Friday, 10 February 2017

Using Google Q&A in large teaching sessions

Martin Philip, Academic Liaison Librarian, offers tips on using Google Q&A to add interest and interaction to your teaching presentations

Shared from the Lib-Innovation blog.

I've always been a default Microsoft PowerPoint user, however Google's recently added Q&A feature to their Slides product may have persuaded me otherwise.

PowerPoint still seems to be the most ubiquitous piece of presentation software. It's certainly the one programme that I've spent most of my student and professional life using and the one I'm most comfortable creating slides with.

Nowadays, however, there are many presentation programmes to choose from; Google Slides, Apple's Keynote, Prezi, Canva to name a few. They all essentially do the same thing which is to present your topic and/or ideas, using, texts, graphics, photos and video.

Read more of this post at: Lib-Innovation: Using Google Q&A in large teaching sessions

Thursday, 9 February 2017

Box of Broadcasts is here! Three things to try out with our new film, TV and radio resource

Ned Potter suggests a few ways to use an exciting new resource.

We've added a new subscription to our library collections, and we're delighted by it: say hello to Box of Broadcasts. Known as BoB, this is a service which records free-to-air broadcasts from 65 TV and radio channels (see the full list here), and makes the programmes and films discoverable for educational purposes online. You can watch any of the 2 million+ programmes it contains, dating back to the 90s, on any device, anywhere in the UK.

We've put together a Frequently Asked Questions page, which goes into a bit more detail about how to use it and what it does. But for this blogpost we want to explore some amazing things you can do with BoB.

1. Make playlists 

BoB isn't just a giant vat of films and programmes - it allows you to curate the material to your own ends. So for example we've created a playlist to compare great movie trilogies:

You can check out the trilogies playlist here if you like. You can create your own too, perhaps adding in some more trilogies that BoB has on it (Bourne, Jurassic Park, er, Austin Powers, for example...) - just find any broadcast and click 'Add to playlist'. 

If you need to watch a bunch of films or shows for a particular module, just create a playlist to keep them in one easy to find place. Or if you're the academic running the module, create the playlist and just share the URL with your class, or put each programme on your Resource List for the students to find. 

2. Search programme transcripts 

By default, BoB's search will be looking for your keywords not just in programme titles but in their transcripts. (It's worth going into Search Settings and changing it to 'Title Only' for times when you don't want this to happen.) This opens up a whole new way of studying television and radio, allowing you to keyword-search in an amazing way.

So for example if you type in "Werner Herzog" then of course you get the legendary director's films (including Cave of Forgotten Dreams which some have nominated as the greatest documentary of all time) and his TV documentaries, but you also get TV interviews with him and radio interviews with him, you get films he's acted in like Jack Reacher, you get Alan Yentob's Imagine special on him, you get episodes of Mastermind where he's the specialist subject, you get the time on University Challenge where he was the answer to a question that no one got right, you get the episode of The Simpsons in which he guest starred...  

This ability to search programme transcripts is the equivalent of full-text searching but for multimedia, and surely opens up whole new avenues of scholarship. 

3. Create your own clips 

It is ridiculously easy to create a clip - you just press the button and drag sliders into place to cover the part of the programme you want. 

One of the interesting things about watching programmes on BoB is those on commercial channels have adverts on. Of course you can just skip through them, but if part of your dissertation involves studying advertising or brands, you can create clips of period adverts that are no longer shown. Then you can collect them together in one place, and share them with other BoB users if you wish, or embed them in the VLE or even embed then in a PowerPoint presentation. Head to the BUFVC's site for video tutorials on how to do all these things.  

So, what will you do with Box of Broadcasts? How will it change the way you study at York? 

Tuesday, 31 January 2017

Bringing hygge to the Library

Joanne Casey on the art of staying cosy...

Hygge has been a buzzword in recent months; as you probably already know it's a Danish word that reflects the idea of making everyday life more enjoyable. For me, and many others, that means being cosy.

Over the years, the temperature in the Library has been a common theme in the feedback we receive from you. Particularly on social media, people often tell us that they're too cold in the Library buildings; sometimes on the same day as other people tell us that they're too hot!

What this makes clear to us is two things; everyone feels the temperature differently, and (even with the heating on) there are definite cold spots in the Library that we can't eradicate - desks by the windows in Morrell are a case in point.

We advise people to wear layers when studying in the Library, and you can take hot drinks into Morrell and Fairhurst, but we spotted an opportunity to add something extra. We now have blankets near the Help Desks in both the University Library and the King's Manor Library. If you're feeling cold, just help yourself to a blanket and return it when you leave.

In addition, we've provided temporary heaters in the King's Manor Library to counteract the chill from the thick stone walls. They'll be there until the weather warms up, and we'll continue to monitor the temperature.

These aren't big changes, but we hope they'll make your time in the Library a happier experience. Remember that your feedback matters to us, and we act on it wherever we can. Find out how you can share your thoughts with us:

Monday, 19 December 2016

Telling the Stories of York

Sarah Griffin writes about how we produced a beautiful book featuring some of the treasures of our collections.

This particular story starts when the previous University Librarian, Stephen Town, asked me if I would prepare a short leaflet that would be image heavy and text light, and would be something that could be handed out to visitors and other people interested in the unique and distinctive collections at the University of York and York Minster Library. I worked with Sarah Slinn and Alexandra Medcalf from the Borthwick team, photographer Paul Shields, and designers Karen Smith and Jessica Stephens; we chose a few gorgeous pictures, wrote a few lines and thought we had completed our task. However once Stephen saw the initial idea he knew that we could go bigger and better and produce something much more substantial.

At first the plan was to produce a "Treasures Book", showing the highlights of the collections. It was certainly no hardship selecting stunning and internationally significant items for this. We decided on a telegram from Ghandi, theatre designs for an Alan Ayckbourn play, a hand coloured edition of the first printed atlas, a child's scrapbook from 1819 and many many more diverting and exciting items.

However as we went through the selection process we gradually realised that something else was going on. I know myself that if I go on a visit or a guided tour, it's always the stories that I remember. Sometimes I have no idea of dates or even the context of what I’ve heard, but the stories around an object stay in my mind and encourage me to go and find out more. That is what we decided to try and capture in the book and, from that moment, Stories of York really began to take shape.

York is full of great stories but our starting point obviously had to be the collections at the Borthwick, Special Collections and York Minster Library. There were some easy choices, arsonist Jonathan Martin was an obvious one as the collection is particularly rich down at the Minster, and we also had some fire boxes in the Raymond Burton collection.

York and chocolate cannot be separated and the Terry's and Rowntree's archives at the Borthwick had so much wonderful material that it was a hard job to decide what not to use. Here's a couple of the ones we reluctantly left out! Leaving things out was probably the hardest part, the book is 100 pages long but could easily have been a 1000.

Interestingly there were also things we were determined to include that in the final cut didn't quite fit. We wanted to tell the stories of the Mount School and the York Musical Festivals. There is wonderful material in the Mount archive and in the Raymond Burton Collection but we couldn't pull out that all important story. However we haven't given up so watch this space for a follow up!

Producing the book, discovering more about the stunning collections at the University and York Minster and being able to share some of their stories was a joy for all of us, and I hope that everyone else will get as much pleasure out of the Stories of York.

Interested in reading more? You can buy your copy of our book online or in person:

Friday, 2 December 2016

Getting to know you

Jackie Knowles, Head of Customer Services, explains how we put our customers (that means you!) at the heart of our developments.

Next summer it will be twenty years since I qualified as an 'Information Professional'. Reflecting back on the years since I landed in the world of libraries I personally have changed enormously, just the usual list of becoming older, (a bit) wiser, finding more grey hairs and wrinkles etc. However, more notably the environment I work in, and libraries themselves, have significantly changed around me along the way. There are the obvious changes; computers have replaced typewriters, furniture is no longer uniformly brown and we've got far more sophisticated electronic resources than the CD-ROMS I used in my first job. But alongside the obvious there are also the more subtle changes that have taken place in our attitudes and ways of working. When I first joined the profession there was a strong focus on staff being 'professionally qualified' librarians and a strong theme was that we, as professional staff, knew best about what to provide for our library users. This wasn't incorrect, and I'm sure plenty of good things were going on in libraries at the time, but today the relationship we have with our customers is much more central to our service planning than the use of our own expertise. Asking our customers what they would like to see us provide, and how, is now paramount to our success.

A watershed project

In 2012 we introduced our Flexible Loans here in the Library and for me personally that was a watershed moment when the penny really dropped that we were able to do things differently and with success. At the time we embarked on the project to design a new way of lending books to our users we threw out the rule book and set about the challenge of designing a loans model which actively sought participation in the design process from our user community.

"I like to listen. I have learned a great deal from listening carefully. Most people never listen."
Ernest Hemingway, Author and Journalist

Listening to our users and feeding their ideas and preferences into our resulting service development became our primary aim. This contrasted starkly with the way things had been done previously when loans review projects had usually been structured around library staff locking themselves away in darkened rooms to complete the work required. The end result of those old style reviews was usually a few minor changes on the loans model - 20p on a fine here, a new loan category there - things that really lacked the impact we wanted to see. But it was "job done, see you again in another few years for the next review".

With Flexible Loans we really changed our approach and as a result I believe we really changed the impact we had. The model has resulted in a much more customer focused method of loaning books, and while it isn't perfect, it works well and ensures that our book stock is working hard and getting circulated to those who need it. Our flexible loans work inspired us to think differently about how we work with library users. Since then we've put the customers at the heart of everything we do and we have seen the same principles used in the loans work be adopted, adapted and taken to new heights across all our areas of activity within Information Services.

A credit to the team

Sitting in the background of this change to the way we worked, both driving and guiding our customer engagement, has been our work on implementing the Customer Service Excellence (CSE) framework and accreditation. To find out more read the story of our accreditation in a previous post of mine. CSE is the tool we have embedded across Information Services to support our desire for continuous improvement. We’ve held the standard for over four years now and we use it to monitor how we are doing when it comes to our customer service skills, as well as our customer focus. It has prompted us to ask ourselves what else can we do to further improve our engagement with our customers. As such is providing the context for some work we are doing this year to explore, formalise and expand our customer engagement strategy.

Writing our engagement strategy

During academic year 2016/17 we are writing up our engagement strategy. We're not even sure we want to call it a strategy at this stage, but we know we want to discuss what customer engagement means to us. We are asking ourselves what we do, why we do it, how we do it and how we might want to measure it. We want to understand the skills and techniques our staff need in order to do customer engagement well. And then we plan to write all that down so we can share our thoughts with each other and our customers. It is worth noting that our definition of customer is quite wide ranging, we apply it not only to the people who come through our doors or request our help but also to each other and colleagues we work alongside across the University - those we call our internal customers.

Grab & Go!

As part of background research for working on our engagement strategy we are doing some customer consultation during November and December and will be asking for the opinions and ideas from our users about a range of initiatives we're working on in Information Services. This consultation will take the form of one of our 'Grab & Go' surveys, a technique where we 'grab' someone to ask if they can spare a few moments to answer a few questions, give them a very short questionnaire to fill out and then let them 'go'.

By doing a high number of grabs and keeping the questions tightly focused we can create efficiencies and gather opinions and ideas on a wide range of topics all at the same time. This year along with the question about how important engagement is to customers and how they would like to us to engage with them, we are asking about new user induction, our Digital Skills Guide, our Customer Charter and the Service Standards we set ourselves.

Tell us more

If you see us out and about doing our Grab & Go please do spare us a few minutes to let us know what you think. Alternatively if you'd like to get in touch to comment on our engagement strategy, or any other area of our work, we have our feedback scheme available or you can email me direct, see box below for further information. So go on, do your bit to help shape and build our services in a way that puts you at the heart of what we do.

Thursday, 24 November 2016

Knowing what you think

Joanne Casey explains why your thoughts matter to us, and reports on changes made in response to feedback.

We are a customer-focused service, and we work hard to ensure that what we offer - in the Library, IT Services, or the Archives - meets your needs. So getting feedback from you, whether it's positive, negative, or a request for a new service, is important to us. It helps us to find out more about what you want and to identify how we can make improvements to our services.

How we gather feedback

We collect your feedback in a variety of ways; by email, in person, on comment cards, via Facebook and Twitter, or on the new comments board at the Library entrance. We respond directly to any comments that are submitted with contact details, but we also bring all the feedback together in a monthly report, reviewed by managers, and decide how we can act on it.

The well-used Library comments board

What happens next?

We look at what you tell us, we discuss whether improvements are possible, and we respond.

If we can change in response to feedback, we will...

In the past year, we have:

  • Adjusted loan limits, so that you can now borrow up to 75 items at a time (previously 50 items)
  • Increased the initial loan period from four weeks to eight weeks
  • Edited the wording on the renewal screen in My Library account to make the renewal process for interlending items clearer
  • Begun providing IT support in the evenings and at weekends, and introduced an appointments system for more complex IT queries
  • Increased student spaces in the Library buildings, by opening up former staff offices and the old IT Support Office for student use, as well as opening up the meeting rooms on the second floor of Fairhurst to be used as study spaces in the evenings and at weekends. Over the coming year, it’s likely that other staff will move out of the Fairhurst and these spaces will also become available for study use.

...but sometimes we have to say no

The answer to your comments won't always be 'yes', but if it is 'no', we'll explain why.

For example, we've had a few requests for a microwave in the Library. There are lots of reasons why we can't provide this; the lack of a suitable space, problems with keeping it clean (it's not the responsibility of University cleaners to clean kitchen equipment), and cost (a standard domestic microwave wouldn't be a suitable choice). However, we've passed on this feedback to the University, and there's now a discussion underway about allowing students who live off-campus to access College kitchens.

We've also had lots of feedback about our turnstiles, and we know that several of you don't enjoy having to scan your cards to leave the Library. However, the information that we collect on use of the Library - how long people spend here, which departments or student groups are using the Library most, when people are most likely to come in - is really valuable to us in identifying how we need to develop our services (rest assured, we don’t retain any personal data from the turnstiles). So, whilst we understand how you feel, this isn't something that we plan to change.

The positives

We get lots of good feedback, about our staff and about our services. This matters to us, because it shows what we're getting right. We always make sure that these comments are shared both to managers and teams, so that our colleagues know that they're making a difference. Recent highlights include:

  • Thanks as ever for the super speedy response! 1
  • Thank you for the years of endless support #uoygraduation 2
  • A huge thank you to @UoYITServices who have been brilliant helping with our move. Great team!
  • Exceeded expectations, teaching was excellent and fun 3
  • Brilliant library and very helpful staff. I just love wandering around exploring the books and journals on the shelves. A great atmosphere for learning.
Thank you all, and keep telling us what you think!

More information

Who the compliments were for, where not stated.
  1. Library Twitter feed
  2. Library
  3. Borthwick Institute for Archives
Find us on Twitter:

Friday, 11 November 2016

Improving the Electronic Texts Service

Ben Catt explains how the introduction of the CLA Digital Content Store has led to enhancements to the Electronic Texts Service.

One of the many ways in which the Library can provide students with easy access to essential reading is through the Electronic Texts Service. If a book or journal is only available in print then teaching staff can request a digitised version of a key chapter or article for their resource lists. This is useful for both campus-based and distance learning students, especially for large courses where print availability is limited to one or two copies. Requests are easy to submit through our reading list software EARL (the deadline for Spring Term resource lists is Monday 21 November) and the Library produces over 2,000 scans each year. Our scans are high resolution and use optical character recognition for improved accessibility.

The process behind this service has been improved for the 2016/17 academic year thanks to the introduction of the Digital Content Store, a platform developed by the Copyright Licensing Agency (CLA) to help the Library streamline resource list digitisation workflows. Copying extent limits have also been increased from 5% to 10% per publication for each module (or one chapter/article, whichever is greater). This will provide the Library with greater flexibility to fulfil requests whilst complying with the CLA's Higher Education scanning licence.

Another major benefit of the DCS is that the Library can share digitised content with other participating Universities (currently 60 institutions across the UK) provided that they own or subscribe to the title, to save duplication of scanning. It also integrates the Enhanced Higher Education Supply Service (EHESS), offered by the CLA and British Library for supplying copyright-compliant, digitised content where we do not have an original print copy in our collections (or if the items are on loan, in-use or missing). The DCS also aligns with processes involved in the Library's new permissions clearance pilot service, whereby we can contact publishers directly to request digitisation permission if a title is excluded from the CLA licence. This will significantly increase the scope of digitised publications the Library is able to provide for course reading.

On the surface, the process for staff to submit digitisation requests remains unchanged. However, behind the scenes the DCS can automate a range of Library processes such as ownership verification, licence compliance checking, and annual reporting tasks. The DCS is integrated with the Library's resource management system (Ex Libris Alma), containing the data behind our collections which displays in YorSearch. This streamlined, cohesive approach will increase the responsiveness of the services the Library can offer, in keeping with our principles of providing efficient access to resources in high demand.

We welcome any feedback from staff and students on the DCS (or the Electronic Texts Service in general):