Giving books new life

I began my career working on the Oxford Google Books Project. I was therefore very interested in yesterday’s news that a US court has deemed Google’s digitisation of books to be fair use.

This quote from the ruling sums up my perspective having worked for one of the partner libraries:

Google Books helps to preserve books and give them new life. Older books, many of which are out-of-print books that are falling apart buried in library stacks, are being scanned and saved.

It was my job to survey the library collections to identify books which could be scanned. I spent months down in the stacks with lists of books which had been identified from the catalogue as scanning potentials. The key identifier? Age. We were only scanning items in the public domain. What I hadn’t expected was the number of books we would uncover that hadn’t been picked up from the catalogue, either because their records were incomplete, or that a record didn’t exist at all. Whether they were to end up being scanned or not, these books were catalogued, and so became discoverable. Without the project they would have remained lost.

I left the project before it ended and so didn’t see the final stage of linking up the scanned and physical copies. It is now possible on SOLO, Oxford’s resource discovery service, to view the digitised copy along with details of  the location of the print copy. You can also filter your search to view only results where digitised copies are available.

I believe this is a prime example of the benefits of the project for enhancing library collections.


Further reading (including links to a PDF of the full ruling):

Howard, J. (2013) Judge hands Google a big victory in lengthy book-scanning case. Chronicle of Higher Education. 14 November 2013.

Koyle, K. (2013) It’s FAIR. Coyle’s InFormation. 14 November 2013.

Activity tracking for #libday8

As I explained in my introductory Library Day in the Life post for round 8 I have been keeping a detailed record of my work activities. My aim was to use this record of an average week to see if some estimates I had made previously (for how I spend my time over a term) were anywhere near accurate.

The charts below show the percentage of time I spent on various activities that were identified as the main tasks of an Academic Support Librarian. The first chart shows the time I spent on each activity during the past week. The second chart shows the estimates I made for how much time I spend on each activity during the Spring term (January – April).

Work activities - libday8

Work activities - Spring term

Comparing to the two has left me fairly happy with the estimates I made about how I spend my time. The activities missing from my work this week, that came quite high in my estimate, were teaching and project work. I’ve done no teaching this week, but have already done some, and will be doing more this term. As for project work, a lot of the work I did this week that I classed as production of teaching materials was also project work for an information skills tutorial I am creating.

Given the job I do I think it is unsurprising that liaison and enquiries came out as top activities on both charts. Within liaison in this week’s tracking I included all work I did on email (6 hours and 22 minutes in total) as well as meetings with staff in the business school and the one Student Staff Liaison Committee meeting that I attended.

One thing I was particularly interested in, having been asked a few times lately, was how much time I spend on Twitter. My total for the week was 1 hour and 33 minutes, an average of a little under 20 minutes per day.

Professional activities scored quite highly this week as I’ve been doing quite a bit of work on developing a new website for the Business Librarians Association. I also used the “Other” category this week which I had used for the estimate. Within this category I included the time I spend doing general admin and planning my week.

Library Day in the Life – Round 8

Every time I have participated in Library Day in the Life I have taken a different approach to it:

  • Round 2 – detailed accounts of my day
  • Round 3 – summaries of my day
  • Round 4 – daily summaries with pictures
  • Round 5 – daily summaries based on my to do list
  • Round 6 – videos!

After the videos of round 6 I clearly felt I’d reached my peak and didn’t participate last time around. For round 8 I’m getting back into the game and have yet another new approach. This time I won’t be posting daily, instead I have chosen to keep a detailed log of how I am spending my time during the day and will post an overall summary at the end of the week. I am doing this for one specific reason – to see exactly how much time I spend on different tasks in an average week. I was asked to do this recently for a review of a subject librarian’s activities, but without the time to log exactly what I do the form I submitted contained estimates. I’ve got no idea whether I was even close with my guesses so I’ll be interested to compare that to the resutls from this week’s log.