Tuesday, 22 December 2015

2015... and relax

It's been 18 months since I last posted, and perhaps that's because I've been very busy with my current role, managing the Drill Hall Library in Kent. So much has happened this year though that I wanted to write it all down, for my own reflection and for anyone interested. So let's recap!


I revalidated with CILIP in November, and found it a clean and transparent process. I like to think I'm both pretty reflective and up-to-speed with our profession, and this process reassured me on both points.

I've attended some great events:
  • CILIP Conference - In Liverpool, best keynotes speakers I've probably ever seen, including a real heroine of mine in Shami Chakrabarti.
  • Sconul Winter Conference - London. Pretty standard fayre, but realised I've been sharing the same room as most of the delegates since 2005...
  • White Rose Consortium Libraries Workshop - York, and the first time an event like this has been held. It was an absolute pleasure to join this event as the keynote speaker.
  • 1st Relationship Management Conference - Stirling, in November. Yup, and 120 people came, giving myself and my fellow steering group members that we've tapped into something. Now for more workshops and maybe conference no.2 in 2017...

Other highlights:

  • CILIP finding a voice with the My Library by Right campaign
  • Playing Jane Secker and Chris Morrison's Copyright Game
  • Staring down some huge challenges at the Drill Hall, and finding reserves I didn't know I had, or that I'd need.

2016, where next?

2016 should see the birth of my first child, so that's framing most of my thoughts right now. However, I want to achieve a few things:
  • Listen better, particularly by not just hearing what I want to hear.
  • REALLY plan a good work life balance. I don't think my usual plans here are going to cut it with the baby!
  • Professionalise my skills-set. If that means some serious study then by the end of 2016 I want to know what that will be and then I'm going to eat that cake one bite at a time.
  • Drag more librarians down to visit the Drill Hall. It's a very special place and I'm going to shout about it more and make it blip on radars. If you want to come along coffee is on me.

Friday, 28 June 2013

CILIP rebrand - Let's help the process, not trip it up

I'd like to say a few things about the CILIP rebranding. There's not much more to add to the debate, but  this is my take:

  • Most people agree CILIP isn't a very good name. I've heard no dispute on this one.
  • The CILIP logo and colour scheme are over 10 years old. That's quite a long time for a brand, how much longer could it last?
  • £35,000 is actually not that much money when you think about CILIP's annual income and expenditure. The project cost detailed by CILIP includes designs and implementation, as well as consultation. If the new brand lasts another 10 years and contributes to the professional body becoming more influential then it would be hard to argue this is anything other than value for money.
  • Most people don't like change. The consultation process has not managed this fact very well at all.

I don't think the rebrand should be stopped. I agree that the existing brand is holding our professional body back, and I don't believe that it will be able to grow its influence without a clearer identity.

I do want to see the dialogue continuing though, and I'd like to see evidence of what the branding means to people outside of the existing membership. The existing c15000 members that CILIP represents matter greatly, but that number should be higher - people who may join under our umbrella in the future if they felt the identity of CILIP matched their own. Also, many of the the people CILIP needs to influence are not members. The brand needs to be able to reach them as well as reflect us.

We've all got pet lists of things we'd like to change about CILIP (mine include: stop paywalling the magazine!) but I believe it is a fundamentally good thing and deserves our support when acting in good faith to sustain and develop itself for our benefit.

The process may not have been handled brilliantly so far, but stopping this work in its tracks would undermine attempts to develop what CILIP does. Let's help them find a better name and brand, not trip them up.

Monday, 24 June 2013

OAI8 - What I heard, talked about and learnt

I spent three days last week at the 8th CERN Workshop on Innovations in Scholarly Communication, known as OAI8, in Geneva. The conference runs every two years and I attended once before in 2011. This year saw a record attendance of over 300 librarians, academics, information scientists and other interested parties. The event manages to feel more like a big workshop than other familiar information conferences, and attracts varied speakers and participants. Among the things it does especially well:
  • Encouraging sharing and asking of questions. From the tradition that everyone bring a drink from their own country to the café style workshops that encourage people to learn something new, sharing of experience is central to the appeal and value of OAI. 
  • Being international. Simple really – no national agendas lead here. The thinking is macro-level and all better for it. 
I attended pretty much every available session apart from one morning where an extra half an hour with a coffee and croissant were too irresistible. Highlights from the programme are easy to pick out:
  • Open Access Café – a great format that gives small groups time to discuss a particular issue with genuine experts. I spent time with University of Glasgow’s William Nixon, RLUK’s David Prosser and Dr. Rupert Gatti of Open Book Publishers and the University of Cambridge, who all shared their insights on repository development, Open Access advocacy and the potential of OA monographs respectively. 
  • Plenary 5: Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences – Perhaps the highlight of the whole conference. An excellent session, which put disciplines often starved of attention in Open Access discussions right in the limelight. The discussions on the humanities in and for the digital age, open monographs and opening up the World Bank were provocative and vibrant. This bodes well for the forthcoming Open Access Monographs in the Humanities and Social Sciences Conference at the British Library.
  • Metrics – all three sessions here were good but I'd particularly recommend Johan Bollen's overview of this super fast moving area. Check out his 'metrics cubed' diagram (snapped here by Natalia Madjarevic).
  • Research Data: the overview of research data policies by Dr. Wolfram Horstmann was excellent, and Kevin Ashley provided food for thought on what different people want from research data.
My key takeaways and interpretations from this very enjoyable event:
  • Libraries need to do TONS more on making excellent OA research books discoverable. Thanks to Rupert Gatti and Marin Dacos for reminding us.
  • Open Access = global readership. We seem to forget about this but I think we should be saying any chance we get.
  • Gold Open Access and Article Processing Charges are not the same thing – other models are available! The lessons we learnt we to think creatively, think about value for money and be flexible.
  • (Open) Access and Reuse are not the same thing. I think we should be wary of letting issues or enabling reuse slow down the progress towards access.
If you are looking for an event that goes beyond detailed discussion of repository software, that nourishes collaborative efforts, and will inspire you to support innovation in scholarly communications, then I can highly recommend that you put OAI9 on your 2015 horizon. 


Other minor OAI things to share:
  • CERN is amazing. If you ever get to visit Genva go and see the Globe - they do tours.
  • The conference back-channel was so good someone archived it (of course): http://t.co/LcRB7QDCDn.
  • Photographs including images of your author standing around, waving his arms at people and drinking coffee can be found here.