Govcamp Scotland – securing the digital future

Following the recent publication of the Digital Strategy, a Govcamp Scotland event was held in Edinburgh as part of a global series of initiatives supported by Microsoft which bring Governments, businesses and academic institutions together to better understand how to respond to the digital age. The Digital Strategy aims to put Scotland at the forefront of the digital economy and seeks to increase digital participation – something which SLIC is closely involved in via our Public Library Quality Improvement Fund and partnership work with JISC, the BBC and others.
The purpose of last week’s event was to explore the vision of Scotland’s digital future and seek to maximise opportunities for collaboration in order to realise Scotland’s full potential in this area.
Around 300 delegates including representative from education, business, SLIC, SCURL, local authorities and others heard John Swinney discuss Scotland’s Digital Future and had an opportunity to participate in panel discussions and other sessions which looked at health, education, jobs and skills, the low carbon economy and public service delivery.

I attended the education session which was enriched by the views of a set of school pupils discussing their use of GLOW and other digital tools.  We heard too about Edinburgh Libraries project work with Microsoft.
The day ended with the signing of the Digital Participation Charter which MSP Fiona Hyslop introduced to delegates. The Charter commits signatories to share information and align resources and efforts to deliver shared digital participation outcomes over the lifetime of this Parliament. Founding signatories included Hewlett-Packard, J.P. Morgan, Storm ID, MJI Business Solutions, Mydex CIC, Liberata, Cisco, University of Edinburgh, Carnegie UK Trust, Scotland IS, Sopra Group and Swirrl IT Ltd.

In summary a day of good intentions and interesting debates with lots of opportunities for SLIC, CILIPS and the library community to get involved.


Fit for purpose?

‘The 21st century college library is a space that offers a lot more than shelves of books; the 21st century college librarian is a multitasking individual who knows how to use educational resources in both the material and online world to support students and staff in their institution.’

So states the Scottish JISC Regional Support Centres’ 2010 Enhanced Training Needs Analysis (ETNA) survey, ‘On the right track.’ ETNA  surveys involve analysis of thousands of responses from individuals (both staff and students) in every further education college in the country.  Commendably, a whole chapter of ETNA relates to the delivery of learning resources in colleges.

Acknowledging the skills and expertise of library and information professionals as ‘key to providing access to technology and resources in colleges’ ETNA recognises the specialist nature of their role in interacting with learners from across the disciplines and with ‘a wider range of abilities than would be normal for academic staff.’

The report informs us that the 21st century college librarian is likely to be fully  engaged with technology such as virtual learning environments (‘essential to their role’), wireless networks, video casting, podcasting, blogs, wikis and social networking sites.  E-books and their promotion and utilisation feature strongly too, no doubt partly due to the JISC e-books for FE initiative.

Despite the difficulties college library staff experience in getting out of college for training, there is an expressed interest in  subjects such as information literacy support, metadata tagging and also in emerging areas of college activity such as online repository management.

The strategic information ETNA provides on college library services is invaluable to SLIC and CILIPS since it informs our FE Conference planning and provision of CILIPS CPD. This report provides a starting point for future partnership work between our organisations and the JISC Regional Support Centres as well providing information which will be complementary to that soon to be collected in the first annual SLIC/JISC FE  libraries survey.

Libraries and IT departments

In a recent blog post, educationalist John Connell raised the issue of what he described as the “IT head-lock” in Scottish local authorities. Referring to the education sector’s difficulties with IT departments, John notes “…the almost complete professional and attitudinal disconnect in most Scottish local authorities between those who manage the corporate IT networks and those who want to deliver a 21st century ICT experience to learners and teachers.”

Since the CILIPS and SLIC Web 2.0 experimentation commenced, the Information Team has been concerned about the disparity of access to the constituent services across library and information services. Anecdotal evidence suggests that this problem largely affects those on local authority networks, working within public and school libraries.

However, we’d like to get a more accurate view of the situation across sectors. Can you relate to the above comment about the relationship with your IT department? Are there services within the CILIPS/SLIC Web 2.0 package that you can’t access at work?**

We’re already aware of some exceptions within public libraries – East Lothian Libraries have a flickr account and East Renfrewshire Libraries (log-in required to access link) are on Facebook. Are there any others out there? We’d be particularly interested to hear about how libraries and librarians across sectors have managed to work with IT departments to resolve access issues.

**We appreciate that some CILIPS and SLIC members may not be able to access this post and are currently considering alternative methods of consulting our membership on this issue.