Andrew Eynon’s Library Blog

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Archive for the ‘ICTL’ Category

More online resources for Reader Development

Posted by andrewey on October 22, 2009

As a followup to my earlier blog post – here are some other online resources that can be used to support Reader Development (and are relevant to students on the ICTL course):

Fantastic Fiction – this website is particularly useful for searching by author and for filtering results by genre. The website also includes book reviews .

What’s next? – a very useful website for identifying prequels and sequels. This website, produced by Kent District Libraries in the States,  allows you to search titles in a given series – identifying titles occuring before or after the one you search for.

BookgroupInfo – If you want advice on starting a group or a place to promote your reading group then try Book Group Info which also allows users to search for reading groups by region.

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Carrying out the library educator role

Posted by andrewey on February 5, 2009

Unit 7 of the Applications of ICT in Libraries qualification is ‘Carrying out the Net Educator role’. This unit is where library staff examine ‘teaching’ in the context of libraries.

The ‘net educator’ was a particular facet of the Peoples Network training in public libraries but given that many students on the ICTL course are from non-public library backgrounds I have generalised the title here to ‘library educator’.

The importance of this unit lies in the expansion in information skills/literacy delivery by all library sectors and the corresponding need for library staff to acquire ‘teaching skills’. 

The first element of the unit looks at identifying ‘training needs’. In fact the same principles can be applied to identifying any learner’s needs.  The tools that can be used to identify the learners needs include:

  • Direct observation – leave the learners to get on with the task and see how they fare without (much) prior instruction
  • Tests/questionnaires – can also be used to see how much learning has taken place if this is a follow up session
  • Consultation with tutors – ask the tutors about what skills/information the learners need most
  • Interview – ask the learners beforehand what they want from the session
  • Student work – see how the students are already applying information skills in their work
  • Appraisal records – for staff training, check if information skills are being  identified as a training need

The second element of the unit looks at learning styles, delivery methods and motivation of the learner. As regards learning styles many in FE will be familiar with the works of Honey & Mumford on this subject, who identified the following types of learners – activisits (those who learn by doing), reflectors (those who learn by reviewing what they have been taught), theorists (those who learn by knowing why something is done) and pragmatists (where learning varies according to what is being taught). For an interesting discussion of learning styles and strategies see Felder and Soloman. There is also a free online learning styles profiler.

It is best to use a variety of delivery methods when running information skills to cater for different learning styles (see my post on Sharon Markless’ recent “Developinging information literacy strategies” event for more ideas):

  • Demonstration – Sharon Markless suggests using demonstration to reinforce learning ie after a practical exercise rather than as an introduction
  • Group problem solving – facilitating discussion helps reflection and learning
  • ‘Chalk and talk’ – useful for imparting knowledge but not very proactive
  • Role playing – this is often the bete noire of library training but has it uses for staff training particularly using Library Management Systems, dealing with challenging behaviour, customer care etc
  • Practical activities – hands-on sessions enable learners to practice what has been demonstrated or taught 
  • Individual learning – particularly through the use of online content such as podcasts, video tutorials or other training material

It is also worth considering models of learning. The behaviourist model is best typified by Bloom’s taxonomy– which you will notice has similarities to the SCONUL seven pillars model of information literacy. A constructivist model is seen as more effective and enables more autonomy of learning ie learners don’t have to follow a sequential learning path. The constructivist model is best typified by Kolb’s learning cycle.

The unit also stresses the importance of keeping the learners motivated – issues to consider include:

  • Make sure what you are delivering is not at too high or low a level
  • Have the learners been compelled to attend?
  • How relevant is the session to each individual learner?
  • Does the session have clear learning objectives and have these been communicated to the learner?
  • How suitable is the learning environment (too noisy, dark, not enough computers etc)?

The unit also covers creating learning materials and support for learners. The final element of the unit looks at evaluating sessions and assessing the learner’s progress.

When evaluating sessions you need to consider quantitative and qualitative measurements:

  • Observation
  • Tests
  • Feedback forms
  • Learner competence
  • Learner confidence
  • Level of integration with the curriculum
  • Focus groups – of staff and students asking qualitative questions
  • Impact on student work

A very useful guide to delivering information literacy sessions (including many practical tips) is Cardiff University’s teaching Information literacy handbook.

Please leave a comment if you have any examples of  particularly effective ways of delivering information skills/literacy.

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Using ICT to support the Continuing Professional Development of library staff

Posted by andrewey on November 21, 2008

As part of the Applications of ICT in Librariescourse, students look at how they can use ICT, web 2.0 and internet resources to support their continuing professional development (CPD) in the library & information sector.

The e-resources they evaluate can be grouped as followed (with some examples I’ve selected):

Discussion lists

Most of these in the UK use part of JISC mail. These lists invite you to sign up. You will then be automatically sent all e-mails sent to the list.

Many lists are sector specific eg for public libraries. Others will have cross sector appeal eg information literacy. Some lists will be closed (eg CoFHE and CoLRiC lists for FE) to members only.

 Professional websites

 Museums Libraries & Archives council(MLA) – information for library and museum staff in England

 Museums, Archives, Libraries Wales(CyMAL) –  includes details of free CPD activities for library and museum staff in Wales

 Chartered Institute of Library & Information Professionals(CILIP) – includes details on professional qualifcations and professional groups

 CILIP Cymru – details of professional activities in Wales 

 School Library Association – support school librarians and school library services

Information Literacy Website– website of the CILIP Information Literacy Group (actually a sub-group of the Community Services Group)


CILIP Bloggers– blogs selected by CILIP, part of the CILIP Communities web pages

UK library blogs– wiki of blogs by librarians in the UK

UKOLN cultural heritage blogs directory – links to blogs in the Museums, archives and libraries sectors

Online professional journals

Most of these have free online access to all or part of their journal

Wales Current Awareness Bulletin – professional updating service for library staff in Wales

Y Ddolen– CILIP Cymru magazine

CyMAL – magazine produced by CyMAL for museum, archive and library staff in Wales 

CILIP Update – leading UK library journal

Many CILIP groups e.g. Branch and Mobile Libraries group, CoFHE, Youth Libraries Group etc publish their journals on the web – see group pages on the CILIP website.

Journal of Information Literacy

Panlibus– library journal produced by Talis

This is not meant to be an exhaustive list of CPD websites, if you’d like to recommend others please leave a comment.

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Websites to support Reader Development

Posted by andrewey on September 17, 2008

As part of the Applications of ICT in Libraries course candidates complete a unit on the use of online resources to support reader development. Here is a quick overview of some of the relevant resources that could be used:

Resources to support readers

Which Book– this enable readers to select fiction on the basis on content (eg how much or little violence, sex, humour etc) and character/plot (eg gender, country, race etc). The site contains book reviews (written by library staff I believe) and links to UK public library catalogues to check holdings. 

Reader2Reader – another site aimed at readers with book reviews and supported by the People’s Network.  

Reader Development

Opening the Book – company specialising in staff training and equipment relating to reader promotion. Now hosts the archives for the English and Welsh Reader Development initiatives prior to 2006:

Branching Out – English public library initiative to support reader development – with resources, case studies etc

Estyn Allan – Welsh public library equivalent of branching out (contains bilingual resources)

Adult literacy initiatives – supports literacy initiatives such as the Vital link, ‘Quick Reads’ and RaW, also includes a library reader development toolkit and a calendar of reading events. – supports reading initiatives in libraries

Welsh interest sites Site supporting books in Welsh and of Welsh interest, includes book reviews Welsh Books Council site, includes Wales book of the month and awards for Children’s and Basic skills titles

Discussion lists

JISC Mail Reader Development list – forum for discussing Reader Development

Other online resources

Book review, publisher and bookseller websites also make good resources for Reader Development (see my post Using Amazon for Reader Development for an example)


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Using Amazon in Reader Development

Posted by andrewey on September 1, 2008

Whichever definition of Reader Development you prefer they all entail broadening the reading experience – many readers stick to a very limited range of writers and one of the main challenges of reader development is to widen this range.

Although there are websites specifically designed to promote reader development in this way eg Reader2Reader and Which Book you could also achieve the same sort of result using a website the reader may already be familiar with ie Amazon. The other advantage of Amazon is that it also includes academic material so can also be utilised in an academic context for general subject enquiries of the type often encountered in FE.

Although Amazon enables you to search for works by the same author with ease it is its other features which I’m going to highlight for use in reader development. A good starting point is to identify a book the reader has read recently which they found enjoyable (or useful in an academic context). As an example I will use Vasily Grossman’s novel Life and Fate, which is a contemporary fictionalised account of the battle for Stalingrad in World war II.

1) ‘frequently bought together’ link – which gives you the most likely complementary title. In this case it is an obvious one – a collection of Grossman’s own writings of the period as a reporter with the Red Army.

2) ‘Customers who bought this item also bought’ – this usually gives you a wide range of similar titles. In this example there are over 80 titles in this category. The nature of this book means you have fiction and non-fiction titles including works of Russian literature, Russian History and Stalinism. 

3) ‘Customer reviews’ – there is some concern over review sections on websites in that they may be impartial (Amazon does give authors and publishers the option of reviewing titles openly). My main concern with review sections, whether it be Amazon or iTunes or other similar database, is that it seems reviewers give 5 stars to everything they like rather than just to outstanding works. Therefore reading the reviews is probably the best way of gauging how impartial the review is and why that person thinks the item is so good or poor. Amazon does give you a quick tally of ratings – in this case Life and Fate has thirteen 5 star ratings, one 4 star rating and nothing any lower – so a pretty impressive range of scores.

4) ‘Product description’ – often no more than the blurb from the back cover but still more information that you are likely to find on an average library catalogue

5) ‘Search inside’ – offers you the chance to actually read part of the book online (this usually includes at least the contents page and index for academic titles)

6) ‘Customers who viewed this item also viewed’ – this gives you some more possible titles beyond the 80 plus identified above. 

7) Tags – customers can now add their own tags to supplement the subject index already created by Amazon

8) Comments – there is a discussion forum and there can be comments posted on individual (book) reviews

9) ‘Listmania’ – these can often take you to obvious choices eg other great works of Russian literature or to lists which are more personal in their selection – of works that readers have enjoyed or think complement each other.

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