Mail Bag

March 27, 2012 in All Day, Email

Today was quite light for mail, which was just as well since I was on a training course all day. Down on number, the spread of subjects and senders felt the same as usual. Email probably provides a good snapshot for most of us of the preoccupations of the day, so here’s the spread in rough chronological order:

00:11-05:05 Digests of various mailing lists to which I subscribe: AUTOCAT (general cataloguing) ; LIS-maps ; LIS-medical

00:18 Our Provost’s Newsletter – sent to all staff and all students at UCL.

08:37 Email via CIG-E-Forum from colleague Wendy Taylor (RNIB Library), informing subscribers that the next Cataloguing and Indexing Group E-Forum takes place tomorrow and Thursday and covers social media. [These fora started last year and my colleagues Celine Carty (Cambridge University Library), Helen Williams (London School of Economics Library) and I have a paper forthcoming in the Journal of Library Metadata on UK cataloguers' experience of new cataloguing standard Resource Description and Access based on a previous E-Forum].

09:09 The latest email from a colleague about the UCLDH Events Calendar. I will spare you the details, but this administrative issue has been running the last couple of days. As recently appointed Digital Identity Manager for the Centre, I’m glad that my colleague Oliver Duke-Williams is streamlining our events listing procedures. It’s one of the many small bits of admin that we all undertake that somehow seems to be like the pot of porridge that  was always full. Emails about the calendar punctuate the rest of the day.

09:31 Email via LIS-Rarebooks with the latest information on a project that is really exciting for my research community: The English Short Title Catalogue as a 21st Century Research Tool. This major resource is being redesigned, and the email informs us that the planning committee is reporting its findings on its new blog.

10:53 Email from colleague in UCL Department of Information Studies informing all staff and research students that there will be a research seminar in the department on domain ontology modelling next week. I’d like to attend this, but it will depend on other commitments.

11:19 Reference request for one of my MA LIS students. She’s already been appointed, so fortunately I can attend to the paperwork tomorrow. One of the best bits of the job is seeing students go on to good positions. #ilovemyjob

12:02 Request from colleague to advise a student from another programme.

12:27 I know America is waking up because the first of the emails comes through from RDA-L. This list covers the new international cataloguing standard, about which I’ve just finished a book. The national libraries in USA conducted tests of RDA, involving libraries across the country, and, as a result, RDA-L is fed mostly by North American colleagues.

13:07 Email from a student that I will have to answer tomorrow as it deserves more attention than I can give while attending a course. It’s from one of my dissertation students, whom I am encouraging to submit a “lightning talk” proposal for the Cataloguing & Indexing Group Conference in Sheffield in September. Students submit their dissertations 2 weeks before the conference date, so it’s ideally-timed, and I have two this year who are working on innovative topics of interest to the community, as well as one from last year who I hope will submit a full paper proposal.

Throughout the afternoon, emails cycle through the topics raised in the morning’s mailbag, as colleagues, students and collaborators chip in with their thoughts to email lists and as part of research and professional groups.

21:54 As I’m putting my Day of DH blog together, I receive an email from ProQuest to tell me that there will be an article in this month’s Update about an event of theirs at which I was one of the speakers in November. Is it OK to name me, and can I please send a picture by Thursday?

23:26 My Day of DH mail bag ends with an email from RDA-L whose subject line is so depressing I can’t bear to open it tonight: “End of the t.p. [title page]“. I assume that the sender will be raising the change from not generating statements of responsibility that are not on the title page (under the current standard, AACR2) to inserting them at will under new standard RDA. However, for a bibliographer, it sends real schadenfreude – the title page is, arguably, being replaced as an authoritative information source by metadata behind the scenes – that’s what the bots and spiders read, after all isn’t it?

Not a cheery, but certainly an appropriate point at which to close down my email client, I feel.

Collaboration, Collaboration, Collaboration

March 27, 2012 in All Day, Class, Learning, Reflecting

Last year I was teaching during the Day of DH, and this year I was learning – attending a course organised by our Graduate School.

Mostly I’ve found the move from librarian to academic quite smooth, but I realised that having worked for so long in a service profession there are times when I step back instead of stepping forward, and so one of my goals for 2012 is to be more assertive. I’m really lucky at UCLDH to be surrounded by supportive, assertive colleagues, and I think they were a little surprised that I feel at times my feisty self is not quite focused enough, but once I explained that it’s more about learning to be assertive within the culture of academia as opposed to the culture of the library, I think they understood.

The course took place last Tuesday and today, and used two different models to help us think about assertiveness – specifically on this course, conflict resolution. Like all models, their use is as a starting point for reflection and discussion, and, although I don’t buy into all the “science” behind them, I did find them useful to think about relating to people in different ways.

I particularly liked some of the emphasis on collaboration – something that I have noticed is really strong within the DH community:

In my library days, I would have described “collaboration” simply as “working with someone on a project”. Now, though, after three years working in academia, I agree with the notes I scribbled down from the slides: collaboration is about negotiating a change, incorporating two different points of view, to create something new that none of the collaborators had quite thought of before they came together.

Our course leader, Dr Emma Williams, stressed that collaboration took more effort than other forms of working through issues (e.g. accommodation or cooperation) but that its results are more creative and, ultimately more rewarding.

I should probably say that the Eeyore in the picture is printed on each page of my notebook, and not a marginal illustrative comment on how I feel about this technique of working together. And good job, because collaboration seems to be the go-to work mode for DH.

About Me

March 26, 2012 in Biography

I’m Lecturer in Library and Information Studies at University College London, and Digital Identity Manager at UCL Centre for Digital Humanities. The latter is a new appointment, although I’ve been a member of UCLDH since before its launch in May 2010.

This year has been an important one, with many significant happenings last week: I was confirmed in post after the normal 3 years as a probationer lecturer. (In US terms, this means I now have tenure). On Friday I also celebrated the publication of my first book, Practical Cataloguing (the picture in my avatar this year is from the family celebration on Friday – bigger parties will happen soon). Also last week I was admitted as a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy, having completed my Postgraduate Certificate in Learning and Teaching in Higher Education in August.

This is my second year taking part in Day of DH, and, just like last year, I feel the need to warn you that I’m mostly involved in researching and teaching material culture – specifically Historical Bibliography – and, obviously from my job title, Librarianship, specifically Cataloguing (Metadata and all that jazz). I’m not quite sure how LIS relates to DH (and vice versa), but I did work through TEI by Example over Christmas, so I can TEI encode part of my MPhil/PhD – my enumerative bibliography of Walter de la Mare’s publications and my handlist of his working library – and then run clever visualisation software over it. Julianne Nyhan and Melissa Terras have told me this will work, and I believe them. Even this, though, is only one small part of my MPhil/PhD project – the bulk of it utilises traditional Humanities techniques: descriptive and analytical bibliography, biographical research and literary analysis. So if you’re looking for lots of whizzy techie posts, you won’t find them here (sorry). I really admire people who do developmental work, but I know my place: I’m a traditional Humanist who uses certain computational programmes and techniques at a very surface level as a tool.