In each issue of the BOBCATSSS Newsletter, we ask BOBCATSSS community members from a selected educational or professional organization about their research interests and experiences and/or other activities within the field of library and information science. The community spotlight in this issue is cast upon lecturers and students from Information Management study program at University of Applied Sciences and Arts, Hannover, Germany.
Welcome Marie, Nils, Silke and Ina to the BOBCATSSS Community Spotlight! Tell us, what are your areas of research or current research projects?
Silke: I am an academic teacher, so I am less into research, but do a lot of teaching at our faculty, more than professors regularly do. I teach many subjects that are related to subject indexing in libraries. I work with students on standards of cataloging, such as RDA: Resource Description and Access, and how they are used in practice in library systems.
Ina: I would call myself an Open Scientist, and my current major topic is Open GLAM. Recently I established a Joint Lab “Future Libraries & Research Data” of our university and the German National Library of Science and Technology to better connect library and university practices. I integrate students into ongoing research projects and teach them a lot about open, collaborative knowledge creation.
Marie and Nils, you’re about to start with your bachelor thesis – What is the topic?
Marie: My bachelor thesis will be about open research information. During my practical phase, I worked on a project for research information in Lower Saxony. The basis for this is the Guideline “Transparency in Research”, which will be the central topic of the thesis.
Nils: My bachelor’s thesis will be about audiovisual media in archives. More specifically, it is about such media in the Archive of the Hannover Medical School. It will offer guidance on how to properly handle, archive and digitize the various media. Many smaller archives have such media, but they are often rather neglected and I want to help them get the attention they need.
What inspired you to pursue this line of research? How does this correlate with the areas of specialization in your studies?
Nils: It was actually part coincidence. I did an internship at the Hannover Medical School and the leader from the archive asked me if I wanted to write my bachelor’s thesis there. I took a lot of interest in the AV-Media there and we developed the concept from there.
Marie: I was inspired by my internship at the Open Science Lab at the German National Library of Science and Technology in Hanover, where I am writing my bachelor thesis. During my studies, Prof. Dr. Ina Blümel lectured us in the module Management of Research Information. The focus was on open access, e-science and digital research infrastructure. Already there I developed an interest in free and open infrastructures of data and information and was able to apply this during my internship.
Ina: I’m glad to hear that. – When I look back at why I chose this particular line of research, I think it was partly coincidental. As a trained architect, I came to information infrastructures via a project on integrating 3D architectural models into digital libraries and eventually ended up in cultural heritage data. At some point, it was logical for me to start teaching, because I’ve gained quite a bit of experience that I’d like to pass on.
Silke: I never planned to become a teacher, but my life path has led me there.
What key competencies and/or areas of knowledge have you drawn upon in pursuing your research? (here I am thinking about both competencies and areas of knowledge that are directly related to LIS, and also those that are outside of LIS)
Silke: Through my training as a librarian and many years of working in a library, I have gained a lot of experience in cataloging. From 2012, I was able to work on the introduction of a new standard in the German-speaking world and was able to use my knowledge in teaching. I constantly try to keep up to date and pass on the latest developments to my students. I am not only interested in the field of cataloging, but also in the usability of websites, for example, and have already been able to work on this topic in several projects with students.
Marie: During my studies, a lot of content was taught that was useful to me such as researching scientific information, project management, SPARQL, RDF, and especially Management of Research Information.
Nils: We had a course called Media Knowledge and I also worked at the Film Institute in Hannover. I learned a lot there about film and video, but I also had some personal interest and knowledge beforehand.
What have you found to be the most challenging about the research? And what has been the most rewarding?
Ina: Doing good teaching on the one hand and research on the other is not easy. There are only a few people who can do both really well. If you then also have the ambition to open up your science, to communicate about it sufficiently well, and to ensure that your students generate usable results and be part of the community as early as possible, that can be quite challenging. Because at the same time you have to keep bringing in new grants to ensure the continuity of the team. But whenever students or team members achieve their goals better with my guidance, it makes me happy.
Silke: Cataloging is not a particularly exciting subject. That’s why I have to try to make the lessons as interesting as possible. I try to do that by using many real examples and let the students work on them. This creates a practical reference and makes the lessons more lively.
As for you students: What have you found to be the most challenging / the most rewarding about your LIS studies?
Nils: Our course of study here at the Hanover University of Applied Sciences and Arts is called Information Management and it offers a quite diverse subset of lectures. Some of them are more on the fringe of LIS studies and while they were still helpful for the job later on, they were a bit outside my comfort zone at times.
Marie: The biggest challenge for me was to choose the best fit for me from the many interesting specializations in our LIS studies. The most rewarding part has been participating in various excursions such as those to the BOBCATSSS symposia. There, besides interesting lectures, you also get an insight into different cultures, you can network with other participants and improve your English skills.
Finally, do you have any tips (general or specific) for students embarking on related or similar paths, such as in BA theses?
Marie: Try to combine your bachelor thesis with a practical phase or at least try to write it at a suitable and experienced institution. And it is important to get along well with the examiners of the bachelor thesis.
Nils: Starting my work on the bachelor’s thesis was a big break in my studies for me. Now it was more or less working on my own. So I would advise you to build your own structure and deadlines. This was certainly a big struggle for me.
Silke: In the field of cataloging, there are always innovations, both in terms of the rules and the systems. This provides good opportunities to find topics for theses. In addition, there are often practical application references in the field of cataloging that allow what has been learned to be put into practice, e.g. a suitable catalog system can be found for a library collection or existing metadata can be transferred to another set of rules as part of a thesis.
Ina: Research can fail, studying doesn’t always go smoothly either – be open and communicate about the things that work and don’t work so that others can learn. And contact your supervisors, colleagues or fellow students if you get stuck, because usually four eyes see more than two.