E-Books Unbound: Speakers confirmed

The 2011 ebooks planning group have confirmed the line-up for this year’s conference which takes place in the National Piping Centre in Glasgow on 27thOctober.

The National Piping Centre, Glasgow: venue for the 2011 ebooks conference

The speakers are:

Nora Daly of the British Library who will be looking at how digital technologies have changed research and exploring what role the 21st research library has in this new environment;

Consultant, Ken Chad, who has been working with a JISC ebooks project  looking at ebook business models in higher education with a view to help libraries and publishers better understand the requirements of patrons and develop affordable library-delivered e-books;

Emeritus Professor at Loughborough University, Charles Oppenheim, is our featured keynote speaker, and he’ll be discussing the legal aspects of the expanding digital  business models;

Sophie Rochester, an independent literary consultant and founder of The Literary Platform, a website dedicated to exploring new platforms for literature, will discuss new platforms and developments within ebooks,  and finally

Wendy Walker, of Glasgow University, will look at  patron driven acquisition at her home institution.

The Planning Group are delighted to announce that Jason Miles Campbell, manager of JISC Legal Services, has agreed to chair the event.

The exhibition to accompany the event has sold out in record time – a week after we announced the event all our spaces had been snapped up!

If you’re interested in attending there is a special earlybird rate of £65 avaiilable until 15th September and you can register here

You can also visit our lanyrd page   to find out more and add yourself as a delegate or opt to track the event.

Don’t forget the hashtag for the event is #ebooks11 so you can follow ebooks  on Twitter


Working in a Digital Age: 10th Anniversary ebooks Conference 21st Oct 2010

Yesterday I attended the 10th Anniversary e-books conference, held in the impressive surroundings of the Playfair Library in Edinburgh. The day was opened with reflections on 10 years of ebooks by Catherine Nicholson, Head of Learning Resources at the Glasgow School of Art. She took us through the history of ebooks, starting with the inception of Project Gutenberg in 1971 taking in some milestones, including the first ebook readers in 1998 and Stephen King’s experiment of releasing a book online in 2000, to the digital landscape as it is today.

The ebooks market has developed a great deal since then – and since the first ebooks conference – with digital reading starting to move into the mainstream and to be less focused on the academic. However, it still can’t be regarded as mature, with the proliferation of devices and lack of interoperability standards meaning that the market is still fractured and often confusing. Catherine suggested that it would be more useful, perhaps, to regard this as being the end of the beginning.

Caren Milloy, Head of Projects at JISC Collections, gave an overview of the current digital landscape. She believes that it is important that publishers look forward and try and adapt to new ways of working and, where possible, lead. Using an interesting example in another industry (that of Playboy) Caren demostrated that it is better to try and embrace chance and to innovate.

Not quite sure how everyone felt about that particular part, but Caren’s point was correct. Publishers won’t, in the long run, be successful if they expect that they can force people into buying the paper textbooks, if there is a better alternative.

She also demonstrated a couple of examples of the way that enhancing ebooks can make them more attractive to readers, whether this be by adding value, as in the case of Enhanced Editions being offered by Canongate. Another interesting concept is shown off in this video from IDEO:

Though there were many positive developments and a great deal of potential for ebooks, Caren did finish on a little bit of a low note, her feeling being that, in light of the previous day’s comprehensive spending review, innovation could be difficult at a time of shrinking budgets across many library sectors.

Next, Professor David Nicholas of University College London, discussed the implications for libraries and librarians with the rise of the “Google Generation.” I have to admit that this is a term which I sometimes have problems with. The term, as it is generally used, suggests that everyone born after 1982 does things differently from their predecessors, making little allowance for variations in access and engagement within that age group. This could have repercussions for those that aren’t fully engaged. Happily, the conclusion that Professor Nicholas draws is that, in fact, we are all the Google Generation.

In an interesting and thought-provoking discussion he mapped out the challenges that there are for library services as digital becomes more widespread. On the one hand, the increase in the free availability of digital data is a positive thing for the information profession, it does have associated with it the spectre of disintermediation, which is a threat to the sector.

There were aspects that may be construed as controversial. In describing a great deal of information gathering as “horizontal” rather than “vertical” (in other words that there is a tendency towards the shallow understanding of a subject) he did raise the spectre of dumbing down. Though I should be clear, this isn’t to imply any fear of new technology from Professor Nicholas, as one often sees in hand-wringing articles about the growth of online resources.

Helen Ellis, from Springer, gave a short presentation on the Springer/SHEDL ebooks project. It’s good to see that Springer don’t place any DRM restrictions on their ebooks!

Leading up to lunch, Jon Trinder, PhD student at Glasgow University, gave an interesting talk on the growth of and use of mobile technologies in learning. He gave us a short history of mobile technologies and went on to discuss some of the trials that have been attempted to gain an insight into how students make use of it.

Unfortunately, they did find a number of barriers to doing this, not least that students don’t always wish to cooperate with these trials.

Using the example of Iron Bridge he also suggested that mobile learning has a lot of development yet (though some things are changing) as people aren’t yet used to the technology, and what makes it unique.

Jon’s talk was so packed with information that he, unfortunately, conscious that he was in the slot leading to lunch time, found himself rushing the second part. However, he had given plenty for us to chew on.

Checking my Twitterfeed at lunchtime I saw a link to the article in the Bookseller about the attempts by publishers to restrict off-site access to ebooks for borrowers. Pertinent, if worrying.

Debbie Boden, of Glasgow Caledonian University, looked at many things, including the changes that digital technology is bringing to library services (and many other aspects of out lioves). Digital engagement is important, but there are challenges that come with this. One of the most important things to consider is actually the terminology. “Digital Literacy” has slipped into common usage, but people don’t like to be described as illiterate. Perhaps this discussion needs to be framed in a different way.

Taking us through some things which may seem counterintuitive (students actually requesting that Facebook be banned from some areas, and that there be parts of the library that are like a “traditional library,” for example), and the idea of your digital footprint, there was a lot to think about. The digital footprint part was interesting: we tend to hear a lot in the press about employers searching for prospective employees online and rejecting them for things that they’ve posted. However, the opposite is true. If your online presence suggests, for example, that you have good communication skills, they may view this positively.

The Digital Economy Act, one of the final pieces of legislation to pass the last parliament is controversial, and has potential consequneces for the library and information sector. Head of Partnerships and Professional Adviser at the National Library of Scotland, Janice McFarlane, laid out the challenges that face library and information services in the wake of this bill.

Finally, Elize Rowan, from Edinburgh University Library, outlined many of the issues faced by acquisitions departments in libraries with the shift towards an increase in digital content. These include the inclusion of poor quality MARC records (which if not dealt with can have consequences for the library user), Digital Rights Management and issues around concurrent access, long-term access and – bizarrely – the insistence of some publishers that institutions make a 20 book minimum purchase.

There was a melancholy air to some of the presentations, given the disruptiveness of new technologies and the impact comprehensive spending review, which had been announced the day before. Overall though, I took a great deal from the day, and I hope that everyone else found it to be a success.

Working in a digital age: eBooks come of age

This year, the SLIC/MMITS/SCURL e-books conference, ‘Working in a digital age’ celebrates its 10th anniversary in the magnificent setting of the University of Edinburgh University’s Playfair Library on October 21st.

Over the past ten years the Conference has explored, debated and discussed e-resource developments and concepts as diverse as digital literacy, podcasting and e-marketing your library. Could it be that e-books popularity is now heading towards a critical mass brought about by  changes in technology that offer individuals greater power to choose? In recent years the Conference focus has widened to include eBook use across the sectors boosted by advances in handheld technology and the growth in ownership of mobile devices.

The Guardian recently reported that American bookseller, Barnes and Noble were planning to increase investment in e-books following a shares drop of 16% attributed to a ‘shift in literary tastes from books to digital reading devices.’  Here in Scotland South Ayrshire Council Libraries last week became the first Council to offer a free downloadable ‘eBooks service’ giving access to around 200 full text electronic versions of titles covering adult, children, fiction and non-fiction.  ‘I wanted it, I read it’ wrote Phil Bradley on his weblog, referring to the advantages of downloading e-books to his iPad and iphone using the Kindle app to enable reading on the move.

Last weekend Marcus du Sautoy, Professor of Mathematics at the University of Oxford,  published a thinkpiece linking eBooks to iphone and ipad apps to suggest that the whole idea of what a book can do is about to change offering authors and publishers ‘ a huge challenge to reconceive their content to provide a visual and interactive experience.’ Mobile devices open up the possibility of offering readers a richer, deeper understanding of novels.

It’s clear that eBooks have come a long way in the last ten years from a point where we celebrated the ease with which we could search academic texts to the rich experience promised by the meeting of eBooks and mobile phone apps technology. What does it all mean for the library sector?  Come along to our event and join the discussion!

Dates for your diary

SLIC, in partnership with MMITS and SCURL, recently announced the date for the annual e-books conference which will take place in Edinburgh on 21st October.

Also announced are the dates for the SLIC AGM and Innovation Showcase (16th November) and the SLIC FE Conference organised in partnership with library staff from Scotland’s Colleges  community of practice (18th November).  Both events take place in the Mitchell Library, Glasgow.

Taking place at the same venue from 7-9 June is the CILIPS annual conference which can be booked here

See you there!

Digital Futures: adapting to new e-environments conference

On Thursday 22nd October the 9th Annual E-Books Conference was held at the Mitchell Library in Glasgow. This event felt timely due to the recent increase in dedicated mass-market e-book readers available on the market and the proliferation of large screen smart ‘phones, such as the iphone.

The first presentation, for which Colin Galloway kindly stepped in to present as Linda Bennett was unfortunately unavailable due to illness, gave an overview of the changes that the book market is currently undergoing.

Liam Earney, of JISC, presented on the JISC national e-books observatory project which aims to explore the way that e-books are used and the impacts that they have. The study was carried as the demand amongst academic librarians for unlimited concurrent and perpetual access to e-texts for their students creates concern amongst publishers that their future revenues will be destroyed as students purchase fewer of the “core” textbooks.

David Pattern of Huddersfield University Library rounded things off before lunch with a lively presentation on OPAC 2 and beyond which looked at how library professionals can seek to make their online catalogues more in tune with their users experience of the web by simplfying the front end and adding more web 2.0 type tools to enhance their experience and increase the access to the data held by libraries. This has to be a priority if e-books are to constitute a higher proportion of a libraries stock in the future as, without the physical prescence, if they are not easily available to students, they are effectively invisible.

After lunch, representatives of suppliers (Springer, Dawson and OCLC) discussed what they are doing to make e-books more available to users and some interesting experiments with different payment models which could, hopefully, increase access to information for users.

To round the afternoon off, Dan Franklin, Digital Editor of Canongate gave a thought-provoking presentation on the future of e-publishing, with specific reference to the ability of digital devices to provide a multi-media experience, which is undoubtedly more exciting than simply replicating the printed word on an electronic screen. This was highlighted with the demonstration of writer and musician Nick Cave’s new novel, which is available in print, electronically and as an iphone app.

Update: Slideshows from this event are now available in the scottishlibraries slideshare account.

Digital Literacy in an e-world: The 8th Annual E-Books Conference

On Thursday 30th October 2008 we were one of five speakers at the E-Books Conference at the Lighthouse in Glasgow. The Lighthouse is an amazing building and I took the opportunity to take the lift to the sixth floor to see the roof top view of Glasgow which must be amazing at night time so will need to do a return visit.

We had been asked to do a presentation about the work of the project and wanted to incorporate the conference theme so decided to call our presentation The Scottish Information Literacy Project “From ICT to Digital Literacy the importance of information literacy” (see project website events page for link to presentation) linking the start of the project with the Drumchapel Project (John Crawford) and recent consultancy work on Digital Literacy.

presenting at the 8th e-book event on Digital Literacy at the Lighthouse, Glasgow

presenting - e-book / Digital Literacy event

Other speakers included Paul Riley (The Welsh E-Books Consortium), like Scotland, Wales is a good size for collaboration on a national basis and Paul described some of their collaborative developments. Talking to him afterwards he expressed interest in the framework and the possiblity of Wales doing something similar. Hopefully they will be able to pursue this and as we will be in Cardiff for the 2009 LILAC Conference we can check on any progress.

John Coll gave an overview of the Business Information Services at the National Library of Scotland (Scotbis), whilst most enquiries are made electronically their resources are predominately print although they do collect both print and electronic publications / editions and offer clients / customers the option of accessing information sources in person (free of charge) or sending paper copies for a fee. I spoke to John at lunch time about the work the project is involved in within the workplace and also the forthcoming SIN (Scottish Information Network) meeting on Blogging which unfortuantely had to be postponned due to lack of numbers.

After lunch Sarah Fahmy (JISC) talked about JISC Collections for Schools and Jim Henderson (LTS) talked about the Online Reference Resources offered by Learning and Teaching Scotland (LTS) in partnership with JISC through GLOW (a national digital network for schools which will provide tools to underpin Curriculum for Excellence learning and teaching approaches). It was really good to see the material that will be available to schools and also to see schools now benefiting from JISC collections.

The last speaker was Duncan Chapell from Glasgow School of Art – InfosmART: using the Web to Deliver Information Skills to Arts Researchers. One of the highlights of Duncan’s presentation was the use of the project National Framework to inform the development of their information literacy programme. The other was their / his use of images (Visual Literacy) both within InfosmART and his presentation as Art students use of visual images is not surprisingly very high. It made me remember the old adage a picture tells a thousand words.

All in all the day seemed to be a success both event and project wise. Interestingly their seemed to be more mention of information literacy rather than digital literacy.

Photo courtesay of Jill Evans (SCURL)