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USTLG Spring 2012 Meeting – Being a Science/Engineering Librarian

Posted by selinalock on 4 September, 2012

A very, very late report on the Spring meeting that I attended and spoke at, which was held at the University of Newcastle.

Although the main theme of the event was sharing experiences of being a science and engineering librarian, some other loose themes emerged becoming embedded vs becoming generic, and the way the profession has/is changing.

Being a subject librarian – Changes to the Profession

So, what does it mean to be a subject librarian? Jenny Campbell, Newcastle University

– Recognise how our jobs are changing – teaching, marketing, web guru
– Allowed to develop more things on OA & Endnote.
– Different ways of teaching, larger groups, lectures with drop-ins
– Research support growing – workshops at Faculty level (50-60hrs to PhD students) + need to do more
– Using social media & have some engagement
– Student surveys for refurbishment of library = more study space, quiet areas, more books, power supply at every desk, more IT…

The Environment and Technology librarian: a new professional’s perspective, making the role your own, Emma Illingworth, University of Brighton

– Know my students, researchers, school staff, academics, subjects
– Social networking on the student/staff community networking site
– Twitter for the subjects – but are the students on there? Professionals are on there but students prefer FB. Are there better ways of engaging?
– Little funky business cards to give to staff & students
– Mainly a L&T role & has become embedded in some modules
– Info skills in each year – need a clear path through the modules
– Tried various ways of delivering teaching – for some groups need to change activities to keep attention
– Email before session to online noticeboard to ask what they want out of session – works well for some groups & not others
– Working collaboratively with academics & sharing successes
– Helped with open day & it was pointed out as a unique selling point to students = their own librarian
– Future – wants to be an embedded librarian

From Soviet Studies to Science and Engineering, Jenny Brine, Lancaster University

– 40 years of librarianship, but only science for a few years
– 1st degree in Russian & first post was running library for Russian & East European Studies = Essential to have language skills, hard to find reliable information, embedded/worked closely with research staff, encouraged to do a PhD, specialised, treated as member of research team and found researchers didn’t want to share data until after they were published,
– Moved to Aberdeen & started teaching IL skills (just didn’t realise that they were called IL, but had been compiling bibliographies for years so had the skills required) to a wide range of subjects, encouraged to do a teaching qualification, had to supervise students doing searches in many subjects – learned about how to find out about research/suject vocabularly,
– Lancaster Uni Library – started in ILL which gives you a good picture of research within the Uni plus contact with staff and students, could notice trends and suggest books for purchase.

– Learning about new subjects – informal (family), formal – colleagues, reading, web resources etc
– Read new scientist
– Support from sci & tech lib colleagues e.g. lis-medical, USTLG, courses & conferences
– Read the study skills/research skills books for subjects
– Talk to academics – get invites to meetings or to look around the Depts.

Widening Participation: building on the role of a science librarian, Tony Wilson, University of York

– Helps with Developing Independent Learning Day for schools & colleges network – aimed at 6th formers
– Library challenges = researching & evaluating info (other session on day about academic writing, campus tour & student ambassadors help with day)
– Quzzies about how library works
– Wanted to work closely with other Uni services to make the events more joined up – collaborated more & became the actual widening participation co-ordinator for Uni
– Extended projects may start to be taken into consideration for Uni admissions
– Develpoing a realising opp website at York – freely available resources
– Also work with local primary school projects – they liked the tour of the library! Done some sessions with school librarians and 10yr olds about evaluating websites
– Challenges – Doing on top of normal liaison post, need to be an all rounder, lack of clear leanining objectives from schools, maintaining discipline within classes
– Top tips – use student ambassadors, ensure clear understanding/agreement over what is being covered, keep session interactive, keep groups small
– Now have a relationship management team with WP as an area they deal with, share the workload – in future all liaison librarians will play a role.

All Change! Restructuring Academic Liaison, Selina Lock, University of Leicester

– I talked about our restructure from a team of subject librarians to a team of T&L Librarians (each with a subject remit for UG & PGT students) and a Research Support Team (each with a much wider subject remit for PGR and Researchers).

– I move into my new position supporting STEM researchers in a couple of weeks and I already know I need to learn more about/provide more support on our research archive, OA publishing, REF preparation, copyright, research data management… on top of the experience I already have in teaching literature searching and bibliographic software.

Becoming Embedded (in various ways…)

Embedding information literacy teaching within Engineering, Liz Martin, De Montfort University

– Moved from one induction slot in 2005 to sessions in induction, 1st yr, final yr UG, PG students
– Web-based Induction before students arrive & available all during their first year plus face to face induction within course induction

– 1st yr session = 2hr within design project module (e.g. design a remote controlled gutter cleaner), within report have to show evidence of research & IEEE referencing.

– Final yr UG as part as project briefings, big lecture to everyone as a refresher with the option to sign up for tutorials for more help.
– PG (MSc) – 2hr session
– How from one induction to embedding? Lots of chance opportunities, put together a Bb module for another subject & then showed it to other academics, Technology module leaders liked it, other links were forged through management boards (external examiner feedback), once referencing session in place led to other academics being interested & 1st yr engineering project session came through that, also worked with study support to introduce sessions on report formatting & do team teaching on some sessions.
– Future – a lot of teaching still ad-hoc/short notice, would prefer to be timetabled, see students every year of course, keep plugging for other subjects.

Making yourself indispensible – Science Community Librarianship, Steve Lee, University of Glamorgan

– Science, sport, chiropractice – too many subject to be traditionally embedded!
– Must be valued by our users – how?
– Make our users lives easier – if they value us they will fight to keep us
– Get out of the library – go to where users are
– Visit academic staff in their offices (on their turf) – what are their problems & work out action plan to resolve problems
– What are their problems? = time management, getting research time, dealing with students, accessing journals, searching easier on google, marking, admin takes time, keeping up to date etc
– Library matters not a priority, help solve their problems and their priorities – what makes their life easier?
– Visit your researchers & find out their interests – keep notes
– Plan individual strategies to meet needs – become valued member of support team
– Upskill users – you don’t loose value as they will come back when they need updating
– Takes time to set up e.g. new book lists & Journal ToC, but once up & running they can become automated
– Can then focus on individual problems- take ownership of problems & see it through to resolution instead of passing on to someone else
– Staff & students want fast resolutions to problems – want help now.
– E.g. staff member wanted to be able to borrow moe than 15 books – is it a resonable request? What do other institutions do? Present evidence to colleagues to increase loan limit & take it to senior management – agreed to put it up to 22 for a year – tiny amount took it up but had a few very happy academics.
– Periodically revisit staff to re-evaluate & find out about new needs.
– If you can’t solve the problems then at least they know you tried.
– In response to student need – sits in chiropractic dept at set times to help, as they are in a building away from both libraries – sit in student computer room so became another channel for helping students solve other problems too. Other people wanted same service & now done in other Depts.
– These surgeries allow you to get to know students, staff & researchers, can do work even if people don’t come, on average answer a couple of indepth queries each time, gather evidence for resources needed, only do in term time (exam times usually very quiet).

– Have to be pro-active so users cannot afford to loose you…

Hiding library training in other classes, Kirsty Thomson, Heriot-Watt University

– Students not keen on library training – think they already know it – even if they turn up they are not there in spirit.
– What do students care about? Getting their degree.
– Intro to Essay writing – biology students in wk 2+3, jointly teaching with effective learning tutor – saw in groups of 60-70 & got them to do group work looking at extracts of texts (e.g. journal, textbook, fiction, newspaper)
– Think about the style of writing, could they use it for essay, where/what did it come from, followed by group discussion on what is/isn’t appropriate for essay writing
– Fake essay extract with no references, talk about importance of referencing & got them to look at the essay to see whether they picked up where it should be referenced
– Class discussion on plagiarism – ‘is this plagiarised or not?’ slides
– 75% of class said info about referencing was useful & relevant
– Liked group work, working with examples
– Followed up by essay feedback class – essays submitted via TurnItIn – which librarian could see & based follow up on the kind of mistakes they’d made e.g. structuring, problems with referecing, using illustrations
– Made you realise what students don’t know! e.g. don’t realise a 70% mark =  a brilliant essay
– Go to meetings, volunteer for anything that is IL related, work with other services e.g. effective learning
– Needs to be relevant to student interest & worries
– Be convinced your teaching is interesting – if you’re not interested then they won’t be!
– Be careful what you call your sessions e.g. Avoiding Plagarism became ‘Copy & Paste: Just Say No!’ (only works if you remember Grange Hill!) – finally became ‘Using evidence in your essays’
– Don’t give up on an idea too quickly, but be ready to change classes if not working.
– Link to an assignment if possible
– Future: put shorter IL content into other lectures – build links to course content.

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