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Last Wednesday, I attended the annual MSc presentation day.  This is organised by AULIC, a consortium of universities, and is a bilaterally useful event.  Recent graduates of the UWE course have the opportunity to present their research to practising colleagues, and we get to hear about research in a varied range of topics.  I went last year, and found it so inspiring, I thought I’d go again this year.  I was not disappointed.

Midwifery blogs: a portrait of bloggers and their information practices

Jennie Roe spoke first, and her topic was the one I was least familiar with.  However, her survey of informational (or ‘filter’) blogs was very accessible, and many of the issues she had uncovered resonated with my experiences of both blogging in a professional context and finding childbirth information on the Internet.  There were a small number of midwifery blogs ranging from those produced by organizations, to a personal blog giving information about DIY midwifery(!).  One aspect that really stood out though was that there was a significant trend of linking to each other’s blogs, creating a midwifery echo chamber that sounded very familiar from the library blog context.

Word problems: investigating modern methods of classification

Dom Fripp spoke about his research into automated text analysis, and ways this can be used to classify documents with less human interaction.  Rather than scaring us all with technical detail, he focused on the kinds of technologies currently available, and why they might be useful.  His presentation used diagrams to illustrate what he was talking about, which worked very well, as a few of the concepts would have been quite hard to understand otherwise.  It was easy to see from his presentation how long-established theories of classification applied equally well to the machine-processing of documents.  He wrote an article, “Using linked data to classify web documents“, which reads along similar lines, and is definitely worth picking up.

Cataloguing the curriculum: cataloguing and classification education on Library and Information Studies (LIS) courses

Megan Wiley explored the approaches to and availability of cataloguing and classification education in UK LIS courses.  She used information freely available online, as she was interested in the kind of information prospective students would have access to while deciding on a course to study.  After analysing the offerings, and ranking them with regard to whether the focus was more traditional or modern, she contrasted two courses, which seemed to be at different ends of the scale.  She checked the information she had against the reality by interviewing course tutors, and found that the courses did not differ as much as the course descriptions suggested, but there did seem to be significant differences in the institutional situation, particularly the amount of contact time available, which affected the kind of approach they could take.

The importance of sharing knowledge in an aging workforce: a public library perspective.

Jenny Wilcockson explored the area of knowledge management in a public library setting.  She looked at the problem of capturing knowledge from soon-to-retire librarians, and how her local authority managed the knowledge-sharing process.  Through interviewing those planning to retire, young librarians and senior managers, she was able to paint a picture of the culture, and identified the areas in which the authority could improve their approach.  Being a rural area, opportunities for informal knowledge sharing were particularly difficult, and needed planning as much as formal interactions.  There was also an uneven approach to development, with experienced staff not routinely being encouraged to share their expertise with newer members of staff, resulting in the information not being shared at all.  Jenny finished with a set of recommendations for improving the situation.

Overall, I found the morning very interesting, with all four dissertations being enthusiastically presented, in a way that was clear for the audience.  I was left with a little more inspiration for my research proposal, and it was also really good to see Jenny and Dom again, and to meet Megan, with whom I had exchanged emails a few times.

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