Monthly Archives: February 2015

Noteworthy #2

A few Library-related and MSc-related things that I have come across on the Internet recently…

What do librarians do all day?

I have to admit that I had not heard of instructional design librarians until I read Lindsay McNeill’s post on “The Making of an Instructional Design Librarian” on the ARCLog. And indeed she writes that there are  not many librarians with this title or responsibilities. Her description of her role sounds fascinating though – a blend of academic librarian and instructional designer.

Take me to the library

If you want to know where Harvard Library stores most of its collection, you can read about the Harvard Depository here and then watch Jeffrey Schnapp and Cristoforo Magliozzi’s documentary Cold Storage here. 9 million items in a concrete, off-site, high-density storage facility!

(via Library Stuff)

Can I copyright this?

Did you ever think copyright is boring? Think again. This blog post explains how Jon Stewart, (about to step down) Daily Show host and brilliant comedian, used fair use to re-broadcasts clips of politicians and news commentators on his show.

(via Digitization 101)

And in the world of higher education…

UCAS, the central admissions service for UK undergraduate degree programmes, were in the news earlier this week because of their plans to extend their system to continental European universities. What does this mean for British university applicants? It should become easier to apply to continental universities, as you can do it via the same website as you would for British universities. Read about it here and here.

A whole new world… of classification vocabulary

I’m now well into the cataloguing and classification module, which I have been looking forward to ever since I enrolled on the MSc. So far, I have not been disappointed.

We’re in week 3, and already have learnt a lot about the basics of bibliographic classification, with examples from a range of classification schemes. From next week onwards, we’ll have a closer look at two particular classification schemes – Dewey Decimal and UDC.

It is fair to say that there have been many new terms since the module started:

word cloud of classification vocabulary

Here are some of terms explained, mainly for my own benefit:

citation order: this refers to the subject heading or classmark, more specifically to the order in which the different concepts that make up a subject are combined in the classmark. We’re mainly talking about faceted classification schemes here.

compound subject: a subject which consists of more than one concept. The concepts cannot be separated without changing the meaning of the subject. Examples: financial management; electrical engineering.

semantic relationships: they are “hierarchical relationships proper” (Broughton, 2004, p. 25) – relationships between concepts based on hierarchy and independent of context. For example, a bonobo will always be a great ape or Hominidae (well, unless biologists decide to change the scientific classification, but you know what I mean), and a finger will always be part of a hand. Want to know more? The “bonobo – great ape” relationship is an example of a thing-kind relationship (“a bonobo is a kind of great ape”) and the “finger – hand relationship” is an example of a whole-part relationship (“a finger is part of the hand”). Thirdly, we can also have instance relationships, e.g. the Thames is an instance of a river.

The following terms all tell you something about a given classification scheme:

literary warrant: how well does the classification scheme take into account and match the published literature in a field? For example, if the bulk of textbooks published on, say, learning Hebrew as a foreign language falls into the four areas grammar, vocabulary, listening, and reading, can we find these four concepts in the classification scheme?

user warrant: how well does the classification scheme take into account the expectations of users?

exhaustivity: in terms of indexing, how well does the classification scheme allow the indexer to represent all the different elements of a subject in the subject heading or classmark? Coming from a slightly different angle, Rowley and Hartley (2008, p. 131f.) describe this concept very well in relation to different information retrieval systems: at the basic level we have summarisation (e.g. a subject heading), then the most significant subjects (e.g. chapter headings), then detailed subject specification (e.g. a back-of-book index), and finally the full text – “the ultimate level of exhaustivity”.

specificity: how well does the classification scheme allow you to classify a document at the right level? For example, if you want to classify a monograph on the Reformation in Germany, and your schedule for German History goes like the (very quick and dirty) one below, you will end up having to classify the monograph under Modern History, which is not very specific!

AA History of Germany
      AAA Prehistoric
      AAB Germanic
      AAC Medieval
      AAD Modern

You would be better of if the schedule was more like this (also very quick and dirty):

AA History of Germany
      AAA Prehistoric
      AAB Roman
      AAC Medieval
      AAD Early Modern
            AADA Renaissance
            AADB Reformation
      AAE Modern

flexibility: how much choice does the classification scheme offer to the classifier, e.g. can you change the citation order, or are there alternative locations for a subject? If so, once you have made up your mind as to what to do, stick with that decision.

hospitality: how well is the classification scheme able to accommodate new subjects (e.g. Web 2.0). For example, are there gaps in the notation where you could slot in new subjects?


BROUGHTON, V., 2004. Essential Classification. London: Facet Publishing.

ROWLEY, J. and HARTLEY, R., 2008. Organizing Knowledge. An Introduction to Managing Acess to Information. 4th ed. Farnham: Ashgate.

Libraries and Twitter

In one of my modules last term, we discussed how libraries can use social media. I’m not sure we reached a conclusion, but part of the discussion was about the purpose of social media – do we use them to update our users about news and events, or do we use them to fully interact with our users?

Taylor & Francis (2014) recently researched the use of social media by libraries. In their white paper, they identify several social media objectives, including: promoting events, resources and collections and library services; connecting with new students and the wider community; highlighting subject specific information; a customer service tool; and a teaching tool. Not all of these were equally important to the survey respondents: the objectives that fall under marketing activities were rated as most important.

So what exactly do libraries do on social media? I’ve had a closer look on Twitter this week. What follows are some examples of interacting with users that stood out for me.

Promoting collections

Promoting events

(I am so going to see this one.)

Updates about library services

Promoting library resources

User engagement


These are just a sample of tweets that caught my attention, but I guess it is obvious that promotion is a big theme. And why not? The only question that remains is: what is the story behind the Library of Congress photo?

What about you? Do you have any favourite library twitter accounts?


Taylor & Francis, 2014. Use of social media by the library. Current practices and futures opportunities. A white paper from Taylor & Francis. [online]. Available from: [Accessed 13 February 2015].


A few Library-related and MSc-related things that I have come across on the Internet recently…

What do librarians do all day?

“At Your Service: Information Sleuth at the New York Public Library” by Corey Kilgannon, published in The New York Times, is a great piece about Matthew Boylan, reference librarian at the New York Public Library. If anybody asks why we still need librarians when we have the Internet, point them to this article.

Completely unrelated to the article above, this gentleman, who apparently spoke at the ALA Midwinter Meeting, also sums it up nicely:

Tools to make your life easier

I cannot remember who mentioned it on Twitter, unfortunately, but I recently was introduced to Google Keep. It is the first notes app that I actually use. I think it’s the simplicity of it all – you can make lists and write notes to yourself, and that is it. No fancy extras, nothing too complicated. We have started using it for our weekly shopping list, and it works like a dream. I can see how it can be useful for the MSc to, e.g. to write a list of books to take out from the library (especially since you can tick things off as you go along).

Google Keep screenshot

Digital libraries

In honour of Laura Ingalls Wilder’s birthday, Teaching with the Library of Congress (@TeachingLC) tweeted a link to digitised pictures of late 19th century homesteads – little houses on the prairies. (The author and I share a first name, hence I have always been fond of her novels.)



I first came across this lovely video of staff and students at Texas A&M University Libraries dancing to “Happy” via Ned Potter’s blog.

You can read more about the thinking behind the video on Ned Potter’s blog. Personally, I think this is a great way to reach out to new students and to introduce the library to them in a fun way.

I speak from personal experience! These days, of course, my local university library  is one of my “happy” places and you can often find me there browsing the shelves after a long day at work. A particular favourite are the Library Science books on the fourth floor. It de-stresses me. I remember well, however, being a first-year undergraduate student at Münster University, and being terrified of even entering the huge, imposing university library.

Here is a photo of said university library. It actually looks really cool, don’t you think?

ULB Münster HDR Gehorche Keinem

For my entire first semester at university, I relied on the two libraries of the History and English departments. Admittedly, they were quite extensive and probably covered most of the needs of a first-year student, but that’s not the point.

I eventually got over my awe of the main library, you will be pleased to hear. I joined one of the many library tours on offer, and after that, became a regular patron.

The point of all of this? I think that videos like the one above can go a long way in familiarising students with the library early on. Watching the video has got me thinking about library induction and this is something that I would like to explore more. Do you have any suggestions for resources I should look at?

Video source: “Happy” by Texas A&M University Libraries

Photo source: “ULB Münster HDR Gehorche Keinem” by Philip Brechler is licenced under Creative Commons CC BY 2.0