JISC Conference 2010

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Fiery-blooms at Kew 2009

The theme for the jisc conference this year was  ‘Technology: at the heart of education and research’ and links to presentations and more is available in the Virtual Goody Bag

The keynote speaker Martin Bean set the tone of the day with an enthusiastic, dynamic talk on the ‘learning journey’. Even though I wasn’t completely convinced of everything he said I was encouraged by his visionary outlook and he reminded me of the value of education.

He saw a clear place for libraries  but with a move from helping students retreive information to helping students make sense of the information and saw ‘trusted content’ as key. Personally I have always seen part of the information retreival process as identifying the trusted content first. I look forward to the day when we can spend less time showing staff and students how to access the content easily and have less authentications problems to resolve.

The 3 parallel sessions I attended were focused on collections and discovery. In the morning I went to the session on ‘Navigating the UK’s libraries, museums and archives: A vision for resource discovery’. Their vision was ‘UK students and researchers will have easy, flexible access to content and services through a collaborative, aggregated and integrated resource discovery and delivery framework which is comprehensive, open and sustainable’

I think this is an exciting vision although the complexity of the landscape is a worry. During other sessions in the day I learnt more about  new collections being built and developed. As the landscape continues to grow and become more complex I was left wondering how this vision to provide easy flexible access is achievable. I am also not completley sure what place ‘resource discovery solutions’ have in this landscape as they build their large indexes of aggregated data. I am however looking forward to seeing this develop and there are looking at some quick wins in this area which was encouraging to hear.

Another trend I noticed from the sessions I attended was the importance of showing value, an outcome of the current political and economic climate. Alongside showing value was also the need to be flexible and find sustainable business models, as talked about in the session ‘Business models for sustaining digital resources’. It was interesting to hear how the National Archives are generating £7m of income. The growing trend in interest in family history has been effectively targeted by the National Archives to help generate income . The ina.fr, an archive of french TV & radio are also looking at monetizing their collection, through DVD sales although do also provide free access to their content as well.

The final session I attended was ‘Community collections and the power of the crowd’. It was fascinating to hear about how networks and communities are creating such valuable  & exciting resources.  Oxford were able to show the difference in cost in creating a crowdsources collection the ‘Great War Archive’ compared to the cost of a professoinal sourced collection ‘First World War Poetry Archive’ and not unsurprisingly it was much cheaper to crowdsource, £3.50 per image as opposed to £40. They encouraged people to submit their own scans & set up roadshows for people to bring along items to digitise. While this approach was experimental they were pleased with its success and are now providing a resource for others to do something similar, RunCoCo. It is interesting to see how these collections fit in & compare with more established publisher colletions.

Over lunch I also had the opportunity to hear about some work Mimas had done to get feedback from users. They were able to get some good qualititative and quantative data in a short period and to use to show their value. I was especially interested to hear what feedback there got from academics and researchers on their use of Zetoc, COPAC and Archives Hub and was encouraged to hear how much value they place on these services. I think this helped confirm my belief in them as a trusted source and a reason to recomend them

I enjoyed the day and the highlight for me was the opportuntity to meet more professional staff whose enthusiasm and vision make be have confidence in the future of education and the role of technology