CAPAL Supporting OA



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by | October 21, 2016 · 2:30 PM

Downsview Tour with U of T’s CAPAL Chapter

On Friday October 14 some of Western’s CAPAL members made the trek to Toronto to meet up with U of T’s CAPAL chapter and tour the University of Toronto Libraries Downsivew facility.  Downsivew is a high density storage facility for U of T and, hopefully one day, several other university Libraries across the province.

Although rather unassuming from the outside…


…the facility currently holds over 2.5 million volumes with approximately 10,000 new books being added every week!  As libraries at U of T weed their collections every book they are getting rid of makes its way to Downsivew.  Books are sorted and stored by size, with a barcode for every book, box, and shelf. Only 1% of the books that end up here are ever requested again.  Busy days at the height of the academic term see requests for 100 books while slow days in the summer see only 20 or so.


Books are sorted and stored by size and placed in the appropriate box


The books are placed on the shelving…


…and then picked up by a person driving this!


The books seem to go on….


… and on …


… and up … forever!

We thank everyone at UTL Downsview for taking the time to show us their amazing facility and answer all of our questions. It was a fantastic tour and a great opportunity to see libraries from another system.

After the tour we met with the members of U of T’s CAPAL chapter. It was a great opportunity to get to know our future colleagues and learn about another MLIS program. Many thanks to U of T’s CAPAL chapter for allowing us the opportunity to join their tour. We hope we can extend the same favour in the future!



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Co-op at an academic library: information literacy and library instruction

Continuing from the first instalment of CAPAL member Siu Hong Yu’s co-op experience on outreach activities and bibliometrics, this part two follow-up highlights his other responsibilities focusing on information literacy and library instruction at the same academic library during the semester of Fall 2015:


With respect to promoting the information literacy on research metrics, the Bibliometrics and Research Impact Librarian (BRIL) and I teamed up to deliver three workshops on bibliometrics. Hands-on exercises were incorporated into the presentations in an engaging way to more effectively deliver the learning objectives regarding the challenges and solutions of author identification as well as on using multidisciplinary databases to track other researchers and citation trends. Based on the previous experience over the summer teaching the same sessions, I streamlined the hands-on exercises for better in-class time management, came up with a live demo for the better illustration on a key, confusing concept and updated the speaking notes for the future instructors. Despite all of these efforts, however, the sessions were disappointedly poorly attended. I was not sure if it had anything to do with the marketing on the new library website or it was due to some other factors. To better connect with graduate students, the BRIL is currently exploring the idea of promoting the workshops through the university’s Office of Research.

Having been a member of the Library Instruction Committee (LINC) since the beginning of my co-op placement, I also assisted in the Accessing Government Information workshop and co-taught a LIB 003: Searching Databases session during the second half of my work term. Learning from the Accessing Government Information as well as other library workshops, I prepared a handout on Boolean operators and the use of quotation marks (“”), truncation (*) and wildcard (?) for my LIB 003. Students seemed to be more engaged because they had the handout to refer to during the session. Better yet, they could practice the concepts at home with the help of the handout. In a brainstorming exercise on keyword search, film/movie and dinner/supper were used as everyday examples so that the students could better relate to the idea of synonyms. When it came to evaluating the quantity and quality of search results, “Have you chosen the right database?” I asked and illustrated with an error of searching for the latest TV shows in a database of cooking recipes. My intention was to highlight the fact that where you start a search matters and to showcase the library website’s research guides as one of the best starting point for a successful search. The session was well received. One attendant even sent us a personal thank-you note and I suggested to the co-teaching librarian to solicit a user testimonial for the purpose of library marketing in the future.

pink-tieLast but not least, I was given the opportunity to assist in four curriculum-integrated workshops: two English Language for Academic Studies (ELAS) sessions designed for first year mathematics students who need help with their English skills, one NANO 100 and one ChE 100 sessions on sourcing information in nanotechnology and chemical engineering, respectively. Despite the wide variety of audience, all four sessions aimed at guiding the students through the initial steps of a research process and connecting them with the library resources available. The instructing liaison librarians all utilized some elements of the flipped classroom pedagogy where the students were asked to view and complete pre-class videos and exercises. Topics covered ranged from the differences between scholarly versus popular articles to the American Psychological Association citation style. During the in-class discussion, however, the concept of a journal article was still not clear for some students while most had difficulty defining the scope of their research question to effectively carry out a subject or keyword search for their final project. For me, it was interesting to get a firsthand experience on how curriculum-integrated library instruction was structured and run. To encourage participation, for example, the ELAS instructor used a process-focused approach for the in-class exercise and gave out pink-tie tokens whenever a student asked or answered a question. Those who had collected two pink ties would exchange their tokens for candies or pens at the end of the class! In retrospect, I wish I had the time and opportunity to involve with the lesson planning and student assessment process.


From the launch of the new library website to the reference service remodelling, change was the only constant throughout my co-op it seemed. Amid all those changes and occasional self-doubt, at least the plants that I volunteered to take care of in the quiet study area were still alive and growing. Beyond being patient, flexible, responsive and proactive as attributed by a recent Evolution of Library Liaisons webinar as some of the core liaison librarian characters, I would always look up to the library users for inspirations and ask myself,

“What can I do to serve them better?”

“How can I teach more effectively?”

“How does my action impact their academic success?”

“Why is that marketing strategy not working?”

By the end of my co-op placement, many questions remained unanswered. I guess I will keep learning…

Stay tuned for the co-op or new-grad professional transition experience from other CAPAL members in the future!


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Tour of LIRM

On Monday, June 20 CAPAL took a tour of Western Libraries’ Library Information Resources Management (LIRM) department.  The tour was led by two of LIRM’s librarians; Leanne Olson, Metadata Management Librarian and Samuel Cassady, Digital Information Resources Librarian.

Leanne and Samuel lead us through the different departments and LIRM as we learned the different roles they take on in Western Libraries.  We heard about serials check in and management with Judy, interlibrary loans with Mary, Mary, Sharon, Erin, and Liz, cataloging and metadata with Frank and Erin, and electronic resource management with Barb and Debbie.

We concluded our tour with a discussion of potential future directions of technical services in the academic library.

All CAPAL members who attended the tour agreed that it was a valuable look at how technical services are functioning in a modern academic library.  We want to thank Leanne and Samuel for taking the time to show us around.  We also want to thank Judy, Mary, Mary, Sharon, Erin, Liz, Frank, Erin, Barb, and Debbie for taking the time to speak with us.  IMG_0471

Tour participants from left to right: Librarian Leanne, CAPAL members Janice, Helen, Lindsay, Siu, and Librarian Samuel Cassady.  Not pictured is CAPAL member Kevin.

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Co-op at an academic library: outreach activities and citation tracking

In the first part of this series read  CAPAL member Siu Hong Yu’s first hand account of some of the projects he undertook at his 8 month academic library co-op.  The focus begins on outreach activities and a citation-tracking database comparative study.

Outreach Activities

September is always the most high-energy time for any campus. With all the excitements, anxieties and emotions among the students, I was more than happy to step out of my office to provide an extra pair of hands at the circulation desk during the first week back-to-school. In addition to the routine tasks of checking in and out library items, I also noted down frequently asked questions and made recommendations on how to improve the user experience during that first week. The most frequently asked question turned out to be about course reserves. Given the fact that it is a new concept among most first-year students, a leaflet or bookmark on how to search and obtain course reserves as well as their borrowing policies and fines could have been very useful. Meanwhile, adding printing money onto student IDs by far had the highest demand and sometimes caused a service bottleneck at the circulation desk. I wondered if the process could be automated. To add a student perspective and build better rapport, I suggested that a welcome desk could be set up at the library entrance where student ambassadors assist in promoting the library services.

Throughout the Fall semester, I also volunteered at various library outreach events. From introducing the Library’s new website using a tablet computer at a campus fair to promoting the research assistance available at the Library at Long Night Against Procrastination, one question kept coming up from students, “How do I volunteer at the Library?” The term service then became bidirectional, where the library and its users could indeed work together as partners to serve each other’s needs. Furthermore, I realized that those outreach events was not only an opportunity to reach out to the library users, but they were also an opportunity for the Library to network with potential collaborators such as the Writing Centre and Student Success Office. Research skills in the context of library services are among other essential university life skills such as time management, writing skills and wellness that will benefit students. Joint-effort programming and marketing makes sense in terms of allocating resources more efficiently and positioning the Library in the pathway to student success. For the Long Night Against Procrastination, I made the suggestion for the Library to bring along some of the board games from its collection for participants to sign out. Everyone deserves a break once in a while!

Citation-tracking Database Comparative Study

Publication and citation activity has become two of the measures by which research institutions and academic departments seek to understand their research impact. The last decade has also seen an increased level of influence of different university rankings upon university administrators, policy makers, funding agencies and the general public. In order to benchmark institutional research output, an evidence-based evaluation using a robust, multidisciplinary publication and citation database is essential. As a result, for the bibliometrics part of my work portfolio, I was tasked to investigate the differences between Web of Science and Scopus. As two of the major multidisciplinary citation-tracking databases, Web of Science and Scopus have both been sourced to produce influential university rankings. Under the guidance of the Bibliometrics and Research Impact Librarian (BRIL) in collaboration with the university’s Institutional Analysis & Planning, my investigation was an attempt to highlight the differences between the two databases in terms of their subject scope, content coverage and major historical developments, as well as to understand their potential implications on university rankings.

From the literature, recent studies suggest that the two databases are complementary while other papers conclude that the two are continuously improving. The relative advantage of choosing one database over the other depends on the particular subject area, time period of analysis and what explicitly will be analyzed. After compiling the databases’ facts and figures based on their content guides and online documents, I used both Web of Science and Scopus to gather the data specific to the institution’s researchers on their publication and citation numbers for a direct comparison. Overall, this project was particularly challenging because, from their underlying content selection philosophy to subject area focus and categorization, the two databases are fundamentally different.

The next installment will discuss library instruction and information literacy.  Stay tuned!

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