Hello Everyone. I’m Eóin, the trainee at the Radcliffe Science Library. I graduated from UCL in 2010 with a degree in Theoretical Physics. Since then I have worked in a bookshop and completed an internship at a publishing house.
So far I have mainly been on the issue desk, learning and performing the basics of circulation as well as helping readers out with any printing or scanning issues but I’m also looking forward to spending some time with the subject librarians and collections team in the coming weeks.
When term starts I will be spending a day a week at two smaller libraries, the Sherardian Library of Plant Taxonomy and the Alexander Library of Ornithology. I’ll also have a short stint at the Health Care Libraries around Christmas.
Hi everyone, Kat from the law library here again. On Wednesday, I attended a lunchtime talk at the Radcliffe Science Library entitled ‘Join the conversation with Twitter’. It featured three speakers talking about the use of twitter by libraries, and I found it really interesting, so much so that I thought I’d share some of the things I took away. You can see a synopsis of the talk on the RSL’s Facebook page.
First, Michael O’Hagan (@OHaganMichael) talked about the research he did for his library school dissertation, which was a study of academic libraries using twitter. He looked at lots of different academic libraries’ twitter analytics, and tried to get a picture of what they used twitter for, how much interaction there was with other people, who those people were, what the interaction was about, and how popular twitter seemed to be as a method of communication. Personally, if you’d asked me to guess the answers to these questions, I might have pessimistically expected a lot of interaction and followers to be other librarians and libraries, and for there not to be much interaction with genuine readers. So I was pleasantly surprised when he explained that, actually, there seemed to be quite a bit of interaction with readers asking questions and giving feedback about library services, which is a promising sign that Twitter is a good method of communication. He also had quite a bit of advice about how to use Twitter more effectively in libraries, based on the most successful institutions he’d looked at. This included:
Tweet frequently! Also, given that it’s very easy to miss things on Twitter if you follow lots of people, if there’s something you really want people to notice, try tweeting different phrasings of it several times over the course of a day.
Follow other feeds that are part of your institution: Oxford University, the Bodleian, your department or faculty, academics who have professional twitter accounts. Then retweet things you think are interesting or relevant. This starts a conversation with other twitter accounts which may have larger or different followings, which can help to increase your exposure.
Keep track of what people are saying about you – if people reply or retweet anything you post then Twitter will let you know anyway, but it’s worth looking for indirect references (for example, if someone just writes ‘law bod’ in a tweet but doesn’t use @thelawbod). You can also search by location to restrict to mentions in Oxford.
If readers have specific questions about the library, respond as quickly as possible. Twitter comes with the expectation of immediate response, which can be a problem if you’re not checking it regularly.
However, don’t be creepy! If someone refers to your library in a conversation but isn’t asking a question, then maybe don’t jump in – it is going on in a public space, but having an institutional account reply to a twitter conversation between a few readers might be a bit much!
Use pictures and links – tweets with these are more likely to be retweeted (unsurprisingly) which increases the number of people reading them.
Next, Isabel Holowaty (@iholowaty) gave a presentation with tips and advice about using Twitter from her use of it for the History Faculty Library (@HFLOxford). She also showcased using an iPad to present via a projector, which was very cool! She recommended using a programme/app which allows you to see information about several twitter accounts without constantly signing in and out (which you have to do on the twitter website), and showed us HootSuite, the one she uses. This allows you to link all sorts of different social media accounts: different Twitters, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, even WordPress for blogs, and produces columns showing feeds for each of them. You can pick what appears in each column, for example your sent tweets, mentions, retweets or direct messages, and can search your different accounts, save searches, and tweet from any account. It definitely seemed like an alternative to just using twitter’s website (which is what I currently do), because it saves you from having to sign in and out to change account. I would be a bit worried about accidentally retweeting or following someone from the Law Bod’s account rather than my own, though! HootSuite also allows you to schedule tweets for a later date, which I thought sounded useful as well. At the Law Bod, we’ve just started a Twitter rota (more below), where different staff take a morning or an afternoon and tweet a few things they think are interesting. I’ve found since signing up that quite often I have all these ideas throughout the week and then on Monday afternoons: nothing! It would be great to be able to schedule some that aren’t time-dependent when I think of them to go out on Monday afternoon, and then just check them over on the day. Isabel also advised searching for your library to find indirect references, including all possible misspellings of Bodleian! She also pointed out that if your library has a blog, and new blog posts get tweeted about, it’s worth coming up with a punchy title, otherwise your tweets look a bit boring.
Lastly, Penny Schenk (@galoot) talked about my library, the Law Bod, as a case study of an academic library using Twitter. She explained that we’ve recently started a Twitter rota, and that this has massively increased our activity on Twitter, and also the variety of different things we tweet about. We try to follow mostly organisations rather than individuals, to ensure things stay professional. The rota means that we hopefully tweet every working day, which has definitely helped increase our following. She also suggested using the ‘follow friday’ meme (where Twitter users suggest a person they follow who they think writes interesting things) to build conversations with other users.
I found the talk really interesting, and definitely think the Law Bod should take everyone’s suggestions on board. I’ll by trying out HootSuite, and retweeting more things from the Law Faculty, the Bodleian, and Oxford on my Monday afternoon slots! Judging by the History Faculty Library’s almost 2,500 followers, frequent, interesting, varied tweets and retweets with links and pictures seem to be the way forward.
Thanks for reading and, if you like, follow @thelawbod or me, @kastrel (although be prepared for anything from cross stitch to formula one, as I tweet on all sorts of things).
One of the projects I worked on this year at the Radcliffe Science Library was to research and produce an online guide to referencing and reference managers. The guide has been live for a while and has had positive comments from students and library staff.
Reference management software is used to keep track of bibliographic references and to save time when citing references in assignments or publications. Reference managers store and organise references and integrate with word processors to cite references in the required format. Most also have additional features such as sharing references, note taking and storing pdf files. The use of reference managers is popular in the sciences, but the guide is not subject specific and will be useful to anyone considering using a reference manager.
The guide gives an introduction to what reference managers are, types of referencing style and specific information about the reference managers RefWorks, EndNote, EndNote Web, Zotero, Mendeley and Colwiz. It also has a comparison table which compares the pros and cons and the features of these reference managers. This was the most time-consuming part of the guide to produce, but I think the most useful too. You can find the guide at http://libguides.bodleian.ox.ac.uk/reference-management.
10.45am: Visit to the library in the department of Earth Sciences. Most of the science departments in Oxford no longer have their own libraries, but when the Earth Sciences Department moved to their new building in 2010, they decided they wanted to keep their library. I’ve been wanting to visit this library for a while, particularly because my undergraduate degree was in geological sciences.
There is 24-hour access to the library for members of the department and while not very large, the library, and librarian(!), seem to be well used and valued by students. Although, with the 24-hour access some items do go missing, all items on undergraduate reading lists are kept in a locked cupboard and students must ask the librarian if they need to use them. The library also holds map collections – geological and topograpgical maps are important to the teaching and research in the department.
12pm: Back in the RSL I write up some notes about the Earth Sciences library.
12.20pm: Door entry statistics.
2pm: Door entry statistics.
2.45pm: Scanning a journal the publishers have given us permission to digitize.
3.40pm: Tea break
3.55pm: Working on the LibGuide I am creating on reference management.
The afternoon’s activities were interspersed with dealing with various emails.
5pm: End of the day.
This is my final post for round 8 of the Library Day in the Life project. I’m very glad I did it and would encourage anyone considering taking part in a future round (or writing a post about their week for this round) to do it.
8.50am: Arrive at the Radcliffe Science Library (RSL), switch on computer, check emails – I have quite a few this morning. Go through email inbox, moving emails into folders and deleting ones which are irrelevant to me. I do this about once a week as it makes old emails so much easier to find.
10am: Meeting with the serials librarian. I learn about the process required to get a periodical issue from the post room to the shelves and find out that if someone wants to find out if a pre-1993 issue was received we have to check in a large card catalogue.
10.30am: Onto one of my weekly tasks – adding all the new psychology books to the library’s LibraryThing account. This involves searching for the book, checking the information is correct, adding tags (Library of Congress cataloging-in-publication data is very useful here) and checking that the link to SOLO (our online catalogue) works. I also check on SOLO for the shelfmark of the books I added last week, as most of them will have been processed now, and add that.
11.10am: Tea break
11.35am: Back to a project I started before christmas. On Thursdays and Fridays I work with the subject librarians at the RSL, alternating between physical sciences and life sciences spending four weeks with one and then four weeks with the other, though those timings can be flexible. This week I’m back with life sciences and so back to an ongoing project I started in November. I am digitzing a journal the publishers have given us permission to digitize and put on our website. This basically means I have lots of scanning to do.
12.05pm: I am asked to fetch and loan out to ARACU (Accessible Resources Acquisition and Creation Unit) some items requested by them for them to scan for disabled readers.
12.30pm: Back to scanning
2.15pm: Meeting with the life sciences and medicine subject libarian to discuss what I will be doing on Thursdays and Fridays for the next couple of weeks. I am going to be producing some pretty graphs in Excel from our door entry statistics, broken down by subject and user category (undergraduate students, taught postgraduate students, research postgraduate students and staff). I’m looking forward to this – I enjoy playing with spreadsheets.
2.50pm: Shadowing another member of staff’s SOLO Live Help session as I will be joining the SOLO Live Help team soon (see yesterday’s post).
3.15pm: SOLO Live Help is very quiet so I start work on the door entry statistics.
4.15pm: Tea break
4.30pm: Back to the spreadsheets and I have some very pretty pie charts.
8.45am: Arrive at the Radcliffe Science Library, switch on my computer and check emails.
9am: I’ll soon be joining the team staffing SOLO Live Help, our instant messaging service for helping users having problems with our SOLO (our online catalogue). In preparation I start this morning by reading through the SOLO Live Help information pack I’ve been sent and request access to the wiki which has more information for staff.
9.30am: Meeting with the document supply supervisor. This is one of a series of meetings that it was agreed in my progress meeting a couple of weeks ago I should have to find out about the work done in other sections of the library. I find out how both incoming and outgoing inter-library loans are processed. We end up having a long conversation about copyright and I borrow a couple of, thankfully short, books about copyright from her. I’ve been thinking about copyright quite a lot recently and the more I look into it the more confusing it becomes.
10.25am: My request to access the wiki for SOLO Live Help has been approved, so I take a look at the information on there.
10.35am: Have a quick look through the books on copyright and note down a couple of useful-looking websites.
10.45am: Read through the minutes of a meeting I went to last week.
10.55am: Tea break.
11.20am: For the past couple of weeks I’ve been having problems logging on to computers in an office I sometimes need to use (due to certain software only being installed on those computers). Someone from IT came last Friday and supposedly fixed the problem, so I go to test that I can log on, taking some reading on copyright with me in case it takes a while.
11.30am: Two error messages later and the computer is still trying to log me on.
11.40am: The computer is still trying to log on, so I decide to go and do something else and come back later to see if it gets there in the end. I continue working on a LibGuide I am creating about reference management.
12pm: I return to see whether I’m logged on to the computer yet. I am! But it took rather a long time and I have been logged on with a ‘temporary profile’, whatever that means. I email the person from IT who I have been in contact with about the problem to report my logging on attempts and ask what the temporary profile means.
12.15pm: Back to working on the LibGuide.
1.55pm: Leave to walk over to Osney where I need to be for this afternoon’s training session.
2pm: Most Wednesday afternoons all the graduate trainees in the Oxford libraries have a training session. Today’s session was on archives and manuscripts and I found it particularly relevant to the work I am doing on the Druce Archive at the Sherardian Library (see Monday’s post). The afternoon started with an overview of the work of special collections, and in particular Western manuscripts, at the Bodleian Library, including information on the kind of collections held, methods of acquisition and the stages of processing a collection requires. We were then split in to three groups, and given three short talks on processing and cataloguing an archive, on the Saving Oxford Medicine Project and on digital archives. I found it particularly interesting to hear about digital archives. How to go about archiving a website wasn’t something I’d considered before! Overall, a very interesting and enjoyable training session.
On Wednesday, we concluded our traineeship through the presentation of the projects that we had worked on throughout the year. It was a wonderful opportunity to see what everyone had been working on in their libraries.
I presented my project on the digitization of the Birthday Book of George Claridge Druce (1850-1932), chemist, Mayor of Oxford and one of the great botanists of the early 20th Century, which I worked on at the Sherardian Library in the Department of Plant Sciences. I greatly enjoyed working on this project, and learned a lot, not only about Druce (a most remarkable man), but about the practice of botany in Britain during the early 20th Century (shift from natural history as collecting to a circumscribed science, and the rise of the conservation movement to preserve rare specimens in the wild rather than just collecting them).
I also learned how to design and implement databases in Access and learned some basic XML coding. The next step will be uploading the Druce database to the UK Archives Hub, where it will be made available for research.
One of my other projects at the Radcliffe Science Library involved making a virtual tour of the library, which was used during the Science Open Days at the RSL when prospective undergraduates visit the library and science departments at Oxford. The virtual tour was done using Powerpoint and Adobe Captivate. You can view it at the following link:
The first two months of my traineeship have seen many changes occurring in the science libraries, and it has been an interesting, (if often surreal) induction into librarianship. The Departmental libraries in Zoology and the Plant Sciences have closed, and the collections have mostly been merged with those of the Radcliffe Science Library. My first few days of work as a trainee were spent wrapping a corridor-long card catalogue drawer-by-drawer in cling film so that the cards would not be dislodged during moving – a “unique” experience, but important none-the-less, as a good portion of the references (pre-1938) are not catalogued on OLIS. Other tasks have included measuring and calculating shelf space for the ornithological journals and bulletins in the Alexander Library of Ornithology, and “blue bagging” duplicate journals for secure destruction (see the photo of Mont Blu which is all that remains of the former Zoology Departmental Library). I have also had the invaluable opportunity to participate in library induction tours and more specialised research skills presentations with the subject librarians at the Radcliffe Science Library.
On September 23, the Plant Sciences Library was officially closed with a “BBBL” (Brown Bag and Bubbly Lunch). Roger Mills, Head of Sciences, gave an excellent address outlining the history of the Plant Sciences Library and the Oxford Forest Information Service, and the work that has gone into the move of most of the Plant Sciences collections for inclusion in the Radcliffe Science Library. The future of ISBES was toasted with sparkling wine, and it was a wonderful opportunity to talk with the librarians about their work and experiences. The Plant Sciences Library is now closed, but the new Sherardian Library of Plant Taxonomy still remains associated with the Oxford Herbaria. Herbarium Curator Dr. Stephen Harris took us on a tour of the Herbaria, while special collections and biology subject librarians Anne Marie Townsend and Judith Pinfold took us on a tour of the library collections, including a glimpse of the magnificent Flora Graeca, first published in 1806, an incredible work of botanical illustration.
October 7 not only marked the official opening of the Book Storage Facility in Swindon, but it was also National Poetry Day. The Radcliffe Science Library celebrated with the Parallel UniVerses poetry evening, held in the entrance lounge of the RSL. The Parallel UniVerses poetry competition had been organised as a unique synthesis of science and art, and over 86 entries were received. Ten of these were selected to be read during the evening. It was a wonderfully festive use of the library space: although 40 people had booked for the evening, almost 100 people were in attendance. The mood was festive as the poets and their audience partook in hors d’oeuvres and wine before the event. The poems themselves were lovely, poignant and often touching reminders that science is not all cold laboratory benches and sterile white lab coats, but is a human endeavor.
(With Thanks to J. Ralph, G. Petrokofsky and O. Bridle for photographs)