Visiting LSE – part 3

As I have said in part 1 and part 2 of my notes from my visit to LSE, I met a lot of dedicated people at the LSE library and the CLT (Centre for Learning Technology – where Jane Secker works). One of those people where Maria Bell, and I was happy that she took time out of a very busy schedule to talk to me.

Maria talked to me about the LSE library`s efforts on teaching information skills to students, and about their work with PhD students. She is not only responsible for the teaching programme – she is also a liaison librarian for the Department of Law and the European Institute. Maria talked about a course they offer students on a voluntary basis (i.e. not mandatory for the students). The course is open to all students, and it can last from 60 to 90 minutes. They also tailor special courses more directed at special groups, for example students on the master`s programmes.

The library has a very nice information skills training website that explains more about their teaching programmes. I will have a good look at it soon.

Maria talked about how all the academic support librarians maintain subject guides online for their departments/subjects. I found this very intersting. I have long thought about making subject guides for our students, but the thought of always trying to keeping them updated and “fresh” has stopped me from actually doing it. I have debated it with some co-workers, too, and I think we have decided against it for now, but it was interesting to learn from Maria that all the academic support librarians have access to publishing on their own subject webpages and can keep it updated themselves. Obviously, LSE is a much larger institution than GUC, and at GUC library, the responsibility for keeping the library website updates lies with one person, but still.. interesting. They have linked the subject guides in Moodle.

One thing that I`ll ask about here at GUC is how we prepare our PhD students for data storage for their research projects. Maria said that this was something that they include in their courses for PhD students. It was clear to me that this is something that the LSE library has thought a lot about, and – as I wrote in part 2 – it is to be the object to a pilot study. I look forward to hear more about their results. Maria also talked about how they include information about copyright issues to their PhD students. This is a subject of vital importance to researchers, and we have talked about how to include this information, not only to our PhD students, but also to students on master`s programmes.

The LSE library hands out small postcards where the PhD students can fill in information about their field of research, topics of interest etc. and they hand it in to their academic support librarian. They also check boxes if they are interested in being contacted by others who study something relevant to their topics of interest. I loved this idea! Will bring it up with the head librarian as something we could do here. Warwick university does something similar (in electronic version), called “research match”.

Another librarian that I was happy to meet in person (after having followed her on Twitter for a while), was Clare McClusky from York St. John University. She is an Academic Liaison librarian for the Faculty for Education and Theology there, and she has contributed in Jane Secker`s and Emma Coonan`s new book “Rethinking information litearcy” (I attended the book launch, btw. Thanks to Emma and Jane!). Clare was one of the speakers at last years LILAC conference, and I attended her session there. It was great to be able to discuss her ideas with her in person. Clare is an energetic and really dedicated librarian, and her energy was really contagious! We had a great discussion on strategies to teach IL and her work with ANCIL and other projects. One of the things Clare told me about was how differently the teachers at York St. John saw her role as a librarian. Some of the teachers regarded her as a valuable partner in their teaching efforts while others saw her as a mere service person who could be used for procuring books etc. It seems to me that these ideas are universal, and that librarians in all kinds of academic libraries have had similar experiences. Although I think we are moving forward with this issue and that we have come a long way, there are probably still people who would never see me as more than “the administration”, and who would never think of me as an “academic” partner. The very clear line between administration and faculty seem to fade a little to me, as there are now academics working in the administration and vice versa. Still, we have a way to go. The library seems somethimes to be in a difficult situation between the two. Although we (at GUC) are organised under the “joint administration”, we are really much closer related to the faculties – but we cannot be organised in one faculty seeing as we only have the one library and that we give service to all three faculties. So – we are stuck in the middle, and yet.. most of the time this works out well.

Clare told me about how York St. John University had made an information litearcy strategy already 10 years ago – very early on, but that it had taken three years to get it through various committes etc. and then they had to revise it a little before it could be used. When York St. John became a seperate university they had the chance to look at this with fresh eyes and a new set of ideas, and they now have a coordinator on the “intermediate level” (sorry – lack of better word.. all notes in Norwegian:) who makes sure that the communication flows better between levels in the institution. Good idea!

When Clare did her research about how the teachers regarded her role as a librarian, she used SCONUL`s seven pillars to explain her role, and after this she felt that she was more often included in the faculty and she saw some progress with regards to how the teachers regarded her role. I thought it was a very interesting idea that Clare went out to the teachers, gained an insight into how they perceived her and that way was given a chance to talk about it. Thanks for taking the time to talk about this, Clare!

The last day of my visit, librarians from Cardiff University came to LSE to give a talk on their Digidol project. Unfortunately, I was not able to hear their seminar as I had to leave after lunch to catch my flight. The event was recorded, however, and I hope to have a look at it soon.

As I hope these blogposts show, I had a great few days, and I want to thank Jane Secker and the rest of the CLT and Maria Bell and her team at the LSE library for arranging everything for me. I hope to see you in Norway some time! I`d also like to thank Emma Coonan (who I got to meet at the book launch:), Clare McClusky and Joe, Janet and Cathie (sorry – don`t remember last names..) from Cardiff who I got to have a very nice lunch with. Thanks!



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