Show and TEL

Yesterday I spoke to colleagues at the monthly TEL network meeting which, technical problems notwithstanding, was an opportunity to engage, in particular, with learning technologists who should prove invaluable as intermediaries back to their respective faculties.

I wasn’t actually able to show them intraLibrary itself as the network seemed to have developed bahavioural problems but I did show the search interface, described how we had come to this point and what further development work there is still to do on the interface and the associated infrastructure that will surround intraLibrary – a lot of interest in the PowerLink to X-stream.

It was also a chance to plug The Repository Day which is taking place at Old Broadcasting House on November 10th when colleagues are invited to participate in one of 4 workshops that I will be running throughout the day. There will be a software demonstration (I hope!) and folk will have the opportunity to use the system and to inform ongoing development and to try out some new tools produced by our collaborating projects Streamline and PERSoNA. I also hope that people will bring their own material for upload to the repository which can be copies of published research papers or Learning Objects that they have created and would like to share with colleagues.

At the meeting we were also shown the new ALT wiki – I’ve got myself an account and started building a repository page – there’s not much there as yet!

Staff Development Festival

Leeds Met is a University of Festivals, we are often told, and the next fortnight will be the Staff Development Festival which will provide a unique opportunity to promote The Repository.  And I’m going Scuba diving, albeit in a swimming pool.

All the repository pieces are now in place and I intend to demo the search interface and the repository proper, presenting it as a semi-blank canvas that now needs to be painted upon by the University community.  I’ve already had some feedback from Jonathan Long, Director of the Carnegie Research Institute and a member of the consultancy group who would like a search to return formal Harvard references for each item emphasising that one of the reasons for setting up the repository is to increase the number of citations – the interface is just ‘out of the box’ at the moment and returning results in the manner of the IRISS interface – I’ll gather input over the next fortnight and Mike should be able to do some customisation when we have a clearer idea of what people want.  I might even have a go myself although, with no knowledge of php, I can’t make head nor tail of the site files, my web skills having stalled at basic HTML, CSS and (very basic) Java Script.  Mike has already added browse functionality which is, for the moment, based on faculty structure – I’ve set up a collection within intraLibrary for each faculty and it is these that Mike is using to generate the results although it should also be possible to use metadata fields – I think we will map DC ‘subject’ onto LOM ‘keyword’.  It might be tricky to incorporate numbers of records after browse links and I’m waiting to see what Mike has to say on this.

Anyway, for now, I have 5 citations per faculty which is adequate for initial demonstrations and I’m working on some full text content – several of the citations I’ve uploaded are RoMEO green/yellow so it’s just a matter of getting hold of author versions.

As for promotional material, I’ve ordered a big purple recoil stand similar to that for the Library and I’ve three info sheets to print up in quantity:

The Repository is an introduction to the project and to IRs specifying our dual remit for the Leeds Met repository.

Open Access: What’s in it for you? emphasises the evidence that OA increases citation (using a graph from Steve Lawrence’s seminal article Online or Invisible? (2001) which is a bit out of date but by far the clearest visual representation I have been able to find.)


Copyright presents a very simple flowchart of the (self)-archiving process.

I shall also try to put together a narrated presentation to run when I’m not there.  A couple of lap-tops and we’re away!

Incidentally, here is a link to the search interface:

(Currently only accessible from a Leeds Met IP)

Guardian Article

There is a section in today’s Guardian about the future of academic libraries which includes an article on Open Access.

STARS – Staff Training Awareness Refreshing Skills

Thanks to Lou for arranging for me to speak to library staff as part of the STARS programme this week. And thanks to everyone that came along. On Monday I spoke to 27 people at Civic and today there were about 25 so that’s around 50 staff who now (hopefully!) have a greater awareness about the repository project and Open Access.

As at last week’s CRI seminar, some very interesting perspectives were raised and there are a number of issues that crop up again and again.

Very briefly and from memory some of the recurrent themes are:

  • Software testing/usability of interface
  • Versioning in the repository
  • Repository content – will content be limited to peer-reviewed output? What about book chapters (monographs)?

I intend to start compiling a list of FAQs and with this in mind it would be very useful if people could contact me with any specific questions they may have (or think others may ask) either in person, through this blog or by email.

Download the slides from the presentation.

CRI Seminar

Well, I have finally delivered my first formal presentation to members of the university research community. I am grateful to Sam Armitage for inviting me to speak as part of the Carnegie Research Institute seminar series yesterday; as I mentioned at the event, one of the difficulties for me is to identify suitable forums (or fora?) at which to engage with colleagues across the university and yesterday’s seminar was an ideal environment in which to begin a dialogue with the CRI (and one or two delegates from other faculties and departments.)

When one has been living on the web, immersed in all things Open Access and Institutional Repositories, it is difficult to anticipate exactly how (often complex) issues will be perceived by those whose support I need most – the academic and research staff at Leeds Met. All in all, however, I felt that it went well; perhaps I tried to cover too much material – you can’t tell the full tale in the first chapter, especially as the story of Open Access is still very much being written!

Here are one or two (Ok four!) specific issues I recall being raised; I shall ask those present to remind me of any others they would like to discuss further that either cropped up during the seminar or have occurred to them since:

  • Publisher copyright policies and self-archiving

I referred to the SHERPA RoMEO web-site which can be used to find a summary of permissions that are normally given as part of each publisher’s copyright transfer agreement and is maintained by Nottingham University; there was some discussion as to what proportion of publishers actually allow self-archiving; I believe it is the majority but discovering a more definitive answer is on my ‘to do’ list!

  • User testing of potential solutions for our repository

Concern was expressed that adequate user-testing of software is sometimes neglected on a project such as this.

All of the products we are reviewing (commercial and Open Source) have well established user-groups at other institutions and all are fully customisable meaning that it should be possible to conduct user testing once the software has been selected and adapt the user-interface etc to our specific requirements. Also, I do intend to do some testing of my own with a student who is visually impaired and has kindly offered to check accessibility to screen reading software.

I will also make the point that the system specification that we developed in the course of our market analysis of potential solutions was comprehensive – if you are interested it is available to download from the project website.

  • Referencing from Open Access material

The version of a self-archived paper (either pre-print or post-print) may (almost certainly will) differ from the published version which raises potential problems when referencing from such material; different pagination, for example. This is something I have seen discussed elsewhere; also on my ‘to do’ list – find relevant discussion of this and related issues!

  • What will happen to an individual’s self-archived research when they leave Leeds Met?

Academic staff, of course, are liable to work at several institutions in the course of their career and we will obviously need some sort of formal policy to describe what will happen in this circumstance. Again, this is an issue I have seen discussed elsewhere and I shall endeavour to report back in more detail.

So that’s four more or less arbitrary recollections from my first seminar – as I say, I’m sure those present will remember more and I would very much like to encourage people to use this blog as a discussion forum. You can post comments or, if you would like to become a more formal contributor this can be arranged – please contact me to discuss this further.

I would also ask people to bear in mind any other fora (or forums!) that would be appropriate for further discussion of Leeds Met’s repository project. And very soon we should actually have a repository to show you!

Finally, in the spirit of Open Access I shall make the slides from the presentation available to download (full .ppt as WordPress won’t allow me to upload slides only as .pps) – it is very much a work in progress and any comments/feedback gratefully received.