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Archive for December, 2009

A couple of weeks ago at the start of December, Helen and I were given the very important task of decorating the library for Christmas.  The beginning of December normally seems extremely early for Christmas decorations and is usually the time reserve for those eager Christmas obsessives however the very short terms at Oxford mean that Christmas must start at the end of November.   We put up a Christmas tree in the main reading room and a colleague of ours, Ron was in charge of putting up the festive CD decorations.

Excuse the silly poses, we were getting into the festive spirit and feeling overcome with joy thanks to a tinsel filled afternoon.

So that’s the Bodleian Law Library decorated for Christmas.  It’s nice to make the library look a bit festive around this time of year and decorating it early in time for 8th week was a good way of keeping those spirits up in the hectic close of term.   We ran a guess how many decorations on the Christmas tree competition with great success and lots of entries were received.  I had the fun task of counting the decorations as we put them up on the tree, numbers are not my strong point but I managed to keep track somehow.  In case you’re wondering, there were 42 decorations on our tree this year!  To make Christmas at the library even more of an event we held a shelf slip raffle at the end of 8th week. What’s a shelf slip raffle I hear you ask? Well everyone who is good enough to use a shelf slip to indicate that they’ve taken a book from a shelf was entered into a prize draw.  Shelf slips were collected and placed in a box, then drawn out and the winning names received some Amazon vouchers!

It certainly makes the library seem like a more festive place this close to Christmas and our readers seem to like the tree.  We are interested to hear festive tales from other Oxford libraries so feel free to share your thoughts.

Happy Christmas from Team Law ( aka Helen and Laura!)

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It was suggested to me that the other trainees might be interested in what I am planning to do for my project and to hear about my progress so far. So here it is the trials and tribulations, so far, of my graduate trainee project!

For my graduate trainee project I have decided to do a video guide to help our readers with reserving books online. This will hopefully be the first of several different videos aimed at helping readers at the Sainsbury Library access the full range of facilities available to them. Although the video guide should be useful to all our readers the main focus for the videos is to help those readers who may learn visually or those who have a learning difficulty such as dyslexia who might find traditional guides hard to access. The most important aspect of the graduate trainee project is that it will be useful to existing readers. So it was important that I made sure that I discussed my ideas with my mentors and supervisor to insure that this was the case. After having done this it was decided that I could go ahead and start planning my project.

Coming up with my initial ideas was perhaps the easiest part of the process so far. What has been much harder is deciding on the exact format and therefore the software to use to create a video guide. I did quite a lot of research into formats used by other university libraries before settling on my final idea. At first I thought that I might use a YouTube style video but after looking at several I realised that they often had more of a promotional feel rather than being used for user education. Also it was apparent that for them to look any good a professional videoing team would have been needed. I really wanted something that would look professional but was feasible for me to do. I went on a Podcasting course at OUCS and some free software called ‘Screen Toaster’(http://www.screentoaster.com/) as mentioned ( see my last post) however  after a discussion on the blog I decided not to use this as it didn’t have the professional feel I was looking for.

 After discounting several formats some of the other trainees suggested I look at some video guides done by the library at Warwick University(http://www2.warwick.ac.uk/services/library/main/tealea/sciences/chemistry)They have combined traditional screen capturing with the use of video, input via a webcam. This seemed the perfect solution to my problems so I set about discovering what software they had been using.

They had used ‘Screenflow’(http://www.apple.com/downloads/macosx/video/screenflow.html)which unfortunately is only available for Mac and not Windows. So it was time to look at the options that were compatible with the Windows operating system. There are a surprising number of different screen capturing software out there both which are free to download and ones that aren’t. I came up with a short list Adobe Captivate, Camstudio, Camtasia, Wink and Jing. However after some more research into each of them I discovered that not all of them allow you to insert webcam footage into your screen capture project.

Also I was advised that some of the free software although it is great for screen capturing the ability to edit the results it not very good.

So I decided to use Adobe Captivate 4 as the Sainsbury Library had a copy of this and it had been recommended by our Web/digital library assistant.

Luckily there was also a course at OUCS(http://www.oucs.ox.ac.uk/itlp/courses/detail/TILB) about screen capture for education and the software that they demonstrated this on was Captivate 4. This enabled me to gain the basic knowledge I would need to create my screen capture project. I had also discovered in my research that on the Adobe Captivate website there was a widget which you could download to enable you to insert webcam footage:http://www.adobe.com/cfusion/exchange/index.cfm?event=extensionDetail&extid=1857023

I have not yet downloaded this so I am hoping that it all goes smoothly.

I have decided to record the screen captures without the video first and then insert this afterwards. I hope that this will increase the chance of it looking as professional as possible. This is because I will be able to concentrate on explaining what to do rather than try and speak and record the screen captures at the same time. However until I try to combine the two I won’t know if this will have been a mistake.

I have been finding it difficult to get each slide to look as crisp and professional as I want them to be and to get it to flow from one slide to the next smoothly enough.However as I am still only in the very early stages I hope to smooth out any problems soon.

This week I discovered that our website has been changed so after spending last week trying to perfect the project I have discovered I will have to redo a lot of it. This wasn’t as bad as it could have been as I had been experiencing problems with the software capturing parts of the screen that I didn’t want it to. However I discovered that if you tell captivate only to record the Application region it then allows you to define exactly which part of the screen you want it to record. This gives each slide crisp well defined edges without any black lines around the edge, which I had been struggling to remove previously.

So now I have made a start on a new version with the updated library website included in the slides. The result is far more professional so know I am just trying to get it to flow better. I had been having a lot of trouble with recording being scrolled down. I had found that if I tried to do it too slowly the results were very jerky. So I tried to scroll down slightly faster and in one single motion. This has produced a much smoother result.

The next stage will be to record the webcam element and combine it with the screen captures. In order to do this I have obtained a webcam from our IT department at the Said Business School and hopefully before Christmas I can make a start on recording the video element of my project. Before I do this I need to finalise the script and get hold of a good microphone and find a time and place to record the video.

I hope you have found this interesting, if you have let me know and I will continue to keep you up to date on my progress.

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Another interesting news story caught my eye this week from the BBC website- http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/entertainment/8388352.stm. Working at the Bodleian, I am constantly reminded that major changes are just around the corner, especially now the Special Collections decant has begun. The introduction of ICT into libraries has brought about a massive change in their purpose and function and perhaps more importantly reader expectations. I know that I am very used to receiving information immediately via the Internet and often have little patience when I have to wait for documents to arrive by post when I could simply click a button on-line. Similarly, readers in the Bod sometimes look horrified that they should have to wait three hours to get the book they need from the Stack. For me, there is no substitute for curling up with a good book, even if I have to wait for it, but an expansion in e-resources and electronic learning has significantly sped up access to and sharing of information.

The article also got me thinking about previous blog posts- it definitely picks up on ideas raised by Charlie’s post about the purpose and function of a library and the last paragraph also reminded me of James’ post on rare books- a loyalty card and home delivery service? Is this simply taking customer service one step too far?

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