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! 

What’s next in digital technologies? Horizon scanning reports from @Jisc

On the MmIT Committee we like to watch out for reports on trends in all things digital.  Although the Jisc work on Horizon scanning: what’s next in digital technologies has been developed in the context of support for higher and further education, we feel that it contains useful insights for information professionals in all sectors.

Jisc took an in-depth look at some of the major trends in digital technology, in a project that ended on 31 October 2018.  The horizon scan activity aimed to inform Jisc’s own strategy development, leading to new R&D projects and potential future services and solutions, as well as helping digital leaders in universities and colleges plan and implement their own IT strategies.

The key topic areas are listed below and the Jisc webpage links to a report on each topic:

Further reading:


Creating, producing and marketing a podcast for information professionals: a complete idiots guide

The success of Jo Wood’s podcast inspired the Sound and Vision theme of the latest MmIT Journal. So it gives me great pleasure to introduce it as a featured article on our blog. It has also got relevance to our next theme which will explore technology, diversity and professional development. Give it a listen and be inspired by the stories that people tell her. Continue reading “Creating, producing and marketing a podcast for information professionals: a complete idiots guide”

Essential tools and technologies for the library and information professional Webinar – 15th February 2-3pm

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

Register your free place here

https_cdn.evbuc.comimages38699659289349496911originalWhat tools and technologies should you be using as a librarian or information professional in 2018? Join the CILIP special interest group MmIT as we host our yearly webinar to discuss and shortlist the most relevant tools you can employ as part of your work right now. Webinar Chair Leo Appleton is joined by three fellow members of the Multimedia and Information Technology Committee to look at tools and technologies new and old as well as answer any questions you may have.

Join the webinar here:

You can ask questions in advance via the Twitter hashtag #AskMmIT18 – Tweet us directly on @MultiMediaIT or by going to TodaysMeet Room

Our panelists for the webinar are:
Luke Burton – Digital Transformation Manager at Newcastle City Council

Luke Burton completed his MA in Library and Information Management in 2008 and became a Library and Information Officer with Newcastle Libraries in 2010 as part of their Information and Digital team. He became manager of the Business & IP Centre Newcastle in 2013 and was responsible for co-ordinating and contributing to intellectual property support, business information and business support to small businesses in the North-East. In late 2014 Luke became the Digital Transformation Manager for the Community Hubs, Libraries and Parks within Newcastle City Council where he leads on transformation, development and implementation of digital services within libraries and customer services. In April 2017 he was appointed as the Digital Delivery Manager for the Community Hubs, Libraries and Parks within Newcastle City Council. Luke is particularly interested in copyright, open data, new technologies and culture change within organisations.

Luke tweets as @biblioluke

Virginia Power – Graduate Tutor/PhD researcher at the University of the West of England

Virginia Power is Graduate Tutor/PhD researcher at the University of the West of England. Virginia has over 40 years’ library and information services management experience within educational and cultural heritage sectors. She lectures in Information Management and Science and is also a PhD student in the field of social knowledge management and digital resource curation. Virginia’s particular interest is in technology for learning and open education, specifically the use and re-use of Open Educational Resources (OER) and her PhD is focused on researching the role and impact of social knowledge and narrative in the use and re-use of OER. Virginia specialises in the development of staff digital skills within cultural heritage and corporate knowledge settings. She is also co-editor of eBooks in Libraries: a practical guide published by Facet Publishing.

Virginia tweets as @PowerVirg

Andy Tattersall – Information Specialist at The School of Health and Related Research at The University of Sheffield

Andy Tattersall is an Information Specialist at The School of Health and Related Research (ScHARR) and writes, teaches and gives talks about digital academia, technology, scholarly communications, open research, web and information science, apps altmetrics and social media. In particular, their application for research, teaching, learning, knowledge management and collaboration. Andy received a Senate Award from The University of Sheffield’ for his pioneering work on MOOCs in 2013 and is a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy. Andy is also Chair of the CILIP MmIT Committee. He has edited a book on Altmetrics for Facet Publishing which is aimed at researchers and librarians. Andy was named in the Jisc Top Ten Social Media Superstars for 2017.

Andy tweets as @Andy_Tattersall

Chair: Leo Appleton – Director of Library Services, Goldsmiths, University of London.

Leo Tweets as @leoappleton

Responding to social media and online questions

Alison McNab – Academic Librarian at the University of Huddersfield

Alison McNab is an Academic Librarian at the University of Huddersfield whose current focus is on supporting researchers at all stages of the research cycle. She has regularly pioneered the implementation of new technologies and resources, with a focus on their use to enhance service development and delivery, and for much of her career had a specialist focus on the marketing and exploitation of e-content. Her professional interests include accessibility and assistive technologies, current awareness and trend-watching, e-content, information literacy, mobile learning, scholarly communication, and the use of social media by libraries. She has contributed to the wider profession by writing, editing, speaking, and through membership of the management committees of MmIT, UKeiG and the UKSG.

Alison tweets as @AlisonMcNab

Joining Details

Join the live session by clicking the link below:

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


If you have never attended an Adobe Connect session, a quick start guide can be found at:

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:

Latest issue of MmIT journal now online

The August 2014 issue of our journal is now available to subscribers through the MmIT Journal Current Issues page on our CILIP website. You will need to log in to access this content.

MmIT Journal August 2014


Cover image: © Tale | – Concept For Inspiration

Contents include:

·        News: Outdoor digital bookshelf using QR codes

·        MMIT Group’s annual conference ‘Sight and Sound’ – keynote speakers

·        BFI News:

·        A Farewell to Arms

·        SciFi: The Changes

·        Reviews:

·        Product review: Kingsoft Office Suite Professional 2013

·        Book review: Web Metrics for Library and Information Professionals

·        Features:

·        Trends in elearning technologies worldwide

·        Elearning via videconference in schools

·        Elearning using online games

·        Museums: technology early adopters

·        Museums: digitisation

·        Creating digital stories in libraries

·        Managing data in higher education

·        Preview of Internet Librarian International conference 2014

·        TechRoundUp:

·        Kobo Arc 10 HD tablet

·        Bose QuietComfort headphones

·        BioLite CampStove

·        UP! Plus 2, a 3D printer

·        HaierPad tablets

August 2013 MmIT Journal

mmitaug13-cover-highresOur August issue is a bumper issue with two extra pages and instead of the usual one special focus we have three. Contents include:

  • Book reviews: Understanding Information & Computation; Data Points: Visualization that Means Something
  • Product review: Canon PowerShot SX50HS
  • Special focus: data security & Saas – identity & access management explained; secure access to university resources at Indiana University
  • Special focus: skills – jobs of the future combine creativity & technology; managers’ information-seeking behaviour in the NHS
  • Special focus: digitisation – addressing the digitisation divide; the Institution of Civil Engineers’ new online image library; EDINA’s Digimap – maps & geospatial data; 3D visualisations of Paris bring history alive
  • Features: preview of Internet Librarian International
  • TechRoundUp: Liberty University’s new robotic book retrieval system; Jollyfy: brighten up your videos; Microsoft Office – software goes online; iPads take over PCs in libraries

Coming up later in 2013

 November: Focus on elearning

The Story Behind the Elsevier Purchase of Mendeley – Interview with Co-founder Victor Henning

Anyone with an interest in technology, open access, altmetrics and education cannot have missed the recent news of publishing giant Elsevier acquiring the social reference management tool Mendeley for something in the region of $69 – $100 million according to TechCrunch.


I first came across Mendeley in early 2009 and was instantly struck by its genius, it was one of those ‘Web 2.0’ that just jumped out at you like Dropbox, Prezi and Google Docs. In my department we’d been teaching our postgraduate students Reference Manager for the last decade and it was a no-brainer to move them over to the free, flexible tool that allowed them to work anywhere (they were mostly international students), create networks and find interesting research all in one place for the cost of nothing – what’s not to like?


ScHARR Library- Recommended Website of the Month - Mendeley
I was so taken by Mendeley that I enrolled to be one of their first advisors and over the last few years have taught hundreds of our students, colleagues and external parties on the software. Despite never really using reference management software that much I knew that this was going to be big, and have enjoyed watching it’s development via the advisor forums, meet-ups online and even a trip to their London headquarters.


Mendeley didn’t just happen, it was created by three academics, Dr. Victor Henning, Jan Reichelt and Paul Föckler, all of whom had seen how academic knowledge was locked down in a Web 1.0 world and information sharing was often at the behest of large publishing companies. It came around the same time as other notable social reference tools such as CiteUlike, Connotea and Zotero. Mendeley like Zotero came in two flavours, with a downloadable interface, which allowed the user to access their papers and annotate them anywhere. This was one of the most popular functions and also the one which most irked the academic publishing community and the copyright officers. Nevertheless the company grew and grew thanks to a large community of advisors and financial investment. For advisors like me it felt only like a matter of time before a big fish would come and buy the company. The rumblings on the Web started a few months ago and were finally confirmed a week ago as Elsevier announced the purchase.


Since there has been an awful lot of chatter on the Web, with many articles written all trying to predict what this means for both companies and academic publishing as a whole. The news led the New Yorker to publish the article ‘When the Rebel Alliance Sells Out’, a piece documenting the major differences between the two companies in terms of their business models and ethos. The truth is that no one really knows what impact this will have on the open access and altmetrics movements just yet. In addition how it may impact digital copyright, as many saw Mendeley as not only the iTunes of Reference Management, but also the Napster. Certainly the iTunes model is a possibility as some have branded the idea of the application being used as a front end for researchers to purchase papers directly from Mendeley. Certainly, whatever happens Elsevier is in the business of making money so will have already got ideas on how they can utilise their new purchase to make a return, although some fear that Elsevier have just bought Mendeley to reign in the biggest threat to their empire with over 2 million users and over 100 million papers.


I had met co-founder Victor Henning at one of the Mendeley Advisor days and via various contacts on Twitter and have found him to be always willing to talk about the software and support advisor initiatives like my Minute Mendeley website. So with that in mind, I decided to contact Victor to ask if I could run a short interview to get the Mendeley side of the story, something I think all Mendeley users should hear before they make a rash decision to close their accounts as some advisors have done in protest. Now don’t get me wrong, I was concerned by this purchase as much as the next advisor, as like so many others had put great trust in supporting this tool and following the recent news that Google was shutting down their brilliant Google Reader tool was wary of other such mothballing of great applications. I was also concerned by a potential step backwards in the fight to make knowledge more accessible, on the Cloud and via publishers.


As I said earlier I think it is too early to decide on what the future holds, as with last week’s BBC Radio 4’s Material World show which featured interviews with Henning and ImpactStory’s Jason Priem the debate is finally starting to open up to a wider audience. The Mendeley purchase has brought the issue of academic publishing to a very big table. How Elsevier treat this or how other groups who share the Mendeley ethos will react nobody can say, but this feels like the end of one chapter and the start of another. Whether this chapter will be behind a paywall time will only tell.


Here is the transcript of the interview with Victor Henning – CEO and Co-Founder of – I’d like to thank Victor for taking the time to respond to my questions.


The article is published under a Creative Commons By Attribution Licence – please feel free to share and repost.

The Elsevier purchase has been on the horizon for a some time, what were the reasons for going with them?
You’re right – they had actually been supportive of us for a long time. First, by recommending users of their 2collab tool to migrate to Mendeley, then by sponsoring our Science Online London conferences which we organized together with Nature Publishing and the British Library, and then by being the first publisher to build an “altmetrics” app on our Open API.


Late last summer, we were introduced to Olivier Dumon, who had just left eBay to join Elsevier and lead their database and web businesses, like ScienceDirect and Scopus. Because he came from a tech background, we immediately hit it off – he understood our vision for Mendeley, of trying to build a platform that served researchers’ workflow needs. In fact, he had a similar vision for Elsevier’s web businesses!


So we started comparing our respective roadmaps and found that they were perfectly complementary. The one thing that’s always bugged me about Mendeley’s user experience is how hard it is for our users to get access to full-text content – even the content that their library has already paid for! Users discover metadata in Mendeley, but are then sent away via DOIs or OpenURLs. Elsevier knows a lot about authentication solutions and access entitlements, and we can use that to make content access easier.


Conversely, Elsevier felt they needed to understand their users better. They knew when one of their PDFs was downloaded from Scopus or ScienceDirect, but then lost track of it. Mendeley helps them get a better sense of research trends in the academic community on an anonymized, aggregate level – which lets them improve the content they publish. Also, our recommendation technology allows them to improve content discovery for Scopus and ScienceDirect users.


Olivier and us also began to imagine how we could improve Mendeley’s crowdsourced, and thus sometimes messy, data with the clean, structured data from Scopus. Scopus also has data which we don’t have: Citations, and 17 million user profiles generated from those citations. We can use that to build amazing new services, for example to alert you when one of your publications, or any of the documents in your Mendeley library, receives a new citation.


We would never have been able to realize these ideas as a simple partnership or side project – as a start-up, Mendeley had to focus on becoming profitable. However, as part of Elsevier, we need to worry less about monetizing every new feature, and can think about these long-term goals instead. That’s why both Elsevier and Mendeley felt that it made sense to go “all in”.


What do think the reaction has been from the Mendeley Community, in particular the strong network of Mendeley Advisors to the Elsevier purchase?
Understandably, there has been a lot of concern about what it means for Mendeley – will it still remain free? Will we continue to support collaboration and sharing? Will we maintain our Open API, and will be keep our data open under a Creative Commons CC-BY license? The answer to all of these questions is yes.


Fortunately, while our Mendeley Advisors voiced the same concerns and had a lot of questions, they generally continue to support us based on our track record of listening to our users closely. We promised to them that this wouldn’t change, and I think they will hold us accountable.


On Twitter and elsewhere, there have also been angry voices about why we would sell to Elsevier, or to a publisher in general. It wasn’t an easy decision, but as I explained earlier, one that we felt made sense for us and will ultimately benefit our users.


What are Elsevier’s plans, will the software or the pricing change much in the near future?
 As I outlined earlier, we are now in the fortunate position that we are under less pressure to monetize. We’ve already doubled our users’ cloud storage space for free and upgraded our Mendeley Advisors to free Team Accounts. We’re currently reviewing how we can make sharing and collaboration easier and more affordable.


Apart from that, the plan is to focus on integration between Mendeley, Scopus, and ScienceDirect. Ultimately, we’re aiming for single-sign-on, meaning you can use the same account on all three websites, which will make it easier to search for content directly within Mendeley, or save articles to Mendeley more easily.


Do the Mendeley Advisors still have a part to play in all of this?
Yes, absolutely. They’ve been great at teaching Mendeley to students and faculty on their campus, and we continue to rely on them to provide us with feedback from their campuses around the globe. Next week, we’ve actually scheduled three days of user testing session for new features at the Mendeley HQ.




Considering what Elsevier does and how it operates, do you think this purchase will help the Altmetrics and Open Access movements in the long term?
 I believe so. Elsevier already supports and provides data to ImpactStory, the popular altmetrics tool. Mendeley will keep offering altmetrics data via our API, and thanks to access to Scopus data, our data will be cleaner, richer, and more complete.


As for Open Access – while Elsevier is certainly not know as a big OA publisher yet, this is changing. They have doubled their number of OA journals last year and introduced additional hybrid options, and acquisitions like Mendeley will enable them to build new business models around OA.


Do you think the purchase will have opened the doors for similar applications in Altmetrics such as Figshare and Impact Story to reach a wider audience or will it make academics interested in this area a little more wary – considering how many feel about the publishing giants.
Yes, I think so. and Figshare are already owned by a major publisher – Macmillan/Nature – and when Elsevier starts to integrate Mendeley’s altmetrics data, it will be brought to a much wider audience. Elsevier has 10 million monthly users!
Do you think the purchase will help loosen very tight copyright laws that prevent the sharing of information, or at least the accessibility of academic content within the Cloud for individuals and their own access and groups?
In my mind, the laws are not necessarily the issue – they keep getting more permissive anyway, for example with the UK Hargreaves review. To me, it seems that we simply don’t have an easy solution to determining who should have access to which piece of content. The information about this – e.g. a user’s affiliation or multiple affiliations, the various holdings of the different libraries of a single university, authentication methods – is too decentralized. We hope that Mendeley can indeed make this easier and thereby increase the accessibility of content.


What will yours, Jan’s and Paul’s involvement be with Mendeley from now on?
We’re still in the same roles: Jan runs our day-to-day operations, Paul manages projects and interfaces between business requirements and technology, and I work on the strategy and product vision. Additionally, I will join the Elsevier strategy team as VP of Strategy.
Looking back 6 years ago, could you have ever imagined that Mendeley would be where it is today?
To be honest: Yes 🙂


We always hoped, and passionately believed, that this idea could turn into something big – and I think it’s fair to say that it has! Of course, it hasn’t always been a smooth ride, we’ve had many setbacks and catastrophes along the way. The friendship between Jan, Paul, and I played a big role in overcoming those challenges – we supported each other and kept believing in our idea.

Are you working on any other projects or are you planning to concentrate on your own research more again?
No – Mendeley is keeping me busy enough, and that won’t change for the foreseeable future!


Though my girlfriend Michelle just finished her diploma in nutrition, and I’ll help her get started with her own nutrition and health coaching projects. Can I plug her amazing food blog? It’s here: Of interest for academics, she also just published an article in Wired Magazine called “How to eat yourself smarter”:


Food for thought…
Dr. Victor Henning is the Co-Founder & CEO, Mendeley Ltd. @mendeley_com


Tattersall, A. (2011) References, Collections, Corrections and Mendeley. MmIT Journal, 37 (4) 11-12.

May issue of MmIT journal now available

Issue 38, no 2 of the MMIT journal is now available. MmIT group members can access the journal via the CILIP website.

Have you had a look at the journal yet? Log in with your usual Cilip website user name and password at or email if you need a reminder.

Our May issue includes features on:

  • MMIT National Conference
  • Marshall Breeding: the future of library IT
  • Use of YouTube in further education
  • Integrating LMS and elearning in schools
  • A wake up call required to stimulate publishing and learning
  • History of the MmIT journal: the first ten years
  • The changing role of library assistants
  • A glimpse into technology for library users in a New York public library
  • Archiving videogames
  • Reports from Consortia Conference and EDGE conference

Plus our usual book and product reviews, news, and tech round-up.