Let the Users Have Their Say: A week of informal feedback

This week we are going to gather informal feedback from users on finding information for assignments online. Each day we will be using a different tool and asking a different question but the questions will focus on the following:

After books what electronic/online resource do you go to first when you are looking for information for an assignment? What do you find the most annoying about finding information online, what do you find the most satisfying?

This is how the week will progress

Monday: Twitter Poll

Tuesday: PADLET

Wednesday: Facebook

Thursday: Face-to-Face recorded feedback

Friday: Qualtrics survey; Tweet your favourite place to study


Have you noticed something new in Summon?

You may have noticed a new image displayed next to some of your results displayed in Summon. These are Altmetric badge displays.

Altmetric badges display information about an article’s scholarly impact as expressed through online, social media and news mentions.  Here is an example of the Altmetric badge displaying within a Summon record:

The Altmetric badge displays for an article when 1) there is a match on DOI or PMID and 2) the Altmetric score is greater than 0 (in other words, there is Altmetric data about the article).  The Altmetric score displayed (4 in the example screenshot above) is the number of people that have mentioned the article.

Hover over the Altmetric badge to see a breakdown of where people are talking about the article (tweets, blogs, news outlets, etctera).  The Altmetric window includes a See more details link which opens up a new tab in your browser displaying an altmetric.com page including details such as the actual tweets, blog posts and  news stories.



Talis Aspire Event – reading lists, ebooks and metrics

This two day conference was organised by the Reading List software company Talis (makers of Aspire) but had resonance for librarians who deal with electronic books and issues with reading lists, such as low adoption or engagement. Analytics seemed to be the hot topic amongst many of the presenters so there were also helpful sessions on data collection and presentation. The clear themes were the better use of data and hearing examples of good practice.

The ‘key points’ from Paul Feldman’s keynote were that JISC wanted to make the UK the most digitally advanced education and research nation In the world. The biggest challenges are culture and funding. They got good funding from England and Wales, so do not expect rises in current subscriptions, but will still be introducing paid-for services and shutting down low value / high cost services.

Real focus on services that have supported libraries – what is needed? The sector would prefer fewer things, done better. Priorities are network, technology enabled learning, digital library, OA and leaner analytics. Plus thinking about data analytics.

Phil Richards is working with SCONUL to define a strategy for a national Digital Library. Includes national identity management (like eduroam but for health, local govt etc). Learning analytics collate fingerprints and footprints from various areas e.g. VLE, swipe cards and have a cloud-based infrastructure to collate this. Cloud broken ground by UCAS moving there successfully. Have 6 partners, including BlackBoard. At present, working with 5 universities. Tutors get a dashboard for their students and get alerts in patterns of interaction by students that may show less interest in learning.

Trying to spot disengagement. Also built a student app, showing their own data. Raises ethical issues and have a code of practice for the use of learning analytics. Informed consent and SU has an honest conversation with students about how data is used. LAM has now been amalgamated with this. Community identified online resource usage as key. Should lead to metrics for engagement and learning gain, personalised next generation e-learning.

Nick Bevan – PVC, Middlesex University ‘Role of librarians in supporting teaching and learning.’

Understand that reading lists are about students, not academics. If an item is not available, why is it on a list? (Because it is someone else’s problem!)

There is an awful lot of data around progression, withdrawals. Don’t forget dropouts equal 18 or 27k. Very hard to show impact (e.g. Huddersfield and degree results) but ebook data shows engagements and usage from particular publishers.

Nick theme is that the teaching should just work. Misguided library awareness? It is not about pushing the library up the agenda. It should just work.

Engage with teaching and learning, but not on our terms. See how best apply our skills to make a difference. They use this principle re: reading lists:

Every student should be able to access essential material

Being unable to access the resources you need does not make you a bad student. Like going to a supermarket and not having the ingredients does not make you a bad baker.

Etextbooks discussion panel

Move from a project to being part of core business, a long term project. Embed into normal processes. Librarians talking to academics about this. Position library at heart of learning, increasing pedagogical influence and having the resources.

Need to build collections for deeper learning, what is the expected market return?

Still discussions are based on ‘the print’ – price, and in particular, content. Students see it as doing it on the cheap via ebooks.

The iTunes effect- people buying singles, not albums, so lecturers want 3 chapters from one and 2 from another. Publishers not able to provide this and want data about this, but unis say this has to be a 2 way thing.

Manchester trying to coordinate all buying so that there are not pockets in schools etcetera. Must negotiate on behalf of the community. Suggest JISC to do this.

Publishers blame institutions for ebooks not being used properly and not encouraging students to open the books. Unis say they give lecturers analytics on how core texts are being used and how many students are using ebooks. Middlesex Thinking about having a festival in September to showcase how ebooks have helped their learning, inviting publishers, students, academics and librarians. Analytics should show the fitness for purpose for materials. JISC working on a national bibliographic database, led by Neil Grindley.

TEF – Teaching Excellence Framework – Liz Jolly

Talked about proposed sector challenges. ‘Fulfilling our potential, teaching excellence, social mobility and student choice’. Government monitoring and assessing the quality of teaching in England’s universities. Could increase fees and therefore differentiation. New ‘Office for students’ replacing HEFCE but still unsure how this is going to work. Encouragement of private sector and worried about degree inflation, so will supplement with grade point average system. For libraries, this means we have to prove value. Data on use of library resources, digital literacies and critical thinking. Have we been thinking too much about service delivery and not enabling teaching, learning and research? ‘To enable and enhance learning in all its forms’ – as a profession we have to put this at the centre of what we do. Why are there offices and areas for library operations when libraries are student workspaces?

Need to be seen as a key part of the research process. Need to be there for eprints and REF.  Need to work in multi professional teams across the university. Valuing our professional identity and working across multiple environments. As a profession, we have probably been doing what we think is best, not other academics or students. It is about quality, the quality of the student experience. A good example is adoption of reading lists and speaking the language other people understand.  Libraries are central to the academic enterprise of the institution, so this has gone in the SCONUL response to the TEF green paper.

Engaging academics in digital discourse – Simon Thomson – Head of Digital Pedagogy (title changed from head of e-learning as his role is in teaching, not looking after systems). Leeds Beckett University

Students are digitally literate in a social sense, but not an academic sense. Not thinking about digital and experimenting to produce a connectedness between digital and pedagogy. Why is there resistance to change? Fear, challenges to experience. Staff are digitally overwhelmed and digitally isolated. We rely on learning technologist or academic librarians. Don’t really share experiences. CAVEs – colleagues against virtually everything. Don’t try and shine a light in the cave. It takes too much time and energy. There are others who need you more!

MMU Reading List awareness: Encouraging students to read to success Nic Ward & Rachel Fell

MMU used 6 GTs to promote RLs with students as lots of funds and time going into creating these lists. Took iPads into faculty buildings, talked with students, freebies. Also promoted in the library and created nice posters in faculty and plasma screens. Really important use of social media. Had 15 second Instagram video on how to access reading lists. They have a landing page on Libguides – inspired by Reading and Edinburgh.

Reading list survey was only 4 questions, nearly 500 respondents. Lots of students liked the weekly reading plugin. Also revealed top 5 lists for the academic newsletter, so competition was there. Have training sessions booked for the next 6 months. 5 good things to come out of questionnaires: asking for feedback, personalising the conversation, the 15 second vide, cross-campus promotion and practical freebies. Pens and screen wipes better than Haribo.

Kerry Webb – Reading University

Important IL and DL promotional opportunities of RLs. Looked at pedagogical benefits of creating a RL. This was not a nifty bit of software, this was a way to create resources with true pedagogical value. It can students engaged with scholarly articles. Effective guidelines and practical steps to consider when putting a RL together (2 pages long). Looked at IL models and mapped on what skill sets would be achieved with a RL. Used Ancil framework (tasked based skills) and 7 pillars. Your student has just come to uni. They may never have used a library before, so may be terrified when faced with a list of 100 items. So maybe guidance on how to place a hold on items. In year two, may look at task based goals. So look in these journals and start finding articles.

In 3rd year, why not just like to database we pay thousands of pounds for, plus that company’s YouTube video on how to search that database. Otherwise they will just google it. So if you have a task based reading list, you can develop skills.

Students are not daft, they know if you have not updated your lists. Drawing from analytics, brought stats reports to directors of teaching and learning.

Training is provided in the PGCERT – university is teaching new staff how to teach. Many know their subject area but need help in what a really effective reading list might look like. ‘It’s our intellectual property’ – It is not. The resource authors own the books etc, but you have just provided a list of items.


Staffs Uni Teaching Excellence Fellows (TEF) Showcase

The first Staffordshire University TEF Showcase event took place on the afternoon of Wednesday 13 April in the Ashley Centre at Stoke. This event was open to all University staff and had the theme of “Daring to be different”. In all 72 staff attended from across all Faculties, ADU and IS.

The ASK team TEFs were well represented at the event with a total of six presentations under the strands of Developing Staff for the Future, Social Learning, and Student Engagement and Support.

Jane Ball gave two presentations: “Study Skills – what the tutor needs to provide” and “How and why to develop student study groups “. Eleanor Johnston’s presentation was on “Getting something for nothing: development tools for academics and support staff”.  Julie Adams gave an update on progress with the digital U project looking at “What can digital U do for you?” with an invitation for staff to join the digital U Community. Alison Pope challenged staff with looking at the most appropriate ways to incorporate skills session in the curriculum under the intriguing title of Guerrilla skills – how the ASK team can help you win the retention battle”.  Finally, Alison and Julie presented on “Dear student, will you please use the stuff you’ve paid for?” which outlined the range of initiatives the ASK team have used this year to support students and discussed how we can get more awareness of and engagement with the events we run.

All sessions were well received, with questions and lively debate – those who chaired the sessions had a challenging time keeping everyone to time!

Presentations from the event will soon be available on the ADU blog at: https://blogs.staffs.ac.uk/adublog/

JIBS event- ePub3: a vision for the future?

A full day programme with presentations from librarians and publishers, with presentations available from the JIBS events page http://www.jibs.ac.uk/workshops/epub/programme.htm

10.05 Keynote speaker: Nic Gibson, Corbas Consulting : Digital Publishing and Training – “EPUB, how we got here and why is it taking so long to get anywhere else

Nic talked about the development of standards in ebook publishing and the demands of customers for ePub format rather than PDF. Ebook users want to annotate and make notes as they read and keep notes with the book for revision and referencing.  This leads to why publishers prefer to make PDF the available format for most books (cost, typesetting, formatting, control of content). Further discussion on the pricing of ebooks – the current model is mainly based on hardback/softback print model.  Is a new model required reflecting more factors such as block purchases of core reading? Other issues discussed include the quality of digital publishing (can be outsourced with variable quality); the difficulty of writing equations and formulae in ePub format.  Print PDF does not always convert well to ePub format. The involvement of the ebook reader devices from a range of manufacturers and the software required for web delivery. The International Digital Publishing Forum (IDPF
http://idpf.org/ )   and W3C https://www.w3.org/standards/  are major influences in quality for web publishing models through interoperability, standards and accessibility.

10.45 Tifaine Dickinson, E-Textbook Services Co-ordinator, University of Plymouth – “Plymouth University eTextbook Project: The challenges of developing a new ebook model when publishers are on a different page.”

Tiff described the success and challenges of the eTextbook project. The objective was to give first year undergraduates personal etextbook copies of core reading at no cost to the student. This supported university initiatives to demonstrate value for money to fee paying students with no hidden costs.  The platform chosen was VitalSource (rather than KorText) with delivery through Moodle  and Tiff negotiated with each publisher on a title by title basis for access to the ebook for students enrolled on the associated module. Negotiations included permission for students to download to 4 devices concurrently; access the ePub version rather than PDF where possible (allows greater flexibility through notes, style overlay for accessibility; sharing notes and comments). Title selection was through the Academic Engagement Team with representatives from courses and the library. Support and training was provided at each stage for students and staff. The greatest challenge was negotiating with the different publishers and she managed to achieve some substantial discounts.  There were variables such as number of students, course overlaps, varying costs of core textbooks, rollover of textbooks year on year, refunds for textbooks not used, usage statistics from the VitalSource platform.

In conclusion Tiff found that direct negotiation with publishers worked better for the project than using a service such as KorText to act as an intermediary. 

11.45 Catherine McManamon, Liaison Librarian, University of Liverpool – “JISC OA e-textbooks at Liverpool: A new model to meet student expectations.” 

Summary of a project to create ebooks and publish the books through Liverpool University Press. Required identifying Liverpool academics to write chapters for publication on topics – early books are on financial management and using primary resources for historical research; along with suitable examples to use for evidence and referencing.  Benefits Liverpool University and City of Liverpool by promoting archives to a wider audience.  

13.15 JIBS AGM
Main outcomes change of name from JIBS to SERIF (Shared Electronic Resources Information Forum) and no increase in subs for the next financial year.

13.45 Liz Martin, Head of Production, IOP Publishing information and library services staff – “”How to get to epub: the practicalities and challenges of ePub creation from a technical perspective”
Theme was looking forward and thinking about the requirement of users to access books when they want to; where they want to and using the device of choice. IOP has moved to a position where new books are created in digital format and sold as digital books without any reliance on print sales. IOP invests in creating books in XML format allowing multiple format outputs; device independent ebooks; with books that can be searched; with accurate metadata; allows maths and formulae for technical writing. Setting up a book using XML is expensive in terms of workflows; skills; supply and management; specifications and testing, however the book content can be reformatted going forward. IOP’s experience in the areas of ejournals in many ways made the development of the ebooks and ebook chapters a positive progression using expertise that was already on house. 

14.15 Sarah Burton, Information & Library Assistant, Cambridge Judge Business School – “Stuck in the Present: The Mixed Blessing of Ebooks.”

Summarised many of the challenges of supplying etextbooks. to students. Platforms, aggregators, publishers, formats, purchase models, credits, loan periods, rentals, devices, concurrency, functionality, accessibility, etc.
Sarah looked a models such as PDA and EBA.  Options to develop collections based on usage.  Developing bespoke etextbooks to include quizzes, music, hyperlinks speculating on how a book might look in 20 years.  And of course the challenge of defining a book!

15.15 Panel discussion Q and A

  • Opportunities to work more closely with publishers
  • Opportunity for the academic library community to work together in etextbook requirements and negotiations.
  • Stay aware of the ePub standards
  • Do not underestimate the cost of creating publications in ePub format – working with authors, formatting, editing, version control
  • Do not underestimate the time and skills required to create an etextbook whether in house or out sourced.
  • It is always going to be a challenge to make books available given the range of devices, platforms, formats and publisher terms and conditions.
  • Don’t be afraid to negotiate
  • The ‘book’ will change so much in the short and longer term
  • Reading and learning behaviour continues to change and we have to be responsive
  • Where possible future proof technology think ‘develop and evolve’
  • Follow the International Digital Publishing Forum (IDPF http://idpf.org/ ) and W3C https://www.w3.org/standards/ and monitor guideance and standards for high quality for web publishing

UKSG eResources for Further Education Conference

On 2nd of December I had the pleasure of chairing this conference for colleagues  within libraries and Information Services in the FE sector, at Birmingham Central Library. The conference was well attended and included vendor representatives from Ebsco, Eduserv, JCS Online Resources and Sage. The focus of the conference was how far mobile technologies and social media have enabled us to engage with our users in more direct way.

The presentations were varied including vendor updates. Sonia Staneland, E-learning Officer at Croydon, provided a compelling overview of their development and implementation of Mobile Moodle. Sonia’s on the day can be found at  https://moodle.croydon.ac.uk/elearning/. Eileen Norris, Learning Resources Manager at Blackpool and Fylde College, provided a very excellent detailed outline of their use of Rebus Reading List Software, which is the software we use at Staffordshire. Carl Fry Account Manager for JISC updated us on the regional changes to the organisation as well as an introduction on to the future JISC Content Ap Store.

An important element of the day was networking. There was much discussion about the challenges all were facing within FE, particularly financial, as well as the post-16 Education and Training Review.

The day concluded with breakout groups where we discussed the use of social media within our institutions. There has been various degrees of institutional adoption, often dependent on resources and organisational restrictions. There appears to be a great need for usecases in this area. Those that wanted to stay a little longer also had the opportunity to take a tour of the library.

This was the first UKSG event that I have chaired. It was a very busy day but I really found the opportunity to catch-up and get feedback from colleagues about the issues within the FE sector and on the day itself really rewarding. I would also like to thank UKSG for making the day go so smoothly with their incredible organisation and the Birmingham Central Library for the warm welcome they gave us.

Vicki McGarvey, Learning and Information Services Manager

Altmetrics Top 100 Articles

Altmetric has published its Top 100 list of the most shared and discussed academic research of 2015. The ranking is determined based on which research papers published in the last year have received the most attention from the sources tracked by Altmetric – including mainstream media sites, Wikipedia, blogs, social networks, post publication peer review forums, and online reference managers, amongst others.

Articles in the list can be filtered by institution, journal, access type and subject category. 42% of the articles that made the 2015 list were published under a gold open access licence.

A gold route involves publishing in a fully open access journal or website.Subjected to the same peer-review procedures as a traditional journal, the open access journal will usually be available online.  Authors may need to pay for their work to be published, or funding is provided by a research grant. Some institutions pay these fees out of a central fund to account for the differences between research councils. This is as opposed to a Green route where the article is self-archived in a repository which is the route that Staffordshire has mandated. Repositories offer a number of benefits. They increase the availability of some published journal works, and may enable work to be propagated across the internet and used for novel applications. Repositories also allow authors to keep track of who is downloading their data.

More details about the mandate and the support the ASK team within Information Services provide on Open Access publishing can be found at libguides.staffs.ac.uk/openaccess

Looking at scholarly communication in general the University Utrecht have produced a useful graphic https://figshare.com/articles/101_Innovations_in_Scholarly_Communication_the_Changing_Research_Workflow/1286826

UKSG eNew Issue 362 8th January
Gold and Green Access Routes to Open Access

Vicki McGarvey, Learning and Information Services Manager, ASK Team

Accessibility Improvements to DawsonEra

Dawson, one of our book suppliers, has worked with the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) to improve accessibility on the Dawsonera platform, in order to work towards achieving Surf Right accreditation. In the forthcoming weeks Dawson will be rolling out a series of improvements which will focus on the accessibility elements that were identified by the RNIB. The first of these will be deployed to Dawsonera on Thursday 7th January. The improvements will include:

  • Link text has been underlined in the following areas: footer, My Bookshelf and search results. This ensures that the link conventions are consistent and clear.
  • An increased contrast ratio has been applied to the reader portal (excluding the online reader).
  • Help pop-ups are now displayed on keyboard focus as well as mouse hover.
  • When ‘Skip links’ are in focus they are now clearly displayed.  When used, the user is navigated to the targeted element where the keyboard focus is set, allowing users to seamlessly navigate.
  • Checkboxes in the ‘refine search’ area are now more clearly visible.
  • Error messages encountered during login and in the ’contact us’ forms have been improved from an accessibility perspective in the HTML markup and the relevant focus set.
  • The order of the links in the site header, navigation and social area can now be tabbed through in a logical order at different screen sizes.
  • Text can now be resized up to 200% without cropping and can be applied to a number of forms, including Contact us, My Account and Search.
  • There is now the ability to allow dynamic content to be announced when it changes.
  • Any pop-up notifications are clearly announced to the user. For example, when downloading an ebook or when requesting a rental.
  • Meaningful and intuitive text has been inserted into the close button for pop-up windows.

Here at Staffordshire eBooks, including those on the Dawsonera platform, can be found via our library catalogue, Summon or the eBook pages, to access these go to www.staffs.ac.uk/library.

Vicki McGarvey, Learning and Information Services Manager

Technology to support teaching – a USTLG meeting

The meeting took place on Friday November 27th and was hosted by Imperial College London and organised by the University Science and Technology Library Group (USTLG).  The theme was around technology to support students in sessions arranged and delivered through university libraries.  The presentations and discussions focused on practical experiences and frank feedback on the pros and cons of the sessions.  The presentations are available on the USTLG website http://www.ustlg.org/?page_id=952

Here is a brief overview:
Development of an online RefWorks tutorial.  This was an initiative from Imperial to rationalise the time and effort of teaching Year 2 medical students RefWorks across several sites.  Librarians worked with learning technologists to develop a script and a structure using Camtasia and Articulate, they also involved the module leader of the course they were supporting.  The outcome was a tutorial students could use and also refresh their knowledge of RefWorks at convenient times.  As a back up bookable classroom sessions were offered, although attendance was low. The tutorial took approximately 5 months to develop and there is the issue of revising the tutorial as new versions of RefWorks are released.    However feedback was positive and they are intending to roll our the tutorial to other student cohorts, and expand the range of tutorials to include Plagiarism.

Using Sli.do in library training. This tool was used mainly with business students in a large lecture theatre environment.  On a positive side it encouraged students to participate, especially shy students, and students where English is not their first language.  To use effectively with a large class it seems a moderator is a great help to manage the questions and publish feedback in the class. It seemed to work best in inductions and plagiarism awareness.  Sli.do has variable pricing depending on the product from Basic to Premium, with the basic free to try https://www.sli.do/home  Questions asked during sessions allowed the class leader to answer further questions and send supporting information to attendees.

Proquest for University libraries. Update on Proquest products, especially the SciTech Content Collection.

Use of mobile apps for teaching.  Workshop/group discussion format.  General discussion on the advantages and pitfalls of using apps in teaching.  Including finding apps, evaluating apps, any costs associated with apps, do students find apps efficiently? Do students prefer peer recommendations? the time factor in finding and evaluating apps, identifying apps to support teaching.  Anecdotally there are good apps for health – explaining how the brain or heart works.

The day ended for me with a tour of the library.  Imperial have made good use of space on the ground floor creating flexible group study spaces.  I was particularly impressed with the librarians office on the ground floor in the area where there is greatest student footfall.  The office operates a drop in for students calling in the office with “Librarians’ office here to help” stenciled on the wall!

Sarah Hall
1st December 2015


JISC Webinar: Making your digital collections easier to discover

This webinar took place on 3rd November. It is one of a series of training sessions being run by JISC to help universities with making their digital collections easier to discover. The series is a response to recent research carried out by JISC on digital collections and the concern that HE resources are not as easy to find as resources that are on the web. JISC’s work focuses on user behaviour within the context of finding and using resources. This webinar looked into how users discover digital collections and the items in those collections.

The presented literature review suggests that the term digital native is now outdated and that users have high expectations with respect to access, possibly too high. It also intimate that library staff over the estimate the use of the tools that the make available. With respect to the role of the library the review controversially states that libraries should focus on skills development rather than discovery, it also posits that focusing on other services library may paradoxically make the library invisible. Little was mentioned about algorithms and relevance in the context of discovery, and comparing academic expectations with user behaviour.

The project’s online library survey found that users employ different discovery tools for different purposes and that Google and Scholar are still rated highly. Users also want different resource types integrated into their course materials and the research found that social aspects e.g. sharing resources is becoming the norm with discovery. Most users want to find resources in the library, on campus and elsewhere in the UK, with the smallest percentage only wanting to find resources elsewhere in the UK. Reassuringly a large number of respondents are still using a general library search. Users still want access to content beyond subscribed resources and multiple logins appears to still be an issue. One of the floors of the research was that no questions were asked about Google Scholar, although this was acknowledged.

With respect to looking user levels and discovery behaviour we were referred to the Evaluating Digital Resources Guide although it does not go into this in great detail.  Much of the work has focused on user access rather than the accuracy and relevancy of discovery tools, although there has already been a considerable amount of research in this area particularly by Loughborough University see:

SPEZI, V., CREASER, C., CONYERS, A., 2015. The impact of Resource Discovery Services (RDS) on usage of electronic content in UK academic libraries: selected results from a UKSG-funded project. Serials Review, 41(2), pp.85-99.

JISC has produced a range of resources to help with discoverability, such as using aggregators, social media and popular websites. All the presentations are available on YouTube.


Vicki McGarvey Learning and Information Services Manager