Reinventing Libraries- Part 2 of E Developments Graduate Trainee Session

On 20th November 2019, the graduate trainees attended a session on E Developments at the University of Oxford’s Libraries. The first talk was given by Sally Rumsey, Head of Scholarly Communication and Data Management. She covered open access regarding academic research, which was featured in a blog post last week. The second talk was given by Michael Popham, and was all about digital developments at the Bodleian libraries.

When I first told my family and friends that I had got a job as a trainee in an academic library for a year, most of them were very supportive and happy for me. Others, not so. The most frequent comments I received was…

‘Do we still need physical books when everything is online?’

As ignorant as that comment seems, the people that said it did have a point. If you have a browse on Solo or any other academic catalogue, many resources have been digitized and are available electronically. My former university’s library advertised its resources available online with posters describing how their collections of physical books was ‘only the tip of the iceberg’. Their E resources appeared to be vast and unlimited in comparison to their smaller, physical book collections.

The physical books are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to academic libraries!

Michael Popham, head of Digital Collections and Preservation, opened his talk discussing how digital libraries are the future. The Bodleian already has a Digital Library. At the moment, the library is purely online, where it pulls all digital collections into one discovery platform. However, Michael suggested how a digital library could become a physical space. It is interesting to think of how this space would look. Would a digital library be a place to study with a few more PCs than a regular library? Michael suggested that the word ‘digital’ implies that the library would be expected to be open 24/7. Anything digital, after all, should be instantly usable and accessible even on Christmas Day! A digital library would contain services and tools to support discovery, access, and reuse of digital content.

So if digital libraries are the future, will we now see less of the printed book? Maybe, but not at such a fast rate as one would expect. There are many issues with digitization and for the Bodleian Libraries, the main problem is that digitization lacks consistency. This is because the university currently relies on grants and funding, in order for projects to go ahead. Books which are earmarked for projects tend to be strongly visual in nature, as digital collections are driven by what the team receives funding for. According to Michael, the funding bodies and even the team behind the digitization process often have an agenda which affects how the digitized books are presented. There could be more of a focus to digitize certain aspects of manuscripts and subconsciously ignoring other areas of interest. These issues are difficult to address, as accessing funds is integral to enable a digitization project.

The Bodleian was the first outside of the US to join the Google Books Partner Scholarship. It was a huge project which aimed to digitize the library’s vast collection of non-copyright material. Google digitized books at an incredible rate. Overall, 300’000 works were digitized, including board games, binding designs, museum objects, CDs, and tapes! However, there were many cases of books which had not been moved or opened in over 150 years, being unable to fit on their previous shelves. During the digitization process, these books had expanded, leading to a huge pile up when it came to reshelving. Books involved in digitization projects are often older and rare manuscripts, so they require further special handling and conditions which affect the cost of projects. In order to digitise such material, the Bodleian uses special scanning machines. The cradle of these machines uses a vacuum which gently sucks the pages down. These machines are certainly cool, but are not without their high financial cost.  

Digitization isn’t just for old manuscripts either. The Bodleian Electronic Archives and Manuscripts (BEAM) is a digital repository service which manages born-digital archive and manuscripts. The service was established as the Bodleian was receiving an ever-increasing amount of digital material. This material can come in the form of whole computers, disks and other types of external media. This brings the future of digitization into a new light. How do we process information which is already digital? The files stored on devices may appear in older file formats with no equivalent paper form. BEAM’s existence is integral as it allows the Bodleian to adapt to the digital age. Electronic legal depositories are important as in 2003, the revised Copyright Act of 2003 recognised that much of the nation’s published output in digital form was being lost. The Legal Deposit Libraries (Non-print) Regulations 2013 was passed to address this. Any digital publication is covered under the Regulations including CD-Roms, works published online that are issued from a UK domain, and items on microfilm. The British Library and the National Libraries of Wales and Scotland collect the material on behalf of all Legal Deposit Libraries. Bodleian readers can access these resources using the British Library’s digital system. Restrictions do apply, as these resources will often display an amber dot next to it on Solo. This indicates that the digital resource can only be accessed on a Bodleian terminal. These restrictions are often annoying for readers who may have to patiently wait their turn to view a resource, as the system will only allow one viewing at a time. However, preservation of digital material is essential to prevent future loss.

Preserving digital material is essential

So is digital preservation the future for the Bodleian? It certainly seems so, but the scale of digitization is not as rapid as one may think. There are 13.2 million printed items at the Bodleian libraries, with only half a million digitized. Overall, that is only 3-4% of all collections. Rare manuscripts are being digitized, but that does not mean they are instantly thrown away! They are reshelved and preserved for future generations to enjoy. So, the printed book isn’t going anywhere. The digital age also poses new problems for digitization, in that digital resources can easily disappear if technology does not exist to access them. 

E Developments at the Bodleian appear to be concentrated on adapting to the rise of the internet, either by ensuring that good quality research is freely available and that manuscripts and digital records continue to be digitally preserved. One may say that the concept of libraries is being reinvented. Information does not need to exist physically in order for there to be a need to organise, maintain, and preserve it. Libraries are no longer necessarily physical spaces, they can be virtual ones which are easily and freely accessible. And that certainly makes for an exciting future. Many thanks to Michael Popham; this post is based on his original and fascinating talk.

For More Information:

To see the Digital Bodleian for yourself: https://digital.bodleian.ox.ac.uk/

For more information on BEAM: https://www.bodleian.ox.ac.uk/beam

Picture Credits:

Iceberg, Rita Willaert, https://www.flickr.com/photos/rietje/76566707/in/photolist-7LqBD-FR7C4F-4oN9jm-YMrydu-PPqJhB-ZjKcnp-nriVKy-24teKYF-2cspuq7-bzN6sW-Ewoi2-7ryN1h-9cr7Hf-utjEv7-HhMKU-j2UXkm-7M5qKc-SCgvfN-uCnjP-6FzvPG-8SjsBk-JcZy8S-6sgjc-Ews2ai-Vyzdyv-7C5VU3-CHq3N3-hTp4Dg-VuEuZB-dRuMzt-F4qkYF-EfrZaX-Nn2nXz-bJQusz-6r7MwV-Cd2ngQ-7XiHcy-D3fkcT-oe39w-53biiQ-5V5evP-7JqhZY-23SzkvZ-7jLyJG-gcucpK-4CgUBb-2hiaBzm-8qxaMx-6r7MMt-5PUh2p

Memory stick, Sh4rp-i, https://www.flickr.com/photos/85638163@N00/4193757695/in/photolist-7oA74a-6tUYAs-6tUYzy-6tUYyw-p8gg6K-8DvsW-4HNdv7-261BKnD-H43vF2-6hcXNN-4TxvvC-9hneDd-6hcXJj-mFWvM-9hneA3-9hj7yM-6DWkAB-mFWFM-E78fsZ-HRD28U-4KCZUd-6Fz4Qj-71ZiH9-8hQQ4w-7W6m5B-DmgcFC-ouDJ95-6m23DD-22fMfJp-5U19C6-22YwBXe-21cVaTX-24jSdC1-wBgEv-bjZCoo-oqisc3-3Wxph-5ZuNL2-mGG5Dn-pVxW13-4sTq9Z-dhm2pq-MnVMJS-dhm2UQ-dhm2C3-KPWTmF-7nzMe3-dhm1g8-BVCg6H-MnVMW5

 

The (Copy)Right Stuff – a not-so-brief overview of our copyright training day

Outside our organised training programme, we graduate trainees also have access to the wide variety of staff development courses on offer. At the beginning of November, a few of us opted to go on a training session on Copyright law and issues. This full day of training was a great insight into the complexities of copyright law, covering what copyright is, the legislation surrounding it and various licenses that cover copyright. We (Rhiannon P and Rhiannon H) were tasked with writing this blog post, and we decided to not only give an overview of what we learnt, but how we are using the training in our day-to-day work at the Bodleian Law Library and the Old Bodleian, respectively.

The first thing that was made clear to us was that copyright is an incredibly multifaceted and complicated subject, especially in the context of academia. This was not an exaggeration as this full day of training felt as if it was only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to what you can and cannot do according to copyright law. However, I did feel that when I applied the training to the work I do in the Law Bod, which is mostly scanning and uploading chapters or articles online to Weblearn or ORLO for students, it was a perfectly reasonable introduction.

Copyright is one of five Intellectual Property Rights, with the other four being patents, trademarks, designs and confidence, and is governed as such. Most intellectual property has some copyright belonging to someone, but depending on the context depends on who owns the copyright and how long the work stays in copyright for. For example, copyright does not cover facts or ideas, only what has been expressed in a material form. One piece of material may contain more than one copyright. For example, a piece of music may have one copyright attached to the music itself, and one attached to the lyrics, and these could belong to two separate people. On the topic of ownership: although this is the case more often than not, the author of the work may not always own the copyright. For example, if the author produced the work in their capacity as an employee, then their employer is the first owner of the copyright for that piece of work.

The training also introduced us to a subsection of UK copyright called Crown Copyright that has different requirements for the ownership, transference and the duration of copyright. The legislation summarises Crown Copyright as ‘where a work is made by Her Majesty or by an officer or servant of the Crown in the course of his duties’ (Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 Chapter X ss 163). Luckily for us, we were provided on the training course with two handy charts depicting every possible outcome regarding the duration of copyright for both Crown and non-Crown copyrighted materials.

One of the main questions to ask when using copyrighted material is this: is the use you’ve made of the material be construed as fair to the copyright holder? Usually, using a substantial part of someone else’s work to make money or otherwise profit is considered unfair. However, when it comes to non-commercial usage, there are various exceptions and exemptions to the vast and complex system of rules. These come under the heading of ‘fair dealing’.

The most important of these fair dealing exceptions in an academic library context is the educational usage exemption. This is separate from a CLA (Copyright Licensing Agency) licence, and does not require reporting to an authority. It allows students to copy ‘a reasonable proportion’ of a text for educational purposes. This is usually interpreted to mean up to 5% of a text, or else one chapter or article, whichever is greater. Things get tricky with some items (and resources like databases), since 5% of a five page pamphlet or a single photograph probably can’t be considered ‘a reasonable proportion’ – but how much should be allowed, in that case?

Judging this can be difficult, but this course thankfully did provide some clarity on an issue that we have been dealing with at the Old Bodleian Library quite often: copying material from online databases. Databases have their own right which lasts for fifteen years, but the course confirmed that material contained within them can still be copied in the usual way using the educational exemption or the CLA licence.

‘A reasonable proportion’ of all the material held within a database is of course potentially a much larger amount of material than would normally be available to be copied, but it is safest to stick to the one chapter or article rule wherever possible! It is also important to remember that databases allow access only to members of the institution, so it may not be appropriate to offer scans to non-members. This information has really helped us on a day-to-day basis at the Old Bodleian, when dealing with requests from University and Library members to provide scans of material from online databases, such as a recent request for copies of letters from The Times digital archive.

 

 

 

 

 

As part of my work at the Law Bod, I often operate under the CLA licence that we hold and it was great to gain a more in depth knowledge of how this works. As a higher education institute, the University of Oxford also holds an HE licence from the Copyright Licencing Agency (or CLA) which alongside the legislation allows us to scan or copy up to 10% or a full chapter or article of any published edition. We also have to keep a record of the scans we make using this licence to show the CLA when they come knocking at our door to make sure we have complied with the licence. I know in the Law Bod we keep a spreadsheet of the scans we make and as far as I am aware, I have not yet forgotten to record a scan!

Ultimately, we all have a responsibility to make sure that we’re abiding by copyright law in our academic libraries, and not just because of potential legal repercussions! It’s especially important because the Bodleian is a Legal Deposit Library, which is entitled to a copy of every book published in the UK and Ireland, in order to preserve books for the future. It’s our job to protect the items in our collections, and that includes respecting the rights of authors and copyright holders, while also making sure that we can serve our readers and help them to get the most from the libraries. This course was a necessarily short, but lucid and practical, introduction to the many issues that arise in academic libraries regarding copyright.

Image 1 reproduced under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 licence original by Gordon from Flickr https://flic.kr/p/2auPHBU 

Image 2 copyright belongs to the CLA https://www.cla.co.uk/

Reinventing Libraries- Part 1 of E Developments Graduate Trainee Session

On 20th November 2019, the graduate trainees attended a session on E Developments at the University of Oxford’s Libraries. The first talk was given by Sally Rumsey, Head of Scholarly Communication and Data Management. She covered open access regarding academic research.

The Oxford Research Archive (ORA) was established in 2007 and aimed to provide open access research to researchers. Its establishment was viewed as important after the research charity Wellcome Trust released a position statement in 2005 in support of open and unrestricted access to published research. They would fund research, but it had to be made freely available.

Before 2012, it was only Sally and one assistant who were the main team behind ORA. The digital repository was established in 2007 and had been plodding along with a mere 100 research articles to process each year. Then 2012 hit and in Sally’s words ‘all hell broke loose’. Suddenly, the team were receiving over 1200 articles to process into ORA, as well as their first budget of £800,000!

So what happened to cause such a barrage of  information? The 2012 Finch report was published by the UK government which recommended that all funded research had to be made freely available. The rise of the Internet since the early 1990s appears to have been underpinned by a desire to provide easily accessible information and research. At the time, Tim Berners Lee was honoured at the Olympic Games in London as the inventor of the World Wide Web, where as part of the ceremony he tweeted ‘This is for everyone’.

Was online academic research for everyone? If you tried to access articles on publisher’s sites, they would generally attempt to seduce you into signing up for a subscription fee (and this still happens!). The average cost for a subscription is certainly not cheap as chips. Needless to say, this did not provide an incentive for the public to want to gain reliable and good quality information. The Finch report highlighted this issue and recommended that everyone should be entitled to gain access to information. It was clearly time to tear those paywalls down.

In 2014, the big cheese, the Research Excellence Framework announced a policy which required researchers to deposit publications into their institutional repository within three months of acceptance. This led to ORA beginning to request academics to Act on Acceptance in 2016. This means that when an academic has a paper accepted for publication, they must deposit the final peer-reviewed version into ORA within three months of acceptance.

As you may imagine, publishers have had to slowly come around to the idea of open access. The author pays model as highlighted in the Finch Report is becoming increasingly popular. The author or institute pays a fee to the publisher in order for their research to be published. This enables the research to be freely accessed. According to Sally, you can have a fully open access journal where all contributors are paying to publish. But then, there are hybrid journals which have an author pays model but also a subscription fee for readers. This has been labelled by critics as ‘double dipping’ as the publisher benefits twice.

And it’s not just money that’s another issue with publishers and open access.  Academics may end up forfeiting their rights to their own work if they are not too careful. Sally said that publishers started to put restrictions on what could and could not be used when researchers wished to use their work elsewhere. SHERPA/RoMEO is a handy online database which has records researchers can assess, so they can find out what exactly they are permitted to do with work published in various journals. Although SHERPA/RoMEO is undoubtedly a useful source, the publisher’s policies can be so confusing that Sally’s team often have to decipher the terms in order to work out what the researcher can actually do.

Wherefore art thou…a right to own my work?!

This can mean that if a researcher innocently posts their work on sites like Academia.edu and ResearchGate, a publisher may take action since they are seen as going against the copyright agreement. The savvy academic will get around this by choosing to remove the terms they don’t like from the agreement with a black marker before signing it. We may assume that this would incite the publisher to come after the badly behaved academic with an iron fist, yet Sally says that often publishers will merely shrug. The Creative Commons, a non-profit organisation, also allows academics to retain control of their research since it enables users to choose a free copyright licence in order to share their work. ORCID is also another way of being able to share research without infringing copyright law. Researchers can apply for a unique identifier which they can use to get credit for their own work.

So what is the future for open access when it concerns academic research? Research Data Oxford (RDO) is a data management plan which provides guidance for each stage of the research process. RDO is a multi-disciplinary effort, involving various teams across the university including Sally’s, but also legal and ethical teams. In this way, researchers can be guided through the minefield that is online publishing.

The Reproducible Research Oxford (RRO) initiative will also come into play in January 2020. This is managed by a group of academics who believe in ensuring that research is bullet proof and good quality- which means that the methods academics use in their research should be made freely available too! Through this, RRO aims to lay the groundwork of a culture of research reproducibility at the University.

Finally, there is the Plan S  initiative. Plan S requires that by 2021, scientific publications which result from research funded by public grants must be published in compliant Open Access journals or platforms. This may sound like a policy but it isn’t. Plan S is guidelines funders may choose to use, but don’t be fooled that it’s entirely optional. Supporting funders include The Wellcome Trust, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the World Health Organisation and the European Union.

Hopefully, with more policies and initiatives like the ones discussed in this post, the world of academia will be able to continue to adapt to the idea of open access and digitized research. Many thanks to Sally Rumsey who gave the original, interesting talk on which this post is based on. Next week will feature the second talk given by Matthew Popham. It will be all about Digital Developments at the Bodleian Libraries, so stay tuned! Also coming up very soon is a post about the Copyright Training staff can receive.

Useful Links:

For a general history of open access in academic research https://osc.cam.ac.uk/open-access/brief-history-oa

To read the Finch report https://www.acu.ac.uk/research-information-network/finch-report-final

For more on the double-dipping phenomenon https://www.enago.com/academy/hybrid-journals-are-publishers-double-dipping/

To check out SHERPA/RoMEO http://sherpa.ac.uk/romeo/index.php

Follow the link if you are interested in obtaining an ORCID http://ox.libguide.com/orcid

To find out more about Research Data Oxford http://researchdata.ox.ac.uk/

For more information on Reproducible Research Oxford https://rroxford.github.io/

To find out more about Plan S https://www.coalition-s.org/

Picture Credits:

‘This is for Everyone’- Tama Leaver https://www.flickr.com/photos/tamaleaver/7674657708/in/photolist-cGbCmC-cF54aq/ image was cropped and resized

‘SHERPA/RoMEO’- Dasapta Erwin Irawan https://www.flickr.com/photos/d_erwin_irawan/36487105886/in/photolist-XAeXow image was unaltered

 

 

Michelmas Term Round-Up

Hello! Now that Michaelmas term is coming to an end, Bethan and I thought we would do a round-up post about some the things we have been up to so far.

  • PGCE workshop

In September we had the opportunity to participate in an information literacy training session for new PGCE students with the Education Librarians. This included helping the students utilise the online library catalogue and make the most of the libraries to aid their studies. We also showed them tips and tricks on sourcing academic journals, articles, and books.

Beth says – This session highlighted the importance for new students to learn key skills about using the library catalogue and finding e-resources to aid them in their studies. We got the opportunity to participate in the group work parts of the session to offer suggestions and help when needed, as well as the individual exercises. Although I was supposed to be helping with the teaching, I ended up learning a lot myself!

Emma says – Teaching the PGCE students really helped to confirm what I knew about the library system and it was a great opportunity to put some of the training into practice in a different setting.  We worked with other members of staff from the Education library and two Swiss interns so we had a lot of support! The PGCE students were really friendly and it was a good session to be a part of.

  • Training sessions: which have we enjoyed so far?

During this term we’ve had the opportunity to have practical and theoretical training at Osney. Training sessions have been varied this term, including an interactive session on customer care, an introduction to cataloguing using the Oxford library system, as well as a presentation on applying for courses in library and information studies. Here’s what we each enjoyed the most:

Beth says – In November we got the opportunity to visit the BSF, a warehouse where over 11 million of the Bodleian’s collections are held. There was an informative presentation about the challenges and logistics of the facility, as well as how it is developing. This includes issues of storage space as the collections grow, and improving sustainability to reduce its environmental impact.  We were also given a tour of the facility, which highlighted how efficient the process is to ensure that the books are delivered to the libraries on time, twice a day. Indeed, apparently it takes experienced staff members less than 45 seconds to pick a single book – which is very impressive considering the size and scale of the warehouse.

Emma says – The visit to the Weston Library and having an introduction to the Special Collections in October was a real eye-opener. After an £80m refurbishment the Weston Library, originally called the New Bodleian Library, opened in March 2015 after work began in 2011. The library now has a lot more space including areas for research, public galleries, and a cafe. It was a pleasure to be shown around the conservation department, to see the archivists at work, and to see behind the scenes at the library. As the Weston is so different from the Business library, it was a worthwhile opportunity to see the different roles within librarianship. It was great to see how the conservationists take care of the old books, maps and the libraries themselves.

The Book Storage Facility, aka the BSF, in Swindon

  • Internet Librarian International (ILI) conference, London

In October we were fortunate enough to go to the ILI conference in London due to the sponsored places offered by FLIP and NLPN. There were six of us in total that went from the Bodleian libraries and we all took away a lot from the experience. There were lots of different talks and presentations, from AI to tips for searching relevant information.

Beth says – A session I particularly enjoyed was about how libraries can utilise digital technology to increase reader accessibility. For example, a case study discussed the DAISY Consortium, which is an organisation which aims to improve the reader experience for people who are blind or print disabled by making digital talking books an industry standard across libraries worldwide. Indeed, the clear theme across the conference was about how libraries can develop in the digital age, as well as the challenges this brings. Myself and a few of the other trainees who attended contributed to a blog post for NLPN about the conference here: https://nlpn.wordpress.com/2018/11/01/internet-librarian-international-info-today-sponsored-places/

Emma says – During the conference we were invited to a session by Liz McGettigan about how to be an information professional in the 21st century. This was an informative session about how to advance our careers, what skills we would need to move forward, and how best to develop them. This was a great opportunity to see what paths were before us and give us an idea of what we could do in the future. Working in a library we are able to learn many new and transferable skills, some of which we’re not always able to recognise, so this was a great session to bring out in us what we’ve learnt so far and what sort of roles we would like in the future.

Ben Gable, Katie Day, Bethan Morgan, Jennifer Garner, and Emma Gregory at the ILI conference in October 2018.

Outside of the training programme the trainees meet up fairly often after work. For example, some of us went round the Oxford Open Doors event in September together, visiting Baliol College, Blackwells, the Examination School, and the New Theatre. We’ve frequented a game board café, where we played a variety of card and board games. Luckily, we didn’t fall out too much! Two trainees, Elspeth and Lauren, started a book club. So far, we have read Annhiliation by Jeff Vandermeer, Silence of the Girls by Pat Barker, and we’re currently reading The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami. We had the weather on our side on Bonfire Night when we went to watch the fireworks at South Park. Recently we had our Christmas dinner which nearly all of us attended. It was a great night with great food and company.

Next term looks to be quite busy. We’re looking forward to a new set of training sessions, which includes a visit to Oxford Brookes library and a visit to the digital archives. We can’t wait to see what the next year will bring!

Merry Christmas and a happy 2019 from all the trainees!

By Bethan Morgan and Emma Gregory

Graduate trainee training continued: the end of Hilary Term and the start of Trinity Term

Our training afternoons are scheduled in line with the eight-week terms of Oxford, the names of which can bemuse newcomers to the university, though now, at the end of Trinity Term, I think that I have assimilated it. Since the last update in February, there have been many more training courses, including lots of library visits—everyone likes a library visit.

First, though, there were several talks by people working elsewhere in the Bodleian and even in other sectors, such as the session on the book trade, where we heard from people who work at Blackwell’s and the antiquarian dealer Quaritch. This was an interesting look into a different, though related, area of work. Talks by those who worked at Osney in the Collections and Resource Description department, which is a central Bodleian Libraries department, were also very interesting. This covered areas such as the processes of acquisitions (ordering, processing, and all the many and diverse tasks attached, on behalf of the main Bodleian and several smaller libraries), electronic resources (the only element of the Bodleian that is completely centralised), legal deposit operations (including developments in electronic legal deposit), resource description and open access. Much of the information here was on things that I already knew about tangentially through my work at the Law Library, or explanations of mysterious processes that I know of but didn’t know the background of. It made me feel part of the community, however, being able to nod wisely at the mention of Swets’ demise or the fact that legal deposit books beginning with ‘M’ are catalogued at Osney as part of the Shared Cataloguing Programme run by the British library.

Photo credit: <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/27195496@N00/4507753567/">FlickrDelusions</a> Flickr via <a href="http://compfight.com">Compfight</a> <a href="https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/">cc</a>
Blackwell’s bookshop, where much of my trainee wages have been spent this year.

In Trinity Term we have also had talks from subject librarians on the role of subject consultant, and talks by the Head of Assessment and the Head of Heritage Science for the Bodleian Libraries. We learnt that a liaison librarian, a reference librarian and a research support librarian may be a similar job to a subject consultant, but that by the same token, a subject librarian’s role is very particular to their institution and their department. The various responsibilities were covered, from those to do with the subject collection and library management duties, to reader services, library projects and outreach and conferences. We then had an exercise on handling budgets, which saw my team – in charge of the slightly larger budget for science – overspend by £14,000. Before any future employers bury their heads in their hands, I’d like to point out that the game was rigged! It was pre-ordained that science’s budget would be the one greatest hit by expensive e-journal packages and VAT increases, no matter how conservative we were with our money initially. We definitely kept our readers happy with lots of resources though, even though the central finance department probably wouldn’t be best pleased. In the later set of talks, Frankie Wilson, Head of Assessment, told us all about how to gain meaningful feedback on library services, while David Howell showed us round his bespoke lab in the Weston Library in order to tell us a bit about the role of science in uncovering library treasures, a unique aid to research and one that hit the headlines when David’s hyperspectrometry revealed an ancient Mexican codex palimpsest.

Then there were the library visits. First, to the digital archives and then to All Souls’ Codrington Library, which was a striking contrast between the old and the new: the latest in digital archiving systems at the Bodleian Electronic Archives and Manuscripts department and the long tradition in All Souls’ Codrington Library, founded in the fifteenth century. At BEAM, we learnt that a hard drive has roughly half the lifetime of a cassette tape, and digital archiving seeks to preserve many types of slowly obsolescing technologies. The challenge of collecting and storing data from diverse electronic mediums, including floppy disks, CDs and flash drives, is considerable, and we learnt about the various strategies that are in place for each of them. There is also the task of archiving the web, and the Bodleian has several areas of interest that are regularly crawled and archived, a process that is also not without its challenges. By contrast, at the Codrington, the weight of centuries lingers in the air. The beautiful hall and the wonderful librarians’ office (with its spiral staircase and wall-to-wall books, it’s every bookworm’s dream) have a history all of their own, and we had a talk from the librarian, Gaye, on both the library and some of its collections. We heard about our fellow trainee and her role in the small library team, and had the chance to ask some questions.

Photo credit: <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/10287726@N02/7988424697/">simononly</a> Flickr via <a href="http://compfight.com">Compfight</a> <a href="https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/2.0/">cc</a>
The main hall of Codrington Library.

Next there was the Alexander Library of Ornithology, the Sherardian Library and the Radcliffe Science Library, which were fascinating, despite not having a single science degree among us. In the Sherardian, we heard about the Herbarium, where pressed plants that act as authority records for plant types, and are accompanied by the print collections which are used alongside the library of plants in order to support current and historical research in botany. We saw a first edition of Charles Darwin’s ‘Origin of Species’, and William Dampier’s account of his circumnavigations of the globe which brought a wealth of knowledge back to Britain (as well as being the inspiration for books such as R.L. Stevenson’s ‘Treasure Island’), and we also learnt about figures such as Sherard, Druce, and Fielding, important for the Oxford collections. At the RSL, after a quick tour, the pièce de résistance was clearly the 3-D printer. Having been sceptical about when I first saw it on the itinerary, I went away understanding how such technology services fit into the RSL’s ethos and enthusiastic about what we’d be shown. By offering access to such technology early on, as they did with e-book readers and will be doing with virtual reality hardware, the RSL is able to grant students and researchers access to technology that would be hard to find elsewhere, and facilitate learning through their services—in other words, exactly what a library is there for.

Vol. 01[1], t.4: Fraxinus Ornus
A page from the Flora Graeca at the Sherardian Library, digitally available.
More recently, in Trinity Term, we have branched out from academia and visited Summertown Public Library and the Cairns Library at John Radcliffe Hospital. Both gave us insights into these areas of librarianship, public and medical, which bring different daily tasks, rewards, and challenges. In particular, I was impressed by Summertown library’s collaboration with the local council, where council workers and careers advisors came to meet people in drop-in sessions to get involved in two-way training with library staff, meaning that access to computers and internet – needed for everything from job applications to housing and benefit forms – could be coupled with some of the necessary context from professionals. It just goes to show how essential libraries can be. Meanwhile, at the Cairns library, a particular added feature of medical librarianship that I enjoyed hearing about was the literature searches conducted by the librarians—yes, for free—on behalf of the doctors.

Finally, there were a few extra courses that I went on, Advanced Searching: overview of Google and alternative search tools, Annual Review Training for Reviewees, and Practical Skills: minute taking. These were all relevant for my work in the Law Library, and in particular the course on advanced searching with Google, run by Karen Blakeman, was very interesting and has affected the way that I search online. The final run of training in Trinity Term will mark the end of our afternoon sessions, and it will culminate in the Trainee Showcase, where we give presentations on the projects that we have undertaken throughout the year.

Summary of Graduate Library Trainee Training (so far)

As Graduate Library Trainee, I have had – since September – quite a lot of training. I’ve become very familiar with Osney Mead industrial estate, which is where a lot of Bodleian staff training takes place, as well as some of the more specialist cataloguing, the Bodleian Digital Systems and Services, and a few other departments. The mud spatters on my bike even time that I go down the tow path can testify to my journeys there, but the weekly trips with my fellow trainees are a chance to learn a bit more about the world of libraries, and can often offer knowledge or perspectives that are very welcome to me as a newcomer to the library world. This post will hopefully give you an insight into what kind of training we have as Oxford Library Trainees, every Wednesday afternoon.

Michaelmas term was orientation, an intensive few weeks of the systems that we use here. There was Circulation for Desk Staff, Customer Care, Resource Discovery, Working Safely, Supporting Disabled readers and discovering the mysterious workings of Aleph, our library software, all completed in September, allowing me to get up and running with the systems. October saw the start of graduate training proper, with sessions designed introduce us to the Bodleian as a whole and libraries more generally. There were visits to other parts of the Bodleian to help us to get a handle on the diversity of things that go on here and how they all hang together – from the dignified turrets of the Old Bodleian, to the Weston’s shiny new spaces, including Special Collections and Conservation, and also a trip to the leviathan behind it all, the BSF, where books go to be ‘ingested’. They are also circulated from there around all the libraries, the speed and efficiency of which was impressive. My fellow trainee David wrote a blog post on it, here. There was a session on e-developments at the Bodleian, too, which was particularly interesting. We were introduced to such things as open access, the Bodleian Digital Library, ORA as a digital repository for Oxford’s research, and some of the issues around e-Legal Deposit. (For those not in the know, Legal Deposit is an arrangement whereby five libraries in the UK are entitled to a copy of everything published here; e-Legal Deposit is the same principle for electronic works, but I am not really qualified to talk about all the complications of either system. However, there is a brief overview by a former trainee that you can read here.)

Duke Humphrey’s Library in the Old Bodleian. Credit David Iliff (Creative Commons licence).
The shiny Weston Library’s entrance hall. Credit Paul Hayday (Creative Commons licence)

Then there was training focussed more on our future as library professionals, such as the session on Professional Qualifications, which included some talks by former trainees who had completed or were undergoing their degrees. We got the low-down on what types of degree there are, where they are offered, and what to consider when applying. This term we’ve had a sort of follow up in the session on Career Opportunities and Skills Workshop, where there were some tips on CVs, networking and interviews, and some very good talks by former Law Library trainees, which were particularly interesting to me as the current Law Library trainee.

I’ve also been lucky compared to other trainees, because my supervisor lets me to do plenty of training in my role that not all of the trainees get. I’ve had training on serials and acquisitions, and these things tied into my role here, since I’m able to assist both teams: that is, I can process new journals which arrive periodically, and can help in the process of buying new things for the library. There was also a session that I attended more recently with two of my colleagues, entitled Preservation Advice for Library Staff, where we learnt about how to set up and maintain a library space that is safest for your books, plus some detail on the dangers ranged against them (the seven agents of decay, which sounds to me a bit like a fantasy book series waiting to happen). The seven agents of decay include physical forces – such as handling by readers – fire, water, pests, pollutants, light, incorrect temperature, and incorrect relative humidity. Oxford is an especially damp place (as I can testify to – I’ve already had an outbreak of mould in my wardrobe since moving here), so the everyday monitoring of collections is particularly relevant.

Humidity control is important. Photo credit to Alex Walker, Acting Head of Preventative Conservation.

This term’s training started off with a visit to Oxford Brookes Library, which was a fancy new building at their main Headington campus. We had a tour, learning about their use of space, which is divided into various zones of noise so that both quiet study and group work are encouraged, and a bit about their collections and processes. There was also a look at their Special Collections, which was quite eclectic (an artificial arm, a golden wok). Last week we had a session on effective training techniques, very useful for any kind of induction, training and indeed presentation that I may do in the future. There was also Libraries and Social Media yesterday afternoon, at which we learnt about the key principles of social media for libraries, and thought through a few of the possibilities and issues with social media in general and certain platforms for certain libraries in particular. From that session I’ve taken away a healthy appreciation of animated gifs when it comes to medical textbooks, and a newfound love of Orkney Library. (See the Wellcome Unit Library’s feed, here, and Orkney Library’s feed, here, respectively.)

Next up will be Talks on the Book Trade; Collection and Resource Description; and some visits to other Oxford libraries, including All Souls’ Codrington Library, the Alexander Library of Ornithology, the Sherardian Library of Plant Taxonomy and the Radcliffe Science Library. I’m also booked on to a minute-taking session, since taking the minutes at our staff meeting is one of my duties, and a session on Academic searching with Google and alternatives.

My favourite training sessions are definitely those that touch on librarianship as a whole, since what I learn every day here is about how this library works. Bernadette O’Reilly’s OLIS training course was particularly good in that respect, as was the E-Developments session by Michael Popham and Sally Rumsey. All of these looked outwards a bit, explaining, for example, how the publishing habits of publishers like Elsevier impact on the libraries’ and university’s open access policies. The tours can also contribute to this broader perspective, especially when we can find out a bit about the history of a library or, equally important, a particular librarian’s career. So training is definitely a very important and useful part of my role here, and something that is particularly special about the job of Graduate Library Trainee. I hope this gives a sense of the myriad of things that we get up to, and how it benefits us and our libraries.

Book Storage Facility (BSF) Tour, 9 November

On Wednesday 9 November, the 2016-2017 Graduate Library Trainees (GLT) were  bussed to South Marston on the outskirts of Swindon and treated to a tour of the Bodleian Libraries’ £26-million strategic storage solution, the Book Storage Facility (BSF).

The BSF opened in 2010 to accommodate the Bodleian Libraries’ rapidly accumulating collection (expanding at a rate of approximately 170,000 volumes per annum). It has subsequently ingested over 8 million books, maps, manuscripts, music scores, microfilms, microfiches, newspapers, periodicals and other low-usage material from disparate storage locations in and around Oxford (including salt mines in Cheshire). It has the capacity to store 12-13 million items and potential for further expansion.

The Closed-Stack Delivery Service: The BSF retrieves and delivers requested material twice-daily to pre-selected Bodleian reading rooms. Requests are often honoured within 24 hours. On 6 October 2015, the BSF celebrated its one millionth book request (Aristophanes by James Robson to the Sackler).

bsf-1
A kickstool is just not going to cut it! The trainees are dwarfed by their surroundings. The  BSF comprises 31 aisles of shelving (11.4 metres high by 71 metres long)  designed to maximise storage density. It also has “planchests” (out of shot). These are tray-based shelves designed to store 1.2 million maps. Photo: Chantal van den Berg

 

bsf-2
The Room of (almost) Infinite Wisdom. The BSF’s wonderfully multifarious collection of books (from “the Art of Eating in” to the “Handbook of Phonological Development” to Alexa Chung’s memoirs) sit in special acid free, bar-coded cardboard crates with nylon grab handles and a design life of 50 years. Photo: Chantal van den Berg

Jessica Woodward (Taylor Institution Library) describes the BSF tour:

Hardly a day had gone by at the Taylorian when I hadn’t encountered the work of the BSF. Readers would come to my desk wanting to borrow or return books containing neat little white slips, my fellow trainee Will would tantalisingly allude to his activities with crates upstairs, and other colleagues would be glimpsed sifting through items for the leviathan facility to “ingest”.  You can imagine, then, that I was really intrigued to see the BSF, and our training session certainly didn’t disappoint.  

It began with several Powerpoint presentations on different aspects of the facility’s work: storage, logistics, packaging and book moving.  We learnt a lot about choosing the right conditions for books to live in and minimising the potential for wear and tear during transportation.  We were even given tea and biscuits to have while we listened, which was greatly appreciated!


We were then taken for a tour of the storage and processing areas.  Our group was fortunate to have extra time for this as our coach had arrived early.  We watched books being boxed up for delivery to our libraries, to the rhythmic accompaniment of ‘Ghostbusters’ (!). We observed a PhD student using high-tech equipment to research paper conservation, then a giant futuristic door slid open to reveal the incredible 10m-high shelving towers.  Many of us were eager to take photos to remind ourselves of the impressive scale of these.  As we wandered around, dodging the forklift trucks that were zippily picking up and depositing material, we learnt that all kinds of collections can be found in warehouse’s depths, from books to maps, paintings to toys!


Sadly it was soon time for us to take the coach home, but I came away with a lasting sense of how complex an organisation the Bodleian is and how hard its staff work to ensure readers have access to the greatest possible variety of educational materials.  I am very grateful to everyone involved in running the training session for providing such a fascinating insight into this awe-inspiring library outpost.

bsf-3
Again…the BSF is vast. Its shelves span 153 miles/230km (or the approximate distance between Oxford and Sheffield).  It is also temperature and humidity controlled to create an optimal environment for its book stock. We are informed that the warehouse is fixed at 18 degrees Celsius +/- 1 degree.  Photo: Chantal van den Berg

 

 

London Adventures!

The Graduate Trainees were lucky enough to visit some libraries in London at the beginning of July. We could choose two out of four different libraries, one in the morning and one in the afternoon. Here’s what we got up to.

The Natural History Museum Library – Alan McKechnie 

NHM The Graduate Trainees meet Dippy the NHM’s famous diplodocus – photo courtesy of Danielle Czerkaszyn

As a part of our traineeship a lucky group of us got to explore the Natural History Museum Library and Archives in London. Opened in 1881, the library and archival collections numbers over 1 million items, including books, journals, artwork, and archival items. The materials are housed across two sites (the offsite repository being based in Tring), but there is also a growing wealth of online resources available.

Our first port of call was to meet with Hellen Pethers (Reader Services Librarian) who kindly served as our tour guide. We got to view the beautiful Art-Deco style reading rooms, with dark wood panelling, exquisite metallic hand rails, and walls lined with all manner of Natural History material – it was a real treat. One of the critical talking points from Hellen was library logistics from both the standpoint of operating a split site and how they manage collections, loans, and visitors in one of the busiest museums in London. The fetch service and the pre-order of materials before a visit works exceptionally in this demanding museum. Hellen also discussed utilising the library materials for the ‘afterhours’ educational events, such as ‘Crime Scene Live’, which is a great way of giving the public access to materials and publicising the more obscure literature which might otherwise go unused.

The next talk was with Andrea Hart (Library Special Collections Manager) who had a fascinating spread of archival and special collection material for us to sample. Andrea talked in detail about the materials, which ranged from old velum covered books too warped to even be opened safely, to exquisite botanical drawings, to photographs of the founding staff of the Natural History Museum. These we viewed under the eerie and watchful marble eyes of the busts of previous naturalists and museum curators. The sheer range of materials the Natural History Museum houses was remarkable and to be given such detailed information on these materials and their preservation was a real privilege.

The final talk was given by Paul Martin Cooper (Special Collections Librarian) who discussed creating ‘The Bauer Brothers: Masters of Scientific Illustration’ exhibition currently on display. It was fascinating to learn the fine details of exhibition planning, from choosing the illustrations, to executing the quarterly rotations to keep the exhibition fresh, to how Paul chooses what to write on the display cards – the meticulous planning results in repeatedly beautiful displays. We also discussed Paul’s exhibition publication ‘Images of Nature: the Bauer Brothers’, which gives the public a take-home sample of never before published archival material.nhm archive

Examining the museum’s special collection treasures – Photo courtesy of The Trustees of the Natural History Museum London

The BFI Library – Mary Atkinson 

It was difficult to choose between the excellent libraries we had the opportunity to visit! However as I have an interest in film I decided that I would like to see how a specialist library like the BFI Reuben Library manages its collections and works within a large arts organisation. When I met Sarah, the Reader Services Librarian, her enthusiasm for the role of the library in promoting the study and love of film was infectious.

Located in a cultural hub between the Royal Festival Hall and the National Theatre, the BFI South Bank is the public face of the British Film Institute and hosts many screenings and events. Sarah explained that the BFI has various branches to support its aims as a major funder of film production, as well as the organisation of film festivals and events, rights clearance, fundraising and outreach work. Archives, special collections and film media are stored in their Multi Media Vault in controlled conditions. Because of this spread of activity, the South Bank location is the first point of call for enquiries from students, researchers and members of the public.

The Library is free to use and is open to everyone. I found the atmosphere warm and welcoming, with a cosy reading room, open shelf books and journals, and computers for catalogue searching and viewing digitised material. Sarah showed me some example catalogue searches to demonstrate how the library organises its complex holdings. They also hold events and talks tied in with current film screenings, and outreach activities including study sessions with A-Level Film students. The visit ended with a look at the stack where older periodicals are stored, including some brilliant early trade and fan magazines. I left feeling inspired by the range of services offered by the library, and also determined to check out the BFI’s fascinating free online resources such as the Britain on Film collection: http://www.bfi.org.uk/britain-on-film).

Danielle Czerkaszyn – The London Library

London Library book stack

One of the stacks found at The London Library – Photo courtesy of Danielle Czerkaszyn

We arrived at 14 St James’s Square somewhat unsure of the unobtrusive entrance to the London Library. We were met by the Head of Member Services, Amanda Stubbings, who gave us a guided tour and told us more about the fascinating history of the UK’s largest independent lending library, a vast building hiding behind a deceptively modest façade…

In 1841, Scottish historian and author Thomas Carlyle decided to open a private lending library after finding that many of the policies and facilities at the British Museum Library were not to his liking. Over the years, as the collections grew, the Library attracted many of the most famous names in the literary world – Arthur Conan Doyle, Charles Darwin, Bram Stoker, Charles Dickens, George Eliot, Virginia Woolf, George Bernard Shaw, Agatha Christie, and T.S. Eliot – to name but a few.  Today, the library holds over one million books and periodicals in over 50 languages, whilst also keeping pace with a growing range of electronic journals and databases.

Amanda helped us navigate the maze of different spaces in the Library; from the Victorian steel framed see-through (!) book stacks to the newest space, The Art Room, redesigned in 2014. She outlined the scope of the collections, which are particularly strong in the humanities, and highlighted some of the Library’s special collections. We were amazed by the broad range of subjects covered and given that everything is arranged by subject and author, we discovered that browsing is a dream! We also learned about future projects and refurbishment plans, including additional reading desks, three more floors of book stacks, and a new reading room.

It’s safe to say that we all left feeling highly enthused by what we’d just experienced. We loved the narrow stacks, the smell of old books and friendly nature of staff and patrons, all of whom were clearly there due to a real love of books.  Membership is open to everyone for an annual fee, though the library also runs free evening tours for members of the public who fancy a quick peak.  The London Library is currently celebrating its 175th birthday so there is no better time to visit this literary gem.

The Guardian – Clare Hunter

Guardian

Some trainees meet the very cute stars of a Guardian advertising campaign –  Photo courtesy of Tom Dale

In the afternoon four intrepid trainees took the tube to Kings Cross to explore the exciting world of news librarianship at the Guardian. We were welcomed by Richard Nelsson, the Information manager. He gave us a fascinating insight into why a newspaper might need a librarian and how the role has developed from organising cuttings in folders to searching through electronic databases. It was particularly interesting to learn about the different types of research performed by the research department and how they worked with both the Editorial staff and the archives. After our discussion we were given a quick tour of the rest of the Guardian’s offices, where we saw the hustle and bustle of the different departments of the newsroom. Finally we met with the Guardian’s archivist who took us through some of the incredible array of items in their basement store.   So much of the Guardian’s history was there, from sketches for a cartoon from the 1970s to photographs of Margaret Thatcher and the smashed up parts of the hard drive that held the information released by Edward Snowden! It was fascinating to be able to learn about a very different side of librarianship that we had not seen before and see where one of Britain’s major newspapers is put together.

The Value of the Oxford Library Graduate Trainee Scheme – Margaret Watson

The Value of the Oxford Library Graduate Trainee Scheme:  Margaret Watson’s keynote address at the Trainee Showcase, Headley Lecture Theatre, Ashmolean Museum, 15 July 2016

I was very glad to be invited to speak to this subject on this occasion, because I’ve experienced the Graduate Trainee programme both as a trainee and as a supervisor, and also as a librarian who has seen what our trainees have gone on to contribute to the profession, to academia and to wider society.

I started out as a Graduate Trainee in Oxford in 1981.  So far as I can remember, there were trainees that year at Christ Church, the English Faculty Library, the Bodleian (two of them), St Hilda’s and – my own post – at St Anne’s.  Pretty much all of us planned to go to University College, London (UCL), which was the ‘go-to’ course for the humanities in those days.   I was phenomenally lucky to be at St Anne’s:   at the time, it was one of the better paid posts (there seemed to be a negative correlation between the wealth of the institution and the trainee’s salary), and there were free lunches and even free cakes for tea.  However the best thing about it was that I worked with two professional librarians, in a library that had been organized by a professional librarian.  That organizing librarian had been Lady Richmond, whom I remembered from when I was a little girl growing up in North Oxford as a very tiny old lady, and indeed the catalogue drawers were at a very low-level.  It wasn’t until 15 years later, after I joined the Bodleian, that I really understood what Lady Richmond had done for St Anne’s, when Sue Miles the Bodleian’s Head of English and Foreign Cataloguing told me that Lady Richmond had worked in public libraries and took the view that the same principles that lay behind the efficient running of a public library could equally usefully be applied to a college library.

Read more The Value of the Oxford Library Graduate Trainee Scheme – Margaret Watson