Tabling Library Carpentry: talking data skills at #CILIPConf19

In advance of next week’s CILIP Conference, the purpose of this short post is to highlight a session that Jez Cope from the British Library will be delivering on the Thursday morning (with a little help from myself). The title of the session is Library Carpentry: software and data skills for library and information professionals, and may be of interest to MmIT members.  

For those familiar with the Library Carpentry moniker but less so with what it involves, Jez explains as follows:

Library Carpentry develops lessons and teaches workshops for and with people working in library and information-related roles. Their goal is to create an on-ramp to empower this community to use software and data in their own work as well as be advocates for, and train others in, efficient, effective and reproducible data and software practices.

This has been exactly my experience of engaging with the Library Carpentry Community, from learning about software skills through to using, sharing and teaching them (which I’ll speak about briefly in the session).  As my colleague Clare has written, the information profession needs Library Carpentry; the skills that it fosters can benefit us and those we support, it’s win-win.

However, like any emerging area of work, understanding the context and being able to decipher any mysterious new language makes it much easier to engage. Thankfully Jez’s introductory session should address both of these potential barriers, and you won’t even need a laptop! As he states in the programme:

This session gives an overview of the history and goals of the Library Carpentry initiative, followed by a little taster of their lessons and teaching style with a jargon-busting exercise.

So come along on Thursday 4th July to learn more, hopefully it will dovetail nicely with whatever else you have planned for the conference.

Written by guest writer Antony Groves (@AntonyGroves)

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How Libraries can support Digital Humanities: reflections on #GaleDHDay

By Antony Groves (Learning and Teaching Librarian at the University of Sussex) @AntonyGroves

At the beginning of May, Gale organised their first Digital Humanities Day at the British Library. The event brought together a diverse range of speakers from around the world who spoke about different aspects of Digital Humanities (DH) scholarship; from infrastructure through to research and teaching. This post will draw out three themes from the day in an effort to better understand how we can support this growing area of work:

  1. Collaboration in DH research is key and libraries can play a role within these collaborations. 
  2. There are many different datasets, techniques and tools being used yet a common approach we can take to developing training.
  3. We should work on our own data projects if we wish to really understand what is needed to support the academic community.

Collaboration in DH research is key and libraries can play a role within these collaborations.

In the afternoon session, Dr Sarah Ketchley stressed that “Digital Humanities projects are inherently a collaborative undertaking” and the earlier presentations of Professors Mark Algee-Hewitt and Joris Van Eijnatten highlighted this. The work done by Prof Algee-Hewitt and others at the Stanford Literary Lab has involved a number of ‘distant reading’ projects where participants have used a variety of computational techniques to analyse large collections of digital texts. Looking at grammar and language respectively, Prof Algee-Hewitt’s research involved digital novels whereas Prof Van Eijnatten focused on newspapers using The Times Digital Archive; both resources that libraries can provide.

Throughout the day, flags such as these indicated potential roles for libraries in DH collaborations. For example, Dr Julianne Nyhan reflected on infrastructure and the challenges to researchers of obtaining data in a format that can be ‘mined’ – in one case having to obtain a hard drive from a provider. This is somewhere librarians can help and Lisa Mcintosh, Director of Access Services at the University of Sydney Library, shared an impressive list of services offered by their library in support of digital research:

  • Provide content for text and data mining
  • License permission and copyright support
  • Recommending tools and TDM (Text and Data Mining) resources
  • Integrating text mining into Information Literacy classes in the Humanities
  • Assisting humanities teaching staff to integrate text mining in the classroom
  • Getting started with data visualisation training • Data analysis and visualisation guide

There are many different datasets, techniques and tools being used yet a common approach we can take to developing training.

For those wondering which students this area of scholarship might appeal to; the answer is all of them. In an inspiring talk about introducing DH in the Undergraduate Classroom, Dr Sarah Ketchley showed that her 2018 ‘Introduction to Digital Humanities’ module was full, with 35 students from 21 different departments across campus. Not only is this type of scholarship appealing to students but it is also invaluable to them. For one reason, as explained by Dr Melodee Beals, “evidence is merely data with a direction”. If we want students to critically engage with evidence-based research, helping them to analyse the underlying data is of great importance.

The tools that students use in Dr Ketchley’s class have included OpenRefine, Voyant Tools and more recently the Gale Digital Scholar Lab – a cloud based platform containing a range of software that can be used with Gale databases to which the institution subscribes. This cloud based approach avoided issues encountered by previous cohorts where a whole lesson had to be dedicated to downloading and installing the required programs. Dr. Tomoji Tabata also introduced an open source tool called Stylo to be used for ‘rolling stylometry’, a technique to detect stylistic changes in passages of text.

Throughout the day, reference was made to many different techniques (e.g. topic modelling, named entity recognition, sentiment analysis); tools (e.g. Gephi, Google Fusion Tables, MALLET); and data sources (e.g. TROVE, Hathitrust, Gale Historical Newspapers). With so much out there, it can be hard to know how best to start providing support. Thankfully, Associate Professor Ryan Cordell brought clarity to this undertaking by proposing four steps to teaching humanities data analysis:

  • Start with creativity 
  • Teach using domain specific data 
  • Foreground corpus over method
  • Foreground mind-set over method (‘programmatic’ thinking more important that programming’)

We take a similar approach to developing our Information Literacy training sessions and find that it works well. In the short amount of time that we often get to see students in workshop, making the content of the session as relevant to a given cohort as possible increases engagement. In addition, focusing on how to approach searching (as opposed to how to use a particular tool) means that they can apply this learning to a range of tools that they may encounter not just the one or two included in the session.

“Work on your own data projects to understand what is really needed to support your academic community”.

This is a direct quote from the final presentation by Lisa Mcintosh, which was the perfect way to finish the day. While listening to the research presented throughout the day was fascinating and certainly highlighted areas where we can support this scholarship, managing our own data projects and facing the same barriers that our researchers encounter is what will really help us to understand the support that is most needed.

This may sound daunting but hopefully this post has shared at least a few resources that can be explored further, and take encouragement from Prof Van Eijnatten who asserted that “if I can write a few lines of code anyone can”.

MmIT bursary for Cilip Conference 2019 #CilipConf19

 

The CILIP Conference takes place in Manchester from 3-4 July. It’s the annual flagship event for CILIP, the library and information association and one of the biggest events in the calendar for UK library and information professionals. The conference brings together delegates from across the sector to meet, learn and share knowledge. It’s a great chance to catch up with colleagues and make new connections. The conference aims to leave you feeling inspired and passionate about the work that we do as professionals.

MmIT are delighted to be able to offer a bursary place. If you haven’t attended the CILIP conference before, this is a great opportunity to listen to the excellent key note speakers and to network. To apply, please email treasurer.mmit@cilip.org.uk by end of day Friday 19th April 2019. Please tell us who you are, where you work/study, and provide us with a draft blog post about your favourite technology (between 400-1,000 words). We will confirm who the bursary will be awarded to by end of day Friday 3rd May 2019, and subsequently publish the winning blog post (we appreciate that the application time is limited so we will give the winner the opportunity to edit the final version of their blog post during the month of May).

Travel expenses are not provided with the bursary place but accommodation is included. This bursary place includes access to both days of the conference, lunch, refreshments and all sessions. We would expect the bursary winner to proactively promote both the conference and MmIT before, during and after the conference using social media.

To keep up to date on conference developments, follow @CILIPConf19 and #CILIPConf19 and visit the website cilipconference.org.uk.

You can also register for the conference. Don’t worry – if you receive a bursary place, CILIP will refund you. You can still book delegate places at the Early Bird discount until 17th May 2019.

Art library problems, tech solutions

We are delighted to introduce another guest post, this time from one of the MmIT committee. Rowan Williamson is Learning Resources Manager at Central Saint Martins, University of the Arts London.

I have worked in Art libraries for many years and I always think nothing else our students do will surprise me…and then it does.

That’s what makes it so interesting. ‘Studio’ and workshop activities often creep into the library, and whilst they are often fascinating and are being done hand in hand with more traditional research, they can present a whole range of challenges in terms of health and safety, mess and damage to furniture and environment. Some are a straightforward headache to keep up with the cleaning but it struck me recently that as art librarians we have to be just as creative as our creative students in dealing with the after effects of these activities.

Some Universities are introducing full blown ‘maker spaces’ but that’s not always an option, so if you are stuck with a library moonlighting as an art studio think about the following tips:

  1. Dress makers dolls in the library, bit of stitching and sewing? Unusual but Mannequin, desks and shares in a pop-up maker space in a librarywhere’s the harm? It’s in the dropped tin of pins that are strewn across half the floor. Top tip for an efficient clear up? Get your magnetic DVD unlockers and wave them over to suck them all up!
  2. Hot glue spilt on your tables? You need an iron. Every library should have one! Just add a tea towel and you have a dried glue removal kit.
  3. Spray booths. Spray painting in the library is not what you want because of the toxicity, and it’s fairly likely the smell will alert staff to what’s going on so you can prevent it. However some sprays are only problematic because of the mess, and you may only find out they are being used when you find spray mount all over your tables (yes, glue again!) So a cheap solution you might want to consider, is buying a spray booth. They don’t take up much space (a table top) and can be placed somewhere visible for monitoring, and they might just discourage those secret sprayers from hiding in the back destroying your carpets!
  4. Light tables – Light boxes and tables are very popular with students. Some use it for drawing and tracing as you would expect but I have seen a whole load of activities on there, building models, stringing beads, painting and even using scalpels. Use acetates and clear plastic coatings to prevent the worst. Failing that, take the bulbs out and ‘issue; them to their library account for accountability! (Note; not always that easy depending on the make, your staff time and expertise!
  5. Flip top tables. A simple, flexible space saving solution you would think. But potentially a major health hazard in an art library where I found our fashion students parading up and down on them doing ‘catwalk’ practice! Avoid trouble, don’t buy them. If you need flexible space go for the study chairs with flip side tables, or keep unattached table tops to lay on the floor for them to spread out work!
  6. Are your massive Art books damaging the photocopiers? Are they suffering broken spines from being crammed down on to the glass multiple times daily? Try investing in a professional book scanner that scans from above. Zetech offer a range. They are not cheap but you might save the difference in binding costs!
  7. It may seem obvious but a really powerful little hand held hoover is a must Scraps of paper scattered around a photocopier with the paper drawers openif you have regular wood shavings on your floor. No wood shavings? Bet you have bits of cut up paper. Look out for powerful suction, wall mounted and rechargeable with different nozzles for those art materials you never even heard of before that are littering your floors and getting inside the printers!
  8. Shelfmark challenges. Got someone good with tech/programming/apps? How about you try an Augmented Reality App to create a virtual map of your library shelf locations. Art students browse, and many struggle with classification systems. Dyslexia rates are higher in art school populations, and many students are visual learners. Ditch the classmarks and create an app that pops up images of the subject areas as you point them at the shelves. For a lower tech solution you can use QR codes.
  9. Buy a good camera and get on Instagram. It’s the perennial problem for librarians, which social media platform are the students on, and will they still be there by the time we catch up? Well maybe will always be behind the curve but we prioritise Instagram and a well-chosen image over the pithy 140 characters!
  10. Have a good supply of noise cancelling headphones. And earplugs! Artists are digital too.

Got any more tips? Share them in the comments below!

Rowan Williamson

Essential tools and technologies for the library and information professional Webinar- 12 February 2-3pm

We are proud to announce our latest webinar ‘Essential tools and technologies for the library and information professional’

Register for your free place here: https://bit.ly/2FUpSdU

webinar image

What tools and technologies should you be using as a librarian or information professional in 2019? Join the CILIP special interest group MmIT as we host our popular yearly webinar to discuss and shortlist the most relevant tools you can employ as part of your work right now. Webinar Chair Andy Tattersall is joined by three experts to look at tools and technologies new and old as well as answer any questions you may have.

Join the webinar here: https://sheffield.adobeconnect.com/mmit

You can ask questions in advance via the Twitter hashtag #AskMmIT19 – Tweet us directly on @MultiMediaIT

Panelists

Mike Ewan – Teaching Enhancement Advisor at the University of Hull @mike_ewen

Claire Beecroft – University Teacher at the University of Sheffield @beakybeecroft

Luke Burton – Digital Development Manager at Newcastle City Council @biblioluke

Andy Tattersall – Information Specialist at the University of Sheffield @Andy_Tattersall

Joining Details

Join the live session by clicking the link below:

https://sheffield.adobeconnect.com/mmit

The session takes place in an Adobe Connect webinar – headphones and a microphone are advisable, but the microphone is not essential. You can also join using a tablet or smartphone with the Adobe Connect mobile app.

We look forward to meeting you online soon! If you have trouble joining and the guidance below doesn’t help contact us at scharr-tel@sheffield.ac.uk

Troubleshooting:

If you have never attended an Adobe Connect session, a quick start guide can be found at: http://www.adobe.com/content/dam/Adobe/en/products/adobeconnect/pdfs/VQS_Guide_for_Participants.pdf

Adobe Connect provides an online connection test for troubleshooting connection problems. This tests the four key components for a successful Adobe Connect experience:

  • Flash Player version
  • Network connectivity to the Adobe Connect Server
  • Available bandwidth
  • Acrobat Connect Meeting Add-in version

You can access this test at the following URL:

https://admin.acrobat.com/common/help/en/support/meeting_test.htm