library day in the life

#libday7: a Multimedia Journal

It's Library Day in the Life time again! Here is a week in my life as an Academic Liaison Librarian - works best in full screen mode:


(Here's a link in case you're viewing this in Google Reader and the embedded content doesn't display.)

I don't normally write much for this (last time round I did a video) because I think people are often over-saturated with LibDay posts - but I'm making an exception this time because my new job is so much more interesting than previous roles! Also, subject librarian is one of those roles which people find very difficult to really get a handle on - no two days are the same, so finding out what subject librarians actually DO is tricky. So the journal above is a fuller account.

Let me know if you have any questions about the job, particularly if it's an area you're wondering about going into yourself...

- thewikiman

Library Day in the Life 5

A man graffitis Library Day in the Life

As with a couple of the previous rounds, I'm taking part in the Library Day in the Life Project this week. It was set up by Bobbi Newman, and you can read about it here. It's a great thing because comparing what we do is interesting of itself, plus if anyone outside the echo-chamber reads any of these posts, it may go some way to challenging misconceptions about what people in libraries get up to these days.

It would be hypocritical of me to do all five days (I only ever read one day from each blog I subscribe to, as I can't deal with all the extra posts at once) so here's a couple of day's worth in a single post.

What I do for a living

I work on a JISC-funded project known as LIFE-SHARE (this is an elaborate acronym, because we don't have nearly enough of these in libraries) for the University of Leeds. My role is split between the Leeds parts of the project and the Sheffield parts (the other project partner is York, who have their own Project Officer for LIFE-SHARE).

The purpose of the project is, in short, to explore consortial strategies for digitisation in Higher Education, with particular reference to preservation and curation. Which is to say: our collections are falling apart, what do we do about it, do we really have a clear way forward, and can we work collectively to solve the problems and save some resources along the way? The Project lasts from last January to next March, and you can read more about it on the website  here.


LIFE-SHARE has a case-study at each institution, investigating different aspects of digitisation. For York, it's on demand digitisation. For Leeds, it's digitisation to support Collection Management. For Sheffield, it's digitisation to support Special Collections - and Sheffield was where I was on Monday. We've just got to the stage where we've written up the Case Studies (they'll be made available via the Outputs page of our website) and I was in Sheffield tying up a lot of loose-ends. Firstly the Project Manager and the other Project Officer came over and I showed them all the equipment we'd purchased for the audio-visual digitisation suite, and examples of the videos and audio I'd digitised. Then we had a long meeting to discuss the internal and external versions of our case-study reports. Then they went home and I returned to my windowless cell to finish off.

I created some metadata (Dublin Core) for the digital objects I'd not yet described and auto-generated some technical metadata using MediaInfo. I wrote a detailed list for Sheffield's head of Special Collections as to exactly what I'd done, why I'd done it, and whereabouts it was stored - then had a brief meeting with her to explain it all in person (she was pleased, which is good!). Then I had the glamorous task of clearing up all the packaging that was strewn around the room - we'd ordered loads of equipment (cassette tape players, time-code-corrector boxes, professional monitoring headphones etc) and I'd not wanted to throw away anything until we knew it all worked. As this was my last visit to Sheffield for a while, it was also the last chance to leave their room in a presentable state...


Back in the Leeds LIFE-SHARE Office for today, and finalising procedures manuals for Sheffield. As part of the Case Study we digitised a sample of a larger multimedia archive; the idea is, their staff should be able to pick up where I left off and digitise the rest before it is packed up and sent back to its original donor. So I've written some detailed guides to all the stuff I've been doing, including photographs of leads with labels explaining what they're for, explanations on how to use Audacity, etc etc.

I also started to internalise my case study report, and pick out the key points for external dissemination - the format of the first draft was a bit of a compromise, so we've decided it's better to separate it into two distinct entities. This will be much easier, I think.

Other stuff crammed into my free time today included writing a proposal for a book chapter including a third-person bio that required an insane amount of information in 75-85 words. It wanted name, place of work, location, details of your degree and where you got it from, job title, publications, awards AND career highlights! (To give you some idea how small a space that is to fit all that in, this paragraph alone is 78 words and counting.)

In the end, I went with: "thewikiman, zomg, he is ace - srsly, trust him on this."

Not really. Although when I was moaning on Twitter about how I couldn't fit the info into so small a space, Andy Priestner helpfully came up with this:

"'Ned is really nice and good at libraries. You'll like him. Probably" Done it in 12 words.'

Thanks mate! Brevity is a gift. :)

A lot of stuff happened today with LISNPN, the New Professionals Network, as well. Having launched nearly a month ago now, we're gradually adding more and more stuff to the Resources area (member's only, that bit, so sign up!). Things I'm really pleased with include the fact that Phil Bradley has generously allowed us to reproduce his public speaking guide, and the editors of the two major CILIP publications (Gazette and Update), Debby Raven and Elspeth Hyams, have contributed some really useful stuff to the How to: Get published guide - so if you've wondered what sort of thing they're looking for, check it out: it's in the Resources area of the site. Anyway, today for the first time we promoted it via a couple of JISCMail lists - LIS-Profession and LIS-CDGDivisions, with emails from myself and Chris Rhodes.

The result was 50 new members in about 3 hours, and that number continued to rise, meaning we've broken the 300 barrier. I'm really pleased about this - for all the obvious reasons (the more people there are, within reason, the more useful it will be as a network) and because we haven't even promoted it via LIS-LINK, Gazette or Update yet (all of which are in hand for the next fortnight or so). And I've not even written my long promised blog post about it! So 300 is pretty good for a network which is less than a month since launch, and not fully pushed into public consciousness yet.


Before work I decided to set up a document to record my CPD (Continuous Professional Development, I think is what that stands for). This ended up being a spreadsheet with four tabs - presentations, publications, training, and events - which just records stuff I've done in chronological order. I realised I'd had so much training from LIFE-SHARE that there was a danger I'd forget stuff I'd done previously, and also that I might need exact dates of publication to hand etc. The 'events' tab is a bit woolly but basically covers conferences/ lectures / other open day type things I've attended for work which can't be classed as hands-on training.

I think this'll come in really handy later on, because every job application / CV needs to be tailored to the role - this way, I'll have all the stuff laid out for me to choose from, which should lead to clearer thinking and more focused applications.

At 9:30 I had a meeting with the Library's Conservation Officer, Sharon Connell to talk about the Leeds case-study for LIFE-SHARE. We discussed the revealing and quite alarming results of the condition & usability assessment she's undertaken of a typical library collection (if you're interested, see this LIFE-SHARE blog post for a bit more info - turns out a lot of books are knackered!). What we've been trying to achieve is a workable model for establishing the costs of physical preservation. So the condition and assessment survey threw up four categories of disrepair (1 being fine, 4 being imminent book death) and we'd like to be able to say - if a given number of books are in condition X, what needs to be done and how much resources will it cost in terms of staff time and money. Obviously there's so many variables this is impossible to fully achieve, but after all Sharon's hard work we can certainly make decisions that are a lot more informed in future.

The next step is to determine comparable costs for digitally preserving the items, so I'm going to arrange a meeting with Jodie Double, our Digital Repositories Manager, to go through all that - we need to come up with prices for in-house digitisation, and out-sourcing. Project work often relies on many more people's time and expertise than just those on the Project team, so I'm very grateful to all the people helping out.

Then, at lunchtime, I notice a really interesting debate going on in the comments section of out-going CILIP CEO Bob McKee's blog, and add a big comment on it of my own, which is basically a blog post in itself (and may later turn into one). Then, I publish this!

- thewikiman

I'm Ned Potter - here's 3 days in my life

Oh hi! I blog under the nom-de-2.0 of thewikiman, but actually my real name is Ned Potter, and I'm an Information Professional. This is my contribution to the Library Day in the Life Project; Day in the Life offers an opportunity to increase awareness of, and potentially change public perception of, what we really do these days, and how and where we do it. Communicating that kind of information doesn't work well within the confines of anonymity. As such I want to take full ownership of this post, of my job, and of these three days in my library life. So. I work for the University of Leeds Library - I used to run the service which offered digitisation to support learning & teaching, but this year I've been seconded to the LIFE-SHARE Project. This is what I looked like about five minutes ago, when I took a photo of myself outside my house, using my phone:

A picture of me, looking expressionless

I've made it black & white to make it look moody, rather than just a picture of someone looking entirely expressionless, but you get the idea. If you follow the link later, you'll see a picture of my wife; she's much better looking than I am. :)

Day 1: internal communication

On the train to London by a painful 7am - off to JISC headquarters for a workshop on communicating effectively with internal stakeholders. As JISC provide so much funding for the LIFE-SHARE Project on which I am working (see the website, the blog, and the very embryonic Twitter account), they want to ensure that the libraries and their wider Universities involved (Leeds, Sheffield and York) actually know about what is going on and take an active interest in the project. Embedding these things properly is something I am all for; too many interesting projects fail to become integrated with the whole, and are forgotten about 6 months after completion.

A lady is asleep over the plug-socket on the train, so I cannot plug in ancient Laptop which can hold less charge than is required to boot up Windows. But an email from Joel Kerry is interesting enough that I labour through the process of replying with my iPhone! We're discussing a workshop I'm running at the CILIP Yorkshire & Humberside Member's Day in April. It was originally going to be called Marketing the Profession or some such, but with all the #echolib discussions it seems like a really good opportunity to talk about moving beyond the echo-chamber. Turns out Joel had thought the same thing (he's the Events Coordinator for the region) and, more spookily, had also had the same idea that had been forming in my mind of getting a certain fellow professional involved in presenting too... She's currently away in sunnier climes but I'll ambush her with it when she gets back.

Arrive at JISC - never been before, it's in an absolutely prime location just opposite the South Bank complex, and a very plush premises indeed. I meet the lovely Ben Showers for the first time (he's looking after all the projects in the e-Content funding strand which ours resides in) and settle down for what turns out to be an INTENSE day of marketing stuff, led by the dynamic, excellent, and unrelenting Rosemary Stamp. It is serious stuff - we even had to work during our lunch... But, it was really useful, full of marketing information which makes you think "that's so obvious and yet I am not doing it - why!?" and featuring a nice package to take away with you and reuse. I'll probably have to devote an entire blog post at a later date covering all that we learned, but basically it was a very productive day. I also saw one of my best friends on the platform of King's Cross - this always seems to happen. I think Londoners just hang around waiting for the rest of us to come down to them so we can stumble into them in public places.

On the way home the plug-socket is free, and I finally write an article about Library Routes for ALISS Quarterly. They approached me and Woodsiegirl earlier in the month about contributing something to the journal, and it was decided that I should handle this one; hopefully I've covered all the important points. My laptop (as well as having precisely no battery life) has this brilliant thing where there's several thick, immovable white lines down the middle of the screen, so you can't read one word in ten that you've written. Makes for good times writing articles on a train, I can tell you.

Day 2: presentations

I'm working from home this morning as we have a presentation for LIFE-SHARE in York  in the afternoon (part of the embedding process) and as I live in York, there's no point in commuting to Leeds for half a day. This is where I am working - I took the pic using the Hipstamatic app to try and make it look more interesting that it really is:

My Desk

If you look very closely, you'll see that this picture of my home office-space has my PC in it which has Lauren Pressley's Day in the Life post showing on the monitor which has a picture of HER office in it - pretty meta, no? Also, if ever there was a visual metaphor for the way in which my work / fun balance has shifted in recent years, it's the sad site of my work-related cup of coffee sitting on one of my turntables - SAD TIMES.

I haven't had a chance to write any slides for the presentation yet, so this morning is all about getting something good down quickly. My part is about the Leeds and Sheffield case-studies - digitisation to support collection management, and digitisation for preservation and access respectively. I decide that less is more and go with only two slides in total (only having a few slides has worked well for me before) but I write a bunch of notes to go with them and try to memorise them. With memorising presentations, it's all or nothing for me - I either have to not look down at my notes at all, or I have to check them all the time even though I can remember what's coming. Otherwise I inevitably end up in the dreaded situation of staring down at my notes, trying to find where I've already done up to, as a long, agonising silence descends on the room...

Interesting email exchange with Bobbi Newman after she blogged on the subject of the echo-chamber - really glad she's got involved with this meme. We both noticed with some awe that David Lee King, who left a comment on Bobbi's post, has 6000 subscribers to his blog. Wow. I guess there's different levels of echo-chamber...

After lunch I walk up to the University, meet up with my fellow Project Officer and my boss, and we go over our presentation and refine certain things. Then we go to a room in the lovely Borthwick Institute and deliver our presentation - it seems to go well, and we're repeating it to a larger audience on Friday morning. I found myself doing it from memory and therefore not able to look down at my notes even though I had them there - God knows how much of it I forgot to actually say out loud.

Day 3: minute by minute

Hilariously, I get up ridiculously early to watch a Webinar about preservation, having worked out the difference between EST and GMT in the wrong direction. Come back later, the screen tells me. It doesn't need to add: it's 7am, what are you doing, this doesn't start till 9pm your time, you fool. But I bet that's what it's thinking.

I take the opportunity to work on the minutes for the inaugural LIFE-SHARE meeting which took place the previous Friday. We Project Officers have to minute these meetings, and they are huge - nearly 20 people are on the Advisory Group (there are people from JISC, JISC Digital Media, Leeds, Sheffield, York, the British Library, and the ULCC) and go on for two hours plus lunch, so I was mightily relieved to have borrowed a laptop from the Systems Team to write everything down on. My handwriting is so appalling that by the end of two hours of solid scribbling, nothing at all would have been recognisable as words. It was a really productive meeting though.

Once I later get to work I carry on working on them - it takes absolutely ages to do, as pretty much all that was said is pertinent in some way. Here is the LIFE-SHARE office in all its splendour (that thing pinned to the board is a GANNT Chart I made which maps out the entire 15 months of the Project, with special shapes for the bits I have to do myself...):


After a quick lunch with the even-lovelier-than-Ben-Showers Mrs Wikiman, I have my probation meeting with my boss. I've worked here for 4 years but whenever you change grade you have 6 months probation, so we go through objectives and all that stuff. It's easy to do with LIFE-SHARE as all the objectives are clearly laid out in the Project documentation; much more straightforward than in my previous role, where we'd be searching for meaningful objectives beyond the standard "continue to deliver an excellent service" etc. Project work is very focused - you have certain objectives that need to be accomplished by a certain time, and you just juggle them and do them until they're done. I enjoy that.

I then spend about a million hours putting all the hyperlinks into this post, and get ready to click 'Publish'. I will sadly be back online at 9pm, to attend the bloody webinar that I thought was this morning...

- thewikiman