19 May 2015

UKSG 2015: Experiences of the studentship bursary

Guest post by Saoirse Reynolds, Library Assistant, Maynooth University Library

 I have been working in MU Library for 3 years now. My first post was as a postgraduate student, working with the Facilities Team – you can see a poster I presented at the Academic and Special Library Conference 2015 at MU Library e-prints. After getting my MA in Irish History from Maynooth University I took up a post as a Library Assistant and shortly after that commenced the Masters in Information and Library Studies from Aberystwyth University by distance education. Earlier this year, I applied for a UKSG bursary to attend the annual conference in Glasgow and was thrilled to win one of the three student bursaries. This meant that in addition to having all the costs of attending the conference met, I also had a mentor at the conference.

Photo by Simon Williams: Bursary Winners receiving prizes from Sage & Springer Bursary Sponsors
Sunday evening, after orientating myself and unpacking, I met with my mentor Sarah Roughley, from the University of Liverpool. She gave me some tips and told me about her experiences of being a bursary winner the previous year. Later that evening I meet the other winners, there were six of us in total, three students and three early career professionals. It was really great to meet everyone before the conference began, to hear where they were from and what they did. It made it a lot less daunting having other people in the same boat as me, knowing that we all had to get up on that stage together the following morning to receive or prize.

The first plenary session had a very interesting title: ‘The Four Straw Men of the Scholarpocalypse”. I studiously took notes on this and the second session; sometimes it was hard enough going as I’ve just completed one module on my course and worked in a library for three years. However, I enjoyed the challenge as it made me aware of the latest topics and issues in librarianship and my new knowledge will hopefully help me in my studies and my career.

I liked being able to choose the breakout sessions and opted for topics which reflect my interests and are useful in my studies. “E-book Usage on a Global Scale” was the first breakout session I attended. It was interesting to hear different viewpoints and hear about different usage patterns in different disciplines.

Digital Preservation” was my choice for the second breakout session. The question of preserving digital content into the future wasn’t something I had thought about, but it is so necessary. It’s like having an ‘insurance policy’ on your resources providing access if your archived content is lost or suddenly unavailable.

In the evening the prize winners were asked to help with the quiz in the Science Museum. We walked across the Clyde in the pouring rain to another beautiful building and found our stations, from where we helped with the quiz which ran over dinner. It was great interacting with the other delegates, even if it was hurrying them along with choosing a name for their table!

On Tuesday the first plenary I attended was “Innovation in non-fiction content” presented by Catherine Allen from Touchpress. This was a really exciting talk about apps in which she demonstrated different types, including a Disney animated app which is a traditional book with interactive elements. We were also told how the animations were created. The interactive book was really beautiful and captured my imagination. Interactive books are a great way of engaging people with reading and learning.

The breakout session “Screen vs. paper – what is the difference for reading and learning?” yielded an interesting discussion. Tests have been carried out comparing learning with paper to learning with screen. Initial results showed those learning from paper performed better in these tests than those using the screen. After a number of tests those who were using the screen got similar results to those with paper. This suggests that as people get used to screen they will be able to use it to learn effectively. This is true for me – as an undergraduate student I used to print out articles but now I find that I can learn just as well with a screen. It is all about practice and change in perception. Using the interactive features (highlighting, making notes, linking to videos etc.) can actually aid learning. I still see a preference from users for printed rather than e-books in my work here in MU, but that will change with developments in information literacy and digital literacy.

The conference dinner was in Merchant Square, which I thought was a great venue as it is a covered mall with numerous restaurants and a central area. We were greeted by fire dancers and bagpipes playing and a red carpet which really added to the atmosphere. There was a choice of restaurants and many of the delegates took part in the ceilidh and the disco afterwards.

On the third and final day the last session was “Using LinkedIn for job hunting, career development and professional networking.” I found this professional development talk very useful. Like so many others, I have a LinkedIn account but hadn’t been using it to its full potential. Now I can use it more effectively and I am busy updating my profile.

Overall I found the experience of attending UKSG really beneficial. I will certainly use what I have learned in my day-to-day work and already I feel like I have a better grasp on the issues facing libraries. I’m also very pleased to have this award to enhance my CV. I know the library world is competitive and anything I can do to enhance job applications in the future is a real plus. I’d like to do one of my written assignments for my Masters Degree on ebooks. I fully participated in all of the networking opportunities and enjoyed going around to the different stalls, chatting to the vendors, entering competitions and getting free stuff!

Thanks to UKSG for awarding me this terrific bursary and to MU Library for the encouragement and time to attend.

1 comment:

  1. Great post Saoirse and congratulations on your bursary! :)