Posts Tagged ‘ICT’

Reading lists in Blackboard 2012/2013

Posted on July 30th, 2012 by Paul Stainthorp

I’ve been working with the Online Services Team in ICT to develop a set of pages for presenting our new reading lists system to students and staff in our Blackboard VLE.

When the next academic year’s Blackboard ‘Sites’ go live in a couple of weeks, all module and award Sites will include a “Reading List” button in the Site menu as a default. (It’ll also be available as an option to add to other types of Blackboard Sites and Communities.)

Blackboard button image

When a user clicks on this button, Blackboard will invoke the Talis Aspire list linking API. The API will take the Blackboard Site ID (e.g.: SOW3007M-1213), strip off the academic session suffix (-1213) and poll to see if one or more reading lists is associated with the module/award code (SOW3007M).

If there is no reading list associated with that code, students will see a generic apology screen:

Screenshot from Blackboard

We’re sorry…

No online reading list can be found for this Blackboard Site. A reading list may be available as part of the Site’s Learning Materials: please contact your lecturer(s).

The Library is introducing a new online reading list system for the University of Lincoln. You can find out more by visiting:

Contact the Library.

On the other hand, if the Talis Aspire API responds that a reading list (or several) is available, the student will be presented with a link to the list(s), along with some associated information about reading lists. In the future, we may well want to expand upon this with links to tutorial/support information on finding and using resources in the Library.

Screenshot from Blackboard showing available lists

Staff with a role in the Blackboard Site (“Instructor”; “Site Builder”; “Teaching Assistant”) see versions of these same screens. If there is currently no list associated with the Site, we’ll present them with information about how to get started building and populating a reading list within Aspire. Again, we hope to expand upon this in time, linking out to help materials for staff.

Screenshot from Blackboard - for staff

Finally, here’s the screen that staff with a Site role see when there are list(s) associated with the Site. It’s very similar to the student screen, except there’s a “Manage Lists” link next to each reading list – this takes them to the Talis Aspire login point (

Screenshot from Blackboard - for staff with lists

Many thanks to Matt Darch from ICT for putting these pages together.

Notes on: WorldCat Local

Posted on June 17th, 2011 by Paul Stainthorp

WorldCat Local is a commercial ‘next-generation’ library resource discovery platform, produced by “the world’s largest library co-operative”, OCLC. Its tagline: “Single-search access to 800+ million items from your library and the world’s library collections

As of June 2011, it is capable of providing access to more than 1,400 databases through a single search interface, via a mixture of ‘centrally indexed’ content, and remote databases retrieved by z39.50. There’s a list of content sources on OCLC’s website.

Libraries that purchase WorldCat Local can then mesh their own library collections with WorldCat (adding to the whole), via a mixture of batch upload-then-nightly synchronisation with their traditional library catalogue, OAI-PMH import, and use of OCLC’s own e-resources knowledgebase tool (alone or in synchronisation with an existing knowledgebase).

Records include both bibliographic and ‘evaluative’ (e.g. ToCs, summaries, book cover image) content, links to detailed authority records on named individuals etc., as well as some social features (tagging/commenting). Users can create a WorldCat account and log in to build their own lists of content (with the possibility that these could be used as formal or informal reading lists).

Higher Education libraries in the UK using WorldCat Local include:

…though there are some more well-developed implementations in the USA: [1] [2] [3]

A few links about WorldCat Local:

New features coming soon include the ability to limit searches to ‘available full-text only’, as well as to ‘peer-reviewed articles only’, and a new periodicals A-Z listing tool.

More information on WorldCat Local at:

Disruptive influence

Posted on November 27th, 2010 by Paul Stainthorp

This week we launched our long-awaited strategic review of the Library’s ICT systems, with a day’s discussion and planning with library-technology consultant Ken Chad.

Anti-cuts protest in GloucesterJoss Winn (who was there on the day) has already blogged about the love he thinks we can build between us and our users if we get beyond the impersonal ‘survey’ mentality and build a lasting, resilient and genuine relationship out of shared activity…

“By creating a library system that learns from every person who uses it and adapts over time to the environment it is part of, we create a resilient and therefore a sustainable library system that its users fall in love with.”

I’m not very good at self-reflection (see what I did there?), so I’m not here to respond to Joss’s post. Instead, knowing where our systems and processes are at, I’ve been contemplating Ken’s ideas about disruptive technologies in HE libraries, and where we are on the cycle of accepting that our existing model has already been disrupted.

Here are a few reasons why Lincoln is perfectly poised for a bit of disruption:

  • Because we don’t have too much history. Lincoln is a young institution (in its current incarnation, at least), and we’ve been through a lot of changes. (We must have opened—and sadly, closed—more libraries than some institutions have had hot dinners.) We’re pretty good at coping with change; change is our only constant, etc.
  • Because, if we’re being honest, we probably don’t have as much at stake as some older, richer, universities. We’re more than used to doing things on a shoestring and looking for free solutions to our problems, ideally to supplement, but as often as not instead of investment in commercial systems (poverty breeding experimentation). As a result, our systems are not too overdeveloped, and we should be able to make quick changes of direction without too much pain.
  • Because we have the Student as Producer agenda; we have a Library Innovation Group; we have projects such as Jerome, Nucleus, Total ReCal, and so on. In short, we’re surrounded by the academic theory, the administrative machinery, and the working examples to justify an actively disruptive approach to systems development.
  • Because of where we are: I’m convinced there’s a benefit to living on the periphery.
  • Because (like the countryside, ho ho) the Library staff structure is relatively ‘flat’. No-one’s going to be strung up for speaking out of turn; nobody’s ideas are beyond the Pale; there’s not too much store placed in hierarchy. I sincerely hope this to be true.
  • Finally, because of our vice-chancellor’s attitude. Professor Mary Stuart has mentioned (at least twice, in presentations I’ve attended) the imperative to—for want of a better phrase—mash things up. Assuming she really means it—and I’ve no reason to doubt that she does—we’re much better off than if we had to work under the disapproving gaze of a University executive unhappy with experimentation. There are perhaps fewer techno-reactionary voices in the Lincoln establishment than at some other, older universities.

I’m intrigued now by the idea of disruptive technologies in the library, so I’m going to see if I can dig out a few of Clayton Christensen’s books and have a read. Thanks, Ken. (I’ve been following the Disruptive Library Technology Jester for a while now, but I hadn’t realised it was anything other than a clever name.)

Easy PC, here’s a free seat

Posted on November 18th, 2010 by Paul Stainthorp

Courtesy of Nick Jackson of the Online Services Team: real-time PC availability in the GCW University Library, through your browser.

Screenshot of the GCW PC availability data application

We’re hoping to have this projected into the GCW foyer by the start of 24/5 opening.

Correction (19 November 2010)! We’re going to audit the data (to make sure the number of available PCs on each floor – i.e. the denominators – are correct) then look for opportunities to display it in the GCW. I was ahead of myself, again…