Saturday, 6 October 2012

ALT-C 2012

I attended my first Association of Learning Technologists (ALT) Conference in September, primarily because I was co-presenting a short paper with my former line manager, Claire. Although the Conference was over 3 days, I only attended the day I was presenting, which was Wednesday 12th September.

The things that struck me immediately was that it seemed a bigger conference than i'd attended before (I don't know if it was) and that the format of it was very different to what I was used to. 

The format is what I want to explore because unlike other conferences I've attended with traditional keynote speeches and hour long workshops, this conference is multifaceted regarding the 'workshops'. This is in inverted commas as it needs an explanation. Where you would normally have an hour long conference workshop, ALT-C has a variety of things:

  • PechaKucha sessions of no more than 10 mins and 9 slides
  • Short papers (20 mins)
  • Symposia (60 mins)
  • Workshops (60 mins)
  • Demonstrations (30 mins)
  • Hybrids - combinations of the above (60 mins)

The sessions were in 1 - 1.20 hour blocks, so if you were attending the PechaKuchas or short paper sessions, you got a variety of presentations. This I found liberating because it meant that I was hearing about many different things in a short space of time, keeping me interested and alert.

My presentation was part of an Institutional Mainstreaming theme and in this session there were 4 presentations (inclusive of mine). I got to hear about:
  • Open University's final year projects that use a peer open forum to help students choose their topic
  • mainstreaming e-learning and innovation in higher education teaching
  • and possibly the most inspiring talk I have ever attended, about the use of lecture capture technology to deliver classes for students of the American University in Cairo (whose main campus is in Cairo's main square) during the Arab Spring
I especially like this as it means that even though you are presenting, you are not missing out on hearing about other people's experiences. I felt at the ARLG Conference I went to in June, I was missing out on very interesting sessions, as I was presenting when they were on. The short papers at ALT-C meant I presented for part of the session and then it was someone else's turn. Granted, I had no choice over what I was hearing about in this session but I felt I was learning something, rather than only sharing my experience.

The next 'workshop' I attended was a PechaKucha session. Claire and I went along to this, in support of my colleague Richard, who was presenting. Here (including Richard) there were 5 presentations, which gave a succinct overview of each topic. The PechaKucha sessions didn't have any overarching broad theme like the short papers, (other than their use of e-learninig technologies). They again provided an interesting and diverse range of presentations that kept the delegates engaged.

The last session I attended had the broad theme of Changing Learners. The presentations here were about using digital sorytelling for reflective practice and using social media as an audience response system. Again I got a brief introduction to the subjects. I think that when you are at a conference this is all you need. You can't take in all the information you are receiving, so for me I would rather take away lots of small introductory ideas and then follow up by contacting presenters, than hear something very in depth but then forgetting most if it due to an information overload. I appreciate that other people may want the in depth information and that option is available through the other 'workshops'. This variety is why I think that the multifaceted option of workshops offered at ALT-C is a fantastic idea.

Saturday, 8 September 2012

Marketing my LRC

Over the last few months, things in the LRC haven't gone very well. We feel like we are not valued at all by the senior management and despite efforts to convince that we are a very valuable service, we have taken a hit. So what to do to futureproof?

Marketing is my answer.

And that is why I have Ned Potter's Library Marketing Toolkit on my desk at work with post its sticking out all over and why I chose to go on the Marketing Libraries: strategic and creative communications for information professionals course.

The first session How do you like your eggs in the morning? provided a fascinating insight into how the University of Sunderland library market their service. They have created a 7 step toolkit to create marketing plans:
  1. Identify strategic direction
  2. Do SWOT analysis
  3. Profile customer segments
  4. Match offers to segments
  5. Transform offers into benefits
  6. Translate benefits into messages
  7. Plan communication campaign
I think that I already do part of this unconsciously and that I would benefit more by writing and recording it as they do at Sunderland.  I especially like the trees they used for feedback, which were visible and fun. You can see more about their marketing campaigns on their Pinterest page.

I have been told by my manager that he will get us (him, our e-Learning Manager and myself) a monthly slot on the senior management team meeting agenda, where we can promote our services and shout out about what we do. I would like to use the 7 step toolkit to start planning which services to promote. I therefore expect the handouts from this session to end up on my desk alongside the Library Marketing Toolkit book.

The second session was about Social Media Marketing for Libraries and this session reinforced what I have read in the Library Marketing Toolkit. Currently I have a Twitter and Facebook account for the LRC and that is quite enough. They are not updated as regularly as they should be and I wish to address that. I have started with Twitter by tidying it up and tweeting more, I now need to turn my attention to the Facebook page, to see what needs sorting and to start to use that more effectively. I know that there are College Flickr and You Tube accounts too and hope that I can make use of those in my social media campaigns.

The third session was about being consistent and creative with branding. I have spent the summer trying to do this with the current marketing materials that we have and the few new ones that we had to do. I am pleased with the overall effect of what has been produced, it builds on the excellent LRC Guide that was produced last year with bite size information and everything now has a College logo on, so that we are aligned and a part of the College brand. This I think may go some way to help build the reputation and value that we desire.

The final session of the day was about marketing in small specialised libraries (in this case York Minster Library) and looked at the library being a place to belong not just visit. Although this session was a very different type of marketing to what I would expect in an academic library, it was still useful, as well as being very interesting and excellently presented by Antonio Jiminez-Milian. What I got out of this session was that you can promote your values and what you want to be associated with by using status updates. To do this you retweet or like updates from bodies, institutions etc that share your values. So I will be reviewing my Twitter account again (and looking into this when I review the Facebook account) and looking at following people who share the same values as the College and LRC want to promote. 

I hope my efforts are not in vain and that indeed the LRC does build its reputation up and start to feel like we are valued and are an important part of the College.

Tuesday, 10 July 2012

MEG Lib Annual Meeting

This is my round up of the Mixed Economy Libraries group (MEG Lib) annual meeting. This was the first time I had attended this and I was presenting a paper with my manager. Sadly, my manager couldn't go, so I ended up having to do the presentation on my own, which was another first for me - or so I thought.

On the train to Birmingham, where the meeting was, I was trying not to worry too much about doing the presentation by myself. I quite suddenly had an epiphany and realised that actually it wasn't the first time I'd presented on my own. I, of course, had presented at University as part of my course and not only that but I was much more familiar with the subject I was talking about at this meeting, than anything I had done at University. Phew! Glad I got that sorted. So I continued my journey to Birmingham quite happy in the knowledge that I could do this.

The room that we were using was a lecture theatre and it was quite difficult to hear the people at the back, when I was at the front presenting. It was also a large room for the number of people attending. In my presentation, I had to try to remember not to touch the whiteboard as by doing so it moved the PowerPoint to the next slide, I have never encountered this before and it took me awhile to stop accidentally moving the presentation forward when I didn't want to. This is something I need to bear in mind when I present again. Apart from that little issue, I thought my presentation went well and again it provided much discussion.

Moving onto the other presentations:

EBSCO had a promotion slot talking about their new pricing structures for Colleges, based on JISC banding. This was of particular interest to me as I am tasked with increasing e-resources at work and these look like they will meet curriculum need. I will be looking into this soon.

Northampton College were presenting about their information skills programme and what I have taken from this is:

  • To pitch the ideas at the people paid to promote good practice
  • Self evaluate skills both at the beginning and end of sessions, to see where students have started and where they think they are afterwards
  • Put together a comprehensive programme but make all parts able to stand alone. This way students can dip in and out

Bradford College talked about their new building which they will move into in a couple of years time. It seems to be a cross between somewhere like I work and City of Bristol College, which I blogged about after the ARLG Conference. You can find that at http://traceytotty.blogspot.co.uk/2012/07/arlg-conference-2012.html. Sue Caporn from City of Bristol College, also did a session here about her library.

Croydon College presented about their new library and how that was working. Points to note for me were:

  • They went fully self service
  • Customer service skills are more important than library skills, when recruiting new staff
  • Roving helps with behaviour management
  • Text messages are used to inform students about reservations
  • They have a room check board system (like in toilets) to help manage self contained areas

I have gained a lot of knowledge from attending this meeting and have new ideas about how to move the service forward. Some can be implemented immediately e.g. check board and others will require funding and planning e.g. self service

Sunday, 8 July 2012

York Minster Library and Search Engine, National Railway Museum Visits

For our summer workforce development, I arranged a visit to York to see the Minster library and Search Engine, the National Railway Museum's (NRM) library.

We started off at York Minster Library, which is very old and looks like something from Harry Potter. They have floor to ceiling shelving around the rooms with the small books at the top and the large books at the bottom. This is because of the shelving design, which has the taller shelving at the bottom and the smallest shelving at the top. The cataloguing therefore is rather unique, the bays are numbered, then the shelves are numbered and the catalogue number is finally completed by how far the book is along the shelf. Easy!

We were treated to the delights of 'The Cage', which is a caged off area where the oldest books are. We got to see a book from the 16th century which contained 'all the knowledge in the world'. It started with the biblical stories and went through political history up until the then present time. It was fabulously illustrated and had been annotated by a previous owner. We discovered that as paper was originally very expensive, people would use every bit they had to write things on (including shopping lists). From 'The Cage', we went up the obligatory spiral staircase to the balcony area, where we saw some elaborately bound books. My favourite one was like a small handbag.

The second visit was to Search Engine at the NRM. Now being a railwayman's daughter and a bit of an anorak, this was tremendously exciting for me. We started off by being shown around the public area, which is light, bright and modern. Then we were taken down into the bowels of the NRM, to see the library archive area. Wow! 

They have a huge collection of blueprints of engineering designs. There was the original (signed by Stanier) copy of the Duchess of Hamilton blueprints laid out on table. We moved on to the book collection, with rolling stacks. That's rolling stacks, a library thing, not to be confused with the rolling stock, a railway thing. Although I suppose libraries can have a rolling stock, if they want but it would have nothing to do with trains. Search Engine's archive has allsorts of ephemera too such as a collection of railway tickets and we saw Stephenson's written design for the Rocket. From here, we entered the seriously cool (that's refering to the temperature) poster collection and original art collection. Many of these were used for promotion purposes and because of the materials used, have to be kept somewhat refrigerated. We were all very jealous that their climate control system works far better than the one we have at work.

We saw 2 very different libraries and both are seriously different to our FE library. They were incredibly interesting to go to and it was interesting to hear what kind of challenges they face, particularly regarding the preservation of each collection. The Minster was cool and their stained glass windows have had to have dark blinds put over them to keep the sunlight out. The NRM being a much more modern building has a state of the art climate control system, where we started off in a cool area and end up going into a very cold area. Any of these would be welcome at work, where our Office temperature can be quite tropical.

Sunday, 1 July 2012

ARLG Conference 2012

This post is going to look at the workshops I attended as a delegate.

Writing Right for Twitter by Meg Westbury. 

Meg was looking at how companies / institutions can engage and connect with their users rather than just putting information on Twitter. Her top tips are:

  • Know your audience
  • Clearly state the idea
  • Make the Tweets frequent and varied
  • Well thought out
  • Use short, descriptive and action words
  • Use headline formula
  • Write them knowing they might be shared i.e. don't use all 140 characters, leave room for comment

The workshop built in time for the delegates to rewrite example Tweets using Meg's tips. This was very popular and illustrated the need to think about Tweets before writing them. I will be trying to use these tips when Tweeting both at work and for my own account.

How to Make Yourself Almost Irreplacable by Steve Lee. 

Steve started the session with asking us to work in groups and write down what we dislike about supermarkets. The comparison being that as it is a customer facing business many of our dislikes of the supermarkets transfers to a library too.

His suggestion for improvement is to get out of the library. Go and talk to the tutors and find out what they want and need from the library, then see how we can meet those needs.

Top tips are:

  • Send new book and journal information to staff. This may take time initially but then the process can be automated, saving library staff time whilst still giving the tutors what they need
  • Respond in a timely fashion to any issues
  • Trial new ideas, if they don't work you can go back to your original way of doing things
  • Do surgeries in departments, you may need to be proactive to start with but it breaks down barriers and eventually work of mouth leads to people approaching you for advice and help. It was noted that roving skills are useful when doing surgeries.

At work there is a desire for the library staff to eventually become partly based in the departments. I think that if I can trial surgeries in the new academic year, this will help to make that transition.

LRCs and Flexible Learning Environments by Sue Caporn and Vicki Bowd. 

This was one of the most amazing ideas I've seen. Their library at City of Bristol College has no boundaries, basically if you are in a communal area, you are in the library. They have technology for people to borrow (all are catalogued on their LMS), the classrooms don't have PCs, they borrow laptops from the library and all the library staff have an ePICT qualification to ensure that they can help with any queries. They are hoping that eventually everything will be self issue.

This kind of idea, whilst innovative, would have to be a concept that is bought into throughout the College and might not work in buildings that have not been designed to cope with this strategy. I very much like the idea but somehow can't see it working where I work, although we do have equipment for loan and are looking to extend this.

Putting a Face to a Name by Leanne Young.

This looked at using technology with overseas distance learners. Leanne told us that currently distance learning is not done by VLE and that to help students she has been trialling free resources, as she doesn't have a budget to buy anything. She has used AnyMeeting to hold sessions with students. This requires a lot of preparation which she has done via Google docs to collate the information she has gathered in order to set up the meetings. She also makes heavy use of Tumblr, so that information is easily available to the students and in one place.

The scheme although quite small at the moment is very popular, with students being able to see Leanne and know that she is their to help them. She made the point that in some countries the librarian is not expected to be there to help students and part of what she wanted to do, was to get the message out that it is her job to help them and that they should feel free to contact her whenever they needed to. 

Although I don't work with distance learners per se, there are students who are not traditional learners and I think that some of Leanne's ideas could work with them. I look forward to trying some of them out.

I have totally enjoyed the Conference and have so many new ideas to think about. Some of them can be implemented straight away and others will take some planning. I hope that all will benefit and enhance the library experience. 

Saturday, 30 June 2012

Presenting at ARLG Conference 2012

I attended the inaugural ARLG Conference last week in Newcastle, both as a presenter and a delegate. In this post, I am going to write about workshops I presented. I will write a second post about what I attended as a delegate.

I was presenting a workshop with my manager and e-Learning Manager, about student experience, expectations and how we meet them. As we are relatively local to Newcastle (an hour's drive away) we were asked if we would present the session twice. 

The first workshop we did was in the Workshop 1 slot, so early in the Conference after the first keynote speech. I was quite nervous about it, as circumstances at work had meant we had prepared the workshop but not had time to practice. We had each practiced our own bits individually but it was not the preparation we had wanted it to be. 

At first the attendees were relatively quiet and I couldn't decide if this was because they were tired from travelling, unsure of interacting more or just plain bored. Once the session got into full flow and they started doing the tasks we'd set, they became more animated.

The second workshop we did was in the Workshop 3 slot, mid - late morning of the second day. It was held in a different room to the first one and had a stage / podium for the presenters. This I found daunting and slightly uncomfortable.

My style of presenting is that I physically point to things that are displaying on the electronic whiteboard e.g. particular things in my Powerpoint or where the login button is for a database etc. In this room the whiteboard was high on the wall and unreachable, so I had to modify my style by describing which part of my slide I was talking about. Also as my physical position was static, I felt I was hidden behind the PC and desk and when asked questions from the left hand side of the room (as I looked at it) felt as though I was peering out from behind the PC. It doesn't help that i'm not very tall. 

Whilst the stage made the presenter easier to see for the audience, it made me notice how much attention is focussed on the presenters. The elevated status of the stage compared to the floor level definitely draws attention. I feel much more comfortable at floor level where, although you are centre of attention as presenter, you don't feel as noticeable.

The attendees at this session were straight away more interactive than in the first session, I think because they were more comfortable with the dynamics of the Conference by this point. This put me more at ease on the stage. I did have a chance to get in amongst the audience during the tasks and this helped to break down any remaining barriers. This session I felt went better than the first one, as it had more contributions from the attendees.

In the end both sessions were successful with good contributions and discussions from the attendees. They were though very different due to the timing and the rooms.


Saturday, 19 May 2012

Branding

I googled myself and found my Twitter account at the top, followed by LinkedIn and Blogger links to my accounts. That I think is quite good. Last year there was only really my Twitter account to pick up. My blog and LinkedIn account were set up for and during cpd23, so in less than a year they have moved through Google's indexing (or whatever it is it does) to the top of the results. Now I have Yahoo-ed myself, that is interesting, the top 2 hits are professional things, a Conference I am presenting at next month and a Conference I presented at last year. I then disappear until 5th, where a presentation I did earlier this year is mentioned. It is very noticeable that none of my social media accounts are present.

As Mistee Mog is my moniker, I've ran this as a search too. Google picks up Twitter and Twitpic, the interesting thing here is that the Twitpic information is very out of date. I don't use it regularly but I have in the last few months sent some pictures from my phone to Twitter, I thought using Twitpic. Yahoo has picked up my Twitter account now and Trip Advisor, which I think i've used twice.

Overall I think my branding has went a little bit awry. What is out there I don't have a problem with people seeing, however the consistency I tried to get last year has disappeared. My Twitter and blog are both lilac / purple (my favourite colour), my blog is without a picture of me, as is my Twitter account which has Mistee Mog on still and my LinkedIn picture is me but at a wedding in 2005 - so out of date. As Google is picking up my Twitter, LinkedIn and Blogger accounts, I should revisit the consistency aspect of my branding.

Sunday, 13 May 2012

Investigate some other blogs

Right Thing 2 - well I've looked at some other blogs and commented. If I remember rightly, I didn't comment last year, I just lurked as I was terrified of commenting. I am getting better at commenting, not just on blogs but on Twitter too. 

I don't know why I have a fear of commenting, possibly i'm scared of making a total idiot of myself by sounding stupid - although that doesn't stop me from blogging or Tweeting. As I deconstruct this, I find myself thinking that I often comment on specific peoples Facebook and Twitter pages and that these people are people I genuinely know (I work with them, they are proper friends or are relatives). 

Narrowing this down then, I have a problem commenting on strangers' pages. I am trying to break out of this and go for it. I do occasionally manage it too, it is though still outside my comfort zone.

Thursday, 10 May 2012

Blogs and Blogging

I did cpd23 last year and completed it. I have signed up again this year to see how far I've come. I hope that this can help me become better at reflective writing too (Deja vu moment, I think I said the same in the equivalent post last year). I don't know if I will write something for every 'Thing', although my aim is to do at least a paragraph on each.

Since I set up this blog for last year's cpd23, I have changed the name of it (and am considering changing it again as it is still not very interesting), I have definitely become more proficient at blogging, I have started to use it to record all my cpd and suggested to my line manager that we could use the cpd23 model to deliver staff development at work.

The staff development has ended up a combination of taught sessions and self directed (using the cpd23 model). In order for my line manager and myself to get the most out of blogging, it has been set up on Wordpress. Both of us are used to using Blogger, so we decided to try an unfamiliar platform to help develop our own skills.

At the moment our consensus of opinion is that we prefer Blogger, this maybe because it is what we are used to but I can see what a powerful tool Wordpress can be. 


Wednesday, 2 May 2012

Social inclusion and disability in the LRC

After my little rant at the end of my last blog post stating that you do not need a huge amount of money to provide an accessible service, I thought it might be useful to let you know what we do in the LRC I work in. Firstly we have to adhere to College policies which really means no discrimination on any grounds and that is fine with me. I want the LRC to be for everyone and hope that patrons feel safe, secure, welcome and get a high quality service at all times. The LRC works closely with colleagues responsible for Additional Learning Support (ALS), Equality and Diversity and English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL).

Physical access


We are in a modern building with lifts, wheelchair access, induction loops etc already built in. During the design process, we asked for more adjustable tables and low shelving (no more than 4 shelves high) throughout, we got both. Most of our shelving is low, we do have some 5 high against walls and where possible I try not to use the top shelf for books. This policy I started before we moved to our purpose built College. I had 6 high shelving in the old building, which I reduced to 4 where I could through stock relegation. There were 2 other reasons for doing this, other than acccessibility, I had to do a massive weed due to the impending move and also the LRC was quite dark, so this was a way of making it lighter (I took the shelf tops off too) . We also have aisles wide enough for wheelchairs to go through. The shelving and aisle basics are one of my big bugbears when going into University libraries. I am yet to go into one that is providing this kind of accessibility.

LRC Guides


Our VLE pages and information / promotional leaflets are accessible. All meet the College guidelines relating to font, size and alignments, can be enlarged and printed on colour paper upon request. Our signage throughout the LRC is in a large font so it can easily be seen. The OPAC has the option to change background colours and font size, these are features inbuilt into the system we have. This was a big consideration when we bought it 2 years ago. The previous system did not offer this and we asked the developer to address this issue, they didn't despite repeated requests. This was not the only reason why we bought a new system though - that could be a whole blog post in itself. I realise that not everyone can go and buy a new circulation system that provides an accessible OPAC, you can though ask for it to be in development plans (and hopefully you will have more success than I did).

Resources


We have a wide range of resources that can help with accessibility such as large screen monitors, magnifiers, screen filters, screen readers, coloured overlays, laptops, Braille and large character keyboards, TV, DVDs and player, Videos and player, MP3 Daisy Reader, CDs, Audio tapes, large print, braille and e-books. We have Kindles which have audio (very automated) and fonts can be enlarged. Many of these are everyday items that do not require a huge amount of financial outlay and are really useful, sometimes you don't need to buy an expensive product to provide what the patron needs. If there is an item that successfully does the job in your high street store, Amazon or wherever - get it, chances are it is going to be cheaper than getting it from a specialist company (you can always compare prices before buying). I have also digitised whole books where an electronic version hasn't been available. This requires getting permission from the publisher, I e-mailed asking if they had an electronic version I could have (maybe incurring a small fee) or for permission to digitise the item myself, saying why I needed to do this. The publishers I have dealt with have given permission for me to digitise the whole book without charge.

Diversity


I work in a College with a very diverse community and part of the curriculum offer are ESOL courses. There are 2 main strands to this, the awareness raising of the different communities and the support for the ESOL students to succeed. The LRC participates in cross College events regarding cultural and disability awareness, we sometimes have a stall in the street (this is what we call our main corridor) promoting how we support whatever it is we are raising awareness of. We also have many displays in the LRC and a dedicated noticeboard for Equality and Diversity. For the ESOL students, we provide a range of texts, so as well as their textbooks, we have bilingual dictionaries, foreign language fiction and different levels of English fiction. The English fiction we have starts at gradiated level readers, moving onto Quick Reads level and then youth and adult fiction.

Where do we get our information?


Working closely with various specialist within the College helps, as they can inform and advise what to get and so can the patrons needing to use these services. I find JISC TechDis very useful, the MLA's Disability Portfolio (it is slightly out of date now but has some good hints and tips) and for all equality and diversity issues, we look at national websites for information. Also as good practice look at what your computers already have built in that can help. As I said in my last post, a little bit of thought, care and effort goes a long way, you can achieve a lot this way.

Note: The equipment and services mentioned in this post is not an extensive list, there are lots of other things we do / have. These are the ones that have come to mind whilst writing the post.


Sunday, 29 April 2012

Tackling social inclusion and disability issues in libraries

I thought that this might be a really useful session for picking up tips on how to make the library more inclusive. The talk started off with a brief overview of the Equality Act 2010 and then launched into different types of services offered by public libraries to make them inclusive such as housebound services. The talk then moved onto look at the 6 steps that the RNIB have to help blind and partially sighted people choose the right type of book using Your Reading Choices

The next part was about homeless projects that the presenter had been involved with in London. This started a debate over whether homeless people should be allowed into libraries, as one of the delegates had allowed a homeless person into the library she was working at, only for security to make them leave. The consensus of opinion was that if the person was disruptive, aggressive etc then they should be removed but they should not be made to leave if it is because they are considered undesirable in some way. This prejudice we all thought was probably illegal too.

Then the session moved back to outreach public library services and how they were under threat. At this point the presentation got somewhat bitty. There was brief mentions about enquiry services and electronic services, which I got the impression the presenter did not know much about, other than being a good thing for inclusion. There was not really any mention of how to promote these services or if library patrons have the knowledge to use them, and if not where do they acquire the knowledge? 

Diversity was briefly mentioned with an overview of LGBT awareness and Black History Month, before the talk moved back to public library cuts. There was then 2 slides about University cuts and how because students are paying more they are expecting more. It was specifically mentioned that University library opening hours in the UK (many now being 24/7) compare very favourably with overseas University libraries opening times. The fact that the libraries are not staffed by library staff all the time was not mentioned until it was pointed out by the delegates. Many Universities rely on their security staff during unsociable hours, so what kind of service are the students getting?

The talk then moved back to the public library cuts and the use of volunteers and work placement. The last part was a group discussion on what we do in our libraries. This was very useful as delegates worked in a variety of different sectors.

Overall the session was not the best I have ever been to. There was a heavy emphasis on public libraries, hardly any mention of ethnic diversity (which I would think plays a big role in libraries), few hints and tips, not much on modern assistive technology and nothing particularly positive about how to survive in the economic climate. The message I came away with was that there was no chance of social inclusion because of funding cuts. That for me is completely unacceptable, regardless of cuts, libraries must offer an inclusive service and I believe with a little thought, care and effort by staff, they can.

Monday, 23 April 2012

Heritage Intermediate Reports

Having spent nearly 2 years using Heritage as my LMS, I needed to get more out of it. Going on the intermediate reports course has hopefully helped me do that. Firstly it has given me a much better understanding of the syntax used in the reports and secondly, I can immediately see potential benefits for providing a better service and to help justify what the LRC does.

The training took place in IS Oxford's amazing headquarters The Chapel and as there were only 3 trainees, we all got a lot out of it. In addition to the reports training, the questions asked by the delegates has taught me even more. I now know that I can get a snapshot of my live data to practice on, that I can use the audit logs (as a last resort) to help sort problems and that I can set the system to ignore or include specific things.

I knew that Heritage was a powerful system that can be customised to individual library needs but until this training session, I had no idea how much tailoring can be done. I suspect that even this new knowledge is only the tip of the iceberg. So now what?

Work my way through the booklet provided at the session to consolidate my knowledge. Hopefully write the report that my Senior Librarian is after and then start applying my new knowledge to help determine priorities and work (especially for up coming summer jobs?).

Thursday, 5 April 2012

Chartership Chat: Evaluative Statement

This was the first Chartership chat I managed to attend, previous ones I was working and had a family birthday. I was especially keen to participate in this one because I am currently writing my evaluative statement. This post is going to look at how I managed with the chat rather than what the chat was about, as this has already been blogged (Thanks to Katy Stoddard) and the chat archived (Thanks to Jo Alcock). I don't want to duplicate.

I found it quite difficult to keep up at first, I think this was because of how I use Twitter. I don't have a Twitter manager, I just use Twitter as is. I am considering using a manager but haven't got round to sussing out the best one (needs to work with Android, if anyone has any suggestions). I ended up having 2 Twitter pages open because the search results page doesn't have a compose a Tweet box, so I had my Home page open for this - going back and forth between these didn't help me in trying to keep up.

I thought initially that an hour might be difficult to fill but actually it went very quickly and Tina Reynolds did a great job of keeping the conversation moving forward. After the chat had finished, I was tired, I don't know if this was because of the fast pace of the conversation, normally I follow in my own time rather than real time, or whether it was the way I was following it.

I really enjoyed particpating and getting useful tips and ideas from others who are doing or will be doing Chartership. I look forward to the next chat on 12th April about mentor/mentee relationships.

Wednesday, 4 April 2012

Successful Curriculum Integration and Support Webinar

This was the 2nd of 4 webinars that JISC are hosting. This session was about your library being an integral part of the curriculum. Thus demonstrating your value and worth to senior managers as well as being good practice.

The first talk was by Jane Spellman from Queen Elizabeth 6th Form College in Darlington, who I know quite well through local networking. Jane said that we need to be professional, know your institution, spot gaps and be proactive and shout about what you do. It's great to know that we are doing all the right things, so where do we go from here? I'll start where Jane and her team do a lot more than us:
  1. Using the Exam Officer to find out exactly which courses are running and which exam board they are using, so that we can then go and search online for upto date specifications.
  2. Passing along everything we do for a department to include in their self assessment report, at the moment we only send resource information (how much we've spent and on what)
I also especially liked that Jane included the poll feature in her presentation. This made it more interactive than the other webinar I had done.

The second presentation was by Ihar Ivanov and Lin Armstrong about their information literacy programme which puts the emphasis for learning on the students. The librarians and teachers act as faciliators for students who learn through self discovery, with assistance from their peers and the facilitators. The learning is documented via reflection and recorded using various Web 2.0 tools.

Mike Parker from Burton and South Derbyshire College did the final presentation. The main point of it was that they are very involved with curriculum delivery and are very close to the teaching staff. It sounds impressive until you actually analyse what they are doing in more depth. In addition to the information literacy librarians traditionally deliver, they are delivering functional skills for 11 hours per week. So they are actually doing the teachers' work but on the salary of a librarian / library assistants. This caused a bit of a stir from the webinar delegates who thought that the library skills were not being valued.

More information on the session and links to the speakers can be found on the JISC RSC wiki.

Monday, 2 April 2012

NE CILIP AGM Social media presentation

I went to NE CILIP's AGM last month, where Phil Bradley was giving a presentation. Aude Charillon has already written a great blog about it, so i'm not going to write it up myself, just provide the link to Aude's Social media talk at NE CILIP AGM post.

I have seen Phil present before and always find him very engaging and interesting. I came away from the talk with a very long list of websites to look at. My intention was to look at one a day until the list had been completed. This naturally hasn't happened.

However, I have made a start and have finally got a new start page (Netvibes) to bring my various social media accounts together. I don't know if I've added them all, I'm fairly certain there will be something lurking around that I've missed. I've also taken another look at LinkedIn and added some new stuff, although my profile is in desperate need of attention. That will probably be one of my next tasks. 

I have at least another 10 websites to check out and I will get there eventually, no doubt just in time to hear Phil do another talk and end up with another very long list!

Saturday, 10 March 2012

Promoting Your Service Effectively webinar

This was the first time I had done a webinar for real. Having had the trial run on the Friday, I was excited to be particpating in this session and it started inauspiciously with the PC failing to run Blackboard Collaborate, even though it worked on the PC on the Friday. I managed to get another PC to work and got myself set up for the session to start.

In this session, there was no video and the only people allowed to talk were the presenters and moderators, any questions had to be done through the chatroom. This I found strange and whilst I understand that not everyone would have a webcam, I thought the presenters would. It got even more strange when I figured that the moderators were controlling the presentation slides rather than the speaker. 

The session started with Ian Briggs from Walsall College talking about how they use Sharepoint to market their library services. They still have their VLE pages for students to use too and quite a few people wondered whether
  1. this was confusing for the students
  2. if there was a need to use both, as delegates thought there would be a lot of duplication
It was explained that Sharepoint was used to specifically market certain things to students, whereas the VLE contained wider information.

The second session Jane Parker gave an overview of New College Nottingham Learning Centre's Facebook project. Firstly students were asked what social media they would look at and Facebook came out top, which is why it was used. The most illuminating aspect of this project for me was that links are put onto Facebook about things that are subject specific, so if something has happened that students may want to read about (the death of Whitney Houston was used as an example), the Facebook page links to stories about that. I'd never thought about doing that, our Facebook page is used to say what is happening in the LRC but I think we could extend this to promote our electronic resources by linking to information of interest.

The next session was by Hazel Tickle at Wigan & Leigh College, talking about the use of Kindles and iPads. The Kindles are loaned for a week and students need to pay a refundable £5.00 deposit. Kindles are used to promote e-books with a wide variety being available. They can be voice activated and have a screen reader enhancement making them suitable for visually impaired students. I didn't know this and it is something that I will need to follow up in the quest to promote our Kindles more. The iPads can use the Kindle app and ebrary to help promote e-books but they also have educational apps on them. These are loaned out for 1.5 hours at a time to students.

Sadly at this point technical issues got in the way, the next presenter's sound was muffled making it difficult to hear and the final presenter's sound give up completely. It was therefore a rather mixed session. I found it very useful and have got some good ideas from it but it also shows that sometimes technology can be a hindrance rather than a help. There is a wiki page with information about the webinar.

Wednesday, 7 March 2012

Webinar

In preparation for last Monday's (5th March) Promoting Your Service Effectively webinar, I needed some training on how to use Blackboard Collaborate and to find out which of the LRC computers it would work with. As last Friday was a workforce development day at work, my manager organised for our regional RSC to do a webinar as practice and upskilling. I have used Skype before at home, which I guess could be considered similar, I have only had one to one video conversations on there though and never really use any of the other features it has.

After some initial technical hitches (some computers worked with Blackboard Collaborate and others didn't), nearly all of us managed to get signed into the session. Cam Swift (our moderator) took us through the various features and gave us tasks to do to reinforce what we were being taught.

Whilst we didn't have video, Cam did so we could see her. I got the opportunity to chat with my colleagues in either the communal chat room or in a private conversation, use the voting, emoticons and raise hands features and as we were seeing the different features it has, we got to draw over the presentation slides using the whiteboard annotations - everyone seemed to like that idea a lot, it is a good thing that the moderator can switch that part off though, otherwise there might be a lot of defaced presentations.

I very much enjoyed the practice session, I was very excited to be participating in the Monday webinar, whihc will be the next blog post I do.

MyPC User Forum

A few months ago there was an e-mail on the MyPC discussion list asking about user forums in various regions. The North East wasn't mentioned, so I replied asking if there was interest in one, offering a venue to host it etc. From there, I ended up organising one with the aid and assistance of Nick from ITS.

This is what I learned from the day:

Bradford College have moved from walk up bookings to advance bookings, to help with behaviour management. This is interesting as my LRC did that 3 years ago because we had no security having moved into a new building with teething problems. Now we are considering moving back to walk up bookings, as a way to move forward the service provision and free up staff time to do other LRC work. Our security is much better now, we have turnstile access (activiated by College ID cards) and classroom management software to block websites like Facebook at our busiest times. So if we move back to walk up bookings will the behaviour decline I wonder?

Features of MyPC that I would like to utilise that I didn't previously know about (this will require an upgrade - a summer job?).

  • MyPC can be booked using QR codes
  • Heritage can link with MyPC to show / block learners with fines or overdues. This can be done daily via updates for free or if you have the money, there is a live links version updating from Heritage Online.
  • There is a web app to show availability, that can be used on smartphones.
  • We can set locations so that only certain learners can use them (where we have specialist software on the PC) and retain the right to override if all other PCs are in use.

It was a very useful session with some great ideas to consider.


Thursday, 16 February 2012

A Match Made in Heaven

This was the first event hosted by the newly formed Northern Academic and Research Libraries Group (ARLG) and was about 'building an academic and research library service fit for the future'. The speakers were Annie Mauger (CILIP Chief Executive), Liz Jolly (Director of Library and Information Services, Teesside University) and Anne Rowlands (CoFHE Chair).

Annie spoke about what CILIP have been doing and where they are going, so remodernising, sorting out finances and making CILIP relevant to it's stakeholders, who are predominently academic and research librarians now. Advocacy is top of the agenda, having been the most mentioned topic in the member's consultation and Annie is certainly doing that with public libraries been the priority at the moment and the intention of educating Ministers as to the scope of libraries - a cross sector profession.

Liz talked about CPD and it's importance, how we need to embrace change and keep our skills relevant to demonstrate our worth and ensure our skills are valued. She used Teesside University as a case study, where she has implemented a scheme where any librarian doing Chartership gets their CILIP membership paid for for 2 years, their registration and portfolio submission fees are paid for, time is given to allow completion, candidates are accepted to go on relevant courses and there is an in house support group. Mentors are also found for Candidates from within the University Library. Having been able to demonstrate value for money, the University embrace and support the scheme.

Anne discussed the merger between CoFHE and UCRG, which lead to the forming of ARLG. It was the pilot project as far as SIG mergers went and Anne and Amanda (UCRG chair) spent a lot of time asking CILIP questions about various aspects, some that even they couldn't answer. The formation of ARLG has proved to be a learning curve for all groups involved including CILIP and probably isn't finished yet. Currently there is a call for people to apply for national committee and the local groups are starting to get together, which no doubt will throw up a lot more unanswered questions. There is a joint UCRG / CoFHE North East meeting next month where how we will proceed will be looked at.

Monday, 23 January 2012

The Learner Journey using Learning Resources workshop

Last week, my manager Claire Donlan and I did a workshop at the Moving on up... School/FE/HE transition event at Durham University, about the learner journey in our LRC for students coming in straight from school. This covered the inductions, ongoing support and what we hope they gain (transferable skills and a positive experience of using learning resources) from their time using our LRC.

For the workshop, we thought we would like to do something a little bit different and decided on using Prezi rather than PowerPoint, QR codes for one task and a quiz using an audience response system for another. This was a daunting undertaking, what if the technology let us down? After much deliberation we decided we would take the chance and just go for it anyway.

Although we worked on the content of the Prezi together, Claire put it together and did all the preparation setting up the QR codes, getting them printed out (a big thanks to Hilary for cutting them to size), preparing the quiz questions and linking the voting handsets to it. We hoped we had thought the whole thing through, taking with us the LRC's iPod Touches and our own smartphones (in case delegates didn't have access to a QR code reader via their own phone). We used Claire's laptop linked to a pocket projector to display the quiz questions, as we didn't know whether the University used the same smartboards as our College. The Prezi we were fairly sure would run OK on the University's computers, as it web based.

On the day, Claire was unwell and bravely came along, as in addition to not wanting to let anyone down,  she had all the equipment. We always felt that it would either be fabulous or disasterous and thankfully it was the former. When we got to the QR code exercise where we asked delegates to rank what they considered the most useful marketing tool of those given by the QR codes, everyone was excited to be having a go, most had their own smartphones although some QR code readers struggled to read our codes. This exercise produced a great deal of debate within the groups. The next task using the audience response system again was met with interest and excitement, and even though we were running out of time and lunch was beckoning, everyone wanted to answer all the questions Claire had set - these were about how feedback was collected from students.

Our gamble to go for it definitely paid off and the workshop was a great success. We are now going to refine what we did here, particularly how the pocket projector displayed and hope to have an even better workshop ready for the joint CoFHE / UC&R Conference in June.

For more information about what we covered in the workshop, please follow the links as Claire has already blogged about various aspects:

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Making better use of e-resources

At the beginning of the year, or possibly late last year, an e-mail came through from Credo Reference informing me that some e-books had bee...