I have just come back from SCONUL Summer Conference. RefME joined this year’s event not only as an exhibitor, but I was engaged as a speaker. Although I had met Ann Rossiter (CEO) and Liz Jolly (Chair) before, I hadn’t deeply engaged in the society prior to this, so this was my chance to plunge head first into this welcoming community. The network is largely made up of Directors/Heads of Library. SCONUL stands for the Society of College, National and University Libraries and represents all university libraries in the UK and Ireland, as well as national libraries and many of the UK’s colleges of higher education.
It was great to witness the variety of topics, themes and sessions at SCONUL. The various conference presentations about Open Access and Transforming the Library (including its digital and physical learning spaces) were incredible and you could see why investment in University Libraries is getting the attention it deserves. Many universities seem to be approaching the transformation of the library as a way to create a learning hub on campus and virtually, in turn creating a powerful learning environment. We too, care a great deal about the University Library, and we were happy to see this theme at the forefront of the some unique discussions.
My presentation focused on the Citation-Data-Informed Decision Making and built on the premise that with the rapid growth of RefME users – both on the free and premium platforms – citation data can create a value that was never possible before due to the poor adoption rates of other tools amongst undergraduates and due to the vast majority of students continuing to reference sources manually. Throughout my presentation the use of data was promoted, particularly if it could triangulate usage data more accurately and ultimately support student learning experience or success. However, the preliminary need identified by the universities was one of adoption. If students and staff don’t use a certain technology provided by a University, the use of data becomes irrelevant. Therefore, large numbers of university staff and students already using the RefME at most institutions helps confidence levels of institutions. Interestingly, many, including Diane Job @dmj66 from the University of Birmingham reflected positively on one of our views, that the accuracy of a reference is less important than the quality of reference and coherence of references. Other reflections were supportive of RefME’s partnership approach, whilst acknowledging other potential savings and benefits, knowing that it is already being adopted by students autonomously.
Overall, the two-day event in Cardiff was certainly a huge success and rewarding conference – additionally, we were able to speak to several librarians and directors about several recent RefME Institute partnerships that have been confirmed (stay tuned for the announcement!). Until next year, SCONUL, and thanks again for having RefME!