Seminar series at the library

sketchnotes bilde

Intro to Sketchnotes seminar

I haven`t been blogging for a while, partly due to the immense workload at the opening of the semester, and partly because I felt strongly about the last blog entry (about being an academic partner or a service provider) and I wanted to let it be the last on the blog roll for a while.

But now the time has come to say something about some activities in the library this autumn. Every now and then in previous years, we have hosted a series of seminars. The series has usually consisted of short seminars or workshops of 30-60 minutes and ranging in topics from useful tools for writing (ex. Google Drive and its like) and referencing (like EndNote) to databases and alternatives to Google. What we have experienced in the previous rounds is that people (both students and staff) are pragmatic with their time and efforts, and will only show up to sessions where they believe that they`ll have an immediate use for the contents. It is therefore much easier to get people to come to demonstration of useful tools, like EndNote and Colourbox, than broader terms like, Academic honesty and demonstration of databases.

When the library staff had our annual spring meeting to sum up the first semester, keep track of the year`s activities and follow-ups from the Christmas seminar, we decided on running a new series this autumn. We wanted to have more activities in the library and to host something that could show off the wide areas where the library have an interest. This autumn we decided to have a broader scope.

In September we were finally able to remove some empty journal shelves, and we suddenly had access to a very pretty white wall:) and we decided to buy a projector to be placed in the ceiling there. That meant that we, on occasion, could remove some of the tables in front of it and have our own little “seminar room” inside the library.

I had carte blanche when it came to topics in the seminar series, and it was nice to try to find something that could be fun and useful for our patrons. So far this autumn, we have had the following topics:

  • EndNote
  • Can Alzheimer be prevented? (by professor Øyvind Kirkevold)
  • Sketchnotes: visual notes for better memory
  • LaTeX: an introduction (by associate professor Simon McCallum)

Yet to come: Open Access Week (several seminars), Infographics and more..

It`s been really fun so far, and I hope that we`ll hit the mark with the coming seminars, too! It is always a little difficult to predict how many will show up, and at the LaTeX seminar we were running back and forth to find more chairs for the audience, while others have been less visited than at least I had expected. I do not think that we should only hold seminars where we “know” that a lot of people will show up. Sometimes success is not measured on the number of attendees, and if we want to have a wider scope, we must accept that not everything will have a high turnout. Still – it is fun when people show up. 🙂

Latex seminar simon

a crowd at the LaTeX seminar

simon mccallum latex seminar

Simon McCallum gave an introduction to LaTeX

Advertisements

Service provider or academic partner: Where to draw the line?

jente sandstrand

Drawing a line?

I have long wanted to write something about the contributions from academic librarians in research projects. First, I wanted to wait until the term was over because I wanted time to think about this, and then I waited because I wanted to find the right words. I wanted to get this right, because this is important to me. Today, I am writing this even though I could have thought some more or found better words.

I have worked in academic libraries for 15 years. During that time, I have changed and the libraries I have worked in has changed along with the institutions they have served. Perhaps even more interesting is that the role of the librarians have changed, too. A few lines of explanation is perhaps needed. (I`ll get to the point, I promise..) I said that I have changed. Yes, I have changed in many ways, but professionally the most significant change has been that I have changed my focus. When I started 15 years ago, my focus was always “Whats in it for my library”. I was very library centric. I wanted a good budget for the library because I wanted freedom to build a good collection, nice furniture etc. (I was a school librarian back then, btw.) After working in a school library, in a ministry library and in a university library, my focus has shifted. I still want the library to have a good budget, but not for the librarys sake – for the patrons. I want a good budget so that we can provide services and academic support to enhance learning and research. I think I have also learned the value of evidence-based practice in libraries. It is important that we have solid research as well as user experience and our own experience and bring this together to build good library practice. It may not seem as a very significant change on paper (or blog), but for me it has changed the way I work. The libraries have changed, too. From being mainly a document provider and a more distant partner (delivery-on-demand) for students, the digitalisation and research support needs have made it possible and necessary to provide new services and to see our roles in a new light.

There are plenty of articles, book chapters etc. that discuss the roles of academic librarians. I am not going to list everything that I have, but see my article on library-faculty collaboration to get an idea (Øvern, 2014). The main point I want to make here and now, though, is that library-faculty collaboration is often problematic because of the skewed power relation between the parties. The librarians know that the route to the students goes via their teachers, and we are desperate to find a way in to the classrooms. Therefore, we usually not only obey our masters` first whistle, but even assume almost doglike admiration for the teachers that see our contributions as something worth “sacrificing valuable class time” (yes, that is a direct quote, but I`ll not give the source) for. (OK. Maybe I exaggerated a little, but then again, maybe I didn`t.) It doesn`t help that we are so trained as service providers, that we find it extremely hard to just say no to people. This way, I think we also often are stuck in unproductive “collaborations”, because we are afraid that if we protest or suggest very different models for teaching, the teachers will stop asking us to contribute all together. But if we never suggest what to us may seem as better ideas, then they will never see our potential as real academic partners either. Librarians generally know more about the faculty than vice versa, an assymetry that both groups are aware of, but only the librarians find problematic (Christiansen, Strombler & Thaxton, 2004, p.117). And as Ekstrand and Seebass (2009) found: librarians are regarded as excellent (service) parners, but that is not the same as seeing them as valuable academic parners (p. 84). Librarians are not integrated in study programmes and often forgotten in planning sessions.

These power relations become even more problematic when it comes to research support. I have several times been asked to help with literature searching etc. in research projects. Once or twice only, have I been told that I will get co-authorship for my efforts. Once or twice. Of course, I wouldn`t dream of demanding co-authorship if my only contribution to the project would be something like suggesting appropriate databases or handing over some search terms that could useful or something like that. But where do I draw the line? When does it become acceptable for me to say, I can do that, but only if I am listed as a co-author?

This is an example (not from reality, but quite close):
Two faculty members, one of whom were also connected to another university, asked me if I could provide support for them for a systematic review. When I asked what kind of support they were looking for it was clear that it is more than just suggesting search strings and doing a few introductory searches in some databases. It was much more than that. Basically, they wanted me to set up tables, do the searches and use a flow chart. In a systematic review, the design of searches, and getting it right in all the databases as well as putting it into tables and flowcharts represents a lot of work. It would be like building the foundation of a house. Yet, I was not offered co-authorship. I asked them a few more questions on their deadlines etc., but before I had received answers and decided to muster up the strength to ask for co-authorship, they informed me that they had found another librarian (from the other university) to do the job.

It seems there is always somebody who is ready to answer when they hear the whistle. Why it was so important for me to get co-authorship? The contribution would have been the same whether my name was on it or not. Yes, but if I could have had my name on it, then I could have sacrificed the very little R&D time I have to my disposal without having to postpone my qualifications programme. If I am to succeed with this, then the little time I have to produce some new knowledge will have to be put to good use. Egotistic? Sure. But for the faculty involved it wouldn`t have mattered as much to share that research point (Norwegian measurement system), but for me it was important. Again – the power relations are not balanced.

So – what should I do? What should WE as a profession do? Is it ok that faculty get a “yes” from somebody else if they get a “no” from me? When should I say no? When should I demand co-authorship? Why is there no guideline for these partnerships?

Where do I draw the line? (Seriously, I`m asking.)


NOTE: This blog entry was not written to, in any way, suggest that faculty is in the habit of exploiting librarians or are trying to belittle me or my contribution. This is not my experience. I have many working collaborations with excellent faculty members that are productive, constructive and interesting. Even in the example I mentioned above, I don`t think that this was done by malice or as an attempt to put me in my place, but rather as a pragmatic way to get the help they wanted as quickly and efficiently as possible. This blog entry was written to emphasise the sometimes problematic situations that arises from the skewed power relations between faculty and librarians, and I have no other agenda than to share my experience with this, and to hope for better guidelines. It is not my intention to offend either faculty or librarians, and I hope therefore that any lack of clarity of thought or words will be forgiven.


References:

Christiansen, L., Stombler, M., & Thaxton, L. (2004). A Report on Librarian-Faculty Relations from a Sociological Perspective. The journal of academic librarianship, 30(2), 116-121. doi:DOI: 10.1016/j.acalib.2004.01.003

Ekstrand, B., Seebass, G. (2009). Integrativ informationskompetens: Diskursöverbryggande samarbete mellan akademi och bibliotek. In B. Hansson, A. Lyngfeldt (Ed.), Pedagogiskt arbete i teori och praktik (pp. 83-101). Lund: BTJ Förlag.

Øvern, K. M. (2014). Faculty-library collaboration: two pedagogical approaches. Journal of Information Literacy, 8(2), 36-55. doi:http://dx.doi.orghttp://dx.doi.org/10.11645/8.2.1910

VIRAK 2017: Day 2 parallell sessions

[Other VIRAK posts: Day 1 panel & keynote, day 1 parallell sessions and day 2: keynote]

Right after Tara Brabazon`s keynote, I had to go to my own parallell session, so I only had time for a quick “hello” to her.

IMG_6607

Programme: Day 2

Parallell session: “E-veiledning” [e-tutorials]

Astrid Kilvik at the Medical Library in Trondheim, Monica Marchant from the library in Ålesund and I have been working on a resource for nursing students at our three campuses. We have built a collection of examples regarding the bachelor`s thesis and literature review techniques. Astrid and I presented the resource, and had a live demo where the participants could see what it looked like. (I have included some screenshots to make up for the live demo in this presentation: Presentasjon VIRAK-pdf ) I`ll probably write more about this later, but we got a lot of questions after our presentation, and it was great to see that people were so interested.

Gunnhild Austheim (West University College) had the second presentation in our parallell session. She had experimented with something called “Guide on the side”. She had observed something similar at a university in the US. At University of Arizona Libraries they had developed an open source software that allowed the librarians to build help pages that would pop up when patrons were using the databases. At Western Norway University of applied sciences, Austrheim built something similar, based on the one from Arizona. She had help from Magnus Enger at Libriotech to develop the plattform to fit the solution. The product was not completely finished, and Austrheim explained how they were working with the content.

During this presentation, I was thinking about how useful something like this could be, but I also thought about how important it is to make something that is short, concise, and to the point. In almost everything that librarians (yes, I know I am being a little unfair here) build, we always want it to include everything. Just look at many of the libguides and other information pages that we have seen through the years. We always want to give the full picture, and to be so thorough that they (meaning users) cannot find any faults. I am thinking about all the times I have given students WAY too much information, just because I wanted to cover everything in one go. It is an art to give them what they need exactly when they need it when it comes to services online. I think such a “Guide on the side” idea is great! – if we build something that gives the students the small snippets they need when they need it, and if we resist the urge to cover everything. I think we all need to think about good examples, images etc. and less text based instruction overall.

Parallell session: “Formidling” [communication]

This was a session with several PechaKucha (PK) presentations from ongoing or recently completed projects. It is a good format (PKs) when presenting short summaries from projects. I heard my colleagues from the NTNU Oppgaveskriving/VIKO project present our project: what it is and how we did it.

I also heard Sunniva Evjen from HIOA talk about how she had used a kind of modified PK for library students, and how they felt about using that format. It was interesting to see that the students weighted different things before and after the project. They found that it is important for librarians/library students to be better at presentation and communication of results, but also to get to the point quickly. PK was therefore an interesting tool/method to achieve this.

Parallell session: “Akademisk skriving” [academic writing]

Ingerid Straume`s presentation was called “The use and misuse of pedagogic theory”. She talked about how emerging writing centres use elements from information literacy and academic literacies, and it is interesting for libraries to see how these fields can be “merged”. The traditional roles for the library was connected to acquiring literature and displaying it/ communicating about it. But more and more emphasis is now on academic support for patrons, and our role in learning development. This should be taken into account when we also talk about our role in writing centres.

As the libraries are growing out of their traditional roles and the library profession is increasingly being professionalised as its own field of research, the need for theorising is increasing.

The production of theory, within academia, is a way of getting legitimacy, and it is important for librarians to contribute to create theory. However, not all pedagogic theory can be directly transferred to something tangible in practice, but it is still important to create it. Having a wider spectre of theoretical knowledge can widen the horizon and make conversations about libraries much more interesting.

Greek and Jonsmoen talked about the writing centre at HIOA. They said that few teachers want to invest time to increase their students` writing skills. HIOA have organised many “one-shot” writing classes, but the students are not exactly showing up by the dusin. The faculties want simple solutions, but it does not work. They need to invest time, know about their own weaknesses (e.g. lacking knowledge in referencing styles etc.), be able to do follow-ups and so on.

Nobody want to take responsibility for academic writing. “The students already know how to do it” is often heard. Maybe teachers often lack some of these skills themselves? Students find it hard to understand the demands and to understand the “lingo”. They receive lots of written assignments, but most of them need help to develop their skills. They do not just pick it up “by osmosis” [as I think McGuinness put it]. Many teachers see developing writing skills as something extra they have to take care of, not something students need in order to learn.

So – who has the knowledge about texts and text standards, enough to help the students? Textual knowledge is part of the overall subjects, and it can only be developed there.

There are so many different participants in academic writing that it is difficult to coordinate efforts and to create a bigger picture. Writing centres, libraries, teachers, tutors/TAs.. the list is long, and we make it difficult for the students to get the big picture. Students come with a background, and we have to find a way to further develop the knowledge they already have.

I have had the pleasure of hearing Jonsmoen before, and I have used at least a few of their papers before. Although I had heard some of these points before, it was still interesting to hear them talk about their own roles as part of the writing centre at HIOA, and very interesting to hear them take a critical look at their practice. I can warmly recommend these articles by these authors:

Greek, M. og Jonsmoen, K. M. (2013) Skriveveiledning til økt fag- og tekstforståelse, Norsk pedagogisk tidsskrift, 97 ER(04-05). Tilgjengelig fra: http://www.idunn.no/ts/npt/2013/04-05/skriveveiledning_til_oekt_fag-_ogtekstforstaaelse.

Jonsmoen, K. M. og Greek, M. (2012) «HODET BLIR TUNGT – OG TOMT» – om det å skrive seg til profesjonsutøvelse, Norsk pedagogisk tidsskrift, (01). Tilgjengelig fra: http://www.idunn.no/ts/npt/2012/01/art04.

Jonsmoen, K. M. og Greek, M. (2016) Lecturers’ text competencies and guidance towards academic literacy, Educational Action Research, s. 1-16.

Parallell session: “Informasjonskompetanse” [information literacy]

Librarians from BI Norwegian Business school presented their project, that has now become a regular thing at two campuses, “KildebrukBar”. The translation doesn`t really make much sense, but it is a play on words: Kildebruk= using sources and Bar= Bar, but bar is also an ending, like “ful” (useful).

Anyway: the librarians had put up a real bar, with fruit and (nonacoholic, of course) drinks complete with drink umbrellas, outside the library. They would help students with their sources and citing/referencing. There was no booking, just drop-in. The students could get help with citation styles, what information to include, what to do with particular sources that did not fit the examples in the style etc. The librarians would not proof read any bibliographies, but they would point out a few where information was missing and so on. The librarians felt that they often started there, but ended up discussing the bigger issues, like whether or not sources were of high quality etc.

The librarians said that timing and marketing was everything here, but provided that the students knew about the event and that it was timed right so that many students were writing at the time of KildebrukBar, the students showed up, and there were often long lines at the bar.

Interestingly, the number of students that visit KildebrukBar is now falling a little or is stabilising, but the circulation/reference desks receive these kinds of questions more evenly throughout the semester now.

Anita Nordsteien from University College of South-East Norway presented a paper about nursing students` information literacy. She had analysed 194 bachelor`s theses to find out how they used information. Nordsteien had worked with faculty staff to implement a new model of teaching information skills to nursing students, and she had performed the analysis afterwords, to see if there was any improvement.

The model included many interventions, and the nursing students received a lot of training in these skills, where most was tool-based and quite traditional. The analysis showed that the nursing students had improved.

It was two very busy days, and I had less time to network than I would have liked, but it was a good conference, and I enjoyed myself. It is a relief to see that there are so many projects going on in Norway, and it is always a pleasure to meet Norwegian librarians who are dedicated and engaged in their work. For me, there were particularly two events that will stick with me for a long time: the panel on day one and Tara Brabazon`s keynote on day two. There were many other good presentations, too, and I had fun, but I think these two events will be remembered best by me.

The next VIRAK conference will be held at Agder University in 2019.

VIRAK 2017: Day 2 Keynote

[Day 1 blog posts: panel&keynote + parallell sessions]

IMG_6608As previously stated, I hardly ever have great expectations to keynotes, but I had the great pleasure of hearing Tara Brabazon at a keynote for LILAC (my favourite conference!), and I have been in awe ever since. I have used some of her books, too, particularly “The university of Google”. I highly recommend it. I have also followed her vlogs for PhD candidates, and there is something in there for everyone – not just PhD students.

So – in this case I had very high expectations, and I was not disappointed. Recording from the keynote is available here. Brabazon has mastered the art of combining form and content, she always has something interesting to say, and she does it like a rockstar. You cannot help but pay attention. 🙂 So anyway – these are some notes from the keynote:

Keynote: Tara Brabazon “Why I don`t “do” digital literacies”

“Let`s think about the worst users of digitization”, Brabazon said. Governing via Twitter (Tweet from Trump), dumping boyfriend via text message (slide showing text exchange) and posting pictures on revenge porn sites, for instance. Do these actions come from poor digital literacy “or are they caused by foolishness, ignorance and self-absorption?”, she asked rhetorically with a smile.

Brabazon wanted to bring back some old ideas and old media in her keynote, and encouraged us to recycle some of them.

She started with talking about Harold Innis, a Canadian, who became interested in communication systems. He talked about “bias” in communication systems. The term “bias” was not used politically, but as a synonym for “emphasis”. Bias of communication for him was about emphasising particular modes of thinking. The medium has its own modes. Innis was interested in how space-based media (visual) and time based media (auditive) could be combined. We know that most of our current media favours the eye – they are very visually oriented. Brabazon thought Innis would have been worried by the Internet, but interested in podcasts as a way of integrating the auditive in the visual. We need a better balance between time and space.

Media literacy is a term used too connect media studies, cultural studies and educational studies, but there has been little emphasis on how formal education help develop media literacy. There is an assumtion, said Brabazon, that we learn from the media by simply using it..

Brabazon continued with an olden-goldie: Jean Baudrillard. His book Simulacra and Simulation “plays with knowledge”, Brabazon said. Baudrillard presented three levels of “reality”: Real – Represented – Simulacrum. When an event or action takes place, it almost immediately disconnects from its context, and is represented and then re-represented (simulacrum). We are therefore not living in reality, but in other people`s representation. We spend more and more time in the Simulacrum, Brabazon said, and used The Kardashians as an example.

IMG_6609

Simulacrum and Simulation – slide from keynote

The Internet provides easy access to quick information, but the interpretation is up to us. Underfunding of libraries, librarians, education and teachers have real consequences, and we are seeing them unfold every day.

Mary Macken-Horarik`s information literacy model was the next up in Brabazons keynote. Macken-Horariks model shows four categories of literacy, and there is a flow between “everyday”, “applied”, “theoretical” and “reflexive”. We move between the categories, but to be able to do that we need interventions from librarians or teachers.  “How do we know what we do not know?” We need help to move up, so that we dont get stuck in the “applied” category.  Another of Macken-Horarik kay points was that students cannot learn to read and critique what they read at the same time. Something has to be learned before it can be critiqued. Macken-Horarik doesn`t really address how we get people to move between these categories, and Brabazon asked “How do we create the capacity to move between literacy models?”.

IMG_6610

Mary Macken-Horarik`s literacy model – slide from keynote

Brabazon gave us an example. In 2008 she was teaching a class where the students had such diverse backgrounds (language, geography, age) that she could not assume that they had a common understanding of literacy, and she had to get them “up to speed” in a single module. She decided to make them do an annotated bibliography with a variety of different sources. They had to include at least one podcast, one advertisement, two scholarly monographs etc. This can be a very useful tool to combine content and form, Brabazon said. Content in context.

Skjermbilde 2017-06-16 kl. 14.28.35

part of Brabazon`s slide – from recording

Multimodality

We have to make a matrix of information literacy and media literacy. We have to make them come together, because they will not do it by themselves. “There are incredible opportunities that all of us can front in this new information environment”, Brabazon said. Print-on-demand publishing, podcasts, and online journals.

Digitization can create citizenship, but you need broadband, money and information literacy. You need all three, because access does not provide knowledge, access does not provide literacy. “It`s never been easier to move information between platforms, but just because it is possible, doesn`t mean that it should”.

Teaching and learning is not meant to make a profit. And how do you decide what platform to use? When do you send a text message, when do you tweet, when do you make a call?

Multimodality combines pieces of information literacy and media literacy. Brabazon has made a model to illustrate the relationship between them. (I don`t have a copy of it, but I hope that her slides will be available at the VIRAK 2017 website some time soon.) Multimodality is one of the most important concepts in this age.  Social media and online communities can easily become echo chambers where we follow and like only people who have the same views and opinions as ourselves, and we become shocked when we suddenly encounter people with different world views than ourselves. Engaging ourselves with other groups and media has an effect in “correcting” our world views.

There is an “anti-research” tendency in society now, and people are suspicious towards academics. We need to use visual means in addition to the traditional to reach out to the population outside higher education. Images have a power to persuade.

Digital natives was wrong in 2001, and it is completely ridiculous to think now that younger people have other literacies, said Brabazon. I couldn`t agree more.

Multimodality is something that should be introduced for first-year students, as a foundation to learn course content and skills. But this also means that teachers need a solid pedagogic background as well as the subject specific knowledge they have.

It was a keynote that encouraged further reading on the theories that were “revived”, and a keynote that inspired to think more thoroughly on how we can help students think more deeply on their digital presence and critical thinking. I got a real boost, too, and I can`t wait to hear more from Brabazon later. I highly recommend her vlogs on YouTube (Vlog 1) as well as her books. I have only used “The University of Google”, as I said, but I also want to have a look at some of the others.

VIRAK 2017: Day 1 – parallell sessions

IMG_6601

From the panel debate earlier in the day

[Previous posts on VIRAK 2017: warm-up + Day 1: panel&keynote]

After lunch, it was time for parallell sessions. There were SO many to choose from. The VIRAK committee received over 90 contributions, and with only two days to get everything in.. there were seven parallells: five workshops and two project/paper presentations. I went to number seven: project/paper presentations on teaching (“Undervisning”). There were three presentations in this session.

Anne Brit Løland (BI Norwegian Business School, campus Stavanger)(Best practice presentation):

Løland started by saying that collaboration between library and faculty has been known to enhance student learning, but that there is no “consensus” on how this collaboration should be done. Løland referred to a study by Junisbai, Lowe og Tagge (2016) to support this.

Løland talked about a project that she had in a strategy course at her campus. The teacher in the strategy course felt the need to focus more on referencing and getting the students to use better sources. The teacher reached out to Løland and they decided to team-teach a class. The teacher had a clear goal for the class in mind, and he knew what he wanted them to achieve. The teacher explained his goals to Løland, but did not focus on the details. That was left to Løland. They split the time in class between themselves. The teacher talked about the subject for the tasks, about methodology etc. and Løland had a traditional presentation on searching, applying principles of critical thinking on sources etc. After that the students worked in groups, and some of them presented their findings for the rest of the students. Løland used Padlet to communicate with the students. She and the teacher asked the students to explain their reasons for choosing the sources they had picked etc.

Løland said that one of the success factors behind this was that she is part of a small campus where the staff know each other, and where they know her well. She has lunch with faculty staff every day etc. This makes the threshold very low when it comes to approaching her with ideas on collaboration.

During Lølands presentation I kept thinking that while projects like these are a good way of getting a foot in the door with faculty staff, and to help students in the short run (I have certainly done many such projects), it is time to move this up a level. While the institutions do so little to thoroughly incorporate these kinds of skills in the course plans etc. the teaching of them will always appear rather random. It will only be done in courses where the librarians have a personal relation to the teachers. This way the asymmetry in power relations between librarian and teacher is also maintained. As librarians, we are completely at the mercy of teachers, and us almost begging to be let in the door only further cements this.

Idunn Bøyum, Eystein Gullbekk and Katriina Byström: (Oslo and Akershus University College of applied sciences)(Research paper presentation):

Byström presented a paper (soon to have a Norwegian edition, Bøyum told me on Twitter). The authors have made a model that shows the different levels of integration of the librarian. Byström talked about the variations on how information literacy is perceived, from something generic and transferrable to something context-dependent. This also influences how librarians see their own role, and how it is perceived by faculty staff etc. The model is very interesting. It shows four different approaches to multidisciplinary information literacy. There are two axis: one for participation level and one for integration. This leaves you with the four different approaches: the technique, the problem, the coaching and the negotiation approaches. It`s difficult to explain here without showing the model itself, so I recommend reading the article itself.

The authors believe that the model could be useful in planning teaching activities and in developing librarians` competencies, as well as be used when discussing information literacy and integration with others. I share that opinion:)

Pål Magnus Lykkja (University of Oslo) (Best Practice presentation):

Lykkja described how he had participated in a course on “Samfunnsgeografi” [societal geography], and how he had tried to integrate information skills. The course teachers had seen that students struggled to learn the “lingo” used in the course, and that they needed to do something to help the students recognise the different key concepts within this field.

The teachers had developed an open access text book, and tested more non-traditional teaching methods, like video lectures, flipped classroom etc. Lykkja had met the students in the library, and he took them to special collections and so on to help them get a more tangible sense of the different sources. He also led a workshop where students worked in groups on a particular assignment. It was quite traditional. The students were given research questions and had to build search strings, find literature and to find several (competing) perspectives on the research questions.

Lykkja found that it was difficult to find the right balance between “This is mandatory, and you`ll be graded on this task” and “This is optional, and you should do it because you`ll learn something useful”. He found that if students thought it was something they were being graded on, they became stressed and wouldt leave before it was “perfect”, and that they wouldn`t be bothered to show up for class if it was voluntary. He also said that time and timing was an issue. Two hours is a little too short to get the tasks done and to have meaningful discussions, but three hours is too long and it is work-intensive for the librarian.

This was what I got from the parallell sessions. I think it shows that there are many librarians in Norway who want to try things, who want to make a difference for students and staff, and who are dedicated to their work. It also shows, I think, that we are struggling with many of the same issues – being recognised by the institution, being integrated in course plans, collaboration with teachers, finding time and resources etc.

Day 1 of VIRAK was rounded off with Digital snippets and dinner at BI in Nydalen.

VIRAK 2017: Day 1 – panel debate and keynote

virak logo

VIRAK-logo: virak-konferansen.no

[I must apologize for bad spelling etc. in this blogpost. I wrote my notes in Norwegian, and I have just translated and added some thoughts along the way. I`ll proof later.]

The panel:

After being welcomed by a couple of drummers and Eystein Gullbekk from the committee, the first order of business was a panel on the academic library`s place and role in higher education. The panel consisted of the rectors/presidents of the University of Oslo (UIO), Oslo and Akershus University College (HIOA)(?) and BI Norwegian Business School (BI). The debate was led by the library director of HIOA, Lars Egeland.

The panelists held some similar views on the importance of libraries (anything else would have been a little weird considering the audience), but they differed on many of the other «essentials». A point that was made was that libraries have to keep up, but they have to do more than that. They have to understand their students – their habits, pursuits, ambitions etc. But to do that, they have to be given that opportunity, too. This came from Ottersen at UIO.

Libraries have to be a part of the overall strategy and to be included in the leadership of the school. The library should be a seamless part and so well integrated in the rest of the academic communities at each institution, that nobody should perceive it as a separate body, said Henjesand from BI. He continued that the library should be a part of the academic fold and as such in the same body as the deans (YAY!). When you place the library with the rest of the academics/ faculties, you move the discussion from the administrative questions of economic efficiency toward questions of academic development, he continued (Hey – I`m a fan of this guy already).

Ottersen said that the university have three main priorities: 1. to create a great study environment for students, 2. to make information freely available to students and staff as well as the rest of the world and 3. to help create a “common reality”, and the library has to be a strong partner in this. We should to be thinking: What is important for the university, not what is important for the library. (I wholeheartedly agree.)

Ottersen strongly emphasised the need for physical space for the libraries. He said that people often need to come together to learn. We think better together. And events like «Skrivenatt» (where students can sit in the library at night and receive help from tutors and librarians) is just one example that shows how students come together and learn in the library. Henjesand agreed – when asked: «Do we need physical libraries?» his answer was: “The short answer is YES”. Curt Rice from HIOA seemed less certain that libraries need a physical space when so much has become digital. He said that HIOA has a decentralized library structure, and that he has not heard any persuasive arguments to bring these together in one great building. (I thought that I had missed something more here, but when I looked at the recording, there wasn`t anything more said here, so I didn`t get whether he just felt that libraries are not going to need physical space at all, if he felt that it was more important to have small units in a decentralised way, or if he just didn`t like the idea of using a lot of space for a centralised library. I don`t know..)

The discussion moved on to Open Access, and Curt Rice was more active in this discussion. He strongly advocated the need for publishing open access and self-archiving. While I think all three panelists agreed that open access is a good idea (indeed, who could not?), they disagreed on who should take the responsibility for driving the development, and they disagreed on the means that should be taken. Academic freedom is the most important principle we have, so we cannot push our researchers to publish in certain journals or «bully» them into self-archiving. Should we make national guidelines? Involve the politicians? Push for international rules/ laws? Work on the publishers? Negotiate national licences? Many difficult questions here. We cannot underestimate the power that these publishers have, said Rice, and even being leaned on by the EU and North America has not decreased the profit margins of the publishers.

The library has a responsibility to help the students develop their critical thinking skills so that they are able to fight fake news and myths, said Ottersen. Henjesand strongly supported this. Ottersen mentioned Hans Rosling who was a major player in fighting myths, and Ottersen said that libraries are crucial in this work. He mentioned specifically Realfagsbiblioteket (The Science Library at the University of Oslo) and its podcasts. Critical thinking should be a separate, mandatory course or a part of a modern version of ex.phil. [mandatory philosophy course in most universities today], said Rice and Henjesand.

Henjesand said that libraries will play an important role in organizing and keeping track of the learning objects now that there are so many «new» (ok, seriously.. we have to stop calling blended learning and flipped classroom new. They`re not.) teaching methods. Curt Rice said that the library students at HIOA are being trained to handle digital materials, and that they are more than able to take on new roles as they emerge. Well, there I have to disagree somewhat with him. They do not have the necessary skills and competencies to do this without further education and experience. Most of them need mentoring when they get a job.

It was an exiting panel to watch – for a change. There was real debate on issues, and they dared to disagree with each other. Quite fresh, really. I must say though, that I was a little surprised. I think Curt Rice, whom I normally think well prepared, able to see nuance, and quite forward thinking, was rather «weak» in this panel, on other issues than Open Access. His arguments lacked his usual edge, he seemed tired and uninterested most of the time, and worst of all – he seemed to hold old-fashioned and limiting views of the library`s role. (I will give him a notice of having written this, btw.) Maybe he had a bad day? I was so surprised, because, as I said, I have always thought he had very interesting ideas on this field before. (Sorry that I am being so hard on you, Mr. Rice, but I don`t think that many people ever read this blog anyway..). Henjesand and Ottersen impressed me in different ways. Ottersen seemed perhaps to lean towards idealistic views of the library while Henjesand had more pragmatic views, but they both impressed me by being well prepared, and willing to share their opinions. Ottersen had written a blog post, too. Read it:)

The keynote:

Arnoud De Meyer: An evolving role for libraries in 21st century university

After the very interesting panel debate, the keynote was a little less interesting, to be honest. I almost never have high expectations to keynotes (excepting Tara Brabazon`s – she is such a rockstar that it`s impossible not to be impressed – more on that to come). The reason is that keynotes rarely hit the mark, and it`s a difficult job to do. It`s difficult to find something so general that it will give something to everyone, and still something as recognizable and important that everyone will find it interesting, and something so practical that there is something to take away from it.

While this keynote speaker was charming, and obviously well-read, and well prepared, I never got that «wow»- feeling of hearing an entirely new thought or getting a great idea myself. The keynote was.. well.. safe (lacking a better expression). There was nothing new there. Arnold De Meyer talked about the changes that higher education, as well as the rest of the world, has been through. The digital transformation, the geographical transformation, the changing role of technology and he asked the question «Do millennial behave differently?».

Professor De Meyer talked about how «reskilling” people is a big issue now. People change careers several times in their life now, and they have to come back to university. This is one of the things that points towards the need for a new university system, he said.

It`s all about how we can enhance learning, and not talk about teaching as much, De Meyer said. In earlier times, the students could  go to a lecture and then either sleep or pay attention, and then when the bell rang, they left the teacher behind. Presently, there are lots of diversions for the students, so it`s harder to keep their attention, but the teacher can now follow the students. It`s not over with the lecture, because the teacher is on the LMS, and s/he chases the students around these plattforms.

De Meyer talked about the library at his university, Singapore Management University. The library is extremely well visited by students. They have almost only electronic collections, and the library is considered a social space and a learning space.

So – I may have missed some things, but I just didn`t get that much new from this keynote. I would like to hear professor De Meyer talk about his own subjects areas, though. He was an experienced lecturer and engaging, despite the format.

This must be one of the longest blog posts I have ever written. Sorry about that! I just wanted to cram both the panel debate and the keynote in here, and there was so much to process from the panel debate. Blogging is, at least for me, mostly about my own learning, so I had to spend some space here while I wrote up my notes.

Next blog post from Virak will be up soon.

VIRAK 2017

IMG_6600I have just been spending two days in Oslo, attending VIRAK 2017, a conference for academic librarians in Norway. It`s been a couple of fun and interesting days, and I am thinking a lot while I reviewing my notes and writing this blog post.

I rarely go to Norwegian library conferences these days. Excepting an academic writing conference in Bergen last November, I haven`t been to one for years. I almost always stay behind while the others attend the Bibsys convention, by choice I have to add.. Bibsys is no longer of any use to me, since practically everything there is now connected to Alma/Oria. And seeing as I neither work with cataloging (thank heavens!) or with Cristin (research data management system), there is very little of interest to me here.

All the more reason to sign up for VIRAK when I got the chance. For me, the most interesting and important thing about going to conferences is the networking that happens outside the auditoriums. Having the opportunity to listen to other librarians talk about their projects, asking them for input on my projects, having a coffee or a glass of wine while discussing larger issues.. that is the best part. This conference was no exception. I met a lot of colleagues (yay! I have lots of colleagues!!) from NTNU, friends and acquaintances from other libraries and I had the pleasure of being introduced to several others, too.

There are lots of things going on in Norwegian academic libraries. The VIRAK committee got over 90 submissions to their call for papers. There were digital snippets, PechaKuchas, research papers and best practice submissions. The committee was overwhelmed and extremely happy with the variations and volume of contributions. I think it is a little weird, though, that these librarians don`t publish more, generally speaking..?

Anyway – going to a conference right now felt really nice. It`s been a crazy busy spring semester. We have more students than ever, and since my boss and one of my colleagues left it was almost impossible to give sufficient help to all who asked for it. So – taking a step back, speaking to lots of great people and remembering what it is all about.. that felt good.

I`ll get started on the content from the conference in my next blog post. Sorry about the ramblings here.

Journal of Information Literacy anniversary issue

Success

I`m as happy as this girl right now:) (colourbox.com)

One of my favourite academic journals, Journal of Information Literacy (JIL), just celebrated its 10th anniversary, and took the opportunity to publish a special issue (vol 11, issue 1) with lots of great articles from some of the most well-known IL experts in the world.  I have already downloaded several, and I can`t wait to dive into them.

Amongst the authors are some of my absolute favourites, like James Elmborg, Sheila Webber, Bill Johnston, Sharon Markless, David Streatfield, Annamaree Lloyd and Alison J. Head. Even Christine Bruce has co-authored an article. I also had the pleasure of hearing Barbara Fister at LILAC (conference) once, and I can`t wait to read her article. It really is an amazing issue, with all these heavyweights in place.

Thank you, JIL!

Teamwork and mergers

teamwork - lampeIn January 2016, Gjøvik University College merged with The Norwegian University for Science and Technology (NTNU) and two other university colleges, and became Norway`s most populous university. This gave us many new opportunities (and some challenges, of course). For me, as the only one at my library who teach, having better access to a wider set of peers have been both useful, interesting and a lot of fun. Even though it can sometimes also feel like we have lost something (like being able to set the agenda and taking on projects) and sometimes feeling the full weight of the new institution (bureaucracy), I still feel like it has been mostly positive.

I spent two days in Trondheim this week. On day 1, I had workshop with two colleagues there. We are building a literature review resource that will be available in our new LMS, Blackboard. It has not been the easiest of projects, but the resource is beginning to look like something, and we hope that the nursing students and their teachers will find it useful in the end.

The same night, I met with colleagues from another project that I have been working on, namely NTNU Oppgaveskriving [NTNU Academic Writing]. This is a new edition, a complete makeover, of one of the first ones of its kind in Norway, VIKO. VIKO, or Veien til informasjonskompetanse [The road to Information Literacy, directly translated] was considered new and innovative in the early-mid 2000s. It was a website with information about academic writing, where the whole process from idea to finished product was described in a general way. In 2005, the VIKO project landed a library prize for the effort. Still, for many years now, VIKO has lagged behind. It was incredibly text-heavy, with very few examples and next to no illustrations – and definitely no videos. And as time went on, more resources with much nicer GUIs and updated content came along, like Søk&skriv and Kildekompasset. It was time to bring VIKO up to date. It has been a very long process, but the new site has already attracted much attention, and the statistics for the site are going through the roof. The project is now finished as a project. From now on, the site will be maintained and tweaked, but no major revisions will be done by the project group. We decided to have dinner and celebrate. It was a lovely evening, and I think I`ll contact some of them for new projects in the future.

On day 2, I attended a workshop for the University Library Website Editors. We got information from the Communications Department [KOM], statistics reports from the various University Library sites, updates on strategies, and we worked in groups on improving some sites that needed revisions. This was my first Website Editors session that was not performed on Skype, and it was really nice to meet them in person. And this is actually one of my points — Skyping, emailing and phone calls work well when you want to work efficiently and when you just want to fix concrete issues. But still, people evolve so much slower than communication technology:), and it is so much easier to toss some ideas around, to discuss difficult issues, and to find good solutions when you meet someone face-to-face.

I cannot go to Trondheim for everything. In fact, I have not been there more than once for work since the merger. Working with my colleagues are mostly done online or by phone, and most of the time it is a good solution. It saves me time, saves the university money, and it is better for the environment. Every now and then, though, it is important to socialise and to see someone and something new. Getting out of the office is sometimes an inspiration in itself. As more and more universities and colleges merge, most of them will have multiple campuses, and the need to find new ways to work together will emerge. I think it is important to use different methods and tools for communication – as well as meeting up every now and then. I had a lot of fun these two days, but it was exhausting, too. Phuh!

 

 

So many articles – so little time

Businessman climbing the stairs to the success of knowledge

Illustration: colourbox.com

I always like to start my week by looking through my rss feeds and having a look at some saved items in my reader. Sometimes, that is all I have time for – just registering that there is something interesting there – and then putting it aside for later. Sometimes, I have the opportunity to look through things a little more thoroughly  (=btw, the hardest word I know of to spell correctly in English).

Today was mostly a “look through briefly” kind of morning, but I thought I`d share a few tips here. Maybe that will motivate me to look through more later tonight?

I haven`t read these articles, but I looked at some of the abstracts. Many of them are presentations from Creating Knowledge VIII, a conference that took place in Reykjavik, Iceland, in 2016. The abstracts and (some) papers were published in the latest edition of NORIL.

There were also some presentations from LILAC17 that were held last week in Swansea, UK.

If you are interested in information literacy (who could not be? :), and do not already follow Sheila Webber`s blog, you should consider putting it on your rss feed. Webber updates regularly, and often live blogs from conferences, so it is well worth taking a look at her blog.

Anyway, here are some items on my reading list for this spring: 

From Nordic Journal of Information Literacy 2016 8(1), special issue:

Eriksson, F. (2016) Constructive Alignment as a Means to Establish Information Literacy in the Curriculum.

Webber, S. (2016) Teaching the Next Generation of Information Literacy Educators: Pedagogy and Learning

Head, A. J. (2016) “What Today’s University Students Have Taught Us”

Nierenberg, E. (2016) How Much Do Nursing and Teacher Education Students in Norway Learn about Information Literacy in Their First Months of Higher Education?

Various items from LILAC17:

I would have loved to see this poster:

White, J. & Ball, C. ‘So you didn’t get your Hogwarts letter…’ Engaging muggles in the library experience (poster).

Will be watching Alan Carbery`s LILAC17 keynote, available here: https://videostream.swan.ac.uk/contentglobal/9231_4p~QjzwupJp.mp4

From ACRL17:

James, H. G. and Gibes, E. A.: Embracing Threshold Concepts: Or How I learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Framework

DeSanto, D. and Harrington, S. Harnessing the Intersections of Writing and Information Literacy

Grant, R., Haywood, F. and Casper, D. The Proof is in the Worksheets: Tying Library Instruction Assessment to ACRL Information Literacy Standards

Gessner, G. C. , Eldermire, E. ,Tang, N. and Tancheva, K. The Research Lifecycle and the Future of Research Libraries: A Library of Apps

Well, I doubt that I`ll be able to read and watch all of this content this spring, but I will do my best to get through abstracts and bibliographies at least.