Category Archives: PGCert Project

Watch “A first attempt at a vlog, or video-log” on YouTube

This is going to be a sharp learning curve! First lesson of the day – one that any telejournalist could have told me – at the start of a recording, pause and SMILE before actually starting speaking.

The next experiment will entail trying to combine selfie-vlogging and outward-facing vlogging, so I can talk about the library or something on-screen.  And comparing the whole experience of recording a YouTube on tablet or on a laptop.  My tutor’s going to be So Proud of me!

Everything Changes … But Not Yet

I had a momentary hesitation when it suddenly dawned on me that our new library management system would be implemented this year – staff training starts next month – and I wondered whether one of my PGCert project ‘interventions’ might therefore be an introduction to the new catalogue, rather than to the present one.

However, it transpires that we don’t go live until July, so my intervention will probably have to be an introduction to the current system.  If it has to be re-jigged subsequently, then that will just be a routine task as part of my role as a librarian. (Indeed, there is much to be said for a test-run on the present system, to ensure that any suggested improvements can be incorporated into a learning-tool for the new one.)

Meanwhile, I shall continue thinking about questions for my survey, and the rapidly-becoming-unavoidable task of the ethical approval form. (Historical musicologists don’t usually do much in the way of ethical approval – our subjects are so long deid!)

Analyse 2016 Library Survey for Research Context

I allowed myself the whole of February for this, so I am quite pleased that I’ve done a large part of my analysis already.  I’ve been through all the survey responses for 13 of the 33 questions that were asked: I picked out questions that might yield clues about how students viewed general library induction, and library e-resource training.

I’ve also made a rather nice table charting respondents’ usage of various e-resources, mapped against expressed interest in receiving training in the same resources.  (If there’s one aspect of research in which I share a common interest with the social scientists, it’s in beautiful graphs!)  I have my own interpretation of these statistics, but I’ll meet up with one of my colleagues to discuss them before reaching final conclusions, just in case another person might have a different interpretation of the same figures.

The respondents’ answers and freetext comments, combined with the e-resource usage and training interest data, will inform the intervention(s) that I plan to devise.



Here follows the analysis of the questionnaire. (1346 words):-

Information gleaned from the 2016 library user survey at RCS: Analysis

Responses have more than doubled between 2009 and 2016.

Since 2014, student responses have made up 85-89% of total.  In 2016, there were 176 student responses, and 32 from staff.  58-64% of responses self-identified as School of Music; 25-34% as School of Drama.

79% of student responses were by undergraduates, and  21% of responses were by postgraduates (total 100%).  11% of student  respondents were international.


88% of respondents used the library for books and music.  Second and third most popular reasons were to use IT facilities (69%) or to study (61%).   To use the catalogue (41%), borrow DVDs (39%) or use electronic resources (38%) were the next most popular reasons – significantly lower.  All other reasons scored less than these. Note that the question did not ask why respondents visited the library, but what they used the library for, so catalogue and e-resource use need not have taken place within the library space.   Significantly, catalogue and e-resource use are nonetheless important activities, albeit a long way behind the use of books and music.


In terms of using the library space, using the PCs was the most popular activity (71%), with laptop use or silent study coming significantly behind (58% each). None of the 18 comments concerned e-resource use or difficulty finding/accessing any kind of resource.


73% of respondents have used the catalogue remotely; 27% have not.  This answer leads into the next, more important one:-


58% of respondents usually find what they’re looking for; 31% sometimes do – a total of 89%. Less than 3% “hardly ever” or never find it, leaving 8% who have never used the catalogue.  These figures show room for improvement.  On the face of it, retrieval of suitable materials is not always successful.


If they found the item in the catalogue, 58% usually find it on the shelf, and 32% sometimes do – a total of 90%.  Again, the high figure belies the reality: “usually” and “sometimes” is not the same as “always”. If the item was reportedly available, then quite a few students are failing at the shelves. The following question confirms this:-


62% of respondents agree that items are easy to find, and another 11% strongly agree – a total of 73%.  16% neither agreed nor disagreed; 10% disagreed and 1% strongly disagreed.


72% of respondence received induction; 12% did not; and 16% said the question was not applicable (perhaps because they were taking a second degree and were either continuing students or did not perceive the need for induction).  Any extra instruction or self-help might increase confidence in subsequent library use.


53% of respondents found the content of induction helpful; 41% slightly helpful; 6% not helpful.  Of the thirteen comments, one thought the content insufficiently course-related; another suggested a refresher session later on would have been helpful, and a third suggested that people without HE library experience could have used more instruction about the classification scheme.  (Three merely wrote “n/a” and another “didn’t [sic] pay attention”.  It’s impossible to know whether students were referring to the library tour, and/or to any librarian input to initial lectures.  Certainly, the library tour can only be a brief introduction because so many students attend each tour.  Instruction in finding books,from catalogue to shelf, is effectively impossible with these numbers.  A podcast or video-clip might be very useful here.


63% thought timing just right, and another 30% had no particular opinion, leaving 8% (11 individuals) dissatisfied.

There were 15 comments.

  1. Six felt the induction came too soon/ would have been better later, for better retention
  2. Another would have liked a refresher a few months later.
  3. Confusingly, two would have liked their e-resource introduction earlier/at the same time as their library induction.

This demonstrates that “one size fits all” does not work with library induction.  Stand-alone podcasts or video-clips could help fill the gap.


88% were aware we had e-resources. 12% were unaware.


  • Naxos 38%
  • E-journals 25%
  • E-books 24%
  • JSTOR 24%
  • Oxford Music Online 23%
  • Digital Theatre Plus 22%
  • Classical Music Library 20%
  • NONE 18%
  • Library resources on Mahara 16%
  • Drama Online Digital Library 13%
  • IPA Source 13%
  • Classical Music in Video 10%
  • BUFVC 9%
  • Classical Music Reference Library 9%
  • British Library Sounds 8%
  • Classical Scores Library 8%
  • Library Music Source 6%
  • Naxos Music Library Jazz 5%
  • Opera in Video 5%
  • Ingenta Connect 4%
  • SCRAN 4%
  • Contemporary World Music 3%
  • Garland Encyclopedia of World Music 3%
  • Jazz Music Library 3%
  • Periodicals Archive Online 3%
  • Dance in Video 2%
  • RILM Abstracts 2%
  • Stan Winston School of Character Arts 2%
  • ZETOC 2%
  • Popular Music Archive 1%
  • Times Digital Archive 1%
  • Web of Knowledge 1%
  • Smithsonian Global Sound 0%
  • Teachers TV from Education in Video 0%

18% of respondents said they had used no e-resources. That’s more than just those who were unaware.  We need to continue to reach out through social media marketing and by cooperation with the academic staff, and to find ways of demonstrating the benefit of quality, subscription resources over simply web-searching or Wikipedia.


  • 36% would not have liked more training in any, which could be any combination of confidence in what was known about, ignorance of what was actually available, or apathy about taking the trouble to find out.  However, in order of demand, the following responses were made:-
  • 21% would have liked more training in E-books
  • 16% in E-journals
  • 14% in Classical Music in Video
  • 14% in Classical Music Library
  • 14% in Digital Theatre Plus
  • 13% in JSTOR
  • 12% in Drama Online Digital Library
  • 11% in Library Music Source
  • 11% in Naxos
  • 10% in Classical Scores Library
  • 8% in Oxford Music Online
  • 8% in Teachers TV from Education in Video
  • 7% in Library Resources on Mahara
  • 6% in Jazz Music Library
  • 6% in Popular Music Library
  • 5% in American Song
  • 5% in Opera in Video
  • 4% in Contemporary World Music
  • 4% in Garland Encyclopedia of World Music Online
  • 4% in International Bibliography of Theatre & Dance
  • 4% in IPA Source
  • 4% in SCRAN
  • 4% in Web of Knowledge
  • 4% in ZETOC
  • 3% in Naxos Music Library Jazz
  • 3% in Periodicals Archive Online
  • 3% in Smithsonian Global Sound
  • 2% in Dance in Video
  • 1% in RILM Abstracts
  • 1% in Times Digital Archive
  • 0% in Stan Winston School of Character Arts

There were five comments.

  1. Two (out of 208 completed surveys) wanted more about all resources.
  2. The question was about e-resources, but one reader wanted more Education (BEd) books [sic!]
  3. One wanted animation resources
  4. One asked for the present writer to get a RefMe visit for staff.  (In fact, the writer did arrange this for course-leaders, but our institution decided against an institutional subscription. RefMe might not be keen on making a second visit for staff, after this!  It could nonetheless be mentioned in class sessions or via social media, as could Mendeley and Zotero.)


Of 29 responses, very few alluded to library induction and/or e-resources.

  1. One person asked for an information sheet about the electronic resources. There is one, both on paper and on Mahara, but for whatever reason, the respondent seems not to know about it.
  2. Another person asked for a fuller range of e-journals, “or at least the ability to use those of Glasgow University more easily”. This is a question of provision rather than instruction.  (Additionally, students cannot use e-resources via another institution, unless they’re officially registered with that institution.)  It does suggest that readers could benefit from increased awareness of what actually is available through RCS subscriptions.
  3. One observed that their “course, such as it is, is not really directed towards using library facilities”. In the interests of anonymity, the School in which this reader studies, cannot be named here!


PG Cert Project Proposal

PGCert Project proposal latest version 2017-01-30

At time of writing, the word-count is 1,994 words.


The author is a Performing Arts Librarian in the Information Services Department at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland.  The institution is committed to equality of opportunity for students of any nationality, or with disabilities, or different learning situations eg distance learners and mature students.

The librarians deliver library induction and user education to higher education students at all levels, encountering several challenges:-

  1. Initial orientation must avoid information overload.
  2. Subsequent instruction is arranged with course leaders; duration and venue are determined by timetabling and room-bookings.
  3. These circumstances often inhibit good pedagogical practice, eg active or collaborative learning, or constructive alignment.
  4. Parachuted into classes for one-off sessions, the teaching-librarian neither knows the students, nor what they have already learned.

The present project endeavours to establish the most effective ways in which user education can be delivered, given these constraints.

This project focuses on a small cohort, namely the students engaged upon PGCert or MEd studies.  These distance learners are particularly dependent on e-resources, so extra assistance will be welcome.

Research Context

The context of this project falls within a teaching librarian’s responsibilities; good examples of best practice feature in the Standing Conference of National and University Libraries’ online journal SCONUL Focus issue 67 on professional development (SCONUL, 2016), as noted by the present author:-

Student engagement is vital. The literature offers examples in the wider institution, and within the library.  The social identity approach particularly appeals, creating a shared identity and inculcating a sense of being part of a peer-group.  (Bowskill, 2013)  A workshop in York in July 2016, The Shared Thinking: Student Induction Event, was live-tweeted by librarian Sue House.  The present author collated these tweets into a Storify posting.  However, the social identity approach as outlined in Bowskill’s training manual involves using voting clickers and student group activities impracticable for conservatoire library induction tours – or in a brief talk during an academic lecture. The project author reflected upon the approach:-

By contrast, better student engagement at Limerick University Library is discussed by Smalle (2016), suggesting the advantages of employing slightly more experienced students for peer-supported training of new students.  The Whittaker Library experimented with employing older students thus for library tours; however, handing over responsibility sometimes led to key messages being omitted.

Professional literature also considers technologies.  The learning potential of podcasts is explored by Starak (2005/2014), whilst Brabazon (2006) discusses podcasting and vlogs (video logs).  Neither are in the context of library training, but raise the possibility of designing interventions to compare the efficacy of the two media.  The present author blogged about these approaches:-

Social media offers the opportunity to discuss issues with the wider scholarly community.  In a ResearchGate conversation about good postgraduate library induction, the present author engaged in brief discussion with American librarian, William Badke, who shared his own information literacy website containing  courses, Prezis and Powerpoints, and other writings, but no podcasts or vlogs. Badke works in a university setting (Badke, n.d.), possibly responsible for more user education than is required at RCS.

Whilst broader issues of information literacy concern librarians and educationalists, students and their course leaders worry about the practicalities of access to subscribed e-resources, or how to handle referencing and citation; some kind of intervention might be welcomed.  A new app, RefME, has much to recommend it, but the present author found significant setbacks.  Contrast a commissioned report (El Hakim, Yaz, et al, 2016) with the present author’s observations:-

Training must be concise.  In an online ResearchGate discussion, the present author asserted that librarians should remember that they are training students to use the library, but not to become library scientists:-

Methodologies for conducting surveys were usefully discussed at a study-day for the PG Certificate and MEd students at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland (Autumn 2016); additionally, a SEMPRE Study Day poster about discourse analysis suggests that close attention should be paid to interview responses, in seeking to identify respondents’ reactions and deeper anxieties about library induction received.  (Shirley, 2015)

In a comparatively small sample of students, it is possible that equality and diversity are addressed less rigorously than a larger survey would permit.  Eg, few international students will be questioned in this cohort; however, the suggested interventions, capable of being replayed, should be beneficial to all.

Students with disabilities, particularly hidden disabilities such as deafness, visual impairment, dyslexia or mental health issues, may struggle to use e-resources both in terms of following group instruction, and using e-resources or the catalogue independently.  The questionnaire must allow such students to self-identify if they wish, eg by asking if respondents had any particular difficulty using resources due to a disability.

Pragmatically, using this particular cohort lessens the risk of survey-fatigue amongst the whole student body.  Additionally, this group will understand the importance of engagement, since everyone has a project to complete. The cohort already receives a distance-learning seminar on library resources. The project may identify whether some students have tried and failed to use e-resources, giving up rather than seek help.  Many of these students are mature students returning to higher education after a break, perhaps lacking confidence with e-resources.

Professional Aims

Many students would benefit from one-to-one tuition; this is impossible for an entire cohort and their teachers.  Taking as a given that initial class-based tuition will be provided in most circumstances, the overall aim of this project is to devise ways of supplementing class-based tuition with self-help materials such as including podcasts/vodcasts or other digital media.  To achieve this aim, the following goals must be met:-

  • To explore the most effective means of informing students about library resources;
  • To ensure that the pedagogical skills gained during the Postgraduate Certificate course are balanced and supplemented by the ability to devise appropriate interventions to enable students to get maximum benefit from facilities offered;
  • To further the present author’s knowledge of using technology to engage students in learning;
  • To share new insights with librarian colleagues.

Research Question(s)

How can class-based user education in e-resource use best be supplemented with self-help interventions available online at point of need?

To this end, secondary questions must be posed:-

  1. Where are the stumbling blocks? Existing data from student surveys will be examined to establish where stumbling blocks appear to occur; do particular databases or types of database (eg, e-journals, or bibliographic citation) cause particular anxiety, or pose specific problems?  This will inform the development or one or two interventions as described above.
  2. Do the interventions help? Students in the identified cohort will be asked to try these interventions and to provide feedback by means of a questionnaire, to establish whether they found them helpful, or where improvements could be made.
  3. Does the student’s level of confidence predetermine how they will approach self-help materials? At the end of the questionnaire, students will be invited to self-identify as very confident, quite confident, lacking in confidence and averse to using library resources, and to state whether they are willing to be interviewed. To this end, four brief interviews will be conducted with one student from each category, if such can be identified.  If only three categories of students volunteer, the interviews will still be conducted.  In the event of two or fewer volunteers, the course leader will be requested to help by emailing the cohort appealing for the appropriate number of volunteers.


Research Tools

This research project will use a qualitative approach using thematic analysis.  Clarke and Braun’s most basic definition of qualitative research is that words are used as data, as opposed to a quantitative approach using numbers and statistics. (Clarke and Braun, 2013)

  1. Analyse 2016 Whittaker Library survey, identifying responses about e-resources and seeking out free-text commentary about user education and e-resource use, to inform the intervention;
  2. Build intervention and share with PGCert/MEd cohort (one or two interventions such as audio podcasts or some form of video instruction);
  3. Short questionnaire to the PGCert/MEd cohort – firstly about their experience of library instruction and e-resource use, secondly to invite the cohort to trial the intervention, then provide brief feedback  and their response to the intervention; lastly asking them to identify as “very confident”, through “fairly confident”, “not very confident” and “avoid using the library and/or its e-resources”
  4. Interview one of each of these categories of student, assuming at least one of each category does self-identify and express willingness to be interviewed;
  5. Analysis and conclusions.  These will hopefully suggest future directions and interventions that the present author and fellow librarian colleagues might useful pursue.


Approximately 90 students are enrolled on a variety of postgraduate teaching courses, and will be sent the questionnaire inviting them to trial the intervention(s) :-

  • MALTGA2 – 4 students
  • MSLTGA4 – 4 students
  • MEDLTPA1 – 38 students
  • MEDLTPA2 – 21 students
  • MEDLTPA3 – 4 students
  • PGCert1 – 10 students
  • PGCert2 – 6 students

Relevant Information

It is anticipated that it will take 4-6 months to conduct the initial analysis of the 2016 library user survey; devise the intervention(s), get ethical clearance; survey the postgraduate teaching cohort; conduct and transcribe four brief interviews; and finally collate and analyse the findings.

The library user survey data is available; and permission has been granted by the Head of Information Services to interrogate this data.

GANTT Project Management Chart


Ethical and Moral Issues

Ethical guidelines for educational research are available through the British Educational Research Association.  (BERA, 2014).  In the context of the present project, these criteria are met, as follows:-

  1. Responsibilities to Participants:- voluntary, informed consent will be ensured; openness and disclosure require that there will be no subterfuge; participants will be advised that they have the right to withdraw; there will be no children, vulnerable young people or vulnerable adults in the sample; there will be no incentives offered; neither will participants suffer any detriment by participation. Confidentiality and anonymity will be assured, and identities will not be disclosed; individuals interviewed will be identified as A, B, C and D.
  2. Responsibilities to Sponsors of Research:- this research is not sponsored or funded, but is part of a postgraduate qualification. The researcher retains the right to publish articles arising from the research on the strict understanding that confidentiality is assured.
  3. Responsibilities to the Community of Educational Researchers, and to Education Professionals, Policy-Makers and the General Public :- the findings of this research will be communicated openly and appropriately in accordance with the above code of practice.


The present project is an opportunity to reflect upon student responses to Whittaker Library user education; to gain the experience of devising one or two interventions in different formats; to survey a cohort; and to interview a few students, with the aim of finding out which approaches are most accepted and effective; and to use the results to inform and improve subsequent user education across the Conservatoire student community.



Badke, William (n.d.), ‘Badke Teaching Resources’ [website]

BERA (2014), Ethical Guidelines for Educational Research [website][ (accessed 2017-01-28)

Bowskill, Nicholas (2013), Student-generated induction: a social identity approach. A Staff development guide.  (Nicholas Bowskill)

Brabazon, Tara (2006), ‘Press learning: the potential of podcasting through pause, record, play and stop’ (Knowledge Management and E-Learning 8 (3), 430-443. Press Learning: the potential of podcasting through pause, record, play and stop

Clarke, V. and Braun, V. (2013) Successful qualitative research: A practical guide for beginners. London: Sage. ISBN 9781847875815  Pdf available from University of West of England repository:- (accessed 2017-01-28)

El Hakim, Yaz, et al (2016), ‘The impact of RefME on the student experience’, report on research by University of Greenwich and Sheffield Hallam University

SCONUL (2016), SCONUL Focus, 67 [online, accessed 2017-01-20]

Shirley, Rachel (2015), ‘‘Not an ogre’: adult music learners and their teachers, a corpus-based discourse analysis’, [Poster presented at the SEMPRE Postgraduate Study Day (2015)]

Smalle, Michael (2016), ‘Better Engagement = Better Results’, Panlibus.  Issue 40, Summer, 4-5. [Online, via Issuu]

Starak, Yaro (2005/2014),’What is a Podcast’ [website:]

Consultations, Conferences, Headaches and Hyperlinks

It’s been quite a week!

Nonetheless, I have just completed the first draft of my research proposal.  I found a very convenient e-publication of a chapter by Clarke and Braun on qualitative research, and an equally useful document from the British Educational Research Association, with Ethical Guidelines for Educational Research.  Confident that I seem to have touched upon the most essential issues, I shall await feedback from my supervisor, but I’ll also very cautiously think about the ethical approval form, which is somewhat intimidating!

The abovementioned resources have been added to my research proposal bibliography, and will now be added to my full resource-list, too.  (They’ve already made it into my Mendeley account. I am a very model student with regard to bibliographical citations!)

Excuses, Excuses

Falling over my own shadow

This week didn’t go quite according to plan.  Thursday morning saw me flying gracelessly accidentemergencyn_2276103bthrough the air and landing awkwardly on one hand and the opposite knee, as I was walking along the side of my workplace. I survived work (because I didn’t want to take time off), took a choir practice, spent four hours in A&E, and walked home at 2 am with my hand in a splint.  Somewhat sleep-deprived, I got through Friday at work and did spend some time over the weekend revising my not-yet-complete project proposal, but not as much as I hoped.  All I can face now is to reread the instructions for the project proposal and familiarize myself with exactly what’s needed under each remaining heading.

Inspired by a TED talk: Nancy Duarte

I have, however, watched an interested TED talk by the author of one of our new library books that I catalogued on Friday.  Nancy Duarte’s The Secret Structure of Great Talks might not be of much relevance to e-resource interventions, but it is certainly informative as regards delivering inspirational presentations, so it it was time well-spent.  (I watched it three times!)  The basic message seems to be, contrasting “how it is now” with “how it will be with my great idea”, and ending up with “the bliss”, ie positive high-note to finish on.  I’ve been pondering how to incorporate this into the talk I’m booked to give at the University of Oxford next month.  The talk is virtually written, but I’ll be revising it! I always try to write my talks sufficiently early to be able to put them aside then revisit them a few days later, and I still have to put a PowerPoint together.

New book-stock for Education students

I’ll list my new cataloguing below – it might be useful to someone!  I ordered one of the books on Amazon for myself, as it looked so interesting, but I can’t go buying them all, so I might just borrow the Duarte book tomorrow!

Did you know, the homepage of our catalogue has a link to our latest books:- click the link at the bottom of the pink square:-

  • Catmull, Edwin, Creativity, Inc: overcoming the unseen forces that stand in the way of true inspiration (2014)
  • Cron, Lisa, Wired for story: the writer’s guide to using brain science to hook readers from the very first sentence (2012)
  • Duarte, Nancy, Resonate: present visual stories that transform audiences (2010)
  • Gilbert, Elizabeth, Big magic: creative living beyond fear (2015)
  • Griffith, Andy, Engaging Learners (2012)
  • Griffith, Andy, Teaching Backwards (2014)