Volume 6, no. 1 October 2010
Association of Librarians and Information professionals in the Social Sciences
Special issue: Innovations in social sciences information and research support The Changing Environment Social Policy initiatives; the changing nature of research Online archives and repositories Economists online; the 2010 General Election Archive Building online communities The Mass Observation Communities Online (MOCO) project; The Community CafĂŠ Project Educating and Engaging with students University of Portsmouth induction; The use of voting clickers at the University of East London; Toolkits for Training at the University of Nottingham
ALISS Quarterly Volume 6 no. 1 October 2010
ALISS Quarterly Vol. 6 Number 1 October 2010 © The authors Each article is copyrighted to its author(s) and all rights are reserved. No part of this publication may be reprinted or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording or any information storage or data retrieval system without prior written permission from the author(s) and full acknowledgement to ALISS. Editor: Heather Dawson email@example.com Published by ALISS.
Special issue: Innovations in social sciences information and research support Editorial Heather Dawson
The Changing Environment Social Policy in a Time of Coalition: whither welfare in the second decade of the 21st century? Jude England, Head of Social Sciences, The British Library Researchers’ behaviours and the implications for Scholarly Communications Dr. Branwen Hide, Research Information Network Research into Reality: Knowledge exchange with the third sector Razia Shariff, Head, Knowledge Exchange Team, Third Sector Research Centre
Online archives and repositories Elections and the Internet: a collaborative web site archiving Project Jennie Grimshaw, Curator Official Publications and Social Policy, British Library Economists Online Kieron Jones Subject Librarian: Economics, Political Science & History, UCL Library Services
Building online communities The Mass Observation Communities Online (MOCO) project Jenna Bailey, Johanna Samuelson, Sophie Williams-Brown, Mass Observation Communities Online (MOCO) project The Community Café project: sharing tea, cake and online teaching resources Kate Borthwick, Project manager, Community Cafe project, Subject Centre for Languages, Linguistics and Area Studies, University of Southampton
Educating and Engaging with students Exterminating Boredom: synergy and creativity in an academic library Emily C. White, Library Assistant, University of Portsmouth Timothy Collinson, Faculty Librarian, University of Portsmouth The use of voting clickers at the University of East London Library Robin Stinson, Subject Librarian for Social Sciences Simone Ngozi Okolo, Academic Services and Skills Manager Toolkits for Training Kathryn Summerwill, Manuscripts and Special Collections, The University of Nottingham
Editorial Welcome to the latest edition of ALISS Quarterly. It has been published by ALISS (Association of Librarians and Information Professionals in the Social Sciences). This special issue addresses information and resources relating to innovations in social science research and research support. It is based on our recent conference: Innovations in social policy information and research support held on 3rd August 2010 at the British Library. The presentations from this event can be viewed online at http://www.slideshare.net/heatherdawson Social Policy in a time of coalition – Jude England, Head of Social Science Collections and Research, British Library The changing nature of scholarly communication. What does this mean for researchers? – Branwen Hide, Liaison and Partnership Officer at the (Research Information Network). Third Sector Research Centre – paper by Razia Shariff, Head, Knowledge Exchange Team Third Sector Research Centre Social Care TV: case study of LGBT evidence – A presentation given by Paul Ross and Dominic King from SCIE. Mobile Phones and Libraries: experimenting with the technology – a paper given by Kate Robinson: Head of Academic Services, University of Bath We have also just launched a new twitter channel where you can keep up to date with our latest activities. http://twitter.com/aliss_info we are using it to highlight weekly listings of new social science websites and new UK government publications online. Remember that you can also keep up to date with ALISS news by subscribing to our free electronic mailing list LIS_SOCIAL SCIENCE at http://www.jiscmail.ac.uk/lists/LIS-SOCIALSCIENCE.html Or consulting our website at: http://www.alissnet.org.uk
ALISS Quarterly 6 (1) October 2010
ALISS Quarterly 6 (1) October 2010
Social Policy in a Time of Coalition: whither welfare in the second decade of the 21st century? Jude England, Head of Social Sciences, The British Library May 2010 saw the formation of the Conservative and Liberal Democrat Coalition government. One of its most scrutinised areas is welfare, with plans for radical changes to the benefit system outlined in the consultative document 21st Century Welfare published on 30th July 20101. The modern UK welfare state took shape about 100 years ago, driven by the continuing rise of poverty, evidenced by the poor physical health of Boer War army recruits – about 40 per cent were unfit for service as a result of their living conditions. The Friendly Societies attempted to provide some support for the working age population, but state provision for unemployment and ill health was non-existent. The election of the Liberal government in 1906 was a key turning point, introducing national insurance in 1911 to provide a basic level of help. The reforms drew on the work of Bismarck in Germany, which introduced a national insurance scheme in the mid-1880s. This was the first in the world, established to encourage productive effort and promote social stability. The next major wave of UK social reform had its roots in the Second World War. Concern about the poor physical condition of conscripts and evacuees sat alongside a general desire to create a more equal society. The iconic Beveridge Report2 set out plans for social insurance to provide income security as ‘an attack upon want’, and asserted that ‘… social security must be achieved by co-operation between the state and the individual’. National insurance contributions were to be paid by everyone of working age in return for benefits for unemployment, retirement, sickness and widowhood. Crucially, the report established the principle of a minimum standard of living below which no one should fall. Beveridge was described by Harold Wilson as having ‘… had certain ingrained views about unemployment, still derived from the historic study he had made in 1909 [……] The main conclusion in his original work had been that unemployment was mostly frictional, seasonal in certain trades, aggravated by technological and structural change, but principally due to the ignorance of the unemployed of the jobs that …. would be available.’3 Wilson comments that although Beveridge was the first major figure to subject unemployment to serious analysis, he was unable to recognise that there could be a permanent and inbuilt lack of demand for labour. The 1945 Labour Government implemented the Beveridge recommendations, introducing the National Health Service, family allowances and free school meals. By and large there was a post-war consensus around welfare provision for the next 30, even 40 years, with a safety net in place for those who were unable to work. But many potential claimants were reluctant to claim ‘charity’ and debate centred on problems of low take-up rather than fraud and error. The emphasis changed through the 1980s with increased concern that the level of benefit acted as a disincentive to a move into work where earnings were not high enough to counter the impact of the loss of housing benefit, for example. Work was explicitly identified as a route out of poverty from the late 1990s, encapsulated in this quote by Tony Blair, adapted from earlier quotes by Bill Clinton: ‘In future, welfare ALISS Quarterly 6 (1) October 2010
will be a hand-up, not a hand-out.’4 Evidence suggested that both the unemployed and economically inactive wanted to work but were prevented by barriers such as lack of skills and experience, social and psychological circumstances, and structural issues such as changes in the labour market and wage levels. Labour set out to redistribute through working tax credits; Blair also wanted benefit recipients to acknowledge their responsibilities to participate and contribute, alongside their right to support. Evidencebased policy development exploded; for example, in the last six months or so of the 2005 Labour government, some 78 reports were published by DWP evaluating various welfare issues and targeted initiatives. Despite this activity, rates of child poverty did not decline; commentators felt that there were too many programmes; and, more people were drawn in to a confusing and complex system, increasing concerns about error and fraud. Where is welfare heading under the Coalition government? An important indicator is David Cameron’s notion of the Big Society. This aims to: ‘… create a climate that empowers local people and communities, building a big society that will “take power away from the politicians and give it to the people”.’5 It combines philanthropy, volunteering and social enterprise, but reaction has been sceptical, even among Coalition supporters such as Mary Riddell in the Telegraph: ‘… the sink or swim society is upon us and woe betide the poor, the frail, the old, the sick and the dependent…’. However, the Coalition also announced a review of poverty and life chances, chaired by Frank Field, to generate a debate about the nature and extent of poverty in the UK and make recommendations for government action – though these must be consistent with fiscal policy. The review of poverty sits alongside 21st Century Welfare, which focuses on the causes of poverty: family breakdown, educational failure, addiction, debt, worklessness and economic dependency. The consultative document puts work at the centre of working age support: ‘…we will expect them (the British people) to find work and make sure work pays when they do. They in return will be expected to seek work and take work when it is available. No longer will we leave people for years on long-term benefits without contact or support.’6 21st Century Welfare sets out the case for reform of the system including work (dis)incentives, whereby the interaction between benefits and the tax system makes the transition to work problematic, as well as not facilitating part time working below 16 hours per week. It outlines the complexity and cost of the system and involvement of many agencies, which means claimants have to provide the same information to different agencies in slightly different ways. It discusses the issue of inaccurate payments, whether the result of over- or under-payment or fraud, but not non-take-up. A set of principles are proposed to guide reform, which aim to: ensure that the reward from work outweighs the risk of moving off benefits, incentivising work; support those most in need and reduce the number of workless households and children; promote responsibility and positive behaviour; and to automate processes and maximise self service, reducing the scope for fraud and error and improving the affordability of the system. A number options for implementation follow, most centred on the notion of simplification such as universal credit or a single working age benefit, integrated family allowance through household tax and transfer systems or negative income tax. Early ALISS Quarterly 6 (1) October 2010
reactions have been positive, especially to the aim of simplifying the system and improving incentives to work, though concerned that too much simplification might blur difference and impact on those with very specific needs.
Researchers’ behaviours and the implications for Scholarly Communications
Evidence on the physical impact and extent of poverty supported major programmes of social reform at the beginning and middle of the 20th century; from 1997, Labour used research and evaluation to assess the impact of its efforts to address the barriers to work. Many of the reforms now proposed would benefit from a review of research carried out in the last 10, 20, 30 and even 40 years, looking at attitudes to benefit receipt, working and looking after a family for lone parents, incentives to move geographically for work, and, the interaction of benefits and work disincentives. Preparing this article and the presentation for the ALISS summer conference it struck me anew just how important research is to inform and guide policy, and how significant the legacy provided by our collections is, and will continue to be, in the future.
Introduction Creating, using, sharing and accessing information is an integral part of the research process. Traditionally, this process has been heavily supported by research libraries, with librarians acting as key gate keepers to the scholarly communications landscape for researchers. However new digital technologies as well as policy developments are changing the research and information environments. They are also making it easier for researchers to directly interact with the scholarly communications landscape. In order to better understand the role research libraries and librarian can play in this new and developing landscape, it is important to have an accurate picture of how researchers currently produce, use, share and access information or knowledge and how current technology and policy developments influence researcher behaviour.
References 1 2 3 4 5 6
The consultation period is open until October 2010. Social Insurance and Allied Services Sir William Beveridge CMND 6404 HMSO November 1942. Harold Wilson, Memoirs 1916-1964 (1986). Interestingly the origins of the phrase may go back even earlier to President Kennedy in 1961 who apparently used it on the campaign trail; many thanks to Julie Robinson of SCIE for unearthing this nugget. Downing Street website August 2010. Ian Duncan Smith in the foreword to 21st Century Welfare.
Dr. Branwen Hide, Research Information Network
Current research practises The research life cycle is a multi faceted, time consuming process that can be broken down into five stages (Figure 1): 1. Development – the expansion of research question or idea. 2. Research Production – the physical undertaking of the research (e.g. laboratory based experiments, field work or conceptualizing archival material). 3. Pre-publication dissemination – initial discussions and sharing of preliminary findings. 4. Formal publication – peer reviewed publication of completed or near completed research. 5. Post-publication dissemination – further discussions and sharing of research findings.
Figure 1. The basic research life cycle
ALISS Quarterly 6 (1) October 2010
ALISS Quarterly 6 (1) October 2010
Though in principle these stages can be seen as discrete entities, in practise there is considerable overlap between them, and researchers move through the various stages multiple times throughout a single research project. On further examination of these stages, it becomes apparent that they constitute two different actives; the production of knowledge and the consumption or usage of knowledge. This highlights the two different, and often conflicting, behaviours through which researchers interact with and influence the scholarly communications landscape.
Factors influencing research practises
A. Research Environment The global research community thrives on the sharing and discussion of research findings. In the UK and elsewhere there has been a significant increase in research expenditure. As a result research funders and institutions are placing increasing emphasis on the demonstration and maximization of the social and economic returns from that investment. Thus research outputs are becoming an increasingly important commodity (RIN 2009a). Researchers publish and disseminate their work through a variety of formal and informal means, related to disciplinary norms. They include monographs, journals, conference proceedings, and social media resources. The choice of publication is determined by their desire to maximize dissemination to the target audience, and to gain peer esteem and rewards. A major influence on how researcher communicate their work is the perception, and in many cases, the reality, that their work is being monitored and assessed. The general ease of monitoring journal article production and usage (via citation counts and downloads), as well as the complex and well established journal ranking system, has lead to a dramatic increase in journal article production over the past five years. This is particularly noticeable in those subject areas, such as the humanities and education, that traditionally do not produce large numbers of journal articles, as clearly demonstrated in Figure 2.
B. Technological Changes Technological changes are enabling and encouraging a wider range of research outputs and enhancing the ease of publication and dissemination of research outputs. The use of Web 2.0 based tools and resources as a research dissemination tool There is much discussion about the benefits of using web 2.0 tools, with a strong belief that they will not only enable and encourage new forms of research, but will also promote new forms of scholarly communications and drive innovation. Those that do use these tool and resources claim they see a number of advantages including enhanced visibility and ease of answering research question. Thus, it is often assumed that a wide majority of researchers are using or will be using these tools over the course of their research career. However, as shown in Figure 3, there is limited overall use of information-sharing web 2.0 tools (RIN 2010a) and those that do use them tend to be well established in their research career, despite strong encouragement from research funders and institutions across all career stages (Figure 4). This limited uptake of these tools is partially due to lack of awareness, appropriate skills and local support as well as concerns over the fear of being â€˜scoopedâ€™, misinterpretation of data, copyright and IP issues, and the lack of recognition and reward (RIN 2008 and RIN 2010b).
Figure 3. The Use of web 2.0 tools to producing, commenting on, and share scholarly content
Figure 2. Journal article production across multiple disciples from 2003 â€“ 2008
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ALISS Quarterly 6 (1) October 2010
Changes to the scholarly communications landscape To support researchers and help them meet these policy and technological development we are seeing a number of changes to the scholarly communications landscape. Commercial players as well as research communities, information service providers and knowledge intermediaries such as publishers and conference organizers, are developing new and innovative tools, services, publishing and searching platforms. As a part of the open data movement, data is becoming a viable research output in its own right and research communities, publishers and other related organisations are developing ways to enable more efficient data publication and access. These developments are also presenting new challenges and opportunities for the development of peer review, research assessment and quality assurance.
Figure 4. The influence of career development on the use of web 2.0 tools
Use of electronic resources to undertake research A number of our reports have highlighted the growing use of and reliance on e-journals and online databases by researchers in all disciplines. There is a clear correlation between journal article usage, subscription expenditure and research income in terms of research grants and contracts (RIN 2009b). In addition, researchers are starting to use social media as a research tool; for example to disseminate large population based surveys (Bexelius 1009) or to map behaviours over time, (for example Google Flu trends). New fields such as cyberpsychology are also emerging. C. Policy Changes Over the past few years a number of policy decisions have occurred that have and will continue to influence researcher behaviour and expectations. The open access (OA) movement has had one of the most significant impacts on researchersâ€™ publication and dissemination behaviours as well as on the wider research landscape. Since the declaration of the Budapest Open Access Initiative in 2002, the OA movement has developed momentum in the UK with a report published in 2004 by the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee which recommended that the Research Councils review their policies on access to publicly funded research. Following statements from Research Councils UK in 2005 and 2006, individual Research Councils as well as other research funders now have statements to support, encourage and in some cases mandate their researchers to either deposit copies of their published research articles in appropriate OA repositories or publish directly in OA journals (RIN 2010c). The OA publishing movement as well as the open source movement has added to the growing demand from some researchers, research funders, and the government to make the underling research data openly and freely available on the internet as well. ALISS Quarterly 6 (1) October 2010
Conclusion Producing, sharing, accessing and using information will always be an integral component of the research process. Policy and technological changes have brought, and will continue to bring, profound changes in the roles that researchers, research institutions, publishers, libraries and other intermediaries play in disseminating and providing access to information resources of various kinds. These policy and technological changes also greatly influence researchersâ€™ goals and expectations as well as the services they use and want provided. It is more important than ever that research libraries and librarians do not approach scholarly communications developments in isolation, but place them within the larger context of policy and technology developments that are affecting researchers and the research environment. Advances in the information landscape must also bear in mind the different disciplinary needs, wants and expectations as well as improving upon existing practises. References Bexelius, C. (2009), E-epidemiology â€“ adapting epidemiological data collection. Retrieved from http://diss.kib.ki.se/2009/978-91-7409-538-8/thesis.pdf RIN (2008). To share or not to share: research data outputs. Retrieved from http:// www.rin.ac.uk RIN (2009a) Communicating knowledge: how and why researchers publish and disseminate their findings. Retrieved from http://www.rin.ac.uk RIN (2009b). E-journals: their use, value and impact. Retrieved from http:// www.rin.ac.uk RIN (2010a). If you build it, will they come? How researchers perceive and use web 2.0. Retrieved from http:// www.rin.ac.uk RIN (2010b). Open to All? Case studies of openness in research. Retrieved from http://www.rin.ac.uk (to be published September 2010) RIN (2010c). An introduction to Open Access. Retrieved from http:// www.rin.ac.uk
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Research into Reality: Knowledge exchange with the third sector Razia Shariff, Head, Knowledge Exchange Team, Third Sector Research Centre
Introduction There is a growing demand by higher education and research funders to demonstrate the impact of their research investment1. In the policy world, evidence-based and informed policy is being promoted2. In the world of the practitioner, commissioners and funders want to know what evidence and theoretical models are being used for project implementation. Knowledge exchange is becoming a core component of researcher projects to ensure that the knowledge that has been gained through research is disseminated and used to inform policy and practice and have an impact on society. Recent studies3 by HEFCE also indicate that researchers benefit from knowledge exchange, informing their teaching practice and providing a reality check on their research work. The traditional approach to knowledge exchange in the world of academia has typically been limited to a written paper which is presented at a conference and then hopefully published in academic or professional journals for a wider audience. The establishment of TSRC has created the opportunity to offer a ‘step change’ in the linear model of ‘first the research is published then it is disseminated’ to a more participatory and interactive model that engages key stakeholders throughout the research process. This paper explores the initial learning from this innovative approach to knowledge exchange between researchers and the third sector.
TSRC Model Developed The approach of TSRC has been to develop: strong formal partnerships between the research, policy and practice communities; a commitment to incorporating knowledge exchange throughout the research process; a mechanism to monitor and evaluate impact. The intention is to achieve the long term vision of TSRC as a sustainable research centre providing a resource which is valuable and influential in the UK and abroad. The investment, design and delivery mechanism of the Third Sector Research Centre is innovative and unique in that it integrates capacity building and stakeholder engagement throughout the Centre’s approach and includes staff teams based within the user community. TSRC anticipates ‘process impacts’ through its Capacity Building Clusters (CBCs), and the methods used to undertake research e.g. engaging stakeholders and undertaking action research. TSRC promotes ‘instrumental impacts’ from its research on policy makers, decision makers and practitioners through knowledge exchange activities e.g. policy symposiums and partnership impact events. TSRC will have ‘conceptual impacts’ on thinkers and academics interested in the third sector through publications and conference presentations. The TSRC is not just establishing itself as a national centre of research on the third sector but ensuring that through its Capacity Building Clusters and Knowledge Exchange Team (KET), working collaboratively with other ESRC Centres, and developing an international academic reputation, it will have a major impact on third sector policy and practice.
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The establishment of a high level Advisory Board made up of key partners in the third sector, academia and Government, and individual specialist Reference Groups for each research stream and administrations within the UK, provides a unique opportunity to develop new ways of engaging and producing research knowledge and its application in the wider sector. TSRC’s Knowledge Exchange, Communications and Impact Strategy (KECIS) supports this by using a blended approach of creating an off- and on-line presence within third sector communities and includes an interactive website with videos, podcasts, discussion boards and blogs, as well as partnership seminars, workshops and events to explore the implications of the research and its implementation. The CBC’s offer PhD Case studentships, Knowledge Transfer Partnerships, voucher and placement schemes in partnership with third sector organisations. The three CBC’s are led and themed as follows: Middlesex University, Social Enterprise; Lincoln University, community engagement; University of Bristol, economic impact. During the initial five years of its contract the Third Centre Research Centre will aim to: • establish a sustainable resource of robust databases on the sector, and key subsectors, in the UK; • establish longitudinal analysis of the sector and organisational dynamics to secure a base for ongoing analysis into the future; • undertake robust analysis of the impact and value of the sector; • develop models which can be used by policy makers and practitioners; • establish a framework of action research which engages all key stakeholders in the development and dissemination of the activity of the Centre; • enhance considerably the capacity for research on the sector and work closely with sector agencies to ensure a sustainable programme of knowledge exchange; • extend theoretical and conceptual analysis of the sector to broaden and deepen understanding of its scope and diversity, and the differing impact of policy interventions across these dimensions. The overall vision of the Knowledge Exchange Team (KET) is to demonstrate the value of robust and relevant research by creating a platform and infrastructure for knowledge interactions between third sector organisations, policy makers and researchers. TSRC researchers will ensure the production of high quality academic research, while KET aims to ensure through stakeholder interactions that the research is relevant to the third sector, and can be readily used to inform policy and action in order to have an impact. The overall aim of the KET is to ensure that TSRC’s research is fully accessible to those for whom it is relevant, both in terms of reach and understanding, and to ensure that policymakers and practitioners are fully engaged in the research process. We have developed a number of initiatives as a result of TSRC’s unique model including: • An involvement wheel as part of the research process where different stakeholders can engage through formal, informal and virtual mechanisms with researchers at TSRC.
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• A knowledge exchange impact matrix which plots knowledge exchange activities in relation to their ability to create meaningful knowledge exchange rather than research dissemination, and in relation to how many stakeholders the activity engages. • The potential development of an online searchable research resource in partnership with the British Library to catalogue research on the third sector and offer a portal of searchable research online on the UK third sector.
Lessons to share Knowledge exchange should not be an add on, it should not be supplementing activity once research has been undertaken but needs to be integral to the research process. Effective knowledge exchange can only be realised over time once the building blocks have been established which raise the profile and relations with stakeholders. Knowledge exchange has resource implications if it is to succeed and involves intense facilitation of flows of knowledge and ongoing interaction between researchers and other stakeholders to establish greater awareness and understanding between researchers, decision makers and practitioners. Based on the Knowledge Exchange Impact Matrix analysis there is not necessarily a correlation between accessing a large number of stakeholders and effective knowledge exchange, as it seems that the cumulative effect of more intensive and meaningful knowledge exchange with a smaller group of people is more likely to have an impact. Although accessing a large number of stakeholders offers solid building blocks for subsequent more successful knowledge exchange activities. References 1
ESRC Strategic Plan 2009-2014 Delivering Impact through Social Sciences, retrieved from 10th June 2010 http://www.esrcsocietytoday.ac.uk/ESRCInfoCentre/strategicplan/ and HEFCE (2009) Research Excellence Framework (REF)retrieved from Accessed 4th June 2010, http://www.hefce.ac.uk/research/ref/ Nutley et al (2009) HEFCE Reports (March 2010) ‘Knowledge Exchange and the generation of civic and community impacts’ & (February 2010) ‘Synergies and trade-offs between research, teaching and knowledge exchange’ produced by Centre for Business Research (CBR) and Public Corporate Economic Consultants (PCEC)
Elections and the Internet: a collaborative web site archiving Project Jennie Grimshaw, Curator Official Publications and Social Policy, British Library Introduction In recent years the Internet has joined print and broadcast media as a key channel of communication between politicians and the public. It is used by politicians to supplement campaign leaflets and press and TV exposure to get their key messages across to voters; it is also increasingly used by the public and various interest groups to influence politicians and political parties, especially through interactive and social media. In order to provide a resource for current and future scholars in the fields of UK political history, communication studies and Internet design, the British Library has been working with the National Libraries of Scotland and Wales and those of other European countries to create collections of archived web sites focused on significant political events for the UK, particularly national, European and some local elections. In archiving successive UK general and European election web sites, we aim to create resource which will enable scholars to explore the evolution of the use of the Internet as a medium for political communication in the UK over time. The time series started with the 2005 UK general and 2009 European Parliament elections, and is intended to continue into the indefinite future. Archiving the 2010 general election In order to maximise the value of the series to scholars and maintain consistency over time, the partners have sought to use again the selection criteria developed for the 2005 general election. Sites falling into the following categories were selected for both general elections and the European Parliament election of 2009: – – – – – – – –
Research centres and think tanks Regulation and guidance Public and community engagement Election blogs Interest groups News and commentary Political parties – local and national Candidates
Sites which had been previously included in the 2005 general election collection were rechecked and added to the 2010 set if still extant. New sites were identified using two main sources: the invaluable British Government and Politics on the Internet pages maintained by Richard Kimber at Keele University and daily searches on Google before and during the campaign. The balance and coverage of the collection also benefited from input from the National Libraries of Scotland and Wales, which identified relevant sites in their countries, while the British Library focused on England and Northern Ireland. The creation of a more comprehensive and balanced collection of sites for the 2010 general election was also facilitated by a more pragmatic approach to gaining permission to archive from site rightsholders and by technical advances in scheduling gathers. Experience with the 2005 election showed that it is impossible to get formal written permission to archive from rightsholders during a five week campaign. Politicians are
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ALISS Quarterly 6 (1) October 2010
focused on wooing voters, and interest groups are focused on lobbying politicians. None are engaged with web archiving issues or signing permissions letters for the national library. The Library’s approach in 2010 was to identify as many sites as possible in advance of the formal launch of the campaign, which was feasible because a May general election was widely anticipated and many organisations launched their campaign sites well before the dissolution of Parliament. We then sought formal permission to archive early, and in case of failure, moved immediately to a notice and take down approach. This involves notifying most categories of rightsholder that the British Library intended to include their site in its 2010 general election collection, and would do so unless they voiced an objection. However, candidates’ campaign sites were gathered on a notice and take down basis from day one, as prior experience had proved that it is impossible to get their attention during a campaign. The British Library Web Archiving Team faced a huge challenge in meeting the demand to crawl about 540 new sites in the course of the five week campaign when their normal monthly target is 30. The challenge was overcome by their first use of the technique of group scheduling. This involves grouping a large number of titles into categories such as “candidate campaign site” or “think tank site” and applying a common archiving schedule to the whole group instead of having to work out a separate schedule for each one. Research centres and think tanks These sites offer serious academic analysis and comment. They are quite rare, and the most significant is the British Election Study. This has been conducted at every general election since 1964. Its main goal is to describe and to explain why people vote, why they vote as they do, what affects the election outcome, and what are the consequences of elections for democracy in Britain. Regulation and guidance These are government sites which explain the legal and administrative background to elections, and the mechanics of how to register to vote. They include briefings on the dissolution of Parliament, hung Parliaments, and the election timetable. Public and community engagement These sites were prevalent in both the 2010 and 2005 UK general election campaigns and in the 2009 European election, and encourage active engagement by the citizen. Examples in the 2010 collection include the Straight Choice which collected and mounted election leaflets photographed and sent in by members of the public, with a view to holding politicians to account for broken promises. As of the May 18th gather, 5715 leaflets had been added to the site. Many of these sites are highly interactive and are designed to help members of the public decide how to vote by comparing their views with party policies. A good example is Vote Match which invites the voter to agree or disagree with statements, indicate which issues matter most to them, and select the parties they would be prepared to vote for. The results screen reveals which party the voter agrees with most. Social media are very prominent – the UK 2010 General Election on Twitter, for example, aggregates tweets from politicians, journalists, the media and voters and was archived daily during the campaign.
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Election blogs Election blogs were much more prominent in the 2010 campaign, and our aim was a balanced sample of academic, party political, journalistic and candidates’ blogs. Examples include Policy Critical, the IPPR election blog, the discipline-based blog Science Votes, party blogs such as Conservative Home, LabourList and Labour Home, UK General Election 2010, covering the activities of smaller political parties, and independent commentators such as Guido Fawkes, named after the only man ever to enter Parliament with honest intentions!
Interest groups Interest groups include campaigning charities, pressure groups, trade and professional associations, and unions. The web sites seek to encourage supporters to actively lobby parties and candidates and supply them with ammunition in the form of briefings and manifestos. There is much use of video presentations, interactivity and social media. For example, on the CILIP election web pages you can read the manifesto, watch a video of Peter Beauchamp talking about the manifesto, and find tips on how to use the manifesto in lobbying and advocacy, including a template email for use with candidates. An attempt was made to gather the sites of the same organisations at both elections to enable analysis of changes in approach and policy, but coverage is very much more extensive for the 2010 campaign. News and commentary Coverage of news sites for both elections focused on relevant pages of the BBC web site which the Library had been granted permission to gather. The BBC election news pages were gathered daily during the 2010 campaign. Technical limitations of web archiving meant that we were unable to gather the video versions of the 2010 live TV debates between the party leaders, but full text transcripts are available on the archived sites. Newspaper sites are not currently collected in the UK web archive as the Library is at present involved in high-level discussions with the newspaper industry about statutory regulations for future legal deposit in the UK. National party sites: The web sites of the three main national political parties were archived in 2005, 2010 and in 2009 during the European elections campaign. Party blogs, such as Conservative Home and Labour List were covered extensively in 2010 and very selectively in 2005. A balanced selection of minor party web sites were gathered for both elections, including right wing and nationalist parties such as the British National party and UKIP, left wing parties such as the Communist Party of Great Britain and the Socialist Workers’Party, parties representing the devolved administrations (Scottish Nationalist Party, Plaid Cymru and the Northern Ireland parties), faith-based parties and single issue groups such as the Pirate Party (demands copyright reform) and Animals Count. Coverage of the regional and minor parties is inconsistent. Plaid Cymru is included in both the 2005 and 2010 election collections, but the Scottish National Party only appears in 2010. Due to a permissions issue, the Communist Party of Great Britain appears in the 2010 collection but not 2005, the reverse of the fate of the Socialist Workers’ Party. The Green Party appears in the 2010 collection only. We aim to achieve greater consistency at the next ALISS Quarterly 6 (1) October 2010
election to facilitate longitudinal studies and to track the changing fortunes of the minor parties especially. Constituency party sites Local party sites were selected for the same areas as the candidates’ campaign web sites. Indeed, many candidates did not produce a separate campaign site, but used the regular site of their constituency party to mount electoral material. It was noted that many of these sites have little electoral content and remain focused on parochial issues. Is the salience of the web in political communication being overrated? Candidates campaign web sites At the May 2010 general election there were a total of 650 constituencies (533 in England, 59 in Scotland, 40 in Wales and 18 in Northern Ireland). In order to cover urban and rural areas in all English regions the British Library drew the same sample as in 2005, choosing one urban conurbation and one shire county per English region:
North East England – Newcastle-upon-Tyne and Northumberland North West England – Liverpool and Cumbria Midlands – Birmingham and Leicestershire South East England (excluding London) – Reading and Kent South West England – Bristol and Cornwall East Anglia – Norwich and Cambridgeshire
For London, constituencies covering six boroughs, three inner London and three outer London, i.e. Camden, Lambeth, Kensington and Chelsea, Sutton, Bromley and Ealing. Campaign web sites are highly variable. Some candidates, such as Nick Clegg, Liberal Democrat leader, used the full range of social media and could be followed on Twitter and Facebook as well as through their campaign site. The campaign site was strongly focused and provided news and events information, links to the Party manifesto, policy statements and a biography. Other candidates adapted the sites established while they were MPs, offering little electoral content and a focus on local issues. Lynne Featherstone, Liberal Democrat candidate for Hornsey and Wood Green, was a heavy user of social media, but her web site focused on local issues such as fair funding for Haringey schools and the future of Hornsey Hospital and was an adapted version of her official site as an MP. For future delight … The UK general election 2010 collection consists of almost 800 sites compared to about 150 for 2005. The sites can be viewed in the UK Web Archive at http://www.webarchive.org.uk/, but are not yet displayed as a discrete collection. For the first time the sites will be organised and presented in their categories within the collection instead of alphabetically by title. This will make exploitation of the collection easier compared to the general election 2005 set, but requires technical adjustments first. The Web Archiving Team intends to launch the complete collection by Autumn 2010.
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Economists Online Kieron Jones Subject Librarian: Economics, Political Science & History UCL Library Services Introduction Economists Online (http://www.economistsonline.org), a new economics subject repository, was launched officially on 28th January 2010 at the British Library Conference Centre. This service has been developed by Nereus, the international consortium of academic research libraries with strengths in economics, and co-funded by the European Commission’s eContentplus programme. Economists in participating institutions are encouraged to deposit copies of their publications in their local institutional repository and Economists Online – a multilingual portal – picks up or ‘harvests’ this material, making it freely available. The project has taken an international, subject-orientated approach which has set standards, guarantees the quality of information and provides strong branding which can act as model for others to follow. Project overview On 1st September 2007 the Network of European Economists Online (NEEO), a project of the eContentplus Programme of the DG Information Society and Media, was launched. The main objective of the project was to improve the usability, global visibility and management of European economics research by providing Open Access to high-quality multilingual academic output of leading economics institutes and their researchers, and by developing a sustainable, multilingual portal with aggregated and enhanced metadata and links to full-text research publications and primary datasets. The project started with 16 partners of university libraries with top-quality economics departments from 8 different European countries. It must be stressed that the starting point of the partners in the project varied significantly. Some partners already had a well-established institutional repository up and running, but most did not, or they had a repository with few publications in the area of economics. User requirements As part of Economists Online’s implementation process, the project included 2 studies in 2008 and 2009 to identify thoroughly the current information needs and requirements of European economics researchers.1 The findings confirmed the needs of researchers with respect to the structure of the economics research environment, particularly the reliance on journal articles and working papers. These studies also observed that researchers rely increasingly on electronic materials, which they access via several online resources. The key online resources mentioned were: (1) the search engines Google and Google Scholar, (2) known-authors’ personal web sites and (3) online repositories. These repositories include Research Papers in Economics (RePEc), the Social Science Research Network (SSRN), as well as the ISI-Web of Knowledge for citation purposes. The majority of researchers consulted indicated that their access to some types of material, notably books, book chapters, conference papers, datasets and theses, was limited. Furthermore, ALISS Quarterly 6 (1) October 2010
most researchers were aware and made use of Open Access means of dissemination. Researchers also indicated a willingness to commit themselves to making their studies freely accessible, and welcomed Economists Online.2 Legal issues Experiences from a preceding pilot project, and other Open Access initiatives, have shown how ownership and the consequent control of copyright in academic work influences the ability of authors to self-archive material, while a lack of understanding of how intellectual property rights (IPR) work and ignorance about their rights have the potential to inhibit authors’ provision of content to repositories. For that reason, activities which formed part of the project included:
Search engine: The metadata in the central store is indexed by the Economists Online search engine. This search service is available via the search/retrieve function that uses the URL (SRU) protocol. SRU is the base layer in a protocol stack that supports the following protocols for accessing the metadata stored in the central gateway: SRU, OAI-PMH, RePEc, RSS, Atom. Crawler: The crawler fetches the object files with full-text by using the URLs made available by the harvested metadata. After fetching the object files from the repositories, they are indexed by the search engine of the gateway. In the case that a fetched object file is a scanned document, Optical Character Recognition (OCR) is applied to the document before handing it over to the search engine. The crawler can also be used for crawling web sites.
• a workshop on IPR to increase partners’ understanding of IPR issues and confidence in handling copyright enquiries raised by authors • a survey of existing repository copyright advice documentation • an IPR Toolkit for library and repository staff to use in advocacy, content gathering and advice work. Technical infrastructure Economists Online delivers managed infrastructure with a central gateway and central database of enhanced metadata records linking to full-text documents and other research materials stored in partners’ local repositories. The central gateway has a Service-Oriented Architecture (SOA), which allows Economists Online to interconnect different distributed services through web-based communication of (typically) XML formatted messages. Partners adapt to Economists Online’s technical infrastructure by using the Metadata Object Description Schema (MODS) for the representation of their bibliographic metadata. This is an international standard suited for describing publications such as journal articles, books, book chapters, working papers and reports. Economists Online aggregates accurate information about the administrative details of each member. To achieve this, partners are asked to set-up and maintain an XML admin file on a web server at their institution. This admin file and the repository contents of an institution are checked periodically and any potential technical issues arising from this are reported to the institution’s repository contact, either in an automated way (email) or through the Economists Online support desk. Central gateway The Economists Online gateway (see Figure 1) is composed of a ‘harvester’, a ‘crawler’ and a ‘search engine’ for collecting and indexing information from the repositories. Its infrastructure is built around the Metadata-based Repository Search Components in Open source (MERESCO)3 software suite, developed by Kennisnet, SURFnet, the SURF Foundation and Seek You Too. It is based on open source technology that employs open communication standards such as OAI-PMH and SRU/SRW. The gateway consists of the following components: Harvester: The EO harvester retrieves the Digital Item Declaration Language (DIDL) documents stored in partners’ repositories and uploads it to the central store. ALISS Quarterly 6 (1) October 2010
Figure 1. The Economists Online gateway
Portal The portal is the main service users of Economists Online work with. Functionalities include: • searching and retrieval of publications (with a simple search box or advanced search option, facet drilldowns, search history, automated translation into 4 languages and multilingual JEL [Journal of Economic Literature] classification code searching) • display of Economists Online scholars and their publication lists • overview of participating institutions • export facilities • RSS feeds • datasets
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• presentation of enriched metadata • contextual help. Towards sustainability New partners, interest from other universities and research centres and a successful conference on 28th and 29th January 2010 (see Figure 2) confirm that an international subject-oriented approach can stimulate Open Access to important research, improve the visibility of academic output and be a vital driver for the further development of institutional repositories. In the development of subject repositories, Economists Online could be a model to be followed in other subject disciplines.
The Mass Observation Communities Online (MOCO) project Jenna Bailey, Johanna Samuelson, Sophie Williams-Brown The Mass Observation Communities Online (MOCO) project is an online project (www.mocoproject.org.uk) working with community groups throughout the UK to develop an archive that reflects life in 21st Century Britain. It is inspired by the Mass Observation Archive (MOA), held in the Special Collections at the University of Sussex, which has been asking individuals to record everyday life in the UK since 1937 through diaries, questionnaires and observations. The MOCO project set out to extend this “anthropology of ourselves” by using digital images of historic MO material to inspire and assist communities to record their own histories online. The contributions collected throughout the lifetime of the project (six months) will be displayed on the MOCO site for a minimum of three years as well as given to the community groups and donated to the Mass Observation Archive. Through funding from JISC, and in partnership with the Centre for Community Engagement at the University of Sussex, the Mass Observation Archive, Adam Matthews Digital, and Bolton Museums and Archive Service, the MOCO project was able to develop a website that contained up to 100 images of historic Mass Observation material. This included, diaries, questionnaire replies, contributions about thematic topics such as film and dreams, and the impressive images taken by photographer Humphrey Spender in Bolton and Blackpool in the late 1930s. This was a particularly exciting venture as it was the first time that digital Mass Observation material would be made available to a wider public outside of the higher education sector.
Figure 2. Professor Barr from the LSE launches Economists Online
Universities have an increasing interest in managing their research output efficiently and making their research visible in order to be more accountable to funders, establish or maintain a high reputation and disseminate information effectively to other researchers, students and the general public. If a subject repository uses institutional repositories as a basis there are better opportunities for sustainability. Therefore, Economists Online could be described as a subject repository of the second generation. References 1 2 3
Torres, C.A., Blake, M., Shipsey F.M. (2008). User Requirement Report. London: NEEO and Blake M., Cridge S. (2009). Mid-Project User Requirement Report. London: NEEO. Ibid. http://meresco.org
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Once a website had been developed that displayed the digital MO material, the MOCO project began recruiting community groups, through various networks, to participate in Mass Observation inspired tasks via the site. Any type of community organization was welcome to join and this openness proved quite fruitful as we recruited a wide range including local history groups, a deaf history group, a housing trust, a few environmental groups as well as archaeological organizations and other special interest groups. Working with 18 active communities, we hoped to carry on the traditions of the historic project and therefore presented the option for group members to participate in four tasks: a day diary, a questionnaire, an observational assignment and a photography task.Each group was given the option to encourage their members to engage with a specific task (possibly on a particular day that had special meaning to that group) or to leave it open for members to choose what and when they preferred to submit. Each community was also offered the choice to invite members to answer the historic 1939 Mass Observation questionnaire on the theme of class or, alternatively, to send in questions that were more relevant to their members, and the MOCO team would set up an individual questionnaire. Throughout the entire project there was an awareness that the communities participating were often run by volunteers who did not have a great deal of time nor resources. The website was therefore set up in such a way that the main thing the representatives from the community organizations needed to do was to encourage their members to go to the site. From there, each group had its own individual page set up by the MOCO team that ALISS Quarterly 6 (1) October 2010
contained information about the purpose of their organization and links to the various tasks. Alternatively, individuals that came to the MOCO homepage first could either go to the page for their community group, or submit directly through the main submission links, as each submission form had a mandatory field where contributors were required to say on behalf of which community they were submitting.
The Community Café project: sharing tea, cake and online teaching resources
The contribution process for all the tasks was developed through an online application called Wufoo. This application enables lay persons to build professional looking submission forms that can either be left external to one’s own website, or embedded using simple cut and paste techniques. For the MOCO website, the submission forms were embedded into the site directly, making the contribution process as simple as possible to help broaden participation.
The Community Café project has recently begun in Southampton and is nearly half-way through its year-long run. It is a collaboration between the Subject Centre for Languages, Linguistics and Area Studies (LLAS) at the University of Southampton; Southampton City Council and the COLT project1 at Manchester Metropolitan University, and is funded under the JISC Developing Community Content programme2. The broad aim of the project is to combine university expertise and community-based knowledge and work together to co-create a collection of online language and cultural materials for use by those engaged in the teaching and learning of community languages within the local Southampton area. This online collection will be open for sharing, re-use and re-purposing by the wider educational community.
Through the work done by our web developer, CommunitySites, (an organization that specializes in building community archive/heritage websites) we were able to facilitate the process of importing user generated content from Wufoo to our Drupal-generated site. This limited the administrative uploading process to a minimum. While this was useful, it is not necessary and using Wufoo, or similar applications, does not demand sophisticated IT knowledge, which makes it an accessible tool available for smaller projects with limited resources. The submissions are easy to handle through the Wufoo account and can be manually incorporated into the project’s online archive through a few easy steps. As the project developed it became evident that the most popular activity was the questionnaire, both the historic one and those individualized for the groups. This was likely because it was the most readily recognised research form amongst our tasks and also could be completed immediately compared to the other tasks that required a little more time. In order to encourage participants to engage with the other options we ran a “Day in your life” drive on August 12th, in keeping with another historic MO tradition from the late 1930s when participants were asked to record the details of their entire day on the 12th of every month. The context of a national day of writing diaries encouraged contributors to participate with the personal texts in a way that they had not done before and significantly increased the number of diaries and photographic diary contributions. Through the collection of these submissions, the MOCO project has provided an accessible infrastructure through which the community groups can gather the life stories and histories of their members. While valuable in an independent sense, the incentive for the communities to collect these stories was overwhelmingly due to the connection with the Mass Observation Archive. By incorporating the new submissions and the original MO material onto the same site, and by donating the MOCO collection to the archive, the present day contributions become a part of a valuable historical record of everyday “ordinary” life. Many of the participating groups, such as the Brighton Housing Trust (BHT) that works with homeless or previously homeless individuals, therefore saw this project as an important opportunity to have their member’s stories heard and recorded for posterity. Nearing the end of the submission process, the final aim for the MOCO project is that the website itself will still serve as a learning tool for future individuals or communities who are interested in learning about Mass Observation or looking for new techniques and inspiration to record and expand their own histories. ALISS Quarterly 6 (1) October 2010
Kate Borthwick Project manager, Community Cafe project, Subject Centre for Languages, Linguistics and Area Studies, University of Southampton
This is a project which seeks to bring the world of online open resource sharing that is gripping UK higher education to a local community group: teachers of community languages. ‘Community languages’ are defined as “…languages spoken by members of minority groups or communities within a majority language context” (Cilt)3. The Southampton area, for example, is home to a wide range of such languages, including Gujarati, Bengali, Chinese, Afghan Farsi, Hindi, Malay, Malayalam, Persian, Punjabi, Polish and Urdu. These languages are often learnt in informal situations (e.g. in the home, in supplementary schools or in the community) rather than within the mainstream education system and have historically been undervalued by society in favour of English and other modern European languages. This is despite the fact that research indicates that plurilingualism is of benefit to the individual and to wider society4. The project addresses a particular problem: the scarcity of up-to-date, online resources for community languages. Such material is much needed as in recent years qualifications in many community languages have become available, e.g. GCSEs or assessment through the Asset Languages scheme;5 however pathways to learning tend to rely on low-paid or voluntary teachers operating outside the mainstream educational system, for example: in Hampshire, 17 languages are taught by more than 150 teachers to GCSE level. The acquisition of such skills and qualifications has economic and social benefits,6 for the individuals, the communities and the UK as a whole. The project’s primary aims are: • to use expertise and tools developed at the University of Southampton to collect and co-create digital resources for community languages • to build a self-managed community based group to support community language speakers engaged in teaching and learning the range of community languages available locally • to improve the pedagogy of existing materials through peer review and discussion • to provide bespoke and incremental training in using and creating digital content ALISS Quarterly 6 (1) October 2010
• to contribute to the enhancement of the profile and provision of community language learning through adding resources to a repository hosting a wide range of language resources and thereby improving access to digital resources The project team also has some secondary aims, which we hope will be brought about through the work of the project: • raise awareness about the work of community languages teachers in the community and beyond • to upskill community languages teachers through engagement with elearning and consideration of pedagogic practice • to provide a model of community engagement and training which could be run elsewhere in the UK There are three strands to our method for creating content: the holding of informal caféstyle meetings for discussion and the informal exchange of ideas; training workshops, and the use of an online space, called the LanguageBox (www.languagebox.ac.uk). The cafe sessions are held monthly and have an informal, user-centred nature. This suits the participants in the Community Café project as it provides them with a non-threatening forum for discussion of pedagogical ideas and resources. The café sessions which have been held so far have been attended by over 40 teachers and have been enjoyable, social, gatherings, at which attendees have been encouraged to exchange teaching ideas and methods with colleagues from varying language backgrounds while chatting over tea and cake! The Café meetings provide a forum for ‘offline’ discussion and supplement the more formal workshops by allowing time to talk through ideas, identify materials, prepare resources, and offer follow-up guidance. The second strand of the project method is to run training workshops (every month on average), in parallel to the cafes, in the use of technology for resource creation and on how technology can be used in language teaching. These workshops are delivered by university staff and are short training sessions of 1.5 hours and cover topics such as ‘creating and using podcasts,’ ‘using powerpoint in teaching’, ‘using Smartboards/the internet’, and ‘using simple, free software to create online activities’. The resources created during the workshops will form the core part of the collection of materials for this project. The project team intend to release a workshop tutor pack through the LanguageBox which will be available to cascade materials and methods to other trainers across the country for use with their community groups. The project is making use of an existing open repository, the LanguageBox, as an online space to store and publish the materials created and re-purposed for this project. However, the LanguageBox website is more than simply an online storage space: is it integral to the development of our community of creators and sharers as it is a site which has social networking properties. Thus it allows users to engage with it in a dynamic way: each user has a personal profile page containing their photo and professional information and interests; it allows comments to be put on all resources; users can book mark ‘favourite’ resources or monitor downloads/views of their own materials, and they can contact other site users through the site itself. Our local community group will primarily ALISS Quarterly 6 (1) October 2010
use it to publish, share and review each other’s work; however, the site is open to the world and this will enable users at distance to share ideas and resources, and will spread project outcomes and aims beyond the Southampton area. A key aspect of the LanguageBox is its simplicity: it is very easy to use and does not represent a barrier for technophobes and non-technical individuals. This has proved important, as our community group of teachers have varying levels of IT literacy. The LanguageBox also contains materials for a wide variety of languages and these materials provide inspiration in terms of teaching methods and ideas for learning activities. Thus far in the project, we have experienced some immediate successes and challenges. The project aims have been embraced wholeheartedly by the members of the community languages network in Southampton and they have shown great enthusiasm to talk about their pedagogic practice, share existing resources and methods with each other, interact with colleagues teaching different languages, and to learn new skills. The successful completion of tasks in the initial workshops has produced some gratifying achievements in the use of IT for a group that are not particularly IT literate. Some of the challenges we continue to grapple with are the varying levels of IT literacy in the group which makes resource creation time-consuming; varying perceptions of how technology can be used with students, and a general lack of awareness about the implications of publishing work on the open web (e.g. copyright issues and appropriate metadata descriptions). The project team is working on these issues with the group as the project progresses. The final months of the project will see us begin to check and collate materials and extend the community to groups in other geographical locations. Our hope and intention is that our community will continue to share knowledge and information, and thrive beyond the life of the project, through continued cafe meetings and in the online open world of the LanguageBox. References. 1 2 3 4
Retrieved from http://www.routesintolanguages.ac.uk/northwest Retrieved from http://www.jisc.ac.uk/whatwedo/programmes/digitisation/communitycontent.aspx Retrieved from National Centre for Language http://www.cilt.org.uk/community_languages.aspx McPake , J.& Sachdev, I., (2008) Community Languages in Higher Education: Towards realising the potential: l a Report for the Routes into Languages project. Retrieved from http://www.routesintolanguages.ac.uk/ downloads/community_languages.pdf http://www.assetlanguages.org.uk/ ibid.
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Exterminating Boredom: synergy and creativity in an academic library Emily C. White, Library Assistant, University of Portsmouth Timothy Collinson, Faculty Librarian, University of Portsmouth Engagement Library boring? Resources scarce? Staff stuck in a rut? There’s nothing new under the sun and any number of articles can be found addressing these issues. Library induction in particular can be seen by students as a waste of time, boring or something they already know. Jordan and Badger (2004) talk about the “problems of growing student numbers, lack of teaching space and time, and pressure on staff” and go on to describe an electronic induction tutorial which attempts to overcome some of the difficulties. Staff too, may feel that they’ve been doing the same things for years and need a change or that they’re too junior to contribute anything worthwhile. But does it have to be that way? By utilizing the skills and creativity of staff at all levels - professional and non-professional, we’ve found that a variety of tools and solutions have enabled us to engage with students in a variety of stimulating ways and also led to continuing staff development from NVQ qualifications to peer-reviewed journal articles. In a time when library resources are increasingly under pressure, efficient use and re-use of what’s on hand is going to become ever more important. University of Portsmouth Library has developed a variety of projects to engage students from before they arrive, through induction, and onto further training and continuing support. For example the PrepUP project gives students an orientation before they even arrive (Collinson, 2010) and Referencing@Portsmouth (http://referencing.port.ac.uk/) supports students throughout their time at University (Gwyer et al, 2010). Creative Ideas Many of the projects we’ve been engaged with at the University of Portsmouth have connected with or grown out of each other in a complex net of inter-relationship, re-use and inspiration. For example, taking the decision to be involved in Freshers’ Fayre at the start of each academic year (and the ‘Refreshers’ Fayre’ in February) has allowed some of the creative idea generator types on the Library staff the opportunity to develop engaging stalls which would attract students rather than simply reinforce any ‘boring library’ stereotype. That we’ve been mistaken on occasions for the rugby club, amateur dramatic society, and Science Fiction club points to our success at ‘fitting in’ and gives us a chance to explain what we’re about. Antony Brewerton notes: “A stand with the word ‘Library’ writ large would have only seen students taking the long route round merely to avoid the obvious boredom that is librarianship” (2003, p.271). Some of this creativity was inspired by Brewerton running a workshop on marketing and publicity which many members of staff attended. So for example, we’ve had ‘buried treasure in the library’ with staff at the stall attired as pirates, a competition based on burying a flag in a tray of sand nearest the buried treasure, and a display of books to do with piracy and the like. The following year, with Dr Who back on television after a twenty year hiatus and becoming increasingly popular, we borrowed a life sized Dalek from our Creative and Cultural Industries faculty and themed the stall around the Tardis ALISS Quarterly 6 (1) October 2010
(like the library!) being bigger on the inside than the outside. Another year, inspired by PD James opening our new extension (Collinson, 2008), we developed a Cluedo themed stall with a floor plan of the Library done as a Cluedo board, Faculty Librarians turned into playing pieces, and a crime scene complete with chalk outline, traffic cones and ‘stop: police line’ tape. ‘Red Dalek’ as he became known led to students wanting their photos taken with him (where they weren’t too scared to approach altogether) which led to the idea of posting their photos (if they wished) on a Facebook page designed for the purpose. Meanwhile the Cluedo-like display for Freshers’ Fayre then morphed through a detective trail game for students during Induction Week into a learning object with a fully developed ‘Body in the Library’ unit in our Virtual Learning Environment which introduced distance learners to the various skills and resources they would need for a criminology course. (A taster can be seen at: http://www.elearning.port.ac.uk/body/index.html) “The library must creatively develop more alternative induction packages for those not taught on the main campus.” (Toner, 2008, p.24) Subsequently a template has been developed so that this unit can be added to any course with ‘clues’ and resources slotted in which are relevant to the particular subject of study. In turn, these kinds of projects have been written up as papers or presented at workshops, training days, and conferences, which enable others in the library community to explore similar ideas as well as contributing to professional development and promotion of the Library within the University and further afield. Much has been written about novel ideas for induction: activity based (Edward, 2003), spiral (Laing, C., Robinson, A. & Johnston, V., 2005), Cephalonian Method (Morgan and Davies, 2004), using humour (Trefts and Blakeslee, 2000; Walker, 2006), and various electronic induction tools (Jordan & Badger, 2004 and many others.) We’ve picked up on some of these ideas but also tend to add tools to a portfolio of ways of introducing students to our facilities and resources as technologies, time and interest permits. One such example is a PowerPoint that reinvigorated jaded induction sessions. The term “death by PowerPoint” could easy be associated with many library induction sessions. Indeed Toner (2008) suggests that tours were seen as being more useful to students than induction PowerPoints. After attending a session presented by David Starkey at a Learning and Teaching Conference in 2009 one of our Assistant Faculty Librarians was inspired to create an induction presentation that would challenge this stereotype and use PowerPoint in more creative and stimulating way. Taking inspiration from Starkey’s use of hotlinks she created a non-linear, interactive, and highly visual teaching tool that could be used by the Faculty Librarians to enhance their induction sessions. The initial version focused on induction for students from the Business School but she was quick to realise that the PowerPoint could be made more general allowing it to be used to by all the librarians. This saved considerable staff time as each Faculty Librarian no longer needed to create their own induction presentation. The PowerPoint could be easily customised to suit a particular audience with the Librarian dipping in and out of sections that were relevant. The interactivity of the presentation means students can choose what’s next if desired. Whilst this requires the librarian to be flexible, it also allows students to discover ALISS Quarterly 6 (1) October 2010
information for themselves. Leading on from this, a link to the PowerPoint was added to the library website permitting students to access it in their own time to find information as they need it and “encourage students to explore and thus find library resources through serendipity as much as actively seeking them out” (Collinson and Williams, 2006, p.181). When used for self-directed study the user needs to be familiar with how to use PowerPoint or the non-linear functionality may be lost. It can be downloaded from http:// www.port.ac.uk/library/helpyourself/induction/filetodownload,102859,en.ppt Turning the PowerPoint into a set of web pages which are more intuitive to use yet retain the interactivity is one way we hope to further develop this project. Web 2.0 We’ve also tried to make the most of social networking services as they’ve appeared. In creating a blog for the University of Portsmouth Library we wanted to move away from simply reporting library news. We aimed to stimulate our readers with “a round up of the bizarre and brilliant from the web”, whilst also sneaking in some more educational posts. Thing of the Day (http://reden.wordpress.com) was created where a different website, video or application would be featured each day. Some of the posts were educational and informative, some were simply creative or fun and some managed to combine the two. We wanted our students to see the library in something other than a staid and stuffy light. Having ventured into web 2.0 with a blog, one of our library assistants was motivated to design a library Facebook page (http://www.facebook.com/uoplibrary). We had already dabbled with a Facebook presence during our Freshers’ Fayre events (see above) but it was soon realised that we had inadvertently breached Facebook’s terms and conditions. The library assistant researched the best way to represent us and with the support of senior staff built a page that encouraged students to engage with us through questions and feedback. The page was regularly updated (for example Thing of the Day is piped in automatically) and new content was created including an ‘induction tab’ designed to provide new students with the essential information they need. Gadd (2001, p.250) reminds us to serve our users rather than simply serve up what we think they want. “We have always tried to provide readers with information they want rather than what we would like to tell them.” The Facebook page, in fact, was the first to publish news that the University was closed due to snow at the start of 2010 and turned out to be a more trusted source of information for students than an official email. As Twitter became more popular, we felt that this would be another way in which we could engage with students in a more informal and friendly style. Having established a feed we found that it wasn’t just our students who chose to follow us. We were followed by other libraries, librarians, alumni, suppliers and local businesses allowing the library a far wider audience. We were also attracted to the idea of using wiki technology to replace our print and networked drive collections of policies, procedures, leaflets, and other useful information for staff. All staff are encouraged to contribute and update and it has now become a much used first port of call for many library staff queries and even enquiry desk questions.
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Synergy Hopefully the above has shown how various ideas and projects have come from the synergy of interconnected ideas and allowing one thing to feed into another. Many of the original ideas have come out of allowing staff to ‘play’. Play in the workplace is seen by some as frivolous and a waste of time. We’d agree that it certainly shouldn’t be a ‘free-forall’ but it does have both a useful and a serious point. Indeed, Palus & Horth (2005, p.5) refer to “serious play”. It’s “a skill in generating knowledge about the unknown aspects of a challenge through exploration, experimentation, rule bending, limit testing, levity, and sport. It is way of learning about the complexities and subtleties of an issue or problem by exploring the limits.” And it’s not just about drawing on workplace experience; home and hobby knowledge can contribute too. They add: “The competency of personalizing is about tapping into and using your unique life-experiences as resources for making sense of complex challenges” (ibid, p.3). Our team performance was much enhanced by exploring the team role theory that R. Meredith Belbin has developed. (http://www.belbin.com/). Understanding how different team members work together can dramatically impact the experiences and results of a group working together. Making sure there’s a ‘completer-finisher’ to see thing through, utilizing the connections of a ‘resource investigator’, nurturing the ‘plants’ with their idea generation (but also knowing that not every idea needs to be given equal weight). We believe that allowing the consilience of the vast pool of knowledge and experience that library staff have to contribute can reap great rewards. Not so much “thinking outside the box”, but revitalizing thinking inside the box of the constraints we all face in time, money and energy. Of course, we’re not finished yet. There’s still much to do and much that can be done and improved. Some things we’ve been looking at for the future include SMS text messaging along the lines of Walsh (2010); QR codes to enable mobile users to pick up information more easily than, say, laboriously tapping in a URL; and foursquare type location aware ‘games’ to offer incentives alongside information (http://foursquare.com/). The challenge, with so much new to explore, is knowing when and how to get involved. Particularly given the issues regarding staff time and other constraints, it may pay to wait or test the waters in a low key manner. However, one advantage of some technologies, e.g. Twitter, is that it can be fitted into odd moments and a small amount of time spent on, say, a Facebook page, can reap large benefits. Even where Library Assistant time had had to be argued for, much of what we’ve described has been achieved in just one hour per week of staff time with two or three taking a ‘turn’ once a month. Consilience All of us are creative - but it may need to be encouraged. Harnad (1990) quotes Pasteur’s dictum “There is a (perhaps very large) element of chance in creativity, but it is most likely to occur if the mind is somehow prepared for it.” Management, of course, needs to be supportive and in talking with librarians from around the country we’ve become aware that we’re privileged to work in an environment where it has been possible to explore and even, dare we admit it, to ‘play’. Palus & Horth (2005, p.3-4) note “Leaders can personalize in two ways. They can create a climate in which ALISS Quarterly 6 (1) October 2010
people can make creative connections between their personal passions and their work, and they can make these same connections for themselves.” Even in a difficult climate, guerrilla creativity is possible - using creative techniques to solve problems, inculcating an atmosphere of idea acceptance, and fostering positive attitudes. We appreciate, however, that this can be hard depending on the local climate and the attitudes of staff (at every level). On the other hand, it might be that the ideas presented here simply act as a prompt for fresh thinking and we hope it encourages seeing what consilence you can find in your own situation.
31 Trefts, K. & Blakeslee, S. (2000). Did you hear the one about the Boolean operators? Incorporating comedy into library instruction. References Services Review, 28 (4), 369-378. Walker, B. E. (2006). Using humor in library instruction, References Services Review, 34 (1), 117-128. Walsh, A. (2010). Supplementing inductions with text messages, an SMS “tips and tricks” service. ALISS Quarterly, 5 (3), 23-25.
The library, or induction to the library, doesn’t have to be boring - for students or staff! The efficient use of time and resources is only going to grow more important as we are asked to do more with less. Lifelong learning and continuing professional development will mean we need to make the most of development opportunities for staff, senior or junior, who might not otherwise get a chance to exercise creative muscles and might find promotion opportunities scarce. It can also lead to academic scholarship with articles published and papers presented at conferences. These might start with internal publication and internal teaching and learning conferences and develop into peer-reviewed articles and presentations at national or even international conferences. In a climate where we increasingly need to justify our existence this can be crucial. Most importantly we have been able to inject our library services with some much needed creativity and inspiration allowing us to engage our students more effectively. References: Brewerton, A. (2003). Inspired! Award-winning library marketing. New Library World, 104 (7/8), 267-277. Collinson, T. (2008). ‘Completing’ the University Library at Portsmouth, Library and Information Update, 7 (1-2), 44-47. Collinson, T. (2010). A library portal using graphical exploration for pre-entry university students. International Journal of Information Studies, 2 (1), 1-11. Retrieved August 31, 2010, from: http://www.istudies.net/ojs/index.php/journal/issue/view/11 Collinson, T. & Williams, A. (2004). The Alternative Library, Aslib Proceedings, 56 (3), 137-143. Edward, N. S. (2003). First Impressions last: An innovative approach to Induction. Active Learning in Higher Education, 4 (3), 226-242. Gadd, E. et al. (2001). In with the new: reviewing library induction practices at Loughborough University. New Library World, 102 (7/8), 247-254. Gwyer, R., Jones, L., Matthews, J.S. & Worden, A. (2010). Referencing@Portsmouth: a web-based interactive referencing tool. Journal of Learning Development in Higher Education, 2, 1-11. Harnad, S. (1990). Creativity: method or magic? Retrieved August 31, 2010 from: http://cogprints.org/1627/ Jordan, K. & Badger, I. (2004). Neat but not gaudy: planning and creating an electronic induction tutorial at the University of Bath. Library and Information Research, 28 (89), 45-49. Morgan, N. & Davies, L. (2004). Innovative Library induction - introducing the ‘Cephalonian Method’. SCONUL Focus, 32, 4-8. Palus, C.J. & Horth, D. M. (2005). Leading creatively: the art of making sense. Ivey Business Journal, September/ October 2005, 1-8. Laing, C., Robinson, A. & Johnston, V. (2005). Managing the transition into higher education: an on-line Spiral Induction Programme. Active Learning in Higher Education, 6 (3), 243-255. Toner, L. (2008). Non-use of library services by students in a UK Academic Library. Evidence Based Library and Information Practice, 3 (2), 18-29.
ALISS Quarterly 6 (1) October 2010
ALISS Quarterly 6 (1) October 2010
The use of voting clickers at the University of East London Library Robin Stinson, Subject Librarian for Social Sciences Simone Ngozi Okolo, Academic Services and Skills Manager Introduction For some time we have been looking at ways of making our information skills sessions more interactive. Student feedback indicated that they would welcome a more interactive session. We felt that the use of clickers would increase their involvement. This article will describe the use of clickers with the New Beginnings students at the University of East London Library. It will also consider our future plans for using this technology. What is New Beginnings? This is a widening participation programme for anyone who wants to come to higher education and who may not have had positive experiences previously. The purpose of the three month programme is to prepare the students for study at university. They are expected to produce assignments for which they have to do research which will involve them in using the Library. Successful students go on to university. The New Beginnings students are a disparate group, ranging from those who are computer literate to those who have never used a library or computer. We felt that this would be an ideal group for us pilot the use of clickers in our information skills training. The Library sessions for New Beginnings The librarians deliver three sessions. The first one hour session consists of a tour of the Library with an introductory talk. In the second session students are introduced to the Library catalogue and the final session is on search strategies and the database Academic Search Complete. Previously, in each of these sessions the students had to do a paperbased assignment. For the 2010 sessions we decided to use the voting system to test the students’ knowledge of the material covered. We felt that this would offer a fun way of doing it. In order to make the exercise snappier we decided to have fewer questions than in the paper assignment. Tour of the Library The students were given a tour showing its layout and facilities. As the students were taken round we gave them information about opening-hours, loan entitlement, fines, rules and regulations and all other basic information they needed at this stage. After the tour the students were taken into the Information Skills Room. To reinforce and check the information given, we used the following questions on a TurningPoint Quiz. Except for question 10 which had a true or false answer the questions were multiple choice. In all of the sessions each question in the quiz were against the clock. • • • •
I must always have my student card with me… The weekday opening hours in the semester are? The weekend opening hours in semester time are? How many items can you borrow?
ALISS Quarterly 6 (1) October 2010
• When you use the self-issue machine to take books out you will be asked for a PIN. What is the default PIN and how can you change it? • As your course goes on you will be expected to use the journals. How are they arranged? • Which of these statements is not true for photocopying? • You want to put more money on your photocopy card. Are the card chargers…? • Food and drink in the Library. I am allowed to… • All books are renewed automatically unless they are reserved. As can be seen these questions are quite basic, but they do cover the information we want the students to acquire at this stage. Catalogue This session was on how to use the Library Catalogue. After a presentation the students had to do a quiz using the following questions: • • • • •
The catalogue only lists items at Docklands Library. True or False? If the item you wish to borrow is out on loan the catalogue will display? In which section of the item’s record will you look for the loan types? In which section of the item’s record will you look for where the item is shelved? The location for books on time management is 658.4093. What is the correct location for a book by Bliss on this subject?
Search strategy and Academic Search Complete The final session covered keywords, Boolean operators and Academic Search Complete. Students had a quiz to reinforce keyword searching and then had hands-on practice using this database. The following questions were used: • Imagine that you have been asked to discuss time management amongst students in higher education in the United Kingdom. Which of these keywords would you not use? • You are researching time management for university students. Which term would you not use? • When searching databases you can combine keywords using the operators “OR” “AND” or “NOT”. “AND”… • When searching databases you can combine keywords using the operators “OR” “AND” or “NOT”. “OR”… • When searching databases combine keywords using the operators “OR” “AND” or “NOT” “NOT”… • You wish to find information on citizenship in Britain. How would you combine your keywords? • You want to find material on citizenship studies or citizenship education. How would you combine your keywords? • You want to find material on citizenship education but not on citizenship education in Britain. How would you combine your keywords? • When I want whole articles from Academic Search Complete, I should click in the Full Text box. True or False? ALISS Quarterly 6 (1) October 2010
Student response The students enjoyed using the clickers and they all wanted to participate. They appreciated the change from a paper-based assignment and entered into the spirit. In one session a student said “We could have had the Countdown music”. For the question on food and drink in the Library almost all of them made a jokey response, whilst knowing the right answer. For the students, the novelty had not worn off and even at the third session they asked whether they would using the clickers and seemed to be looking forward to them. They valued the anonymity of the exercise and were willing to commit themselves to an answer. They also enjoyed working together. There was camaraderie and they encouraged each other. This reinforced peer learning. Our impression that the students liked using the clickers was confirmed by the anonymous feedback. They said that they found it “engaging”, “interactive”, “not boring”. We cannot say that the use of the clickers improved the students’ learning, however, it did seem to make them more amenable to the training. This was evidenced in their attitude to the hands-on practice where almost all of them finished the assignment. Challenges and tips • Allocate at least thirty minutes to installing the software beforehand and checking that the clickers all work. • Include an introduction telling the students why the clickers are being used and how to vote. • Plan the session carefully, if you want to include a presentation, clickers and handson practice. • Balance the “fun element” with the learning outcomes. So, in the second and third sessions we introduced hands-on practice. • Try to arrange to have two members of staff at the session. • Although, we had more than six questions, on reflection, this was perhaps too many. Limit the number of questions in a quiz and think carefully about their wording. • If you use a countdown indicator give the students enough time to read the question, answers and think about their response. • We realise that there are more features that can be used, but don’t overload your slides with too many features which detract from the learning process. Future plans and conclusion We intend to use the clickers to reinforce a presentation on plagiarism and Harvard referencing with the MA Social Work students. We plan to use a clicker quiz before a marked assignment on these topics. We are also going to bid for Learning Enhancement Opportunity funding to explore the impact of the use of clickers in assessment and feedback. From our experience and student feedback we believe that the voting clickers can enhance an information skills session.The sessions are interactive.
ALISS Quarterly 6 (1) October 2010
Toolkits for Training Kathryn Summerwill, Manuscripts and Special Collections, The University of Nottingham Xerte Online Toolkits is a free, open source tool for teachers, lecturers and information professionals, to help them create web-based e-learning materials quickly and easily. It was developed by members of the Learning Team at The University of Nottingham, and won a Platinum Award at the IMS Global Learning Consortium’s Learning Impact Awards in California this year. Staff in Manuscripts and Special Collections initially used Xerte Online Toolkits to produce two online exhibitions to showcase some of our archives, manuscripts and rare books, under the titles ‘Robin Hood’ and ‘Sport’. The exhibitions are hosted on the Toolkits server run by the University of Nottingham, but our users would normally access them by following the hyperlinks on the Manuscripts and Special Collections web page http://www. nottingham.ac.uk/ManuscriptsandSpecialCollections/Exhibitions/Online/About.aspx. The exhibitions are fairly simple resources offering text and images which the viewer reads through page by page. Some of the images taken from books or manuscripts are presented using the ‘Image Viewer’ tool, which allows the reader to zoom in and enlarge certain parts of the image. Xerte Online Toolkits was chosen for creating these online exhibitions because, like blogging software, it allows staff without a technical background to create web pages quickly and easily. As it is web-based, it can be used by staff wherever they are working, as long as they have an internet connection. Authors log in to the Toolkits interface to retrieve a project or create a new one, and can choose to share the project with named colleagues, allowing a number of people to collaborate together. They can also set privacy settings as required. ‘Robin Hood’ and ‘Sport’ are set to be publicly accessible, so that anyone visiting our website and following the links can see them, but the system allows resources to be confined only to members of the institution, if desired. We have also begun to use Xerte Online Toolkits to deliver interactive tutorials to students. The Toolkits package contains a number of different content templates allowing authors to add images, videos, animations and charts, or to bring in data from external sites such as Flickr, YouTube and Google Maps. Demonstrations of websites or databases created using Captivate software can be embedded into the template. Hyperlinks out to other useful websites can be inserted at any point. More than that, interactivity templates allow authors to create quizzes, drag and drop activities, matching words exercises, multiple choice questions, gap fill exercises, or hot spots. Feedback is given immediately upon the student pressing the ‘Submit’ button, and any activity can be repeated until the right answers are selected. In Manuscripts and Special Collections, Xerte Online Toolkits is used to give training sessions to students on how to locate primary source material in record offices, libraries and on the internet. It is a more interactive version of a traditional presentation delivered in person, and is particularly suitable for a hands-on session where students are sitting at computers and being introduced to a number of online resources. The students are encouraged to follow the hyperlinks and explore the various websites as the presentation ALISS Quarterly 6 (1) October 2010
proceeds. They can go at their own pace, and are able to use keywords relevant to their own research. As the resource is web-based, it is available for reference after the training session. Colleagues in the Medicine and Health Sciences Team at Nottingham University Library have also used Xerte Online Toolkits for training sessions relating to literature searching. Wendy Stanton and Jenny Coombs gave a presentation on their work with Xerte to the LILAC conference in March 2010. Their slides are available on the conference website, http://www.lilacconference.com/dw/programme/Presentations/Monday/Wogan_Suite/ Coombs_stanton_with_screenshots.pdf. The team works with 3,500 students spread over five sites. 66% are mature students and many lack basic information skills and confidence in using library resources. Interactive tutorials are seen as an effective addition to the traditional lecture and hands-on practice, as activities enable students to learn by doing things themselves rather than being shown, and interactions help to reinforce learning and aid understanding. The tutorials include drag and drop exercises and multiple choice activities to help students get to grips with selecting keywords, using truncation, and Boolean searching. They also include demonstrations of important databases using Captivate and Intute Informs software. Like the archives tutorial, the nursing training sessions are delivered in person, but continue to be available for reference via online login. Xerte Online Toolkits resources can also be put onto an institutionâ€™s VLE, so can therefore be used for distance learning. The Toolkits software has proved to be quick and easy to master, but it is most efficient when staff use it to put together a package that has already been fully considered and planned out. It is therefore possible for less technically-confident staff to write text, devise exercises, or gather together images, and for someone else to assemble the data into its final form. For examples of other projects, and technical information about how to download and install the software, see the Xerte Online Toolkits homepage, http://www.nottingham.ac.uk/xerte/toolkits.htm
ALISS Quarterly 6 (1) October 2010
ALISS Quarterly 6 (1) October 2010
ALISS Quarterly 6 (1) October 2010
ALISS Quarterly 6 (1) October 2010
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ALISS Quarterly October 2010