of charge until 31st August 2010.

ALCTS Presentations

The ALCTS CRS Continuing Resources Cataloging Committee has posted the presentations given at their Monday Update Forum in DC. The Forum focused on the upcoming RDA Testing with following two speakers:

Tina Shrader, a representative from the National Agricultural Library on the Task Group coordinating the official testing of RDA

Renette Davis, who shared thoughts on preparing staff for testing RDA at the University of Chicago.

The presentations are available from:

On the website
ALA Connect

Full minutes from this meeting will be posted in the CRCC Connect area soon.

CLA Pre-Conference 2010 on RDA Presentations

All of the presentation slides for the “Shaping Tomorrow’s Metadata with RDA Pre-conference” from the Canadian Library Association Conference (CLA) is available on the Technical Services Interest Group (TSIG) wiki <>.

ALA Publication

Introducing RDA:  A Guide to the Basics
Chris Oliver

Author Chris Oliver, Cataloguing and Authorities Coordinator at the McGill University Library and chair of the Canadian Committee on Cataloging, offers practical advice on how to make the transition from the Anglo-American Cataloguing Rules (AACR) to Resource Description and Access (RDA).

Previous Posts on this Blog about RDA

Brave New World of RDA

Talking about RDA

Some Links to RDA Information

Posted in Cataloguing, Libraries | 1 Comment »

M@x at The Zone in Devon

Posted by guestblogger on 12th July 2010

About this Guest blog post

Lynda Bowler gives her personal view on how M@x the library dog became the focus of Devon Libraries Web site for children, The Zone.

Lynda is Public Access and Web Officer for Devon Libraries and can be contacted at

M@x at The Zone in Devon

I first met M@x in 2003. At the time I didn’t fully appreciate the significant impact this little fellow would have on both in on my career with Devon Libraries and my life in general, but over the next 6 years all that would change!

It was earlier that year when I first started to really think about our ‘offer’ to children on the library website. I had recently secured the post of IT Assistant – and with it responsibility for our library web pages. Like many library authorities, our content on children’s services was just that – information aimed more at parents than the children themselves. We seemed to be missing a trick and this troubled me.

We wanted to show libraries as fun places to be, provide incentives to read and interact with libraries, for children to make the site their own and visit it often. To do this there needed to be a focus or central character and who better to help design this than …well children.

Wordle screenshot

Wordle brainstorm. Image courtesy of Lynda Bowler

Luckily I had some I’d prepared earlier! My son James and daughter Emily fell neatly into age range of our target audience for the new-look site – so we set to work. We talked about what the character might be like and used a word cloud to help describe it. Then we all grabbed paper and pencils and started to draw. Before too long M@x emerged – however a 2D character didn’t seem convincing – if this was going to work M@x had to be a ‘real dog’ in full 3 dimensional technicolour.  Taking inspiration from Wallace & Gromit I set about making a model M@x. He made his debut in October 2003 when my colleague Paula (then Devon Libraries Children’s Librarian) and I presented him to Strategic Management Team (SMT).

M@x on skateboard image

3-D M@x on skateboard. Image courtesy of Lynda Bowler

So we were good to go. SMT liked the idea – gave us the green light and a modest budget to work with (6K). We formed a project team which included a mix of front-line staff and specialists and we were away! Early 2004 saw a teeny-weeny spanner in the works of our grand design in the form of e-Government. Whilst we’d been busy planning whizzy things for our new website – corporately the freedom was being withdrawn as new branded templates and site structure were being introduced across the authority. We put our project on hold whilst getting down to the work of migrating pages to the new site. We now had to demonstrate to the ‘powers that be’ how our very non-Devon County Council looking site could work within the branded templates. Clearly ‘the force was with us’ – as we convinced the e-Government Team to support our project. They even chipped in some funding for the design work! Why would they do this? Well, I guess it was a good pilot project for DCC to fully test the Content Management environment and how well it could support additional templates outside of the main corporate ones. Lucky us!

Newsletter screenshot

M@x in space. Image courtesy of Lynda Bowler

The site launched on World Book Day 2005 and within a very short time our site stats went through the roof. Visits were increased by 500%. We received 100 entries for our first online competition (with equal number of entries from boys and girls) and over 360 contributions for the site within the first 3 months. We enjoyed great publicity, including an article on the BBC SW website and later that year a prestigious gold award from CILIP PPRG for a Multi-media and website promotion. The positive ‘spin’ was enormous – from demonstrating libraries can make a difference to children’s lives, develop their love of books and reading, valuing and rewarding creativity, making libraries fun and increasing use.

Newsletter screenshot

M@x goes Pole 2 Pole. Image courtesy of Lynda Bowler

The site has gone from strength to strength – and although we’ve had to cut an edition (we’re all feeling the pinch) the site is still updated quarterly which gives us the opportunity to promote major national campaigns like the Summer Reading Challenge, Family Learning/Big Draw and a host of others – but on a more local level.

In 2007 we sent out a prize survey to ask children what they thought of the site and how we could improve it. We received over 700 responses. These were evaluated and a recommendation made to redesign the site and proved some additional content by popular demand! Although children really liked 3D M@x – we decided to opt for the more flexible 2D cartoon version – this would enable us to show him doing things that ‘model M@x’ couldn’t do (swimming for example) and give me some ‘time off’! M@x was becoming quite demanding and I was spending more and more of my ‘home time’ generally looking after him, knitting him sweaters and setting-up his photo-shoots!  Again due to the success of the site our Directorate agreed to fund the revamp. The new site was launched in March 2009.

M@x cartoon image

2-D M@x - the cartoon version. Image courtesy of Lynda Bowler

M@x has now personally interviewed some 22 authors with more lined-up. He is also well known and recognised throughout Devon as M@x the library dog! He’s looking forward to Blogging on the Summer Reading Challenge website this year as part of ‘Space Hop’ and the  new edition of the website will be out on the 19th July.

Other info:

  • 3D M@x was made from Polymer clay (Fimo)
  • The initial project team was made up of about 10 members
  • Each edition we elect a ‘guest editor’ from the project team
  • Four members of staff are involved in creating content on the website
  • Content is added using LiveLink Content Mangement System
  • Flash elements are incorporated via a script – replacing gif images with swf file

View Clay-nine captures imaginations Lynda’s presentation on M@x and The Zone at Umbrella 2009.

Posted in Guest-blog, Libraries | Comments Off

Public Library 2.0 – Blogging

Posted by guestblogger on 5th July 2010

About This Guest Post

Sarah Hammond is a cataloguer at the British Library. In this post she writes about the findings of her research into the blogging activities of UK public libraries, carried out as part of her MA in Librarianship. Read more from Sarah on her blog at or contact her at

Public Library 2.0 – Blogging

I began my research into the blogging activities of UK public libraries in Summer 2008 as part of my MA in Librarianship, fully intending to have it completed by the Autumn. As it turned out, I submitted my dissertation in Autumn 2009; I was concerned that the world would have moved on too much in the intervening time for my research to have any relevance now, this proved not to be the case and actually this delay allowed me to take a longer view of public libraries’ engagement with Library 2.0. I’ll share my findings here and also note a few further developments that readers may find of interest and use.

Sarah Hammond and Reading Companion

Sarah Hammond and Reading Companion

Initial Research

In aiming to discover the level of engagement of UK public libraries with Library 2.0 I specifically focussed on blogging in order to narrow the focus of the research to a scope that was achievable given the time constraints. I also felt that blogs are perhaps the most versatile Web 2.0 tool at libraries’ disposal so that taking a snapshot of blog activity would give a pretty good idea of their wider engagement with Web 2.0 tools. So, I tried to find as many UK public library blogs as I could. Further to this I wanted to explore the attitudes and behaviours of public librarians towards the use of Library 2.0 in their libraries which I did with an online survey.


As of August 2008 I identified 20 blogs (methodology), by September 2009 only 13 of these were still active, 6 inactive and 1 totally defunct (as of May 2010 I found 2 more, although 1 of these is now inactive). Compare this with a concurrent study that found 161 blogs in 39 UK Higher Education Institutions (Hopwood, 2009), also with the 252 public library blogs that Walt Crawford found in 2007, chiefly in USA (he updated his study in 2009 and found a lot had fallen by the wayside).

The literature suggested that public libraries are lagging behind other sectors in engagement with Library 2.0, and blogging specifically; very few peer-reviewed studies had been conducted up to 2009 but there is a move towards deriving and utilising standardised methods for blog evaluation to determine success. As of June 2010 there are some more studies coming through and I’ll blog more as I find them.

So, what’s going on here?
In order to find out, I conducted an online survey, 498 people responded and a wide range of attitudes and behaviours were discovered.

Attitudes to Library 2.0: why aren’t UK public libraries blogging?

The trends that emerged may not come as a great surprise:
• technological barriers presented by IT departments
• barriers presented by prevailing organisational culture
• apathy of library staff, lack of engagement
• a feeling that social networking has no relevance to what a library should be doing
• a lack of time to devote to content creation
• use of other methods of communication deemed more appropriate

The survey responses gathered for this study did seem to fall into both extremes of this debate: that public libraries should definitely be engaging with Library 2.0, that they definitely should not, and every shade in between. Many respondents felt that their library had something of value to be added to the Internet via a blog or any other social networking tool. Many felt organisational resistance to blogging, from other staff and from management. Others felt their enthusiasm met with ambivalence and apathy rather than out-and-out hostility. Many respondents said they felt that their IT departments were resistant to librarians engaging with Library 2.0, a commonly-used phrase referred to the IT department as “gatekeepers” in a derogatory sense. This attitude tended to prevail in the US respondents. Herring et al. (2005) posited blogs as bridging genre, removing the necessity to be so reliant on the IT department to create content and Farkas (2007) has recommended blogging as a means of taking control from webmasters for the information the library puts out about itself and delivering into the hands of the librarians themselves.

The UK respondents complained more about the library as an organisation blocking their online activities. A study carried out by a UK Internet company, Huddle, found that many local government employees were keen to utilise social software for professional reasons but that their access to such sites was blocked by the IT department and the higher levels of management driving policy (Huddle, cited on TechCrunch, 2008). One respondent to this survey replied to the initial email sent out inviting participation by bemoaning the fact that their access to SurveyMonkey was blocked on work computers.

Benefits of blogging

Lee and Bates (2008) Mapping the Irish Biblioblogosphere suggested that demonstrable professional benefits result from blogging and this was also found in some of the responses to the survey: people felt up-to-date with issues in the library and information science world, they felt that reflective writing forced them to think more about what they did in their roles and that they could prove their worth by simply pointing to the ready-made archive. It was also felt that they had access to the rest of the biblioblogosphere for ideas on what to do in their libraries, a sharing of ideas was valued. Some respondents said they felt they were more in touch with other branches in their public library authority because they read their blogs.


Aside from noting negative factors, it must be said that in the UK, and especially in the USA, there are some excellent public library blogs that are widely respected within the profession but more importantly are appreciated by their public. It must also be mentioned that many examples of UK public libraries starting to dip their toes into the wider Library 2.0 world were found along the way to finding blogs, several are starting to appear on Facebook, MySpace, Twitter and more; I have now decided to track this activity too now I know the numbers involved are not yet too daunting.

Where to now?

Exciting developments: Portsmouth and Surrey library staff have developed a UK-specific 23 Things programme and it is currently being trialled “by staff from 11 library authorities, 15 HE/FE institutions, and two NHS trusts… and two intrepid librarians in Australia.” I’m going to put myself through the 23 Things and would urge everyone to get behind this initiative; if librarians fail to keep pace with the changing needs of existing and future patrons then they will render themselves obsolete; these are scary times and our worth is continually being questioned.

And if your managers/IT dept/council authority are still not convinced, then Phil Bradley has an answer for every one of their objections, chuck the lot at ‘em!

Phil Bradley Blog screenshot

Phil Bradley Blog screenshot

Get in touch

Although my initial research is done and the MA safely snagged, I’m keeping going. The blog’s still going and I’ll add more bookmarks to the Delicious pages as and when. I’ve decided to widen my remit to include all Library 2.0 engagement so please let me know via my blog whenever you find a UK public library doing it’s thing: wiki, facebook, twitter, LibraryThing, netvibes, mobile optimised interface, podcasts etc etc and I’ll put them on Blogs will continue to be bookmarked and entered on the uklibraryblogs wiki. Let’s hope that very soon I’m inundated and can’t keep up with all the online activity!


Farkas, M. (2007). Social Software In Libraries: Building Collaboration, Communication and Community Online. Medford, NJ: Information Today, Inc.

Hopwood, M. (2009). Web 2.0 and the new frontiers of information literacy. [Online]. MSci, University of the West of England, Bristol.

Lee, C. & Bates, J. (2007). “Mapping the Irish biblioblogosphere.” The Electronic Library [Online], 25 (6) 648-663.

Posted in Guest-blog, Libraries, Web 2.0 | 1 Comment »

Using Mobile Devices for Library Services

Posted by Brian Kelly on 1st July 2010

CILIP is running an Executive Briefing Day on Becoming upwardly mobile on 15th Sept. 2010 at CILIP HQ. Aimed at all sectors of the library community (public, academic, special and national), CILIP and event partner OCLC have brought together nine industry experts ‘to analyse how institutions can embrace mobile technology to maximise benefits for existing and potential users’.

The press release continues: ‘Experts predict that the mobile internet market will double the desktop market in five years time. It is crucial for libraries to rise to the challenge of making their services available at the user’s point of need.’ Among the questions to be tackled are:

  • What should libraries be doing in this area?
  • What changes are on the horizon?
  • What are the risks of non-adoption?
  • What are the mobile strategies other libraries are currently adopting?

Posted in Libraries, mobile, Web 2.0 | 1 Comment »

How to Run a Community Collection Online

Posted by Brian Kelly on 24th June 2010

Spotted on the Museums Computer Group email list – sounds an interesting event so here are the details as posted by Alun Edwards, Manager of RunCoCo.

Registration is now open for the free RunCoCo/Culturenet Cymru workshop: How to Run a Community Collection Online, which will take place on Tues 27 July 2010 at the National Library of Wales in Aberystwyth.

Community collections help to harness the collective resources of a wider community and spread the costs of creating and contributing to a collection across the education and public sectors. These include The Great War Archive and Community Archives Wales. A community can also be harnessed to enrich an existing collection with tags or comments (like Galaxy Zoo). The organisers would like to invite anyone from the education/public sector who is interested in such projects to take part in this free RunCoCo workshop. As a taster, presentations from previous workshops held by RunCoCo are available online.

The RunCoCo workshop has a number of purposes:

  • This is a chance for managers and others from community collection projects to share best practice and exchange knowledge
  • This will be an opportunity for projects with some shared interests to meet face-to-face. The JISC-funded project, RunCoCo, has also launched an online ‘community of interest’ for those involved in community collection or working to harness a community to enrich an existing collection with tags or comments ( – follow the link on the right of that Web page to Join This Group)
  • Be an opportunity to hear from a number of projects such as Galaxy Zoo and Community Archives Wales, as well as Culturenet Cymru and new initiatives like Citizen Science and The People’s Collection.
  • RunCoCo will disseminate the processes, CoCoCo open-source software and results of the Great War Archive, a pilot community collection.

Places are limited, and similar events in Oxford have been over-subscribed. Please register at no later than 1200pm on 12 July 2010. We will confirm your place as soon as possible.

Posted in archives, Events, Libraries, Museums, Web 2.0 | Comments Off

Local authorities and digital continuity

Posted by Brian Kelly on 21st June 2010

Working with local authority IT departments is often cited as a problem by libraries, archives and museums wanting to use Web 2.0 tools and services, so here is a timely report.

The press release states:

Archives Sector Development at The National Archives has recently published a report on the digital continuity risks of large local authorities in England, accessible from:

Digital Continuity requires strategic alignment, senior understanding and commitment and effective working relationships between Senior Information Risk Owners, ICT Managers, information assurance and governance officers and those responsible for business processes as well as records and information management.  This report is not part of the central government-funded Digital Continuity project but was commissioned to provide an evidential basis for future dissemination of that project’s findings to the wider public sector.

The main findings are:

  • Varying degrees of senior engagement exist in the authorities concerned;
  • A few authorities have information management strategies capable of delivering continuity but only one of the 35 respondents appeared to be addressing it at the strategic, board level;
  • Many information management programmes are partial and disconnected, indicating significant continuity risk; and
  • Many authorities appear to be struggling with coordinating the main internal players in information management.

The underlying survey, analysis and report writing were conducted by our contractors, Richard Jeffrey-Cook of In-form Consult and Philip Lord of the Digital Archiving Consultancy.

In addition to our contractors, we’d like to thank Socitm, the Records Management Society and the Association of Chief Archivists in Local Government (now part of the Archives and Records Association [UK & Ireland]) for their cooperation and facilitation in running the survey.  We hope that the report will be useful not just to us but also in providing levers for local authority information managers to influence their senior management.

Please address any comments or queries to:

Malcolm Todd
Digital Archives Advice Manager

Archives Sector Development
020 8392 5330 ext. 2192

Posted in Addressing Barriers, archives, Libraries, Museums, Web 2.0 | 1 Comment »

Worried About The Future For Librarians? Join the #CILIP1 Campaign!

Posted by Brian Kelly on 14th June 2010

Nicola McNee is worried. Nicola, a school librarian in Bath, has written a blog post in which she bluntly states that she is “worried .. will my job exist in 2020?“.

Nicola wrote her post following the publication of the KPMG Report – Payment For Success report (PDF format) which was commissioned by the new Coalition Government and suggested Public Libraries could be run by volunteers.

Unlike some of responses to this report I have read which felt there is no value in volunteers Nicola feels that  ”there are many things that volunteers can do in community libraries” but goes on to add that “there are a lot more things they cannot do and without the supporting skills of professional librarians everything soon falls apart“.

But how should a better understanding of the skills which professional librarians posses be articulated? In light of CILIP PR initiative called “One Minute Messages” Nicola has proposed that  librarians and information professionals use Twitter to summarise the wide range of skills that librarians use in their jobs.

Nicola illustrated what she means by this with her initial tweet which she posted on Saturday:

I’m a librarian and I teach students to use resources on the web #CILIP1

and followed this with:

I’m a librarian and I help boys to enjoy reading #CILIP1 #cilipfuture

Statistics for use of the CILIP1 hashtag after 1 dayOn Sunday I noticed lots of tweets with the #cilip1 tag (which provides the connection with the One minute message campaign) and created a TwapperKeeper archive for the tag. Using the Summarizr service (which provides a variety of statistics of tweets captured by TwapperKeeper) I  viewed the statistics for use of the CILIP1 tag.

As can be seen in just over 24 hours (on Saturday and Sunday when we should have been watching the football!) there had been 103 tweets from 38 Twitter users.

Summarizr also provides a tag cloud of the words used. This should provides a quick picture of the attributes which professional librarians feel  represent their strengths and the value they can provide.

Wordcloud for the #CILIP1 hashtag after the first day

Coincidentally on Saturday I also created a TwapperKeeper archive or the Times Higher Educations #loveHE campaign. Viewing the Summarizr statistics for this campaign I find 171 tweets from 111 users (although this seems to include tweets only from 7 June and not the launch of the campaign).

On this initial evidence this suggests that Nicola’s one-woman campaign may potentially be able to be as effective as a national campaign organised by a well-known professional newspaper.

Let’s hope this campaign continues to grow.  If you are a librarian or information professional and use Twitter you have an ideal opportunity to join Nicola in crowdsourcing your unique skills mix. And if you don’t have a Twitter account now’s the ideal opportunity to sign up and join in with your colleagues.

So if you’re a librarian or information professional what do you think of Nicola’s idea? Will you join in?

Posted in Libraries | 1 Comment »

Keeping Track of Library Bloggers

Posted by Brian Kelly on 12th June 2010

More library bloggers is a good thing – unless you are trying to keep track of them. Within UKOLN’s Cultural Heritage Web pages we’ve steered a middle course. There’s the Best Of … Blogs section, where we’ve identified some exemplars of people writing for the sector. We also put up a Blogs Directory but even though we limited ourselves to only including  LIS blogs that focus on using Web 2.0, this involves quite a lot of work to keep up to date, making sure the blogs are still there and looking out for new ones.

I see that CILIP News Editor Matthew Mezey has been faced with the same issue, as he noted in CILIP Update, Dec. 2009, p.9. He had created a Web page with a list of LIS blogs which was getting out of date but a query to Twitter provided details of lists already being maintained by other people – so he has retired his own list. So which lists are out there? Well, thanks to Matthew I now know there’s Dave’s Hotstuff 2.0 ‘keeping track of what’s cooking in the biblioblogosphere’, Jennie Findlay’s uklibraryblogs, LIS wiki‘s weblogs page and the Blogging Libraries Wiki.

And what will we do about our blog directory? We could leave the page there and add a ‘caveat emptor’ note to say it’s not being maintained. We could remove the page altogether but what if people have bookmarked it? If we do remove the page, should we preserve a copy of the database behind the page? But before we do any of this, we’d appreciate some feedback. So, how helpful have you found it?

Posted in Blogs, Libraries | 2 Comments »

Events – Value for Money?

Posted by Brian Kelly on 10th June 2010

Four events have been brought to my attention recently – a trade fair, a 2-day workshop and 2 webinars. In a time of financial stringency, staff must justify requests to attend events out of staff development budgets or funds set aside for specific projects. So what coud you get out of each of these events?

Collect 2010 is organised by the Collections Trust, “for collection managers, registrars, archivists, librarians – in fact, for anyone who works with collections, both physical and digital”. This free event will be held at the Kingsway Hall Hotel in London on 28th June. See the Collect 2010 Web site for more details.

With this type of event, attendance is free but you’ll need to take time away from your job to be there and there are travel costs to factor in. You’ll be able to talk to a range of trade participants – in this case they include digital asset management companies and digitisation specialists – which is useful if, say, you are about to embark on a digitisation project or actively in the market for (or just thinking about) buying or upgrading a content management system. With this focus on face-to-face contact though, the only Web 2.0 aspect is if individuals attending on the day post tweets on Twitter or refer to the event afterwards via a blog, so the value is being there on the day.

IWMW 2010 is UKOLN’s annual Institutional Web Managers’ Workshop, which takes place this year at the University of Sheffield from the 12th to the 14th July 2010. The programme includes institutional case studies, presentations on national initiatives and emerging technologies and the chance to actively participate in a number of parallel sessions.

While cultural heritage sector staff aren’t likely to be attending this (you need to pay for your delegate place), the event Web site is a useful resource in itself, demonstrating how social media can be used to build a community of both delegates and non-attenders, before, during and after an event. For example, Ideascale was used to identify and vote for topics for some of the sessions. IWMW 2010 also has its own blog, and a Twitter tag ‘#iwmw10′. To see how this all builds up to a resource that has value after the event, take a look at the IWMW 2009 site.

Finally, the webinars. UKSG’s one-day seminar “Introduction to Serials and E-Resources Today” will be run as a series of webinars, with the content split into three two-hour parts (Part 1 on 30th June, Part 2 on 7th July and Part 3 on 14th July) each taking place from 2pm-4pm BST. The webinars include both presentations and a chance to ask questions and discuss relevant topics and are targetted at “staff new to working with e-resources and serials, whether from a publisher, an intermediary or a library, [while] this seminar may also be of interest to those looking to consolidate and update their serials and e-resources knowledge”.

The second webinar is on RDA, with ALA Digital Reference Publisher Troy Linker giving an overview of Resource Description and Access (RDA), how it is integrated into the RDA Toolkit, pricing, subscription options, and future plans for the continual improvement of the RDA Toolkit. The same content is delivered on 3 separate dates at different times of day, and if you can’t make one of these, they will be recorded and posted to

Thursday, June 17, 9:00am CDT (GMT -5) [Good choice for European and African participants]
Thursday, June 17, 8:00pm CDT (GMT -5) [Good choice for Australian and Asian participants]
Friday, June 18, 3:00pm CDT (GMT -5)

The webinar format means you don’t have to be away from the office for a full day and no extra travel is involved. But it may not be cost free – the RDA webinar is free but UKSG is charging for its webinar series. Another feature of webinars is that they can have an international audience and both the RDA and the UKSG webinars make this point in their event advertising, identifying local times for various parts of the world.

If you’ve been to an event which has integrated social media into the experience, or have “attended” a webinar, why not add a comment and tell us about it?

Posted in Libraries, Social Web, Web 2.0 | 1 Comment »

British Library Survey re Memory Stick Use

Posted by Brian Kelly on 8th June 2010

Just noticed this request on the lis-link email list.  The British Library is now running to a survey about the customer use of digital storage devices (e.g. memory sticks) in libraries. Here’s the request.

Dear Colleague, we are investigating the possibility of allowing downloading to memory sticks, and other digital storage devices for our customers in The British Library. As part of this project we are trying to find out what activities are currently taking place in libraries such as yours.

The survey consists of 9 questions and it should only take about 10 minutes to complete. I would be grateful if you would pass this survey link on to any contacts you think might have useful information.

If you have any questions about the survey or are interested in seeing the results of this survey please feel free to contact me at I will be happy to share the results if you are interested. The survey will be live until Monday 21 June 2010.

Many thanks in anticipation,  Neil Infield, Manager, Business & IP Centre, The British Library, St Pancras, 96 Euston Road, London NW1 2DB     +44 (0)20 7412 7461;;

Posted in Libraries | Comments Off

The Commons on Flickr

Posted by Brian Kelly on 2nd June 2010

Many collections have photographs of unidentified places and people and have thought that they had little chance of ever getting the information needed about specific images.   Now the Flickr Commons initiative offers a place to show these images from public photograph archives; people can then comment on the photographs, perhaps identifying locations and people, as well as adding their own photographs. So that seems a good idea, but how is it going?

Several UK institutions – the National Library of Wales, the National Galleries of Scotland, the National Archives UK, the Imperial War Museum and the National Maritime Museum – have uploaded images to the Commons.

So how are they doing? They are getting comments – but it seems not the useful ones they had hoped for.  One of the NMM images is titled ‘Cat on Steam Yacht ‘Morning‘ – although it’s had three responses, no-one has provided any further information. And that seems to be the case with the other images I looked at.

Are we expecting too much from these initiatives? Is it that the people who did have the knowledge are now dead? Recently I’ve been working my way through some unlabelled family photographs dating back to 1890 to 1930 and all the people in my family who would have known the details are no longer around. Would uploading these to Flickr achieve anything?

If your institution has uploaded images to Flickr Commons, please add a comment to let us know what you put up and what response you’ve had.

Posted in archives, Libraries, Museums | 1 Comment »

Some Links for RDA Information

Posted by Brian Kelly on 26th May 2010

With RDA Online due to launch in June 2010, where do you go for the latest information? We’ve pulled together some useful links to help you.

If you want the fullest information on RDA content and its development, the official Web site is the Joint Steering Committee for Development of RDA. The November 2008 Constituency review draft text is still available but some of the PDFs are large files so bear this in mind if downloading or printing out.

Looking for discussion? Well, in addition to threads on other lists, there is also a dedicated email discussion list RDA-L@LISTSERV.LAC-BAC.GC.CA.

Want to know in general terms about the changes from AACR2 to RDA? You can find a couple of PDF document files on the JSC Web site, while Barbara Tillet, Chief of the Policy and Standards Division at the Library of Congress has done an overview “RDA Changes from AACR2 for texts” that is available as a Webcast (you’ll need Real Player for this) which is 75 minutes long – 50 minutes of presentation followed by Q&A. The Web page for the Webcast includes a link to a downloadable Powerpoint file of the talk – the second link under “Related Library Resources” at the bottom of the page.

The Library of Congress has also put up some documentation about the U.S. RDA Test. Of particular interest might be “MARC 21 encoding to accommodate RDA elements”.

The prices are decided by the publishers, ALA. Prices for the U.S. were announced in January 2010 and they’ve recently added another category for solo users. For other countries it’s ‘watch this space’ on the new RDA Toolkit website

The CILIP Cataloguing and Indexing Group has also put up some useful links on RDA in its Tools and References section.

Previous posts on this blog on RDA are Talking About RDA and The Brave New World of RDA.

Posted in Cataloguing, Libraries | 1 Comment »

As Others See Us

Posted by Brian Kelly on 19th May 2010

There are more library blogs about these days but what do users think about them? Now bloggers are commenting on other people’s blogs. One example is The Metablog – a Blog about Blogs which was created by a University of British Columbia library and information science student as part of their coursework. According the author ‘more specifically, it is a blog about how public libraries in the UK, Ireland, Australia and New Zealand are using blogs’. The UK blogs reviewed to date are Edinburgh City’s Tales of One City, Paige Turner – Swansea Libraries semi-official blog and the Manchester Lit List. I suspect that this blog will not be continued past the end of the course, but it’s worth a look even with just the current content as there is food for thought here – how does your blog compare?

This fits well with this blog’s previous posts on library web sites: Dull Library Web Sites, a guest post by Margaret Adolphus and Why are Library Web Sites so Dull?.

Posted in Blogs, Libraries | 2 Comments »

Web 2.0: transforming libraries and the curriculum

Posted by guestblogger on 27th April 2010

About this guest post

In this guest blog post, Sue Batley considers the impact of Web 2.0 on library and information management teaching. Sue is the leader of the MA Information Management course at London Metropolitan University.

What educators do is driven by the needs of practitioners and employers, so Sue would appreciate your thoughts on the challenge of using Web 2.0 within the library and information environment; she can be contacted at:

Web 2.0: transforming libraries and the curriculum

I’m probably preaching to the converted here, but everyone seems to acknowledge that Web 2.0 has the potential, at least, to break down the boundaries between libraries and their users. Traditional library services are increasingly being accessed by users who are operating from outside the library walls and we are seeking to introduce new, collaborative ways of engaging with people for whom the library is only one of many sources of information. This can be perceived as either an opportunity or a threat, it is certainly a challenge.

Technology has long been a driver of change in our profession. It perhaps started with the fountain pen (so much easier to write catalogue entries), and continued through the automation of technical processes, the introduction of online information services, and development of web-based services and e-collections. None of these innovations, however, substantially changed professional practices. We were doing basically the same things, just more efficiently. Web 2.0 is different. It could fundamentally change the role of the library and information professional.

At London Metropolitan University we have, in the last few months, examined our curriculum and have started to prepare ourselves for the future. What I want to do here is to explain the background to recent developments in our CILIP accredited MA and then go on to describe a new module which, we feel, addresses the particular challenges of using Web 2.0 to enhance library and information service delivery. We would very much like to know your thoughts on this as what we do is, of course, driven by the needs of practitioners and employers.

As educators and as trainers of information and knowledge professionals we obviously have to continually review our syllabuses in response to professional needs and technological innovation. We knew that our syllabuses had kept pace with change, we were confident that we offered a good, up-to-date professional education, but we were also aware that the title of our course hinted at a rather outdated model of library and information provision. Historically in our courses there was an emphasis on sectors and specialist information sources. We had modules on Academic Libraries, Special Libraries, Business Information, Health Information, and so on. This sectoral approach was reflected in the course title: Information Services Management. We no longer operate in this way. This is not to say that specialism isn’t desirable or necessary, but that we as educators are well placed to develop transferable skills which our students’ own inclinations and experience can contextualise in specialist areas. So we’ve developed modules in Information Architecture, Managing Digital Resources, Applied Information Research, etc. The culmination (for now) of these changes is a new course title: MA Information Management. It looks like a small change, and there’s nothing surprising or innovative about the name, but it suggests a broader, less compartmentalised perspective.

So where does Web 2.0 come into this? The answer is actually ‘everywhere’. I can’t find any module, in either the MA Information Management or in our other CILIP accredited programme, the MSc Information and Knowledge Management, that doesn’t either address Web 2.0 applications directly, or at least assumes their use in communicating with and engaging with professional and user communities.

Since the technologies emerged writers have been demonstrating how they can be incorporated into professional practice. As academics we use Web 2.0 applications in our personal and professional lives. Our students are active in the blogosphere, in collaborative tagging and bookmarking, and in social networking and they are increasingly incorporating Web 2.0 technologies in their working lives too. Part of their professional education and training has to address how they can use Web 2.0 to best effect.

This brings me to a new module developed by my colleague Susie Andretta, which I think best demonstrates our commitment to embracing the opportunities presented by Web 2.0. Probably the main challenge lies in Web 2.0 facilitating a new kind of relationship where there is the possibility for an equal dialogue between librarians and their users. One manifestation of this is that users are demanding a new kind of language in their dealings with information systems and services, one that does not include the jargon which, and this is common in most professional groups, seems to define our professional identity. As Susie Andretta has argued this is not a threat to librarians, but an opportunity to speak the language of the users and make libraries more responsive and user-driven. Susie’s paper at the IFLA 2009 conference in Milan focused on transliteracy and urged delegates to ‘Take a walk on the wild side’.

Susie’s research found that transliteracy, the ability to communicate and interact effectively via multiple channels across a range of platforms, has already permeated the library and information world. Maybe not all of us realise it yet but we are transliterate, we’ve already risen to the challenge of Web 2.0. What we haven’t done so far in our professional courses is to embed transliteracy skills in the curriculum.

Susie’s research has resulted in the development of a new module: Transliteracy and Web 2.0. The aim of the module is to examine approaches to Web 2.0 technologies within the context of information provision and education and to evaluate the impact on the transliteracy attitudes and
practices of their users. Students taking the module will be able to:
•    define the meaning of transliteracy based on the information context in which it is situated
•    interact with a range of Web 2.0 technologies within diverse contexts
•    create a Web 2.0 technology resource targeting a particular group of users/learners
•    evaluate the impact of this provision in terms of fostering the users’ transliteracy attitudes and practices

The assumption is, and it’s surely a correct one, that if we’re going to make the most of the opportunities offered by Web 2.0 then we have to embrace it wholeheartedly and utilise it to communicate with our users in diverse ways and on equal terms. In doing so we benefit ourselves as a professional group and we benefit our users, by enhancing their information skills and their engagement with Web 2.0 applications. It is all about collaboration after all.

Andretta, S. (2009) Transliteracy; Take a walk on the wild side. In World Library and Information Congress: 75th IFLA General Conference and Council. 23-27 August 2009, Milan, Italy.

Posted in Guest-blog, Libraries, Web 2.0 | Comments Off

Find people, build networks, share ideas

Posted by guestblogger on 22nd April 2010

About This Guest Post

In his role as chair, Martin Bazley introduces us to the Digital Learning Network (DLNet). The group was formerly known as the E-Learning Group for Museums, Libraries and Archives and has much to offer cultural heritage professionals looking to expand their knowledge in technical areas and make contact with peers with similar interests.

Martin can be contacted on using the DLNet email (

Find people, build networks, share ideas

The ELG has become the Digital Learning Network – DLNet for short.

DLNet has been created by the group formerly known as the E-Learning Group for Museums, Libraries and Archives. The idea is to go back to basics and get people talking about technology and learning. There are so many people whose job involves some kind of educational/digital role, but who don’t have a network and really depend on colleagues and informal relationships to share information about new developments.

It’s all about connecting people and sharing ideas

The Digital Learning Network arranges events, meetups (called ‘ThinkDrinks’) and tries to encourage people to come together – whether it’s 3 people in a pub or 100 people at a conference.

Have a look at a short video from the first London ThinkDrink:

YouTube Preview Image

So we are changing our name from the E-Learning Group to the Digital Learning Network – DLNet for short – and putting more effort into getting people talking and sharing ideas, as well as doing all the stuff we used to do.

Just created, and growing fast

In the first few weeks more than 65 people have registered, and 15 local groups created.

Have a look at how the site works, in this short introductory video:

YouTube Preview Image

Find people, build networks, share ideas

  • Do you want to find people working in digital learning in your local area?
  • Do you want to build networks?
  • Do you want to exchange ideas, experiences, and best practice?

We can help. We’re getting conversations going about using digital technology to support learning:

  • online – through the website or Twitter
  • face to face – all over the country, in networked groups

Here’s what you can do:

  • get a few people together for a ThinkDrink – at the pub, out for tea, at the zoo – wherever you like
  • let us know what you talked about – Tweet it, post pictures on Flickr, write a blog post, or post a short video on YouTube
  • form your own Digital Learning Network group

And don’t worry, we are still:

  • exploring how technology can help deliver inspiring and creative learning in museums, libraries, archives and the heritage sector
  • running our highly popular events such as conferences and seminars
  • hosting the email list, which is now (instead of

You can be a member of DLNet Online for free.

Or become a full member of DLNet – and receive discounts on bookable events and other benefits. Costs £12 individual, or £40 corporate (up to 3 member discounts per event)

If you’re already a paid-up member of the ELG, you are now automatically a full member of DLNet.

Have a look around the Digital Learning Network website and let us know what you think:

Posted in archives, Guest-blog, Libraries, Museums, Social Web | Comments Off

Virtual Speakers at Events

Posted by Brian Kelly on 20th April 2010

The recent CILIP Executive Briefing Days on RDA (at which I was one of the speakers) included one presentation by video from a speaker based in the US.

This could have been done in a variety of ways. It could have been a ‘talking head’ with the person simply speaking to camera; initially that may feel more interesting but there is an obvious disadvantage of no slides to refer back to after the event (unless these were supplied either in the delegate pack or made available after the event). Another way is for the speaker to be filmed giving the presentation so you see them and the slides. Thirdly, the speaker could simply do a voice-over narration while we watched the slides. We got a combination with a five-minute introduction of the speaker talking to camera followed by voice narration while viewing the slides. This meant that we got a feel for the person and an image of them we could hold in our heads during the slide section. For me, that worked well.

Why do this? Cost is an obvious factor – paying the travel expenses from the US for a fifteen-minute slot is not realistic, especially if this has to be re-couped via the delegate fee. It can also help provide a balanced programme, especially if it is not possible to get a specific viewpoint from UK-based presenters or the video presenter is particularly known and well-regarded.

Do delegates feel cheated by including video presentations? I think that depends on various factors. For example, how many video presentations are there within the programme? In this case there was just the one video presentation alongside four longer face-to-face presentations, which seemed to work well. In the context of a whole day event, I think that two short video presentations would have been acceptable (e.g. one in the morning and one in the afternoon) but for a shorter half-day event better to have just the one. And of course, there can be no face-to-face interaction: delegates cannot ask questions of the speaker or speak to them during the breaks and the speaker cannot join in panel discussion sessions.

Could one have an entire event by video presentation (or video-conferencing)? Yes, but this turns it into a different type of event and delegates would have different expectations. The Collections Trust Museum Development Officers Support Day in Nov. 2009 filmed the presentations on the day and then made these available on YouTube after the event. Have a look at these and you’ll get a feel for how wathcing an entire event via video might feel. So, if you have experienced individual video presentations or virtual events using video presentations or video-conferencing, please add your comments.

Posted in archives, Events, Libraries, Museums | Comments Off

To ‘fb’….or not to ‘fb’

Posted by guestblogger on 16th April 2010

About This Guest Post

Libby Taylor is the English Faculty Librarian at the University of Cambridge and gave a great presentation at our last Web 2.0 workshop in Cambridge.

Libby initially trained as a teacher before moving into librarianship and as a result tends to focus on training, communication in its broadest sense, and the delivery of effective and personalized services. She is passionate about addressing the needs of users and tailoring the service she works for appropriately. Her post is about the English Faculty’s use of Facebook and the dilemmas it posed.

To ‘fb’….or not to ‘fb’

Running a subject-specific library affords the opportunity to tailor services and resources towards a very specific clientele. The 600+ undergraduates and 200+ postgraduates, plus Faculty, who regularly use the English Library at Cambridge tend to have similar research and working habits. Whilst always sociable, the mode of study is solitary for the most part, and involves a mix of online and print, where print is the staple diet and online is useful largely for reference-style study.

A very recent survey poll (March 2010) of undergrads and grads (approximate 40% response rate) in terms of Web 2.0 tools shows widespread knowledge of the most popular tools. However, in terms of active use, there are relatively few tools regularly being used with Facebook and YouTube most commonly used. It was disappointing to see that less than 5% of those responding to the survey used RSS feeds (as our library news has an RSS feed it’s clear we need to educate users more about using it rather than just assuming that they will).

Effective communication relies on good interaction between people, where information is shared, and where collaboration leads to re-packaging and further dissemination. The key issue for information providers is to effectively communicate with our users. Web 2.0 tools are clearly focused on interaction, sharing and collaboration which should make them ideal for effective communication. However it is crucial to know your users and work within their context. At the English Faculty we can make use of other means of communication which in many ways better suit the people there (at least for the moment). Non-text based communication in the form of flowers, or pictures/photographs on the plasma screen situated above the issue desk often result in effective communication. They are useful precisely because the users are physically there in the Library with resulting face-to-face contact far more likely than in a science subject, for example. Effectiveness may also depend on making the right choice for disseminating/sharing any particular type of information and choosing whether we need to engage users interactively or not; choosing perhaps between using the VLE, face-to-face, or a blog or Facebook.

Using Facebook at the Faculty Library stemmed from a summer of playing with Web 2.0 tools in 2008. However we were also considering changes in the website and also how to set up and make use of the Cambridge VLE facility, CamTools. To add to this, we had also spent some time in the previous few months considering how to market and promote the library’s resources and services better.

By the end of the summer there were simply too many ideas, too many formats, and no real focus on what we were using the any of the tools at our disposal for and what purpose they would fulfill that would make sufficient difference to warrant the time invested in them. It took very little effort to set up accounts e.g. to Facebook, for a WordPress blog, for Delicious, for iGoogle, for a Wiki, for Pageflakes etc. But what were we going to use them for and did we have the time to make them useful as well as covering all the other services that we felt we needed to do?

Taking stock was crucial and we did this by firstly making decision about which formats/tools we were going to use. Secondly we wrote an information delivery procedure document where we described all formats to be used to effectively communicate with our users, the purpose of each, what style of delivery suited the format, who would be in charge of disseminating information via that format and finally space for evaluation.

Drawing up the document helped us to consolidate what we were doing and to consider what we could use most effectively. With respect to Web 2.0 tools we now use a WordPress blog for the Library News on the Library website: It’s tied down and is just for staff to add news i.e. it is not intended to be interactive. We also have a fairly active Facebook library page.

The style of delivery of information on the Facebook page is lighter, it includes ‘fun’ information, and has become a place that we store our photographs. We keep basic information about the library there. Statistics seem to indicate that we have a fair number of visits to the page, but realistically we know that many library users will not be ‘fans’ of the page or ignore many of the wall posts. Many ‘fans’ have nothing to do with studying English at Cambridge. Using our procedure document as a basis we can make decisions about what we include on Facebook. However, Facebook is just one example from the list of different formats that we use to communicate with our users.

Lessons we learnt from trialing Web 2.0 tools:

  1. Making sure that we make efficient use of the time available.
  2. Working with staff skills and interests will usually result in focusing on certain methods more than others .
  3. Tools change, users’ study habits change and with day-to-day priorities changing it is important to re-visit the tools and formats for effective communication.

Finally, for us, the most important factor underlying all decisions about what to use, whether it be Facebook, or an email, is the need to understand our users and know how they will best absorb the relevant information that they need. Personal interactions are an excellent method for communicating and Facebook provides a means for replicating the personal approach in an online environment. However, change is all around us and we need to be flexible enough to regularly re-consider all the options available to us.

Posted in Guest-blog, Libraries, mla-social-web-workshops | Comments Off

Liver and Mash: Mashed Library in Liverpool

Posted by Marieke Guy on 14th April 2010

The Mashed Library series was mentioned to delegates on the UKOLN/MLA Web 2.0 Workshops.

The event is aimed at those who work in libraries and are interested in how they can use technology to deliver their services. The offical byline is “bringing together interested people and doing interesting stuff with libraries and technology“. Although the event is looking at ‘mashing up’ services and using data sets you don’t have to be a ‘techie’ to attend and those who aren’t developers but have fair technical skills will still enjoy the event. The series is organised by people in the Higher Education sector but it has a lot to offer those in the cultural heritage sector too.

The first Mashed Library event (Mashed Libraries UK 2008) was held on 27th November 2008 at Birkbeck, University of London. Since then there have been events at the University of Huddersfield (Mash Oop North, 7 July 2009) and Birmingham City University (Middlemash, 30 November 2009).

This year the event is taking place in Liverpool on Friday 14th May and registration has just opened. Places are limited so sign up as soon as possible.

For more information on the series of events keep and eye on the wiki or the ning group.

Posted in Libraries, Technical | Comments Off

Searching by Pictures

Posted by Brian Kelly on 12th April 2010

I recently came across this feature at Nottinghamshire Public Libraries Web site on their NeLib2 ‘your online library’ page. At the bottom of the left hand side bar there’s a link to the Visual Library to ‘search your Library’s books and materials using pictures’. That sounded interesting so I had a look.

The first thing to note is that it is only for the junior stock (Kid’s Library) and not for adult stock. That said, the immediate impression is good. The layout is simple and uncluttered and it looks interesting. The first search page has image icons for ten categories: animals, fun stuff, handicrafts, holidays, kid’s concerns, science, spooky things, sports, stories and United States. Here’s a slightly edited view of the first set of icons.

Searching by pictures: Nottinghamshire library

Clicking on either the image or the link text below any one of these takes you to another page of images – Autumn is one of the images under Science. Clicking this image takes you to a results page with a nice simple presentation of the details (title, author, date and shelf mark) alongside an image of the book jacket. Picture books get a PIC indicator, other items are marked J for junior stock.  But the results page can be long – under Stories I found Fairy Tales which has 442 titles – and appear to be in random order. I think the image part of the search works well but do wonder whether a child would look at more than the first page of results?

I also wondered how this might work for adult stock.  Who would it help? Maybe adults with lower literacy levels or without English as a first language? And for other users the visual route does provide a different impression to the usual text based pages – if I came across it in my public library catalogue I’d probably have a browse around. There would certainly need to be some work on first chunking up the stock with suitable headings and then finding sufficient appropriate images. It might not work for all parts of the stock. The number of items in the final display is an issue (even if I – as a professional – am making a search for something specific, my heart does sink when faced with more than a couple of pages of results) – and I wondered if further intermediate levels of images might be needed.

When I asked how it had been developed, Nottinghamshire said that ‘Kid’s Library’ was a standard package supplied by their library management system SirsiDynix.  They have had little feedback and feel that most of their customers are not fully aware of it and while they would like to develop it for other types of stock and customers, they have not had the time to do so.

Is anyone else with a SirsiDynix system using this package? Please share your experiences – it would be good to get some other views on this.

Posted in Cataloguing, Libraries | Comments Off