Author Archives: Sam (LibWig)

Summary – Project Management

Please see below for a summary of the chat. A full archive of all tweets from the conversation can be found at the following URL (hosted in Google Docs):


What projects have you been involved with that required project management skills?

We had a wide range of examples in response to this question, showing that project management skills can be applied to small everyday projects, as well as big on-going tasks!

@jackoliver40: I’ve been involved with a larger project to create a new service desk to smaller e.g. intro of laptop loan and I had to lead on creation of a new service desk (we call it iZone) which was tied into a wider refurbishment. Challenging!

@louise_ashton: Small projects = creating online tutorials from scratch and a project involving reading lists & references

Bigger projects = new LMS, new library website, complete library refurbishment & arranging disposal of a patient lib

@LibWig: implementing a new database for recording enquiries #uklibchat

@Sonja_Kujansuu: I’ve helped out on many projects at work. Many reclassification projects of entire library collections, creating records on an Access database for foreign dissertations. Creating LibGuides, Measuring and doing an inventory of books.

@pmshort: I negotiated for space in the building to create a study support zone

@AidanBaker: Multi-site book move last year; sundry sub-projects to address the dust as it settled

@theangelremiel: I opened a new library. I expanded a 1 library system to 2 locations (without expanding the staffing, that was a mistake)

2. What are the good ways of getting experience in Project management if it’s not something you can do in your day job?

There are a wide array of ways to bolster your project management experience – from volunteering for committee and work, to planning a wedding! Some highlights to this questions are outlined below…

@jackoliver40: I think you can apply basic PM principles to many things e.g. a review of a basic process. Look at why, how, who and plan

@louise_ashton: Chartership needs PM. Extra curricular CPD – dissertations etc. Hobbies, social life too – planning a wedding!

 @louise_ashton: Anything outside of your day to day duties can be considered a project. So anything with a unique end result.

@tinamreynolds: Look out for project management modules whilst studying for an MA/MSc

3. Have you attended a course on PM? Was it useful?

@LibWig: Attended training courses from our in house learning & development team on PM. Found it v useful as was tailored to our workflow

The course we attended was quite short, which was good. Was about 2hrs, with take-away examples, exercises, sample worksheets

@greebstreebling: Yes, I have and it was useful. Not based on software but handouts to take away and worked through actual examples

I’ve had more formal PM training e.g. using MS Project. I’ve also had informal training on our own inhouse methodology

@preater: Not had formal PM training but have absorbed a lot by osmosis working with PMs. Doing Prince2 training later in September

@jackoliver40: Without formal learning, you can apply good self-organisation skills and planning. Works as well as any formal learning

@louise_ashton: Courses are good but it helps having had some experience to relate it to. Am trying to put what I’m learning in to practice

@tinamreynolds: Conference organisation for a prof body is a good way of getting PM experience

 @Sonja_Kujansuu: It has been briefly covered in training sessions I’ve go to at work and on my #libraryschool course but not very in depth.

 @pmshort: I attended a very good PM course run by JISC [please comment if you know any more about the JISC course! Ed.]

@darrentheviking: I’ve done a couple based around Prince 2 and a week long one around Accept (model for pharma industry)

4. What key skills do you need for project management?

Our respondents had a great range of skills that you can show and develop!

@louise_ashton: Having an overall vision of the end result. Clear aims and objectives.

@tinamreynolds: Organisation – must be organised or everything fails

@louise_ashton: Delegation of tasks is crucial!

@jackoliver40: Organisation. Need to be able to plan in advance. Need to listen to the project team and take input. Delegation of tasks

@LibWig: Understanding timescales and implications of missed/revised deadlines also important

@louise_ashton: Being able to manage resources and people. I think being able to motivate others is key too.

@pmshort: Taking ‘knocks’ on board and moving on. Learning from setbacks

@jackoliver40: You have to take ownership but try not to take things personally! Very hard to balance. Take time to reflect is good practice

@AidanBaker: Being able to tell joined-up thinking from project creep; knowing when to stop. #uklibchat

@edchamberlain: Tracking project progress across several teams and groups can be v. difficult.

@preater: Key skills IMO are getting buy-in across departments at the right level and being an effective political operator.

@Sonja_Kujansuu: Ability to understand the perspectives of other people working on the project.

@theangelremiel: Big one here is the ability to describe a project in as simple terms as possible… but no simpler.

5. What is it like working in a project team (not as manager)? Are expectations and requirements different from your desk job?

Unsurprisingly, our respondents explained that it can be very different to your day to day role – but this of course partly depends on what your core job description consists of! Time to work on the project was cited as becoming a problem in a number of replies.

 @theangelremiel: I’ve found on large projects there can be a problem if you’re also working a regular job. Time constraints & conflicts.

@jackoliver40: I have also been part of a P team. V diff to desk job. You need to plan time to commit. V good to gain broader experience

@theangelremiel: I think a crucial element of the definition is task-focus and time sensitivity. It’s a team that exists for the job. #uklibchat

@louise_ashton: The recognition that you often have to do projects alongside your everyday duties

@pmshort: Time management is vital…and the ability to get away from the day job. Prep for meetings and reflection time afterwards

@preater: Balancing requirements of day job vs. projects is challenging work time management.

@theangelremiel: My current job is in a very small team. Tough to differentiate between “project” & “regular” tasks.

@theangelremiel: @preater #uklibchat plus ego management. If you have a boss & a project boss heaven help you if they don’t get on.

@jackoliver40: I use my calendar to plan my time and colour code it to reflect meetings, core work, uni wide work, project work etc. helps!

6. What library activities fit project management activities?

Our first answer summaries the majority of responses quite nicely for this question!

@louise_ashton: Anything that is outside normal day to day activities.

A lot of projects seem to be about the implementation of a new system or way of working.

@jackoliver40: I think any task that involves a timeline and a change to process, no matter how small

@greebstreebling: Author events, literature festivals, refurbs, pretty much anything really #uklibchat

@louise_ashton: There seem to be a lot of digitisation projects going on at the moment

7 . Are there practical resources/stuff which show successful project management cases in similar places?

Only one resource was suggested for this question, though I suspect that there are plenty more out there. The problem is that they aren’t collated, but rather exist as examples in case studies etc. Other explained that libraries don’t market completed projects as such, but instead promote the resource that they have developed on the project, such as a new website or catalogue.

Look at the SLA survey in latest Information Outlook for September 2013.

8. Can you suggest any useful tools for project management?

Don’t under estimate the power of Excel!

@jackoliver40: We have formal documentation that helps e.g. PID, highlight reports, end report. Personally I like MS project for planning

@louise_ashton: The famous Gantt chart

@louise_ashton: I’ve seen massive projects – £1m lib refurb planned using Excel

@AidanBaker: I used & re-acquainted myself w. Gantt charts.

@preater: Tools for collaborative work a great help I think. Doesn’t need to cost; but we get huge value from @atlassian @confluence.

@tinamreynolds: Obvious one would be MS Project. I like gantt charts for at a glance use #uklibchat

 @jackoliver40: I think for anyone doing smaller scale projects, excel is perfect to aid planning. Doesn’t need much more for a good outcome!

Thank you to all our participants!

Summary – Librarians and Research

Our chat for May looked at all areas of librarians as researchers in institutions, as well as librarians undertaking research as academics. Below are some of the key points that were raised as part of the chat.

Q1) As a librarian, do you sit within a core “library” team, or are you embedded into various areas of your organisation? 

All respondents were definite “librarians” – no one was embedded. People felt that the areas where embedded librarians are seen most often are; law, hospitals, and academia (ie. Academic liaison).

There was also a discussion over if school librarians were embedded or not. The argument was that the curriculum comes before the library environment, and therefore they should identify with curriculum areas, not the library itself.

@Kosjanka: I sit in a wide team that encompasses: research, evidence, data, mapping, modelling, KM and research comms

Q2) Do you feel that ‘embedded librarianship’ dilutes or strengthens a “library” brand, and people’s understanding of what you do?

@greebstreebling: It depends on the environment! Sometimes I think it doesn’t matter; people ignore us until they want us  then are amazed at what we do!

@EmmaBettyHughes: I have no real idea, but I would of thought that it strengthens the brand. A librarian right there showing people what they can do!

@EmmaBettyHughes: actually I’m sure I heard somewhere of a trial w/ librarian going on ward round with drs & care improved 20% or something….

@LibrarySherpa: Honestly, I do feel that it dilutes the brand because I think the visual of a centralized location reinforces a brand.

@Kosjanka: I work hard to build ties with the diff research teams. One team I meet with every 2 weeks. I’m key to their success.

Q3) In what ways do you support researchers?

 @greebstreebling: We support researchers as we can, probably more help with local history enquiries, not necessarily specialist enough #uklibchat

@EmmaBettyHughes: not directly, we send out a weekly briefing with all the latest news, research and resources in our subject area #uklibchat

@LibrarySherpa: I help by doing acquisitions and collection development.#uklibchat

@Kangarooth: provide enquiry support, buy books and resources for research, have webpage for researchers. Tends to be PhDs face to face

@Kangarooth: I also help out with training (EndNote, lit searching), but again tends to be PhD, rather than lecturers etc

@AgentK23: My personal contribution is Refworks training. We also look at free resources on the web, & link to things that may be useful

@LibClare:  We help people to help themselves … but also help people to Get Things Done. In Industrial Research, time is money

@bibliotekaargh: limited this, but sorting out journal access/remote access for researchers big part of it.

@libreddite: I support researchers by providing training in databases, referencing software. service also working on REF support.

@roogly: Manchester has a Research Services team for specialist help inc. citation analysis, publishing,research data management

4) Does your Library subscribe to any LIS related journals? And do you read them? #uklibchat

@LibWig: Get a few ASLIB journals, & BIALL’s Legal Information Management. All v useful. Keep them for ref too, handy to refer back to #uklibchat

@LibrarySherpa: We subscribe to only a few and not sure they are technically journals. I prefer to read LIS blogs.

@Kangarooth: we subscribe to some LIS journals. A selection is displayed in staff room before going onto shelves

@roogly: Information World Review is a comprehensive and finger-on-the-pulse read. I highly recommend…

@amycrossmenzies: we subscribe to a few and I do read articles every now and again, also like blogs like @LibrarySherpa+ podcasts #uklibchat

@amycrossmenzies + sometimes look further afield in other non lis journals #uklibchat

@Kangarooth: we have cilip Update, ALISS quarterly and JOLIS in staff room. Mostly people browse them, but have found some relevant articles

@laurengracenilo: this is an interesting article

@AgentK23: I’ve seen copies of ALISS floating about the staff room. I occasionally pick one up to read. But don’t use for ‘research’#uklibchat

@amycrossmenzies: errr ooh anything really, just mean keeping eye open for anything interesting.  Philosophy’s my thing so i look at that

@StevenHeywood: I think public library service focus too much on buildings, too little on services, making both vulnerable …consequently, their value to the general researcher too often undermined or even cast aside #uklibchat

@LibClare: The mag I make a point of looking at is Research Information. But get info from loads of less formal sources these days.

@AgentK23:I don’t do big research, but say for finding info on Social Media Policies etc. I get info from other libs using jiscmail #uklibchat

Q5) Have you carried out/published research on the LIS area? What was it about? #uklibchat

@EmmaBettyHughes: have carried out user needs assessments for our services and for other orgs that have commissioned us to do so. some published #uklibchat

@LibrarySherpa: Other than for my MLIS degree, no. Wrote a paper once that proved my small sampling of students raised w/card catalog fared better with library skills, FWIW.

@Karenmca:  some years ago I wrote piece on lib services for disabled students – before such services became mainstream.

@amycrossmenzies: Not yet! It’s on my list! But some librarians I work with published article about research/trial of eReaders they did #uklibchat

@Karenmca: but my research is more music than LIS based.#uklibchat

@libreddite was part of Library and Information research Group cttee (CILIP) but not published any research.

@libreddite: 2 pubs – one based on presentation on freely available law resources for SINTO, other piece for LIM on @LawSync project

@tomroper: This seems to me to be the problem, look at our professional literature and you wouldn’t know we’re a research-based profession – A suppliers’ press release based profession, yes

@ijclark: not sure what you mean but I occasionally write for @OpenRightsGroup and @InfoTodayEu (and the odd Guardian piece!) in a personal capacity

@spoontragedy: Yes, I think a lot of it is written up, through & associated careers-y journals #uklibchat

There was also talk of a publish or perish culture in US for HE librarians. As they are seen as academic members of staff, they have to publish – would this culture be good for the LIS sector in the UK?

Q6) Is enough published/researched outside of HE?

@LibWig: law libraries seem to do a fair amount, but not through universities – Legal Info Management by #biall is good. Could be more in PhD world on law libs though #uklibchat

Not sure how much research will take place in a “proper” academic envt in LIS in future though, what with funding cuts in UK #uklibchat

@Spoontragedy: I’m now in quite a specific sector, careers info. I think role involves a lot of research but not shared much outside sector

Q7) Have you ever used LIS research in a practical way in your job? (e.g. as evidence when proposing a change?) #uklibchat

@Kosjanka: Have done desk research to inform policy on storage for CD-ROMs that accompany books (back in 2000′s!)

@uklibchat: To secure time for projects as examples of best practice

@spoontragedy: I have used research to advocate for changes, eg using social media, changing the way we market services more generally

@Kosjanka: Sources of info to support their research, tools (eg, current awareness), copyright, resource evaluations, etc.#uklibchat

@librariangravy: I’ve read articles then used them as evidence for proposing a new procedures-writing procedure #uklibchat

8) Is the librarian’s research support role recognised and valued within the institution?

@LibWig: I certainly like to think that we are valued as librarians in our firm – we get good feedback that would indicate so #uklibchat

@LibWig: With regards to the wider LIS society as a whole though, I’m not so sure- certainly wasn’t as much in places I worked in the past

@amycrossmenzies: I don’t really think it is, but maybe there’s a need to get out there and promote ourselves & services more #uklibchat

@spoontragedy: Yes. Helping service users research their own careers is seen as core part of role. Also researching best resources to promote

@spoontragedy: This isn’t research in the traditional academic sense, but it’s the kind of research that’s relevant in the careers service

@esuffield: yes definitely we are guiding students with research techniques on a daily basis to help with studies :-)

@Kangarooth: we recently surveyed just this. Mixed results, but generally felt librarians have own niche, don’t need to replicate grad school

@spoontragedy: In public libraries, I think we did research support in a very broad sense (helping students etc) but wasn’t recognised

@amycrossmenzies: went to v good talk by nhs librarian, sounds like they are v valued for research role #uklibchat

@spoontragedy: #uklibchat It’s exciting & also a little daunting to find myself in a role that involves a lot more research than previous jobs #uklibchat


Many thanks to everyone who joined us! See you at the next chat to discuss collection management!

Feature #05: Moving to the Dark Side: Practitioner to Academic Practice

Our latest feature on #uklibchat links into our recent discussion on librarians and research. Barbara Sen, currently a lecturer at the University of Sheffield, tells us of her experiences in moving from LIS practice to academia. Thank you to Barbara for sharing her experiences and tips with us. 

Moving to the Dark Side: Practitioner to Academic Practice

I came into the LIS profession quite late, though I had been a library assistant when I was in my teens. I did my Masters at MMU when I was in my early forties and immediately after I graduated I managed to get three part time jobs! I was worried that being an older graduate it would be harder for me to get a permanent post but I really recommend it. You get a broad range of experience on your CV, it helps you to decide what you would like to do, and what your strengths and weaknesses are.
One of those jobs was with the Health & Safety Executive, one was as a part time Research Assistant on a project investigating flexible working, and one was teaching at MMU on the Database Design module. They all gave me valuable experience and set me off on a future path to being an academic. The down side of having so many part time jobs was that it was very tiring. Each job required different skills, and whilst I was learning so much, doing each one was exhausting, so I was pleased when after a year when a full time permanent post came along in the Health & Safety Executive.

I prefer some autonomy and found the Civil Service too restrictive so after a year I moved into the NHS managing a library service. I loved this role as there was plenty of opportunity for development within the NHS at that time, and I could shape the service how I wanted it. The health sector is very dynamic. I found health librarians, like other sectors, to be highly skilled, innovative, and always willing to push the boundaries. They love learning, and engage in research. I loved so much about my job, developing the collection, researching quite complex medical problems, and delivering training sessions to all kinds of health professionals – I really enjoyed the training aspect.

Whilst in the health service I had to write my first strategic plan for my service. I loved bringing stakeholders together, getting people involved in the planning, and setting a vision for my service for the future.
Shortly after this I saw a job advertised in CILIP Update for a part time Lecturer at Liverpool John Moores University (LJMU) to work on the Strategic Management module and the Collection Development module. As I had been an Acquisitions Librarian at the Health & Safety Executive, I felt that I was really well suited to this role and I thought I could probably fit it around my health service job. We had extended opening hours, so I could do more of the late and weekend shifts to make up for the time I might be teaching.

Well I got the job, and the rest is history. I loved it so much that when a full-time post became available I moved into academia full-time. LJMU at that time did not have a strong research culture, and as I started to become more involved in the academic context I realised how much I enjoyed the research aspects of the position, so I knew that would have to move to develop this side of things.

A job came up at the University of Sheffield. I didn’t get it. I didn’t even get shortlisted. I spoke to a lecturer at another LIS Department and he suggested that I needed to publish much more, so I started to do small research projects related to my work, and my teaching areas. I managed to get a few things published and I also got invited to work on a number of small projects, one consultancy, and one a Knowledge Transfer Project working with a small business. I made sure that I published the outcomes from these so they would enhance my CV. I also embarked on a PhD part-time. Then a post for a Lecturer came up again at Sheffield, and this time the subject areas were more closely aligned to my areas of expertise. To my surprise, this time, I got the job.

I have been at Sheffield now for six years. Since then, so many opportunities have come up. I love the teaching, and the research – you can’t separate them, one feeds into another, and really I think that’s how it should be. In academia we have to remain relevant to LIS practice. Most of my research has practical applications.

It is much more difficult now to get a job in academia without a PhD -my advice to anyone who is thinking of making the move is to get the PhD. There are more opportunities now to do a PhD part-time, and also by publication. Instead of the usual 100,000 word full research project, you submit a 10,000- 15,000 word report based around previously published papers that you have written.
I must say, Sheffield is the most challenging job I have ever had. The up side is that you have autonomy, and flexibility. There is always something new, and something new to explore. The down side is that I have never worked so hard or such long hours. I find myself working every evening, and every weekend. It is very rewarding especially when you see students getting on and doing well, but the job is very demanding indeed.

If you thing you want to make the transition from practitioner to academic, then start to write and get published. Every article counts. Gain some experience at training, or teaching – make sure you can cope with that. A few people I know like the idea, but then cave in when they have to stand up in front of a group of people and deliver a talk or a lecture. Develop a specialism, something you are known for, and think how you can become an expert in that. A friend of mine started a blog, and soon became widely followed on that topic because of his blog. Go to conferences, and network, great to get known and great experience, of one aspect of academic life. Get researching! We work in an evidence based profession. Publish from your Masters. Supervisors are usually very happy to publish with you at this point. Research in the work place is valid. Don’t be shy of putting work based research out into academic journals. Find opportunities to work with others on joint projects to build confidence. Explore different research methods and approaches, it will build your confidence.

Join research groups such as the Library and Information Research Group LIRG  or the Library & Information Science Research Coalition At this point, I will also give a shameless plug for a book that I am co-editing with Maria Grant and Hannah Spring: Research, Evaluation and Audit, published by Facet. This book is designed for people who might be new to research.

Agenda – Librarians and Research

The agenda for next week’s chat is now live!

The topic for our next chat will be to do with any questions you have regarding librarians and research. The discussion will cover everything from librarians as academic practitioners undertaking PhDs, through to to librarians becoming embedded into research teams in companies and organisations.

Please add your questions below! As always the chat will take place between 6:30 and 8:30pm.

Also, please keep your eyes posted for an upcoming blog feature related to this chat!

Summary – Open Access Chat – Feb 2013

1)     What do you think is the biggest barrier to open access?

@Andy_Tattersall: I can’t help but think it’s the academics.

@BooleanBerry: Barriers to OA: publisher reticence, researcher reticence (VERY hard to shake off old ideas about prestige, value and impact).

@Andy_tattersall – common problem – scholars like a physical artefact, something with ‘history’ and ‘kudos – @BooleanBerry summed it up when he said – ; if the choice is between a big name and a newer OA journal, it’s a career/life goal no-brainer for many. @GeraldineCS pointed out that papers published in “traditional journals” can be avail in #OA, the two are perfectly compatible. There is a lot of misinformation surrounding open access.

@BooleanBerry has been trying to convince others of the benefits of OA by getting key university figures to promote OA to others, and helped to prepare the marketing for an open access week. There were a lot of orange posters!

@poetryghost: would also say need for an agreed international system for independent peer review outside of journals or qualifications is required for open access to succeed.

2) How do you define open access?

@Sarahcchilds: I suppose people think of it being about articles not being behind paywalls but it’s more than that.

@LibWig: See #openaccess in a number of guises – we learned about green and gold routes on my masters course; the author pays model etc – others had also learned about these routes through library courses.

@bookslinger: Something that can be accessed by all

@Andy_tattersall:  something that is easier to share, spread, and does not sit behind such huge paywalls

@AgentK23: it seems to be free combined with work of a scholarly nature. Therefore it should go through a review process of sorts?

@Dymvue: One of our academics said (angrily) last week #openaccess is a way of demolishing peer review. This prompted much discussion, and it was pointed out that there are open access journals that are peer reviewed, and that open access need not equal poor quality. @Andy_Tattersall put it nicely:  “I think that is one of the issues for them, that open is poor quality – that’s like all music should be from big labels” – so there!

It was mentioned by @BooleanBerry that a friend recently said he views OA journals as ‘last chance saloon’ for work not accepted elsewhere. I hasten to add that @BooleanBerry did not agree! The researcher in question was willing to believe in open access, but needed quality assurance.

3) After the Finch report & with the emphasis arguably now on gold Open Access what is the future for Institution Repositories & green OA?

@Kangarooth: at many universities the institutional repository is the main output for REF so has vital role. I expect will become the norm to deposit into IRs. @BooleanBerry replied : This, exactly. REF was a massive influencing factor on academics depositing into our IR. @GerladineCS asked do researchers deposit full text or reference only for REF? Is the full text in IR compulsory to included? @BooleanBerry wasn’t sure – but full text deposit with the chance of citations was used as an incentive. @ GeraldineCS: it could be that additional incentive is offered by HEFCE by REF2020 for #OA only submission.

@LibWig pointed out that from a user’s point of view, IRs are liked- they allow the user to search an institution’s research if you know a prominent scholar is there. @Sarahcchilds agreed, though most downloads of papers from repositories will be via Google Scholar due to poor IR search interfaces – @BooleanBerry pointed out that he recently got given an incomplete reference from user and easily followed it to an IR in Sweden. Result!

@Sarahcchilds – IR search interfaces need redesigning to make them more accessible – @GeraldineCS suggested a cheaper way to get around this problem by optimising the metadata so that Google Scholar and other search engines can index papers and research more effectively. Money and time to do these things was seen as a problem, but not just in OA! @JenFosterLib pointed out similar problems in improving databases, Library Management Systems etc.

@GeraldineCS gold route and green routes are definitely complementary for the time being, maybe for ever, but the green route coupled with an embargo is not true #OA and it is reliant on paying subs still.

4) Are there any negatives to OA, and any way to address them?

@Andy_Tattersall There could be a surge in published content, making finding better quality research potentially harder

@Kangarooth with hybrid OA there is possibility universities will pay twice- for article processing charge AND subscription. @GeraldineCS said that publishers and universities must be working actively to avoid double dipping! The RCUK is telling publishers that subscription costs must come down in line with #oacosts but agree that hybrid #oa is not ideal option, and should only be tolerated as transitional.

5) Where does Finch take disciplines that do not get public funding e.g. archaeology? How can these disciplines sustain OA journals?

@Sarahschilds: I think that there is a lot more opposition from humanities/arts academics than in the sciences, though hopefully the humanities version of PLOS will start to change this

@AgentK23 I know someone who reckons it will be detrimental to the more obscure fields, and I think she may be right

@Liz-Jolly recommended we look at @openlibhums as an example of the arts working in Open Access

@poetryghost: It seems to me that in the sciences you have the added issue of business finance of research & desire of intellectual property – this is not as prevalent in the arts

@AgentK23 I do feel that the impact on arts research isn’t being addressed and accounted for by #oa –there is a lot more focus on the sciences

6) How can we change the default setting for scientists to ‘open’? (articles, code, data etc.)

@Sarahcchilds this is a huge challenge, though you may find more recent academics/research students etc. to be more receptive?

@Kangarooth I think the RCUK mandate will go a long way in doing this. @GeraldineCS replied that this will help to highlight benefits and evidence of higher citation rate is growing. This is something that researchers really do care about!

@GeraldineCS There is a moral imperative to use #oa for the distribution of publicly funded research, but the RCUK and government policy will help to encourage this too.

@Andy_tattersall: hopefully key academics can act as champions, also perhaps public opinion would swing things when the lid becomes more lifted.

@GeraldineCS: unexplored opportunities for creating new online collections, research topic alerts, opportunities for librarians. Open access is not a threat to information professionals!

7) Does the onset of open access publishing change the way in which we both communicate and educate with our science?

@Liz_jolly: An #oa repository with an institutional mandate can increase research impact –see the work of Alma Swan and others

@andy_tattersall: I think it will certainly speed up output and will dovetail better with social media for promotion and sharing

@GeraldineCS: yes, #oa helps democratising access to knowledge, and equals an opportunity to read information that has previously been locked up in libraries (sorry folks!) but this by the way might be perceived by some as a threat to privileged expert status, fear of misrepresentation, and creates an open challenge.

@BooleanBerry: Wider access will create greater need for scientific literacy on wider scale. Don’t just open doors, empower people to engage.

@Libwig hoped so – only when leaving university is it that you realise how locked away information is. @sarahchilds agreed: the potential of OA to encourage more democratic access to information is one of the most exciting parts of it in my opinion.

@AgentK if people didn’t know about it already: searches across different IRs – try Richard III for an example!

Numerous examples were provided for exciting new research that captures the public imagination, but access to the actual research papers is then restricted – ie the new Richard III research, and the Tintagel Plaque a few years ago. If the final research was published in OA then it would help to encourage further scholarly research, and help people to understand the work of academics.

8) Any advice for ECRs who want to publish OA, but have been told that this could potentially damage their careers?
[Note: ECR = Early Career Researcher]

@GeraldineCS publishing in #OA does not mean publishing in a bad quality journal – most journals have an OA option, and most are compliant with the #RCUK

@Andy_Tattersall To try to publish at least one paper in #oa – ask who is telling them not to – and why? Too much emphasis is placed on publish or perish

@GeraldineCS The most used journal by NERC, MRC and BBSRC funded researchers used to publish results is PLoSOne. Publication in #oa is not likely to be an issue! And   greater public visibility of evidence based research will balance all the random information already available on the Internet!

9) What benefits can researchers get from Open Access repositories?

Not so much researchers, but librarians! @AgentK23 – wonders if there’d be scope for new job roles for people to help find the gold amongst the gold (pun intended)!

@Liz_jolly: evidence of a clear link to increased impact of individual and of the institution -see Southampton Uni as an example!

@GeraldineCS IR offers a wider opportunity to #oa other writing/data/files/images etc that does not get published in journals

10) Do you believe that OA repositories can contribute to increase the culture/literacy level in society?

@AgentK23:  I want to tie this in with #mooc - it’s there for all but who has the skills /knowledge to access and make use of it?

@LibWig culture and literacy level increases is a possibility – giving people access to original research rather than through others… means people can go to the horse’s mouth as such, rather than via another source

We received comments from many about how tabloids should cite more sources – perhaps this would increase and become more common if more information was OA? Though could lead to some confusion and bias through misrepresented data?

@poetryghost: despite our comments on tabloid misrepresentation I’d still say yes. How can it not?

@andy_tattersall: Potentially, it could allow people outside of the paywall to carry out own research – independent researchers, carers, charities

@BooleanBerrY: OA can contribute to greater literacy but as we established, it can’t happen in a vacuum. Who aids that literacy? HINT HINT – LIBRARIANS.

@AgentK23: it would help people who know how to research. And then when learning filters down it would, but might be tricky?

@GerladineCS: doctors, patients, academics in universities without subscriptions, businesses, policy makers- anyone reads everything with #oa -isn’t it fab!

@Liz_jolly: there is an element of democratic process and a right to access information

11) We (our University) are trying to prepare for any compliance monitoring by RCUK which will take place after implementation of the new RCUK policy on 1 April 2013. Are other universities doing the same thing? If so, please share any ideas or advice you have for what information you think will be mandatory to gather for RCUK, how this info might be stored, and in what format RCUK might want it reported (for example, Excel spreadsheet).


@GerlaldineCS The RCUK will issue updated guidance by the end of Feb. The info needed is likely to include citation, DOI, grant number and fees if APC has been paid.

@nataliafay: DOIs and how made OA (Gold/Green/neither) will be key for reporting to RCUK.

@GeraldineCS really important for UK HEIs to collect this info as will inform future policy development and amount of #Oa block grants. You will need evidence! There is plenty of good practice advice out there from the repository community. The RCUK is also looking at funding project to share good practice.

Extra info

Link to Finch Report and Executive Summary

#uklibchat feature on Open Access written by Geraldine Clement-Stoneham

The RSP was recommended for Open Access information –

Useful LSE article:

M Pickton wrote her dissertation on OA – try out your library skills and track it down!

UK Open Access Implementation Group is an interesting site

CORE is also a very good search tool across IR’s, full text “Implementing Open Access Policies Using Institutional Repositories” by@skriegsman

Info on Oxford’s OA, a joint venture between the Bodleian and the Uni’s Research Services:

Feature #02: Open Access by Geraldine Clement-Stoneham

#uklibchat are pleased to present the following guest post by Geraldine Clement-Stoneham. To continue discussing Open Access, join us for our next chat on February 5th, between 6:30-8:30pm.

For many years Open Access publishing was a topic of discussion reserved to a very small circle of enthusiasts. If anyone had told me only two years ago that the subject would make the front page of top newspapers, be on the news and attract so much attention that it generates a petition to the White House, I would have looked at them in disbelief. Not that I thought that open access wasn’t the right thing to promote, but I felt that much work was still needed to inform and convince people that the traditional model of disseminating scholarly knowledge needed changing.

So what has happened, and what is the hype about? What does it mean to “publish in open access”? Why is it so different?

At the beginning there were two key elements which triggered off the movement: the growth of the Internet as a fast way to communicate large amount of information at low cost; and the exponential increase in the costs of subscriptions.

These two factors, accompanied with a belief that public information, and therefore the outputs of publicly funded research, should be available to the public, lead the way to exploring new options for sharing scholarly findings.

And it is worth keeping in mind that any new model developed would need to respect two important elements: the peer review process, which provides assurance on the quality of the research; and the fact that researchers work in an economy of reputation – where acknowledgement and citation is directly linked to career prospects.

I don’t want to dwell too much about the history of open access, or the details of issues to be considered, as I’d rather focus on what has changed in the last few months. However, if you want a comprehensive summary of what open access is all about, I recommend the Wikipedia entry, itself one of the most beautiful example of what open access to knowledge can achieve. For a more in-depth account,  Peter Suber’s recent book has become the reference source, and includes a compilation of many of the ideas he developed in his blog entries. (Note that the book is not in open access yet, but will be 12 months after publication, ie. Summer 2013).

However, for a more interactive experience, this short video, Open Access explained will give in you in less than 10 min a good snapshot at how absurd the current situation is. I recommend watching it!

So coming back to what happened in the last 12 months, and how the world gradually shifted to make open access such a hot topic, not only for librarians and researchers, but also for the mainstream press, research funders and governments.

The Cost of knowledge

Let’s get back to January 2012 and a blog post by Field Medallist and Cambridge mathematician, Tim Gower, in which he ponders on the high costs of Elsevier’s journals and the role that scientists themselves play in maintaining the status quo.  Check out Alok Jah’s article in the Guardian for a good summary.  Tim’s blog set the blogosphere on fire, and lead quickly to an online petition being set up to collect signatures of all those who, along Tim Gower, would make a public stand and refuse to work with Elsevier in the future.  The Cost of Knowledge website attracted hundreds of signatures in no time, and today over 13000 researchers have committed in one way or another not to work with Elsevier.

The Research Works Act

So why did Gower pick on Elsevier in particular. Let’s face it, there are quite few large commercial publishers out there who have been increasing subscription prices steadily for years.

At the end of 2011, a new bill had been proposed in the US called the “Research Work Act”. In summary, the Bill was proposing to make the National Institute of Health open access policy illegal and stop it being extended to other publicly funded research in the States.  As well as a the unveiling that Elsevier had supported financially the two politicians who were proposing the new bill, the American Publishers Association public letter explaining why the bill was a good idea had the tone of a declaration of war. The bad publicity turned out to be a big reputational risk for Elsevier, which eventually withdrew its support.

Open Access

Press coverage

It was not the first petition, but in the days of social media, it made enough noise to be heard by many, and the fact that it was taking on a big player in the industry also attracted the interest of investors, not just in Elsevier, but other publishers too.  Publications which only a few months ago would have never covered the topic suddenly were making it a big headline:




The Guardian

New York Times

Open Access policies in the UK

The discussion about economics has not been limited to assess the risk to the shareholders of large publishing companies, but has also considered the costs to innovation, the economy and society, not to have the results of publicly funded research available to all.  Research, and the knowledge gained through research, is perceived to be a key element to economic recovery and growth.  At the end of 2011, David Willetts, the Science Minister, announced that the results of publicly funded research should be free to access.

Recognising that some results were already available freely, a group of stakeholders’ representatives, chaired by Dame Janet Finch, was tasked to make recommendations on how to accelerate this change, whilst proposing sustainable solutions.  The report was published in June 2012 and generated a lot of comment all around the world.

The government accepted all but one recommendation made in the Finch report.

Shortly after, the Research Councils published their new joint policy on open access to research outputs, which was informed by the Finch report and built on the existing RCUK Open access policy, first introduced in 2005. This was followed by a statement by DIFID, and HEFCE.

More recently, The House of Lord Science & Technology Committee announced that it would be holding a hearing in relation to the UK government and RCUK open access policy.

And only last week, the House of Commons Business, Innovation and Skills Committee has also announced its intention to inquire into the Government’s Open Access policy.

Further afield

Whilst things were moving fast in the UK, in the US the momentum lost energy with the upcoming elections. The RWA having been withdrawn, a bill was re-introduced in support of expanding the NIH mandate to other federally funded research, and the White House is still to respond to a public petition asking for the President to make an official statement.

Recently the Natinal Institute of Health announced that they would enforce more strictly their policy, but the other large funder, the National Science Foundation (NSF), still does not have any official position on open access.

In July 2012, the European Commission issued a Communication in relation to the future funding programme Horizon2020 and a recommendation to member states recommending they put in place national open access policies.

Since then Ireland, Hungary, Australia have also announced new policy on Open Access.

Many universities have also been active all around the world and established institutional OA mandate. The most famous outburst of 2012 will probably remain that of Harvard University, who recognised openly that they could no longer afford to subscribe to all the journals needed by their scholars, and it was time to “move prestige to open access” (see also


What’s next?

Whilst many have accepted that publicly funded research outputs should be freely available, there are still many questions about how this can be achieved. Any changes to the current system will have implications for all the players involved and these can be perceived as important enough to challenge openness as a principle, particularly when big financial interests are at stake.

New opportunities arise too, and new ideas. A group of mathematicians has just announced that they would create “overlay journals” on top of ArXiv ( to provide an alternative to traditional publishers; PeerJ is a new OA journals which offers a life-time subscription to authors to publish; eLife is a new journal paid for by funders and free for authors to publish in; Social Science Directory is a new open access “mega journal”.

Much has to change simultaneously as open access touches on issues of copyright, intellectual property, freedom of the internet, publishers business models, researchers’ career path, etc.

No doubt we will be discussing some of these during our #uklibchat and the debate is far from being over.


Whilst I was drafting this blog, the sad news came in of the death of Aaron Swartz. Aaron was not a well-known figure to most, but an influential advocate for open access and his death brings to mind the uncomfortable reality that the principle of openness some of us value cannot be taken for granted.

Geraldine Clement-Stoneham is a knowledge manager for a large medical research funder. She tweets on open access and other KM related stuff at @geraldinecs. She writes here in a personal capacity.

This blog entry is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 UK: England & Wales License.

CC License

Agenda – Open Access – 5th Feb

Our next chat will be on Open Access, and you can now add to the agenda here!

We are also pleased to confirm that we will be posting a guest blog discussing Open Access the week before the chat to help get you thinking!

We look forward to chatting with you then.

Summary – 2nd Oct 2012- Library Management Chat

1)      Have you  any tips for getting into a library management position?

  • Be “that person” who is always happy to help out, suggest new ideas, makes people see you in a new light
  • Ask your employer if you can enrole in a “moving into management” course
  • Show leadership whilst not in a “managerial” role – you don’t have to have a managerial role to gain experience
  • Blog post on managing in libraries:
  • It can be tricky in some roles to gain this experience, where this is the case offer to volunteer in other roles/committees
  • Differentiate between leadership and management – you can gain skills in either, and they are transferrable between the two!
  • You can volunteer outside the library world to gain experience! i.e. girl guides!
  • Think about how you define management :  - don’t just think of management as the person at the top, there are many steps to get there!

2)      How do you get supervisory experience without ever having it before? Is it a catch 22 situation?

  • Ask managers for more responsibility – flag it up in your annual review/appraisal
  • Be in the right position at the right time!
  • Try a job swap with a colleague
  • Try writing training materials and then sharing them with your users
  • Engage with CILIP’s special interest groups, or other professional organisations
  • Good recruitment will spot the potential of a good manager – likewise, poor recruitment will prevent it from showing and being spotted
  • Remember that being in a management position is not the be all and end all of a career – there are many other ways to a fulfilling career.
  • Management courses from the CMI:

3)      What should be the key skills of a library manager?

  • Honest and trustworthly
  • Fair
  • Encouraging
  • Being able to delegate confidently
  • Give credit where it is due
  • Being able to balance organisation, staff and a user’s needs
  • Spot the big picture, and the small details
  • Effective communication
  • Risk tolerance
  • Embracing change successfully
  • People management
  • Project management
  • Awareness of professional values and ethics

4)      How do you adapt from being “one of the team” to “the boss”?

  • Listen to advise from others, you won’t have been the first to make the transition
  • Do not try to be the world’s friend – it isn’t possible. Instead be fair and take a step back
  • Accept that you will have to change how you work with people, in order for both of you to do your role
  • Respect and be fair to your staff – but you do not have to become an ice queen!
  • Moving organisation makes adapting easier, as it also stops you from being viewed in your previous role and guise
  • There was a difference of opinion between if a manager should muck in and help out, or sit back and guide the library’s strategy

5)      Do you think managers are out of touch with issues facing the frontline staff?

  • It was decided by pretty much all involved, that this will vary depending on many factors; sector, organisation and most importantly, the individual
  • It was pointed out that we should think both ways – do you know about all the problems and issues your manager has to deal with?  Communication both ways can help to address any gaps that are present
  • Perhaps have your manager work a “floor day” to remind them of some of the problems that you face – put any problems in a constructive way that will help them to understand

6)      How important is it that managers have experience of lower level jobs/delivering services in the places in which they manage?

  • Perhaps it doesn’t matter as long as they are happy to listen to the views of lower level staff?
  • It can give credibility – you have been “at the coalface” dealing with tricky customers and problems
  • It is important for them to understand work pressures and staff values – perhaps it doesn’t matter how they come to understand them though!
  • Perhaps in general it is vital, but it doesn’t necessarily have to be from the same organisation
  • No one owned up to having an MBA, or transitioning in from a business background to run a service. NVQs were mentioned though and the LFHE, which can be more profitable and give better experience.

7)      How do you handle difficult behaviour in your staff? Particularly where staff refuse to cooperate with each other?

  • With fairness and transparency!
  • Often it is  case of what you’re not doing, rather than what you are
  • Talk to the individuals in private and try to identify any causes of friction
  • Do not demonise anyone – often problems and legitimate and solvable
  • Key is communication – the difficulty is handling it correctly! You must maintain your staff’s confidence
  • Try to step in before it gets to the stage that staff refuse to cooperate with each other

8)      Have you ever had to manage a disaster situation such as a flood?

  • Minor leaks are often solved with buckets!
  • Absorbeez cushions were highly recommended for leaks, spills and minor floods
  • Some problems with fire alarms, power issues, and asbestos removal were reported, but no long term disasters
  • Water pipes and air-conditioning units leaking onto stock seem rather common! Mop up, replace stock, and try to keep going. One experience was retold where the library enquiry desk stayed open, but the rest of the building was closed while renovation/repairs took place
  • No one had experienced a fire (thankfully)

9)      How does your organisation support its managers personal and professional development?

  • Investors in People Award was mentioned as a positive symbol for an organisation, and made a difference to its workforce
  • Some are happy to provide time/limited funds to directly relevant courses
  • First aid courses were listed as often provided by organisations
  • Some support Chartership, and will pay some professional organisation’s fees

10)   How do you recommend getting shy, quiet members of staff to communicate with their colleagues?

  • Maybe they don’t want/need to? Happy as introverts? No point in pushing
  • Do not make it an issue! There are many ways to communicate within teams – perhaps try more 1-2-1s if necessary?

Agenda – Library Management

Our next chat, hosted on Tuesday 2nd October, 6:30-8:30pm will discuss library management at all stages. Tips for managing successfully, how to get into a management position and much more!

To be sure that the questions you want to know the answers to are discussed, add your query to our agenda: HERE

We look forward to talking with you then!

Agenda – Conferences, Networking and Events – 10th July

This week’s #UKLibChat will be discussing conferences, events and networking. Now that conference season is upon us, it seems only right that we should come together to share our tips for building contacts, getting the most from conferences, and discuss any trepidations that you may have.

As always, the event agenda is now live, and can be edited via the Google Doc at this link:

We look forward to talking to you between 6:30 and 8:30 on Tuesday!



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