From embedded AI to NFT: Digital trends 2023 bridge new challenges

by Birgit Fingerle

How to bridge the gaps caused by the pandemic and technological development? Some digital trends might be suitable to build new bridges. Bridges are for instance needed between the benefits of home office autonomy and a meaningful return to office to reach successful collaboration, between human creativity and artificial intelligence embedded in everyday work processes, between information overflow, loneliness and other mental health problems as well as the growing skills shortage. The digital trends selected for this blog post address these gaps and could be interesting for libraries and other digital infrastructure facilities and in the context of Open Science.

AI embedded everywhere

After decades of progress, artificial intelligence (AI) is increasingly integrated into day-to-day lives. Encouraged by developments like the growing skills shortage and no-code AI (based on easy drag-and-drop interfaces), artificial intelligence is expected to augment many jobs across different sectors with new tools. That way, AI will be like a new team member that contributes ideas and drafts or like a co-pilot for people’s creativity. Companies and other organisations have to have an eye on these developments as questions around ethics and copyright issues are still unanswered, and humans have to upskill to use the new tools, and ensure quality of output. On the one hand, organisations should think about how to deal with the masses of AI-generated content, on the other hand, they should check whether and how AI could enrich their work processes.

Home office autonomy versus return to office

A lot of work is still needed to make the return to the office a success. At present, for many people it feels like a series of compromises affecting for instance innovation, culture and inclusion as some intangible office benefits like chance encounters and in-person fun have faded. To bridge the tension between those enjoying the autonomy of remote work and those who prefer being together, organisations should not continue to improve what exists. Instead, they should completely reimagine work.

Meanwhile, asynchronous work is here to stay. As the pandemic showed that Non-Linear Work at different hours can produce results that are as good, and even better, than traditional nine-to-five workdays. New platforms and apps are helping to overcome the downsides of asynchronous work while enhancing the benefits. Existing platforms like Slack and Microsoft are expanding their portfolio, for instance by incorporating short video clip messages in their products.

Some businesses are giving their workspaces an upgrade adopting ideas from the hospitality sector to create Five-Star Offices to draw their employees back to the office.

To attract and retain talent, some companies are also pushing Workplace Wellness that goes beyond generic wellness programmes and puts mental health up to the agenda. As many companies have moved towards off-the-shelf mental wellbeing programmes, mental wellbeing initiatives have become a standard expectation. So, employers have to rewrite the rule book to attract and retain staff. What have libraries and other digital infrastructure facilities to offer?

Metaverse Education and Support

In contrast to its preliminary stage dominated by websites and never-ending scrolling of social media, the next online evolution continues to merge physical and digital worlds. It is assumed, that in 2023 the metaverse will further expand. Relating thereto is the rise of educational programmes that offer more immersion than online learning. Metaverse Education denotes the trend that organisations are more and more creating spaces designed to educate customers. These encompass services ranging from specialized education and educational programmes to games. Virtual learning makes education more accessible in terms of geographic or cost-related barriers. Transferring it into the metaverse helps consumers to find even more beneficial immersive online learning programmes.

Libraries should keep an eye on the growth of Metaverse Education as well as on another related trend, Metaverse Support. The metaverse helps making the customer service experience more immersive and thus creating more valuable support experiences. It can lead to better and more efficient interactions with patrons.

Fighting isolation and enriching customer support on site

In spite of all the platforms enabling digital encounters, more and more people around the world feel lonely and isolated. Therefore, in 2023, consumers will value organisations that help foster connections and Joyning. This is connected to the trend State of Place. This trend is focusing on consumers looking to reclaim their locale and having particular affection for brands that work to make those spaces more sustainable and equitable. An example are shared spaces combating the rising sense of social isolation.

The advancement of robots and other technologies provides a valuable basis for innovations in customer support on site. The trend Retail Bot describes robots equipped with more social features and functions that are associated with brick and mortar shopping. They help customers who miss social interactions while smart retail solutions become more common. Examples include robot bringing candies to shopping customers, robots reminding customers of regulations and robots equipped with facial recognition greeting patrons. Furthermore, Gesture Kiosks, interfaces controlled by gestures reduce health risks that might still be felt in post-pandemic times, can enhance the user experience. The touchless screen navigation works with hand-tracking technology. How could libraries benefit from these technologies and patrons reclaiming their locale?

Curation for you and digital detox update

Although the demand for curation by customers inundated with information is not new, new tools and technology now offer the chance to develop some kind of curation that empowers consumers’ uniqueness by offering relevance-as-a-service: For You. Digital infrastructure facilities should ask themselves how they could guide their patrons towards customized recommendations.

Digital detoxing also gets an update in 2023. Some consumers inundated with negative content online are seeing a greater need to prioritize digital detoxing. Although the tools for digital detoxing remain the same, there is a growing need for it as mental health problems gain weight.

New kinds of ownership and in-house inventors

In 2023, even more consumers will become their own businesses, for instance by creating content or selling goods. This trend, called Creator Inc, is driven by a desire to combine work and purpose on the one hand and new creator tools and media platforms on the other. Organisations should have an eye on their in-house inventors and utilize their employee’s creative skills. In 2022, for instance The Metropolitan Museum of Art has opened its yearly exhibition of staff artwork for the first time to the public.

It is expected, that with the evolution towards a Web3, users will increasingly be co-owners of their content and not only co-authors. Today, social networks like Instagram automatically own user created content posted on their social network. New platforms are giving control back into people’s hands, giving them ownership and portability over their data and content.

NFTs (Non-Fungible Tokens) also play a major role here. The digital certificates of ownership also contribute to changing users’ interaction with digital media. While the previous web has broken the business model for news, NFTs lead to new business models. The decentralization is democratizing digital platforms. This paradigm shift will revolutionize how enterprises and consumers interact with digital goods, services, and content. How will it affect the Open Science movement?

More information on trends and technologies for 2023:

About the Author:

Birgit Fingerle holds a diploma in economics and business administration and works at ZBW, among others, in the fields innovation management, open innovation, open science and currently in particular with the “Open Economics Guide”. Birgit Fingerle can also be found on Twitter.
Portrait, photographer: Northerncards©

The post From embedded AI to NFT: Digital trends 2023 bridge new challenges first appeared on ZBW MediaTalk.

Innovations in Libraries: Impressions of a Study Trip to the Netherlands

Guest article by Alena Behrens

From 25 to 28 October 2022, I set out to get to know the Dutch library system as part of a study trip organised by Bibliothek & Information International. Together with 19 other employees from libraries all over Germany, I explored nine cities and their libraries. The stops on our trip were

  1. the Rozet Library in Arnheim,
  2. the Library in DePetrus Church in Vught,
  3. the Library LocHal in Tilburg,
  4. the Library Chocolade Fabriek in Gouda,
  5. the Erasmus University Library in Rotterdam,
  6. the Library DOK in Delft,
  7. the Library OBA in Amsterdam,
  8. the Library De Korenbeurs in Schiedam and
  9. the Neude Library in Utrecht.

Stations of the study trip through the Netherlands on 25.10. – 28.10.2022, map by


This report summarises some of the many special features and experiences of the trip.

„You have to change to stay the same.”

This quote by the painter Willem De Kooning is the motto of the Ministerie van Verbeelding, the Ministry of Imagination. This is not an official ministry, but a collective of architects, designers and librarians. They are the brains behind many of the impressive new library concepts and buildings, some of which we were able to visit on this journey. Rob Bruijnzeels is part of this collective. He accompanied us for a while to give us an insight into the work and structure of the Dutch library world.

To remain relevant and interesting, libraries must adapt to changes in society. In the Netherlands, for example, it is taken for granted that they offer consultation hours for advice on e-government. The self-image as a Third Place is also already omnipresent there. Public libraries are perceived as the living rooms of cities and are used accordingly.

A different organisational form and an efficient design of the work processes make this possible, as Rob Bruijnzeels explains to us further. In the Netherlands, public libraries are private initiatives and foundations. Although they also receive money from the municipality, they are not as dependent on it as in Germany. This gives them greater freedom. In addition, libraries of several municipalities often join together in a large library organisation that manages the organisation and central tasks (media purchasing and processing, management, staff organisation).

The Dutch have a long tradition as merchants. This mentality is also reflected in the country today. If something can be organised more efficiently and better, it is done that way. Departments for cataloguing and book processing no longer exist in the individual libraries. These tasks are taken over by a service provider. Because many libraries participate in this, it is cheaper than running individual departments everywhere. The staff can thus be used more efficiently in the programme work.

Library: not for everyone, but by everyone

Jan van Bergen en Henegouwen from the library De Korenbeurs in Schiedam introduced this principle to us. But it can also be found in other public libraries in the Netherlands. What is meant by this is that the library’s visitors participate in its development.

This is possible, on the one hand, through numerous volunteers. The library in Schiedam works with about 300 of them. A number that surprised all participants of the study journey. No one could have imagined this for Germany and our institutions. However, volunteer work has a long tradition in the Netherlands and is an important part of society. For many, it is a matter of course to get involved in their free time. That is why libraries with few staff and short opening hours, for example, can still offer many events. Our guided tours on the trip were also taken over by volunteers most of the time, only rarely did we speak to permanent library staff.

In this context, the term “community library” came up again and again. Everyone can get involved on a voluntary basis. Events are often organised at request of visitors. This way, the librarians know that there is a real need for a topic and what their target groups are interested in.

This system is complemented by a wide range of self-service offers. Visitors can borrow and return media themselves at the stations provided for this purpose. “Everyone becomes a librarian,” explains Rob Bruijnzeels. Consequently, there are hardly any classic lending or service counters left in Dutch libraries; instead, there are distributed information points. The open design lowers the inhibition threshold to ask for advice. The offers should be designed as low-threshold as possible in order to be an open meeting place for all residents of the community. The visitors are given a lot of personal responsibility, which creates a trusting relationship in the library and with its services.

Impressive and unusual architecture

The unusual and innovative architecture of some of the institutions visited should not go unmentioned. The libraries in the towns of Vught and Schiedam stand out in particular. When I entered the buildings, I didn’t have the feeling that I was entering a library.

In Vught the library was built into an old church. This creates a special sense of space. With workstations in the look of confessionals, the two places are fluidly connected. In addition, the library merges seamlessly into a museum and a Third World shop. The combination of different offers has been very successful here.

In Schiedam I had the impression of entering a greenhouse. The covered inner courtyard has been landscaped with many plants to create a cosy garden where visitors enjoy spending time. The quote from the Roman orator Cicero “If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need” has been completely realised here.

But there are also impressive libraries in Gouda and Tilburg that naturally echo the history of the buildings. In Gouda, the current library building was initially a chocolate factory. The building was converted into a library by adding false ceilings and walls. On the floor, there are drawings of the chocolate-making machines that used to be there. In this way, you also learn something about the processes of the old factory.

LocHal Tilburg, on the other hand, used to be a workshop for locomotives, as the name suggests. You can still see this today in the impressive size of the hall. But the crane for lifting the locomotives under the hall ceiling and a history corner also bear witness to this. Here, old pictures of the workshop are on display and former employees talk about their work.

In all the innovative power that lies within the libraries, there are always references back to the history of the buildings. This connection contributes to the charm of the libraries and provides an insight into the past of the city.

Conclusion on the study trip to the Netherlands

This journey exceeded all my expectations and showed once again that it is always worthwhile to look beyond one’s own nose. Libraries in the Netherlands are rightly regarded by us as innovative and forward-looking. I can only recommend taking part in exchange programmes and study trips when the opportunity arises.

Together with 19 other employees from libraries all over Germany, I explored nine cities and their libraries

Everyone benefits from exchanging ideas, learning from each other and being inspired.

Background to the study trip to the Netherlands

The study trip (German) was organised by BI-International (BII). BII is a permanent commission of the Library and Information in Germany – Federal Union of German Library Associations (BID), which promotes international professional exchange in the library sector. Together with the Goethe Institute, BII also supported the trip financially. Marc de Lange from ekz benelux was our tour guide. I would like to take this opportunity to say thanks for the partial invitation. My personal opinion is not influenced by this.

This text has been translated from German.

This might also interest you:

About the author:

Alena Behrens works as a librarian in the user services department at the ZBW – Leibniz Information Centre for Economics. In addition to working at the service desk, her work focuses on the areas of user experience, library as a place of learning and information mediation. She can also be found on Twitter.
Portrait: Alena Behrens©

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Digital Long-term Archiving: Discovering Networks With the nestor Community Survey

Guest article by Svenia Pohlkamp, Stefan Strathmann and Monika Zarnitz

The idea of the nestor community survey

Digital preservation is a task that is complicated and resource-intensive. Cooperation, communication and mutual support is necessary to cope with the different challenges of this matter. nestor is active in all these areas.

That`s why the idea emerged to start a survey among the national and international communities that cope with digital preservation. nestor installed a small working group that developed the questionnaire and analysed the result of the community survey. The aim of this survey is to create transparency about the international landscape of communities in this field and to collect information for all those who wish to collaborate.

The questionnaire for the survey, which was conducted online, consisted of 40 questions. We gathered 54 valid answers as basis for our analysis.

The nestor community survey

The survey distributed through multiple channels, such as mailing lists, direct contact to colleagues and so on from autumn 2019 until May 2020. The results of the survey were evaluated, edited and published in 2022 in the series of nestor materials.

Besides this publication, another result of the survey was the development of so-called community profiles, which you can find on nestor’s website. These profiles are self-descriptions of the involved communities and may serve as a sort of registry of national and international communities. They provide the first ever overview of the various facets, resources and focal areas of long-term archiving networks worldwide. The aim is to improve transparency and facilitate cooperation of the different communities worldwide.

Of the 54 participants who completed the questionnaire in full, 32 have so far allowed us to publish their community profile. We hope that more will give their consent. The communities had the opportunity to update and/or correct their data while reviewing their profiles.

What is a community?

One basic decision during the project was how to define and circumscribe the term “community” in the context of the survey, since there are manifold possibilities to define a community and it should be fitting to our object of investigation. Following intensive discussion, the working group agreed on the following definition:

  • An open community of persons and/or institutions that engages with the subject of long-term archiving. Digital long-term archiving can be one of several topics, which the community deals with.
  • A community whose members are committed to digital long-term archiving in a manner that goes beyond pure self-interest. Its central or sole purpose is not to supply a product or provide a commercial service.
  • A platform for discussing the topic of digital long-term archiving and its advancement, including the development of tools and/or the provision of services.
  • It can be local, regional or international.
  • It does not matter how big the community is. It can be large or small.
  • Whether the community is product-related or not is also irrelevant.
  • In the following paragraphs, we present some selected results of the survey.

Digital preservation communities: Where are they situated?

In question 6 we asked in which country or part of the world the community is located. Several communities mentioned more than one country in the text entry field. We chose either the country where they are based or the first country they mentioned.

Digital preservation communities: Where are they situated?

Interpretation: Almost all communities represented in this survey are situated in industrial countries. Either we couldn’t reach out to the communities in other countries or there are very few digital preservation communities in the developing and less-developed countries. This may be due to the lack of resources, and shows that in the most countries there is either few digital preservation activity or the actors in this field do not have the resources to join a community and benefit from the exchange with colleagues in other countries. The latter aspect may be not so important because communities increasingly communicate digitally and there is abundant literature and software freely accessible in the web.

Digital preservation communities: Are they silos or do they cooperate with each other?

In question 25, we asked how many cooperations with other communities the participating communities currently have. Four check boxes were provided. Only one answer could be given.

Percentage of cooperations

Interpretation: Our data shows clearly, that communities are no silos and that they interact with other communities intensively. Only 17 % of the communities do not have a cooperation with another community, while 19 % of them cooperate with more than ten other communities. Institutions and persons who engage in digital preservation are often members of several communities, so there is a broad exchange of ideas, tools, publications and other results of community work. Digital preservation is a task too complicated to tackle on one’s own and this not only on the individual level but at the level of communities as well. This may be the reason for the intensive exchange between the communities.

Digital preservation communities: What kind of organisation are they and what kind of finance do they use?

In question 11, we enquired how the communities are organised. The majority of 93 % stated to be non-profit organisations. In question 14, we asked how the communities finance themselves and their work. Six check boxes were provided. Multiple answers were possible. The sixth check box was “Other” with a text entry field.

The entries for “Other” have been re-categorised and are shown in the table below alongside the five given response options. The entries re-categorised and reassigned in “Other” are displayed in italics.

Digital preservation communities: What kind of organisation are they and what kind of finance do they use?

Interpretation: This table shows that the main sources of finance are membership fees, revenues from services, sponsoring, third party fund / grants and in kind contributions. None of the other sources has a comparable importance for financing. This, together with the fact that communities are mainly non-profit organisations (see above), shows that digital preservation has no commercial aims and that the self-conception of these organisations is comparable to the self-conception of libraries, archives and museums as heritage organisations. Indeed, the persons active in the communities originate from organisations such as these and carry the same mentality into the communities.

Digital preservation communities: What makes a community successful?

In question 40 we asked about the most important success factors of the community. Participants often entered several options into the text fields. This means, there were many different answers to this question. For this reason, we assigned the answers given in the text entry fields to different categories (where possible) and displayed them in a word cloud. It contains all the categorised answers as well as those for which no category was found.

This word cloud contains all the categorised answers as well as those for which no category was found.

Interpretation: This word cloud shows the most important aspects for the success of a digital preservation community. Three aspects are particularly significant:

  1. Critical success factors are the engagement, the collaboration and the sharing of knowledge and resources.
  2. Communities support the creation of knowledge and technologies for digital preservation.
  3. The broadness of a community is important since there are so many details in digital preservation that the manifoldness of competencies and perspectives is necessary..

Conclusion on digital preservation communities

The nestor community survey offers a rich source of data that explains the behaviour of digital preservation communities. The cases we picked up in this blog post show that the communities cluster in industrial countries and that they are in close contact and interaction with each other on several levels (the communities themselves, individual members, institutions, persons). The institutions that are parts of the communities are mainly non-profit organisations with the typical sources of finance and the typical mentality of heritage organisations.

Repetition in 2023

We would like to repeat the survey in 2023 and hope to improve it with our experiences from the first run. We aim at reducing the time between the beginning of the next survey and the date of publication of the results and we will reformulate some questions so that they are clearer and the evaluation is easier. We hope that with the publication of the first survey there may be more awareness for the second round and that then more communities participate.

We invite all communities that are active in the field of digital preservation to suggest improvements of the survey and to take part in its upcoming repetition. If you are interested in participating, please contact us:

This might also interest you:

About the authors:

Svenia Pohlkampworks at the German National Library (DNB) and manages the nestor office there. She is responsible for the coordination between nestor’s partners and organisational matters of the network. She also takes part in two of nestor’s working groups, Community Survey and Certification.

Stefan Strathmann works at the Göttingen State and University Library (SUB) in the Digital Library Department. He is responsible for SUB’s activities in the area of digital preservation. In particular, he represents the SUB at nestor, the German national network of excellence in digital preservation.

Dr Monika Zarnitz is an economist and Head of the Programme Area User Services & Collection Care at the ZBW – Leibniz Information Centre for Economics. She is head of the nestor working group „Community Survey“.

Portrait Monika Zarnitz: Fotograf: Sven Wied, ZBW©

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User Experience in Libraries: 35 Promising Starting Points for Entry and Exchange With Like-minded People

by Claudia Sittner

It all started with the article by ZBW colleague Nicole Clasen in August 2020: User Experience for Libraries: The Best Tools and Methods for Beginners. By the way, I recommend this article to everyone who is not yet familiar with UX. I then found the topic of “user experience in libraries” so exciting that I started a series of interviews. People in charge of UX from infrastructure institutions in eight European countries had their say, from staff from small and specialised libraries in individual subject areas to national libraries and purely digital services. For the curious: You can find the list of institutions at the end of this article.

The questions were always the same. For the purely digital Finnish services of finna, we varied them a little. The period: August 2020 to April 2022, which means that the coronavirus pandemic interfered with the interviewees’ UX activities everywhere. This article is based on the answers to the last interview question, „What are your tips for libraries that would like to start with UX? What is a good starting point?“ and on my own research. It offers an overview and starting points for all those who would like to get started with user experience in libraries but don’t know exactly how – of course without claiming to be complete.

Exchange ideas at the UX Roundtable

In July 2021, ZBW colleagues Alena Behrens and Nicole Clasen launched a UX Roundtable. Since then, it has taken place online about four times a year. The aim is to exchange ideas about user experience and usability in libraries and at universities across institutional boundaries in the German-speaking world and thus make libraries and information facilities more human-centred. From 2023 onwards, the informal UX Roundtable will merge into a Special Interest Group (SIG) “User Experience in Libraries” at the professional association for employees in libraries “Berufsverband Information Bibliothek“ (BIB, German).

The SIG is aimed at colleagues from public and academic libraries, from other information institutions as well as from research and teaching. From newcomers to library all-rounders to UX experts, everyone is welcome! If you are interested, please contact Alena Behrens or Nicole Clasen from the user services department of the ZBW – Leibniz Information Centre for Economics or Sina Menzel from the UX Office at the university library of the Freie Universität Berlin.

Attend a UX conference

Library staff from academic and public libraries from all over the world meet every summer for this interactive conference at a venue in the UK. “I attended the UXLib Conference a couple of years ago and I found the talks and workshops incredibly interesting and inspiring. Reach out to other staff members doing similar things to what you would like to do. I met a few people at the conference that were very helpful in keeping in contact and were happy to exchange ideas, etc.” (Aimee Andersen, UK). The international conference “User Experience in Libraries” (#UXLibs) focuses on a specific aspect of UX research and design each time; for example, “UX and Organisational Culture” in 2022, “From Research to Design” in 2019 or “Inclusion” in 2018.

The visit of the “International Conference on Performance Measurement in Libraries” is also interesting for UX novices. The goal of library performance measurement and evaluation is to understand how well a library is meeting the needs of stakeholders in order to make improvements. Key features of library performance measurement also include the active use of qualitative and quantitative data to improve services and the user experience, and the communication of the results and outcomes of assessment activities.

Looking around on websites

Andy Priestner is considered a pioneer in the field of UX in libraries in Europe. In addition to workshops and the annual #UXLibs conference, his website offers helpful information for getting started.

Ned Potter’s website is also worth a visit. Tip for beginners: the resource list for UX in libraries provides a good introduction to the basics.

Read articles and studies

  1. What is a UX librarian?
  2. UX in libraries: It’s all about inclusion!
  3. The presentation “User-oriented design of library websites” (PDF, German) by Martin Blenkle offers a very impressive and entertaining introduction to the basic problems users have with library websites thanks to many examples. For example, in response to the question “What are the most common problems with library websites?” a user wrote on Twitter “The site is most overtly ‘about the library’ when it should be that the site *is* the library.”
  4. Users at the Center of Everything – A crash course in UX for your library by Callan Bignoli and Lauren Stara.
  5. Ethnographic study of the library at Fresno Pacific University (California, USA, PDF), albeit from 2009. The two guiding questions of the study: What is student life like at a public comprehensive university in the early 21st century? How might the library better adapt its services to student practices while still accomplishing the educational mission of an academic library? The aim was to use this to increase library usage and improve the user experience.
  6. The Only UX Reading List Ever, although not specifically library related and last updated five years ago.
  7. UX Myths, for fun: collects the most common misconceptions about user experience and explains why they are not true.

The classic way: get into the subject with books

If you work in a library, this tip might seem obvious: but there are a few books that are particularly useful for getting started with UX.

  1. Useful, Usable, Desirable: Applying User Experience Design to Your Library by Aaron Schmidt and Amanda Etches
  2. User Experience in Libraries – Applying Ethnography and Human-Centred Design edited by Andy Priestner and Matt Borg
  3. Good Services – How to Design Services that Work by Lou Downe
  4. The Design of Everyday Things by Don Norman
  5. Rocket Surgery Made Easy – The Do-It-Yourself Guide to Finding and Fixing Usability Problems by Steve Krug. “I really recommend Krug’s method for usability testing – it’s easy to set up, can be done remotely, and always leads to actionable insights.” (Kitte Dahrén, Sweden)
  6. Universal Methods of Design by Bella Martin and Bruce Hanington: The book contains guidance on 100 research methods, synthesis/analysis techniques and research findings.
  7. A Handbook of User Experience Research & Design in Libraries by Andy Priestner is a must-read according to Kitte Dahrén (Sweden), as are all the yearbooks of the #UXLibs conference, all available on their website.
  8. The User Experience Team of One: A Research and Design Survival Guide by Leah Buley.
  9. User Experience in the Library (PDF), Routledge FreeBook with various excerpts from other books, is also good for reading into them and for checking if they are worth buying.

Get started with the Design Thinking Toolkit

“Design Thinking for Libraries” offers a great free toolkit that help you get started, it is filled with practical advice and plenty library related examples.” says Larissa Tijsterman from the University of Amsterdam Library in her interview.

Stay up to date on the topic with newsletters

This tip is from the interview with Kitte Dahrén from the Swedish SLU University Library, at different locations: The “Nielsen Norman Group offers a lot of useful articles and a newsletter well worth subscribing to.”

“From the UX guru Andy Priestner there is also a mailing list. In it he also promotes the annual #UXLibs conference he co-organises.” says ZBW colleague Alena Behrens .

Find like-minded people on Twitter

The library scene’s favourite social network also offers a communicative entry point for the topic of user experience, for example via the hashtags #uxlib, #uxlibs, #libux, #libraryux. Other helpful hashtags are #uxresearch, #uxdesign, #userexperience, #libraries. “For me, it all started with watching Twitter, which allowed me to understand what is being done and offered in other libraries. Then I followed a training course with Nathalie Clot, director of the Angers University library, to understand and use UX methods.” (Nicolas Brunet-Mouyen, Paris).

Lively discussions about and many ideas on UX in libraries can be found on Twitter. It is also easy to get in touch with the experts. In addition, there are several accounts that are worth following. Here is a small selection to get you started:

  1. Not surprisingly: Andy Priestner: Consultant/trainer User Experience Research & Design, failure, LEGO Serious Play. Creator: @UXLibs. Book: A Handbook of UX Research & Design in Libraries.
  2. UX in Libraries: International community sharing User Experience (UX) research & design practice in libraries. Annual conference & yearbooks. UXLibs7 will take place in June 2023.
  3. WeaveUX: Journal of Library User Experience. Open access, peer-reviewed journal published by @M_Publishing and managed by a team of passionate library UXers.
  4. Nathalie Clot: University Librarian @BUAngers, Angers, France. #Antifragilista Advocacy for useful, usable and desirable libraries #Uxlibs #BUAPro, She/her.

Eight steps for a successful UX in your library: these are the tips from European experts.

Below are the condensed and summarised tips for getting started with user experience from the experts we interviewed. In the course of the interviews, these eight steps emerged:

  1. Identify the status quo: “Start mapping out what are the goals and strategy of the organisation. Map existing services and identify bottlenecks that need to be addressed.” (Margus Veimann, Estonia)
  2. Pick low-hanging fruits: “Don’t try to move mountains the first thing you do. Start small, and preferably with something where you control the whole process and can act on stuff that you learn. Let’s say that you and your colleagues argue about some detail, solve it by simply asking or observing your users.” (Kitte Dahrén, Sweden)
  3. Or: “Start with the ‚low hanging fruits‘ – namely problem areas you already know about – and with changes that can be made with relatively little effort. Being successful here will then give you the required motivation to continue, and for these projects, simple UX methods are usually sufficient. You can save advanced techniques for later.” (Jarmo Schrader, Germany)

  4. Have the courage to experiment: “It is mandatory to experiment and always include user research and small learning experiments in every project. This is a cornerstone for creating services that are valuable and accessible for different user groups.” (Margus Veimann, Estonia)
  5. Convince the management: “First and foremost, it is very important to have a sponsor to support your goals. When referring to sponsors, I mean management. If they believe in the idea, they are also willing to invest the necessary resources.” (Jane Makke, Estonia)
  6. Or: “In order to make UX truly embedded you need your management on board, but with time and patience, this way of working in your team can create a ripple effect in your organisation.” (Kitte Dahrén, Sweden)

  7. Look beyond your own nose: “To look at what other institutions are already doing is a great starting point. (…) Learn from those that have gone before you! We found that the Library User Experience Community is strong and incredibly supportive and helpful. If in doubt, reach out to people and ask some questions. In our experience Library UXers are more than happy to chat and share advice and thoughts.” (Sinéad Beverland, UK)
  8. Get out and start: “Leaving the house at an early stage and interacting with the users is a key. It is customary that we think that we know all the answers and have the best solution how to solve users’ problems but usually this is the source of the failure.” (Margus Veimann, Estonia)
  9. Keep at it: “However, needs are continually changing – it’s not as if we will ever have reached the stage where we can say: Things will stay like this for ever.” (Ninon Frank, Germany)
  10. Allow mistakes and learn from them: This is the only way to gain insights into what is not working. “Don’t be too hard on yourself, you are meant to make mistakes that is how you discover new insights. Give it time, you might not always end up with a deliverable but you are making waves of change which will be noticeable later on.” (Larissa Tijsterman, Netherlands)

Background: These eight libraries participated

UX staff from infrastructures in eight European countries have now had their say, from small specialist libraries in individual subject areas to national libraries and purely digital services:

  1. Germany: Jarmo Schrader and Ninon Frank from the University Library of Hildesheim,
  2. United Kingdom: Aimee Andersen and Sinéad Beverland from the libraries at the University of Westminster,
  3. Estonia: Margus Veimann and Jane Makke from the National Library of Estonia in Tallinn,
  4. Finland: Riitta Peltonen and Pasi Tiisanoja from Finna, a package of digital services,
  5. France: Nicolas Brunet-Mouyen from the library of the Cergy Paris University,
  6. the Netherlands: Larissa Tijsterman from the University of Amsterdam Library,
  7. Sweden: Kitte Dahrén from the library of the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, at different locations,
  8. Slovenia: Tomaž Ul?akar from the Central Economics Library at the University of Ljubljana.

You can find the collected interviews – and some other contributions on user experience in libraries – on ZBW MediaTalk under the keyword User Experience.

Interview partners wanted!
We are looking forward to receiving more examples from all over the world! If you would like to take part in the series “UX in Libraries” or know of an institution that deals with UX, we would be happy to receive an email to!

This text has been translated from German.

This might also interest you:

About the Author:

Claudia Sittner studied journalism and languages in Hamburg and London. She was a long time lecturer at the ZBW publication Wirtschaftsdienst – a journal for economic policy, and is now the managing editor of the blog ZBW MediaTalk. She is also a freelance travel blogger (German), speaker and author. She can also be found on LinkedIn, Twitter and Xing.
Portrait: Claudia Sittner©

The post User Experience in Libraries: 35 Promising Starting Points for Entry and Exchange With Like-minded People first appeared on ZBW MediaTalk.

AI in Academic Libraries, Part 3: Prerequisites and Conditions for Successful Use

Interview with Frank Seeliger (TH Wildau) and Anna Kasprzik (ZBW)

We recently had a long talk with experts Anna Kasprzik (ZBW – Leibniz Information Centre for Economics) and Frank Seeliger (Technical University of Applied Sciences Wildau – TH Wildau) about the use of artificial intelligence in academic libraries. The occasion: Both of them were involved in two wide-ranging articles: “On the promising use of AI in libraries: Discussion stage of a white paper in progress – part 1” (German) and “part 2” (German).

In their working context, both of them have an intense connection and great interest in the use of AI in the context of infrastructure institutions and libraries. Dr Frank Seeliger is the director of the university library at the TH Wildau and has been jointly responsible for the part-time programme Master of Science in Library Computer Sciences (M.Sc.) at the Wildau Institute of Technology. Anna Kasprzik is the coordinator of the automation of subject indexing (AutoSE) at the ZBW.

This slightly shortened, three-part series has emerged from our spoken interview. These two articles are also part of the series:

What are the basic prerequisites for the successful and sustainable use of AI at academic libraries and information institutions?

Anna Kasprzik: I have a very clear opinion here and have already written several articles about it. For years, I have been fighting for the necessary resources and I would say that we have manoeuvred ourselves into a really good starting position by now, even if we are not out of the woods yet. The main issue for me is commitment – right up to the level of decision makers. I’ve developed an allergy to the “project” format. Decision makers often say things like, “Oh yes, we should also do something with AI. Let’s do a project, then a working service will develop from it and that’s it.” But it’s not that easy. Things that are developed as projects tend to disappear without a trace in most cases.

We also had a forerunner project at the ZBW. We deliberately raised it to the status of a long-term commitment together with the management. We realised that automation with machine learning methods is a long-term endeavour. This commitment was essential. It was an important change of strategy. We have a team of three people here and I coordinate the whole thing. There’s a doctoral position for a scientific employee who is carrying out applied research, i.e. research that is very much focused on practice. When we received this long-term commitment status, we started a pilot phase. In this pilot phase, we recruited an additional software architect. We therefore have three positions for this, which correspond to three roles and I regard all three of them as very important.

The ZBW has also purchased a lot of hardware because machine learning experiments require serious computing power. We have then started to develop the corresponding software infrastructure. This system is already productive, but will be continually developed based on the results of our in-house applied research. What I’m trying to say is this: the commitment is important and the resources must reflect this commitment.

Frank Seeliger: This is naturally the answer of a Leibniz institution that is well endowed with research professors. However, apart from some national state libraries and larger libraries, this is usually difficult to achieve. Most libraries do not have a corresponding research mandate nor the personnel resources to finance such projects on a long-term basis. Nevertheless, there are also technologies that smaller institutions need to invest in such as cloud-based services or infrastructure as service. But they need to commit to this, including beyond the project phases. It is anchored in the Agenda 2025/30 that it is a long-term commitment within the context of the automation that is coming up anyway. This has been boosted by the coronavirus pandemic in particular, when people saw how well things can function even when they take place online. The fact that people regard this as a task and seek out information about it correspondingly. The mandate is to explore the technology deliberately. Only in this way can people at working or management level see not only the degree of investment required, but also what successes they can expect.

But it’s not only libraries that have recently, i.e. in the last ten years, begun to explore the topic of AI. It is comparable with small and medium-sized businesses or other public institutions that deal with the Online Access Act and other issues. They are also exploring these kinds of algorithms, in order to find solidarity. Libraries are not the only ones here. This is very important because many of the measures, particularly those at the level of the German federal states, were not necessarily designed with libraries in mind in respect of the distribution of AI tasks or funding.

That’s why we intended our publication (German) also as a political paper. Political in the sense of informing politicians or decision-makers about financial possibilities that we also need the framework to be able to apply. In order to then test things and decide whether we want to use any indexing or other tools such as language tools permanently in the library world and to network with other organisations.

The task for smaller libraries who cannot manage to have research groups is definitely to explore the technology and to develop their position for the next five to ten years. This requires such counterpoints to what is commonly covered by meta-search engines such as Wikipedia. Especially as libraries have a completely different lifespan than companies, in terms of their way of thinking and sustainability. Libraries are designed to last as long as the state or the university exists. Our lifecycles are therefore measured differently. And we need to position ourselves accordingly.

Not all libraries and infrastructure institutions have the capacity to develop a comprehensive AI department with corresponding personnel. So does it make sense to bundle competences and use synergy effects?

Anna Kasprzik:Yes and no. We are in touch with other institutions such as the German National Library. Our scientific employee and developer is working on the further development of the Finnish toolkit Annif with colleagues from the National Library of Finland, for example. This toolkit is also interesting for many other institutions for primary use. I think it’s very good to exchange ideas, also regarding our experiences with toolkits such as this one.

However, I discover time and again that there are limits to this when I advise other institutions; for example, just last week I advised some representatives from Swiss libraries. You can’t do everything for the other institutions. If they want to use these instruments, institutions have to train them on their own data. You can’t just train the models and then plant them one-to-one into other institutions. For sure, we can exchange ideas, give support and try to develop central hubs where at least structures or computing power resources are provided. However, nothing will be developed in this kind of hub that is an off-the-shelf solution for everyone. This is not how machine learning works.

Frank Seeliger: The library landscape in Germany is like a settlement and not like a skyscraper. In the past, there was a German library institute (DBI) that tried to bundle many matters in the academic libraries in Germany across all sectors. This kind of central unit no longer exists, merely several library groups relating to institutions and library associations relating to personnel. So a central library structure that could take on the topic of AI doesn’t exist. There was an RFID working group (German) (or also Special Interest Group RFID at the IFLA), and there should actually also be a working group for robots (German), but of course someone has to do it, usually alongside their actual job.

In any case, there is no central library infrastructure that could take up this kind of topic as a lobby organisation, such as Bitkom, and break it down into the individual companies. The route that we are pursuing is broadly based. This is related to the fact that we operate in very different ways in the different German federal states, owing to the relationship between national government and federal states. The latter have sovereignty in many areas, meaning that we have to work together on a project basis. It will be important to locate cooperation partners and not try to work alone, because it is simply too much. There is definitely not going to be a central contact point. The German Research Center for Artificial Intelligence (DFKI) does not have libraries on its radar either. There’s no one to call. Everything is going to run on a case-by-case and interest-related basis.

How do you find the right cooperation partners?

Frank Seeliger: That’s why there are library congresses where people can discuss issues. Someone gives a presentation about something they have done and then other people are interested: they get together, write applications for third-party funding or articles together, or try to organise a conference themselves. Such conference already exist, and thus a certain structure of exchange has been established.

I am the conservative type. I read articles in library journals, listen to conference news or attend congresses. That’s where you have the informal exchange – you meet other people. Alongside social media, which is also important. But if you don’t reach people via the social media channels, then there is (hopefully soon to return) physical exchange on site via certain section days, for example. Next week we have another Section IV meeting of the German Library Association (DBV) in Dresden where 100 people will get together. The chances of finding colleagues who have similar issues or are dealing with a similar topic are high. Then you can exchange ideas – the traditional way.

Anna Kasprzik: But there are also smaller workshops for specialists. For example, the German National Library has been organising a specialist congress of the network for automated subject indexing (German) (FNMVE) for those who are interested in automated approaches to subject indexing.

I also enjoy networking via social media. You can also find most people who are active in the field on the internet, e.g. on Twitter or Mastodon. I started using Twitter in 2016 and deliberately developed my account by following people with an interest in semantic web technologies. These are individuals, but they represent an entire network. I can’t name individual institutions; what is relevant are individual community members.

And how did you get to know each other? I’m referring to the working group that compiled this non-white paper.

Anna Kasprzik: It’s all Frank’s fault.

Frank Seeliger: Anna came here once. I had invited Mr Puppe in the context of a digitalisation project in which AI methods supported optical character recognition (OCR) and image identification of historical works. Exactly via the traditional route that I’ve just described, i.e. via a symposium; this was how the first people were invited..

Then the need to position ourselves on this topic developed. I had spoken with a colleague from the Netherlands at a conference shortly before. He said that they had been too late with their AI white paper, meaning that politics had not taken them into account and libraries had not received any special funding for AI tools. That was the wake-up call for me and I thought, here in Germany there is also nothing I am aware of that is specifically for information institutions. I then researched who had publications on the topic. That’s how the network, which is still active, developed. We are working on the English translation at the moment.

What is your plea to the management of information institutions? At the beginning, Anna, you already spoke about commitment, also from “the very top”, being a crucial factor. But going beyond this: what course needs to be set now and which resources need to be built up, to ensure that libraries don’t lose out in the age of AI?

Anna Kasprzik: For institutions who can, it’s important to develop long-term expertise. But I completely understand Frank’s point of view: it is valid to say that not every institution can afford this. So two aspects are important for me: one is to cluster expertise and resources at certain central institutions. The other is to develop communication structures across institutions or to share a cloud structure or something similar. To create a network in order to spread it around. To enable dissemination, i.e. the sharing of these experiences for reuse.

Frank Seeliger: Perhaps there is a third aspect: to reflect on the business process that you are responsible for so that you can identify whether it is suitable for an AI-supported automation, for example. To reflect on this yourself, but to encourage your colleagues to reflect on their own workflows too, as to whether routine tasks can be taken over by machines and thereby relieve them of some of the workload. For example, in our library association, the Kooperativer Bibliotheksverbund Berlin-Brandenburg (KOBV), we had the problem that we would have liked to set up a lab. Not only to play, but also to see together how we can technically support tasks that are really very close to real life. I don’t want to say that the project failed, but the problem was that first you needed the ideas: What can you actually tackle with AI? What requires a lot of time? Is it the indexing? Other work processes that are done over and over again like a routine with a high degree of similarity? We wanted the lab to look at exactly these processes and check if we could automate them, independently of what library management systems do or all the other tools with which we work.

It’s important to initiate the process of self-reflection on automation and digitalisation in order to identify fields of work. Some have expertise in AI, others in their own fields, and they have to come together. The path leads through one’s own reflection to enter into conversation and to sound out whether solutions can be found..

And to what extent can the management support?

Frank Seeliger: Leadership is about bringing people together and giving impetus. The coronavirus pandemic and digitalisation have put a lot of pressure on many people. There is a saying by Angela Merkel. She once said that she only got around to thinking during the Christmas period. However, you want to interpret that now. Out of habit and because you want to clear the pile of work on your desk during working hours, it’s often difficult to reflect on what you are doing and if there isn’t already a tool that could help. Then it’s the task of the management level to look at these processes and where appropriate to say, yes, maybe the person could be helped with this. Let’s organise a project and take a closer look.

Anna Kasprzik: Yes, that’s one of the tasks, but for me the role of management is above all to take the load off the employees and clear a path for them. This brings another buzzword into play: agile working. It’s not only about giving an impetus, but also about supporting people by giving them some leeway so that they can work in a self-dependent manner. The agile manifesto, so to speak, which also leads to the fact that one creates space for experimenting and allows for failure sometimes. Otherwise, nothing will come to fruition.

Frank Seeliger:We will soon be doing a “Best of Failure” survey, because we want to ask what kind of error culture we really have, as it is sacrosanct. This will also be the topic of the Wildau Library Symposium (German) from 13 to 14 September 2022. In it, we will explore this error culture more intensively. Because it is right. Even in IT projects, you simply have to allow things to go wrong. Of course, they don’t have to be taken on as a permanent task if they don’t go well. But sometimes it’s good to just try, because you can’t predict whether a service will be accepted or not. What do we learn from these mistakes? We talk about it relatively little, mostly about successful projects that go well and attract crazy amounts of funding. But the other part also has to come into focus in order to learn better from it and be able to utilise aspects of it for the next project.

Is there anything else that you would like to say at the end?

Frank Seeliger: AI is not just a task for large institutions.

Anna Kasprzik: Exactly, AI concerns everyone. Even though AI should not be dealt with just for the sake of AI, but rather to develop new innovative services that would otherwise not be possible.

Frank Seeliger: There are naturally other topics, no question about that. But you have to address it and sort out the various topics.

Anna Kasprzik: : It’s important that we get the message across to people that automated approaches should not be regarded as a threat, but rather that by now this digital jungle exists anyway, so we need tools to find our way through it. AI therefore represents new potential and added value, and not a threat that will be used to eliminates people’s jobs..

Frank Seeliger: We have also been asked the question: What is the added value of automation? Of course, you spend less time on routine processes that are very manually. This creates scope to explore new technologies, to do advanced training or to have more time for customers. And we need this scope to develop new services. You simply have to create that scope, also for agile project management, so that you don’t spend 100% of your time clearing some pile of work or other from your desks, but can instead use 20% for something new. AI can help give us this time.

Thank you for the interview, Anna and Frank.

Part 1 of the interview on “AI in Academic Libraries” is about areas of activity, the big players and the automation of indexing.
In part 2 of the interview on “AI in Academic Libraries” we explore interesting projects, the future of chatbots and the problem of discrimination through AI.

This might also interest you:

We were talking to:

Dr Anna Kasprzik, coordinator of the automation of subject indexing (AutoSE) at the ZBW – Leibniz Information Centre for Economics. Anna’s main focus lies on the transfer of current research results from the areas of machine learning, semantic technologies, semantic web and knowledge graphs into productive operations of subject indexing of the ZBW. You can also find Anna on Twitter and Mastodon.
Portrait: Photographer: Carola Gruebner, ZBW©

Dr Frank Seeliger (German) has been the director of the university library at the Technical University of Applied Sciences Wildau since 2006 and has been jointly responsible for the part-time programme Master of Science in Library Computer Sciences (M.Sc.) at the Wildau Institute of Technology since 2015. One module explores AI. You can find Frank on ORCID.
Portrait: TH Wildau

Featured Image: Alina Constantin / Better Images of AI / Handmade A.I / Licensed by CC-BY 4.0

The post AI in Academic Libraries, Part 3: Prerequisites and Conditions for Successful Use first appeared on ZBW MediaTalk.

AI in Academic Libraries, Part 2: Interesting Projects, the Future of Chatbots and Discrimination Through AI

Interview with Frank Seeliger (TH Wildau) and Anna Kasprzik (ZBW)

We recently had an intense discussion with Anna Kasprzik (ZBW) and Frank Seeliger (Technical University of Applied Sciences Wildau – TH Wildau) on the use of artificial intelligence in academic libraries. Both of them were recently involved in two wide-ranging articles: “On the promising use of AI in libraries: Discussion stage of a white paper in progress – part 1” (German) and “part 2” (German).

Dr Anna Kasprzik coordinates the automation of subject indexing (AutoSE) at the ZBW – Leibniz Information Centre for Economics. Dr Frank Seeliger (German) is the director of the university library at the Technical University of Applied Sciences Wildau and is jointly responsible for part-time programme Master of Science in Library Computer Sciences (M.Sc.) at the Wildau Institute of Technology.

This slightly shortened, three-part series has been drawn up from our spoken interview. These two articles are also part of it:

What are currently the most interesting AI projects in libraries and infrastructure institutions?

Anna Kasprzik: Of course, there are many interesting AI projects. Off the top of my head, the following two come to mind: The first one is interesting for you if you are interested in the issue of optical character recognition (OCR). Because, before you can even start to think about automated subject indexing, you have to create metadata, i.e. “food” for the machine. So to speak: segmenting digital texts into their structural fragments, extracting an abstract automatically. In order to do this, you run OCR on the scanned text. Qurator (German) is an interesting project in which machine learning methods are used as well. The Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin (Berlin State Library) and the German Research Center for Artificial Intelligence (DFKI) are involved, among others. This is interesting because at some point in the future it might give us the tools we need in order to be able to obtain the data input required for automated subject indexing.

The other project is the Open Research Knowledge Graph (ORKG) of the TIB Hannover. The Open Research Knowledge Graph is a way of representing scientific results no longer as a document, i.e. as a PDF, but rather in an entity-based way. Author, research topic or method – all nodes in one graph. This is the semantic level and one could use machine learning methods in order to populate it.

Frank Seeliger: Only one project: it is running at the ZBW and the TH Wildau and explores the development of a chatbot with new technologies. The idea of chatbots is actually relatively old. A machine conducts a dialogue with a human being. In the best case, the human being does not recognise that a machine is running in the background – the Turing Test. Things are not quite this advanced yet, but the issue we are all concerned with is that libraries are being consulted – in chat rooms, for example. Many libraries aim to offer a high level of service at the times when researchers and students work, i.e. round the clock. This can only take place if procedures are automated, via chatbots for example, so that difficult questions can be also answered outside the opening hours, at weekends and on public holidays.

I am therefore hoping firstly that the input we receive concerning chatbot development means that it will become a high-quality standard service that offers fast orientation and gives information with excellent predictive quality about a library or special services. This would create the starting point for other machines such as moving robots. Many people are investing in robots, playing around with them and trying out various things. People are expecting that they will be able to go to them and ask, “Where is book XY?” or “How do I find this and that?”, and that these robots can deal with such questions profitably and show “there’s that” in an oriented way and point their finger at it. That’s one thing.

The second thing that I find very exciting for projects is to win people over to AI at an early stage. Not just to save AI as a buzzword, but to look behind the scenes of this technology complex. We tried to offer a certificate course (German). However, demand has been too low for us to offer the course. But we will try it again. The German National Library provides a similar course that was well attended. I think it’s important to make a low-threshold offer across the board, i.e. for a one-person library or for small municipal libraries that are set up on a communal basis, as well as for larger university libraries. That people get to grips with the subject matter and find their own way, where they can reuse something, where there are providers or cooperation partners. I find this kind of project is very interesting and important for the world of libraries.

But this too can only be the starting point for many other offers of special workshops, on Annif for example or other topics that can be discussed at a level that non-informaticians can understand as well. It’s an offer to colleagues who are concerned with it, but not necessarily at an in-depth level. As with a car – they don’t manufacture the vehicle themselves, but want to be able to repair or fine-tune it sometimes. At this level, we definitely need more dialogue with the people who are going to have to work with it, for example as system administrators who set up or manage such projects. The offers must also be focused towards the management level – the people who are in charge of budgeting, i.e. those who sign third-party funding applications.

At both institutions, the TH Wildau and the ZBW, you are working on the use of chatbots. Why is this AI application area for academic libraries so promising? What are the biggest challenges?

Frank Seeliger: The interesting perspective for me is that we can operate the development of a chatbot together with other libraries. It is nice when not only one library serves as a knowledge base in the background for the typical examples. This is not possible with locally specific information such as opening hours or spatial conditions. Nevertheless, many synergy effects are created. We can bring them together and be in a position to generate as large a quantity of data as possible, so that the quality of the assertions that are automatically generated is simply better than if we were to set it up individually. The output quality has a lot to do with the data quality. Although it is not true that the more data, the better the information. Other factors also play a role. But generally, small solutions tend to fail because of the small quantity of data.

Especially in view of the fact that a relatively high number of libraries are keen to invest in robot solutions that “walk” through the library outside the opening hours and offer services, like the robot librarian. If the service is used, it therefore makes twice as much sense to offer something online, but also to retrieve it using a machine that rolls through the premises and offers the service. This is important, because the personal approach from the library to the clients is a very decisive and differentiating feature as opposed to the large meta levels that offer their services in the commercial field. Looking for dialogue and paying attention to the special requirements of the users: this is what makes the difference.

Anna Kasprzik: Even though I am not involved in the chatbot project at ZBW, I can think of three challenges. The first is that you need an incredible amount of training data. Getting hold of that much data is relatively difficult. Here at ZBW we have had a chat feature for a long time – without a bot. These chats have been recorded but first they had to be cleaned of all personal data. This was an immense amount of editorial work. That is the first challenge.

The second challenge: it’s a fact that relatively trivial questions, such as the opening hours, are easily answered. But as soon as things become more complex, i.e. when there are specialised questions, you need a knowledge graph behind the chatbot. And setting this up is relatively complex.

Which brings me to the third challenge: during the initial runs, the project team established that quite a few of the users had reservations and quickly thought, “It doesn’t understand me”. So there were reservations on both sides. We therefore have to be mindful of the quality aspect and also of the “trust” of the users.

Frank Seeliger: But the interactions also follow the direction of speech, particularly from the younger generations who are now coming through as students in the libraries. This generation communicates via voice messages: the students speak with Siri or Alexa and they are informal when speaking to technologies. FIZ Karlsruhe has attempted to define search queries using Alexa. That went well in itself, but it failed because of the European General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), the privacy of information and the fact that data was processed somewhere in the USA. Naturally, that is not acceptable.

That’s why it is good that libraries are doing their own thing – they have data sovereignty and can therefore ensure that the GDPR is maintained and that user data is treated carefully. But it would be a strategic mistake if libraries did not adapt to the corresponding dialogue. Very simply because a lot of these interactions no longer take place with writing and reading alone, but via speech. As far as apps and features are concerned, much is communicated via voice messages, and libraries need to adapt to this fact. It starts with chatbots, but the question is whether search engines will be able to cope with (voice) messages at some point and then filter out the actual question. Making a chatbot functional and usable in everyday life is only the first step. With spoken language, this then incorporates listening and understanding.

Is there a timeframe for the development of the chatbot?

Anna Kasprzik: I’m not sure, when the ZBW is planning to put its chatbot online; it could take one or two years. The real question is: when will such chatbots become viable solutions in libraries globally? This may take at least ten years or longer – without wanting to crush hopes too much.

Frank Seeliger: There are always unanticipated revivals popping up, for which a certain impetus is needed. For example, I was in the IT section of the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA) on statistics. We considered whether we could determine statistics clearly and globally, and depict them as a portfolio. Initially it didn’t work – it was limited to one continent: Latin America. Then the section received a huge surprise donation from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and with it, the project IFLA Library Map of the World could be implemented.

It was therefore a very special impetus that led to something that we would normally not have achieved with ten years’ work. And when this impetus exists through tenders, funding, third-party donors that accelerate exactly this kind of project, perhaps also from a long-term perspective, the whole thing takes on a new dynamic. If the development of chatbots in libraries continues to stagnate like this, they will not use them on a market-wide scale. There was also a movement with contactless object recognition via radio waves (Radio-Frequency Identification, RFID). It started in 2001 in Siegburg, then Stuttgart and Munich. Now, it is used in 2,000 to 3,000 libraries. I don’t see this impetus with chatbots at all. That’s why I don’t think that, in ten or 15 years, chatbots will be used in 10% to 20% of libraries. It’s an experimental field. Maybe some libraries will introduce them, but it will be a handful, perhaps a dozen. However if a driving force occurs owing to external factors such as funding or a network initiative, the whole concept may receive new momentum.

The fact that AI-based systems make discriminatory decisions is often regarded as a general problem. Does this also apply to the library context? How can this be prevented?

Anna Kasprzik: That’s a very tricky question. Not many people are aware that potential difficulties almost always arise from the training data because training data is human data. These data sources contain our prejudices. In other words, whether the results may have a discriminating effect or not depends on the data itself and on the knowledge organisation systems that underpin it.

One movement that is gathering pace is known as de-colonisalisation. People are therefore taking a close look at the vocabularies they use, thesauri and ontologies. The problem has come up for us as well: since we also provide historical texts, terms that have racist connotations today appeared in the thesaurus . Naturally, we primarily incorporate terms that are considered politically correct. But these definitions can shift over time. The question is: what do you do with historical texts where this word occurs in the title? The task is then to find different ways to provide them as hidden elements of the thesaurus but not to display them in the interface.

There are knowledge organisation systems that are very old and have developed in times very different from ours. We need to restructure them completely as a matter of urgency. It’s always a balancing act if you want to display texts from earlier periods with the structures that were in use at that time. Because I must both not falsify the historical context, but also not offend anyone who wants to search in these texts and feel represented or at least not discriminated against. This is a very difficult question, particularly in libraries. People often think: that’s not an issue for libraries, it’s only relevant in politics, or that sort of thing. But on the contrary, libraries reflect the times in which they exist, and rightly so.

Frank Seeliger: Everything that you can use can also be misused. This applies to every object. For example, I was very impressed in Turkey. They are working with a big Koha approach (library software), meaning that more than 1,000 public libraries are using the open source solution Koha as their library management software. They therefore know, among other things, which book is most often borrowed in Turkey. We do not have this kind of information at all in Germany via the German Library Statistics (DBS, German). This doesn’t mean that this knowledge discredits the other books, that they are automatically “leftovers”. You can do a lot with knowledge. The bias that exists with AI is certainly the best known. But it is the same for all information: should monuments be pulled down or left standing? We need to find a path through the various moral phases that we live through as a society.

In my own studies, I specialised in pre-Colombian America. To name one example, the Aztecs never referred to themselves as Aztecs. If you searched in catalogues of libraries pre-1763, the term “Aztec” did not exist. They called themselves Mexi‘ca. Or we could take the Kerensky Offensive – search engines do not have much to offer on that. It was a military offensive that was only named that afterwards. It used to be called something else. It is the same challenge: to refer to both terms, even if the terminology has changed, or if it is no longer “en vogue” to work with a certain term.

Anna Kasprzik: This is also called concept drift and it is generally a big problem. It’s why you always have to retrain the machines: concepts are continually developing, new ones emerge or old terms change their meaning. Even if there is no discrimination, terminology is constantly evolving

And who does this work?

Anna Kasprzik: The machine learning experts at the institution.

Frank Seeliger: The respective zeitgeist and its intended structure.

Thank you for the interview, Anna and Frank.

Part 1 of the interview on “AI in Academic Libraries” is about areas of activity, the big players and the automation of indexing.
Part 3 of the interview on “AI in Academic Libraries” focuses on prerequisites and conditions for successful use
We will share the link here as soon as the post is published

This text has been translated from German.

This might also interest you:

We were talking to:

Dr Anna Kasprzik, coordinator of the automation of subject indexing (AutoSE) at the ZBW – Leibniz Information Centre for Economics. Anna’s main focus lies on the transfer of current research results from the areas of machine learning, semantic technologies, semantic web and knowledge graphs into productive operations of subject indexing of the ZBW. You can also find Anna on Twitter and Mastodon.
Portrait: Photographer: Carola Gruebner, ZBW©

Dr Frank Seeliger (German) has been the director of the university library at the Technical University of Applied Sciences Wildau since 2006 and has been jointly responsible for the part-time programme part-time programme Master of Science in Library Computer Sciences (M.Sc.) at the Wildau Institute of Technology since 2015. One module explores AI. You can find Frank on ORCID.
Portrait: TH Wildau

Featured Image: Alina Constantin / Better Images of AI / Handmade A.I / Licensed by CC-BY 4.0

The post AI in Academic Libraries, Part 2: Interesting Projects, the Future of Chatbots and Discrimination Through AI first appeared on ZBW MediaTalk.

AI in Academic Libraries, Part 1: Areas of Activity, Big Players and the Automation of Indexing

Interview with Frank Seeliger (TH Wildau) and Anna Kasprzik (ZBW)

We recently had an intense discussion with Anna Kasprzik (ZBW) and Frank Seeliger (Technical University of Applied Sciences Wildau) on the use of artificial intelligence (AI) in academic libraries. Both of them were also recently involved in two wide-ranging articles: “On the Promising Use of AI in Libraries: Discussion Stage of a White Paper in Progress – Part 1“ (German) and “Part 2 (German). This slightly shortened, three-part series has been drawn up from our spoken interview. These two articles are also part of the following text:

  • Part 2: Interesting Projects, the Future of Chatbots and Discrimination Through AI
  • Part 3: Prerequisites and Conditions for Successful Use

We will link them here as soon as the texts are online.

An interview with Dr Anna Kasprzik (ZBW – Leibniz Information Centre for Economics) and Dr Frank Seeliger (University Library of the Technical University of Applied Sciences Wildau).

What are the most promising areas of activity for the use of AI in academic libraries?

Frank Seeliger: Time and again, reports crop up about how great the automation potential of different job profiles is. This also applies to libraries: In the case of the management of an institution, automation using AI is minimal, but for the specialists for media and information services (FaMI in German), it could be up to 50%.

In the course of automation and digitalisation, it’s largely about changing process chains and automating so that users can borrow or return media autonomously in the libraries – outside opening hours or during rush hour – essentially as an interaction between human and machine.

Even the display of availabilities in the catalogue is a consequence of the use of automation and digitalisation of services in libraries. Users can check at home whether a medium is available. Services in this area – those dealing with how to access a service outside the immediate vicinity and opening hours – are certainly increasing, for example in the context of asking a question or using something during the evening, including via remote access. This process continues and also includes internal procedures such as leave requests or budget planning. These processes run completely differently in comparison to 15 years ago.

One of the first areas of activity for libraries is the automatic letter and number recognition, including for older works, cimelia, early printed books or also generally in the context of digitalisation for all the projects there. This is the one area of expertise of libraries in layout, identification and recognition. The other is the question of indexing. Many years ago, libraries worked almost exclusively with printed works, keywording them and indexing their content. Nowadays detection systems have tables of contents and work with what are known as “component parts of a bibliographically independent work”, i.e. articles that are co-documented in discovery tools or search engines. The question is always: “How should we prepare this knowledge so that it can be found using completely different approaches?” Competitors such as Wikipedia and Google predetermine the speed to some extent. We try to keep up or go into niche fields where we have different expertise, another perspective. These are definitely the first areas of activity in the field of operations, search activities or indexing and digitalisation, where AI is helping us to go further than before.

It has thereby been possible for many libraries to offer services at lower personnel cost even beyond the opening hours of public libraries (Open Level concept). Not round the clock, but for several more hours – even if no-one is in the building.

We need to make sure that we provide students with relatively high-quality information at different places and different times in their various locations. This is why chatbots for example (there’s more to come about this in part 2 of this article series) are such an exciting development, because students do not necessarily work when libraries are open or when our service times are available, but rather during the evenings, at the weekend or on public holidays. Libraries have the urgent task of providing them with sufficient and quality-checked information. We need to position ourselves where the modern technologies are.

Anna Kasprzik: Perhaps I’m biased because I’m working in the field but for me it’s very important to differentiate: I am specialised in the field of automation of subject indexing in academic libraries; the core task is to process and provide information intelligently. For me, this is the most interesting field. However, I sometimes get the impression that some libraries are falling into a trap: they want to do “something with AI” because it’s cool at the moment and then just end up dabbling in it.

But it’s really important to tackle the core tasks and thus prove that libraries can stay relevant. These days, core tasks such as subject indexing are impossible to imagine without automation. Previously this work was done intellectually by people, often even by people with doctorates. But because the tasks are changing and the quantity of digital publications is growing so rapidly, humans can only achieve a fraction of what is required. This is why we need to automate and successively find ways to combine humans and machines more intelligently. In machine learning, we speak of the „Human in the Loop“. By this, we mean the various ways in which humans and machines can work together to solve problems. We really need to focus on the core tasks. And we need to apply methods of artificial intelligence and not just do explorative projects that might be interesting in the short-term but are not thought through at a sustainable level.

Frank Seeliger: The challenge is that, even when you have a very narrow field that you are trying to research and describe, it’s difficult to stay up to date with all relevant articles. You need tools such as the Open Research Knowledge Graph (ORKG). With its help, content can be compared with the same methods and similar facts, without reading the entire article. Because this naturally requires time and energy. It’s impossible to read 20 scientific articles a day. But that’s how many are produced in some fields. That’s why you need to develop intelligent tools that help scientists to get a fast overview of which articles to prioritise for reading, absorbing and reflecting on.

But it goes even further. In the authors’ group of the „White Papers in progress“ (German), which we held for one year, we asked ourselves what search of the future would be like: Will we still search for keywords? We’re familiar with this from plagiarism detection software into which entire documents are entered. The software checks whether there is a match with other publications and whether non-cited text is used without permission. But you can also turn the whole thing around by saying: I have written something; have I forgotten a significant, current contribution in science? As a result, you get a semantic ontological hint that there is already an article on the topic you have explored which you should reflect on and incorporate. This is a perspective for us, because we assume that today one can hardly become master of the situation, even when they have an interdisciplinary focus or are exploring a new field. It would also be exciting to find a way in via a graphic analysis that ensures that you have not forgotten anything important.

(How) can libraries keep up with big players such as Google, Amazon or facebook? Do they even have to?

Frank Seeliger: We’ve had some very intensive disagreements about this and come to the conclusion that libraries will never have the men-and-women power that other corporations have, even if we were able to only have one single world library. Even then it would be questionable whether we would be able to establish a parallel world (and if we would even want this). After all, others cater for other target groups. But even in the case of Google Scholar, the target group is quite clearly defined.

Our expertise lies in the respective field that we have licenced, for which we have access. Every higher education institution has different points of focus for its own teaching and research. For this, it ensures very privileged, exclusive access which is used to reflect precisely on what is in the full text or is licenced and what can be accessed by going to the shelves. This is and remains the task.

Although it is also changing. How will things develop, for example, if a very high percentage of publications are published in Open Access and the data becomes freely accessible? There are semantic search engines that are experimenting with this. Examples are YEWNO at Bayerische Staatsbibliothek (Bavarian State Library) or, a company that has a headquarters in Prague, among other places. They work a lot with Open Access literature and try to process it differently on a scientific level than before. So in this respect, tasks also change.

Libraries need to reposition themselves if they want to stay in the race. But it’s clear that our core task is first of all to process the material that we have licenced and for which we pay a lot of money in the best possible way. The aim must be that our users, i.e. students or researchers, find the information they need relatively quickly and not after the 30th hit.

One of the ways in which libraries are intrinsically different to the big players lies in how they deal with personal data. The relationship to personal data when using services is diametrically opposed to the offers of the big players, because values such as trustworthiness, transparency etc. play an enormously important role for the services of libraries.

Do students even start their search in library catalogues? Don’t they go directly to the general internet search engines?

Anna Kasprzik: They use Google relatively often. At the ZBW, we are actually currently analysing the routes via which users enter our research portal. It’s often Google hits. But I don’t see that as a problem because the research portal of a library is only one reuse scenario of metadata that libraries create. You can also make it available for reuse as Linked Open Data. And what’s more: Google uses a lot of this data, so it is already integrated into Google.

And to respond to the other question, we have also discussed this in the paper, at least in the early draft. The fact that libraries are publicly funded means that they have a very different set of ethics when dealing with the personal data of users. And this has many advantages because they don’t constantly try to milk the users according to their needs or requirements. Libraries simply want to provide the best-prepared information possible. This is a strong moral advantage, which we can utilise to our benefit. But libraries do not sell this advantage, at least not very much.

There is also an age-old disagreement about this (which has nothing to do with AI, however) – many students or also PhD candidates do not realise that in their everyday lives, they are using data that a library has prepared and made available for them. They call up a paper in the university and do not notice that its link has been made available via their library and that the library has paid for this. And then, there are two factions: some people say that the users shouldn’t notice that it must occur as smoothly as possible. The others believe that, actually, there should be a big fat notice stating “provided by your library” so that people can’t miss it.

Frank Seeliger: The visualisation of the library work that is reused by third parties is a great challenge and must be properly championed because otherwise, if it is no longer visible, people will start asking why they are giving money to libraries at all? The results are visible but not who has financed them and/or people don’t notice that they are actually commercial products.

Another aspect that we discussed was the issue of transparency and freedom from advertising. We organised a virtual Open Access Week (German) from November 2021 to March 2022. We made video recordings of each ninety-minute session. Then we asked ourselves: Should we use YouTube for publication or the non-commercial video portal of the TIB Leibniz Information Centre for Science and Technology and University Library (TIB AV Portal)? We made a clear-cut decision to use the TIB AV portal and they have accepted us there. We decided in favour of the portal precisely because there are no advertisements, no overlays and no pop-up windows. If we work with discovery tools, we try to advertise the fact that you really don’t get any advertising and reach your goal with your very first hit. Therefore, several aspects differentiate us significantly from commercial providers. We are having that discussion right now; it’s an important difference.

Will the intellectual creation of metadata soon become superfluous because intelligent search engines will take over this task?

Anna Kasprzik: This is a fundamental issue for me. I say: “no”, or perhaps “yes and no”. What we are doing at the moment via our automation of subject indexing with machine learning methods is an attempt to imitate the intellectual subject indexing one-to-one, just the same way it has always been done. But for me this is only a way for us to get our foot in the door technologically. In the next few years, we will address this and start designing the interplay between human knowledge organisation expertise and machines in a more intelligent way – reorganise it completely. I can imagine that we will not necessarily need to do the intellectual subject indexing in advance in the same way that we are currently doing it. Instead, intelligent search engines can try to index content resources taking the context into account.

But even if they are able to do this from the context ad hoc, those engines require a certain amount of underlying semantic structuring. And this structuring needs to exist in advance. It will therefore always be necessary to prepare information so that the pattern recognition algorithms can access them in the first place. If you merely dive into the raw data, the result is chaos, because the available metadata is fuzzy. You need structuring that pulls the whole thing more sharply into focus, even if it only accommodates the machine to a partial extent and not completely. There exist completely different ways of interconnecting search queries and retrieval results. But intelligent search engines still have to have something up their sleeve, and that something is organised knowledge. This knowledge organisation requires human expertise as input at certain points. The question is: at which points?

Frank Seeliger: There is also the opposing view of TIB director Prof. Dr Sören Auer, who says that data collection is overvalued. Certainly also meant as a provocation or simply to test how far one can go. In the future, it may not be necessary to have as many colleagues working in the field of intellectual indexing.

For example, we have 16,000 graduate thesis held in the library of the TH Wildau library; the entire lists of contents are being scanned and made OCR-compatible. The question is, can you systematise them according to the Regensburger Verbundklassifikation (RVK, Regensburger Association Classification; a classification scheme for academic libraries), perhaps with the Annif tool? This means that I don’t have to look at each dissertation and say, this one belongs in the field of engineering, etc., independently of the study courses in which they were written. But instead, here is the RVK graph, there are the tables of contents, then they are matched according to certain algorithms. This is a different approach to when I, as a specialist, take a look at every work and index it correspondingly for keywords, the Integrated Authority File (GND; a service facilitating the collaborative use and administration of authority data) and so on, run through all the procedures. I see this as a new way of master or mistress of the masses, because a great deal is published; because we have taken over responsibilities that did not used to be covered by libraries, such as the indexing of articles, i.e. component parts of a bibliographically independent work, besides bibliographically independent works. It’s definitely a great help.

However I cannot imagine that humans no longer intervene at all in such algorithms and offer a pre-structuring according to which they must act. Up to now, it’s been the case that we require a lot of human intervention to trim and optimise these systems better, so that the results are indexed 99% correctly. That’s one objective. This requires control and pre-structuring, looking at, training data. For example in calligraphy, when you check if a letter has been recognised correctly. Checking and handling by human beings is still necessary.

Anna Kasprzik: Exactly – I mentioned the concept earlier: the “human in the loop”, i.e. that people can be involved at various levels. These can start out very trivially: with the fact that training data or our knowledge organisation systems are generated by humans. Or the fact that you can use automatically generated keywords as suggestions – machine-assisted subject indexing.

There are also concepts such as online learning and active learning. Online learning means that the machine receives feedback relatively consistently from the indexer, as to how good its output was and based on that retraining takes place. Active learning is where the machine can interactively decide at certain points: I now need a person as an oracle for a partial decision. The machine initiates this, saying: “Human, I am pushing a few part-decisions that I need into the queue here – please work through them.” People and machines tend to toss the ball back and forth here, rather than doing it separately in two blocks.

Thank you for the interview, Anna and Frank.

In part 2 of the interview on “AI in Academic Libraries” we explore exciting projects regarding the future of chatbots and discrimination through AI.
Part 3 of the interview on “AI in Academic Libraries” focuses on prerequisites and conditions for successful use.
We’ll share the link here as soon as the post is published.

This text has been translated from German.

This might also interest you:

We were talking to:

Dr Anna Kasprzik, coordinator of the automation of subject indexing (AutoSE) at the ZBW – Leibniz Information Centre for Economics. Anna’s main focus lies on the transfer of current research results from the areas of machine learning, semantic technologies, semantic web and knowledge graphs into productive operations of subject indexing of the ZBW. You can also find Anna on Twitter and Mastodon.
Portrait: Photographer: Carola Gruebner, ZBW©

Dr Frank Seeliger (German) has been the director of the university library at the Technical University of Applied Sciences Wildau since 2006 and has been jointly responsible for the part-time programme Master of Science in Library Computer Sciences (M.Sc.) at the Wildau Institute of Technology since 2015. One module explores AI. You can find Frank on ORCID.
Portrait: TH Wildau

Featured Image: Alina Constantin / Better Images of AI / Handmade A.I / Licensed by CC-BY 4.0

The post AI in Academic Libraries, Part 1: Areas of Activity, Big Players and the Automation of Indexing first appeared on ZBW MediaTalk.

INCONECSS 2022 Symposium: Artificial Intelligence, Open Access and Data Dominate the Discussions

by Anastasia Kazakova

The third INCONECSS – International Conference on Economics and Business Information – took place online from 17 to 19 May 2022. The panels and presentations focused on artificial intelligence, Open Access and (research) data. INCONECSS also addressed collaboration in designing services for economics research and education and how these may have been influenced by the corona crisis.

Unleash the future and decentralise research!

Prof. Dr Isabell Welpe, Chair of Business Administration – Strategy and Organisation at the Technical University of Munich, gave the keynote address “The next chapter for research information: decentralised, digital and disrupted”. With this, she wanted to inspire the participants to “unleash the future” and decentralise research. The first topic of her presentation was about German universities. Isabell Welpe took us on a journey through three stations:

  1. What happens at universities?
  2. What does the work of students, researchers and teachers and the organisation at universities look like?
  3. How can universities and libraries be made future-proof?

In her lecture, she pointed out that hierarchically organised teaching is currently often unable to cope with the rapid social changes and new developments in the world of work. Isabell Welpe therefore suggested opening up teaching and organising it “bottom up”. This means relying on the decentralised self-organisation of students, offering (digital) spaces for exchange and tailoring teaching to their needs. Through these changes, students can learn while actively participating in research, which simultaneously promotes their creativity and agility. This is a cornerstone for disruptive innovation; that is, innovation that breaks and radically changes existing structures.

Prof. Dr Isabell Welpe, Chair of Business Administration – Strategy and Organisation at the Technical University of Munich, drawing: Karin Schliehe

Libraries could support and even drive the upcoming changes. In any case, they should prepare themselves for enormous changes due to the advancing digitisation of science. Isabell Welpe observed the trend towards “digital first” in teaching – triggered by the coronavirus situation. In the long term, this trend will influence the role of libraries as places of learning, but will also determine interactions with libraries as sources of information. Isabell Welpe therefore encouraged libraries to become a market-place in order to promote exchange, creativity and adaptability. The transformation towards this is both a task and an opportunity to make academic libraries future-proof.

In her keynote speech, Isabell Welpe also focused on the topic of decentralisation. One of the potentials of decentralisation is that scientists exchange data directly and share research data and results with each other, without, for example, publishers in between. Keywords were: Web 3.0, Crypto Sci-Hub and Decentralisation of Science.

In the Q&A session, Isabell Welpe addressed the image of libraries: Libraries could be places where people would go and do things, where they would exchange and would be creative; they could be places where innovation took place. She sees libraries as a Web 3.0 ecosystem with different services and encouraged them to be more responsive to what users need. Her credo: “Let the users own a part of the library!”

How can libraries support researchers?

Following on from the keynote, many presentations at INCONECSS dealt with how libraries can succeed even better in supporting researchers. On the first day, Markus Herklotz and Lars Oberländer from the University of Mannheim presented their ideas on this topic with a Poster (PDF, partly in German). The focus was on the interactive virtual assistant (iVA), which enables data collaboration by imparting legal knowledge. Developed by the BERD@BW and BERD@NFDI initiatives, the iVA helps researchers to understand the basic data protection regulations in each case and thereby helps them to evaluate their legal options for data use. The selfdirected assistant is an open-source learning module and can be extended.

Paola Corti from SPARC Europe introduced the ENOEL toolkit with her poster (PDF). It is a collection of templates for slides, brochures and Twitter posts to help communicate the benefits of Open Education to different user groups. The aim is to raise awareness of the importance of Open Education. It is openly designed, available in 16 language versions and can be adapted to the needs of the organisation.

On the last day of INCONECSS, Franziska Klatt from the Economics and Management Library of the TU Berlin reported in her presentation (PDF) on another toolkit that supports researchers in applying the Systematic Literature Review (SLRM) method. Originating from the medical field, the method was adapted to the economic context. SLRM helps researchers to reduce bias and redundancy in their work by following a formalised and transparent process that is reproducible. The toolkit provides a collection of information on the stages of this process, as well as SLR sources, tutorial videos and sample articles. Through the use of the toolkit and the information on the associated website, the media competence of the young researchers could be improved. An online course is also planned.

Field reports: How has the pandemic changed the library world?

The coronavirus is not yet letting go of the world, which also applies to the world of the INCONECSS community: In the poster session, Scott Richard St. Louis from the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis presented his experiences of onboarding in a hybrid work environment. He addressed individual aspects of remote onboarding, such as getting to know new colleagues or the lack of a physical space for meetings.

The poster (PDF) is worth a look, as it contains a number of suggestions for new employees and management, e.g.:

  • “Be direct, and even vulnerable”,
  • “Be approachable” or
  • “What was once implicit or informal needs to become explicit or conscious”.

Arjun Sanyal from the Central University of Himachal Pradesh (CUHP) reported in his presentation (PDF) on a project of his library team. They observed that the long absence from campus triggered a kind of indifference towards everyday academic life and an “informational anxiety” among students. The latter manifests itself in a reluctance to use information resources for studying, out of a fear of searching for them. To counteract this, the librarians used three types of measures: Mind-map sessions, an experimental makerspace and supportive motivational events. In the mind-map session, for example, the team collected ideas for improving library services together with the students. The effort had paid off, they said, because after a while they noticed that the campus and the libraries in particular were once again popular. In addition, Makerspace and motivational events helped students to rediscover the joy of learning, reports Arjun Sanyal.

Artificial Intelligence in Libraries

One of the central topics of the conference was without doubt the use of artificial intelligence (AI) in the library context. On the second day of INCONECSS, the panel participants from the fields of research, AI, libraries and thesaurus/ontology looked at aspects of the benefits of AI for libraries from different perspectives. They discussed the support of researchers through AI and the benefits for library services, but also the added value and the risks that arise through AI.

Discussion, drawing: Karin Schliehe

The panellists agreed that new doors would open up through the use of AI in libraries, such as new levels of knowledge organisation or new services and products. In this context, it was interesting to hear Osma Suominen from the National Library of Finland say that AI is not a game changer at the moment: it has the potential, but is still too immature. In the closing statements, the speakers took up this idea again: They were optimistic about the future of AI, yet a sceptical approach to this technology is appropriate. It is still a tool. According to the panellists, AI will not replace librarians or libraries, nor will it replace research processes. The latter require too much creativity for that. And in the case of libraries, a change in business concepts is conceivable, but not the replacement of the institution of the library itself.

It was interesting to observe that the topics that shaped the panel discussion kept popping up in the other presentations at the conference: Data, for example, in the form of training or evaluation data, was omnipresent. The discussants emphasised that the quality of the data is very important for AI, as it determines the quality of the results. Finding good and usable data is still complex and often related to licences, copyrights and other legal restrictions. The chatbot team from the ZBW also reported on the challenges surrounding the quality of training data in the poster session (PDF).

The question of trust in algorithms was also a major concern for the participants. On the one hand, it was about bias, which is difficult and requires great care to remove from AI systems. Again, data was the main issue: if the data was biased, it was almost impossible to remove the bias from the system. Sometimes it even leads to the systems not going live at all. On the other hand, it was about the trust in the results that an AI system delivers. Because AI systems are often non-transparent, it is difficult for users and information specialists to trust the search results provided by the AI system for a literature search. These are two of the key findings from the presentation (PDF) by Solveig Sandal Johnsen from AU Library, The Royal Library and Julie Kiersgaard Lyngsfeldt from Copenhagen University Library, The Royal Library. The team from Denmark investigated two AI systems designed to assist with literature searches. The aim was to investigate the extent to which different AI-based search programmes supported researchers and students in academic literature search. During the project, information specialists tested the functionality of the systems using the same search tasks. Among other results, they concluded that the systems could be useful in the exploratory phase of the search, but they functioned differently from traditional systems (such as classic library catalogues or search portals like EconBiz) and, according to the presenters, challenged the skills of information specialists.

This year, the conference took place exclusively online. As the participants came from different time zones, it was possible to attend the lectures asynchronously and after the conference. A selection of recorded lectures and presentations (videos) is available on the TIB AV portal.

Links to INCONECSS 2022:

  • Programme INCONECSS
  • Interactive Virtual Assistant (iVA) – Enabling Data Collaboration by Conveying Legal Knowledge: Abstract and poster (PDF)
  • ENOEL toolkit: Open Education Benefits: Abstract and poster (PDF)
  • Systematic Literature Review – Enhancing methodology competencies of young researchers: Abstract and slides (PDF)
  • Onboarding in a Hybrid Work Environment: Questions from a Library Administrator, Answers from a New Hire: Abstract and Poster (PDF)
  • Rethinking university librarianship in the post-pandemic scenario: Abstract and slides (PDF)
  • „Potential of AI for Libraries: A new level for knowledge organization?“: Abstract Panel Discussion
  • The EconDesk Chatbot: Work in Progress Report on the Development of a Digital Assistant for Information Provision: Abstract and slides (PDF)
  • AI-powered software for literature searching: What is the potential in the context of the University Library?: Abstract and slides (PDF)

This might also interest you:

About the Author:

Anastasia Kazakova is a research associate in the department Information Provision & Access and part of the EconBiz team at the ZBW – Leibniz Information Centre for Economics. Her focus is on user research, usability and user experience design, and research-based innovation. She can also be found on LinkedIn, ResearchGate and XING.
Potrait: Photographer: Carola Grübner, ZBW©

The post INCONECSS 2022 Symposium: Artificial Intelligence, Open Access and Data Dominate the Discussions first appeared on ZBW MediaTalk.

The Ideal Place for Students to Learn: Results of a ZBW Photo Study

by Alena Behrens and Nicole Clasen

In this article, Alena Behrens and Nicole Clasen from the User Services team at the ZBW – Leibniz Information Centre for Economics report on the background, method, questions and results of their photo study among students. The key feature: the participants were only allowed to answer the five questions with photos. Text answers or comments were not possible. 19 students took part and sent 108 photos: of how they work, take their breaks and what their after-work rituals are. Alena Behrens and Nicole Clasen present the most interesting findings, draw conclusions about how new learning spaces in libraries need to be designed, and reveal what role candles play in this:

Pandemic challenges

User experience research (UX research) is characterised by spending a lot of time with your users, including their emotional level and questioning behaviours to learn as much as possible about the users. But how can you build this connection when libraries are closed for weeks and people are called to physically distance themselves from each other? The ZBW’s User Services team has dared to attempt a UX survey during the pandemic.

Approach and setting

Due to the pandemic-related requirements at the time of implementation in autumn 2021, it quickly became clear that the project should be carried out online as far as possible. The opening hours of the libraries were very limited. Only a few users worked in the library on site, and most of the staff worked from their home offices.

The question for us, however, was obvious: How do students learn at home during the pandemic? What stresses or disturbs them about this work situation? How do students deal with these changed learning conditions without a lecture hall or library? And what can we learn from this to adapt and improve the future design of the learning spaces?

A suitable UX method quickly emerged for these questions: the Photo Studies (term after Andy Priestner).

Photo Studies from home

In the Photo Studies method, the participants answer the questions posed with photos they have taken themselves. This was suitable for our question for two reasons: First, it gives us a very good insight into how the students set themselves up to study at home. Second, we were able to comply with all hygiene measures by establishing contact via email and sending the photos to us digitally. In addition, the students were quite flexible in terms of when they answered the questions. They could take the photos at their leisure and decide what should be in the photos.

The following five questions were to be answered with photos:

  1. Where is the favourite place to study/work and what is the most important object?
  2. What did the workplace look like (during an online lecture)?
  3. How is the break organised?
  4. What was the most annoying/challenging thing in the last few months?
  5. What does the after-work ritual look like?

Photos and findings

A total of 19 students participated in the study with 108 photos. So not everyone sent the exact number of five photos. The User Services team analysed the photos anonymously. By sending them, the students agreed to this and also that we could use the photos in presentations, articles, etc. The number of photos gave us a good insight into the working and learning conditions of home studying.

Workplaces and stress points

Important for working are a stable internet connection and good work equipment, such as technical equipment, a desk and chair. These are also the biggest stress points if they do not meet the requirements: An interference-prone internet connection is a hindrance for online lectures, and uncomfortable chairs cause back pain.

Only half of the participants work at a proper desk, the other half sit at the kitchen table or other converted tables. The space situation in general is often cramped. It is usually not possible to switch between work and leisure time.

Breaks and after-work rituals

The participants like to spend their breaks outside and in motion, e.g. on a walk, also with friends. After work, on the other hand, they spend most of their time at home. This is also in line with the usual pandemic-related requirements at the time of implementation.

As an after-work ritual, we received many sports pictures, from boxing and running to the yoga mat, many individual sports were included. The cosy sofa for relaxing should not be missing either.

Environment and decoration

As we already found out in our 2018 survey, the environment and atmosphere of the learning space play a major role. Implementing these needs in their own homes presented challenges for the students, but they were able to solve them. For a pleasant dose of daylight and fresh air, the learning spaces were often close to the window. They decorated the space with plants and candles. Drinks, especially coffee and tea, and snacks were also not to be missed.

  • Conclusion 1: Equip learning spaces well

    For us, it was rather surprising that after three semesters of purely digital study, many students still work with rather provisional solutions. Many work at the dining table or have placed a small table in the corner of the room. In most cases, there is only one laptop available, and there are no additional monitors. This is definitely a starting point for libraries to provide well-equipped learning spaces. This starts with large tables and comfortable, ergonomic chairs, and can be extended by technical equipment, e.g. by offering additional monitors to make working easier. Areas where you can work alone and still participate in online seminars were rare in libraries before the pandemic. We will consider this form of work in the future.

  • Conclusion 2: Create spaces for social interaction

    What has often been missing since the beginning of the Corona pandemic, but is all the more essential, is social contact. For libraries, this means on the one hand that places to work together in groups are important. There is often not enough space for this in small shared rooms. Areas for common breaks and social meeting places to exchange ideas and continue working creatively are also desired. Areas where small yoga and relaxation breaks can be taken can also offer added value. After sitting for a long time, many people feel the need to move, as the photos have confirmed.

  • Conclusion 3: Developing the library together with students

    It is very exciting to get an impression of students’ personal workplaces. The very positive feedback from the participants also showed us that they appreciate it when you want to respond to their personal needs. What was surprising for us was that we were given such open and personal insights. Thus, we can draw on an instructive and informative pool of knowledge and inspiration to design user services for the changing needs of learning and studying after the pandemic. With this knowledge, we can further develop the services in a targeted and needs-oriented manner.

Reflection on method and procedure

For the circumstances (Corona pandemic, home office/studying) and the question from this context, the method of photo studies was very well suited. We gained an insight into students’ private learning environments that we could hardly have gained otherwise. In this online implementation, in contrast to previous face-to-face on-site studies, we did not conduct any subsequent interviews. If we were to conduct them again, we would also combine the online studies with a small interview. This would give the participants the opportunity to explain their images. For some, there was a lot of room for interpretation and an explanation would have facilitated the exact interpretation.

However, this kind of implementation does not replace personal contact. Being able to talk to the students on site and to personally guide the UX methods is a great benefit. It enables a fluent dialogue and exchange.

This text has been translated from German.

This might also interest you:

About the authors:

Nicole Clasen is Head of User Services at ZBW – Leibniz Information Centre for Economics. Her work focuses on information transfer, digital user services and the usability experience. LinkedIn and Twitter.
Portrait: ZBW©, photographer Sven Wied

Alena Behrens works as a librarian in the user services department at the ZBW – Leibniz Information Centre for Economics. In addition to working at the service desk, her work focuses on information mediation and user experience. She can also be found on Twitter.
Portrait: Alena Behrens©

The post The Ideal Place for Students to Learn: Results of a ZBW Photo Study first appeared on ZBW MediaTalk.

User Experience in Libraries: Insights from the Central Economics Library at the University of Ljubljana

At the University of Ljubljana (UL), there is not one central university library. In fact, each faculty or academy has its own library: 38 in total. One of these 38 libraries is the Central Economics Library (CEL) at the School of Economics and Business (SEB LU), where Tomaž Ul?akar works.

He attended a conference in Glasgow in 2017 that opened his eyes to User Experience (UX). Since then, a lot has happened at the CEL: there was a pop-up library, a shift in focus onto the main users and the whole concept of user training has been reworked.

An interview with Tomaž Ul?akar, Central Economics Library and Publishing Office at the School of Economics and Business, University of Ljubljana.

What are your goals with UX? Did you achieve them?

The goal of the Central Economics Library is to transform itself into a modern Centre of Knowledge (CeK), where activities such as the classical library, the digital library, the information center, the publishing, the Open Access, the infrastructure centre with two laboratories (behavioural lab and financial lab) will work together as one large modern knowledge incubator.

Which UX methods do you apply at the CEL?

We use mostly: brainstorming, stakeholders and users interviews, sometimes also kickoff meetings.

Can you give us a practical example that worked, where you applied UX to solve a problem?

A good example of the use of UX in CEL was the design of online services for users at the beginning of the pandemic in March 2020, when we used all of the above methods in combination in our Zoom meetings to launch the new online product CEL outside the library.

To apply UX methods, you need library users who are willing to participate. How do you manage to find and motivate them?

I find this part as the hardest. Yes, it is true; you need a lot of energy for persuading users to participate. We have some very enthusiastic colleagues who are willing to enter the user comfort zone and motivate them: with words as we are trying to improve our services. In the past, we also used our social media channels to encourage the participation in UX with an award for the best idea (when we were searching a new name for our study places or for the e-tutor).

When and why did you start working with UX? What does that mean practically?

Based on Andy Priestner’s presentation at the European Business School Librarian’s Group (EBSLG) Annual General Meeting 2017 (German) in Glasgow and on his book “User Experience in Libraries: Applying Ethnography and Human-Centred Design”, we decided to change the whole user concept of the library.

In 2017, we segmented the users, observed their habits and made the first decisions that we need to adapt the services to the main users: full-time students. Therefore, at the beginning of the academic year in October 2017, we went out of the library with the pop-up library and presented the services at the booth.

Pop-up-Library: Registration

In 2018, we worked a lot to change the focus of the librarians in the circulation department and also to do some research among users on how they behave in our spaces, what they are looking for, how they use our facilities, etc. We also have a young staff member who, with his fresh perspective on the library and its services, has motivated other colleagues to make even bigger changes in the UX dimension.

In 2019, after analysing the existing model and based on users’ wishes expressed at the counter, in personal conversations and surveys, we decided to change the whole concept of user training. We offered narrowly specialised presentations with e-resource workshops for areas of study. We also approached professors with this concept, inviting library experts to individual courses to present relevant e-resources.

All training presentations and workshops for an academic year are presented on the LibCal platform. We also use the platform as an e-tutor for all library services, such as membership and loans, remote access, trainings, etc. For each trainings promotion is prepared with leaflet and promotion channels.

For each trainings promotion is prepared with leaflet and promotion channels

This move toward users was critical during Corona 2020 and 2021, when the library kept in touch with users through brief online-zoom service presentations. We put almost all services online. Statistics show a sharp increase in the use of remote access to e-resources:

Statistics show a sharp increase in the use of remote access to e-resources

In 2020 and 2021, we also worked hard to provide a good user experience on Open Access, support for researchers, and a good information service on Open Access. The OA experience at our school is well represented in a colleague’s poster at the Open Science Conference 2022. In the colleague’s presentation, we could see what was done to achieve such a strong use of the institutional repository by researchers in the last year.

The results of the decision to use the methods of UX when introducing new services are reflected in the increased number of active users, increased use of resources, and, last but not least, greater awareness of the importance of the library among school administrators.

What are the most important lessons you have learned from applying UX?

UX is a quite convenient method for applying new services but it also takes a lot energy at the beginning, when you start planning it. You need a lot of strength to manage the process and to organise ideas. But it can also be very pleasant, you do some team building with colleagues and you are getting to know your users.

What are your tips for libraries that would like to start with UX? What is a good starting point?

To start UX, I would recommend an observation of library users, e.g., what they do, where they go, how they use the library, and then systematically start with the services you want to change or (re)design. Start with a UX method that you think is easiest to use, or rather, that you think can get you results.

This might also interest you:

We were talking to:

Tomaž Ul?akar is the head of the Central Economics Library (CEL), the European Documentation Centre and the Publishing Office at the School of Economics and Business at the University of Ljubljana (UL). From 2019 to 2021, he was the president of the Library Council, where the library activities of the 38 academic libraries at the faculties and academies of the UL are coordinated. Tomaž Ul?akar can be found on SICRIS, the Slovenian Current Research Information System.
Portrait: Tomaž Ul?akar©

Featured Image: SEB LU© Yearly Review, academic year 2020-2021. All other graphics: SEB LU©

The post User Experience in Libraries: Insights from the Central Economics Library at the University of Ljubljana first appeared on ZBW MediaTalk.

Discrimination Through AI: To What Extent Libraries are Affected and how Staff can Find the Right Mindset

An interview with Gunay Kazimzade (Weizenbaum Institute for the Networked Society – The German Internet Institute)

Gunay, in your research, you deal with the discrimination through AI systems. What are typical examples of this?

Typically, biases occur in all forms of discrimination in our society, such as political, cultural, financial, or sexual. These are again manifested in the data sets collected and the structures and infrastructures around the data, technology, and society, and thus represent social standards and decision-making behaviour in particular data points. AI systems trained upon those data points show prejudices in various domains and applications.

For instance, facial recognition systems built upon biased data tend to discriminate against people of colour in several computer vision applications. According to research from MIT Media Lab, white male and black female accuracy differ dramatically in vision models. In 2018, Amazon “killed” its hiring system, which has started to eliminate female candidates for engineering and high-level positions. This outcome resulted from the company’s culture to prefer male candidates to females in those particular positions traditionally. These examples clarify that AI systems are not objective and are mapping human biases we have in society to the technological level.

How can library or digital infrastructure staff develop an awareness of this kind of discrimination? To what extent can they become active themselves?

Bias is an unavoidable consequence of situated decision-making. The decision of who and how classifies data, which data points are included in the system, is not new to libraries’ work. Libraries and archives are not just the data storage, processing, and access providers. They are critical infrastructures committed to making information available and discoverable yet with the desirable vision to eliminate discriminatory outcomes of those data points.

Imagine a situation where researchers approach the library asking for images to train a face recognition model. The quality and diversity of this data directly impact the results of the research and system developed upon those data. Diversity in images (Youtube) has been recently investigated in the “Gender shades” study by Joy Buolamwini from MIT Media Lab. The question here is: Could library staff identify demographic bias in the data sets before the Gender Shades study was published? Probably not.

The right mindset comes from awareness. Awareness is the social responsibility and self-determination framed with the critical library skills and subject specialization. Relying only on metadata would not be necessary for eliminating bias in data collections. Diversity in staffing and critical domain-specific skills and tools are crucial assets in analysing library system digitised collections. Training of library staffing, continuous training, and evaluation should be the primary strategy of the libraries on the way to detect, understand and mitigate biases in library information systems.

If you want to develop AI systems, algorithms, and designs that are non-discriminatory, the right mindset plays a significant role. What factors are essential for the right attitude? And how do you get it?

Whether it is a developer, user, provider, or another stakeholder, the right mindset starts with the

  • Clear understanding of the technology use, capabilities as well as limitations;
  • Diversity and inclusion in the team, asking the right questions at the right time;
  • Considering team composition for the diversity of thought, background, and experiences;
  • Understanding the task, stakeholders, and potential for errors and harm;
  • Checking data sets: Consider data provenance. What is the data intended to represent?;
  • Verifying the quality of the system through qualitative, experimental, survey, and other methods;
  • Continual monitoring, including customer feedback;
  • Having a plan to identify and respond to failures and harms as they occur;

Therefore, long-term strategy for library information systems management should include

  • Transparency
    • Transparent processes
    • Explainability/interpretability for each worker/stakeholder
  • Education
    • Special Education/Training
    • University Education
  • Regulations
    • Standards/Guidelines
    • Quality Metrics

Everybody knows it: You choose a book from an online platform and get other suggestions a la “People who bought this book also bought XYZ”. Are such suggestion and recommendation systems, which can also exist in academic libraries, discriminatory? In what way? And how can we make them fairer?

Several research findings suggest making recommendations fairer and out of the “filter bubbles” created by technology deployers. In recommendations, transparency and explainability are among the main techniques for approaching this problem. Developers should consider the explainability of the suggestions made by the algorithms and make the recommendations justifiable for the user of the system. It should be transparent for the user based on which criteria this particular book recommendation was made and whether it was based on gender, race, or other sensitive attributes. Library or digital infrastructure staff are the main actors in this technology deployment pipeline. They should be conscious and reinforce the decision-makers to deploy the technology that includes the specific features for explainability and transparency in the library systems.

What can they do if an institute, library, or repository wants to find out if their website, library catalogue, or other infrastructure they offer is discriminatory? How can they tell who is being discriminated against? Where can they get support or a discrimination check-up done?

First, “check-up” should start by verifying the quality of the data through quantitative and qualitative, mixed experimental methods. In addition, there are several open-access methodologies and tools for fairness check and bias detection/mitigation in several domains. For instance, AI Fairness 360 is an open-source toolkit that helps to examine, report, and mitigate discrimination and bias in machine learning models throughout the AI application lifecycle.

Another useful tool is “Datasheets for datasets”, intended to document the datasets used for training and evaluating machine learning models; this tool is very relevant in developing metadata for library and archive systems, which can be further used for model training.

Overall, everything starts with the right mindset and awareness on approaching the bias challenge in specific domains.

Further Readings

We were talking to:

Gunay Kazimzade is a Doctoral Researcher in Artificial Intelligence at the Weizenbaum Institute for the Networked Society in Berlin, where she is currently working with the research group “Criticality of AI-based Systems”. She is also a PhD candidate in Computer Science at the Technical University of Berlin. Her main research directions are gender and racial bias in AI, inclusivity in AI, and AI-enhanced education. She is a TEDx speaker, Presidential Award of Youth winner in Azerbaijan and AI Newcomer Award winner in Germany. Gunay Kazimzade can also be found on Google Scholar, ResearchGate und LinkedIn.
Portrait: Weizenbaum Institute©

The post Discrimination Through AI: To What Extent Libraries are Affected and how Staff can Find the Right Mindset first appeared on ZBW MediaTalk.

Best Practice at the ZHB Lucerne: Agile Working in the Context of Small and Large Libraries

An interview with, Lucerne Central and University Library (Lucerne ZHB)

When and how did you discover agile working for yourself and in the library context?

That was back in 2017 during my OPL (One Person Library) job in the special legal library of a large corporate law firm. The management tried to introduce agile methods “top down”, which meant that I came into contact with them during workshops. I was so impressed that I integrated agile values and methods into my own modest library work.

For example, I visualised all ongoing tasks/projects in my small library using post-its on an improvised Kanban board in the centre of the hallway at the law firm. This led to colleagues viewing my job in a more positive light (“Oh, you take care of this too?”) and often to colleagues drawing the attention of the partner responsible for me to the fact that I needed something from her:him , because I had pinned a note next to her:his name with “Waiting for …” on the board. In the end, I was even allowed to support entire legal teams in implementing agile working and became a kind of “agile coach”, without realising at that time that this job actually exists.

Later, as head of library IT at the ZHB Lucerne, I was able to use agile working throughout an entire team in order to implement IT projects – starting from more complex software updates to system migration projects, through to pilot projects to test entirely new (library) technologies. For a year now, I have been library director – a completely new challenge for me to live agile methods, roles and values in the entire, cross-team and cross-departmental organisation of a library from this position.

Why is agile working useful for modern libraries?

Libraries are not so fundamentally different from other institutions or companies in an agile context. A library is just as interested in “external agility” (PDF, German) as Google or Tesla – it wants to be as successful as possible for as long as possible. You can see this by using measurable outputs such as high number of loans, a large amount of search requests and e-media hits, numerous entrances to the building, excellent occupancy of the study stations, many new registrations, a high number and quality of events including those with lots of participants, a positive media presence, high satisfaction of the users and sponsoring organisations, growing budgets, etc.

This means that libraries need to be innovative, to adapt swiftly to changing contexts and challenges and to always offer those products and services that are in particular demand from their users and partner organisations. This is precisely where agile values and methods can help and promote so-called “inner agility” (PDF, German) by improving internal communication and cooperation through more transparency, a positive error culture as well as flat hierarchies, flexible roles and self-organisation, and by continuously integrating user feedback into the work process.

On the other hand: in many places, the structures which have developed in libraries over a very long period of time often seem to be somewhat rigid and cumbersome. How can agile working function here in spite of this?

By trying it out on a small scale initially. Projects for introducing new services, offers or products are particularly useful in this regard, and ideally those which the library colleagues themselves do not know exactly how to implement in the first place because, for example, the starting situation, the approach and/or the expectations and needs of the users are still unclear.

Furthermore, this working method can be launched particularly successfully if all colleagues involved are integrated and are allowed to contribute to the decision-making process when it comes to implementing agile methods, rituals and principles. Last but not least, you need to obtain the agreement of the manager who has been responsible for the line organisation of the project up to now: agile working can only succeed if this person is prepared to share its knowledge, expertise and responsibilities with the entire project team.

After the initial, hopefully successful and inspiring agile projects (although non-implemented pilot projects can also be regarded as successful ?) this working method can also be fundamentally and permanently established in individual teams, for example by meeting all of the team’s annual targets in an agile manner; by having regular, agile discussion formats that characterise communication in the team; and by implementing retrospectives that allow all colleagues to evaluate and adapt the collaboration within the team.

Several agile teams can be combined into larger agile organisational units at a later stage. Here in Lucerne at the ZHB for example, we have merged all departments from the fields of e-media, IT and Open Access / research and publication support into “Digital Services”. At the TIB Hannover there is an interdisciplinary team that takes care of the agile further development of the AV portal. We are also enviously eyeing the Zurich´s Central Library (ZB Zürich), where the organisational unit “IDE” (information expertise, digital services and development) agilely develops service offerings in the user area (German).

To what extent does the Lucerne Central and University Library actually work in an agile way? Do you have a few examples?

We are still quite a long way off claiming that the entire ZHB Luzern works in an agile way. But in recent years we have been able to gather a great deal of experience with agile projects, for example when we tested, adapted and later introduced our Seat Navigator across all locations (German). This precisely measures how many of our study stations are occupied down to each individual seat.

The example of the Seat Navigator

The starting position was that our location at the uni/PH building was in high demand, particularly during examination periods. Students were practically fighting over the available seats in the library and had developed creative reservation techniques (German).

We weren’t able to offer more places just like that, but we had the idea of using IoT sensors at each seat to measure exactly whether it was occupied or free.. We are able to make the total number of available study stations at all locations visible online, and if the occupancy is too high at one location, to spread it more evenly. In this way, users should be able to quickly find a free place in the building and also decide at home to go to the library location that currently has the most free places.

Reading Room at the Uni PH Building, one of four Locations of the Lucerne Central and University Library

If we hadn’t approached this pilot project using the agile method (= quickly testing a small-scale prototype to get targeted feedback from users and taking adjustments into account whilst still in the project phase), we wouldn’t have been able to find out as quickly that the system can only function with a break mode which, as well as showing free (green) and occupied (red) seats also shows those that have been left temporarily for a break (yellow). It was only following this feedback and the respective adjustment that we were able to lay the foundation required to operate the system at all four ZHB locations with over 700 sensors.

The example of the Lucebro AI Software

We also selected a similar agile approach when testing our “Lucebro” AI software (German), with which we wanted to (partly) automate recurring questions & answers in the daily communication with our users. Alongside pilot tests, continually gathering feedback and relevant adjustments to the software, in this case it was predominantly the complete transparency of all project steps as well as the involvement of all employees in the implementation which provided a good example of agility. Despite the tricky issue of automated advice, in the end 75% of all employees actively helped in training the AI software to handle frequently asked questions & answers from the information service. Even if the project was not ultimately implemented in a productive manner, owing to a poor cost-benefit ratio, it was a complete success in terms of in-house collaboration and experiences gained in comparison to classic project management.

The example of the “Luzi” Pepper Robot

The deployment of our Pepper robot (German) also demonstrates how even failed projects can be seen as successful in the context of positive (= agile) error culture. Instead of investing a great deal of time and money in AI software and developing this, at best, without considering the needs of our users, we have learned that these kinds of solutions need to be as low-threshold as possible, in order to be accepted by library users.

This means that the training data from the Lucebro project are now being used to teach our Pepper robot “Luzi” the most frequently asked questions & answers about the library. It is then very easy to speak to Luzi directly and personally on site, and she patiently explains all day long how to access the Wifi or how you register for the first time. Naturally we are also continually asking our users for feedback in this regard, as to how Luzi could help them further, and we are developing her continually.

You were responsible for the introduction of the swisscovery library platform throughout Switzerland. Is it right that you used agile methods to develop and improve the platform? Which ones exactly? Were you successful?

Well, it was certainly not due to me alone: swisscovery was launched as a joint network of 475 libraries and a national research platform in December 2020 (German), and this required many years of dedication and enthusiasm from over 2000 library colleagues from all over the country. I was only actively involved in the introductory project for the ZHB Luzern as group coordinator for the integration of our network of Central Switzerland (higher education institution) libraries into swisscovery.

However, things only really became agile after the launch, when our national research platform came under criticism (German). The senior management of the Swiss Library Service Platform (SLSP), which operates swisscovery for the libraries, reacted to this by switching the further development of swisscovery to agile working methods, which had been planned anyway, in order to respond more quickly to the most pressing criticisms of our library users.

Ever since, I have been able to incorporate the perspective of the 15 shareholder libraries behind SLSP AG to the agile project team made up of SLSP and library colleagues (PDF, German) and work on specific improvements to the search interface.

We rely on Scrum as a framework and jointly maintain a backlog with all adaptation requests that we generate from interviews with users, from support tickets in SLSP and from direct feedback on Twitter. We pool adaptation requests according to topic and priority into month-long sprints, during which we develop solutions together, before updating them directly in the national overview of swisscovery. After every sprint we review the adaptations achieved and plan the next sprint. Compared to the previous frequency, the agile procedure is a complete success. In six months we were able to fix the most urgent problems, decisively improve the user friendliness of swisscovery and even enjoy a little praise now and then.

Your favourite tools or methods for agile working?

I am a big fan of Kanban because it allows you try things out rapidly, and uses fewer strict rules, rituals and time limits compared with Scrum. On a Kanban board, the pending to-dos for a team or a project can be easily made transparent for all who are interested. With this important foundation in place, it is possible to try out further agile principles such as daily/weekly stand-ups and a step-by-step transition towards self-organisation of the team. If virtual Kanban boards such as Trello, MeisterTask or Stackfield are used, everything can be achieved regardless of time and location, which became an important element over the past two years of the pandemic.

Scrum, on the other hand, has the advantage that it contains a complete framework and not just one method and, in addition to the rituals and practices, raises awareness of the fact agile working must be underpinned by fundamental values and a cultural change; without this, no tool, no matter how exciting, would bring any positive effect at all to the collaboration.

In our fast-moving digital world, new, optimised tools are continually being developed. How do you motivate your colleagues to openly try out new working methods and tools?

This only works by setting an example and actively using these methods and tools in your own work. What’s even more important is that I, particularly as a manager, must support the agile values, for example by making my own objectives and projects transparent for everyone involved, opening up active participation in them for anyone who is interested and not getting tied up with hierarchies; that I myself have the courage to try things out quickly, and immediately subject myself to the (sometimes merciless ?) feedback of the respective target group and that I can also deal with the situation positively if my attempts fail, because I am nevertheless always able to learn something from them. In my personal experience, this is the best way to motivate my colleagues to engage in these new forms of communication and cooperation.

You are a member of the Community of Practice: “Agilität in Bibliotheken” (agility in libraries) on Twitter. What does this actually mean?

Approximately 70 library colleagues from Germany, Austria and Switzerland who already actively use agile working methods in library contexts have joined together in the Community of Practice. We meet on a monthly basis to discuss things – and of course in agile discussion formats such as Lean Coffee. These are not so much about sharing showpiece and glossy projects, but much more about open and honest discussion concerning issues and problems which we encounter when implementing agile working practices in our team or throughout the library. It’s often the collective intelligence of the community that finds solutions with its pooled wealth of knowledge. But sometimes we’re simply also a self-help group. Colleagues who already use agile working in libraries or would like to start using it immediately and who are looking for advice are welcome to contact us: Community of Practice “Agilität in Bibliotheken” (agility in libraries) on Twitter (German).

What would you recommend to colleagues who would like to get into agile working? What are good starting points?

My experience has been that transparency is a good start for agile working. From the moment that I – as project, team or department manager – make all steps/tasks in a project or an annual objective completely transparent for all colleagues, further important steps towards agility often arise by themselves. As soon as my colleagues get an insight into all correlations of a project, they usually give feedback, point to possible problems and contribute suggestions for improvement. This can then be consolidated in rituals such as daily stand-ups and, from there, it’s only a short step towards not only delegating but actively inviting colleagues to take on and complete tasks from the backlog and report back on them during the stand-up. If we then also manage to continually integrate feedback from the actual target group for whom the project, new service or new product is intended into this workflow, then we have already achieved a great deal. Entirely in keeping with the agile mindset, I can therefore simply recommend: just give it a try; things will go wrong anyway. ?

This text has been translated from German.

This might also interest you:

We were talking with Benjamin Flämig

After or during his Master’s degree in History/German in Berlin and ten years in the private sector context (Information & Knowledge Management in international business law firms), Benjamin Flämig’s completion of his part-time MALIS degree at the TH Köln in 2018 led him to the Lucerne Central and University Library as Head of IT, where strategy and organisational development, the launch of swisscovery and one or two construction and pilot projects kept him well occupied. Since February 2021, he has even been able to take on responsibility there as Director. Benjamin Flämig can be found on Twitter, LinkedIn and ORCID.
Portrait: Benjamin Fläming [CC BY 4.0]

The post Best Practice at the ZHB Lucerne: Agile Working in the Context of Small and Large Libraries first appeared on ZBW MediaTalk.

User Experience in Libraries: Building a Human-centric Organisation at the National Library of Estonia

Interview with Margus Veimann and Jane Makke

The National Library of Estonia sits enthroned on Tõnismägi Hill in the centre of Tallinn. Here, Margus Veimann and Jane Makke work in the Library Services Development Centre to make the library a user-friendly and inspiring place for staff and users. In the interview, they reveal which methods they use, what the key to successful UX is and why it is so important to change your own organisational culture first.

You are working in the field of User Experience (UX) in the National Library of Estonia. When and why did you start? What does that mean practically?

Margus: My relationship with UX began three years ago when I was working as a marketing specialist and social media designer in the National Library of Estonia. Back then the library had a collaboration project with the members of the Department of Business Administration of Tallinn University of Technology (TalTech) who were the first to introduce me to service design as a methodology. During this project the master’s students of service design and marketing came to our library and got acquainted with the real services of our library, and started to solve the design tasks using the service design methodology.

The result of the project was twofold – on one hand the students were able to solve real-life problems, and on the other hand, the library got to know the service design through this process. The most valuable experience I got from this collaboration project was the opportunity to understand the value of design – as a way of thinking and as a toolbox in the service development process, also, an understanding that introducing a designer toolbox and transferring knowledge across the organisation is the way we need to go.

Our vision is to be a next-generation library and to act as an innovator in the world of librarianship through an open, inspiring, and inclusive operating environment.
– Margus Veimann

By the end of this collaboration project, it was clear that design as a mindset is a journey that we want to explore further on as an organisation who has implemented a service-based managerial model. For example, our vision is to be a next-generation library and to act as an innovator in the world of librarianship through an open, inspiring, and inclusive operating environment. But how do we achieve this vision? What are the tools, methods, and skills that would foster innovation and support the creation of user-friendly services in the library? I am sure that the user-centric approach is the key to unlock this mystery.

I think the key here is to introduce the service design as a toolbox, teach our colleagues the key principles of User Experience, as well as teach them how to use different design methods that designers and non-designers practice to achieve significant and long-lasting positive change. It is all about the willingness to experiment and keep in mind that our responsibility is to create value for the users.

Jane: Although I have been working in the library for many years, 2017 was the first time I had an opportunity to get acquainted with the concept of UX. The next time was in 2018, when I was given the task of forming a working group and try to apply UX principles to an extension of the library’s website. Our team produced a rather nice prototype, taking into account that we were beginners and self-learners. The idea of having such an extension is still on the to-do list of the library and I hope that one day we end up in developing it as well. Starting from 2020, when I became the head of the Library Services Development Centre, Margus joined my team as a service designer and our cooperation began.

What are your goals with UX? Did you achieve them? Which UX methods do you apply at your library?

Margus: Which method to use depends on many different aspects of the project or problem you’re facing. Would it be best to use surveys, interviews, observations/job-shadowing – to name a few. I believe that most important is to start with users and keep in mind that first of all, it is important to understand why and what kind of problem we are about to solve and what we want to achieve.

Leaving the house at an early stage and interacting with the users is a key. It is customary that we think that we know all the answers and have the best solution how to solve users’ problems but usually this is the source of the failure. It is mandatory to experiment and always include user research and small learning experiments in every project. This is a cornerstone for creating services that are valuable and accessible for different user groups.

It is customary that we think that we know all the answers and have the best solution how to solve users’ problems but usually this is the source of the failure.
– Margus Veimann

I truly believe that in every organisation there is a lot of good ideas and the will to do interesting things, but one has to choose. But to what to give priority to? Where to invest resources and where not? Design as a methodology and a mindset helps to create evidence at an early stage that can be used to make decisions. Secondly, you need to create value for your users, if any activity is not beneficial for the users, it is better to leave this activity behind. The third and the most important thing is to change the organisational culture. The other two goals are also important, but the day-to-day journey of innovation is to change people and culture and then to create value for our end users.

Jane: Indeed, the first and the foremost goal has been the inception of the design thinking concept as such into our organisational culture. For that, we have organised two training programmes. The last one was rather extensive involving quite a large number of our staff, including the management. However, I think there is yet plenty to do.

Can you give us a practical example that worked, where you applied UX to solve a problem?

Jane: One of the first attempts to apply UX was in 2017/2018 when the library decided to redesign the library’s foyer. We started a proper UX project: interviewed the guests, partners as well as the members of the staff. We asked about their feelings when they entered the lobby and during their stay, what they value and miss the most, and how they would create the welcoming area if they had an opportunity to rearrange things by themselves. After the interviews, we built a real-life prototype for testing a new look together with our customers. As a result, we actually did redesign the lobby – the welcoming area, the information desk and the security area, they all found a new place and role. Yet it is important to mention that during the testing it became evident that the most popular solution to welcome our clients did not work out though. The constructional peculiarities of the library building have led to our staff developing health problems. So, we had to find other options. This is what the testing is for.

Reading room on the first floor of the National Library of Estonia©

In March 2022, the renovation of the National Library’s main building is about to begin. The doors of the main building have already been closed since December 2021, and the library is moving out its collections, staff and offices. But what did we do? We opened our doors in two new places instead – one is our new temporary main building and the other one is an outpost in one of the entertainment and shopping centres in the heart of Tallinn.

Small House of National Library of Estonia©

The outpost is located next to one of the largest bookstores in Tallinn and a popular cinema, there are plenty of cafes and restaurants where people can relax and enjoy themselves, and in the same building there is a concert hall as well. So, this is a wonderful place for the library to be among other businesses of similar type. The idea of an outpost was born during the design-thinking training programme. By the way, during this training, many came up with the idea of opening outposts of the library in various places throughout the capital of Estonia – starting from supermarkets and ending up with the Tallinn main railway station and even the airport.

To apply UX methods, you need library users who are willing to participate. How do you manage to find and motivate them?

Jane: This is obviously the trickiest part. Luckily, we have a group of loyal users who are willing to participate every now and then. The keywords to success are consistency and respect. If you ask for an input, you have to take it into account, otherwise you lose credit, and those who would have been willing to participate will feel left behind.

Margus: It is all about respect and empathy to truly listen and gather users’ perspective.

A good practice would also be to build your own database of different users’ groups. Of course, it requires some time investment upfront, but in the long run, it creates a sustainable process for finding research participants quickly and easily. In my experience, it is also important to have a strong collaboration and partnership with different organisations and companies who are willing to share your call to participate. Collaboration and empathy are the key here to build trust and also interest between different user groups.

What are the most important lessons you have learned from applying User Experience methods in the National Library of Estonia?


  • To create customer value, you need to engage users. We are not users and cannot know what they actually need and want.
  • Keep it simple. Often users want simplicity and, those simple things to work well. But we tend to overthink and overdesign. That is why you need to validate your perceptions with the users.
  • If you want to engage users, you must abandon your own vision and ideas, be open and listen. Otherwise, if it appears that they want something else than you have imagined, you end up ignoring the users, which is bad taste.
  • Be patient and consistent. To get results, you must invest time. First, you are probably all alone in your organisation. So, you have to make your colleagues understand what User Experience is and convince them that UX might be a helpful tool. Your goal is to make them dare to test UX design. Now you have paved the road to the second milestone that is to change their mindset – when they see the first results, they start to take UX seriously and dare to trust UX, and soon it will become a normal part of your colleagues’ (working) life. And finally, when they become true believers, they start to speak about UX on behalf of you. Then your mission has been accomplished.

Have you also used methods that did not work at all?

Jane: We are yet in the beginning of our UX journey. That means we have not yet experimented with all the different methods to make conclusions which methods work and which do not.

But as to the fails, I think about the situations when we eagerly engage users to get their input and then forget to use it.

What are your tips for libraries that would like to start with UX? What is a good starting point?

Jane: First and foremost, it is very important to have a sponsor to support your goals. When referring to sponsors, I mean management. If they believe in the idea, they are also willing to invest the necessary resources.

Margus: Start mapping out what are the goals and strategy of the organisation. Map existing services and identify bottlenecks that need to be addressed.

Find out the users´ needs: Interact with your users and try to find out which problems they face and what their goals are. How are the services used and what are the main concerns or problems users face?

Define/specify user needs: Map customer journeys and determine how users use your service. How does he/she get there? What are the touch points of contact along the way? If the users do not reach your service, find out why.

Identify interesting analogies: Does another organisation offer similar services? What are they doing differently?

Check out the UK´s Design Council´s framework for innovation “Double Diamond” and start experimenting and learn by doing.

And ask your librarian to put together a list of books about service design and User Experience. I would suggest to start with “Good Services – How to Design Services that Work” by Lou Downe and “The Design of Everyday Things” by Don Norman.

This might also interest you

We were talking with:

As of January 2020, Jane Makke works as the Head of the Library Services Development Centre at the National Library of Estonia (NLE). She has been working in the library sector for many years in the areas of customer service, data management and IT development. During the last years her focus has been on the design and development of country-wide library services.
Portrait, photographer: Teet Malsroos© [CC BY 4.0]

Margus Veimann is Service Designer in the National Library of Estonia . He believes that in a rapidly changing world, human-centred design has become an important component in creating successful products and services, regardless of whether we design spaces, services or products. Guided by that he would describe his job shortly as: Simplifying complexity to facilitate user-centric design solutions through co-creation that leave a positive impact on people, environment and the society.
Portrait: Margus Veimann©

The post User Experience in Libraries: Building a Human-centric Organisation at the National Library of Estonia first appeared on ZBW MediaTalk.

Open Badges: Meaningful Credential for Continuing Education in Libraries?

At the #vBIB21 , the ZBIW (Centre for Further Education in Library and Information Science) at the TH Köln / University of Applied Sciences (German) offered a session on Open Badges in which it explored the issue of whether Open Badges are an instrument for course assessments in the context of informally acquired qualifications and skills-oriented learning content as part of further education. The ZBIW would like to award badges for its certificate courses in the future, thereby taking the validation of skills in a new direction. Open Badges represent a new digital format that describes skills which are not found in traditional attendance reports and certificates of participation.

An interview with Meik Schild-Steiniger (ZBIW)

What are Open Badges? What are they good for? Why does the science system need Open Badges?

Open Badges are digital records that prove skills acquired in the context of further education. Deposited metadata describe the skills acquired; they are thereby specific and individual. They can and are used for the validation of non-formally and informally acquired skills. The badge can then be shared by the learners – for example in their (social media) profiles such as LinkedIn, ORCID, Twitter or XING, but also on websites, e-portfolios or job portals, in order to gain the attention of (potential) employers with a kind of “mini-certificate”. As yet, there isn’t an appropriate form of recognition and appreciation for these kinds of skills. Open Badges can fill this gap. In a macro-didactic sense, it’s about interlocking formal and non-formal/informal learning opportunities.

Open Badges by the School of Data

Why did the ZBIW decide to work with Open Badges in their seminar offers in the future?

As a nationally operating further education provider for employees in public and academic libraries as well as other information institutions, the ZBIW has been following the development of the badges for a long time. Our director Ursula Georgy published an article on the future of scientific further education in b.i.t-online (PDF,German); in 2017 she gave a lecture on the topic (German) at the German Librarians´ Day in Frankfurt am Main. In 2020 the further education centre at TH Köln – the Academy of Continuing Scientific Education – contacted us with the idea of pursuing the topic jointly. The ZBIW and the academy form a quality association in the context of their ISO-certification.

We see the topic as a possible answer to the paradigm shift in the learning culture. We also closely follow the further education market and higher education institution development; a dynamic development can be perceived in which badges are playing a continually bigger role. We therefore want to pick up on this trend and co-design proactively. We speak of a ‘culture of enabling’ because we are predominantly breaking new ground.

What are the potentials and plus points of Open Badges?

I have already mentioned the potential for validating skills. At the same time, education and further education are becoming ever more digitalised. Certificates for acquired skills however cannot be deposited on the internet, or only partly, e.g. by scanning records of participation, certificates and testimonials. It therefore seemed to be just a logical step to being able to digitally prove learning achievements, skills and accomplishments. Furthermore, traditional records of participation and certificates confirm the knowledge acquired only insufficiently or not at all. On the other hand, employers are increasingly looking specifically for certain abilities. To this end they are increasingly proceeding in a proactive way by contacting potentially suitable candidates directly via career portals, for example. And last but not least, even job application procedures are now taking place almost exclusively digitally. Until now, you had to scan certificates and references in order to submit them: there was no proof of their authenticity. By contrast, Open Badges are already available in digital form and are also correspondingly secure.

And what are the current challenges in this field?

There are various challenges. First, you need to decide on what basis the badge is awarded. Each institution can issue badges and also define individually for what the badges are awarded. Quality standards must therefore be defined and kept to. In doing so we are guided by the quality assurance system of the TH Köln; at the same time, criteria and processes have to be defined in the context of our quality management system.

Various questions arise as a result: Which figures do we need for validation? How can we measure and assess the performance that must be rendered for the badges? There is also additional work for the ZBIW and its lecturers: How will this be remunerated? These are just a few of the questions.

In addition, the integration of the Open Badges in our existing educational structures is by no means complete. This would be an important prerequisite to increase knowledge of and trust in the badges.

Are there now established standards for Open Badges or is it more of a mish-mash? For which system have you decided?

There have been badges for MOOCs for a long time – the “Open Badges Infrastructure” was created for them. The IMS Global Learning Consortium has realised further standards; in particular it has been working towards uniform metadata. The position paper of the German Rectors’ Conference (German) of 2018 recommends using the „Common Microcredential Framework“ (CMF, PDF) as a guide.

Particularly abroad, there are already partnership networks to which several universities and research institutions belong. One topic is, among other things, the uniform allocation. I assume that we will initially set up something independently, until there is a standardised overall procedure.

To what extent are Open Badges already acknowledged by employers and universities?

The universities in the German-speaking countries have only recently adopted the topic on their agendas. As with all approval procedures, the badge needs to be individually checked, and this is subject to the discretion of every university.

For employers it is somewhat easier because they are more flexible. Large further education academies such as the Haufe Academy or the Chambers of Commerce now also offer badges. SAP and a growing number of major companies are offering badges in the context of their further education. They are likely to act as promoters.

Do you have a few examples of libraries that already work with Open Badges? Does it tend to be an Anglo-American phenomenon or are there already pioneers in German-speaking countries?

Actually, at the moment I can name almost only Anglo-American examples. About 20 percent of the universities there are already trying out badges. Research by the American Library Association (ALA) shows that they are testing this above all in the context of information skills – on the basis of the „Framework for Information Literacy“.

German-language libraries will also follow because they can use models and frameworks of the information skills which have nationwide validity. I can imagine that big city libraries will also get on board in the longer term, as they increasingly offer educational programmes, be it on information or media literacy. And it is precisely these rather short training courses that have hardly been recognised by certificates so far.

To promote media literacy, libraries in North Rhine-Westphalia use the Media Competence Framework (Medienkompetenzrahmen, German) or the DigitalCheckNRW for courses in adult education. They can advertise educational offers via the Digital Check portal, and many use this opportunity. The system undertakes the validation; it is not necessary to work out your own procedure.

And recently the EU has made a start with the European Digital Competence Framework (DigComp) which also includes an evaluation tool for skills validation.

If a library or digital infrastructure institution would like to start with Open Badges, what would be your tips? How should it proceed?

First and foremost, libraries should network with each other. It’s not necessary to reinvent the wheel. A criteria catalogue should be developed which answers the following questions: For which achievement should a badge be awarded? Which metadata will be used? What content should be recorded in it? What do the recognition rules look like? What does the design of the badge look like?

One possibility could be that libraries take the media skills framework as a basis and then look at the information skills sector. You can derive learning objectives from the requirements, such as the learning objectives taxonomy according to Bloom. This enables you to compile figures that you can validate. After this, you can issue the badge.

This text has been translated from German.

You might also be interested in this:

We were talking with Meik Schild-Steiniger

Meik Schild-Steiniger is responsible for continuing education and training for academic libraries in the continuing education management of the ZBIW (Centre for Library and Information Science Continuing Education). He is a librarian and media educator (M.A). After studying library science at the University of Applied Sciences Potsdam and the TU Köln – University of Applied Sciences (B.A.), he completed the part-time Master’s programme “Education & Media” at the University of Duisburg-Essen, with a focus on media education in adult education and education management. He is vice-chairman of the BIB regional group NRW (German) and co-organiser of the “BIBchatDE”on Twitter. He himself can also be found on Twitter: RheinlandFranke.
Portrait: TH© [CC BY 4.0], photographer: Heike Fischer

The post Open Badges: Meaningful Credential for Continuing Education in Libraries? first appeared on ZBW MediaTalk.

Horror Research Data Management: 4 Best Practice Examples for Successful Gamifications

by Elisa Rodenburg, Samuel Simango, Nadine Neute and Markus Herklotz

Online escape game: raising awareness of data horror

By Elisa Rodenburg

2020 was a tough year for event organisers, and a colleague and I were hoping to create a fun activity online. Together with a few colleagues from other Dutch University Libraries, we organised the Data Horror Week around Halloween. We used the “horror” theme to highlight the importance of good data management and things that can go wrong in research and built an online escape room.

The players (researchers and others) are “locked” in a room (on a website), and have to “escape” by solving six puzzles about Research Data Management (RDM). While doing so, they learn aspects of RDM that are part of writing a Data Management Plan. Our Data Horror Escape Room is freely available as an Open Educational Resource (OER).

Since then, we have used the escape room for training, awareness campaigns, team building events, and just for fun. We presented the escape room during the Session “Level up! Building the skills” at the LIBER Conference 2021 as an example of gamification in research skills training. We received such useful and generous feedback, that we decided to continue the fun and create a follow-up game in the form of an „Open Science escape room“, for Data Horror Week 2022.

Research Data Management Adventure Game: on the trail of Indiana Jones

By Samuel Simango

The Research Data Management Adventure Game, which was developed by the libraries of the Universities of Bath (England) and Stellenbosch (South Africa), is an online text-based role-playing interactive fiction serious game, based on the data management challenges of a research project. The game play takes players through different stages of the research data lifecycle, presents them with a data management challenge and allows them to make decisions that affect the success of their research projects. The game is freely available online and can be accessed via an internet connection and a web browser. As such, the game can be used as part of asynchronous virtual training or synchronous interactive training. For optimal learning experience, the Research Data Management Adventure Game works best as a single-player game. However, the game can also be used in group settings.

The idea to develop the game emerged from a lack of educational games focusing specifically on research data management. The game was developed from 2017 to 2020. The RDM Adventure Game is aimed primarily at postgraduate students as well as early career researchers and academics. Game players can opt to play the entire game or they may select to only play specific stages of the research data management lifecycle. On average the entire game takes 60 minutes to complete – although this depends on the specific paths and decisions that are taken by game players. So far, the game has been played by 1,520 people in 71 countries; and there are more every day …

Research Data Scarytales: an eerie journey

By Nadine Neute

With its Research Data Scarytales, the TKFDM wants to take you on an eerie journey and show you in short stories what scary consequences mistakes in data management can have. We are showcasing a wide range of scenarios, ranging from minor inconveniences to a single person to permanent consequences for humankind, all based on real events. Readers have the opportunity to find out for themselves what went wrong in each story. Each scenario begins with a brief summary of the facts. Then it’s time to figure it out! The game and instructions how to play it can be found on our overview page.

The game is meant for all data users: researchers, teachers and lecturers and those working in libraries and research infrastructures. It addresses itself to simply everyone who could be a victim of the mishaps presented. Order the cardboard game at TKFDM via e-mail to info (at) and deal with the topic in a relaxed atmosphere during coffee breaks, or use it in your training courses. For better integration into existing materials and searchability by topic and source, a text-only version of the stories is also available on Zenodo. The flexibly configurable duration, the wide range of content and the different examples make it easy to integrate a game round in workshops. Along the way, the trainers learn a lot about the working environment, prior knowledge and concrete concerns of their workshop participants and “nudge” them to actively participate in the session.

BERD Data Literacy Snacks: Research data management for your lunch break

By Markus Herklotz

With the amount and variety of data generated, there is an increasing demand for trained experts. At the same time, people managing data can come from very different professional backgrounds between research and infrastructure, looking for possibilities to enhance their skills for this fast-changing digital world. Yet, finding entry points for this type of education fitting into your professional time schedule can be challenging.

To reduce these barriers, we developed the Data Literacy Snacks within the initiative BERD (Business, Economic and Related Data). Building on the coffee lecture format, the Data Literacy Snacks are a free online series to provide a compact input of a maximum of 60 minutes fitting right into your lunch break. This includes a 30 to 45 minute presentation and a 15 minute discussion led by a moderator who addresses your questions via chat. The topics of the first biweekly series in 2021 provided a general introduction to research data management and covered topics of reproducibility, privacy law and Wikibase knowledge graphs in more detail.

We were delighted by how well the Snacks were received with up to 65 participants (per session) from both research and infrastructure. It gave us the opportunity to get directly in touch with the community, raise awareness for research data management issues and to identify the demand for information on it. Based on these experiences, the Data Literacy Snacks will return 2022 and we invite everyone to enter suggestions for your favourite topics on our website

Background and INCONECSS

This round-up post emerged from a digital community meeting on „Trainings & Games related to Research Data“ of the INCONECSS community (International Conference on Economics and Business Information). INCONECSS is actually a triennial international conference for librarians and information specialists who support researchers in business and economics in their daily work.

Sketchnotes of the INCONNECS Community Meeting #3 & #4: „Trainings & Games related to Research Data“

Main topics are for example: research data management, the transformation of competences and structures, the support of research and Open Access. To bridge the long breaks between the conferences, the Community Meetings were created. Most recently, RDM experts exchanged views on alternative approaches.

Event Tip: The next INCONECSS will take place from 17 – 19 May 2022. Information on the event can be found on the website.

This might also interest you:

About the Authors:

Elisa Rodenburg is a Research Data Steward at the University Library of Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam. In that role, she supports researchers with several aspects of Research Data Management and Open Science.
Portrait, photographer: René Knoop

Samuel Simango is the manager of research data services at Stellenbosch University’s Library and Information Service in South Africa. He is interested in the conceptualisation and implementation of research data management systems – particularly insofar as this relates to the integration of lifecycle models, governance frameworks, technological infrastructure and services that apply to the management of research data.
Portrait: Samuel Simango©

Nadine Neute is the subject librarian for economics at Erfurt University Library , works for the Service Point Research Data Management at the University of Erfurt and in this function she is part of the Thuringian Competence Network for Research Data Management (TKFDM). The TKFDM is the point of contact for researchers from all Thuringian universities in the field of research data management. Among other things it provides consultations and carries out workshops and training courses.
Portrait: Nadine Neute© [CC BY 4.0]

Markus Herklotz is a higher education researcher working at the Professorship for Statistics and Social Scientific Methodology (University of Mannheim), responsible for developing and facilitating workshops and other educational resources within BERD. BERD@NFDI is a consortium within the National Research Data Infrastructure Germany (NFDI), building a platform for collecting, processing, analyzing, and preserviwng Business, Economic and Related Data. Markus Herklotz can also be found on ResearchGate and LinkedIn.
Portrait: Markus Herklotz©

The post Horror Research Data Management: 4 Best Practice Examples for Successful Gamifications first appeared on ZBW MediaTalk.