EBSLG Cologne 2010 – Day 1

The European Business School Librarians’ Group (EBSLG) is made up of senior librarians from the top business schools in Europe and its annual conference began today in Cologne (although the weather’s not quite as great as in the pic below).  My twitter followers will remember that I was concerned I might not get here due to ash cloud shenanigans, but thankfully it blew off into the North Sea and I flew out yesterday with no hitches.

To be honest I was more concerned about missing out on the networking opportunities that the conference provides than the programme itself and thus far I’ve not been disappointed as we’ve begun to catch up with what we’ve each been up to since we last met. A very helpful ‘Year in Review’ document is published just before each conference to which we all contribute and this gives a rundown of news and activities in each of our libraries. Unsurprisingly (and comfortingly) this document tends to reveal that we’re all grappling with the same problems and seeking to institute many of the same initiatives and projects so talking to each other at length makes a lot of sense. This year everyone seems to creating online tutorials, engaging with Web 2.0 (particularly blogs, RSS, Library Twitter accounts and creation of Delicious collections of open web resources), dealing with physical library space moves and changes and exploring issues around repositories and open access.

The venue for the first day and the delegate hotel is the Kolpinghaus in Koln’s boutique shops district. A perfectly pleasant hotel that unfortunately has a bizarre obsession with religious iconography and, in particular, crucifixes. There’s one in every single room staring down at you. Thankfully mine (see left) is rather utilitarian and abstract so I’m ignoring it easily.

The first two presentations this morning focused on library services in Germany. First up Dr Peter Kostadt gave us an entertaining guided tour of the University of Cologne’s OPAC 2.0 which provides unified access to library resources. The presentation included lots of interesting facts and figures relating to: usage of types of resource (ejournals being more popular than databases which are in turn more popular than ebooks); slow take-up of mobile technology due to costs for students; the popularity of online chat with library staff and their ‘Ask Albot’ service. The very clean looking OPAC 2.0 can be viewed here: http://www.ub.uni-koeln.de/ and was judged favourably by EBSLG participants. Matthias Loesch from the University of Bielefield was next up. I was initially put off his presentation due to talk of ‘meta-harvesting’ and some too frequently repeated statements about students just wanting to use Google and that search engines aren’t indexed, however, it picked up when he got on to his reason for being there – to talk about BASE – a multidisciplinary search engine for scientific open access documents. BASE can be viewed here: http://www.base-search.com/

Thereafter there was a presentation from Claudia Spengemann of EBSCO on their Discovery service. By all accounts Summon is doing much better than Discovery at the moment, but Claudia certainly knew what she was talking about and made a convincing argument for purchase even though most customers are currently just trialling it. You can find out about Discovery here: http://www.ebscohost.com/discovery/ Gale Cengage were next up and after covering the usual company history stuff (which I always wish every supplier would cut) they presented the results of a survey that had gathered information  through in-depth interviews on the way students searched and what sort of information they wanted. I’m hoping to get my hands on their full findings as this was in many ways the most interesting content of the morning.

After lunch at which they seemed to be serving Findus Crispy Pancakes (chicken and cheese not the sloppy horrible mince that I feared) it was time to visit the supplier stalls (which were in a room which the previous evening had housed a beerfest type event with lots of German men in good voice – I hadn’t gone in but vividly imagined something akin to ‘that’ scene in The Odessa File). Quite honestly Capital IQ I should be on commission for the lovely things I said about you and your database in there today. Perhaps we can have it for free next year? Yes? Great. Useful catch-ups as usual with Sibylle of Euromonitor and Laura of Research for Libraries and a request for info from Bill of Emerald as I currently need more evidence to convince my faculty of the value of the product.

The last business of the day was the Bazaar of Ideas for which four plucky volunteers (including yours truly) presented on a project they were engaged in. I showcased the Cam23 web 2.0 programme which start next Monday. Due to the format of the session I ended up presenting four times to groups of 4-8 people. This actually worked rather well and they responded to what I had to say and the objectives of the programme very favourably, indeed, many EBSLGers have said they will follow the programme even though they won’t be eligible for the certificate or voucher. My presentation slides are now available on SlideShare.

The evening gala dinner at the Wolkenburg was great – especially due to the company – until I had the misfortune, towards the end of the main course, to get the start of a lovely proper geometric shapes migraine which forced me to leave rather suddenly and return to the hotel by taxi. Thankfully its since evaporated. I certainly didn’t expect to be blogging about Day 1 this evening.

Today’s programme has had an interesting added dimension as it saw me tweet during a conference for the first time. I’ll blog about the positives and negatives of that in a separate post I think as I have lots to say. Tomorrow no web as we’re not here in Hotel Crucifix – so no tweets and no chance to feverishly check my email regularly like the work-obssessed freak I am. How will I survive?

Gute Nacht


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