Thursday, 16 July 2015

Work experience in the ScHARR library

Hi! My name's Eleanor Rimmer (also known as Melanie Rimmer's daughter). I'm a year 10 student at Poynton High School, and I've been doing a one week work experience in the ScHARR library.

I want to work with books, either in a library or a bookshop, once I'm done with education, because I've always liked books and organizing things. I think my house counts as a miniature library in its own right-family and friends are always 'borrowing' books, and there are even shelves in the bathroom!

Work experience may not be over yet, but I've really enjoyed it so far. Everyone I've met has been really friendly and helpful, and I've learned a lot about databases and social media and shelving and things like that. It's obvious that the people working here take pride and enjoyment in what they do-that attitude is inspiring. This has been a great learning experience for me, and I'll definitely have a lot to think about when I'm done with my GCSEs.

Friday, 10 July 2015

Research Hacks - How to Hack Your Research

I was lucky enough to be invited to give a talk for in the spring as part of a half day event themed about the Digital Academic at The University of Warwick. The talks were captured and have now been published on YouTube.
I have to say that I am not asleep in the last video :-)

Monday, 6 July 2015

Andy Tattersall and Leo Appleton's CILIP Conference Presentation on Social Media

Dr Andrew Cox talking about Wicked Problems
Last week I made the trip over the Pennines as part of a small ScHARR expedition to present alongside my MmIT colleague Leo Appleton at the yearly Cilip Conference, formerly called Umbrella. The presentation followed one by my colleagues Anthea Sutton and Helen Buckley Woods about the work they continue to do with their distance learning courses for library and information professionals called FOLIO. I’d arrived in Liverpool the day before and attended various presentations and workshops including one by my MmIT colleague Andrew Cox from the iSchool in Sheffield. Andrew gave a talk about the concept of the wicked problem (Rittel and Webber 1973). He argued that research data management might be considered as a wicked problem. It was not a term I had heard prior to the conference but very much now realise I come across ‘wicked problems’ quite often in my work. According to that font of all knowledge, Wikipedia: “A wicked problem is one that is difficult or impossible to solve because of incomplete, contradictory, and changing requirements that are often difficult to recognize.” I think we’ve all come across such problems at some point in our professional lives and at least I know what to call them when I meet one now.

I also saw the superb Cory Doctorow for the second time give a keynote which twisted and turned through the complex problems the web deals with in the 21st Century. Problems such as net neutrality, security and ownership were dissected by the journalist and blogger at lightening pace. It was an entertaining and as you would expect, a thought-provoking talk which perhaps left the audience with more questions than answers afterwards.

The day ended with two good keyontes from Stuart Hamilton, Deputy Secretary for the International  Federation of Library Associations (IFLA) and a really inspiring talk by Barbara Schack. Barbara who is the Director of Development at Libraries Without Borders talked about The Ideas Box. This is a comprehensive portable media centre and built in power source. You can see more in this video below.

Crosby Beach
At the end of the first day I decided not to take the guided tour to Liverpool Museum and attend the sponsored drinks reception, as I felt like I’d been inside long enough and persuaded Andrew Cox to join me and head off up to the coast to Crosby. I’d been recommended Crosy by Leo as it was his old home town. So once we had navigated Liverpool’s rail infrastructure we found ourselves trekking towards blue skies and a vast beach populated by 100 cast iron sculptures made by the artist Antony Gormley. It was a beautiful clear evening, so we headed down the coastal path for about five miles before hopping onto a train back south to Crosby and then grabbing a bite to eat; opting out of the general knowledge quiz that was going on around us. Back in Liverpool I headed to the Cavern Quarter and my The Beatles’ Hard Day’s Night Hotel. I could hear the sounds coming clearly from the Cavern and various bars till the early hours, probably much of the noise generated by a bunch of librarians, post conference. Nevertheless that’s what you should expect when you book a hotel in the cultural heart of Liverpool :-)

Erwin James giving his Keynote
Day two started with another popular keynote from the Director of Liberty, Shami Chakrabarti who talked about the threats to our democratic institutions. The final keynote of the day was from someone who knows all too well what it is like to be stripped of all liberties after spending a long spell in prison. It was a very powerful and thought-provoking talk by ex-prisoner and now Guardian journalist and author Erwin James. His talk had the audience engrossed as he told his very candid story about being sentenced for 20 years and finding his way out through the power of books and writing. In particular one book, Prisoners of Honour by David L Lewis had a dramatic and positive effect on James. From there onwards James was hooked on the power of learning and reading and has become a strong advocate for prisoners and other marginalised areas of society being given the opportunities to learn and engage with the arts. His talk was the highlight of the conference for me, it captured the idea of how important books and learning is to all parts of society and that we should never forget that. James showed he was still incredibly remorseful for his actions in what was a powerful but subtle a talk you would ever see.

In the afternoon myself and Leo gave our presentation ‘With Power Comes Great Responsibility - How Librarians can Harness the Power of Social Media for the Benefit of Others. We were very lucky to present in such a grand setting as St George’s Hall in Liverpool. Our own presentation took place in a very grand but intimidating old court room. So we found ourselves in the dock talking in trandem about the four themes relating to social media that make up for our conference in Sheffield on 14th-15th September. We showcased the potential for social media as a facilitator in marketing and promoting services. We spoke about the emerging interest in altmetrics, social media for professional development and with our own areas of research. It was great as always to deliver a talk with Leo but also to deliver one following my ScHARR colleagues who gave a very informative presentation. Next year the CILIP conference rolls onto Brighton, so all being well I will get another run out to the seaside.

Also, I noticed this sign at the conference, obviously from a previous event, suffice to say that we all ignored it. 

Wednesday, 1 July 2015

ScHARR IR team - going the extra mile

Growing evidence suggests that our increasingly sedentary lifestyles can lead to adverse health outcomes including back pain, obesity and diabetes.   For several years the University of Sheffield has taken part in the Global Corporate Challenge, a worldwide initiative aimed at making employees more active.

Participants wear a pedometer which monitors their activity for 100 days, and over this period are encouraged to try and improve their personal best at the same time as competing with others on a team or individual basis.

Never ones to shirk a challenge, the IR team are joining in and last night four of us braved the heat to go on a "night walk" through Sheffield's Whiteley Woods, where we achieved a total of 100,000 steps for our team, HEDS Will Stroll.