UoL Library Blog

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Visit to Coventry University Library (16 January 2013)

Posted by JackieHanes on 16 January, 2013

I visited Sue White, the law and official publications librarian, in the Lanchester Library at Coventry University, to discuss library inductions and reading lists.  I attended a CILIP event at the Lanchester Library shortly after it opened, and it was interesting to return a decade + later to see how it had fared/aged.   

The subject librarian team have a very different structure to us: the team is much larger, librarians are responsible for only 1 or 2 subjects,  and they are supported by a large team of library assistants.  However, they provide services to both taught-course and research users, and they are responsible for their enquiry service too.  Lanchester had enquiry desks on each of their three floors (science, social science and arts).  But these have been closed, and replaced by ‘roving library enquiry staff’ to limited success.  Sue is currently involved in a project to train students to act as roving library enquiry staff. 

The law collection is classified using Dewey, but shelved out-of-sequence.  The collection includes a large number of print journals and law reports, which Sue feels are at risk, because of space pressures in the library.  Sue is also the EDC librarian: although her enquiries are very low in number, the print resources are well used, but she feels they would be better used if inter-filed in the main collection.

Coventry University provide all undergraduate students with a copy of their course textbooks as part of their £9K course fees.  While library footfall continues to increase, levels of borrowing and shelving are noticably lower.  It’s not yet know how this will affect library provision in the future.

Coventry University have used the Talis Aspire reading list software for about 5 years.  Subject librarians initially create module reading lists and handover responsibility to academics.  I was disappointed to discover that Sue has also failed to make Talis Aspire work with the LexisLibrary and Westlaw law databases.  Workarounds include linking to journal title level, rather than article level; and linking to judgments on BAIILI, rather than authoritive law reports.  She is also unable to use Talis Aspire to help with editions checking, and has employed her library assistants to manually check reading lists on an annual basis.

As regards library inductions, Sue is far more embedded into the curriculum than me.  She delivers a library welcome lecture in the first week (1 x 200 students), and then sees all students in their seminar groups during the second week for a legal research practical session (10 x 20 students).   In later weeks, Sue delivers lectures on official publications (jointly with an academic), and Westlaw and LexisLibrary database training (jointly with a third party database trainer).  By way of contrast, I delivered a library welcome lecture in the second week  (1 x 400 students), but was unable to deliver practical sessions, and met with resistance from timetabling.  Coventry University also used Echo 360 technology to record library training events and make them available on Moodle.

Sue was interested to learn more about our subject pages (they do not have an equivalent on their library website), my legal research online tutorials, and our experiences with the JustCite legal search engine. 

Lunch was not on the agenda, but I did enjoy a very nice coffee and black-forest brownie …

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