BLA Liverpool 2010 – Day 2 (Part 1)

Day Two of BLA 2010 began with a presentation from Stephane Goldstein of the Research Information Network (RIN). Stephane intended to explore to what extent researchers are equipped to handle information and data? As part of this approach he re-examined the findings of the 2008 Mind the Skills Gap report and the implications it had for librarians and their support of researchers. Other key points included:
– The absence of training co-ordination for researchers at institutional level
– Research supervisors acting as an important link between the library and researchers
– RIN is keen to engage with all those who have an interest in promoting research information skills

Stephane finished his presentation by discussing the forthcoming publication of a Research Development Framework (RDF) publication later this month – which will appear on the Vitae website.

The first members sharing session of the day was delivered by Mark Greenwood of Manchester Business School who showcased their impressive Manchester business answers 24/7 which allows students to search for assistance on frequently asked questions and receive guidance on what resources and services to go to and how to use them. The product really fired the enthusiasm of those present and led me to discuss with @ekcragg (pictured tweeting away – right) about the possibility of heading up a BLA-wide project along the very same lines for all member institutions, so that every librarian present wouldn’t end up going back to base to reinvent the same wheel independently. We shall see how we get on, but we have the beginnings of a project team and a tentatively named ‘BLA Knowledge Base’. 

The final sharing session was presented by Avtar Natt of BPP business school who asked if we really needed all the subscription resources we have and during the session challenged himself to find answers to queries from students on the open web. Although I remain unconvinced that free resources can come anywhere close to meeting our needs it was surprising to note how much he did retrieve. I have made a particular note to search the investor relations pages of company websites.

Mary Betts-Gray (above) of Cranfield School of Management, who is always worth listening to, presented the next session, entitled ‘From Crisis to CRIS: supporting the research assessment agenda’. Mary discussed the slow growth of the Cranfield repository, known as CERES, due to lack of support by researchers: “we built it but they didn’t come”. This was partly because researchers couldn’t see the point of adding to their own workload, but also due to their concern that submission might unduly affect their chances of publication in academic journals. Mary recounted how the repository has been rebranded as a ‘research tool’ and that CRIS – Cranfield Research Information System (which will enable inter-operation between internal information systems) is being used to ensure researchers are engaged with the repository in terms of their workflow. 

After this briefing, delegates were divided into different groups to discuss issues relating to open access and repositories. Some of the most interesting observations arising from this discussion were as follows: researchers work in shockingly random ways; research management needs champions from within University executives – Vice Chancellors in particular need to be on side; technologically we’re ready for this shift in activity and approach, but culturally we’re not; we as librarians need to build relationships with researchers based on openness and trust – and we need to get out of our libraries and go and talk to them in order to ensure their engagement; repository content is still a logistical nightmare; we need to make repositories Google Scholar compatible to make hits soar; don’t go to academics with specific questions about repositories and open access as they won’t want to answer them – demonstrate leadership as the librarian; and if a repository is used it shows value of research which can justify funding for the library or for new research.

[End of Part 1]


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