Looking Back

Over the course of twelve weeks many topics have been discussed and disembowelled in order to understand them better. I would say now looking back my opinion hasn’t been changed on most topics but the way I think about them has. I think one of the main reasons for this was as each week passed and each week was reflected on I thought about different aspects in terms of what I was doing at the time. I have been working on many different projects and each is completely different to another. This has given me the opportunity `to apply what I’ve learned in a variety of ways. A main topic of interest I have preened over this time has been to understand others and how it is important to work to everyone’s strengths when trying to attain a common goal. There is no point in looking at something and seeing it as merely a problem. It has to be resolved and worked around so the team can keep moving forward. This was certainly applicable to the group situation. To this extent the culture of the group in this case has been extremely important. It is something I wouldn’t have given much consideration before I started reading about it and understanding how it works and how it can be used to benefit everyone involved.
lookingback
From the outset I’m not entirely sure what I expected to learn, I have done courses before where theories have been the focus and a specific way of doing things in order to achieve results has been the basis for the classes. Obviously a better understanding is always a goal when you start out a class and probably something I have gleaned from the class was just that in relation to thinking alternatively. It is an important theme in my PLN project to really get under the skin of an people and how they see things differently and understand how they operate. It has been of great importance to relate what I have learned here to my own situation. People have to be clear on what is happening so they can buy into and be involved in the process. This will lead to better workflow and concise parameters to work within when trying to achieve certain goals. Which I’m sure everyone can agree on will be important to success, success in terms of end result but also success in developing working relationships. Furthering on to this point would be to learn more which I think will be hugely beneficial and will come with experience in future situations that arise throughout the rest of the year and beyond that.

The class has been different in terms of work to other classes; it hasn’t been overly intense but instead much more thought provoking. It was good to have time to reflect and develop ideas. Sometimes in college it’s just a matter of getting through the work and you don’t actually take much from it. Now that we are coming to the end it has reaped its rewards. It’s an area I am interested in for obvious reasons but it tackles an important issue in my life right now and has even made me think down the line about next year exploring the idea of what I will do. My interest peaked when I was developing my PLN which opened my mind to what other people do and to try and understand their processes of doing things which I touched on in my first paragraph. In terms of how things could have been better, more time to focus on certain topics but that is something that would make me interested in doing more classes where their goal is to focus on more specific areas. The most enjoyable thing about the class has been the building my blog overall. I have done other blogs but not in this portfolio set-up. Its definitely a hub I can come back to and increase it over time. There is still work to do but it will definitely benefit me its complete and I will look back in a positive fashion.

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Is Open Access a Realistic Possibilty

This week we were looking at the argument of publishing academic articles and the costs that go with it. I must start off by saying it’s not something I have given much thought. Lecturers bring the topic up from time to time but as far as I’m concerned while in university they are all free for me. Of course people will point out I incur costs through my education fees but I’m sure my education fees are wasted on much less worthwhile endeavours.

All three pieces I read looked at the option of open access and its validity and as with everything there are two sides to every story. The figures stated seem outlandish and the first piece I read “Academic publishers make Murdoch look like a socialist” says it all in the title. The last article I read was the only one that tried to actually explain the outlandish costs “Open access: The true cost of science publishing” that publishers slap on. Something I can’t quite get to grips with is the variation in prices. Some articles cost less than a $/€100 with others going in to the thousands. The explanation of course comes down to hybrid journals and the importance of the subject matter as well as the peer review process but it still seems over the top.
open-access-dt
The debate about open access was discussed thoroughly in “Gold or green: which is the best shade of open access?” and while people seem to be pushing for this is doesn’t actually seem like a viable option to me. Costs would be shifted and the debate whether the average price per article would actually rise or fall is still unsure due to economic demands. Furthermore the lack of enthusiasm as it was put from researchers and research funders to deposit any manuscripts they publish in subscription journals in free online repositories seems an intriguing issue.The lack of a business model behind the gold open access coupled with the fact they seemed to have an agenda going in to it does not shine a good light on that route. However I would be worried if the green open access was adopted, there would be far too much to be waded through with everyone having their articles accessible. I admittedly don’t understand and would need to carry out further research which of course depends on the access I have to what’s published I suppose.

The general consensus is that open access is the way to go and it will eventually become the way. However coming from my economic background I can’t see why organisations would even entertain the idea of relinquishing any power especially if there is nobody forcing them, which there is not. Apparently this debate has been going on since the early 90s and from what I could ascertain will continue on for some time to come. Of course with anything technology has its impact. Many organisations are still dealing with antiquated workflows for arranging peer review, typesetting, file-format conversion and other chores. Whereas small start-ups can come up with fresh workflows using the latest electronic tools, some established publishers are.

Only time will tell and every vested party will have their say no doubt and keep a close eye but who eventually wins out is a mystery nobody can answer at this point in time.

Sources:
Open access: The true cost of science publishing Cheap open-access journals raise questions about the value publishers add for their money.(2013) Richard Van Noorden

Gold or green: which is the best shade of open access?

Academic publishers make Murdoch look like a socialist. (2011) George Monbiot

Alternative Career Paths

This week was all about asking the question if not a librarian what else can I be? For me though it’s asking a lot more than just that. It’s asking what am I going to do with my life? That is a terrifyingly daunting question for anyone but for me who is so unsure, it leaves me feeling uneasy.

The first reading this week Varejs, J. (2009) Careers and Education in Library and Information Science left me a bit bemused. While many of my fellow students are taking the M.L.I.S, I am not. I am doing a MSc in Information systems but I take the point of the readings and offering alternative careers. For me the article outlined the weaknesses of the L.I.S course and in particular how poorly it is viewed within the library community. A line that struck was that a lot of jobs are looking for the skills that are taught but they want someone with a different degree. However those skills were passed off as something you either have or you don’t and the fact you are being taught is neither here nor there. It didn’t have a positive spin at all.
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The second short piece 61 Non-Librarian Jobs for LIS Grads basically pointed out that you that there are options outside of working in a library and that you have to look for jobs that may not be advertised to you but are asking for the skills you have. This is all well and good but to tie into the first article, that in order to get these jobs you need to have other qualifications and that librarian’ constantly have to be improving themselves. To me it stank that your degree is worthless and you have to make it better. Well what’s the point in even doing it in the first place then if you are potentially working outside of the librarian field? The fact there was even an article on the matter was off-putting. What other field has to justify themselves?

While I may agree or disagree with the message I got from this topic is irrelevant, it was just the message it sent that sat uneasily with me. From a personnel point of view as I said I’m not actually doing an L.I.S but my degree doesn’t hold much more weight. I couldn’t honestly say what type of job my degree will get me. It’s all a bit of a mix bagged and while people will sit there and tell me, you can do x,y & z I would have to argue against them. I will have to justify myself getting a job more than anyone else coming off a different degree.

Its a question I am not looking ready to answer because I worry if I even can. I don’t know whats next but it is something I cant ignore for much longer.

Sources:
Mia Breitkopf: 61 Non-Librarian Jobs for LIS Grads

Varejs, J. (2009) Careers and Education in Library and Information Science

To Solve a Problem, Think Like a Mad Child

This week’s selected readings were highly interesting. I started off the Howard and Davis article which looked at how problems are solved. It took ideas, firstly evidence based practice (EBP) which deals with solving a problem with previously thought out solutions. Looking at what is already in place to solve upcoming problems essentially. Secondly was design thinking which brings in the concept of iterations which was an extremely important concept last semester in a class I took called system analysis and design. This idea is to go beyond what we already know and come up with new creative solutions to solve new creative problems. The article continued to try and create a hybrid between these two solution ideologies by taking the best of both.
einstain
This brings me nicely to the second reading Bowler et al, It was quite a long reading but honestly the most interesting and one I know I am going to come back to again and again. It didn’t particularly throw up any new concepts I haven’t come across before but it did amalgamate them in to one piece. The corner stone of the article was user centred design (UCD). This idea is based on creating a solution by involving the user in the process. Quite often the user is ignored even though they are the one who will end up using whatever the product will be. In this article it looked at how the user searches for information. The idea of using social tagging was very interesting and kind of ties in to the crowd sourcing I spoke about last week. By combining the power of a lot of people you can eventually create a solution that benefits the greater majority.

Some of the best solutions are quite often the ones you are not thinking about. It is not always simple. I suppose that’s why people say geniuses tend to be a bit mad. So I am not sure if it is good thing to be sane all of the time. Even in the Bowler et al, article when they looked at participatory web interface design with children you can see the logic behind it. Children think in a completely different fashion to adults and come out with some extraordinarily creative thoughts. When trying to solve a problem or come up with solutions, it is important to think outside the box, or even think like a child or a mad man or a bit of both. While some of the solutions that are thought will be utterly useless by applying the thought process in the Howard and Davis article eventually a solution will created and it could be great.

Sources:
Howard & Davis 2011. Evidence Based Library & Information Practice

Bowler et al, 2011. Issues in User Centred Design in LIS

The Question of Preservation

The idea of preservation is a difficult one. Something that does not seem to be touched on in the readings I have done so far is what should be preserved. There seems to be a push to preserve everything that is produced nowadays or at least that’s the way the readings lay it out. I am not going to try answer that question but I don’t think for example preserving old websites is important and I’m sure I could cut a lot more if pushed. Considering I’m a bit of a hoarder that says a lot. As a side note I would like to acknowledge it is difficult to say what seems unimportant today may be considered crucially important tomorrow.

I’m going get away from what should be and what shouldn’t be and to focus solely on how difficult it is to preserve things. Digitisation of items is a huge leap forward and gives the possibility of not only storing things but the possibility of dissemination as well. The “White Paper” ran through the different processes of doing this but also showed the limitations of this. With technology speeding along and changing quicker than most can keep up it is difficult to design a system to store items that will still be functional in even a reasonably short period of time. I touched on the dissemination of items being crucial. Obviously some items scream out with importance that they need to be preserved but the older they are the harder it is for people to get their hands on them.
preservation
Crowd sourcing as discussed in Digital Maps Are Giving Scholars the Historical Lay of the Land by Patricia Cohen is a great idea, while the obvious restrictions are obvious to see, it can be hugely beneficial. Opening up items to be seen online for people to have access too can be hugely beneficial. I have seen this first hand through Reddit when people have a question, the online community will be able to solve any problem. It is truly remarkable. Of course in the context of transcribing it can, as pointed out lead to more work fixing mistakes in the long run.

The diary of Mary Martin is an amazing Website that has been executed remarkable. While I don’t have very much personal interest in the subject matter I can only imagine if I did how excited I would be to have it. It sets a very high benchmark for digital preservation. I think information professionals will have to work alongside computer scientists closely if the two are to understand where the other is coming from in order to create a truly worthwhile preservation system. People like me may be a bit gun-ho when it comes to what to keep and what not. While librarians may be over sensitive and it is important to find a middle ground.

As I briefly mentioned earlier we can’t possible tell today what will be useful tomorrow which is exemplified by the Patricia Cohen piece Scholars Recruit Public for Project. Which showed us what would seem like insignificant data of typography and weather conditions of long ago are actually hugely important for piecing together a jigsaw puzzle of historical importance. As important as it is to store things, the system in place is as important so people are able to discover and get access to what they need. That would be of most interest to me rather then what is and what isn’t stored.

Sources:
Digital Maps Are Giving Scholars the Historical Lay of the Land By Patricia Cohen

Scholars Recruit Public for Project By Patricia Cohen

The Diary of Mary Martin

White Paper: The Long Term Preservation of Digital Information

A Week in the Life

Another week has flown past and you would think getting more work done would lessen the load however it’s not the case. The more I chip away the more leaks that spring out and more work piles up.
I am doing my MSc in information systems which closely liaises with the MLIS course in UCD with many of the classes overlapping. My week is centred around three long gruelling days of lectures on Monday, Tuesday and Thursday with Wednesday and Fridays off. I generally look at this and think I will use my days off to get assignments and other work done. Now that I am in week 7 of my second semester I find the week’s just dissipating before me. I am getting less work done on my days off and the other three days seem to be tiring me out. It is becoming more and more difficult just to keep up.
witl
I tend to ear mark time slots to get started on one thing and before I know it something more urgent pops up and in turn takes my focus. I am taking 6 classes and as well have my capstone project which is effectively my thesis. Although the capstone is earmarked for the summer months the work has well and truly started so it feels more like 7 classes. I do a wide range of classes from current trend in social media; human computer interaction to research practices and this blog is for contempory issues in professional practice. It being an MSc I am expected to go above and beyond what is asked of me but I am severely lagging behind on this front.

This week I have been transcribing interviews, working on a project which involves analysing online user communities as well as working on the UCD SILS website doing usability testing. Amongst other things I have the monotonous work of doing readings and following blogs for other assignments, not to mention the endless meetings with groups and individuals. I have much more I need to press on with but there are simply not enough hours in the week let alone a day. The question of how will I get through this is constantly floating around in my head.
Just keeping up with what is going on and checking emails and other sources is a chore in itself. Its a constant struggle to cement in my head what exactly I need to do. No matter what the weeks keep rolling on and I don’t feel any closer to finishing my work but I see deadlines starting to pile up.

It’s just a week in my life and they keep getting tougher as they go. There is still a strong belief on my behalf that I will somehow pull it of the bag and get it all done because I have to. I will have an unbelievable sense of accomplishment when I do. Its a long way off yet however.

Removing Digital Dust

“You can document it but you can’t capture it.”

As good a place as any to start this week is with “The 21st Century Library” by Terry which can be linked in to my blog post from a couple of weeks back. This piece had to do with the design process of the Rhode Island School of Designs library. While only so much of a picture can be built from the description a converted old protected bank building in to a library it still lets the imagination run. Going beyond the actual process of design, the real point is how you adapt the library to fit the need. In order to do that you must first understand the need and that was the most important part of this story for me. All the planning and meetings, the endless consultations with staff students and stakeholders in order to create this wonderfully functioning space that went on to inspire other builds and win awards.
dust
The next two pieces explain my tag line. Firstly the heritage outlook which looks at cataloguing images from the Kilkenny Design Workshops (KDW) which ran from the 60’s until the late 80’s. The second was the MacMahon document review which can’t be linked a long with the others at the end of this blog due to access only being made through UCD on this occasion. This newspaper piece looked at an exhibition which was held by NIVAL, which documents events’, exhibitions, artistic displays or whatever term you feel would be most suitable. “You can document it but you can’t capture it.” This comes from a point made in the review that while you can document an event, the date, the artist, where, what and when you can never quite capture the feeling of being there in person. This point resonated with me. While there are obvious reasons to document and archive such events the question remains how much are you losing out on and in turn what are we really gaining. The KDW archive which falls under the NIVAL umbrella also poises the same question. It allows you to look in the past but only through a key hole of a door that can’t fully be opened. It is so important however to hold on to these events of the past and as alluded to when people need to study them for whatever range of reasons if they can get their hands on original documents and a wealth of information to go along with it then it is a pretty good second best to being there in person and getting to experience it for yourself.

The final reading I did this week was the Tate Library Electronic ephemera. The collection of digital material in email format ranging from newsletter to promotional materials for artists, charities, events and beyond. A step too far in my opinion perhaps. The work that it takes to manage such a repository surely outweighs it benefits but who am I to draw a line in the sand and say as much. However it did bring up the copyright and storage issues which sometimes are wrongly overlooked in such cases. A particular favourite line of mine was the digital collection gathering dust which it can do if it is abandoned to a PDF file never to be looked after or at again. While this article highlighted the more or less failure of this project it did lay down the foundations for future work should someone take up the mantle. I don’t however think it will be me.

Resources:

Terry 21st century library

Callaghan tate ephemera 2013

Walker heritage outlook 2011

MacMahon document review 2012