Having first heard about the Librarians as Teachers event at LILAC back in March, I was very keen to attend. Events kind of overtook me though and in the end I was very fortunate to get a place, as when I originally tried to book it was full. On Monday morning, however, I received a very welcome email from Jess Humphreys (CDG West Midlands) asking me if I was still interested in attending. I jumped at the chance and on Tuesday evening got the train then a bus to my parents' house in Kenilworth. My parents were away on holiday but the cat was delighted to see me, so that was an added bonus to my rather impromtu trip!
It's been two and a half years since I moved to London and in that time I have grown used to cramming myself onto a train and it taking nearly an hour to get to work. Therefore, the ten minute bus journey from my parents to the University of Warwick felt a bit surreal - I even got a seat!
I know the University well and as a student often used the library during the holidays. It's about five years since I was last there and was very impressed by its transformation during that time. The event itself was held in the Teaching Grid, an extension to the Learning Grid.
The day began with Anthony Brewerton giving us a quick tour of the Teaching Grid, an "experimental teaching space". He talked about the library's values - information, support, community, the idea of space being a catalyst for change, librarians being equals to academics, the "ladder of loyalty" and the idea of the librarian in the lobby. He also showed us a video of advice about the library from students which is a great idea. Would love to get Westminster students to do something similar. Particularly interesting to hear their perspective on the library and the staff e.g. 'tutors in the library'.
Debbi Boden began her talk 'Evolution: do we buy into it?' with two highly amusing YouTube clips - Haunted Love and the Librarian Song - to demonstrate how librarians' image is still an issue. Librarians need teaching theory - they need to know the language to be credible with academics. Debbi requires her ALLs to take the PGCert. In a time when we have to develop new services with less money and staff, we can:
- work with academics - library champions
- learn to say 'no' (e.g. to last minute requests)
- critical evaluation rather than database training
- work more with web 2.0 tools
- take advantage of the financial situation - how can we help our academics in a time of recession?
There is no room for complacency!
Also of note is that in the Researchers framework, IL is key component. Link to lifelong learning.
Debbi said librarians in HE should become fellows of the HEA. This topic was taken up by the third speaker, Jo Webb. The HEA promotes learning and teaching and provides support and recognition. They have recently changed policy so it is now harder for librarians to become fellows. The associate option is open to us though. Jo recommended looking at the professional standards to see what we should base teaching practice on and how we can engage students.
The PGCert was the pre-lunch talk by Sally Patalong. Sally admitted that the idea of teaching had for many years not held any appeal. However, taking the PGCert totally changed her attitude and has increased her confidence. It has lead to exciting new opportunities, such as becoming a teaching fellow in the library. She has worked with education developers and learning technologists, as well as in the academic writing centre. She recommends peer observation as an excellent way to improve your teaching practices, along with watching other people teach (not just librarians, lecturers too!) and getting feedback from students (post-its). Remember to keep evidence of what you're doing!
The lunch break gave me the opportunity to catch up with someone I did my MA Librarianship with, which was nice. I also met someone who's following me on Twitter.
The post-lunch slot was taken by Dr Geoff Walton and he kept us awake with some thinking exercises. For example, what are the essential ingredients for teaching? A lot of teaching is about risk taking. Do you agree or disagree that teaching IL without assessing is pointless? I stood towards the disagree side as sometimes it is simply not possible to include assessment but that doesn't mean what you teach is not having a positive effect on the learner.
Emma King gave a very interactive discussion on teaching spaces and learning design. In groups, we looked at two of the spaces within the teaching grid and comment on their potential use and engagement opportunities. Adapting strategies to spaces can be daunting.
A panel discussion rounded off the day. Matters raised included the issue that PGCerts are not specifically aimed at librarians, and the fact that there is a lack of teaching practice on CILIP accredited ILS courses.
All in all, a brilliant event, with excellent organisation and innovative use of space.