A network for new and aspiring library professionals
I attended Sheffield’s Library Camp on 2nd February and really enjoyed the day. It was considerably smaller than the Library Camp in Birmingham and I felt that the atmosphere was more relaxed.
The first session I attended was proposed by @pennyb on advocacy and self-advocacy. I missed the pitches but wanted to attend this session as the theme of our next event is going to be advocacy and outreach. Penny wanted to discuss self-advocacy i.e. how do we represent our best interests at work? Do we feel confident when asking for ‘reasonable adjustments’ to be made? In order to advocate for ourselves we need to be assertive, resilient and bolshy. We discussed whether librarians possess those personality characteristics, and if not, how can they achieve self-advocacy? Penny suggested that assertiveness training should be a feature of a future ManchesterNLPN event so watch this space!
The discussion then turned to advocating for the library and the difficulties of doing this when students can achieve good results without using the library. Promoting the long-term benefits of information literacy skills is not always the easiest sell!
The second session was the one I proposed, based on something Sue Lawson (@shedsue) said at our Autumn Event – ‘are librarians self-obsessed?’. I feel that I have become somewhat obsessed with being a librarian since studying for the MA. I wanted to explore the idea of self-obsession, in order to figure out why librarians are prone to self-obsession and if there are any positive aspects to this self-obsession (assuming that self-obsession is a negative thing).
I am going to discuss this session in more detail in another blogpost, so that this post doesn’t become too long. In the meantime, you might be interested to know that a sitcom about librarians exists in Australia! I really want to watch it, which probably tells you a bit about how obsessed I am.
After lunch I attended a session on Research Data Management (RDM), proposed by @libmichelle. One of our MMU lectures was delivered by a guest speaker from the MaDAM project at the University of Manchester, and this provided the sum of my knowledge about the topic before Saturday. It it not something I have had any particular interest in finding out more about since finishing the MA, so this seemed like a good opportunity to fill the gaps in my knowledge.
We discussed what the term means for those who are unfamiliar with it. RDM refers to managing the data produced by research, whether that is quantitative or qualitative. It requires a shift in mindset, whereby instead of valuing the research output (e.g. an article discussing the findings) the data created/collated by the researcher becomes the important thing. Managing this data so it can be exploited by other researchers is becoming more common and we tried to unpick whether this is a job for a librarian.
There are ethical implications to data management i.e. the participants will have been informed of the original research aims, but if their data is made available to other researchers then how can they consent to it being used? The storage of data must be made clear in ethical statements.
Storage of datasets is a problem, an article is unlikely to take up much space on a server but years worth of research data could be massive. It could also be in diverse formats so whoever is in charge of storing it must be familiar with formats other than pdf.
I feel that RDM is an issue for librarians because the data is a resource, and it has to be catalogued in order to be used by other researchers. Others feel that it is a job for researchers as they understand the data. I don’t think an understanding of the data is necessary, because librarians have the skills needed for resource discovery.
One of the issues for librarians is networking and outreach, in order to attract researchers to deposit their data. This is part of the culture change that is needed to improve RDM. The use of data can now go towards improving an academic’s impact factor (because the datasets can be assigned a DOI), which will help to persuade them to allow their data to be used by others.
The final session I attended was on Sustainability Literacy, proposed by @danpgrace. This session was supposed to be about green initiatives in libraries – a discussion about to what extent libraries should be involved in educating people about living in a sustainable way. Along the way though, politics were mentioned and the discussion turned to professional ethics and whether we should allow our personal politics to affect our professional performance (e.g. should an atheist librarian help a person to find out about psychics?) The majority of the room felt that we should not allow our personal opinions to change the way we deal with queries. It seems that censorship is still a key topic for librarians.