A Barbarian in the Reading room

Welcome to my blog

 

Why this title? Well in my last school job I had a reading (as in reading a book) room and this was used on Open Days by the Learning Support Department. At one such event they put up a notice saying Leaning Support and I said "Oh I suppose this is the Reading (as in UK town to the west of London) Room now." They retorted by naming me the Barbarian and it has sort of stuck.

 

Sadly, this blog does not include much about Reading (as in the UK town to the west of London) or barbarians but will contain my thoughts on issues in the library and information world and also detail some of the events I have attended, places I have visited and courses I have run. Enjoy!

Barbarian gathering LILACs, CATS and a few other things

By sjpavey, May 16 2015 01:01PM

April kicked off with a wonderful visit to the amazing LILAC conference - this year being held in the Northern metropolis of Newcastle Upon Tyne. It was my second trip to this city in as many weeks but this time I had a travelling companion in Dr Carol Webb and so we completed much CPD and ideas for the revised edition of the Innovative School Librarian on the trip. Base Camp was the Premier Inn on the Quayside and we were at first a bit alarmed to find out the bridge opposite is home to the largest inland breeding colony of Kittiwakes. Luckily the hotel had good double glazing and my room was at the back - these birds are LOUD! In the evening we went on a magical mystery tour in search of an Irish music session and food - this was supplied by the Cumberland Arms and a surprise Lebonese resteraunt called The Bake (copious amounts of tasty food for a good price!).


Early the next morning we set off for the conference. The keynote was given by Julia Jones who stood in for Tom Wilson at the last minute to tell us about Unionlean - a great initiative for CPD for Union members and emphasising the need for information literacy skills from employers as a necessity for effective working practice. After a break to look at the stalls and the poster exhibition I found my room and set up my presentation What Does Independent Learning Feel Like? This presentation considered how to engage with text using visual literacy principles. It was a packed room with all spaces taken and a few more squeezed in! All the delegates were happy to join in with the exercises and the photo below shows some of the active learning we enjoyed. I was a bit disappointed that I was scheduled against Helen Blanchett and Lisa-Jane Ashes' session on Hunting assumptions: encouraging creativity and critical reflection through collaboration. This was another fantastically interactive session with Lisa's thought bombs and more. After a good lunch and lots of networking I attended Carol Webb's session in which she described the research for her PhD How can we raise information literacy levels in the secondary school? Again this was well attended and Carol showed us how easily we can make assumprions whereas the research indicates very different values placed on information literacy by teachers in schools. I then moved on to the talk from Leeds University about their Experimental Week. This approach to teaching and learning was devised to help librarians step outside their comfort zone in the delivery of IL skills. They also made reference to another LILAC session that I unfortunately missed but sounded intriguing - The Fishscale of Academicness which compares academic information sources with sea creatures and their dwelling places. Next on the list was an interesting take on teaching IL Skills at Hull University. In trying to cope with engaging with huge numbers of students they had decided to step away from specific embedded teaching within faculties and address the masses with a one size fits all approach. I am not entirely convinced that this works as personally I feel there is a big divide between arts and sciences students and even aside from content surely the timing of delivery needs to be considered too - those studying humanities tend to need IL Support from the first year whereas it could be argued that science students do not really begin investigative and independent learning until later in their course after the basic facts have been learned. The final session was titled Inspire to enquire: creative techniques for creative students. This was delivered by a team from University of the Arts, London (UAL). They showed us some interesting ideas such as using 3D objects such as Barbie dolls to invite questioning from students, posting 3D objects through the mail (I am sure there is a good adaptation here for school libraries exchanging with each other and creating a shelf of curiosities received) and they also shared their wonderful idea for visual learners and ESL students for an induction where they used drawing to show their engagement with the library. Sadly this enlightening session was also set against another that I would like to have attended which addressed the content of the transition year between Year 11 and Year 12 in the Irish Education System and using this for outreach work on information literacy. This experiment was conducted in three Dublin schools by Maynooth University . We rounded off the conference day with a quick dash back to the hotel to change into evening wear and then back to the Civic Centre for the Conference Dinner.


Next on the agenda was to write my chapter for the forthcoming School Library Association's updated edition of Sixth Sense. I am going to be looking at teaching Academic Honesty to the Sixth Form which ties in nicely with the online course I have written for the SLA.


I also ventured up to CILIP to discuss some ideas for their VLE and to think about how we could develop some CPD for school librarians which would fit with the PKSB for those thinking about Certification, Chartership or Revalidation.


Later in April I went up to Cambridge to CATS College to offer some consultancy on the library whcih will be relocated to a new campus. They will be splitting off the higher education branch and the school will be housed on the new site. The librarians though will be responsible for both areas. The emphasis will be on digital learning and so there was a lot to discuss and think about. It will be interesting to see it all in action in September.


The month rounded off with catching up with Martin Neyland and Ken Wickstone at the Access-It Roadshow. Here they were demonstrating the fantastic new features for rhe new look OPAC. Some such as the One Search that allows you to search the catalogue and other databases at the same time are already a new addition to the old system but others such as drag and drop personal dashboards, browsing statistics (for those books left lying around in the library after a lesson or breaktime and are obviously used but not borrowed) and a book carousel option are all new additions.


Finaly my busy month ended with tapping into the Library 2.015 conference Emerging Future: Technology and Learning Although prodominently American I always find this free online conference useful and this year was no exception. Downloadable from here


...and so onwards to May which looks equaly busy. which is rather good


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