This blog entry is part of a series of four posts about my two week work placement at University College School’s Enav Library.
It was very encouraging to see how well information literacy training was embedded into the curriculum at UCS. I was able to observe a Year 8 History lesson which took place in the Library and which was partially delivered by the Librarian. The pupils had to prepare a presentation on the history and culture of Roman Bath and the Librarian had prepared a number of online resources for them which they could access from the Library’s page on the VLE. They were encouraged to use textbooks which could be found in the Library, but the Librarian also encouraged them to join their local public library in order to make use of the books and eresources there as well.
After the Librarian had finished her presentation, the teacher emphasised to the boys how lucky they were to have such a good Library as a resource and he instructed them to speak to the Library staff if they needed any help with their research. I thought that this was really positive and it was great to see the boys being taught information literacy skills within the context of their normal school work, as it meant that they were far more likely to appreciate the relevance of these skills.
Later in my placement, I was also able to observe a lesson with some AS Level students who were preparing to undertake a self-directed research project for their Extended Project Qualification (EPQ). This session was run solely by the Library staff who introduced the students to JSTOR for the first time and taught them about the differences between the material that they might find on Google and the peer-reviewed, full-text material that they would find in an electronic journal. It was great to see the students being introduced to these sorts of resources so early, as many first year undergraduates find online journal databases quite complex to get to grips with when they encounter them for the first time.
At the start of this academic year, the Librarian and the Head of IT had agreed to issue a questionnaire for new Year 7 pupils in order to assess the boys’ reading and information literacy skills. This was a new initiative which had not been tried before, and one of my tasks during my placement was to set up a spreadsheet to collate the data which had been gathered from the questionnaires. The Librarian hoped that the information would prove useful when she was planning further information literacy training sessions in the future.
As well as the lessons which I observed in the Library, the Librarian arranged for me to observe some English lessons so that I could gain an insight into how teaching was done at the school. One lesson that I observed was a Year 9 lesson on Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing, where the students were taught to identify elements of Shakespeare’s language which revealed the personality traits of the main characters. I also observed a Year 7 lesson on Gerald Durrell’s My Family and Other Animals, where the students were taught how to structure a paragraph in a piece of descriptive writing. Finally, I was able to sit in on an A-Level lesson on Chaucer’s The Wife of Bath, possibly my least favourite text from when I myself studied English at A-Level. However, the teacher made it much more interesting than I remember it being the first time around and there was a great deal of insightful discussion about feminist theory and the perception of women in the Medieval period, which I really enjoyed.
Conclusion: an absorbing and jam-packed two weeks!
I have to say that I really enjoyed my placement at UCS and the Library staff were all absolutely fantastic in finding so many varied and interesting things for me to do, and they were also extremely patient in answering my endless questions! I feel that I’ve gained a valuable insight into a sector of Librarianship which I didn’t really know much about before, and I would definitely recommend UCS to any future UCL student who is wondering where to do their two week placement next year :)