Mendeley

For my fourth library technology recommendation for the University of New Zealand, I want to return to the students and focus on a reference management system for our library, Mendeley.

Mendeley

Technology:

Mendeley is a programme designed for research that helps you store articles and lets you discover the latest research – based on what you are currently studying or reading. Aaron Tay writes two posts recommending Mendeley, emphasising its usefulness in tracking articles and sharing resources with similarly-minded people. It was started by three PHD students, frustrated in the lack of tools to share, organise and find new resources easily and now has millions of users and an application for handheld devices.

To understand Mendeley, I have attached an article by Alison Hicks to help you understand the basic functions, pricing plans and the thought process behind it. Recently, it has expanded to include social aspects with groups and research interests able to be listed on your profile and it now gives you the ability to add people and share resources. Sian Harris also details its growth and merge with Swets to integrate with library holdings and their provision of usage analysis to the libraries that integrate with it, benefiting us as well.

Advantages:

Mendeley Screencap

Mendeley Screencap

Mendeley is something that our institution should invest in for the student’s sake. It has a relatively cheap institutional edition, loaded with premium features for us to take advantage of and introduce our students to a more refined and thorough tool than Google Scholar. It will not only upskill our staff but also assist students to find articles, literature and studies for their assessments. They can import citations and share them with others with similar interests and in comparison to its counterparts like Zotero, it is more user-friendly, writes Drew Thomas, highlighting the ability to read documents, highlight sections and also the user interaction and ability to log in from different devices and manage a lot of the work involved from anywhere.

Disadvantages:

Mendeley is not the necessarily the best reference management system out there and Joeran Beel has carried out a comprehensive comparison on the three most common systems with Mendeley’s main faults being the price and the lack of open source software.

Summary from Beel's Report

Summary from Beel’s Report

Conclusion:

However, the reason I have chosen to recommend Mendeley as our reference management software is because of several key reasons pointed out by Beel and backed up by April Lawrence. It is both a management system and a recommender system, enabling our students to find other research more quickly and share their own discoveries. The social media aspect would attract our students and encourage higher usership, while the app makes it easier to access regularly and understand for the upcoming generations of students. This would be a worthwhile investment from the University of New Zealand and encourage our students to broaden their research horizons and lead to better results for them and us, as an institution.

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Yammer

yammer-logo-ps3

My last two posts have been designed to inform you of technological advancements being made in the world of libraries that will help our students benefit from their library, however this latest post is about our staff increasing our use of social media to develop stronger connections within our network.

The Technology:

Yammer is a private social media network that allows an organisation’s staff to be able to collaborate on projects and ideas, in and out of the workplace outside of commercial public networks like Facebook and Twitter. Mary Branscombe gives a well-rounded introduction to Yammer and the usefulness it has for businesses today. I believe it would be a relevant addition to our institution’s communication and project management.

Advantages:

Yammer is a social media channel that enables communication on different levels. In our organisation it would be a usefull technology for bringing together our five different buildings, work streams and projects onto one platform. Yammer can then have groups created for specific purposes. This would help us speed up our communication and be inclusive to all. Yammer is also able to be downloaded onto phones with an app and is easily accessed from outside the workplace.

Yammer Front Page Example

Yammer Front Page Example

Robert Noble writes that companies that use Yammer find that employees feel more included, thanks to an ability to search through entire conversations, an ability to post events, create polls and even unleash their ‘hidden expertise’. Karl Morgan reiterates the importance and benefits of its collaborative design and points out that its interface is similar to Facebook, allowing for familiarity and very little training required.

Disadvantages:

Yammer has recently been brought by Microsoft and integrated into their Office365 software package under ‘freemium’ terms where as the company network grows, you pay for more sophisticated features writes Michael Liedtke. Tony Redmond thinks that Yammer is actually not quite there yet in terms of what it should do and argues that it is just one of a growing list of options for staff to communicate and share, therefore rendering it ineffective. He believes that all can still be done through email,  but ignores that Yammer is different and more interactive than email technology. In libraries, there is a shortage of staff time to log on to it, thus missing out on vital information and falling out of habit with it, however this merely requires stricter management and rostered time for Yammer.

An advertisement demonstrating the benefits of Yammer.

Conclusion:

Yammer is not the catch-all digital workspace that people are looking for, however for our institution, spread across a large campus, it would be an ideal technology to purchase and train our staff in using. It’s a valuable tool when utilised properly and this would be done by ensuring our staff know what to do and are regular users of it, thus creating a digitally literate team of informed individuals.

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Bluetooth Beacon Technology

The second technology I am proposing we install is about interacting with our students in order to increase our relevance in the digital age. Bluetooth Beacon Technology is new in the world of libraries, but could be be the dominant way of interacting with our students in the near future.

beaconreceiver

What is it?

Bluetooth Beacon technology is a recent development that focuses on attracting our smart-phone focused population to what’s going on in our library by planting beacons that send out a Bluetooth signal to passing phones with a particular app installed. This signal could be simple information about what’s coming up at the library or it can be integrated with our current library app to alert them to their account status and any alerts they need to receive. Claire Swedberg has written an article about the implementation of it in several libraries across America and gives a concise account of the process and technology involved.

Why?

In today’s world, we are struggling to remain relevant and in order to combat this, we have to speak to them in their own language. These days, most of our students have some form of smart phone and most have the ability to download apps. They are generally glued to their phones and spend a lot of time on campus and these Bluetooth beacons would be a good way to interact with those who are not utilising the library fully.

Bluetooth Beacon

Bluetooth Beacon Technology in Action

Matt Enis writes about the innovative ways that public libraries are using it and while their ideas are great, our organisation could use it to encourage use of our spaces, coordinate study groups and help people find appropriate resources for their studies.

Technology:

Beacon Examples evident in the report

Beacon Examples evident in the report

I’ve attached a simple report on Bluetooth Beacon technology including an introduction to the beacons, their size, range and cost to illustrate how simple this would be for us to implement. The beacons are relatively cheap, send out one-way signals to smart phones with Bluetooth capability (over 90% of today’s smart phones) and would alert those with the relevant app – available from the app/play store. Bluetooth’s aim is to send small amounts of data to phones, meaning students wouldn’t be wasting large amounts of data and it could be easily customised to your interests/study.

Concerns:

The only foreseeable issue would be concerns around patron’s privacy and access to their phone. However, the bluubeam app has no access to any of the patron’s information and merely transmits information relevant to our library while the patron-specific CapiraMobile application available has an extensive privacy policy and offers you a range of options in terms of the alerts you’d like to receive.

cpairabluebeam

Conclusion:

The overall advantages to this new and exciting technology are huge. With growing awareness around the capability and popularity of smart phones, there are few limits to the outreach opportunities available and it seems like an exciting and relevant technology to bring to our students with very few drawbacks.

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Introducing RFID to the University of New Zealand

A Basic RFID Tag

A Basic RFID Tag

Dear Staff,

As you know, since taking over as the technology manager at the library of the University of New Zealand, I have been tasked with informing you of new technologies that I believe would benefit the library management system at the University.

RFID in Our Library:

The first and most vital technology update that needs to happen is the updating of our library security system from Tattle Tape and barcodes to RFID or Radio-frequency identification in order to stay relevant as an organisation facing the digital age.

Advantages:

RFID is a growing trend in libraries around the world and brings many benefits with it, including a reduction in our circulation duties and more options for customers to help themselves with self-checkouts and self-return machines, leaving our time free to answer questions and carry out more important work developing our library.

Karen Coyle writes an excellent article outlining the management of RFID in libraries today and this is an essential read for all staff. She outlines that RFID is not merely restricted to libraries and is actually prevalent throughout society from clothing security in retail stores to the chips used to trace animals. No staff member here can truly say that they have had no experience with RFID technology.

Survey of Organisations Using RFID

Mick Fortune’s Survey of Organisations Using RFID

A shift to RFID technology will not constitute major changes for our Library Management system, Sierra. This is illustrated well in several posts by RFID champion, Mick Fortune, who reiterates that it is merely a system designed to maintain the security and faster management of items. All decisions around loaning periods, overdues and requests are controlled by our LMS rather than the tag. Fortune has also carried out extensive surveys on libraries using RFID and is tracking the increase in libraries using the system, with academic libraries placing second.

Disadvantages:

RFID is not without its drawbacks and these have been extensively covered by many writers, including Richard Boss, who presented to the American Library Association on this issue and it includes a high cost for our organisation and a retraining of all our staff as well as  educating our students in the new system. The cost of each RFID tag is relatively high in relation to our current system and with our large collection, it would require a significant investment from the University to fund it. Sally Egloff has done some estimates on the cost of transferring a collection of our size over to RFID and it is not insignificant.

Conclusion:

However, despite the costs and time involved, it is my firm belief that these will be outweighed by the eventual benefits to the organisation. Stephanie Handy has prepared a well-thought out report on the advantages and disadvantages of implementing RFID and this concludes with the benefits to the performance of the organisation outweighing the time and cost involved in such a transition. You should also read this interview with Chien-ju Chou of Taipei Public Library who recently implemented RFID and the benefits it has brought to their system, ways of working and customer interactions and imagine it doing the same for our organisation.

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