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


Latest issue of MmIT journal now online


Cover image: © Theodor38 | Dreamstime Stock Photos

MmIT group members and journal subscribers can now read the latest issue of our journal.


MmIT Journal May 2014

Contents include:

News: MmIT Group’s annual conference ‘Sight and Sound’ (11-12 September 2014, Sheffield)

· Free images of New Zealand, online audio stories from the Indianapolis Motor Speedway

BFI News:

· The Werner Herzog Collection

· Alain Robbe-Grillet. Six Films 1963-1974

· The Driving Force, from the BFI’s British Transport Films Collection

· Reviews:

· Product review: Plustek SmartOffice SC8016U Scanner

· Product review: Impactology Impact Trio for iPhone 5


· GPS & wearable devices

· Making audio engaging

· Effective e-moderation

· Design of digital libraries

· BoB – national TV and radio recording service

· Jisc’s summer of student innovation in FE and HE


· Snap together modular smartphones, Project Ara

· WiFi in the sky

· Securing your mobile world
– See more at:

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.

The story so far: Google+

June 28th 2011 was a big day in search engine & social media land, seeing the  launch of Google+ (pronounced ‘Googleplus’ or ‘Googleplussed’?). Well, ‘launch’ is perhaps the wrong word, with only a small amount of early testers having access to it; the general launch date apparently “won’t  be long” ( Essentially, Google+ may be seen the introduction of social networking elements with the ubiquitous Google search interface…why use a search engine and a social networking site when you can do both at the same time? Google+ allows users to log into the Google environment and personalise it as usual, with the addition of a live and customisable newsfeed stream called ‘Sparks’ and a way of putting contacts into groups for social networking known as ‘Circles’. ‘Hangouts’ allow a small group of contacts (10) to link up for a webcast session, and a ‘Mobile’ element most notably allows group instant messaging chats. For a fuller description of features, check out the official Google blog at

Overall, the jury is currently split. Clearly Google is trying to take on Facebook with this venture, with the aim of drawing all users into one information finding & sharing tool. This is not lost on a great many commentators (cf. xkcd’s rather amusing strip), and it’s true that most people are focusing on the looming assault on Facebook. With high-profile failures in the form of Google Buzz and Google Wave, Google really need to do well with this product, though the project is not an off-the-cuff venture and has been in development for some time (cf. this very positive review from Wired). But it seems to be trying to do more…certainly one can see the appeal of having a tool which makes it easy to search and share, and addition of web-conferencing and mobile tools is a powerful incentive to try it. There are downsides with the current version (read Phil Bradley’s blog posting, which highlights the confusion about the ‘+1’ function for web-links which doesn’t seem to act like a ‘like’ button on Facebook), but it’s too early to really tell what will happen. Perhaps the big question many will keep asking is ‘Would it replace Facebook?’, though (speaking personally) this author of this posting would be tempted to try it in a workplace setting before deciding whether or not to shift lock/stock to Google+. Certainly this has the potential to be far more than ‘just  another social networking tool’.

Will you be planning to use Google+? Join the debate below!


February issue of Multimedia Information & Technology journal now online

Just to let you know that the February issue of Multimedia Information & Technology journal – vol 37 no 1 – is now available online via the CILIP site.

Special focus on international developments

  • Using Skype for information literacy in Canada
  • Elearning in Nigeria and Saudi Arabia
  • eLectures in Australian higher education
  • 3-country digital library masters programme


  • Bodleian website that complements physical exhibition
  • Image management for librarians
  • Overcoming digital format obsolescence
  • Information literacy for PhD students


  • Book review: The Future of Archives & Recordkeeping
  • Product review: Audio Notetaker
  • Product review: Trulink wireless


  • News
  • Cartoon
  • Tech round-up
  • 2010 index

Book review – Practical Open Source Software for Libraries

Practical Open Source Software for Libraries book cover
Practical Open Source Software for Libraries by Nicole C. Engard

The profile of open source software (OSS) in the library world, if not the use, has risen exponentially over the last 12 months so it’s great to see a book about open source solutions aimed specifically at libraries. Practical Open Source Software for Libraries by Nicole Engard, is both an extensive (and, yes, practical) introduction to OSS and a whole raft of case studies for those looking to learn more.

The case study interviews with people using open source in libraries around the world covers everything from day-to-day, web access and applications, media, collections, research tools, and automation software. And for those new to open source, there’s both an introduction and an overview of common barriers faced, both real and imagined.

Defining open source is no mean feat (as the recent controversy around Google’s use of the term demonstrates) and ​​​​Engard provides a great,​​​​ condensed version of the philosophy behind it​​​​​​​​. The rest of the book consists of the​​​​ case studies Q&As; ample ammunition​​​​​​​​​ for those looking to make a case for open source in their workplace. ​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​ It also demonstrates the various ways libraries and librarians can get involved, beyond contributing code.

The bigger OSS names are all here; Firefox, Open Office, Dspace, Koha and Evergreen. But the case studies are a great way to find out about some of the lesser known options. For example, there’s Libstats for data gathering and LimeSurvey open source survey software. SubjectsPlus also looks interesting, a tool for creating online subject guides. LibX is also an impressive project that sometimes gets overlooked in these discussions.

There’s a nice balance of libraries who have made a conscious choice to use Open Source Software and those who have used it where viable alongside proprietary systems. It’s a shame the book doesn’t explore the common misconceptions about open source software in more depth. Barriers such as security concerns and a lack of awareness are still there but increasing financial pressures on libraries are going some way to force a rethink.

Practical Open Source Software for Libraries doesn’t go into the depths required to fully explore open source today, but it’s a good introduction and analysis from a librarian perspective and a great guide for those looking to use or develop open source solutions in their libraries and information services. There’s also​​​​​ a​​​​​​​​​ companion website with up-to-date links and facts available at: