Thursday, 24 April 2014

Library Camp UK 2013 part 2

Slightly delayed part 2 of last November's Library Camp UK!

After lunch I headed to the digitisation session, it was really interesting to hear about current projects, such as the georeferencing of map and topographical collections at the British Library. Digitisation projects can often be too expensive or time-consuming for some libraries to consider, but suggestions were made to find ways around those barriers. Someone in the group mentioned  NADFAS [National Association of Decorative & Fine Arts Societies] whose heritage volunteers can be brought in to assist with digitisation projects. An interesting discussion also developed on the pros and cons of Google books, which seemed to conclude that the main problem was quality control. That's certainly been my experience, particularly with older texts, some are just unreadable!

The second session of the afternoon was on special librarians. At the introductions first thing in the morning, I was disappointed (but not surprised) to notice that after public, academic libraries, or students, everyone else was somewhat lumped together as ’other’. This session felt like a good opportunity to redress that a bit. I can’t list all the different types of library or information environments that people worked in but it was very varied, TV, legal, NHS, government, cathedral, and museum of course! There were also a large number (about half the group) who were students or graduate trainees wanting to hear more about the wide variety of library and information work out there.

The session began with a discussion on the challenges of working in these types of environments and whether you still define yourself as a librarian, particularly from those working on more corporate sectors. We then explained a bit about what our particular jobs involve, before finishing off with sharing tips on how you might pursue a career in a special library. An excellent write up relating to the session is available here.

The final session I attended was on catalogues and search interfaces, which although sharing a space with another group, was small enough that I had no problem hearing the discussion. The starting point was ‘what if the library catalogue had a different type of interface?’. Laurence (@Lorp, one of the pitcher’s?) elaborated on this by showing us a number of online catalogues and lists of books, including Amazon to demonstrate how a more visual approach may be more helpful in finding material. I certainly agreed with the idea, I have always found it 100 times easier to find a book if I know what it looks like. And, I really like the idea of the catalogue as virtual bookshelf with photos of the spines of books to identify them [although not as visually attractive as using the covers!].

The discussion then moved on to metadata and the problems of inheriting poor data, which no-one ever has the time or resources to put right. Some of the tools that could be used to help you fix problems, such as KDK-Alli Record Manager tools from National Library of Finland recommended by @preater

I consciously tried to take more of a backseat and not talk too much in sessions at this Library Camp because I felt that I just wanted to enjoy the experience on a slightly more passive level, soaking everything up like a sponge. I actually found it quite refreshing, at previous events I have been far more of an active participant, but it was nice to try a different approach this time.
You can see the full list of sessions here and access related social media activity on the Pinboard the organisers set up here.

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