May 19, 2009

Defrosting the John Rylands University Library

Filed under: seminars — Duncan Hull @ 4:14 pm
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

http://www.flickr.com/photos/dpicker/3107856991/For anyone who missed the original bioinformatics seminar I’ll be doing a repeat of the “Defrosting the Digital Library” talk, this time for the staff in the John Rylands University Library (JRUL) . This is the main academic library in Manchester with (quote) “more than 4 million printed books and manuscripts, over 41,000 electronic journals and 500,000 electronic books, as well as several hundred databases, the John Rylands University Library is one of the best-resourced academic libraries in the country.” The journal subscription budget of the library is currently around £4 million per year, that’s before they’ve even bought any books! Here is the abstract for the talk:

After centuries with little change, scientific libraries have recently experienced massive upheaval. From being almost entirely paper-based, most libraries are now almost completely digital. This information revolution has all happened in less than 20 years and has created many novel opportunities and threats for scientists, publishers and libraries.

Today, we are struggling with an embarrassing wealth of digital knowledge on the Web. Most scientists access this knowledge through some kind of digital library, however these places can be cold, impersonal, isolated, and inaccessible places. Many libraries are still clinging to obsolete models of identity, attribution, contribution, citation and publication.

Based on a review published in PLoS Computational Biology, pubmed.gov/18974831 this talk will discuss the current chilly state of digital libraries for biologists, chemists and informaticians, including PubMed and Google Scholar. We highlight problems and solutions to the coupling and decoupling of publication data and metadata, with a tool called citeulike.org. This software tool (and many other tools just like it) exploit the Web to make digital libraries “warmer”: more personal, sociable, integrated, and accessible places.

Finally issues that will help or hinder the continued warming of libraries in the future, particularly the accurate identity of authors and their publications, are briefly introduced. These are discussed in the context of the BBSRC funded REFINE project, at the National Centre for Text Mining (NaCTeM.ac.uk), which is linking biochemical pathway data with evidence for pathways from the PubMed database.

Date: Thursday 21st May 2009, Time: 13.00, Location: John Rylands University (Main) Library Oxford Road, Parkinson Room (inside main entrance, first on right) University of Manchester (number 55 on google map of the Manchester campus). Please come along if you are interested…


  1. Hull, D., Pettifer, S., & Kell, D. (2008). Defrosting the Digital Library: Bibliographic Tools for the Next Generation Web PLoS Computational Biology, 4 (10) DOI: 10.1371/journal.pcbi.1000204

[CC licensed picture above, the John Rylands Library on Deansgate by dpicker: David Picker]


  1. I don’t suppose it will be recorded, for the benefit of those of us who are no longer in academia full time? :)

    Comment by Paul — May 20, 2009 @ 3:50 pm | Reply

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