All posts by The Informed Team

Meet the judges!

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Meet our brilliant volunteer judges for the Informed Peer Recognition Award, who’ve described themselves below. They’re kindly contributing their excellent skills and experience, gained in a wide variety of sectors.


  • Steve Yorkstone


I work as part of the joined Library and Information Services in Edinburgh Napier University.

In my day job I enable continuous improvement in my home university. In practice this means you’ll find me leading workshops; facilitating discussions; organising and delivering training; acting as a formal (and not so formal) coach; and getting involved in the constant daily business of solving problems and making stuff better.

Alongside the day job I chair Lean HE, the international peer organisation for continuous improvement in universities. I am on the editorial board of the operational excellence magazine, The LMJ. And for the past two years I was on the judging panel for, and awarded, the LMJ Top 25 Awards for Operational Excellence.

I co-designed the acclaimed Lean “St Andrews Model”, and I’ve authored “Lean Universities” in Routledge’s Companion to Lean Management, due for publication before the end of 2016.

My first job was work experience as a gangling teenager in Garstang County Public Library. My experiences back then with a substantial collection of large print bodice ripping novels stay with me to this day!

I’m really excited about the Informed Peer Recognition Awards. For me the work that library and information professionals do has never been more important than it is today, for reasons both large and small.

So, let’s celebrate the real difference colleagues who go above and beyond are making; to the profession itself, for individuals, and for the public at large.


  • Daniel Gooding


Daniel Gooding is Library Assistant at the Wills Memorial Library, University of Bristol. In June he won the Aspire Award to attend CILIP Conference 2016 in Brighton, and is hoping to pass on this good fortune to others in the profession through the Informed Peer Recognition Awards. He is Publicity Officer for CILIP Library & Information History Group (Twitter handle @CILIP_LIHG) and is currently studying for the MSc Information & Library Studies at Aberystwyth University, where his dissertation will be on the subject of historical fiction classification.


  • Katrina Clifford


Hi everyone, I’m Katrina and I’ve worked at Kingston University for 9 years, previously working at University of Warwick for 3 years. My day-to-day job is as a cataloguer and also as part of the Research Repository team. I was on the CILIP CIG (Cataloguing and Indexing Group) committee for about 5 years and the West Midlands branch of the Career Development Group before that. I’m on twitter at @kmlclifford (though I don’t tweet as much professional stuff as I had intended when I started!)

I decided to volunteer as I wanted to do something a bit new and different and it sounds a really great initiative. Whilst there are so many of us working hard at what we do, there are those who are going beyond what they need to do to support others in the profession or improve services for their users. Being able to recognise that will not only be wonderful for those involved, but will also help us showcase what we can do! I’m looking forward to working with the other judges and to read all the nominations.


  • Faye Cooke


As a happy recipient of the goodwill and support of other professionals, I am keen to take part in this opportunity to recognise individuals who consistently go the extra mile. I am a Chartered librarian specialising in legal information. After obtaining a postgraduate diploma from the University of Strathclyde in 2011, I worked for a university careers service as information officer before moving into the world of law libraries. Following a year with the Scottish Government Legal Directorate, I joined private client law firm Turcan Connell in August 2016.

As well as training to become a Citizens Advice volunteer adviser, I am a committee member of the Scottish Law Librarians Group. In my spare time, I can be found watching horror films, marvelling at Edinburgh and making up recipes.



  • Roddy Waldhelm


Roddy Waldhelm is Head of the Solicitor’s Legal Information Centre in the Scottish Government Legal Directorate. He joined the Scottish Executive in February 2001 from the Defence Evaluation Research Agency in Rosyth where he was Information Manager. He is currently Head of Profession for Librarians and Information Managers in the Scottish Government and its Agencies.

From 1990 to 1998 he ran the library and information services of Osborne Clarke in Bristol. Prior to that he was Deputy Head of Library Services at British Aerospace Dynamics Division, Filton.

In his spare time he is an avid collector of books (hard copy of course) and vinyl.  Quite old school really or perhaps ahead of the curve!

I was pleased to support the award as a judge as it is refreshing to be involved something that recognises excellence wherever it occurs in any sector of the profession.


  • Rachel Warkcup


Rachel Warkcup has worked in public libraries for over 10 years in a variety of roles, including driving a jungle themed mobile library around schools in North Tyneside! Rachel now manages the North Tyneside School’s Library Service, library services for children and young people and co-ordinate the libraries’ events and outreach programme.  A member of the Association of Senior Children’s and Education Librarians (ASCEL) and Youth Libraries Group. She is also a trustee of Northern Children’s Book Festival arguably the longest running cultural festival in the North East, the only dedicated children’s literature festival in the region, and the only one in the UK which covers an entire region


  • Barbara Band


After working for over twenty five years as a Chartered librarian in school libraries, Barbara Band is now a School Library, Reading and Literacy consultant offering support and advice to a range of schools, and delivering training to librarians and teachers. She works with several literacy organisations to promote the value and benefits of school libraries and reading, has been on numerous judging and book selection panels, and is the founder of the Pupil Librarian of the Year Award. Barbara publishes regularly on a range of reading, library and literacy related topics as well as writing her own blog, and has won many awards in recognition of her work in and contribution to school libraries including: the inaugural SLA Founder’s Award; School Librarian of the Year Honour List; and CILIP Youth Libraries Group Honorary Membership. She was also recently awarded an Honorary Masters degree by the Open University for her contribution to “raising literacy levels and removing barriers to education”.


  • Alison Brumwell

I have 18 years experience as a librarian and have been a children’s specialist for the past ten years. I’m Leeds-based and have worked in public libraries, as a secondary school librarian and, most recently, as a schools library service librarian. I am active within the profession as a regional member of both ASCEL and YLG and also sit as representative for Yorkshire and the Humber on national YLG. I am keen to be involved in the IPRA judging process as part of my ongoing professional development and to help raise the profile of librarianship.


  • Natasha Chowdory


  • Bethan Ruddock

I work in Digital Resources for Jisc, where I help to design, deliver, and maintain services for libraries and archives. This involves lots of lovely hands-on work with bibliographic data, as well as outreach and training.

Outside work, I’m a Chartered member of CILIP, a Chartership mentor, and have just spent a couple of years on the Board of the Special Libraries Association.

I’m really pleased to be involved in judging the IPRA. It’s a great chance to get to know more about the work of some fabulous professionals, and to help them be recognised for their achievements. The Informed team have done a really good job developing the award, and I’m looking forward to finding out more about lots of talented nominees!


Invite for nominations for Informed Peer Recognition Award

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We’re excited to announce that the Informed Peer Recognition Award is now open for nominations! The form is available HERE.

The aim of the award is to recognise the work of those in the information profession who might otherwise go unnoticed, those people who may not be singlehandedly changing the world, but who really go above and beyond to make a positive difference to their services, users, and society. Although there will be one final award winner, we want the process of nominating someone to be a positive one regardless of the outcome of the nomination.

Often when people are nominated for an award, if they don’t win, they will never even know they were being considered for it, and they won’t see the thoughtful text of their nomination which explains exactly why others regard them as being exceptional. The text of the nomination for an award itself is important: it’s something that allows others to highlight how special an individual is, and explain clearly why this is so. Being able to see why others feel an individual is deserving of recognition from the text of a nomination can be as satisfying as winning the award, which is why it’s a core point of this award that all nominations texts will be made public. In this way, both the nominee and the wider profession can see how their work is valued and appreciated.

Additionally, many people who work outside the public sector can feel that they will never qualify for any sort of award, as their work is less visible. This award is an opportunity to allow recognition of those individuals who are quietly working to improve their service in a sustainable way, or developing resources that have a big impact on their own specific user group.

So, if you work with, or know of someone who you regard as being an exceptional information professional in any role or sector, please nominate them for the Informed Peer Recognition Award. #InformedPRA

Nominations can fall under one of the following three categories;

  • For those who have demonstrated a commitment to, or substantial involvement in activities which will contribute to the development of services and/or resources that will provide a benefit to the public.
  • For those who have worked to deliver improvements to a service (be it private, public, or voluntary) for the benefit of users and provide them with a better experience when interacting with the service.
  • For those who have worked across the profession to improve an aspect of it for the benefit of others.

Nominations should consist of a 500 word summary outlining why the nominator feels that the nominee would be a worthy recipient of the award, and be supported by a second nominator.

Please provide as much detail/evidence as possible within your nomination – the judges can only make decisions on the merits of each nominee based on the information the nominators present to them.

The nomination form is available HERE.

IPRA judges and nominations

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We’re delighted to announce that our call for judges to assist with the Informed Peer Recognition Award (IPRA) was very successful, and we’ve now got a full complement of excellent people involved. A post introducing the judges will be appearing soon, but while the judges are getting to know each other and the judging process, we’d like you to start to consider who you would like to nominate for the IPRA. Nominations can be submitted between the 17th of October and the 25th of November.

The Informed Peer Recognition Award is intended to recognise the contributions of a library and information professional working in the UK who has gone beyond the requirements of their job to make a positive difference. Nominations can fall under one of the following three categories;

  • For those who have demonstrated a commitment to, or substantial involvement in activities which will contribute to the development of services and/or resources that will provide a benefit to the public.
  • For those who have worked to deliver improvements to a service (be it private, public, or voluntary) for the benefit of users and provide them with a better experience when interacting with the service.
  • For those who have worked across the profession to improve an aspect of it for the benefit of others.

Nominations should consist of a 500 word summary, and be supported by two nominators. The more information that you can give the judges that helps to show how your nominee has made a contribution in one of the above categories, the better they’ll be able to judge the nominations submitted.

You will need to provide the email address and if possible, the phone number of your nominee. This will enable us to inform them of their nomination, and if needed, contact them for clarification on any points raised in the nomination.

Completed nominations can be submitted via the online form which will be available on the Informed website from the 17th of October, 2016.

The text of all nominations will be published on the Informed website, to allow nominees to see why their peers believed that their activities deserved recognition. Therefore, please bear in mind that any information submitted in a nomination will be made public.


The Informed Peer Recognition Award

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The Informed team are excited to be announcing the launch of a new award, the Informed Peer Recognition Award. We thought it would be a useful addition to the range of awards currently available for information professionals in the UK.

Background to the development of the award

Elly O’Brien, Mobeena Khan and Jennie Findlay spent a significant amount of time drafting a nomination for a professional colleague for an award back in autumn 2014. The process of writing the nomination was particularly time consuming and demanding, taking the three of us many hours of our time. Once the nomination was submitted, there was no further contact from the organisers. We had no information or progress updates on the process of the award judging, or timescales for the outcome, and there was no communication with nominators about the final outcome of the process. To see whether our nominee had been recognised we had to guess the possible announcement date, and monitor the website daily for a month. Our nominee received no contact from the organisers at any point, and in the end, we decided to send them a copy of the nomination material we’d drafted, as the purpose of us nominating them was to demonstrate to them how valued their work was. In the end the only way we could do this was to give them that information directly. Overall, taking part in that awards process as a nominator was incredibly frustrating.

The Informed team response

We began to think more deeply about the difficulties of the nomination process we’d been through, and how it had been both a frustrating and impersonal experience. We wondered if there was a way that the Informed group of volunteers could create and run an award which would try and avoid these frustrations, and ensure that all those nominated would be able to see what work or activity they were being recognised for.

Elly, Mobeena and Jennie discussed and began to develop the initial idea about creating an award. We decided at an early stage that it could not be run by any of the various professional bodies, because we wanted it to be inclusive, and usually these groups are only able to offer awards to their own members. Due to other professional commitments, Elly had to step back from active involvement, and Laura Ennis took her place. Together we’ve endeavoured to create an award structure that we hope will work in a way that keeps nominators and nominees informed, and is flexible enough to allow for the efforts of a range of information sector workers who may be excluded from nomination for other awards to be recognised .


For easy reference, this is what we hope to achieve with this awards process:

  • Create an award that all UK information workers of all levels are eligible for.
  • Be as informative as possible for nominators submitting nominations – be open about the awards schedule, how quick a response the team will be able to give when contacted, and give nominators an idea of the timescales for each stage of the process.
  • Contact nominees to notify them that they have been nominated for an award, and tell them when the result is expected to be announced.
  • Ensure that judges are aware of the process and timescales involved when they volunteer to take part, to allow them to determine if the schedule will work with their personal commitments.
  • Publish the full content of all nominations on the Informed website, to enable the public recognition of nominees work that the nominators intend.


Access To Research – A Public Library Initiative

Theo Andrew works as a Scholarly Communications Officer in the Information Services group at the University of Edinburgh. Professional interests include: enhancing scholarly communication using new technologies; promoting an open agenda within academia; research analytics and altmetrics; and research information/data management.


Data set containing over 1.6m temperature readings from stations across the globe.
(Image c/o Jer Thorp on Flickr.)

In January 2014 the Access to Research initiative was launched. This initiative was sparked by and is a response to a key recommendation in the Finch Report – “Accessibility, sustainability, excellence: how to expand access to research publications” (Page 7; recommendation v). The two year pilot co-ordinated by the Publishers Licensing Society aims to give free at the point of use, walk-in access to academic literature in public libraries across the UK. The launch quickly generated a fair amount of publicity, albeit with equal measures of scorn poured upon it.

This blog post is not going to spend a long time explaining what the initiative is and how it works – others do it better here – but rather I’d like to talk about some of the good points and some of the not so obvious bad points so you can make up your own mind on the matter.

Before we start, it should be pointed out that, despite arising from the Finch report which has rather a lot to say about open access, this initiative actually has nothing to do with open access as most people understand the term, and should not be confused with developments in this area.

Lets begin by looking at some of the good stuff that the initiative promises:

1. Costs

Firstly, the cost to participating libraries and the general public is zero. The initiative is intended to be free at point of use for the user, and free for libraries to sign up to participate with all the costs being borne by the publishers. While we are not aware of the actual costs they are presumably not trivial. Hazarding an educated guess I doubt you’ll see much change from £100k if you wanted to set up a two year pilot preceded by a 3 month technical trial.

2. Content

The 17 publishers that are included at the start of the pilot have contributed between 1.25 to 1.5 million articles from a portfolio of approximately 8000 journals. The figures remain a bit hazy as David Willetts in his launch presentation mentions one figure and the promotional text states another. However, knowing how these kind of statistics are pulled together I can appreciate the vagueness.  At a first glance this is a sizable corpus of material to access for free, although I will return to this point to put the figure in more context later on.

3. Building bridges

One of the less tangible benefits of this initiative is that it could help to break down barriers between research and the wider community. The portrayal of science in the popular media is personal bug bear of mine. For many people the only exposure they have to current research topics is when they are covered in the newspapers and television news. Unfortunately lazy journalism seems to propagate an ‘us v them’ mentality – one of the most commonly heard phrases in the news must be “Scientists state that X causes cancer*” which is rarely productive for all involved. If journalists or the public can engage better with the primary literature (i.e. find more interesting news articles to broadcast/ carry out follow up reading) then this can only help with perceptions and engagement with research. Even proponents of the Access to Research initiative admit that a key challenge is how to digest information obtained from scholarly journals. At least making the literature available for citizens to begin to make informed decisions is a good start.

*where X is an activity/thing regularly done/consumed by the public

4. Footfall

At a time when public libraries are struggling in the face of cuts to maintain services and prove their relevance librarians will seize upon any opportunity to offer more services for no initial outlay (other than staff training). Already there is anecdotal evidence* that offering new services such as Access to Research will entice new users who wouldn’t normally think of visiting. Although most people would agree that providing information online is much more desirable, an increased footfall at public libraries is a good thing.

* Sarah Faulder at 7min20 mentions  “ ….a glowing testimonial”

5. Usability

Although I’ve not yet actually used the pilot Access to Research service, from all accounts the search delivery service – Summon from ProQuest – is extremely easy to use and doesn’t require specialised training to use. Furthermore, it doesn’t require tricky authentication to access on site which is a major failing whenever I’ve tried to use some online electronic public library services in the past.

6. Leadership

Another less tangible benefit mentioned by David Willetts is ‘thought leadership’ and UK PLC to be seen to be doing the right thing.


Now lets move on to some of the criticisms raised against the initiative:

1. Terms & Conditions

Perhaps some of the most serious criticisms are the limitations imposed on accessing the content. It always pays to read the small print which reveals serious restrictions on use – here are some of the worst:

  • I will only use the publications accessed through this search for my own personal, e.g. non-commercial research and private study
  • I will not download onto disc, CD or USB memory sticks or other portable devices or otherwise save, any publications accessed through this search;
  • I will not allow the making of any derivative works from any of the publications accessed through this search;
  • I will not copy otherwise retain, store or divert any of the publications accessed through this search onto my own personal systems;


Some of these points are extremely patronising – the derivative works one for example. We have all heard the famous quote that science is based upon standing on the shoulders of giants. To not be able to make derivative works goes against one of the underlying principles of scholarship. What this point makes clear is that users are meant to be consumers not creators of knowledge.

Other more knowledgeable folk like Cameron Neylon make a more eloquent assessment of the problems these terms and conditions create. All I want to add to this discussion is that in this day and age there is no reason to force users to adopt restrictions on use that are only appropriate for print media, unless you wish to severely handicap the usefulness and therefore the uptake of the service.

2. Postcode lottery

Closely related to the point above, but sufficiently serious to warrant its own point is the postcode lottery of whether you can actually use the walk in service. With 10 local authorities participating in the technical pilot and 11 new authorities joining, that means there are 400 libraries at the start of the initiative. There are around 4,265 public libraries which means the coverage is less than 10%. You could say that some access to public is better than no access at all, however the fact remains that currently the majority of UK citizens are excluded from the service. In mitigation, this is the start of a 2 year pilot and the initiative hopes to sign up a lot more local authorities as the pilot progresses. I would fully expect coverage to increase over time as more libraries opt in – although it’s hard to estimate quite what the final coverage will be.

3. Content put in context

1.25 – 1.5 million articles sound like a lot of content to read. However, if you consider that there are around 46.1 million records in Web of Science; and it is estimated that in 2006 the total number of articles published was approximately 1.35 million, the range of articles you can access through the initiative is a drop in the ocean. So if you are lucky to live close to enough to walk in to a participating library you can only access the equivalent of the research that was produced last year. As far as I know the selection process to be included in Access to Research is opaque – what papers are chosen and who decides?

4. Preserving the status quo

Perhaps one the most disappointing points for me is that this initiative is trying to preserve the status quo of academic publishing. It’s firmly rooted in the print distribution model and has built in sufficient obstacles for users to overcome that it is setting itself up for failure. The initiative goes against nearly all of Ranganathan’s five laws of library science:

i. Books are for use

…but the articles are digitally chained to prevent their removal.

ii. Every reader his [or her] book

…but the majority of readers can’t visit a participating library

iii. Every book its reader

…but the portfolio of journals is not comprehensive.

iv. Save the time of the reader

….restrictive terms and conditions prevent this.

v. The library is a growing organism.

….perhaps this is the saving grace as there is room for improvement.


5. Motivations

I’d like to take time to consider the motivations behind the initiative. Commercial organisations do not do anything for free unless there is a benefit somewhere further along the line. To put it in the crudest possible terms the benefits are the holy trinity of cash, turf or fame. The Access to Research initiative certainly ticks all three of these boxes.

The Publishers Licensing Society who have co-ordinated the Access to Research initiative, and Nature Publishing Group have been very forthright in admitting that the scheme is about ‘creating a new audience for information’ and opening ‘another channel to the market’ for their content. I can’t comment on how publishers actually intend to monetise the situation, but the standard Modus operandi is to develop a market then sell products directly to it.

It has been widely commented that there has been a great deal of hard lobbying by publishers to position paid-for Gold Open Access services as the main method of delivery of open access in the Finch Report. The focus on Gold OA has been widely criticised by a broad spectrum of the academic community and has resulted in a partial backtrack. In the face of renewed criticism academic publishers will be keen to please to government and show everyone they are the good guys:

“Government has been extremely pleased to see how publishers have tenaciously

pursued their welcome proposal for a Public Library Initiative (PLI) in the national and

public interest.”

Certainly the response (above) from the Rt Hon David Willetts to Prof Dame Janet Finch indicates they are heading along the right lines.

6. Access to public funded research

In the last few years there has been legislative movement in the States pushing towards taxpayer access to publicly funded research, and this viewpoint is gaining momentum in the UK. One of the main criticisms levelled at the current subscription model is that public funded money is being used to produce the research, but the fruits of the labour are not available to the people who funded it. One way to stop dead this argument is to say the public has access to all the research they need through an initiative like Access to Research.

Personally I would rather not rely on the generosity of third parties to deliver a sub-set of content (from an opaque selection of materials), that can have access removed at any time (2 year pilot), and is made difficult to access (via restrictive terms and conditions of use). I would rather see all content funded by taxpayers (either directly via research councils, or indirectly via universities or other sources) to be available freely via the internet (either in a repository or via an open access publisher), preferably with generous reuse rights granted up front.

The Too Long; Didn’t Read (tl;dr) summary

My own personal take on all of this is that the ‘Access to Research’ is a step in the right direction, but falls short in the implementation, and is driven by motivations that are not so altruistic as you might first think.