Uncooked Data


Library related events, questions and links: My professional life on a page

Breakfast basics – Twitter for the Terrified

On 15 April, kindly hosted by Perfect Information, SLA Europe presented a breakfast session aimed at those for whom social media is as yet unchartered territory. My PhD research has involved a lot of thinking about engagment with online communication. So although I would never cite myself as an expert, more an averagely competent user/ participant, I’ve seen and been part of many discussions on the usefulness or otherwise of social media sources. The opinions voiced were definitely my own take on this – not necessarily the same as the rest of SLA, SLA Europe or friends or employers.

We had an engaging conversation on why you might want to sign up for a Twitter account; what the advantages and disadvantages might be; how to manage the information flow; identity and anonymity and some of the third party services that are out there. It really was touching just the tip of the iceberg, but I think folk found it interesting. At least, they stayed awake until 9am! The slides I used as a background to the discussion are on Slideshare.


Filed under: Event report, SLA Europe

BookNext: The Future of Reading

As SLA Europe President I was invited to speak at BookNext, the 4th Spring Event hosted by the American Embassy and the American University in Rome at the end of March. The theme for the event was the rise and rise of the ebook and we had a number of presentations from users and vendors discussing their impact and adoption.There’s some great video and photographs giving a real flavour of the event on the event’s website.

Mine was possibly a mildly dissenting voice; talking about how ebooks restrictions (licence and format) and vendors’ options mean their use in London law libraries is minimal. Key legal textbooks are either in print or used via vendors’ databases, not as standalone downloadable products.

Christopher Platt told an engaging story about the New York Public Library and its ebook issuing service – reflecting the libraries’ ability to reach its audience when the library is closed; issues around the way that ebooks are accessed. We don’t ask patrons to find physical books based on their publisher, but that’s the way that ebooks are arranged if every vendor has their own platform. Antonella De Robbio discussed the way that publisher and author rights have not changed despite the changes in printing and distribution and wondered if it wasn’t time for an update in the expectations around intellectual property.

Across the board it was interesting to see the same issues are being addressed – are publishers talking to libraries, or making assumptions about what will work? How do we influence the way ebooks can be borrowed to ensure our users get the best options?

Personally, I found the experience of speaking at a bilingual conference intriguing; each time a speaker changed language there was a flurry of activity as folk removed or used their headsets. Meeting Italian and American participants was also fun. Gimena Campos-Severa and Fransiska Wallner worked hard to produce a well attended, thought provoking and exhausting day. Thank you for the invitation and for the opportunity to see the beautiful city of Rome.

Filed under: Event report, SLA Europe,

Winter Warmer Quiz

Last night was SLA Europe’s perennially popular Winter Warmer Quiz. AskTony provided the questions and SLA Europe members and friends provided the atmosphere for what was a really fun evening. There was much laughter from our team (named Fleur Boat: an anagram of Table Four) and we eventually placed third behind Team Gav, and last year’s winners Olivers Wisemen. Considering I was on the last-placed team in 2010 that was rather an improvement – although my ability to name the Paddington Bear theme tune in about three notes of music was probably my biggest contribution. Fortunately there was no picture round – since I rarely watch TV I am hopeless at recognising faces. Now if there was a Radio 4 voices round, I’d be in with a chance.

Thanks to the SLA Europe events team for their hard work with the organisation; and to Swets, who not only sponsored but sent two very helpful participants.

Filed under: Event report, SLA Europe

LIKE, the Echo Chamber and Supreme Court

This week, Uncooked Data has been to three different and interesting events. In an ideal world I’d have blogged separately about them, but I’m rather running out of week…

On Tuesday, Westlaw hosted drinks at the Supreme Court. This was an opportunity to revisit the building (having been there on a CLIG-organised visit about a year ago), and to hear from Thomson Reuters about their ideas and plans. I also had a chance to catch up with legal librarian colleagues I’d not seen for a little while. Thanks to Westlaw for an enjoyable evening.

Wednesday saw me hot-footing it to the City Business Library to hear the about the exciting Voices for the Library project and how they’re beginning to make inroads into the mainstream media, making the case for the value of library spaces and crucially, professional library staff. Bethan Ruddock and Jo Anderson outlined the development of the website and their social media strategy. The event, run by SLA Europe, was themed around the idea that we need to escape from the ‘echo chamber,’ to be able to reach outside of our library peers and be heard as campaigning professionals. Ned Potter and Laura delivered an inspiring talk on this – I’d forgotten how annoyed I’d been earlier in the year at the KPMG report that assumed all librarians did was arrange books on shelves, and the way Newsnight quoted circulation figures for UK libraries that were out by a factor of 1,000. Details are all on the Echo Chamber prezi. There are writeups of the event at the View from the Hill blog, Laura’s, and SLA Europe recorded the whole thing, so do keep an ear out for the podcast. I’ll admit that although I’ve kept an eye out for VtfL’s work, and seen it discussed on Twitter, I’d not given it a whole lot of attention. Its focus is public libraries, and so I’m concerned, I’m not committed. My sector has already seen job cuts, downgrading and outsourcing. We qualified librarians are in this together as far as I am concerned – but I wonder how many public librarians think I have a really easy job, and vice versa? I work in the City, so I must be loaded…? We didn’t have a great deal of post-presentation chat time, but I did get to talk briefly with Annie Mauger from CILIP and Phil Bradley.

And it’s Thursday… so it must be LIKE… This was LIKE 20, and the first I’d managed to attend. Lesley Robinson took us through the gentle art of networking (you think joining a group of strangers is difficult…have you tried extricating yourself gracefully from the dullest conversation in the world?) Exposure to the SLA and North American networking means I’m pretty comfortable walking into a roomful of strangers, but even so it was nice to bump into someone I knew on the way in this evening! LIKE is a great bunch of people and a very successful community. I hope to have more free evenings on the last Thursday of the month in 2011 so  I can make a few more of the meetings.

And if you’re wondering what I did on Monday, I went to a recording of The Infinite Monkey Cage for R4. And tomorrow? Tomorrow I’m just going to the lovely Bricklayers, a stone’s throw from Uncooked Data’s HQ, to catch up with a lovely aspiring poet friend.

Filed under: Event report, personal effectiveness, SLA Europe, , ,

SLA Conference 2010 – initial thoughts

I’ve posted on the SLA Europe blog about my time in New Orleans and the sessions I attended as president-elect. I’ve posted on Running Life about my attempt at a run in NO weather; here I am going to share general reflections on the conference.

60 sites in 60 seconds

I secured a seat for this session early on – even better, one by a socket for iPhone charging. The room was full to overflowing for John and Gayle’s canter through 60 great websites: business information, great blogs, productivity tools and a few just for fun. Slides are here via Slideshare.

B&F awards & giving back

On Monday Philip Gatzke received his Early Career Conference Award at the Business & Finance ceremony. This time last year it was Annie and myself in his shoes so I was pleased to be able to help out by accompanying Philip. It was good to see Jeff Graveline, one of the B&F award winners I met last year, also helping – this time presenting awards. We had to make a sharp exit as we also needed to be at the International Reception to hear Geoff Walton accept his Information Professional of the Year award. The plans were somewhat scuppered by a spectacular storm which started just as we were due to leave; we had to jump over a young lake of water to exit our taxi at the International venue.


Twitter was an invaluable tool both in the run-up to the conference and in New Orleans itself for serious and not-so-serious information. I was indebted to @librarysherpa for her help in locating somewhere en route to NO to watch the England v US World Cup match. And in-conference tweets from all sorts of people helped keep me up to date with what was going on. It was also fun to meet Tracy, aka librarysherpa, in the queue for breakfast on Monday morning. And to think that last year I didn’t see the point… (I am @Batty_Towers).

Closing ceremony & Nicholas Carr

The business meeting was short and informative: the state of the SLA’s finances and its future plans is one for a future discussion. Am audience of internet-savvy tweeters then listened to Carr tell us that we are changing our brains with our use of these technologies. I’m not convinced by his arguments, but I probably would say that…

Other sessions

I also attended a number of other sessions which I hope to have time to record briefly here in the near future.

  • BNA/ Legal Division breakfast meeting
  • Rising Stars & Fellows Roundtable, including SLAE’s Bethan
  • Refworks’ vendor presentation – a chance to find out about a PhD tool
  • Diversity Breakfast with Art Munin talking about White Privilege (pdf)
  • B&F’s poster session (picking up some good ideas for my next PhD poster)
  • Petroleum & Energy division’s presentation on free resources

On Monday and Tuesday mornings I could easily have been in four places at once: looking at my personal brand; our international session; fundamentals of business research; learning what goes in a good consultant’s toolkit.

New Orleans history and sights

Wednesday morning was my first opportunity to try the much-talked of beignets and coffee at Cafe du Monde. Wow! That’s a lot of sugar. But a great opportunity to chat with @ibraryguy prior to attending a session on the history of prostitution in New Orleans. It’s easy to smile at the idea of a directory of local prostitutes, harder to contemplate the actual reality and the real people behind the titillating pictures. Pamela Arceneaux’s talk was animated and informative.

With only a few days in NO and a busy conference I squeezed sightseeing in where I could. Following last year’s  conversations, this year I ate grits; I also had rabbit livers and an alligator sausage.  I rode the St Charles Avenue streetcar and checked out the cathedral. One of NO’s museums was right next door to the convention centre – Southern Food & Beverage – including a history of the American cocktail. That was $10 well spent for an hour.

I’m glad I have taken a day off work today to write up my general reflections, revisit my notes and make my list(s) of post-conference action points. It’s always energising to spend quality time with a bunch of bright, enthusiastic and forward-looking people and I am looking forward to the challenges of the next few months.

Filed under: Event report, SLA Europe, , , , ,

SLA 2010

Uncooked Data is in New Orleans at SLA’s annual conference. I’m tweeting with the hashtag #sla2010 and looking forward to a busy three days.

As SLA Europe president elect I have a mix of things to do, places to go and people to meet. It’s going to be fun!

Filed under: Committee, SLA Europe

SLA Legal Division – recent publication

This is just a short entry – I have more in the pipeline about SLA and SLA Europe specifically.

A longer version of my post about Supporting New Trainees has recently appeared in the Winter/Spring edition of SLA Legal Division’s newsletter.  I’m pleased to be able to fly the flag for SLA Europe within the division, more so as the Chair-Elect is one of our firm’s managers.

Filed under: SLA Europe, ,

SLA Europe: Networking drinks at Patch

On Tuesday 18 May SLA Europe hosted an evening of networking drinks at Patch, a rather nice bar near Blackfriars and a stone’s throw from TFPL. TFPL and Freepint had co-sponsored the event so it was free for all to attend. (Note: not a free-for-all!)

This was a very pleasant evening and although I stayed as late as I dared on a ‘school night’ I still left for home several hours before the evening wrapped up. The Events Committee had provided badges with a space for us to note a couple of things that we wanted to chat about. A good idea and an instant icebreaker. Particularly as it gave people an opportunity to tell me I’d not read the instructions properly. I didn’t really intend ‘real ale’ to be my work-related topic… or did I?

As a member of SLA Europe’s Board it would have been tempting to spend a greater part of the evening following up on other conversations. However, I wanted to make sure I spoke to plenty of new folk too and it was fun to do just that. It was, after all, the point of the evening. Thanks to the Events committee for their hard work and to the sponsors for their support. And hello to all new folk I chatted with. Thank you for being good company!

Filed under: Event report, SLA Europe,

Tweeting While You Work – SLA Europe event

On 16 March I attended SLA Europe’s seminar ‘Tweeting While You Work.’
Dr Hazel Hall (@hazelh; @LISResearch; @CentSocInfo) of Napier University in Edinburgh, Julie Hall (@juliehall) of Women Unlimited and Julie Lewis (@judithlewis; @MostlyAboutChocolate; @Seshet) of Seshet Consulting gave their perspective on using Twitter at work and as part of our work.

All had multiple Twitter identities for multiple purposes. Hazel Hall also emphasised that her Facebook profile was the place where her non-work social networking took place, thus creating clear boundaries between Twitter as a work tool and as a social tool. To an extent this is what I have done too. My Twitter community for @Batty_Towers is now a mix of PhD-related people and work colleagues. Only some of these are interested in the football score or the trains I have taken, so I need to share carefully when using Tweetdeck: is this for Twitter and Facebook or just one service?

Hazel’s presentations is available here. So far the event’s been covered by VIP, WoodsieGirl and will feature on the SLA Europe blog. Photos are available too though thankfully none of me.

I have chosen to follow people who post work-related information. I use it as a kind of current awareness service – if there’s an interesting new paper or article it will be tweeted about by one if not more of the accounts I follow. This approach was challenged a bit by the Digital Researcher event I attended: this is probably not the way to fully exploit the advantages of social media within the research community. Julie Lewis took us through some of the interfaces for using Twitter. Julie Hall also emphasised the ways that Twitter had improved their business and opened doors to new opportunities. All clearly pointed out that the way to think about Twitter is as a public conversation; not just a mindless broadcast.

Bob De Laney, News & Business Director at Lexis Nexis chaired the event and asked a key question: Would you pay for Twitter access? Participants felt that on the whole, they would not – if Twitter started charging, users would migrate to another service that was free.

We have a library Twitter account; I set it up to track for political parties’ announcements during the party conferences when accessing other broadcast would have been difficult. Another colleague uses it to check conversations around a different topic. And we, excitingly, follow the BBA’s Libor rate. I cannot see us tweeting on behalf of the library just yet, I think that’s a little advanced: how would that fit with the firm’s social media strategy?. And there are plenty of other people tweeting the kind of library current awareness we would have access to. But it’s good to be in a position to contribute where we can, and know that we are not too far behind should opportunities arise to fully Twitter While We Work.

Filed under: Event report, SLA Europe, , , , ,

Free vs Fee: The future of news

SLA Europe’s panel session on 3 November brought together producers, licensors and aggregators of news content.

Andrew Hughes (Newspaper Licensing Agency) described their approach to licensing B2B use of online content. NLA claim that 31% of online content is not published in print. I’d like to know whether that’s 31% of actual news, or whether it’s counting opinions/ features or even the user-generated comments on websites. If the latter, is that really what business will pay for?

Laurence Kaye (Laurence Kay Solicitors) rattled through 10 key legal points (Neil Infield has recorded these here). He says that an effects-based approach to regulation would deal with a number of the issues; what is actually being done with the infringing information and how is that affecting the legitimate owner?

Laurence C. Rafsky Ph.D (Acquire Media) presented a hierarchy of ‘free.’ At the top: that which is professionally produced, & intended for gratis distribution. At the bottom: that which is not intended to be free but is taken anyway. User-generated amateur content in the middle. He also voiced concern about content that’s free for some, but not others. We were cautioned that just because Google says it’s free content – that doesn’t necessarily equate to actually being free.  We are referred to one author’s side of the story.

Jeremy  Lawson (Dow Jones & Company) also was present and his opening statement affirmed Dow Jones fully supported publishers’ rights.

Pertinent points raised in the subsequent Q&A session were…

  • Around 2/3 of traffic to online newspapers arrives via Google news
  • Business models are based on the paper-based technology. If we designed a news delivery system today from scratch we’d have very different ideas on what to do.
  • How do individuals have a sense of differentiation, between their use as a consumer (reading the FT on their commute) and as a businessperson (copying the article to a client later)?
  • An aggregator-driven increases in website traffic is not necessarily the answer to problems in a newspaper’s online business model.
  • Publishers will find ways to leverage their investment in the content production. 

There were no hard and fast answers to be given; some strong speculation and some interesting ideas. Chatting to other attendees over a glass of wine in such a lovely venue was a great way to round off the evening. I consider it a success when I don’t quite get to speak to everyone I wanted to! So thank you to the panel members, SLA Europe, and Dow Jones for their kind sponsorship.

Filed under: Event report, SLA Europe, , , , ,

About me and Uncooked Data

Batty Towers

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Some possibly useful research links