Interview with Lyn Parker and Beccy Shipman

•27/June/2009 • Comments Off on Interview with Lyn Parker and Beccy Shipman

After a slight gap (which is all my fault!), we’re back with another blog chat. This time, it’s with Lyn Parker (pictured) and Beccy Shipman from the University of Sheffield

Lyn Parker

Hi, can you tell us a little bit about your respective jobs at the University of Sheffield?

Beccy: I have 2 jobs at the University of Sheffield. I am part of the team that manages the e-resources and the Library website. This involves maintaining our ejournals, databases and ebooks, answering enquiries and updating the website. My other role is at the National Fairground Archive which is based here in the Library. There I can be found cataloguing fairground tickets, steam engine rally programmes and handbills from 19th Century variety shows amongst other things.

Lyn: I manage the team who support learning, teaching and research with online reading lists, digitisation of teaching materials, printed course packs, and information literacy tutorials. We also investigate and develop new library services, for example how to embed library services into the University’s new collaborative environment, uSpace, has blogs, wikis and social networking. This uses Clearspace from Jive and has just been launched.

What’s new and cool at your library?

Becky: We have a number of librarians using Twitter and blogs though don’t suppose that counts as new and cool anymore. We also have a current awareness service using netvibes.

Lyn: I use Twitter to follow conferences, participate in events, generally keep up to date. We have a review of our library blogs ongoing at present and are looking at how to integrate all the different library news into various environments – student/staff portal, library web, uSpace, our VLE – without reinventing the wheel each time. We are also looking at piloting QR codes as part of induction next session.

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

Beccy: I can’t remember exactly but probably at Glasgow Uni in the mid 1990s when I was a student there.

Lyn: I worked in the Geography Library when the University of Sheffield were setting up their first web site, using the Geography Department as part of the pilot, would have been 1995ish.

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?

Beccy: I think librarians should fully embrace new technologies but be slightly cautious about how to roll them out within libraries. There are so many new things coming out all the time that if we take them all on we could be in danger of overloading our users. The important thing to remember is will this technology offer something useful to our users.

Lyn: I agree with Beccy. Being in a development team, I am very ready to have a go with new technology but the key is to evaluate its potential use and not jump on the bandwagon for the sake of it. Given that Web 2.0 is as much about culture as technology and given the pace of change, I think it is very important that we do embrace it or face no longer having a central role to play.

Are you currently using any mash-ups at Sheffield?

Beccy and Lyn: No but we’d like to! Hoping to learn more about how to!

Have either of you got a favourite mash-up?

Beccy: Not really got a favourite but do like the Repository 66 map.

Lyn: Not sure that it is a favourite but one I have been following recently is the spread of swine flu at

Got a favourite beverage?

Beccy: Quite partial to malt whisky so think it would have to be Caol Ila… or maybe a nice pint of IPA

Lyn: Coffee, preferably latte


Interview with Brenda Turnbull

•20/June/2009 • Comments Off on Interview with Brenda Turnbull

Following on from yesterday’s natter with Laura, we’re chatting today with another of the LIS students who’ll be attending “Mash Oop North” — Brenda Turnbull…

Brenda Turnbull

Brenda, you’re currently studying on a MSc Information and Library Management course at Liverpool John Moores University — what first made you want to take that course and what’s LJMU like as a place to study?

I used to be a Systems Analyst but wanted to do something different. I tried teaching adults for a while, then after having my fist child I got a job as a part time library assistant within a public library, I had a couple of different roles whilst there and really enjoyed it. One of the Librarian’s suggested doing the course, Liverpool was the best option as the course could be taken part time and it concentrated on one topic (two if you were full time) for 5 weeks.

I did my first degree in Computer Studies there, so it was great to go back and see how it had all changed.

I’ve really enjoyed studying at LJMU. The staff have been really helpful and it was great that I was able to suspend my studies for a while and then return to exactly where I left off. I thought the Library at Aldham Robarts was really good, but this summer it is being refurbished so it should be even better when I return in September to complete my MSc. Liverpool is such a great place to be, but then I would say that, being a scouser myself!

Does the course include any modules on Web 2.0 or Library 2.0, and are you using any Web 2.0 software as part of the course (e.g. a blog or a wiki)?

The course did not have a module about Web 2.0 or Library 2.0 and when I first started the course in 2006 it wasn’t mentioned at all. However since then elements of Web 2.0 have been included across the curriculum by using blogs, forums and podcasts. We also looked at how Web 2.0 utilities and could be used within libraries.

Here’s a sneaky job interview type question! Where do you see yourself in 5 years from now?

I’d like to have gained my MSc, possibly even achieved Chartership. I would also like to be using elements of my course that I really enjoyed such as information literacy, knowledge management and information architecture, and combine my past experience of being an analyst/programmer and trainer with my information skills. I’d like to be involved in leading innovative projects using technology to enhance the user experience within the information industry.

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

Yes I think it was not long after we’d got married in 1996. We’d set up the PC in the spare room with the modem, I remember how noisy the modem was.

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

I think we should be getting involved by trying new things and looking how things we do now could be improved or altered by new technologies. I don’t think we can afford to do nothing. My seven year old came home last night telling me all about the Wiki he has set up, he’s already done a blog and they regularly post their home work on the school forum.

I can understand the caution though especially as there are not enough resources available in the current climate to put effort into something that may not work, but how do you know until you try! We can start out small.

Have you got a favourite mash-up?

Yes but I’m afraid it’s food related. It would have to be my husband’s “Tatty hash” – it’s great any time of the year but especially welcomed after being out in the cold.

Got a favourite beverage?

That would have to be tea.

Interview with Laura Woods

•19/June/2009 • Comments Off on Interview with Laura Woods

Ooopsy — been so busy that I didn’t have chance to line up a blog chat for yesterday, so many thanks to Laura Woods for agreeing to be interviewed whilst jetlagged…

Laura, you’re currently studying on the MSc Library and Information Studies at City University, London – how’s that coming along?

Really well – I’ve finished all the coursework now so I’ve “just” got my dissertation to do. Have really enjoyed being a student again this year: I may have to find some kind of evening course to do once I’ve finished my Masters!

You’ve just got back from the US where you’ve been at the SLA 2009 Conference — was this your first time in the States and how was the conference?

I have been to the States once before, but it was when I was little and I don’t remember it all that well! The conference has been fantastic: I actually just got back into Heathrow this morning, so I’m pretty tired and jetlagged right now, but I’m absolutely buzzing with ideas.

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

Must have been in secondary school, in the late 90s. Couldn’t tell you much about it, but I’m sure “using the Internet” was covered in our IT lessons. I do remember not really seeing the point of this Internet thing, since everything was so much slower and more effort than just using a pen and paper! I was a bit of a luddite until a few years ago, to be honest. I’m a complete internet junkie now though, as anyone will tell you!

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?

That one seems like a bit of a no-brainer to me! I’m very much in favour of diving right in and just experimenting. Actually, that was one of the points that kept coming up at SLA. One of the speakers I heard said something that really resonated with me: the fact that innovation will always increase the amount of apparent failures, because successes often only become apparent in the long term. I also think it’s really important that librarians keep up with new developments, because if we don’t then someone else will and it will harm our profession.

Are you currently using any mash-ups on your course?

Nothing springs to mind. That’s something one of our course leaders is really keen to introduce into the course next year actually, building on feedback she’s had from us this year. Just a shame I won’t be around to benefit from it!

Have you got a favourite mash-up?

I don’t really know to be honest! It’s all a bit of a new area for me. That’s something I’m hoping to get out of Mashed Libraries actually: find out what has been done and what could be tried.

Got a favourite beverage?

Mine’s a gin and tonic!

Laura blogs at and is @woodsiegirl on Twitter.

Interview with Edith Speller

•17/June/2009 • 1 Comment

Today we’re chatting to Edith Speller, from Trinity College of Music, London…

Edith at DOK

Edith, can you tell us a little bit about your job at the Trinity College of Music (TCM)?

My official job title at TCM’s Jerwood Library is Librarian (Systems and User Education) – as we’re a relatively small library we do a lot of multi-tasking! My main responsibilities lie in nannying our library management system (SirsiDynix Unicorn), writing and co-ordinating research skills training for students and staff, and marketing the library on and offline. It’s a pretty good mixture of tasks and has given me the opportunity to mess around with web 2.0 stuff.

What’s new and cool at your library?

We’ve got a fairly established Facebook page which is over a year old now and creeping towards the 100-fan mark.

We’ve also started using for our list of recommended web resources – the tags allow for multiple categorisation and we’ve linked to each faculty’s tag on our website.

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

Aberdeen Uni in May 1998 when I was on work experience with my brother-in-law who worked for the computing department. A time when Netscape ruled, Altavista was the best search engine and I spent too long indulging my teenage interest in astrology!

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?

Unsurprisingly my view’s somewhere between those extremes! I feel the library profession suffered the typical fate of early adopters – we innovated when computers and network connections were bleeding edge but tied ourselves into technologies (I’m thinking Dialog, ye olde catalogues, dare I say MARC?) which soon became outmoded by later developments. So, I think we need to experiment, innovate and not fear the occasional failure, while trying to avoid putting all our eggs in one basket.

I think the term “mash-up” originated with remixing & blending music
— have there been any classical music mash-ups yet?

AFAIK classical music tends to go for quotation rather than mashing-up though who knows what my colleagues in the composition faculty are up to 🙂 However TCM recently did a combined music/dance event with its sister college Laban, which felt like a mash-up of the colleges’ work – my husband and I took some unofficial photos.

Are you currently using any mash-ups at your library?

Not really – the closest I’ve got is using a Yahoo Pipe to filter an RSS feed for our Facebook page. I’m currently focusing on making our OPAC more interesting and user-friendly – perhaps mash-ups will have a part to play!

Have you got a favourite mash-up?

“Mash it up Harry” by Ian Dury and the Blockheads – sorry, not actually a mash-up but it’s what I usually think of when someone says “mash-up”!

More seriously, and Spotify are two of the most interesting things in the Web 2.0 music world, so I like this little mash-up which looks at your profile and lists new additions to Spotify that you’ll like. On the classical side, I’ve just seen this experimental Dipity mashup based on BRAHMS data (a French contemporary composer database) which lets you see a map and timeline of composers with links to their profiles on the database – just a taste of things to come apparently!

Got a favourite beverage?

Kriek (Belgian cherry beer) or a decent cider go down a treat. And of course I’ll never turn down a cup of tea 🙂

Edith blogs at Multi-faceted and is @wiilassie on Twitter.

Interview with Debbie, Adam and Mike

•16/June/2009 • 1 Comment

What a bargain! Three for the price of one! 😉

Today’s blog chat is with all three delegates from Leeds Met(ropolitan University) — Debbie Morris, Adam Watson and Michael Taylor…

Adam and Debbie

Hi, could you tell us a little bit about your respective jobs at Leeds Met?

Debbie: I manage the Library system (SirsiDynix Unicorn, soon to be Symphony); deal with any RFID issues and developments (D-Tech system); check out new systems developments the Library could/should implement and then cajole others into helping me implement them.

Adam: I manage the Portal system for the University.

Mike: I’m the web developer for “Skills for Learning” (our Library’s study skills area) and also the developer of the Open Search interface for our Institutional Repository.

What’s new and cool at your library?

Debbie: We’ve been trying to gain some lost ground with Web 2.0, so we’ve recently started to Tweet, developed a Facebook App, started to build a Library in Second Life on the Leeds Met island, added Librarything to our OPAC, and started to think about Talis Aspire.

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

Debbie: Probably at home in the mid 1990’s — I had a techie boyfriend at the time who liked to have all the latest gadgets.

Adam: Keighley College 1995.

Mike: Probably at Leeds Met maybe 1995/6 — I wasn’t an employee back then (being 11 has it’s limitations), though my father was.

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?

Debbie: I’d go for the second option, the challenge is persuading colleagues who adopt the first option.

Adam: A combination of both.

Mike: Definitely a bit of both. As a developer I’d rather avoid being thrown onto every bandwagon that comes along but it’s also exciting to investigate new technologies to expand upon what we already have.

I know you’re currently investigating Facebook. What’s your take on the argument that we should be staying out of student’s social spaces?

Debbie: I’d like to think we are just providing them with a useful app, we’re not asking them to be our “friend”, but we are getting useful, tailored Library information to them in a way they might find helpful and familiar.

Adam: I think that this a very valid and philosophical question and that some people may find it intrusive. The obvious contra-argument to this is that the application is of course a value added optional service to allow students to aggregate content to their chosen point of access. Further to this we will not use their data in any way to target advertising etc to them. We will also not use features that allow publishing to the wall or status updates, and all private data is held on Leeds Met secure servers and not in Facebook. Other users will not be able to see details of another user’s library account.

Mike: As long as these things remain a choice for the student then I see no problem.

Are you currently using any mash-ups?

Debbie: In the past year we’ve added Librarything to the OPAC and developed the Facebook app, but there’s lots of enthusiasm to build on this. The Second Life library & services will be an interesting experiment. I’m not sure SL is very popular with many of our students (the exception being Art students).

Have you got a favourite mash-up?

Debbie: I like the stuff Bill Bailey does with music, if that counts? The jazz version of the national anthem was a particular favourite, or the William Tell Overture mashed with cockney rhyming slang! (see Bill Bailey and Cockney Music)

Adam: My Facebook status is updated by my Twitter account.

Got a favourite beverage?

Debbie: No, I like a wide variety of beverages.

Adam: Green tea.

Mike: Just a good cup of tea.

Interview with Zoë Johnson

•15/June/2009 • Comments Off on Interview with Zoë Johnson

As some of you will know already, there’s been a few of us involved in “Mash Oop North!”, so today it’s the turn of my colleague Zoë…

Zoë, can you tell us a little bit about your job at the University of Huddersfield?

Subject librarian (predominantly English and Drama, but I dabble in all things Education too). I have the word e-learning (in brackets) in my job title, which permits me to explore and develop more ideas/ tools and technologies to enhance library information literacy/skills in the first instance. I admit to being a learner myself in the area of mashups and hoping “Mash Oop North” will give me some inspiration, ideas and confidence to explore further.

What’s new and cool at your library?

See anything Dave Pattern does! (Dave: thanks, the cheque’s in the post!) Plus we’ve got a Twitter account and have ventured into the world of online inductions which includes Flickr feeds and podcasts.

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

Probably first/second year at university (1994/5) at this dear place of Huddersfield – remember being underwhelmed by the slowness – think it was a newspaper site… the oldest example I can find is here:…

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?

Embrace indeed but we can be a cautious lot, so need some coaxing. The whole web 2.0 thing (continuous beta) should be coursing through our veins now, but we still like some order and some structure in the chaos. I think sometimes we’re more aware of the customers on the frontline too, where too much change and “new stuff” can overwhelm the user. We may find a lot of this stuff intuitive, but our students are from all ages, backgrounds and cultures do not, so we must consider all types and skills of users.

Have you got a favourite mash-up?

As someone who collected quotes and bits of poetry in a cardboard folder for many years (often without citing the author – shockhorror), I’m enjoying – which collects top tweets, people can vote for them… rather pointless but creatively stimulating and often chuckleworthy.

Got a favourite beverage?

Currently milk (due to impending nativity in the autumn) but when drinking, Theakston’s Old Peculier for me 🙂

Interview with Fiona Bradley

•14/June/2009 • Comments Off on Interview with Fiona Bradley

Today, I’m pleased to point the questioning spotlight at Fiona Bradley 🙂

Fiona, you’ve just moved to the UK from Australia. Could you tell us a little bit about your new job and your previous one?

I’ll be joining IFLA to work on programming, but not *that* kind of programming! I have just moved back to the Northern Hemisphere after spending 8 months seconded to IFLA last year working on their new website. I was seconded by the University of Technology Sydney, where I had a few different roles, the most recent being as Research and Policy Officer. In that role my main work was as project manager to design a new catalogue interface (using Endeca) which launched in beta earlier this year. I also worked on projects related to the institutional repository. Previously, I was a liaison librarian.

Your blog is — could you say a little about how the semantic web is having an impact on libraries?

There’s a few libraries already who see the potential of linked data and semantic-aware searching for libraries. It’s a very exciting time — there are a lot of possibilities out there to do interesting things with the data we already own, and to share what we have with others. We sometimes forget just how rich catalogue data can be (despite its many shortcomings). At the moment I think we’re still in a phase of experimentation, where we’re all learning what we can do to make our data more relevant and flexible, but in the next year or two I think we’ll start to see the impact of search services that go beyond reusing structured catalogue records as presentation layers do now and providing rich recommendations and enhanced browsing.

Europeana in particular is something to keep an eye on.

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

My father worked for IBM, and I remember him bringing home a ginormous laptop sometime in late 1996. We unfurled the telephone cable and dialed up, it was a text-based browser, maybe Lynx. I think the first site I went to was Yahoo! I had a magazine with a list of interesting URLs and tried them all out. It was very exciting. I didn’t understand how my university campus AARNet worked and so I didn’t use the Internet on campus. At home it seemed easier.

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?

I think it depends what it is. We need to think seriously about what needs new technologies support, but that shouldn’t stop us from trying out new things. I think instead of taking a technology approach, we need to change our mindset about cloud computing and open source. We need to think more about cloud computing (making backups, providing services efficiently across multiple platforms) and less about open source – we should simply embrace open source and give back and share where we can.

Have you got a favourite mash-up?

Eminem vs The Smiths – Without This Charming Man (YouTube)

Oh, not that kind of mashup! Actually I love that mashups as a term in a way evolved from the music mashups of the early 2000s. I worked in a music library at the time they become popular and there was a sense of fun, discovery and experimentation about it. Some things were genius, others not.

I feel the same way about technology mashups. I like a lot of the map mashups because they can be very good for visualising advocacy. Being able to see at a glance which regions on earth have the fastest Internet connections, or the most restrictions on freedom of speech is powerful.

Fiona blogs at Semantic Library and is @blisspix on Twitter.