Tag Archives: Exeter

A visit from the Reading Agency

On Thursday 1st March Exeter College LRCs were pleased to welcome a visit from Genevieve Clarke on behalf of the Reading Agency and the Education and Training Foundation. The main focus of this visit was to gather evidence for case studies supporting the development of reading for pleasure to boost achievement. Exeter College was chosen for its excellent track record in encouraging large numbers of students to enrol for the Reading Ahead challenge which runs annually.

Particular interests were :- how to weave reading into class time, library promotions, and attempts and techniques used  to engage students in reading activities.

Students working with teacher Beth Bramble from the Foundation Studies faculty described how they were gradually becoming more interested in reading after adopting it as a whole class activity. Beth has found it useful to model reading to the whole group and this is followed by 15 minutes during the lesson devoted to quiet individual reading. Students explained how the reading practice was inspiring them to learn more, and to feel more able to articulate their thoughts and feelings. It was widely agreed that quiet reading for pleasure could have a significant impact on mental and emotional health and wellbeing. As one student put it, ‘I wouldn’t know what to say before’.

Teacher Mark Rawlins from the College ESOL team described the impact of the Reading Ahead scheme for his adult students, who are routinely encouraged to explore our collection of abridged readers. Students of all abilities enjoy the scheme and feel a sense of achievement which ranges from progression to higher level courses, academic success and employability, to being able to read a bedtime story for their children. Students in particular who intend to progress to English GCSE courses will need an introduction to 19th century texts and we particularly invite them to access a variety of reading material including popular classics.

Along with academic texts our LRCs stock a wide range of fiction and journals as well as online resources. Some of our discussion centred around the pleasurable and tactile experience of a real book as opposed to the digital medium, and we have made conscious efforts to achieve this feeling of quiet relaxation with our customised Book Nook area. This is now becoming a focal point for our fiction collections and promotions, and is a popular corner for teacher Antonia Clarke’s Literacy Workshop sessions.

We were pleased to show Genevieve our Hele LRC ( one of 7 Learning Resource Centres within the College) which has a diverse student population and a variety of different corners to sit, work and read. As well as the graded readers, fiction and academic texts, it also holds a collection of texts specifically for Foundation Studies which are classified by topic rather than Dewey to aid discovery. Photos showing our proud students receiving their certificates, including meeting our guest author Tony Hawks last year, were also shared along with information about our library promotions and the launch event for Reading Ahead which took place last October.

We were very proud to show off our students and our facilities, and look forward to further successes and reading achievements within our community.

Cathie Strover

Information Service Assistant

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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     

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

Harry Galloway Prize winner for 2015 – Louise Cowan

The annual Harry Galloway award (see earlier posting here) is presented to mark outstanding achievements on the part of students on the MSc in Information and Library Management at the University of the West of England. The current award was presented to Louise Cowan at the CILIPSW Annual General Meeting and Members’ Day at Exeter Central Library on 14th March 2016. We are delighted to congratulate Louise. Here Louise gives us the background to her winning work.

 

I studied for my MSc at UWE part-time from 2012 to 2015. The course provided a good theoretical grounding in library management, often focusing on the knowledge and skills highlighted in CILIP’s PKSB. What I learned in the taught part of the course is continuing to prove invaluable as I now move on to Chartership.

The subject of my dissertation was ‘Social Media and Academic Libraries’; my interest in the topic had grown from my experience volunteering at Sunderland University Library in 2011 and seeing first-hand the great work their marketing team was doing to promote the services the library offered to students. I also managed the social media accounts at St Hugh’s College Library in Oxford, where I worked as a Senior Library Assistant while completing my MSc.

Louise Cowan taken by Kay Ecclestone 14 Mar 2016

Emma Wellard (left), Chair of CILIP SWMN, presents this year’s award to Louise Cowan at Exeter Library (photograph by Kay Ecclestone) 

A lot of literature is highly critical of the way libraries use social media to engage their students so I wanted to understand how users were currently interacting with academic libraries on social media, in order to highlight ways further engagement could be generated and maintained. Focusing on three academic libraries, I analysed the content of posts from their Facebook and Twitter pages that had generated user engagement. I found that, while users were much more active on library social media platforms than previously suggested in literature, more could be done to encourage meaningful conversations with students. Engagement was highest when social media content had a specific value to users; thematically, these posts revolved around Community, Feedback, Education and Enjoyment. While each library’s users prioritised different themes; strategically, libraries could look to promote posts that endeavour to build a community with users through shared interests, regularly engage with feedback to improve services, provide educational support and encourage a little fun!

The understanding of social media I gained from my dissertation helped me to prepare for my current role. Although I am primarily a liaison librarian, my work also involves supporting the management of social media for Reading University’s Special Collections Library and Archive.

I was thrilled when I received the news that I had won the Harry Galloway Memorial Prize – it has made the achievement of my MSc even more meaningful and memorable.

Louise Cowan

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)

Happy National Libraries Day!

Imaginative and entertaining events happening across the South West include:

Bestselling children’s author Cathy Cassidy’s visit to Exeter Library to give a talk and meet some of her readers.

Three golden bookmarks and 30 silver bookmarks were hidden across Cornish Libraries to win theatre tickets.

Storytelling and craft workshops for children in libraries in the New Forest .

Events across Wiltshire Libraries such as Poetry Outloud at Warminster, an adult quiz evening in Calne special rhyme time at Mere and a ‘Photobooth’ at Corsham where readers can share their thoughts about libraries in a photo which will be made into a collage. Salisbury Library will also be hosting a readers’ afternoon tea with crime writers Chris Ewan and Claire Donoghue.

Somerset Libraries host a simultaneous Gruffalo storytime.

Harry Potter readings and family history in Frome Library.

Pop up libraries appear across Plymouth as well as events for children and adults int the central library and across the city.

Readers take part in new book bingo at Shanklin Library.

Tina Daheley introduced a BBC World Service special edition on National Libraries Day and libraries worldwide. Listen to Cultural Give and Take here.

Support your libraries large or small.

Twitter #NationalLibrariesDay for more events throughout the South West and across the UK. E-mail us your National Libraries Day reports from the SWMN region: cilipsw@googlemail.com .

Village book swop at Heddington, Wiltshire

Heddington Book Swap June 2012b.JPG