Sunday, 14 September 2014

Interlibrary Loan Service Integration: fit for the future

This post is a response to Daniel Payne’s article, “The something service: on calling interlibrary loans interlibrary loans” which is well worth reading. 

I would say that what @lyhairian does in his final remarks is actually nail down the real issue - we have allowed this service (whatever you call it) to become its own entity that we think needs presence and external promotion. It doesn't, and UK ILL shouldn't be the uncultured monster it has become. In part I might put this down to software that has enabled it to be isolationist within the library ecosystem.

Primarily it should just be an internal support mechanism for some of the core activities of libraries, namely: supporting research; developing collections; delivering content. To contextualize that: Research Support; Collection Development; Procurement & Access. 

  • Research support teams are the experts at liaising and guiding people to resources and services available to support their research.
  • Procurement and access teams are the experts in acquiring content and delivering access to it to meet demand.
  • Collection development teams direct the development of unique content holdings through expertly identifying and predicting future needs. They also react to previously unknown needs by responding to recommendations from staff and students.

There is a role for ILL to plug the holes in local library collections, but it should never be working in isolation from collection development and support activities themselves. No library can own everything. Equally, we are still a long way from all material of possible research value being available digitally - be that for free or by subscription. Yet Open Access (OA) marches on and we will increasingly be able to direct people to repository versions of published papers, as well as OA versions on established publisher platforms.

ILL service teams, still very much working with a mindset that deifies physical material, are a seperate cost burden that distract from greater efficiency that could be gained by integrating with these other core areas. To the customer, unfamiliar with library vernacular, the service should be little more than a boutique and bespoke solution for the vague materials that can't more easily be catered for through:  

  • Better utilisation and knowledge of available and local resources 
  • Intelligence driven on-demand acquisition
  • Improved provision of digital access to content through whatever means available

I've written elsewhere on intelligence-driven on-demand acquisition, but from the perspective of the customer it has a significant element that we can all identify with. Through engaging with a responsively managed service we feel respected, listened to and influential. Lending a hand in developing a collection is something that the customer can derive satisfaction from, and also allows the library to more easily engage with its customer base, maintaining its relevance in an increasingly complex world. The ability to add value to a service through a responsive and engaged approach is, to me, essential to what a library offers.  

Let's make the service that shall not be named the boon of the library's core services and not a secret island of plenty for those who happen to know about it. 

But how should we express this service to our end-user? 

My answer is simple, and in the context of the above thinking - we shouldn't. The service is a request service and what we should be doing is making it as simple as possible for customers to tell us what they want. We then, within our normal core operations processes, take care of that by advising or delivering it to them. It really should be that simple. We don’t need to explain something to them in the terms of library jargon or a process; we need to provide excellence in delivering what they need.

How we would do this requires another posting. Simply put, it would involve: a decent discovery layer with quality metadata behind it; a link resolver; a single-stream access point for recommendations and requests; thought-through technical solutions; consolidation of a number of services, and a group of concerted problem solvers. Not really that much hard work to finally bring an important component of library service back into the fold and fit for the future. 

Friday, 16 May 2014

Photoshop Battles

Let's be honest, the internet enables small pieces of brilliant. And many other things besides.
A picture is posted, gets popular and then people get creative with it just for the japes.

Here follows one of a number of examples of this process that I stumbled upon today. Indeed, there are people out there that invest effort into this intriguing pastime. Good on them.

Internet you are brilliant. You spread things among strangers generating little ripples in lives wherever you reach. Don't ever go away.


Monday, 25 November 2013

Marie Stopes by George Bernard Shaw, 1921.

LSE Archives Image Record
Marie Stopes (1880-1958), scientist and birth control pioneer, looking rather pensive and uncomfortable in front of the camera. This photograph was taken at a Fabian Summer School in 1921 by George Bernard Shaw.

Marie Stopes was a complex progressive very much rooted in her times. Scratch the surface with a lot of these characters and you tend to find the distasteful stuff, but the fact is she played a major role increasing people's knowledge, appreciation and understanding of sex and reproductive health.

Marie Stopes on Wikipedia
George Bernard Shaw photography

Saturday, 23 November 2013

British Political and Tariff Reform Posters

Originally posted May 21st, 2012 on Out of the Box Tory Lords "controlling" the Commons. (1907/8) COLL MISC/0519/43

House of Lords reform, a shrinking Armed Forces, pension unrest and increasing food prices…
You could be forgiven for thinking we were talking about news topics from the weekend papers, but honestly we aren’t. These were just some of the issues being battled over by politicians in the most recent collection to go into the LSE Digital Library. Covering a period around 1892-1910 – when Britain was governed by Conservative and Liberal governments (but not at the same time) – are 88 British Political and Tariff Reform Posters.

McKenna's Navy Cut. (1908) COLL MISC/0519/59

The posters were produced on behalf of the Conservative and Unionist Party, the Labour Party, the Liberal Party, the Liberal Unionist Council and the Tariff Reform League. They contain caricatures of key political figures of the time such as: Arthur Balfour (Prime Minister, 1902-1905), Henry Campbell-Bannerman (Prime Minister, 1905-1908), Herbert Asquith (Prime Minister, 1908-1915), David Lloyd George (future Prime Minister), John Redmond (Irish Parliamentary Leader,1900-1918), Joseph Chamberlain (Leader of the Liberal Unionists) and James Keir Hardie (1st elected Independent Labour Party Member of Parliament). Some of the themes of the collection of posters are the Second Boer War (1899-1902), Tariff Reform (and the conflict between Protectionism and Free Trade), the question of Irish Home Rule and issues around Immigration and the Empire.

  John Bull: "I'll give him Home Rule!" (1910) COLL MISC/0519/58

If you are interested in finding out more about the historical context and figures then I’d recommend some very accessible articles on Wikipedia such as the one for Henry Campbell-Bannerman, Joseph Chamberlain and the Tariff Reform League. If you want something a little bit more subjective and opinionated then I’d heartily recommend finding out what Beatrice Webb thought of the people and the issues. This is very easy to do now that her diaries are also available and searchable on the Digital Library. Meeting Joseph Chamberlain, a man that Beatrice was deeply in love with, is referred to as her “...catastrophe of my life”. One wonders if the LSE would even exist if it hadn’t been…

All images from LSE

Saturday, 14 September 2013

Pedrosky.'s photostream

SmokingSuspendedMigrant HawkerHeaven's AboveTunnel VisionCockles
FangWhitethroatCabbage Patch PigRock PoolingCommon TernSandwich Tern
Durdle DoorJurassic CoastDragon SkullSlabsDamselfliesSkyrise
SiblingsGreenMarsh FrogToothed WrackMirror ImageMute Swan

A friend who is finally sharing his photography online.

Unlock the hard drives!

Monday, 26 August 2013

Wellcome Images: AIDS Posters

A small selection of images from the Wellcome AIDS Poster collection.
Education, terror, advice and critique. Barmy cartoon characters also included. 

Friday, 31 August 2012

El Hadjii-Diouf: the jury is out

El Hadji-Diouf- the butt of many a joke and clearly a perfect candidate for clever GIF editing types to work over.
I stumbled on this in a thread that I got to after cursing that I wasn't in New York to visit exhibitions at the Museum of the Moving Image.

Sunday, 26 August 2012

Israel road trip in 2010

View Israel, 2010 in a larger map
View some of the photographs from this trip

Spending a little bit of time looking at maps and Google earth again. Getting excited about what I could do with them. Better not get too carried away with it all.

Tuesday, 10 July 2012

London Street Scene

Another cropping of a scan.
I really should be doing them at higher resolution but I kind of like the effect. This is Lombard street in the City. Probably lugging around gold or something. 

Sunday, 8 July 2012

Boy in the photograph

Take another look at the boy in the foreground. The following text explains a little more about him. Surprised? I was:
"Little Mic-Mac Gosling," as the boy with the pitcher is familiarly called by all in his extended circle of friends and acquaintances, is seventeen years old, though he only reaches the height of three feet ten inches. He is, in fact, so small, and, at the same time, so intelligent for his size, that he once held an excellent situation as a lady's page; but I presume he is now getting too old for such an office. His bare feet, I should add, are not necessarily symptoms of poverty; for, as a sailor, and during a long voyage to South Africa, he learnt to dispense with boots and shoes while on deck.

Wednesday, 4 July 2012

Social media guidance for civil servants

The 29 page report was far too much to enjoy reading but it seems comprehensive enough and the above options made me chuckle a bit. They are options for:
'Tackling the infrastructure issues that can inhibit access to the internet and social media channels'.
Top tip that one about their legacy IE6 and IE7 installations. Truly modern Government running a legacy Civil Service. oO  

Thursday, 28 June 2012

Book Cut-and-Shut

This is all a bit Catchphrase and perhaps a bit meta. I had a scanned image from a book of a bank scene from the 19th century. There are so many interesting interactions going on in the larger picture I decided to focus on some of them. I'm sure other people are interested in this kind of thing, for me I just like to see what we can easily do nowadays with digitised content using simple digital technologies. 

 Thanks for stopping. Bye!