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

CILIP Conference 2018: Spotlight by Information Management student Xindi Jiang

I was very honoured to have the opportunity to attend the 2018 CILIP conference in Brighton with a student bursary from the Information School at the University of Sheffield. The CILIP conference is one of the most important events for the library and information professionals in the UK. As an international student from China, this is not only an opportunity for engagement and communication with library and information professionals, but also a chance to learn more about the history and development of library and information management in the UK. During the conference, I found that the professionals’ discussions and speeches focused on the UK while also focusing on the worldwide library and information field. This made it easy for me to understand the discussions of the professionals.

This was my first time attending the CILIP Conference. What excited me was not only the conference, but also the Information School’s exhibition stand. During the two-day conference, I not only discussed the conference with others through Twitter, but also shared my experience at the Information School with many people in person at the stand.


The two-day conference schedule was packed with different keynote presentations and nearly 30 group seminars. Each session was very appealing and triggered intense thinking about related topics. The most attractive seminar to me was ‘Knowledge and Information Management’, delivered by Knowledge et al Managing Partner Paul J. Corney, Morgan Stanley Global Head of Business Information Services Stephen Phillips, and CJ Anderson. The House of Commons Librarian Penny Young also participated in this seminar. 

During the Knowledge and Information Management seminar, Paul J. Corney mentioned that ‘today’s digital workplace is a rich, diverse, shifting environment’. Then, he talked about three issues addressed by Artificial Intelligence (AI). For example, he said that “by leveraging the power of algorithm-driven automation and data analytics to 'productize' aspect of their work, a number of innovative firms are finding that, like Google and Adobe, they can increase margins as they grow, while giving clients better service at prices that competitors can’t match”

This was a good point of inspiration for me. Although I have not really worked in this field, this view has caused me to think about innovative companies from the perspective of information and knowledge management, and wonder how they can do better.


Paul J. Corney also give a definition of the ‘Knowledgeur’, which is ‘an entrepreneur who makes use of his/her/others’ knowledge in one activity or market and applies it for beneficial use in another'. He also outlined the core skills of a knowledgeur, and future roles of the knowledge manager: Investigate, Navigate, Negotiate, Facilitate, Collaborate, Communicate, Curate and Celebrate. I am lifelong learner. These seven core skills will guide me in my future career. I will continue to think deeply and draw on them in my future studies and work. 

Overall, this conference is a memorable and valuable experience. I would like to express my sincere thanks to the University of Sheffield Information School for this valuable opportunity and student bursary. I also hope that I can improve my learning ability and professional knowledge through more such learning opportunities. 

Xindi Jiang
MSc Information Management student

CILIP Conference 2018: Highlights by Distance Learning student Katherine Burchell

I was fortunate to win a bursary from the Information School to attend the CILIP Conference held in Brighton. This was my first opportunity at attending a large-scale conference and to meet other likeminded professionals. Not only was it an opportunity to learn about all different topics, it was also a chance for me to meet other iSchool students at the iSchool stand and to also discuss the distance learning course to prospective students. I must say I was surprised at how many people wanted to discuss distance learning, and I am pleased to have been able to chat to them about the work and study balance.



With this being my first conference, I naturally felt nervous about the experience but I was immediately set at ease by how open and welcoming everyone was. This was something that CILIP were very proactive to alleviate and they set up a special “Welcome Zone” for first timers, a place where they could chat to each other, over a game of Connect 4. I had spoken to people online via Twitter before attending so I felt that these initial first conversations were a lot less daunting for me.



The conference programme was jam packed with four different keynote speakers and lots of breakout sessions, covering a wide variety of topics from library spaces to health literacy. There was certainly something for everyone. My favourite keynote speaker was Sally Walker, Scotland’s Library and Information Professional of the Year, who spoke of her journey to professional registration. Being very early into my career this keynote was perfect for me, as it gave me the confidence and drive to pursue my career and take opportunities given to me. Sally was so passionate about her job and the work she has done with Orkney libraries and the work she has done with children and their families.



My highlight quote from the whole conference had to be from Sally Walker when she said:

“I’m exactly where I should be, doing exactly what I should be doing. That is peace”

I’m going to be taking this with me wherever I go and remember this moving forward with my career. I really enjoy hearing career stories, as I find they are a great way of finding out about career paths I didn’t know anything about before, they always get me thinking of all the different jobs I could have in the future.

There was so much to see and hear at the conference, that it was a tough choice to choose which breakout sessions to attend. I will just discuss two of my favourite sessions that I attended.

The first session I chose to attend was “Blurring the boundaries: the reshaping of library spaces”. I chose this seminar session as it has very close ties with my dissertation, so it was a great opportunity to hear about what other libraries are doing with their spaces. I was particularly amazed by the work at The Hive in Worcester, they have a fully integrated library, in which they have both a public and an academic library. It was great to hear how there is a focus on being more than just a library, something which I think is extremely important to the future of public libraries.

The second session I attended was a “Professional Registration Café run by Jo Cornish and Sonia Ramdhian both from CILIP. The “Your Career” strand was sponsored by the Information School and this session gave practical advice about Certification, Chartership and Fellowship. It was an opportunity to hear what goes into a portfolio and the types of evidence you need for it. There was opportunity at the end of the sessions to get into small groups to discuss what stage you are at with thinking about professional registration. For myself, I would like to do either Certification or Chartership within the next couple of years, and it was a great session, which gave me a confidence boost about the experience I have and how it can be used for professional registration.

Overall the conference was a great experience for me both personally and professionally and opened my eyes to all the different opportunities available to me as I progress. I look forward to being able to put all the new knowledge I learnt into practice and I look forward to my future in such a rewarding and welcoming profession.

Katherine Burchell
MA Library and Information Service Management (Distance Learning) student


CILIP Conference 2018: Highlights by Distance Learning student Beth Jackson

This year’s CILIP Conference was held in Brighton and I was delighted to be able to represent the University of Sheffield at the Information School stand. This proved to be a really wonderful experience and afforded me plenty of opportunities to speak to current, former and prospective students and to chat with the myriad different information professionals who stopped by the stand throughout the duration of the conference.

The keynote speeches were really interesting and covered topics across different library and information sectors, from GDPR to children’s library services. I particularly enjoyed Penny Young’s talk about the scope of the House of Commons library service. In such a political turbulent time, much of what Penny discussed helped re-humanise MPs in the face of tabloid coverage and really emphasised the need for and use of evidence to inform our elected representatives. The work that the HOC library do is essential and extensive and it was fascinating to hear her experience of working in such a challenging environment.


I also enjoyed Samira Ahmed’s look at the important role that libraries and archives play in preserving important items that help to document our social history. She took us through a variety of examples that she had encountered through her career in journalism but my favourite was that of Paud’s Pins – a project unpicking the cultural significance of a collection of artefacts relating to the LGBT+ movement in the 1980s. I was aware of the project already, having stumbled across a Twitter thread that documented the discovery of the archive. I shared this on the conference hashtag which kicked off a number of really interesting discussions - you can read more about the discovery of this brilliant collection here. Samira also offered a word of caution about our role and offered some anecdotal evidence about how the biases of the information professional can impact how the social history of minority groups are described and recorded. I think this was an important take-away for every library and information worker; to critically analyse whether their working practices enforce structural inequalities.


I made a deliberate effort to attend break-out sessions that weren’t necessarily related to my current job role and I think this offered me a richer conference experience and a more comprehensive look at what different information professionals are doing in their sectors. Attending the ‘Preserving the past for the future’ seminar was an illuminating insight into a range of preservation projects, including the innovative use of heritage collections to support disadvantaged communities, the digitisation of Gulf history and Arabic science material at the British Library and the protection of our cultural property in the face of armed conflict or natural disasters. I was especially interested in Dr Nick Barratt’s example of using heritage collections to support reminiscence therapy for those suffering with dementia. The idea to open up recipe archives to help reproduce evocative smells and reignite lost memories was something I was particularly moved by and since this is a topic that is close to home for me, it was fantastic to hear of cultural history collections being used in such a meaningful way.

I also really enjoyed the ‘Voice and vision: the importance of diverse representation in literature for children and young people’ break-out session. The inclusive panel had a thoughtful, lively and spirited debate on the importance of intersectional diversity in children’s books. You can find my live tweets from this (and other sessions) here. One of the key themes that emerged from the discussion included the necessity for the literature to represent not only diverse backgrounds, but also to reflect a diversity of experience. Nadia Shireen cautioned that stories that have BAME protagonists don’t have to be intense or overly earnest tales – they can and should also be funny, sad or romantic. Juno Dawson also attested to this by suggested that books with LGBT characters don’t have to be ‘coming out stories’ - in an ideal world, a character’s sexuality could be incidental to their other characteristics. The panel also highlighted the important role that libraries play as allies to BAME authors, by demonstrating to publishers that there is a real demand for a breadth of different stories from more diverse backgrounds and there is commercial gain to be had from engaging with a more inclusive range of authors and illustrators.

I had a fantastic time at the conference and it was a real pleasure to meet so many fantastic people over the course of the two days - I was also able to meet some fellow distance-learners (and lecturers!) face-to-face for the first time. I know that balancing work and study can be challenging and isolating at times, so this experience was a great way of engaging with and staying connected to the University and I would wholeheartedly encourage other DL students to apply for future bursaries.

Beth Jackson
PGDip Library and Information Services Management (Distance Learning) student

CILIP Conference 2018: Highlights by PhD student Catherine Hoodless

I was fortunate enough to receive one of the Information School’s student bursaries to attend the 2018 CILIP Conference, which this year was held in a very sunny Brighton. This was my first experience of the conference, which is one of the main events for library, knowledge and information professionals in the UK, and it certainly did not disappoint. The programme consisted of a variety of interesting sessions and keynote speakers that showcased some of the important and diverse work being carried out in the sector. Below are just a few of my highlights of the conference:


  • Penny Young, House of Commons Librarian, opened the conference with a fascinating keynote speech on the history of the Library and how it supports MPs by providing them with the information they require to do their work. Not only did it provide an intriguing insight into the workings and challenges of a Library I knew very little about, it also highlighted the important role information plays in democracy and how all libraries have a duty to equip the public with the ability to become active citizens.
  • Following directly on from this, Sally Walker gave an impassioned keynote speech, which focused on her professional journey to become Scotland’s first Library and Information Professional of the Year. From admitting to suffering from “imposter syndrome” for years, to the amazing work she does as Children’s Librarian for Orkney Library, her speech was inspirational. From the reaction on Twitter, the quote she ended with, from the children’s book Pax by Sara Pennypacker, clearly resonated with many individuals around the room – “I’m exactly where I should be, doing exactly what I should be doing, and that is peace.”
  • I found the breakout session “Blurring the boundaries: the reshaping of library spaces” particularly interesting because of its relevance to my PhD research. While my research does not deal specifically with changing library spaces, what stood out to me from this session was how professional roles and ways of working are having to change in order to complement new library designs. 
  • EveryLibrary, an organisation in the United States working to protect public funding of libraries, gave an extremely engaging and thought-provoking talk, which resulted in calls for a similar, targeted approach to securing library funding in the UK.
  • Finally, I can’t talk about my highlights without mentioning the drinks reception – riding the Crazy Mouse on the end of Brighton pier definitely made for a memorable conference moment!


Overall, I would highly recommend this conference to anyone in the library, knowledge and information professions and would like to thank the Information School for providing me with the opportunity to attend and represent the School. It is a brilliant opportunity to connect with professionals outside your area in order to hear what they are doing and see how the work you do fits in with the wider sector. It is a conference with a real sense of community!

Catherine Hoodless
PhD student

Friday, 13 July 2018

Using Linkedin for collaborative knowledge construction

In recent research, Information School alumni Xuguang Li, Senior lecturer Dr. Andrew Cox and Zefeng Wang from Shenzhen Energy Group Co explored a LinkedIn Dell User Group, where users help each other to fix product problems, as a case study in how social network sites can support the construction of knowledge.


They found that the groups users were actively engaged in collaborative construction of knowledge and that a key phase in this knowledge construction took place in discussions categorised as “proposing a new idea”. The research also found that the collaboration was supported by the ways that the LinkedIn platform enables one-to-one interaction. In the group there was frequent usage of the technical symbol @ to communicate with particular members about testing their idea, to ask focused questions and more.

The authors argue that the visibility of the users’ identity in the group was key to the cooperation and lack of verbal abuse that they saw in the activities on the platform.

‘In contrast to open technical support forums sponsored by producers, visible identities of participants and norms of cooperation developed on LinkedIn avoid trolling behaviours and verbal abuse.’ (Li, Cox and Wang, 2018, 13)

You can find the paper in Issue 3 of Volume 42 of Online Information Review:
Xuguang Li, Andrew Cox, Zefeng Wang, "How do social network sites support product users’ knowledge construction? A Study of LinkedIn", Online Information Review, https://doi.org/10.1108/OIR-04-2017-0133

Follow Online Information Review on Twitter for updates, calls for papers and events.
Online Information Review (OIR) is an international, double blind peer-reviewed, ISI-listed journal devoted to research in the broad field of digital information and communication, and related technologies. The journal provides a multi-disciplinary forum for scholars from a range of fields, including information studies/iSchools, data studies, internet studies, media and communication studies and information systems.

Thursday, 12 July 2018

Alessandro Checco & Jo Bates win Best Paper at HCOMP 2018

From Director of Research Professor Paul Clough:

I am delighted to announce that Alessandro Checco and Jo Bates (together with Gianluca Demartini) have won the Best Paper award at the prestigious Human Computation or HCOMP 2018 conference for the following paper:

Checco A, Bates J & Demartini G (2018) All That Glitters is Gold -- An Attack Scheme on Gold Questions in Crowdsourcing. Proceedings of the AAAI Conference on Human Computation and Crowdsourcing. Abstract here; http://eprints.whiterose.ac.uk/130654/

Not only is it a significant achievement to even be accepted at this conference it is an outstanding achievement to be nominated for Best Paper and then to win it is incredible. Alessandro and Gianluca were awarded the prize at HComp 2018.

Alessandro had this to say about the paper and reviews:

"Feedback from chairs was that they really liked the fact we opened a new direction (that is having workers using ML solutions on the employers). We will have the opportunity to submit an extended version of the paper published in The Journal of Artificial Intelligence Research (impact factor 2.284)"

Well done Alessandro and Jo, but particularly Alex who, amongst other things, provided the inspiration for the paper.

Tuesday, 10 July 2018

Dr Jonathan Foster receives TESS Award

Dr Jonathan Foster, Lecturer in Information Management and Programme Coordinator for the MSc Information Management, recently received his Teaching and Excellence in the Social Sciences (TESS) award from the University's Faceulty of Social Sciences.

'It was wonderful experience to receive the TESS award, in recognition of the Deliberation Day that we hold annually during Induction Week', says Dr Foster. 'The aim of the event is provide an enabling context for new students - many of whom are international - to experience a setting where dialogue and the revision of views - rather than their dogmatic reception - becomes a distinct possibility.'


Dr Foster received his award, along with other colleagues from across the Faculty, at a reception in the ICOSS building at the University. During his acceptance speech he elaborated more on the influences he drew from for the Deliberation Day event. 'I believe that a democratic approach to learning and teaching is needed more than ever in a contemporary climate, increasingly pervaded by authoritarianism and technical decision-making', Dr Foster says.


'While the immediate inspiration for the event resides in the tradition of deliberative democracy, its more distant roots derive from the work of the American pragmatist John Dewey in particular his work on Democracy and Education.'

'John Dewey was someone who believed that education should be directed towards democratic social ends. In this respect, he believed that there are two practicable standards against which we can measure the worth of any form of democratic social life: "How numerous and varied are the interests which are consciously shared?" i.e. a standard of diversity; and "How full and free is the interplay with other forms of association", i.e. a standard of cooperative dialogue and discourse within and between those interests. Therefore, a worthwhile education for John Dewey is one in which we develop a) a capacity in our students to recognise a diversity of interests ii) a capacity to engage in dialogue with the interests of others, and c) to choose to revise our views in the light of that dialogue.'

Dr Foster's case was supported by a comprehensive case study, and at the award ceremony a testimony was also given by current PGT student Noora Ahmed Albalooshi, who attended the last Deliberation Day event.


Monday, 9 July 2018

Rutgers University Summer School Visit

In June, the Information School welcomed visitors from the Rutgers University summer school for library and information management. The summer school involves masters students from Rutgers and other partner universities, who are based in the UK for two weeks at Wroxton College near Oxford. The students are involved in lectures and seminars during their time in the UK involving speakers from this country and other parts of Europe.



The students visited Sheffield for a day and were involved in classes led by Dr Briony Birdi and Professor Stephen Pinfield. Briony led a class on public libraries and Stephen on academic libraries. There were some really excellent discussions, with students contributing based on their knowledge of good practice and the literature.

Students were also given a tour of the Information Commons and the Diamond building at Sheffield as examples of library and learning environments in the UK. Thanks to Helen Dickinson, Information Services Co-ordinator at the Diamond for showing students round and discussing the main features of the spaces and services.

It was a real pleasure to welcome students and their professors, Prof Marie Radford and Prof Kay Cassell, and to engage in discussion and learning with them.

Written by Stephen Pinfield, Professor of Information Services Management