Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Too much information!

Well, it’s been a busy time in the Library. The first few months of term, up until the October break, are always a bit mad really. It’s been made worse this year by us being one person down. One of the team left unexpectedly during the summer so we’ve been frantically trying to cover the gap. It doesn’t help that it’s one of our smaller sites we’re short at so some of us from the larger site are constantly having to go and cover. A new person has been appointed but PVG checks are taking forever. We were hoping to have her in post by the October break but no sign yet.  Oh well, maybe by Christmas...
I’m quite looking forward to the October break. I’m not off myself, as many of my colleagues are, but will enjoy the more peaceful and relaxed environment of the college during vacation time. I’ll hopefully get some time to catch up with my large backlog of cataloguing. I’ve been concentrating mainly on user education since the start of term so other things have slipped little.
I’m pleased with how the user education sessions have gone this year, or I should probably, more accurately, call them Information Literacy sessions. It’s not something that gets done automatically and last year I only did 11 sessions altogether. I’ve done a lot more publicising and pushing the sessions this year though, have 33 sessions booked, and am currently around two thirds of the way through these. That’s a 200% increase on last year (I think that’s right. Maths is not my area. I’m much more a word person!)
Due to staffing issues (i.e. me being the only person who teaches these sessions at our larger site) we’ve had to restrict it to ‘degree link’ courses only. These are HNC/D courses where the college has set up a direct progression link, often into 3rd year, with one of our partner universities. I currently teach three different sessions.
E-resources – 30 minutes. Introduces students to the variety of e-books and online databases available through the Library’s VLE pages.
Successful searching & Evaluating information – 60 minutes. Touches on Boolean search techniques, offers alternatives to Google and, if students insist on using it, making good use of Google’s advanced search techniques. Also gives tips on evaluating information sources.
Harvard referencing – 60 minutes. Short presentation explaining the basics of referencing and plagiarism followed by a practical session where students reference books, journal articles and websites.
As is common with most things like these, where it’s not part of the formal curriculum, they have been really popular with some course areas and others have not responded at all. In some ways I’m quite glad though. Don’t think I could have coped with many more classes all at once. And why did they all want Monday or Tuesdays? I think I’ve barely been in the office on a Monday or Tuesday for the last 6 weeks!
Most students respond fairly well to the classes. I talk about how the online resources and search techniques will help them here at College, but also be really useful in making the transition to University level study. I emphasise that the universities will expect the students to carry out independent research and will have ten times the amount of e-books and online databases we do. I also promote the associate membership schemes of our local universities, which enables the college students on these courses to access all their resources immediately. It’s a really good scheme.
Many of the teaching staff have commented positively on the sessions I’ve done with their classes so I’m hoping to build on it next year and get a few more departments interested. I’ll definitely need to work on the scheduling issues though.
So, all-in-all, a busy few months and I’m looking forward to it easing up a little. Only 10 weeks till the Christmas holidays!

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