Tuesday, 9 July 2013

Library Camp North East

I have heard a lot about Library Camps in the last year and wondered what they would be like, so I was excited at having one in the local area. I wasn't sure what to expect except for cake - an absolute must at these events. I knew the theory about them - whoever shows up are the right people and what we discuss are the right topics. 

This is actually a very refreshing idea because so many times I can look at conferences or training days and think that it is a narrow scope or predominently (to the point of exclusively) aimed at university libraries and whilst there is crossover in some areas, many current hot topics for universities are not for colleges until much later. Although it is good practice to have a wider knowledge and keep up with these things.

So an unconference, where anything can be discussed, surely would have a broad scope and diverse attendees. And so it proved to be, attendees where from assistant up to senior management level and from many different sectors which was wonderful. I got to meet new people from public and specialist sectors, many who have the same issues as I do in my library. I always find it reassuring that it isn't just me or my sector that has 'x' problem and it is fabulous that I can discuss with colleagues from the wider sector their approaches.

I very much enjoyed the Library Camp and recommend to others to go to one if you have the opportunity. It is a great way to discuss important issues in an informal manner.

Monday, 8 July 2013

ARLG Members Day

This was quite a long time ago now - 15 May at Regent's College which we now have to call Regent's University. I was especially interested in the sessions about partnerships with academics and creating learning hubs. These are both things that get spoken about a lot where I work, sometimes that's a good thing and other times it worries me.

Partnerships with academics

The partnership is similar to our curriculum liaison only dealing with specialist collections. This session discussed the proactive approach at Goldsmiths, University of London to marketing and making the most of their specialist collections by targeting groups and showing them what can be done for them. It raises awareness of the resources, their content and the profile of the department. I think that this is a very important aspect of library work because it demonstrates a high level of professionalism from the library staff and helps consolidates the importance of the library services to their institution. For many years we have tried to forge close links with the curriculum staff at the College and have had varying degrees of success. This year I think we have made a significant breakthrough by attending directorate meetings that give us an overview of the wider department and what their plans are. Now that there is a foothold, we can build on this and maybe this is a way forward. We have a wide range of resources many that are underused, with more awareness and targeted promotion of them they may start to get used more.

Creating learning hubs

This is something that worried me or so I thought. The term learning hub has been used to decentralise the library I work in and that is something I don't want to see happen. It feels like a step backwards because we were orignally on 4 sites and have been brought together onto 1 purpose built site. This session however wasn't actually about this kind of learning hub, it was looking at a new way of delivering information literacy and integrating the library into teaching and learning. This proved a very timely session for me, as my College are currently piloting self supported study which they hope to roll out across the College next academic year. My Senior Librarian and myself realise that this potenially could have a huge impact on our services and are going to review our information literacy provision during the summer to take into account these changes.

Going to the ARLG Members Day was extrememly useful for me, it has given me lots to think about and has provided a starting point from which I can review and build on my library's services.

Sunday, 10 February 2013

Mobile Technologies webinar

I signed up for this webinar as I was curious to find out what other institutions are doing and to see if anyone had anything to say about using tablets in College. I wasn't disappointed, the presentations covered roving with an iPad and lending iPads to students. Both of these are to be introduced in my LRC within the next year.

iPads are good to rove with because they have a good battery life according to Jackie King, from Reaseheath College. She hasn't compared them to tablets so that is something I will need to consider before buying ours. A case or bag is needed to carry it, thus freeing up your hands and so that you don't put it down and then forget about it. I think that is especially important, whatever I get to carry it in though will depend on what I buy, as size and shape will be a factor. Jackie gave a list of free apps that she found useful for library staff to have on. This was interesting because at the moment I can't see my staff needing to use any apps, just internet. The purpose for me of introducing iPads or tablets, is to provide a better customer service by negating the need to go back to the enquiry desk to use a PC. I would like the ability to have apps, as I believe this is the way forward and I'm sure that once we are using the tablet or iPad, we will discover useful apps - Jackie's list will be a good starting point.

The second presentation was from Ihar Ivanou of North Warwickshire and Hinckley College, where they already lend iPads to students. They are lent for 4 hours, are issued from the LMS and the library try to make sure they are charged before lending. Students are allowed to use them for what they want, there have been no thefts and sometimes the iPad needs to be cleared of apps that students have downloaded. Originally students were asked to sign an agreement for use before they were allowed to borrow the iPads, this has since been abandoned as it was too much paperwork and the College agreement that students have to sign cover them anyway. This was of particular use because we have not decided yet how to loan out our tablets or iPads. There is an exisiting equipment for loan service, where staff can borrow different types of equipment to either aid their teaching or to help students do work. At the moment there are sets of netbooks that can be borrowed if the classroom does not have PCs. In the LRC, there are laptops for loan within the LRC for groupwork purposes or for when all PCs are in use. As we are looking at the tablets / iPads to replace the netbooks and laptops, we haven't decided whether to keep the same system as we have now or to change it, hearing Ihar has given me much to think about. Although it won't be solely my decision, I can take this information to my colleagues for consideration.

Wednesday, 30 January 2013

IOSH Managing Safely


Having recently been nominated the LRC health and safety representative, I found myself going to meetings and not having a clue about the subjects discussed. That isn't to say I didn't know anything about health and safety, I have a rudimentary idea, know it is important and common sense often tells me if something is a hazard. However, I wanted to know more and be in a better place to be able to represent my department and help contribute to the overall College strategy, so when the opportunity came up to attend the IOSH Managing Safely course, I was only too glad to sign up.

It was taught over 4 consecutive days, which is very intense for any course and on the 4th day there was even an exam to sit. I would have preferred a day a week or a short evening course, however I'd signed up so I had to get on with it.

The course covers:

·         Introducing Managing Safely

·         Assessing risks

·         Controlling risks

·         Understanding your responsibilities

·         Identifying hazards

·         Investigating accidents and incidents

·         Measuring performance

·         Protecting our environment

All are interlinked especially when you come to do risk assessments, which is the final project on the course. It also proved timely from the point of view that the LRC risk assessments need updating and having done this course; I am more confident in doing the risk assessments and understand more what I’m looking for and why. These are ongoing currently, I haven’t had time to do them all yet for this year. One of the most positive things for me to come out of the course was being able to understand the reports I was reading that come to me as part of the Health and Safety Committee meeting papers. I know that if I hadn’t done this course most of it would have had to be explained to me. I would definitely recommend doing this course if you have health and safety responsibilities and believe me when I say - you all do, the buck might not stop with you but everyone is responsible for health and safety.

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...