All posts by Rachel J. Kirkwood

About Rachel J. Kirkwood

I am Collection Development Manager at the University of Manchester Library where I lead the Collection Development & Stock Management Team. My approach involves gathering all possible relevant data about our collections and users, and putting it to good, automated use, (combined with human/academic expertise where appropriate) in support of dynamic techniques of content curation. I am particularly interested in the ways the Library can support digital humanities research. In my spare time I'm researching my PhD project on metaphor in 17thC Quaker writings (with a digital humanities aspect, naturally). I'm honorary Quaker chaplain to Manchester's universities, and a member of the UML's Equality, Diversity & Inclusion group.

New data skills course for librarians

Want to improve your data skills and know more about statistics? The University of Manchester Library has teamed up with the Cathie Marsh Institute for Social Research (CMIST) to offer a new course. ‘Statistics for Librarians’ will run on March 20 in Manchester..  Participants completing the course will be awarded a CMIST, University of Manchester, Data Skills certificate.

All the details (and facility to book) are at http://estore.manchester.ac.uk/browse/product.asp?compid=1&modid=2&catid=416

Last booking date is this Friday 6 March.

 

Discovering art at JRRI

Discovering art at the John Rylands Research Institute

Fireworks in the evening were anticipated by some stunning visual material at the  John Rylands Research Institute in the afternoon. The fifth of November saw a group of ‘conspirators’ assemble in the Christie Room for the opening event in a new series.

Museum-quality visual collections

Series convenor Dr Elizabeth Upper, Research Associate, writes:

Study group at the John Rylands Library
Study group at the John Rylands Library

The research showcase will introduce the wealth of projects that are already being undertaken at the new John Rylands Research Institute. It aims to introduce The John Rylands Research Institute’s world-class resources and researcher support to scholars working in disciplines from medieval studies to avant-garde literature, from papyrology to photography. The format of several brief (10-minute) presentations from researchers (including Institute and Library staff) gives insight to a variety of approaches and resources on the topics covered by each seminar. “The Rylands” is far more than just a library, and I’m particularly delighted that this first seminar showcased how The John Rylands Research Institute is enabling research into The John Rylands Library’s museum-quality visual collections. I hope the series excites researchers about how they can engage with the Institute’s activities and collections – especially those who wouldn’t necessarily turn to a library to look for primary material in the first instance.

The Tree of Salvation

Dr Irene O’Daly, Research Associate writes:

manuscript "MS Latin 18"
MS lat. 18 – and that’s just the half of it!

MS Latin 18, dubbed by M.R. James ‘The Tree of Salvation’ in his catalogue of the Rylands Latin Manuscript Collection (1921), is a parchment roll dating from the late 14th century. It’s a particularly large item, measuring nearly 640cm long and 85cm wide, despite existing in a partial state of preservation. It consists of a diagram of a tree decorated with biblical quotations and scenes. During my time as a research associate I’m hoping to assess both the visual and textual content of it, with a particular focus on three areas: I’m interested in the relationship of the form of the roll to its function, the visual and linguistic application of the metaphor of the tree throughout, and how it was used as a prayer or meditational device.

Limited blog space doesn’t allow me to do justice to another very large item, a Mariette album of prints by Marcantonio Raimondi for the Earl of Spencer, unseen for a century but found and enthusiastically described by Dr Edward Wouk, lecturer in Art History ; or indeed the overview of the surprisingly rich and broad visual collections, notably the vast photographic collections (including equipment) and ‘evocative objects’, given by Visual Collections & Academic Engagement Manager Stella Halkyard.

Siege of Troy: Hector and Achilles

Improving research outcomes with Early European (and English) Books

Early European Books website
Screen capture of the Early European Books website

It’s not often that a single event appeals to three of my interests, but the recent Jisc-ProQuest symposium on Early European Books Online did just that. I work to develop research collections, and support digital humanities scholarship, while my own research is looking at 17th century texts using corpus linguistics tools: Early European Books brings all three neatly together.
I was slightly suspicious that I might be attending a sales demonstration, but Lorraine Estelle, from Jisc Collections, opened by announcing that Jisc has licensed this resource in perpetuity, making it is freely available to the UK HE community via the Historical Texts platform.

‘E-books are the research data of Humanities’

The presentation by Paul Ayris (delivered on the day by Ben Meunier) put EEB firmly in context of research data management, referencing the LERU 2013 roadmap, and ‘science 2.0’ for Arts and Humanities scholars – noting that e-books are our research data. New forms of text analysis are possible using text and data mining techniques. He described EEB as ‘a defining project, delivering on the science 2.0 agenda for Arts and Humanities’.

The Text Creation Partnership, and others

Artist's impression of XML files of early European books
Artist’s impression of XML files of early European books

What has really enabled text mining is not just the existence of EEB or EEBO, however, but the extraordinary partnership that has produced EEBO-TCP. The Text Creation Partnership has involved re-keying the text images to create standardized, accurate XML/SGML encoded electronic text editions of early printed books. This work, and the resulting text files, are jointly funded and owned by more than 150 libraries worldwide.

Matthew Brack gave us a very practical assessment of the project management experience in the Wellcome library’s digitisation projects. Andrew Pettegree talked about the Universal Short Title Catalogue (USTC) and the challenges of comprehensive coverage.

At the lively round table discussion we considered the difficulty of citing/measuring the impact of electronic sources and the [un]reliability (46%) of OCR software.
It’s clear to me that we need a partnership approach with librarians, providers, and scholars working to counteract misperceptions of ‘easy’ e-scholarship and/or lazy searching, and issues with citation of e-resources. After all, Digital Humanities research is typically a highly collaborative activity.

University of Manchester users can access the first four collections in Early European Books via the Library’s A-Z of databases pages.

Use your LOAF!

Open Access week banner

To celebrate International Open Access Week, The University of Manchester Library’s Research Services, Academic Engagement and Marketing teams worked together to deliver a seminar on Open Access (OA) at Manchester. The main aim of the session was to engage with our institution’s researchers. Through a combination of presentations, Q&A sessions and networking opportunities, the seminar brought researchers up to date with what Manchester has achieved with OA; the policies of research funders; progress in OA over the last year; and insight into upcoming developments.

Increasing citations

The Vice-President for Research and Innovation Professor Luke Georghiou opened proceedings with his own take on Open Access. His research group has published three OA articles in the past year, which have achieved high levels of download; he is convinced this is due to ease of access, and is sure that OA will contribute to future levels of citation. Professor Georghiou thanked the Library for its excellent support.

Exceeding compliance targets

Open Access Seminar graph 2Helen Dobson reflected on the growth of the Library’s OA service, now playing a key role in the University’s OA support. Our work resulted in a 54% compliance rate for RCUK-funded research, an achievement high above the 45% target set by RCUK at the start of the year. Helen discussed the ‘pain points’ encountered by the team, including authors finding the process confusing, or being too busy to arrange OA. These insights help us develop our system and work with other institutions and publishers to streamline procedures. Despite these difficulties, our service has received great feedback and supported over 500 articles in becoming Open Access.

Making books as accessible as journals

Dr Frances Pinter, CEO of Manchester University Press, spoke of the need to find sustainable routes to OA for specialist scholarly books, and make them as accessible as science journals. The not-for-profit pilot Knowledge Unlatched has succeeded in proof of concept. With this model a library consortium paid for a package of e-books to be made fully open, and librarians participated in the selection of content. There has been a high level of downloads.

HEFCE, COAF and LOAF

Emma Thompson explained the new ‘game changing’ HEFCE policy. All potential REF outputs must be must be deposited in an institutional repository on acceptance, discoverable immediately, and free to read ASAP. We are encouraging researchers to deposit their Author’s Accepted Manuscripts (AAM) ahead of the compliance start date 1 April 2016, and the Library is working with colleagues in Computer Science to develop an easy interface.

Our team will also be administering the new Charities OA Fund (COAF) at Manchester. We have further demonstrated our commitment to innovation, OA and the University’s researchers by announcing the new Library Open Access Fund (LOAF). We want to support authors who do not have funding to cover Article Processing Charges, and have created a pool of funds to support the publication of OA papers. The LOAF pilot will be managed by the Library’s OA team and will be run on a first come, first served basis.

If you would like a slice of LOAF, please contact the OA team.

Open Access Week

Open Access Seminar

Open Access week banner

As part of Open Access week this lunchtime seminar provides an opportunity for academics and researcher support staff to learn about Open Access at Manchester, including new policies, funds and developments.

The seminar will include presentations by Professor Luke Georghiou, the University’s Vice-President for Research and Innovation, and Dr Frances Pinter, CEO of Manchester University Press.

All material used during presentations will be available after the seminar.

The programme is available online; registration is via Eventbrite.