A network for new and aspiring library professionals
On 14th November, the first LIS Dissertation conference (LISDIS) took place at the University of Huddersfield. As mentioned, in our previous post by Rosie, the aim of the conference is to provide a platform for recent graduates of LIS courses to share their dissertation research with a wider audience. The day consisted of nine presentations from recent LIS graduates across the day, a display of posters from LIS graduates and a guest presentation from Emma Coonan, editor of the Journal of Information Literacy. Two current MMU LIS students have summarised the day for us below.
On Saturday 14th November 2015 I attended LISDIS 2015 at the University of Huddersfield. I started my MA in September and as I have to decide soon which topic to write my dissertation on I thought that this event would be a really useful opportunity to discover what other LIS students have been researching.
The morning session was divided into two areas with the first being collections and discovery. Sarah Hume spoke about ‘Wine, witchcraft, women, wool: Classifying women’s studies collections’ and conducted a detailed examination of the problems encountered in cataloguing a specific collection. Lizzie Sparrow presented her research on ‘The use of an academic library’s discovery layer: An ethnographic approach’. Lizzie discussed how she observed students using Senate library’s discovery system, Encore, to examine how they were conducting searches and utilizing its faceted search functions. Then finally Lucy Saint-Smith delivered a presentation titled ‘La Femme Bibliophile: Women as book collectors in an age of bibliomania’. Lucy had researched bibliomania, an expensive pursuit where enthusiasts were bankrupting themselves in order to purchase books for their collections, specifically focusing on the collections of female bibliophiles. Book collecting was perceived as a male pastime and only one of the women that Lucy examined was openly accepted as a true bibliophile. Lucy compared a number of collections on the basis of various attributes such as the language they were printed in, their subject matter, the date they were printed and any special physical features. It was a really interesting subject and Lucy used graphics to present her results in a visually striking way, it was great to learn about a subject that I hadn’t encountered before.
The final session of the morning covered public libraries and the community. Alanna Broadley spoke on ‘The provision of lesbian fiction in the public libraries in Scotland’ and Martyn Greenwood shared his research on ‘Graphic novels in England’s public libraries’. Due to Manchester’s increasing number of community libraries it was Ian Clark’s presentation that really engaged my interest. Ian gave an engaging talk which examined the extent to which community libraries were bridging the digital divide. He set the scene by outlining what the digital divide is (overall 86% of households now have internet access but in some areas only 52% have a computer at home) and explaining the benefits of digital literacy such being more engaged in the democratic process, as well as educational, health and economic benefits for individuals. In his research Ian examined two contrasting case studies consisting of an urban community library and a rural community library. Whilst both libraries went some way to tackling the digital divide it became clear that community library provision varies considerably depending on its location. The more prosperous rural library was able to invest in infrastructure whereas the urban library was faced with a struggle for funding, queues for PC’s, and a desperate need for help.
The conference was very engaging and offered a great insight into the wide variety of research that library and information professionals are involved in. As I will be starting my own dissertation next year it was interesting to hear the speakers discussing their methodology and highlighting practical issues that must be considered.
As a student on the Masters in Library and Information Management at Manchester Metropolitan University, I am keen to develop my knowledge in as many areas of library and information work as possible. The opportunity to hear professionals from the field talk about their research seemed like an invaluable opportunity and I was excited to attend the very first LISDIS event.
The day consisted of a number of talks from library workers from a variety of fields, and the afternoon session kicked off with an inspiring talk from Emma Coonan from the Journal of Information Literacy. The talk, ‘Publication Without Tears’, was encouraging as many of the research topics covered in the morning session were so diverse and insightful there was clearly potential for publication. They also fit at least some of the criteria Emma outlined: the research should be informed and evidence based, and contextualised with reference to previous and current advances in Information Literacy thinking. Emma outlined some of the key processes, as well as the challenges, an article submission will go through.
The next talk, ‘Measuring the Value of a Corporate Library’ was from Natasha Chowdory, an assistant librarian at Microsoft. This was an interesting perspective as Natasha was the only speaker from a corporate library. As with public and academic libraries, the corporate library must prove its value. Natasha’s research focused on getting the user’s voice as well as the data on usage, in order to see what value the library provides for them. What was particularly inspiring was the passion that Natasha showed for her users and her role, her focus on opening up a dialogue with the users and the positive responses she got from them.
Marion Harris from Goldsmiths spoke about the effect of tuition fee increases on attitudes of library staff towards users. It was interesting to note that since the tuition fee increases, students are more vocal in their expectations of library services, perhaps as they now feel they should get more for the higher investment they are making in their futures. The key points were in relation to facilities, costs, and resources; Marion did note that while these requests were not necessarily new, the students were more confident in demanding them. The views of library staff were varied, with a lot of sympathy towards students’ financial situations, whilst also having to consider their own funding challenges.
The final talk of the day ‘Libraries Under Attack’ was from Sonja Kujansuu from Aberystwyth University. Her focus was the significance of libraries and books, and to examine the ideology behind the reasons why libraries and books are targets of destruction during times of war. In particular, ‘Libricide’ – the killing of books. She focused on a number of libraries from countries involved in war, including Ukraine, Iraq and Mali. It was especially interesting to hear about the role of organisations like UNESCO and Blue Shield in helping to save the collections, and the roles librarians can play in the protection of cultural heritage.
There was much food for thought throughout the day, the world of library and information work is incredibly vast and there is a lot of very positive and illuminating research coming out of it. For someone who is considering research areas for their dissertation, it is promising to see that there are many avenues to explore.
All of the presentations are available online and can be accessed here. The LISDIS team have created a Storify which is available to view here. The first LISDIS was a great success and would not have been possible without the organisers Emily, Jess, Michelle and Rosie. We look forward to LISDIS 2016!