Interview with Bethan Ruddock

Today it’s the turn of Bethan Ruddock from Mimas, over yonder in sunny Manchester.

Bethan and bird :-)

Bethan, can you tell us a little bit about your job at Mimas?

I’m Content Development Officer, Library and Archival Services, which is a much more impressive job title than I ever thought I’d have! I work for Copac and the Archives Hub, on quite different projects. For Copac I’m working on the Challenge Fund, which is all about getting new libraries into Copac to expose rare and unique research material; and for the Hub I’m working on a project to define a new model for sustainable data-share. These involve a range of activities which quite astounds me, when I actually stop to think about it! I do a lot of looking at data (MARC and EAD), communicating with contributors and potential contributors, promotions and outreach work, and pretty much anything else that need doing.

What’s new and cool at Mimas?

You mean apart from me? We’re going to be undergoing a big hardware move this year, which is apparently quite exciting if you understand Oracle. Mimas is also having a rebrand, with a new website — the sneak previews I’ve seen look fantastic. It’s an exciting year all round, in fact, as the Archives Hub is also having a rebrand and will be moving to a new version of the Cheshire software; and there are all sorts of interesting things going on with Copac.

Can you remember where and when you first used a web browser?

No. Not a clue. I do remember using email in school, which was the most supremely pointless email application ever. You could only access it from the computer lab, and we only had lessons once a week, so pigeon post would probably have been faster…

Do you think libraries and librarians should adopt a cautious approach to new technologies, or should they be rolling up their sleeves and embracing it fully?

Difficult. On a lot of levels, I’m a strong advocate of the “just do it” approach — with a lot of technologies, if you wait too long, the moment passes. It always reminds me of an Alan Coren story where he talks about not having asked what a futon was when they first appeared, and then being too late to ask, and doomed to eternal ignorance. I think information professional have a duty to be the people asking “What is that? How can we use it?”. However, there is always the problem of committing (scarce) resources to something that isn’t going to be of great benefit in the long-term. I think we need to find the balance between recklessness and over-caution. Some technologies/applications require very little time/effort/expenditure to use: the Copac/Archives Hub twitter accounts are giving us a fantastic return for the amount of effort we put into them. That’s something we just went ahead and did, and we’ve been really pleased with it.

It sounds like “Copac 2.0” is coming soon — are you at liberty to divulge anything juicy about the plans?

You probably know as much as I do, as one of our celebrity specialists 😉 We’re going to be working in 3 main areas: interface revision; database restructuring; and de-duplication. We’re also going to be introducing new features (many of which we recently trialled in our Beta interface), which allow you to personalise aspects of Copac, and add a few nice bits of extra functionality as well. You can read about them (more coherently than I’m currently managing!) at copac.ac.uk/about/coming-soon.html and copac.ac.uk/development-blog

Are you currently using any mash-ups at Mimas?

Probably! I’m sure that many of the services are doing some really exciting things — Landmap in particular springs to mind (landmap.mimas.ac.uk), but I’m ashamed to say that I don’t really know…

Have you got a favourite mash-up?

Umm, maybe the locations map for Copac. I’m not sure if it strictly counts as a mash-up, but it’s the only one I’ve done, so I’m sticking with it.

Got a favourite beverage?

I’m very partial to a nice bottle of red, and I never miss up the opportunity of a good pint. Any bitter or real ale goes down well — Black Sheep‘s a particular favourite.

Cheers, Bethan. You’ll be pleased to know Black Sheep’s on tap at The Head of Steam for a post-event pint! 🙂


Bethan blogs at Copac Developments and is @bethanar on Twitter.

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~ by Dave Pattern on 11/June/2009.

One Response to “Interview with Bethan Ruddock”

  1. Hi Bethan, great interview and thanks for the mention of Landmap. The main mash-up for our service is the display of our TopSat data archive inside Google Earth by viewing a KML file. To download the KML please see http://landmap.mimas.ac.uk/landmap/index.php/TopSat/Download-TopSat.html

    All the best with the new Copac and Archive Hub developments

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