Library strategy and Artificial Intelligence

by Dr Andrew M Cox, Senior Lecturer, the Information School, University of Sheffield.

This post was originally published in the National Centre for AI blog, owned by Jisc. It is re-printed with permission from Jisc and the author.

On April 20th 2023 the Information School, University of Sheffield invited five guest speakers from across the library sectors to debate “Artificial Intelligence: Where does it fit into your library strategy?”

The speakers were:

  1. Nick Poole, CEO of CILIP
  2. Neil Fitzgerald, Head of Digital Research, British Library
  3. Sue Lacey-Bryant, Chief Knowledge Officer; Workforce, Training and Education Directorate of NHS England
  4. Sue Attewell, Head of Edtech, JISC
  5. John Cox, University Librarian, University of Galway

A capacity 250 people had signed up online, and there was a healthy audience in the room in Sheffield.

Slides from the event can be downloaded here . These included updated results from the pre-event survey, which had 68 responses.

This blog is a personal response to the event and summary written by Andrew Cox and Catherine Robinson.

Impact of generative AI

Andrew Cox opened the proceedings by setting the discussion in the context of the fascination with AI in our culture from ancient Greece, movies from as early as the start of the C20th, through to current headlines in the Daily Star!

Later on in the event, in his talk John Cox quoted several authors saying AI promised to produce a profound change to professional work. And it seemed to be agreed amongst all the speakers that we had entered a period of accelerating change, especially with Chat GPT and other generative AI.

These technologies offer many benefits. Sue Lacey-Bryant shared some examples of how colleagues were already experimenting with using Chat GPT in multiple ways: to search, organise content, design web pages, draft tweets and write policies. Sue Attewell mentioned JISC sponsored AI pilots to accelerate grading, draft assessment tasks, and analyse open text NSS comments.

And of course wider uses of AI are potentially very powerful. For example Sue Lacey-Bryant shared the example of how many hours of radiologists time AI was saving the NHS. Andrew Cox mentioned how Chat GPT functions would be realised within MS Office as Copilot. Specifically for libraries, from the pre-event survey it seemed that the most developed services currently were library chatbots and Text and Data Mining support; but the emphasis of future plans was “Promoting AI (and data) literacy for users”.

But it did mean uncertainty. Nick Poole compared the situation to the rise of Web2.0 and suggested that many applications of generative AI were emerging and we didn’t know which might be the winners. User behaviour was changing and so there was a need to study this. As behaviour changed there would be side effects which required us to reflect holistically, Sue Attewell pointed out. For example if generative AI can write bullet point notes, how does this impact learning if writing those notes was itself how one learned? She suggested that the new technology cannot be banned. It may also not be detectable. There was no choice but to “embrace” it.

Ethics

The ethics of AI is a key concern. In the pre-event survey, ethics were the most frequently identified key challenge. Nick Poole talked about several of the novel challenges from generative AI, such as what is its implication for intellectual freedom? What should be preserved from generative AI (especially as it answers differently to each iteration of a question)? Nick identified that professional ethics have to be:

  • “Inclusive – adopting an informed approach to counter bias
  • Informed & evidence-based – geared towards helping information users to navigate the hype cycle
  • Critical & reflective – understanding our own biases and their impact
  • Accountable – focused on trust, referencing and replicability
  • Creative – helping information users to maximise the positive benefits of AI augmented services
  • Adaptive – enabling us to refresh our skills and expertise to navigate change”

Competencies

In terms of professional competencies for an AI world, Nick said that there was now wider recognition that critical thinking and empathy were key skills. He pointed out that the CILIP Professional Knowledge and Skills Base (PKSB) had been updated to reflect the needs of an AI world for example by including data stewardship and algorithmic literacy. Andrew Cox referred to some evidence that the key skills needed are social and influencing skills not just digital ones. Skills that respondents to the pre-event survey thought that libraries needed were:

  •        General understanding of AI
  •        How to get the best results from AI
  •        Open-mindedness and willingness to learn 
  •        Knowledge of user behaviour and need
  •        Copyright
  •        Professional ethics and having a vision of benefits

Strategy

John Cox pointed to evidence that most academic library strategies were not yet encompassing AI. He thought it was because of anxiety, hesitancy, ethics concerns and inward looking and linear thinking. But Neil explained how the British Library is developing a strategy. The process was challenging, akin to ‘Flying a plane while building it”. Sue Attewell emphasised the need for the whole sector to develop a view. The pre-event survey suggested that the most likely strategic responses were: to upskill existing staff, study sector best practice and collaborate with other libraries.

Andrew Cox suggested that some key issues for the profession were:

  • How do we scope the issue: As about data/AI or a wider digital transformation?
    • How does AI fit into our existing strategies – especially given the context of institutional alignment?
    • What constitutes a strategic response to AI? How does this differ between information sectors?
  • How do we meet the workforce challenge?
    • What new skills do we need to develop in the workforce?
    • How might AI impact equality and diversity in the profession?

Workshop discussions

Following the presentations from the speakers, those attending the event in person were given the opportunity to further discuss in groups the professional competencies needed for AI. Those attending online were asked to put any comments they had regarding this in the chat box. Some of the key discussion points were:

  • The need for professionals to rapidly upskill themselves in AI. This includes understanding what AI is and the concepts and applications of AI in individual settings (e.g. healthcare, HE etc.), along with understanding our role in supporting appropriate use. However, it was believed this should go beyond a general understanding to a knowledge of how AI algorithms work, how to use AI and actively adopting AI in our own professional roles in order to grow confidence in this area.
  • Horizon scanning and continuous learning – AI is a fast-paced area where technology is rapidly evolving. Professionals not only need to stay up-to-date with the latest developments, but also be aware of potential future developments to remain effective and ensure we are proactive, rather than reactive.
  • Upskilling should not just focus on professional staff, but all levels of library staff will require some level of upskilling in the area of AI (e.g. library assistants).
  • Importance of information literacy and critical thinking skills in order to assess the quality and relevance of AI outputs. AI should therefore be built into professional training around these skills.
  • Collaboration skills – As one group stated, this should be more ‘about people, not data’. AI requires collaboration with:
    • Information professionals across the sector to establish a consistent approach; 
    • Users (health professionals, students, researchers, public etc.) to establish how they are using AI and what for;
    • With other professionals (e.g. data scientists).
  • Recruitment problems were also discussed, with it noted that for some there had been a drop in people applying for library roles. This was impacting on the ability to bring in new skillsets to the library (e.g. data scientist), but on the ability to allow existing staff the time to upskill in the area of AI. It was discussed that there was the need to promote lifestyle and wellbeing advantages to working in libraries to applicants.

Other issues that came up in the workshop discussions centered around how AI will impact on the overall library service, with the following points made:

  • There is the need to expand library services around AI, as well as embed it in current services;
  • Need to focus on where the library can add value in the area of AI (i.e. USP);
  • Libraries need to make a clear statement to their institution regarding their position on AI;
  • AI increases the importance of and further incentivises open access, open licencing and digitisation of resources;
  • Questions over whether there is a need to rebrand the library.

The attendees also identified that the following would useful to help prepare the sector for AI:

  • Sharing of job descriptions to learn about what AI means in practice and help with workforce planning. Although, it was noted how the RL (Research Libraries) Position Description Bank contains almost 4000 position descriptions from research libraries primarily from North America, although there are many examples from RLUK members; 
  • A reading list and resource bank to help professionals upskill in AI;
  • Work shadowing;
  • Sharing of workshops delivered by professionals to users around the use of AI;
  • AI mailing lists (e.g. JISCmail);
  • Establishment of a Community of Practice to promote collaboration. Although it was noted that AI would probably change different areas of library practice (such as collecting or information literacy) so was likely to be discussed within the professional communities that already existed in these areas.

Workshop outcome

Following the workshop Andrew Cox and Catherine Robinson worked on a draft Working paper which we invite you to comment on @ Draft for comment: Developing a library strategic response to Artificial Intelligence: Working paper.

Getting comfortable with data: Ideas for explaining some basic data types

By Leah Gustafson

Leah is working for the Languages Data Commons of Australia project. It is a University of Queensland and ARDC co-funded project building digital infrastructure for preserving language data. They provide support to researchers and the broader community around making language data FAIR with CARE

(This post is in part a summary of an article that first appeared in The Living Book of Digital Skills).

It seems that every which way we turn, the mysterious concept of data is ever present and lurking in the background of our everyday lives. In the professional setting of the library, data is not a foreign concept – we are surrounded by books and journals and often help students navigate the world of information. But being in such close and constant proximity to data can lead to elements of expert bias creeping in despite the best efforts to keep them at bay! This can make it difficult to explain data concepts in simple terms.

João Batista Neto, CC BY 3.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

So, what are some ideas for demystifying the concept of data for a wide audience? Particularly those who might be exposed to many different types (and potentially without even realising)…

First, the word itself. Remember that in its purist form data isn’t just digital! Wikipedia defines data as a “unit of information” about a person or object that could be a fact, statistic, or other item of information.

And then to progress to modern contexts (as so much of the data we deal with is digital), the Oxford English Dictionary entry states that it can be “quantities, characters, or symbols” in the form of electrical signals that can be used, stored, or transmitted with computer equipment. 

Once there is an understanding of what data is, trying to explain it further can suddenly become wildly more complicated! It may be helpful to compartmentalise that data can be structured, meaning that it is ready for analysing. Otherwise it may be unstructured because perhaps it has just been collected or perhaps multiple data sources are being combined to created a larger dataset. A dataset is just a collection of data points that are together – maybe they came from the same source or maybe they are about the same topic.

Terms that many people will be familiar with are qualitative and quantitative. Qualitative data is an opinion or generalisation about something – a user gives a rating of 5 out of 5 for their experience watching a film. This type of data can be descriptive, be true or false, or give a rank. On the other hand, quantitative data is an objective measurement of something and it generally numerical – for instance, the piece of string is 23 centimetres long. They can also be a number of items or the number of times something happened: there are 2 dishwashers and 1 cupboard and the cupboard was opened 46 times today.

Adapted from an image by Koen Leemans, CC BY-SA 4.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

For data to be used in an analysis, it must be structured in such a way that a computer program can interpret it. For example, data that is output from remote sensing equipment is generally already structured, whereas data that is gathered in a survey where someone’s experience was described would be unstructured.

This has been a very brief introduction to the intriguing world of data! More information can be found in the Chapter 2: Information literacy, media literacy and data literacy – Types of Data section of the The Living Book of Digital Skills. There are also some helpful resources that provide more in-depth details about the fundamental data concepts discussed.

Sharing is caring: comment below on techniques and approaches that you find helpful when needing to explain data concepts!

Examples of User Experience (UX) improvements at UOW Library

By The UOW Library Digital User Experience team (Carina Tobia, Content Experience Officer | Pia Petre, Content Designer | Kyra Thomsen, Digital User Experience Lead)

At the University of Wollongong Library, our Digital User Experience (DUX) team uses research, analysis, design and iteration to ensure our content and services anticipate and meet the evolving needs of our users. 

We see UX as complex and holistic, with omnichannel user journeys that may be in our digital space, at one of UOW’s multiple Australian campuses, or across the globe. Listening to our users through qualitative and quantitative data is central to our work and provides insights which inform UX improvements. 

A selfie of three members of the DUX team, smiling at the camera out the front of the UOW Library building.
Image: DUX Team, including Carina Tobia, Pia Petre and Kyra Thomsen smiling outside the UOW Wollongong Campus Library 

Uplifting the look, feel and navigation of our LibGuides 

Our LibGuides were last reviewed in 2018, and with the intense crisis period of the pandemic coming to an end we wanted to take a proactive approach in 2023, aiming to update the guides’ visual design and content. 

We did environmental scanning, and a Qualtrics survey of students and staff resulted in 57 responses. The survey included quantitative, affinity statement questions (e.g., “It’s easy to find what I’m looking for in library guides”) and space for qualitative, free text responses. We identified several ‘quick wins’ to prioritise. 

Group guides by subject to reduce choice overload 

Users told us our long A to Z list of guides was only useful if they knew the exact name of the guide they were looking for, so we moved away from the alphabetical list and opted for an organised view of subjects on the guide homepage.  

We consolidated seven subjects into four and reduced the number of menu buttons. This update reduced scrolling and ‘choice overload’ making it easier to browse guides. 

Screenshot examples of the guide navigation pages, before and after the changes.
Image: Guide groupings before and after

Make the guides more visually appealing 

Users told us that LibGuides lacked visual appeal, so we updated several design features including: 

  • adding a new, branded photograph banner to the header of all guide pages 
  • updating the default Springshare favicon to the UOW crest icon 
  • updating the back-to-top button for branding and consistency. 

These changes created a seamless transition between the UOW website and LibGuides, and showed users that the information in our guides is up-to-date and reputable. 

Improve navigation and promote inclusivity in the footer

Users told us the footer was busy, unstructured and underused. We updated it with links to high-traffic, relevant, useful pages and organised these into logical groups.  

UOW Library’s Thriving Digital Library Strategy 2022-2024 outlines the importance of “being welcoming, inclusive and culturally safe in all Library spaces (physical and digital)”. This prompted us to add the ACON ‘Welcome Here’ icon to the footer which mirrors the stickers in our physical libraries, and we included UOW’s Acknowledgement of Country. 

Screenshots of the page footer, before and after changes.
Image: Guide footer before and after

Signage UX that overlaps the digital and physical spaces 

In taking a holistic approach to UX, we know our clients can interact with the library online, in-person, both or neither throughout their journey. 

“Thinking from the perspective of the user, we can see the library as a large, interconnected web of these service points woven together… Library users move across different channels”. (Polger 2022, p. 33) 

Library signage is one example where UX skills in user journey mapping and visual design combine with the tangible, physical library building. 

Stairs are a ‘no phone zone’ 

A common library conundrum of clients talking in quiet spaces such as stairwells prompted a cross-team approach, which included installing a new ‘quiet phone booth’.  

We drafted several iterations of poster signage to discourage clients from talking in stairwells and encourage them to use the new quiet phone booth. 

Informed by a walk-through of the space and ‘disguised naturalistic observation’ (Polger 2022, p. 16) (I.e., people watching), the team created a poster using Adobe InDesign which included: 

  • a universal symbol which could be understood at a glance 
  • plain language which could be read from a distance  
  • a simple map showing the location of the new quiet phone booth. 
Signage on the Library wall that instruct people not to use their phone in the stairwell. Second photo is an image of the quiet phone booth, a large enclosed box with a clear glass front.

QR codes in point-of-need signage 

With the popularisation of QR codes during the pandemic, we started including them on our print posters in addition to short links (using Bitly), optimising ways users can interact with Library services from their devices. 

One long-standing poster outside most study spaces allows clients to book a room with QR codes and short URLs linking to the online booking system LibCal. Updating the posters to include QR codes in early 2023, these have had 64 scans since January. With a new LibCal user interface being released, we’re looking forward to an even more optimised mobile experience. 

A pilot of 24/7 access at Wollongong Campus Library saw a need for several types of poster signage including promotional, operational and directional. QR codes were used to link clients to a website with detailed information about the 24/7 access and these were scanned 31 times during the 3-week period the posters were accessible. 

Examples of QR code signage in the UOW Library building.

If you are interested in finding out more details about any of these activities, please contact us at content-strategy@uow.edu.au 

References: 

Polger MA, 2022, Library signage and wayfinding design: communicating effectively with your users, American Library Association, Chicago. 

Understanding how websites work: a brief introduction

by Nicholas Rowsell, Digital Library Programs and UX Officer, University of Newcastle Library (nicholas.brett@newcastle.edu.au)

Knowing how to code in web mark-up languages allows you to create and edit websites and understand how websites work.

Much like learning an instrument, this can be very intimidating at first but with practice you may find yourself intuitively recognising patterns and predicting what logical step to expect next.

The Foundation

HTML (Hypertext Mark-up Language) is the foundation of every website you visit on the internet. HTML documents are made up of elements, which are the building blocks of each page.

The following examples of code can be pasted into W3Schools.com allowing you adjust the code safely in a sandpit environment.

The Building Blocks

The basic structure of an HTML document includes the following elements (note that you will need to use single spacing between lines of code):

<html>

<body>

<h1>

Content Heading

</h1>

<p>

Content goes here…

</p>

</body>

</html>

The Working Example

<html>

<body>

<h1>

Digital Dexterity

</h1>

<p>

Digital dexterity is a critical component in the success of digital societies.

</p>

</body>

</html>

Note: As each element is opened with a tag <p> it is also closed with an accompanying tag </p> which has a backslash added.

Customising your Building Blocks

Elements consist of tags, attributes, and content.

A tag determines the element type. Examples include:
 

<html>Represents the root of an HTML document, differentiating from other types
<body>Defines the document’s body and may contain the below tags
<h1>Creates a header, can use the numbers from 1-6
<p>Defines a paragraph element
<img>Defines an image element
<a>Defines a hyperlink

An extensive list of tags can be found on W3Schools.com.

An attribute provides additional information or characteristics about an element. Examples include:

IDSpecifies a unique id for an element
altSpecifies an alternate text when the original element fails to display

Attributes are placed within the opening tag:

<h1 id=”myHeader”>Digital Dexterity</h1>

Content is the easiest part, this is the text or other elements within the tags that is your awesome subject matter knowledge you wish to share with the world!

Time to add some Style…

CSS (Cascading Style Sheets) is the language we use to style an HTML document. CSS describes how HTML elements should be displayed. Extending our metaphor from earlier, if HTML is the foundation of a website, then CSS is the architecture that makes it beautiful and functional.

CSS allows you to control the layout, font, colour, and other visual aspects of a website, just as an architect controls the layout, colour, and design of a building.

The code which determines this control over the style is known as a CSS rule.

A CSS rule consists of a selector and declaration blocks.

<style>

h1 {

  color: blue;

  font-size: 12;

}

</style>

In this instance <h1> is the selector as it designates the style to the 1st header.

Between the curly brackets { } are two examples of a declaration, the first being color:blue; followed by font-size:12px;. These declarations can be further broken down into their property and value. In the first instance is the property (color) which is separated by a colon : followed by the value (blue).

Bringing it all together

<style>

h1 {

  color: blue;

  font-size: 12;

}

</style>

<html>

<body>

<h1>

Digital Dexterity

</h1>

<p>

Digital dexterity is a critical component in the success of digital societies.

</p>

</body>

</html>

An ever-growing knowledge base

As the librarians at the University of Newcastle have developed our skills with web coding we have developed a knowledge base on LibGuides, where staff can see templates for components we have collected over time. The advantage of this knowledge base means having a library of consistent web elements which can be deployed as needed, saving time and creating ease of access.

To learn coding in a supported environment, W3Schools.com is a great and free web resource.

Lost in the Open Sea: Practical guidance for finding and creating inclusive OER

Ash Barber, Librarian and OER enthusiast

Do you ever feel kind of lost in the sea of resources out there, trying to figure out how to create or find high quality open educational resources (OER)? Those ones that tick all the boxes for great content and promote equity and inclusion?

Me too.

So I went on this trip.

The beginning

For a few years, I’d been peering curiously at the higher education world of North America, watching as they made leaps and bounds in progress towards creating OER that are steeped in concepts of inclusion, diversity, equity, and accessibility – and wondering how can we make these leaps here in Australia too? So, when the Libraries of the Australian Technology Network (LATN) announced a Fellowship opportunity to explore OER on an international study tour, I grabbed it and ran – well, flew – to that magical mystery land I’d been observing for so long.

The broad theme of the Fellowship project I proposed was the development of some kind of resource that curates other resources (a meta resource, if you will) to help Australian librarians better understand the identifying characteristics of OER which influence greater equity and inclusion in education, and to harness this knowledge to empower others to raise their marginalised voices.

The middle

Galvanised by a deep belief in this idea (and the narcoleptic superpower of dodging jetlag), in September 2022, I finally stepped foot in Los Angeles, ready to fangirl my way through a whirlwind two and half weeks of 21 meetings with 46 people I could. not. wait. to. meet.

I attended and met with a multitude of institutions that are home to many open education thought leaders across Los Angeles, Vancouver and Minneapolis, and held a number of incidental conversations along the way. Institutions included:

I am ever grateful to all the lovely humans who met with me for their generosity of time, wisdom and kindness.

The empowered future

These conversations informed the creation of EmpoweredOER (the promised meta resource), a website which helps practitioners wade through that open sea to find a set of resources, concrete examples, and guides curated to the Australian context. It provides a wider theoretical understanding of equitable education principles then grounds them in practical exemplars of OER that meet these needs. EmpoweredOER aims to help people who feel a bit lost amongst it all to find a solid set of parameters to work within.

The website uses the BranchED Equity Rubric for OER Evaluation as the framework for looking at individual aspects of OER with an equity lens.

Often when we talk about creating OER that are “accessible” we’re thinking about alt-text and screen-readers. That’s not a bad thing, but it’s just one step in the direction of access. It’s not thinking about “accessible” in the broader sense of cultural sustainability and multiple ways of learning. The Equity Rubric for OER Evaluation explores these deeper levels of access, but doesn’t give examples demonstrating concepts. EmpoweredOER builds on the Rubric to provide tangible examples found in the wild which help ground the (often high level) language and explanations.

Why is the site called EmpoweredOER?

I’m glad you asked!

OER empower because OER remove the barriers to publishing. In traditional publishing, you have a “gatekeeper” – the one who decides whose voice will be heard and what they’re saying. This necessarily marginalises some voices and elevates others. However, anyone can publish an OER. Anyone can get their voice out there, can tell their own story and not have their story told by others.

OER also afford the opportunity for students to be involved in the co-creation of new knowledge and to have their own voices represented, to see themselves reflected in the material they’re studying in the classroom. One of the great examples I came across in the US was this program called Open For Antiracism (OFAR) which trains teaching staff in antiracist pedagogical practices, including the use and creation of OER as a tool to this end. One of the problems the program addresses is that materials in the classroom don’t always represent the people in the classroom. An OER can be modified, adapted, become a collaborative piece in which students can see themselves and build a sense of belonging: They’re welcome here. This course is for them. They’re not on the outside looking in.

The call for support

If you’d like to learn more about EmpoweredOER, please tune in to my upcoming webinar Demystifying inclusive OER: Practical guidance for finding and creating equitable OER which I am co-presenting with Tanya Grosz from the Open Education Network. I also gratefully welcome any feedback on the website (its content, structure, usability) and any suggested resources to include.

You can get in touch with me at Ash.Barber@unisa.edu.au or follow me on Twitter @AshTheLibrarian.

Project Management Digital Tools at University of Newcastle and University of Wollongong libraries

by Kristy Newton (Digital Literacies Coordinator, University of Wollongong Library, knewton@uow.edu.au), and the Library Business Services Team (Aimee Herridge, Cassie Connor, Shaista Poonawalla and Tahlia Kelso) with Ruth Cameron (Coordinator, Digital Library Programs, University of Newcastle Library, ruth.cameron@newcastle.edu.au)

Two members of CAUL’s Digital Dexterity Champions group had a chat about the different project management tools we use in our libraries. You might like to read about what we found: 

University of Newcastle Library – the Project Management Toolkit 

Screenshot of the Project Management Toolkit in our Library Hub SharePoint site

What is it?

Library staff can use the digital toolkit to learn more about what a project is, how to propose and gain approval for a project, and the library’s project lifecycle (including a current project register). Templates have been created for each phase of the project lifecycle to help staff to manage their projects successfully. There is even a Tools and Training page which links out to further training for staff who want to learn more. 

Our Library Business Services team put the toolkit together so that we can standardise the project approval process, ensure that library projects are managed consistently, and follow best practice project management processes. The toolkit aligns with existing University of Newcastle digital resources to ensure a common language and consistent approach. 

How long did it take to build?

Approximately one month for the toolkit itself, which will include information and training sessions for library staff in 2023 to build capability and confidence. The toolkit was refreshed in 2022 and flipped into a more interactive SharePoint site with intuitive navigation based on gateways and the project lifecycle. The templates were also updated to align with University of Newcastle brand guidelines, giving them a clean, professional finish.  

How did the team decide what to include? 

The team benchmarked practices, tools and templates within the University of Newcastle, and researched other universities’ toolkits and project management methodologies (the University of Newcastle is PRINCE2 aligned). They looked at the types of projects usually undertaken by our library staff, and applied what was appropriate for those projects. 

Do we track usage? How popular has it been? 

The team looks at analytics in SharePoint to measure toolkit and template views. Stakeholder evaluation consultation was undertaken post-implementation, for feedback prior to the toolkit being flipped into the new design. This feedback informed the design and allowed adjustments to be made to the content. 

The initial review feedback was positive. Usage was low however due to COVID-19 impacting the number of projects being launched, and we hope to see more engagement following the training sessions in 2023.  

Are the documents/templates used in different ways? 

Templates are required for project approval and endorsement under the guideline that accompanies the toolkit. Staff are required to use the templates if they have a medium to high level project, to ensure projects are properly scoped and documented for consistency. The documents are designed to be tailored to the size and scope of the project.  

Staff can refer to the inbuilt Project Lifecycle page which provides guidance on the different stages (Ideation, Planning, Delivering, Close and Review) of any project, the approval gates, and the relevant templates for each stage.  However, the purpose of each template is clear, and they are used mostly for the same purpose in each project, e.g. Project Brief and Closing Report. 

University of Wollongong (UOW) Library – Microsoft Planner 

What is it? 

UOW Library make frequent use of Microsoft Planner. As it integrates so well into Microsoft Teams there are multiple active Planners in our digital environment, with uses ranging from project management, team priorities, strategy, and even resource sharing. Planner can be used to document tasks at a high level, or more granular level. Depending on the preferences of your team/project group you can arrange it by work area, due date, project phase, or topic – the options are virtually endless. 

Are the documents/templates used in different ways? 

In a team context, Planner can be used to manage team tasks, both strategic and operational. Buckets can be set up for the various focus areas that the team is responsible for, and individual task cards in each bucket document progress against the tasks. A ‘New’ column at the beginning of the board serves as a catchall queue for new items coming to the team, and the task cards are often moved across to a bucket as a team member picks them up. Projects with a separate Planner can be included in the Team Planner as a link, rather than replicating the tasks across multiple Planners. 

A resource-based project group uses Planner to arrange resources by topic. This is less a task-based system, and more a categorisation and navigation board.  

Project groups use Planner to manage the tasks for the project, with buckets for each of the project phases. There are task cards which function as links to key external reference points such as the vendor knowledge bases, with the rest of the board being populated with a variety of project tasks assigned to relevant staff members, utilising the Checklist function to break each task down into smaller components. The Charts view (which is available in all Planners) is particularly useful in a project as it gives a visual overview of the project milestones that can be extracted for use in reporting. 

Tips for getting the most out of Planner 

Staff with assigned tasks sprinkled through multiple team and project planners can choose to view a streamlined overview of all the tasks assigned to them by adding the “Tasks by Planner and To-Do” app to their MS Teams sidebar. This app draws in tasks from multiple planners and collates them into a handy task list. From the app view, there are options to filter tasks by options such as ‘Important’ or ‘Assigned to Me’ to drill down to the highest priority tasks. 

Prefer to see all the tasks assigned to you across various Planners in a more board-like structure? Use the web view by navigating to displays to see the various project planners you are part of by navigating to the Planner of your choice in the left-hand column. Visually motivated folks will enjoy the ability to add a colourful background to the Planner in web view, too! 

Large and complex Planners can get overwhelming and details can be easily missed. Use the Filters on the top right-hand side to drill down and see only those tasks which are high priority, due soon, or assigned to a particular staff member. 

Rather than adding multiple cards for smaller steps of a task, use the Checklist within a card to track the more granular aspects like emailing a certain stakeholder, finding an image to use, setting a meeting etc. This allows you and your team to see how the task is progressing and keeps the board a little cleaner. 

So … what do I choose?

This will really depend on the nature of your project, and how your team prefers to work.  And these two different examples of project management tools are just the tip of the iceberg! Sit down with your project team and talk about what will work best, for the project and for the people involved. Remember, too, that one function of these tools is to keep management updated with what you’re doing, so choose something which is easily shareable or copied for a presentation or meeting. 

Have fun!

Learning and Engagement Librarian secondment: My year of learning

By Christina Salopek, University of Wollongong (UOW) Library. csalopek@uow.edu.au 


Collaboration. Problem solving. Digital creation. Information literacy. User experience. These words, and more, are topics that inspired and motivated me to apply for a 12-month secondment position in 2021 within the UOW Library’s Learning and Engagement team (L&E) – and, what a team! Never one to shy away from embracing opportunities of new ways of thinking and new ways of learning, I was curious to learn: 

 
(a) How does the Library L&E team iterate, develop and deliver digital learning resources?  
(b) What skills, attributes and priorities are required to be successful in the position?   

 
I was inspired by UOW Library’s Thriving Library Capabilities Framework, which guided me on the capabilities that I would need to apply effectively on a daily basis during my secondment. The capabilities of particular relevance to me were collaboration and communication. 

Collaboration, Communication and Information Literacy

Early in my secondment, it became apparent that Tuesday would be my favourite day of the working week. Why? Tuesday was the day the entire team were in the office to discuss and work collaboratively on, for example, identifying gaps in relation to student information and digital literacy; and work on, or plan, any ongoing and/or future projects to support teaching and learning. 

Screenshot of a teaching and learning support guide highlighting the services provided by the team
Image: How we can help your teaching & learning page from the Library Support for Teaching & Learning library guide.

Ongoing collaboration and communication, integral to the L&E role, were essential capabilities that provided me with a deeper insight and the practical hands-on experience I needed, to understand the tools and techniques the team applied in creating inclusive, pedagogical, online library tutorials for diverse cohorts. Brainstorming, analysing Chat transcripts and LibGuide analytics, liaising with other library team members and connecting and fostering partnerships with library stakeholders, including teaching staff and members from the Faculty of Education Committees; were just some of the capabilities I acquired (and applied) in collaboratively developing creative, online library tutorials.  

Screenshot of the library tutorials section of the teaching and learning support guide
Image: Library Tutorials page from the Library Support for Learning & Teaching library guide. 

For example, an outcome from one of my earliest Tuesday brainstorming sessions was the iteration of an infographic targeting students new to academic research, outlining the benefits and limitations of library databases and non-library databases. For me, Tuesday brainstorming sessions not only highlighted the collaborative aspect of the role and the contribution the team has made towards UOW’s blended learning enhancement initiative. It also provided me with the opportunity to share my insights and experiences from working in various capacities within an academic library, towards actively contributing to and designing an accessible online learning resource. 

Digital creation, problem solving and user experience

I love user experience (UX). I have been a long-time member of the Library UX Community of Practice. As such, user experience and my interest in designing with the user in mind is just one of the (many) reasons I applied for the L&E secondment. The team’s commitment in designing and delivering user-focused, accessible and equitable online learning resources was an opportunity for me to apply the knowledge I acquired as a result of my UX interest.  

For example, I collaborated with my L&E colleague Cate Slater in the re-design of the Library Systematic Literature Review Workbook (H5P). It was my first foray into using the H5P format in which I contributed by creating online content and interactive activities, with the purpose of delivering a sustainable and pedagogical solution based on the user needs and interactions from students and teaching staff. 

Front page of the UOW Library systematic review workbook
Image: Front cover of UOW Library’s Systematic Review Workbook 

Key takeaways

There are so many key takeaways to draw from my secondment in the Learning and Engagement team. However, in a nutshell, I have learnt from my team (Nick Zografos, Susan Jones and Cate Slater) that: 

  • Communication, collaboration and partnerships with academic teaching staff are integral to the role and to understanding the user needs of the wider UOW Learning and Teaching community 
  • Creativity, applying best practice for pedagogical solutions and keeping up to date with learning technologies are important to ensure students develop the digital and information literacy skills required for success in their studies and careers 
  • Tuesday is still my favourite day of the working week! 

In-person versus Online: A Conversation

by Peggy Hsu, Liaison Librarian, Federation University Australia, and Kayleen Wardell, Team Leader Client Services, Southern Cross University Library

Authors’ contact details: p.hsu@federation.edu.au and kayleen.wardell@scu.edu.au

Open laptop with gallery view of online meeting participants, on a desk next to a pottery cup
Photo by Chris Montgomery on Unsplash

 “The world is changed. I feel it in the water. I feel it in the earth. I smell it in the air.

Much that once was is lost, for none now live who remember it.”

J. R. R. Tolkien. The Fellowship of the Ring. 1954

It’s starting to happen again. Attending events in person and seeing friends and colleagues from other institutions face-to-face.

Kayleen and I both attended the ‘CAUL: Enabling a Modern Curriculum Conference’ in early September 2022, which had both online and in-person days to the program, so it felt like the appropriate time to interrogate and debate our thoughts on ‘in-person versus online professional development’.

Webinar fatigue

Peggy: I. Love. Webinars.

I can see a webinar from anywhere in the world. With webinars, I don’t hurt my neck or back if I’m seated sideways, and *whispers* I can run to the bathroom with my headset on and still listen to the webinar. Plus, the links and attendee chat are often interesting.

Kayleen: I. Love. In-person events.

I enjoy being in the same physical space with others and engaging with them on a very visceral level. I am energised by their enthusiasm and love working together on activities at the event. This can be exhausting, but not as much as ‘webinar fatigue’.

Connections and networking

Peggy: I am an introvert with ‘weird hearing’. I strain to filter all the conversations happening around me, plus I feel weird sidling up to a group, inserting myself and then having said difficulty hearing the conversation. Ugh!.

I also forget names, like really quickly. I’m sorry and embarrassed now.

Kayleen: For me, the most amazing part of an in-person event is meeting the people who until that moment had only been faces on a Zoom screen.

And during the breaks, it’s great to engage in ‘face to face’ serendipitous or ‘water cooler’ conversations. Especially when standing in front of the vast array of teas, trying to work out which flavour you want to try, and then finding out that the person standing next to you likes that same tea. A conversation then ensues about the other things that you have in common. Pure gold!

Costs: Money or Time (Travel)

Peggy: I’m about 90 minutes from Melbourne, so not that far. For me, the event should ideally be longer than the time it takes travelling and if it’s on the other side of Melbourne, add another hour. Plus, why are universities not near train lines?

Kayleen: I must admit that there are probably not many positives about the cost of travelling to an event in person. Unless the event is just around the corner or your boss is paying the bill. However, adding other activities to the trip, such as visiting colleagues in other libraries, can make it worthwhile.

Equity

Peggy: This article from Scientific American had some great points to make on equity provided by online events.

  • Easier access for disabled or people with children.
  • Environmentally friendlier, if you have a budget for travel.
  • Lastly, online is great for diversity.

The information that really blew my mind though was research reported by Allseated that at online scientific conferences, female attendance increased by 253% and genderqueer attendance “jumped by 700%”.

Kayleen: Peggy has raised some excellent points around specific elements of equity for attendees at online events.

There is also some great information provided by the Australian Human Rights Commission on hosting in-person meetings and events to improve the experience of attendees.

Wrap-up

There are positives and negatives to in-person and online-only events. Hybrid seems to be the way forward, but the technology may not be ready in terms of pricing, access, and ease of set-up. Still, worse, we might be stuck in a binary where the only perceived options are in-person or online, and we aren’t displaying pandemic adaptability and innovation.

References

Allseated. (n.d.). The Return to In-Person Events: What’s Changed. Allseated. Retrieved January 30, 2023, from https://allseated.com/blog/the-return-to-in-person-events-whats-changed/

Australian Human Rights Commission. (2021). Hosting accessible and inclusive in-person meetings and events. https://includeability.gov.au/resources-employers/hosting-accessible-and-inclusive-person-meetings-and-events

Liu, G. (2020, August 21). The Surprising Advantages of Virtual Conferences. Scientific American. https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/the-surprising-advantages-of-virtual-conferences/

MyHub. (2022, May 24). Water Cooler Conversation: The Essential Guide For Hybrid Workplaces. https://www.myhubintranet.com/water-cooler-conversation/

Robinson, E. (2021, April 21). Study explains ‘cocktail party effect’ in hearing impairment. OHSU. https://news.ohsu.edu/2021/04/21/study-explains-cocktail-party-effect-in-hearing-impairment

The National Press Club (n.d.). Live, Virtual or Hybrid Events – Which Approach Is Best? The National Press Club. Retrieved January 30, 2023, from https://www.press.org/live-virtual-or-hybrid-events-which-approach-best

Wilson, A. (2021, September 15). What is Webinar Fatigue and how do we manage it? Lernium. https://www.learnium.com/2021/09/15/what-is-webinar-fatigue-and-how-do-we-manage-it/

Meet the Blog Bunch

Blog Bunch, we’re the blog bunch, we’re a modern digi blog family…..

Have you ever wondered who the team is that puts this blog together? Meet the Blog Bunch!

Sara Davidsson is currently in the role of Member Services Coordinator at CAVAL Ltd. The role gives her the opportunity to advocate within areas that are close to her heart, such as professional development for staff and the importance of learning, education and literacy in the academic and wider community. Being part of the Digital Dexterity blog editorial team further adds to this effort of advocacy and content curation as the blog posts benefit the professional development of so many.

Sara is originally from Sweden, and thus has a healthy obsession with IKEA, ABBA, and pickled herring.

Emma Nelms is a liaison librarian at QUT for the Faculty of Business & Law, as well as an AI Champion, Digital Dexterity Champion, a member of the CAUL UX CoP, and the Teaching & Learning lead. She is someone who likes to know a little about a lot. Her roles are centered around connecting with and supporting the learning journey of students and staff in higher education. She is enthusiastic and curious about working effectively with digital technologies, a proponent of lifelong learning, and an advocate for the sheer thrill of engaging with ideas and knowledge. Emma’s idea of fun includes traveling, entertaining, and cycling around the Brisbane River in pursuit of good pastry. 

Emeka Anele is a Learning Designer at Deakin University Library. His role involves socialising, communicating and capability building others in digital content creation, platform usage and digital literacies. He has a strong interest in the ways people interact with library content. This blog group is another avenue for communicating interesting work in the digital space to a wider audience. Outside of work Emeka is dreaming about his next overseas adventure, which will probably be another trip to Japan.

Kristy Newton is the Digital Literacies Coordinator at UOW Library and loves to empower people with the skills and confidence to be autonomous in the digital world. She loves being in the blog group because the blog allows people to learn through sharing stories and experiences, and brings people’s voices to a wider audience. Outside libraries she plays bass in a rock band, supports community skills in permaculture, and cooks really good vegan Mexican food!

Krista Yuen is a Teaching and Learning Librarian at the University of Waikato Library in Aotearoa, New Zealand. This role sees her connecting with a wide variety of people with different interests, skills, and backgrounds. She loves exploring with digital technologies and finding or advocating for ways to build and increase people’s digital literacy skills and capabilities. Joining the Digital Dexterity blog group has allowed her to broaden her network, learn from other people’s stories and experiences and share these initiatives in a virtual space. Outside of libraries, Krista can be seen either paddling with her dragon boat team, taking too many photos of her dog, or trying out a new board game with friends

Kasthuri Anandasivam, currently the Digital Curriculum Librarian at UniSA, is dedicated to empowering individuals with the skills and confidence needed to navigate the digital world independently.

She focuses on advancing online learning environments, particularly in AI and digital literacy tools & frameworks, aiming to support innovation and scholarship.

Originally from Sri Lanka, spicy food and family hold sway in her daily life.

The Blog Bunch want to say a big THANKYOU to all our contributing authors – you’ve helped make this blog the informative and topical resource it is today! If you’ve ever wanted to contribute, 2024 could be your year! Have a chat to one of the Blog Bunch or send an email to digidexbloggroup@lists.caval.edu.au

Crypto scams will increase over the holidays – here’s what you need to know to not fall victim

by Ashish Nanda, CyberCRC Research Fellow, Centre for Cyber Security Research and Innovation (CSRI), Deakin University; Jeb Webb, Senior Research Fellow, Centre for Cyber Security Research and Innovation (CSRI), Deakin University; Jongkil Jay Jeong, CyberCRC Senior Research Fellow, Centre for Cyber Security Research and Innovation (CSRI), Deakin University; Mohammad Reza Nosouhi, CyberCRC Research Fellow, Centre for Cyber Security Research and Innovation (CSRI), Deakin University, Deakin University, and Syed Wajid Ali Shah, CSCRC Research Fellow, Centre for Cyber Security Research and Innovation, Deakin University

We loved this article from The Conversation, originally published on 14 November 2022

Each year, as the festive season arrives, we must also keep an eye out for potential scammers trying to ruin the fun. This is because scammers become more active during the holidays, targeting us while we have our guard down.

So far in 2022, Australians have lost around half a billion dollars to scams, which is already significantly more than had been lost by this time last year. The majority of these losses – around $300 million – have involved investment or cryptocurrency scams.

Researchers from Deakin University’s Centre for Cyber Security Research and Innovation had a opportunity to interview recent victims of these scams. Here is what we found.

Anyone can fall for a scam

I was shocked and could not accept that this happened to me although I was very careful […] I was numb for a couple of minutes as it was a large amount of money. – (26-year-old female office manager from South Australia)

These scams have become highly sophisticated and criminals have become less discriminating about whom they target. This is reflected in recent victim demographics, showing a wide variety of backgrounds, a more even distribution across several age groups, and an almost even split on gender.

So, how can you spot these scams and where can you get help if you have fallen victim?

If it sounds too good to be true, it might just be a scam

I was dumbfounded, to say that ground shattered under my feet would be an understatement, it will take me a very long time to recover from it, financially and mentally. – (36-year-old female, legal practitioner from Victoria)

Most crypto scams involve getting the victim to buy and send cryptocurrency to the perpetrator’s account for what appears to be a legitimate investment opportunity.

Cryptocurrency is the currency of choice for this type of crime, because it’s unregulated, untraceable and transactions cannot be reversed.

Victims of such scams are targeted using a number of different methods, which include:

Investment scams: scammers pretend to be investment managers claiming high returns on crypto investments. They get the victim to transfer over funds and escape with them.

“Pump and dump”: scammers usually hype up a new cryptocurrency or an NFT project and artificially increase its value. Once enough victims invest, the scammers sell their stake, leaving the victims with worthless cryptocurrency or NFT.

Romance scams: involves scammers using dating platforms, social media or direct messaging to engage with you, gain your trust and pitch an amazing investment opportunity promising high returns, or ask for cryptocurrency to cover medical or travel expenses.

Phishing scams: an old but still effective scam involving malicious emails or messages with links to fake websites promising huge returns on investment or just outright stealing credentials to access users’ digital currency wallets.

Ponzi schemes: a type of investment scam where the scammers use cryptocurrency gathered from multiple victims to repay high interest to some of them; when victims invest more funds, the scammers escape with all the investments.

Mining scams: scammers try and convince victims to buy cryptocurrency to use in mining more of it, while in reality there is no mining happening – the scammers just make transfers that look like returns on the investment. Over time, the victim invests more, and the scammers keep taking it all.

Although methods evolve and change, the telltale signs of a potential scam remain relatively similar:

  • very high returns with promises of little or no risk
  • proprietary or secretive strategies to gain an advantage
  • lack of liquidity, requiring a minimum accumulation amount before funds are released.

Where to seek help if you’ve been scammed

I felt helpless, I didn’t know what to do, who to reach out to, I was too embarrassed and just kept blaming myself. – (72-year-old male, accountant from Victoria)

If you think you have fallen victim to one of these scams, here is what you need to do next:

  • inform the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) here or reach out to relevant authorities as per advice on the ScamWatch website
  • reach out to your friends and family members and inform them of the scam; they can also be a source of help and support during such times
  • as these events can have a psychological impact, it’s recommended you talk to your GP, a health professional, or someone you trust
  • you can also reach out to counselling services such as LifeLine, beyond blue, Sucide Call Back Service, Mens Line, and more for help and support.

If you ever find yourself in a difficult situation, please remember help and support is available.

Finally, to prevent yourself becoming the next statistic over the holiday period, keep in mind the following advice:

  • don’t share your personal details with people online or over a call
  • don’t invest in something you don’t understand
  • if in doubt, talk to an expert or search online for resources yourself (don’t believe any links the scammers send you).

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.