Friday, 24 February 2012

Things that made me go wow!

I'm playing around with Scoopit this week and have set up a couple of topics including one on promoting libraries.  (  One of the suggested scoops came from a tweet from Sutton Libraries.

So the first Wow is the use of Twitter to link to an interesting topic to promote one of their online resources.

What really impressed me though was the box on the Credo page that asked me to Select Library to find a local library I can use to access Credo - Sutton residents will already know this but for me in Stockport ... this is what Credo gave me by picking up my location automatically

Now I know that even if Stockport Libraries don't subscribe, as a member of Cheshire Libraries (which I am by the way) or a student at the College, I can use their database.

(sorry if the screen grab overlaps the panel on the right, but I wanted it to be readable!)

Monday, 30 January 2012

Library Day in the Life Round 8

I have decided to take part in this round even though I am not currently employed in a library.  I was a Learning Resources Manager in FE but was made redundant in August.  I hope I will be allowed to bend the rules as I still consider myself a librarian, even if not currently working as one.

Hopefully this will change soon as I have a job interview tomorrow! It's in a different area of education so I'll need to convince them my skills and experience can provide them with what is needed.

So today my time will be spent finishing my presentation using XMind and Prezi.  I'll also be reading through all the info about the role and prepare some key points and questions.

I will also be be checking all my clothes are in good order and that my bag is packed with everything I need, my nails are filed and my shoes polished!

I'll be tweeting during the day to let you know how I'm getting on. @lindsaywallace

Saturday, 14 January 2012

Back into the saddle with blogging and CPD23things

It's been a few months, I was made redundant last year and have been struggling to keep my professional mojo going with the knock in confidence I've had.  Twitter and RSS feeds from blogs I subscribe to have kept me in touch and ensured I still feel part of the library and eLearning communities.  I haven't felt engaged enough to participate though - I had a false start at one point (responding to a report on digital literacies in schools and colleges that didn't mention libraries) but went down with flu and fell off the face of the internet again for a while!

Yesterday I read a blog post from Simon Barron (see yesterday's post) and felt I had something to say in response.  That response got too long for a a comment, so the post was written.  Simon was kind enough to tweet about my post and when Ned Potter made similar points to me in his blog post, I posted a comment there and wrote today's earlier post.  He was also kind enough to pop over and comment and also add a link to my post in his comments.

I appreciate this is everyday stuff in the blogosphere but I can't tell you what all this has done for my confidence.  To have colleagues who I respect saying positive things about my posts has worked wonders, so I hope I can pay forward with comments on other people's blogs - and learn a lot in the process ;-)

Picture credit

Friday, 13 January 2012

More on spoon feeding

Marilyn and Susan having fun

Spoon feeding is only the start for students, but we may also want to go back to it later in their careers.

Ned Potter (thewikiman ) has also blogged on the spoon feeding debate. I was pleased to see that he had taken a similar line to my post yesterday emphasising the need to take a developmental approach.  He says
spoon-feeding should be the first step in a structured approach to helping students navigate their way through a degree, with the library embedded and responsive at all stages 
I couldn't agree more!  Although of course he acknowledges this is the ideal and not the norm yet!

What also caught my eye was the comment from jothelibrarian talking about the same process in the corporate library where she works.

This reminds me of discussions I've had before about the poor transfer of information skills from one context to another.  I worked with a librarian in an FE college who had recently joined us from a local high school.  One day she was literally banging her head against the office wall in frustration.  Students she had taught in the high school were in but had forgotten everything she had taught them there about using indexes in books, online catalogues etc.  She knew they had these skills in high school, why not in College a few months later?

It looks like this spoon feeding analogy doesn't quite go along the same lines as weaning a baby - we will need to do it more than once!

Lastly Jo comments that she goes back to spoon feeding herself with senior colleagues
However those colleagues that go on to become senior managers often have need of the spoon again. They are so busy, and have so much going on that there is simply no way they could do all the research they need. With those colleagues, I find a good (fast!) reference interview followed by some swift research on their behalf is the way to go.
This is a very similar approach to the one I used with teaching staff in the FE & Sixth Form Colleges I have worked in.  Not only does it support our colleagues and organisations by using our skills to best effect, it is also great PR and really helps to build the good relationships that are likely to foster the partnerships we want to build in teaching all those literacies.

Picture credit freeloosedirt

Wednesday, 11 January 2012

How much help?

I've been stimulated to write this post in response to Simon Barron and Georgina Hardy's post mentioned in Funktious's comment. (Hope all those references make sense!)

The thrust of Simon's post is that we shouldn't help too much in academic libraries to ensure the students develop their own information literacy, however Georgina considers that we can over emphasise this and "We must be very careful not to value process above principles."

We have had similar discussions in FE libraries - the natural inclination of the library staff I've worked with is to help and find the information the students are looking for; but we have tried to wean ourselves off this and support students to use the catalogue etc to find resources themselves.

I can very much identify with both sides of this debate as I also wanted to get our students (HE & FE) to use the online resource we subscribed to, and this was very much an uphill battle.  I agree  with Georgina that the main point of providing these resources is for the students to engage with them as part of their learning.

I have no data to back this contention, but I would estimate that in any cohort of students there will be the following categories of students in varying proportions:
  1. those who are actively engaging with the online content and learn the research skills alongside their subject and can carry those forward into future careers 
  2. those who struggle but who will come to info lit sessions and ask for help at enquiry desks
  3. those who struggle and get by on the bare minimum not fully engaging with the resources available or picking up any research skills despite our best efforts.
If we facilitate students accessing the materials with direct links on reading lists, VLEs etc then at least the students in group 3 will be enabled to access the resources and learn from the content. Those in group 1 having easy access the essential resources will have the time and energy to extend their reading and develop the research skills to support this.  Lastly those in group 2 will gain confidence and with support hopefully move into group 1.

Maybe the solution is to offer different levels of content links as the students progress - lots for first years and decreasing for second and third years, together of course with lots of tips on searching and evaluating. We also need to be explicit as to why we are doing this so that the students don't think they are just getting a poorer service in later years!

On a personal note I have to confess that the best mark I got as an undergraduate was for an assignment where I left it too late to get access to any of the (print only) resources and had to muddle through with what was to hand.  This drove my creativity and I made links I might not otherwise have done.  I wouldn't recommend this as a strategy to others though - there have been plenty of times where deadline surfing has done me no favours at all!

Picture credit: Jessica M Cross

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

To see ourselves as others see us ...

Woodlouse 04**

One of my Mum's favourite sayings quoted from Burns* invited us to see ourselves as other see us.  Do we organise ourselves to suit our internal needs or our organisation's needs or do we find out what meets the needs of our customers. 

When I worked at a sixth form college we had a central library with a large silent silent area which held the books, and three smaller resource areas.  The central staff had no idea that many of the students found the library intimidating until we had a video made about the bases where many students explained how much they liked the more approachable and less threatening environment of the smaller bases.  We couldn't close the library but did need to think how to make it a bit less threatening and value the smaller bases even more for their support for "library phobic" students.

Anthony Finkelstein writing as @ on twitter had a similar glance from the "customer's" experience recently "just returned from delivering my son to university of manchester, seeing university through eyes of parent, very instructive, also emotional"

Bohyun Kim ( discusses the same thought when commenting on Netflix and their structural changes which have no apparent benefits to their customers - indeed making things more difficult in their internal streamlining.  She relates this to the separation we make between e-resources and paper ones.  "Searching an OPAC and jumping between an OPAC and an e-journal portal/a database list page/e-reader information page are not very pleasant or reassuring experience to library users."

It is even more confusing for HE students in FE who have two sets of resources to navigate - it confuses me half the time so how do we expect the lecturers and students to cope and think well of us and our services.

We are fortunate to have these glimpses and must hold them in our memories when they appear to remind ourselves where our focus needs to be. We can't change everything we would like to be but remembering the perspective will help us to prioritise things to suit the student (or lecturer, or researcher) rather than us.

*O would some power the giftie gie us to see ourselves as others see us.
(O would some power the gift to give us to see ourselves as others see us.)
Robert Burns, Poem "To a Louse" - verse 8  

Friday, 24 June 2011

Why Blog?

Right - 23Things or CPD23 Here we go!

Blogging Librarian

The route to here

I've not been blogging for long, as you can see, despite good intentions for a while.  

  • Initially I didn't know what to say and couldn't imagine being useful/interesting to anyone else.
  • Then I discovered Twitter and dipped my toe in the water with just 140 characters at a time.  
  • Then I went on a course which several of us thought was going to be our Library's brand only to discover it would be about our own. I also discovered I have an alter ego who does pole dancing - anyone who knows what shape I'm in would find this nauseating/hilarious, but what about those who don't?
  • Then we set up a series of courses on Impact with CoFHE NW and JISC RSC NW and I felt I had something to blog about - hence the name.
  • Lastly I'm being made redundant, so thought I'd better give online presence a boost.  I haven't had the nerve to include the link in an application yet, but shouldn't be too long now before I do get up the nerve.

These are the reasons given on CPD23 blog about why it's a good thing to blog - can see this getting a bit circular before too long.

  • blogging about what you've seen or done is a way of incorporating reflective practice into your professional life. We'll be talking more about reflective practice in Thing 5.
  • more prosaically, blogging about events will help you remember them more clearly in the future, and that's useful for job applications and when working towards qualifications.
  • you will positively impact on other people's development by blogging your ideas and experiences - professional engagement isn't just about your development, but it's also about sharing what you know with others.
  • by sharing your ideas and knowledge you'll get to meet new people and develop a wider professional network.

I have definitely found blogging helps with reflection, and all the blog posts I plan about CoFHE11 (the CoFHE annual conference) should help with this.  This will also contribute to point 2 when I get the blogging habit better established.  As for point 3 that's for others to decide - I definitely get lots form other people's blogs.  And if Twitter is anything to go by I will certainly build the network.  The only problem so far is thinking of people as their twitter persona and nearly calling Jo Alcock "Joeyanne" when I met her!  I'm sure I'm not the first.  I can still be a bit shy about actually speaking to people I've been tweeting for ages - I nearly spoke to Smiley Librarian at a Mash event!

I've made a start on part two, but plan to do much more blog reading and following over the weekend!