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CILIP Mentoring, Chartership and Revalidation

Posted by JackieHanes on 16 March, 2015

Originally posted on eLegal Librarian:

I attended an Introduction to CILIP Mentoring course on Friday 27 February at Aston University.  CILIP is the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals, and it offers a Professional Registration Scheme, whereby members can be recognised as Certified, Chartered or Fellows.  (I am a Chartered Member (MCLIP), having achieved my professional recognition in 2002, under very different chartership regulations).  All candidates on CILIP’s new professional registration scheme are required to have a Mentor.

The course was organised CILIP’s West Midlands Member Network – although a similar one is now being hosted by the East Midlands Member Network.  It was run by Carol Brooks and Gill Colbourne, who are CILIP’s Mentor Support Officers for the East and West Midlands respectively.  The course was attended by delegates from academic (higher and further education), public and government library sectors.  The course was delivered in two halves: the morning session was an introduction to mentoring…

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Information and Digital Literacies & the Researcher

Posted by Helen on 5 December, 2014

On the 28th November I travelled to Cardiff University to attend this WHELF/GW4 event. Although many of the attendees were from Wales and the South West, there were plenty of us from further afield. It was a really good chance to hear about developments in other institutions and to compare good practice. The EMRSG serves a similar purpose on a local level, but I think this event was useful for a wider understanding of research support.

Moira Bent (Newcastle University) gave the keynote speech.

Moira urged us to identify opportunities for successful interventions and then implement them.

We should be asking “Where can we add value in the research environment?” She questioned the use of ‘research support’ as a term, despite this being well accepted in libraries and literature. She considered whether the terminology influences perceptions and whether our job titles limit what we can do, or what we are perceived as being able to do, for researchers. We need to become more integrated in the community of practice.

She used the seven ages concept to help us identify who we cater for and who we leave out:

  • Masters
  • Doctoral
  • Contract researchers
  • Early Career Researcher (ECR)
  • Established
  • Senior
  • Expert

We should consider what different kind of help we could provide to support their role.

Moira then organised a small workshop which involved lots of interaction and was a chance to discuss with colleagues in smaller groups and find out the challenges others find in supporting researchers. We discussed what we do now, what we would like to do and what obstacles stand in our way.


In the afternoon there was a round of TeachMeet and two were particularly interesting

Amy Staniforth (Aberystwyth University) on organising Open Access week events

  • Researchers feeling bombarded and over monitored.
  • Events focused on practical advice, how to get help (not advocacy)
  • Put an OA poster on every departmental noticeboard
  • OA administrator gave out ‘Five top tips’ and ran an internal event for public services
  • Continued OA visibility by sending round stats each month – ‘Top depositor’ etc.

Alison Harvey (Cardiff University) on assessed research assistantships for the Humanities

  • English department launched a pilot module ‘Project Management and Research’
  • Emphasis on vocational training and employability through activities such as editorial work, image research and assisting in Cardiff’s Special Collections and Archives.
  • The Special Collections staff provided training at the start and then benefited from the work carried out by the students throughout the semester.
  • Further details on the module guide and student blog


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Student-generated induction

Posted by Andrew Dunn on 3 December, 2014

On 27th November I attended a meeting in York about student-generated induction.  The session covered university induction as a whole rather than just library induction.

It was stated that we can improve retention through good induction.  We need to instill a strong sense of belonging – to the institution, faculty, department and class – to avoid people feeling isolated and giving up.

The thrust of the student-generated induction method is to split your students into groups: they discuss amongst themselves what it is they want to know, they tell us their concerns and we address them.  It is believed that this leads to more questions being asked and more relevant questions being asked.  Students lose their inhibitions in asking questions if they hear other students have the same concerns – they are not firghtened to ask for clarification when they know other people are confused on the same issue.  At the same time the students are being socialised – are developing a sense of identity with the group of people they are working with.

The presenter had used student-generated inductions with voting handsets.  He asked the students their concerns, put them on a PowerPoint slide and asked the students to vote for their major concern.  He used the same slide with the same group in the 2nd year to see how concerns changed over time.  He used the same slide with a group of 1st years the next year to see how concerns changed from year to year.

Other useful comments amde during the day were:

  • inductions should  not only be run at the start of the 1st year: interventions at other transition stages are important
  • embedding induction-type information into the curriuclum is the better than information overload at the beginning of a course (we know this already)
  • new students react well to students doing inductions or library tours.  Some universities employ student helpers (on more than minimum wage so it is a better job than working in a bar/shop) to help in inductions and other workshops.  They say new students are more willing to interact with student helpers and ask them more questions than they would a member of staff.

The Twitter feed for the day is available at #sgiyork14.  I was the only one twittering, so it won’t take long to read if you are interested.

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USTLG November Meeting: Supporting Research

Posted by selinalock on 1 December, 2014

On the 26th November 2014 I attended and spoke at the University Science & Technology Librarians (USTLG) winter meeting on supporting research at Aston University. The last time I attended a USTLG meeting was in 2012 when I spoke about our re-structure into a Teaching and Learning team, a Research Support Team and a Special Collections/Digital Humanties team, and I was juts about to start my post as a Research Information Advisor.

This time I updated attendees on what had happened since the restructure and how the Research Services team had developed, and took #OAowl along for company:

#OAowl on the train to Birmingham

#OAowl on the train to Birmingham

The line-up for the day was:
Research Bites – researcher training programme
Georgina Hardy & Clare Langman
Aston University

  • Subject librarians with research support as part of their remit.
  • Research Bites – every lunchtime in July/August, 15-30mins sessions.
  • Record audio & slides to make available.
  • Used EventBrite for bookings & to keep stats on attendance.
  • Advertsie via lots of methods e.g. new bulletin, direct emails, flyers/posters to Depts, posters in library, in email sigs.
  • LibGuides to gather recordings.
  • Options to stay after talk to try  things out hands-on (in the lovely library training room where we had the meeting!)

Raising Your Research Profile – training programme
Linda Norbury & Judith Hegenbarth
University of Birmingham

  • Research support group to oversee research training within the library, run by subject librarians/group.
  • Tried out research support (ideas sessions) on Publication strategies, Open Access, Bibliometrics & Social Media on subject librarians first – helps upskill library staff.
  • Good feedback and led to other sessions/contacts, but need to review and expand in future.
  • Raising your research profile webpages.

Developing a blended learning approach to literature searching support for PhD students
Jenny Coombs & Liz Martin
De Montfort University

  • Compulsory lit searching module for PhD students as part of the Graduate School training programme.
  • Moved to an online approach – students can choose online module + face-to-face sessions or online only (depending on if they can visit campus)
  • Involves all subject librarians in the feedback part of the module – where students fill in a lit searching form to show what they have understood of the module.

Consultancy, bitesize and training – how Northumbria supports researchers
Suzie Kitchin
Northumbria University

  • Provide free advice and help with literature searching for all researchers, but also provide a charged literature searching service for funded projects that wish the library to undertake the literature search for them – charged at research librarian pay rate per hour.
  • research development week – feedback that it’s a good brand that is seen as targeted directly at researchers.
  • Use an online tutorial that is a pre-requisite to face-to-face teaching to ensure everyone is on the same level.
  • Skillsplus – online learning repository – includes all researcher materials – all online tutorials/learning objects are bitesized.

Supporting researchers – then and now
Selina Lock
University of Leicester

JISC Open Access Pathfinder project
Linda Kerr
Heriot-Watt University

  • Research Support Librarian – remit to run repositories and support open access publishing.
  • Offers advice, co-ordination, writes policies, support to staff in schools.
  • OA fund devolved to schools who deal with APCs.


Applying systematic review methodology from Health to other Science disciplines
Beth Hall
University of  Bangor

  • Supports systematic reviews in medicine/health care but found a growing demand for using thouse methods in other subjects such as ecology and software engineering.
  • Bangor Evidence Synthesis Hub (BESH) – Application of review methods and processes to different and interdependent contexts such as health, social care, environment, conservation.
  • Issues with applying methods to other areas – no one database to model search on (e.g. Medline in medicine), search functionality lacking in databases, no subject terms, no register of systematic reviews in non-medical areas.
  • Centre for evidence Based Conservation


You can access copies of the presentations on the USTLG website.

Tweets from the day: USTLG November 14 Storify (header seems to feature #OAowl)

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Ethnographic research methods and the user experience

Posted by Andrew Dunn on 14 July, 2014

Andy Priestner (Judge Business School) presented a paper to the BLA Conference on using ethnographical research methods to investigate the library experience of users and to design services which better help them and suit them.  He made specific reference to work conduted in the USA by:

He also alerted us to a new OA journal on the subject.  WEAVE: Journal of Library User Experience will be out this summer

For information on reserach being performed ion the UK see another blog UKAnthroLib:

A conference will run from 17th to 19th March at Cambridge University on this topic:

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Marketing your library services: Ned Potter. from BLA Conference, July 2014

Posted by Andrew Dunn on 14 July, 2014

Ned Potter, the author of the The Library Marketing Toolkit, spoke at the BLA Conference on July 11th 2014. He made several useful and interesting comments, amongst which were:

  • students are bombarded with information from the internet: getting them to see our communications is difficult
  • blanket emails are not effective – they are just one more piece of information which is ignored; segment and communicate with smaller groups.  If you have a message for your whole user group, send a slightly adapted one to each segment of your users
  • send out a newsletter when you have news, not when it is newsletter time.  Make the subject of your email something interesting from out of the letter e.g. ‘Library helps students get firsts’.  The subject ‘Library Newsletter’ is just a short-cut to the delete button
  • send emails at lunchtime.  Emails sent in the morning or last thing get ignored and quickly disappear off the bottom of the  computer screen
  • host documents, not on the library website, but externally where Google will find them, and link to them from your library web site.  Host sites recommended are: a blog, Prezzi, YouTube, Slide share (for PowerPoint) and Scribd (for PDFs)

I have more extensive notes for anyone who is interested.

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Using New Technologies for Delivering Research Skills & Professional Development Training (27 March 2014)

Posted by Helen on 28 March, 2014

This event was hosted by the UK Council for Graduate Education at Aston University. I gave a talk with Denise Sweeney (Academic Practice Service) on our use of webinars for the thesis forum. Our talk was very well received and prompted lots of questions. I hope we inspired the audience to explore the options available at their own institution for including distance learners and making events available online.

A number of talks raised interesting points for our work with doctoral researchers, and some were applicable to our teaching & learning activities across the AL team.

Sarah Hainsworth (Leicester) introduced the day with three key questions:

  • How do we deliver skills training to a disparate group of students?
  • How do we get engaged behaviours from students and supervisors?
  • Can new delivery modes and new technologies help in our quest?

Maggi Savin-Baden (Coventry) discussed student engagement and problem-based learning (PBL). She argued for getting rid of outcomes and objectives, and sending Bloom’s taxonomy and the behavioural model of learning to the bin! Her argument was enjoyable to hear, especially given the PG Cert Module A I completed earlier this year. Maggi wants to see problem-based learning used more, particularly for our users who are ‘digitally tethered’. She examined language very carefully and made an interesting distinction between training, instruction, initiation and induction, based on Stenhouse (1975). She argued that induction “involves the introduction of someone into the thought system of the culture and critical stance towards it.” Maggi questioned how valuable it was to train students within their discipline and argued for getting rid of this approach. She sees problem-based learning as a way to organise curricular content around problem scenarios, not subjects or disciplines. I have a paper version of Maggi’s handout with much more information on this if anyone is interested. She concluded with the suggestion that we aim to embed PBL and connectivist principles into our PGR work. We should design PGR education that is negotiated, constructed and embodied as a social practice.

Christine Sinclair (Edinburgh) spoke about her experience of being involved in a MOOC. Edinburgh used Coursera to host their first six MOOCs. Christine worked on the E-Learning and Digital Cultures course. This was designed for first year undergraduates, but 61% of participants were postgraduates. It was interesting to note that it was often PGRs already engaged in further study who were using such resources. Another notable point is that the use of Google hangouts was very well received. Ultimately the users wanted to see the lecturers and have some face-to-face contact. We once ran a thesis forum where we hid the video during each talk and just had the powerpoint slides. We received feedback from the online viewers that they would much prefer seeing the speaker, even if the video was very small, rather than have them hidden. Christine recommended Bali & Meier, ‘An Affinity for Asynchronous Learning’ (2014). This might be useful reading for the Research Services team as we consider our programme to create online learning resources.

**There was much informal discussion around how to engage distance learning PGR students in skills development. One university found that changing the start of their workshops from 10am to 11am really helped with the DL/part-time students who travelled by train. It allowed them to get an off peak service and still arrive for the workshop. Another university prioritises DL/part-time bookings on their version of PROSE.

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History Lab Advisory Committee (7 February 2014)

Posted by Helen on 14 March, 2014

On Friday 7th February I visited Senate House in London for the annual History Lab Advisory Committee. I was elected to the History Lab Plus Committee in January this year, acting as a regional representative and the representative to the Royal Historical Society. History Lab Plus look after the interests of early career historians and are supported by the Institute of Historical Research (University of London). The committee meeting was a chance to reflect on events held last year and look forward to the plans for 2014. Although the focus of the group is on historians, the issues discussed were applicable to early career researchers across the wider disciplines of Arts, Humanities and Social Science. Unsurprisingly open access was a key topic and the Committee discussed how independent researchers in particular could be helped in this area. IHRCMS-preface-top-historylab-plus

The Grants Officer for the committee is also based in Leicester and will be involved in organising an event here on ‘Historians, Heritage and the Media’ in April. There was also talk of a possible event on Digital Humanities at Leicester for the autumn. I hope that being involved with History Lab Plus will help me forge better links with some of our early career researchers here at Leicester, and also help get the Library involved in a few more events. One issue which I’m hoping to raise is the lack of provision for those unable to make it to events. History Lab Plus does really well at spreading events around the UK, but there are no webinar or recording options at the moment. I would like to think we could pilot this with an event at Leicester next academic year.

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HEA Teaching Research Skills to Law Students (5 February 2014)

Posted by JackieHanes on 7 February, 2014

Originally posted on eLegal Librarian:

I attended and presented at the HEA workshop on Teaching Research Skills to Law Students at the Institute for Advanced Legal Studies in London. The event was attended by both librarians and academics, and was so popular even the reserve list was full.  Not even the TUBE strike prevented a full house!

Recent developments in legal information literacy by Ruth Bird, Bodleian Law Librarian, University of Oxford

Ruth set the scene for the day, outlining the information skills gap of new university students, and some of the key information literacy standards, and developments in legal education.

Rosemary Auchmuty (University of Reading) made…

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Visit to Hallward Library, University of Nottingham (31 January 2014)

Posted by JackieHanes on 6 February, 2014

I visited Tony Simmonds, currently the Law Librarian and Faculty Team Leader (Social Sciences) at the University of Nottingham, and formerly my colleague of 10+ years at the College of Law.

The Hallward Library supports the Faculties of Arts and Social Sciences at the University of Nottingham, and it is based on the University Park campus. It’s a large and imposing 1970s building, over 4 floors, with all the original (but now retro) architecture and decor.

The top (3rd) floor of the library is occupied by the arts, and the 2nd floor by the social sciences and law. The 1st floor is the main entrance, cafe and short loan collection, and the ground floor is dedicated to group study. The ground and 1st floors are lively social areas; whereas the 2nd and 3rd floors are more academic – and virtually silent. I was particularly impressed with the informal group study areas on the ground floor.

The two faculties are supported by two small teams of academic liaison librarians – who are responsible for enquiries, books and serials, as well as teaching and learning. Interestingly, the library’s special collections and administrative staff are located at a different site on their Jubilee Park campus. Even in the largest of libraries – space is a real premium!

Tony was keen to hear about our success with Talis Aspire and More Books, as well as our use of EDI ordering with Coutts. (Their book order process requires considerable form filling, and transfer of books between library teams and campuses).

I was impressed that Nottingham had access to State Papers Online (a very expensive historical database), which was purchased by special project funds. I was also amazed that Nottingham still purchase and individually catalogue print copies of all UK parliamentary publications. We spent some time discussing our move from Public Information Online to Official Publications Online.

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TeachMeet Leicester (1 October 2013)

Posted by JackieHanes on 7 November, 2013


I attended a TeachMeet in Leicester last month. I’m afraid it’s taken me 6 weeks to write up my report!

Originally posted on eLegal Librarian:

I attended my first TeachMeet at New College Leicester one dark night in October.  TeachMeet is a forum for teachers to share ideas and good practice.  I attended as an observer only – not quite brave enough to present!  The evening comprised about 12 short presentations – either long (7 minutes) or short ( 2 minutes).  The event was organised by Dan Williams (@danwilliams1984), and it had a wild west theme: presenters were awarded sheriffs badges and/or shot with a (toy) gun if they ran overtime!  As a librarian from higher education – I was in a minority of one.  Most of the teachers were from primary or secondary schools, with a few from colleges of further education.

There were some excellent presentations – I was particularly struck by the imagination and enthusiasm that some teachers have for their both their teaching practice and the pupils in their classroom.  For example, at one…

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History, Learning Resources and the National Student Survey (NSS) (31 July 2013)

Posted by JackieHanes on 1 August, 2013

I was invited to attend a roundtable discussion at De Montfort University – also in attendance were librarians from universities of Loughborough, Nottingham, Northampton and Warwick. The invitation was timely, because our National Student Survey score for learning resources in history fell considerably in 2012.  In the last academic year, I have been working with the School of History to improve library resources and student satisfaction. 

The Higher Education Authority (Carrigan 2010) found that history students were dissatisfied with Learning Resources (NSS questions 16 (library) and 17 (IT)).  This was an experience shared by all (but one) of the librarians at the roundtable.  It was heartening (but also saddening), to find that I am not alone, and that our experience is ‘normal’. 

The roundtable started with presentations from Chris Powis (Head of Library and Learning Services at the University of Northampton), and Neil Skinner (Assistant Librarian and History PhD Student at De Montfort University).  Chris outlined the problems and solutions of history and learning resources; and Neil described his current research project into history and learning resources.  We then began our discussions, which I have attempted to summarise by theme.

Problems with history and learning resources

  • Length of reading lists (500+ items per module)
  • Lack of differentiation on reading lists (essential/background)
  • Preference for monographs on reading lists (over journal articles)
  • Availability of items on reading lists (out of print, print only, no ebooks)
  • Focus on directed reading (reading lists do not encourage independent research)
  • Theft and vandalism of the library’s history books
  • History students seek help from academics (not from librarians)
  • Attitude of (some) history academics towards the library

Solutions to history and learning resources

  • Liaison librarian (increased liaison with history department)
  • Liaison librarian (increased contact with history students)
  • Library recovery plan for departments with low NSS scores
  • Use evidence (statistics) to support case for change

Research project on history and learning resources

  • Review of available literature
  • Survey (online questionnaire) of history students
  • Interview with history academics
  • Roundtable discussion with history librarians

NSS Question 16

In the NSS, the library is evaluated by a single question:- “the library resources and services are good enough for my needs”.  The question is rather simplistic, and open to different interpretations.  The question relates to library resources and services, not to facilities or the environment.  Yet student comments often relate to opening hours, study spaces, and noise.  A library refurbishment often leads to an increased NSS score.  This may have increased our NSS scores in 2010 and 2011, with the 2012 cohort returning to pre-refurbishment levels.  It was noted that the library tends to perform better in other surveys.  However, we can not change the NSS question, and it is our key performance indicator.


Our School of History offers a large number of modules, including special subjects in second and third year, which reflect their academics research interests.  Core modules  have large student numbers, but optional/special modules have comparatively small student numbers, yet the library must resource all modules, and each module comes with a lengthy reading list (see below).  Also, staff changes means that new academics bring new research interests and develop new modules of study, which again need to be resourced by the library.  It takes time to develop a collection of library resources. 

Reading Lists

Is the history reading list part of the problem, and not the solution?  What is the purpose of a reading list?  Should it provide students with key introductory readings to a subject, or should it be a complete body of knowledge on a subject?  The history reading list is a work of wonder – perhaps more accurately described as a bibliography.  Students (rightly) expect all items on their reading list to be available in their university library.  However, financial constraints mean that the library struggles to provide one copy of each item on a history reading list, let alone providing multiple copies to cope with high student demand.  

All of the universities had an electronic reading list system (either proprietary or in-house), but were at various stages of implementation, with some university’s mandating it’s use, and others using in on a voluntary basis.  There is a reluctance to use electronic reading list systems from academics with long reading lists.  While the electronic reading list system gives the library access to reading lists; it does not appear to resolve problems regarding resourcing reading lists.  All universities experienced problems purchasing adequate resources – regardless of the generosity of their library budget. 

Skinner found that history academics want their library to provide a broad range of resources (multiple titles not copies), and they are generally pleased with their library’s collection.  However, the history students’ most common complaint is that the library “does not have enough books” (multiple copies of a single title).  Academics want their students to become independent learners and researchers, and to go beyond their reading list.  Yet they continue to provide long reading lists for modules, including recommended reading for essay titles, which does not encourage their students to conduct independent research, and use other library resources. 

To what extent can librarians advise academics on best practice in teaching?

eBooks and Short Loans

Electronic books (particularly multi-user licenses) can be useful in making high demand titles more widely available (replacing the need to purchase multiple copies).  New titles are often published in both print and electronic formats, yet history reading lists often include old and out-of-print titles, which are not available electronically.  Where e-books are available, the format may not be popular with students.  In my focus group with history students in 2012, I was surprised to find that students preferred short loan print books to e-books. 

Traditionally, high demand titles were placed in the library’s short loan collection.  For history, this often meant that the only copy was placed in the short collection.  Short loan collections are unpopular (hard to find, short loan period, and high overdue fines), but perhaps a necessary evil if we want to circulate resources effectively.  One university had interfiled their short and normal loan collections (to the horror of their history department) – but had found that use of resources increased. 

Library Inductions

All librarians had some contact time with first year students, however this varied from 15 minutes, to 1 hour to 8 hours (as part of an academic skills module).  Follow-up sessions tended to come in the second year, as students prepared for dissertations.  Outside library inductions, librarians had little contact with history students, who appear to be quite self-sufficient.  Yet, the students do not communicate dissatisfaction with library resources or services during their course, just in the NSS survey at the end of their degree programme.  Perhaps we can improve our liaison and marketing with history students as well as history departments and academics?

Primary Resources

We briefly touched on student access to primary historical resources.  Do we expect our undergraduate students (to travel) to use archives and special collections at other libraries?  Along with the Russell Group universities, we are fortunate to have a good special collections department, and to have purchased digital collections of primary resources.  Others are less fortunate, and do struggle to provide adequate primary resources to support study and research.


The roundtable discussion was very interesting, and has left me with more questions than answers.  The afternoon passed very quickly, and we could have talked all day.  We can not change the NSS question, the reading lists or our library budgets.  Perhaps we can change the attitudes and expectations of history academics and students?  I will be very interested to read Neil Skinner’s final research report.



Carrigan, B (2010) History Departments and the National Student Survey (Coventry: Higher Education Academy)

National Student Survey (2013)

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