UoL Library Blog

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EMALINK event on the changing undergrad library environment

Posted by selinalock on 20 February, 2009

Here’s a round-up of the EMALINK event I attended on the 18th Feb 2009 at the Pilkington Library, Loughborough University.

Sally Patalong highlighted some of the points made by the 2008 Ciber Briefing paper and talked about some of the technologies they’ve used with students at Coventry University.

  • The briefing paper highlighted that students will be “power browsers” and have worryingly low levels of information literacy.
  • Sally thought that VLEs are teacher-centred as they emphasise tracking and automation.
  • Research conducted at Coventry have shown that students want: smaller groups, more contact time, new experiences, independence, resources, support, qualifications, group work, friends, fun, a social life and to be inspired.
  • Some of the technologies being used at Coventry that are more student-centred include voice tools (e.g. wimba) to record feedback and email it to students, Echi360 to record lectures and have them uploaded to web and video conferencing with distance learners.
  • Sally suggested that institutions needs to move away from all controlling environments (such as VLEs) and use the existing technologies available out there.
  • She finished by asking if we still need University Libraries to deliver resources and answered YES. Especially for (as one of her students put it) the “friendly staffs and helpful advices”.

The second talk of the day was from Jo Bryant who did her dissertation on the Open3 library learning spaceat the Pilkington Library. Some of the things Jo highlighted were:

  • New innovations in library learning spaces such as sykpe phones being made available Dublin City University Library and inflatable “pods” at Glasgow Caledonian University.
  • For her dissertation she used ethnography techniques including observing students in the Open3 learning space 40 hours. Some of her observations were that:
  • a lot of group work was taking place (of groups between 3-10 people)
  • Whiteboards were popular
  • Groups tended to gather around laptops rather than PCs
  • Individual study was also happening despite the higher noise levels
  • the students liked space to spread out and were quite territorial
  • Liked being able to have food & drink – including ordering in pizza when the cafe closed!
  • Liked social nature of space
  • PCs near the entrance were used for quick visits (printing/email)
  • Self-governing space – people tried not to interrupt others but would also not ask people to be quiet.
  • Mostly used by undergrads
  • the students were mainly using electronic resources rather than books but the study did take palce during the exam period.
  • PCs were often logged in but left unattended
  • After the study the space was expanded as it was so popular.

The event ended with some group discussions on what important things University Libraries should do in the future. Suggestions included:

  • Being flexible in their use of space and the services/resources/technologies they offered and used.
  • Asking the students what they wanted.
  • Working with academics to improve student’s evaluation skills.
  • Considered use of technology.
  • Bringing services together in the library building adn ensuring it is an attractive environment to students

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