Blog - Jo Alcock Consulting
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[picappgallerysingle id="5289263"]The day after the Librarians as Teachers event was a similarly themed event focusing on a different element of the librarian role - Librarian as Researcher. I wasn't able to attend this event, but I followed it via Twitter thanks to @LISResearch and @lenocsor. You can see the tweets in relation to the event at the TwapperKeeper archive. Obviously, I didn't get the benefit of attending the day's events but I did get a flavour for the discussions and could follow up links mentioned and view presentations online. I'm a keen advocate of research, making evidence-based decisions wherever possible. I'm involved in my own research as a librarian (for work-based projects and to inform elements of my job role), and I also spend my free time researching areas of interest -sometimes for articles, presentations or blog posts; sometimes just to increase my understanding. One of the things I was really impressed by at LILAC 2010 was the emphasis on research-informed information literacy teaching, using both existing research and conducting original research to help make decisions about the approach to teaching. Commitment to research by librarians is something I'd love to see more of, but I think all too often it's overlooked as other activities take priority.

[picappgallerysingle id="7291598"]Last week I attended a really interesting event hosted jointly by University, College and Research Group West Midlands and Career Development Group West Midlands. Librarians as Teachers: the New Professionals? was a very popular event, with delegates travelling from across the country to attend. I was invited to join the panel for a debate at the end of the day, presenting the opinion of a new professional. You can see a programme of the day including presentations and supporting material, and view other blog posts covering the day, or view the archive of tweets, but I wanted to share some of the themes raised during the event which I’ve been contemplating since.

I think for anyone reading this blog, you probably know I'm an avid supporter of the microblogging platform Twitter, but there have been some interesting points made recently about tweeting during events, and it's something I'd like to discuss (particularly apt at the moment as I'm "Twitter Officer" for the upcoming New Professionals Conference in July!). The focus for this post is on tweeting at events, not tweeting in general. My own experiences have taught me that sometimes it is acceptable (and encouraged) to tweet during an event, and sometimes it's frowned upon. I'd also like to make it clear that of course it is unacceptable to tweet about confidential matters and therefore inappropriate to tweet internal meetings to an external audience, or to tweet any information which is sensitive or confidential. More recently I've been discussing the issue of whether or not to tweet at events with my boyfriend Chris (yes we are proper nerds and spend a lot of our free time discussing such things!). It seems it's quite a complex issue with a number of misunderstandings, as unfortunately experienced by WoodsieGirl recently. There's been an interesting debate over on CILIP Communities today which I've been following with interest, and I thought I'd share my own views and some of the arguments for and against tweeting at events. I hope to present a balanced view, although I do admit up front that I personally sit firmly in the camp who advocate tweeting at events, for the moment anyway.

[picappgallerysingle id="257026"]Defining our professional future is the new term being used for the "Big Conversation" that CILIP are having this year with their members and non-members, to establish where information professionals may be in the future and how the professional body can continue to support the changes. I'm attending a local focus group tomorrow and have been gathering some thoughts on the three key questions, but thought I'd jot them down on the blog too.

Spring cleaning in the home...

We've made a conscious decision this year to focus our efforts (and finances!) into improving our home. We've lived here almost 5 years now, owned the house for over 3 years, and yet still there are things we're not happy with. Over the last few weeks we've been gradually getting things sorted - we've finally replaced the bath with one that doesn't soak our floor every time we shower, added a shower screen, got some new kitchen lights, done some more work in the garden, and re-painted the kitchen ceiling. There's still a lot of little jobs to do but it's been very therapeutic to get some of these things sorted. Last weekend I decided I'd sort out our paperwork and finally organised all my statements and bills going right back to when I started University in 2002. We use online banking and keep track of our spending on an Excel spreadsheet, but I had kept hold of all our paper bills and statements too, so it was well overdue a sort out!

...spring cleaning elsewhere

The organising process has also rubbed off to other areas of my life too - my desk/dressing table is now clear of clutter, my dissertation paperwork is all neatly organised, and my desk at work is nice and tidy too. I've also been organising my online accounts, getting rid of unused accounts and tidying up accounts I do use. Here's some of the stuff I've been up to online to clean up my accounts:

There's been quite a lot of talk on Twitter about this year's New Professionals Conference (hashtag #npc2010). It's great to see the increase in use of Twitter from last year when I think there was only me and a couple of others using a hashtag I'd made up! I'm hoping to develop further Twitter support including a list of delegates (more on this later). I'm a bit late in organising it this year but thankfully the conference is on a non-working day so I should hopefully be able to attend, I'm just trying to get this confirmed at the moment. For anyone...

So, the final day, an early start to day 3; the first session was at 8.45am! After dragging myself out of bed and checking out of the hotel, we managed to make it across in time for the first session. I chose to attend the session by Alanna Ross and Christine Furno, who discussed their use of active learning to try to improve their 50 minute one shot information literacy sessions, comparing the use of clickers with a traditional lecture style session and a problem based learning approach; unfortunately their results were inconclusive but following further qualitative research they discovered that students did not see this as important due to lack of faculty support - sadly a lot of nodding faces at this point. Moving forward, they hope to integrate the session at the most appropriate time and link it to part of the module assessment by working with faculty.

Apologies for the delay in getting this post published, think I may have finally caught up on my sleep now! Day 2 of LILAC 2010 began with a lovely hotel breakfast followed by a dash (due to the appalling weather!) over to the Strand hotel. The first session of the day was the second keynote of the conference, Dr Karen Fisher from University of Washington. Karen spoke about her research into lay information mediaries (LIMs):
those who seek information in a non-professional or lay capacity on behalf or because of others, without necessarily being asked to do so, or engaging in follow-up

What a brilliant start to the conference! After a full breakfast at the hotel, we wandered over to The Strand for conference registration where we were met by hoards of librarians everywhere! Thankfully it was all very well organised and we were able to get registered before heading to the pre-conference sessions. I had chosen a session on RefWorks (reference management tool), where I learnt more about the Telstar project integrating RefWorks functionality into Moodle (contact Owen Stephens, who managed the project, if you are interested to know more about this). I also attended the session on assessment which Amanda Poulton (@rangtang) took (originally planned to be taken by Jo Webb (@webbery) and Chris Powis), and it was particularly useful to discuss assessment ideas in small groups, and hear about some of the innovative assessment ideas from DMU. The final pre-conference session I attended was one I’d been looking forward to and it certainly didn’t disappoint – I can see why the speakers won an award for best paper at a previous conference! Sarah Faye Cohen (@thesheck), Janet Cottrell and Michelle G. Miller spoke about the information literacy support at Champlain College, and measuring the impact. It was really interesting to hear a group presentation from such different perspectives – an information literacy librarian, a library director, and a provost. The main themes I took from the presentation was the need to consider all data when measuring impact and guiding future developments – “data is not always easy to understand, but it doesn’t mean it’s not important”; to find allies amongst faculty/academic staff, celebrate small successes and express gratitude; and to learn to tolerate uncertainty and accept a culture where it is OK for things to not work – I loved the quote “failing often is OK if you can succeed sooner”. You can view the presentation (strongly recommended) on Slideshare. Lunch followed, and there was a first-timers section to network with others who hadn’t been to LILAC before. The committee were also around at this point to introduce themselves and answer any questions. The conference was then officially opened by Sean Haughey, Minister for State for Lifelong Learning, followed by the first keynote of the conference from Tony Durcan, Head of Culture, Libraries and Lifelong Learning for Newcastle City Council. Tony’s keynote was very interesting – he discussed some of the new developments at Newcastle’s flagship library in the city centre, including some “soft triangular” (plectrum shaped according to Sarah!)  enquiry desks to reduce some of the barriers people face at traditional altar-like enquiry desks. It was interesting to hear that there has initially been a number of concerns and fears from staff about the changes to enquiries, but that now staff preferred the new style of roving support and more informal enquiry desks. Tony also discussed the implications of recent developments such as the Digital Britain report and the DCMS public library review, and how important it is for public libraries to enable access to computing facilities, internet access, and training to support these. He opened with a fantastic quote from The Aspen Institute (2009);