Research(er) Workflows in the Real World – A guest review from our bursary winner.

A review of our December event with ARLG from our New Professionals bursary winner.

At the start of December I was lucky enough to be granted a bursary by CILIP’s MmIT (Multimedia Information and Technology Group) to attend the above event, which was organized jointly by MmIT and ARLG.

This was very relevant for my work as part of my role is supporting PGR students.

After a quick update from the British Library about the new Shared Research Repository  which will bring together their current repositories (EthOS, BL Research Repository, etc.), Alison McNab from Huddersfield University introduced the day by talking us through the array of tools that researchers have at their disposal during their research workflow lifecycle, for writing, citing and submitting.

blog research workflow

This was followed by Andy Tattersall from Sheffield University, with a presentation about how researchers can own their research communications so that the media do not misrepresent their research. He recommended that, as librarians, we should promote Open Access, highlight the importance of good engagement with the media, promote the use of ORCID IDs and train academics on the use of social media.

In my opinion, one of the most interesting presentations was by Dr Gabrielle Neher, an academic from Nottingham University, who explained the role of the librarians in her institution as co-creators for her research.

Jeroen Bosman and Bianca Cramer from Utretch University Library advocated the use of open infrastructures for research.

They have researched and mapped all the tools currently available and created the diagram below.

blog research workflow 2

For them, the main reasons for supporting common infrastructures were:

  • For collaborating
  • To support researchers when they move to other institutions
  • To prevent vendor lock-in
  • As an exit plan (disaster recovery)
  • To support community-based development and innovation
  • To contribute to common infrastructure

However, they admitted that institutional policies mean that open source will not always be the preferred option. To find out the best option within these constraints, they have created a tool that compares all the available options and helps researchers decide which one is the most appropriate.

They finished by giving examples of closed vs. open source tools and encouraged all librarians to promote the open source tools.

blog research workflow 3

After lunch, Andy Appleyard and Alison Selina from the British Library focused on the UKRR (UK Research Reserve) which has freed up huge amounts of space in academic libraries through co-ordinated de-duplication, while preserving a national collection and continued access for researchers.

For the British Library, document supply peaked in the mid-90s. Demand has dropped since, mostly due to Google, big deals with publishers and declining acquisition budgets. The British Library has responded to these challenges by sourcing from third parties, concentrating on niche areas and building on their brand and trust.

Their current strategy focuses on four strands:

  • Customer retention
  • Diversification
  • Open Access
  • Living Knowledge

Unfortunately, one of the presenters, Jez Cope, could not attend because of illness. Luckily, Sally Halper from the British Library filled the gap with an excellent presentation on their recent research with users and non-users, which found that most people want instant access to information, free WiFi, quietness, bookable rooms for collaborative working and subject-specific research workflow 4

The last session of the day was an excellent UX activity facilitated by James Rennie.

First we had to do an individual sketching exercise when we had to draw what “Research” means to our users.

My superhero angel librarian was a success!blog research workflow 5

After that, in groups, we had to map the experience of a new user in our library, what their goals are, their feelings and the services that they encounter.

All the slides from the day are available at

Thanks to the MmIT for sponsoring me to attend this event. I met lots of interesting people, learnt lots and I am already applying what I learnt to my job.

Eva Dann


Information Consultant for the School of Engineering, Physical and Mathematical Sciences Royal Holloway, University of London


Digital tools for raising awareness of work to decolonise collections and promote inclusion

An interview with Jess Crilly, Associate Director Content and Discovery at University of the Arts

UAL has done extensive work on decolonising the Collections over the last couple of years. Hand in hand with our efforts to decolonise our collections, is our work to support the University to decolonise the curriculum. Last year this culminated in a  series of events and exhibitions in partnership with the University ‘Decolonising the Arts Curriculum’ zine that toured our six UAL libraries throughout the year. Whilst our physical spaces were all engaged in promoting this work and showcasing the breadth and depth of our collections to support decolonisation, the challenge was how to create a digital presence and that did the same. Jess Crilly Associate Director for Content and Discovery has led the way in developing our approach, and describes some of the tools used below.

“At UAL we are using various digital tools to support the promotion of resources in relation to ongoing work on decolonising collections. Padlet has emerged as a really useful tool in this context, for sharing resources in a rapid, visual, interactive and collaborative way bypassing some of the constraints of other institutional platforms.  Padlet is also being used in the sector for collaboration between libraries, sharing information and practices, and disseminating conference presentations. An example of a co-created resource list that formed part of the  from London College of Fashion library: LCF Library decolonisation Padlet

Online zines are a good way of disseminating counter hegemonic narratives, and at UAL we have now produced the second Decolonising the arts curriculum: perspectives on higher education  zine, an open collaboration between staff and students, which includes many reflections on the role of the library and archive in decolonisation initiatives.*

Collaborating on this work at UAL has also led to more promotion of online resources and media, including Spotify, Box of Broadcasts for sharing playlists of films and TV programmes, film screenings,  we’ve also seen great examples from other libraries who have created YouTube playlists.

The library’s role is also about rebalancing bias and under-representation in online resources and platforms, for example the under-representation of women and people of colour on Wikipedia – encouraging students to create and contribute as well as consume information, including through collaboration with organisations working in this space, such as Art & Feminism.

Discussions around ways of promoting resources surface some interesting philosophical debates. If the ultimate aim is to embed practices and ways of thinking about inclusive resources into everyday work. then how does creating standalone guides, Padlets and playlists fit in with embedding inclusivity? If we are truly inclusive, are these tools the best way to present these resources in a way that helps academics and students to find key resources that support their own efforts to decolonise and broaden their research, their reading lists and their sources or should it be integrated in our subject guides and catalogues?

“Decolonisation is a complex and contested issue, some of the work described above has been about the promotion and sharing of resources, the digital equivalent of the library display, but our concern now is with mainstreaming activity and collaborating to make more structural change. Within the university an example is integrating our work further with initiatives like the Academic Enhancement Model, and in the library addressing bias in our core systems, including classification and metadata. We don’t use a Reading List Management System at UAL, as the reading list, though very important, isn’t the main driver for collection building and the university has mainly enquiry led pedagogies so we don’t have collections data in that context, but are analysing reading lists through a Liberate the Curriculum project, with librarians, students and academics working together to review and reimagine reading lists. We are investigating mapping data from the library catalogue, and visualisation through infographics, to get a clearer picture of characteristics of our collections, such as place of publication, as many other libraries are also exploring.

So we looking for ways to use digital tools, beyond simply sharing resources and ideas, examining library systems to better “see” and understand our collections in the context of our colonial legacies, and hopefully to plot changes in our collections over time.”

*Zine 2 is a production of Arts Student Union, and UAL Teaching Learning & Employability Exchange. Collated and curated by Rahul Patel with additional support from Annie-Marie Akussah, Anita Israel, Hansika Jethnani, Zina Monteiro and Clare Warner.

Jess Crilly is Associate Director for content and discovery at UAL. She has published and presented extensively on this work. You can read more about her work on decolonising the collections here.

Making Connections: Derbyshire Libraries and Digital Inclusion

Wendy Kurcewicz
Wendy Kurcewicz

In today’s digital world people are often told that they will need to ‘go online’ to ‘get things done’, but some don’t know where to start when they have no access to the internet and little or no experience of a computer or the online world. This can result in people feeling fearful and uneasy and becoming digitally excluded.

Derbyshire library staff support people in our libraries to get online via digital help sessions. Staff understand that online tasks and transactions can be difficult and will sit down, listen and help people work at their own pace through the challenges that going online can present, enabling them to unravel what might seem like a maze.

Initially, staff can help with the urgent, more pressing matters – to complete and send off a form, update a Universal Credit account or type up and save a CV in order to apply for a job before the deadline passes. Then, in future sessions, they enable people to move on to connecting with family and friends, finding a better gas and electricity deal, grabbing a bargain and learning how to search effectively online for employment. Eventually, people’s confidence and motivation grows as their digital skills expand. At the same time people forge new friendships with others around them using the library.

Our public libraries are in the heart of our communities and, as safe and trusted spaces, they have always been ideally placed to provide support to the people in their communities. Of course, in recent years this support has evolved to encompass digital and in Derbyshire Libraries, as in many library authorities, we provide access to free computing facilities, free Wi-Fi for those who have their own device and free tailored support to help people make the most of digital.

This support can offer a lifeline to the internet access and assisted digital help that is badly needed by so many. In Derbyshire we also offer some outreach sessions, taking the library service to people in a different way by delivering support in a range of additional community venues such as Job Centres, Adult Education and other community centres. We are working with our Thriving Communities approach to develop different ways of working. We are listening to local people to understand their needs and make the best use of our resources to provide better services and opportunities for residents.

The role we play is vital. It should not be underestimated how important it is to help break down barriers and provide support that can build confidence as well as skills; that unlocks potential and helps prevent people, including the more vulnerable and isolated, from becoming disadvantaged due to a lack of digital access and know-how.

chesterfield library
Chesterfield Public Library

When people are digitally excluded they often find themselves socially and financially excluded too: public libraries can be a gateway to other areas of assistance. Our partnership working with other specialist advice and information partners in Derbyshire communities enables us to refer and signpost to further appropriate support for individuals, which some people may struggle to access on their own. For example, debt or benefits advice, help with mental health issues, adult education information and careers advice.

In these different situations, we are not only connecting people digitally, we are also connecting them to the very real people, services and spaces within their community. Connected support and an holistic approach is key when dealing with such life critical areas, ensuring that people are able to make positive changes for themselves going forward.

This ethos is shared by the Online Centres Network. Supported by the Good Things Foundation, a social change charity, Online Centres can be found across the country, and many are public libraries. Their vision is a world where everyone benefits from digital. I attended the Good Things Foundation Digital Evolution event in November: jam-packed full of ideas and examples of good practice, it was a refreshing and inspirational day.

By the time you read this 2020 will be well under way. For those of us working to support digital inclusion, in Derbyshire Libraries and beyond, the New Year will bring with it continued endeavours to help and encourage people to try new things. For example, setting up and learning how to use email, or downloading eMagazines or eBooks onto a new tablet via Derbyshire Libraries’ free eLending service. Whatever it is, I know that we all share the same New Year’s resolution – to continue to recognise the importance of digital inclusion and provide opportunities for people to become confident, skilled and independent users of digital, as well as providing connected support and helping people to make a real, positive and lasting difference to their own lives.

Wendy Kurcewicz

Senior Librarian, Digital Inclusion

Derbyshire County Council Libraries

Derbyshire County Council Thriving Communities:

Good Things Foundation:

#VoteLibraries this December

A campaign, led by CILIP, the library and information association, is calling on politicians to put local communities at the heart of their election campaigns. The #VoteLibraries campaign enables members of the public to pledge their support for their local library services and put pressure on the candidates in their area to commit to sustainable, long term investment for local library services.

At, library supporters across the UK can sign the pledge to #VoteLibraries, download social media elements, posters and campaign materials to use in their local area, and email their local candidates to encourage them to show their support.

Start 2020 with MmIT: #DigitalInclusion

Each January MmIT runs an afternoon event on a topic of broad interest to LIS professionals, which incorporates our brief AGM from the previous calendar year. We’re beginning 2020 by considering #DigitalInclusion – looking at this from various angles. The full programme will be available shortly.

  • Where: Cilip HQ, 7 Ridgmount Street, London WC1E 7AE.
  • When: Thursday 9th January from 13:00-16:30.

Please book via the Cilip website. There is a small fee to attend the four talks which form the event, but any MmIT / Cilip member is welcome to attend the AGM at no cost.


How we used a digital zombie apocalypse to teach students about the Library

Read how the University of Sussex Library used the open source Twine tool to develop a different approach to library induction

MmIT Committee member @AntonyGroves describes using Twine to create a Zombie Apocalypse-themed online game to introduce students to the University of Sussex Library:

So far this academic year has been one of playful learning. Colleagues in the Library have already run Open Access escape rooms for #OAWeek, used Lego in teaching, and organised a brilliant Stranger Things inspired quest as part of #LibrariesWeek. This post, however, will focus on an online game created for Welcome Week to introduce new students to the Library; one where players had to choose their own adventure and successfully navigate our services to survive a zombie apocalypse

The game was made using Twine, an open source tool introduced to us by the Technology Enhanced Learning team. Following their training and working through the four stages listed below we were able to increase the reach and variety of our induction programme by creating a simple interactive game that can be completed in five minutes and took less than three hours to build. So if you can make some time for fun and games this Halloween, try it yourself.

1.      Writing

Reinforcing our induction message, the goal was to create a game that introduced students to the resources, support and space available to them at the Library. To achieve this, three successive scenarios were written for the game each presenting the player with three choices. Including an opening and closing scene this meant writing 14 passages of text that varied from 25-150 words in length. For example, the first scenario was as follows (with the successful answer leading to the next passage):

First scenario with three options

2.      Production

On the Twine wiki you will find an official Twine 2 guide (Twine 2 is the current version) which provides guidance on using the tool. As this gives detailed instructions on creating your first story only a simple overview will be included here. Twine games are essentially a series of webpages, each containing a passage of text, which are linked together by the different possible choices a player can make. For the maker of the game, these passages are added to a canvas where the route through the story can be visualised and passages edited:

Section of canvas containing Twine story with links between different passages

3.      Special Effects

As the game consists of webpages, each page/passage/scenario can be edited using HTML. CSS can also be applied across the whole game to customise by editing the story stylesheet. The example below shows how the link text was changed to white when a player hovers over a particular option. This created a monochrome colour combination that was both accessible and atmospheric:

Section of story stylesheet

Photos of the Library were added to each passage using appropriate HTML <img>, <alt> and <class> tags. The photos were edited using a basic Android app to give them a frame and filter suited to the monochromatic theme:

Section of passage with HTML

4.      Distribution

The game was published online using which at the time was the recommended platform for Twine hosting but has since become a read-only site where new games can’t be added. There are a number of alternatives on the Twine Wiki though. Once published a link to the game was added to the Library homepage for Welcome Week. This offered an alternative to our tours and provided a valuable online component to our inductions. Colleagues have also used it in subsequent lectures to introduce students to key Library services in an engaging way. 

With such a wide application it has certainly been worth the small time investment in creating. does not provide analytics on usage so feedback, although positive, has been anecdotal. For those still unconvinced, it can be used for more than games: I know a developer who uses Twine to create wireframes that better reflect possible user journeys through a site. So don’t be scared, try it out this Halloween! 

Open Access Week 2019 #OAWeek

MmIT share recent links and resources on the topic of Open Access this #OAWeek (all are openly accessible).

Open Access Week is a global event which provides the research community with an opportunity to learn about the potential benefits of Open Access, to share what they’ve learned with colleagues, and to help inspire wider participation. The theme of #OAWeek 2019, which runs from October 21-27, is Open for Whom? Equity in Open Knowledge.

We shared a number of useful links on this blog in 2018, and have identified some additional links from this past year; these are all openly accessible:

Open Access Week 2019