The fine art of letting others tell The Library Story

I like the concept of letting other relevant parties tell The Library Story instead of just the library professionals. Having a student tell peers how valuable a library Zotero course was or a researcher who chat’s up fellow researchers on how he/she got help with a systematic review is some of the best advocacy libraries can get.

Us, the library professionals, will always tell the story and so we should but the peer to peer library story – good as well as bad – often has a different degree of impact than the story we tell. It’s a bit like getting a restaurant recommended by a friend vs. getting it recommended by the restaurant owner.

Libraries can use this approach proactive by facilitating the stories being told. A recent example is the new “Save time and improve your research” movie from Copenhagen University Library were PhD students tells the story bout the library’s ph.d. course and what they gained from it.

Libraries creates value. Let’s keep telling that story but also make sure that others tells it. Enjoy the movie!

“Save time and improve your research” is made by information specialists Rasmus Rindom Riise and Anders Bonatto Fisker 

Data Scientist Training for Librarians – re-skilling libraries for the future

Loud and clear: Data Scientist Training for Librarians (DST4L) is a wonderful concept. It’s an experimental course developed at Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics Library with the aim to train librarians to respond to the growing data needs of there communities. We all know the story: The Internet happened and the amount of information and data exploded. And it’s right in front of everybody’s nose – the neighbor kid as well as the scholar. Information and data in any form is the building bricks of science and knowledge and with the rapid increase of these the need to gain tools and skills to tame and analyze them grow. This development has changed the way academia works and when academia changes the library should pay attention and think of it’s options.

DST4L is a direct respond to the development above. And what and awesome response.

DST4L – Copenhagen 9th – 11th of September 2015

DST4L has been held three times in The States and was to be set for the first time in Europe at Library of Technical University of Denmark just outside of Copenhagen. 40 participants from all across Europe were ready to get there hands dirty over three days marathon of relevant tools within data archiving, handling, sharing and analyzing. See the full program here and check the #DST4L hashtag at Twitter.

Day 1: OpenRefine

OpenRefine is an open source desktop application for data cleanup and transformation to other formats. It is similar to spreadsheet applications and can work with spreadsheet file formats). Unlike spreadsheets, no formulas are stored in the cells, but formulas are used to transform the data, and transformation is done only once. Transformation expressions can be written in Google Refine Expression Language (GREL), Jython (i.e. Python) and Clojure.

How can it be used in libraries and academia?: When scraping for instance tweets from Twitter you often end up with a dirty dataset with alot of noise that I want to lead out before starting analyzing my data. OpenRefine can be used for this.

IMG_150340 librarians from across the world gathered at DTU Library, Copenhagen, to get there hands dirty with Data Scientist Training for Librarians. 

At the end of day 1 we throw a social event with drinks ‘n data at our Digtial Social Science Lab (DSSL) at The Faculty Library of Social Sciences, Copenhagen University library. DSSL project head Michael Svendsen and I gave a quick talk on the concept of DSSL and then there were bubbles and lots of talk before we hit a restaurant for something to eat. Great ending of a great day.

IMG_1508Drinks ‘n data @ Digital Social Science Lab

Day 2: GitHub

GitHub is a web-based collaborative platform for code management and code review for open source and private projects.  Public projects are for free and private comes with a fee. According to GitHub there are having 9 million users and over 21 million repositories which makes them the largest host of source code in the world.

How can it be used in libraries and academia?: For one thing  GitHub can function as a strong collaborative platform within various academic disciplines and for libraries there is an opportunity to support this with know-how skills on GitHub. For libraries themselves GitHub can be used for developing and sharing good stuff liberated from time and place. For instance: How many LibGuides on e.g. sociology are there around the world build up from scratch? A lot. If libraries used GitHub to share and develop only one prototype LibGuide for Sociology this could be used as a strong starting point for all LibGuides on Sociology around the world.

The GitHub Octocat @ DST4L

Day 3: Python

Python is a programming language which syntax allows programmers to express concepts in fewer lines of code than would be possible in languages like Java or C++. Python interpreters are available for installation on many operating systems, allowing Python code execution on a wide variety of systems. Using third-party tools, such as Py2exe or Pyinstaller, Python code can be packaged into stand-alone executable programs for some of the most popular operating systems, allowing the distribution of Python-based software for use on those environments without requiring the installation of a Python interpreter.

How can it be used in libraries and academia?: Being a programming language Python can be used for many things but one thing that for me stands out as a good way to use Python is web scraping. The web contains huge amounts of data which is relevant for researchers and students. Let’s say you want to scrape tweets on the danish election to analyze on various parameters. Python can help you do that and when you got your dataset you can clean it up in OpenRefine before analyzing in for instance NVivo.

Here are some good blog post on how to get started on web scraping with Python:

Easy web scraping with python

Web scraping 101 with Python

IMG_5204Hands-on practice with Python

Ending notes and the future of DST4L

DST4L is important because it clearly addresses some of the key skills librarians within academia will need to gain to continue to create value to there institutions – and not only on a strategical level, you actually learn how to use stuff like OpenRefine, GitHub and Python. That said the learning curve is pretty steep, at least it was for me, and I’m no master of the things I learned. But that is important is that I now have a basic understanding of what we a capable of doing with these tools and we are standing on a very solid platform for building a service towards our university and faculties on these matters.

DST4L has been brought to Copenhagen by a couple of great data enthusiasts (hands up for Chris Erdmann, Ivo Grigorov and Mikael Elbæk) and I’m thankful that people like them put effort and time into a concept that brings so much value to the table. But the question that stands after 3 days of Data Scientist Training is how will use the time and energy to make sure the next DST4L i happening? DST4L is important for the future of libraries but to survive I guess it has to be lifted out of the hands of awesome enthusiasts and into an sustainable organizational structure that provides the world of librarianship with great data scientist training. Maybe a task for OCLC or another major worldwide library player.

For now: thanks for some great and valuable DST4L days in Copenhagen. Hope that there will be many many DST4L sessions in the future.

Processed with Rookie Cam

Processed with Rookie Cam

The University Library brick by brick – a LEGO Library movie

Copenhagen University Library consists of 6 faculty libraries, 18 department libraries and a wide range of different services and systems. How do you explain this to new students who suffers from information overload and is trying to figure out a whole new life on campus? First of all – you don’t! Focus on what they need to know in the given context and give them that. I believe that on faculty library level our best shot is the 15 minutes of intro we give to all new classes together with the IT department at Social Sciences.  Just the basic need-to-know stuff like locations, opening hours, course literature print, wifi etc.

The Library brick by brick 

But the University Library is a different and more complex story – at least in Copenhagen. At the Faculty Library of Social Sciences we made a LEGO stop-motion library movie last year to make a better connection with the new students. It was a great success so we thought why not use that idea and explain the University Library brick by brick. So we got our LEGO groove on and made a new movie – it looks like this:

The movie is made with stop-motion technique were objects are moved in small increments between individually photographed frames, creating the illusion of movement when the series of frames is played as a continuous sequence. The movie is simply made with an iPhone 5 and the free stop-motion app iMotion. The sound and speak is recorded directly into a Macbook and both movie, sound and speak was edited in iMovie. After the voice recording the sound files was cut into different pieces so it could be puzzled into the different scenes of the films. For scenografic we sat up a little LEGO Lab in a meeting room with different background photos of library scenes (from the different faculty libraries under the university library) and a lot of LEGO.

Marc is setting up a scene in the LEGO lab

The big premiere

Monday the 7th of September we had the big premiere at The Faculty Library of Social Science with guests, popcorn and drinks. The movie will be shown and embedded in all relevant contexts were we interact with new students.

20618033213_9ecbc8b7f4_oPremiere day!

legoThe LEGO Lab teams: Christian, Tina (who is really getting into character), Rasmus and Marc

The impact?

No doubt: A Library LEGO Movie is not the most important communication tool to connect with (new) students. That is, without any question, the skilled and hardworking librarians that meet them face to face and welcome them to there new study life with great professionalism and a smile at there face. But I do believe that this little LEGO movie – combined with the librarian and all the other communication we do – just bridge the world of libraries to the newbies at campus a little stronger. And if it doesn’t no harm is done – everybody loves LEGO, right?