Steven Hartshorne, Bolton Central Library
SCOOP held their first meeting of 2015 on 11th February, where we welcomed a new member, Ben Watson of the University of Kent and saw the departure of two members to pastures new (thanks and best wishes to Maria Bell of LSE and Tara-Lee Platt now of UCL).
Ben attended the meeting with his colleague Lesley Lawrence to talk about a proposal that SCOOP be involved in the identification of OP collections for potential digitisation. This had been prompted by work undertaken at Kent on the British Government Publications collection by Ben and his colleagues. Having found the Print Still Matters website useful, especially the relegation guides, Ben contacted SCOOP to see if there was any scope in using a similar methodology to PSM to identify OP collections around the country which should be prioritised for digitisation. One of the principal points of discussion was the need for more accurate catalogue records to be available, since many libraries have only collection level descriptions for Government Publications. The area of official publications which needs most attention in this area is that of Departmental Publications, especially those up to 1970.
The advantages of digitisation are clear (wider accessibility and less pressure on storage), but significant cataloguing challenges aside , there are other considerations to take into account, such as the involvement of commercial partners, the potential for overlap and duplication and the difficulty of establishing what constitutes a complete set of any one series.
The work of the UK Reference Reserve (UKRR) and PSM would potentially be an important jumping off point for any project: identifying the scope, scale and location of OP collections is very much within the purview of both. However the challenges presented by the dearth of accurate catalogue records and the potential difficulties of making such a project attractive to a commercial partner make it a daunting, though desirable, task.
There was also a presentation by Steven Hartshorne on the Society of Chief Librarians’ Public Libraries Information Offer training package. This workforce development programme was put together in response to the roll out of the Government’s Digital by Default and Assisted Digital programmes, where it has been acknowledged that public libraries have an important role to play in providing access to Government information and services. The SCL engaged the services of the Tinder Foundation to create a remote learning platform (using Learning Pool software) to deliver this training to frontline staff.
The training is modular and is composed of text, video clips, exercises and offsite links. Five modules are included (though only the first four are compulsory to complete the training). They are:
- The Digital Divide and your role as Public Library Digital Champion
- Understanding your customer needs
- Supporting access to online services
- Signposting and Referral
- Delivering Digital Skills
In each module there are case studies of service users, descriptive overviews of available online resources and guidance for staff on addressing users’ needs. The modules do not go into excessive detail on each of the resources but provides a basic understanding of the functions and coverage of each.
Two SCOOP members had direct experience of undertaking the PLUIO training and both reported that although the content and coverage of the modules was good, there were significant problems with the technology. The reliance on fairly high specification PCs with up to date software to access the training package means that many members of staff in public libraries encountered numerous glitches when undertaking the training. There are also significant problems in many public library organisations in timetabling and resourcing any such training.
Finally SCOOP has been asked to contribute to the next edition of British Librarianship and Information Work, which will cover the years 2010-2015. Although we have some volunteers to write the various parts of the chapter on Official Publications, if any REFER readers feel they are able to contribute to any of the topics below, please contact Andrew Coburn, the chair of SCOOP at Andrew.Coburn@essex.gov.uk.
- Parliamentary publishing and information work
- Central Government
- Local Authority Publishing
- Devolution and the Devolved Administrations:
- Northern Ireland
- European Union