The Vitae day on spaces for researchers was a really interesting event. The morning was spent hearing about the Hive at Sussex. This is a dedicated researcher space and one of the things it helped me understand is that it isn’t so much the space itself but what you do with it and the people involved in it. The Hive is swipe card access (swipe card access seems to be very important for these researcher spaces as it gives control and exclusivity) but otherwise is a fairly simple space with sofas, computers and laptop spaces. On the surface it doesn’t seem like anything special but the community that has built up around it, in no small part due the partnership with Sage, seems like a vital part of the researcher’s experience.
Sussex is working in partnership with Sage (who apparently want to adopt more universities …). Sussex get funding for things like the Hive Scholars and Sage in return get the opportunity for feedback from researchers far richer than anything they could get from surveys and other traditional research methods.
The Hive scholars are three researcher’s who receive a bursary for 6 hours work a week. They all work on things to promote the hive, utilising social media to great effect. Something they said echoed with what we did at Cass – using a variety of methods that interlink to get maximum liaison opportunities. The scholars reported how the Hive enriched the research community by providing a hub which allowed informal social events as well as more formal events to take place. These events then meant people who may have been doing similar research in different departments met and exchanged ideas. It is easy for researchers to be silo-ed but the library is a centre for all of them and therefore a sensible place for these hubs to be located.
A couple of great ideas they had were Shut up and write! (re
searchers meet in a cafe, have a chat then concentrate for a set period of time and then have another break) and advice written on the glass walls by more experienced researchers for new ones at the welcome event including “Read A lot”.
In the afternoon session we had a talk by Dawn Duke, Researcher Training and Development Officer, about the SPLASH area at Surrey and writing boot camps they set up to encourage researchers. One was a full on boot camp with people telling people off for not working and things, this was for full time Phd students because they identified a big problem with procrastination and that it usually had a cause. The bootcamp helped people identify causes, suppo
Finally we heard from Fiona Colligan, Warwick Research Exchange about how Warwick has introduced somethin
g akin to online dating for researchers called Research Match this built on similar set ups to the
Hive but has broken into some groups which didn’t interact so much with the physical space for examrt each other and break through the procrastination problem in spaces that suited them so if they needed quiet that was available but if they wanted to collaborate that was available. Surrey also identified a few issues about completion so they organised a retreat for part-time and distance students. This was more relaxed than the bootcamp. One thing the library did was source a collection of thesis so students who may not have seen a UK thesis before were able to see what this was. Two senior academics also stayed at the retreat for the whole weekend (students stayed on site for the weekend).
ple people in the hard sciences who have their own networks in labs etc but they have signed up to research match in large numbers. This sort of innovation really seems to come out of physical spaces.
By the end of the day I really felt encouraged to think beyond physical spaces for ideas that the library can be central to in the support of the researchers but also confirmed that a physical space dedicated to researchers, ideally controlled by swipe card, is a worthwhile idea but needs to be part of something bigger in terms of collaboration and student involvement. A room with a sofa and computers labelled “researcher’s space” isn’t enough.
I have stroyfied some of the tweets from the day below:
Hearing about the Sussex Hive, Surrey’s SPLASH and
I got a lot from attending. It was great to meet other librarians from across the world (there were lots of international delegates) and meet many faces from Twitter. I am really lucky to work somewhere that encourages us to attend conferences. It is such a positive experience and one I think is vital for us and our institution to evolve and stay ahead of the game. LILAC is a big conference (by UK standards), but not so big that it feels overwhelming. Each day there was a keynote and then parallel sessions which meant there were a lot of things to choose from.
Glasgow was a nice place to visit and we did appreciate the free Caramel Log in our goody bags.
All the presentations that are available are here.
Keynote 1 – Megan Oakleaf
Play the ace: assessing, communicating and expanding the institutional impact of information literacy.
Megan’s impressive keynote looked at how it is important to demonstrate the value of the academic library to universities and how IL can be used to do this. She is the author of a US report: Value of Academic Libraries
Some points she made included:
Everyone loves library but don’t want to pay for it.
Focus on what collection enables people to do.
It is a good idea to define outcomes (learning outcomes) of what institution needs and wants. Could include employability, student retention.
What leads students to come to an institution? In US library second most impactful building. (learning spaces are first).
At Minnesota library instruction increases chance of re-enrolment year on year.
Library website design … What part communicates impact on institutional focus areas.
We did a great exercise where we used a grid called the Instruction Impact Map with Campus Needs, Goals and outcomes down one side and a list of things we do int he library along the top i.e. Tutorials, reference service etc. We then took one of the columns and rated how well it impacted on the campus need. This really made us think how we could connect the two things and really demonstrate how important what we do is.
Megan then suggested collecting evidence to back up our claims on the impact of our work making two important points:
We already use them at City but I hadn’t really thought of using them to base a whole session around but by using things like the polling and wallwasher they could be really interactive tools in our teaching as well as great support tools.
I have to confess to having a bit of a fan girl moment when I saw Lord Puttnam as with my film-lover hat on I think he is an incredibly important figure in the British film industry. I now realise he is also an powerful voice in the world of Education two examples of his work are:
The overarching theme of his speech was that what may seem radical to us now will not be in the future that People expect new form of relationship with world around them now. He gave several examples:
Uni of Sunderland 24/7 opening radical in 1997. As was drinking coffee in library – keyboards so cheap irrelevant.
Www is just a click away.
Importance of libraries and schools.
Refreshing to see how quickly racists etc are brought to order on twitter.
Librarians help people steer towards right information.
Talked about unpredictability of what is to come I.e. Facebook buying instagram
Talked about the fact his parents would have thought 3 careers was bizarre but he can imagine his grandchildren having 6.
Huge levels of competition and complexity – unique challenges for us as educators.
The point that most people were buzzing about afterwards was:
Many currently in education will work with voice activated technology in working lives.
This means we will need a pedagogy to work with voice activated tech … Importance of voice and thinking. Keyboard skills will still be useful but not as important. Research and development is not put into keyboards. Money is in voice recognition both spending on research and in profit.
Apple, google and amazon all using this technology so children born today will think it is the norm. Essentially we will be working differently. Oracy (?) will be important. Teachers will have to be better at listening and students better at talking
and so strong spoken language skills will need to be developed. He said this isn’t that new, Aristotle’s The Art of Rhetoric is still a best seller but we will need to structure thought differently it requires students talk more but teachers less. 1975 Bullock report suggested teachers were so long winded pupils had 20 secs each to talk.
Currently there is disparity between how people behave with tech at home and how it is used in classroom. For example a surgeon from 1912 couldn’t work today. A teacher could because we aren’t using enough technology in classroom.
Need to understand students world, how they relate to it and we need to be aware of problems surrounding adopting technology i.e. digitising old practices isn’t the way forward. We need to consider what advances an entire digital pedagogy could be like. It is about digital not digitising.
He discussed the need for an undisputed education of women. World class education system underpins world class health and social system. Will not work other way round.
He ended with a quote from Stuart Brand “We are gods so we better start getting good at it”
There was then a great Q&A session:
Q: French children don’t learn to read and write until later. They develop oral and reasoning skills first. – what about it?
A: Need to look at other countries. If you find yourself saying “this is the way we do it” stop doing it that way.
Q: Exam system doesn’t reflect digital technology. IB allows it more than A levels with large piece of work.
A: most useful thing medical world could do is clone librarians as they have 19th century assessment process. It is out of step with technology and teaching. Lord Puttnam thinks International Baccalaureate is the way forward.
He then talked about the role of librarians:
Not what we do but branding is a problem.
Breadth width and importance of what we do needs to be promoted by us and others.
We aren’t gatekeepers.
Make sure title librarian isn’t trapped.
British library has done it brilliantly. It is vital and important.
Q: Cost question of technology.
A: Things you can’t afford not to have. If you are seriously concerned about child’s future you will forgo things to get them. Cost of slates in 19th century was crippling for a family but they did it. Education can’t be allowed to become unaffordable. TES – cheaper for them to buy £100 tablet and send it to all subscribers than the print copy as print costs £100 a year. Got to make tech vital so saying not do it because of cost is not relevant. IPad is as important as slate David Lloyd George learnt to write his name on.
Q: Issue around accent etc for google voice (and all voice technology)
A: technology will improve and be more forgiving. Recalling dictation from work in advertising. He learnt how to dictate a letter. You have to think in a particular way to dictate a letter.
Matrix of literacies
Being articulate is a life skill.
Q: Distance …
A: Cisco telepresence system on west coast of Ireland. He does lectures from home. 5 universities. Notion of distance is not relevant any more.
Playing Games and growing trees Andrew Walsh Huddersfield @andywalsh999
This session really appealed to me as I am interested in the gamification of learning. Huddersfield have done a lot of work on the connection between library use and student achievement. One of their findings was that the physical library didn’t make a difference. This meant they wanted more serious use from students who came in for social reasons by putting a game over top of library usage.
I quite like working from home. I wouldn’t want to do it every day as I like to see people but from time to time it can really get things done. I tend to get up about 7:30 and check my emails whilst drinking my first cup of tea and carry on working through the day – often well past 5! I can focus on projects especially preparation for presentations or reports. Unfortunately it isn’t something I get to do very often.
So today was spent replying to emails, tidying up some presentations and drafting some blog posts. I also read some of the readings for my Technology Enabled Academic Practice module which I need to post in the discussion group about tomorrow (I would have done it today but ran out of time and because the hospital had taken longer than expected I decided I should think about them tomorrow when my head is clearer).
I’m currently in a strange limbo between my old and new jobs. At my old job it is a tale that is reflected across HE – cuts to student numbers therefore cuts to budgets and so on. My new job appears to be a world of optimism where service and quality are the buzz words and the problems in the wider HE world are something that occurs on the news.
I hope that things improve in the general HE world – it really will be a blow for the country if things are destroyed.
At the moment I am thinking about new Library Management Systems – one is really impressing me, and not just because of the free chocolate! I’m looking forward to being able to make a decision and get things started!
So today I went to visit my new employment as Learning Resources Manager at INTO UEA. It is a really exciting prospect and I envisage a very busy year ahead – essentially it is a room with some shelves and a few uncatalaogued, unsecured books.
When I left my head was spinning a bit from all the things that need doing – find Library Management System, order stock, catalogue it, do I want self- issue, if so how will it work, security systems, ways of accessing other libraries and so on. There are 100 students now but in 18 months there will be getting on for 1500 so I need to be thinking of them really. It’s exhilirating and really draws on all my skills.
I’ve still got a few weeks left at Brighton but the entrepeneur in me is kicking in and I keep thinking like a business person i.e. I want this to happen and I want it to happen now!
Anyway I will keep blogging on the pros and cons and adventures of setting a new library up.
This is a post for the Library Routes Project which was started in October 2009 for Information Professionals to share their route to the profession.
My roots and my route
Ever since I was tiny I have used libraries and been a fan of them. When I was really small my choice of reading was somewhat narrow – I’d hand the books in on the way in, walk round the counter to where the returned books were and get the same books out! Luckily I eventually appreciated the range of books on offer.
My future as a librarian was probably foretold by the fact I used to set my books up as a library, stamping them and sticking coloured labels on them. However I must confess now it was a future I tried very hard to avoid.
When I was at school I said I wanted work experience as a journalist because I liked writing. This apparently translated into work experience as a librarian in one of the local branch libraries. It did not spark a great love for the profession as the library was deadly quiet and still had a card catalogue (this would have been about 1993), my main memories are of a very dull period where the days dragged on forever.
One of my biggest interests is family history and so I decided to do a library degree with a view to becoming an archivist.
And here’s another confession … I avoided all modules on my degree with the word library in them. Little did I realise this would actually provide me with the skills needed in modern academic librarianship.
When I graduated I took a bit of time out and visited family in Australia on my return there was an advert in the local paper for a part-time Assistant Librarian at the local university library. I applied and was lucky enough to be appointed.
This was perfect, I realised that my heart really did lie in libraries while still supplementing my income working at the local zoo.
When the opportunity for a full-time job came up I applied, despite the fact it seemed like a job slightly beyond my experience but the panel saw something in me and seven and a half years later I am still an Information Adviser working with the School of Health.
I love my job, I love the people I meet, liaison with academic staff, being part of the course development teams, the freedom to try new ideas and be at the forefront of initiatives. We have been very lucky in that we are left to dictate our own work which provides freedom. Teaching has become a large part of my job and I enjoy trying new things. I have worked tirelessly to develop inductions targeted at the level of students and needs of different types of courses.
As a multi-site university the opportunity to share ideas with different librarians is also wonderful.
However I am now ready to spread my wings and try new opportunities. I’d like to move towards library management, which would use the skills I have from running my own business (I ran a bookshop for 3 years – running your own business gives you management skills beyond the libraries which I hope gives me a unique profile.)
I never thought when I started my course I would actually be proud to say I am a librarian but proud I am. It is a great profession which sometimes goes unappreciated but which is vital to the success of any institution. I hope others find their way to it and get as much from it as I do. We need enthusiastic newcomers!
It reflects a growing concern in libraries (as previously mentioned), balancing the quiet spaces that many users enjoy using with the needs of modern social spaces other users require.
It is interesting to read the opinion of an academic when the majority of libraries focus on student needs for study rather than the academic staff. The content of libraries serves both but the buildings themselves are usually student focussed.
Certainly this is going to be an issue for years to come.
I’ve got to do a presentation on a course I went on about Moving into Management (without compromising the content of the course which we’re not supposed to share). The problem is most of the audience are probably not even vaguely interested in what I have to say (although actually they might pick up a thing or two).
So how do you make management interesting for people who quite simply aren’t interested?
I’m going to draw on all my teaching skills – interactivity, humour and management bingo.
The other dilemma is not to alienate the people who are actually managing the library. I really want to use the First Break all the Rules 12 questions but will it be treading on toes … How will they feel when I give the staff advice on managing upwards?
I did find some good videos – I’ll put the ones I’m using up later but I couldn’t fit this one in:
It reflects very much the range of opinion about what a library should do. Should it still be the quiet temple of books or to survive does it need to move forward and include multimedia and computer services which in turn bring a certain degree of noise.
I think it will probably be a long time before either public or academic libraries resolve the needs of both traditional library users and more modern ones.
My other big passion is film and I am sure I will probably talk about this many times but here is a clip from Carole Lombard and Clark Gable’s (first?) film together in 1932. It’s a romantic comedy … where Carole Lombard is a librarian.