Welcome to Volume 14 issue 2-3 2017/18 of UKeiG’s journal eLucidate
UKeiG is committed to promoting the theory and practice of organising digital knowledge and information. ISKO UK, the UK Chapter of the International Society for Knowledge Organisation, is one of our partner organisations, overseeing the presentation of the prestigious Tony Kent Strix Award featured in this issue. ISKO brings together researchers and practitioners who develop and apply conceptual tools like semantic analysis and faceted classification. In previous issues we have emphasised that taxonomy and effective and systematically applied metadata continue to be key to breaking down information silos in organisations by enriching and structuring content, providing semantic context and integrating and linking disparate external and internal information resources. They underpin effective data management, information management and enterprise search. Helen Challinor contributes a fascinating case study of a project - Vocabulary management at the Department for Education - that takes us back to the essential basics of information retrieval, of nomenclature and thesauri. “This case study considers the use made of controlled vocabularies at the Department for Education. It outlines the principles of vocabulary management, before explaining the uses made of controlled vocabularies within the department. It includes explanations about why decisions were taken, how users were engaged and a forward look.”
Her article takes me back to my information science studies at City University, London in the early 1990s, where we painstakingly discussed “neologisms” and all things “paradigmatic.” Helen writes: “Most developers have no idea that there is a science underpinning the management of subject vocabularies, and why would they? Neither do end users, and why would they? Devising innovative ways of explaining the nuances of vocabulary construction to developers and end users has been challenging, enjoyable and a significant deliverable from the project.”
The 2017 Internet Librarian International (ILI) conference was a huge success. Katherine Allen, Business Development Director, Information Today Europe, writes: “Information professionals wear many hats. They are leaders in tech, organisational influencers, expert marketers, change managers, internet super searchers, and much more.” One of the themes that stood out was the fundamental issue of information integrity, “fake news”, “disinformation’ and the significant implications for information and digital literacy. Social media nurtures a world of titillation and outrage. The critical appraisal of information resources is in our DNA, and we are moving into another era with profound ethical considerations. “The fake, the false…is an opportunity.”
Jisc’s Lis Parcell, in a presentation for UKeiG - “Flexing our digital muscle: beyond information literacy” - explored tools and resources to help assess digital capability in individuals, teams and organisations. “Library and information professionals have long been recognised for expertise in information literacy, but the need for more digitally capable organisations creates new avenues for staff to develop their roles and contribute to the digital strategy of the organisation.” Digital literacy is a complex and morphing concept, embracing core ICT proficiency alongside content creation and innovation, communication and collaboration, information retrieval, technology enhanced learning and digital professionalism.
I was particularly drawn by the future proofing theme during ILI; the crucial need to keep a weather eye on digital trends that may/will loom and disrupt; to jettison our cynicism of new technologies and Artificial Intelligence (AI); to thrive on uncertainty and embrace new opportunities. This evoked memories of “disintermediation”, the ongoing “fear” decade on decade that emerging technologies might render the LIS profession obsolete. “Reimagine, reinvent” was a core message. Similarly, “Stay critical. Stay curious.” Ned Potter, who led our successful “Social Media for Librarians” CPD event in November last year, summed it up: “Stop acting like librarians. Start a revolution.”
Martin White, Managing Director of Intranet Focus Ltd, provides sobering food for thought as he considers the intellectual property and security implications of jointly shared information in collaborative environment. Claire Carter, Academic Liaison Librarian at the University of Bedfordshire, reports back on last year’s eclectic and stimulating CILIP Conference.
At ILI UKeiG announced that the UKeiG Jason Farradane Award winner for 2017 was Christopher Gutteridge, Systems, Information and Web programmer at the University of Southampton. The award recognises his outstanding contribution to the information profession, raising the profile of the importance and value of information in the workplace and pioneering new and innovative ways to derive value from information. The award was presented to Christopher by David Ball, UKeiG Chair on day two of the prestigious library innovation conference. During his career Christopher has been involved in many projects that have information at their core. He was involved in open access research from the outset, pioneering the development of the EPrints platform. EPrints has a wide uptake at universities across the country and has set the expectation that universities should support open access archiving. He was instrumental in pioneering open data services at University of Southampton. The service he developed has set the standard for open data services in the UK and was recognised with the Times Higher Education award for Outstanding ICT Initiative of the Year, 2012. Christopher founded Data.ac.uk as a place to stimulate discussion between UK universities on the subject of open data. The service has a mailing list where good practice and success stories are shared. Data.ac.uk provides a number of services for aggregating data from multiple institutions. It’s been so successful that Jisc, the membership organisation that supports digital solutions for the UK education sector, have taken over ownership of the service to ensure its continued existence for the whole community.
During his acceptance speech at ILI Christopher quoted science fiction writer Robert Heinlein’s book “Expanded Universe” (1950.) It sums up everything in a proverbial nutshell. “The greatest crisis facing us is not Russia, not the Atom Bomb, not corruption in government, not encroaching hunger, nor the morals of the young. It is a crisis in the organisation and accessibility of human knowledge. We own an enormous ‘encyclopaedia’ - which isn't even arranged alphabetically. Our ‘file cards’ are spilled on the floor, nor were they ever in order. The answers we want may be buried somewhere in the heap, but it might take a lifetime to locate two already known facts, place them side by side and derive a third fact, the one we urgently need. Call it the crisis of the Librarian. We need a new ‘specialist’ who is not a specialist, but a synthesist. We need a new science to be a perfect secretary to all other sciences.” There we have it.
eLucidate is published three times per volume: around spring, summer and winter and an archive of previous issues is available here. We endeavour to feature contributions from experts in the field, keeping members up to date with developments and innovations in the digital information industry, considering the impact on information professionals and consumers of e-information. Core topics for consideration include: digital literacy, effective information retrieval and search technologies, intranets, social media, open access, e-publishing and e-industry research and development. UKeiG encourages the submission of articles and reports about any of the topics covered by the journal, and contributions and suggestions for content can be emailed to me at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Pease refer to Notes for contributors for further information.
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Editor – eLucidate