A 15-step strategy to comprehend a new library area thoroughly and fast

Research Support STRATEGYHave you or any of your team needed to get up-to-date and skilled in a specific area in a short space of time? Last month’s blog: Getting more up-to-date in 6 simple steps discussed a strategy for library staff to get up-skilled and up-to-date in new innovative areas. This month’s blog continues to help you develop your library’s staff expertise focussing on a short 15-step resource analysis plan.

Most of us know how to locate information. However, this step-by-step strategy guides you in a structured way through a variety of resources to ensure that you comprehensively capture more content and knowledge from a variety of angles and as part of a structured and short 15-step plan:

    1. Identify 3 people, experts or peers who are in the know about your subject as a starting point. Check out LinkedIn, networks and foundations and their Board Members or more active contributors such as discussion leaders on discussion lists for example.


    1. Select books and articles to brush up on your reading on research results, good practices or guidelines. Who has published a lot on your topic?


    1. Pinpoint 3 networks, professional associations, and foundations who are dedicated to your cause to help you better scope / grasp the extent of your topic. These could be international, national or more local organisations. Think of the Association of European Research Libraries (LIBER), Knowledge Exchange, EIFL, SPARC Europe or the Association for Social Science Information Services & Technology (IASSIST). What news pages do they have, do they have a strategy, projects or papers for download?


    1. Bloggers will regularly dedicate their articles to topics up your street. Find 3 of them via Bloglines for example. And think about looking at blogs like Stephen’s Lighthouse, OCLC Research, Content Divergent with some great infographics, or Peter Suber’s page on Open Access for example.


    1. Select at least 3 discussion lists / forums / interest groups and 3 Facebook pages to follow and engage in conversation with today’s and tomorrow’s experts. LinkedIn has over 1.8 million groups to search and join. The Special Library Association (SLA) has a wide selection of lists. Who shares interesting points of view or information? Follow them. Jisc in the UK has a great directory of discussion lists. Experts, interest groups and organisations like the International Federation of Library Associations (IFLA) http://www.ifla.org/mailing-lists or The European Association for Health Information and Libraries (EAHIL) have special interest groups. For digital humanities see dh+lib or Web4Lib on things libraries and the web.
      Liswiki has a number of collections of library resources, including discussion links (mainly US).


    1. Use Twitter to find the people and the small bites of news with links on to hot content. The experts you know will usually have Twitter accounts. Who do they follow, and who is an active twitterer?
      Search for your topic by #tag.
      TweetDeck will help you manage your tweets.
      Tweet a question, and engage in conversation; people who respond to you may well be new names you’re looking for for more info.


    1. Identify 3 videos, 3 slides and 3podcasters.
      For videos ideally select channels or groups on Vimeo or Figshare. And have you already discovered This Week in Libraries?
      Locate 3 slides or follow 3 slide uploaders, e.g. from Figshare or Slideshare to get visual inspiration from speeches, training materials or presentations.
      Podcasters will deliver you spoken lectures; select 3 regular speakers to listen to whilst on your way to or from work. Search Podcast Alley to search over 90,000 podcasts or over 6m episodes. Or go straight to the British Library, Libpunk, Harvard Library Innovation Lab, Dquarium podcasts on IT and libraries or to The Library of Congress’s podcasts.


    1. Search your bookmarks and discover 3 e-bookmarkers on Delicious, StumbleUpon, Reddit, accounts. e.g. on Delicious. Do the experts you have identified have bookmark accounts? Who do they follow?


    1. Search 3 web publisher sites, e.g. using Scoop.it which aggregates and visualises web resources and news curated around one specific topic.


    1. Locate 3 funding programmes and projects for information on the policy and financial priorities of today’s higher education, research and ICT funders. What funding programmes fund projects related to your topic? Are current funder work programmes partly dedicated to your topic, and what themes do the calls address? What are the trends?
      What 3 great projects have those funding programmes funded related to your topic? Follow the collaborative efforts to experiment and innovate in your area. Think about the UK’s Jisc Programme, the European Commission’s FP7 Programme, e.g. FOSTER or Pasteur4OA focus on Open Access for example or Horizon 2020 Programme or the US’s Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) for example.
      Also look at the project and innovation pages of libraries such as the Harvard Library Lab, the University of California Digital Library, the Max Planck Digital Library or Goettingen State and University Library.


    1. Look at least 3 of today’s good practice working service examples to prevent you from re-inventing any wheels. Learn how to solve the challenges in advance by discussing things with the peers who have implemented services in your area to save you time and effort. LIBREVE has a broad selection of research support services in 8 areas that could be of interest.


    1. Locate 3 education opportunities: be they conferences / events / workshops related to your topic. See and hear about the latest authoritative opinions, guidelines, standards, projects and services, and network with experts and peers. Think about the LIBER conference, the SLA conference, London’s Online Information, the European Libraries Automation Group Annual Conference for library and IT, or the European Association for Health Information and Libraries (EAHIL Annual Conferences). Closer to home, attend regional, national or neighbouring country library conferences. The international Open Repositories conference or Open Access Week for all things open scholarship in your country or abroad are also great events to attend and get up-to-date.


    1. What 3 webinars or MOOCs can you follow to get up2date on your topic? Who is leading them and who else has signed up? Look at OCLC WebJunction webinars or IFLA’s New Professionals Special Interest Group webinar series, or Library Connect Webinars. Library Schools such as the Syracuse’s iSchool have MOOCs for the library profession for example.


    1. Search for info pages on your topic by searching all LibGuides worldwide using your keywords.

Many libraries have scores of pages with links and resources on their LibGuide pages.


    1. Search and add to your social media dashboard platform like Netvibes, Protopage or Rebelmouse. Bring dynamic web content together here in one place related to your topics, and search across them.
      Harvard’s innovative Tag Team RSS aggregator provides a great RSS service. They have many hubs, e.g. The Open Access Tracking Project provides regular news items from all over the world on Open Access via the web or email.


Follow these steps and you will feel far more confident about your new area.

Don’t forget to set up a system to regularly follow your information leads; this isn’t a one-time exercise. A social media dashboard platform (mentioned in 15) will help you bring a lot of content together to allow you to follow updates in one space. For other related tips, see my previous blog: Getting more up-to-date in 6 simple steps

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