“Getting Europe ready for 2020: the library’s role in research, education and society.” Notes from the 40th annual Liber conference

 Programme at:  http://bibliotecnica.upc.edu/LIBER2011/content/programme .


I presented a poster at Liber on behalf of Lisa Anderson and myself.  Subject was our project for UoB Library Services: Portable Devices – meeting the needs of the mobile generation.

Jon Andrews with his and Lisa's poster on their portable devices project.

Presenting a poster means you have an opportunity to promote your library and work on a specific subject.  There were plenty of questions from the other delegates about our tests and surveys on portable devices, from Spain to the Netherlands and Finland to the UK.

Poster presenters had an alarmingly titled Speed Dating session … ie 1 minute each to present their poster topics to the conference in the main auditorium.

I asked those watching with laptops to hold them up (bit of audience participation), likewise for those with smartphones … (then hands up for those who used ebook readers). 

The laptops won: in fact, there seemed to be many more laptops or the smaller netbooks on view than iPads, perhaps showing the benefits of a built-in keyboard, extra memory space and better Office or Office-style systems and software.  iPads are great for portable browsing, reading – and adequate for note-taking.  (Note: however, it was an iPad App that helped me to turn our poster into PDF format for uploading to the website).



Talks by other libraries included two on a similar theme:


These both saw the potential of ebooks in terms of searching and portability through mobile devices.  At the same time, there are real limitations on actual ebook readers, such as the Kindle, for libraries operating with aggregators, license agreements and Digital Rights Management – all similar results to those found at UoB.  Netbooks still win out for academic usage (session 7.3).

Really Mobile Libraries

Two other talks highlighted the attraction and benefits of mobile-friendly web pages for libraries. 

To be a truly modern university appealing to the mobile generation (and that includes researchers), libraries need to embrace mobile-friendly pages and Web Apps for mobile access, as well as QR codes for reading quick information via a barcode to your smartphone.  

Gone is the OPAC – instead it’s the MOPAC, ie a library catalogue not just viewable on a smartphone but also with QR codes embedded with shelf information:


Cloud-based libraries

OCLC representative Lorcan Dempsey, Emory University Libraries’ Director Rick Luce, and Tamar Sadeh of Ex Libris all looked to the Cloud as the future for digital storage, sharing and access.  Libraries increasingly outsource what were core activities to third parties, all enabled by cloud services.  Ex Libris are developing their Cloud LMS, Alma.  Libraries engage with researchers in interactive networked environments. Security is stronger than some imagine and sharing and greater scale are enabled.


“Transition to cloud-based library services” (Sadeh):


“The University Library” (Dempsey):



Europe and the digital agenda

Digitization projects were a key feature: for example – http://bibliotecnica.upc.edu/LIBER2011/sites/bibliotecnica.upc.edu.LIBER2011/files/authors/PDF/PROQUEST.pdf

on Proquest’s major project to digitize early European printed books.

Info Lit:
There were sessions on Information Literacy in Estonia (http://bibliotecnica.upc.edu/LIBER2011/content/parallel-sessions-0#session-6-2) Embedding courses in the curriculum and VLEs is essential. Estonia have a nation-wide online course to promote information skills with High School pupils too.

Also, videos for Information Skills in Turkey (http://bibliotecnica.upc.edu/LIBER2011/content/parallel-sessions-0#session-5-2 ),

with lively videos on YouTube (Bilkent, Library) made by media students (under supervision).  Get students to promote your library for you!

Such initiatives parallel work done at UoB Library Services of course.

Finally … Students using libraries get better results!

Dr Graham Stone of Huddersfield University has been leading a group of UK libraries which has sought to identify quantitatively the benefits of library and e-library use for student achievements.

While a minority of top-achievers never used the library … most of those who did had better results.

However, just going on the web didn’t make a difference to results – it’s what you do once you’re there (bit like a library building, in fact … ).

See: http://bibliotecnica.upc.edu/LIBER2011/content/parallel-sessions-2#session-11-1

Post by: Jon Andrews

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