Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Library life day two

Yesterday I neglected to include a link to what the Library Day in the Life Project is all about:

The Library Day in the Life Project is coordinated by Bobbi Newman of Librarian by Day. Twice a year librarians, library staff and library students from all over the globe share a day (or week) in their life through blog posts, photos, video and Twitter updates.

This site includes links to all the other people involved in the project:


I started the day conducting a data interview with one of our researchers in computer security.
This involved discussing several datasets the research centre holds that could possibly be shared with other researchers outside the centre. One dataset I heard about is what they call “honeypot” data that reveal patterns in security attacks. It was fascinating and I came away just a little bit worried about how secure any of us are online. Going by the laws of probability, despite our best efforts some malware will get through and do damage.

The data interview is one of the key roles of a research data librarian. The idea of the data interview is to gather as much information as possible about a research project and associated research dataset or data collection. This information (in our case) then gets written up and described and added to Research Data Australia (RDA) Australia's research data portal. The metadata schema used to described data in RDA is RIF-CS.

There are several elements to this work: one is using the skills a research or faculty librarian would have whereby you learn to understand the client’s research area. Another is having a sound understanding of research data and how that may differ across disciplines. Another is more a cataloguing/metadata librarian role whereby you use a defined metadata schema to describe the data.

I have been working on some research data training and seminars which I will talk about tomorrow…

Monday, 25 July 2011

Day in the life of a research data librarian

I had a late night last night, sitting up watching the conclusion of the Tour de France, witnessing history being made when Cadel Evans became the first ever Australian to win..…yeah go Cadel. It was so inspiring to see him cycling into Paris in the yellow jersey, with the BCM team all in red. With the 8 hour time difference between Europe and Western Australia the event finished after midnight our time. Then at 5am someone rang on my mobile…wrong number from someone in another time zone across the other side of the country. Still, I managed to start the day with a visit to the Joondalup Arena 50 metre indoor pool for a great swim. It’s winter here, so the pool is pretty quiet. At one stage there were just three of us with a lane to ourselves…bliss. The pool is about one kilometre from work, so I bring my breakfast and change of clothes and then head straight on to work.

At work the main activity today revolves around finish off the Seeding the Commons project. This is a national research data project funded by the ANDS (Australian National Data Service). The details about the project at Edith Cowan University (ECU) are here. There are similar projects running at most Australian universities and major research institutions.

This time last year I was getting ready to attend research data management training at the ANDS BootCamp which was held in Canberra in August 2010. Later on I was seconded to work on the project as a research data librarian. It has been a steep learning curve, but lot of fun. I have left my substantive job as the Faculty librarian for Education and Arts at ECU to become a research data librarian. Now, a year later, the project is winding up. We are at Week 25 of a 32 week project and the 3rd progress report is due on 12 August. More on this project and the work involved tomorrow.

Friday, 1 July 2011

The Woman in White

First of all a confession… I am not, strictly speaking, “reading” this book, but listening to an audio version. Audio books provide a really convenient way to increase your amount of reading, if you commute or spend time at the gym you can listen to the audio. Fortunately there are more and more excellent audio titles available through the public libraries in Perth and they are narrated by some fine actors.

At the moment I am “reading” The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins. Incredibly, The Woman in White has never been out of print since it first appeared in serial form in Victorian England (1860) and it still has readers in its thrall.

The narrative hook draws you into the story right in the beginning when the hero, Walter Hartright, comes across the mysterious woman in white late at night on a lonely road north of London. She stops him, appears agitated and asks strange questions. Later on our hero comes across some men who are searching for the woman, claiming has escaped from an asylum. Then the story moves to another location where Walter meets another woman in white. Is this a doppelganger? As the story develops, Hartright becomes a type of Victorian detective as he follows clues along the way to discover the truth about this mysterious woman: who is she and why was she so agitated, why is she on the run?

In many ways Wilkie Collins' novels were forerunners of contemporary crime fiction and they certainly influenced many current writers of crime and mystery. Collins most famous novel is The Moonstone (published 1868) which Dorothy L Sayers considered "probably the very finest detective story ever written". I plan to read The Moonstone next and I already have downloaded a free ebook copy onto my Kindle.

As an aside, Wilkie Collins was a great friend of Charles Dickens and he lead quite a sensational life for Victorian times.

My post for the July readit2001 Twitter #whodoneit