Wednesday, 1 July 2015

Academic and Special Libraries: Conference 2015 - Report

Academic and Special Libraries Conference 2015

I attended the Academic and Special Libraries Conference as a bursary winner, funded by the Academic and Special Libraries Section of the Library Association of Ireland. My conference report. notes and adjunct pieces of information are below. Conference videos and presentations are available online at:!asl2015-presentations--videos/c1puf. Please note all errors and omissions are mine, for which I apologise in advance. 

Day 1

KEYNOTE: Finding Facts in the Heat of the Moment

Malachy Browne of

The conference opened with the key note speaker: Malachy Browne of He gave an excellent overview of how he validates information and the credibility of his sources, outlining key tools and technologies that he leverages online to do so. This was a great presentation, and really brought home to me how online sources can be used to verify information. This is really transferable to the Academic Library environment where we provide support and training to researchers... some of whom are future journalists themselves.

As breaking news is often published to social media outlets first, it's imperative for, or any journalist /journalistic organisation, to be able to quick verify a story. As consists of a small team spread across the US and Europe, this gives the opportunity to respond and investigate in real-time. For Malachy, the key to successful reporting is to correct errors quickly and verify your sources. 

Verification can take less than 1 hour, using online tools and services. In addition one should build up sources so that if social media sites are offline, they will know where and how to find you. 

Here follows examples of the types of verification tools used by Malachy. 


Uploading an image to Google allows you to access it's meta data, identifying if it is already indexed by Google. This is a reveres image search. Upload an image to Google images using the camera icon and it searches for it. [See... Angela Jolie shows in my matches!] 

To verify the information / image / video/ text, you need check your source, verify the date (1st seen), and check the location (this can be done by checking that the place reported matches Google Street-view). 


Photo file's carry meta data. For example Cannon camera's data is kept by Flickr when the photo's are uploaded. The exif [exchangeable image file data] data from a photo can be checked by uploading it to Instagram can be searched by using Gramfeed, (
/ including Geo-tags (location). Additionally attempts should be made to locate corroborating photos. Other sources to leverage include: Twitter (advance search), Storyful (multi-search). Locating the first mention of an event, is the equivalent of likely having located an eye witness. 

Sources / People / Organisations. 

Checking sources can be as straight forward as search for a YouTube username on Twitter, and vice versa, to locate additional personal information, especially contact details. Other online sources to check using a username, or attempting to track an anonymous source include: Google, Google Plus, Pinterest, Facebook, LinkedIN, Attendee lists for events, and people finder websites such as SPOKEO. ( (US only)). However, because of privacy settings it can take some digging to verify a source. 

Google translate is of value when attempting to track someone who does not have the same native language as you, because it is good for identifying keywords. These could then be taken and searched for elsewhere in the other language.  For example YouTube, can be searched to locate the earliest video of an event, or person. The people posting, and their other posts should also flag any biases. 

The 'Who is' DNS registry is useful for locating those behind a web site.


Google Maps, with the addition of geo-located images can be used to confirm an actual location. Google Earth can place a building within a grid reference on a map. 
Wikimapia, aims to describe buildings, and indicate their locations. 


Upload  the file you want to date to Google. It should locate any other versions of it in the index, and the date's associated with it. Check the weather for the day you are tracking. Wolfram Alpha can be checked for events etc. (, and Topsy ( will let you search back through Twitter. 

When attempting to verify a source etc., it is important not only to vary your search terms, but also to put yourself in the uploader's shoes. 

Additional tools 

Challenges for the reporter / researcher / verifier 

  • Disappearing archives
  • Graphic footage
  • Perspective / Representations 
  • Safety 
  • Support for independent media 
  • Propaganda 
  • Twitter accounts offline 

See more about at and more about Malachy Browne at .
Also of use: Pocket guide to verifying video:
and the 'Verification Handbook':

CASE STUDY: Promoting a Unique Collection: Maynooth University & The Ken Saro-Wiwa Archive. 

Helen Fallon - Maynooth University 

Helen discussed the Ken Saro-Wiwa archive at the library, and how it raised awareness of the library and the archive by being made publicly available. The archive was digitized and make publicly available via the library in consultation with the extended family and Sr. Majella McCarron. The university's communication office looks for uniqueness, in order to get involved in projects and promotion. The book published from the archive was published on an not-for-profit basis using a Trocáire grant. The archive has resulted in significant publicity for the library and the university in Ireland and Nigeria. Newspaper and Radio coverage was received in both countries. 

The project has enabled the success introduction of the concept of archival literacy to undergraduate courses. 

CASE STUDY 1: Librarian as Databrarian

Jennifer O'Neill - DRI Data Curator / Databrarian

Jennifer's role involves collaboration with Software Engineers, Systems Administrators, and  Librarians on behalf of the 6 partner institutions: RIA, DIT, MU, NUIG, and TCD. She also serves on working groups. 
 In a nutshell... 

The DRI database is a custom design which does on conform to any one standard. She described the issues with field description that were encountered, and the logic for deciding that Dublin Core was closest to the needs of the project for meta data. The key to all decisions regarding the selection of the meta data scheme was ensuring that researchers would have the greatest possible capacity for resource / information discovery when the DRI becomes available. 

Data clean up used Open Refine (, while dates were brought in line with ISO 8601, to enable timeline visualization tools to leverage the date data. The project is also using the LCSH linked data service. ( The next step in the project is to leverage the meta data across all the formats in the DRI, and finish with a bulk import. 



Mary spoke about her PhD research into digital literacy and scholarship. She highlighted that the ability to assess research may become more important than being able to carry out research - in some contexts. She also noted that the assumption of technology skills for the current intake of students is a misnomer, and a method to bridge this gap in digital literacy is needed.


Laoise outlined how a dedicated opera archive was created at the Royal Irish Academy of Music (RIAM) using word press, thus creating an online exhibition of the RIAM's materials. This archive includes Alumni information. The wordpress site was set up, and then content was sought from with RIAM. 

The project spurred the creation of a collection development policy. Kathleen Tynan provided much information in relation to Alumni. Flickr was used to create a photo archive, and was launched in January 2014. A twitter account followed in September 2014 (@RIAMOpera). Further collaboration within RIAM inspired two culture night events. 

The project was informal and ad hoc in nature, however, it did change the perception of the library internally and externally, while gaining a very important advocate in Kathleen Tynan.


Jennifer spoke about the need to develop collaborative relationships within your organisation, and focused on how doing so successfully has benefited UCD on the whole, including the library, with regards to orientation and registration. She highlighted that building connections within a large organisation helps build the position of the library and the individual as a professional. The student advisory team were key to the success of the project, as they were able to provide appropriate timetabling.

In order to ensure delivery in time for student registration in the autumn, the process of agreeing to collaborate and plan induction activities began the previous February. Branding was matched for all orientation activities across the campus and across the services. Library staff were included in 'Welcome' talks. A unified hash tag was used for orientation. A virtual tour of the library was made in conjunction with media services using captivate. Peer mentors provided library visits.


Paul thanked attendees for their continuing support of IEEE products. He highlighted their 8 open access journals ( Partner organisations to IEEE were outlined including IET, MIT Press and IBM Journal, Peach Pit E-books have also joined. 

He asked that those with discovery layers check their implementations, as 10% of access is coming via Resource Discovery Layers. 

CASE STUDY: From Crowd Surfing to crowd sourcing - collaboration & Sir Henrys @UCCLibrary

Martin O'Connor - UCC

Martin spoke about crowd sourcing being the ultimate act of outsourcing in relation to his exhibition about the Sir Henry's night club in Cork city. His project was a collaborative work with others. He spent 6 months online, building a buzz, and collection materials for a virtual  exhibition ( The following summer there was a physical exhibition in the library. The activity on twitter about Sir Henry's brought the project to the attention of the media. RTE News, Dave Fanning, TG4, Local radio and the national press all carried coverage. The exhibition has formed the beginning of a popular music archive in UCC. 

There was a blog, which didn't really take u=off until personal stories started to be posted to it.
Facebook was used to gather information for inclusion in the exhibition, and built a community around it. Using social media this way too time and effort. 

However there is a list of reasons to commit to projects like this, as they have a very strong promotional pull for the library, and tie into some strategic objective for the university and the library: 

200 people attended the opening night, and there were 200 pages in the comment book.

Day 2

KEYNOTE: Transformative Shifts in Libraries

Helen Shenton - TCD

Helen spoke of her experience presenting her TedX talk - '
Collaboratories and bubbles of shush – how libraries are transforming' and recapped some of the content. 

Topics such as disruptive innovation, and globalisation are core to the TedX movement. She introduced the concept that we re all competitors in this context. We work in spaces that are Inter / Multi/ Anti Disciplinary. Big data, big content, MOOC's Digital Humanities, mobile technologies and open access all impact on us. Our environment is one where there is pressure on resources, before any of the fore-mentioned are entered into the equation. From digitisation to digitalisation, expectations of what libraries can and should deliver have shifted. A strong example of this is the introduction of social spaces within library zones. 

On the topic of collaborative content and collection development, Helen spoke of both the RECAP project and the 2CUL project in the USA, the UK Research Reserve, and IREL here in Ireland.

Side note: Information about these projects. 

ReCap : The Research Collections and Preservation Consortium (ReCAP) is located on Princeton University's Forrestal Campus. ReCAP consists of a preservation repository and resource sharing services, jointly owned and operated by Columbia UniversityThe New York Public Library and Princeton University. More than eleven million items are currently in ReCAP's care, and ReCAP fills well over 250,000 requests for materials each year, from its partners and from libraries around the world. See more at

2CUL is a transformative partnership between two major academic research libraries, the Columbia University Libraries ( and the Cornell University Library (,  based on a broad integration of resources, collections, services, and expertise.  The collaboration is supported by a two-year planning grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation (  Ithaka  ( provides external consultation services to the project including project management, research, and data mining and analysis. See more at:  

Research Reserve: UKRR is a collaborative and coordinated approach between Higher Education Libraries and the British Library to manage the long-term sustainability of retaining low-use print journals. Large collections of journal back-runs represent a valuable source of knowledge, meaning libraries need to provide a means of access for researchers in order to allow this content to be used. However the low levels of use for some of these titles means that holdings can potentially be consolidated off-site, allowing space to be released for other library uses. See more: 

IReL’s Collection IReL provides access to online resources in Science, Technology and Medicine, and Humanities and Social Sciences. Resources are selected for inclusion following consultation with researchers and academic staff at participating institutions. IReL consists of a wide variety of resource types: E-journals: 50 collections and 4 single title subscriptions, giving users access to approximately 25,000 full-text journals 26 databases 16 e-books / reference collections Funding Funding for IReL has come from the HEA (Higher Education Authority), SFI (Science Foundation Ireland), DJEI (Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation) and the IUA Council (Irish Universities Association). Accessing Resources Staff and students of the seven participating universities have access to all IReL resources. Staff and students at RCSI and the Institutes of Technology have access to selected resources. Access to resources is managed by each institution’s library and they can be accessed by staff and students via their library’s website. See more:

Digitization was the next topic addressed, with a brief discussion about democratization via digitization. Helen pointed out that it tends to be unique items which are digitized, and that these collections of unique items are becoming distinguishing factors between libraries. In addition the digitization of materials leads to increased demand for access to the originals.

Partnership and Collaboration was introduced to the audience next. While Helen finished this segment with the assertion that Bi & Tri lateral collaborations are easier, projects of this nature have a cost factor associated with them which needs to be acknowledged. Helen asserted that as the student experience becomes more focused on collaborative working this has changed the way that library space is used and allocated, in addition to the introduction of the ability to access services 24 hours a day.

Libraries are experienced in working with content, data and meta data, this has evolved into having expertise in dealing with big content and meta data (big), after all our library catalogues have to / should inspire research. The library is now many things to many people: laboratory, social space, cultural space - to name but a few. Students of the millennial generation need noise to work and that group sessions will often create a bubble of noise around the work table.

An innovative use of library data is the creation of heat maps of collection use. An example of this is 'Stack View' . Stack View from the Harvard Library Innovation Lab is a library browsing tool. It gives visual clues to the character of the holdings and their frequency of use.

Stack View from Harvard Library Innovation Lab on Vimeo.
The code is available on GitHub at 

RLUK provides a unique and distinctive collection via a union catalogue / Database (COPAC) and opportunities for research libraries. 

Side note: About RLUK

Research Libraries UK (RLUK) represents 34 of the leading and most significant research libraries in the UK and Ireland. They aim to optimise the contribution that research libraries and collections make to the economic, technological and cultural success of the UK and Ireland. There has never been a stronger link between the quality of the information infrastructure for research and digital literacy and the health of the economy by investing in and developing strategic projects, reports and innovations that are fomenting much greater engagement with and services for the research community. See more: 

Skill sets still need to be further developed especially in the area of Digital Humanities (just now maturing), e-learning and teaching (know the impact of teaching), and Public Engagement. Concepts such as data curation, and mining, embedded librarians, User-centricity, all provide opportunities for up-skilling and re-skilling. 

CASE STUDY: Bridging the Gap between 2nd and 3rd Level Education - A Maynooth University Case Study. 

Elaine Bean - MU 

Elaine spoke about Information Literacy, secondary students and the transition to third level education. It was highlighted that Information Literacy is often crammed into an already busy programme. At MU there is a designed programme to go out to the schools in the area during transition year. 4 weeks are spent in the school and the 5th is spend at MU visiting the library. 

Topics covered in the programme include: the catalogue, shelf numbers, digital foot print, search v research. (As in - research improves assignments). The illustrative examples are kept up to date so the participants can relate to them. Tools used include tweet map  (, a boolean logic game, powtoon (, and animoto ( 

The LIST programme has undergone some changes in design with regard to the school based sessions as some gaps had been identified. The programme helps with the transition to third level, given the absence of school librarians in these schools. 

The library is also part of the university tour given to second level visitors. 

CASE STUDY: Stepping Outside Of The Library Walls - Broadening our Role in Supporting Academic Skills. 

Monica Crump - NUIG

Monica spoke about steeping out beyond the walls of the library / traditional library based role. She highlighted how evolving roles necessitate this. Roles such as teacher, content manager, publishing expert. Monica spoke also about the lack of awareness outside of the library of the subject librarian role. To highlight the skill of these librarians, a few nights a week, group study rooms were used in the Academic Writing Centre. The growth in demand for workshops led to the development of an online module for students (

One of the challenges that the subject librarian team at NUIG faced was trying to balance the academic staff requests for library tours with the library staff desire to turn these into information literacy sessions. This led to a discussion about transition versus retention. 

Discussions with staff based outside of the library showed that the library could not afford to be an 'ivory tower', that the library services were not known about and that study skills were needed for 1st year, by both Academics and Students. 

Consequently the library became involved in Skills Support. This was rolled out across campus, but some issues with ongoing provision have arisen. Ongoing funding is not guaranteed, and sharing of information about funding sources is not part of the organisational culture. More support and better integration is needed. 

A formal report was submitted with clear recommendations and findings. The key to moving forward seems to be peer assisted learning, with allows peers to accrue volunteering credits. Students relate to their peers better. 


The ProQuest speaker spoke about the challenges of matching resources to courses. In this vein they mentioned the usefulness of PDA (Patron Driven Acquistion: and EBL (Electronic Book Library ; in providing recommendations for e-book purchasing. Their E-book Central has 750,000 ebooks, available via a UK/Ireland ebrary platform. The aim with their new interface is for WCAG AAA accessibility. 

CASE STUDY 2. Getting the Measure of Analytics: Using Bibliometrics and Usage Statistics To Evaluate E-Journals. 

Fintan Bracken - UL & Arlene Healy - TCD (IREL Monitoring Group)

Fintan and Arlene spoke about the use of bibliometrics in relation to establishing the value of e-journals, by evaluating impact and value. Their joint project blended usage statistics with bibliometric data for the university libraries participating in IREL. A 'normalized citation' technique was used to calculate the expected citation count of an article in comparison to the actual level of citation. This took the data in relation to the citation levels of other articles in the same journal to create the base line comparator data. This 'global average' informed the measurement of impact for articles published by participating Universities. 

InCites, the Thomson Reuters research evaluation tool was leveraged for research analytics.  ( This service utilizes Web of Science ( data such as citations, rankings and usage data (COUNTER standard This was used to identify the most popular journals. The resultant journals were tied into the national research prioritization exercise classification scheme. Articles cited more that the global average were then identified from within these journals.

It was noted that Humanties journals were not represented within the 
scope of the Web of Science data used for the project. However, it was found that e-journal usage was spread more evenly across the disciplines than might have previously been thought. The research also included comparisons of usage pre and post the IREL initiative. This illustrated that the IREL initiative provides vital access for library users. 

A significant finding of the research was the identification of important journals where Irish Academics are not publishing. 

It is planned that this analysis will be repeated on a 3 yearly basis. Altmetrics are on the radar for consideration for inclusion into the future. 

WORKSHOP 1.  The Scavenger Hunt: Is it an effective tool to teach & learn about collaboration. 

Jane Burns, RCSI & UCD SILS. 

This workshop included active participation by all attendees. Worksheets were circulated at lunch time, giving participants the afternoon to solve three clues:
  1. Ice Breaker (meet two people on the hunt too)
  2. QR code at the Poster Section, lead to a riddle to be solved. 
  3. Locating a physical Item. 
During her presentation Jane spoke about the use of the 'Scavenger Hunt' technique with UCD SILS students. This technique was brought to bear to encourage the development on team and collaborative work skills. Syllabus changes now mean that collaborative / group assignments and projects now form a significant component on SILS courses. The development of these skills should assist graduates as they are developing real life skills on real life scenarios. Some of the skills developed are those to deal with a scenario where you are given unclear information, are under time pressure and have tasks to fulfil. 

During the exercise, the students learn to pay attention to their environment, as the scavenger hunt clues were placed literally anywhere. It brought them along the UCD sculpture trail. Videos were created of the different teams experiences. Geographical and social meta data was added to the video afterwards, as participants were busy capturing the event while it was ongoing. This was followed by the submission of an individual reflection on the experience. 

Lessons learned:
  • Irrespective of how you put a scavenger hunt together some people are going to hate it. 
  • Keep the size small. 
  • Considerable time commitment is required to set up a scavenger hunt.
  • Including the Metro newspaper timestamped the activity to prevent judicious additions subsequent to the official scavenger hunt date. 
  • The individual reflection piece needs to be weighted stronger than the group video component. 

CASE STUDY: United we Stand: Divided we Fall. The Benefits, Value and Impact of Collaboration. 

Aoife Lawton - HSE

Aoife outlined the HSE (Health Service Executive) library services (20 FTE librarians, 100,000 staff), and the necessity to measure the impact of the library on HSE services. She mentioned being inspired by the open access journal 'Collaborative Librarianship' The concept of collaborative librarianship was appealing, as literature showed that it can be an effective method for project delivery. 

Open plan office layouts were discussed in the context of collaboration. The development of a pecking order within such an environment and the impact of differing personality types on the physical an work environment was used as an example of the theory not quite matching the reality when put into practice in some cases. 

Successful collaborations were identified, such as, Wikipedia, Web 2.0, DOAJ, RIAN, IREL,, IFLA, and the library management software procurement consortia of the Institutes of Technology (Millennium) and the Public Libraries (Sierra).

Collaborations are unsuccessful when there are leadership and communication issues, when the project goes off topic, there are differing expectations or participants don't actively participate. 

The potential for collaboration between the HSE and DIT at the new Grangegorman campus exists, especially as upgraded network connectivity will be delivered as part of the campus development. 

The Lenus repository has been a successful collaboration for the HSE libraries. It has an identifiable benefit, recognised value and demonstrable impact.

Another collaborative project for HSE libraries is Repository Network Ireland, where knowledge and expertise are shared.  As is HEAR (Health Evidence Awareness Report; published monthly by a collaboration of health institutions.

There was a caveat to all this, in that collaborative ideas can go wrong, especially when a small geographically dispersed group are attempting to work together and the central figure becomes unavailable, in an unplanned way. 

Aoife closed by giving examples for where opportunities for further collaboration arise. (Co-publishing, co-teaching etc.)

CASE STUDY: Breaking the Third Dimension: Bringing 3d Printing to the Library.

Hugh Murphy and Michael Leigh - MU

Hugh and Michael spoke about the decision at MU library to make a 3d printer available to users, opening it up to those on campus outside of the engineering and science fields, where departments might be expected to provide access to such equipment. Hugh explained the rational behind the library's decision to introduce 3d printing. It was done in the spirit of the maker spaces movement. It has the advantage of supporting emerging styles of learning. 3D printing is about what you do with the artifact produced. Providing this equipment allows the library to support knowledge creation, allowing users to learn by doing, but with support from the library staff. As 3d printing increases in importance to business this is an important capacity for all students to develop, not just those in the engineering and / or science fields. 

As the library IT Developer, Michael outlined the process, highlighting how fast it is to create a 3d item. The design (in the correct format) is run through slicing software to convert it into gcode (open source code) so that the printer can read the code and follow the instructions held therein. 

An item taking 47 minutes to print, cost 27c in materials. 

MU have a chefjet 3d printer, which can print using both PLA and ABS materials (both thermoplastics), is very reliable and prints in a modular fashion. There was some discussion of the selection process, including an outline of the different types of 3d printing equipment available on the mass market. (Sterolithograhy and Extrusion). The materials available to create the 3d printed artifacts were also mentioned. (PLA, ABS and Resin)  

Michael stressed that it did take some experimentation to get the settings right; for example, 0.1mm layer height being the optimum. 

During the current introductory period, the length of time the printer will run for any job has been limited to 9 hours. Print jobs are submitted via a web form, and are limited to the .stl file format. The library uses netfab software to ensure that the model is structurally sound. 

Maintenance is essential, especially a clean build plate. 

MU library welcomes visits to see this new technology in action. 

Example of use: 3d print neolithic figure for use by a post graduate student. 
This application of the technology revolutionises our traditional relationship with our cultural heritage. 

1 comment:

fortune Jackets said...

Interesting. Good read for understanding importance of early vocabulary instruction and vocabulary acquisition in general.illustrative case study