Thursday, 28 January 2010

Introducing myself - Harriet Truscott, the new Arcadia Fellow

Photo of Harriet Truscott
To all the readers of the Arcadia Blog - greetings from the new Arcadia Fellow!

My name's Harriet Truscott, and I'm picking up the Arcadia baton from Huw Jones. By the end of my ten week fellowship, I'm planning to have a tool in use by students across the University. It'll be a race, so keep reading the blog to find out how it goes.

I'll be spending my time here investigating the potential impacts of digitising the storage of all past exam papers at the University. At the moment, college libraries are storing bound copies of all exam papers (6 fat volumes, taking up a lot of shelf space) for each year. It's been suggested that these could be effectively archived in D-Space, the University's digital repository. I'll be thinking about how students can use past papers to learn most effectively, and about the practical implications for digitising papers. I've already been impressed by the vast range of materials included in Cambridge exam papers, from audio files to Sibelius composition software files.

Over the past eight years, I've worked in a number of Faculties in the University, finally putting down my roots at CARET, the Centre for Applied Research in Educational Technology, where I'm Lead Researcher on the Coursetools project, looking at the way courses are designed and run at Cambridge.

I'm delighted to be taking up this Fellowship, and look forward to an illuminating 10 weeks. I'll certainly be learning a lot more about exam papers!

Gadgets - Robinson Lecture 2010

"This year's Robinson Lecture will be given by Dr Alastair Beresford at 6pm in the Umney Theatre. His title is: 'Beam me up, Scotty: what the gadgets of the future will know about you, the good things they'll do, and their potential for harm'."

Wednesday, 13 January 2010

Mobile Barcode Scanning App and Library Catalogue Lookup, for Free...

One of the advantages of having books that display universally recognised barcodes is that you can sometimes piggyback on top of other people's apps... Some of the library blog wires were buzzing today with news that OCLC's WorldCat library search tool has now been "integrated" into the RedLaser barcode scanning app for iPhone (WorldCat via RedLaser [Worldcat developer blog]). Just scan a barcode, flick through to thee "Look up in a Library" option, and you're there...

Over on the Musings About Librarianship blog, @aarontay describes another barcode reading app - ZBar - that allows you to add in your own URL's as search lookups keyed by the number identified by the barcodee scanning portion of the app. So if a Library catalogue has a nice OpenSearch URI keyed by ISBN (and there's absolutely no good reason for not supporting this sort of access, right?!;-) you can roll your own "scan and library lookup" app to at least prove the concept for your own library.

If, like me, you don't have an iPhone but you do have an Android phone, another interesting book related app is BookMobile. This also allows you to scan a book via its barcode, but the twist with BookMobile is that you can look up details relating to the book on Google Books and add the book to your Google Books library. I'm not sure if the app then allows you to do a full text search across those books within your library, but it should certainly be possible, because a similar approach is used in Wiltshire Heritage Library's full text (Google Books) catalogue search.