Category Archives: Librarianship

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.

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!

Shared Thinking

Yesterday, I saw on my Twitter feed that royal_york_hotelUniversity of South Wales librarian Sue House (whom I don’t know, apart from following her on Twitter!) was attending a conference about student induction, in York, run by a company called Shared Thinking.

When I realised she was sharing lots of references to names I’d never heard of, about things that might be relevant to my teaching practice, I decided I’d need to keep a note of them.  After all, she mentioned buzzwords like experiential learning, and student engagement and so on.

I decided I needed to hoover up as many relevant tweets from that conference as possible. I don’t know if others there were tweeting, but I think I have enough information to be going on with!   Bits of paper get lost, even saved Word documents can be forgotten. So this time I saved the whole thing to Storify and can go back to it relatively easily, as well as sharing with other people.  (I also looked up most of Sue’s citations and posted links to them. Might save time for me or someone else later on!)  Here it is:-

Shared Thinking: Student Induction Event (mainly as reported by Sue House)

(I might add that this actually validates much of my social media activity, because I am often thinking about quite serious professional issues as I tweet or react to tweets!)

 

How effective is user education?

This is something I shall be thinking about for my PGCert project, so I am just noting here the fact that I’m currently participating in a ResearchGate ‘conversation’ about the effectiveness of user education in Higher Education.  I will come back to this posting when I’ve a bit more time to write about it, but mentioning it now is my way of ensuring I don’t forget!

Here was the question, from Sophina Tambula, a researcher in Great Zimbabwe University:-

How effective is user education provided to students at academic libraries?

There is a problem that most academic library users after introduced to the library and educated about the library use and services the library offers among other things, but still they find it difficult to use the library. What really might be the cause?

My response last week was this (I suspect you have to have signed up to ResearchGate to be able to follow the whole discussion):-

Can I (modestly) reference a paper I wrote last year?  Library Review Vol.64, Iss.1/2, (2015), 154-161, ‘Sexy Bibliography (and Revealing Paratext)’  http://www.emeraldinsight.com/doi/abs/10.1108/LR-09-2014-0104
I have also blogged about library user education as part of my studies for a postgraduate certificate in teaching and learning in higher education https://karenmcaulay.wordpress.com/e-portfolio/ and I am continuing this study in a project for submission next year.
Can I briefly make a few points here?
Firstly, we’re not teaching new undergraduates “library science”. They just want to know where to get started in the library.  Don’t start by trying to turn them into mini-librarians!
Secondly, students learn best at the time of need.  So we provide regular training working in collaboration with teaching staff, and with one eye on the teaching and submission schedules.  If students have their first essay coming up, they will be more motivated to listen and learn from us!
Thirdly, make the teaching relevant.  They are going to write about Prokofiev? Find examples of electronic resources that you have ensured WILL FIND appropriate information on Prokofiev!
Lastly, flip the classroom.  Embrace good pedagogical practice and involve the students rather than lecturing them. Ask what they think/recommend.  Build on what they know (This is called a “constructivist approach”)  Use multimedia to engage.  I could go on, but maybe I’d better stop for now!

How effective is user education provided to students at academic libraries? – ResearchGate. Available from: https://www.researchgate.net/post/How_effective_is_user_education_provided_to_students_at_academic_libraries#view=576a73a74048541e6b31695c [accessed Jun 22, 2016].

Something I keep coming back to is this: Pedagogues talk about pedagogy (how to teach, theory of teaching), but librarians tend to stop at what to teach.  This approach will not make us good teachers!  To be continued …