Archive for the ‘Websites’ Category

Save our sounds!

January 13, 2015

As a member of a UK higher education institution, you have access to something called British Library Sounds, a collection of sounds from the British Library. Coming from all over the world, the sounds are related to a vast number of topics and cover the full range of recorded sounds such as music, drama and literature, oral history and environmental sounds.

However, these recorded sounds are under threat, as the British Library describes:

The nation’s sound collections are under threat, both from physical degradation and as the means of playing them disappear from production. Archival consensus internationally is that we have approximately 15 years in which to save our sound collections by digitising them before they become unreadable and are effectively lost. The British Library is home to the nation’s sound archive, an extraordinary collection of over 6.5 million recordings of speech, music, wildlife and the environment, from the 1880s to the present day. We need both to ensure that the existing archive is properly preserved, and that there are adequate systems in place for the acquisition of future sound production in the UK. The Save our Sounds programme has been created to answer this imperative need. It has three major aims:

– to preserve as much as possible of the nation’s rare and unique sound recordings, not just those in our collections but also key items from partner collections across the UK

– to establish a national radio archive that will collect, protect and share a substantial part of the UK’s vibrant radio output, working with the radio industry and other partners

– to invest in new technology to enable us to receive music in digital formats, working with music labels and industry partners to ensure their long-term preservation

It’s incredible to think that unless the British Library undertakes this project, then these sounds of the past could disappear in just 15 years. To find out more, take a look at the Save our Sounds project website.

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Happy new year!

September 11, 2014

As we prepare for the start of the academic year, I thought it was time to welcome those of you who are new to the University of Bolton, and say welcome back to all our returning students. I hope you have had a good summer. There a lots of developments happening this year – some of which returning students will soon spot – and these will be detailed further as the term goes on. However, if you’re new, and are not sure where to start with accessing our services, why not take a look at our Introduction to Library Services for New Starters, which you will find on the Library homepage.

We look forward to getting to know you!

To tweet or not to tweet? Archiving social media output for the future

May 12, 2014

I tweet. I’ve been quite slow to join the Twitter revolution (if that’s the right word) but I ‘get’ what it’s for and quite enjoy having a place where I can jot all my thoughts down as randomly as they come: I’ve been known to work through problems in this way. I’ve done some very useful professional networking on Twitter, and have even managed to keep up with conferences that peers at other universities have been attending.

But what exactly will happen to those little bursts of consciousness  in 140 characters or less? Where does this ‘record’ of me go? There’s nothing earth shattering – my woes with getting electronic journals properly activated aren’t all that interesting to the world at large – but for some people or organisations there really might be something worth remembering. I’m not sure what the future will hold for archiving social media output, but there are initiatives to ensure that information of note is being archived so that it can contribute to our understanding of the world at any given point, and I spotted something in the news on this very topic, and thought I’d share. The National Archives has begun a project to archive all Tweets that have been produced by UK Government Twitter accounts, of which there are many more than you might think.

The UK Government Web Archive: Twitter links to around 40 separate official Twitter accounts ranging from the Prime Minister’s Office, HM Treasury and the Ministry of Justice to NHS Choices, the Office of Fair Trading and Ofgem, as well as an additional set of Twitter feeds relating to the 2012 London Olympics. In addition, the National Archives is also contributing to the activities of the Internet Memory Foundation by creating a searchable database of UK Government web output. These initiatives demonstrate that what is published on the Internet really should be regarded as information to be retained, and it’s fascinating to think that researchers of the future might consult Twitter feeds at some point during their research.

I highly doubt that future generations of researchers will need to know that in early May 2014 I was having problems with access to two electronic journals, or that my current musical obsession is the Requiems of Fauré and Duruflé, but in case you are interested, you can follow me at @electronicsarah…

From Worktown to Cottonopolis

March 25, 2014

I have to share news of an event that is taking place this Saturday (29th March): Mass Observation for the 21st century. Here’s what the event will entail:

“Bolton is famous for being the centre of a 1930s Mass Observation project, seeking to capture the world of Worktown – their name for Bolton. Celebrated photographer Humphrey Spender and his colleagues attended football matches, trips to Blackpool and even voting in elections as part of their mission to capture everyday life in Bolton.

On Saturday 29 March 2014 the University’s Centre for Worktown Studies has a family event planned. There is a morning of 15-minute talks on themes such as Mass Observation, Worktown and Humphrey Spender’s photographs as well as a Worktown exhibition. This will be followed by an opportunity to follow in Spender’s footsteps.

Everyone taking part will travel to Manchester – whether by bus or train or car – taking photographs and making observations about the journey and the talks. People taking part can make notes and use a camera or use a tablet or mobile and tweet their pictures and comments. The Twitter hashtag for the event will be #MOBolton2014.”

The event is being coordinated by two members of staff here at the University of Bolton: Bob Snape and Ian Beesley. The full story is available here.

So why I am telling you about this, besides wanting to indulge my inner researcher. Here at the University of Bolton, we have access to a very important database called Mass Observation Online, which has gathered the results of missions to capture everyday life from 1937 to 1972. I’ve done a search for music (naturally) and what I’ve come across are diary entries. I could read all of them, but such is the richness (and sheer amount!) of the material I would be here all day. While that would be lovely, I wouldn’t get anything else done. A female civil servant, living in Morecambe and aged around 40, writes of going to the cinema, of blackouts, of the unfair conscription of women, of going to concerts. It’s wonderful stuff. Mass Observation Online is available on the A to Z list of resources on the library website – why not take a look!

 

What if Google killed Scholar?

November 12, 2013

How’s that for a dramatic title then?

A few weeks ago, I learned that Google will be indexing ScienceDirect. What that means is that if you are on-campus and search on Google, then you may be able to access our ScienceDirect holdings. Initially, the librarian in me reacted in horror: how dare Google do this?! Users must never, ever use Google, ever! I wondered if I was alone in this thought and put the question to electronic resources librarian colleagues at other institutions, who confirmed that they had reacted in exactly the same way, but had come to realise that as many users will go to Google as a default, then why stand in the way of getting hold of quality academic material. I’m still not entirely convinced, but I am a realist (and user of electronic resources myself) and I have come to appreciate that it’s not a terrible thing to be able to access ScienceDirect material via Google. After all, it’s all in the name of pointing you to the information that you need to complete your assignments, and if you’re getting to quality material, then the route you take is largely arbitrary. Moreover, if you conduct a Google search and end up in ScienceDirect, the chances are you might well stay there, gathering more material and improving your information retrieval skills.

Besides my initial “No, Google, get your hands off my database!” reaction, I also couldn’t quite see how this new initiative was any different to using Google Scholar. Surely Google Scholar does this anyway? Yes, it does. However, there’s a school of thought that suggests that Google Scholar may well be on its way out. I was recommended to read this blog post on the subject, and I would recommend you do the same. No-one has come outright and said that Google Scholar will be a thing of the past, but there is plenty of evidence to suggest this may well be the case one day. Who knows: perhaps ScienceDirect within Google is just the first step in that process.

Open Access Week: What is Open Access?

October 21, 2013

Happy Open Access Week! As I mentioned last week, this week sees return of Open Access Week for the sixth year. The aim of Open Access week is for the global academic and research community to share, learn and enjoy Open Access. For information about Open Access Week, have a look at the Open Access website, which summarises the aims of Open Access Week far better than I ever could:

OA Week is an invaluable chance to connect the global momentum toward open sharing with the advancement of policy changes on the local level. Universities, colleges, research institutes, funding agencies, libraries, and think tanks have used Open Access Week as a platform to host faculty votes on campus open-access policies, to issue reports on the societal and economic benefits of Open Access, to commit new funds in support of open-access publication, and more.”

I thought I’d start this week by thinking a little bit about what Open Access (OA) actually is. Although if you’ve never come across OA you might think it is something of mysterious concept, commonly understood meaning of OA is that it facilitates free, immediate access to scholarly output via the Internet. See: simple! OA is typically achieved by uploading material to institutional repositories (such as UBIR here at the University of Bolton), subject repositories or by publishing in OA journals, for example, those indexed by the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ). In more recent times, it has become possible for authors to pay charges to the journal in which they wish to publish (known as an Author Processing Charge or APC) where the cost of producing a journal article – which is not an insignificant cost – is removed from the reader and passed onto the author. For a very exploration of what OA is, including a discussion of the relationship between research funded by the research councils and OA, see the Open Access Q and A that has been produced by the library at Queen Mary University of London.

So why do we need to worry about OA? At around the time I was undertaking my postgraduate diploma in library and information management, there was a great deal of discussion about a government paper (Scientific publications: free for all?) that delved into the world of paying for scholarly research. A particular focus of this report was the fact that the public was paying for the research indirectly via taxation, but unless they happened to be a member of a subscribing institution, they could not access this research. At this very simple level, this seems an unfair situation, and it had to be changed. At that time, there was also discussion about the need for academics in developing countries to be able to access research. These are still true today. Indeed, a number of research councils now insist that research that has been funded in this way is available to the public i.e., to those who have funded it. It’s also true to say that the handling of OA by publishers – a hugely complicated issue and one for another – has been consolidated by the growing use of APCs to facilitate OA, having previously been wary of OA for fear of financial and indeed academic damage. That said, there is more and more quality academic material available via OA, and knowledge of OA has increased rapidly. I have seen this demonstrated to me very recently when I was asked about APCs by an academic. Not so long ago, I needed to spend a long time explaining OA and almost ‘selling’ the benefits. It seems that these days, many are aware of the benefits, and the issue of how to join in is the pressing question.

So OA seems to be a good thing: research is available free of charge, And it is a good thing. However, the simple concept of OA has been challenged and will continue to be challenged, and tomorrow we will look at some of the issues and pitfalls of OA.

Get ready for Open Access Week!

October 15, 2013

Next week is Open Access Week, a global event that is now entering its sixth year. The aim of Open Access Week is “an opportunity for the academic and research community to continue to learn about the potential benefits of Open Access, to share what they’ve learned with colleagues, and to help inspire wider participation in helping to make Open Access a new norm in scholarship and research.”. This year, Open Access Week will take place from October 21st to 27th, and at the University of Bolton will be makred by a series of blog posts discussing the various issues surrounding Open Access, and how we at the University of Bolton might get involved. Watch this space!

IT Support Services website is now live!

September 30, 2013

It’s not much good having access to electronic resources if you can’t get into your network account or you don’t know where you can access a PC. From today, you will be able to access all the computing information you require by visiting the IT Support Services website. The website includes details on how to contact a member of the IT team for help, facilties for staff and students and a widerange of publications that will help you. Take a look at the website here.

Jorum: collecting and sharing Open Educational Resources

September 10, 2013

I thought I’d share the news today that a new website for Jorum, a JISC-funded service to collect and share Open Educational Resources (OER) has been launched. Jorum has been available for around five years, and this newly-launched website aims to improve the experience of using the service so that it may continue to grow and develop. By depositing OER into Jorum, a repository, these resources can be resued and repurposed throughout the entire HE community as well as the FE community. It’s free, and contains 1,000s of searchable OER that have been inspired or produced by the FE and HE communities.

Jorum can be accessed here. You can find out more about the service, and there are links to the Jorum blog where you learn about all the developments to the service. Do take a look, and send any feedback about the service, which is run by Mimas at the University of Manchester.

Jorum, if you’re wondering, is of Biblical origin and means a collecting (or drinking) bowl. It really is true that you learn something new every day.

Freely available, quality digital collections

July 18, 2013

One of the things I love most about my job is the feeling of discovery: I think it’s in a librarian’s nature. Once upon a time, and this was certainly the case when I was a postgraduate student, that tended to manifest itself in finding a book next to the one I had visited the shelf for, and finding that in actual fact, that book was even better. Serendipity. These days, however, things tend to be a little different and discovery is more virtual than it is physical.

The other day, I was searching for some information about one of the national deals to which we subscribe. Quite by change, I stumbled upon the JISC Content website, which I am ashamed to admit I had not come across before. This website brings together top quality academic websites and databases that for the most part have been made available free of charge. The collections are wide and varied, and range from image banks of showing Britain, the British Cartoon Archive, digitised countryside images, an online archive of early music, worldwide observations on the weather from around the time of the First World War, an archive of Welsh Journals online and the published and unpublished papers of Sir Isaac Newton. And many more besides.

I’m off on my holidays after today, so I do hope that however you are spending your summer, you have an enjoyable time, and I will be back blogging in August!