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CILIP Umbrella 2009 (Part 2 of 2)

Posted by gazjjohnson on 17 July, 2009

After a good breakfast the final day of the conference began with more breakout sessions.

Maltesers mean answers: a sweeter service for students based on user feedback: Angela Horrocks & Davina Omar, Kingston University.
Kingston University talked about their annual survey run every March for many years by the library with a chance to win Wii or Ipod, but maltesers for everyone. The incentive was small but drew in a good number of students. This survey is in addition to national student survey, but helps gets them in the answering frame of mind to complete the major one. The library survey fills a very important need that the NSS doesn’t cover, for both students and library services. Having a clear purpose for the survey is very important, as otherwise the risk of the students getting survey fatigue could be high. Kingston focus on how students learn and this is the U.S.P. of the survey. Knowing the paths students use to access (e.g. mboile/vle etc) is very important in shaping how and what they teach to students, something I thought was especially interesting.

In terms of resources Kingston use software bought in from Priority Research, allowing their customisation, to handle the survey online along with the analysis. There are some issues

  1. The silent majority (10% return on population) and so worries over accurate representation.
  2. Contacting non-users → how to approach them
  3. Setting the questions → to be open and not drive students down a particular route.

In terms of staffing, need to give the staff the time and the top down support to do the user survey. Have to be prepared to trust the outcome – if students make a demand clear, need to respond appropriately. Kingston suggested you might need to think about quotas – departments, levels, ages or other demographic factors that you want to achieve in returns for appropriate representation. Thinking about how/why you might want to include as many of these as you can. Early surveys (1993) very much targeted at specific user groups, thought to be especially disadvantaged or in need. Yearly surveys since early 90s allow trends and rising (and reducing) priorities for student bodies to be clearly demonstrated.

In 2008 reintroduced 1-2-1 interviews on top of focus groups and surveys. A dozen done to test the waters, as an approach to non-users. Also now do additional focus groups at start of academic year to test early responses to changes put in place. Worry survey is contributing to sample already engaging users rather than non-users. 100 1-2-1s done in 2009 – gave a good snap shot of individual user experiences, rather than anonymised, average student point of vein. Survey moved to online this last year (partly environmental) but also reinvent survey (at least look and feel) – still offer maltesers to those that come to bank of computers. Comments and response from previous year’s survey included in next year’s, so the students can see how library has reacted. Drawbacks include lack of benchmarking with external entities, survey fatigue

The changing landscape of libraries: Tim Leach, BDP
This session was about buildings and architectural considerations. Tim said that library user needs strictly speaking haven’t changed in centuries, light and study space for example, just the ways in which we use technologies and building designs to accommodate them. As technology allows users to work in other places than our library spaces, we have to ensure that our spaces continue to meet their needs and make a welcoming environment they want to visit. The UCL masterplan takes the inherent problems with their historic building and tries to provide as many solutions within a limited rebuild. The key issue was space – due to earlier renovations over the years the original building space is not what it was. There is a need for positive first impression from the first moment walking through door. The building must be legible and accessible, the use signage as a sign of failure (not a point I agree with 100%).

Architectural furniture and fixtures define use of areas, and are not flexible but are suitable for certain environments (e.g. where levels of privacy is desirable). However, they can be a block to interaction between different spaces. Natural light and ventilation provide an environment that can be comfortable for most people. Use technology to change way materials stored and accessed, not just treating shelving as the only answer. Even get people on roofs of buildings by building structures into the environment that surrounds them.

The great good place Andrew Cranfield, IFLA Library Buildings and Equipment Section
Library as the third place (between home and work) was the theme of Andrew’s talk. Library environment and impact of the building resign on staff functions – the two are not independent and need to be considered together. Commented that many libraries today remain too conservative in their redesigns. Monopoly of information provision from libraries is now gone, and must address other approaches to provide services to users. Ambitious libraries (buildings) today seem to reflect new ways of thinking – no longer temple of knowledge to stand for generations but a right here/right now environment with more akin to the retail experience. Non-compartmentalisation of environments – books and café culture should be intertwined (e.g. like the idea stores).

Cerritos Public Library has a books entrance way and 1.2 million visitors/year for tiny local population. Andrew talked of his distaste for elitist colour schemes (black and white starkness) much better to have welcoming colours. Very, very white buildings in 6 months need repainting (e.g. Amsterdam central library). Cultural Black Diamond in Copenhagen – no feeling coming into library, almost too far the other way as a cultural centre, but not a library at all.

Libraries Change Lives Awards
The most interesting part of the awards was that the news of the winners (Leeds Central Libraries) was out on twitter 30 minutes before the start of the ceremony.  Andrew Motion spoke briefly too.

Building a successful library Web 2 service James Smith (Sunderland Libraries) and Nick Stopforth (Newcastle Libraries)

The session was based on things they have done and have learned through trial and error. They shared with us their 7 lessons (well 5 as they over ran and the session ended before they could finish) they have learned through using Web 2 resources such as twitter, wikis, podcasting etc. They did demonstrate a very interesting mashup with Google maps, World War II bombing maps of Sunderland and eye witness accounts of the bombing. The session was mostly full of public librarians, who are it seems less clued up than HE libraries on this sort of technology and how/where it can fit into their working lives (3/4 of the audience had not even heard of twitter for example).

That brought the conference to an end. It had been a packed two days, and I would have loved an extra day either before or after to more fully digest everything that had been discussed. The highs would have to include my session, the networking and the updating of information and skills in general. The lows, well the “gala” conference dinner, lack of hands on sessions and only two days for a very intensive conference. All the same I hope to be back for 2011!

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CILIP Umbrella 2009 (Part 1 of 2)

Posted by gazjjohnson on 16 July, 2009

This Tuesday and Wednesday I went down to CILIP Umbrella for the biennial all UK libraries conference. I always enjoy this particular event, as it’s a real chance to meet librarians from across a board spectrum of sectors; not just HE or FE. It’s never heavily populated by HE librarians which I think is an especial shame as I’ve always benefited from the very different insights.   Nearly 700 delegates were registered to attend!

Umbrella has 9 parallel tracks as well as keynote sessions, which means it’s impossible for any one person to attend it all. So what follows is part 1 (or 2) of my notes of the sessions that I was in. I make no claims to completeness (nor lack of bias) but I hope it gives you a flavour of the event, and maybe perhaps guides you towards attending in 2011.

Umbrella delegates gather

Tuesday morning shortly after 10am saw the conference was opened by the CILIP President and Ian Snowly. This was followed by the keynote.

Charles N Brown: Not evolutionary revolutionary (plenary) from Charlotte NC.

Talked about public
Library service and their aspirations, and how they met them in terms of improving library services. Rated 5* and regarded as one of the top in the USA. Saw his role a there to shake things up and people out of their silos. Staff engagement was a detailed part of the efforts to organisational transformation, with about 20% of the whole staff were directly involved. Their buy in was critical for real transformation and their knowledge and experience of what worked and what didn’t was crucial for planning. Also looked to retail sector (e.g. Target) for models that could be used in terms of customer satisfaction, service delivery, marketing and opening new markets. Untapped talent in organisation needed to be tapped, even if the standard requirements for a post are not met (e.g. masters in librarianship) – STAR Behavioural Interviewing. Lots of updates (weekly) to staff on what was going on, brown bag lunches with service director, intranet pages as well as formal meetings as well. Though this still didn’t defeat all of the rumour mill. He ended with a couple of personal favourite quotes “Change should be as common as breakfast cereal” and “If you want to make enemies, try to change something.”

After the session I attempted to get onto wireless network, but looks like once again the Linux based netbook is excluded by HE wireless networks. Eduroam does seem to have issues with Xandros and wireless access, as this is second location I’ve had issues. Yet at Huddersfield the week before, no problems.

After tea it was the breakout sessions.

Captive audiences – adding value in FE audiences (out of my silo): Susan Tailby, Eastleigh College
This session focussed on FE audiences (14-19 year olds)– looking to build up students experiences during college time, and what they can to enhance this experience. One example was taking lessons from book shops. Covered graphic novels and film tie ins as an example of engaging readers. Use reading groups or virtual groups to draw customers.

ID target groups as first step. Start as a pilot, easier to start small. Requirements such as wanting users to listen to CDs may well mean new kit is needed; or possibly just more than you’ve had in the past. Also need to think about what do you do once a particular engagement or activity is over – you’ll have to store resources for example. Need to think about space and disruption to other users from activities, though at the same time can draw in passing people who might not otherwise have joined.

For ESOL Reading Groups the key is to build in time for reflection in any engagement activities – which I thought was a good point, too often much of what we teach is in a deliver and move on paradigm. The speaker moved on to talk about the Six book challenge aimed at adult learners. Noted libraries can be scary for those with poor English. Be creative, build relationships, build self-esteem of students and work collaboratively with librarians in other sectors.

Reading takes the biscuit (Kathryn Harrison and Judith Robinson) Kirklees Council, library services
Major USP was adaptability to users → get involved by making sure the sessions were available at times and locations to suit as many people as possible. Summer 2006 was the pilot scheme – welcome new users in informally and getting them to met staff. Ensured that they wanted to come back on their own. The Birkby Fartown group leaders worried about how to engage with the readers. They worried that making them talk from day one could be difficult, so refocussed on hands on activities to start with and let the speaking grow organically from that.

In the first case this was sewing. They needed a lot of support, but thanks to collaborations with the local school this was very successful – and ended up winning an ALW award for the work.

They have also made a key part of their engagement local sponsorship with people including local football and biscuit company. Lack of captive audience means they spend more time trying to get people together. It is time consuming building partnerships and relationships initially; but in the long run this pays back in strong relationships and easier future collaboration. It also helps in terms of proving value of service, due to the wider number of stakeholders able to speak out about the value the library service has added to their activities,

It seemed from this the message I could take back to HE is that if you want to engage with the users you need to go out to them and engage at a time and place that suits them. This doesn’t work easily with current working practices and would require a rethink of how and why we do things.

Conference meal venueAfter more tea I ran my workshop on visual communication. It was a very hands on affair, since as an activist learner I believe others need to get stuck in as well, and went down very well. Certainly for the rest of the conference other delegates kept coming up to me and saying how they’d heard all about my great workshop and wished they’d gone!

The evening meal at the Hendon Airforce Museum was an interesting affair (great surroundings, ok meal, terrible after dinner speaker) but with great company and excellent networking. I’ll draw a veil over the karaoke that followed. Sleep beckoned before the second and final day of the conference…

Twitter feeds from the conference #cilipumbrella #umb #umbrella09 #umb09

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Higher Education in a Web 2.0 World Reprise

Posted by selinalock on 1 June, 2009

Higher Education in a Web 2.0 World: Cover

Higher Education in a Web 2.0 World: Cover

Following on from Gareth’s earlier post on this subject, here’s my thoughts & questions:

  • Information Literacy is a major component of this report – it argues that it is a growing area that students are deficient in. Recommends that it is a high priority for HEIs to train their students in & keep their staff updated on.
  • “Information literacies, including searching, retrieving, critically evaluating information from a range of appropriate sources and also attributing it – represent a significant and growing deficit area”
  • However, no mention anywhere of how to do this or that libraris have been struggling to get this on the agenda for years.
  • Q: What do we do with this report? Take it to VC? Take it to teaching & learning committees? What strategies & solutions do we suggest for training students & staff? Do we take a take roots approach with lecturers? Do all of the above?
  • Web 2.0 skills (communication, networking, sharing) are becoming employability skills.
  • Students are living in a Web 2.0 world and might expect Web 2.0 solutions in the future – though at present they expect a traditional face to face approahc in HE and do not equate social software with learning. This may change as the next few generations come through the school system.
  • Students are currently consumers of content in the Web 2.0 world rather than creators – we need to find hooks i.e. show them how the technology helps them.
  • Q: What are the hooks for staff and for students in using Web 2.0 in a learning context?
  • Three types of online space: Personal (emails & messaging), Group (social networking sites) and publishing (blogs, wikis, youtube).  Students will not want us in their personal space but there is scope for utilising group and publishing space for learning & teaching.
  • Information literacy should incorporate other web awareness issues e.g. plagarism, data protection, personal data on the web and online identities.
  • Q: How do we do this? How do we work with others in the institution who teach/train on these issues? How do we update ourselves in all these areas?
  • Upskill staff on e-pedagogy: as this will be needed for them to take advantage of using Web 2.0 technologies.
  • Q: How skilled are we as librarians in this? What training do we need in order to offer the information literacy teaching the report advocates?
  • Report suggests there are already examples out there of good practice in the use of digitised materials and online learning resources at module level. Though no specific examples included. It asks how these can be supported and used on a wider/larger scale.
  • Q: What good practice are we already using or aware of with regards Web 2.0? Does it upscale? What opportunities are there for us to work with other colleagues inside & outside the institution to provide services?
  • Take into account the prior experience and the expectations of students.
  • Q: How do we do this? Do we cultivate more links with school librarians in the UK? What about overseas, distance learning and mature students?
  • Digital divide still exists – don’t forget that!
  • “Means of access will be multimedia, mobile and pocket-sized”
  • Q: Are we prepared for the next wave of multimedia and mobile type resources?

Overall, this report is good for librarians and the information literacy cause as long as we DO something about it. Take action & not just talk about it!

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Higher Education in a Web 2.0 – some thoughts

Posted by gazjjohnson on 12 May, 2009

I’m currently reading through the the HEA and JISC’s report “Higher Education in a Web 2.0 World “ that’s just been published on the Web.  A few thoughts and highlights follow.

p8 – “Students are looking for traditional approaches, notably personal contact, in a modern setting…The bridge between Web 2.0 in social user and in learning is as yet only dimly perceived by students“.  I’m taking this to mean that students are viewing Web 2 as more of a social thing, and not a learning activity.  I know talking with people like Alan (Cann) that students can take a dim view of our intruding on what they view as their “personal space”.  There is the broader debate of the where the divide between private/public lies in social media (mine are certainly blended and intertwined) that has to be remembered – do the students really want us being their “friends” on Facebook or following them on twitter – or vice versa.

p10 Recommendations “HEIs to take steps to keep abreast of the prior experience and expectations of their student bodies“. Er yes, always useful – question is how? In the past I’ve been involved in pre-assessing students (for future ICT skills training) and the picture has been spotty and incomplete. Asking students about their skills base is not a good metric, most of them either considerably over or under estimate their ability.  On the other hand, this might mean HEI has to work more closely with secondary education – OK for the UK, but what about for our thousands of overseas students?  Sounds quite a job.

HEIs support staff to become proficient users of an appropriate range of technologies and skilled practitioners of e-pedagogy” Well yes I agree, but this might be with some considerable reluctance – going on the experience of people I meet at conferences, those of us up skilled and enthusiastically engaging in this area is still very much in minority right now.  A lot of time and resource will be needed in training, and from senior levels in advocating staff to really engage here.

p15 I see in their definition of Web 2.0 and social software that “Media sharing” is mentioned, but doesn’t include “file sharing”. I wonder as I delve further in, if the culture of free/open access sharing of information, music etc is going to be included as a consideration.  It might breach (c) laws left right and centre, but I bet a lot of students are doing it, and don’t see if as a problem.  Online essay banks might be the least of our worries.

p19 The Five principal perspectives on the Social Web.  I’m a point 4 man myself (force for good and offers possibilities – IDIC I say!).  I seem to know a lot of people who’ll embody the other points though.

p20/21 Ah good, access and the digital divide is getting  a look in.  I keep worrying that we’ll get to a point of assuming students have a certain skills/access base but won’t require them to have it to join an institution.

p23 “Students may think they are doing this [checking validity of courses] although their methods may not be sufficiently rigorous”.  Oh yes indeed, as I said about p10 – self perception of ability can be seriously flawed.  On the other hand on the same page there’s a good quote in support of peer-peer enabled support.

p24 “Information literacies…represent a significant and growing deficit area“. Not news to we librarians who have (all of my professional working life at least) been striving to get these onto the agenda across institutions (with mixed results).  This might well be the single most important point for us LIS types

p29-32 Focus is on current Web 2 being used, bit thin on details to be honest “Facebook and Second Life presences for most HEIs”.  Would have preferred a few exemplars in here, maybe even some best practice models.

p34-35 Back to focus on information literacies – will it actually mention the key role librarians have been playing here? Nope, they raised my hopes.  All the same what the report stresses are important considerations are well worth the read (if nothing else) for librarians involved in supporting learners.  Which is, let’s face it, all of us.

p37 Some very timely comments about the danger to HEIs in the UK if they continue to focus on throughput and efficacy, rather than excellence and relevance.  I’ve commented elsewhere on this myself, so it is sobering but timely to see this appearing in black and white in this report.

p40 The new learners and the old HEI structures currently co-existing, but for how much longer? One of the themes of this report that it keeps coming back to is that the learning styles and mores of school carry over into HE.  I don’t think personally I’m familiar enough with how secondary (or even primary) educators are training their students in terms of information literacy and ICT skills, let alone their approaches to study and learning.  I’m sure I’m not alone.  Perhaps that’s the key lesson I’m taking away from this report – a need to understand the adjacent educational realms more.  The stark phrase in the report “The next generation is unlikely to be so accommodating” – sent more than a few shivers down my spine.

This is a very readable report, with a lot of very interesting points made in it – if you do get the chance, I’d certainly advocate reading it yourself; don’t take my interpretations for gospel in any way!  Access the report directly here.

Posted in Staff training, Web 2.0 & Emerging Technologies, Wider profession | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 14 Comments »

EMALink seminar on Web 2.0 & information literacy

Posted by gazjjohnson on 12 March, 2009

Yesterday I was a at a well attended and quite sparky EMALink event.  EMALink if you didn’t know is the East Midlands Association of Librarians, an informal events programme arranged by the universities within and between the East Midlands HEI universities, including a few unis who are perhaps on the friges of this region (e.g.Warwick).

The two chunks yesterday were a framing talk from Joanne Dunham and then a longer talk about her and Alan Cann’s work by Sarah Whittaker.  There was also a couple of group work exercises for us to get our teeth into; including planning the ideal information literacy training event’ and reflections on our own Web 2.0 experiences.

I wasn’t originally going to go along, thinking that being a bit clued up on Web 2.0, that I wouldn’t be able to take much away from the day (doubtless I’d have much to say as usual, so apologies to anyone who struggled to get a word in edge-ways over me!).  Actually I was dead wrong, as there were several brilliant ideas that people in my group talked about that I fully intend to steal…erm, re-purpose!

One solid output from the day was the suggestion that we ought to have a directory of sorts for all the Web 2.0 networking librarians in the region.  unfortunately once again my loud mouth/native enthusiasm resulted in myself being tasked with the job.  Not that I really minded!

And so I am proud to roll out the East Midlands Librarians Networking site – a directory for EM librarians to share their social networking IDs (or at least as many as they want to) and to help us forge some strong local routes of communication.  The site, such as it is, is here.

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For a few tours more

Posted by gazjjohnson on 4 September, 2008

Toured a load of librarians around yesterday on behalf of UCRG and later this afternoon will be showing round a second batch on behalf of SCONUL.  As Louise said yesterday, it’s always nice showing librarians around the building as they can really appreciate the effort that went into designing it.  They also ask the most penetrating of questions as well, so the tours really keep you on your toes in terms of what goes on inside the DWL walls.

Personally I love doing these sort of things, but then I’m a showman at heart.  It’s also great to mix with one’s peers without having to tromp off to a conference in the back of beyond for three days, as it’s safe to say the information flow during these things is bidirectional – there’s always something new that these folks can share with us.

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