Putting Laura’s Dark Archive to bed

When I started this blog, I was the Librarian at St Hugh’s College (University of Oxford). Since then, I’ve worked at the University of Sunderland as the Law Librarian, and E-Resources Librarian; at ORCID in Education and Outreach, and I am soon to begin a new job at Crossref. It’s time to wrap up this “record of a librarian’s reflections” now that I am moving from libraries and into the world of digital research infrastructure.  Here are some of this blog’s Greatest Hits by theme:

Open Access




And my personal favourite, Reminiscing about “23 Things”.  23 Things Oxford started as an after-work project done for fun and became a gateway to so many conversations, relationships, presentations, and skills. From small acorns…

My next job will be at Crossref, the sponsors of 23 Things Oxford back in 2010, which is a beautifully symmetrical way to close this chapter.

Thanks for reading!


So long, Sunderland – and some data-related unfinished business

After nearly four and a half years at the University of Sunderland, I’m moving on to a new role at ORCID, as their Education & Outreach Specialist.  For most of my time at UoS, I’ve been the E-Resources Librarian and the Law Librarian, which has been a very interesting combination of roles.

When I started at UoS in 2012, we still had Classic Athens authentication and Single Sign-On running in parallel, EDS was implemented but needed more work, and EZproxy was hardly used.  Since then, the use of Classic Athens has been discontinued and SSO has been fine-tuned to give different access permissions to different types of users, EZproxy authentication is in place for all platforms which support it, and I’ve overseen the successful migration of our old EDS to the new EDS FTF.

I’ve enjoyed teaching others about various e-resources topics, especially while dressed as a pirate.  Other subjects included licences and subscriptionsjournals and platforms, and hyperauthorship.

Writing and editing my chapter on Open Access for the Legal Academic’s Handbook helped me to distill and refine my ideas in this field.  Participating in Helsinki University Library’s International Staff Exchange Week 2014 was an excellent experience and further fuelled my Suomi-philia.  And developing a framework for Professional Practice Forum helped to develop communications and nurture relationships within our Senior Library Staff team.

My participation in UKSG has grown from attending the 2013 conference (where I first heard about ORCID), the 2014 conference, being invited to join the UKSG Research & Innovation Sub-Committee, and then being elected to UKSG Committee.  I’m looking forward to carrying on this role in my new job, and glad that ORCID is fully supportive of my involvement.

I would like to thank the colleagues who have helped to realise many of these projects, especially Rachel Webb and Ian Frost, trusty allies in periodicals and IT.

Lastly, there is some unfinished business concerning EBSCO EDS and Single Sign-On.  Bref, EBSCO and Eduserv are proposing a change to how users log in to EDS, so that they will also  immediately be logged in to their personal folders.  This solution will appeal to libraries, as users often struggle with the current situation where you log in first to the system, and then again (with different credentials) to access your personal folders.  However, this change involves sending users’ personal data outside the EU, and therefore has Data Protection implications.  Here is my most recent communication to Eduserv on the matter, sent in advance of last week’s webinar “Approaches to authentication – evolution, security, options for the future”:

I would like to ask you about how the use of EDS and SSO fits with the Data Protection Act (1998) requirements that personal information used by organisations is not transferred outside the European Economic Area without adequate protection.
I have made this enquiry before have been told that it is up to the organisation to decide if EBSCO’s use of servers outside the EU complies with the DPA (really?).  This respondent also quoted the Safe Harbor framework, appearing not to know of the EU Court of Justice decision in 2015 that the Safe Harbor regime did not provide a valid legal basis for EEA-US transfers of all types of personal data.
I wonder if someone at this webinar may be able to provide a better response.  I urge Eduserv and EBSCO not to pass this matter back to individual organisations alone, but to offer some advice and guidance about the implications, especially as many library staff making decisions about implementing the EDS & SSO option may not be aware of the legal implications.

I have not yet had a response from them, and the recording of the webinar has not yet been released so I don’t know if it was addressed during the session.

Library colleagues, please be alert to the implications, keep asking Eduserv and EBSCO about this, and don’t let your users’ data be released without adequate legal and ethical safeguards.

What I wish vendors knew about academic libraries…

I’ve recently had a flurry of meetings with account managers and other representatives from a number of our subscribed databases and journals.  It struck me how often I had to explain certain things about the higher education environment which I had incorrectly assumed account managers would already know about.  So here’s my wish list.

What I wish vendors knew about academic libraries

  • The serials crisis
  • Older and newer universities – effect on incomes, assets, (perceived?) status
  • Jisc banding and differentiated pricing
  • Student fees and their contribution to universities’ funding (it’s only part of the picture)
  • Effect of international students and their higher fees
  • Lifting of the cap on undergraduate numbers from September 2015 and effect on recruitment & revenue
  • Not all universities teach all subjects (so don’t try to sell me something we don’t need…)
  • Other factors affecting budgets: VAT, exchange rates

If vendors knew about these things, perhaps they wouldn’t be so surprised when I tell them about shrinking budgets that can’t cover what we had this year, let alone allow for new subscriptions.  Or that I don’t want a free trial if there’s no hope of responding to  positive feedback with access next year.  Or that I am not interest in Resource Y, however fabulous, because we don’t teach that subject.

What else would you add?  Let me know in the comments!


Resource discovery and hard-to-reach users

I gave this presentation at the recent EDS Conference in Liverpool.  EDS stands for EBSCO Discovery System, a type of resource discovery interface which allows users to explore a whole library collection from a single search page, rather than multiple catalogues (e.g. for books, e-resources, and special collections).

Find out more about the EDS Conference on the conference site, and from Emma Coonan‘s Storify summary.

EDS and hard-to-reach users

What makes a group hard to reach?

Presentation slide 1Hard-to-reach users fall into 4 broad groups:

  1. Can’t – obstacle such as geography or technology e.g. partner college students and staff; IT/email issues
  2. Won’t – passive non-engagers e.g. students, library staff
  3. Shan’t  – attitude of change-resistance or even hostility e.g. academics, library staff
  4. Last mile, or the last 10%, or the high-hanging fruit – law of diminishing returns.  It’s hard to get everyone on board. Give yourself a break about this group – you can’t force them; you can only provide opportunities for them to engage.

The adoption curvePresentation slide 2

Source: Rogers, E. (2003) Diffusion of innovations, 5th ed. New York: Free Press, p410.

The adoption curve is often applied to technology, but applies to all change.  People respond to innovations in very different ways.  Rogers groups these behaviours as innovators, early adopters, early majority, late majority, and laggards.

User behaviour typesPresentation slide 3

  • Innovators – first to adopt, risk-tolerant, social
  • Early adopters – more selective, highest opinion leadership, and highest social status.  These are the people with influence, not the innovators.
  • Early majority – after a slow start, the innovation is taking hold once this group are on board.  They are seldom opinion leaders, but have above-average social status.
  • Late majority – a sceptical group, with little opinion leadership, and below-average social status.
  • Laggards – these are the last to adopt, as they treasure tradition.
  • Also – leapfroggers! When former resistors upgrade, they will often need to skip several generations in order to reach the most recent technologies.  Maybe you know someone who has never had a home computer, but has a tablet.  Another example is telephone networks in rural areas – landlines were too expensive to set up, but once mobile phones and better reception became commonplace, such communities went directly to having mobile phones, skipping over the landline stage.

StrategiesPresentation slide 4

Use different approaches, and with different groups of people, as the implementation of your resource discovery tool progresses.

Pilot it with the innovators – these people will enjoy testing the system, and will perceive bugs or gaps as challenges to overcome, rather than as flaws of the system.

Nail it with the influencers, whose buy-in you need in order to bring the early majority on board.  This is a time for final tweaks only; the system itself must be reliable by this point.

Scale it with the early majority, and milk it with the late majority.  Do what you can for the laggards, and don’t be too hard on yourself and your marketing efforts if they refuse to join in.

Although the resistance of the laggards is an obvious obstacle, the late majority can also be a difficult group to win over because they tend to be sceptical.  Continuity makes people feel secure (especially in academia), and the late majority may feel stressed if they can see that those around them have adapted and they haven’t.  Furthermore, if they took an entrenched negative view early on, it will be hard for them to change their minds and come on board.

Tailor-made messagesPresentation slide 5

Tailor-made marketing messages are essential for spreading awareness of and engagement with your new discovery tool.

For whom? Consider your audience.  Different messages for different users.  Are you communicating with new students, returning students, academic staff, library staff, other groups?

What?  Sometimes the core message is enough; others may need more detailed or more technical information.  Pitch your message according to how much your target group need to know.  For academics, use flattery – a key academic liaison technique!  This could involve making it clear that interface is primarily for students, or aiming high with detail in the hope that 10% might be retained.  Academics are impressed by someone who knows details, even if they don’t understand them.

When? Don’t just do it once!  Repetition.  Don’t be afraid to do virtually the same thing again and again.  Repetition.  Other factors, not least of all the participants’ willingness to co-operate, and need for your information, will be different each time.  Repetition…

How?  Recycle and repackage your messages.  Use a variety of methods: live presentations, demos, leaflets, videos, screenshots, handouts, webpages – different media appeal to different people.

Don’t give up hope with laggards – one of them may be a leapfrogger!  If you have an academic who resisted the shift from print to electronic journals, a new tool could provide a way for them to appreciate the flexibility of e-journals from a different perspective.


#ISEWLib2014 Collection management and e-resources

Main post: #ISEWLib2014 at the University of Helsinki Library

Top tip: use reference lists from dissertations to help inform decisions on which are the most important journals.

Are students satisfied with ebook-only?  Some replies I received on Twitter:

  • daveyp @laurajwilkinson I’d say the stats we’ve got show the answer is increasingly “yes”, despite DRM & iffy vendor platforms
  • MT @daveyp We’ve not crunched stats properly, but seems age is a factor with younger students more likely to have higher usage
  • MT @daveyp average number of ebook platform logins per student per year is growing an at exponential rate for us at the moment
  • .@daveyp That’s what we do [buy e where available, and fewer print copies]. Students say they prefer print, but data suggests they use e if no print alternative
  • MT @ostephens when asked, students still want print but are pragmatic & pref[erence] depends on task, location etc
  • MT @daveyp given increase in [ebook] usage, I think libs should be pushing pub[lisher]s harder for a better user experience

Idea of restricting ebook access to subject groups of students to reduce costs, but higher risk of breach of licence (if the “wrong” students gain access), and reduced opportunity for interdisciplinary work if readers can’t access texts outside their field.

Helsinki Uni Library’s online acquisition proposal form for students & academics to make recommendations.  They also use patron-driven acquisition (PDA) and evidence-based selection (EBS).

We discussed the legal/logistical issues around selling deselected books to students.  I liked the idea of using the money raised to buy plants for the library!

39 Library is the smartphone

“Library is the smartphone, smartphone is the library”

Terkko Navigator – an excellent site.  It’s a single search interface with all the usual info sources, plus library and academic staff profiles, and RSS feeds.  Please will a funding body give @Terkko money to make the system open source so we can all use it?  The journal and database functionality is powered by SFX and MetaLib, the rest is built in-house.  Various journal metrics are displayed alongside journal titles.

Eevaliisa Colb’s presentation on Digital Libraries Now.

The library has a duty to serve the university community and the public community.  Machines are users too! [think libre open access and machine indexing]

Aalto chair – a tool for strategic IT planning:

59 Aalto chair 2

Seat = our service offer; legs = customer-centredness, cooperation, ‘more with less’

‘More with less’: In IT, anything is possible; but we must prioritise – we can’t do everything for everyone.

KITT – Finnish research library statistics database

45 KITT - Finnish research library statistics databaseLayers of authentication for Helsinki Uni e-resources: Shibboleth-type single sign-on is widely used (Haka is the Finnish uni federation), and IP address access too.  As in the UK, there is a mismatch between the potential granularity of SSO and the reality of ‘authorised user’ clauses in most e-resources licences.

“IT should be the servant of library services, not the master”

Importance of informal contact and regular communication between library & IT in working well together.  It was reassuring to learn that many of our e-resources issues are common to all our countries.  For example, licence compliance; especially when tech or Uni business model exceeds imagination of the licence.


Highlights from #UKSGlive 2014

My learning round-up from the 2014 UKSG Annual Conference

The future of scholarly communications: David De Roure, Oxford e-Research Centre

Video of talkSlides from talk

The Big Picture: more machines, more people

The Big Picture: more machines, more people

Is journal publishing model still fit for purpose?  Why has it worked so well for 350 years?  He identifies four main trends: shifts in scholarship, end of the article, research objects, social machines

In The Big Picture (see image), David identifies four zones of interaction between more machines, and more people.

“Knowledge infrastructure” can be anything from a journal to a library.  The Data Deluge, now called Big Data.  In future, will research start with data, rather than a hypothesis?  See what patterns emerge, then try to explain?

See also: Beyond the PDF2 conference outcomes, including why we need an open alternative to Google Scholar.

The R dimensions

The R Dimensions

See also: David’s presentation “e-Research and the Demise of the Scholarly Article

David points out the reproducibility [of experimental procedure] is not the same as reproduction [of an experiment].

researchobject.org –  “the Knowledge Hub for the Research Object community, to disseminate knowledge about Research Object, its concept, adoption, and other latest development.”

R Dimensions – “Research Objects facilitate research that is…” (see image) The list of R words was added to during the talk itself via Twitter!

Implementing e-resource access for alumni: Anna Franca, King’s College London

Video of talkSlides from talk

As Anna mentions in her talk, the main issue for e-resources managers is how to set up the authentication so that alumni can access only the pool of resources which include them as authorised users, and not the wider pool of platforms and databases licenced for current students and staff.

Authorised usersSee also: Extending access to academic research content to NHS users: a pilot (Carolyn Alderson) videofurther info

Trust and authority in scholarly communications in the light of the digital transition: David Nicholas, CIBER Research Ltd; Carol Tenopir, University of Tennessee

Video of talkFinal report

This was an interesting report into how academics judge trust and authority in sources they use, and how they view open access publications.  It’s a pity the slides from the talk aren’t available (I’ve nudged the conference organisers and will update this post if they become available).

Traditional indicators of trust include journal name, journal reputation, author expertise.  Now, access issues are also included – reader has to be able to get to the article.

Reality of trust for academics:

  • many read things they “trust” that they would never cite e.g. Wikipedia
  • politics influence citing and publishing
  • cite to protect yourself and add “trustworthiness”
  • publish to help your career – clouds the picture.  Younger academics are more conservative than older academics, for this reason
  • use different criteria for reading, citing, and publishing

Trust in reading is complex.  To decide if a document is trustworthy:

  • read abstract and methodology
  • check for credible data and sound logic
  • look at source’s references – end of first stage, navigational metrics
  • colleague recommendations
  • experience with author – end of second stage, social metrics
  • familiarity with journal
  • peer-review linked to quality
  • impact factor is a factor… – end of third stage, traditional metrics

Tenopir trust in reading

How trustworthiness is determined for citing:

  • known and trusted authority – author, journal, or conference
  • Seminal work in the field
  • Supports methodology
  • Research group/institution known

How trustworthiness is determined when deciding where to publish:

  • traditional metrics still important
  • influenced by promotion criteria
  • institutional research policies
  • audience of a journal
  • likelihood of getting published

Differences by age groups (also disciplines).  Sciences happy with OA if peer-reviewed; Humanities more comfortable with traditional options.  Younger researchers (under 40) more likely to trust non-traditional methods of dissemination e.g. social media, but they conform to norms when dealing with older researchers.  They feel pressure to publish in highly-tanked journals to obtain research grants.

Academics cite people they know because they trust them.  They cite OA journals if properly peer-reviewed.  There is lots of confusion about economic model and peer review in OA, especially among older academics.  Lots of older academics think OA means not peer reviewed!  [Le sigh.]
But…  Academics recognise that there are problems with peer review:

Tenopir Dark Side of Peer Review

They still recognise it as essential, despite its flaws/pitfalls.

Metrics – trust and impact factor:
Tenopir trust and IFAlt metrics did not come up.  Most participants unfamiliar, or sceptical. They like metrics that can easily be understood.  Authors like to see number of views and downloads for their articles – just don’t call it alt metrics!  Popular from publishing point of view, but not from trust angle.
When considering trust in an online environment, connectedness is key.  A link sent by a contact carries more weight than one found by search, for example.

Some common thoughts about Open Access:

Tenopir Open AccessI think there is scope for the library to get involved and help educate academics on this!

The impacts of impact – challenges and opportunities of ‘multichannel’ academic work: Ernesto Priego, City University London

Video of talkErnesto’s article on this topic

Some great quotes:

  • “Publishing – where content goes to die.”
  • “Like reading the first few pages of Morrissey’s autobiography, you soon realise that academics never read any of the contracts they sign.”
  • “In publishing, we’re aiming for collaboration, but what we’re getting is competition.”

I liked Ernesto’s description of scholarly publishing as a network of interconnected outputs – nodes, not monoliths.

Ernesto argued that publishing should be affordable (article/output processing charges, with waivers for students, unemployed etc); sustainable; some (not all) rights reserved; easy to mine; use DOIs; easy to map, measure, track, reproduce, share.  Scholarship should promote a culture of sharing, and it should be rewarding, not exhausting.

  • “Why do we publish? Social, public responsibility in the act of research. Public money, public access.”

JiscLAMP – Library Analytics and Metrics Project

Slides of talk

JiscLAMP was a project to develop a prototype shared library analytics service for UK academic libraries. Find out more at the JiscLAMP site.


ORCID provides a persistent digital identifier that distinguishes you from every other researcher and, through integration in key research workflows such as manuscript and grant submission, supports automated linkages between you and your professional activities ensuring that your work is recognized” – it’s like a DOI for a person.  Register now to get your ORCID identifier!

ORCID Live - waiting for one to pop up in Antarctica

ORCID Live – waiting for one to pop up in Antarctica

ORCID Live allows you to see IDs being registered in real time – it’s quite hypnotic watching the pins dropping 🙂

Discovery or displacement?: a large-scale longitudinal study of the effect of discovery systems on online journal usage: Michael Levine-Clark, University of Denver Libraries; John McDonald, University of Southern California

Video of talkSlides from talkSummary by Rose Robinson

I enjoyed the statistical approach, and it provided an interesting alternative to the 2013 UKSG report “Impact of library discovery technologies” which was somewhat inconclusive.  See also some earlier thoughts on an ethnographic approach in this area.

The main point to ponder for me was the finding that increase in e-resource use varied by resource discovery interface used, with the greatest increase in use seen for Summon, followed by Primo; and then EDS and WorldCat Local which were similar.

UKSG Runners

And not forgetting the intrepid band of runners who joined me for a run before the conference dinner on Tuesday 🙂  We really should have this on the official programme next year!

2014-04-15 UKSG runners


Content alligator

Whenever I hear “content aggegator”, this is what I’m really thinking: