Monday, 27 February 2012

LIKE 33 - Copyright, Hargreaves & Digital Economy Act

Copyright, Hargreaves & Digital Economy Act - Intellectual Property fit for the digital age

This was the question posed by Prof Charles Oppenheim at Like33 on Thursday 23rd February. I rarely have any dealings with copyright rules and regulations and only briefly covered it in my library Masters several years ago so know relatively little about them. The only time it crosses my path is when I am occasionally asked by my boss to track something down and ask permission to use it hence I thought it time to brush up my knowledge.

LIKE33 was chaired by James Andrews who introduced the guest speaker. Prof Charles Oppenheim opened up his lecture by talking about orphan works and the problems people who wish to digitise them face in tracking down the copyright owners. Quite often they will not be digitised either because the authors cannot be tracked or because it is too costly and time consuming to do so. This leaves huge gaps in what is being digitised and is a real risk for the national heritage and digitisation industries.

The Professor informed us that there was a digital directive put forward by the EU which tried to address this issue and to relax some of the very restrictive rules. He also informed us that Google founders had told David Cameron that they would never have started their digitisation project in the UK due to its comparable restrictiveness to the US. Although, as the linked article states, there are some indications that this would not have occurred anyway due to lack of funding.

The Hargreaves Report

The Hargreaves Report commissioned by David Cameron and chaired by Ian Hargreaves, the professor of digital economy at Cardiff University, suggests that current copyright rules and regulations are put in place by lobbying rather than hard evidence, for example, the film and music industry lobby hard to prevent people freely downloading their material claiming it hurts their profits despite evidence that this is not the case. It also suggests many exemptions, for example connecting works (works which have been integrated to create a new piece) should be exempt from copyright law if they are being used for non-commercial purposes.It states that copyright contractual agreements cannot override the law and it suggests that a small fee is charged for every orphan work digitised so that if the owner were to turn up, there would be some compensation. Hargreaves recommends many current restrictions are lifted, for example on digital items for distance learning and for general educational uses. Some industries, like Elsevier, are not happy about this at all.

Charles predicted that many of the recommendations made by Ian Hargreaves, for example, regulating UK copyright collection societies, won't be implemented although the societies themselves may be a little more careful in future and not start petty cases. Another prediction was that the goverment would backtrack on the report due to intensive lobbying and that it would not be evidence based, like the report suggests it should be.

So altogether not very positive.

The Digital Economy Act

The Digital Economy Act was hastily passed in 2010 by the Labour Party, although much of it has not been fully implemented yet. There is controversy over it because it operates on a three strikes and you're out principle, although it is currently frozen because penalties cannot be agreed upon. You might think this is all very well if someone is doing something illegal (although I can't see it working in action as internet service providers are going to be unwilling to lose money over this - they are already bringing forward a judicial review of the Act) however because of its loose wording it also seems to apply to anyone who provides wi-fi including libraries and internet cafes. There are obvious problems to this, not least the slight infringement to civil liberties.

Having known very little about the Digital Economy Act and the Hargreaves Report thanks to LIKE and Prof Charles Oppenheim I feel am a bit more up to date. It all still looks very complicated and I haven't fully made up up my mind regarding what I agree or disagree should happen - although for that matter it seems like the politicians haven't either as it doesn't seem like any of the arguments raised will be dealt with soon!

One to watch out for.

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Round up of the Library Day in the Life Project

The project.

A couple of weeks ago I took part in the Library Day in the Life Project. To take part, librarians record a working week either via a blog, Twitter, Flickr or any other social networking means. I had initially decided to use both my Twitter account and my blog, however, I found that I couldn't keep up with recording everything by Twitter so just used my blog instead.

I enjoyed reading other people's accounts - I read a wide range for three things:
  • to find out what others did and whether I could learn from it in my role at work
  • to discover whether they had a career I'd like for myself
  • curiousity (occasionally known as nosiness)

In particular I liked Katy Stoddard's blog. Her job sounded interesting and exciting but I do wonder if these types of jobs will continue as I have never seen one advertised, plus this CILIP article on trends states library schools recommend not going down that route. I also enjoyed reading Don't call me miss as I enjoy the writing style and because I recognise many of her scenarios and Jo Alcock's blog mainly because I think the job must help you get a good overview of the profession, plus she gets to work from home occasionally!

What I discovered about my own working life.

I spend a lot of time explaining how things work! From the self-issue machine to electronic resources to the catalogue to general behaviour - all these featured quite heavily in my week, despite it being mid February and students have been using the service since September. Either they've just started taking their work seriously or somehow we are not getting our messages across - a bit of both I think.

Part of my job as a senior member of the team is to help develop the service, however, I've discovered that this element is beginning to deteriorate. This is mainly because, like everyone else, we are spread too thin. Seeing a breakdown of what I do just emphasised this point. Also having spent the week finding staplers and explaining how to use the self-issue machine meant I found it quite difficult to fully engage when I needed to, for example, the Matrix training where directors were present, as my brain went into slight meltdown. Don't get me wrong, I like helping students and I think that everyone  should spend some time helping them, even if you're a manager, as you can see what students really need and not what you think they need. However, I think some quiet time is crucial in order to think clearly and properly and not just skim over tasks and fire fight.

I'm also concerned that we are becoming less professional as we are just trying to deal with every day as it comes. Luckily I get a lot of professional development outside of work by being part of ARLG LASEC, being a member of professional bodies like CILIP and SLA, by reading extensively, by attending LIKE, by writing book reviews and by applying for opportunities where I find them, e.g. applying to attend the ECCA Conference. However,  it is becoming increasingly difficult to apply this work and from reading the Chartership tweets it seems many others are in the same boat.

Where do we go from here?

For now, continue looking for opportunities to take up but be realistic about what I can actually fit in- easier said than done as I don't like missing out, however, the reason for this is that if I am spread too thin I will just be too tired to be of use in my workplace or outside of it.

Try to arrange training as part of ARLG LASEC which is appropriate for and appeals to people in similar positions to myself.

Raise my concerns with my line manager and put forward ways round the problems, for example, using tools like our group discussion Sharepoint lists more effectively or wikis so we can still collaborate and sound out ideas without having to meet up- it may be that nothing can be done but at least I've tried.

And lastly, remember to take part in the project next year!

Saturday, 11 February 2012

Writing for Publication

On Tuesday 31st January I attended an event coordinated by CILIP in London and Library and Information Research Group entitled 'Writing for Publication'. Having my name in print has long been an ambition of mine that I have yet to realise so I thought this would be a great opportunity to give me the push I needed. My problem is that I have lots of ideas but have struggled to tie them down - I'm also not sure where to start.

The morning started with introductions from Alison Brettle and Christina Irving, members of the Library and Information Research Group. We then introduced ourselves to the small groups we were seated in and discussed our writing experiences; people seemed to have very similar ones, for example, a few had had some previous experience of writing blogs and newsletters but had not written formally. I fit into this bracket too as I have my blog, tweet fairly regularly and have written up an event for Eclipse - the CILIP in South East newsletter, but haven't really done anything else.

In our groups we discussed the reasons why writing is important for the profession. These were;
  • for the promotion of the service
  • for passing on and recording knowledge
  • a chance to reflect
  • respect amongst peers and colleagues
  • a way of sharing best practice
  • preventing the reinvention of the wheel
  • a way of engaging in critical thinking
We then discussed the challenges and barriers we often face. We all have different ways of writing and some people are lucky enough to have it scheduled into their workload. However, as this is not always possible we were given some tips, such as bounce ideas off people before writing and find a suitable environment.Other tips were:
  • Find out the guidelines and expectations of journals before sending copy, perhaps asking the editor your topics fits their scope
  • Think about your audience
  • Try critically appraising articles to discover what works and what doesn't
  • Try writing literature reviews as  it gives a chance to practice writing and find out what works are already available
  • Try writing book reviews
Overall, I'm glad I attended the course and found it useful. It helped to bring together a lot of information and tips and more importantly give me the inspiration and motivation I need.

My next plan is to choose a topic, possibly something related to web safety as this is a large part of my job at the moment and can be a very emotive subject or something related to how Learning Resource Centres can support higher education courses in the future as students will be paying much more and have unrealistic expectations of what they will receive in return. Will keep you posted!

Saturday, 4 February 2012

Library Day in the Life - Day 5

This blog post is part of Library Day in the Life

Friday was so packed I've only just got round to writing this post the day after.

Arrived at work at 8.30am and checked my emails and Google Reader. I was then straight out on the Enquiry Desk at 8.45 till 10am. In this session I put out our enquiry statistics forms, helped a few people with problems accessing the computers, then tracked down an item that a teacher wants us to buy for her class. The problem with the latter is that it is for a Higher Education group so they also have access to their University resources as well as the college ones. When  purchasing any items not only do we have to consider the amount of students, how long it will be used for and how much it costs but also whether the University has copies and how often those ones are borrowed. It can be a tricky decision and one I imagine will get tougher as higher education students expectations change in line with the fee increases.

Between 10am and 4pm I was in a Matrix meeting.  Our college is going through the reaccreditation process in April so we have to get ready for it. Matrix is a national standard developed by the former DfES and receiving it proves that the institution provides effective information, advice and guidance to those who need it and can provide proof of its impact on those who received it. We started by looking at the learner's  journey through college, including just before they started and just after they have left to establish when they needed information, advide and guidance, in what form and who should be responsible for delivering it. I was very surprised to find out that not all colleges have an information, advice and guidance team but was not surprised when told that these colleges had a real problem with retention. Now that Connexions (a young adult support and advice service) is no longer in action it seems that young people rarely get unbiased and personally tailored advice and I think this is a real shame and a bit of a worry too.

Next we were all required to take flip cameras and film areas in the college where good and bad impressions or infomation was being given. There were several bad, including out of date signage and leaflet racks entitled information but with nothing in them. When we adjourned to our meeting room to share our findings I was surprised to see pictures of the HE Centre. However, they were being used as examples of good practice so I was quite pleased by that!

Our next tasks are to really think about how we measure every aspect of what we do, for example, higher than usual usage on its own doesn't show that those extra people were well served so it has to be broken down further. We also need to think about what we do and how we know it works as well as how we then promote it. In the Learning Resource Centre we're pretty good about all this stuff but it would be a useful exercise to get it all written down.  These are the bits I really enjoy about my job - the service development and really feeling that what everybody does makes a difference to a student's experience.

After it was over I was back in the Higher Educuation Centre for an hour where I did a little bit of preparation via email for the Beauty Awards being held in the HE Centre next Monday night. Events are quite often held in the Higher Education Centre as it is a lovely venue , however, it means I have to prepare the rooms, ensure there are no double bookings and keep everybody happy who want the rooms but can't always have them - the latter two items can be incredibly tricky! Just before I packed up the centre for the day I had a quick chat with the person responsible for organising the Student Voice. He is currently preparing for the National Student Survey so I offered to put promotional material around the centre and encourage student to use our computers to fill it in.

This week is as representative as it can be. Enquiries can often be the same thing over and over again or can be something completely off the wall. If I had completed this project any week between September and December it would have been full of inductions, information literacy workshops and Moodle training.

So that's it - a week in the life of a librarian in a college of further and higher education. I will most likely do one more post to sum up what doing this has meant for me and then start trawling my way through everybody elses. I wonder how many base their career of choice on what they have read in this project...

Thursday, 2 February 2012

Library Day in the Life - Day 4

This blog post is part of Library Day in the Life

Okay today is a normal day with nothing untoward happening.
  • Arrive at work and check Google Reader, emails and make a notice on the LIKE LinkedIn page to say that I will be attending their next event.
  • Skim read email news from Times Higher Education
  • Checked Twitter - one tweet mentioned a Guardian Higher Education chat taking place on Friday focusing on the evolving role of Higher Education librarian. Made a note to catch up with  this after the event as I won't be able to take part at the time. I also passed this info onto a colleague who I thought might be interested.
Continued working my way through tape recordings of the recent student focus group and made notes for the writeup of it I am doing.

Roaming session started. In this I;
  • asked a rather noisy group to either focus on their studies or choose a more appropriate environment
  • asked a student to take her mobile outside as she was distracting the student next to her
  • sold a biro
  • asked the previous noisy group to make there decision quickly as they were disturbing others
  • booked people onto the pairwork PCs
  • helped at least 3 people with the self-issue machine
  • tracked down a stapler
  • unsuspend a student as they had paid their fines and brought back their very overdue books
  • helped several people print their work
  • took a phone call from a student who needed to renew her books a screaming baby was making itself heard too!
On the enquiry desk where there were not too many enquiries so I created a map of the PCs in the Higher Education Centre so people could find the ones they wanted more easily. They have the choice of group work laptops or individual/pair work computers.

Half an hour at my desk so tried to continue a little more with the focus group material.

Lunchtime - grab a quick sandwich, read a chapter from South from Granada by Gerald Brenan (to prepare me for moving to the Alpajarras!) Favourited some HEinFE tweets to catch up with later and looked at the ECCA Conference application details as I'm considering applying for a bursary.

Roaming again.

2.15 - 4pm In Senior team meeting. Reported back on my Writing for Publication course I attended on Tuesday morning. We have new web safety books in so I am going to go through them and see if I can add anything else to my Xertes on Moodle, our virtual learning environment. I need to put some resources into our Access to HE Moodle courses as a follow up to some inductions delivered recently. I also need to get preparations underway for the annual Learning Resource Centre survey.  This all needs to be done for next week.

4pm - 5pm

Back in the Higher Education Centre for the last hour. Start by tidying it up and then asking a very noisy girl to lower her voice as she was distracting others around her - her friends offered to help her with this. I then added the jobs I need to do from the meeting to my Outlook to-do list so I don't forget anything, checked the range of students we had during the day and then closed up.

Tomorrow I am in 6(!) hours of Matrix training - nothing to do with the film! In the other two hours I will be in the HE Centre and trying to frantically catch up with all the jobs I couldn't do becuase I was roaming.

Wednesday, 1 February 2012

Library Day in the Life - Day 3

This blog post is part of Library Day in the Life

Today I am going to breakdown what I do a little bit more rather than going into the whys and wherefores so much.

Today I started work at 11.30am as I will be staying to cover the evening shift, which ends at 7.30. So that gave me the chance to catch up on a few things including Twitter, Committee emails and a bit of clothes-making (latter was non- library related!). I did intend to do some codeacademy work but couldn't face it.

11:30 - I was straight on the enquiry desk. In this session;
  • I calmed down some boisterous students
  • checked our blog for any issues I needed to be aware of - there were two: the enquiry desk pc had problems and details of how to let students borrow from our glass-fronted Charles Dickens display.
  • I checked my emails; I had received my booking details form the JISC e-safety event I am attending next week and I also needed to arrange a booking of our HE Centre for the mayor's annual curry and quiz night.
  • My computer then packed up so I then spent another 5 minutes logging into another
12:00 - Roaming time. We always have someone timetabled to roam the main Learning Resources as it helps maintain a studious atmosphere and it is often much easier to spot students who need help. In this session;
  • I moved some people around who were struggling to motivate themselves to work - several times
  • I asked a student to remove his hat - we have a no hats and hoods policy at my workplace
  • I very nicely asked three people who were using the pair work area to lose one of their number
  • I helped a student scan and then photocopy some work
  • I helped someone write a formal letter to the Dept of Work and Pensions
12:30 -Back at my desk for a little bit - have to make the most of these moments!
  • On my desk is a copy of Information Outlook, which I receive due to being a member of the Special Libraries Association. I will try to read this at home in the next few days.
  • I tweeted from the Learning Resource Twitter account, advertising our 'talking wall' for National Libraries Day. Students are encouraged to take slips and write about which resources they love. So far we have five slips filled in, unfortunately all by staff.
  • I  answered a few more emails, one regarding the sound system for the curry and quiz night - sounds like it's going to be fun.
  • I started listening to recordings of the focus group activities we had asked students to participate in so I can write the findings up.
  • I checked our computer booking system, Netloan, to check which courses the students in the HE Centre were currently on. This helps to ensure we are getting a mix of Higher Education students in and not missing any groups and also checks that they are all, in fact, Higher Education students. We occasionally get interlopers.
2:30 - On the Help Desk this time. This is where more basic enquiries are dealt with such as helping print, photocopy etc. In this time I had helped people log on to their PCs, took some fines from overdue books, united someone with their usb stick and helped a student print.

3:00 - I was supposed to be roaming again but it was fairly quiet so I mixed it up with being on the enquiry desk. It can intimidate people if it looks like you are hovering around. Between 3pm and 4pm, I helped a few people with catalogue searches, more printing related queries and chatted to a lady studying the PTTLS qualification (I did this last year so was able to discuss it) and recommended her a book for it. I was quite pleased to receive an email from a teacher of International students that he had reminded his students how helpful we were and to ask for help.

Between 4pm and 5pm I had a break where I wrote most of this post and checked my Twitter account.

5:00 - 7:30 - Back on the enquiry desk where I:
  •  Helped two people print
  • Showed a person how to use the self-issue machine and reminded her about access to her University resources
  • Spoke to three very hyperactive girls and encouraged them to calm down and work
  • Answered a Moodle enquiry from a member of academic staff
  • Showed a few more people how to use the self-issue machine and collected some fines
  • Answered an email from a student doing her Library Master's dissertation in e-safety and gave her my list of links.
  • Tried to get something started for National Science and Engineering Week in March, as we have lots of students studying Science and Engineering degrees.
  • Helped three people who hadn't used the self-issue machine properly - I'm detecting a trend here...
  • Had a look through the SLA ECCA Conference material
  • Cleared up the Learning Resource Centre, returned loads of books from the drop box, sent everybody home and then I went home too.