Thursday, 16 September 2010

New Location for the Liaison Librarians Blog

As of September 2010 this is no longer the place to go for the UTAS Liaison Librarians Blog. Go here instead:

Sunday, 5 September 2010

Apple patent: helpful or restrictive of rights and privacy?

Apple has applied for a patent named:


Apple's justification for this patent is that installation of this proposed technology onto their devices will enable identification of unauthorised users, with, the idea that this will help the authorized user should the device fall into the wrong hands, as there is a lot of personal information stored on one of these things, of course.

However, the patent goes way beyond what is necessary to do this and in fact the technology would act as sophisticated spyware if installed on a device. You will see this if you read the application above and the commentary of the ETF:

IT geeks and hackers are justifiably concerned about this clause in the application:

"4 . The method of claim 3, wherein the particular activity comprises one or more of hacking the electronic device, jailbreaking the electronic device, unlocking the electronic device, removing a SIM card from the electronic device, and moving at least a predetermined distance away from a synced device"

I agree with the ETF that the application discusses technology that goes way beyond what is necessary for users to recover a lost iphone or ipad. I also think that attempts to prevent IT enthusiasts from breaking into Apple devices so they can potentially modify and experiment with Apple programs etc is a backward step.

Tuesday, 31 August 2010

Historious bookmarks

Historious has been touted as an interesting mix of Delicious and Google. Historius allows you to index sites into your own personal search engine to share or transport, then retrieve them by title and pages content. Try it for free.

Wednesday, 25 August 2010

Morris Miller redevelopments: almost there!

We're not far off moving into our new areas, as you can see from the photos below, everything has a space age, light feel and even if there are a few issues still to be resolved, it's looking great.
I might even come to miss the excitement of having a jackhammer just through the floor while I (try to) work and the unexpected network outages and strange smells we've come to enjoy over the last six months...

Peer Review V Wiki Review?

An interesting article in the New York Times on web based alternatives to the traditional peer review process that are currently being tested in a couple of journals.

Is the slow but usually reliable peer review process in need of renovation or should it be torn down and replaced? How would academia respond? How would the gargoyles cope?

(The contributor of this photo is Callum Black)

Thursday, 19 August 2010

UTAS Stalkerspace

If you feel the need to comment on goings on around campus, or read other's comments there's a facebook page for you (You don't have to be signed up to FB to read it). It makes for hilarious reading:!/pages/University-of-Tasmania-Stalkerspace/141791622518940

This is interesting, as people spend less time on campus we are seeing these kinds of virtual groups take the place of groups hanging around outside lecture theatres, moving a sense of community online. It's also good to get a sense of what students are thinking about and how they feel about campus life, which we should definitely be paying attention to. And it's very funny.

Wednesday, 18 August 2010

Weeding Inspiration: Awful Library Books

Highlighting the importance of weeding to library collections is Awful library Books, it's public library stuff really, but continually amusing and interesting, even educational.

Image from "Dancing Disco", now discarded.

Thursday, 12 August 2010

The iPad is perfect for Liaison Librarians

After playing with an iPad for a few days I'm smitten, and I think they make an ideal device for a liaison librarian to have on hand to increase productivity at work.

Here's why:

-Increased connectivity means you can comunicate more easily with colleagues and academics from anywhere on campus (within WiFi range, which is just about everywhere).

-Unlike a laptop you don't have to worry about lugging it around, it's light and very portable.

-It's great to demonstrate our databases, eJournals and particularly eBooks on. EBL books particularly look great and work very smothly in Safari (The web browser) for the iPad.

-In meetings you can take notes and email them straight out to colleagues, or make a useless meeting (You know the ones I'm talking about) more productive by doing something useful.

-Unlike a laptop, it is on (or off) as soon as you press the button, saving time.

-For reference desk duties you can go to the student, sit anywhere and show them our online resources, or search the catalogue while among the shelves, or outside the library, much more convenient than being stuck at a desk.

It's not perfect yet, there are a few niggling issues that I've found so far, but it does just about everything I need 90% of the time very well, and I'm sure Apple are hard at work trying to make the next version even better.

Friday, 6 August 2010

Plagiarism Vid.

An entertaining explanation of academic plagiarism from The University of Bergen that I came across on Stephen's Lighthouse blog. I particularly like the SWAT team.

Thursday, 5 August 2010

Google failures

Interesting news about Google Wave, the supposed email killer that Google invested a lot of time and effort in, they're halting development and may close the service early next year, according to Read Write Web.

Was it a case of a product in search of a problem to solve, or too many over-smart engineers at Google and not enough people thinking through the actual usefulness for real people, or something else? Perhaps we're just not ready for the advanced functionality of Wave?

It's not going to be a big issue for them, unless they stop trying to innovate because of a high profile failure, which seems unlikely at this point. It does highlight the fact that experimentation and innovation have a high failure rate, even for very large and experienced companies, but that's no reason to stop trying, libraries, take note .

Wednesday, 28 July 2010

Library Value

The Centre for Information Behaviour and the Evaluation of Research (CIBER) has been commissioned by Research Libraries UK to help develop a set of evidence-based advocacy materials for library policy makers in higher education. The research will review and analyse the available material, mainly statistical, that relates to the contribution that libraries make to the student experience, and especially satisfaction. The study is led by Dr Ian Rowlands and will report in August 2010.

Tuesday, 27 July 2010

Research! Student study habits

The University of Rochester’s Studying students ethnographic study gives us more than interesting feedback on student behaviour, it also provides some excellent examples of research techniques which could improve the effectiveness of your next library usage survey.

Everything you wanted to know about cloud culture

Join Charles Leadbeater and a cast of experts from the British Council to debate the big issues around cloud culture. Download the book, watch the film, hear the podcast.

Thursday, 22 July 2010

Researchers of Tomorrow
JISC have released another interesting report (which I'm still digesting) - this time with findings from phase one of their study into differences between information-seeking behaviours of Gen Y and older doctoral students. It should be noted that 65% of the Gen Y sample were from pure and applied science disciplines and that some of the differences revealed may be due to the science-bias rather than age factors. Nonetheless, it indicates that some of our assumptions about generation-specific use of information or interest in technology may be inappropriate. Topics covered by the study include uptake of Web 2.0 technologies, approach to information-seeking, understanding of open access, preference for seeking help...One of the biggest differences appears to be in students' use of librarians for support - much more likely with older students. Among the constraints on research progress, with a rating in the middle range, is lack of own research or information seeking skills. A subsequent survey has just commenced and will address:
The role of supervisors and technology take-up
Attitudes towards using mediated content and intermediaries in research support
Attitudes towards using open access
- As research resources
- As places to publish their own research
What kinds of training and support would best serve their needs

New Spice library ad

Have you all seen the Old Spice ad that is around at the moment? This spoof called New Spice - study like a scholar, scholar has been designed to promote the Harold B. LeeLibrary. Its worth a look for a laugh.

Wednesday, 21 July 2010

Tasmanian Yearbook: Morris Miller Library in 1972

While looking for some totally unrelated statistics on the ABS website I came across a feature article from the 1972 Tasmanian Yearbook about the Morris Miller Library.
Total budget for 1970: $414,787!
I like the section on future developments:

Establishment of a library branch in northern Tasmania, as an expansion of the present extension service, will be considered in the future but this is dependent on the expansion of the University’s northern facilities.

Initial steps have been taken to provide an audio-visual collection in the central library. Equipment is to be installed for playing disc and taped recordings, particularly music, both from a central control point and individual cassette-players.

Investigations have been made of the feasibility of automating some library routines but introduction of automated techniques is considered a doubtful economic and technical proposition at the present level of transactions.


Monday, 19 July 2010

The end of the reference desk

From the blog of the McMaster University Librarian:

"After much planning and hard work the last of our reference desks is gone! Our library has completed the transition to “blended services” where library assistants handle most of the transactions at combined service points (circulation, interlibrary loan, research help). Our business library was the first to go in this direction around one year ago followed by our science/engineering library. Finally, I came in this morning to find that the last of our reference desks is now gone!"

Thursday, 15 July 2010

Proceedings of the 31st IATUL Conference now available

The link to the proceedings of the 31st IATUL Conference: The evolving world of e-science: Impact and implications of science and technology libraries held at Purdue University 21 - 24 June 2010 is available at

Wednesday, 14 July 2010

Top 50 librarian blogs

I've found this site which lists 50 librarian blogs. They are listed on the GetDegrees website. If you are looking for more ways to keep in touch with what is going on in Library Land it is worth exploring some of the links.

Friday, 9 July 2010

Top ten trends in academic libraries

The ACRL Research Planning and Review Committee developed a list of the top ten trends that are affecting academic libraries now and in the near future. This list was compiled based on an extensive review of current literature.

Thursday, 24 June 2010

Standardising and Measuring Graduate Abilities

Two large projects underway at the moment seem to indicate that quality of teaching may become increasingly important to regulators and universities.

The Australian Federal Government is introducing minimum standards for universities (and other bachelor degree providers) to develop in graduates in a project managed by ALTC discipline scholars. Standards are being developed in consultation with employers, professional bodies and higher education agencies on a discipline by discipline basis. In the Business area, Accounting standards are currently under discussion.
The standards will be administered by the Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency (TEQSA), which replaces the Australian University Qualities Agency (AUQA). More on TEQSA here:
And the Disciplines Setting Standards project here;

The OECD currently measures the abilities of school leavers as a way to benchmark the performance of education systems among member countries, and now they are aiming to measure university graduate abilities in a project that may significantly change international ranking systems, now based on research outputs. The report in the Australian Higher education section gives more details about this:

So where are libraries in all this? Are advocacy groups pushing for information literacy skills to be included as core graduate abilities by the ALTC? Will the OECD measure research skills or evaluation of information sources as core skills of graduates? If not, why not?

Monday, 21 June 2010

Closing the Digital Frontier

"The era of the Web browser’s dominance is coming to a close. And the Internet’s founding ideology—that information wants to be free, and that attempts to constrain it are not only hopeless but immoral— suddenly seems naive and stale in the new age of apps, smart phones, and pricing plans. What will this mean for the future of the media—and of the Web itself?"

A well considered piece in The Atlantic, dissecting the cultural underpinnings of the rise of the internet and framing the battle between Google and Apple in an interesting way. Michael Hirschorn connects the idea of "Manifest Destiny", to the pioneers of the internet as a social idea, utopians from West Coast USA who proposed using the network of copper cables laid around the world to expand consciousness and build a new kind of ecology of ideas and information.

Well worth a read.

Friday, 18 June 2010

Morris Miller Library: Renovations Progress

Staff were invited to a tour of the half finished renovations in the Morris Miller Library, they're running slightly behind schedule but progressing well.

This will be the new students area, for computers, and the reference and reserve collections

The entrance to the new staff area

The Morris Miller Librarian's Office

The new eLab 1, a combined teaching and student work space

The view from the Liaison Librarian's part of the new staff work area

Friday, 11 June 2010

Librarianship on iTunesU

I've been downloading a variety of stuff from iTunesU for a while, and it's just incredible what is available. Whole course lecture series from the world's great Universities, guest lecturers that are the top names in their fields and all kinds of other stuff, and all for free.

I only thought to look for librarianship content recently though, and while there's not as much as if you're interested in learning about some other subject areas, there is still enough content to keep you busy for quite a while.

For more on how to access iTunesU and what's available, check out the link below:

Tuesday, 25 May 2010

Rethink! Learning styles debunked

Rethink! Learning styles debunked
Latest research now contradicts long held beliefs about different learning styles and utilising them to create the best learning environment. Find out more about learning styles and see where you sit in this debate.

Monday, 24 May 2010

In Praise of Librarians

From a professor of English, a nice article for the start of the week.
Selected quotes below (but do read the whole article, it's well considered in its positivity about our work).

"highly professional guides who can lead us through an increasingly tangled bank of information, librarians provide a voice of caution in a period when drastic, irreversible change seems like an easy fix for a concatenation of expensive institutional ailments."

"In my experience, librarians almost always pass the beer test: They are among the most likeable people you'll find at any college. They have the intellectual curiosity of academics without the aloofness and attitude often displayed by professors. If you are a stranger on a strange campus, the one person who will always save you is a librarian. "

"...libraries are becoming "the new village green." Far from being the declining years of these revered institutions, the present offers new opportunities for collaboration and democratization with the library—and librarians—at the center of that experience."

Tuesday, 18 May 2010

More on the Google Books Settlement

Publishing executive turned industry consultant Michael Cairns has prepared a useful report which makes some well informed predictions about how the Google books project might play out, particularly interesting from our perspective are the predictions on pricing and how important the product might become for academic and research libraries.

If you're not up to date with what the Google Books settlement is, the the first couple of pages of the report are an excellent synopsis of the background and legal issues at stake.

Summary Findings of the Report:

* Libraries will see tremendous advantages – both immediate and over time - from the GBS, although concerns have been voiced (notably from Robert Darnton of Harvard)
* Google’s annual subscription revenue for licensing to libraries could approach $260mm by year three of launch
* Over time, publishers (and content owners) will recognize the GBS service as an effective way to reach the library community and are likely to add titles to the service
* Google will add services and may open the platform for other application providers to enhance and broaden the user experience
* The manner in which the GBS deals with orphan works will provide a roadmap for other communities of ‘orphans’ in photography, arts, and similar content and intellectual property

Tuesday, 13 April 2010

The iPad

(With optional keyboard)

A lot of talk around the web about the iPad at the moment, especially from librarians interested in technology. Reactions seem to range from desire to disgust, but there's always those who will complain about a new product and how it doesn't fit their lives (and extrapolate that no one else will want one).

NCSU libraries are lending them to students and I can see this becoming a trend, much easier to manage than a laptop, although I am sure they will have their own issues.

I feel pretty confident in forecasting that the iPad will have a similar impact in the eBook reader and portable computing device marketplace that the iPhone has had in the smart phone market, really setting the usability standard and being the most desirable and functional option for most people.

As a device for University students it won't replace a laptop or computer for all uses, but imagine only having to carry an iPad onto campus, with all your text books loaded, basic note taking and document layout programs, email and web browsing (and as many games as you could ever use) this is going to be very attractive for both publishers, students and teachers I think.

So, what about libraries? How can we use this new platform to deliver resources in a better way for students?

Friday, 9 April 2010

Demonstrating value

Stephen Abram has a good post about the value of academic libraries, it's a kind of mini literature review with many useful papers and websites.

It is an important area for us as the idea that "everything can be found on google so why do we need libraries?" becomes more prevalent (even among some librarians).

Friday, 19 March 2010

How do students use Wikipedia?

It's no great surprise that a lot of students use Wikipedia as part of the research process and also not surprising that teachers generally discourage its use. It's easy, has very broad subject coverage and ranks VERY highly in Google searches...but how do students actually use it when researching for an assignment?
Stephen Abram has a post linking to a new paper that is based on research on a group of US college students. The conclusions:

1. Students’ driving need for background context makes Wikipedia one of the predictable workarounds that many students use, especially during the first stages of their research process.
2. Course–related research may begin with Wikipedia, but it rarely ends there. In our study, students employed a complex information problem strategy in their research processes, reliant on a mix of information resources that were from scholarly sources and public Internet sites.
3. In our study, we found the combination of coverage, currency, comprehensibility, and convenience drives Wikipedia use, in a world where credibility is less of a given — or an expectation from students — with each passing day.
4. Overall, college students use Wikipedia. But, they do so knowing its limitation. They use Wikipedia just as most of us do — because it is a quick way to get started and it has some, but not deep, credibility.

There's also some discussion about what the opportunities are here for librarians and educators. The full article:

Friday, 12 March 2010

Britain: The Disgrace of the Universities

A link to a thought provoking, if pessimistic article by Anthony Grafton on the New York Review of Books Blog about the changes going on in University funding and research priorities in the UK, specifically a systematic underfunding of slow, serious humanities research and teaching. From the comments it sounds like this is something being felt around the world. Interesting to read a couple of comments dismissing what we would call "learning hubs".

"Administrators have responded not by resisting, for the most part, but by trying to show that they can “do more with less.” To explain how they can square this circle, they issue statements in the Orwellian language of “strategic planning.” A typical planning document, from King’s College London, explains that the institution must “create financially viable academic activity by disinvesting from areas that are at sub-critical level with no realistic prospect of extra investment."

Tuesday, 9 March 2010

Review of a new book about the value of librarians

Review of a new book about the value of librarians.

This book is overdue: how librarians and cybrarians can save us all by Marilyn Johnson.

'Like Henriette Avram, the heroes of “This Book Is Overdue” are resolutely high-tech, engaged in “activist and visionary forms of library work.'

Wednesday, 3 March 2010

eBooks for kids?

I find it hard to imagine picture books being replaced by eBooks, or at least that they would be the last to move over to an electronic platform, but after watching this video of a presentation from Penguin about what they have planned for the iPad, I'm not so sure.

Monday, 1 March 2010

Marshall Breeding on the future of Library Systems

This has already appeared on the Library News blog, but it can't hurt to publicise it in one more place, can it?

UTAS Library recently hosted Marshall Breeding, who was a keynote speaker at the VALA conference in Melbourne. Marshall Breeding is the Director for Innovative Technologies and Research for the Jean and Alexander Heard Library at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, and is a prolific writer and speaker on library technology.

With Marshall’s kind permission we have made his talk available for online viewing and download.

Click here to open the Lectopia page to watch Marshall’s lecture:

For more information, look at Marshall's profile page at Vanderbilt University, which has links to many of his publications.

Wednesday, 24 February 2010

The view from the other side

Steven Bell writes in Library Journal about attending a meeting of scholarly publishers:
"If I had one thought to sum up the experience it would be that the publishers seem genuinely more worried about the future than academic librarians. Despite how academic librarians tend to obsess about the future, we have little reason to believe our libraries and our jobs won’t be a part of it.

Scholarly publishers, however, see deep library budget cuts, institutional repositories, open access mandates, the growing need to offer their wares for an expanding array of platforms and devices, libraries with more and more consortial power, and other threats to their survival"

Worth a read:

Monday, 15 February 2010

"Best Of" LibGuides

I just came across a new feature on the Springshare LibGuides website, the "best of" section. The idea is to promote the best examples of LibGuides subject guides, and the added bonus is that all the featured content is available for use by anyone else. Nice.

Tuesday, 9 February 2010

Libraries and research Excellence (What we need to do!)

A very interesting and readable report published by OCLC recently on the role of the academic library in research assessment exercises says that "Libraries should claim their territory" and I couldn't agree more. The other recommendations are good too, and well worth taking 2 minutes to read.

From the OCLC Website: "Published in December 2009, the Key Perspectives report was written after studying the role of research libraries in higher education research assessment regimes in five countries: the Republic of Ireland, the UK, the Netherlands, Denmark and Australia. This companion report provides a summary of the key findings of the Key Perspectives study, with some context for the recent increase in library involvement in research assessment, as well as recommendations for research libraries"

Direct Link to the report(PDF 267k):

Found via this post at the always interesting Hanging Together blog:

Thursday, 4 February 2010

Free UK Higher Ed Theses - EThOS

Search freely across 250,000+ theses that are produced in UK Higher Education institutions; theses that have been digitised already are offered to researchers for free downloading.

Tuesday, 2 February 2010

Nature launches iPhone App

From the website: "The iPhone application allows you to access science news stories and the latest published research from Nature Publishing Group on your iPhone wherever you are. As new articles are published they're pushed straight to your iPhone where you can read the full text immediately or just save them for later.

Tell the app which journals you're interested in or set up saved searches, which will show you the titles and abstracts of new articles from any journals in PubMed that match your key words."

I think this is significant for a number of reasons, mainly that content providers at many levels are adding value with products like this, and where are the library companies with products offering similar functionality?

Friday, 15 January 2010

85 reasons to be thankful for librarians

For those of you who might be struggling post-christmas break and pre-semester 1

Even has a university library focus......