Monday, 14 March 2011

Cross cultural willingness and the nature of collections

Many thanks to Alex and Angharad for giving us an insight into their projects. 

One of the joys of working in a department with a lot of foreign students is the glimpses that we get into other societies.  Shahd's views on collection management were a useful reminder of the fact that books that are seen as a waste of space in one library can be of great value elsewhere. 

Of course, even if that is the case, it sometimes takes a lot of effort to match the discards of one library to the spaces of another.  Some time ago, when I was working at a UK Government research institute, a new librarian was appointed.  Within months of his arrival, skips were hired and were soon filled with books and papers.  The librarian responsible still recalls with frustration the outcry that ensued.  Those documents, some of his critics argued, went back decades and were part of the institute’s long tradition.  His response was to point out that he had gone to great pains to offer the documents to other places that might be interested, and nobody was prepared to pick up the cost of moving them.  He was well aware that many of the discarded documents went back decades since they had layers of dust to prove it. 

Interesting Challenge of the Month arose during Alex's talk.  Firstly, how does one define willingness to share?  Secondly, in a study that focuses on willingness to share information, how can a researcher compensate for the fact that, by agreeing to participate in his/her study, volunteers have already demonstrated a willingness to share, thereby (possibly) biasing the sample.  I'm sure Alex will be up to the challenge.

Further discussion revolved around what to do next.  It was agreed that meetings should be set for a regular slot of the second Thursday of every month at 16.30.  Future sessions will focus on the role of blogs in research; JISC's "Researchers of tomorrow" project; approaches to research (based on Father Brown); and journal reading groups.

I hope to see you on Thursday14 April in room 324.

Thursday, 10 March 2011

A cross-cultural case study on the degree of knowledge sharing openness and externalisation methods in the financial services industry (by Alex Schauer)

The study examines the degree of knowledge sharing willingness of staff in a single organisation across different national cultural backgrounds.

Positioning of research
Several studies have investigated specific factors that affect staff willingness to share knowledge; however it seems that none have embarked on a cross-cultural study encompassing individual, team, organisational and
national influences.  The aim of this thesis is to address this gap and provide a consistent framework that can be applied to future research studies.

Research design
The research design has not been finalised as yet, however a mixed method approach is anticipated.  This involves using both interviews and an online survey questionnaire.

Interviewees would be selected based on differing departmental categories and hierarchies in order to obtain a broad spectrum of data.

The questionnaire would be distributed to all participating national company subsidiaries to either obtain initial results or confirm qualitative findings.

Anticipated outcomes
From an academic point of view, this research will be the first study to develop and test a formative scale of knowledge sharing willingness. In comparison to a reflective latent construct, this study aims at incorporating all validated indicators into this study to form an index score.

From a managerial perspective the study allows practitioners to objectively measure the current situation in regards to staff willingness to share knowledge in a particular country subsidiary.  In addition to obtaining an
overall measure, this tool allows managers to obtain readings on the individual factors that affect the overall score.  With this, managers can concentrate their efforts to enhance these low-scoring factors to boost
overall knowledge sharing willingness.

Tuesday, 8 March 2011

Conceptualising the library collection for the digital world: a case study of social enterprise (by Angharad Roberts)

Collections have historically been central to a library’s purpose. However, the term ‘collection’ seems surprisingly ill-defined in library literature. Collection-focused sub-disciplines of librarianship only emerged relatively recently: the concept of collection development appeared in the 1960s, followed by collection management in the 1980s. In more recent discussions, it has been suggested that concepts such as content management or knowledge management may provide more appropriate frameworks for considering the changing role of library and information services within organisations. New digital formats present new challenges and opportunities for library collections as demonstrated by electronic journals and e-books, projects to assist with data management or open access publishing for research, and by initiatives such as the Library of Congress’s tweet archive. The digital environment also has the potential to improve access to content from traditional printed materials, through digitisation projects or increased information sharing about library collections through online catalogues and collection data mining. New technologies also provide new ways of working, enabling greater customisation or personalisation of information about resources and facilitating greater user interaction and involvement with collection development and management processes through, for example, patron-driven acquisitions or tagging and commenting.

Social enterprise is an emerging interdisciplinary field, focusing on businesses with a social purpose. Information relevant to social enterprise may potentially be found in the collections of a wide range of different types of library. Social enterprise stakeholders include practitioners and academics and come from a wide range of different backgrounds, professions and organisations, potentially having access to a number of different library collections.

A case study of collections for social enterprise should therefore provide a valuable opportunity to explore broader issues relating to the development, management and use of library collections in general. The research will take a mixed-methods approach, using interviews, questionnaires and collection data to explore these issues.