29 Feb 2016

Twitter Librarian Book Club: The Circle

Guest Post by David Hughes, Systems Librarian Dublin Business School

via Flicker

A few of us on Twitter have been reading The Circle, so I’d thought I’d write my own, spoiler free  review, perhaps encouraging other folk to discuss it. 
Social media is everywhere.  It’s ubiquitous.  Everything we do, we record on Twitter or Facebook or Foursquare or Google+ or any one of a number of myriad applications.  Ok, perhaps not Google+, not yet anyway, but we do share our lives online (*pauses while I tweet that I’m writing this*). Novelist Dave Eggers probably doesn’t share much on social media.  How do I know this?  By reading The Circle, that’s how.  
This is the tale of Mae Holland, a bright young 20-something who lands a job at The Circle – a vast social media conglomerate that combines attributes of Google, Twitter, Facebook & PayPal dwarfing them all (indeed, reference is made early on to The Circle swallowing up Facebook) .  Mae arrives at an auspicious time; The Circle is about to unveil “SeeChange”, a small & cheap video camera that streams to the Cloud allowing its feed to be accessed by everyone, everywhere.  “This is the ultimate transparency. No filter. See everything. Always" proclaims Eamonn Bailey, one of the “Three Wise Men” who run The Circle.  Mae quickly buys into the ethos, catalysed by a run-in with a SeeChange camera during a spontaneously undertaken night-time kayaking trip.  Following this, a company-wide shaming of Mae leads her to her to enunciate The Circle’s new slogans:
Fittingly perhaps, Mae arrives at the idea of “DeMoxie” a system that automatically registers users to vote but only if they have a Circle account.  Fully participative democracy beckons.   Mae agrees to go fully transparent, that is to be always visible to an online audience.  But can she persuade her family and her ex-boyfriend to do the same? Hilarity doesn’t ensue   
Eggers has a lot to say here, so this is no sleek speedy Maserati cruising through a pleasant landscape of fine writing.  The Circle is more of an 18 wheeler truck rumbling through grotty neighbourhoods of poor character development, leaden dialogue, trite symbolism and clumsy metaphors (the aquarium, oh God the aquarium!); it’s all about the ideas, and in that regard, the 18 wheeler reaches its destination and unloads its cargo effectively.
You may think that The Circle is unrealistic but it’s merely a radical (or perhaps logical) extrapolation of technology trends.  I saw recently that Google filed a patent to run elections through its search results (so perhaps we will be forced to create Google+ accounts after all).  A little before the book’s publication, Google’s “chief Internet evangelist” posited that "privacy may actually be an anomaly"; a recent invention, facilitated (and soon to be taken away) by technology.   The use of “anomaly” is quite interesting, an anomaly being “a deviation from the common rule, type arrangement or form”.  So, says a Circle er I mean Google employee, privacy is deviancy.  That’s certainly an interesting way of framing the privacy debate. 
I suppose the main thrust of the book concerns privacy.  However, the revelations of Edward Snowden have somewhat blunted the force of Eggars’ message there.  The lack of privacy in the book comes from total transparency; total “onlineity” to coin a neologism (is there an adjective to describe being online?).  One of the first volunteers to go transparent is a politician, which eventually lead to a political paradigm shift.  To me, the consequences of The Circle’s technological advances are more interesting in a political setting and that’s what I’ll focus on.    
The Circle’s slogans are very redolent of 1984, which like the world of The Circle (and our own), is a surveillance state, but the model here is really Brave New World – a willing embrace of authoritarianism by a happy population, with The Circle’s really neat consumer products as stand-ins for Soma.  The Circle – the company, not the book, initially sounds and appears progressive, but Mae and her colleagues unconsciously (?) accept the slowly revealed authoritarianism of The Circle’s founders.  Sharing of personal and private information may be encouraged for superficially altruistic purposes, but the Circle wants it for commercial and political reasons.  And why not?  The Circle is doing well; it’s both popular and profitable.  Maybe they should run the country?  Perhaps Google CEO Eric Schimdt should be installed as CEO of America? A petition to this effect was created by Justine Tunney, a former Occupy Wall Street activist and all-round interesting character.  The writer and essayist Thomas Frank in his books The Wrecking Crew suggests there’s a school of conservative thought that not only thinks government doesn’t work, but also, when in government, sets out to prove it, and so encourages the endorsement of selling off state functions to the private sector.  Serious people have asked the question ‘is government too political?’ (registration required).   Does the decline of party politics pave the way for a technocratic, authoritarian capitalist future? Would algorithms make a better job of government than politicians? I have to stress, this is very much a subsidiary (if it’s there’s at all) theme of the book, but these questions interest me and did come to mind while reading the book (for what it’s worth, my answers to the questions would be: not political enough, probably and NO!) 
You could also compare The Circle to Fahrenheit 451 – at heart it’s a conservative rant against the evils of modernity.  I don’t necessarily mean conservative in a pejorative sense here, I mean conservative as in resistant to change.  However, I think Eggers is unduly pessimistic and does the general population a disservice when he writes about the public’s eager espousal of The Circle’s authoritarianism. There’s an old saw about nations being x (where x is a very small number) square meals away from revolution; Eggers would imply there we’re only a few selfies and LOLCATS away from surrender to technological totalitarianism.  Would people really prefer Internet access to democracy?  Actually, I don’t think I want to know the answer to that question.  With DeMoxie, Eggers also suggests that fully participative democracy may not necessarily be a good thing: the implication being that some people might just know better than others (again, is government too political?).   Hence surely, the need for just and fair access to knowledge (one of the aims of The Circle?) and therefore the need for radically-minded librarians; democracy only really works with an educated and informed citizenry. Perhaps Mr Eggers is just as authoritarian as The Circle; only he’d like to see a different elite running things rather than technological solutionists    
Something else to note is the character of Mae, the protagonist of the novel.  It’s easy to think of her as a victim or a brainwashed cultist (there’s more than a little religious symbolism going on in the novel; the first line of the book is “ ‘My God,’ Mae thought. ‘It’s heaven.’ ”).  However, there’s no spoiling the book by revealing that Mae is actually a villain, albeit one whose motives are fairly trivial – popularity within The Circle and the approval of its founders.  Talk about the banality of evil! 
The Circle could never be confused with great literature, and I don’t think it’ll ever be confused with great satire either.  But it’s an entertaining and scary read that really should get you thinking about technology, democracy and your privacy.   

25 Feb 2016

Library Ireland Week Staff Exchange Visit to Maynooth Public Library

Guest post by Maureen Finn, Maynooth University Library

In November last year I had the opportunity to take part in the Library Ireland Job Swop Initiative. My swop was with Kildare County Library and Arts Service.

It involved shadowing a member of staff for a half-day in the local Public Library on Main Street, Maynooth. Keith, from the public library then returned to us for a day. Kildare Library Service has a countywide network of 15 branches of which Maynooth is one. The Headquarters of the Service is located in Newbridge.

Upon my arrival at the Library at 9.30 am I was welcomed by Keith. He introduced me to the other Staff members all of whom welcomed me to their workplace. Following this he took me on a tour of the library pointing out the various categories of material housed there, including Fiction, Non-Fiction, Large Print, Childrens’ Books, Audio Visual Material, Computers Area, Business Support Stand and various reading areas.

We discussed the sourcing and ordering of new material, how the inter-library loan service works, the type of events the Library hosts and the range of community groups served by the Library in its catchment area and beyond.

The library is widely used by children, ranging from pre-schoolers to older teens. It was great to see this and to know the impact this will have on the literacy skills of the children. Apart from young readers, the library hosts Community Groups who wish to hold small group sessions/classes. There is a meeting room in the Library that is used specifically for this purpose and groups such as the local Knitting Group, the Spanish and Polish conversation classes, the Creative Writing Group and lots more, use this facility on a regular basis.

Next we took a look at the inter-library loans; a delivery a material had just arrived from other libraries that morning. Keith processed a number of these items explaining to me the steps involved in inputting the information on the Library system and notifying patrons that their requested material was now available.

The Library provides a number of online services such as eBooks, Digital Library, eLanguage Learning, eLearning Online Courses and eServices. eServices allows one to search the catalogue, check what items one has on loan, extend the loan period, request an item and check for fines or blocks.

Other online facilities include eHistory, which provides a wide range of material relating to the history, archaeology and heritage of County Kildare. This is of particular interest to Local and Family History Groups while eMagazines provides online access to 35 popular magazine and periodical titles. eLearning is yet another online facility that provides members with access to over 500 unique online continuing education courses. Encyclopaedia Britannica Online is also available. It is set at three different levels catering for 18+, Secondary and Primary School age groups.

Members can also sign up for SMS Texting Service which will remind them when their books are due or overdue and also let them know if the material they requested in ready for collection. An eMailing Service is available through which information about upcoming events both at the local branch library and countrywide is posted. The Libanywhere App allows members to manage their accounts on the go. The Library has two late opening evenings during the week until 8 p.m. and opens for a half-day on Saturdays, which is a very busy day.

Following a short coffee break I signed up as a member of the Library and borrowed a book on my brand new library account! Keith talked me through the steps involved and issued me with a Library Membership Card along with a key-ring version. I was also given a PIN for on-line use and a Book Mark depicting their slogan “There is time for everyone at Maynooth Community Library”. We rounded off my visit with some light-hearted discussion on reading preferences, and I discovered that one of my favourite authors, Martina Reilly, would be visiting Maynooth in the coming days.

My visit to Maynooth Public Library was an enjoyable, informative and memorable occasion and I will definitely be paying a return visit there in the near future.

22 Feb 2016

Reflections of a first time conference presenter

Guest Post by Siobhan McGuinness a library and Information Professional just completed a Library and Records Management Internship with the Heritage Council,

Why present?
For many it is the topic they are presenting on, a piece of research or a great initiative that was successfully implemented in their library. For me, it was challenge number one of 2016, along with the fact that I felt internships get a bad rap. Here I had an opportunity to give a closer insight into the opportunities internships can give library professionals. In addition, I had just worked on a library project with the Heritage Council that was interesting in more ways than one! On this internship I gained extensive experience in library collections management, archives and records management, project initiation and scoping, publications management, and conference planning and organisation.

How to take that first step?
The first step is acknowledging that you want to do this. The next step is telling someone. By telling someone you gain confidence in your idea, and in yourself. This is the easy stage, all you need to do is write down the idea, give it a title and fill in the application form. There is always the possibility of not being accepted, which you firmly need to keep in your mind.

Fortunately, A&SL accepted my application and from there came the third step, “What the hell have I done”. To say I am terrified of public speaking is an understatement, to know me you think confident, & chatty. To actually know me, you see terrified and always under estimating myself.

How did I prepare?
Preparing alone is not something I am good at, I always need a buddy. If anyone is on Twitter you should all know @LibrarySherpa, and this lovely lady is my mentor. Having someone at your back is always a good thing, you don’t need them to check everything you are doing, just having them there is support in itself.

Having never done this before PowerPoint can be painful. It was painful. From the day I got the acceptance I tried to put together a presentation, each one failed and did not make sense. But I am true believer in “dust yourself off and try again”.

I had attended the Career Development Group seminar last year titled “Abstract to Audience” great advice was shared on how to put together a clear presentation. I knew what I didn’t want (a) text (b) black and white. However, I knew what I wanted which included pictures, colour and quotes. Having done this simple exercise, I began to further see what pictures I wanted, quotes that I liked and a colour scheme that stood out but didn’t overwhelm anyone.

Be prepared!
It takes time and a lot of energy. I wrote my script while preparing PowerPoint, and as much as it made sense to me, it did not make any sense to anyone else. You will rework your slides and you will rewrite your script, if like me and in a perfect world you wish to have everything done and dusted a month before the presentation, this may not happen. But what will happen is all the work will stay in your mind, you come to know and be comfortable with the presentation.

The conference!
My time slot was second last presenter on the last day of the conference, for some this is a nightmare, for me I was glad. It gave me the opportunity to sit up the front, see how the room looked from where I would be standing. I promised myself that up until the time that I was due to present I would not constantly think about my presentation.

I was there to learn and the speakers were all very interesting, I was not going to lose that time worrying or stressing. At the end of the first day I was allowed practice my presentation from the podium and check that my slides looked good on the big screen. It felt really good to be up there, and I suddenly realised the room does not look as intimidating as I thought it would be.

I did not learn my script, I chose to have it typed out and on my iPad, this device gave me control over my hands. I knew my hands would shake but I also knew my brain is programed not to drop this thing, my hands did not shake once! It helped that as I read and looked up I didn’t have to focus on people, that I could just skim the crowd, which again was a positive for me, focusing on certain people would make me nervous.

I was very happy with the response from my presentation, it is the best feeling in the world to hear people congratulate you on something you created and delivered.

So on reflection I want to answer these three small questions:

What did I learn from this situation?
Believe in yourself, no one is making you do this so enjoy it.

How can I grow as a person from this experience?
We all have insecurities, and for some we don’t acknowledge them or work on them. For me I have grown to believe that my ideas are not all that bad, that I can take them out of my notebook and apply them in a professional way.

What are three positive things about this situation?
1. Support, from friends, family and colleagues, I could not have done this without them.
2. Growth, to face a fear and believe you can overcome it.
3. Belief, knowing that you can push yourself a little further.

More information on the conference and can be found here and Marie O'Neill has posted her reflections of the conference here.

15 Feb 2016

Academic & Special Libraries (LAI) Annual Conference, 11th-12th Feb 2016

Guest post by Marie O'Neill, Head of Library & Information Services, DBS Library

We are all familiar with the debate about the role of the librarian in the Google age. For me the answer to this dystopian question was revealed at the 2016 Annual Conference of the Academic and Special Libraries section of the Library Association of Ireland. The theme of this year's conference was library radicalism. It occurred to me over the two day conference, that in addition to being a vital and inspiring response to the closure of public libraries and integral to the amelioration of social problems; library radicalism presents a viable strategic roadmap for the future of the library profession. There have been lots of separate conversations about the future direction of librarianship taking place but the success of this conference lay in its ability to unite these disparate conversations into one gloriously noisy, unified and radical voice; one solid and exciting roadmap for the future of the profession.

There was a heady, exhilarating, euphoric atmosphere of revolution as speakers socked it to Google and other search engines about privacy. There were also warnings about the threats to privacy that lurk in your hand held device. There were workshops on how to engage students with not a single reference to information literacy frameworks, drawing instead on a probing of the teaching and learning literature. New approaches to marketing, outreach and social media were discussed. Information on how to create stunning online exhibitions was also provided. Event planning initiatives at Maynooth University Library were outlined, (the library is booked out for events until November). The library is the cool place to be on campus and a dedicated event organiser at Maynooth University Library (from library staff) is required to facilitate this.

There were powerful insights into writing for publication as well as the benefits of getting a doctorate so that we get our place at the 'top table' in academia. We are no longer the passive curators of knowledge but also robust creators of it. And we won't just preserve print but also the born digital so that these fleeting cultural and societal snapshots are not lost to history. Predatory commercial journal publishers were taken on. Librarians can produce academic journals on open access using open source software such as OJS. This presentation was delivered jointly by a librarian and academic.

A highlight of the conference was an account of how librarians and record managers used information to unearth fundamental truths about the Hillsborough football disaster, providing accurate and concrete answers to the bereaved. One presentation took a pop at De Valera and the Irish constitution. Irish women were not perpetually dancing at the crossroads back in the day. Two hundred of them were in fact integral to the 1916 Rising. The stereotype of the spinster librarian was also firmly and jubilantly pushed out to sea once and for all.

There was a sense at the conference of walls being pushed through and of librarians breaking out of confining stereotypes and professional spaces and moving deeper into the realms of teaching and learning, academic departments, publishing, IT, law and politics and of leaving an impressive and truth revealing, truth preserving mark. Kevin Sanders from the University of Bath invited the library profession to a call to arms to fundamentally change society for the better in one of the most exciting and original presentations that I have ever seen. Every sacred cow of what a librarian is supposed to be and how they are perceived was deftly knocked down, one by one with gusto, gumption and the unassailable veracity of information and research supplied by a dizzying succession of badass librarians. I'm not going to provide an outline of each conference presentation as it would not do justice to the compelling messages raised in each of them. Go check out the slides, or the footage. You won't be disappointed.

The concluding speaker wisely prompted delegates to take any opportunity you can; you never know where it will take you. A library intern eloquently exhorted delegates to properly empower them to make a difference in libraries and to help build their careers. The conference was inclusive and democratic with all levels of library personnel contributing to speaking, organising and commentating including postgraduate library students. No pecking orders at this conference! The logistical organisation of the conference was akin to a spectacular Jean-Michel Jarre concert with multiple screens, podcasting, phone charging stations and mouth watering catering (my personal award for best conference desserts), professionally, calmly and cheerfully overseen by the A&SL Committee team from command central at the back of the main conference room.

There's an irresistible charm to the A&SL Committee. Check out the adorable video that they circulated after the conference ended of kittens falling asleep to indicate their post conference fatigue. Committee members are razor sharp and have their finger on the pulse (to employ a tired and much overused expression) but they also have an informality, humour and approachability that has provided space for new conversations in the Irish library profession and invited in a broader, wider range of contributors to this conversation. Make no mistake, this Committee is shaking things up in the Irish library profession and are forcing us to embrace new innovations; to hear new voices and to learn about new approaches. This was made manifest at this conference.

The inclusion in the conference of heart warming, wise and entertaining personal accounts of how library careers were established and the lessons learnt along the way (check out Jane Burns' presentation) was also an inspired touch. Tweets from the conference were the most probing in terms of professional introspection that I have ever seen. The theme of the conference prompted a great deal of library profession soul baring and reflection. One tweet 'Are people in charge of libraries predominately white and male?' is an example. I recommend that you go to #ASL2016 to see the vibrant, insightful (and humorous) Tweetage that emanated from the conference.

This year's A&SL Conference was honestly one of the most exciting conferences that I have ever been to. There was a sense of the library rule book; the outdated and strangulating strategies, hierarchies and cliques being torn up and a new vision for librarianship being constructed in which every level of librarianship has a voice and one which makes a real difference not just to libraries but also to society. And talking of exciting conferences; this conference came hot on the heels after Andy Priestner's incredible UX Conference in Maynooth University. Andy (another library radical) is tearing up the rule book about how we understand students' interaction with library services and spaces using ethnographic research methods. He is also the driving force behind the exciting and innovative Future Libraries project at Cambridge University. SLIP also held their superb conference on library education. All of the above, represents a great start to the year for Irish librarianship.

A key message for me from this year's A&SL Committee Conference as someone who is involved in postgraduate library education is that we owe it to the next generation of library students to equip them with the knowledge and skill set for this new library world order not just for the betterment of libraries but for the betterment of society on a far deeper and more radicalised level.

Google a threat to librarianship? Library closures? Not on your nelly. Look out Google, radical librarians are coming for you and we are badass. Be afraid. Be very afraid.

8 Feb 2016

SLIP Ireland Conference - Feb 10th 2016

Guest post by Helena Byrne, SLIP Ireland.

Helena tells us a little more about SLIP Ireland who are hosting their first conference on Wednesday 10th February in the UCD School of Information & Communication Studies. Tickets are booked out but you can read more about the event below, including details of the twitter hashtag #slip2016.

Who are we?

SLIP Ireland (Students, Librarians & Information Professionals Ireland) is a group formed and run by postgraduate students studying library and information studies. The SLIP Ireland blog evolved from the need for more dialogue on all things theoretical and practical for students, librarians and other information professionals.

What do we stand for?

We aspire to create an open dialogue between students, academics and professionals.

There are three core elements to the blog:

1. Monthly Student Blog Posts

2. Guest Blog Posts

3. Spotlight on the workplace

There is also a separate tab to keep visitors up to date with the SLIP Ireland conference news. We hope that this will become an annual event.

How you can get involved?

Students: Write a short reflective blog post on a topic of your choice based on LIS literature. (Link to guidelines http://slipireland.blogspot.ie/2015/04/posting-guidelines.html)

Participate in the live Twitter chats and engage with our social media content.

Librarians/Information Professionals: Submit a guest blog post or a spotlight report on your work place.

The conference

SLIP Ireland is delighted to announce the first ever SLIP Student Conference!
This informal conference will take place in UCD on the evening of Wednesday 10th February from 17:00 to 20:30.

The theme is “The Best Thing I Have Learned at Library School” and the evening will feature: special guest speakers, presentations from current student and recent graduates, and a fantastic poster presentation. The conference is accredited by the LAI and all attendees will receive a CPD certificate.

The conference was organised as a platform for current students and recent graduates to gain experience and confidence in presenting at conferences with the hope that they will then go on to present at future professional development workshops and conferences throughout their career. The SLIP Ireland conference is an informal conference with lightning and poster presentations covering a wide range of topics. Tickets for the conference have sold out but keep an eye out on the Twitter and Facebook page if any more tickets become available.

You can follow the event on Twitter #SLIP2016

Call for action

In order to deepen our understanding of LIS literature, we are calling on all student librarians and information professionals to engage in active debate. This practice is importance as it allows us to learn from the experience of others.

Blog: http://slipireland.blogspot.ie/
Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nj3ywTk2DZE

5 Feb 2016

Snapshots of library training spaces in Ireland

In DCU Library we recently discussed whether we wanted to keep our training rooms in their present form. Since the library opened in 2001 we have had two training rooms, largely unchanged:
1. Training room one, on the library's ground floor, which seats up to thirty students in rows of PCs and no natural light. The air conditioning can be difficult to manage, sometimes with the people at the centre freezing and everyone else too warm. 

2. Training room two: more of the same - fifty PCs in tight rows, in a large room again with no natural light. If you're teaching to a half full room, the atmosphere feels dead (students are invariably scattered). If you're teaching to a full room, it's too much to interact with students at their PCs and you need someone else acting as a teaching assistant. Another downside of this space is that it's a bit hidden away under the stairs in the lower ground floor, with access via a narrow, dark corridor:

The two rooms are usually available for use by students outside of opening hours, and some of us have had trouble booting them out before classes. 

On the Library ground floor we also have a large room for the Maths Learning Centre and a smaller room for the Writing Centre. Neither have been used for library training. 

We're aware that the tight rows of desks work against group interaction and even hinder student-tutor interaction. I'm often wonder how they shape what I teach: does the arrangement lead me to focus on low-level task like how to search a database and lead me to focus less on higher level IL skills like how to evaluate sources and brainstorm for keywords? 

For now we're inclined to leave the setup as it is (aside from the fact that we don't have a budget for doing anything). If we moved to an arrangement with, say, laptops and round tables it would lower the room's capacity and managing thirty/fifty laptops would bring new problems. 

With these issues in mind, and being nosey, I decided to put it out to other teaching librarians in Irish HE institutions, asking them what their training rooms looked like and it they were happy with them. Here's what I got back (slightly edited for brevity):

NUI Galway

Kris Meen wrote:
  • The photo above is of one of two training rooms we have at the library. It’s quite a pleasant space, with environmental control, the ability to dim lights, and the ability to let in just the right amount of natural light with the blinds on the window. The room still has a very roomy, airy feel that is conducive to training and study. 
  • Our second training room, in the library’s main floor reading room, has many positive qualities. Somewhat of a drawback is a lack of natural light, due to the positioning of the room. Still, it is outfitted with excellent technology, including a projector that has recently been replaced and an interactive SMART board.

Maynooth University

Rachel Hynes wrote:
  • We have 5 Training Rooms in Maynooth. They are all identical in setup i.e. layout, furniture, user PCs and seats all facing forward, with presenter podium, PC, screen and microphone.
  • Most of these rooms have flexible partition walls which can be taken down thus the rooms can be repurposed into one big training room. 
  • The rooms were designed with the best of furniture and materials. They have great flexibility so that we can have small or bigger training areas. User PCs are sunk down into the desk so the presenter has an uninterrupted view of the class. The desks and seats are comfortable and conform with Health & Safety and accommodate wheelchairs etc.

University College Cork

Ger Prendergast wrote:
  • The desks are configured as in rows. This doesn't suit modern, interactive teaching methods all that well.  For example, if you want a class to work in groups this configuration makes it more difficult. It also makes it difficult to get around to individual students who might be having problems. I would prefer if the classroom had a group seating arrangement.
  • The training room is in the basement. Students find it difficult to locate. No matter how many signs we put up and no matter how many times and ways we tell people how to find it there are always a few latecomers who got lost along the way!
  • The presenter’s PC is located on a desk which is at the same height as an office desk. This means that you are constantly bending over if you need to type search words. 
  • There isn't a microphone so it can be hard on your voice during busy times. 

University College Dublin

James Molloy wrote:
  • A bit of background.  We had a really small T&L room here in the James Joyce Library and it was not really used much (or as a last resort) due to the size, lack of natural light, a noisy air conditioning system and also the lack of flexibility (it had fixed desks and fixed PC's). It was somewhat out of bounds, locked when not in use and over the years used less and less.  We also have a training room located in the Health Sciences Library, this has 35 PC's and is a much larger space.  So this became the primary option for staff if they were to provide training/workshops etc.  However this room also has problems, the desks are fixed, as with the PC's and also the location is out of the way.
  • Late last year money appeared to create a new Library T&L room. Here are some of the issues that we have encountered:
    • Not getting the furniture right: we have half circle desks which were too small and while they work well as an individual desk, when pushed together into a circle they do not always fit to give a level surface.
    • Only getting an hour of battery life from the old laptops (powered from a portable laptop cart).
    • Setting up the room into different configurations can be time consuming and also a lot of physical work.  This physical element of moving furniture can have a greater effect on different staff members (some need assistance).
    • We wanted a room that students could use when it was not in use for training/meetings. However, this has raised a few issues. It can be difficult to get students to vacate the room.
    • Getting the temperature in the room is important, if the room needs to be ventilated, having no windows is an issue. 
    • Leaving a room open for students to use means that any valuable equipment has to be securely locked. 
    • The acoustics are generally good and we have installed sound boards from the ceiling.
    • The glass front gives a very visual message to students using the library so they can see that we are being productive (providing classes etc).
Library Link 1, used by Maths Support 
Library Link 3 used by UCD Library T&L 
 Library Link 3 with a different furniture layout
Health Sciences Library, Information Skills Room

Dublin Institute of Technology

Sarah-Anne Kennedy wrote:

  • We only have one training room now as we gave the second smaller room over to the postgraduates for a dedicated postgrad room.
  • The room functions OK but it is in the traditional set up of linear desks with all students front facing. There are a number of reasons why this linear layout doesn't work as well as we would like. We have restricted access to students on the rows who need individual help. 
  • We cannot see the student PC screens from the top of the room. We have to walk around. If you are demonstrating a database you cannot easily see what errors or steps the students are missing.
  • It's also difficult to see if the students are paying attention and not off surfing or looking up Facebook (this also acts as a distraction to others in the class behind a particular student).
  • We also just have the basic PC/Projector set up along with a white board. More interactive tools would be nice such as a smart board etc. to move the sessions away from the more traditional style of class.

Posted on Friday, February 05, 2016 | Categories: