Category Archives: Librarianship

Three roles – or is it four?

Four days a week, I’m an academic librarian.  One day, I’m a postdoctoral researcher.  In August, the emphasis will shift slightly to three and a half days and one and a half, for the duration of my AHRC network funding grant.

A couple of days ago I realised my SCONUL Focus article was now in print, describing how my three roles in librarianship, research and pedagogy serve one another.  I find it quite easy writing about process, and I’ve often been asked to write or speak about this kind of thing.   In fact, my PGCert project also had a focus on process: I was contemplating the best ways to support distance learners in their information needs and skills development, and although the project gave me insight into how social scientists conduct educational research, and conducting the survey and interviews was an unexpected eye-opener, at the end of the day I was writing not only about my research findings, but about process, ie, the best ways to support learners.

However, it’s more challenging and perhaps more satisfying to write engagingly and accessibly about my musicological research, because it goes deeper into my specialism.  I have several pieces of writing submitted and awaiting publication at the moment, but what’s missing is something actually on the drawing-board, being written right now.  That’s largely because I was completing the PGCert portfolio.  Librarianship happens four days a week, research a fifth, and the PGCert had to fit around family life and my spare time.   Which didn’t, to be truthful, leave any spare time for writing!

However, I remembered the other day that I gave a paper earlier this year for which I have not yet sought a published home.   Maybe, just maybe I ought to dig it out and see what needs to be done to turn it into a proper paper for submission.

Librarianship, research, pedagogy … and author.  Well, after my annual leave, anyway!

 

Blending Librarianship With Research and Pedagogy (SCONUL Focus 69, 56-59)

SCONUL is the Standing Conference of National and University Librarians.  SCONUL Focus online is an open access publication.  Vol.69 is dedicated to articles by librarians engaged in various aspects of research.  My line-manager suggested I should contribute something – this is it.
Karen McAulay, ‘Blending Librarianship with Research and Pedagogy‘, SCONUL 69, 56-59 (July 2017)
ABSTRACT: I contend that the combination of librarianship with research is beneficial both on a personal level and to the library and institution, but that the addition of a third element – pedagogy – brings even stronger benefits.

Half a Day in the Life of an Academic Librarian

I was working from 1-5 today, because I was owed a few hours.  So, I had planned two meetings, one in my capacity as music librarian, and the other regarding a research grant application.

What happened? Two more people came asking for help in the 15 minutes before my first meeting. I helped the first – it was a quick question – and asked the second to come back later.  The first scheduled meeting happened, the second didn’t happen for unavoidable reasons, and then I had what I hope was a helpful second student consultation with the person whom I hadn’t time to help earlier.

And then I blogged some notes on my afternoon, on the library blog – Whittaker Live. Reproduced here, to avoid duplication of effort.  But before I do that, I’m just going to comment that it made me realise – again – how enthusiastic our postgraduates are, and how eager to get things right.  Also, I was reminded that logging into e-resources, and referencing and citation, are things we librarians just take in our stride.  They’re much bigger hurdles for our students, especially if they’ve been out of education for even just a few years.

In library terms, we would refer to these incidents as queries, though ‘consultation’ is probably closer to the mark.  In actual fact, it’s 1:1 teaching, though some of our RCS teachers probably assume that teaching only takes place in classrooms or studios!

Day in the Life of a Music Librarian

E-RESOURCES: ACCESS
This afternoon saw a quick question about our students accessing online resources from outside the Conservatoire – and a quick answer.  RCS staff and students need to go to our Library web-pages, click on the appropriate e-resources link, and then pick their chosen e-resource (or e-book, or e-journal).  Use Shibboleth institutional access from there – pick the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, then your usual RCS login.  We don’t use Athens – so avoid anything mentioning it.

REFERENCING
Then came two two individual consultations about Karen’s favourite things.  First, a fairly in-depth discussion about saving citations, then using the Harvard referencing style, and creating a bibliography.  The Whittaker Library has guidelines about Harvard referencing on our part of the RCS Portal.  (Find them here.  If you need more, just Google “Harvard Referencing”, and you’ll find plenty of other guides!)

If you’re referencing a lot of non-standard formats, the best advice is to find an example for something approximately close to your reference, then tweak the example to fit your purposes, making sure the author’s name and date of the source are listed first.  If you’re referencing something online, then you’ll need to give a hyperlink, and also the date you accessed the item.  All this is in our guide.

E-RESOURCES: RESEARCH

The next query was back to e-resources again, but this time about content rather than access.  We talked about finding info about specific musical works.  Naxos sleeve notes are useful.  JSTOR can be useful, too. Oxford Music Online is better for facts about the works’ composition dates, opus numbers, where they stand in the composers’ output, etc, but may not necessarily give you anything in-depth about individual works.

So, having delved briefly into online resources, we also looked at CD and vinyl sleeve notes – plenty more info in that direction!  And good old Cobbett’s Cyclopedic Survey of Chamber Music.  It may be old, but could be a good starting place.

And more Reading for me!

I’ve just got an email about the latest SCONUL Focus issue.  It looks highly relevant, so I’m posting the text of the email here to remind myself to follow up!  Admittedly, it’s more about librarianship as a profession, than librarians as teachers. Nonetheless, it’ll be great for up-to-date commentary on the profession of academic librarianship.  It’s a bit of a blurred line when it comes to librarians sharing expertise with researchers – but still teaching of a kind!

“The new issue of SCONUL Focus, with staff / professional development as a key theme can now be accessed via the SCONUL website. See http://www.sconul.ac.uk/page/sconul-focus.

Amongst a wide range of articles you may be interested to read about the following:

  •  A selection of views from academics teaching at library schools about the skills that librarians of the future will need;
  • An illustration of some of the ways in which academic librarians are developing new support models to meet the needs of researchers engaging with research data management and open access;
  • A case study of how one service is encouraging “knowledge exchange” between their staff to ensure that information learned from training and attendance at events is shared across the service, as well as general information about current projects.

The SCONUL Focus editorial team is currently gathering submissions for issues 68 and 69 to be published during 2017. They will be themed around support for teaching and research respectively.  Guidance for authors and a list of key contacts are available on the web page for anyone who would be interested in contributing.

In other news – I submitted an article about combining librarianship, research and pedagogy, to issue 69. It should appear around June 2017, by my calculations.

Gearing up: Trimester 1

Girl on beach digging
Remember digging for information?

It’s that time of year again.  In order for our library teaching to take place, we need to get ourselves booked into our teaching colleagues’ timetables.  Every year our communications get a bit more finely-honed, and today’s is undoubtedly the best so far.  I’m emphasising the scope of what we can cover, and also clarifying the limitations of the traditional lecture format.  (We’re happy to work within it, but can do more in other teaching situations!)

“We’re trying to get organised bright and early this year. Colleagues will already have had an email asking for updated reading lists.  (Didn’t get it? Check your Clutter folder!)

“And now we’re offering our services to help inform and train our students in getting the most out of our library and electronic resources.

“We can talk about the catalogue; give an overview of particular electronic resources; explain how to access e-books and e-journals; give advice on referencing; or tell students about RefMe, a quick and easy way of saving bibliographic details for an assignment. We can give an overview suited to your students’ level, whether new undergraduates or more advanced students wanting to research information for their reflective journal. Or we can introduce some of our historical resources, if colleagues are teaching something that would be enhanced by them .

“We’re happy to appear at the beginning or near the end of a lecture or seminar – small chunks of information can be more palatable than a long spiel.  Obviously, we can’t arrange any collaborative learning activities in the context of a lecture theatre, but we’re very amenable to discussion as to how best to engage our students in other settings, if this would help.

“”Relevant and Timely” is our motto, so colleagues are urged to get in touch so we can organise our calendars accordingly.  Let’s start the conversation!”

 

Better Engagement = Better Results, by Michael Smalle (University of Limerick)

Panlibus 40 cover

A useful article in what is essentially our LMS (library management system) trade magazine, Panlibus.  Issue 40, Summer 2016, pp.4-5. The author has experience both as a teacher and a librarian and has recently been hired by the University of Limerick to a new role, Librarian: First Year Student Engagement and Success.

Interestingly, after hearing at one of yesterday’s ISME sessions that students welcome alumni advice about careers, and the importance of slightly older peer support, this article specifically mentions “peer advisors” in a library capacity, to help students learn what works best in their library and information searching activities.  An idea worth bearing in mind!

Read the article here.

Also saved in my Mendeley and Diigo accounts.

I found the LIDP (Library Impact Data Project)

A librarian at the University of Huddersfield held a focus group with low or non-users of the library, and wrote up his findings on the blog associated with this (now finished) project.  This might be useful either to inform my library user education sessions, or as food for thought when I’m working on my PGCert research project.

Here’s the link:- https://library3.hud.ac.uk/blogs/lidp/

I won’t comment on it at present – but at least I’ve got a note of it!