Saturday, 30 June 2012

Weeding - A Vital Process For A Healthy Stock

There has been a lot of bad press recently for Manchester Public Libraries  clear out of it's archives and stored stock. I can sympathise as I've been having my own clear out at work (admittedly on a radically smaller scale) and it isn't always an easy process. For us it has has been made easier by our knowledgeable staff who can provide real feedback as to how the stock is used beyond the reports that can be produced from the LMS. 

Anyway the subject is a shameless excuse to post some pictures of some work from Easter - all made from recycled weeded stock. 

Public Lending Rights and E-Books

The Public Lending Right is the right for authors to receive payment for loans made through public libraries. In the UK the Public Lending Rights Act was passed in 1976 and the first payment to authors were made in 1984. In 2011-12 £6.5 million pounds was distributed to authors under the scheme at a rate of 6.05p per loan. 

Since learning about it I've always wondered how PLR was calculated prior to electronic LM systems were introduced. Apparently they use loan data from a sample of public libraries and I've often pondered on the man power involved in the early days. However, until recently PLR was not something that encroached on my practice much, especially not since I moved into academic libraries where the payments aren't made. However there has been a recent announcement regarding the future of PLR which did get my attention because it raised an interesting point about ebooks that had previously escaped my notice. The fact is that authors do not receive PLR payments for the loan of digital editions of their titles through public libraries even though the Digital Economy Act of 2010 makes provisions for these payments to be made. 

Now often when I talk about the issues associated with ebook lending in libraries I talk about publishers and their increasing coolness towards companies such as Overdrive. Although The Guardian says that The Society of Authors shares this coolness I can't help but wonder how much of an impact extending PLR to ebooks (and incidentally audio books) would have on their attitude. Despite the fact that PLR payments are never going to reach vast sums for individuals there seems something fundamentally wrong about not paying authors for digital loans. If I was an author, watching digital sales climb I wound certainly be wondering about the impact on my PLR payments and questioning the refusal of the DCMS to implement it. I certainly wouldn't be putting any pressure on my publisher to allow e-lending if I knew I wasn't going to receive remuneration for the loans.

This said there is the case (in my opinion a flawed case) that including e-loans and audio books in PLR calculations wouldn't have any noticeable effect. It goes like this:

  • As the DCMS has been cutting the PLRs budget, there is no guarantee that including elending and ABs would result in an increase of this budget. I'm not saying that is right but it is a reasonable conclusion.
  • This means the same budget would be split more ways resulting in a smaller price paid per loan. 
  • If you assume that physical lending and elending statistics are equivalent  and that people borrow the same audio books as real books then incorporating e-loans serves no purpose. Proportionally the figures would stay the same.
The problem with this is that we know that physical lending and e lending is not equivalent, if only because so many publishers refuse to engage with libraries over e-lending. The difference between audio books and physical books must be even larger given the tiny proportion of non fiction books published in audio format. So introducing ABs and EBs into the PLR might mean a shift in the payments received by authors. It might also encourage authors to think more positively about e-lending in libraries.

PLR for Ebooks is only a small part of a large problem when it comes to e lending in libraries but given that the DEA 2010 provides for it there seems no excuse for not making amendments to the appropriate legislation, even if no extra money is available. However if it is to happen we certainly need a functioning PLR registrar and it is exactly this that the DCMS seems to be trying to do away with. So if you believe that PLR is important, for any type of book, why not respond to the consultation currently underway on PLR Functions and Funding and try and stop it being absorbed into another organisation. 

Wednesday, 27 June 2012

Commit to Change - CILIP ARLG

I was going to write up day 3 for my last CILIP ARLG post but I've realised very few of you are going to interested in my plans to brief the students and tutors in copyright legislation. Instead I thought I'd do a bit of reflection on the conference experience and a commitment I made this time last year. That said you're probably not going to be interested in this either.
It won't have escaped anyone's notice that when I go to conferences I value the networking just as much as the speakers and workshops. Some might say, given the amount of sleep I sacrificed this year, that maybe I haven't got my priorities straight. However I would argue that in these austere times, when we have to prove the value of every CPD hour we get away from work, that it is my duty to put  those hours to good use. It doesn't matter what you talk about, it could be sex, drugs or rock and roll, the point is that you have had the conversation, put a face to a name and made new contacts. As my favourite hockey playing vendor is fond of saying, very few of us will ever go to a conference planning on buying a LMS or outfitting a new library. But when you are in the situation where you need that new system, it is those contacts that you will turn to first.

Like many people at the conference I was also keeping up with emails from work. Some of the attendees were treated to my panic after I received a message from tech services telling me the email server the LMS uses had been permanently turned off. It's bad enough that I break the LMS on a regular basis, I don't need anyone else doing it in my absence. However a much more pleasant email came through this morning which links to a commitment I made after writing up last years conference for the COFHE newsletter. (I like to make commitments about change after I go to events, I think it really focuses you and allows you to demonstrate value) Last year I committed to running the Six Book Challenge and using QR codes. I won't cover the QR codes here but that email contained some great news about the SBC.
I'd introduced the Challenge on a small scale through the ESOL courses, making contact with the department head and getting a couple of other tutors involved. Because many of the ESOL classes are run in the community we also had to lend out permanent book boxes to these sites. It was risky, we knew there was a small chance we would never see those books again. But I thought it was really important to try it out. 
The most difficult thing was maintaining contact with the tutors, they are busy people and in these cases often not at main site. This has meant that although I knew 70 learners started the challenge I wasn't really sure how many were going to finish it. To be honest I was a bit worried, what if they'd all given up? I knew my boss wouldn't mind but I'm not the sort of person who likes to fail and I really wanted this to be a success.
Anyway, the email this morning was from one of the tutors telling me that over 20 of her students had completed the challenge and a further 2 had participated. It really made my day. I've also now heard from another tutor with another 15 completers. Of course I'd prefer a 100% success rate but I knew from other organisations that this wasn't really feasible so I'll settle for my 50% for this year. Now all I have to do is get someone to commit to buying the packs for next year before I roll it out to all students at the college. Oh, and get those books back for the summer....
So for anyone who thinks that I just go to conference to have fun you're wrong. I may stay up late having random conversations but I do pay attention and make use of the things I learn. This year I am committing to creating a copyright brief for the tutors and revisiting the feasibility of patron driven acquisition with Dawson Era, both things directly connected to workshops I attended. And yes this last paragraph is mainly for the benefit of my boss!

As a footnote I should probably apologise to Lorenbergs. I was a bit mean about Netloan and it really isn't all that bad. I promise if I'm ever in the market for a booking service I will come and talk to them first. And I recommend you have a look at their Library Guide system which I think our students would love. I just need them to get it onto a touch screen wall and develop a "you are here" mobile app to guide students to the area they need. Just a few minor tweaks, nothing major!

ARLG in Newcastle - Day 2

Right, I'm going to make a confession now. If I'm totally honest I didn't think I got as much out of my sessions yesterday (Tuesday) as I thought I might. The subject guide one was to HE focused and not what I was expecting and although I enjoyed the Eggs in the Morning marketing session I'm not sure we have enough influence within the college to really make much use of it. 

I did enjoy the afternoon plenary from Paul Abernethy so I was pleased to find myself sitting next to him during the gala dinner. We had an interesting talk, it was nice to see someone so passionate about their university and the services offered by it. Although we both agreed that the situation in FE, where we don't always have the strong student unions found in universities, is slightly different, I do envy the strong relationship between the SU and the library at LJM. While Paul admitted that their meetings can be challenging the regular dialogue must be invaluable to the library when they are shaping their services. 

I also enjoyed the City of Bristol College presentation on their elearning focused learning zone. I maybe wouldn't have done everything they have (the emphasis on laptops made me raise an eyebrow given the problems we have with ours) but it is a model that I would like to see more of and one a lot of us can learn from. I love the idea of the library (learning zone?) being in the middle of the building without doors. We are quite tucked away and I know that really impacts which students come to us. We even got to draw our perfect LLC which aptly, given we were focusing on elearning, we did on my Notability App. 

My blog for Day 3 will follow shortly as I've been writing it up on the train before updating this one. Hope you enjoy.

Tuesday, 26 June 2012

ARLG In Newcastle - Day 1

I'm at the CILIP ARLG conference till Wednesday, it is the first annual meet up of the newly merged Academic and Research Libraries group. I'm not going to do a detailed blog but I wanted to put down some thoughts while they were still fresh in my mind.   

 Some highlights include :
  • the keynote speakers pie chart which broke down the way students £9000 fees are spent, apparently libraries only get 4% which surprised me. John Holden got a lot of negative comments on Twitter (mainly for suggesting we don't tweet and showing us what he described as sensitive information) but at least he stuck to what he knew. 
  • The Paul Jackson's (from Demco) spectacular rendition of Hallelujah during the lightening sessions, I believe it is on you tube already. 
  • My first workshop on PDA which made me really think twice about introducing the service without first limiting the service. The amounts Nottingham were talking about put our book budget to shame and while they are a HE organisation I'm not sure how we would cope with the demand it might generate. The lesson seems to be profile, profile, profile and then profile some more!
  • Winning the quiz! (still not sure how that happened) 
  • Getting to, for the first time ever, approach vendors knowing we will hopefully have some serious cash to spend in the next year. 
  • Philip Bradley assuring us that CILIP would harden its stance on volunteers in libraries, something very close to my heart.
I also attended a workshop on writing for Twitter and while it was interesting I'm not really sure what new things I got out of it. When I signed up to the workshop I had just started Tweeting and my understanding of it as a promotion and marketing tool has increased independently since then. The other problem is that at work Twitter is blocked and the College account controlled by marketing so unless I can put together a compelling business case my Tweeting is going to remain purely personal. 

 Generally though the conference so far has been great. It's nice to see a lot of familiar faces from COFHE last year and to not feel so much of an newbie as I did then.

Wednesday, 20 June 2012

E-lending - A Frustrating Experience!

I've just spent a frustrating half hour trying to find some ebooks I want on Manchester Libraries Overdrive system. It's not their fault, but it is annoying when the mystery section seems to consist of Hercule Poirot and Sherlock Holmes novels, or have an eight person hold list.  If I want something decent (and by that I mean current and fairly mindless) to read on holiday it looks like I'm going to have to resign myself to spending £50 odd quid on ebooks instead.
The experience reminded me that I had a trilogy of my own to finish off and also made me recall that there is a big difference between the Overdrive we have here and the one available in America. In over 11,000 libraries in the USA you can borrow ebooks for all types of Kindle devices  using the Overdrive platform, I'm not sure how the logistics work  but Tech Crunch did a useful summary of what it meant for consumers.
You can also view the Kindle Help pages on the subject here: 

Bobbi Newman did a more circumspect summary questioning Amazon's motives and asking  whether Overdrive and public libraries should have stood out for a better deal. Certainly while I wish we had a similar service in the UK I can't help but feel that there has got to be a better model, hopefully one that doesn't tie us into a bullying company like Amazon. (Don't get me wrong, as a consumer I love Amazon, as a librarian and advocate of ebooks I have a very different view)  I'm not got to reinvent the wheel but you can read Bobbi's post here:
As far as I can tell there are no plans to introduce the service in the UK but there have been some recent developments here that makes me wonder about Amazon's long term plan for the Kindle. Most recently they have done a deal with Waterstones that will see Kindles sold in Waterstone stores along with a digital content offer. The deal has raised some eyebrows with many questioning where the value lies for Waterstones but I see it like this: Amazon is bringing it's market share and power, Waterstones is offering its shop floor and merchandising expertise. Waterstones gets a foothold in an existing marketbase, Amazon gets a physical presence for it's ebooks.
I love my pink Sony E-Reader but I wonder sometimes if I've chosen the Betamax of the era. Amazon is  so powerful it's going to take something big to compete with them. Sainsbury's is obviously attempting to provide that competition with it's purchase of Anobil but whether they can really compete only time will tell. Given the poor collections available through public libraries  I can think of no reason why I wouldn't buy a Kindle when I purchase my next e-reader. E-lending was what swung me to the Sony Reader in the first place and my experience so far has not been that great.
Next up will be how elending effects authors but as I'm going to ARLG next week it may have to wait. Looks like the trilogy is being extended!

Tuesday, 12 June 2012

Chartership - Shadowing at Bolton NHS Library

One of the things I wanted to do as part of my Chartership application was learn about other library and information professional roles, especially from outside the sectors I'm familiar with, public and academic libraries. 
After attending the CILIP NW members day I made contact with Michael at Bolton NHS Library and arranged to do a couple of days shadowing with him. I was interested in health libraries because I'd previously worked as health lead for a public library service but not been able to do much with the role. We also have a huge health and social care department at the college so the consumer health remit of the Bolton library would be especially relevant.
I've made detailed logs of the two days but I wanted to summerise some of the main points I took from the visit. I also wanted to say how much I enjoyed the experience (and not just because it got me out of my library - I was actually on holiday anyway)

So my top three things (in no particular order) from my 2 days at Bolton Health Libray.
  1. Revisiting literature reviews - LRs were something I did in Library School and practiced (badly) during my dissertation. And that's it. As a public and FE academic librarian literature reviews are not something I do, we might show students how to do them in a simplified way but it's not a service we offer, even to the tutors at the college. Therefore I really enjoyed going through Michael's systematic flowcharts and discovering relevant information about subjects I have zilch knowledge about. I'm thinking of adapting the system to adapt for our HE students, maybe using an Infographic approach.
  2. Learning about health resources I didn't know existed (like NHS Evidence) and seeing leaflets and posters in a new light. After seeing the poster collection at Bolton I can't help but think that a similar collection would be really valuable to our Health and Social Care Students. Now we just need to find the room!
  3. Learning about the process and tools involved in putting together a current awareness blog like the one Michael maintains at I always knew doing current awareness was hard work but I don't think I'd appreciated how much time it needs to do it well. Thanks to Michael for giving credits for this post I'm not sure how much I helped! I'm not sure I could manage current awareness at this level across all our subjects at the college but I certainly think we need to start giving out short, relevant and timely bursts of information on a more regular basis than we do now.
Thanks again and I hope I can return the favor sometime.

Library Music Video - Johnny 5th Wheel & the Cowards

As part of student services we have a brief library video that explains some of our services. It's succinct and to the point and if I'm honest not that interesting.

A much more interesting video of the library, if slightly less educational, has been produced by a band called Johnny 5th Wheel & the Cowards. Shortly before Easter we were asked if they could do some filming in the library and we agreed without really knowing what the result would be. The  music video they have produced makes excellent viewing and the song isn't bad either!

I'm not claiming any association except it was filmed in our library but I think it's certainly one to share.

Excellent summary of E-Books

I am well aware that I haven't finished off my trilogy on e-books, I intend to do that later in the week. However in the meantime I came across this excellent summary created by LISinfo that I wanted to share.

It made me realise that I still have a lot to learn about ebooks, in fact it was quite sobering. I intend to use this draft (because that's all it is at the moment) to broaden my knowledge of the technical aspects of e-books in libraries and start a new avenue of research for myself. I'll comment on this post as I find things out that relate to the draft.

Saturday, 2 June 2012

When is a text book not a text book?

I've been having a break from Blogging, mainly because I've been spending a lot of my extra time helping out in the pub my husband runs. This means that I haven't had chance to finish off my last post on ebooks and to be honest I don't really have the energy to do it now. 

What I do want to do is have a think about the nature of the ebook. I started thinking about this a few months ago after seeing an Info Graphic looking at the future of digital textbooks. The idea was that the ebook would evolve from their current flat content into something much more dynamic

There has been murmurings from several corners about developing in house ebooks so I've been thinking about what a digital textbook would look like and how it would differ from the ebooks we already have.

30 years ago textbooks were the main resource available to a student on a course. Now students have the internet, online journals and databases, podcasts, videos, and VLE resource available to them. They have much more choice in where they find their information, how they view it and how they store it. But it also means that there are much more places to look. Wouldn't it be better to  develop something related to but not necessarily recognisable as a traditional textbook that brings together all the different strands of information needed for a course while embedding digital literacy and study skills, thus avoiding spoonfeeding our students. 

We already have plenty of tools that we can utilise, (see below) it's just a matter of bringing the content together in a usable and attractive format that delivers the course content in a way that enhances learning. And while we might continue to call such a resource a textbook in order to make it something the students can relate to, ultimatly it would probably be closer to a webpage or VLE than a traditional textbook.

Some ideas for digital textbook tools/content

itunesU podcasts
Message boards/chat
System to monitor progress and usage)
Text information in easily digestable chunks
Study Skills elements (referencing, digital literacy, essay structure, etc)
Additional content in the form of QR codes/augumented reality
Non linear- allowing student to dip in while also following course content in a logical way.
Unlockable bonus areas
Options to share notes, chat etc while also keeping some elements personal - I envisage each student having a personal copy of a 'class set' that are linked at various points to allow group/chat/sharing

This makes it sounds easy but unless you manage to license existing content you're talking about an awful lot of work to take on: Writing the content, mapping it to the course modules, creating tools and most of all packaging it all in an accessible, usable, student friendly format, probably accessible at least in part through mobile devices.  Whether anyone is doing this I'm not sure but  but I hope someone does. There is so much scope for taking ebooks beyond their current format, I just wish I had the knowledge and skills to have an attempt at it.