Growing Knowledge : Supporting the Digital Researcher


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Event: Metadata and Web 2.0 seminar
Organised by: Cataloguing & Indexing Group in Scotland
Held on Friday 2nd March at the National Library of Scotland, Edinburgh
Presented by: Nora McGregor, British Library

Published in: Education, Technology
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  • Thanks for having me, my name is Nora McGregor and I work as a Digital Curator in the Digital Scholarship department at the British Library. It’s a new department at the Library which has been set up to focus on how digital technologies are shaping our research processes and environments and how that in turn shapes the library’s service provision. Web 2.0 technologies are of course a huge part of this. As a digital curator my role is to support curatorial staff across the library in keeping up with changes in scholarship and integrating and leveraging digital tools in their daily practice. I’ll explain a little bit more about that later but thought it might be nice to kick off today’s Web 2.0 discussions with a wider view of how digital technologies in general are changing the research landscape and in turn how we provide for these digitally astute researchers. Starting with what was our very fun and informative exhibition/experiment called Growing Knowledge which explored the evolution of research. I’ll then highlight a few Web 2.0 projects which are underscored by what we learned from the Growing Knowledge experience.
  • Introducing the British Library Apple Store! Or, British Library 2.0 
  • The space was highly conducive to digital working, multiple screen arrays allowed for working with different windows open, assuming researchers will be comparing documents and instant messaging with research colleagues at the same time. Maybe even blogging about their findings.
  • We tested out new user interfaces for reading room computers available at the library which would serve up the key resources one might want depending on their discipline.
  • Resources we imagined a digital researcher might be using on a daily basis.
  • Garibaldi Panorama
  • In providing our vision of how research was evolving and highlighting tools we’d expect people to want in front of them, we hit upon a reality that actually these are not yet widespread amongst our users. Most notably in terms of social media tools: they blog and use twitter in their social lives but on the whole were not using these as part of their research process. It struck us as exciting that such a large percentage of people might take up a new approach to their research, and underscored the need for us to play a much more active role in the entire research cycle.
  • The Digital Research & Curator Team of which I’m a part has been set up as the training arm of the new Digital Scholarship area at the library. We keep an eye on these types of new technologies being used by researchers and our current projects focus on supporting curatorial staff across the library as well as researchers to integrate and leverage these digital tools and collections in their daily practice. We are in the midst of developing a wide-ranging training program to cover the key aspects of digital scholarship. These two last projects underway at the library are absolutely perfect examples of the evolution of research at the British Library and new skills being acquired.
  • Now this is my favourite example of Web 2.0 at the British Library. Last week our Digital Mapping department quietly put up 700 maps on our website hoping to get them georeferenced. When it went live she was looking for contacts in local historical areas who might want to partake. Well before she could pick up the phone it was done. In fact it happened so fast there was no time to even get a press release out! A colleague subscribes to the BL’s YouTube channel, the digital mapping curator loaded the How-to video on it. Colleague emailed it to me and I tweeted it. Other BL tweeters picked up on it, our followers love maps. More tooling up: the other maps curator wasn’t very active with his tweeting so it was a great opportunity to showcase the value of it and to give him tips for building his network online. Great tale of leveraging social media effectively and facilitating digital research. All of the georeferenced maps appear in the JISC-funded Old Maps Online portal launched this past weekend.
  • Again if we’re talking about stressing interaction over space, we acknowledge that on some level the BL website itself could be perceived as simply another ‘physical space’ in that it’s bounded by a location in which someone must come to find materials of interest. We need to interact and meet users where THEY are, not expect them to come to us. And the people, are definitely on wikipedia! Our new AHRC funded Wikipedian in Residence will be with us for six months working closely with curators in order to teach them how to write new wikipedia articles around our collections, share images and get connected with folks outside the library. Most curators haven’t touched anything close to this so it will be an excellent and exciting learning opportunity for them. They’ll have the opportunity to weigh in with their expertise and highlight the existence of our collection items and interact and share knowledge with other enthusiasts in their field.
  • Growing Knowledge : Supporting the Digital Researcher

    1. 1. Supporting the Digital Researcher Nora McGregor Digital Curator @ndalyrose
    2. 2. A project to help us design and deliverfuture research services andenvironments with a view to the “Land tothe North” and our 2020 VisionThree deliverables:4. Install a prototype digital research space within the Front Hall for both individual and collaborative working.2. Design and build user interfaces and workstation arrays that demonstrate a vision for multimedia digital research.3. Evaluate the individual and group user experiences in this technology-rich environment and inform the Digital Research Centre programme and other future service proposition development
    3. 3. prototype digital research space launched fall 2010 through summer 2011
    4. 4. digital mediaworkstation arrays
    5. 5. new user interfaces
    6. 6. displayed subject area resourcesdigitised resources audio/visual materials eJournals
    7. 7. and provided digitalresearch tools
    8. 8. new user interfaces[continued]
    9. 9. CIBER Research Group Evaluation
    10. 10. What we’ve learned:It’s not just about the space, it’s about the interactionAn average of 40% of surveyrespondents said they are inclined touse tools they learned about inGrowing KnowledgeWe are not just content providers.We are advisors, partners, practitioners, facilitators.
    11. 11. Tooling up @British Library•Building a readers network on Facebook/Twitter•Professional networking on Yammer•Collaborative working via internal wiki•Using social media for collection development•Leveraging external platforms•Text mining, data mining•Setting up a crowdsourcing project
    12. 12. Crowdsourcing the Geo-referencing maps
    13. 13. British Library Wikipedian-in-Residence
    14. 14. Questions? Nora McGregor Digital Curator