Yesterday I attended #LibCampBrunel, at, yes you guessed it, the Library of Brunel University in West London. This infamous success of Library Camp 2011 in Birmingham made me really eager to go to this mini Library Camp, which was meant to tide us over until Library Camp in late 2012.
The idea of a Library Camp, rather than a Library Conference is a FANTASTIC one.
Here is an explanation of Library Camp:
“Library Camp will run as an “unconference” where participants decide on the programme at the beginning of the event, working on the principle that the sum of the knowledge, experience and expertise of the people in the room is likely to be greater than that of those on the stage at traditional conferences.
The idea is based on “Open Space Technology” (Harrison Owen) which has four main principles and one law:-
1. Whoever comes is the right people
2. Whatever happens is the only thing that could have
3. Whenever it starts is the right time
4. When it’s over, it’s over”
So yesterday, after a 2 hour journey to get from one end of London to the other, I was greeted by the friendly Library staff of Brunel, in a large meeting room playing Will Smith’s Wild Wild West song (the Camp was Wild West themed), smelling of delicious fresh coffee, with tables filled with Krispy Kreme donuts and many other cakes and savoury snacks.
Once the clock struck 11 and about 30 of us were there, everyone quickly introduced themselves to the group, and pitches on topics of discussion for the day were made. Pitches were written on very colourful post-its, which were then placed on a board over 3 sessions, with 4 pitches per session, in spaces thematically named such as Kansas and Nevada.
BREAKOUT 1: CAREER DEVELOPMENT
For the first session I chose to go to a talk on career development. There were a number of graduate trainees who also attended this talk, as well as a librarian trying to move from a commercial to the academic sector. Some general advice was given, such as doing as much volunteering, work placements, temping and short contracts as possible at the beginning of our careers to discover which sector or area we might wish to specialise in, before focusing on that area fully. We were also advised to go to as many open days and library tours as possible, especially at the British Library.
A list of useful websites to use for job hunting was also given:
Recruitment agencies were also mentioned:
Other advice to us newbies in the library profession was to join as many professional associations and voluntary organisations as possible in order to gain useful and relevant experience, such as volunteering for the role of Treasurer in order to gain experience in budgeting, and of course to socially network with others in the profession.
Chartership and its usefulness in career development was also discussed. Very briefly, chartership is a mentoring scheme involving reflective practice, and can take years to complete. The mentee has to create a personal development plan and collect evidence of professional activity, to display understanding of their role and how being a professional helps the mentee in fulfilling their job role. The mentee and mentor meet frequently, and the mentor takes the position of the objective friend, and helps the mentee in their reflective practice and advises them on their portfolio.
We then re-gathered as a group for lunch, which consisted of eating many plates of tasty home-made pies and cupcakes, but also getting to know people better and lots of discussions about baking! There seems to be a disproportionate number of librarians who enjoy baking, and one person suggested that it may be to do with the general personality of librarians. Librarians tend to be perfectionists, creative, and generous people who enjoy baking in order to share their delicious creations with others. After yesterdays impressive cake spread I am inclined to agree!
BREAKOUT 2: NEXT GENERATION CATALOGUES
This session, which was very popularly attended, was led by Andrew Preater, the Information Systems Manager at Senate House Library of the University of London, where I had my 2 week work placement. Senate House implemented a new Encore catalogue in the summer of 2011, and Andrew discussed some problems encountered, and its differing purpose and functionality to the old catalogue, WebPAC.
The next generation catalogues (OPAC 2.0) was first described by the group as:
- beginning in 2006
- using web 2.0 features
- looking and operating more like Google (more supportive of browsing)
- targeting novice users, who may make spelling mistakes and will tend to search by keyword
- possibly allowing social interaction and cloud hosting
- using meta-data from the catalogue records in a better, more improved way
Andrew described how he positioned the new catalogue aggressively; funneling searches in the old catalogue into the new and ensuring that the search on the homepage searched the new catalogue and not the old catalogue. This was to encourage users to use the new over the old catalogue. Currently it is approximately 50/50 usage between the new and old catalogues.
An ongoing problem is acquiring user feedback on using the new catalogue, and a difference in staff and user feedback became apparent, as staff use the catalogues for different purposes to users. Furthermore, a lot of the negative feedback from staff was actually to do with the bad quality meta-data present in the catalogue records themselves, and not how Encore used and displayed the meta-data. Structured data is extremely important, as if an item is not well catalogued, then it will not necessarily be findable by users on the OPAC.
A positive aspect of the new catalogue was how well it uses meta-data, as it can use geographical places from the record’s subject headings as a facet of the search. It also prioritises the 245a MARC field, so that a journal with the title ‘Text’, which may have been difficult to find with such a common word in the old catalogue, floats straight to the top of the search results of the new Encore catalogue. Additionally, users find it aesthetically pleasing to see book cover art in their search results, which was not possible in the old catalogue.
Some criticisms were mentioned of the new Encore catalogue, such as it being feature incomplete. Not all of the features were transferred from the old catalogue to the Encore catalogue. A useful feature that is missing from the new Encore catalogue is the ability to search under multiple date ranges, and not just one date range. This is to do with the fact that only certain facets can be combined to filter a search, such as combining multiple formats, but not all facets have this ability. Additionally, all patron information such as the user’s account, loan history, etc. is still only accessible on the old catalogue. However the next release of Encore should include this feature, and should therefore encourage users to further use the new catalogue.
Other people in the group also discussed their experience with OPAC 2.0s in their libraries, and it has been found that personalisation features have not been particularly useful to users. Tagging and reviews have not been popularly used in these libraries, and where tagging has happened in academic libraries with tags such as “Module G07” for items useful for a particular course, librarians are worried that these tags will have to be altered individually if that module/course ever changes.
Andrew also brought up how difficult it is to get user feedback on the new Encore catalogue, and it was suggested that maybe spending time on the enquiry desk, and seeing how students use the catalogue to conduct what may be advanced searches would be useful. However, this is an ongoing challenge that needs to be further considered.
This session on next generation catalogues has inspired me to write a case study for my MA on the implementation of Encore as an OPAC 2.0 at Senate House Library. Consequently I am sure I will write further blog entries on this as I do more research, which is why this particularly blog entry is more a summary of the session rather than my personal thoughts on the subject, and those who could not make the camp may find these descriptive summary notes useful (hopefully).
If I could summarise this Library Camp in one line, it would be:
A lot of food for thought… and a lot of food!