L2L: Librarians learning to support learning Seminar in DIT

New DIT Campus in Grangegorman

New DIT campus in Grangegorman , photo available at: https://www.flickr.com/photos/infomatique/14995046247

On the 27th of June on the newly developed DIT campus in Grangegorman, a range of librarians and colleagues from Higher Education came together to hear about and discuss L2L (Librarians learning to support learners learning); a two year project which plans to explore the application of the National professional development framework for all staff who teach in Higher Education to the work of teaching librarians.
This project promises to result in a framework which academic librarians can use to guide their own professional pedagogical development and tangible, demonstrable evidence of professional development (such as digital badges or awards). One of the major draws of the project (spear-headed by Dundalk Institute of TechnologyInstitute of Technology Carlow, & Dublin Institute of Technology) is the proposed development of a vibrant and inclusive community of practice which can share the issues, challenges and best practices particular to the work of teaching librarians. Herein lies the real value of the project for me and other academic librarians who may work in small institutions and yearn for a network of like-minded practitioners with whom to share our successes and failures in the hope of improving and developing our praxis.
Funded by the Teaching and Learning Enhancement Fund, the project also allows librarians working in Higher Education in Ireland to develop a shared language and currency with their academic colleagues which will hopefully promote a deeper understanding of the meaning and value of our work with the students and staff in our institutions: information literacy (and a range of other academic, digital, and meta-literacies) -concepts  which can be difficult to articulate and to measure in practice.
 
The day began with a presentation by Roisín Donnelly (currently on a year’s secondment to the National Forum from the Dublin Institute of Technology, where she has worked for 17 years as an Academic Developer), who explained the background of the Framework and the project in general, as well as how professional development can transform roles and identities. She described forms of non-accredited professional development activities which many of us engage in regularly without any formal recognition. These activities include (but aren’t limited to) reflective practices such as the creation/maintenance of learning/teaching portfolios, blogs and journals.
Next up was Dr. Claire McGuinness, who helped to contextualise the project by giving an enlightening talk on the past, present and potential future of teaching librarians globally and in Ireland. She described research which explored the teaching aspects of the academic librarian role and identity with all of its complexities, uncertainties and cross-functionalities. The concept of information literacy is (as she said) ‘nebulous’ and has received a mixed reception outside of academic library circles. Some of the research she cited was familiar to me but much of it was not – and I left with notes packed with useful references.
Before lunch, Dr. Ashley O’Donoghue (Head of Staff Learning and Development at DIT) gave a short talk on the importance of professional development both for individuals and for knowledge organisations. She highlighted research which showed that training and development opportunities are a determining factor in the retention of highly-motivated employees (Boxall et al, 2003) – and also provide a major attraction for managers to draw new staff to their organisations. Frameworks such as those being developed to support the National PD Framework play a vital role in mapping  clear career development and progression within key sectors in Higher Education.
After a generous lunch we were encouraged to participate in discussion on the Framework and the L2L project in a ‘World Café‘. Groups discussed questions such as ‘How do your libraries contribute to T&L in your organisation?’, ‘How do you see your role as a teacher?’, and ‘How do you think the L2L project might help you in your role?’ (paraphrased), with each group mapping their ideas onto large paper, hung around the room. Afterwards we had the chance to circle the room and write our feedback to each group poster with post-its.

contributing to T&L L2L 2contribution to T&L L2Llibrarians as teachers L2Lrole as teacher L2L

The day wrapped up with a helpful Q&A session chaired by Dr. Mary Delaney (Head of Library and Information Services at IT Carlow) who answered questions from the floor regarding the other groups (apart from academic librarians) who were developing projects around the Framework, and what form the ‘communities of practice’ mentioned in the L2L leaflet might take. It’s hoped that there might be avenues of communication and collaboration between this new initiative and other interested parties such as the Library Association of Ireland which might help to provide pathways of sustainability into the future.
Overall the day was an extremely positive experience, with a good mix of discussion and explanation and the L2L project looks and sounds like it will be a very fruitful collaboration amongst academic librarians and between libraries and our colleagues in Higher Education which should promote dialogue around the role and identity of teaching librarians. Presentations from the day and updates about the project will be posted on http://www.teachingandlearning.ie/l2l-librarians-learning-support-learners-learning/. You can also follow developments on the project’s Facebook page and Twitter feed.
Post by Genevieve Larkin, Assistant Librarian in Marino Institute of Education
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Spring Event: Publish to flourish: An Leabharlann and beyond!

 

Publish to flourish-Banner-TwitterWe are beyond excited to announce our next event, the first of 2016: “Publish to flourish: An Leabharlann and beyond”. This is to mark a new role for the CDG: we’re uploading articles from An Leabharlann: The Irish Library to eDeposit Ireland, TCD’s home for Ireland’s electronic publications. As many of you already know, An Leabharlann is jointly published by The Library Association of Ireland and CILIP Ireland twice a year in March and October, and is always packed full of interesting articles, conference and book reviews, mostly from practising Irish librarians. Only members of CILIP and the LAI can access the current issue but all back issues are now Open Access and can be accessed via eDeposit Ireland through the LAI website.

publish to flourish cartoonThe second reason we chose the theme of getting published is because it is increasingly becoming the norm for go-getting librarians in academic, special, public, health, and other libraries. While some Irish information professionals are busy gathering healthy portfolios of publications on their work, projects they’ve managed, or one of the many strands of LIS literature, many (including some of us!) have yet to break into this important area of reflective practice. Not only is getting published a career-booster, it also documents and reflects emerging issues that many of us as practitioners will face someday or are already facing in our workplaces, and sharing our experiences is therefore good practice and helps get the word out about all the great work happening in Irish libraries.

In 2009 Helen Fallon wrote:

Writing for publication is an accepted and expected part of the role of lecturing staff in Irish universities. No such recognition of the librarian as an academic writer exists. Many Irish librarians are actively involved in local and national working groups dealing with the major library issues of the day. They regularly present at national and international conferences, conduct local and national surveys and engage in a range of interesting and innovative practice and research-related activities. Despite this wealth of knowledge, skills and experience, very few Irish academic librarians publish in the peer-reviewed literature. There may be a certain paradox in that while librarians support and promote scholarship across all disciplines, they are generally not actively encouraged to see writing and creating the literature of these disciplines as part of their role within the University (Fallon, 2009).

Building on the excellent and pioneering work of Helen Fallon (NUIM) and others such as Marjory Sliney (editor of An Leabharlann) and Jane Burns (RCSI), who have in recent years done amazing work encouraging Irish librarians to contribute to the academic and professional literature, we decided we’d like to hear a series of lightning talks where authors shared their experiences and practical tips in an informal and friendly setting. To that end, we’ve asked a range of illustrious library and information professionals from no.5 Clare street, NGIdifferent sectors (Alex Kouker, DBS; Colm O’Connor, RCSI; Senan Healy, RDS; Aoife Lawton, HSE, and many more!*) to come to No. 5 South Leinster Street (the Lavery Room), to the right of the National Gallery of Ireland on the eve of Thurs 7th April to speak for either 10 or 5 minutes each on a number of different topics (for example turning thesis topics into articles, writing conference and book reviews, and collaborating on articles remotely, as well as how getting published has enhanced their own careers). For the very low price of €11.43 (for the waged) or €6.13 (for students/unwaged), you can hear their advice and ask them questions in the beautiful surrounds of the NGI, with discussions and socialising before, during and after!

We know you have articles and reports lurking inside you waiting to get out so join us in the NGI on the 7th April and learn how to set them free! It promises to be a fun and informative night – get your ticket on Eventbrite ASAP so you don’t miss out.

*see the full programme below (may be subject to minor changes):

Programme

5:30 – 6pm: Registration

6pm – 6:05 Marta Bustillo, Chair of CDG: Introduction

6.05 – 6:15 Marjory Sliney, Editor, An Leabharlann: “How to start writing for An Leabharlann”

6:15 – 6:25 Aoife Lawton, Systems Librarian at Health Service Executive & Author of “The Invisible Librarian”: “Publishing for Librarians: Reflections from an Author”

6:25 – 6:35: Colm O’Connor, Information Resources Librarian, RCSI: “Collaborating on a paper – why & how”

6:35 – 6:40 Senan Healy, Library & Information Systems Manager, RDS: “Writing for your audience”

6:40 – 6:45 Laura Zaliene, Library Assistant, UCD: “Thesis to article: the value of collaboration”

6:45 – 6:50 Amye Quigley, Executive Librarian, Wicklow County Council Library Service: “Confessions of an accidental writer”

6:50 – 6:55 Alexander Kouker, Research Librarian, Dublin Business School: “Getting published”

6:55 – 7:15 pm Questions & wrap-up

7:15pm Close

From 7:15pm Socialising in the Mont Clare Hotel

 

LIBRARY CAMP 2015

Library Camp 2015 145

We had a great day at the Cregan Library in St. Patrick’s College Drumcondra last Saturday. The weather was gorgeous, Orla and her staff welcomed us with open arms, and all the pitches were engaging and sparked a lot of discussion about libraries and librarians. Thanks to all who left their post-its in the Ideas Lounge – we have compiled them all, and will be taking those ideas into account when planning our programme for the autumn.

For a taste of what Library Camp 2015 was like, have a look at our Storify and some lovely Photos.

We will be publishing the various pitches in short blog posts in the next few days.

Many people contributed to the success of the Camp. First of all, thanks to Gen, Jenny, Elaine, Andrew, Louise, Carolanne, Niamh and Elaine for pitching your ideas – you gave us a lot of food for thought. Secondly, thanks to Orla Nic Aodha and the Cregan Library staff for lending us their space, providing great coffee throughout the afternoon, and looking after all the little details [including flip-charts, post-its and markers!], as well as taking us on two tours of their wonderful new library. Thanks also to our friends at the A&SL for moral and practical support;  and finally thanks to all of you who gave up a sunny Saturday to participate in Library Camp and share your ideas with us. We look forward to Library Camp 2016!

Library Camp 2015 105

Library Camp 2015 147

 

Technology skills for librarians

cropped-data.jpgTechnology skills and the ability to use various pieces of hardware and software are quickly becoming essential skills for most jobs and this is equally true for librarians. Every librarian needs a certain level of technical knowledge, whether we like it or not.

Need to know

Librarians working in more public facing roles still need to be able to show users how to use the online catalogue, how to check emails and browse the web. They will also need to be able to use certain features of their Integrated Library System (ILS) to check materials in and out and to create and update patron accounts. They may also need to be able to troubleshoot software problems or perform basic fixes on the printers or photocopiers.

Reference librarians will obviously need to be proficient at searching catalogues, databases and the internet. Cataloguers need to be comfortable with the cataloguing functions within the ILS and need to be familiar with online resources such as Library of Congress subject headings and authority lists.

Useful to know

Moving beyond the ‘need to know’ to the ‘would be useful to know’ is the ability to edit websites. Many librarians find themselves doing a bit of everything within their roles and the ability to understand, read and edit HTML and CSS is very useful. An understanding of Information Architecture will also help with designing useful and useable library websites.

For librarians who work with data XML looks similar to HTML and has become the best practice standard for how metadata is encoded. Metadata? Cataloguers will already be familiar with MARC21, but it is also important to understand the pros and cons of various metadata standards (Dublin Core, MODS, VRA Core), and be able to apply the most appropriate standard accurately to your data.

Data? Librarians also need to understand different file formats, the difference between .tiff and .jpg, .doc, .pdf and .txt. We need to be able to advise on preservation quality format for various different types of data. Librarians should be leading the digital preservation charge.

Linked Data is another really exciting area for librarians to get involved in. Librarians have been organising and connecting information for centuries and we will continue to do so. But to do so we need to be able to engage with the computer scientists and show them how it’s done.

And for librarians who really want to push the technology boat out the ability to program will give them a huge advantage. All library catalogues are giant relational databases, so SQL (pronounced Sequel, or so I’m told) is an incredibly useful querying language to learn. I asked my software engineer colleagues and they recommended javascript if you already know HTML and CSS, to really improve the library website. For librarians who are interested in getting started with programming they recommended Python or Ruby.

For many of us adding these skills to our arsenal requires a willingness to learn, an ability to upskill quickly and learn on the job. The following are just some resources that are available:

Jenny O’Neill