Reflection on my first information literacy tutorial

This week I taught my first real information literacy session to a group of students on “Advanced Google Searching”. The following is a before, during and after account of my experience.

Before

I approached my manager in late February asking if I could design and teach an information literacy session on “Advanced Google Searching”. Information literacy is an area I have a keen interest in and I wanted to add “teaching information literacy classes” to my CV. I frequently sit down with students and do one to one sessions demonstrating the use of the library catalogue, databases and information management options but I felt standing up in front of a group of a class would give me more of a challenge. After getting the go ahead from my manager I decided to start my preparation.

Preparation

One thing I really underestimated was the amount of work that actually goes into planning and designing a session such as this. A 30 minute session took nearly three weeks to plan between researching the information needs of the students, to advertising the class and preparing handouts, feedback forms and the presentation itself. I read some literature on information literacy and analysed different types of teaching methods to best suit me and my audience. For the content I did extensive research on Google’s Inside Search and Power Searching with Google and took ten main search operators and other Google features and then designed these around relevant examples.

Most of the students are Art & Design students so I focused on finding information about painters, sculptures, image searching along with critical theory articles. Credibility of information was key in this session so I demonstrated how to only search educational websites (sites with domain name ending in .edu) for research and how to limit their search results by relevancy. When I felt my presentation was ready I had to start marketing my class. I contacted academic staff to inform them what I was doing, sent out emails, stuck up notices and advertised by word of mouth when students came to the information desk.

"Information Literacy" by Ewa Rozkosz is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.

Information Literacy” by Ewa Rozkosz is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.

The Information Session

Due to the room being occupied by a class until the last minute, I had trouble with the projector at first but after some awkward moments I got started. Even though I never had an issue with public speaking, I was nervous. I knew I was prepared but there was still an element of panic as my audience waited in anticipation. Once I got started I was fine. I stressed the importance of using the libraries resources as a starting point for any academic research while simultaneously explaining how Google is becoming more popular as a research tool with Google Scholar and its other features.

In my head I had prepared for questions at the end of the presentation and got slightly side tracked when I got asked a question bang in the middle of the presentation. After going off on a tangent but still answering the question I was able to resume where I left off. Before I knew it forty minutes had passed and I was finished. I asked the students to answer a short feedback form and inform me where I could improve.

Reflection

All in all, I felt the class went well for a first attempt but there are definitely areas I need to improve on. Structuring and speed being the two that I feel need attention. Due to the time of the academic year there was a low turnout but it was a place to start and get teaching practice. While I may have lacked teaching experience (and wish to do more in the future to improve on this) other skill sets were vital from beginning to end.

Research Skills

I spent time in the preparation stages deciding how I would present my class. I played around with Prezi, Microsoft Powerpoint, PowToon and eventually decided to go with Google Slides as I am used to working with Google Drive. Pinterest was also very useful for giving me ideas on effective library teaching. And of course I had to research the different ways to search Google and keep myself updated on any changes.

Communication and Networking

Networking and building a relationship with other staff within my Institution was important as I needed to consult with academic staff for advertising my class on the Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) Moodle, administrative staff for the booking of the classroom and informally advertising my class with the students when they came to the information desk.

Time Management and Organisational skills

Designing, planning and giving a session like this required me to use my time management skills as I still had to carry out my daily tasks. I was informed that most essays and writing assignments were completed at this stage in the semester and the rest of the time may be spent on practical work so this time in the academic calendar wasn’t ideal. However, at this stage I feel I have a good foundation to work from and this information skills session can be built on.

Tips for first time Info Lit Instructors

  • Try and get some teaching practice in College or place of work- it can be intimidating getting up in front of strangers. Class presentations are an excellent way to gain experience in speaking publicly about a topic.
  • Network and communicate with others in your institution. Introduce yourself to other staff in your building and inform them you work in the library. You will need to consult with them on advertising your class, booking a room, inviting them to your talk etc.
  • Practice your sessions on someone and preferably in the room where your talk is taking place. Arrive early and try and solve any technology issues beforehand so you do not waste any class time.
  • Allow time for questions at the end and be prepared for questions at any time of the session.
  • Request feedback at the end – Find out what worked? What didn’t work? Where can you improve? Constructive Criticism does help!
  • Read some literature on best practice for information literacy training and ask experienced librarians for advice. What style of teaching do they use? Is it formal or informal? Think about your learning style and then think about what you want your teaching style to be.
  • And Finally: Do not underestimate the time that goes into planning a class. This was the most valuable lesson I learned in this experience.

Mary Murray, Library Assistant at Galway Mayo Institute of Technology

A&SL Conference 2015

Report by Kate McCarthy

Day 1

The Academic & Special Libraries Conference is always an annual highlight in the Irish library calendar, and 2015 was no exception. Hosted in a new venue this year – the Gibson Hotel – it proved a jam-packed one and a half days, with presentations and posters exploring the vital collaborative and transformative opportunities that libraries are taking to develop unique projects and enhance their services.

Opening the conference on Thursday, journalist and editor Malachy Browne gave a fascinating account of the work being done by Reported.ly, a start-up company he moved to after working for the Dublin-based Storyful. Reported.ly is a news organisation that operates exclusively through social media, verifying sources, including images or videos. Naturally, the intense focus on evidence and trusted information appealed greatly to the conference audience, but it was sobering to see how easily the location and other personal details of some people can be traced through their use of various websites. I’m sure I wasn’t the only attendee who double-checked the privacy settings on my social networking sites after getting home on Thursday evening!

In the first case study of the conference Helen Fallon from Maynooth University Library spoke about the Ken Saro-Wiwa Collection. Saro-Wiwa was a poet and environmental activist from Nigeria who was executed in 1995, and his personal correspondence to an Irish missionary nun, Sister Majella McCarron, was donated to Maynooth University. The library collaborated with a number of external partners to produce a book and an audio archive based on the material. It seemed that working with Kairos Communications, a media and training company, proved particularly successful, as it provided an opportunity for the team to build up their technical, media and promotional skills.

Parallel sessions that afternoon included a case study of The Forgotten Zine Archive by Tom Maher and Mick O’Dwyer, and an overview of the librarian’s role as ‘databrarian’ by Jenny O’Neill from the Digital Repository of Ireland. I attended Jenny O’Neill’s talk, in which she outlined the substantial changes that have occurred in skills requirements for librarians in recent years. This was followed by a series of Pecha Kucha talks, two of which highlighted literacy issues: Mary Delaney from IT Carlow focused on the library’s role in digital literacy training, and Jenny Collery talked about designing a programme to enhance critical thinking skills amongst third level students. Laoise Doherty, meanwhile, from the Royal Irish Academy of Music Library, spoke about collaborating with the RIAM Opera Project, to provide them with an online exhibition space, a project that has led not only to further collaboration, but to the use of the library as a performance and event space.

The first day finished with a hugely entertaining presentation from UCC Library’s Martin O’Connor, who was part of a team that curated a Sir Henry’s-themed exhibition at UCC Library over the summer of 2014, based on the history of the famous Cork nightclub. Overcoming a number of technical glitches and a rogue fire alarm, O’Connor gave a great account of his collaboration with UCC Social Sciences academic Eileen Hogan and radio DJ Stevie Grainger, to bring the exhibition together and promote it. Crowdsourcing for information and anecdotes about the club through a Facebook page established a great relationship with the community and even with members of the Irish diaspora as far away as Australia. The project was very successful for the library, raising the profile as well as the expectations of what libraries can do.

"Library Photography Competition 2011 entry" by Rich Grundy is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

Library Photography Competition 2011 entry” by Rich Grundy is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

Day 2

Day two of the Academic & Special Libraries conference was opened by Helen Shenton, Librarian and College Archivist at Trinity College Dublin, who spoke at length about the transformative shifts that are occurring in libraries across the globe in response to new technologies and expectations. She shared several examples of academic libraries in the United States that have embraced new collaborative projects and opportunities to transform the concept of “library as place, and place as library”. Helen’s presentation was an absolutely inspiring call to action for librarians.

The first case study on Friday morning was delivered by Elaine Bean from Maynooth University, who spoke about two literacy programmes that the library has developed for students, including a fantastic literacy module created for second level students to ease transition to the third level environment. Elaine was followed by Monica Crump from NUI Galway, who discussed the importance of stepping outside the library walls in order to forge all those collaborative relationships that were being showcased by the conference speakers.

It was difficult to choose between all the parallel sessions, which included presentations and workshops by Fintan Bracken, Arlene Healy, Anne Culhane, Stephanie O’Keeffe, Jane Burns and Roy Murray, but in the end I decided to sit in on Mary Dunne from the Health Research Board, as she spoke about the value of communication and open discussions around user needs, having worked with stakeholders on the building of new online resources. Jessica Eustace-Cook from Trinity College Dublin gave a really useful and relevant breakdown of how to go about fundraising for special events, such as seminars, exhibitions or book launches. Jessica’s background on the exhibition circuit in the UK has proved a distinct advantage in helping her to fundraise for the A&SL, demonstrating the value of bringing skills from other jobs into everyday library work.

"librarian" by Joachim S. Müller is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0.

librarian” by Joachim S. Müller is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0.

In the afternoon, Aoife Lawton from the HSE outlined further the benefits of partnerships, particularly within the health library and repository sectors. She commented that, while impact can sometimes be hard to measure, it is important to forge ahead with collaboration and communication, especially to minimise duplication of effort across the library sector. “Innovation is the new service” at Maynooth Library, according to Hugh Murphy and Michael Leigh, who spoke about setting up and maintaining a 3D printer at Maynooth University Library. The introduction of such facilities in academic libraries is increasing in other countries and the team at Maynooth recognised a valuable opportunity for the library to collaborate with other departments in the university to provide a neutral and open space for students to come and use the printer for specific courses.

As the talks wound down, Laura Connaughton was awarded a prize for her poster detailing the requirements and benefits of applying for Associateship of the LAI. The poster exhibition had included many interesting case studies of collaborative projects. As it does every year, the conference provided a superb platform for demonstrating the phenomenal work being done by librarians from academic and special libraries all over Ireland. It was difficult not to conclude that collaboration will play an increasingly vital role in the successful development of library services and special projects. It is a challenging time for libraries, but a very exciting one nonetheless.

Presentations and videos from the conference are available on the A&SL website.

The librarian as researcher – new roles for the information professional

Following a highly informative and really interesting day of talks at “The Librarian as Researcher” seminar organised by the ANLTC on the 8th of May, there was a short discussion forum on the question “what can we do to advance research among librarians?

Suggestions included having bursaries towards research. It was noted though that where there is such funding, applications are few. It was suggested that people need to be braver and bolder about putting themselves in for such awards. Also noted were the opportunities for early career professionals to get bursaries to attend UKSG.

One of the presenters received funding from the Franciscans towards her research, another received funding from Trócaire towards publishing a book. Think creatively!

The issue of the Irish Research Council not recognising librarians as principal investigators for research funding was raised. It was suggested that in many areas a large amount of funding is not needed. Librarians could begin by working on a small project, speak about it at conferences, write a blog post. The Royal Irish Academy (RIA) offers mobility grants, towards the cost of carrying out research abroad.

It was suggested that librarians need to look at and speak at non-library conferences; we need to be much more aware of looking outside of our own profession – attending, for example, an education conference and talking to an audience outside librarianship. It was noted how important networking and meeting people both at conferences and in daily work is.

The perception of librarians in a service-type role rather than partners was raised. We need to do more to strengthen our role in this area and need to market/promote what we do. Suggestions included presenting posters, papers etc. at a wide range of events.

The question of research on the national agenda was raised. It was noted that while medical doctors do not necessarily have the training in research methods they are expected to write and publish. They will be remunerated at some stage, perhaps through promotion or consultancy. However librarians are generally not remunerated in the same way though, perhaps, we are better qualified at doing research. It was suggested that librarians may make the assumption that others have training or are good researchers but this is not always the case. We need to question our assumptions and raise awareness of librarians as researchers.

One way to get started is to write for professional journals then progress to peer-reviewed journals. Remember that you don’t need to put in much emphasis on research. Don’t overestimate what you need – you don’t need massive amounts of data to get started – just do it!

Being passionate about what you do help you keep going, develop your passion and keep going with it!

Laura Connaughton.

The Galloglass Librarian – A Future Development?

These sort of men be those that do not lightly quit the field, but bide the brunt to the death.”

(16th century account of the Galloglass)

Galloglass


The problems that LIS graduates face as they step onto the conveyor-belt of job-hunting can come down to the facts that (1) there are few employment opportunities in the LIS sector out there, and (2) of the ones that are, many are unpaid internships, volunteer opportunities, JobsBridge programmes, and so on.

Unpaid opportunities may be essential these days to develop necessary experience but they are unpaid all the same and thus untenable unless you can already support yourself in some way, such as by living at home. One can hardly move to a new town for an unpaid internship, even if the alternative is more sitting-at-home.

These are common complaints amongst each new crop of LIS graduates. But this unhappy situation is unlikely to change anytime soon, with libraries and similar institutions too strapped for cash to take on employees on long-term contracts. We must either continue with the situation as it is and hope the conveyor-belt takes us to work we can or want to do, or look to alternative ways.

Among the latter could well be contracts that last for a matter of months, if not weeks. I speak from personal experience on the pros and cons of such an arrangement. While it has been rewarding, it has also been challenging (Translation: hard!), and I hope that my sharing of such experience will help others with any of their own, as well as raising its possibility to others who may not yet have considered such a thing.

higher-education-academy2

In mid-July I was offered a temporary contract working as a cataloguer for the Higher Education Academy in York. The initial offer was for six weeks, then it was for five weeks – making it from the last week of July to the 1st of August – but the basic principle remained. While York is not a huge distance from my native Dublin, it was a city I had only visited once before years ago on a weekend and barely remembered it. It would be, for practical purposes, a strange city.

The shortness of the contract was also a matter of concern in terms of accommodation – as in, would I get any? After all, landlords prefer contracts for a lengthy period of time – more money and less hassle of having to find a new tenant all the time. For cities with a large student population like York, nine months is a standard length of contract offered by landlords to take into account semester times. A month-long contract falls far short of that norm. In the end, I booked myself into a BnB of reasonable price for the first week of the contract to give myself a roof over my head while I looked for a flat for the remaining four weeks. What would hopefully work for me was how most of the students would be away at this time of year, leaving a dearth of occupied flats for me to take advantage of.

I took a flight from Dublin to Leeds Bradford Airport – no direct flights to York – and then a train to York, hoping to channel to spirit of the mercenary warriors of old, the “grim and redoubtable Galloglass with sharp, keen axes, terrible and ready for action.” After all, the legendary ‘Foreign Gael,’ of mixed Irish-Scottish heritage, were prepared to travel to wherever or whoever needed their services. With a Scottish surname like Murray, it seemed only proper to follow in the footsteps of such redoubtable go-getters, though perhaps without the keen axe. After the first week in the BnB, I was able get a flat for the month and just in time. A PhD student was looking for a sub-tenant for his room, and as no one had replied positively to my ad on SpareRoom.co.uk, it was an easy sell on my new tenant’s part.

York-city-wall-england



The cataloguing work went well. So well that it was extended for another month to the entirety of August. As my sub-landlord was due to return from his holidays, there was no possible extension on the flat and I was required to look again for another. I had more success this second time around, with several prospective flats to choose from by the end of my search.

As August went by, it was increasingly obvious that the workload would not be complete. Despite the workload being shared between a team of three, the original estimate of five weeks had proven to be a touch optimistic. I had yet to hear back from my line-managers, and I was browsing through the cheap (ha!) options for Leeds Bradford-Dublin flights when I was told in the last week of work that there was to be an extension, after all – on a fortnightly basis this time, rather than a monthly one. It seemed budget was as much an issue here as it is everywhere else. I decided to assume that the new extension would amount in time to another month all the same, and I would continue to flat-hunt on that basis. That is, if I could find one. Coming to work from a park-bench did not seem a tempting prospect, but a Galloglass librarian is one who does not lightly quit the field, instead biding the brunt onto death, so onwards again to SpareRoom.co.uk!

Renewing a contract on such a monthly basis meant finding accommodation on the same basis. Again, this is a far shorter and less reliable timeframe than what most landlords are looking for in a tenant. I was fortunate in being in a city full of students with flats and in a time of year where students were away and looking to sublet these same flats.

The disadvantages – or challenges – of short-term contract work are numerous. Moving to another place for however brief a time would also be far harder for someone with dependants and without some other arrangement in place. Short of adopting a Modest Proposal and eating said dependants, there is not much I can suggest about that.

Entering another country in the first place can be another challenge. Luckily for me here, Ireland and the UK have the Common Travel Area between them, meaning I could enter the former without problem, history having a certain cyclical nature given the number of Irish seasonal workers from Ireland in the 19th century Yorkshire agricultural industry (thank you, Yorkshire Museum!). With countries that enforce entry requirements such as the USA and Canada (the traditional retreats for the unemployed Irish in days gone past), such temporary contracts would be harder.

Yorkshire-Museum

For how much longer my work at the HEA will continue I cannot say. It may be a matter of weeks more or longer. That uncertainty is something I cannot do much. Nonetheless, I have already gained from the whole experience, not just in wages – not to mention getting to walk to work on York’s medieval walls in the morning – but in working with Grails, an application framework I had previously been unacquainted with, and a new ‘sharp, keen axe’ I can now claim to know for future job applications.

galloglass_axe_battle_replica

                            Daniel Murray

For Those About to Blog …

… we salute you! (Some CDG Committee members do like their AC/DC).

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Really, though, we do salute you. Blogging is a great way to express your thoughts, share your expertise and make a difference by inspiring and helping those around you (in our case, information professionals). After meeting so many of you at Library Camp Ireland and other events, and from talking and engaging with some of you on Twitter we know how enthusiastic you all are! We’re the same! The CDG was originally created to promote opportunities for members to network and discuss issues around career development and job opportunities, to establish links between employers and information professionals, and to help the Library Association of Ireland to promote professional standards and continuing professional development.

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One of the ways we’ve attempted to address all this is by setting up this blog to promote events and to discuss those issues affecting librarians and information professionals in the current job environment. Being realistic, however, we know that a small Committee cannot cover every aspect of librarianship and library career development, despite being a fairly diverse group of individuals. That’s why we want to invite all of those interested to make submissions to this blog.

We will consider a variety of topics and are looking at the following in particular: non-traditional (and traditional!) work opportunities and skills; CV and interview tips; career and professional development in libraries (or elsewhere); alternative funding models for job creation; how to freelance; self-employment tax issues and the value and importance of LIS professionals and libraries generally. If you want to discuss these issues or anything else relating to career development in libraries, send us an email with the word BLOG in the subject line. We would be delighted to hear from you!

ANLTC’s event on Library Impact and Assessment: an overview.

Author: Michelle Breen / @mbreen2

The ANLTC (Academic & National Libraries Training Cooperative) held an event on Library Impact and Assessment in Trinity College Dublin on May 7th 2013. The assembled library staff from DIT, the Irish universities, the Universities of Huddersfield and Leicester discussed the impact analysis work underway at their institutions. With attrition rates of 8% in the Universities and 22% in the Institutes of Technology (IoTs) there is a lot to be concerned about. Here is a summary of the day.

ANLTC logo

Carmel O’Sullivan (UCD) introduced the day by reminding us how high up the higher education national agenda the topics of assessment and measurement are. The first speaker, Mary Antonesa from NUIM, reported on the 2012 CONUL ACIL survey. Mary reported that students indicated a preference for library workshops, advice and lectures, in that order. The survey found that the more explicit a library is about learning outcome the more successful the IL intervention is likely to be. The results also indicated that faculty view the Library as having a positive impact on grades. The final report of this survey was sent to CONUL and the questions used in the survey are available in the report.

Lorna Dodd from UCD reported on the findings of a survey delivered to 1,900 module coordinators in UCD in 2012. With reorganization and staff attrition UCD has 6 college librarians where they once had 15-17 liaison librarians. These librarians still serve the same user population but could not continue to do IL the way they always did. Among the changes put in place for IL delivery was a shift from a module to a programme approach, library staff no longer involved in tours, provided active learning tailored to specific subject needs; including online offerings.

students

Ciara McCaffrey (UL) reported on the experience of Irish libraries that ran LibQual, the ARL student satisfaction survey. The libraries interviewed reported LibQual’s greatest selling point as its ability to generate data that allows libraries to compare themselves with others, and yourself, over time. The results achieved by Irish libraries in LibQual indicate that our library buildings are coming up short in terms of ‘customer’ expectations of them. Not surprisingly for many CONUL members, noise also continues to be a concern for library users. There is a lot of data in LibQual that we are not utilizing fully at present; there is scope there to do more with the data. Ciara called for another CONUL notebook so that we get a measure of how Irish libraries are doing now.

Huddersfield logo

Graham Stone from the University of Huddersfield gave a very detailed presentation about the JISC funded Library Impact Data Project. University libraries in Wollongong and Minnesota are getting similar results to Graham’s so there is some support internationally for the theory that “there is a statistically significant correlation across a number of universities between library activity data and student attainment”

There were many revealing insights turned up by this very extensive data gathering process from 2,000 students in the UK including:

· Students are more likely to drop out of their course if they had not borrowed or used library e-resources

· Students that use VLE middle of night are at risk (Manchester Metropolitan Univ)

·The same correlation could not be made about students using the library in the middle of the night

· Business students do not use as many books as we thought they did although they ask for more books – maybe their expectations of the library are very low?

· Chinese students use fewer e-resources, generally, than other nationalities, is this because of a tendency to do group work, share a resource?

· Computer Systems students not using library resources but still getting their degrees, should they be participating in ‘good academic practice’ and reading appropriate material? Their lecturers are compiling relevant reading lists.

Lamp logo

The latest project that Graham is involved with is called LAMP and this will attempt to create a dashboard where data collected centrally can be used to flag a problem or pattern in student behaviour or engagement with services, initially at University of Manchester & Huddersfield.
Jonathan Drennan from UCD reported on the design and implementation of the first Irish National Student Survey. The Irish survey emulated the AUSSE (Australian Survey of Student Engagement); a 120 question survey that measure the extent to which students are engaged in good educational practices. Results of the survey will be available to institutions in September. Jonathan referenced a book called Ivory Tower Blues by James E Cote. According to Jonathan, there are interesting parallels between the Irish and Canadian education systems particularly as it relates to the transition from secondary level to third level education.

Jo Aitkins from the University of Leicester described how the simple interventions made in her library can be replicated elsewhere to improve services for students:

· Allow feedback on the chat function

· Distribute Happy Cards periodically

· Get Student’s Union to run a survey for you

Jo offered a very practical tip to anyone planning to run a survey; before running a survey tell them what you’ve done out of last survey, in a ‘You said, we did’ style of communication.

Peter Corrigan from NUIG described ways he believes we can run the LibQual survey more efficiently. NUIG runs LibQual every year and Peter believes this helps them to mature the process and therefore do it faster each time. In his assessment of tools for analysing the qualitative data from LibQual (the comments) Peter looked at 3 tools:

· Max QDA

· ATLAS ti

· NVIVO

None of these tools have advanced text analysis like Google offers but of the three; NVIVO is currently the most flexible option.

Stitched Panorama

Summary
If awareness raising was the goal of this ANLTC event this was certainly achieved. I felt that we were left with as many questions as we got answers. The speakers described the many connections that exist between libraries and student success but it was made clear at the outset that while there is a correlation between library activities and student success, causation can’t always be inferred.

The results of the first Irish National Student Survey will be an interesting set of data to look at when thinking about library usage as it relates to student attainment. Data collected from UCD students last year suggests we should give strong consideration to continuing tours of the library. Lorna (UCD) reported that while students may request tours they may be doing this in a ‘box-ticking’ way rather than with any real purpose. The UCD survey found that tours featured behind workshops as students preferred means of getting library instruction. Our colleagues at Leicester and Huddersfield also reported the demise of tours in their libraries.

The attendance and level of interest among yesterday’s attendees highlights that within the assessment community there is an appetite for collaboration in this area. Using the knowledge and experience of the CONUL Task & Finish Group on Metrics and perhaps looking outside the traditional library skill set might be a next step for a collaborative effort to advance the excellent analytics work already underway.

colorful post its