Friday, 7 December 2018

Sheffield MSc Data Science – Industry Event

Tuesday 4th December 2018 was the date of our annual ‘industry day’ event organised for students on the MSc Data Science programme. The event invites speakers from various sectors in industry to share their experiences with utilising machine learning, AI and data science for applications within their domain. This year speakers from 6 organisations presented at the event:

· Billy Blythe, Head of Data Science, Department of Work and Pensions (DWP)

· Leanne Fitzpatrick, Head of Data, Hello Soda

· Lauren Rodgers, Data Scientist, and Tom Liptrot, Head of Data Science,

· Lisa Clark, Data Scientist, Virgin Media Business (VMB)

· Ben Chamberlain, Head of Machine Learning,

· Hayden Sansum, Senior Data Scientist, Ministry of Justice (MoJ)

Speakers discussed various topics such as the challenges, benefits and technologies involved in utilising data-driven analytical methods; current technological trends; and what role data scientists play within their organisations. Many examples were provided including analysing the behaviours of customers in debt (VMB), targeted delivery of services (DWP), supply chain optimisation (ASOS) and transformations in the criminal and justice system (MoJ). Particularly pleasing to hear from was Lauren Rodgers, a former student on the MSc Data Science programme who now works as Data Scientist for and shared her experiences of working life post-MSc course.

Support for the event was provided by the Information School and Peak Indicators.

Professor Paul Clough

MSc Data Science student ambassador Na Li had this to say about her experience on the day:

'The Industry event helped us to better understand data science applications and its importance in real industry. Also, by interacting with speakers from industry, we better understood the role which data scientists play in the workplace as well as the skills industry requires from data scientists. All these are important for us to better prepare for job applications after graduation.'

Speakers at the industry day event (top to bottom): Billy Blythe, Leanne Fitzpatrick, Lauren Rodgers and Tom Liptrot, Lisa Clark, Ben Chamberlain, Hayden Sansum

Thursday, 6 December 2018

'Skills for the future academic library' - a student's view on the CILIP briefing by Rhiannon Williams

On the 28th of November I had the opportunity to attend the CILIP briefing on ‘Skills for the future
academic library’ through a bursary from the Information School and CILIP. The event saw library practitioners and researchers present their findings and experiences of academic libraries, with a focus on what skills and developments they foresaw as particularly important for the future.

The day began with Stephen Pinfield’s presentation on the 2017 SCONUL report on
Mapping the Future of Academic Librariesby Stephen Pinfield, Andrew Cox and Sophie Rutter. This presentation introduced the concept of expanding our understanding of skills beyond traditional hard and soft skills, adding ethics and values, mindsets, and contextual knowledge as useful types of skills for LIS professionals to consider.

Values and mindsets

As the professional landscape changes, LIS professionals require not only different skills, but changes in mindsets.

Regina Everitt from the University of East London presented the
SCONUL Workforce Development Task and Finish Group’s recent research on LIS workforce development. Key focuses for the task group are addressing the lack of ethnic diversity in libraries, supporting new entrants to librarianship, and adapting to change. The group’s research found that librarianship has a 96.7% white workforce, and that 45% of BAME LIS professionals have expected racial discrimination at work. Continuing researchaims to further understand the workplace experiences of BAME LIS professionals and explore how to support diversity in the professional by reconsidering how we recruit in libraries and share information about LIS careers. Regina Everitt emphasised that “if we continue to hire in our own image, we need to be challenged on that.”

Andy Priestner, consultant on UX in libraries, also conveyed the importance of changing mindsets in his presentation on embedding UX research and design in libraries. Andy demonstrated the need for a focus on creativity, speed and flexibility, rather than aiming for immediate perfection, when trying out new services. UX-based service development also requires collaboration and user-feedback to be effective.

Soft skills and relationship building

Changes in the roles carried out by LIS professionals impact what soft skills need to be prioritised and developed.

Katie Evans shared her experiences of how a continuously developing research analytics service at the University of Bath has meant certain soft skills have become more important. In particular, the service has increased the library’s impact on strategic decision making and the need to build partnerships.

Michelle Blake’s presentation on relationship management similarly emphasised partnership-building at the University of York library. A project on
Understanding Academicshelped the library understand its users, enhancing the communication and support they could provide.

Oxford Brookes University’s Robert Curry’s presentation on collaboration also focused on understanding users, asserting that the academic library needs to relate its expertise to the contexts and objectives of its users to be effective. In particular, finding out others’ concepts of ‘information literacy’ enables better communication when sharing information literacy based skills and training.

Both Michelle and Robert considered it crucial that libraries demonstrate the impact of soft skills and the value of services through evidence, such as user satisfaction scores. This helps LIS professionals and others to advocate for the library.

Hard skills and digital development

The hard skills and tools used in LIS workplaces are constantly developing. As such, it is often the willingness to try out and learn new things that is crucial to LIS professionals rather than specific technical expertise.

A particular skill explored by Julie Glanville from the York Health Economics Consortium was
text mining, which is a valuable tool for systematic reviews and developing search strategies. Applying text mining tools to groups of records enables users to extract key terms, cluster related records, and more. Using this technology effectively still relies on strong ‘traditional’ LIS skills such as accurate record-making, as the tools need accurate data to provide meaningful results. This is an example of changes building on rather than replacing traditional skills.

A potentially significant change in the future of academic libraries is the development of AI, perhaps leading to the ‘intelligent library’, impacting how we search for resources and interact with users. Andrew Cox from the Information School presented on this topic, suggesting that LIS professionals need to anticipate this change and begin developing AI literacy. Particular challenges include the need for transparency and data protection.

What does this mean in practice?

Despite the many changes explored throughout the conference, many presenters noted the way in which current frameworks for LIS skills, such as the CILIP PKSB, provided scaffolding for adapting rather than entirely reworking current concepts of skills. By applying current skills in different ways to new contexts, LIS professionals will be able to respond effectively to change.

A workshop session provided participants with the opportunity to consider how future changes might take shape in their own workplaces. To apply the concepts discussed to your own practice, you might consider:

● How do the concepts apply to your context and priorities?
● What skills are required for addressing change, and where are the skills gaps?
● What do individuals, institutions and the LIS community need to do to move forward?

To read about the conference in more detail, search for #CILIPFutureSkills on Twitter.

Rhiannon Williams
MA Librarianship student  

Monday, 26 November 2018

The intelligent library - new paper published on AI in academic libraries

Our new paper explores the potential impact of Artificial Intelligence on academic libraries. Innovations such as Siri and the driverless car have brought public attention to the potential of the latest developments in computing power, combining machine learning and big data.

AI brings with it both exciting opportunities and risks to privacy, equality and employment. But until now the implications of AI for academic libraries have been relatively little explored.

Using data from interviews with library directors, library commentators and commentators outside the library world, the new paper, The intelligent library: Thought leaders’ views on the likely impact of artificial intelligence on academic libraries (open-access version available)explores the potential implications of AI for the academic library.

We try to capture how interviewees thought AI would impact on academic libraries and from this reveal eleven issues that will define the paradigm of the "intelligent library".

The implications for staff roles and competencies are discussed. We will be talking more about the implications at the CILIP Briefing "Skills for the future academic library" on the 28th November.

Dr. Andrew Cox & Professor Stephen Pinfield

Tuesday, 20 November 2018

Training librarians for our schools – Dr Briony Birdi

There has been talk in the professional press recently of school librarianship, and the importance of preparing future generations of librarians to work in our school libraries. There can be little doubt as to the importance of library provision in schools, but as concerns mount about the public funding for both education and libraries at large, it easy to see why this is a hot topic.

At the Information School in Sheffield (as at many other library and information departments), we are committed to providing Masters level education for both those working in school libraries and wishing to move into the field after graduating. We currently offer two Masters programmes with an emphasis on librarianship: the MA Librarianship, which is delivered here in Sheffield, and the MA Library and Information Services Management which is a distance learning programme. Both of these programmes include library services for children and young people (in school and public libraries) as elective modules.

More than 10 years ago I developed a ‘Library services for children and young people’ module, which has now become the ‘Public and youth library services’ module, and covers both public and school libraries. Many students taking this module as part of the previously mentioned degree programmes are interested in working in school libraries, and they meet and visit current practitioners from both school libraries and school library services. Also core to our Librarianship programmes are the Information Literacy modules, a key part of which focuses on models and theories of teaching and learning, enabling students to reflect on their development as teachers of information literacy – key skills for a school librarian. All students study a range of modules enabling their development as professionals, as managers, and as experts within their chosen field.

Over the years we have worked in regular partnership with school library staff, networks and professional organisations in developing teaching content and research projects, and each year a good proportion of our students complete Masters dissertations based in both primary and secondary school libraries. Topics investigated within the past 3 years have included the provision of primary school libraries, the promotion of reading in secondary school libraries, the provision of school library services for EAL pupils, the decline of professional librarianship in English state-funded secondary schools – just a few examples of the innovative work our students are undertaking.

At the Information School, we believe in the future of libraries and continue to give our students practice-informed, research-led teaching, to provide our libraries with skilled professionals who can further the library and information services field in the future – and, of course, in many ways this starts with schools.

Dr. Briony Birdi
Senior Lecturer in Librarianship, Information School, University of Sheffield

If you are interested in becoming a school librarian, why not take a look at one of our courses below?

Library and Information Services Management:
All our programmes:

Tuesday, 13 November 2018

Dr Paul Reilly published in Journalism

Senior Lecturer Dr Paul Reilly has had an article co-authored with Bournemouth University colleagues Anastasia Veneti and Darren Lilleker published in Journalism.

The article entitled ‘Photographing the Battlefield: the role of ideology in photojournalist practices during the anti-austerity protests in Greece’ can be accessed here.

Tuesday, 30 October 2018

Dr Paul Reilly publishes new chapter on social media and paramilitary style assaults in Northern Ireland

Senior Lecturer Dr Paul Reilly is pleased to report that his chapter written with Faith Gordon, ‘Digital weapons in a post-conflict society’, has been published in ‘Anti-Social Media', a volume edited by John Mair, Richard Tait and Tor Clark.

A copy of the chapter can be downloaded here.

The Information School Celebrates #GlobalMILweek #infolit

24th-31st October is Global Media and Information Literacy week, the initiative sponsored by UNESCO. The iSchool is celebrating with a number activities that demonstrate its engagement with this field.

We have organised three webinars, free and open to all:
2pm-2.30 pm UK time (which is 10-10.30am US EST) Tuesday 30th Oct. Dr Laura Sbaffi  (Information School) presents her research on What makes us trust online information? The perspective of health information. Join the webinar (via Adobe Connect) at Enter as a "guest". You may need to download the free Adobe Connect application, so please allow a few minutes for that.

2pm-2.30 pm (which is 10-10.30am US EST) Wednesday 31st Oct. Sheila Webber (Information School) and Stephen Wyber (IFLA Manager, Policy and Advocacy.) will give their  Impressions of Global MIL Week feature conference. Join the webinar at As noted below, Sheila presented at the conference, and she will include a brief overview of UNESCO's MIL programme, trends from conference, and some highlights of her talk.

Recordings of both these seminars will be available afterwards. A recording of the first Gobal MIL week iSchool webinar, which ran last week, includes Pamela McKinney talking about her research on Information and data literacy of using mobile apps for diet and fitness tracking and Sharon Wagg “A literature review on the linkages between digital inclusion and information literacy”: . Sharon is a graduate of the University of Sheffield MA Librarianship programme, has worked for the Good Things foundation and is now undertaking a PhD at Loughborough University in the field of digital inclusion.

Sheila Webber co-presented at the conference (with Bill Johnston, Strathclyde University) on #AFMIL The Age-Friendly Media and Information Literate City: Combining policies and strategies for ageing populations in media and information rich societies. As Interim Co-Chair of the European Chapter of GAPMIL (Global Alliance for Partnerships on Media and Information Literacy) she also participated in the feature conference closing session. Sheila liveblogged from the conference and her posts can be found here:

Additionally, iSchool students have been posting information about their Global MIL Week activities to a padlet at Information Literacy is a core module on both the MA Librarianship and the MA Library and Information Services Management programmes.

Tuesday, 16 October 2018

iSchool staff attend launch of new H2020 project

Dr Jo Bates and Professor Paul Clough from the Information School attended the launch of the new H2020 funded CyCAT (Cyprus Centre for Algorithmic Transparency) project in Nicosia 8-9 October 2018.

Jo and Paul are investigators on CyCAT, a project hosted by the Open University of Cyprus (OUC), which aims to educate and raise awareness of ways in which data analytics and algorithmic processes can affect people's access to and interactions with information. The project will help promote digital literacy around algorithmic bias, transparency and fairness, a topic gaining considerable attention and media attention.

The CyCAT project started 1st October 2018 and will run for 3 years. OUC is the lead partner of the project with additional contributions coming from The University of Sheffield , the University of Haifa , the University of Trento (Università degli Studi di Trento), and The University of Edinburgh.

Thursday, 11 October 2018

Down Mexico Way - Dr Andrew Cox's visit to Mexico City

It is always exciting to see a former PhD student again and find out more about what they are doing now, so it was amazing to be able to visit Mexico City and say hello again to Gibrán Rivera Gonzalez who gained his PhD at the Information School in 2013. He is now a lecturer at Instituto Politécnico Nacional, one of the top universities in Mexico. The picture below is of a seminar I gave on the need for qualitative research in the age of big data and AI.

Together we also went to the Entre Pares conference, in Pueblo, organised by CONRICYT (The National Consortium of Scientific and Technological Information Resources). The conference aims to promote scholarly communication in academic communities across Mexico. This year’s event had an impressive programme of presentations on a wide variety of information science topics. There was a track on Research Data Management, reflecting the increasing interest in this topic in the country.

It was good to be able to share some UK experiences around Research Data Management and open scholarship with conference attendees during a session with Dr Miguel Adolfo Guajardo Mendoza from CONACYT (National Council for Science and Technology), and at another event with repository managers.

Gibrán and I also visited the Instituto de Investigaciones Bibliotecológicas y de la Información (IIBI) at the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM), the National Autonomous University of Mexico. IIBI is one of the most important library schools in Latin America, and are doing some very impressive research activities such as publishing the journal, Investigación Bibliotecológica. Archivonomía, bibliotecología e información.

I was struck by how much interesting research is going on in the Spanish speaking world that we are often unaware of here in the UK. Actually, Investigación Bibliotecológica has a parallel version in the English language – very much recommended reading! While we were at UNAM, we also took a chance to visit their fantastic library building.

Everyone we encountered in Mexico was very friendly and welcoming. Luckily we were able to find some time to do some sightseeing! The ancient pyramids at Teotihuacan are very impressive. We also visited Xochimilco to see the amazing chinampas (floating gardens or man-made islands), originally created by the Aztecs. Xochimilco is one of the last remaining areas of lake which existed in Aztec times, most of which is now built over by the vast conurbation of Mexico City.

Dr Andrew Cox, Senior Lecturer

Thursday, 4 October 2018

PhD student Gianmarco Ghiandoni wins best poster at UK QSAR Autumn Meeting

Congratulations to Gianmarco Ghiandoni, PhD student in the Chemoinformatics Research Group, who recently won the Best Student Poster prize at the UK QSAR (Quantitative Structure-Activity Relationship) Autumn 2018 Meeting, which took place at Lady Margaret Conference Centre, Oxford University, on September 26th.

Gianmarco's poster was entitled 'Fingerprint-based recommendation Models in Reaction-driven Drug Design'. The prize gives Gianmarco the opportunity to convert his poster to a 30 minute talk which he will give at the next UK QSAR meeting on 4th April 2019 in Cambridge.

Gianmarco's PhD research is on the topic of reaction-based molecular design, supervised by Professor Val Gillet of the Information School and Professor Beining Chen from the Department of Chemistry. You can find out more about his research here.

Tuesday, 28 August 2018

Dr Paul Reilly article published in The Conversation UK

Senior Lecturer Dr Paul Reilly and Research Associate Dr. Ioanna Tantanasi have published an article entitled ‘Social media’s not all bad- it’s saving lives in disaster zones‘ for the Conversation UK last week. The piece draws on their CascEff and IMPROVER work on social media and crisis communication.

Thanks to Stephen Harris for his editorial support and the invitation to comment on this issue.

Tuesday, 7 August 2018

Visiting Scholar – Josephine Nabukenya

Professor Josephine Nabukenya, Chair of Health Informatics in the Department of Information Systems, School of Computing and Information Sciences at Makerere University, Uganda, has paid a five-day visit to the Information School as a guest of Dr Laura Sbaffi and Dr Pamela Abbott, representing the Health Informatics and Information Systems Research Groups, respectively. Josephine’s visit follows on from a five-day research visit made by Drs Sbaffi and Abbott to Makerere University in April to establish research collaborations, which were initiated between Professor Nabukenya and Professor Peter Bath, Chair of Health Informatics and Head of the Information School.

While visiting the School, Josephine met researchers mainly in the Health Informatics and Information Systems research groups and presented a seminar on “Transforming Uganda’s Healthcare and Ecosystem Using Health Informatics Research”; details of the seminar are here. She also spent time exploring current research interests and future potential collaborations between Makerere University Health Informatics and Information Systems research groups. She has already been collaborating with the HI and IS research groups here on funded calls for research related to the use of Electronic Health Records in resource-constrained settings in Uganda and is keen to expand this portfolio of mutually enriching projects.

Josephine also has interests in collaborating on PhD supervisions and online teaching for the Masters in Health Informatics programme and has met with the programme coordinator and teaching staff on this programme both from the Information School and School of Health and Related Research (ScHARR).

Josephine’s research profile and more about the Health Informatics Research Group at Makerere University can be found here

Thursday, 26 July 2018

Paper co-authored by Wasim Ahmed, Peter Bath and Laura Sbaffi presented at major social media conference

The 9th International Conference on Social Media and Society was held earlier this month in Copenhagen, Denmark.

Dr Wasim Ahmed, recent Information School PhD graduate (now assistant Professor at Northumbria University) presented his PhD work at the conference and his trip was funded by the Information School. The paper Moral Panic through the Lens of Twitter: An Analysis of Infectious Disease Outbreaks was co-authored by Head of School and Professor of Health Informatics Peter Bath, and Dr Laura Sbaffi.

You can access the paper here.

Tuesday, 17 July 2018

CILIP Conference 2018: Highlights by Data Science student He Liu

It has been a while since my trip to the CILIP Conference in Brighton, and I believe this is the moment for me to express my experiences about this journey.  Firstly, I would like to thank the Information School of the University of Sheffield for providing me this opportunity with a student bursary. It was my great pleasure to attend the CILIP Conference.

This was not my first time attending conference. I was impressed to see so many admirable professionals and their brilliant ideas during the conference. Also, I felt welcome from the first day I arrived in Brighton. There was a city travel event on Tuesday evening before the conference. Even though I was the only student in our group, I made some new friends during the city travel. By the end, we spent a wonderful time enjoying the sunset at the lovely coast. At that moment, I was anticipating the next day’s conference.

No doubt, I couldn’t be more satisfied with my experience. Having the opportunity to be a member of CILIP during my studies can be considered as an advantage for my further career. This event proved to be very challenging, but it also offered exciting and new opportunities to learn from library and information professionals. Aside from a positive impact on my development, this also has an impact on a rather personal level. This particular conference experience provided me with an advantage in the field of work, as well as the possibility of being able to practice what I have learned from the Information School.

One of the many different perspectives offered during the conference, keynote speaker Helen Dodd from Cancer Reach UK highlighted the strong similarity between GDPR and the information life cycle. She concluded five steps to ‘collect, store, use, share, dispose’ for organisations to use their information. She announced that the implement of GDPR does not restrict the development of organisations, but is an opportunity for them. As she explained, ‘GPPR presents an opportunity to bring us closer to knowing how we use our information, and how we can use it better!’ For organisations, tackling GDPR is a first step in reducing risk, which provides a foundation for even more interesting, innovative work. Especially, she mentioned that GDPR activity in terms of core library and knowledge services skills: data processing reviews are information audits. As a data science student, her speech was really inspiring to me in my studies and advised me on how to progress my future career. After her speech, I couldn’t help myself but to meet her in person, and showed my gratitude.

Attending the CILIP Conference also provided me the opportunities to expand my social network. I completely understand that the power behind networking is quite a strong element in this conference. It does not just involve getting to know people, but it also allows people to practice personal learning. This conference was also a perfect platform for me to show my communication skills. As one of the student representatives, I got the chance to introduce my programme to people at the Information School exhibition stand. It refreshed what I have learnt from the class and shared my experience to prospective students.

To sum up, it was a wonderful experience for me to enhance my knowledge and skills, and to build my personality for attending the CILIP Conference in the future. Again, thanks to Information School of Sheffield for providing me this opportunity. It was a priceless opportunity in my life.

He Liu
MSc Data Science student

CILIP Conference 2018: Highlights by Librarianship student Kathryn Aylward

I was absolutely gutted that I never quite got my application in for the LILAC Conference bursary, so when the opportunity to go to another, even bigger conference came up, I was determined to go – and I am so glad that I did! It was an action-packed two and a half days of fish ‘n’ chips, seagull attacks, fairground rides, and of course, lots of librarian shenanigans.

Brighton at night – taken from the pier on the way home from the Conference dinner.
Of all the sessions I attended over the two-day conference, there are three which really stand out for me. The first was the keynote by the Scottish librarian of the year, Sally Walker, who works as a children’s librarian for Orkney’s public library system. Her passion and enthusiasm for the job were so obvious that you couldn’t help but be swept up in it! Sally has achieved a lot whilst in the post, from introducing Code Clubs and LEGO/Minecraft sessions for the children, to working with disadvantaged families in the area to encourage their participation in library sessions. I came away from her talk feeling so inspired and energised by Sally’s great work, but also a little nostalgic for my first ever role as a library worker: I used to do children’s Storytimes, complete with books, crafts, and nursery rhymes, in a small branch library in York.

The second memorable session was the first parallel session of the conference, entitled ‘Networking for the rest of us’ and hosted by Jo Wood (host of the Librarians with Lives podcast – I appear on the CILIP Conference special edition!) and Michael Jones. This was part of the ‘Your Career’ track sponsored by Sheffield. I’m not a natural networker, but Jo and Mike made it so easy for us. First, they presented us with some simple but fool-proof tricks for successful networking, then they let us loose to practice! A stroke of genius on their part was providing us with board games and other activities to bond over – it meant that you had something common you were all doing and helped us stop overthinking things and just talk to each other. I feel confident in saying that this session was a roaring success for all involved, and I made some new friends which I continued to keep in touch with as the conference went on.

The end of the first day brought with it the conference dinner on Brighton pier – a perfect time to practice networking! We each received a fish ‘n’ chip dinner (or falafel for the veggies) and a wristband to ride the rides for free until 10pm. Riding a rollercoaster right on the edge of a pier, late at night, immediately after chips, is a surreal, exhilarating, mildly terrifying experience that I would heartily recommend to absolutely everyone.

The final session that really stuck with me was all about managing health information. It was presented by Steph Grey from Public Health England and Hong-Anh Nguyen from The King’s Fund, who talked about Health Information Week and Knowvember respectively. As someone with aspirations to join NHS Library and Knowledge Services, it was really interesting and useful to hear about the kind of campaigns that are being run within NHS libraries and the ways in which I could get involved in the future. Hong-Anh in particular was such a good presenter that I found myself getting really excited about knowledge management (for the first time ever)!

In addition to these three, I also attended parallel sessions on prison libraries, evidence-based practice, and information literacy, as well as keynotes from the House of Commons librarian Penny Young, journalist and broadcaster Samira Ahmed, and library activists John Chrastka and Patrick Sweeney. This shows how broad the range of sessions on offer at the CILIP Conference is – there is truly something for everyone.

In conclusion, I had a fantastic time at the CILIP Conference 2018, and I would not hesitate to recommend it to any future Information School students!

Kathryn Aylward
MA Librarianship student