Wednesday, 26 May 2010

Librarian as Teachers: the new professionals?

Just arrived back from an excellent day at the University of Warwick, more convinced than ever of the importance of teaching and training skills for librarians.  Antony Brewerton started off by giving us a tour of the Teaching Grid, a flexible space within the university library.  The area can be divided up into different sized spaces depending on requirements of a particular training session.  Staff can also use this area to try out technologies such as interactive whiteboards prior to using them in a teaching context.  I liked the Ladder of Loyalty as a way of thinking about library relationships with our users.  Our challenge is to bring staff members into an active partnership arrangement with the library.

Debbi Boden gave the keynote speech, discussing the evolution of the profession.  We need to know what we are in order to decide where we're going, and we still have that stereotype to fight.  She argued that any librarian that is teaching needs some knowledge of the background theories, and suggested that HEA Fellowship may be more valuable than CILIP chartership for some library professionals.  We need to know the language of teaching if we are to work in closer partnership with academic staff.  The current economic situation can be seen as an opportunity to collaborate more, develop more online services and make more use of social media within a library context.  Jo Webb continued this thread with some background to options for professional recognition through the HEA framework, but highlighting concerns about a shift in policy that appears to exclude librarians from the Fellowship framework.  She argued that there is no dichotomy between HEA and CILIP qualifications- we have a dual identity as librarians and teachers.

Sally Patalong presented her experiences as student and later teacher of the PG Certificate.  Her recommendations are to observe other people teaching from as many different disciplines as possible, to get feedback from students and to keep evidence of everything you do to reduce likelihood of being cut!  After lunch we had some more interactive sessions, looking at the essential ingredients for teaching (Geoff Walton) and how we could use different types of space for teaching and training (Emma King).

The panel discussion at the end was great for pulling together the messages from throughout the day.  It also helped me clarify a possible topic for my masters dissertation – I'd really like to look further into the teaching role of the librarian and what should be included within LIS programmes to prepare new professionals for this role.  I'd love to hear from anyone with suggestions on this!


  1. Great to meet you today, and excellent summary :)

    I think that would be a really interesting topic to explore for your dissertation - it seems that some courses are doing excellent things to support information literacy during the course, yet others have no coverage whatsoever. I think it would be interesting to look at CILIP accreditation and how this works, particularly if course content is very different. Are there some things that are essential for a CILIP accredited course? And if so shouldn't information literacy and understanding user needs and behaviour be one of the requirements?

  2. Great to meet you too Jo, and thanks so much for the feedback. Interesting questions to add to my list for follow-up!

  3. PS more detailed notes on request, or check out @ekcragg's posts,

  4. sounds like a really useful day - might need to hear a bit more about the Ladder of Loyalty! and get myself along to other people's training sessions - a resolution for the next few months.

  5. Ladder of loyalty is a really interesting model for relationship marketing which is becoming far more important in today's world, particularly in services like libraries. I've written about it in my literature review for my MSc dissertation on marketing academic libraries. You can find out more about the model in most relationship marketing books (or customer relationship management), Christopher et al developed the model.

  6. Thanks Jo, for explaining it better than I could! Basically it's about enticing people in the first place, then bringing them up through the levels until they're active library users, then advocates, then partners. There was a lovely visual that I wanted to add, but I could only find sales-type ones online unfortunately. I'll keep looking and bring notes in tomorrow :D