Category Archives: General

Geek Alert! Spreadsheet Adventures

Having completed my spreadsheet of data for historic music loan data in early 19th century St Andrews, I’m keen to start the analysis.  Would that it was so easy!  I now embark on the sharp learning curve of making Excel do what I need it to do.

Graphs from spreadsheets?  Well, I can import data into a Word chart, so that’s a start. But I need to do more.  Anyway, I now have a duplicate spreadsheet for experimentation, to ensure I don’t damage the crucial raw data by accident!  My to-do list looks like this:-

  • Check a few cells where I suspect I slipped up on the data entry (only a few, but each must be double-checked). Then update the experimental sheet AND the crucial raw data sheet to ensure I never use incorrect data.
  • Ensure every empty cell is filled in with zero, to ensure calculations will be correct.
  • Categorise each of 450-odd Sammelbander so I can determine whether certain types went out overwhelmingly more than others:-
  • I – Instrumental; subdivided A – Assorted, H – Harp, K – Keyboard, S- Strings, W – Wind. Further subdivided L – Learning, where appropriate
  • V – Vocal; subdivided A – Assorted, D – Dramatic, R- Religious, S – Secular Songs. Further subdivided L – Learning, where appropriate
  • M – Mixed Instrumental and Vocal. Further subdivided using codes above.
  • Th – Theoretical (not an instrument)
  • Experiment with single volume graphs
  • Experiment with totals for male versus female loans (can I total individual columns, or should I extract columns to form separate spreadsheets?)
  • Experiment with how many volumes at a time can reasonably be displayed in graphic form

There are other questions I’d like to start to answer, too.  I have a list of every borrower, and I  have the data of their chronological borrowing activity, but I need to see if I can display this activity in graphic form.

  • Can I check these names against the archive catalogue to see what I can find out about them?
  • How feasible is it to go through the early proto-census document of St Andrews? Could I, for example, trace Mrs Bertram’s  girls’ boarding school at St Leonard’s?  (Double check date of proto-census document)


I know I should have done more work on my PGCert project this past couple of weeks, but last week I had migraines for six days out of seven, and just getting through a working day was challenge enough.  I’ve been counting – 23 migraines in 25 weeks.  I’ve only taken time off for two migraines in all that time, because I don’t want a bad absence record.  Considering last week was so bad, that means some weeks I had no migraines at all, so I shouldn’t really grumble.  The Migraine Trust has published an advice leaflet which states categorically that migraines are a disability covered by disability legislation. I had no idea of this until the leaflet was pointed out to me!

And then this week, after three days feeling well, I managed to catch man-flu.  (That’s equality for you.)  I feel decidedly hard-done-by!


Everything Changes … But Not Yet

I had a momentary hesitation when it suddenly dawned on me that our new library management system would be implemented this year – staff training starts next month – and I wondered whether one of my PGCert project ‘interventions’ might therefore be an introduction to the new catalogue, rather than to the present one.

However, it transpires that we don’t go live until July, so my intervention will probably have to be an introduction to the current system.  If it has to be re-jigged subsequently, then that will just be a routine task as part of my role as a librarian. (Indeed, there is much to be said for a test-run on the present system, to ensure that any suggested improvements can be incorporated into a learning-tool for the new one.)

Meanwhile, I shall continue thinking about questions for my survey, and the rapidly-becoming-unavoidable task of the ethical approval form. (Historical musicologists don’t usually do much in the way of ethical approval – our subjects are so long deid!)

RefME or Not

A new citation app, RefME,  is appealingly straight forward to use, I thought it might actually be the easiest for students to learn, although I myself already use Mendeley regularly, and have also tried Zotero and – at one stage – had a subscription to EndNote.  I arranged for the rep to give a presentation to myself, and colleagues from across the institution.  The app is good. The cost of becoming an institutional partner was too high.  I could not get my phone to do the ISBN recognition which is a key part of the app, and I’ve since found the support back up to be sadly wanting, so I won’t be recommending it. Nonetheless, the subject of referencing might be a good one for a trial intervention, and I have not dismissed the idea of creating a quick and basic introduction to referencing.   I did blog about RefME – ‘When a tweet provokes thought’, 18th December:-  and I remember my frustration.  I like Mendeley. I trust it.  I believe Zotero is equally good. I’m sorry, RefME – I won’t be recommending you.  It’s a shame.

El Hakim, Yaz, et al, ‘The impact of RefME on the student experience’, report on research by University of Greenwich and Sheffield Hallam University, 2016, 11 pp.


Project Reading, and ResearchGate

Ah, the weekend! I sit in a chaotic dining room (which doubles up as my office), while things sit in relocated heaps because three different parts of the house are being decorated!  It’s hard to concentrate on anything (and my PGCert is just one of the things I should be concentrating on this weekend), but I can just about manage to blog, and read in between interruptions.  It’s either that or the ironing!

Credit-Bearing Instruction

So, checking my emails I discover that a librarian from Canada has responded to my ResearchGate conversation about user education.  William Badke is at Trinity Western University Canada, and he is in  favour of credit-bearing instruction.  Now, when I did my own PhD at the University of Glasgow, we all had to pass a library/IT module, but it wasn’t exactly credit-bearing. Satisfactory completion was just essential.  I was exempt from much of it, being a subject librarian myself at another institution.

Graduate Attributes: What should a Graduate “Look” Like? (Not Literally!)

In my own job, I give irregular seminars to students at any level if their teachers request this. As I’ve mentioned before, I find it’s best given at point of need, eg when an essay or project has to be handed in!  However, although training is kind of compulsory if we’re attending a scheduled lecture or seminar, there’s no compulsion in the sense that credits have to be earned or a “library training” box ticked as part of the students’ studies.  In our own situation, we’re quite proud of the amount we are now involved in teaching compared to how things were even three or four years ago.  Prior to the redesign of our Bachelors’ degrees, I did encounter one comment that students ‘didn’t want to be trained in information science’ – after all, they’re at a conservatoire.  Nonetheless, degree-level study, or study towards a degree, demands degree-level (or heading for degree-level) information handling skills. Not as a librarian, but with the aim of becoming a competent information-seeking graduate. I’ve been attending programme committee meetings this week, and one thing that resonated with me was that programme designers and educationalists know what they want a typical graduate from our institution to ‘look like’; however, from the students’ point of view, they want to be performers, and to that end they want to spend most of their time performing.  They don’t yet see the need for acquiring the kind of graduate attributes that will, actually, turn out to be useful.

Networking by Social Media

But back to William in Canada – he has just shared with me his own website for library teaching resources, which is very generous of him. And I see he has also published a book on the subject.  So, that’s two more things to go on my reading list – the website and the book! Maybe we could even consider getting the book, if it suits the Conservatoire context.  I am really grateful for the generosity of fellow-researchers and librarians on ResearchGate.  I’m getting so much useful discussion, not to mention recommendations for reading or websites to visit.  (And in my day-to-day work as a librarian, last week I contacted a professor in a totally different discipline to ask about a paper she had listed but not yet uploaded, because one of our students couldn’t access it by any other means.  This week, she kindly uploaded it!  The research scene is so very different from pre-internet days – it’s great!

So, here are Williams’s resources:-

Badke, William, Research Strategies: Finding Your Way Through the Information Fog, 5th Edition (iUniverse, 2014) – it’s available as paperback on Amazon

Badke, William, Teaching Resources (used at Trinity Western University, Canada) [website, accessed 2017.01.14]

I’ll add these to the reading list I compiled earlier this week, and to my full Resources page.

Another Night for Reading

Today was a research day.  I have almost written the first draft of my next paper. I’m a guest speaker, so it has to be good!  I’m a bit surprised to find I wrote just under 3,000 words, so that’s quite a decent output for one office day.

But tonight I must get back to my PGCert reading. I’ve annotated four of the items I have set aside to read. The links to my blogposts are inserted so that it will be easy to refer back to them later.

Here’s the list.  Some hope of getting through it all!  Two articles, by Tinto, were added just as I read the Bowskill item. And later, I added the two Badke references. (At some point I will need to stop collecting and just get on with reading – after all, I have a project proposal to complete soon!)

  1. Badke, William, Research Strategies: Finding Your Way Through the Information Fog, 5th Edition (iUniverse, 2014) – it’s available as paperback on Amazon

  2. Badke, William, Teaching Resources (used at Trinity Western University, Canada) [website, accessed 2017.01.14]

  3. Bowskill, Nicholas, Student-generated induction: a social identity approach. A Staff development guide.  (Nicholas Bowskill, 2013) [Started and blogged about briefly – to continue]  I have now read enough of this book – basically a script for a workshop on induction using this approach.  The link to my notes is an earlier blogpost, ‘Project Planning’, dated 25th August 2016, which I’ve just extended:-
  4. Brabazon, Tara, ‘Press learning: the potential of podcasting through pause, record, play and stop’, Knowledge Management & E-Learning vol.8 no.3, Sept 2016, 430-443 [have read, blogged, intend to reread]  I blogged briefly about this on 16th September,  ‘Can’t you do a podcast?’:-
  5. El Hakim, Yaz, et al, ‘The impact of RefME on the student experience’, report on research by University of Greenwich and Sheffield Hallam University, 2016, 11 pp. I now see that I did blog about RefME – ‘When a tweet provokes thought’, 18th December:-  and I remember my frustration. I truly do think RefME has a lot of potential, but if I can’t scan ISBNs on my phone, can’t search for typed ISBNs, and can’t get a response to either helpdesk calls or tweeted appeals for help, then I am not going to recommend it.  I like Mendeley. I trust it.  I believe Zotero is equally good. I’m sorry, RefME – I won’t be recommending you.  It’s a shame.
  6. Fabri, Marc, ‘Thinking with a new purpose: lessons learned from teaching design thinking skills to creative technology students’, Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2015, 32-43 [have read, intend to reread, full citation probably on Mendeley but too late to find just now!]
  7. George, Sarah, and Tasnim Munshi, Making Students Eat Their Greens: Information Skills for Chemistry Students (Issues in Science and Technology Librarianship, Fall 2016)
  8. Library Impact Data Project, Focus Group Write-Up blogged by Graham Stone, December 20, 2012, reporting observations by Martin Philip at the University of Huddersfield [to read properly]
  9. Macfarlane, Eric, Who cares about education? … Going in the wrong direction (s.l. : New Generation Publishing, 2016) [recommended in a blog by Evelyn Glennie – purchased last week]
  10. Maxymuk, John, ‘Online communities’, The Bottom Line, vol.20 iss.1, 2007, 54-57 [to read]
  11. Maynard, Sally, and Emily Cheyne, ‘Can electronic textbooks help children to learn?’, The Electronic Library, Vol.23 iss 1, pp.72-81 [hyperlink is available – to insert later.  Still to read this]
  12. Moon, Jennifer, A Handbook of reflective and experiential learning: theory and practice (London: RoutledgeFalmer, 2004) [Bought, not yet read]
  13. Salmon, Gilly, Etivities: the key to active online learning (London: RoutledgeFalmer, 2003, 2004) [To read]
  14. Sheridan, Mark, and Charles Byrne, ‘Transformations and cultural change in Scottish music education: historical perspectives and contemporary solutions’, paper presented at 32nd World Conference International Society for Music Education, Glasgow, July 2016 [have read, intend to reread]
  15. Shirley, Rachel, ‘”Not an ogre”: adult music learners and their teachers: a corpus-based discourse analysis, poster session.  This is unrelated to library instruction, but I like the suggestion that a student’s comments about their teacher or their teacher’s observations might reveal underlying anxieties. Worth bearing in mind.