Wednesday, 22 June 2011

CoFHE Conference 2011 - Day 3

The Hive – Plenary session

Judith Keene – University of Worcester

The Hive in Worcester is Britain’s first fully integrated joint public and university library. It is due to open in July. Judith is in charge of planning and resources for the University of Worcester’s learning resources department.

The project itself sounds very interesting but she focussed on the importance of ensuring that all of the staff were fully on board. Research from other countries suggests that staff commitment is the key to success in joint library projects. The university library and the public library teams are still going to be employed by their respective organisations but the services will be presented seamlessly. From the perspective of most users there will be no distinction.

Judith made some interesting points about the differences in values between public and academic libraries. The central one was that in public libraries the ideal is to give the user the information they want but in an academic library the ideal is to teach users how to find the information they want. The Hive project tried to overcome this and other potential culture clashes by setting up staff workshops to think about values and to come up with a shared vision.

Experimenting with mobile technology use in libraries – Workshop

Jo Alcock – University of Wolverhampton

Jo’s presentation is available at:

All of the resources she mentioned are available at:

This was a particularly good workshop because Jo had obviously spent a lot of time researching the use of mobile technologies in libraries. She’d uncovered lots of examples of good practice and lots of interesting resources. She was really throwing ideas at her audience and everyone left the room feeling very enthused. This was an excellent way to end the conference.

Having introduced the idea that mobile technology had reached the point where we all need to start taking it much more seriously she split her examples into three sections.
1. Library content
2. Library services
3. Mobile specific content – i.e. new services that we couldn’t have provided without mobile technology.

Library content
- Academic publishers are not yet providing e-books in mobile friendly formats.
- Ebscohost has a specialist service which provides journal articles for mobile devices. This is great for libraries that subscribe to Ebscohost.
- The British Library has an app which allows users to view digitised material on their mobiles.

Library services
- ‘Know it now’ text enquires. The state library of Ohio runs a leading SMS enquiry service. Text library tips and tricks. The University of Huddersfield texts students tips and tricks for using the library and studying effectively.
- Mobile catalogue. Library thing for libraries offers a service which adapts your catalogue for mobile use. Keele University is already using it. Roving enquires. At the University of Warwick library staff carry around ipads so they can instantly access the opac and the net in order to deal with any student enquires. This saves them from having to walk to a computer (I’m assuming Warwick University library is big).
- Collecting library statistics. Counting the number of users in the library on a mobile device allows you to process statistics instantly.
- Room booking by mobile phone. Use of QR codes to check availability and book if free. QR codes are those blocky square pictures that work as links for smart phones. People can scan them with their phone and then they are taken to the site or online resource.

Mobile specific services

- QR codes to direct people to e-books. This is clever. If you have an ebook copy of a popular book you can put a QR code for the e-book near the shelf where the print copies are kept. You can even have a dummy book (a DVD case or something) with the QR code on it and instructions to use it. Students with smart phones can scan the QR code and they will then be taken directly to the e-book.
- Induction treasure hunts.
- Scan me. Charles Darwin University Library promoted their use of QR codes by having staff t-shirts with QR codes on and the slogan ‘scan me now’. (I’m not sure about this one.)
- Scanning book barcodes to see if the library has a copy. The library equivalent of finding something in a bookshop and using your mobile to see if Amazon has it for less.
- Checking PC availability from your mobile.
- Foursquare. A location based app that allows people to comment on places they visit and to set up communities based on those places. Slightly worryingly if it’s your place you can claim it on the site but if you don’t any user can set up a community for it.
- Shelf sorting app. An app that can spot library books that are in the wrong place and tell you where they should be. Currently in production.

Jo finished by offering some parting words of advice.

Aim for high impact, low cost.
Don’t over invest.
Use free resources.
Examples: Animoto – Video generator, Zbar – barcode reader, Kaywa – QR code generator.

After Jo’s talk it was time to grab some lunch, say my goodbyes and head back home. The conference was a great experience. I hope you find some of this useful.

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