11 August 2014

Thinking about library inductions (Pt. 2)

In no particular order, these are things that I have been coming back to now it's time to start thinking about inductions again:

1. Getting in the right head space for 1st year students:  Tacit knowledge and the students researcher by Barbara Fister - a reminder of assumptions that may need more explanation.

2. A caution: Library search tools. Could we make them harder to use? A great blog post on the first impression we could create (if we're not careful).

3. The kind of experience an induction could be: 10 things that learners pay attention to (and how to use them in e-learning). They're useful and relevant in any kind of learning. I'm trying to think how I could incorporate some of these in induction classes.

4.  Something along the lines of this from JISC or anything similar that is saying how young people do this and that. How about telling learners what is being said about them (e.g. their "impatience in search and navigation and zero tolerance for any delay in satisfying their information needs") and seeing how they would respond? It would start a dialogue, rather than working from a potentially patronising "I know what you're really like" kind of assumption...

5. Sheffield Uni's page on Employability and Information Literacy - stuff here could help persuade why the stuff we're talking about could be real-life important. (I teach Business students so this is particularly relevant).

6. Three simple marketing rules all libraries should live by - from Ned Potter, which puts the focus clearly on the sort of messages we should be seeking to convey. Plus this tweet from him as well:

5 August 2014

DARTS4 - Research Support Conference (par excellence!)

(This is a very belated publishing of a post! Better late than never...)

One of the amazing trees in the churchyard at Dartington Hall

In June I was lucky enough to go to the ARLG SW DARTS4 Conference at the lovely Dartington Hall near Totnes. The program looked excellent and I came home with a head full of information and ideas. There wasn't a duff session and the whole spectrum of research support was covered. Whilst I'm not a Research Librarian, it is one of our key priorities and part of my role. Things I was hoping for before I went:
  • How to support our researchers better - to understand their needs and find better ways to communicate with them
  • To get up to speed with Open Access - I am probably half way up to speed but it's a complex and fast-changing area at the moment
  • To get up to speed with Research Data management - I have a very basic knowledge as a starting point!
  • To pick up some ideas of new things to do or new ways of doing old things
Quick overview of the sessions:

Sheila Corrall (University of Pittsburg) - "From Reading Rooms to Research Commons. Context is Critical."
This focussed on the relationship between libraries (as physical spaces) and researchers but the slides contain a whole conference worth of information on where we are with research support generally. There was some amazing US examples of research spaces which most of us could only look on with (budget) envy!

Jenni Crossley (UWE) - "Research Data Management - where are we now?"
A useful overview of how the original research data enthusiasts from UWE's JISC project have fared since the initial event. We used clickers to survey the people in the room - it was reassuring to see that we weren't the only ones possibly at the less-engaged end of the spectrum. You can see the results in the slides - I am keen to try out the questions back at work and see how we benchmark as a starting position. 

Miggie Pickton (Northampton) - "Designing Practitioner Research for Impact"
Slides 3-14 give a brilliant overview of the topic of Research Impact (generally) and then slides 15 onwards deal with (library) practitioner research. I felt re-enthused to try and find the time and support to do some.

Yvonne Budden (Warwick) - "Open Access at the coalface"
I listened to this intently as we are busy revving up and promoting our institutional repository. Plenty of ideas for promotion and training and service development.

Katie Fraser and Nathan Rush (De Montford) "Communication with Research Students"
Finding out what PhD students really do and how we can help them. Opened my eyes to the full research process involved (didn't work like that in my day...) and got me thinking where our interventions could be most effective.

Leigh Garrett (UCA) - "Stuff and Data: challenges for research data management in the visual arts"
Is it impossible not to be interesting when talking about visual arts? Or are creative arts librarians particularly wonderful at doing talks? Probably a bit of both! We were all rapt at hearing about the kind of data generated by visual artists and had a go thinking about a pot and a chair and research processes and how you would record them.

Neil Jacobs (JISC) - "Open access: recalibrating the relationships"
Neil gave an overview of the work JISC is currently looking at to try and simplify some of the complexities of the current open access situation. Take a look at his slide 12 to see how complex it is! His slide 3 also gave me a fleeting longing for smarties...

And there was more...we also submitted ideas / problems for discussion - these are recorded here - and the outcomes or possible solutions can be viewed here. Just talking to people informally gave a wealth of idea and also reassurance that we weren't the only place not managing to keep up with, well, everything. I reaffirmed that I am completely unable to live tweet anything but enjoyed having that back channel both before, during and after the event. 

1 August 2014

Thinking about library inductions (Pt.1)

Here's the thing. We have at best about 45 minutes. That's 45 minutes to justify our existence with the people who matter the most. To persuade them that we're worth our wages (subsidised from their fees) for the value we can bring to their studies. To persuade them that it's in their interests to engage with us, to come back and talk to us. We need to get them interested in visiting our building and using its contents. The building may be at the centre of campus but our online spaces are completely off their information map, unless we can get them to remember to look for them. This assumes our online resources justify being looked for, can be easily found and easily used. They cost a whole lot more than our wages.

We don't have a lot to work with: a computer and a projector at the front of a big room, often full of computers they can hide behind or surf on. Then there are clickers they can vote with, voices they may or may not choose to use, phones and tablets they may prefer to focus on, friends both inside and outside the room who may distract them. If we're REALLY lucky we may have the real life* or virtual support of a tutor, telling them they need to listen to us. We have our enthusiasm, friendliness and knowledge. They may bring apathy, interest, confusion, enthusiasm, language barriers, disabilities both seen and unseen, immense talent, enormous real life problems we know nothing about...or indeed all of these in just one student. 

So that's the challenge. What the hell are we going to do about it?  

* This only happened to me once. It was the most enjoyable session I've ever taught.