Engaging with our future: the role of educators, practitioners, professional associations and employing organisations in the co-creation of information professionals

In this article for the last issue of the Australian Library Journal LIS educators Sue Reynolds, Bernadette Welch, and Mary Carroll investigate a passion-based approach to student learning. Their vision of enabling new information professionals by cultivating in them ‘passion, engagement, and citizenship’ is a bold and welcome one. They consider the shared role of library and information studies (LIS) educators, practitioners, employing organisations and the professional associations in the development of LIS graduates and new professionals.

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Exploring alternative models for professional LIS

In this article for the last issue of the Australian Library Journal, Brenda Chawner and Gillian Oliver aim to stimulate discussion about whether the current structure of postgraduate library education, largely unchanged for over sixty years, is still the best option, given the ways in which professional library positions increasingly require specialised knowledge and skills.

Brenda and Gillian touch briefly on the history of training for librarians in education before discussing the changing nature of library work today, offering alternative models for LIS education to meet this changing landscape.

New Professionals’ Perspectives (3 of 3)

In her paper for the last issue of the Australian Library Journal, Celia Drummond writes about diversity in the library profession (Embracing diversity: when is a librarian not a librarian?) and about using traditional library skills in non-traditional roles.

Celia argues that LIS educators should better showcase the wide range of roles in different sectors that are available to librarian-trained graduates.

Slack and dispersed community building #digitalhumanities

Today I came across an article in the LSE Impact Blog titled How the Digital Humanities are using Slack to support and build a geographically dispersed intellectual community.

We’re still figuring out how Slack can be useful: Can it allow different kinds of conversations than Twitter? Can we use it to teach and support people interested in DH who don’t have mentors geographically near them, or who aren’t inside academia? Like Twitter, Slack allows coexisting formal use (posting job opportunities, discussing theories) with informal socializing (which is really part of professional work, since it lays good foundations for future collaboration and problem-solving).

Dr. Amanda Visconti

It got me thinking about the digital preservation world and global communication channels. I’ve had great Twitter conversations that result in sometimes weird but fun things. I actively follow worldwide developments, events, and conferences online from afar here in Australia. I’m lucky this year to be attending iPres 2016 to present the University of Melbourne’s digital preservation strategy which means I’ll get to meet and talk with the international digital preservation community in person.

But what if there was a dedicated global online channel for digital preservation discussion, debate, and mentoring? A two-way discovery and sharing flow?

Dr. Visconti reports on interesting uses of the digital humanities Slack channel:

A user creating a channel around their specific research interests, and chatting in that channel as a sort of live-blog of the different approaches they’re trying and how they address issues as they arise (other Slack members can read or ask questions in the channel, too)
If an interesting discussion on Twitter starts to feel stifled or miscommunicated because of Twitter’s size constraints, moving the conversation to the DH Slack allows more freedom while also keeping the conversation semi-public (it’s more public than moving to an email conversation, but anyone wanting to follow the conversation does need to join the DH Slack first)
Mentoring and socializing: I’ve seen Slack members walk each other through fixing a coding bug or suggest lesson plans, and we use the #weeklies channel for weekly sharing around a fun theme (e.g. what’s a book that changed your way of thinking?)
A user sharing a digital humanities method tutorial, then offering to be available on the DH Slack for a certain evening to answer any questions about the tutorial (with the idea that people are encouraged to try working through the tutorial, knowing they will have help if they get stuck or have a question)

I’m wondering, does anything like this exist for the digital preservation community currently? And if it doesn’t, would it work? Would it flourish?

Digital forensics and digital archiving

Computers today function as personal environments and extensions of self—we inhabit and customize our computers, and their desktops are the reflecting pool of our digital lives. The digital archivist, therefore, has much to learn from techniques that model the computer as a physical environment replete with potential evidence…(Kirschenbaum, Ovenden, & Redwine, 2010, p. 7)

DigitalForensics

http://www.clir.org/pubs/reports/pub149/pub149.pdf

 

I’m six years late getting to this publication, but the parallels drawn between the processes involved in digital forensics and the work of digital archivists makes for fascinating reading. It’s a great example to me of how to keep looking outside your own backyard for novel and interesting strategies that can be made useful for organising, preserving, and providing access to information.

Something that really spoke to me was this:

Perhaps the strongest point we can make is to reinforce the distinction between tools and procedures…Technology is expensive, but methodology is free.

This paper also mentions a JISC/NIPO study (written by Seamus Ross and Ann Gow) from 1999, called Digital Archaeology: Rescuing Neglected and Damaged Data Resources, calling it the:

…starting place for any cultural heritage professional interested in matters of forensics, data recovery, and storage formats… Although more than a decade old, the report remains invaluable.

The Forensics Wiki has a wealth of information for anyone interested in dipping into this field – Ross & Gow cite this as a possible avenue for encouraging cross-disclipline collaboration and sharing of practitioner skills between forensics and the cultural heritage community.

#fundTrove

 

The National Library of Australia deserves better than this.

This is a backwards step that encourages a return to siloed, hard-to-find resources – not just for Australians, but for a growing worldwide cohort of supporters.

For the last year and a half, I was working to help support the collection and preservation of public policy research for a digital repository called Australian Policy Online (APO) based at Swinburne University of Technology.

The Australian National Innovation and Science Agenda is one of the many resources catalogued at APO. Being exposed to national agendas like this one has made me highly aware that a government that cannot support a significant service like Trove is not a government that supports innovation.

The National Innovation and Science Agenda states that innovation is:

 

…not just about new ideas, products and business models; innovation is also about creating a culture where we embrace risk, move quickly to back good ideas and learn from mistakes.

 

In December 2015 I was able to visit the Trove headquarters at the National Library of Australia. I got to see innovative projects being created with passion, dedication, and buckets of enthusiasm by a very small team more than willing to look outside the box when faced with inevitable digital challenges. Challenges that arise when you attempt to aggregate digital content from many disparate cultural sources and systems.

Tim Sherratt points to the value of Trove as being not just a portal, but a platform:

 

Portals are for visiting, platforms are for building on. All those hundreds of aggregated collections, all those millions of digitised newspaper articles are available in a form computers can understand via an API (Application Programming Interface). That means clever developers, innovative industries, hackers and tinkerers can take Trove’s data and BUILD NEW THINGS. BOOM! Ideas have to start somewhere, and Trove offers plenty to play with.

 

This lack of support from our political leadership signals a crisis for our nation’s knowledge workers. It will make access to information even harder for those in remote cities and towns, or those who are disadvantaged by social status. It will mean that some of our brightest minds who use the technical capabilities of Trove to improve society will be hampered.

If our government – our leaders – do not recognise the invaluable gateway to knowledge that Trove is, we must make some noise as cultural heroes and make them realise that knowledge is power, and those of us who can wield it will not go out without a fight.