A Reference Librarian You Will Have Missed: A Birthday Tribute To Charles A. Toase

Diana Dixon

 

‘Copyright London Borough of Merton

“Reference books you may have missed” appeared in the first issue of Refer in 1980 and subsequently in every issue until 2003. This rapidly became the first thing many readers turned to and we were heartbroken when Charles called time. David Butcher’s choice was inspirational, because it became essential reading for reference staff and library schools as well as all booklovers. Charles worked at Wimbledon Reference Library and was acutely alert to the information needs of his readers and how to serve them. He had edited more than 20 bibliographies, including the regularly updated Basic reference works for the public library, for which he received the Walford Award in 2000.

He intended to alert busy reference librarians to new titles, large and small, that could be useful. Latterly, he accommodated an increasing number of websites. Moreover, he was vigilant in his search for new titles and critical in evaluating material. Because he viewed titles in the context of their practical usage he was alert to their pitfalls as well as their strengths. In 1981 he listed, ‘Some reference books you may have been glad to have missed’ which was some spurious titles promoted by a convicted fraudster. He questioned the need for some books: ‘How many film guides do you need? and declared ‘there are too many directories of publishers and none of them complete’. His comments were always astute and based on scrupulous analysis.

Faced with his vigilant and critical eye, many a reference book failed to impress. He was adept at pointing out errors. He disliked the poor quality reproductions in a book on rail track plans. In 1999 he provided a very illuminating comparison of various rivals to Whitaker’s almanac, which was typical of just how much time he devoted to spotting inaccuracies and gaps in coverage of the various contenders.

Humour was always there. His analysis of a language identification table discovered that if he input, “My ma said ‘ta’ to pa for giving her the po”, it would be identified as Polish.

His eagle eye spotted that a team of two detectives Dickens and Jones was incorrect as they were named after the London store Dickins and Jones. He was aware of his vigilance and stated ‘readers beware, errors leave themselves open to nitpicking reviewers like me’.

In his valedictory message, Charles wrote ‘I have tried to emphasise the practical aspects of using materials to answer enquiries, and to take a properly critical approach to reviewing; reference books, if they are reviewed at all, tend to get bland treatment elsewhere’. They certainly did not in his pages.

The very first issue was devoted to a subject dear to him – transport and travel. This theme regularly surfaced, particularly concerning bus timetables. The range of subjects covered was enormous. It is hard to find anything that escaped his eagle eye.

The tone of the pages was witty and informative and essentially human. It was this that made it so popular. Who else could write in Spring 1997 ‘if ever there was a reference book to take to bed with you and chortle over it, this is it’? I liked the remark under a heading on Witches, ‘No don’t skip this bit – it’s not just about old hags on broomsticks’ in his final contribution. One of the delights was the sub-headings which encouraged us to want to read further. Examples included: ‘Oh ye gods’ relating to a child asking, ‘What does God do?’ and ‘How to annoy a librarian’ about publishers changing titles of serials and renumbering volumes. Others that caught my eye were: ‘Jokes, sex and knitting’; ’Oh no it isn’t’, on misleading titles; and ‘How to avoid saying what you mean’. ‘Wouldn’t you like an extended version of Brewer’s dictionary of phrase and fable?’ was typical as he identified gaps in provision. Likewise he bemoaned the paucity of information on the Chinese New Year.

Charles was always on the lookout for the quirky and he certainly found plenty to entertain us. Of Aardvark exterminators Charles remarked ‘and no, they won’t exterminate anything larger than a pigeon’. Likewise the lettering FUN TO HUG on the spine of a multi-volume was worthy of amused comment. I laughed out loud at ‘what could be dreary is made readable by the sense of humour of Sid and Doris Bonkers, two librarians (or is it one? – well actually it’s a pseudonym)’. In 1985 he sadly announced that they asked him ‘to erect a tombstone in these pages inscribed ‘DQ RIP’. Titles should never be taken at face value: Birds of Britain turned out to be a book of pin-ups.

Besides all the mirth there was plenty of serious content to assist librarians. A regular Update paragraph looked at new editions of established warhorses of the reference shelves. Another regular was ‘Collecting things’ which covered some bizarre items alongside the predictable.

This is offered as a tribute to Charles, who celebrated his 90th birthday in August 2017. Reading through all his contributions has been a rare delight, thanks to Charles’s meticulous attention to detail, perceptive analysis, erudition and above all wit. I found myself laughing aloud frequently. The columns provide us with an informed portrait of reference publishing in the last decades of the twentieth century. In his own words, ‘I hope the column has been of use, and occasionally amusement to its readers’.

Thank you, Charles. It is a tribute to the excellence of your columns that nobody felt worthy enough or able to continue them. It was far too hard an act to follow.

Copyright Note: The photograph of Charles Toase was kindly provided by copyright holders The London Borough of Merton. Further historic photographs of Merton can be found on the Merton Memories website http://www.merton.gov.uk/memories

 

K & IM Refer 33 (2), Autumn 2017

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Report Of The SCOOP Meeting Held On Wednesday 13th September 2017

Steven Hartshorne, Secretary SCOOP 

This was Andy Zelinger’s first meeting as Chair and one of the first orders of business was the unanimous election of Fiona Laing of the National Library of Scotland (and SWOP, the Scottish Working Party on Official Publications) as Vice-Chair.

Karen George, the chair of the Government Information Group spoke to the committee about the work of GIG, which represents the interests of knowledge and information management specialists working in government departments and agencies, parliamentary and national libraries. Especially of interest were the ways in which the groups could work more closely together, particularly in the areas of training in working with Official Publications and government information. Since there are areas of mutual interest for members of GIG and SCOOP, another area of cooperation would be the promotion of each other’s events and projects.

The committee also discussed the launch of SCOOP’s Print Still Matters questionnaire which will help SCOOP decide on the future development of the PSM project. The original project aims to give an overview of the print Official Publications collections held in libraries in the UK, however the database (and website) have not been updated since 2013. Since keeping it maintained and updated is onerous and undertaking a full and proper revision will incur costs, we devised a short survey to try and find out how much it used and to help us make an informed decision as to whether and how to continue it.

The questionnaire is available here: https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/H72NZ3C

The committee then went on to discuss the drafting of a further questionnaire for SCOOP members on the future development of the committee and future projects for the committee to work on. The principal of these is the potential addition to the Print Still Matters project which would include digitised collections, bringing together information on the content, extent and locations of OP collections in all media and on a variety of platforms. The project would seek to include print and digitised collections across the UK, (both free and subscription content for the latter) on a freely available, integrated database.

Another project is to expand the coverage of the very well received Relegation Guides (available here: https://officialpapersuk.wordpress.com/relegation-guides/).

Part of the process of consulting with its members will be a new constitution for the committee which will clearly set out its aims and objectives.

 

K & IM Refer 33 (2), Autumn  2017

News And Views

Update on Progress with the BSI/ ISO 30401  Knowledge Management Systems Standard

Karen McFarlane, CILIP Trustee, Chair of CILIP Board

SO standards evolve at a slower pace than we on BSI KMS standards committee understood to be the case!

BSI now expect the document to be released on the BSI Standards Development Portal by the end of November/beginning of December (website says 7 December atm) with an end date for public consultation of  8 Feb 2018,  with actual publication date of standard  on 4 January 2019 see

https://standardsdevelopment.bsigroup.com/projects/2015-03421

The document will be available during 2 months (for free) on this Portal and the public will be able to make comments. To comment, the public can register for free on the Portal and comment online. BSI will collate all the public comments and will forward them to our committee. At the end of these 2 months, our committee will review the public comments during a meeting, decide if we keep them or not and then vote with potential comments to adopt the standard.

 

Print Still Matters: the Future

The Standing Committee On Official Publications (SCOOP) would like to hear your views on its Print Still Matters website [https://sites.google.com/site/scooppublic].

The project aims to give an overview of the print Official Publications collections held in libraries in the UK and provide a resource for researchers and librarians to find out what material is available in print.

However the database has not been updated since 2013 and keeping it maintained and up to date is difficult. Undertaking a full and proper revision will incur costs, so we have devised a short survey of six questions to discover how much it used and to help us make an informed decision as to whether and how to continue it.

The survey is available here [https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/H72NZ3C].

We would be grateful if as many people as possible can complete it, ideally in the next few weeks or so, in order that SCOOP can consider the results as soon as possible and decide what to do next.

K&IM Refer 33 (2) Autumn 2017

K & IM Refer Spring 2017

Journal of CILIP’s Knowledge and Information Management Group Vol 33 (1) Spring 2017

 

Table of Contents

 Welcome to the Knowledge & Information Management Group – ISG transformation

David Smith, Chair, K&IM National Committee

 Information Management / Knowledge Management –

Two Sides of a Coin

Sandra Ward, Beaworthy Consulting

How Do Well-Implemented Information Management and Knowledge Management Programmes Assist the Drug Development Process in the Pharma Industry?

Denise Carter, DCision Consult

Passing a Verdict: Knowledge Management in a Top Law Firm

Jonathan Cowley

 Finding Out What Our Researchers Really Want:

The Structured Interview

Mary Betts-Gray, Cranfield University

Opportunities in Research Data Support: The Data Librarian’s Handbook

Helen Edwards, Editor, Refer

Review: British Librarianship and Information Work 2011-2015

Lynsey Blandford, Canterbury Christ Church University

Announcements

CILIP Knowledge and Information Management Briefings

 Recruiting and Developing Knowledge and Information Professionals

14 June 2017 at CILIP HQ

https://www.cilip.org.uk/recruitingki

Cybersecurity for Knowledge and Information Professionals

19 October 2017 at CILIP HQ

https://www.cilip.org.uk/cybersecurity

Knowledge and Information Management Group

Information Resources Awards 2017

 Have you spotted a notable information resource recently?

If you did, why not nominate it for the Knowledge and Information Management Group Information Resources Awards 2017

We are looking for outstanding information resources, whether in print or electronic format, that are available and relevant to the knowledge, information management, library and information sector in the UK.

Print nominations must have been published between 1st January and 31st December 2016, and electronic nominations must be currently available and accessible.

Closing date for nominations is 30th June 2017

Submit your nominations at: https://goo.gl/forms/e3NOIPYoeV09W7y03

Knowledge and Information Management Walford Award

Do you know someone who has made an outstanding contribution to knowledge and information services in the UK?

If you do, why not nominate them for the Knowledge and Information Management Walford Award 2017

Nominations are welcome from anyone who knows and respects the work of the nominee.

Nominations close on 31st July 2017

Submit your nominations at:

https://goo.gl/forms/ku8j1HzwtZHMIKxE3

K & IM Refer: the journal of the Knowledge and Information Management Group of the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals (CILIP), is published three times a year and distributed free to members of the Group.

 Editor: Helen Edwards

Editorial team: Lynsey Blandford, Ruth Hayes

Cover Design: Denise Carter

Contact: Helen Edwards 07989 565739; hogedwards@gmail.com

Copyright © The contributors and the K & IM SIG 2017

Online edition https://referisg.wordpress.com

 ISSN: 0144-2384

 

 

 

Welcome to the Knowledge & Information Management Group – ISG transformation

David Smith, Chair, K&IM National Committee

As inaugural Chair of the new Knowledge & Information Management (K&IM) Group, I welcome you to a transformed membership. ISG had its final AGM in November and it was voted unanimously to transform into this new phase of our existence. The new K&IM Group became established on 1st January, and we hope that you will continue to feel as supported in your chosen careers under this new guise. Many of you are probably already involved in some form of K&IM activity within your organisations, although many of you may not be (or consider yourself to be) actual specialists. However, this is a growth area and, as knowledge, information & library professionals we will be able to contribute over time towards how our organisations manage and organise our resources and processes.

The new K&IM Group is now firmly established and is doing sterling work to take forward the K&IM agenda and also integrate previous ISG activity.   The Business Plan for 2017 has now been agreed and also a Strategic Plan is being developed. Our two sub-groups looking at “Information Services” and “Marketing & Communication” have also commenced discussions and activity. The SCOOP Committee is also continuing to meet and our two Regional Networks (London/South East and East of England) remain active. If you would like to become involved in either of these groups or be a nominated K&IM link with other Regional Networks, then we are keen to hear from you.

The K&IM web pages for the CILIP website are being created and former ISG information being incorporated as appropriate. Our “Refer” Journal will also be continuing under the title of “K&IM Refer”.

Our goals as a Group will be based around the following themes in our Strategic Plan:

  1. Increase K&IM SIG and CILIP membership and nurture existing members;
  2. Enable effective two-way communication and engagement between K&IM Professionals and CILIP (the world outside and CILIP corporately);
  3. Provide K&IM relevant training, education and information resources;
  4. Recognition for K&IM Professionals and their activities.

A number of events and initiatives are being planned for 2017 which we hope you will find of interest. We will also be involved at the CILIP Conference. We hope to be able to formally launch the K&IM Group at the Conference, but it’s early days yet to actually confirm that.

However, we want to ensure that the K&IM Group remains relevant and supportive to you as an individual. One of the things we hope to work on this year is a Training Plan. If you have any ideas for training needs, or know of existing courses that are particularly good, then we want to hear from you. You are more than welcome to send your ideas / examples to me as Chair. It would be good to be able to offer a portfolio of courses and events – not only by ourselves, but to be seen as working collaboratively and supporting existing K&IM events that are not necessarily being arranged by CILIP. If you are a trainer / speaker, then again we would like to hear from you. It would be good to have a network of trainers that can help in this way.

Can I please ask that you ensure that you have signed up for K&IM Group membership under your choice of CILIP Specialist Interest Groups? As with any period of change, unfortunately things sometimes fall between stools, and we are not wanting to lose any members through this change process. Membership of the Group will be free of charge for 2017 and 2018, and therefore is available to any existing members of CILIP.

We are also keen to promote K&IM Group only membership to other individuals that are not currently members of CILIP. If you know of anyone that falls into this category and you feel they might be interested in joining us, then please let them know and pass on our details. Contact can be made with us via the CILIP website through our web pages (see www.cilip.org.uk/kandim) or through our generic email address (kandim@cilip.org.uk). We hope that these links are operational by the time this edition of K&IM Refer goes to press.

We hope you enjoy this edition of K&IM Refer; and if you have any ideas for future articles I am sure that Helen Edwards our Editor would be pleased to hear from you.

Very best wishes

David Smith

Chair, K&IM National Committee

Email: info@djsmanagementsolutions.com

K & IM Refer 33 (1) Spring 2017

 

Information Management / Knowledge Management – Two Sides of a Coin

Sandra Ward, Beaworthy Consulting

Information Management (IM) has been the dominant component of my working life, joined by Knowledge Management (KM) in the early 1990s. My mission has been to demonstrate that effective harnessing of information and knowledge is essential to the success of the organisations I’ve worked with, and to come up with strategies to achieve this goal. For me IM and KM are prime foci for deploying the skills of information professionals and this area is an essential target for career development. Hence my delight at the formation of CILIP’s new K&IM SIG.

Why do IM and KM belong together?

Organisations often claim that people are their most important resource. By this they mean that the knowledge and experience of staff are critical to efficient operations, effective decision making, their capability to innovate, constructive collaboration (inside the organisation and with partners and customers), the ability to profit from experience, and their credibility and reputation. But people can’t work and organisations can’t operate without information. The classic goal of the information scientist – deliver access to ‘the right information in the right place and at the right time’ still applies, – although ensuring accessibility, quality and interoperability are now more appropriate than delivery in today’s complex working environments.

The most efficient working environments are those in which people are able to rely on an information engine that is fit for purpose and can play their personal role in feeding and using it. This means that the information flows needed to underpin work processes will have been analysed; that as data and information are created, these are captured or documented; then organised, structured, and stored for reuse. Today, information from customers, devices with externally published data and information must form part of the information environment as deployment of big data and analytics become critical success factors.

The most satisfying, stimulating and effective working environments are, however, ones in which, as well as good IM, people know that their ‘tacit’ knowledge (their skills, experience and insight) is recognised , valued, capitalised on and enhanced by the teams and communities in which they work – and where this contribution is recognised and demanded by their bosses. Employees today want work to be a place where learning, sharing expertise and collaboration flourish, so they don’t have to leave their knowhow and common sense at the door. Successful organisations provide environments where:

  • People can connect to People in order to create, share and exploit knowledge more effectively
  • People can connect to the Information they need to develop and apply their knowledge in new ways
  • People can connected to the Tools they need to process information and knowledge

Knowledge Management and the Information Professional

Information management and governance are long standing roles for information professionals. Knowledge Management is newer, and I have been regularly irritated as librarians sought to claim that they were the knowledge managers of choice whilst being responsible for pretty traditional libraries. Luckily, those days are past, with CILIP’s professional skills and knowledge base distinguishing K and IM from collection management, and with exciting initiatives such as the Knowledge for Healthcare Development and Leadership Programmes[1] highlighting how NHS libraries can foster the improvement of clinical practice.

Mobilising knowledge

KM definitions abound. Off the shelf ones may suit, but I think an organisation should define KM having identified the knowledge problems it most needs to solve. My preference is for active definitions – “Mobilising knowledge for success” – “Making our knowledge work better”. Organisations move into KM for different reasons. They may identify potential benefits; more frequently they are moving away from risk – having experienced knowledge- related problems and wanting to avoid their recurrence. At their most simplistic, organisations without KM approaches risk:

  • Knowledge Loss: as employees leave or change roles can be catastrophic, if expertise is no longer available and problems arise; organisations can also fail to understand and deploy the knowledge of new staff effectively;
  • Knowledge Waste: when organisations and staff are unable or unwilling to use or build on existing knowledge, waste of time and resources and bad decisions are frequent consequences as are missed opportunities to innovate and change – and low staff morale – they just don’t want to know!
  • Failure to learn: organisations that don’t deliberately set out to learn from their own experience at all levels – personal, teams, projects, management etc. are characterised by repeated mistakes, reinvention of wheels, inconsistent responses to similar situations, and reputational issues as customers receive conflicting advice in their dealings with the organisation. Barriers to innovation and creativity also ensue;
  • Failure to share leads to poor collaboration and partnership working. Cross- functional working is now common – experts from different teams working together. Networking of similar specialists is of proven benefit, and partnership working between different organisations is normal. All these mechanisms require willingness to share knowledge and the development of trust (as well as agreed IM processes).

In short, without KM, the organisation is guilty of wasting its knowledge assets.

Implementing K &IM: the blend

Technology suppliers often sell systems as the one stop solution to good K&IM. Just-in-time technologies, underpinned by well structured information architecture and standards are indeed critical. These tools underpin techniques to capture, create, structure, communicate and effectively exploit K&I. Other enablers are needed for a successful programme though: a culture where staff are expected to network and collaborate and where organisational learning and intelligence flourishes; business processes enabled by knowledge sharing and collaboration and underpinned by information flows; processes for utilising tacit knowledge which are integrated with tools and techniques for managing information which can be documented – the explicit information and data that lends itself to systematic organisation. Most importantly, K&IM activities must be positioned within an information and knowledge framework that is aligned with the organisation’s business drivers and objectives.

The K&IM below is a useful diagnostic for assessing an organisation’s preparedness and performance in KM and IM.

Sandra

Ideally, organisations would always plan their IM and KM strategies to underpin their business strategies and objectives. This is possible for new start-ups, more difficult for established organisations where focusing on a segment of the business is more practical.   So if you’re starting out you’ll need to find opportunities that matter.

What is your organisation’s strategy? Can you identify where activity is being impeded by knowledge and information deficiencies? What’s missing in your framework? Is it processes for the effective creation, dissemination and exploitation of knowledge or information? In the big data world, is it impossible to integrate key data sets because standards are lacking? Are project teams learning from their experience? Is this learning accessible to others starting similar projects? Can staff quickly tap into the knowledge of others and into the information they need with confidence that it’s the latest and most accurate? Is the good practice developed through trial and error accessible? And has a senior manager been assigned responsibility for knowledge and information matters?

Once you’ve identified the problems, a spread of techniques awaits to solve them. These belong to future issues of K&IM Refer

K&IM Refer 33 (1) Spring 2017

 

[1] https://hee.nhs.uk/sites/default/files/documents/Knowledge%20for%20healthcare%20-%20a%20development%20framework.pdf

 

How Do Well-Implemented Information Management and Knowledge Management Programmes Assist the Drug Development Process in the Pharma Industry?

Denise Carter, DCision Consult

Denise_Infographic

Drug development in the pharma industry is a long and expensive process, and for every drug that actually reaches the market there are multiple drugs, which also cost an enormous amount of money to develop, whose programmes were stopped. Leveraging Information Management (IM) and Knowledge Management (KM) techniques and tools improve the information that supports the drug development process, and is vital in enabling best-quality decisions.

The development of new drug from discovery to eventual marketing takes approximately 10 years of investment, (1) and the total costs have been estimated at USD $2,558 million (2). A 2011 U.S. study (3), which looked at drugs developed between 2004 and 2010, found that the overall success rate for drugs moving from early stage Phase I clinical trials to U.S. FDA approval is about one in 10. The largest dropout rate along the clinical pathway came in advancing drugs from mid-stage Phase II studies to late-stage Phase III testing. Some 63 percent of drugs in Phase I testing advanced to Phase II, but only 33 percent of Phase II drugs made it to Phase III. This phase is typically the final stage of human testing before a new drug is submitted to regulators for an approval decision, and requires a commitment to larger and much more expensive clinical trials.

Clearly, the more a pharmaceutical company can do to reduce the time for each stage, and most critically the chances of success for each phase, the more their competitive advantage Is enhanced.

Information plays a key role in this. The following infographic describes just a few of the information management and knowledge management tools and techniques which are regularly employed in the pharmaceutical industry to support the drug development process.

Capturing and using information from the very early stages of a project is essential. During my time as an Information Manager for a mid-sized biopharmaceutical company, my team worked very hard to make sure we were at least part of the ad-hoc team members for the project team as soon as a drug reached the lead-generation optimisation stage of the development process. At this stage, normally the project team will begin to assess the relative merits of several indications (diseases) for which the candidate could have an effect, given its mechanism of action.

The criteria for selection for continued development by the company are usually weighted towards commercial factors, such as potential patients being able to pay for the eventual drug, sales and distribution channels already in place or easy to adapt. Unmet needs for patients and physicians in treatment is, of course, also a high consideration. Ideal would be a drug that is either first-to-market, i.e. there are no current disease modifying drugs available to treat this indication, or first-in-class if there are current treatments; but the new drug would have a different mechanism of action and would be able to offer superior efficacy and/or safety. Therefore required to make effective decisions are: information on the number of patients, their age, gender, race, geographic distribution; the current competitor landscape – how many drugs are marketed? How many drugs are in development? At what stage of development? Timelines? – The commercial value: would the availability of a new drug be viewed as cost-effective by prescribers and those who reimburse for drugs?

After the initial phases of animal and human studies (Phase I) and additional information about the potential market is further understood, the drug is usually either pursued in one or potentially two indications, but one is usually prioritised.

As the drug continues clinical testing, the clinical and medical information gathered from the trials is also combined with the commercial information, with increased collaboration with the information and knowledge teams working in the organisation. More teams are involved internally, such as the clinical team who design the clinical trials, the marketing team who begin to assess how to position the drug in the marketplace, the market research team who begin to reach out to physicians, payers and patients, as well as other external voices, such as key opinion leaders (key scientific and medical physicians or scientists working in the indication).

The quantity of information increases at an enormous rate, and ideally it all needs to be captured, quality-checked, synthesised and effectively packaged so it can be re-used. Effective communication between all parties needs to be established, on one level so that everyone is aware of what information is being captured or generated, and by whom, and on another level to ensure that terminologies used are consistent so that the same thing is understood by everyone involved. The reality is more often than not, unfortunately, a little different.

My personal experience was that the more IM and KM tools that our information team could implement, the more value the organisation found in our team’s activities, although sometimes that acceptance was slower than I would have liked. Some concrete results were being invited to participate much earlier in project life-cycles, and being asked to contribute directly (rather than via a third-part) to the key reports used by the company decision committees.

References

(1) Innovations in the pharmacuetical industry: new estimates of R&D costs. Journal of Health Economics 2016;47:20-33.

(2) Tufts Center for the study of drug development http://csdd.tufts.edu

(3) http://www.reuters.com/article/us-pharmaceuticals-success-idUSTRE71D2U920110214 accessed 25Feb2017

K & IM Refer 33 (1) Spring 2017