Posts tagged ‘libraries’

June 11, 2014

Academic liaison and outreach

The CPD25 event “Supporting our users – Current trends in academic liaison and outreach” on 15th May aimed to provide an overall view about academic liaison including the techniques used and the knowledge and skills required.

The session did provide a good overview and gave me a good board sense about what academic liaison involves. Finding out about the range of terminology used was interesting particularly as I had the impression that the roles in different institutions were essentially the same. However with variations in the job titles that included subject librarian, academic liaison librarian, academic support librarian or even an information consultant, I was made aware that the terms used could be related to the emphasis placed on the role i.e. whether the role is about being a subject specialist or focused on liaison skills.

A breakdown of the key aspects of academic liaison was insightful as this help with providing a sense of what the role can involve and some of the requirements of individuals in these roles. I felt that whatever capacities these roles form they are a key part of an academic library because as the speakers highlighted they contribute towards developing links between the library and academic departments, building trust and managing expectations, along with developing and maintaining collections. I liked the list of attributes considered to be important for these roles and how far ranging they were, including having subject knowledge, good communication skills, patience, being a strategic planner, a facilitator, and a diplomat.

Having comparisons helped to build up a broad picture of the how these roles sit within different institutions. The case studies presented gave an idea of what an average day is like for the Information Specialists at King’s College Library Service. These made me aware about how they manage with large departments spend across various campuses or the variety of departments that have different needs and levels of engagement. Also during the session it was good to have the opportunity to hear from others who worked in small colleges or institutions without specialist staff and this made me further appreciate how varied the liaison work can be.

The new models of staffing structures in some institutions it will be interesting to see how they play out. As these are based on functions rather than having specialists. It will be interesting to know if they will be by the lack of expert knowledge or if a work varied workforces means that departments become more integrated with the library because there is not a single point of reference.

From what I could gather the current issues affecting academic liaison roles seemed to be ones beyond the control of an academic liaison librarian, for example the expectation of students and the idea that everything is on the web. Also the changes with departments meaning their workloads are increasing and focus on scoring systems such as the National Student Survey.

With the changes within institutions it will be interesting to see if the academic liaison role is one that will be continued to be valued.


May 2, 2013

Lib Camp London 2013

This is my reflection on the Lib Camp in London held at Senate House Library on Saturday 2nd March 2013.

Normally the idea of going to a conference fills me with the dread somehow the ‘unconference’ has a different draw. This being my second one and I knew to expect the unexpected. Basically it was an unstructured day of library professionals meeting together to share and discuss various issues relating to the library and information world. It was a great event for discovering the range of issues and areas of the libraries that would not be possible at other conferences.

Points I picked up from the talks

Hidden Collections
Session led by Katie Birkwood

  • RLUK Report highlights issues with cataloguing, collections not digitised may be ones users expect to see
  • Study days can be used to promote hidden collections and have input from stakeholders
  • Possibilities of using crowd sourcing technology
  • Suggested pilot project: catalogue a small number of items from collection and involve non special collection staff
  • Catalogue with input from users such as reviews, report errors, tags. However there may be the need to consider having tag controls
  • Talks and blogs can be good ways of explaining why material might be of interest to researchers
  • Catalogue search results can reveal the items in collections which reader are looking for but has not been catalogued
  • Arrange 1:1 sessions
  • Projects could involve museum and archives students who can discover the collections

What I learnt

  • Variety of issues with hidden collections
  • Lots of opportunities
  • Time and money are key issue

Radical Libraries
Session led by The Itinerant Poetry Librarian and Alice Corble

  • Alternative libraries brings to light the role of libraries and their purpose
  • Some examples of Radical Libraries
  • Street Books, USA

– Access to libraries provided to homeless people

– Mobile library on bike going to where the homeless people are. Provides books of interest. Follows up on progress of readers

– It was pointed out that San Francisco libraries employ social workers

  • Radical Reference

– On the street reference service at gatherings such as conventions
– Involved with the Occupy Movement
– Online presence people can ask questions and passed onto someone who knows

– Open Knowledge Foundation

  • A47 Truck Library

– Special Collection of Art to be opened and while waiting set up a mobile library in a truck.
– The mobile library can be opened up and even has a stage.

  • Mile High Reference Desk: Library on a plane

– Matches information to destination
– Online chat
– Provides reading material

  • Itinerant Poetry Library

– Special collection of lost or forgotten poetry

  • Fanzine Libraries
  • Montreal Alternative Libraries
  • Issues facing radical libraries

– Funding (Private, charity, HLF)

– Public library model
– Volunteers
– Special collections
– Community led
– Political agenda
– Self appointed librarians
– Self defining
– Mixture of professional and non-professionals
– Collaborate with other organisations such as art which do outreach projects.

What I learnt

  • How radical libraries serve the public

Cycling for libraries
Session led by Graham Seaman

  • Information about ‘Cycling for Libraries’ Tour which this year is in the Netherlands
  • Proposal to start ‘Cycling for libraries UK’

What I learnt

  • Nice way of discovering libraries and raising their profile.

Swearing in libraries
Session led by Richard Veevers

  • Discussion opened with consideration of the linguistic and historic origins of swear words
  • Understanding of swearing and the intention could help with assessing a situation

What I learnt

  • Need to have an understanding and awareness of people

Librarians and personalities types
Session led by Rosie Hare and Andrew Preater

  • Consideration for what personalities are associated with a librarians.
  • Think about the different professional roles in libraries and how personalities suited certain roles.
  • Thought about the differences between introverts and extroverts

What I learnt


  • Surprised at how many extroverts are drawn to the profession
  • People make adjustments for the their colleagues personalities in order to make it easier to get the job done.
  • There are many contradictions of the stereotypes of librarians.
  • Some of the stereotypes are positive and depends entirely on the situation.
July 27, 2012

Visit to the Museum of English Rural Life

Being an urbanite a visit to the Museum of English Rural Life was one where I found it difficult to form expectations. My experience of the country is one of simply passing through and a means of escape from the city. However I had only ever witness rural life on television or films and felt my knowledge to be very limited. To go as part of the professional visit meant I was prepared to take in as much as I was able.

The visit took place on Thursday 19th July. The new experiences started upon arrival to Reading. This was the first time I have walked through Reading and seen more than just the train station. It is a strikingly beautiful town and does not have that crowded (with regards to buildings) feeling of London.

 Not knowing what to expect from The Museum of English Rural Life none the less I was impressed. I believe it presented a very a specialised subject in a very considered way that drew you in. Although I was rather put out when greeted by a straw man, the kind you might find in grisly fairy tales and not the one helping Dorothy. However the straw moustache did soften its features a bit. This encounter only occurred after being welcomed by the friendly staff at the front desk.  

 We given were an insightful presentation and tour about the library and archives. I particularly liked that the library is housed in former student halls for residence making the spaces more private.

 The library and archives had a wonderful collection that was impressively diverse.

Some of the highlights of the collections we were shown included a farm diary from the 18th century, a first edition of the Origin of Species, a book on four legged beasts which included peculiar illustrations including an elephant with web like feet.

 I thought it was good that they had a discovery resource tool for searching the catalogues as the library and the archives collections are on two different systems.

 I liked how the Museum arranged its object collections by material which was an interesting way of displaying collections. I like the range of crafts that were on display, the clothes and the wagons. Our host rather intriguingly drew our attention to a mystery object which was made out of metal and had two small tennis-sized balls attached to a metal chain. We were informed that it could either be a curtain draw or sheep’s contraceptive.

May 17, 2012

London LibTeach Meet 2012

I attended my first LibTeach Meet on Monday 14th May as an “Enthusiastic Audience Member” and was glad to find there were plenty of others as well as a good selection of presenters and cake. I went along because I am interested in the library professional roles that involve aspects of teaching and this seemed an ideal opportunity to learn about these.

 The Event

Overall the event had a very positive vibe and this is always encouraging as I am just starting out in this profession. This is also the first event I’ve been to with lots of short presentations and I was intrigued about how these could be done. There was healthy mix of presentations, visual aids and activities. I learnt about the interesting and varied ways library professionals deliver information literacy and literacy skills.  

The Talks

Here are my highlights of the presentations. At the time of writing this further information about the talks is due to be added to the London LibTeach Meet website:

Curating with students and teachers

Sue Merrick

Sue’s made me aware of the web resources available to curate the web and share content. The examples given were “Jog the Web”, “Symbaloo”, “Scoop it”, “Diigo”, and “Netvibes”. These are tools I would be interested in exploring.


How can public librarians engage with homeless people through outreach activity?

Ka-Ming Pang (presenting on behalf of Carly Miller)

Ka-Ming brought to my attention the efforts being made in public libraries to provide support for homeless people and the issues they face. The key points made about what public libraries can provide included free computers, bibliotherapy, literacy training and study spaces, marking out the overall importance of public libraries within society. Understandably there are issues about how public libraries provide access to these services however a working model was highlighted in the form of the Quaker Mobile Library.


A game to teach less confident speakers about resources

Adam Edwards

Adam involved the audience in a game that was a good example of how to improve information literacy skills. We had to sort out different coloured cards that described types of resources such as a book, journal or the web. The descriptions were written in such a way that really did make you think about each resource and how someone could make sense of them.


Teaching technical skills to non-technical types

Kate Lomax

Kate drew my attention to the types of self-taught technical training courses library professionals are doing and how the “cpd23 Things” offers a good model for these online courses.

Engaging diverse learners through audio technologies

Anne Pietsch

Anne brought to my attention the types of audio technologies being used by students such as voice recognition and Text-to-Speech to help with reading and that awareness needs to be raised about these technologies.


Start at the beginning: Differentiated uses of covers and starts

Barbara Band

Barbara presented an interesting example of how to improve literacy of younger students in schools. Barbara showed examples of cards with book covers on them which were less intimidating than a whole book. Activities included working out the genres, and reading different ‘starts’ in order to decide which the best one is. I particularly liked the idea of the one where students had to read a ‘start’ of a book and then do some creative writing based on it.

Cultural Awareness

Suzanne Rushe

Suzanne presented an interesting way of trying to overcome the issues between the front line library staff and their interaction with international students at university. She gave an example of an activity where members of the audience were issued with a card that told them they were from a particular planet and had a certain greeting. They then had to find another person from their planet by greeting the other selected members of the audience. Straight away it was clear how awkward it was to greet someone because of the extreme differences such as someone trying to shake hands with someone who couldn’t touch people. Once the task was completed members of each group were asked how they felt and some pointed out how isolating it was and it was a relief when they found someone who was similar to them. Suzanne also gave another example of activities that got staff to think about their own cultural backgrounds and share this with other members of staff.


Skills Days

Alison Chojna

Alison presented an interesting example of an all day drop-in sessions of university students. The flexibility of the sessions sounded good as students could turn up at a time that suited them and they were given training material to work through at their own pace.


Search Preparation: Reaching mixed users

Julia Abell

Julia provided a comprehensive overview of the skills and knowledge required by library professionals in order to support a variety of users when they are conducting research.

May 16, 2012

The Netherlands Library Study Tour

Now that I have started with this blogging I really feel I ought to share some of my professional development activities that I’ve enjoyed. I joined a tour organised by the CILIP’s Career Development Group of libraries in theNetherlandswhich took place in April and was definitely enlightening. The programme devised was enticing, which included:

  • the medical library of Academisch Medisch Centrum, Universiteit van Amsterdam;
  • AmsterdamCentral Public Library;
  • Library and information service of Koninklijk Instituit voor de Tropen (KIT) (Royal Tropical Institute);
  • PeacePalaceLibrary: The international law library;
  • and the Koninklijke Bibliotheek (The National Library of theNetherlands).

All proved to be rewarding in their offerings, and inspiring. I am writing a comprehensive article about the tour which will include highlights, a few of which include a library I wanted to pack up and bring back home with me; excellent examples of digital libraries; and a very special collection which required extra special supervision. I will write a post on this blog about each library visit giving a bit more insight.