Conference review, thanks and resources

Thank you to everyone for their participation in the LIS Research Coalition conference on Monday.

Conference review

The analysis of the conference evaluation forms (49 returned from 81 participants) shows that the event was very well received as a valuable, stimulating and enjoyable day, particularly for making contact with other LIS researchers, learning about on-going projects, and inspiring individuals’ commitment to pursuing their own research objectives. From the LIS Research Coalition’s perspective, the event provided a great opportunity to address its aims related to bringing together information about LIS research in the UK and encouraging dialogue across the members of the LIS research community. Added to this, discussions during the day – particularly in the breakout sessions – have helped identify priority areas for investment of Coalition resources in the coming months.

The majority of delegates who completed the conference evaluation forms rated the conference as a whole as “excellent” or “very good”. The most popular sessions were Andrew Dillon’s opening keynote speech and the set of one minute madness presentations, both of which were rated “excellent” by the majority. Andrew’s presentation attracted comments such as “great keynote” and “excellent – really interesting and fascinating speaker”. There was much enthusiasm in the comments on the one minute madness session which, in a way, reflected the gusto with which the delegates participated in this activity: “One minute madness worked really well – enjoyed this very much. There should be one at every conference!” “One minute madness was brill. How amazing that it actually worked!” Michael Jubb’s introductory presentation was also well received, with the majority rating this session either “excellent” or “very good”. The most common rating for the breakout sessions was “very good”, and for Charles Oppenheim’s closing keynote, described as a “great finale” in a delegate tweet, it was “excellent”.

The choice of venue was also very popular with the delegates: the majority rated the convenience of the location, its comfort and facilities and the catering as “excellent”: “I was very impressed – plush, great air-con, gorgeous food and handy for King’s Cross. Perfect.”

Those who were involved in the conference administration were pleased that most delegates rated the arrangements as “excellent”, both prior to the conference and on the day itself. Particularly appreciated was the additional “social” information provided in advance of the conference which, it is believed, contributed to the friendly atmosphere of the event.

Feedback from our virtual participants, of which there were at least 29 actively following the conference by watching #lisrc10 on Twitter or interacting with the CoverItLive site, also showed enthusiasm for the proceedings of the day.

Conference thanks

Of course, an enormous amount of effort goes into planning a conference such as this, and we owe thanks to all involved. First we are very grateful to the conference sponsors. A special vote thanks is due to our speakers, facilitators, chairs, student rapporteurs, and the brave one minute madness speakers for their contributions on the day, as well as the hard work devoted to preparing for their roles. We should also recognise that without the commitment of the conference programme committee, we would not have enjoyed a range of sessions that was – as one delegate remarked – so “well-designed from the point of view of the flow of different events/formats and from the point of view of engagement/participation”. There are also two individuals whose work behind the scenes deserves special recognition. Stephanie Kenna, amongst other things, contributed much to the marketing of the event. Stella Wisdom managed communications between Event Logistics and the British Library. Stella also liaised with the AV team to ensure that all the speaker presentations were in order, and prepared the tailored handouts that helped guide us through the process of accessing the British Library’s wireless network.

Conference resources

We have spent the past couple of days writing up the conference sessions and posting materials to the Coalition web site. Our live blogger Kirsty Pitkin of T-Consult Ltd worked at amazing speed to edit the video footage and provide the drafts of session reports for Hazel Hall to edit. Those who have agreed to write their own reports of the event, for example for colleagues or for publication, will be particularly pleased to see the full list of resources now available below (also accessible from the conference web page). We will add links to other conference outputs, for example reviews in the professional press and individual participants’ blogs, as these are published.

All the PowerPoint presentations from the conference are also available from the LIS Research Coalition’s Slideshare site. Video footage from the day, including delegate interviews and the one minute madness session, is available from the LIS Research Coalition’s Vimeo site.

Coalition conference newsflash 7

Logos of Glen Recruitment, TFPL and Sue Hill Recruitment

The sponsors of the six PhD student places

Thanks to the generosity of three of the leading LIS recruitment firms – Glen Recruitment, TFPL and Sue Hill Recruitment – the LIS Research Coalition is able to offer six sponsored places at its conference at the British Library Conference Centre on Monday 28th June 2010. These will be for PhD students currently engaged in LIS research. Sponsorship will cover the conference fee for each of the six students who win an award.

For further information about the awards, and how to apply, please see the page that details the sponsored conference places for PhD students.

LIS Research Coalition presentation at the SCONUL Autumn Conference

Hazel Hall

Hazel Hall at the podium at the British Library

Hazel Hall was invited to present at the SCONUL Autumn Conference on 17th November 2009 at the British Library. The presentation slides are available from Slideshare.

Hazel’s presentation focused on two aspects of the work of the LIS Research Coalition as relevant to the student experience agenda. These were (1) the Coalition’s mission to promote LIS practitioner research and the translation of research outcomes into practice and (2) the Coalition’s efforts in creating resources to bring together information about LIS research opportunities and results. Hazel’s starting point was the pressing need for an evidence base on which library and information services may draw, not least to prove their worth. She quoted Peter Griffiths, the current President of the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals (CILIP), who highlighted in his October 2009 presidential address that “We must prove the value we provide with hard evidence. Start thinking what evidence you offer”. Hazel shares Peter’s view that practitioner research is important, but also recognises a number of challenges that face (potential) practitioner researchers. Hazel referred first to the barriers that LIS practitioner researchers may encounter. These include:

  • Navigating current funding infrastructures, for example due to the number of funding bodies and differing requirements as far as proposal writing and submission are concerned;
  • Negotiating working practices with mentors and partners;
  • Lack of confidence in research skills, especially when this is unfounded;
  • Fitting research work into a demanding job role that includes other competing, and often more obviously pressing, service priorities.

Hazel also pointed out that often individuals carry out work that is, in effect, practitioner research, but fail to recognise it as such.

The focus of the presentation then moved on to barriers associated with the dissemination of practitioner research. Hazel mentioned how research output often becomes trapped within an institution or sector, and thus has limited dissemination channels. This minimises the opportunity for others to take advantage of the research findings, and key messages do not reach the level of strategy development. As a result, individual institutions tend to focus on local research output in their planning activities.

Hazel took the opportunity to suggest a number of research themes related to student experience. She argued that we should look beyond the more “visible” issues related to facilities, such as upgrading library space and extending opening hours. LIS research effort in academic settings should also relate to broader institutional concerns such as student retention and international student fee income. There are also a number of research themes that interest library and information services staff regardless of sector. For example, community engagement, the relationship between library services and learning, and evidence-based practice are worth pursuing. Specifically, Hazel suggested a range of student experience related research questions ripe for consideration:

  • How can library provision be better aligned to broad institutional student experience initiatives?
  • How can we measure the contribution of academic library services to the overall student experience?
  • What are the roles of academic librarians in the learning processes of students?
  • How can we better engage teaching staff with library services?
  • How will scholarly communication develop in the future, and what will be the impact of this on library provision for students?
  • What is the best way to integrate information literacy provision into the curriculum?

Hazel noted that one question that was of particular relevance to her work with the Library and Information Science Research Coalition could be framed as “What is the relationship between awareness of LIS research within the academic community and good practice for the benefit of students?”

Hazel then turned her attention to the second theme of her presentation, i.e. the means by which the LIS Research Coalition is working to bring together information about LIS research opportunities and results. The Coalition has a web presence at http://lisresearch.org, as well as a Twitter feed at @LISResearch. The Twitter feed postings cover a range of topics of relevance to the LIS research community, as Hazel illustrated by displaying some Twitter screen shots. Amongst these she showed a page of alerts that included news of: a research funding opportunity; PhD studentships on offer; an invitation to join in a research-related consultation exercise; two newly published research reports; a link to a web page on a topical debate; a report on an on-going research project; a training event; conference registration opening; the publication of a new journal issue; and a US conference offering funded places. Hazel strongly encouraged audience members to start following @LISResearch, or at least arrange for members of staff in their organisations to take responsibility for keeping up to date with the postings on behalf of others at their home institutions.

Hazel concluded her presentation by reiterating the support that the LIS Research Coalition can offer for practitioner research. First she noted that the agile information provision on LIS research related news through the dedicated Twitter feed saves time of practitioner researchers. Then she spoke about the efforts to raise the profile of practitioner research, making reference to the LIS Research Coalition conference. This will take place on Monday 28th June 2010 at the British Library with the intention of “liberating” of research output that may be trapped within institutions and/or sectors. Hazel explained that in the longer term the Coalition hopes to provide opportunities for research methods training that will extend current UK provision in this area. Hazel’s final point was that she looked forward to the LIS Research Coalition working in partnership with other LIS stakeholders, including SCONUL, in building the evidence base that will contribute to future LIS research strategy, as well as policy development.

SCONUL Autumn Conference 17 November 2009

Stage set for SCONUL conference

The stage is set for presentations at the SCONUL Autumn Conference 2009

Yesterday the LIS Research Coalition participated in the 2009 SCONUL Autumn conference at the British Library’s Conference Centre (which, coincidentally, will be the venue for the LIS Research Coalition’s own conference on Monday 28th June 2010). The delegate list noted 124 individuals, mainly comprising academic library leaders from UK colleges and universities, as well as staff of the SCONUL secretariat and a number of guest speakers.

The conference was opened by Jane Core, the current Chair of SCONUL. The British Library’s Associate Director of Operations and Services Caroline Brazier also welcomed the delegates to the Conference Centre. Thereafter the speakers took their turns at the podium to tackle the conference theme of “The Student Experience”. Each was expertly chaired by a member of the SCONUL Executive Board.

David Sadler, Director of Networks at the Higher Education Academy was first on stage to set the strategic context for the student experience agenda. His presentation took into account a range of government and sector reports and proposals, as relevant to the interests of the academic library community. He pointed to a number of issues that he believes merit attention. These included the untapped expertise of external examiners, and the need for genuine engagement in Web 2.0 for services delivery across the sector. David concluded his presentation by highlighting a number of challenges of specific interest to the SCONUL audience. These included prioritising service delivery; securing funding; making the most of support from external bodies such as the HEA; and fostering further collaborative activity across the academic library community.

Next up was Michelle Verity who spoke of work in her new post of Head of Student Enterprise and Development at York St John University. Michelle’s explanation of the “learning reconsidered” approach as adopted at York St John raised some interesting questions related to the discourse of student experience. The question as to whether or not students are “customers”, and the deployment of the word “services” in academic settings were picked up later in the day in informal discussions and by later guest speakers.

The last session of the morning was presented by two student officers of Queen Mary Students’ Union: (1) President Nasir Tarmann and (2) Anna Hiscocks, Vice President – Education, Welfare and Representation. This was a very positive, upbeat presentation that drew on a small-scale research project completed at Queen Mary’s, as well the presenters’ input to proposed changes in information services provision at their University. This session stimulated further conversation over lunch as to how academic libraries meet the needs of their varied student populations, with much interest in the concept of “library-hopping” as introduced by Nasir.

The session immediately after lunch provided an opportunity for representatives of three organisations to present their perspectives on the student experience agenda. These were: (1) Simon Wright, Chair of the Association of Managers of Student Services in Higher Education; (2) Maureen Skinner, Chair of the Association of University Administrators; and (3) Hazel Hall, Executive Secretary of the Library and Information Science Research Coalition. The first two presentations revealed just how much the work of professional staff in UK universities has grown in recent years as student needs have changed and as some of the work previously undertaken by academic staff in schools has been moved to the centre. All three speakers highlighted shared interests which pointed to the potential for their bodies to develop closer relationships with SCONUL. The discussion that followed the panel members’ presentations focussed on job boundaries, the hybridisation of professional roles in academia, and the question of staff willingness to adapt to new work practices. (The detail of Hazel’s presentation is elaborated in a separate blog posting.)

The last main set of presentations provided case studies that demonstrated how three universities have made changes to their services delivery in response to factors related to the student experience agenda. Tricia King, who is Pro Vice Master for Student Experience and Director of External Relations at Birkbeck, University of London, focused on My Birkbeck, a major change initiative at her institution implemented in a tight timescale for one of the most diverse student populations in the UK (where students range in age from 18 to 100!) In Brendan Casey’s case, the challenges of managing super-convergence emerged as a strong theme with regards to the role of Director of Academic Services at the University of Birmingham. Graham Bulpitt, Director of Information Services at Kingston University, brought this session to a close with an illustrated timeline of developments at his institution that highlighted the changing role of library and information services staff. As well as outlining the type of frontline activities in which the Kingston staff are involved, Graham illustrated the support mechanisms available to them by showing the audience screen-shots from online staff resources.

The final presentation was delivered by Ewart Wooldridge, Chief Executive of the Leadership Foundation for Higher Education. This widened the debate to the theme of higher education leadership, and gave delegates the opportunity to discuss the opportunities for professional staff to reach the highest levels of management in their institutions, and the means of supporting such ambition.

(There is a Twitter back-channel for this the event, accessible by searching #sconul. As well as commentary on each of the presentations, there is a short debate on the engagement of higher education leaders with microblogging. This was prompted following a question to the audience from Hazel Hall regarding Twitter. A show of hands revealed that a large number of UK academic library leaders are indeed Twitter users.)

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 68 other followers