A network for new and aspiring library professionals

Getting the ball rolling…

ManchesterNLPN kicked things off with our first event at MMU yesterday.  After being very relieved that so many lovely library people could actually find the room in the impressive but rather labyrinthine new business school, we were treated to three great presentations that hopefully gave those present lots of practical tips to apply both on the job hunt and in the work place.

Rosie Jones: Information Literacy – In at the deep end.

First up, Rosie’s inspiring presentation taught the organisers an important lesson in scheduling: one hour isn’t enough for such a hugely important topic! As the Development Manager of the new Learning Commons at the University of Manchester and LILAC treasurer ( Rosie had lots of experience and practical insights to impart. Rosie was also centrally involved in developing the Info Skills programme delivered by the Library at MMU, and related her own experience of being thrown in at the deep end of teaching as a new library professional.

It was an interactive session with all participants being encouraged to reflect on our own understanding of what Information Literacy actually means, as well as our own experiences of it.

We considered a 5 step cycle of information literacy:

  1. Define and plan
  2. Get hold of Information
  3. Evaluate
  4. Organise and Use
  5. Communicate and Review

A key theme that emerged was that information literacy is often something that is embedded for us, but it is about much more than just making information available. It is our job to make these skills overt and explicit to ensure that it is central to lifelong learning.

Rosie crystallised that teaching and learning is a key area of librarianship that crosses all boundaries; for example it gives you much broader employment skills than if you devoted your time solely to research, or solely to academic liaison. Being involved in an Information Literacy teaching and learning team enables you to be ahead of any changes or developments afoot in your sector. If you want to make your mark as an Information Literacy champion, you have to be a vocal advocate. It is also important to disseminate what you do back into the wider profession; people want to hear about your innovation. LILAC was recommended as a welcoming conference for first time presenters, with funding often available for delegates. To have your role as a teacher taken seriously you must take advantage of all training opportunities in your workplace and recognise that is not something you can ever stop learning how to do – teaching is a skill that evolves.

Sam Bail – From Zero to WordPress in 60 Seconds

Next up was Sam who is part of the Manchester Girl Geeks group who organise workshops and events for women interested in all things Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths:

Sam illuminated some key points about programming languages HTML and CSS.  The presentation then moved onto reusable frameworks offered by Content Management Systems and highlighted how such systems, specifically WordPress, could be used and adapted by people in the library profession. A CMS makes the job of building, storing and displaying information in a format that will encourage others to actually want to read it much easier for those who don’t know the ins and outs of HTML. Sam highlighted both and, the latter being a self-hosted platform that gives you more control of the stylistic and technical aspects.  It allows you to customise and upload your own themes and plugins, and gives you complete freedom to make changes to code if you’re technically minded.

Inspired by Sam and more confident after she demystified the seemingly complicated protocols of WordPress, ManchesterNPLN decided to import our initial posts on  Blogger onto this shiny new WordPress platform instead! We might need a few more lessons before we attempt anything fancy with the .org version…. We were then walked through managing content and ‘prettification’ modifying posts, pages, tags and categories.

The presentation exemplified how WordPress can be exploited to create a dialogue with other library professionals – a key objective and motivation behind this network. Through this blog we hope to share information and the things we learn with others, and not just file them away for our own use.

Simon Barron – E resources for dummies

Simon Barron, E-Resources Coordinator at Durham University Library, delivered the final presentation of the day.  E-resources are something that all library professionals need to be clued up on; as Simon observed, senior management teams across sectors are insistent that this is where the future of library services resides, even though many users may be reluctant to embrace this format. Engagement with e-resources will unavoidably a big part of service promotion we encounter in our future roles, but many are possibly unaware of the amount of legwork involved in making them available on and off campus.

Simon began with a brief interrogation of ‘e-resources’ as an all-encompassing term, and highlighted the key providers and ostensible advantages of electronic over print (– cost effective, eternal, simultaneous access by multiple users, shelf-space….. ) Delegates were then provided with a run through of a typical e-resource enquiry from a user and brought us step-by-step through the actual process of answering it. (Simon even explained where the term ‘Shibboleth’ comes from, something I forgotten I had already been educated about courtesy of an episode of the West Wing……

Increased focus on e-resources by no means negates the need for librarians and their traditional skills. E-resource work still demands a profound amount of user interaction; it requires the same proficiency in communication skills that are needed in the traditional reference interview. In this context, Simon emphasised the continued relevance of the fourth of Ranganathan’s 5 laws of Library Science: Save the time of the reader.

Librarians still need to facilitate access with the users’ likely research habits in mind; for example, in an academic context many users start their search through Google and not the library catalogue. Library professionals need to work with such things in mind to ensure a supportive and efficient service. In this way the importance of ensuring that focus on the technology does not eclipse the focus on the reader was highlighted.

We are very grateful for the time and effort that the guest speakers put into their presentations, they have made us very eager to get started with the planning for the next event! It was great to chat and share experiences and ideas with those of you who joined us, we hope that you enjoyed this first event as much as we did and it would be fantastic to catch up with you all again at the next one!

Catherine @catmcmanamon


2 comments on “Getting the ball rolling…

  1. psglaister
    August 21, 2012

    Sounds like a really good event, I wish I had attended (was moving house!) I will try and make the November event for sure.

  2. Pingback: Autumn Event | ManchesterNLPN

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This entry was posted on July 1, 2012 by in NLPN events and tagged , , .

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