Posts Tagged ‘Information’

CILIPS Conference 2010

May 26, 2010

Calling all Information Workers in Scotland!  Just a reminder (or an introduction if you weren’t aware) of the upcoming CILIPS (Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals in Scotland) conference.

It will be held in Glasgow at the Mitchell Library  from 7th to the 9th June.  There’s also Branch and Group day which runs concurrently on 9th June.

So you’re wondering what it is… well it’s a gathering of other people within the Information community.  There are 4 strands to the Conference / Branch and Group day: Learning for Life, Digital Futures, Curriculum for Excellence and Yes! We Can!

You can attend the sessions you’re interested in or just network with other attendees.  There’s also a marketplace where you can purchase library related items or even speak to someone from the Copyright Licensing Agency.

It may not seem like the conference fits with the voluntary sector roles we all hold but actually, there’s lots of speakers and topics that can have a direct bearing on the work we do!

I’d say if you’ve never been before, Branch and Group day is great experience! It’s good value for money (£45+VAT for CILIPS members or £52+VAT for non-member AND it includes lunch!) and it’s an opportunity to meet people with a similar interest.  Not to mention the fact that if we all attend, we’ll raise the profile of the voluntary sector within the Information sector.

I’m hoping to attend the Branch and Group Day so maybe I’ll see you there.

For more details about the conference visit the CILIPS website: CILIPS

FYI – Registration closes on 2nd June!

Freedom of Information Part 1

March 30, 2010

This is a guest post by Paul Mutch of the office of the Scottish Information Commissioner

Scotland’s Freedom of Information (FOI) legislation celebrated its 5th anniversary on 1st January this year.  The introduction of the FOI Act has meant that, since 2005, the public have had a right of access to the information held by over 10,000+ public authorities – allowing individuals and organisations to access important information on the issues that matter to them.

But is this ‘right to information’ of value – and of practical use – to the voluntary sector?   Is FOI a tool that can be actively used e.g. to help fulfil organisation goals, to achieve campaign or policy objectives, or to advise clients? 

Recent statistics published by the Scottish Information Commissioner – the man charged with enforcing Scotland’s FOI legislation – appear to suggest that the use of FOI by the sector is low.  The Commissioner’s 2009 Annual Report – published online at www.itspublicknowledge.info/ask – reports that the voluntary sector accounted for only 2% of the appeals received by the Commissioner in 2009, compared to 73% from members of the public, and 13% from the media.  This figure also represents a decline from 2008, when 7% of appeals came from the sector. 

It is important, however, for this data to be considered in context.  These figures are only about the appeals made to the Commissioner, so they relate only to the situations when an FOI request has been refused by a public authority.  The data does not, therefore, include any of the requests which are answered first time, without the need to appeal.  Indeed, data on this aspect of FOI is limited, largely because the FOI process was designed to be as straightforward as possible – both for requesters (who don’t even need to mention FOI when making a request, nor identify themselves as a representative of a particular organisation) and for public authorities (who are not required to monitor, record or report on request volumes).

Where data is available, it suggests that voluntary sector requests will normally answered in full, first time, with no need to appeal to the Commissioner.  Recent research carried out by the University of Strathclyde found that voluntary sector respondents reported this outcome in 67% of FOI requests. 

There are many examples where FOI has been put to good use by a range of voluntary organisations and campaign groups. The Commissioner’s 2009 annual report details a number of these cases. We will look at some of those in the next post in this series.

For further information on using FOI, visit www.itspublicknowledge.info, or contact the Scottish Information Commissioner’s team at enquiries@itspublicknowledge.info, or by phone on 01334 464610.

What’s happening today – a calendar of events

February 16, 2010

Every January I crack open my new diary and if I’m lucky, each day has a news tidbit or a list of important dates, events and awareness weeks / months.

These awareness months, days or weeks are generally just something I look at in passing and giggle at some of the strange things we want to be aware of or highlight – national cherry week, national bed month, national doodle day, Roald Dahl day,  World toilet day… 

But sometimes, these national awareness days are no laughing matter and are actually vital to keeping the message of our organisations in the public domain. 

So for all of you who need a calendar of official health events in 2010, try the above link to the NHS Scotland website. (A big thanks to Amy – IOSG member- who found this and passed to it on).

Happy awareness-ing.

There’s more to the Internet than search engines

January 28, 2010

‘I need to find something online… I know, I’ll Google it!’

Arghh. Everytime I hear that phrase – Google it! I cringe. Not because I have a deep hatred of Google, or that I think it’s useless (in fact it’s generally the search engine I use out of habit), it’s just that there’s more to the internet than Google. And to that end, more than Yahoo, Bing, Alta Vista, Ask Jeeves, Everyclick etc.

The internet is a great tool (which at times frightens me with its vastness). It’s filled with loads of interesting and useful facts. For the most part, information is easily found using a general search engine with one or two search terms. But sometimes (or more often depending on what you’re looking for), your engine won’t find what you’re looking for. That’s when people get frustrated, give up and bemoan the internet – because they don’t understand it!

According to the book Going Beyond Google: the invisible web in learning and teaching, research has shown that only 16 % of the resources on the internet are picked up by general search engines on the ‘visible’ web. So when you’re doing a search on Google or other search engines, you’re only looking at a tiny fraction of what’s out there.

Where is the rest of the information if it can’t be found by a search engine? It’s in the ‘invisible’ web… the ‘deep web’; databases, complex websites, subscription sites, etc. Over 54% of information is locked away in the deep web, meaning search engines only skim the surface.

So the next time you’re searching the internet bear in mind that you won’t necessarily find what you’re looking for. Have a look at a few search engines to see if their information differs (or try a great meta search engine called Dogpile – it compares Yahoo, Google and Bing tells you which engine it found the info on).

Also, give a thought to looking in databases and online subscription journals, particularly if its academic or research based. You’ll be more likely to find the information in these sources than using general search engines. You’ll also be able to access more authoritative information (I’m not degrading the information in the visible web, but user beware).

Those are my thoughts about search engines. What do you think? Am I right? Do you have similar feelings? I hope I’m not the only moaner out there! Happy searching.