Thursday, April 26, 2007

April Mentoring Meeting

We had our April meeting last week where we talked about the Library + Information Show (LIS), library visits and this weblog. I won’t record our discussion about the LIS as it pretty much duplicated my entry about it below (opens in new window). As far as the visits are concerned, it was really just a quick update on the actions that I have taken towards arranging library visits. The first one was this Monday (hope to get something written up soon) and I have two more scheduled for next week (May 3). I have also started trying to track down my counter-parts in other industry organisations but I haven’t really thrown myself into this task yet and so have only made marginal headway (actually, just one lead…) We also talked about my looking into a visit to the British Medical Association – I need to inject a bit of variety to my visits (mainly government and legal so far) and the BMA has a well established library service (and happens to be only a few doors down the road from me).

I have picked up a list of actions that I need to get organised before 17 May:

Action: D – post question to Listserv regarding ethics issues encountered in workplace (this one has been outstanding for some time now – oops)
Action: D – review PPDP and identify list of actions and create a schedule for their completion (don’t want to be rushing them through in August!)
Action: D – investigate library visit to the BMA
Action: D – set some deadlines to get portfolio of evidence together for: a)CCI work and b)NCSL work
Action: D – look into the Network of Government Library and Information Specialists (NGLIS)
Action: K – send NGLIS weblink

That’s pretty much it. Work towards Chartership is moving along smoothly so far and as a result, our meetings (since submitting the PPDP) are pretty efficient things. I think that starting in May, they will begin to get a little heavier as I concentrate on getting my portfolio of evidence and my statement sorted out…

Saturday, April 21, 2007

CILIP? Cilip? cilip?

CILIP vs Cilip...traditionally, an acronym (initials to make a word - e.g. scuba, radar, modem) doesn't need to use capitals but an abbreviation (initials that are spoken as initials - e.g. DfES, PDF) is written using capitals. Now, I have always written CILIP in capitals but I think that I might be wrong's actually an acronym and as a proper noun, needs an initial captial letter, giving us...Cilip. I also see that that is what they use themselves.

I guess I had better update the title of my blog!

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Library + Information Show 2007

Yesterday, I went to the Library + Information Show (opens in new window) in Birmingham (at the NEC). It's on today as well but I have found that usually one day is enough at these sorts of things. I find that these shows can be useful and interesting but that it is essential to have an objective for the day (to which I shall return in a moment).

I attended a couple of the seminars and picked up some useful bits:
  1. Panning for Gold - Maximising the Value of Your CV (presented by Suzanne Wheatley, Sue Hill Recruitment)

    Suzanne presented a few excellent suggestions that weren't new to me (like using action verbs and quanitfying things) but she also had some suggestions that I hadn't considered or found interesting:
    • 'Career History' is a more positive term than common alternatives such as 'Employment History'
    • If you're going to claim to be a high-level user of MSWord, for example, then make sure your CV (if it's in MSWord) makes full use of the software features (e.g. use Styles to format the content rather than modifying the 'Normal' style for the headings, using Tab instead of five spaces)
    • I have never included an 'Interests' section but if you're going to, be specific - if you like to travel, what kind of travel and where?
    • she also had a handy list of 'dos' and don'ts' but rather than list them all here, I will link to her presentation as soon as it is made available on the L+I Show website.

  2. Blogs, Wikis, and RSS: Key Technologies for Information Provision and Gathering (presented by Karen Blakeman, RBA Information Services)

    Karen's session was also interesting but I felt as though it was targeted at an audience with less knowledge and experience of blogs, wikis and RSS than I have. However, I learned about a few different services that I hadn't come across before (so it was still time well spent) including:
    • Omea (opens in new window) - a desktop RSS reader
    • (opens in new window) - lets you embed RSS feeds in web pages
    • Karen had a list of links to library blogs and to blog search engines that I would like to have captured as well but was too busy listening! I will have a look at her presentation slides (and link to them from here) when they are made available on the L+I Show website
My objective for the day was to find someone who could talk knowledgeably about metadata and engage them in a conversation around the management of document- vs content-level metadata (opens in new window). Although I found a few exhibitors who understood what I was talking about, none of them had encountered the siutation before and generally, they had a CMS that used document-level metadata and then relied on content keyword searching.

On the whole, it was an interesting day and I met some interesting people, some of whom may prove to be useful contacts in the future (and one who has already suggested someone I ought to speak to at BT about their use of metadata). I don't think that I needed more than one day and to be henest, rather than doing a 10-5 day, I probably could have accomplished the same amount in an 11-4 day...but I'd have missed out meeting a few people (and on my glass of cava - thanks Bennett Software)!

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

When I grow up...

I want to be a Librarian!

Katharine Widdows has a blog (When I Grow Up I Want to be a Librarian! - opens in new window) where she too is capturing a record of her thoughts and experiences during her Chartership process. She and I have had a bit of a conversation about blogs and how best to use them in this process over email and I can't help but feel a new entry to my blog on the topic coming on.

Anyway, she has kindly provided a link to my blog from hers and I can see that her link (using Google Analytics - a tip from Katharine) accounts for about 3% of my visitors since 'going publilc' so thanks Katharine!

Monday, April 02, 2007


This is one of those things that I am quite interested in but know relatively little about. It seems to me that given my area of work tends to focus a lot on metadata, I should have a greater knowledge about folksonomies; we are, after all, talking about metadata (generally subject metadata) assigned by members of the public. As a result, I decided to do a bit of research on the web to learn more. One of the many articles that I came across was a literature review (opens in new window) carried out by an assistant librarian at the Royal College of Music. In her review, Edith Speller outlined some of the themes and provided a long and helpful list of articles for further reading (it was a lit review afterall!). I have picked a few of those articles out and had a look and below are what I have learnt and some of my thoughts:
  • I wonder how easy it is to get people to add their own metadata…if you look at the metadata assigned to music files, the data is partial at best and this is data that can be freely and automatically downloaded.

  • With potentially an infinite number of “taggers” how can we hope to achieve consistency and accuracy? For example, do we use singular or plural nouns and what about the use of capitalisation?

  • A major plus to this concept (over the dictated thesaurus or taxonomy) is that the terms that are used to describe or classify are chosen by the end users themselves and so, in volume, are going to be the right ones.

  • The fact that there are so many different people potentially tagging items, the basic level of variation comes into effect. This concept refers to the level of detail into which an individual will go to describe the subject or format of the item (e.g. personal music player vs. iPod nano)
    • The tags can be perfectly accurate and yet totally useless if they’re not at the right level for the individual’s needs

  • Folksonomies are flexible and evolve with time to match current terms and concepts unlike fixed systems like the DDC into which librarians are continuously cramming new concepts and terms.
    • The flip side of this flexibility, or the price of it, is that unless previously tagged items are reclassified, the items become lost and inconsistency creeps in making these items difficult or even impossible to find
    • It could be argued that it something can’t be found using current terminology, it is likely that the contents of that document have been superseded…

  • There is no active management of synonyms in folksonomies leading to reduced recall
    • To mitigate this problem, some sights (e.g. make all tags used visible

  • As for synonyms, there is no active management of homonyms (Apple the company vs apple the fruit) which leads to reduced search precision
    • By searching using more than one term (Apple and music vs apple and pastry) limited context can be achieved and search precision improves

  • My final thought on folksonomies is that users will need to ‘learn’ a slightly different vocabulary for each new database, at least initially. Over time and use, the differences could be ironed out and convergence could occur for those sights that appeal to a broad base of users.
I think that there could be a great deal of value in using a "folksonomy" approach to tagging content on the corporate Intranet. Rereading the points above, the benefits are ones that would be welcomed in that environment (e.g. terms chosen by ‘the people’) and the draw-backs are somewhat mitigated by the close relationship between the users (e.g. the use of synonyms and homonyms).

We are looking at our overarching IT, IS, IM, and KM strategy at the moment and attention will eventually focus on the very poor Intranet system that we are using. At that time, I think that I will suggest it!