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)

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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.

CILIP Travelling Librarian Award

Any CILIP library and information professional in the CILIP SW area is warmly encouraged to apply for this year’s Travelling Librarian Award. The award is a joint initiative run by CILIP and the English Speaking Union. It is intended to encourage cultural visits to international counterparts in the predominantly English speaking world.

Guy Daines, Head of Policy at CILIP, informs us that the award is offered as ‘an opportunity to an adventurous UK  library and information professional who is a CILIP personal member to explore a professional  theme or challenge by a study tour of library and related institutions in the USA or a Commonwealth country’.

Last year’s winner Leanne Young of Sunderland University visited six libraries in the higher education sector in the USA.

As Guy says, the winner of the award will enjoy a unique chance to ‘enrich [their] professional knowledge and experience’ in what will be a truly defining moment in a professional career’.

There is a dedicated webpage for the Travelling Library Award which has further details about the award with instructions on how to apply. The deadline for applications is Wednesday 27th April 2017.

A Quick Hello!

me

Hello! My name is Tammy East and as a new addition to the CILIP SW blog editorial team, I wanted to introduce myself to you all. I work as the Customer Experience Manager overseeing the customer service and library services in our seven Learning Resource Centres here at Exeter College. You may have read my previous blog post about our Book Nook and Reading for Pleasure project, and I have certainly enjoyed reading everyone else’s contributions here. Sharing best practice and learning from what is working elsewhere is an essential part of our work as library and information professionals and this is what led me to putting myself forward for this editorial role.

We can learn a lot from outside our sector too. I haven’t always worked in Information and Library Services, in fact I was a mental health nurse for many years before I took a part-time degree and changed careers. It can be surprising how many transferable skills you can bring with you and just how open information and library professionals are to alternative perspectives and change. I’ve learnt a lot from working with my colleagues and meeting many of you at training events and over social media. I’m very pleased and proud to now be part of this profession and I hope to help share your ideas, projects, experiences and stories via this blog. If you’re doing fantastic work or have an amazing project on the go, if you’re new to the profession or you have a wealth of experience to pass on, why not shape it into a blog post and keep sharing the good work we all do!

 

Retired or About to Retire? Don’t Lose Touch!

CILIP SW Committee member Valerie Bearne is the group’s Liaison Representative. In particular Valerie’s role is to recruit and inform retired members. Valerie has put a call out to members who are about to retire to stay in touch with the profession. ‘There is a lot of knowledge, experience and contacts that retired members can still share’, says Valerie. This is an excellent means to draw upon the experience of retired members who can share the benefit of their knowledge with younger professionals.

As Liaison Rep, Valerie writes: ‘If you can host a group visit yourself, or offer training or mentorship to younger members of the profession, we would love to have your contributions and work with you to help and support people across the SW’.

Retired library and information professionals can also take part in occasional group visits and social events such as the visit to the Britannia Royal Naval College, previously reported in the CILIPSW Blog by Anne Howard.

Valerie is currently organising a return visit to the Britannia Royal Naval College, scheduled for Wednesday 5th April 2017. Contact Valerie.bearne[@]tesco.net for further details.

britannia-royal-naval-college-library

Britannia Royal Naval College, Devon

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)

Digital adventures for all in Taunton’s gleaming new Glass Box

glass-box-entrance

After the last CILIP SW Committee meeting I took the opportunity to visit the Glass Box, which has recently opened in Taunton Library. Prominently located at the Library’s entrance, the Glass Box provides a bright welcome as the first area visitors see as they walk into the building. It functions as a digital makerspace, with free wi-fi access and an exhibition area.

The Glass Box was launched in the summer to provide a space where all can access a range of digital resources and create and experiment in a supported environment. Staff provide support for digital skills and there are workshops to help get started in using the 3D printer. A regular Code Club has been set up to help children to learn coding. The offer for children and adults also includes opportunities to learn how to make a computer, engage with a local history and heritage project and even sign up to ‘robotics for fun’. The space also functions as an enterprise zone for local business, which it supports by hosting free webinars and making available databases providing company information and business start-up materials.

The Glass Box is one of the latest initiatives in a bid to create innovative spaces in public libraries, providing the communities they serve with access to try out state-of-the-art equipment. Such projects are encouraging evidence, if any were needed, that public libraries remain absolutely relevant and connected in fast-moving times, providing an essential educational role. The popular and inspirational Fab Lab opened in 2014 at nearby Exeter Library, which hosted the CILIP AGM and Gadget Day earlier this year.

To find out about latest events scheduled at The Glass Box see:

http://somersetlibraries.co.uk/glassbox/

glass-box-interior   glass-box-digital-skills