UK Web Archive – general elections and social media.

A couple of interesting posts from the UK Web Archive blog of the work going on to make sure that content is captured for future generations and highlighting problems that are faced by curators.

What websites do we collect during UK general elections looks at the archiving of previous elections and highlights the fact that the 2017 General Election was called at short notice so curators have a much shorter time frame to capture content than in previous elections.

The challenges of web archiving social media,  interesting to note that, ‘ no two platforms are the same and require a tailored approach to ensure a successful crawl’. Which when you consider how many social media platforms are out there shows how much work goes on behind the scenes to make sure any archival work is successful.

Hannah Chandler, Bodleian Libraries, Oxford


British Librarianship and Information Work 2011-2015

The latest quinquennial edition of this valuable series was published earlier this year. It is edited as well as published by John Bowman, who retired in September 2008 and is now an Honorary Senior Research Fellow in the Department of Information Studies, University College London. This publications looks at major trends and developments that face all aspects of library work in Britain. You will find in depth, expert analysis on many areas of library work in Britain, to include: prison, map and art libraries, copyright, archives and of its time a chapter on social media.

What is very apparent reading this edition was this period was a time of great change as public funding was drastically cut especially with regard to public libraries. The consequence of the ‘austerity programme’ was not only a reduction of services but of actual physical libraries. The chapter on public libraries makes depressing reading. The statistics are quite shocking, ‘The total number of public libraries in the United Kingdom at December 2015 stood at 3.917, compared with 4,482 in 2009/10’ (p.21 BLIW 2011-2015)

The chapter on Official papers written and compiled by Andrew Coburn our retiring Chair (with contributions from Parliament and National Libraries) examines, amongst other topics, the transition to publishing online for the majority of government and parliamentary publications in all devolved assemblies and parliaments. This was partly to stream line services for the end user but also driven by the need to save money in terms of publishing costs to the organisation. Consequently there was a need for a more intuitive and better coordinated portal for government publications and transactions. In the UK for example,  this was realised in 2012 with the launch of GOV.UK. A single branded site that housed government websites with a uniform approach to web page construction and searching. Scotland saw the introduction of, the public-facing site and for Scottish Government policy.  I note with interest that the editor could not find an author for a chapter on government libraries for this edition.

To find out more about the effects of austerity, technology, collection management and publishing trends from experts in the field, this is a must read edition.

British Librarianship and information work 2011-2015 / edited by John Bowman. Published by the editor via, 2017. 9781326820473. £31.50

Hannah Chandler, Bodleian Libraries Oxford



Hail and farewell!

After seven years as Chair of the Standing Committee On Official Publications (SCOOP) I am standing down. I am delighted to say that Andy Zelinger, Resources and Collections Manager at the House of Lords is taking over from the next meeting (in September).

I joined SCOOP in 1987 and took over as Chair in 2010 so I served four more years in post than I originally agreed and it’s high time there was a change. In my period in office there have been number of achievements with which I am delighted to have been associated. The two most important happened at about the same time.

SCOOP Print Still Matters is a website compiled in 2012 by SCOOP’s then Secretary, Peter Chapman. It attempts to list all the major library and information collections in the UK which hold official publications, and what exactly they have. The work was prompted by discussion on producing a new edition of the House of Commons Library’s, ‘Parliamentary Holdings in Libraries in Britain and Ireland‘ (PHIL) 1993. Peter wrote to as many public, academic and other relevant libraries to gather information then created the website.

At roughly the same time we had an email from Steven Hartshorne of Bolton libraries, asking what help or advice we could give in deciding which official publications could be disposed of or sent to closed store. This has been an increasing problem for libraries, academic as well as public, who have seen an increased demand on physical library space from many quarters. This is accompanied by the mantra ‘it’s all on the internet’, which shows a surprising ignorance of the digital landscape. While it is true that more and more official publications are available online it is not explicit to the user what is available where. Publications can still be moved, updated or deleted without notice. Date parameters of online collections are not always obvious and other, especially older material, may still not be digitised. Some historical collections that have been digitised are available freely, whilst others are not.
Nonetheless SCOOP – largely in the person of Alastair Allan, my  predecessor as chair – compiled a series of ‘Relegation Guides’ under various headings. They detail what was published and seek to identify what is commonly available or not and what is likely to be in demand. These aim to give guidance to those under pressure for space.

Those two efforts indicate the important work  that SCOOP has done. Towards the end of my time I also edited contributions by SCOOP members to ‘British Librarianship and Information Work 2011-15’. I will blog about that in a few days so won’t say more now, except that the range of issues covered indicates that there is still a role for SCOOP.

A couple of years ago we revised the membership requirements for SCOOP meaning that in effect anyone working in Library and Information services can attend. We would welcome more people at meetings or even as ‘corresponding’ members. The aforementioned Steven Hartshorne has now become Secretary of SCOOP and you can contact him if you are interested.

Andrew Coburn, retiring Chair of SCOOP

General Election 2017 – useful resources

Here is a selection of resources on the upcoming election that will take place on June 8th.

General Election 2017 topic page and timetable from the UK Parliament

A very good topic page Parliament and elections  can be found on Second Reading the House of Commons Library blog. There you will find a post on the  Constituency explorer ‘ an online data visualisation tool that allows statistical comparisons at a Parliamentary constituency, regional and national level. The tool uniquely provides UK-wide interactive data for parliamentary constituencies to provide a fascinating insight into the make-up of these areas.’

Always good for reliable information, the UK independent fact checking charity Full Fact

This is a great resource, use the Ordnance Survey’s ‘Election maps‘ for Great Britain and Northern Ireland to find out the electoral geography of the UK.

BBC’s ‘Policy pledge tracker‘ The manifestos are not out yet – this page offers a rundown of significant policy commitments made so far during the election campaign. It will be updated as new pledges are made.

Election Polling ‘is a UK polling website dedicated to the non-partisan discussion and analysis of electoral data in the United Kingdom and its regions.’

Electoral Calculus ‘an independent website which provides analysis, comment and predictions of general elections, polls and democracy.’

Democracy Candidates Club search by candidate name or postcode for further information on a candidate.

From Political Science Resources, a list of MPs who retired at the announcement of the 2017 General Election and a list of UK MPs 2015-2017 , which can be ordered by majority, surname or constituency.

The 2017 UK General Election website, ‘offering news, insight and analysis, a non-partisan website.’

Hannah Chandler, Bodleian Libraries Oxford