Image from British Library Flickr and in public domain/CC

On Monday 12th May, I attended the Preserving Ebooks event, run by the Digital Preservation Coalition (DPC). The event was based around the launch of the new Tech Watch report on ebook preservation. Richard was one of the presenters, and his talk on the emerging uses of  ebooks in Higher Education and it’s available in the ULCC Publications Archive.

The event was interesting and, certainly for me, very thought provoking. I’ve recently been wrestling with the problem of what an e-book is, in terms of where do we draw the line for preservation purposes? At their simplest, e-books can be static digital copies of hard-copy books – no links, no interaction from the user, in short, nothing fancy. Maybe not that exciting, but from a digital preservation perspective they present a nice, complete object, which everyone can easily recognise as self-contained. The main problem with e-books now is exactly what we would define as an e-book (many, many things in different formats) and how inter-linked such digital objects can be with other digital objects (or, I guess, other parts of themselves).

Although none of the speakers I heard offered a magical solution, it was heartening to see that other people were working on the problem. The talks and the discussions had a real buzz about them, a sense of the community being able to tackle these issues and find a way to deal with them. I think the mix of publishers, digital preservation specialists, librarians, researchers – in fact, about anyone who has an stake in e-books –  made for a good event.

I’ve captured the conversation on the day through the various tweets that happened around the event using Storify, as a record for myself, and  also to give an overview of the discussions to anyone else who is interested in this area.


I’ve been using social media for work since around 2006, so am practically a wise old woman of Twitter in Internet years. As with anything online, though, everything changes so quickly and so frequently that the experience of years doesn’t really mean much. So I was pleased to have the chance to attend a social media workshop for ULCC staff, run by Pauline Randall of Florizel Media.
The workshop was designed to get us thinking about not only how could use social media for work as individuals, but also about how we could collectively use social media within ULCC. To start us off, Pauline ran an interesting session looking at how we all used (or didn’t use!) social media already, both in work and outside of work for hobbies and interests. Some people were clearly experienced and successful bloggers in their hobbies, for example, but didn’t blog at all for work. Some people were quite hostile to using social media in work, with the main complaints being that managing another set of communications channels would be yet another task that would take them away from their core tasks, or that social media was intrusive and they wanted to keep a clear divide between their personal and professional lives. Some also feared that their work was too boring or would be incomprehensible to anyone outside their immediate team.
We had an interesting discussion about social media loves and hates, and I did. of course, share my personal hatred of all things Facebook with the group. Happily, I was not alone! We discussed positive benefits of social media in the different jobs within the group, and although Pauline didn’t push or bully, or over-promote the benefits. I really appreciated her approach, which was to gently prod the interest of people who didn’t use social media for work and catch their interest. By the end of the session we all had something that we wanted to take back and try out. A great result I think.
For myself, the idea of working without the support of social media is now unthinkable. I get most of my professional awareness updates via Twitter and blogs, I can follow conferences that I am unable to attend, take part in discussions and ask questions. Social media had enriched and, I think, improved, my work immensely. On the other side of that equation is a feeling of responsibility to share my own work, useful links and to tweet and blog events I attend. For me, it’s a virtuous circle. I’m part of a community, and that community makes my job easier, inspires me and sometimes is just a fun and friendly place to be. Before I pass a virtual sick bag, I’ll stop and say that I don’t always blog or tweet as much as I much as I should, especially recently. But the workshop made me stop and think about the benefits I get from my professional community, and made me come back to my desk and schedule time into my to do lists for sharing more.
In addition, I have some new ideas and feel a bit more up-to-date. I plan to see if some of the social media tools/channels I enjoy in my hobbies could be used in work. I’ve recently started to listen to a lot of podcasts – they’re portable (I can load them on my phone) and perfect for multi-tasking (I can listen even when walking, unlike videos). Perhaps there’s space out there for creating some podcasts on various aspects of digital preservation and digital research skills?  I intend to streamline my information gathering tools and techniques so I can update and work in a smarter way.  I’ll be looking at Sprout and Hootsuite as possibly better solutions to managing multiple social media accounts than Tweetdeck,  which I use at the moment. I’ll also be reviewing my RSS feed reader options, and have decided to look at what Pinterest might have to offer for work – I already use it personally, and altough I can’t think of an immediate work use, it would be interested to explore it a little from that perspective. And I am resolved to make better use of the tools I already use, blogging more frequently, making better use of our team Twitter accounts and using Storify more as a way of capturing and sharing information.
I must confess, I was a little jaded about social media training. But Pauline’s session was a great chance to get some new ideas and become enthusiastic again, so big thanks both to Pauline and also to Frank Steiner  for organising the workshop.

*Image from British Library on Flickr, no known copyright restrictions.


Two members of the ART team, Ed Pinsent and Steph Taylor will be attending this DPC event at the National Archives on 4th April 2014. The day is designed, as the name suggests, to help people who are just starting to work with digital preservation. It will be held at The National Archives in Kew. The Digital Preservation Coalition have put together a great programme to introduce the concepts of digital preservation. It includes useful ‘start up’ insights into tools, risk assessment and preservation planning. Some interesting case studies are also included, which will help to put it all into context.

Ed will be speaking about preservation planning, and we’ll be making his slides available after the event.

We’re also hoping to have chance to talk to people new to digital preservation and find out more about what kind of support and training they will be needing as they advance with their work in this area. We’re keen to listen to potential new delegates for the Digital Preservation Training Programme and to make sure we continue to create courses and workshops that will meet the needs of the digital preservation community. So please come up and say hello, and have a chat about your work to us.

Check back on Monday for a more detailed blog post about the day.

Photo by Ewan Munro , via Flickr & used under CC License, with thanks.

ART_Map_EP openaccess_1


The useful thing about running events is all the interesting and new things you learn. At the ART of the Digital Scholar session on Open Access (OA),  I learned a lot from both Dr Jane Winters of the IHR and Adam Crymble, editor of The Programming Historian . My own work around OA has been very focussed on the library and institutional repository point of view, so although I am familiar with OA progress over a number of years, I still find that new perspectives, such as those from working researchers are invaluable to further my own knowledge.

My top 5 things about Open Access have definitely been expanded by taking part in this session. So here is my current personal list, some known to me, some new, and in no particular order  -

1) Open Access can be perceived as restrictive to researchers, as though it is dictating where they can publish. It’s not, and it doesn’t, but I had no idea that it could be perceived in this way.

2) Creating and publishing in a completely Open Access way can save you money. The founders of The Programming Historian decided to go OA for many reasons, but one of those reasons was that they didn’t have the time or money to protect their text book behind a pay wall and to enforce copyright.

3) Open Access isn’t just about sharing. It can also mean positive changes in the way research is compiled,  presented and published. [link to Jane's examples]

4) It is worth re-iterating to anyone and everyone that researchers shouldn’t have to pay to be published. The Gold OA route (negotiating with a publisher to allow an OA copy of an article to be made available, usually involving a payment of some kind to the publisher)  is not the only route.  The Green OA route (self-publishing e.g. in a trusted repository, possibly with a publisher embargo) is equally supported in the UK HE sector. Because of the publicity around the Finch report, the Gold route seems to have had more publicity, thus creating some confusion about what is/isn’t allowable and supported.

5) OA can empower researchers by not only enabling them to share their work, but also giving them the opportunity to get more involved with the publishing process, and to have greater autonomy over what they publish and how they publish it.


This Wednesday (5th March) will see the start of the ‘ART of the Digital Scholar’ lunchtime sessions. The first session in this short programme will look at Open Access, a hot topic in UK Higher Education right now.

With all seven of the main UK funding councils now requiring Open Access compliance in some way, it seems anyone engaged in research must also start to engage with the issues of sharing their work in this way.

We will start with an overview of the Open Access movement, and explain the options available for researchers. We will  be exploring some practical ways researchers can publish in an Open Access-compliant way. We will also be examining the implications of sharing outputs via Open Access, which aims to ‘remove both price barriers and permissions barriers’ (from Peter Suber’s Open Access Overview)

Speakers will include Stephanie Taylor from the Academic Research Technologies team at ULCC , Dr Jane Winters, Reader in Digital Humanities and Head of Publications & IHR Digital from the Institute of Historical Research and Adam Crymble, editor of the Programming Historian and the project manager of British History Online.

Come along to find out more and to join in the discussion.

Date – Wednesday 5th March 2014

Time – 1-2pm

Location – Room 246, Senate House


DigitalScholarUniverseImage from The British Library Flickr, used under CC license

Beginning on Wednesday 4th March, ART will be presenting a programme of lunchtime sessions to share knowledge about Digital Scholarship. The sessions will be an hour long, running 1pm-2pm. We will be covering some of the topics that we identified of interest to researchers and people working with researchers through our recent survey on Digital Scholarship skills. The programme is complimentary to the Social Scholar sessions, already being run by the School of Advanced Studies, and is also being run on a monthly basis.

The programme will cover -

Wednesday 5th March – Open Access

Wednesday 2nd April – Planning for Preservation

Wednesday 7th May – Blog Preservation

Wednesday 4th June – How to publish an Ebook

The sessions will begin with an overview of the topic for that day, putting it into context of current Digital Scholarship activity in the UK, Europe and beyond. We will also have a range of speakers, who will be providing a mix of practical advice and different perspectives on the topics. Speakers will be drawn from within the  School of Advanced Studies (SAS) and from other institutions and organisations who are involved in the areas under discussion.

The  first session will be on Open Access- what it is, how it started, and what its current role is in the academic research in the UK. We will then be looking at some of the specifics of how and why the School of Advanced Studies here at the University of London is engaging with Open Access, and what this means for SAS researchers. Finally, we will hear about Open Access from the procurement perspective, with a view of how Jisc Collections are working in this area. There will be time for questions to all speakers, and all the presentations will be available online after each session.

If you want to find out more about Open Access, have questions about how it relates to your own work or want to know more about rights management and open scholarship, please come along.

We will be publishing a more detailed breakdown of each session, including speakers and specific talks, here on the blog over the next few weeks, so please check back for updates.

All of the Digital Scholar sessions are free to attend and open to all researchers and those who work with and support researchers in SAS, the University of London and elsewhere.

For more information, please contact Stephanie Taylor – stephanie.taylor@london.ac.uk

Follow us on Twitter – @digischolar

Hashtag – #digitalscholar