Friday, December 12, 2008
Gardener's nightcap by Muriel Stuart. London : Persephone Books, 2006.
‘There is an hour just before dark, when the garden resents interference. Its work, no less than the gardener’s, is done.’
As the title suggests this would make perfect bedtime reading for any gardener. It’s a collection of observations planting hints and even the occasional recipe brought together as a sort of commonplace book. What sets it apart from many similar books is the quality of the writing; that the author was a poet is clearly evident. Additionally, unlike modern compilations, generally produced by indifferent researchers, Muriel Stuart’s obvious love of gardening shines through as does some very decided opinions.
Superbly presented by Persephone, with their usual care and attention of design, it is a delight to read.
Friday, December 5, 2008
Central Glasgow by Peter Stewart. Stroud : Chalford, 1997.
This is much better than the usual `then and now' collections of photographs, with quite informative descriptions of each picture. The author has obviously done some research into the histort of the buildings and businesses pictured.
Friday, November 28, 2008
As an experiment I think this is a success and one to continue.
Friday, October 24, 2008
Our longest days : A people's history of the Second World War by Sandra Koa Wing. London : Profile Books, 2008.
I found this to be somewhat disappointing - I'd read Nella Last's War and enjoyed that book, so was hoping for something similar. Mass observation can provide a fascinating sidelight on the difficulties of peoples lives, and how even the 'trivial' changes that war forces on the population can have far-reaching effects and I would like to have seen more of this sort of detail, particularly towards the end where there seemed to be mainly comment on the progress of the war and peace.
One of the problems with this particular book is that there are a fair number of diarists, some only appearing at various times during the period (the diaries are arranged chronologically), so, at least initially, it can difficult to get a sense of whose perspective you are experiencing events through. I'd suggest reading the biographies (which are very brief) before getting into the diaries properly.
As I got further into the book, I did find myself 'connecting' with one or two particular diarists and reading those were much more enjoyable. As is mentioned in the introduction, the diarists tended to come from a particular class and political leanings, so there are still many stories untold.
Friday, October 17, 2008
Scenes From A Revolution: The Birth of the New Hollywood by Mark Harris. Canongate Books (2008), Hardcover, 496 pages
This is a work which covers a rarely covered period of Hollywood in the standard histories – the mid-Sixties between the hegemony of the old studio system and the rise of the director/auteur. American filmmaking of this decade has been less well catered for than the British industry, with its reflection of ‘Swinging Sixties’.
The author’s approach is to focus in on 5 very different films, the Best Picture nominees of 1967 (In the Heat of the Night, Bonnie & Clyde, Doctor Dolittle, The Graduate, Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner), each of which represent a strand of filmmaking at that time, and hold them up the changes which are going on in society around them. The films themselves may seem tame today, but between them they reflected the impact of the Production Code, the Civil Rights Movement and the rise of counterculture. The argument the author makes that these are radical films which changed (or at least were a catalyst for change) is compelling.
This is a meticulously researched and referenced work, and for any scholarly film historian would be critical reading, however it is also extremely accessible to anyone with a general interest in the history of film (or the Sixties in general). The stories of the five films, one weaving in and out of the other as their gestation occurs over a period of years keeps the reader interested. The principal characters are sharply depicted, almost wickedly so in some cases. Struggling actors and studio moguls alike could almost be stereotypes, but the author provides enough detail and background to create individuals.
It’s the detail that impresses, based on interviews and original documents it makes the work fresh – Ranulph Fiennes attempting to sabotage Dr Dolittle, the trading of scripts and production rights, and perhaps most poignantly these days how filming of In the Heat of the Night was cut short in Tennessee by racism (only one hotel in the town would accept black people).
I’ve read few works on behind-the-scenes Hollywood which attempt to give such a full context for the production, the process is as much the star as any of the actors.
Friday, October 10, 2008
Geology and landscapes of Scotland by Con Gillen. Harpenden : Terra, 2003.
A thoroughly readable account of the geology of Scotland putting it in the context of world processes. Given this is such a complex terrain, he has opted to go fr a regional approach, but has included how the major events which shaped that particular region have also affected elsewhere. For those interested in the history of the science, he also highlights specific areas of importance in the development of geological theory.
The work is extensively illustrated throughout with many clear B&W photographs supplemented by line drawings.
A useful feature is the further resources section, not merely a bibliography, it includes options for further study and a glossary of technical and Gaelic terms.
Friday, September 26, 2008
Words Words Words by David Crystal. OUP Oxford (2007), Paperback, 224 pages
This is a much lighter book than many of David Crystal's works. It makes a readable introduction to the subject, actually the chapter summaries seem to suggest that it might be intended for the school/college student. The final chapter includes some exercises (word games?) to test the reader.
Thursday, September 25, 2008
Not the most relevant of days for us but as always I found a couple of intersting sessions.
E-books observatory is always of interest - they are colecting so much data that every presentation/discussion brings up fresh perspective. Today's examples: students spend almost half their time in an ebook looking at the cover. Can you judge an ebook by its cover? They very rarrely use inay of the platform features or interactivity. This may be a chicken and egg scario - they are unfamiliar with these so don't use them, and increased usage may make them more comfortable with using them.
The BBC MemoryShare & CenturyShare sites are interesting concepts - for example we have archived audiocassettes of memories of people working in the printing industry (many libraries must have similar), something like this which puts them on a timeline and in context could bring out the content much more effectively.
Friday, September 19, 2008
Writing Scotland : how Scotland's writers shaped the nation by Carl MacDougall. Edinburgh : Polygon, 2004.
A readable introduction to Scottish literature, it explores the subject thematically rather than chronologically. (Accompanied BBC TV series)
Friday, September 12, 2008
Friday, August 22, 2008
Friday Book Review: Scottish gardens. Being a representative selection of different types, old and new
Scottish gardens. Being a representative selection of different types, old and new by Sir. Herbert Maxwell. London, 1908
Beautifully illustrated by Mary Wilson, this has fascinating descriptions of many of the best Scottish gardens of that era, interspersed with historical anecdote. The author concentrates mainly on the planting rather than design and layout, with the emphasis on West Coast gardens. Given the publication date of 1908, it is especially fascinating to modern readers as few of these gardens remain in original ownership, or even exist in their original state.
Sunday, August 17, 2008
JISC/CNI 08: Student Experience Sir David Melville, Chair of the UK Committee of Inquiry into the Student Experience
ISC survey in ICT expectations (Sept 07)
Expectations generally based on school experience
Other reading – google generation is wider than we think – adults catch up rapidly once exposed
Follow up questionnaire Supervisors noticed that they were multitasking while filling it in.
“Owned spaces” are very important – can this concept be transferred into innovative physical space design?
Committee looking at FE and schools as well as evidence from futurologists
Age at which w2 becomes ubiquitous getting younger
Needs of future workplace demand these skills
Committee has a website/wiki/discussion forum
Issues of parental consent with younger children and use of social networks for teaching.
Future problem of assessment of mashedup material
Malcolm Read, Executive Secretary, JISC
Institutional silos are a frustration – libraries not part of the problem.
Information not managed in a strategic way.
Cliff Lynch, Executive Director, CNI
Conversation moved onto a higher level, from mechanics and technical plumbing to contributing to teaching & learning Libraries need to be assertive in carrying out a deeper mission in institutional & research data management
Speed of maturation of repositories & sophistication of digitisation.
Simple finding – overelaborated complexity needs to be tackled as aprt of improving the user experience
What is UG education for? Affects whole principle of teaching; when does technology help in learning how to think? (What always wories me is that information literacy/library skills have been taught here for decades, with it appears no effect - what are we doing wrong?)
Reason to have content outside the VLE because of the proprietary nature and variety of platforms
Originally designed to be used within an institutional setting as part of a course, now we have more open learning, how might that affect usage?
2 services: Keep-safe mandate & JORUM R&D
23% HEI, project12% FEI contributors 2200 resources
80% HEI, 60% HEU users, 5000+ users, 9600+ downloads
JORUM predates emergence of open access; now being repurposed for ‘open sharing’ and showcase for UK commitment to Open Education Resources.
Future plans to shift out of the realm of education technologists, to make more accessible. Question as to whether we should focus on academics or students?
Developing new licensing regimes
Merlot – project which rather than collect objects, collects pointers to objects (US)
FF - To realise potential must go direct to learner – can they also be contributors?
Measurement of re-use & repurposing of resources.
Looking at getting more community engagement; currently reliant on feedback
Sunday, July 27, 2008
It was noted that the textbook sector does not engage with library – direct to student via academics
That the project was restricted to only 36 books indicates how nervous publishers were and the level of pricing they were charging
127 subscribers to myiLibrary platform (3 subjects)
80 to Ovid (medical)
90% librarians believed e-textbooks should be free at point of use
>22000 responses to survey from users (123 universities)
50% teachers not happy
65% media students “”
But 60% already using ebooks
3.1% thought about buying the book
35% using library
40% share with friend
62.6% read from screen; 6% print off
Equal numbers visit library/access elsewhere
Women in particular appreciated access to digital library, much more than men
Expect access via catalogue
Preliminary results from data with Student use from January
Finding opposite behaviour to superbook project; here only 5% of time spent searching; 72% going straight to content
Attributing to Superbook only third were catalogued – evidence that cataloguing is a user focussed and worthwhile activity
Taking what we observe students doing and use it to inform construction of the ebook. Are we taking ancient physical structures & navigation into a new world.
Repeat using survey asking them why?
The Gutenberg-e Electronic Book Project: Opportunities and Challenges in Publishing Born-Digital Monographs:
Kate Wittenberg, Director, Electronic Publishing Initiative, Columbia University
Prizes for best new scholarship by American Historical Association.
Condition of additional work to transform from print dissertation to born-digital book
Workshops with authors to enable them
Change in attitudes towards digital publishing within academy
Contain costs of publishing scholarly monographs
Authors & publishers became close active collaborators rather than ‘lone toilers’
Both sides became more interested in possibilities and more creative
Attitudes towards digital publications evolved – eg concerns that digital monographs hadn’t gone through same rigorous review process as print.
Time & costs exceeded expectations (possibly because the project had blank slates –perhaps for commercialisation need controls similar to print)
Must the scholarly narrative be presented in a linear form?
How does one present an ‘authorial voice’?
Are image & archives supplementary or the organising structure?
Can new ‘textbooks’ be created by integrating ebooks and teaching tools
Tension between author’s creativity and a very traditional environment e.g. some journals would refuse to review born digital so had to create ‘bound galleys’ Seen some changes particularly in the last couple of years.
Potential can create high costs – need to agree on what can be expected
Enhanced collaboration can increase costs and times; the levels of support decreased with later groups.
Need for continuing innovation; and changes from authors, bulishers and universities attitudes.
Publishers lack of integration of ebook/website something which needs further investigation.
Effects of hardware e.g Kindle; current project looked at content
Would catalogue work as a discovery platform for 1000s ebooks - it does for print
JISC/CNI 08: Web 2.0/Student 2.0: The Key Challenges for HE over the next 5 years - Conor Galvin, UCD Dublin
Identity in the modern world
Multiple, fluid, contingent
Relative importance of associations, and in context
Deep relationship with technology, highly visual, we’re not ready – native users from the unremarkable to the unrecognisable. Breadth but not necessarily depth of usage cf university tools
To engage with this generation He has to be:
Multi-componential – across discipline boundaries
Profiled and portable
How does your institution rate in these terms? Most in the room rates themselves less than 4/12 http://Demos.co.uk Their Space report ECAR study from 2007 Horizon report highlights 6 key challenges > Techlearning blog 15 minute introduction Educause came back with a number of quick projects which could make a difference
Practical examples of open learning
How do we reframe the higher education learning experience?
What is education for?
Divergence between generations
Education for practical working citizenship
Creative living – quote from Modern social imaginaries/Charles Taylor
We need a new social imaginary for higher education
Rethink how we teach and support and assessment
Happening at the lower level of learning e.g. project based learning
Examples of innovative projects
Alice @ CM reducing dropout rates by 100%
UCD library in 2L
Making/remaking the individuals environment
Learning is networked and should be a hopeful experience – we should be prepared to learn as well as teach
Information Services is at the nexus
provide the architecture
provide the foresight
This looks at issues from a US perspective
NSF Office of Cyberinfrastructure/Office of Educational Resources
How can we leverage these two funding streams?
Technology enabled education reaches beyond traditional models, not only for adult education, but also to supplement e.g schools. Museums have moved into this in an aggressive way. Platform for advancing relationships between professional & amateur science. The massive data resources can be used for teaching.
Spent far too long creating information objects/courses which cannot be sustained, either because of platform obsolescence or funding. Need platforms which last for a decade at least. Data deluge also applies to learning systems, about how the students are interacting with them; new tools are developed in some areas. Privacy issue is a caution on this e.g cannot build recommenders without user history; but learning systems can be open to abuse. How much privacy should users have? Would this impact on projects such as the digital lives project?
Report recommendations re openness – default should be skewed towards openness
4-5 weeks due
Traditionally expressed ourselves on paper, which could form the basis of scholarly collections for major research libraries.
Although not a feature here what if the Hydra had been a blog?
Personas around how we use digital collections can be complex; mixing private and work. We are all also collaborating e.g commenting on someone else’s blog?
Will future historians find similar richness of collections?
We can consciously build a legacy for ourselves
Challenges of distributed information, version control, responsibility of individuals not organisations
Internet business cycle 7 weeks
PIM very under-researched – how do people organise, name files? Provide tools to help people organise these better - can we integrate these with our our traditional bibliographic management tools to provide a seamless user experience?
35 interviews with prominent musicians, academics, politicians.
Diversity across group
Email used PIM
Still live a hybrid world, use mixtures for version control etc.
52% migrated selectively
43% backed up to external
31% archived machine
17% did nothing.
Relentless need to innovate, provide higher value systems. Todays value added = tomorrows commodity
Look at how this ecosystem is doing (funded by JISC/SCA)
Discontinuous, disruptive change
News papers in decline
Competition for audience – new players moving into online e.g. BBC, losing geographic leverage. cf libraries
Digitisation for Success
Grants are for start-up; not sustainability
Cost-recovery is insufficient. Growth is necessary as more added value is required, more IT investment required
Value is determined by impact
Subscription engenders discipline. Need to determine community of users to ‘sell’ at any level
Scale matters – consider partnerships, mergers and acquisitions (regarded as success on commercial work)
Flexibility, nimbleness & responsiveness are key – accept there may be need for change
Leadership must be fully dedicated and accountable (this is an entrepreneurial exercise)
We need to set up examples of revenue models as part of project
Ian Rowlands, University College London
UCL's project was to acquire qualitative data on usage (Longitudinal study from Univ Tennessee)
OCLC report – search associated with Google/Yahoo branding only; library associated with legacy print – how do we put our search tools in their environment
Google are easy & predictable, but not seen as a gateway to expensive publisher-created content.
Go for easy option – need clear mental map of premium content
GG not unique
Mental map – did we only have this mental map because the library was static – what now?
People have no idea what an electronic book is?
Get much closer to our users – well beyond satisfaction surveys
Deep log analysis of 9 digital library platforms challenges assumptions on how people read – jump around spend little time on actual content. through ‘metadata broth’ viewing rather than reading
Differences in number of keywords by different nationalities = Germans most structured, Italians power browsers; males prefer HTML, females PDF
Are people using these to check facts, to avoid reading, or rejecting resources, or unable to find relevant resources.
Continuity – differences lessen as older generations catch up & even overtake.
Are our mental maps based on our models of learning?
Listening to Students: Innovative Responses:
Betsy Wilson, Dean of University Libraries, University of Washington
CIBER report (2005) – no library had a department devoted to assessment of the user – a few have now developed expertise in assessment.
ARL Library Assessment Conference among those sponsoring many activities
Based on user behaviour, use & non-use, and related to outcomes.
Commitment to continual assessment & evaluation for positive outcomes
Dialogue with users for new services & discontinued services
Qualitative & quantitative methods; they have had a series of surveys since 1992
Most have moved to remote use – preferred method
Self-reliance is of high importance
Desktop top priority
Library as place to work, other visits drop
UWash. has a focus on bioscience; 70% of faculty & students have some interaction with bioscientists but there is no actual faculty of Bioscience
Print really dead
Library provides ejournal with big chequebook – what happens with OA
Need help with personal information
Fulfilment – library costs from transaction to delivery too high
Integrate discovery & delivery
Integrate collection development budgets
Get librarians out of the library
Can we generalise?
Disparity between faculty & UG usage greater than assumed
Move to desktop – faculty use of collections drop, but UG relatively static. Their activities in library also static. UG remote access increase not as steep as Faculty & Research
Survey that students agreed libraries make them more productive researchers
UG – space
Res – how to save time
Fac – collections
Discovery & delivery
Collection resource reallocation
60 regional ILL
114% international ILL
Maintain relevancy & centrality – increase since 1995 – refocus on student needs rather than faculty
Do students rate value with how difficult resource is to obtain
Use consumer mindset to judge materials also services
Print rather reading use
Log analysis based on the browser use
Thursday, July 10, 2008
Diane is trying to put the students experience in contextStudents – multitasking
Where they spend their time – not in class (US studies indicate only 7.7% of time)
Social networks – their choice for email/exchanging information
Gaming (70+% of Americans – is this same in UK?)
Media creation – not just looking at immediate local feedback; audiences are on the web
Participatory culture – not necessarily about the product but the process
Everyone has something to contribute – do they really? Is everyone’s input equally valid?
Social connections create a set of social skills which we value.
Knowledge needs have changed from know how to know what to know where
Definitions of learning are changing
Experiences – learning by doing rather than assimilation
Knowledge distributed across communities/networks
Assessment through reputation
Not possible to separate learning from context e.g what you learn changes
Learning interfaces are part of this context
Familiar with desktop > cf gaming multi user virtual environments
Infrastructure based on learning
Complex, multidisciplinary data
Real world problems
Remote instruments but employers complain that students know theory but can’t handle the equipment in practice
Science gateways e.g Earthquake Collaboratory, nanoHUB, Galaxy Zoo which include researchers students and citizen environments
2nd life, haptics (learning by touch) e.g. for medical education
Reinforces memory and learning
Create & collaborate
Open University free learning resources
Space establishes context
The way we set them up implies how we expect people to learn
rotating seats in lecture theatres
Joint problem solving – improves dropout rate for low achieving students
Metacognition improves learning
Thinking about learning processes
‘wrappers’ – students asked about how they expect to do, then after exercise/exam asked again to reflect on these wrt to how they actually performed
Open educational resources
-Challenges assumptions about knowledge, originality and ownership
Need for enabling infrastructure
Infrastructure for discovery
Data as an infrastructure
Distributed infrastructure – grid computing
Who or what they can trust?
Have shown themselves to be much more savvy, information literacy/fluency programmes. Different attitude to trust, maybe just because they’re younger?
How are universities responding to shallow learners?
Courses are more interest driven & distributed – students who are not interested continue with a shallow approach
Deep problem solving produces more transferable skills
Wednesday, July 9, 2008
Full conference website
On the social side, I can recommend the lamb shanks at the Crown
Friday, July 4, 2008
Not so much a how-to book; more a guide to some of the principles and ethics behind garden restoration. It does give useful descriptions of restored gardens in the UK (and mentions some major restorations from the USA). Perhaps the most practical aspect are the appendices - lists of plants that were commonly available in the UK at the different periods covered by the work. Like most Shire books, a good, brief introduction
Friday, June 27, 2008
Strangely enough Thomas Fairchild is perhaps one of the less vivid characters in this book. The author, Michael Leapman admits to the difficulty of finding any documentary information regarding Fairchild's life and the lack of any existing documents etc., so generally has to extrapolate from references from others, particularly from letters. Richard Bradley, the main source of the secondary , actually comes across as far more interesting - everyone's idea of the Eighteenth Century scientific buccaneer.
The debate between science and religion, was obviously significant to Fairchild, who left money for a sermon to given in his memory, a practice which continues to this day. Leapman writes with vigour about issues such as this not only in regard to the Eighteenth Century, but also relates it to the present day. The descriptions of London, and the scientific and social background of that time are vivid and illuminating.
Sunday, June 22, 2008
Their was an interesting viewpoint from Alastair Dunning based on experiences with the JISC digitisation projects, that standards could no longer be dictated, given the rate of change in the information environment. Although not exactly a riposte, I agreed more with the approach from Dennis Nicholson and Paul Ells and the CDDA, that standards have to built into the project, which includes training and maintenance costs.
Interestingly one of Paul's comments was about how difficult it was to recruit appropriatly trained people - as someone who has come to this more from the library and cataloguing standards perspective, I can empathise with this. Interviewing recent library school graduates over the past few years has been an illuminating experience in that regards. As well as the technical standards, metadata creation & analysis has to be considered e.g. I've seen digitised photograph collections where this was very much lacking.
There wil always be a pool of standards for projects to choose from but the important thing is for creators to be strictly consistent in their application - your original may be superseded but then you have a better chance of migrating without data loss. Additionally once you can map a standard you can create crosswalks and gateways for interoperability.
On the larger scale, there needs to be a framework for organisations who promote standards to better collaborate.
ETA: This meeting has been extensively blogged, complete with presentation at the SCA blog
Friday, June 20, 2008
This is a fascinating book, exploding the facade of a united front during WWI. The situation of those left behind is less popularly documented than that of WWII, and here Sylvia Pankhurst uses examples from the East End of London in particular to highlight the attitudes of officialdom towards the working classes, particularly the women, and how they coped.
This is as much a book about class politics as it is about feninism.
For the casual reader, it does occasionaly get bogged down in the detail of prices, pay rates and the various regulations, but this must reflect the reality of those struggling to cope where even the law seemed to turned against them.
It's not entirely polemic; individuals are skilfully drawn, her strained relations with her mother and sister are sharply expressed, and her affection for and meetings with (the then dying) Kier Hardie is touching.
Wednesday, June 18, 2008
Friday, April 11, 2008
Friday, March 14, 2008
Thursday, March 13, 2008
Friday, March 7, 2008
A recent article from Stephen Prowse of Kings College London available via eprints, above) looks at the future of document in terms of declining usage and the future of current suppliers. This is stacked against some interesting results from the Evidence Base Project for ejournal usage, and the growth of opan access repositories. This is all very relevant to our future planning of services and allocation of resources.
Thursday, March 6, 2008
systems/vendors and the emerging open source market.
the mid-90s. Recent mergers have reduced choice, and even newer systems such as Evergreen are doing the same things as existing systems.
increase pressure to innovate
increase pressure to decrease costs
make systems more open
We need to work towards a new ILS vision, e.g. current systems are based on workflows cast > 25 years ago, e-resources now represent >50% of our resources, many systems have large gaps e.g. ILL, collection development,
binding, remote storage.
The first stage of this has begun with the separation of the front-end (PAC) by using next-genration discovery tools/interface. Technology cycle is much faster at the front-end and this is only a small part of the library ILS
We should see a move towards service-oriented business architecture where web services allow the flexibility to weave a fabric of changing applications. This could lead to greater enterprise operability and open the door to massively consolidated implementations, of scaled up consortia.
The 'Global Enterprise' of Google, OCLC, Worldcat etc has to be tackled - what is our relationship with these? How can we leverage our content in enterprise discovery systems to drive users toward library resources e.g. by exposing the metadata.
We have to consider the place of MARC not only in an XML- based world, but also in a post-metadata world where users are searching the digital objects themselves.
'Web destinations' such as Amazon are now competing with libraries, increasing the pressure on us.
We have to break out of the marketing/consumer model when dealing with vendors and move towards dialogue and increased partnership.
Evolution or Revolution? Web 2.0 has invigorated libraries and it may be has provided the catalyst for the latter.
Monday, February 25, 2008
- would students think the 'also borrowed' link were formal recommendation?
- would sudden changes confuse users?
The solutions were to:
- encourage suggestions from staff
- include users in decision-making
- encourage play & experimentation
- don't be afraid of mistakes
- look around for ideas
- build crappy prototypes fast
- monitor usage - if poor then remove it.
He then demonstrated some ideas in visualisation and some of the 'next generation' discovery tools out there (see the LibraryShed for details)
Daves shopping list of Library 2.0 features included
- spell checking
- relevancy ranking
- recommendations (manual and automatically generated)
- improved serendipity
- user participation
In general it rakes 2 years to library acceptance, results from his survey indicate that the US is some way ahead of the UK
Dave's full presentaion on slideshare
Tuesday, February 12, 2008
Talis Insight 07 Conference - Peter Godwin - From Google to YouTube to SecondLife: The Challenge to Information Literacy
Friday, January 4, 2008
Talis Insight 07 Conference - Tony Hey - eScience, Scholarly Communication and the Transformation of Research Libraries
[For libraries this asks the question - are we measuring the right things with regard to the various statistics we collect?]