18 Dec 2017

CONUL Teaching and Learning Seminar - Report

Naomi Van Caillie has been a Library Assistant with DIT for the past 8 months. She is a 2016 MLIS graduate from UCD with previous work experience in the public library sector in Canada. 
This was a daylong seminar in which a variety of guest speakers presented on a multitude of topics relating to Teaching and Learning in relation to libraries, librarians and the demographics we as Librarians are trying to reach and assist.  My main reason for attending was that I feel even in my position as Library Assistant there are daily opportunities for teaching and learning interactions with the students. I want to better equip myself with knowledge that will assist me in more successful and rewarding interactions with our library visitors. I want to be able to deliver information and resources to meet their unique and individual needs effectively.  I want both the students and I to always have an opportunity to engage and learn from each other.  There was so much wonderful information shared from all of the speakers. I have chosen to comment on the four that impacted me the most. You can find the PowerPoint presentations for all presenters here.

David Streatfield, Global Libraries Initiative Consultant, started the morning off by sharing with us ‘How can you tell if it is working? Evaluating the impact of educational innovations’. From this I gathered that regardless of what innovation you are creating or using to interact with your demographic, it is crucial and beneficial to be able to evaluate the impact of your services, whether the results are positive or negative; intended or accidental. He argued that we need to be looking and analysing the change(s) as a result of what we are doing also known as impact evaluation.   He describes this method as a simple logic model providing both illuminative evaluation and impact evaluation which makes up a contribution model. To put things simply the common factors are that the theory of change creates a framework for focus. We must remember that our innovations, no matter the scale, should be plausible, doable, and testable.  From this I think I am approaching my work and daily interactions with our users from different vantage point so I am better able to reflect and analyse for continued growth and improvement. 

Another stand out for me was Barry Houlihan, Archivist at NUI and CONUL Teaching & Learning Award Winner of 2016. The more Barry spoke the more intrigued I was by NUI’s, his and Dr Paul Flynn’s, innovation and success. What I took from it was that at the core of their project was the creation of a tangible experience which came to life by building a teaching plan based on schools’ perspectives and experiences. In order to bring the experience back to self and make it personal the focus was directed to hands on learning and interacting with primary resources and the students being able to answer the questions: where did it come from?, how to it get here?, what is it?, and all the while being shown tips and tricks regarding what to look for when searching for the answers to these questions. Barry made a great point about how we perceive this current generation as digital natives because they are growing up linked to digital technology. However, he cautioned us to think that perhaps they are social media natives who can navigate Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and other platforms. Their use of social media platforms doesn’t necessarily make their skills transferable to the level of being a digital native. By involving the students in activities that get them interacting with primary sources the hope is to teach them invaluable skills that will lead them towards being a better-rounded researcher and digital native. 

Brendan Devlin from DIT provided us with an overview of L2L and where they were at. This solidified the knowledge I had gained from a previous L2L day long workshop I had attended. Hearing Niamh Hammel from Dundalk Institute of Technology share her personal work experience, being involved with L2L, and how she is looking forward to how engagement with this framework will help those of us starting out in the library field continue to further our skills, remain relevant in the ever changing library landscapes, and plan for our professional growth. This really resonated with me as I want to continue to grow and evolve as a Librarian and further my career.

After lunch Dr Emma Coonan, FHEA, Academic Librarian (Information and Digital Literacies), Library, University of East Anglia presented us with a zoo full of identities as she talked about ‘New Tricks? Negotiating the librarian identity’.  How we are perceived by others and how we are perceived by ourselves can be showcased by a wide variety of characteristics. She discussed multiple ‘identities’ painting elaborate pictures of different animals.  Are you a labradoodle? The fetch dog who goes and gets what is asked of them?; or the Cheshire cat, who pops up when needed and is an agent to an individual to help meet their needs whatever they may be? Or maybe you’re the platypus, the off cuts of many other animals/identities, who is flexible and able to support a large group but doesn’t have enough time to specialize because he/she covers more areas than the days of the week?  Dr Coonan was very engaging and definitely got me to thinking about myself and my own perception of myself as a Librarian. I can’t say I know who my spirit animal is just yet because I feel,  like the profession and the field, I am having to continuously evolve. 

I am so grateful for the opportunity to participate in this day. It was great to see familiar faces as well meet some new library colleagues. The day’s presenters as well as those of us that sat and absorbed reflect very much the theme of the day in as much as we are a community who have to constantly create, deliver, evaluate, restructure and deliver again. We are so lucky to be part of a library ‘family’ that is willing to share and collaborate together so not all of us have to reinvent the wheel.

For more information on CONUL Teaching and Learning check out their website

12 Dec 2017

"Outreach is easier if you reach people through others” A summary of the Rare Books Group Annual Seminar 2017: Bringing New Audiences to Special Collections,

Michelle Breen is a librarian at the University of Limerick. Michelle manages the library’s communications, conducts a range of assessment activities and performs research linked to customer service and quality initiatives in an academic library. 
Michelle has presented widely on information management and assessment topics and has had her work published in peer reviewed journals, conference proceedings and LIS practitioner literature. 
Michelle is an active member of the LAI, advocating for CPD for library staff and she acts as a moderator and content creator for the RudaĆ­23 MOOC. 

Picture courtesy of Elaine Harrington

The Chair of the Rare Books Group David Meehan of DCU welcomed an enthusiastic group of librarians and archivists to the Chester Beatty library on November 24th. The delegates from all over Ireland’s museums, archives and libraries, (academic special and public) discussed how to bring new audiences to Special Collections.

I am a member of the LAI and treasurer of the Western Regional Section so I know first hand the value of the contributions of the various sections within the LAI but I must confess this was my first Rare Books Group event. It won’t be my last.

I am also a member of CONUL’s Communications & Outreach group and I am very interested in Outreach and how libraries can become better at it.

I won’t repeat here all of the topics and talk titles from the programme, you can view a summary on Twitter at #RBGseminar17 or view the speaker details on the programme. What I found most interesting on the day was the different successful approaches to outreach that are being practiced in Irish libraries and archives.

Outreach is defined as "an organization's involvement in the community," so libraries who provide services to their external audiences are ticking one particular type of outreach box. However, outreach to traditional audiences could be considered a declining business. The traditional scholarly or academic community is moving online because that is where they expect to find the material they want for their research. Inreach, (which is outreach inside your organisation) could therefore become a significant strand in your library’s activities, engaging your most loyal supporters, already key stakeholders, in your collections and what you are trying to achieve through them.

Perhaps you’ve lost the outreach opportunity to the family historian with the growing dominance of Ancestry. But there are new audiences out there; children, teenagers, and young people for whom there is a resurgent interest in the past. Is it the 1916 factor? The public has an insatiable demand for history at present. Giving teachers, learners, senior citizens, and occasional users a helping hand in our libraries is crucial for libraries. With community impact highlighted through funding agencies such as the Wellcome Trust it is smart to think about outreach to these new audiences.

Picture courtesy of Elaine Harrington

How do we ‘do’ Outreach?

Doing outreach is hard when there are physical barriers in the way of your collections. The very thing you want to show off is under lock and key, so consider your audiences as if they were going to be guests in your home. Send them an invitation, make the environment welcoming, provide a hot or cold drink, give them Wi-Fi and access to the bathrooms. They are your guests!

Run a lunchtime lecture, don’t be afraid that only 5 people will turn up, they WILL tell their friends, and you will get more people the next time. Consider carefully where you host your event, the hard to access parts of your campus or building or town might provide mystery and intrigue to your audiences and they might be thrilled to be there. Do good signage, promise them coffee and they will come. Plan your event carefully and you will naturally find the collaborators you need.

If you are in the glorious position of being able to design a seminar space, like the beautiful seminar room in Chester Beatty Library, then ask your audiences what they’d like to see in there. Make it clear what you can offer them, what they are getting when they come. If you are ever in need of advice about Outreach and how to do it well I recommend you tap in to the expertise of the Rare Books Group of the LAI. I am sure that their chairperson David Meehan can steer you in the right direction or you can ‘reach out’ to them through their Twitter account or their webpage.

Keep up the good work everyone at LAI RBG! Go raibh maith agaibh.