I was able to go to the Information Environment programme day in Aston yesterday. When you get the chance to see an event like that it brings home to you the scale and scope of the innovation that this programme has brought to the sector. Reflecting on the sessions there were five things that I’ve taken away from the day.
That the institutional repository should be the core of so many things. We saw the example from William Nixon at Glasgow University that showed quite how it was embedded into the fabric and infrastructure. It was really interesting to see how they used the staff system version of names to use as the canonical name, and how it was linked into staff profiles and funding information.
Bill Hubbard from Nottingham stating that open access should be the default position. That the key question is what is the reason why it shouldn’t be open rather than having to justify that it should be open. A complete switch of culture and a good point that open publication can mean that the content is out there much more quickly as it doesn’t go through a lengthy publication process.
Activity data was emphasised in the keynote as being important for management information, in budget and collection planning. I got the sense that going forward business information might become the primary focus of activity data work. So I feel it would be a shame if the potential of this data to improve the quality of our services by giving users better data to help them make informed choices slipped off the agenda. Particularly as service quality is likely to be under more scrutiny as course prices increase.
It was interesting to hear about the plans for the new JISC Digital Infrastructure programme for the future. Sustainability, Shared infrastructure, skills and capacity all sound sensible. The four blueprints (Shared infrastructure and technologies; Libraries and library infrastructure; Research including research data management and scholarly communications; and Research management) are more stakeholder driven.
People don’t understand the terminology that we use. It’s particularly true of library terminology. We’re just in the process of putting together a survey for our website to ask users about appropriate terms to use. But there’s a suggestion here that libraries and library users don’t really have a shared vocabularly that covers the new digital world.
It was a good and interesting event with a few things to find out more about. One final thing that did strike me, and it’s difficult to be sure, but I didn’t get the sense that there was a lot of engagement from some of the HE corporate IT units. Most of the speakers seemed to be from academic departments and libraries, rather than from IT units, but it may just be that IT unit participation was in the background