As part of our programme of training for public library staff in the South East we delivered a day of Web 2.0 training last Friday.  13 participants from around the region attended along with Gary Green from Surrey Libraries who talked about how his libraries use a variety of Web 2.0 tools to help with their delivery of library and information services.  After lunch attendees worked in pairs to create blogs using WordPress and the results were very impressive, particularly as most of them had never done it before.  Gary has created a Delicious Stack for anyone wanting to follow up the services he talked about: http://delicious.com/stacks/view/EWwHic

Web 2.0 Training University of Brighton (1)

Web 2.0 Training University of Brighton (2)

Web 2.0 Training University of Brighton (3)

We’ve been working with East Sussex Library and Information Services to develop a skills programme for staff working in public libraries in the South East of England. The aim of the programme is to develop the knowledge and skills base in local public library services in the South East of England.

The first session was in January and we were really pleased with how it went and with the feedback we got from participants.  The session was on the theme of Public Libraries in Society and set the context for the programme. 

PL skills course

The photo shows David Horner in action at the whiteboard, along with Rhona Drever, Assistant Head of Service in East Sussex and some of the participants.

The sessions are being led by members of the teaching staff from the Information Management Subject Group and are taking place at the University of Brighton’s Moulsecoomb Campus. Practitioners from participating authorities and other guests are also being invited to contribute.

The course runs until December 2012 and consists of 10 modules, covering the following subjects:

• Public Libraries in Society
• Community Development
• Children and Young People’s Services
• Reader Development
• Local Studies and Family History
• Web 2.0
• Search Structure and Strategies
• Research Methods and Project Proposal
• Leadership and Communication
• Reflective Writing and CPD

As students are attending from across the South East region a major aspect of the learning is the opportunity to share experiences and best practice. Each participant’s learning and development is also being enhanced with support from their employer, allowing them to put their learning into practice within the service.

I’ll be writing up more of it as it progresses.

Over the last year or so I’ve been busy co-editing a book on collection development with Maggie Fieldhouse from UCL. Our book has now been published and we’re very pleased with it.  It’s a Facet publication: Collection Development in the Digital Age.

The book is aimed at students but is also useful to practitioners.  Those of you working in collection development and management will be only too aware of the changes taking place in the market, the technologies and user expectations.  The book addresses those challenges and explores how collection development, as both a concept and a practical activity, is evolving to meet them.  The book draws together the perspectives of academics and practitioners at the forefront of modern collection development. 


Check it out here: CD Book and get your library to order a few copies!

I don’t often visit libraries when I go on holiday – busman’s holiday and all that. But on a recent trip to Uzbekistan, recapturing the magic of the Silk Road, I was intrigued by the fact that our map of Bukhara quite clearly indicated that there was a library almost next to where we were standing. We had a further look around and there it was, the Bukhara Regional Information and Library Centre. Some eager young people took us in hand and said, yes, this is the library. It turned out they were students, exhibiting their artwork in the foyer. We were shown round the library by the Director, Zevar and by Mirshad, who also acted as interpreter. We were in good company – a group of young women studying librarianship at the local college, along with their tutor. What struck me most about the library was the enthusiasm and dedication of the library staff, who take an obvious pride in their work – which I think you can see from the photos. They are making great strides in modernising their service and are busy digitising their old card catalogue and some of their very precious special collection. Money is an issue, as it is in libraries all over the world, and I resolved to send them some additions to their collection of children’s books in English when I got back to the UK. Still to do… Later on in the day we were admiring some beautiful delicate drawings in the bazaar when the young man who was looking after the stall said to us ‘you were in the library this morning’. How cool was that!

I’ve been working on developing a training programme for companies that want to know more about the relevance of Web 2.0 and social media to their businesses. Their’s a lot of confusion out there about whether these new services really offer anything that can help with marketing, communication and collaboration or if it is just hype. A recent article in Fast Company backs this up:

“I have a number of friends who own or operate small to medium-sized businesses. The number one question I get from them is how to make online marketing work for their businesses. There seems to be quite a bit of pent up need for online marketing help by SMBs….. The problem is there is also a lot of noise. Part of the problem is there is no barrier to entry in the online marketing consulting industry. All one has to do is put up a Web site. So what’s an SMB to do?”

Hopefully, my series of 5 half day sessions at the University of Brighton will go some way to cutting through this confusion. The programme for the course is:

Session 1 – Tuesday 16 November
Why Web 2.0 / Social Media is relevant to your business
What is Web 2.0 and social media?
How are other businesses using them and with what success?
What are some of the issues you should be thinking about in this space?

Session 2 – Tuesday 23 November
Marketing your business on the web
How can you improve your Google search rankings?
How can you use Facebook, Twitter, blogs and YouTube to market your company?
How do you advertise on Google?

Session 3 – Tuesday 30 November
Web tools for collaborative working
How are other companies moving beyond email to communicate and share information?
What is cloud computing and I should I be using it?
What is a wiki and do I need one?

Session 4 – Tuesday 7 December
Dealing with web designers and search engine consultants
What can I do myself and when do I need an expert?
How much will these experts cost?
What questions should I be asking them?

Session 5 – Tuesday 14 December
Monitoring the effectiveness of your web strategy
I’ve got a website but who is visiting it?
What are people saying about my company on the web?
How can I improve my web strategy?

If you want to know more or make a booking, click HERE or email me on mrd@brighton.ac.uk

lizI was very pleased to see one of our ex-students being profiled in the CILIP Gazette recently (to read the profile from this link go to the penultimate page). Liz Strachan graduated with an MA in Information Management in 2006 and is currently Librarian at the William Harvey Hospital. Liz is honest about the effort involved in balancing academic, work and family commitments but her interview offers some useful advice for anyone thinking of going back to college to improve their professional skills.

Liz is very positive about her experiences as a student at the University of Brighton. textextract

It’s always good to see our alumni doing well. If you are one of our ex-students please get in touch and tell us how you are getting on.

… thanks to Liz Jolly, one of the speakers at today’s cpd25 event, The Future of Librarians, for this one. No, not a day about mainlining e-books or shooting up the contents of online datatabases, but a day organised around the theme of current and future challenges for academic librarians, and how Continuing Professional Development (CPD) may play a role in helping us manage these (at the least) or, alternatively ‘reinvent ourselves’ as Gill Needham suggested was necessary. Whatever we wish to call them – our end-users, customers, learners – they remain, as ever the focus for us as a profession which, ultimately, serves the public interest.

The day started with a witty and engaging talk from Mary Nixon, Librarian at Goldsmiths, and Chair of the cpd25 group. Based on recent experience of interviewing for staff, she outlined what employers are looking for, which she distilled into three areas:

  1. information handling (including, for example, skills in cataloguing/providing metadata for a range of materials);
  2. technology – confidence with
  3. end-users: vital here are people skills – being clear communicators, having empathy, and, increasingly, being able to deliver training/teaching in information skills.

Susie Andretta, Senior Lecturer in Information Management at London Metropolitan University, who researches into information literacy, based her presentation partly on responses participants had sent in to a couple of questions Susie had asked us prior to the event (as a fellow lecturer I recognised the strategy – make the audience come up with the answers!) about what academic libraries of the 21st century will look like, and what CPD librarians will therefore need. Key themes were:

  • applying ‘traditional’ skills to new areas;
  • using new technologies (e.g. Library 2.0);
  • marketing and advocacy;
  • information literacy education;
  • managing change and promoting leadership.

Susie stressed her critique of the ‘follow the technology’ mentality we often see/hear about when discussing what librarians should be doing, yet I sensed some tension between that statement and her comment that we need to ”follow the users”, which seemed to be implying we do need to be in those social networking spaces where the so-called NetGen are hanging out. I agree with Susie’s final thoughts, namely that we can’t predict the future, but we can try and instill a sense of lifelong learning in the next generation of librarians, so they are reflexive practitioners and able to cope with whatever changes come their way.

The role of CILIP in supporting professionalism and CPD was outlined by Biddy Fisher, Vice-President of CILIP and former Head of  Information Services at Sheffield Hallam University. Biddy began by picking up on an observation by Susie, namely that she had noticed a lack of confidence amongst her students, and librarians need to believe in their own professional value. Yes, we need professional confidence, but what do we mean by professionalism? Biddy identifed three key aspects: attitude, ethical and professional conduct, and principles (e.g. the 7 Nolan Principles of Public Life), and how one of CILIP’s roles, as a Professional Body is to communicate to society what we do and why we are important. She also suggested there are three aspects of taking responsibility for our professional careers: those that lie with us and induviduals, those of our educators, and those of our employers. In a typical Biddy personal touch, she gave examples from her own professional journey, suggesting she herself had been ‘recruited for attitude (and enthusiam), trained for skills, and educated for knowledge. Future issues she identified for our professional arena include: a narrowing down of the national scene and an increased focus on local networks; identification of smaller groups of service specific users; basing our professional practice on dialogue with users. As former Chair of LIRG (Library and Information Group), a group I have been a committee member of since 2001, I was also pleased to hear Biddy stress the role of research, and basing what we do on evidence.

Despite the after lunch slot, there was no chance of us snoozing through Gill Needham‘s session – Gill tried to rally us into action by suggesting we need to overcome our complacency, and address the possibility that we are in real danger of becoming invisible or obsolete. As a group, we gave the ‘right answer’ from her list of how we face these potential dangers, namely we ‘reinvent ourselves’ (rather than ignore them, retire early or retrain), and here, it can be a case of ‘CPD to the rescue’. Having presented some alternative images of how we might see ourselves (warrioirs, glamour librarians), Gill asked us to think about how we might define ourselves. Answers included: Better than Google; a roving physical search engine; like the internet, but always right.  As Associate Director, Information Management and Innovation Services at the OU, Gill and some of her colleagues have already reinvented themselves many times over the years, pioneering library support services. Their latest venture has been to design a CPD module for librarians, entitled The evolving information professional: challenges in a digital world, an online module which – using profiles of four information professionals across different sectors – offers a way to explore how changes affect you, your users and your institution.

Gill was followed by Emma Hadfield, Senior Assistant Librarian at the University of Huddersfield, her first professional post following her recent Masters. Emma presented research findings based on her MA dissertation, an investigation into the potential impact of of WiL, Women in Libraries, an organisation set up in the 1980s, to support women working in academic libraries and to try to implement changes that would facilitate women breaking through the glass ceiling. Emma’s conclusions were that WiL did help to foster changed climate we now have (from 3 senior managers in the late 70s to a slight majority now – although, as Liz Jolly pointed out in response to a question I raised about proportion of women managers, rather than actual numbers, not only do we have more universities now, but women make up 75% of the library workforce). What was interesting about Emma’s other findings were the shifts in how we think about what constitues a good leader/manager, now incorporating more ‘feminine’ qualities such as emotional intelligence, developing staff and empathy – and how these are found in both male and female managers. It was great to have a personal perspective from Biddy as well, who biked down to the first meeting of WiL from East Anglia on a Saturday, as the climate then would not have seen employers giving time or money for such an activity.

The subject of leadership was further addressed by Liz Jolly, recently appointed Director of Library and Information Services at the University of Teesside, in the final presentation of the day. Liz reflected on her participation in the Future Leaders Programme, a one year course, encompassing three modules. Liz reflected that one of the most useful aspects has been learning how to learn about leading, along with learning from failure and – a top tip I shall be endeavouring to follow – the ‘Choice Line’ and where you choose to situate yourself on it (below = feel like a victim; above it, you take charge and feel empowered – one of those going up on my wall tomorrow!).

This was a well-thought out and put together day, and it certainly gave me a lot of food for thought about CPD, and skills and training needed in our profession, and how we in the education sector can help support that. A number of suggestions were made along the way about what library schools (it is still a useful shorthand) were and weren’t doing. This is often my cue for jumping up and down and saying ‘but we do do that!’, but the speakers were well informed and reflective about the role of library education, and came up with some useful ideas (which I shall be following up with my colleagues). There was a lot of stress on the academic librarian’s role as teacher (particularly of information literacy skills) – Susie already offers a CPD module to health librarians, FILE (Facilitating Information Literacy Education), and here at Brighton, we offer a module called Developing Training Programmes, one of many modules on our MSc Information Management that can be taken as a CPD course. Let’s hope that the future is bright, the future is cpd!


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