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“Proud to be a Librarian” – Reflections on #CILIPSAG14

Posted by Brian Kelly on 3 November 2014

CILIP Scotland Autumn Gathering

Proud to be a librarianThe CILIP Scotland Autumn Gathering event took place in Edinburgh on Thursday 30 October 2014. Although the CILIP Scotland Web site provides information about the event, a more comprehensive set of resources can be found on the Lanyrd entry for the event, including links to speakers’ slides (where available), additional speaker information, links to archives of event tweets, etc.

“Proud to be a Librarian”

The highlight of the day’s event for me and other participants was the opening plenary talk on “Full Disclosure: Hillsborough and the human side of information work” given by Jan Perry, the CILIP Vice President (and President in the new year).

In the presentation Jan  described her work with the Hillsborough Independent Panel. This was a very moving presentation, especially for someone, like me, from Liverpool -and although I’m from the blue half of Liverpool hearing about Jan’s involvement with the independent panel for the Hillsborough disaster brought back particular strong memories as my dad died around that time.

As I commented during the talk:

Listening to talk about Hillsborough, The Sun, etc at is making me feel angry. Memories of 80s: miners strike, Thatcherism.

Others also shared their thoughts on the presentation, including @AminaTShah who began by commenting that:

Jan Parry describing her role in the Hillsborough enquiry and proving information really is power.

and went on to report how:

Liverpool libraries helped families who lost loved ones in the Hillsborough disaster search for information online

and @bainofmylife who tweeted:

the small decisions, personal and political, documented and less so behind Hillsborough – sobering

But the comment which summarised the positive aspects of Jan’s talk was made by @libraries4us who concluded on a positive note:

Proud to be a Librarian today after hearing about their contribution to the Hillsborough Independent Panel

Unfortunately there was no time for questions but over the coffee break I was able to thank Jan for her talk; she told me that I was not alone in my emotional response to the talk.

“[The] current attack on libraries is part of a wider movement against people without money”

Tweets about Alan Bissett at CILIPS Autumn Gathering

The final plenary talk at the event was also full of passion.  Alan Bissett, author and playwright, provided the final keynote talk and was passionate about his belief in the importance of public libraries. Alan’s talk was more overtly political than Jan Perry’s but resonated with many in the audience, with @Miss_Horan7 commenting:

Thought provoking and powerful stuff at today’s How do we distill @alanbissett to share him round Scottish librarians?

and @JLMacfadyen concluding:

Final thought from Alan Bissett: current attack on libraries is part of a wider movement against people without money …

The Role of Library Professionals  in Light of Such Political Considerations

As I have described the CILIPS Autumn Gathering began and concluded with plenary talks which had political connotations for information professionals. The third plenary talk, on “Be Informed: Recent changes to Copyright Law“, also had interesting implications for information professionals with Jason Miles-Campbell, manager of the JISC Legal service, pointing out that “the fact that our system of communication, teaching and entertainment does not grind to a standstill is in large part due to the fact that in most cases infringement of copyright has, historically, been ignored.

The reminder of the CILIPS Autumn Gathering consisted of parallel sessions. As I mentioned previously I had been invited to facilitate a session on “Why and How Librarians Should Engage With Wikipedia”.

The day before the event began a tweet from @CILIPScotland explained:

We’d like to see our organisation documented on . Can @briankelly inspire you to help?

During the session I gave reasons why librarians should engage actively with Wikipedia, not only understanding some of the hidden secrets behind the service but also  why they should be willing to update Wikipedia articles and even create new articles.

The suggestion that there should be a Wikipedia article provided an opportunity to address issues of neutrality and the Wikipedia principal regarding a Neutral Point of View (NPOV).  As described on the Wikipedia Web site:

Editing from a neutral point of view (NPOV) means representing fairly, proportionately, and, as far as possible, without bias, all of the significant views that have been published by reliable sources on a topic. All Wikipedia articles and other encyclopedic content must be written from a neutral point of view. NPOV is a fundamental principle of Wikipedia and of other Wikimedia projects. This policy is nonnegotiable and all editors and articles must follow it.

Prior to discussing the creation of an article, I updated the Wikipedia article for CILIP to include details of the membership numbers since CILIP was founded in 2002.  As can be seen from the figures shown below there has been a drop in the membership numbers every year since CILIP was founded (note where possible the figures have been taken from CILIP annual reports but not all annual reports are available).

2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014
CILIP members nos. ~23,000 22,689 N.A. (20,373) N.A. 19,206 18,490 17,634 17,192 15,705 14,555 13,974 13,470

The decline in CILIP membership numbers has been a bone of contention over recent years. It would probably therefore be inappropriate for a Wikipedia user who is employed by CILIP to comment on the membership trends, as this would conflict with the neutral point of view principle. I would, however, suggest that if a CILIP employee has access to membership numbers for 2002 and 2004-2006 these could be added to the table,  ideally with a comment on the talk page declared a vested interest.

CILIPS Wikipedia articleI used this example when I address the suggestions that there should be a Wikipedia article for CILIPS.

Initially I asked whether CILIPS, the CILIP in Scotland organisation should be regarded as sufficiently notable to have its own Wikipedia article. As described in Wikipedia:

On Wikipedia, notability is a test used by editors to decide whether a given topic warrants its own article. Information on Wikipedia must be verifiable; if no reliable third-party sources can be found on a topic, then it should not have a separate article. Wikipedia’s concept of notability applies this basic standard to avoid indiscriminate inclusion of topics. Article and list topics must be notable, or “worthy of notice”. Determining notability does not necessarily depend on things such as fame, importance, or popularity—although those may enhance the acceptability of a subject that meets the guidelines explained below.

However in discussions I discovered that CILIPS has its own governance, its own web site and as involved in consultations with the Scottish Parliament for the development of the National Library of Scotland Bill 2011. This would seem to make it appropriate for there to be a Wikipedia article for CILIPS.

We then discussed the need for content to be provided by contributors who have a neutral point of view. I suggested that the talk page for the CILIP article could provide a forum for discussions about the creation and evolution of a CILIPS article.

However as I concluded the session I was informed that a CILIPS article already exists! The Wikipedia article, entitled Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals in Scotland, is shown. Looking at the history for the page we can see that it was created on 5 November 2013. However on 9 August 2014 it was proposed that the article should be deleted. In response one user “added a reference to a Scottish Parliament document. I believe this organization is sufficiently notable to remain given that they were consulted in writing a national library bill.” It would appear that this information provide sufficient evidence of the notability of the organisation.

Conclusions: The Importance of Librarians’ Trustworthiness

I began this post by describing two plenary talks which described organisations (the police force and the Labour party in Scotland) whose reputations have been undermined through a loss of trust. We are not in that position with libraries. And yet librarians and information professional should not rest on their laurels. In my talk (the slides are available on Slideshare and embedded below) I spoke about the close parallels between librarians and Wikipedia, both of which aim to provide neutral and unbiased access to information. Wikipedia had documented its core principles which aim to ensure that Wikipedia provides a neutral source of information.

A while ago I came across an article entitled “So who’s editing the SNHU Wikipedia page?” which described how analysis of editing patterns and deviations from the norm may be indicative of inappropriate Wikipedia editing strategies, such as pay-for updates to institutional Wikipedia articles.

The article  pointed out how the PR sector has responded to criticisms that PR companies have been failing to abide by the Wikimedia Foundation’s terms of use: Top PR Firms Promise They Won’t Edit Clients’ Wikipedia Entries on the Sly. The article describes the Statement on Wikipedia from participating communications firms which is hosted on Wikipedia. The following statement was issued in 10 June 2014:

On behalf of our firms, we recognize Wikipedia’s unique and important role as a public knowledge resource. We also acknowledge that the prior actions of some in our industry have led to a challenging relationship with the community of Wikipedia editors.

Our firms believe that it is in the best interest of our industry, and Wikipedia users at large, that Wikipedia fulfil its mission of developing an accurate and objective online encyclopedia. Therefore, it is wise for communications professionals to follow Wikipedia policies as part of ethical engagement practices.

We therefore publicly state and commit, on behalf of our respective firms, to the best of our ability, to abide by the following principles:

  • To seek to better understand the fundamental principles guiding Wikipedia and other Wikimedia projects.
  • To act in accordance with Wikipedia’s policies and guidelines, particularly those related to “conflict of interest.”
  • To abide by the Wikimedia Foundation’s Terms of Use.
  • To the extent we become aware of potential violations of Wikipedia policies by our respective firms, to investigate the matter and seek corrective action, as appropriate and consistent with our policies.
  • Beyond our own firms, to take steps to publicize our views and counsel our clients and peers to conduct themselves accordingly.

We also seek opportunities for a productive and transparent dialogue with Wikipedia editors, inasmuch as we can provide accurate, up-to-date, and verifiable information that helps Wikipedia better achieve its goals.

A significant improvement in relations between our two communities may not occur quickly or easily, but it is our intention to do what we can to create a long-term positive change and contribute toward Wikipedia’s continued success.

If we wish to maintain the level of trust which librarians currently possess and we wish to see librarians supporting use of Wikipedia, should there be a similar statement of neutrality for those who are members of CILIP and CILIPS?


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Wikipedia, Librarians and CILIP

Posted by Brian Kelly on 19 August 2014

Wikipedia and Librarians

Wikipedia article in CILIP UpdateWikipedia is important for librarians. A month ago in a post entitled Wikipedia and Information Literacy Article in CILIP Update I reported on an article published in CILIP Update about the role Wikipedia can play in information literacy. At the time the article was only available to CILIP members. However after a short embargo period I’m pleased to announce that a copy of the article is now freely available on Google Docs.

The article describes how:

Popular, ubiquitous, if often contested, Wikipedia can highlight many aspects of information literacy and librarians can use Wikipedia-related IL activities to provide practical training sessions for users.

However it is not just librarians with responsibilities for information literacy who should have interests in Wikipedia. The recent international Wikipedia conference, Wikimania 2014, hosted several sessions on the relevance of Wikipedia and related Wikimedia projects for those working in the GLAM (Galleries, Libraries, Archives and Museums) sector including sessions entitled Creative Content, Evaluation, Organisations, Sources, Partnerships, Ecosystems, Models and Local. It seems there were no fewer that 20 individual GLAM sessions which were held including one which had the intriguing title “The Future of Libraries and Wikipedia“. The abstract for this session describes how:

Theoretically and strategically, Libraries and Wikipedia are natural allies. This relationship directly impacts our core activity of research and editing. Libraries are the ‘source of sources’, and Wikipedia is only as good as its sources. Meanwhile, Wikipedia has the viewership that libraries crave to bring people to their doors to do deeper research. By connecting Libraries and Wikipedia we can complete a virtuous circle of research and dissemination.

Encouraging Librarians to Be Creators and Not Just Consumers on Wikipedia

In addition to the sessions on Wikipedia I facilitated at the LILAC 2014 conference over the past year I have given several talks about Wikipedia including an invited plenary talk on “Editing Wikipedia: Why You Should and How You Can Support Your Users” at the CILIP Wales 2014 conference – a talk which was complemented by a blog post which provided Top Wikipedia Tips for Librarians: Why You Should Contribute and How You Can Support Your Users.

CILIP article in WikipediaDuring the talk I encouraged participants to make use of the WiFi network to sign up for a Wikipedia account. I was pleased that during the talk one delegate announced:

Inspired by to create Wikipedia account!!

I also suggested that those who had a interest in and a desire to make updates to Wikipedia articles they could do so during my talk. I pointed out that, as shown, the CILIP article in Wikipedia included slightly dated membership details from 2012 which could usefully be updated. However I pointed out the Wikipedia neutral point of view (NPOV) principle which means “representing fairly, proportionately, and, as far as possible, without bias, all of the significant views that have been published by reliable sources on a topic“.

One way of minimising risks of sub-conscious biases in articles is to ensure that content is provided by those who do not have direct involvement with the subject area of an article. For an article about an organisation it would therefore be appropriate for an article about CILIP should be updated by editors who are not employed by the organisation.

CILIP Membership Numbers Since Its Foundation

The Importance of CILIP Membership Data

A recent blog post by Barbara Band, the CILIP President, highlighted the importance of data about CILIP’s membership numbers. In a discussion about an apparent decline in membership numbers over recent years Barbara point out that:

The problem I have is with the statement about CILIP membership being at its lowest … the person stating this has selected the year 2010 as the benchmark. Why? Why not 2007 or 2004? Why not take the year that CILIP was last the LA and use those figures?

Following a recent Twitter discussion about CILIP membership numbers that CILIP Wikipedia article was updated: the article now states that “CILIP has 13,470 members as of May 2014″ and cites the CILIP “Financial and membership report 8th July 2014″ report (PDF format) as the source of this figure.

However although this information comes from a reliable source and was added by a Wikipedia contributor who is not employed by CILIP this information by itself does not address the suggestion made by Barbara Band that there is a need for membership numbers since CILIP was founded (in 2002) in order to be able to have an informed discussion on trends in membership numbers.

CILIP membership numbers: 2010-2014I was told by a member of CILIP that information on membership numbers is available on the CILIP web site but is not easy to find. The information can be found in the Annual reports and accounts (note since the reports are in PDF format the information cannot be found using the CILIP web site’s search facility).

The “Year end 2013 Financial report item 13 March 2014″ (PDF format) provides, in Appendix D, the CILIP Membership Statistics as at 28th February 2014.

The appendix includes details of the monthly membership numbers from January 2010 to February 2014. A graph of the membership numbers, taken from the report, is shown.

It was interesting to note that this image contained the following interpretation of the decline in membership numbers from 17,857 in January 2010 to 13, 756 I February 2014:

Trends
Looking at the year on year graph of membership figure, 2014 continues to reflect positive trends compared with previous years, but this will become more realistic as the year progresses.

I would interpret the graph as indicating a sharp decrease in membership numbers in spring (possibly when annual subscriptions must be paid) with a much smaller increase in numbers over the rest of the year, perhaps when new members join.

Finding Further Information

Although this information is useful it does not answer the question posed by Barbara Band when she said “the person stating this has selected the year 2010 as the benchmark. Why? Why not 2007 or 2004? Why not take the year that CILIP was last the LA and use those figures?

An intriguing question for an information profession might be “How would you find the membership numbers of an organisation which has been in existence since 2002?” My initial attempt at using annual reports on, in this case CILIP’s Web site only provided relevant information for since 2010 – I understand that the CILIP web site may have been relaunched around this time, with old content lost.

My next attempt was therefore to use the Internet Archive. I found an archived copy of the Annual Report captured on 5 December 2008 which contained links to annual reports for 2005, 2006 and 2007. However the reports themselves (which were in PDF format) were not captured :-) However from the Internet Archive I managed to find an archived copy of the CILIP Membership page captured on 2 December 2002 which stated “CILIP is the professional Membership body of choice for around 23,000 Members“. Although this isn’t an authoritative figure it does provide an indication of the size of the organisation around the time it was established.

My fourth attempt was to make use of another Web archiving service – the UK Web Archive. I was able to find an archived page of CILIP’s Annual reports and accounts captured on 7 October 2008. However the Annual Report and Account 2006 (PDF format) does not provide membership numbers. Instead the figures are hidden within the statement:

If CILIP members, consumers, e-subscribers and stakeholders are taken together, then the CILIP community encompasses over 40,000 people who give their support to CILIP.

However even this bland statement is better than the Annual Report and Account 2005 (PDF format) which simply states:

The forthcoming year will see a renewed focus on membership growth

My final attempt at finding this information isn’t based on using an advanced search engine. Rather I’m seeking to make use of the ‘wisdom of the crowds’. If you’re reading this blog post and you were a member of CILIP between 2002 and 2010 perhaps you may still have copies of official CILIP papers which may contain information on CILIP membership figures during this period. If so, I would invite you to share this information, either as a comment on this post or, preferably, by updating the CILIP article on Wikipedia or the CILIP article’s Talk page. Use of the Talk page would be particularly appropriate if you are new to Wikipedia and are unsure as to the processes for updating content and ensuring that content is provided from a neutral point of view.

Note that the talk page currently contains the following information on CILIP membership numbers [N.A. means Not Available]:

2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013
Nos. of members ~23,000 N.A. N.A. N.A. N.A. N.A. N.A. N.A. 17,192 15,705 14,555 13,974

CILIP infobox on WikipediaAs its name suggests the Talk page, which every Wikipedia article has, can be used for discussions about the Wikipedia article. In addition to the thoughts I have added on finding sources for CILIP membership numbers, I have also added a section on “Additional Information for the CILIP Wikipedia Article” which invited suggestions for further developments to the page.

In addition to including further textual information and images to the article another development to the article could be further factual information provided to the article’s ‘info box’. As illustrated this currently contains the name and abbreviation of the organisation, its logo, foundation date and URL for the CILIP web site.

Looking at the American Library Association Wikipedia article for ideas, perhaps additional information such as location (London), region covered (UK), budget, numbers of staff and names of the president and other senior figures could also be provided.

It should be noted that, unlike the content provided in the main body of Wikipedia articles, the information provided in info boxes is harvested by the DBpedia service and made available as Linked Data which enables structured queries to be carried out on the information. Librarians and information professionals, in particular, will appreciate the benefits to be gained from carrying out structured queries!

Final Reflections

I was surprised how hard it was to find information on the membership number. However the exercise has highlighted some issues which I feel should be considered by those with responsibilities for managing organisational web sites:

  • It can be useful to pro-actively ensure that the content of your web site is archived by a service such as the UK Web Archive prior to any Web site redevelopment work.
  • Important information can be hidden in PDF files. Although PDF is an open standard and is suitable for archival purposes, the Web-based archiving infrastructure works better with Web-native file formats (i.e. HTML). In addition content held in PDF files may be hidden from search engines.

So although finding the information is proving difficult, the exercise has been useful in identifying some best practices for web site management which I hadn’t previously considered. In addition I have discovered the value of the Internet Archive and the UK Web Archive in ding content which has vanished from live web sites.

Finally, I hope that trusting the ‘wisdom of the crowds’ will help in finding the missing information and being able to respond to Barbara Band’s request that we “take the year that CILIP was last the LA and use those figures?“. Over to you!


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Wikipedia and Information Literacy Article in CILIP Update

Posted by Brian Kelly on 10 July 2014

Wikipedia and Information Literacy

Wikipedia article in CILIP UpdateThe current issue of CILIP Update (access restricted to CILIP members and subscribers) features a two-page article entitled “Wikipedia and Information Literacy“. The article, which was written by myself, Nancy Graham and Andrew Gray is based on the Wikipedia workshop sessions and talks which we gave at the LILAC 2014 conference in Sheffield in April 2014.

The article is aimed at librarians, especially those with interests in information literacy.  As we described in order to address the pressures to do more in the time available for learning information literacy:

It is a good idea to consider use of resources and methods which are: a) already in widespread use; b) with which readers already have a positive relationship; and c) which can be used to demonstrate multiple aspects of information literacy within a single context.

The article goes on to point out that:

One such resource is the ubiquitous and popular – if often contested – Wikipedia. The ways in which Wikipedia is constructed and operates allows it to highlight many aspects of information literacy, while its high profile and broad subject base mean that users are likely to have some familiarity with it. In effect, we can take the information literacy question to where our readers are already going!

Wikipedia Sessions at LILAC 2014

The sessions we facilitated at the LILAC 2014 conference began with a presentation by Nancy and Andrew on “Wikipedia: it’s not the evil elephant in the library reading room” (see the slides on Slideshare which are embedded at the bottom of this post).

We then facilitated two workshops sessions: a practical session in which participants could signup for a Wikipedia account and familiarise themelevs with basic Wikipedia markup and the Wikipedia culture followed by an edit-a-thon in which participants looked at ways in which the existing Information Literacy Wikipedia article could be updated.

What Next?

Rather than updating the existing Information Literacy article we decided to create a new page which addresses information literacy from a UK perspective.  The fledgling page is available but, as can be seen, this is a work in progress. We urge librarians with an interest in information literacy to sign up to Wikipedia and contribute to this section.

The slides on Wikipedia: it’s not the evil elephant in the library reading room are available on Slideshare and embedded below.

 

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