Mastering Digital Librarianship

Nov 2013 | 208pp

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Mastering Digital Librarianship
Strategy, networking and discovery in academic libraries

Edited by Alison Mackenzie and Lindsey Martin

This book examines the changing roles of the librarian and how working within a rich digital environment has impacted on the ability of professionals to develop the appropriate 'know how', skills, knowledge and behaviours required in order to operate effectively.

Expert specialists and opinion-makers from around the world discuss the challenges and successes of adapting existing practices, introducing new services and working with new partners in an environment that no longer recognizes traditional boundaries and demarcation of roles.

The book is structured thematically, with a focus on three key strands where the impact of digital technologies is significant:

  • Rethinking marketing and communication – this strand looks at strategic approaches and practices which harness social media and illustrate the importance of communication and marketing activities in these new online spaces.
  • Rethinking support for academic practice – this part examines the professional expertise required of librarians who engage with and support new academic and learner practices in digitally rich teaching, learning and research environments.
  • Rethinking resource delivery – this section investigates the use of strategies to maximize access to online resources and services: harnessing system data to enhance collection management and user choice, designing and managing mobile 'friendly' learning spaces and providing virtual resources and services to an overseas campus.   

Readership: This timely and inspiring edited collection should make vital reading for librarians, library schools, departments of information science and other professional groups such as education developers, learning technologists and IT specialists.


1. Digital marketing in an outreach context - Alison Hicks 
2. Reference 2.0: evolution of virtual reference services and social media - Dawn McLoughlin and Jill Benn 
3. A service in transition: how digital technology is shaping organizational change - Rachel Bury and Helen Jamieson 


4. The impact of open and digital content on librarians’ roles in a learning and teaching context - Helen Howard 
5. Supporting early-career researchers in data management and curation - Joy Davidson 
6. Extending students’ digital capabilities: the Digital Tattoo Project - Julie Mitchell and Cindy Underhill 


7. Mobilizing your library - Dr Kay Munro, Karen Stevenson, Rosemary Stenson and Wendy Walker 
8. ‘You might also be interested in . . .’: improving discovery through recommendations - Lisa Charnock and Joy Palmer 
9. Libraries and international branch campuses in the digital environment - Moira Bent

"...a lively and engaging set of papers on current thinking and practice on developing library policy and strategy. The cleverly chosen mix of authors from ancient and modern universities, from data and learning services, from three continents and with a wide range of skills and experience demonstrate that the issues discussed and debated are of universal and not particular interest. Messages on visibility, relevance and influence abound and many of the chapters have useful case studies. Perhaps most important is the reminder that libraries are support services and their focus must be on enabling users to meet their goals not imposing the library’s goals on users."
- Liber Quarterly

"Differentiating itself from countless other books available on digital librarianship Mastering Digital Librarianship provides a thematically focussed collection of research-based essays meant to provide academic librarians with a strategic primer for adapting library services for the digital age. In purposefully compiling essays contributed by academic librarians from universities around the world, editors Alison Mackenzie and Lindsey Martin, the Dean and the Assistant Head of Learning Services at Edge Hill University have leant a global perspective to the literature on digital librarianship...Mastering Digital Librarianship is not a rudimentary overview of new technologies. No doubt to maintain the collection's purpose as a guide to key topics on digital librarianship for academic and professionals, the essays use empirical research and case studies written by seasoned professionals that quickly delve into their respective topics."
- Journal of Library & Information Services in Distance Learning

"Each chapter presents a concrete case study of one or another university and the principles guiding marketing, service provision or resource delivery activities. This is the most interesting feature of the book that turns it into an effective tool of best practice promotion and sharing."
- Information Research

"This complete tome is a great resource for librarians. Each chapter covers quite a different topic, but the book seamlessly joins them up under the context of ‘mastering digital librarianship'. Upon completion of the book the reader has had a very thorough introduction to many concepts and themes and through the variety of case studies and practitioner accounts is ready to take some of the potential discussions and solutions back into the workplace."
- MmIT Journal

"This title is easy to read, grounded in real-life practice and presents multiple approaches and strategies for librarians and those working in libraries looking to develop the requisite skills required to bring change into their practice. Failure to engage in the digital environment risks the livelihood of the library in an age of ubiquitous information. This text is a must read for anyone involved in contemporary libraries, even beyond the academic sphere."
- Australian Academic and Research Libraries

Alison Mackenzie is the Dean of Learning Services at Edge Hill University. Prior to taking up this post, she held the post of University Librarian at Bangor University, Wales, had a variety of roles at Manchester Metropolitan University and in her early career worked in art colleges and commercial practice. Alison has been active in SCONUL for a number of years, as a member and Chair of the Working Group on Information Literacy and as a contributor to the e-learning task-and-finish group. She has been active in the promotion of digital literacies and is currently managing a project on behalf of SCONUL on the development of digital scholarship skills by information professionals. She is currently Chair of the Performance Measurement and Quality strategy group.

Lindsey Martin is the Assistant Head of learning Services at Edge Hill University, responsible for the learning technologies managed and supported by Learning Services. She has overall responsibility for the virtual learning environment and its associated systems, media development, classroom AV and ICT support and ICT staff development. Lindsey has worked in academic libraries for the past 19 years in a variety of roles including liaison librarian, research coordinator and manager of SOLSTICE, Edge Hill’s HEFCE funded Centre of Excellence for Teaching and Learning. She first became involved with e-learning as an academic librarian creating e-learning modules to support colleagues and students developing information and digital literacies. Lindsey is a member of the editorial board for the SCONUL Focus journal and secretary of the Heads of eLearning Forum Steering group (HeLF).

1. Digital marketing in an outreach context - Alison Hicks

This chapter provides an overview of digital marketing and outreach in the LIS context, looking in particular at the experiences of academic libraries. Drawing on the work of David Lankes, it takes a broad approach to the library’s role in the changing information landscape, effectively situating new tools and techniques within the movement towards user-centred librarianship. Within this framework, the chapter highlights overarching themes from this outreach model, while also focusing on examples of general tools such as Twitter, mobile or location-based tools such as Foursquare and visual tools such as Pinterest. The bulk of the chapter considers the benefits, issues and impact of this process and provides examples from the aforementioned tools to illustrate major points. The chapter finishes with a series of questions that are derived from the University of Colorado, Boulder (UCB) experience and designed to help the planning process. 

2. Reference 2.0: evolution of virtual reference services and social media - Dawn McLoughlin and Jill Benn

This chapter offers an overview of the literature outlining the history of virtual reference, from email systems to what is being described as Reference 2.0 using the current phenomenon of social media tools. Taking an Australian perspective, an institutional case study contextualizes the evolution of these services and is followed by an examination of the adoption of virtual reference services in Australian academic libraries. The chapter identifies some common Reference 2.0 success factors and offers a framework to assist in the choice, development and evaluation of new digital tools for enquiry services. 

3. A service in transition: how digital technology is shaping organizational change - Rachel Bury and Helen Jamieson

This chapter describes how one UK academic library has through strategy and service planning sought to refocus attention on the user. In a critical appraisal of the distance travelled, it discusses the importance of understanding library users’ behaviour and workflows, the role of strategic marketing, how the use of digital and social media supports the library ‘brand’ and how all staff have a role to play in terms of advocacy and relationship management.

4. The impact of open and digital content on librarians’ roles in a learning and teaching context - Helen Howard

This chapter focuses on the ways in which the open movement has impacted on librarians’ roles in a learning and teaching context, primarily from a UK higher education perspective. Librarians and libraries have been influenced by and have had an impact on the open movement for many years, beginning with the provision and management of digital content in general, to specific activities around repositories for digitized and born-digital content and research outputs. The move towards Open Educational Resources (OER) has resulted in a significant volume of highquality open digital content, in addition to more general digital information and digitized resources, available free on the web. This presents two key opportunities for librarians involved in learning and teaching: first, to support and enable users to discover, reuse, manage, create and share learning and teaching resources in a global context; and second, as teachers and educators themselves, to participate in the OER movement by sharing their own teaching materials widely.

5. Supporting early-career researchers in data management and curation - Joy Davidson

While scholarly publishing remains the key means for determining researchers’ impact, international funding body requirements and government recommendations relating to research data management, sharing and preservation mean that the underlying research data is becoming increasingly valuable in its own right. This is true not only for researchers in the sciences but also in the humanities and creative arts as well. The ability to exploit their own and others’ data is emerging as a crucial skill for researchers across all disciplines. However, despite early-career researchers being ‘highly competent and ubiquitous users of information technologies generally’ there appears to be a widespread lack of understanding and uncertainty about open access and self-archiving across the research communities (Jisc, 2013). This changing landscape will impact most keenly upon academic libraries over the next few years as they work with infrastructure and support systems to identify and maintain access to an array of research data outputs. Taking a largely UK perspective and drawing upon the work of the Digital Curation Centre, this chapter will explore some of the background to what is currently a shifting research data landscape. It will provide a context for examining the role of the library as part of institutional infrastructure and consider how academic librarians might support early-career researchers.

6. Learners and digital identity: the Digital Tattoo project - Julie Mitchell and Cindy Underhill

This chapter describes the Digital Tattoo project at the University of British Columbia and its focus on supporting learners to make informed choices and extend their digital capabilities around online practices, safety and identity. The chapter provides background on this innovative project and describes the multi-professional team structure that drives the project forward and discusses benefits, challenges and what has been learned in creating and sustaining this dynamic, flexible learning resource.  It also addresses project outcomes and future directions, including highlights from a recent study conducted by the Digital Tattoo project team pertaining to student perceptions of social media and digital identity. Stretching the boundaries of traditional librarianship, the project emphasizes the role of partnership between learners, librarians and professional staff in creating an environment for ongoing innovation in an ever-changing digital landscape.

7. Mobilizing your library - Kay Munro, Karen Stevenson, Rosemary Stenson and Wendy Walker

Keeping the library relevant in an increasingly digital world presents challenges for the effective management and delivery of library services. While there are many opportunities for libraries to operate in this environment, ensuring that library services meet stakeholder needs and expectations may be best served by taking a strategic approach to service development. This chapter focuses on the role of strategy in the digital environment, using the development and implementation of a mobile strategy at the University of Glasgow library as a case study.

8. ‘You might also be interested in . . .’: improving discovery through recommendations - Lisa Charnock and Joy Palmer

With a primary focus on continuing work at Mimas, The University of Manchester, to explore how library circulation data can be aggregated and used to support research, this chapter examines how institutions in the UK are now exploiting their activity data to enhance discoverability and enable wider use of resources by surfacing and recommending library resources that users might not have ordinarily found. It will also attempt to answer whether book recommendations in library catalogues can help to alleviate student frustrations around finding resources in the library.

9.Libraries and international branch campuses in the digital environment - Moira Bent

In a globalized economy, as institutions driven by the need to maximize their income extend their reach outside their country’s borders to establish outposts around the world, what are the challenges faced by academic libraries? Does our digitally rich learning environment lead to unrealistic expectations of library support or is it an enabler to a more consistent level of access? Although much has been written about transnational education (TNE) in general, as Wang and Tremblay (2009) have recognized, there is a lack of information in the current literature about how academic libraries support their domestic students studying abroad. A review of the literature also reveals a lack of research on the ways in which the growth of overseas campuses impacts upon academic libraries on the home campus. This chapter tries to answer some of the fundamental questions posed on this topic through evidence gained from working with a university’s international branch campuses (IBCs). It illustrates some of the benefits and challenges of engaging in international activities, particularly in a digital environment. It is essential that digital capabilities are used to their greatest effect in order to fully realize the ambitions and plans of countries such as Australia, where it is government policy to grow the international student population through overseas enterprises. Alongside examples from around the world, a case study based on the experience of a UK institution, Newcastle University, is used throughout the chapter to illustrate specific points. Newcastle University in Singapore is an academic alliance with Singapore Institute of Technology, offering academic programmes, hosted in two local polytechnics, with staff and students based on either one of the sites. In total 23 Newcastle University academic staff, 38 adjunct staff (local Singaporean guest lecturers) and over 500 students are based in Singapore, supported by 10 administrative staff. Students have physical access to the two local polytechnic libraries and digital access to Newcastle resources, supported ata distance by Newcastle-based library staff.

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