Category Archives: Reports

Jurassic libraries: five go on a safari to deepest Dorset

On a lovely spring day in mid-March, we climbed aboard the Dorset Safari to visit a selection of libraries along the south-west coast. First stop was the Wey Valley School Library, where we learned how Eileen Harding, the Learning Resources Manager, had transformed the reading habits of pupils using the Accelerated Reader Programme (introduced in September 2014). From a standing start, when few pupils picked up a reading book, the most recent academic year saw pupils read over 1,700 books – that’s over 54 million words. How did she do it? Well, Eileen enlisted the help of Renaissance Learning software which matches children’s fiction books to pupils’ reading level and interests. The software then tracks their understanding via an online 34-question quiz after each book they read.

The questions are carefully phrased to check each pupil’s knowledge of the storyline as well as their understanding, and each book is selected to expand the pupil’s vocabulary. Eileen also uses the information to identify pupils with special needs, so that they can be given any extra help they require.

The software tracks the progress of individual pupils’. It has been noticed that boys, in particular, love to know how many words they have read over the term. The school now has dozens of word millionaires! The pupils are encouraged to set themselves targets and like the immediate feedback provided by the quiz, which motivates them to read even more. As a result, 89% of students have seen an improvement in their reading age during the course of the first year.

The Wey Valley School Library uses the Micro Librarian System to manage their stock, which includes the Reading Cloud, accessible via the Internet. It can be used as a social media platform, allowing pupils to chat to one another about books they have read. If they want, they can blog about books they’ve liked and make recommendations. It even allows pupils to add their own home reading books, so they can share them with friends.

Our second stop was The Verne Immigration Removal Centre in Portland, which houses up to 580 immigrant detainees while their cases are being assessed.

Originally, The Verne was designed as an impregnable fortress, built by convicts from Portland Prison between 1860 and 1872, to protect the harbour and nearby coastline from invasion. In 1937, it was being used as an infantry training centre, then converted to a prison after the Second World War. It eventually become a medium-security prison for over 600 long-term ‘Category C’ prisoners. Finally, in 2013, its function changed again when it was designated as one of the country’s immigration removal centres.

Even though most detainees are there just a short while (sometimes as little as a day), it is a requirement for all detention centres to have a library. Dorset County Council administer the one at The Verne, which stocks books, newspapers and magazines in a variety of languages. Elizabeth Bean, the Librarian, says there are currently 53 different languages spoken by detainees at The Verne, with the most common being Bengali and Chinese.

The detainees have free access to the Library every weekday, two evenings per week and at weekends. Elizabeth hinted that providing a library service for detainees can be emotionally challenging because they are often distressed. Given the predicament of the detainees, it is not surprising that the most sought-after books are on immigration law. The Library also offers a legal-aid booking facility and information about charities and immigrant support groups.

After a splendid lunch at the Jailhouse Café, we were driven inland to Dorchester Public Library, which opened in 2013. Apart from the normal library fare, it offers community spaces where locals of all ages can meet and learn. Spread out over three floors, the ground floor also plays host to various partners, such as tourist information, adult education (skills and learning) and the Dorset police contact unit. Within the complex, there are six classrooms that are used for various activities – many of which are oversubscribed. One new feature is the Changing Places accessible washing facility, that is available to members of the scheme even when the Library is closed. I imagine this will be a huge help to those with restricted mobility that cannot access facilities elsewhere.

The Library sees an average of about 1800 customers per week and also offers a Housebound Service to 71 residential homes in the region that get free delivery of books. This service replaced the mobile libraries that were abolished by the local authority during December 2016. Dorchester Public Library also acts as a hub for inter-library loans, which are handled in a busy back office. In total, there at least 10 staff are on duty each day in the Library, with over 20 in the team altogether.

Francesca Roper explained that space on the upper ground floor is divided into themed zones including Teenage Headspace with shelves of teenage literature and an easy access Children’s Library, where popular rhyme-time sessions are held twice a week. Another innovation, are the Library Gets Lively sessions for under 5’s and a Chatterbox reading group for slightly older ones, as well as a Youth Group for the 11+ children. In fact, since other youth activity providers have lost funding, this is now the only youth group in Dorchester. Classrooms are also used for adult skills and education, including the Reminiscence Sessions, where older members of the community can come in and share their memories and experiences. Digital Sessions are also popular, where members of the public can bring in their own equipment and get advice and guidance. Throughout the Library, the glass walls and pastel carpets and furnishing create a welcoming, airy, open atmosphere. The bookcases are also deliberately spread out, so that no space feels claustrophobic. At the back, an innovative Autism Room (designed in conjunction with the charity Autism Wessex), features dimmer lights, bean-bags and soundproofing to create a safe, soothing environment.

Just across town, the Dorset County Hospital Education Centre was our final stop on the Dorset Safari. Morag Evans, the Trainee Librarian, told us that they provide information and research facilities to almost 1000 registered members, in a variety of NHS posts. Within the Library a new digitalisation project was underway, archiving patient records. The staff organise educational events for doctors, including lectures and workshops. The library staff also conduct literature research and provide research training for doctors and other staff. In addition, they offer referencing and reflective-writing workshops. They also carry out Ward Rounds and make book deliveries to the workplace. Although most of the research is available online, they have found that some NHS staff insist on a printed version. It seems that nurses, in particular, prefer to look at something on paper rather than on screen.

Jonathan Edwards

Senior Library Assistant (Bournemouth and Poole College)

Save

Save

AULIC research presentations event

An event showcasing recent research by MSc students and library practitioners from Bath Spa University, University of Bath, University of Bristol and the University of the West of England (UWE).

MSc presentations

Academic Library outreach: a view from the field – Katie Rickard, Bath Spa University

Katie’s background was in widening participation and she was interested in how that would translate to the academic library sector.  Her research focus was to identify forms of public outreach by academic libraries and to develop a toolkit of practice.  Academic library outreach was well documented in literature in North America but under explored in the UK, though there were good examples of public outreach and engagement work (such as The Hive in Worcester and UWE’s open door policy). The research involved semi structured interviews at three AULIC institutions and a UK wide online survey resulting in 34 responses from 32 universities.  Respondents were asked to reflect on their outreach activities in the last year and to describe their ideal outreach plans. The majority were women (72%), most worked part-time on outreach projects, many were subject librarians. There were high levels of unaffiliated visits but scare reference to outreach activities in job descriptions. Outreach mainly related to schools and college visits, including EPQ.

Recommendations for the toolkit of best practice included running events in libraries to create the link between the library and outreach, setting a limit on attendees to avoid overcrowding, and creating a robust portfolio of outreach resources with guidelines, policies and open access resources made available on a bespoke area of the library website. It was recommended that libraries develop a fair and equitable selection procedure and go beyond the EPQ – which is taken by those already intending to go to university and favours high achieving schools – and arrange such activities as author readings and special collections visits not linked to the EPQ. Use of university marketing departments and partnership working via networking events were also recommended, to tap into skills and knowledge of colleagues from other sectors.  To ensure ownership and autonomy an outreach agenda should be embedded within library agendas and included in job descriptions.

Conclusions were that outreach is gaining significance with UK academic libraries but is under acknowledged in literature.  Librarians are keen to do more to connect under-represented groups in HE.  UK university libraries are embracing and promoting the concept of the publicly engaged university, including open doors policies and academic-public library partnerships.

The academic information-seeking behaviours of Law undergraduates: a study at the University of Bristol – Rob Challis, University of Bristol

Rob has worked at the University of Bristol since 2000.  His research interests were information literacy and user experience, particularly in subjects where discovery tools don’t interface with key resources.

For the research ten second and final year law undergraduates participated in ‘think aloud’ exercises (they were given a series of information seeking activities and had to say out loud what they were doing), and in follow-up semi-structured interviews reflecting on how they undertook the activities.  Activities included finding material on reading lists and sourcing material on a topic (which resembled their final year research project). Four types of resources were focused on:

  • Library Search/Primo discovery tool
  • Lexis and Westlaw, key databases for Law (used separately as don’t interface with Library Search)
  • Google for accessing informal resources such as Wikipedia, news, NGOs’ sites
  • People (other students, family, librarians)

Findings indicated that Library Search was generally only used to locate books.  Westlaw and Lexis were the primary sources for ‘authoritative’ material, both known items and in more exploratory research. Participants tended to use either Westlaw or Lexis, for subjective reasons such as familiarity or ‘look and feel’.  Google was used for practical and contextual information in the early, exploratory stages of research. Students were happy to share with their peers generic information such as lecture notes but not more specialised information they’d discovered.

The information strategies of second & third years were enhanced with academic and discipline specific knowledge; when searching for information about a recent act, for example, they would also search for the original bill to increase results.  Students commonly used ‘Satisficing’ behaviour, to achieve an adequate or acceptable level in their research rather than best possible and often favoured convenience over legality, such as with eBooks.

Library research presentations

Open Access Citation Advantage at the University of Bath – Katie Evans, University of Bath

Katie is a Research Analytics Librarian and was interested in whether Open Access (OA) research outputs at the University of Bath had higher citations.  Pure (for Green OA papers) and a JISC spreadsheet with funds data were used and copied into SciVal to match up citations.   Papers from 2010-2015 were examined and 27% of both Green and Gold OA papers were highly cited, compared to a baseline of 18% of all papers.  This identified a correlation between higher citations and open access, but on a smale-scale and not necessarily a cause.  There was however a wide subject mix of papers so it could be surmised that the citation advantage of the OA papers was not coming from a subject advantage and overall it was felt that OA does have an impact on citations.

Education Resource Centre Project – Amy Jackson & Hannah Poore – UWE Bristol

The Library’s Education Resources Collection, a distinct collection of children’s material to support teaching practice, was reviewed and refreshed in 2012 with new resources and shelving, but usage declined by 75% in a four year period.  A further review was undertaken in September 2016, to determine the reasons for the decline and whether the collection was still value for money and meeting the needs of student teachers.  Usage statistics were examined alongside a survey, focus groups and comparison of two comparator institutions (Chester & Derby).  The data had not been analysed and fed back to library managers but reflections were made on what worked well:

  • Good level of engagement by stakeholders with academics encouraging students to complete the survey and participate in the focus group
  • Working with the Library Engagement Coordinator to use student communication channels to publicise the survey and focus group.

What didn’t work well:

Data collection period was informed by the need to move the collection to another part of the library which coincided with student placements.

Independent Learning Environments – Tom Rogers & Hilary Cooksley, University of Bath

An Independent Learning Environments project was conducted in late 2015 on the future of study spaces at the University of Bath.  This involved an audit of existing learning environments and study spaces, collation of LibQUAL feedback, focus groups and a survey. Strategies and ideas from other institutions were looked at via a literature review and practitioner based research and reports.

A report was produced on their findings focusing on five themes:

Types of space – need for a variety of flexible and reconfigurable spaces with an emphasis on social and collaborative space and a trend towards interdisciplinary and hands on space.

Space for researchers – trend towards dedicated PGR space with technology for presentations and information creation, meeting space.  Soft seating and food tolerant space was valued and a greater emphasis on quiet space, distinct from undergraduates and housing relevant staff (research support, OP, metrics librarians).   Good examples include the universities of York, Exeter and Warwick.

Staff & services – including qualified librarians in space is beneficial. There is a trend towards convergence of services.

Technologies – should be student centred, customised and value for money to reflect major changes in learning and access to information.   Learning needs to be experiential (for simulation exercises, problem based activities), embedded, across disciplines, beyond the physical space.  Information skills are for life and part of students’ academic and professional futures.

Aesthetics & design – this needs to communicate what the space is intended to be and give a sense of belonging. A good infrastructure (cleaning, food & drink) is required and a good interaction between different spaces.

Conclusions were that the focus should be on self-directed learning spaces, incorporating flexibility, providing social, collaborative and experiential environments.  Removing print in favour of increased study space is alienating students from resources and librarians; effective marketing strategies are vital.

Forthcoming dissertation research – Melissa Newell, Bath Spa University

Melissa is studying at the University of Sheffield and proposes to do a case study at Bath Spa on effective information literacy and its challenges.  Methods will include interviews, observations, data analysis and a possible questionnaire to AULIC colleagues – watch this space.

Presidential visit to UWE Bristol

Kirsten-Rose Brooks reports on talk by CILIP President, Dawn Finch

On 6th December, CILIP President Dawn Finch visited UWE Bristol to give a talk to students on the MSc Library and Information Management course and library staff. Her subject was ethical principles in LIS (Library Information Science) and codes of professional practice. While regarded by some as old-fashioned and no longer needed, Dawn stressed that library ethics have never been more important, particularly in the so-called ‘post-truth’ world as false information proliferates and concern mounts not only for the public good in general, but also the good reputation of the information profession.

Dawn talked about the problem of inappropriate bias in LIS; while some sectors and organisations cannot avoid a bias, such as the House of Commons Library and the military, an ethical code enables librarians and information professionals to fight against this pressure. She reminded us of the major issue of privacy, since the Investigatory Powers Act 2016 has received Royal Assent and the revamp of data protection laws loom.

After this introduction, we worked through some quick-fire ethical scenarios, identifying whether they involved business ethics, personal morals, ethical codes or a point of law. We were continually reminded that, in providing frontline customer service, librarians have seconds to decide what to do in a given situation. Some were really tricky, and there were some disagreements over courses of action, and Dawn emphasised that good training of staff and users is important to avoid ethical dilemmas or negotiate them appropriately.

Dawn used examples to relate ethics to current events, such as in Ferguson, St. Louis during the riots, where librarian Scott Bonner and his staff kept the library open despite pressure from the local authorities to close, in order to continue providing an information service to the community. Another recent instance was media scrutiny of libraries during the Jo Cox murder case. Questions were asked of the role of local libraries since Thomas Mair visited them to search for controversial material online in the lead-up to his crime. During discussions, Dawn said that library work is potentially a minefield, with several potential obstacles. I was reminded of the e-learning module on ‘Overcoming Bias’ we were recently encouraged to complete at UWE Bristol. In this module we were told that librarians and information professionals should be aware of the need to overcome unconscious bias and provide information and books to all users, regardless of personal beliefs. This did get challenged, however – if a library user asked you for details on constructing weapons, would you give them what they wanted straightaway?

There was an encouraging message at the end: our jobs are more needed than ever, if more difficult. Reliable information must be made available from all sides, with policy documents, ethical principles, and the work of professionals used to fight false information, censorship and violation of privacy.

Dawn herself is a very engaging and funny speaker, and I enjoyed the fast pace of the session; although we were discussing weighty issues, we didn’t get bogged down in too much deep discussion and could cover lots of different points. It was an intriguing session which left attendees with plenty to think about.

Kirsten-Rose Brooks

(Graduate Trainee, UWE Bristol Library Services)

Library Design- On Different Budgets:)

By Julian Wood, Library Assistant, University of Bristol Library Services.

I was lucky recently to visit The McClay Library (Queens University, Belfast) supported by AULIC. The library won the 2014 Sconul Library Design Award. Three of us from Bristol University (me, Dan Gooding and Angela Joyce) were shown around the library, and met a ‘leading light’ of library design, Karen Latimer. Karen sits on the LIBER working group on library design, and helped create this excellent checklist that anyone can use to assess their own library or learning space. She was also involved in setting up the ‘Designing Libraries’ initiative.

qub

With Karen Latimer in the McClay Library

We will be presenting a poster at the AULIC conference in June, and a number of groups will be sharing their findings at this event. (I will feed back here about this so watch this space…). This year’s AULIC Summer Conference will be held on Monday 20th June 2016 at University of Bath Chancellor’s Building and will focus on the theme of Library and Learning Spaces.

Of course, very few of us are designing a new building, or even a refurb. My visit to Belfast showed me that library design covers many aspects of interior design – how we use our spaces. In this time of financial stringency, there is still much we can do on a small budget or no budget. An example of this is the ‘Wellbeing Nook’ that has been developed at Exeter Health Library.

Pam Geldenhuys, Acting Library Manager of Exeter Health Library (Royal Devon & Exeter NHS Foundation Trust), reports:

“Health Education South gave us some funds towards the end of our financial year (31 March 2016) which meant we could have a small refresh so we decided to create a ‘Wellbeing Nook’ for all staff providing mood busting books, some comfortable chairs and wool with needles and crochet hooks (Twiddlemuffs dementia project at the RD&E hospital: http://www.rdehospital.nhs.uk/trust/pr/2015/Calling%20all%20knitters%20-%20Help%20us%20knit%20Twiddlemuffs%20for%20patients%20with%20Dementia.html ) as well as some adult colouring-in books with pencil crayons.

See https://twitter.com/ExeHealthLib

We also replaced our bay ends so we can display our leaflets and notices more prominently and are in the process of removing the top shelves so all will be the height as displayed in the photo. This will also allow a lot more light in.”

 

pam

wn1wn2

Photos courtesy of Carol Giles, Exeter Health Library

We’d love to hear from any of you regarding how you’ve improved the design of your library (or part of your library), especially if you’ve done it on a small budget. Post in the comments below or e-mail us on cilipsw@gmail.com .

Interesting links:

And, for fun, these interesting little libraries are ‘completely free’:): Little Free Libraries

 

 

 

 

Report from the CILIPSW Members’ Day. Matt Ramirez: ‘The benefit of using Augmented Reality to enhance the student experience’.

In short, Matt Ramirez gave us a tour of the future! As JISC’s Senior Innovation Developer for Digital Futures, his presentation provided a wealth of examples of the implementation of Augmented Reality (AR) in education. He finds that, while Augmented Reality has been around as a new technology since 2010, it is reaching a trigger stage in terms of its cultural visibility. Consequently, there is likely to be an explosion of interest and an exponential growth in the AR user community this year.

My existing knowledge of AR and its potential was decidedly sketchy and two-dimensional, not lucid and three-dimensional as befitting augmented reality. However, while the technology is still a kind of scientific magic in my mind, I moved several notches forward in terms of my understanding during the members’ day! For a definition of AR I am taking an explanation from an earlier blog post by Matt on the subject:

‘Put simply, augmented reality is a technology that overlays computer generated visuals over the real world through a device camera – bringing your surroundings to life and interacting with sensors such as location and heart rate to provide additional information’.

Matt 1

Matt Ramirez giving a glimpse into the future at the CILIPSW Members’ Day.

(Photograph by Stephen Hunt)

The take up of AR in research, education and museums, Matt argues, is particularly popular because it bridges the gap between theory and practice. There are some striking examples of this. Scientists from different parts of the world have been able to simultaneously view three-dimensional images from Mars in real time, to build collaboratively on their understanding. Post-graduates working in the Geology Department at the University of Manchester have applied their lecture theory in real world contexts in a novel way. They have used an app to see fossils in the living environment when studying markers of fossil faces and oil reserves during their field studies. Museums have used AR enhancements anchored in exhibits to bring exhibits to life, thus successfully encouraging deeper and ongoing interaction, reflected in an increase in families returning for repeat visits.

The take-up and successful implementation of AR in education and research depends upon adopting best practice and identifying a genuine pedagogic need. The initial ‘wow’ factor will inevitably diminish if it cannot be demonstrated that AR is adding value to the user experience and is able to help deliver actual measurable learning outcomes. For Matt it ‘must have a unique selling point rather than just being impressive technology’. To this end it is also important to consult users throughout the process and to continually reappraise the application of AR based on their feedback.

In this respect AR has already started to prove its pedagogic value some practical projects. The University of Manchester Medical School encourages informal collaborative learning by exploiting AR to complement face-to-face and independent learning. In the 24-hour resource centre at Leeds College of Learning, AR has been used to reinforce situated learning when academic and support staff are not present. AR has also proven its worth at the John Rylands Library where it has been used to foster a mixed team approach to research, enabling technical experts, curators and subject specialists to collaborate effectively on project work.

Matt’s own work in the implementation of AR through JISC (Joint Information Systems Committee) has been in his foundational role in the development of the Special Collections Augmented Reality to Enhance Learning and Teaching project (SCARLET). This shaped his thinking about the need to implement AR carefully in order to demonstrate its worth, ensuring its future take-up and development. A central application was to make rare and fragile objects and artefacts accessible in a new way to those who do not necessarily have a technical background. In this way that they can visualise what is not usually on show, whether a fossil or a brittle literary manuscript. ‘I knew, said Matt, ‘if we were to embed and have longevity within educational learning space I knew there had to be something behind it beyond replicating pretty pictures’. An example of the potential of AR was SCARLET’s experiment in the presentation of Dante’s Divine Comedy.

Code Bug

Attendees at the Members’ Day in Exeter experimented with Aurasma Augmented Reality Software, tiny Raspberry Pi computers and code bugs, like this little fellow

(Photograph by Stephen Hunt)

The recent transformation in digital technology was the impact of mobile technology during the first decade of the century. Matt predicts that the ‘next paradigm shift will be about consuming information through wearables’ during the next ten years. Pioneer products such as Google Glass explorer glasses are already available, although, as to be expected, there are teething problems. In his initial trials Matt found his head overheating and that the sensor devices were extremely battery hungry! Nevertheless, Virtual Reality visits to the world’s leading museums and art,  may not be far into the future.

So the future is likely to be one in which the application of AR places the user at the centre of the learning experience. The significance for our profession is that students will have to engage with these learning technologies across all subjects and will need to develop skills in this area for future jobs.

Matt’s work with AR can be followed on Twitter at @Jisc_AR

 

Steve Hunt

Report from the CILIPSW Members’ Day. Tabitha Witherick: ‘A Librarian’s View of Digital’

Tabitha Witherick presented the opening session at this year’s CILIP SW Members’ Day. Drawing upon her role as Service Manager (Development) at Somerset Libraries, she provided a stimulating overview of the amazing range of digital initiatives taking place in public and academic libraries.

Tabitha has taken an extensive look at digital innovations in a variety of contexts and has been promoting many of the more eye-catching and user-friendly examples for implementation locally. ‘I see my role as very much a change maker’, says Tabitha, reflecting on her work in introducing new digital technologies in Somerset Libraries.

Tabitha shared many of her favourite initiatives in order to disseminate good practice for all ages across the region. These resources underpin the principle that ‘learning in informal environments reinforces what students do in school’. Here are ten of the initiatives and resources that have been taken up to support informal education in libraries:

Shift Happens : A US-based online forum for supporting digital initiatives in education.

Scratch : An online tool for 9-11 year olds (and beyond!) to learn basic coding skills coding through collaborative learning.

Kano – Create don’t consume : A build your own computer system set to be “as easy as Lego” to assemble. See video. Assemble like Lego.

Similarly, proprietary Lego Education Wedo kit enables children to use play products to informally develop their skills in computing and construction.

Library makerspaces such as the Fablab in Exeter Library. This is a designated area in the public library dedicated to making a variety of hardware and open-source software available for promoting creative projects and digital development. The Fablab was the first initiative of its kind in the UK, inspired by the Chattanooga Public Library 4th Floor project.

Another local resource is the Ideas Garage and Coding Club set up for 11-17 year olds at Chepstow Library in Monmouthshire.

The Carnegie Library Lab is “a programme created by the Carnegie UK Trust to support and develop innovation and leadership in the public library sector”.

There are also a number of mobile maker carts being developed for those without access to a physical library space. These may have great potential for supporting the development of digital skills in rural districts.

Apps for Good is a business-sponsored initiative set up to encourage students to use, disseminate and create apps to enhance their digital education.

Geek Week was the first event of its kind held in West Sussex Libraries in 2015. This was a series of free workshops held in libraries across the county to “celebrate science, games, the future of reading and all things tech”.

For many more inspiring ideas, gadgets and digital adventures, visit Tabitha Witherick’s own blog, Library Tea Party.

Tabitha Witherick

Tabitha Wetherick presenting at the first session of the CILIPSW Members’ Day

Steve Hunt

Exeter College Learning Resource Centres: User Participation and Promoting Reading for Pleasure

In Exeter College’s seven Learning Resource Centres, we work hard to create an ethos that uses both staff and student views to develop our service. Last year, the ‘Your Library: Your Imagination’ project was formed, led by Simon Bowler, Learning Media Services Manager. The aim of this project was to gather user feedback in as many forms as possible, including focus groups, comment systems and some more unusual ways such as post-it note walls, where students were invited to leave comments.

Post it walls 1Post it walls 2

Post-it note walls were a fun and engaging way to gather user feedback

The ‘Your Library: Your Imagination’ project was very successful and in response to the comments we received, several sub-projects were formed with the aim of innovating our Learning Resource Centre services. One of these projects explored the reoccurring user need for a comfortable and quiet reading space together with requests for a wider variety of fiction for reading for pleasure. Comments we received from students included:

“Somewhere to curl up and read would be goodJ

 “A relaxed quiet place to read for pleasure not study – nice chairs”

 “A quiet place to sit and read”

“A place to sit comfily and read”

 “More books I reckon. (Fiction ones please)”

“Larger fiction section e.g. HG Wells (Sci-Fi) and Stephen King (Horror)”

“Bigger fiction collection”

“More fiction”

It was clear from this that it would be incredibly positive to design and create a space for reading for pleasure within one of our Learning Resource Centres. An additional benefit was that it would also support wider college aims of promoting and supporting literacy for all students.

Jude Fleming, Library Services Co-ordinator, led this project supported by Tori Gower, Subject Librarian and Tammy Whyte, Learning Centre Supervisor. Following discussions about what would make a welcoming reading space for our student users, we identified a corner of our Hele Learning Centre that could be used. Through a ‘Dragons’ Den’ scheme run within our Information and Learning Services Department, Tori was able to pitch a plan for the project and subsequently secure funds to renovate it into a bright comfortable area.

This linked with another approved ‘Dragons’ Den’ proposal named ‘Fresher Fiction’ by Cathie Strover, Information Services Assistant. This project focused on rotating our fiction stock between our Learning Resource Centres, actively seeking feedback to inform our fiction selections and building a collection of graphic novels to engage our 16-19 year old student age group.

So, with a few tins of very purple paint, bright green beanbags, a new sofa, shelf rearranging and a Dr Seuss quote, it was relatively easy to create the space the students wanted. To continue the emphasis on student involvement, we ran a competition asking students to suggest a name for the new reading space and after many entries, ‘Book Nook’ was chosen as the winner with ‘Reading Retreat’ and ‘fREADom’ as runners up.

Name the Reading Space

Name the Reading Space competition winners  

The new Book Nook has been both well received and well used by our students. It has helped us to promote participation in the Reading Agency’s Reading Ahead scheme. We are expecting to see an increase in our fiction lending statistics and there has been positive interest in the new graphic novels. There were some initial issues with behaviour management and maintaining the space as a quiet reading area, but this is improving.

Successful Reading Ahead

Successful Reading Ahead participants

We have recently started using ‘positive posters’ for behaviour management and this seems to be working well.

Yes you can poster

An example of a ‘positive poster’ used in our Learning Resource Centres

Overall, this has been a successful project and we are looking forward to continuing to promote literacy and reading for pleasure, as well as aiming to improve user experience informed by engagement and feedback from the people we work with here in the Exeter College Learning Resource Centres.

Tammy Whyte (Exeter College Learning Centre Supervisor)