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.

Tag chaos

As part of the SLIC/CILIPS Web 2.0 experimentation, the Information Team has been looking at the process of tagging in social networking sites. When we first approached tagging, we thought that our cataloguing skills would be useful but quickly realised this was not entirely the case. The lack of consistency and control in the world of tags left us reeling!

Undeterred, we started to experiment with different approaches and came to the conclusion that some tagging guidelines would be helpful, at an organisational level at least. After much deliberation and procrastination, we’ve now battered out a final draft and would welcome any feedback or suggestions.

The process of compiling guidelines has left us with many questions and few definite answers. How should librarians approach tagging? Can guidelines work at a community, if not global, level? Should user-generated tags be incorporated into catalogue records? On a practical level, how should tags be constructed? Should we favor US spellings, ditch capital letters and insert underscores? Let us know what you think.