Web Magazine for Information Professionals

Internet Librarian International Conference 2010

Claire Tylee, Katrin Flemming and Elly Cope report on the two-day Internet Librarian International Conference focusing on innovation and technology in the information profession, held in London on 14-15 October 2010.

Thursday 14 October

Track A: Looking Ahead to Value

A102: Future of Academic Libraries

Mal Booth, University of Technology Sydney (Australia)

Michael Jubb, Research Information Network (UK)

Mal Booth from the University of Technology Sydney started the session by giving an insight into current plans and projects underway to inform a new library building due to open in 2015 as part of a major redeveloped city campus. As this new building should be able to respond to demands for many years to come, Mal emphasised how important it is to consider the future users as well as library and technology developments.

The plans include an underground automated storage and retrieval system which will be able to hold one million books and serials leaving around 250,000 books on open access. For this to work, library staff are aiming to implement RFID tagging before the relocation of most of the collection underground in 2013. Besides creating a new, practical and also attractive space, there is the opportunity to re-think the concept of services offered. The idea is for the library to become a mobile service provider and move away from the traditional role of librarians being passive collectors to being creators that aren’t hidden away in their offices. There is also the aim to establish the library as a cultural and social hub for the University community. More details on this can be found online [1].

Michael Jubb gave an overview of recent findings with regards to financial developments within the Higher Education sector. Although expenditure on libraries has risen over the last ten years, so have student numbers, and research activity and libraries have to share the overall budget with more and more stakeholders. The important question is how to deal with budget cuts and where to save.

The research carried out by the Research Information Network (RIN) shows that so far many libraries only seem to be implementing short-term solutions; for example, temporary recruitment freezes and not replacing posts after staff have retired. However, what is really needed is a re-think and a re-structuring. Libraries should see the current situation as an opportunity to reconsider and firmly establish what the library is and does and take on new areas, for example information literacy training, open access and data curation. Developments that might influence the everyday work include user-generated acquisition, the move to electronic-only access, outsourcing of routine tasks and big consortia deals. It seems that, more and more often, everything comes down to return on investment and proving value for money. The full RIN report is available online [2].

A104: Evolution of Working Environments

Helen Leech, Surrey County Library Service (UK)

Xoliswa Matroko, Council for Scientific and Industry Research (South Africa)

This session focused on two examples of practical applications of Web 2.0 technologies to better organise a library’s workflow and communicate with users more efficiently.

As the world of communication is moving on, libraries need to go where their users are going and aim to provide 247 access to services and resources. The Surrey County Library Service has taken this to heart and realised that their staff need targeted training to keep up with developments and to feel confident working in the Web 2.0 environment. An online learning programme based on ‘23 Things’ was created. This has developed into a partnership with three other library authorities and is supported by the Society of Chief Librarians (SCL). Amongst other things the course introduces library staff to blogging, social networking (i.e. Facebook) and microblogging (i.e. Twitter) [3][4]. The course should go live in January 2011 and participants will be issued with an SCL-endorsed certificate upon completion.

Xoliswa Matroko from the Council for Scientific and Industry Research (CSIR) explained how the information services department followed the idea of embedded librarianship. CSIR carries out multi-disciplinary research in South Africa and beyond and is organised in several operating units and research impact areas that are based in and around Pretoria. The information services staff experienced difficulties reaching individual researchers and their units as they were not able to move constantly between them. Using Web 2.0 technologies offered an ideal solution. The staff created a wiki network for individual research impact areas. This not only provides access to electronic resources and useful information targeted specifically at researchers in the particular area, but also offers a platform for idea sharing and discussions. Staff have also started exploring mobile technologies in order to reach their users.

A105: Visionary Views

Tony Hirst, The Open University (UK)

Bethan Ruddock, Mimas, University of Manchester, UK

Tony Hirst from the Open University started this session, giving a very inspiring overview of areas of improvement he identified during an Arcadia Fellowship at the Cambridge University Library and how they can be tackled. The six areas covered were information skills and the Google generation, mobile applications, library catalogue innovations and custom search, the library’s role in teaching and learning, the Cambridge library system and rapid prototyping skills and techniques.

Just by walking through the library for a few days and observing users, it became clear that very often they don’t use the library’s resources as a first step. Discovery of information and potentially useful books or articles happens through Google and other search engines, but this doesn’t necessarily mean that resources can be accessed in this way. Tony suggested helping users to develop skills enabling them to use Google better; over time, they will come to see its limitations and realise that there are more powerful resources available to them. Other examples of improved services included the use of QR codes in catalogue records to eliminate the need to print or make a note of title details; creating RSS feeds to keep reading lists up-to-date; creating mobile applications to support users’ desire to have information available at their fingertips 247 and to make library Web sites more accessible.

The session was concluded by Bethan Ruddock, a new professional, who, concentrating on the most recent developments in the library world, dared ask the question whether libraries and librarians have a future. The very clear answer was ‘yes of course’, but librarians do need to adapt. With the challenges lying ahead of us, we as professionals need to take charge and lead the inevitable changes rather than attempt to stop them. Bethan supported her arguments by reporting on a number of recent initiatives, for example, the LIS New Professionals Network [5], the Library Routes Project [6] and Voices for the Library [7]; they can offer a new image of librarians and information professionals and lead the profession as a whole in a new direction. Her complete talk is available online [8].

Track B: Information Discovery

B102: Next-generation Information Discovery

Anna-Lena Westrum, Oslo Public Library (Norway)

Nancy Moussa, University of Michigan (U.S.A)

Anna-Lena Westrum, project manager of Pode, (meaning growth) spoke with her project assistant Anne Karine Sandberg on their work which aims to find new ways of using metadata in their catalogue, particularly mashups. While using traditional protocols as provided by their library management system, they have been working on converting their catalogue data to the FRBR model in order to provide linked library data. They have found that the OPAC is very limited in terms of access and presentation, and they wanted to update it so it could be simple, user-friendly and provide intuitive hit lists (much like Amazon). The particular prompt for this was where there were long results lists for fiction queries, especially when the work has many expressions; they thought that users probably care more about the title than the editions when it comes to fiction. Rather than convert the whole catalogue, they selected a test sample of four authors: J.R.R. Tolkien, Shakespeare (for the sheer number of records!) and Norwegian authors Per Petterson and Knut Hamsun. They converted the records with the aid of Professor Trond Aalberg, an expert on FRBR.

Within the constraints of NORMARC (Norwegian MARC) they utilised indicators and previously unused tags to establish key aspects of the manifestation including translated title, actual title and author’s title. They did feel that MARC wasn’t really up to the job with the possible age of the semantic web approaching; and that Linked Data might be one possible route to take, as it would enable the catalogue to interact with the Web and use the information that’s out there. They are starting to create mashups with their catalogue, embedding information about authors from Wikipedia -but not coding it in the MARC records.

They consider that the future of the catalogue is about open standards, mashable catalogues, programmable interfaces and being able to present the data as you like. They also say that as it’s hard to know what users want, they should be allowed to contribute information to the catalogue, theoretically so that it will reflect more closely how users search and so be more appropriate to their needs. Others should be able to play with the data and this can only create a greater understanding of the information and what to do with it.

The full presentation is available on Slideshare [9], they blog about the project in both Norwegian [10] and English [11] and the full text of their presentation is available through their blog [12].

The second talk in this session, by Nancy Moussa, was about another project using open source and social media for cataloguing. This time it was about a project to catalogue and digitise 1,100 significant Islamic manuscripts at the University of Michigan. They started with the traditional method of cataloguing, using MARC to create records for the manuscripts. After they have been catalogued, they are passed to the digitisation team (so far about 742 have been digitised). The manuscripts can then be searched and viewed online using HathiTrust, a digital library catalogue. They are now using WordPress to harvest the MARC records and access images from the HathiTrust. This can then be searched and academics and scholars can view the catalogue record and the manuscript. They are then able to post comments for each other as well as the cataloguer if they see something they feel needs changing. The cataloguer checks the messages and can make the amendments or add the extra information.

Nancy offered some observations made through working on the project: there is a small community of researchers but they have been willing to engage with the project and each other. The collaboration has helped the work of the cataloguer and the records and manuscripts are now much more accessible, especially as they have been included on the main university catalogue rather than a separate, special collections catalogue. Looking to the future, they would like the cataloguer to be able to select specific MARC fields for different templates, improve the Web site interface and be able to share MBlog which is their WordPress plugin.

B103: Discovery Dissemination and Outreach

Esben Fjord, Gladsaxe Public Library (Denmark)

Rob Haran, Shire (UK)

Esben spoke about the project that ‘wasn’t a project,’ but a never-ending experiment with digital platforms; they deliberately had no criteria, set outcomes, resources or organisation so that all staff could have the freedom to explore the beta culture, have fun, and experiment. Their aim was to expose e-resources in different contexts and search platforms to try and make accessing them easier, taking the electronic resources into the physical space which users occupy.

Although they set out to try and improve access and awareness of their online materials, it seemed more like they’d ended up with interactive resources that encouraged play. They introduced 10 screens across the library service to provide digital signage. They display information such as reviews, recommendations and details of forthcoming events. They use a content management system and there are ten editors who can make changes. In the future they would like these screens to be interactive and they are exploring the possibility of working with other Danish libraries to try and make this happen.

In the children’s area there is a cartoon drawing machine with a touch screen interface. The basic characters come from a national Web portal for children so they are recognisable but also customisable. There is a printer attached so they can take home copies of their creations. Ideally they would like a better interface for the machine and a new version of the software. The other innovation has been a ‘sonic chair’ with built-in speakers. It looks like a hoop and has a touch screen attached for selecting music from the library’s collections. Librarians create playlists and they have had success in persuading patrons to try new types of music. They also use content from Youtube and Grooveshark, but would also like to make use of the national music service BibZoom. To make it even more interactive, they would like to introduce other kinds of media, allow user-created playlists and, again, have a better user interface.

Possibly the best innovation is the ‘Cube,’ which is an interactive floor. An image is projected onto the floor and users can play with it. They used it recently to enhance their exhibition on the theme of ‘water in books’. There is a video of it being demonstrated which is available on YouTube [13]. It is a useful tool for engaging with users as they think it’s funny. Ideally it will be used in the future to expose more of the library’s electronic resources but this is currently hampered by licence restrictions. They are facing difficulties over restrictions placed on them by copyright and digital rights management; currently e-resources are made for searching, not communication and dissemination. Their ambitions are also being checked by the technical infrastructure and back-end interfaces, and, to a certain extent, a limit to their own competence and knowledge. Work will be continuing on the project that ‘isn’t a project’ although it may develop into something more organised if a project manager is appointed.

Rob Haran spoke about marketing and outreach at Shire, a pharmaceutical company with offices around the world. The company is growing so each of the offices is at a different developmental stage. The size of each office means that it is not cost-effective to have a physical information team present on each site. As a result, the five members of the information services team have to be able to operate flexibly to meet the needs of each office and the growing company.

The Information Services team have created a brand and identity for themselves to make sure their advertising is immediately recognisable (a pink logo to stand out from the corporate blue). There is the InfoZone which provides e-resources, services and training guides to all staff and there are InfoHubs which are physical spaces at key research and development sites that hold print copies of key resources.

They use marketing principles to get the message out about their services: passive marketing techniques include email straplines, ‘out of office’ messages and posters that are regularly changed and updated; active marketing includes sending a welcome email to new employees and engaging with them by asking about their new role which also enables the team to provide information about the most relevant resources; self-marketing, talking to people and getting word of mouth working for them. Rob Haran advocates being brave and taking opportunities. Talk to the decision- makers and engage with them because they might actually listen. By commenting on the CEO’s blog about the library space, Rob managed to get a new area in a much better location for the InfoHub which is now an extremely well used area. They have also made sure that they have a presence at team meetings, so they can promote the services with a quick soundbite or tip that is relevant to what is being discussed.

Training is another key area and at Shire they have found that by tailoring the training, making it relevant and targeting it for users, they have higher attendances. Classroom-based training wasn’t working as it was too long and the timing couldn’t work for people with dynamic schedules. People take more away from the training now because they feel it is relevant, short and to the point.

Friday 15 October

Track A: Going Social

A202: What Phil Has Found

Phil Bradley, Internet Consultant (UK)

Phil’s presentation very much concentrated on Web sites, technologies etc, that he had recently discovered as part of his everyday work. There were too many to mention in this article, but the complete presentation is available online and very worthwhile viewing [14]. What Phil emphasised the most is that it is important to keep up to date with the least possible effort. Creating a personal start page in your Web browser combining e-mail functionality, RSS feeds, blogs, news etc, is key.

A204: Social and Mobile

Karen Wallace, Sheffield Libraries, Archives and Information (UK)

Nancy Dowd, New Jersey State Library (USA)

Karen Wallace gave a very enthusiastic and honest account of Sheffield’s initiatives with regard to using social media. Staff felt the need to be more up to date with current Web 2.0 technologies in order to be on the same level with their users. To achieve this, they created accounts with different online services. The Twitter account (@Shefflibraries) is used to promote events, recommend books and announce important news. Through Flickr the public can access archival material including photographs documenting important regional events and pictures giving an insight into the daily work of the archive staff. For two projects, the Sheffield Children’s Book Award and the Summer Reading Challenge, the use of blogs was explored.

A number of problems were encountered along the way. The main one was the restricted access to some of the above services that was imposed by Sheffield City Council. At the time of the presentation, Karen was still in negotiations with the IT team and other parties involved about her wish to have a Facebook account.

Nancy Dowd and her team from the New Jersey State Library explored a different angle of getting in touch with their users – mobile marketing. Nearly everybody has a text message-enabled phone, so this seemed an ideal solution to reach a lot of people at the same time with very little effort. This method of marketing doesn’t work on its own though. It has to be combined with visuals like posters, bookmarks and postcards which include small chunks of information that the library wants to get across. If users are interested, they can text the library to sign up for a messaging service to receive more details (the how-to instructions being advertised on the visuals).

Amongst other things, this means of getting in touch with people was used to keep parents up to date about children’s activities planned, to organise book clubs and to promote events to users who aren’t native English speakers and who didn’t feel confident enough to approach staff because of possible language barriers.

Track B: Trending Information

B201: Turning E in the 21st Century

Fred Guy, EDINA (UK)

Fred’s session provided an overview of the PEPRS (Piloting an E-journal Preservation Registry Service) Project, led by EDINA and the ISSN International Centre in Paris and assisted by JISC funding. There is no current mandatory requirement to deposit journal material in the UK or the USA. This causes concern over content preservation once a title is discontinued or transferred by a publisher or if a publisher ceases trading. The PEPRS service aims to fill this gap. The database is searchable by ISSN (International Standard Serial Number), Phrase from Journal Title or Keyword and browsable by Agency, Publisher or Journal Title. It aims to detail which agencies (e.g. Portico, LOCKSS, British Library) have access to a title and their preservation coverage.

A project of this scale has its challenges, not least the inconsistency of terminology used by different agencies and inaccuracies in relation to to ISSNs. It is hoped that the full service will be available to the academic community towards the end of 2011.

B202: Taking It With You

Esben Fjord, Gladsaxe Public Libraries (Denmark)

Esben outlined a joint project between Gladsaxe Public Libraries and Axiell, the supplier of their library management system, to develop a smart phone application (iPhone and Android). The driving force behind the project was to reach out to both existing users and potential new clientèle and present the library service as ‘tech-savvy’. The result is an interesting way to interact with the content of the service’s catalogue, with the ability to create favourites and receive news from their Web site via RSS feed on the Start Page. The marketing of the app was very sophisticated and used a combination of posters, stickers and QR codes to whet the appetite. This approach particularly appealed to High School students – great pains were taken to avoid the word ‘library’.

There are plans to include some form of music recognition in the next phase, possibly using the music discovery engine Shazam. This will undoubtedly be well received and open up the library resources to a wider audience.

B203: Hot Topics in Innovation

Ulla de Stricker, de Stricker Associates (Canada)

Karolien Selhorst, Association of Flemish Provinces, WP (Belgium)

Unlike the other presentations at ILI 2010, this one was not prepared by the speakers in advance. All conference attendants were encouraged to leave ideas for the content on a flip chart beforehand so that this could develop into an interactive session driven by the audience. The key topic identified by the session chairs was the question ‘what is happening to individuals in the library profession with regards to current challenges’.

Discussions on how to answer this question focused around offering added value and branding yourself and your service. It was agreed that it can be very hard to sell your service. What should be tried instead is to create a mindset so users realise that the librarian / the library is able to help. Ulla de Stricker emphasised the importance of ‘social capital’ – do people favours and make friends; by listening in, giving hints and offering help, people will come to you over time. Depending on the sector you work in, it can also be very useful to see what the competition is doing in order to sell new ideas to the management. Always focus on potential benefits and how services can be improved and relate ideas to any existing planning documents.

B204: Induction, Instruction Issues

Sara Batts, Reed Smith LLP (UK)

Alice Burnett, Weill Cornell Medical College (Qatar)

At Reed Smith there are four intakes each year of new trainees. These trainees are given a very full induction programme over their first few weeks. The library has a session during this induction but staff frequently received feedback that complained of information overload. The issues with induction identified by the library were: a lack of clear aims, induction overload, a familiarity with the main resources but no knowledge of more specific ones, and the fact that library training was seen as an optional extra when other activities were deemed more important.

To combat these problems they set out their aims: ‘integration, relevance and professionalism (ask, don’t Google)’. They approached external trainers about integrating presentations by the library service into courses so the advice would be tailored to the specific group. This had the benefits of ensuring relevance and being short and targeted thus aiding the retention of information. They also made sure that invitations to training sessions were sent out by the Learning and Development department in order to validate the invitation and give it the same importance as other training courses. The emails included the aims and objectives of the course and explained the relevance to the staff members.

The Weill Cornell Medical College (Qatar) was established in 2001 and the Library is comprised predominantly of electronic resources; it serves users globally. In order to provide 247 help at time of need for people accessing resources from various time zones, they decided to create instructional videocasts. They chose videocasts because their students are comfortable with technology and for the majority of them English is their second language, so a more visual slant to the instruction proved more effective. The project fitted perfectly with the ‘resources & experiences’ and ‘user engagement & learning’ aims of their strategic plan. The list of topics to be covered was created through workshop experiences, requests from faculty and students, and interactions with their users.

To create the videos they used SnapzProx as they were mostly dealing with Mac users and their preferred software, Camtasia, wasn’t available for Mac when the project started. Aside from the difficulties they faced with the software, they also had to consider the content. Consistency across all the videos was a major factor and, when designing and creating a videocast, the main points they were looking at were: script, goal, audience, topic, presenter, timing/length and precision/accuracy. They have completed several instructional videocasts and are working through the topics they have identified as most important to users. The completed ‘DeLib Casts’ are available through their Web site [15].

Track C: The Techno Beat

C202: Connecting Scholars with Information

Terence Huwe, University of California, Berkeley (U.S.A)

Social media is governed by people and it evolves to meet user need. There is a growing trend of multi-disciplinary approaches in research. The Institute for Research in Labor and Employment (IRLE) (U.S.) takes such an approach in supporting doctoral-level study. The faculty members hail from more than 12 schools and departments.

There have been changes recently in research patterns. Now they are tending to start with a search on the open Web and there is a growing preference for online information. However, faculty members are slower to adopt these approaches and sciences still lead humanities in using these methods to start their research. The approach taken at University of California, Berkeley has seen an increase in appointments of people to positions outside their native discipline, for example economists being appointed to public health roles. This is because they feel that an increasingly complex world requires fresh approaches and there are areas of multi-disciplinary research to be explored. The scholars are responding; working in groups and consulting with each other more with a greater emphasis on cohort working. They are becoming more aware that the most important information may lie outside their own zone of expertise and are rapidly adopting new discovery techniques to help them research within these new areas.

The library service has positioned its services at the heart of the Institute by getting involved with everything. Staff monitor the environment and look for potential new roles they can play. As a service they have been willing to take on new things and experiment. By so doing they have become the digital publisher for IRLE and have managed to change faculty members’ perceptions of Library staff; they are now seen as buyers and facilitators as well as an archive. They have created blogs, wikis and list-servs to help educate and offer counsel to users. Terence emphasised the importance of conducting your own user research and acting on the results. Also, if possible you should try to become the buyer and publisher as well as being the gatekeeper.

If you can embed yourself at the forefront of new developments then you should be in a better position to connect scholars with information as they will already be looking to a dynamic library service for answers.

C203: Words, Words, Words

Amanda Hill, Hilbraith Ltd (Canada)

The Names Project is an initiative led by Mimas and the British Library and addresses the lack of precision encountered in the recording of author names. Even Zetoc, the electronic table of contents service, only records author surnames and initials, not full forenames. This has obvious implications for academic authorship where an individual’s full corpus of work may need to be retrieved and not confused with the work of a similarly named person. The draft ISO standard, ISNI (International Standard Name Identifier) seeks to enable individuals, organisations or other parties to cite themselves in a unique way to help overcome this ambiguity.

Closing Panel: Library Futures

Thomas Brevik, Royal Norwegian Naval Academy (Norway)

Ake Nygren, Stockholm Public Libraries (Sweden)

The conference was closed by two Scandinavian librarians replicating a discussion they’d had about the future of the library and librarians. Unfortunately much of it seemed hypothetical, but two ideas that stood out were: firstly, ‘You can have a librarian without a [physical] library, but not a library without a librarian’ and secondly that librarians should work like spiders, building lots of little nets, connecting with lots of different people and departments so the word about the importance of the library and its services is spread.

Further information can be obtained from the Conference Web site [16].


  1. Booth, M., McDonald, S., Tiffen, B., “A new vision for university libraries: towards 2015,” February 2010 http://tinyurl.com/28rkltq
  2. Research Information Network, “Challenges for academic libraries in difficult economic times: a guide for senior institutional managers and policy makers,” March 2010
  3. 23 Things http://23things.wetpaint.com/
  4. Leech, H., “23 Things in Public Libraries”, July 2010, Ariadne, Issue 64 http://www.ariadne.ac.uk/issue64/leech/
  5. LIS New Professionals Network http://www.lisnpn.spruz.com/
  6. Library Routes Project http://libraryroutesproject.wikkii.com/
  7. Voices for the Library Web site http://www.voicesforthelibrary.org.uk
  8. Ruddock, B., “Do libraries have a future? ILI 2010” http://bit.ly/c1Td90
  9. Pode project presentation http://www.slideshare.net/annek/pode
  10. Pode project blog in Norwegian http://www.bibpode.no/blogg
  11. Pode project blog in English http://www.bibpode.no/blogg/?cat=74
  12. Pode project paper
  13. Video of ‘The Cube’ at Gladsaxe Bibliotek http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ln12B_McULw
  14. Bradley, P., “What Phil has found,” October 2010
  15. DeLib casts from Weill Cornell Medical School (Qatar)
  16. Internet Librarian International 2010, 14-15 October 2010, Novotel London West, London

Author Details

Claire Tylee
Bibliographic Services Librarian
University of Bath Library

Email: c.tylee@bath.ac.uk

Katrin Flemming
Information Librarian (Acquisitions)
University of Bath Library

Email: k.flemming@bath.ac.uk

Elly Cope
Information Librarian (Cataloguing)
University of Bath Library

Email: e.cope@bath.ac.uk

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