I was delighted to have the opportunity to attend a TeachMeet at UCD Library on the 27th June 2014. It was my first time at such an event and it was great to have the chance to focus on instruction and
training in libraries, especially as this is a key area in my current role. TeachMeet began with networking activities in the lovely new collaborative working space in the James Joyce Library. We then moved into a learning space for the “practice shares”, an opportunity for attendees to present on topics currently relevant to them.
Gráinne McCabe from RCSI gave us an overview of the challenges faced by her team in holding “Bring Your Own Device” training sessions where library users bring their own laptops and smartphones to the sessions. BYOD presents logistical challenges such as library staff having to deal with different devices, some of which may need programmes installed. Time can be wasted getting people set up which leaves less time for actual instruction. However there are benefits in utilising BYOD for training sessions as the informal set-up of group tables and flexible seating is more favourable when compared to a traditional PC lab environment. Keeping sessions dynamic was also noted as being a key part of their success. Gráinne emphasised making the best use of the space available to you by being prepared before the session and making yourself aware of acoustics and other spatial issues.
I presented the second practice share called “Rethinking Inductions”, where I gave an overview of how and why the library at Mason Hayes & Curran decided to revamp our current induction process for new trainee solicitors. Moving towards a workshop format with lots of interaction and more time for engagement was the key change in helping new trainees get the most from their library induction. The main point I aimed to convey was that it’s a useful exercise to review existing training formats even if they appear to be working well as there’s always the potential for improvement.
Aisling Conroy from NCAD gave us an overview of how the Visual Resources Centre at NCAD library supports students of art and design in their research. ArtStor and the NCAD Digital Image Library provide online access to images from across the world in all periods of history of art and design, which greatly furthers research possibilities for library users. The Visual Resources blog run by the Centre promotes online resources and helps users keep up-to-date with new materials being added.
Anne Madden from St.Vincent’s Hospital was the last of the presenters with the intriguingly named “Teaching the ask” practice share. She encouraged us to help our library users think critically by asking them questions which help them to learn to ask their own questions. There was also the useful reminder of keeping focused on “jobs to be done” – what the user needs to accomplish and how you can help them to accomplish it. Finally Anne suggested that an enthusiastic tone and an appearance of interest in the research or problem can do wonders in having a positive and successful interaction with our users.
After reviving ourselves with tea and cake, we worked in groups to discuss “Teaching Challenges”. These challenges were submitted by TeachMeet attendees at the beginning of the event so it gave us the opportunity to engage with issues our colleagues are experiencing. After the group discussions we then shared our perspectives on the challenges with everyone at the event. Interestingly, the same topics and concerns seem to have been discussed in all the groups, which highlights that despite our different library environments, so many of the issues we face are shared. Some of the challenges discussed were teaching for future need, aiming to establish the library as a positive space, using instruction space as effectively as possible and seeking peer-to-peer feedback. It was very useful to hear how others deal with the variety of issues and was encouraging to feel that we are all working towards similar goals.
Thanks to Jenny Collery, Michelle Dalton and Avril Patterson for organising such a great event – I’ll definitely be back!
*Image and poster design by Melanie Simpson, copyright UCD Library.