First Month in my Second Professional Post

Since graduating with my MA in Library and Information studies in 2012, I’ve worked for nearly two years as an Assistant Librarian in a higher education business and management college. This was a great first job for a new professional and it gave me lots of valuable experience, such as supervising staff and being a line manager, launching and maintaining a social media presence for the library, and developing and teaching information literacy workshops. However, at the end of August this year I succeeded in making the transition into my second professional library post and I am now working in a university as an Academic Liaison Librarian.

In my new post, I am responsible for acquisitions and information literacy teaching for my subject areas of English literature, cultural studies, modern languages, linguistics and visual culture. This is a pretty exciting time for me as this is exactly the kind of post that I aspired to when I decided to become a librarian. It’s also quite a stressful time as I began my new job just before the start of the academic year. It was important for me to be able to deliver inductions and e-resources workshops almost straight away, which has meant that I’ve needed to learn a lot in a very short space of time! This has definitely been a challenge, but my new colleagues have been extremely supportive and I’m pleased to say that I made it through the student orientation week relatively unscathed!

Term has now started and I’ve discovered that I still have a fairly busy teaching schedule ahead of me, which is likely to continue until Christmas. I think it’s great that there are already some strong links between the library and the academic staff, and part of my new job will be to develop these further by continuing to build good relationships with my academic departments. In addition to my teaching commitments, I also already have a small mountain of reading lists to process and for the first time I will be responsible for managing my own budgets when purchasing resources.

As part of my new role, I will also spend one evening a week working on the library help desk, which will be a good opportunity to get to know the students and the daily operations of the library. My other big responsibility will be to take on the role of Disability Support Representative for the library and to provide additional support to disabled students who request this.

I can already see that this is going to be an interesting and varied role with many facets and that there is a great deal of scope for developing my knowledge and skills. As part of my on-going professional development and to help me to provide subject support for the modern languages courses, I am planning to enrol on one of the French language courses taught at the university. In the future I also hope to enrol on one of the university’s teaching courses, as this will help me to continue developing my aptitude for teaching, as well as my knowledge of pedagogy.

I’m expecting the next few months to be pretty challenging as there is still a great deal for me to learn and I definitely feel that I’ve had to hit the ground running with this post; however, I’m looking forward to what the new semester will bring and to getting to know all my new colleagues. I still experience nerves whenever I’m teaching a new class, but my confidence in delivering information literacy workshops improved a great deal during my previous job and I hope that it will continue to grow as I gain more teaching experience in my new role. My previous job also gave me some preliminary experience in academic liaison and I know that this is going to be very useful as I work towards getting to know the lecturers in the academic departments which I am now supporting.

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LILAC 2014 – Day Three

Sheffield Hallam University

One last visit to Sheffield Hallam University on the final day of the conference.

The Student Guide to Social Media: a Case Study in Collaboration

This was an interesting presentation about a collaboration between librarians and learning technologists from three different universities, who worked together in order to create an online social media guide for students. The project came about when Michelle Schneider from the University of Leeds was asked to produce guidance for students on social media and digital literacy, but rather than creating a simple list of dos and don’ts for her own institution, she opted to collaborate with others in order to create an online resource that could be used more widely by any university.

The resulting Student Guide to Social Media is a clearly laid out interactive tool which students can use to find out more about social media platforms and how to use these to undertake research, to network, or to build a positive online reputation.

Michelle described the challenges of working on a collaborative project where members of the team were split across different locations. After an initial face-to-face meeting to discuss their preliminary ideas and to develop their relationship as a team, further collaboration took place mainly via online tools such as Skype and Google Docs, with the exception of one last face-to-face meeting to decide on the final structure of the resource prior to the creation of the first mock-up.

Michelle argued that with any collaborative work, it was important to have a leader who would keep pushing the project forward; without this, there was a risk that the project could fail due to a lack of momentum. Setting strict deadlines and targets was also a good way to keep a project on track. Equally important in collaborative work was the willingness to be flexible and make compromises where necessary to keep the project moving forward. Michelle pointed out the importance of offering solutions and examples of alternatives rather than just naming problems.

When coming to the end of a project, Michelle pointed out that it was important to leave enough time for proof-reading and checking as this could sometimes take longer than expected. It was also important to consider the time of year when the project was due for completion, and whether there was the potential for busy times of year to impact on the project schedule.

Finally, Michelle noted that when considering a collaborative project, it was important to have an awareness of your own strengths, to know what skills you might be lacking, to have a clear understanding of your own tasks within the project, and to attempt to foresee any potential challenges.

Specialising in Information Literacy or Field Knowledge?

The purpose of this presentation was to consider whether teaching librarians should be experts predominantly in information literacy, information retrieval and electronic resources or whether they should focus their expertise more on subject knowledge of the academic subject area(s) which they were supporting.

We discussed the advantages and disadvantages of having librarians who worked as experts in a particular subject field. One key disadvantage was that expertise could be lost if a staff member who had specific subject knowledge moved on to another job. However, an advantage of having librarians with subject expertise was that they were potentially better equipped to anticipate the needs of students and faculty.

The presenter pointed out that specialising in subject knowledge could be challenging for librarians who looked after multiple subjects, as they would never be able to achieve the same level of expertise as someone who focused on one subject only. However, one attendee suggested that it wasn’t necessary for us to have an in-depth knowledge of a subject, but rather that we just had to remain one step ahead of the students in order to be able to instruct and support them.

It was generally agreed that some level of subject knowledge was useful when providing support for a particular academic area. The presenter concluded by arguing that it was our job as teaching librarians to bridge the gap between the two worlds of information literacy and subject knowledge.

Keynote Presentation: Kate Arnold – The Information Profession has got to Evolve: but How?

In the final keynote speech of the conference, SLA President Kate Arnold argued that we need to change the image of our profession. She pointed out that librarians are still associated with stamping out books within the public consciousness, whereas the work of modern librarians was far more likely to revolve around e-resources and databases. She argued that the role of the librarian had changed from gatekeeper and custodian to collaborator and facilitator, and that it was our job now to coach others to be able to serve themselves when it came to the pursuit of knowledge. However, changing the popular assumptions about our profession was seen to be an on-going challenge.

Kate identified some key future trends which she argued would have an impact on the library profession as we moved forward. She suggested that information literacy would grow in importance to become a prized life skill, while there would also be an increase in the relevance of life-long learning. She also argued that rising concerns around privacy, trust and big data meant that it was important for librarians to maintain an understanding of rules and regulations in this area. Meanwhile, the impact of technology on economic models could also have a potential impact on the services offered by libraries.

These trends were identified within a joint report that was produced by the SLA and the Financial Times. Based on the results of two surveys, which were circulated to information professionals and executives, the report also identified five attributes that needed to be developed within the library profession. These were:

  1. Communicate your value
  2. Understand the drivers (i.e. anticipate the needs of users and the overall strategy of   your institution or business)
  3. Manage the process (i.e. clarify and manage expectations, use technology to speed up information retrieval processes, undertake training in project management)
  4. Keep up on technical skills
  5. Provide decision-ready information (i.e. the right information, in the right format, at the right time)

Kate pointed out that the report identified a gap between how information professionals perceive their own value, and how others perceive it. According to the report, 55% of information professionals said that they added a lot of value to their organisation, whereas only 34% of executives said the same. Kate argued that it was important for librarians to think about their relationships with colleagues in other departments and to consider these colleagues as clients too. She argued that the more we could understand how our roles fitted in with the strategies and aims of our institutions, the better services we would be able to provide. Kate encouraged us to read the full report for more information on these issues and findings.

Empowering Students to Critical Thinking

The presenters in this session were from Norway and had worked together on a website project called Sok & Skriv (Search and Write), the purpose of which was to equip students with adequate and relevant tools for academic writing. The website was split into sections for searching, evaluating sources, writing and referencing and had been published in both Norwegian and English.

The presenters argued that students often lacked self-confidence when it came to doing research. Alternatively, they sometimes had a misplaced sense of confidence in their researching abilities when in fact they relied on Google to perform literature searches and were unaware of alternatives. The presenters suggested that a lack of self-confidence also prevented students from engaging critically with what they read, meaning that they had a tendency to accept arguments at face value and to attempt to memorise facts. A central aim of the Sok & Skriv website was to encourage students to engage in reflective critical thinking and to develop their own voice within academia.

To support students with some of these issues, the Sok & Skriv website spelt out what students needed to know in a simple, straight-forward manner. Students were encouraged to read texts several times in different ways and with different objectives, for example to skim-read for meaning, to engage in deep critical reading, and to consider the text within the context of their assignment. The website also advised students to evaluate carefully the sources that they planned to use in their research and to ensure that they could give reasons for choosing particular sources. In addition, students were shown how to identify arguments and counter arguments within a text and were encouraged to be aware of these constructions when writing their own work.

The presenters reported that the website had been well received in Norway and that there had also been some international use of the resource too. However, although the website worked well as a stand-alone tool, in an ideal situation the content would be delivered within the context of a taught programme. To this end, the presenters had produced a teacher’s guide to help teachers familiarise themselves with the website and to offer suggestions on how to incorporate the material into their teaching.

Designing One Information Literacy Website for Many Types of Information Seeking Behaviour

Melissa's PresentationIn this final presentation of the day, Melissa Man from Nanyang Technological University in Singapore spoke about her department’s need to create a single website for information literacy instruction. The website was to be used as a means to consolidate the department’s various online library resources into a single repository, including YouTube videos, plagiarism guidance, subject guides, email updates and notifications about library events. Melissa explained that they had also wanted to create a website which was more interactive, as the existing web page for the library was static and did not permit engagement from users.

Before they designed the Learning @ NTU Libraries site, the project team considered the information seeking behaviours of their users and referred to the ACRL framework for information literacy for guidance. They built the website using WordPress and recreated their previous IL email updates as blog posts on the site. They also created an embedded Google calendar on the site in order to advertise the timings of the library workshops, added Youtube playlists for library video tutorials, and created a tab where students could request help from a librarian. Important information, such as details about the library workshops, was linked to within several different places on the website in order to maximise discoverability. Google Analytics was used to track usage statistics for the site.

Melissa reported that the advantage of creating an independent WordPress site for the library was that she had complete control over the design and submission of content, rather than having to request approval from a webmaster. Melissa explained that the next step in the design of the website would be to embed more learning objects and e-learning modules, as well as to involve subject librarians in the project in order to expand beyond the topics covered by the existing library workshops.

LILAC Conference Panel Discussion

The very last event of the conference was a discussion during which delegates were given the opportunity to present questions to a panel of information literacy experts. On the panel were Nancy Graham, Kate Arnold, Alan Carbery and Debbi Boden-Angell. During the discussion, the panel received questions on emerging IL trends, cross-sector working, inviting non-librarians to attend LILAC and other library events, and ways to share the knowledge gained at LILAC with other colleagues and peers.

The panel advised that writing a report and emailing it to colleagues was not necessarily the most effective way to share knowledge from LILAC; instead, they recommended a departmental meeting and brainstorming session to share information and discuss new ideas. I’ve decided to do both, so that we can have a useful discussion meeting as well as keeping a written record of knowledge gained from LILAC. I think that the latter will be useful for future reference. This is also the reason why I’ve  blogged about my LILAC experiences at such length – I often use my blog as a handy repository of things that I’ve learned, and I’m hoping that it will be a useful resource to refer back to if I ever decide to go for Chartership!

My first LILAC conference was a great experience and I was lucky to meet so many interesting people. I’m still digesting all the knowledge that I gained from the conference, but I hope that I will soon be able to start collaborating on some brand new information literacy projects within my own library department :)

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LILAC 2014 – Day Two

Keynote Presentation: Dr Alison Head – Truth Be Told: How Today’s Students Conduct Research

Pennine Lecture TheatreOur second day at LILAC started with a keynote speech from Dr Alison Head, a research scientist from the Information School at the University of Washington. Alison spoke about a research project that she had undertaken to investigate the information seeking skills of HE students who had been born into the digital age. She had been interested to learn more about how today’s students approach the practice of research and what librarians can do to support them. As a former journalist, she decided to blend journalism with scholarly research and take the approach of collecting interviews from students about their information seeking strategies and aptitudes with regard to information literacy.

Based on her findings, Alison identified the following key points:

  • Students often feel confused, overwhelmed and stressed as a result of information overload, particularly upon making the transition from school to HE. The HE information landscape is very large and students can feel daunted by the amount of information and number of resources that are available.
  • Students indicated that the hardest element of a research project was getting started. Defining and narrowing a topic, before the start of the search process, was seen to be very challenging.
  • Students found it difficult to define the context of their research enquiry. They felt that it was important to have an understanding of the ‘big picture’ in order to gather information about their topic, but they struggled to locate relevant sources of background information. First year undergraduates in particular struggled as they didn’t have a sense of what information was available or how to navigate it. Some students also had difficulty identifying keywords due to the new terminologies associated with studying a subject at HE level. In addition, students were unsure how far to go in terms of researching the surrounding circumstances for their topic and they had a tendency to do more research than was necessary.
  • Students had a tendency to repeatedly use the same few sources in their research projects. Feedback from the interviews indicated that, in order of preference, the following were the favoured sources of information: course readings, internet search engines, library databases, course instructors and Wikipedia. According to the data gathered in one of the project surveys, approximately 30% of students went to a librarian for help with their course research. Students were much more likely to rely on their course readings than attempt to find their own research sources for their chosen topic. Similarly, students were much more likely to favour sources that were convenient and close-at-hand.
  • Students saw Wikipedia as a ‘presearch’ tool which they could use to attain a summary of a topic before getting started on an assignment. Wikipedia was popular with students due to its user friendly interface and its comprehensive explanations of unfamiliar terms or concepts. They also liked the fact that most articles included a citation trail as this helped them to build up their understanding of the background to their research topic. As such Wikipedia was seen as a utility which could help to jumpstart the research process.
  • Students felt that it was their lecturers, rather than librarians, who held the knowledge about how to conduct research. However, Alison suggested that this was not necessarily the case. As part of her project, she collected 191 assignment hand-outs from lecturers and found that few offered any guidance on the research process. The majority recommended a place-based resource, usually a particular book within the library and not necessarily one with multiple copies. Only a small number of the hand-outs recommended consulting a librarian, despite the fact that many of the lecturers used librarians for support with their own research. Alison argued that research is rarely a linear process where you move from A to B and find the answer; rather, research is about finding hints and clues by visiting and revisiting different sources of information and then piecing your paper together. She argued that students often did not have an understanding of this process.
  • Students saw the library as a “refuge” as they found that they were more productive and less distracted when studying using the library computers as opposed to when they studied at home. However, the interviews showed that a low number of students actually went to librarians for help with their research projects. When they did ask for help, the most common queries were about finding particular materials, or deciphering complex language in order to identify keywords.

Based on the results of her project, Alison identified a number of ways that libraries could support students. She argued that students were often busy and overloaded, and therefore the provision of on-demand information services was a priority for them. She also argued that since many students struggled to define their research topics and to develop their contextual knowledge, it was better to embed information searching seminars within courses rather than to have them divorced from course content.

Canoodling with Careers: Cross-Team Working in Information Literacy

My first parallel session of the day was presented by two librarians and a careers consultant from the University of Derby. The library department there was co-located with the careers department and the staff had been working together to develop and deliver an integrated programme of information literacy instruction. The idea behind this was to pool resources in cases where departments were promoting similar or complementary skill sets. The session took the form of a workshop and we were given the opportunity to seek advice on IL issues from other delegates and to brainstorm ideas on the cross-departmental teaching of IL skills.

The first part of the workshop was a “speed-dating” exercise during which we moved around the room and either requested or shared IL advice with a wide number of people. I requested advice on how to improve student attendance at voluntary IL workshops and was unfortunately told that this was impossible! One person recommended that the workshops could instead be run as mini lessons within core module lectures. Another person suggested that student ambassadors could be trained in IL skills to enable them to pass these skills on to their peers, and that this could be an alternative method of IL delivery. I am not sure how this would work in a consistent way in practice, but it could certainly form part of a wider programme of information literacy instruction.

During the second part of the workshop we worked in groups to create a mind map that brought together solutions and actions on a given topic. Our topic was on approaches to teaching overlapping skill sets within support teams. We thought that social media was a good example of an overlapping skill set, as this often fell within the teaching remit of both library and careers departments. For example, libraries might want to promote social media as a research and current awareness tool, whereas careers departments might want to promote it as a tool for networking or to teach students about maintaining a positive online reputation or e-portfolio. To prevent duplication, we considered that it would be beneficial in cases like this for departments to share ideas, as well as to promote each other’s sessions and draw attention to links between the sessions when teaching students.

TeachMeet

The purpose of a TeachMeet is to give teaching librarians the opportunity to meet and share successful teaching ideas or projects. In this TeachMeet session, the hall was laid out with a number of tables and we each had to choose a table to sit at for 10 minutes to listen to a mini presentation. After 10 minutes a buzzer would sound, which was the signal to switch tables and choose a new mini presentation. This was quite a fast paced LILAC session due to the fact that we managed to cram eight mini presentations into the space of an hour and a half, but it was a good opportunity to learn about the ideas and innovations which other librarians were using in their teaching practice.

Here is a selection of short summaries of some of the mini presentations that I attended:

Referencing: finding the missing piece

The presenter introduced us to a more interactive way of teaching referencing to students. Rather than delivering a lecture, she had created a kind of referencing jigsaw by printing out four references from different source types in a large font and cutting them up into their constituent parts. She had also printed out some extra referencing information that was not required for the particular style she was teaching, as well as some wrong information. All the pieces got put into envelopes and students had to work in groups to assemble the four correct references, with the winners receiving a prize.

Apparently the students were quite enthusiastic about this exercise as they enjoyed competing against the other groups. The presenter pointed out that the group discussions were also useful as these gave her an insight into what students struggled with regard to referencing. She suggested that the exercise could be made more relevant to particular groups of students by selecting real referencing examples from their course reading lists.

Research court in session: actively learning information evaluation skills

In this session the presenter described an exercise which aimed to help students learn how to evaluate information sources before citing them in an essay. The librarian split the class into teams and instructed each team to give a presentation about a given information source, with the aim of convincing their classmates to use the source in their work. The information sources were assigned to each team by the librarian and included examples of both good and poor sources. Following their presentation, each team was cross-examined by the rest of the class, who were encouraged to be sceptical about each other’s information sources. The aim was to encourage students to think critically about information before citing it in their work and to improve their skills in identifying good and poor resources. The presenter reported that this kind of active learning had increased student engagement with the topic.

Library inductions on the go – delivering library induction via mobile devices

I had anticipated that this mini session might be about the creation of a mobile app to support library inductions, but instead the project was about the creation of an induction website with an interface that was designed to be compatible with mobiles. The team from Oxford’s Bodleian Libraries, who were responsible for developing the website, had decided that a mobile app might be a problematic method of delivery as not all students had access to a smart device. In addition, the team felt that they did not possess the necessary technical expertise to develop an app which was compatible across different platforms.

Instead, they developed an online induction via a website, the aim of which was to enable students to access information about the Oxford libraries at their point of need. The content of the website was generated based on feedback from student focus groups and included topics such as borrowing, printing, finding information, and reading lists. The website was used to support the traditional face-to-face inductions and tours, and librarians found it useful to be able to refer students to the general information given on the website as this enabled them to give a face-to-face induction that was more specifically tailored to their own library or subject. This helped to avoid repetition where students might be attending inductions at more than one of the Oxford libraries.

A recession-proof information literacy strategy

A library team from the University of Bolton wanted to increase IL competencies within their institution without the need for any additional funding or staff. In order to do this, they redeveloped an existing online study skills tutorial and embedded their IL framework into it. The name of the product that they redeveloped was BISSTO (Bolton Interactive Study Skills Tutorial Online). In order to redevelop it, they broke the content down into sections and incorporated self-assessment IL tests, as well as developing a new interface using the institution’s web management software. Having launched the project last summer, the team were now evaluating student feedback with the aim of using this feedback to develop the content further. They were also measuring usage statistics via Google Analytics and were planning to promote the resource to academics to enable them to build it into their teaching sessions.

Drilling down to the core: collaborative core content creation

The library team at Leeds Metropolitan University were asked to design two generic modules on Research Practice and Project Management which could be used as templates by academics designing modules on these topics to support their specific subjects. The modules were intended to be delivered via the VLE and they contained activities for lecturers to use in their teaching, as well as links to useful online and printed resources, videos, library e-resources and catalogue records. It was essential for the modules to be of a high standard to enable lecturers to use and adapt the content. The team had received positive feedback on their work from academics and planned to develop further modules for use in teaching. One drawback of the project was the amount of staff time that it took to keep the modules up to date, particularly given that no additional staff or funding was available.

SADL Up: Putting Students in the Driving Seat for Digital Literacy

Following the LILAC TeachMeet, I attended a session on the Student Ambassadors in Digital Literacy (SADL) project, which was developed in order to help improve digital literacy amongst undergraduate students studying at LSE. The idea behind the project was to explore whether support for digital literacy might be improved through the creation of student ambassadors for digital literacy who could disseminate information to their peers.

The project was collaborative and involved a team of librarians, learning technologists, education developers and twenty undergraduate students from two different LSE academic departments. The students who volunteered were required to attend a number of developmental workshops in order to learn about different elements of digital literacy within the context of their discipline, and to discuss how they might share this knowledge with their peers. The topics they covered included searching, managing and sharing information, reading and writing within the context of their discipline, and managing their digital footprint. The students took part in questionnaires about their own research practices and competencies and were also given the opportunity to contribute to the development of new resources and to give feedback on the quality of existing resources and search tools.

The presenters reported that the project had challenged their generalised assumptions about the research practices of ‘digital natives’, as the results showed that the students all had different work strategies. In terms of the success of the project overall, the project team identified a number of lessons for the future:

  • It was important to set out clear expectations for any student who volunteered to be a digital literacy ambassador. This included checking their understanding of what was required with regard to disseminating information to their peers, and setting them clearly defined tasks and activities.
  • Developing good working relationships with the students takes time. During this project, an element of the teacher-student relationship needed to be overcome in order to achieve a more informal working environment which aided collaboration.
  • Workshops required defined aims and objectives and a lot of preparation time, as well as an appropriate learning space.
  • Students found it challenging to identify opportunities to communicate digital literacy information to their peers. They needed more opportunities and places to share their knowledge. Student mentoring was seen as one possibility for the future.
  • At the start of the project, a blog was set up as a platform for the students to be able to share their ideas. However, there wasn’t as much engagement with the blog as the project team anticipated. Alternative platforms suggested were a Facebook group, Moodle or Padlet.
  • In order to sustain momentum for the project, it had been important to increase publicity for it within academic departments and within the wider student body.

The SADL project was still currently ongoing, and the project team had plans to explore in greater detail the role that student ambassadors could play in the promotion of digital literacy information. They were also looking into ways to increase the size of the project by involving more departments in the future, as well as looking into how to make the project sustainable in the long term.

Little and Often: Exploring the Potential of Information Literacy Mini-Lessons

My final session of the day was a study on whether changing the mode of delivery for IL lessons could have a positive impact on students’ IL skills. The presenters from York St John University argued that giving information literacy instruction in a series of small, bite-size lessons could be a more effective approach than delivering one long session at the start of the semester when new students might already be suffering from information overload. They also argued that the timing of information literacy lessons is often not ideal, as students are given the instruction before they have a need for the information.

The presenters argued that the issues of timeliness and information overload could both be addressed by offering students a series of short IL sessions as an alternative. This would give students more opportunities to attend at times when it was most beneficial to them. The presenters had also conducted a literature review to find evidence that this approach was effective and had found a number of studies which showed this, including one study by Kornell and Bjork (2008) which argued that teaching a subject in an interleaved fashion at spaced out intervals helped students to learn better and get better results. However, the presenters pointed out that length of teaching time alone was not the key to success; rather it was the capacity to be more responsive to students’ needs and offer a diverse programme of more frequent IL sessions at the times when these were most required.

The presenters went on to describe a case study at their own institution where they were able to timetable a number of ten minute slots at the beginning of lectures to teach students about different aspects of information literacy. The project came about because lecturers were concerned that the students were not using academic sources appropriately in their assignments and so had requested some extra support for them. As there was no space in the existing timetable to incorporate a longer IL session, it was agreed that library staff could give a series of 10 minute presentations at the beginning of existing lectures.

Library staff presented these short 10 minute sessions on topics such as how to find literature to fit a specific need, the different types of information available, the places to look for information, and referencing sources to avoid plagiarism. Students were also offered the chance to come to the library for follow-up meetings if they wanted further tuition. Library staff found that students took them up on this offer and usually came to the library with a specific need which was applicable to their current assignment, such as identifying keywords or finding information sources. Alongside these extra one-to-one sessions, the library also provided short 60 second videos via Moodle which gave instructions on basic library tasks such as searching for a book.

Following the conclusion of the project, library staff received very positive feedback from the module leader; lecturers had noticed a big improvement in the students’ choice of resources, which had been appropriate and wide-ranging. The presenters reassured us that it hadn’t been difficult to persuade lecturers to let library staff teach within their existing classes once it was made clear that the sessions would only be 10 minutes long. The 10 minute sessions were also substantial enough provided that library staff were able to offer follow-up to the students via one-to-one sessions or via further information online.

I think it’s clear that the success of this project was not only due to the short and frequent method of delivery, but also to the fact that the library staff were able to embed their sessions within the students’ core modules, rather than offering them as an optional add-on. This could be seen as further evidence for the value of embedding IL teaching within the curriculum.

LILAC Conference Dinner

After the end of the second day, all the delegates attended the LILAC conference dinner at the very grand Cutler’s Hall in Sheffield. During the evening we also witnessed the award ceremonies for the 2014 CILIP IL Group Information Literacy Award and the Credo Reference Digital Award for Information Literacy (congratulations to Jane Secker and Georgina Dimmock!).

LILAC selfie

LILAC Conference selfie!

The evening was another great opportunity to catch up with former colleagues – I was pleased to run into the librarian from University College School who mentored me during the two week practical placement that I completed as part of my library Master’s degree at UCL (I have blogged about this here). It was also a great opportunity for a LILAC conference group selfie, which was clearly an opportunity not to be missed!

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LILAC 2014 – Day One

In April I had the opportunity to attend my first LILAC conference, which was hosted this year by Sheffield Hallam University. It was a much bigger event than any I’d been to before, spanning three full days of presentations, social events and networking. I was pretty exhausted by the end of the three days, but I thoroughly enjoyed myself – everyone at LILAC was very friendly and it was really easy to meet and chat with new people. It was also great to run into some familiar faces and catch up with people whom I hadn’t seen in a while!

I think that a three day conference is far too much to condense into a single blog post, so this will be the first of a series of posts about my experiences at LILAC.

LILAC – Day One

LILAC goodie bagThis was a good year to attend LILAC as the conference was celebrating its 10 year anniversary. Upon arrival, all the delegates were presented with a purple goodie bag containing the conference programme and various freebies, as well as our tickets to the LILAC evening networking event and conference dinner. The programme informed us that each day would feature a key note speech in addition to the presentation sessions that we had pre-registered to attend. Below are some short summaries of the sessions that I attended on the first day of LILAC.

 

Creating and Implementing an Information Literacy Curriculum Map: Integrating Information Literacy into the Curriculum

The first session that I attended was about using an information literacy (IL) curriculum map as a means of embedding IL into the higher education curriculum. The presenter, Leslin Charles, argued that in order to demonstrate the importance of IL teaching, librarians should ensure that their IL curriculum map aligned the learning outcomes of library instruction programmes with the goals of the institution. This would make it easier to communicate the relevance of IL instruction to academic staff and to integrate IL teaching into existing courses. She also argued for the importance of creating a viable assessment plan to complement the IL map, which ought to include defined assessment cycles and strategies.

In order to begin to embed an IL map within existing courses, Leslin recommended first identifying a small number of courses and partnering with these in order to run an initial pilot of the project. She stressed the importance of communication with both academic and administrative staff with regard to implementation, to ensure that new lecturers would be told to consult with their librarian if they were teaching a course that was on the IL map.

Leslin argued that one of the main benefits of having an IL map was to prevent students from being taught the same IL material at different points throughout their course. Unintentionally repetitious presentations would be reduced, thus decreasing student frustration. Having an IL map that was also embedded within the curriculum would also increase the level of thoroughness and consistency with which IL was taught. Leslin pointed out that online tutorials and interactive tools would play an important part in IL instruction once a project of this type expanded, due to inevitable restrictions on the number of library staff available to teach courses face-to-face.

Within my own institution, the library launched its first programme of information literacy workshops at the start of this academic year. The workshops were developed and delivered by library staff, including myself, and students were able to sign-up to attend on a voluntary basis. We are not quite yet at the stage where we are able to start embedding an IL programme within our taught courses, but this presentation did give me some useful ideas to think about for the future.

Keynote Presentation: Bill Thompson – Information Science and the 10 Cultures

Bill Thompson spoke about what he saw as the modern division between those who had an understanding of computer coding and those who merely used the technology without having any knowledge of how it worked. The title of Bill’s presentation was intended as a pun in binary code and referred to these two (as opposed to ten) cultures that exist within the ongoing digital revolution.

Bill argued that as librarians, it was important for us to have an awareness of the electronic systems that supported our lives. He proposed that the people who understood binary were the ones who could write the laws of our society, and therefore it was important to have an appreciation of coding in order to be able to critique the electronic systems that we all use and rely on. He suggested that this should now be seen as a key component of being information literate.

Bill argued that democracy and power were both linked to information literacy, particularly given that the design of electronic systems could be influenced by politics. He gave an example of the use of electronic passports at airports and questioned how much we really knew about what was being checked and what algorithms were being used to identify people in the context of immigration laws. He also gave the example of the Heartbleed bug which would have left those who didn’t understand the implications of this flawed code vulnerable to attack from hackers.

Bill suggested that coding shouldn’t be seen as something hard or mysterious, but simply as part of our information literacy education. He did however stress that he didn’t expect everyone to become a programmer, but rather that people needed to have an awareness of code and how it shapes our world. He argued that this was the key to navigating the next stage of the age of electronics.

Off to a Flying Start: Supporting Student Transition

My third session of the day was presented by Helen Howard from the University of Leeds, who introduced us to an interactive online resource called Flying Start which was used to help support and induct new students before their arrival at the University. The aim of the resource was to prepare students for studying at HE level by providing information on topics such as independent learning, assessment methods, study techniques and referencing, as well as information specifically related to their department. Students were sent a link to the Flying Start website in August before they began their courses.

The Flying Start resource was originally developed in 2011 as a pilot project by a staff member who had been awarded a University teaching fellowship. During the pre-development research for the project, surveys and focus groups were run with Year 12 and 13 students to ascertain their concerns about going to University and to establish what they might want from this type of resource. Current undergraduates were also surveyed in order to get their ideas on the kinds of information that they would have found most useful at the start of their course. The feedback indicated that the current undergraduates favoured information about study skills, using resources, critical thinking skills and academic achievement, whereas the sixth form students were more concerned with practical matters such as finance, timetables, assessment and settling in. The project team used the feedback from both groups of students to create the various sections within the Flying Start resource.

To measure the success of the resource, the project team counted site visits and obtained feedback from users and non-users through surveys. They discovered that visits to the site increased greatly in 2012 when they took the approach of gradually releasing the content and sending reminders to students when new content was published. This encouraged students to keep returning to the site and ensured that students were not overwhelmed with too much information at once.

From the feedback they received, the project team identified the following seven suggestions for supporting transitioning students:

  1. Students are often overwhelmed with information during induction. Therefore, it is useful to drip-feed them some preparatory information before the start of their course.
  2. Students often miss information that is sent to them. Therefore, persistent promotion is key and reminders are useful.
  3. The format of transition-based resources should be engaging and include interactive visual elements such as video.
  4. Collaboration with other departments can be useful to ensure that students are easily directed towards other sources of information about settling in to University.
  5. The content provided within transition-based resources can continue to be useful throughout the year. Therefore, it is a good idea to keep the content available after the students have arrived.
  6. The tone used to deliver the resource is important. It can be a good idea to use current students to deliver information using videos. However, resources that are too basic or patronising can be off-putting.
  7. Content which is new to the user is the most useful – particularly explanations of unfamiliar terms and phrases, as well as content relating to the step-up from sixth form to HE level study.

The project team pointed out that although there were some overlapping themes between Flying Start and the IL instruction offered by the library, Flying Start was intended to provide support at a much more generic introductory level.

Rationalising Referencing: Changing Policy and Practice to Smooth Transition and Improve the Student Experience

In this session, Dan Pullinger from the University of Leeds described how the library department had identified a lack of consistency in the referencing styles being taught by academic staff across the University and how this had led to confusion and frustration for students. He argued that a definitive guide to referencing was necessary in order for students to be able to spend less time focusing on ‘how’ to reference and more time on developing an understanding of the underlying principles of referencing.

In order to push for a change in policy and practice, the library department liaised with University committees and submitted papers which emphasised the beneficial impact on the student experience of having a definitive referencing guide. They submitted a proposal for a standard referencing policy, which was intended to solve the issue of inconsistency and duplication regarding the teaching of referencing, as well to position the library as a central source of guidance for referencing. The policy was implemented and required each department to select a single referencing style for use by all taught students, as well as to use the standardised Leeds version of that style.

Following the implementation of the policy, the library sent out a survey to students and staff to gather feedback and to gauge whether the policy was being put into practice. They found that the majority of departments were indeed using the new standardised style, but there were exceptions. They identified a lack of awareness of the new policy as a possible cause, but some feedback also indicated that academic staff hadn’t considered the benefit to the student experience of having one referencing style and had instead taken the view that their own version was preferable. However, feedback from students predictably indicated that this had led to confusion. As a result of the survey findings, it was concluded that a change in policy alone was not enough and that persistent communication was the key to long term change.

The library department implemented a number of follow-up actions. These included increasing the promotion of referencing support services provided by the library, as well as creating new resources such as web pages, online tutorials, workshops and an Endnote style of the Leeds version of Harvard, and offering one-to-one advice. A number of recommendations were also made to academic departments, such as giving all first year students an introduction to referencing, checking that all modules were being compliant with the referencing policy, formatting reading lists in the correct referencing style, and explicitly stating within marking criteria how referencing would be assessed.

Dan explained that the library department was planning to run a future follow-up survey with previous student respondents to ascertain whether these new recommendations were being implemented. Although the project was still a work in progress, feedback from students had so far been positive.

Dan gave the following tips to those thinking of starting a similar project:

  • Aim high, but be realistic (they found that it wasn’t realistic to have one style across the whole institution, but they were able to push for consistency within each department).
  • Use committee processes to legitimise what you’re doing.
  • Gather evidence of student opinion to strengthen your argument. If you have the students on side and give them a voice, this will add leverage to your proposals.
  • Be prepared for the long haul – it may take persistence to achieve your goals.
  • Use existing contacts, networks and structures to promote the proposal – communication and promotion is the key to success.
  • Keep a record of everything you do and the opportunities that you give people to communicate with you about the project. This can be useful if you need to refer people back to your working processes.
  • Don’t promise to make changes later down the line as this can risk compromising the existence of a standard reference guide, the ultimate purpose of which is to benefit the students.

This was a really interesting session for me as my own library department is also currently liaising with academics to discuss the creation of a standardised referencing style to be used across the institution. At the moment the project is only in its earliest stages, so it was very useful to learn about the potential issues and pitfalls that we may experience along the way and get some suggestions on how to mitigate these.

An Investigation into Student Use of LibGuides: Do They Want Fries with That?

Joanne Keleher from CQUniversity in Australia spoke about a survey that she had conducted within her institution in order to investigate student opinions of LibGuides. Specifically, she had sought to establish whether students felt that the LibGuides created by the library department had helped them to achieve their learning outcomes and to improve their information literacy skills.

The LibGuides provided by the library department at CQUniversity were launched as an attempt to replicate face-to-face information literacy classes in an online environment. This was deemed necessary due to the high number of distance-learning students at the University. In total, they created 146 guides, some which focused on resources for academic subjects and others that provided support on topics such as completing assignments or plagiarism. After collaborating with academics, library staff were also able to embed LibGuides links or content into the Moodle VLE pages for particular courses.

Unfortunately there had been a very low response rate to the feedback survey, which was in the form of an online questionnaire. However, the limited feedback gathered from students did indicate that they felt LibGuides had helped them to improve their research skills and knowledge about library resources. In terms of LibGuides content and design, students expressed a preference for uncluttered guides with a variety of information that was directly relevant to their course, and well as easy to locate items. They disliked irrelevant information and broken links. With regard to possible improvements, students expressed a wish for more assistance with breaking down assessments into key tasks and with identifying keywords. They also wanted more help with evaluation of resources and referencing, and more links to full-text articles.

Joanne pointed out that although LibGuides were a valuable online information literacy tool, the guides needed to be updated regularly, sometimes every semester, in order to remain current. The on-going workload would therefore increase in line with the number of guides produced. In addition, Joanne pointed out that if guides were tied in with the content of particular modules, this could create a challenge when updating them as current course information would first have to be obtained from relevant academic staff members. This could place a limitation on how quickly the guides could be updated in time for each semester.

This was a good session for me because my library department has just purchased LibGuides and we plan to develop our existing PDF subject guides into something more interactive using the LibGuides platform. Hearing the student feedback was particularly useful and it gave me some good ideas for the design and content of our own forthcoming guides.

LILAC Networking Evening

After all the sessions were over for the day, most of the delegates headed back to their hotels to rest or change before the evening networking event and dinner. On arrival at Sheffield City Hall where the event was being held, we were presented with drinks and given a game to play called ‘Collect a Librarian’. The idea was to speak to as many people as possible in order to get points for meeting different kinds of librarian – more points were scored for ‘rarer’ types of librarian, so for example meeting an academic librarian would only score you one point, as apparently we are quite common!

It was a good icebreaker and it helped me to get chatting to lovely group of librarians from Sweden and Germany – I met quite a lot of Europeans at LILAC, which was nice as I hadn’t realised before how international the conference was.

I did also get chatting to some fellow UK and London librarians and I managed to catch up with some former library school classmates too, which was great. I was pretty tired by the end of the evening, but really enjoyed my first day at LILAC!

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Library Camp 2013

Last weekend I had the opportunity to attend the annual Library Camp unconference at the brand new Library of Birmingham. The new library has a very interesting layout and there are lots of unusual angles and different kinds of spaces, which I really liked and I could definitely imagine spending time studying there. My favourite visual element was the contrast between the futuristic bright blue glowing escalators and the central rotunda with its curved wall of books.

Library of Birmingham

For our library camp event, we had use of the studio theatre on the ground floor of the library in addition to several rooms on the first floor. The event began in traditional unconference fashion with a variety of homemade cakes being laid out upon the tables, followed by people queuing up to pitch ideas for sessions.

The first session that I attended was on social media and libraries, a topic which is of particular interest to me as I am currently responsible for managing my library’s Twitter and Facebook accounts. I worked on developing these accounts over the summer and we officially launched our social media presence at the start of the October semester. This means that we’re still in the early stages of building our online network, so I was hoping to pick up some tips and advice from other librarians as to how to increase student engagement.

There were lots of useful suggestions from people in the group. One person suggested that it was a good idea to target new students before they began their courses, such as by running competitions using social media during Fresher’s week. Another person suggested that Twitter could be used to share information or links that students would find useful, even if they weren’t directly related to the library. This is actually the approach that I am
taking with my library’s social media accounts, and I am trying to market them to students as a current awareness tool rather than just another way to keep up to date with library news and services.

Library of BirminghamHowever, I’ve found that some students don’t immediately understand how social media can be useful to them in this way, which has meant that it has been necessary to spend some time promoting social media itself, in addition to promoting the library’s own social media presence. We have tried to do this in various ways, such as by creating displays about the benefits and uses of social media, and by incorporating social media resources into all the subject guides that we produce. I would like to run a survey at some point in the future to gather more data about our students’ existing attitudes towards social media, as I think that this could help to inform further social media marketing initiatives in the library.

Another useful suggestion that was made in the social media and libraries session was to promote your social media accounts to other social media administrators within your institution. It was argued that this would increase the likelihood of your posts being shared or retweeted by other departments, thus increasing your capacity for reaching your target audience.

Other suggestions included using tools like Storify or Pinterest to combine information about the library with news about current happenings on campus, such as exams, in order to promote library resources and facilities within a wider context. It was also suggested that social media accounts which exhibited some form of personality would be more likely to gain responses than impersonal accounts which only published information – @OrkneyLibrary was seen to be a good example of the former.

One person pointed out that publishing images alongside your social media posts would increase the likelihood of people clicking on and reading your content, while someone else suggested that posting links to local relevant events could give users another reason to want to follow your accounts.

There were many other interesting suggestions, but I think that one of the main things that I took away from this session was that continual marketing of library social media accounts is key to sustaining their momentum, and that ensuring that your published content is interesting and relevant to your target audience is essential for ensuring long-term success.

Library Camp cupcakes

Library Camp cupcakes!

The second session that I attended was entitled Evidence-based Librarianship. One of the main arguments made in this session was that reading practitioner based research should be seen as especially important for librarians who were looking for new ways to enhance their library services. However, the point was made that not all librarians had
access to such research, particularly if they didn’t work in an academic library. It was noted that CILIP members were able to access a number of library journals via their membership subscription, and that Twitter could also be a useful resource for links to professional literature.

It was also noted that librarians often had to undertake such reading and research in their own time as there was limited time available for CPD and innovation on a day-to-day basis. One person argued that undertaking some work outside of normal working hours was inevitable if your intention was to keep up with issues within the profession and to research new ideas. This has certainly been true for me and I have found that setting some time aside for reflection is especially important if you want to come up with new innovations, because the daily tasks of running a library tend to fill up every moment of the working day.

The third session of the day for me was about librarians and teaching. The importance of training was one of the central issues raised and it was argued that at the very least a basic grounding in lesson planning and classroom behaviour management was key for librarians who found that teaching was a part of their remit. One person expressed concern about people taking on teaching responsibilities when they had no knowledge of pedagogy, as this could greatly reduce the effectiveness of their teaching. Many people in the group had taken PTLLS courses or similar qualifications and had found them to be very useful, although some had found it difficult to enrol on to a teaching course because they did not teach the requisite number of hours required in order to be eligible.

Fortunately for me, my college has recently started running an in-house teaching programme which I hope to enrol on next semester. Although it does not lead to a qualification, I think that it will be extremely useful for me and will help me to develop a basic understanding of teaching theory. At the moment I have a very limited amount of
teaching experience, but I have recently started teaching library information skills workshops as part of my role and so I am keen to develop my skills in this area.

There was some discussion in the group about how to create lesson plans which were challenging for all students regardless of differing ability. This was seen as a challenge for librarians as they would be less likely to have an idea of the differing ability levels of the students in their class. Someone argued that it was important to be able to pick up on cues from learners in terms of the ways that they responded to your teaching, as this would enable you to tailor your teaching to meet their needs. Designing lessons to have elements with varying levels of difficulty was also seen as a good way to ensure that all learners could be given something to challenge them.

In terms of getting students to attend library skills sessions, it was argued that such sessions could be marketed in a different way so that students did not assume that the classes were not relevant to them. Some people made the point that students often think that they already know how to search for information, and therefore that they don’t have anything to gain from information literacy classes, when this often isn’t the case. This will definitely be something to think about when I come to promoting our library workshops next semester.

Library of BirminghamFor my fourth session of the day, I decided to be brave and go for some speed networking as I’d never been to a session like this before. However, I didn’t have to be as brave as I’d thought, as we turned out to be a fairly small group. We decided to sit in a circle together and each share what we did and what our future career plans were, which I thought was a valuable way to spend the time and I enjoyed getting to know some new people.

For my final session of the day, I attended a session on demonstrating the value of college libraries. The discussion was mainly focussed on FE as opposed to HE college libraries, but I thought that I might find something of general relevance to me. One of my objectives for the next academic year is to find new ways to market my library’s services so I was interested to see how other people were doing this.

There was some discussion about the importance of measuring the impact of library services as this was seen as important when trying to demonstrate the value of the library to faculty members. However, it was noted that obtaining conclusive evidence of library impact was often tricky as student performance could be influenced by a variety of factors. It was agreed that students’ perceptions of their library could be heavily influenced by their lecturers, and this meant that it was extremely important to market library services to lecturers as well as to students.

Library of Birmingham at night

The Library of Birmingham at night.

Some people suggested that librarians needed to increase their own visibility by inviting themselves to relevant meetings and taking every opportunity to build relationships with academics, as this was another way to raise awareness of the library. Another suggestion was to host open-house events in the library for staff to come and learn about the resources and facilities offered, and someone else suggested that a regular publication to
market the library’s current projects and achievements could further help to raise the library’s profile among faculty.

I definitely took away a lot of useful ideas from this year’s Library Camp and I’m already thinking about how I might implement some of these ideas in my own library. Many thanks to the organisers, the bakers, and to the Library of Birmingham for hosting the event! :)

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CILIP Social Media Executive Briefing 2013

Social mediaLast week I was given the opportunity to attend CILIP’s event on the use of social media by libraries. This was a particularly useful event for me to go to because I am currently drafting up plans to create a social media presence for the library where I work. I was especially looking forward to hearing about other libraries’ experiences of communicating via social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter, as these two platforms are the ones which I have initially chosen as a starting point for building my own library’s social media profile.

After registration and refreshments, the first presentation of the day was by CILIP President Phil Bradley who gave us a look back at 2012 and the major social media trends which occurred during that year. One of the most important trends was the big shift towards using mobile devices to access and use social media tools. Phil argued that we are now moving into a different kind of environment where apps rather than websites are becoming a more common way to access information on the internet. He pointed out, however, that content produced on social media platforms, such as tweets, could often be inaccurate and it was harder to check the accuracy of information produced via social media than it was to check the authority of information found in a book or on a website.

Phil argued that this had led to another trend in 2012 and this was the rise of the individual as expert on the web. He suggested that people are now more likely to check the validity of information that they find online by ascertaining whether the individual providing the information is a trusted creator of content. For example, if someone has a couple of million followers on Twitter, this might indicate that they are producing useful and valid information. However, as Phil pointed out, various celebrities are also often followed by high numbers on Twitter, and so discretion and judgement are always necessary when checking the validity of the data that we are presented with online. As librarians, Phil argued that it was our responsibility to be reliable creators of content and not simply to re-post information that we find online without checking its accuracy. He gave an example of a particular newspaper which had based a story on an inaccurate tweet, with the result that the story eventually had to be withdrawn. Phil argued therefore that instead of trusting the content produced by newspapers, we should choose our own trusted experts online in order to build ourselves a valuable network of people who could provide us with accurate information on topics that were relevant to us.

Another trend which Phil identified was that the web had become less about pages and more about people. He pointed out that Google was now including a lot more social media profiles and metrics in its search results and this meant that if you had chosen not to be involved in social media, you were increasingly likely to be invisible on the web. He argued that this should be a concern both for us as professionals and also for organisations who wanted to be visible to their customers.

Scoop It LogoOne final trend that Phil drew our attention to was the increasing role that curation tools are playing in the organisation of online content, including social media. He identified Pinterest as one of the most popular curation tools and pointed out that it is also a potentially useful tool for librarians as we can use it, for example, to pin images of books that we want to recommend to our users. Scoop It was also recommended as a useful source for information on a particular subject. Phil argued that the way to make best use of curation tools was to ensure that you had a large network within your chosen subject area, so that all new relevant information would be picked up and delivered to you. In this way, curation tools would help to minimise the time spent trawling various sites and platforms in order to keep yourself up to date.

Phil gave us a few predictions on the direction that social media would take in the near future. He pointed out that Twitter was the only proper real-time social media platform and he suggested that as such it would become an increasingly important media tool for companies engaging in customer service conversations. Twitter is also frequently playing a key role in large scale communication of live events, and because of this Phil predicted that physical events would increasingly be designed to be compatible with a social media environment.

At the end of the session, Phil gave us some humorous examples of social media disasters in order to highlight the importance that social media can now play in customer service and in making or breaking the reputation of a company. He pointed out that social media has given everyone a voice and that companies can no longer afford to ignore or dismiss angry customers. One example that Phil gave was of a musician who complained to United Airlines about the damage that his musical instruments had sustained at the hands of airline staff. When his complaint was not dealt with appropriately by the company, he wrote a song about his experiences and posted it on Youtube. The video received 500,000 hits in three days and resulted in United Airlines’ stock price plummeting by 10%.

Phil mentioned other social media disasters where the employee of an organisation had brought that organisation into disrepute by something posted via social media, and he argued that having a social media policy in place was highly important if companies, and libraries, wanted to avoid this type of problem. He argued that if employees were to be given the responsibility of posting content to a company’s social media profile, it was essential for that company to monitor all the published content in order to ensure that its social media updates were accurate and appropriate.

The second presentation of the day was from Adrian Wakeling from ACAS who discussed the risks and opportunities which might result from using social media in a workplace environment. He outlined the various typical managerial and employee perspectives on the use of social media during work hours and pointed out that if a company does not have clear guidelines on what employees are entitled to do, this may result in problems and disagreements.

Such problems could include inappropriate messages being posted by staff on social media sites, excessive use of social media by employees, or alternatively overly restrictive managers who prevent employees from using social media at all. Adrian pointed out that social media can potentially offer many positive opportunities within a workplace environment; for example, allowing staff to post social media content can give them a greater voice within the company and enable them to use their creativity. However, he argued that a clear written policy on the acceptable use of social media at work is essential in order for a company to protect itself against liability for the actions of its workers and to provide employees with guidelines about how social media should be used when at work.

Following Adrian’s talk was a case study presented by Eddie Byrne from Dublin City Libraries who discussed how his library body was currently implementing social media guidelines similar to the ones that Adrian had described. Dublin City Libraries has multiple Twitter and Facebook accounts, as well as a blog, and they also make use of other platforms such as Youtube, Vimeo, Slideshare, Netvibes and Flickr. They have a standard, minimalist, outward-facing social media policy which is clearly linked to from all their social media accounts, and in addition to this they also have internal guidelines aimed at staff.

Eddie explained that their approach was to moderate social media content only after it had been uploaded by staff as he argued that there needs to be a certain amount of trust when Hootsuite Logoit comes to allowing employees to post social media updates. He also explained that Dublin City Libraries’ staff don’t necessarily respond to every single question that they receive via social media, but rather they respond to the general themes which emerge from the comments that they receive. Monitoring and analysis of engagement statistics was undertaken using Hootsuite, which could also be used to schedule tweets so that pre-written updates would be sent out at regular intervals during the day.

Eddie explained that in addition to general usage guidelines, there was also a risk management element to their social media policy based on the fact that the libraries were relying on third party tools in order to create their social media presence. Due to the potential risk of losing data or services, back-ups were taken of important information, and alternative platforms, along with any associated data migration issues, were identified in order to ensure that the libraries’ social media presence could still be preserved if one of their chosen platforms ceased to operate in the future.

After a break for lunch, Sarah Hassan and Eileen Brock gave a presentation on how Norfolk County Council’s social media policy had been put into practice within Norfolk public libraries. Sarah explained that the library and the County Council were both trusted brands and that a key function of their social media policy was to support the preservation of this trust. Their policy therefore incorporated specific instructions about tone and conduct which staff were asked to consider before posting any social media message.

Staff were also asked to consider which medium was best for their message before posting it and to consult their in-house style guide to ensure that posts were made in plain English. An awareness of data protection regulations and knowledge of policies on information security, customer service and internet use were also essential for staff updating the social media accounts. Staff were also encouraged to think about their tone and conduct on their own personal social media profiles and to ensure that it was clear though the use of disclaimers whenever they were speaking just for themselves and not on behalf of the County Council.

Eileen explained that the posting of content on the library social media accounts was undertaken by staff who were designated ‘social media champions’. These staff members were trained in all the relevant policies and took it in turns to spend half an hour each morning creating and scheduling tweets and updates. Using Hootsuite, updates were set to be published during peak periods of the day when most of the libraries’ followers were likely to be online. A dedicated mailbox had also been set up to enable library staff from around the county to suggest content for the social media accounts and there was a central team which monitored and responded to enquiries received via social media. In addition, all community librarians across the county were required to attend courses on social media to enable them to support the social media courses and surgeries which Norfolk libraries offered to library users.

Klout LogoNorfolk libraries currently have approximately 2600 followers on Twitter and 870 fans on Facebook, as well as a successful blog and presences on Pinterest and Youtube. Eileen drew attention to the necessity of measuring the impact of your library’s social media presences, and in addition to counting follower numbers she recommended the use of Klout as a tool for measuring your library’s influence within social networks. Eileen also pointed out the importance of marketing for libraries that wanted their social media profiles to be successful. As such, she recommended that a library’s social media contact details should be added to all email signatures, flyers, posters, websites and business cards and that Twitter feeds should also be embedded on relevant websites where possible.

The final two sessions of the day were on social media marketing, presented by Nick Ellison, and the use of live video within Google+ Hangouts, presented by Mike Downes. Nick introduced us to the concept of the social graph, which is generated by all the data that we input into social media platforms such as Facebook and which marketing companies can potentially exploit in order to create targeted advertising. He pointed out that Facebook has recently developed a Graph Search which allows you to search via user data, such as likes and interests. Within the context of libraries, social graph searching could possibly be used as an advocacy tool in order to identify people who might be interested in particular library services and then target relevant advertising towards them.

After this session, Mike Downes introduced us to the various video-chat functions of Google+ Hangouts and explained how these could be utilised to publish live media broadcasts of conversations between people in different parts of the world without the need for specialist technical equipment. He gave us lots of different examples of when this had been done successfully. He explained that Google+ Hangouts could additionally be used for public or private video, text or phone conversations for up to ten people at a time and he drew our attention to Google’s ‘Hangouts on Air’ which enables users to broadcast their conversations to a wide audience for free. Mike argued that Google+ Hangouts could be used as a way for individuals or public services to engage with their communities.

I’m really glad that I was able to attend this event as there were some fascinating talks and I’ve come away with a lot of food for thought regarding the creation of my own library’s social media presence. There is clearly a lot more scope for creativity with social media than simply setting up a Twitter account and I’m looking forward to exploring all the different options and approaches. Many thanks to the speakers and organisers for such an interesting day!

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Library Camp London 2013

Library Camp London signA few weeks ago I went to Library Camp London at Senate House Library. For those who don’t already know, library camps are ‘unconference’ style events, which means that there is no set agenda and instead people pitch their ideas for sessions on the day. This was the third library camp event that I’d been to, so I was already familiar with the unconference style format and I was looking forward to some interesting discussions and also some networking with other like-minded library folk!

The first session of the day that I attended was entitled ‘Leadership without Portfolio’ and it was aimed at library workers who weren’t yet in a management role but who wanted to gain some experience in leadership. I attended the session despite being in a management role already because I wanted to learn more about the development of leadership skills. The session was run by Penny who was a current graduate trainee. She suggested that taking opportunities to volunteer for projects or committees could be a good way to develop leadership skills, in addition to participating in activities outside of work such as those associated with CILIP. Taking the initiative and suggesting new ideas at work was also seen to be a good way to develop experience in leadership.

One person in the group pointed out that managers might be wary of new initiatives suggested by trainees or library assistants as they often had concerns over the long-term sustainability of such initiatives. However, this didn’t necessarily mean that trainees should assume that all their ideas would be vetoed. Someone pointed out that in order to sell a new project to management, it would be important to demonstrate how the project would a) be beneficial to library users, b) not cost anything or even save money, and c) help to deliver the organisation’s overall strategy. With any new idea, it would also help to show that the work wouldn’t take up too much time and that the project would be sustainable. I found the discussion interesting because I am currently working on my own project to create a social media presence for my library, and so it was useful to hear people talk about their approaches to project work and how they pitched their ideas to management.

Library Camp Session Pitches

All the Library Camp session pitches for the day.

The second session that I attended was called ‘Design Your Own LIS Qualification’ and it was run by the #uklibchat team. One of the main topics of conversation in this session was whether current LIS qualifications were too theoretical in nature given that librarianship was a vocational discipline. Liz Jolly pointed out that there was a danger that library courses had become too academic and she argued that such courses should be focused on practice and should enable people to work in the real world. However, it was generally agreed that some theoretical unpinning was also important for LIS courses.

For those who had taken or who were currently taking a LIS qualification, there followed a discussion of which aspects of their courses had been the most useful. A number of people suggested that gaining a broader awareness of the library and information field had been more useful than any particular module or assignment on their course, while others said that specific practical elements like web design or cataloguing had helped them in their current roles. At the end of the session, people made suggestions as to what their ideal LIS qualification would include. Several people suggested that teaching should be a part of their course as many academic librarians had to teach information literacy skills workshops as part of their roles. Other people wanted a greater choice of modules and for the courses to be taught by library practitioners as well as by academics.

The third session that I attended was called “The Role of Library Assistants” and it was a discussion about the difficulties that some library assistants faced when they tried to accomplish professional development within their roles. Several people said that they felt that their library was quite hierarchical and that senior library staff looked down on library assistants and did not allow them to deal with more complex tasks. Many in the group felt that it was important for library assistants to be given a voice and to be allowed to make a contribution towards projects, rather than only being responsible for circulation and shelving. Someone pointed out that it was frustrating to have a manager who had qualified as a librarian 20 years ago and had never done any CPD since qualifying, as it was hard to persuade someone like this to help you to develop your own professional skills. One person pointed out that some library assistants may have had many years of experience and that this experience should be valued regardless of whether that person had a library qualification.

At the other end of the spectrum, there were a few people who felt that they had been asked to take on responsibilities which were above their pay grade and which they had subsequently found a bit overwhelming. They felt that it was unfair that they were expected to take on the work of a qualified librarian when they were not compensated accordingly. One person said that she felt unable to turn down these additional responsibilities as she was grateful for the experience, but she nonetheless felt that she had been thrown in at the deep end without any support.

It was pointed out that library assistants do essential and important work and that without them the library would not be able to function. There was a strong feeling in the group that the work of library assistants should be more highly valued. Given that I am now responsible for managing a small team of library assistants myself, I found it very useful to hear everyone’s different viewpoints and experiences.

Library Camp Folk

The marvellous Senate House Library – a fab venue for Library Camp!

The final session of the day that I attended was the ‘Librarians and Personality’ session, which turned out to be pretty popular. As an icebreaker, we were all asked to stand in a line in the order of most extroverted person to most introverted. The difference between extroversion and introversion was explained as follows: an extroverted person will feel energised by spending a whole day at a conference speaking to people, whereas an introverted person will feel drained and will need to recover by spending some quiet time alone. I was definitely on the introverted side of the scale! After this exercise we were split into four groups; two groups had to write down which personality traits a librarian was often believed to possess by people outside the profession, and two groups had to write down what traits librarians actually needed in order to do their jobs well. As might be expected, the first two groups came up with a lot of stereotypes about librarians being quiet or timid, as well as being knowledgeable and trustworthy. The other two groups pointed out that librarianship was a service-based profession and therefore librarians needed to be good communicators rather than shrinking violets. Dealing with information also meant that librarians had to be organised, logical and rational.

It was considered that a lot of librarian personality stereotypes came from a time when library roles were quite homogenous, but now that there were many different kinds of library role – from cataloguing to outreach to digitisation – there were also many different types of personality which would be suited to the profession. It was however generally agreed, within my discussion group at least, that empathy was a pretty essential trait for a profession that is all about helping people.

Overall, I really enjoyed this library camp event and thought that it was really well organised – and I liked the fact that the event had a savoury rather than a cakey theme as it meant that I wasn’t suffering from a massive sugar crash by the end of the day as is normally the case at library camp events! Many thanks to all the people who cooked and baked and to all the fab organisers for putting on this event :)

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Learning to be a Supervisor

Last week I went to a CPD25 training seminar on management and supervisory skills, which was led by Peter Williams who works as an Assistant Campus Library Manager at the University of East London. I was really looking forward to this session as I currently manage a team of library assistants as part of my new role as an Assistant Librarian, but supervising is still fairly new to me so I was hoping that this seminar would offer me some practical advice about staff management.

Peter began by outlining his career path and experience; he had worked at Senate House Library for six years, starting out as a shelver and then progressing to become a library assistant. He told us that he had never intended to become a librarian – at that time he was in a band and wanted to be a musician, and library work was just something he was doing in the short term. Peter made the point that as librarians and managers we should be aware that the people we supervise may not be as passionate about libraries and library work as we are. He pointed out that people who work as library assistants are often at different stages of their lives and are likely to have different attitudes towards their jobs depending on their priorities and interests. He admitted that he himself wasn’t always a model employee when he worked as a library assistant as he had poor timekeeping and was often off sick, and he said that he now wonders what he was like to supervise at that time!

In the end, Peter told us, his band didn’t get a record deal and so he decided to go for his Librarianship MA. After this he began working at UCL as the deputy supervisor of the Science Library issue desk, which was his first formal supervisory role. He was responsible for supervising several members of staff when they worked on the desk and he also had the opportunity to sit on recruitment panels.

He told us that at first he was quite self-conscious about the fact that he was now a supervisor and was slightly embarrassed about having to manage people. This resonated with me and I was glad to hear that someone else had felt this way.  One of my challenges as a new supervisor has been trying to balance my usual friendly, laid-back demeanour against having to ensure that people carry out my instructions, in addition to occasionally having to offer criticism. Although I always try to offer criticism in a friendly, constructive manner, I really don’t enjoying criticising others and would rather avoid it if I can.

Later in the seminar, Peter asked us to form groups to discuss the skills or traits that we thought a good supervisor should have. These are the ones which we identified:

  • Communication skills
  • Problem solving skills
  • Organised
  • Understanding of the pressures on team members
  • Good time management
  • Self-confident
  • Good listening skills (we thought that this ought to come under communication skills, but in practice often didn’t so was worth mentioning separately!)
  • Having an awareness of the work that your team members do
  • Approachable
  • Sense of humour
  • Negotiation and flexibility
  • Recognises and praises good work

Peter added that leadership, decisiveness and emotional intelligence were important in a good supervisor. He defined emotional intelligence as the ability to perceive and respond to emotions in others and in yourself and he referred us to Goleman’s five components of emotional intelligence:

  • Self-awareness
  • Self-regulation
  • Motivation
  • Empathy
  • Social skills

Peter said that self-awareness in this case is about having a sense of your own strengths and weaknesses; for example, he mentioned that he disliked conflict and preferred to avoid it, but he recognised this trait in himself and didn’t let it impact on having to deal with difficult situations at work.  I can see from this that one of my weaknesses is the fact that I don’t like giving criticism, but I recognise that I need to be aware of this weakness and overcome it in order to be an effective supervisor.

Angry manager

An angry, grumpy manager who shouts at his/her employees is a bad manager!

In terms of the other elements of emotional intelligence, Peter explained that self-regulation is about keeping your temper and controlling your emotions – an angry, grumpy manager who shouts at his/her employees is a bad manager. Motivation is about your own commitment to and enthusiasm for the job, while empathy is of course about considering other people’s feelings and motives. Lastly, social skills are defined by Goleman as ‘friendliness with a purpose’ and these are important when persuading people to do things or to accept changes in their working practices.

Peter said that all of the above traits of emotional intelligence could be learned or developed, and that one of the most important things to remember was to look at things from other people’s point of view as well as your own and to adjust your approach if necessary.

Peter then went on to describe his own supervisory style. He pointed out that some supervisors could be quite easy-going, while others could be stricter, but that there was no one right way to approach supervision. He described his own approach as follows:

Be flexible – if people need to leave early, for example if they have childcare needs, allow them to take a shorter lunch break so that this is possible. This approach can be helpful for you too if you also need to leave early one day. However, offering flexibility like this will also depend to some extent on the culture of your organisation. Make sure that you are consistent in what you do and that people don’t take advantage of your flexibility, and obviously ensure that the level of flexibility that you offer does not affect the service provision. To some extent, flexibility also has to be earned – for example, new members of staff shouldn’t necessarily expect to be offered flexibility immediately as they may first need to prove that they’re a consistent and reliable worker.

Don’t micro-manage – encourage initiative and try not to check people’s work constantly throughout the day. Times when staff do need to be micro-managed are when they are new or when a new policy or procedure has been introduced. Not micro-managing doesn’t mean not taking an interest in the work that your staff are doing – their work may sometimes be routine but you should never take them for granted and should always treat them with respect. Staff often have their own ideas and opinions about the way that their work is done and they may be able to suggest helpful changes or improvements. If you don’t take an interest in their work, this can be demotivating for your staff.

Encourage discussion and new ideas – as above, invite feedback from staff as to how procedures could be improved, as this can encourage them to have a sense of ownership about their work and help to build a productive team spirit.

Lead by example – for instance, if you want your staff to offer a high level of service at the issue desk, make sure that you always go the extra mile when helping library users so that you act as a positive example of what you expect. Don’t regularly arrive late to work unless you want your staff to think that this is acceptable. Also, it can help to show that you are willing to do some of the unpopular jobs that your staff tend to avoid (such as enforcing library regulations!), as this will show them that it is everyone’s responsibility, including yours.

Learn from your mistakes – it is inevitable that you will get things wrong as a new supervisor, but try to see your mistakes as opportunities to learn and improve.

Pass on as much information as possible – as a supervisor, you’ll be privy to more information than your library assistants and it is important to share relevant, non-confidential information with your team. This can be tricky if the culture of your organisation is quite secretive when it comes to sharing information, but staff will always talk amongst themselves in organisations and so as far as possible it is best to be open and honest with the people that you supervise. This encourages trust and helps to keep your staff in the picture regarding changes and developments.

I found the above advice to be really useful and I think that it would have been beneficial to have been given such practical advice about staff management while I was still at library school. Much of what we were taught on the Management module during my MA was quite general and in retrospect I don’t feel that we really explored the reality of what it is like to manage people on a day-to-day basis. However, perhaps this is something that to some extent can only be learned from direct experience of staff management.

In the final part of the seminar, Peter talked about the issue of poor performance and how to deal with this as a supervisor. He listed the most common poor performance issues as:

  • Making mistakes
  • Not pulling their weight
  • Poor timekeeping
  • Personality clashes
  • Personal hygiene
  • Spending too much time on the Internet

He said that the first step to dealing with a problem is to collect evidence. With something like timekeeping, this is fairly easy as you can keep a record of when someone is late, but the issue of someone not pulling their weight can be more tricky because the evidence may be subjective.

Once you have gathered evidence, Peter said that you should speak informally and privately with the staff member in question – and face-to-face, not via email! First ask them if there is a problem – for example, if they are consistently late, it may be because they have childcare issues or other problems at home. Alternatively, if they’re not pulling their weight with a particular task, it may because they don’t fully understand what they need to do and they could benefit from some extra training.

If there are no problems such as the ones outlined above, Peter said that it is important to make clear your expectations and explain to them, in a friendly way, that you’ll be monitoring their performance going forward and that you’ll set a date to discuss progress after a certain period of time (perhaps two weeks or one month, depending on what is appropriate). Peter said that you should follow up this meeting with an email summarising what was discussed, to ensure that there is something recorded in writing.

After this, the staff member’s performance should be monitored for the agreed time period and a meeting should be held to review progress. Peter said that some people just need a nudge in order to improve, whereas others may show improvement in the short-term but then their performance may lapse again. If this happens, Peter said that this is when the difficult decision must be taken as to whether to have another informal chat with the staff member, or whether to refer the matter higher to your own manager. Peter advised us to be aware that if we referred the matter higher, the process might become more formal and might be taken out of our hands.

Peter advised that a poor performance issue should generally be referred higher for the following reasons:

  • If the staff member’s performance hasn’t improved
  • If there are serious issues, for example involving drink or drugs
  • If there is anything to do with bullying or a grievance
  • If the staff member has had a lot of sickness (he pointed out that our organisation might have a specific policy which required us to refer this type of issue)

Peter said that in his own personal experience, people not pulling their weight had been the most common issue that he had come across and he said that the most difficult thing is deciding when to act. He suggested that when a problem becomes persistent or starts to affect the team as a whole, this is when you need to address the situation using the guidelines given above. However, he advised us that we could always get informal advice from our own managers about how to handle a difficult situation, and he reiterated the importance of emotional intelligence when it comes to dealing with staff management issues.

Overall, I found the seminar to be extremely useful; I learned a lot about the practical aspects of supervision and I will definitely be attending more of the CPD25 seminars if the opportunity arises – many thanks to the organisers and to Peter Williams!

References
Goleman, D. (1998) What makes a leader? Harvard Business Review, 76 (6), pp. 93-102.

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End of Year Reflections and Resolutions

Busy Bee2012 has been an important year for my burgeoning library career, because this year I have achieved the two key milestones of passing my MA degree and finding my first professional post. I think that I’ve been quite lucky to have moved so quickly and seamlessly from my graduate traineeship to becoming qualified and beginning work as a professional librarian, because it seems that this traditional route into librarianship is becoming more difficult each year for new people entering the profession. The number of graduate traineeships is shrinking, and the fees for postgraduate library courses are steadily being increased while funding opportunities are simultaneously being reduced.

I think that if I were beginning my career as a new trainee now, I’d have some serious doubts about whether taking the MA was a real possibility given the cost and the lack of funding; I certainly would have ruled out full-time study and would probably have plumped for a pay-as-you-go distance learning course instead so that I could work and study at the same time. I know some people who have taken this route into the profession and it’s hard work, although the chance to gain some extra library-related work experience while studying is definitely valuable. However, I know that if I had taken that route, it would have taken me much longer to reach the career stage where I am now, and so I feel grateful for the opportunities that have allowed me to arrive at this stage so soon.

At the moment I am continuing to settle into my new role and to make plans for the forthcoming new year. The college’s new Blackboard VLE is about to be launched and the Learning Resources Centre will have its own area within this, which means that I will soon be assisting in the design of online content such as subject guides and library tutorials. We have a new intake of students in February, which means that there is lots to do to prepare for our library inductions, and after Christmas I also hope to make a start on developing a social media presence for the LRC in order to communicate with our users and to promote our resources and services.

In addition to making plans for the new year, I have also been getting to grips with some of the more challenging aspects of my role. One of the key challenges is the fact that the college is split across two main campuses which are on opposite sides of London, which means that I can’t have the daily face-to-face contact with my library colleagues at the other campus that I would like. This is a potential issue when it comes to ensuring that we can deliver a joined-up, streamlined library service across both campuses. However, the issue has been mitigated somewhat by the fact that some library staff have been given days away from their main campus in order to visit staff at the other campus and to see what is being done with the library service there. These cross-campus visits have also enabled us to have meetings where we can discuss at length how we want to take new initiatives forward, such as our subject support services.  These planning and catch-up meetings have been really valuable and have definitely improved communication between the two campuses, and the plan is to continue with them in the new year.

Another key challenge for me so far has been the management aspect of my role. It has been a big change to go from only managing my own workload to managing the workload of others as well, but although supervising a small team is a pretty steep learning curve for me, I feel that I’m gaining new insights every day into how to be a more effective manager. I’ve been trying out a number of different approaches when it comes to organising our time and prioritising our tasks as a team, and my colleagues have been really helpful in terms of offering me feedback on what they feel works well and what doesn’t. I know that I still have a lot to learn, but I’m enjoying the process and the experience that I’m getting is really invaluable.

As this will probably be my last blog post of 2012, I’ve made some new year’s library resolutions for 2013 which I hope will help me to progress in my new role:

Resolution 1
The college where I work specialises in business and management, a subject area in which I currently have very little knowledge or expertise. As such, my first resolution is to completely familiarise myself with our print collection and e-resources so that I can develop my subject knowledge and offer a more efficient service to our users. I will do this by spending more time exploring our databases and by learning our classification system, which is the London Classification of Business Studies.

Resolution 2
My second resolution is to spend more time getting to know the students and academics at the college so that I can develop a better understanding of their information needs and how the LRC can meet those needs. I’d like to start gathering feedback on our services and resources at some point in the near future so that we can use this to inform our plans about further developing the library service.

Resolution 3
My final resolution is to continue to build effective working relationships with my colleagues at both campuses in order to enable us to collaborate productively and to share good practice. This should hopefully enable us to develop a streamlined approach to running the library service.

In conclusion, for me this year has been one of transition from library school student into professional librarian, which is a big change but an exciting one. I still have a huge amount to learn but I’m looking forward to the experiences and challenges that the new year will bring and also to improving and developing my knowledge and skills within my new professional role.

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My First Professional Post

I am happy to report that just over three weeks ago, after a period of intense job-hunting, I was offered a new job in a HE college library and I am now working as an Assistant Librarian in my first professional post!

The Learning Resources Centre

Our brand new Learning Resources Centre

It’s a very interesting job because both the library (officially known as the Learning Resources Centre) and the campus are brand new, which means that I have an opportunity to help shape the service from its very beginnings – an exciting prospect! At this stage there are a number of new initiatives which we are keen to set up, including a programme of information literacy workshops for students, as well as subject liaison services for academics. I’m very excited about both of these initiatives as I’m keen to take on teaching and subject support responsibilities as part of my new role. My role also involves taking responsibility for the supervision and line management of three library assistants, which is a new experience for me but one which I’m really enjoying so far – everyone on my team is very friendly and supportive.

As you might expect with a brand new library service, there have been ups and downs over the past few weeks as we iron out the kinks with various pieces of equipment and IT processes. We have been fielding a lot of enquiries from new students and lecturers about computer passwords and printing procedures in particular, and last week we launched our new cashless printing system which inevitably created a new surge in enquiries and technical issues which needed to be sorted out. Luckily, the new IT walk-in centre has now opened next door to the LRC and this should make things a lot simpler next week when it comes to assisting students with their IT queries.

Floor Plan of the LRC

A floor plan of the Learning Resources Centre, created by one of our library assistants!

Next week should also see the launch of our three new iHubs, which are rooms containing large wall-mounted screens and equipment that the students can use to practice their presentations or do group work exercises. Because the students have a designated space in which to do this type of work, the rest of the LRC is split into quiet, silent or express zones, which is to ensure that everyone has access to the type of study space which suits their needs.

One of my priorities on Monday will be to check all the reading lists that arrived in my inbox towards the end of last week and then order any new books that we need for our collection. Our physical collection is not actually very large at the moment, partly because the college is only enrolling first year undergraduates and foundation students at the new campus at this stage, but also because our acquisitions strategy is to focus mainly on the expansion of our e-resource provision. From a collection management perspective, this will be a useful learning experience for me as I have never worked with a predominantly electronic collection before. It will be interesting to observe whether having a mainly electronic collection changes the way that students make use of the LRC space.

Although I clearly have more than enough to keep me busy at the moment(!), having a new job has meant that I’ve been thinking about possible new CPD objectives for the coming academic year. I’ve finally made the leap and become a member of CILIP, which has led me to consider the possibility of chartering at some point in the future. However, in the aftermath of the interesting UKLibChat session on careers which I attended last month at Library Camp, I’ve been wondering whether a teaching qualification might not be more immediately relevant to my new job and to my career aspirations. Of course, until I establish exactly how much teaching I will be doing in my new role, it’s hard to know whether such a qualification would be useful in the short-term, but it’s definitely something that I might consider doing in the future.

In the mean-time, my priority is to familiarise myself with my new role, get to know all my new colleagues, learn as much as I possibly can, and start assisting with the creation of an awesome new library service :)

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