Hello Everyone. I’m sorry that I’m not able to attend conference this year, so I have asked our LIASA colleagues to present this on my behalf. I have been very honoured and excited to have been named 2nd runner up in last year’s Librarian of the Year competition. It was amazing to have been nominated Western Cape Librarian of the Year, so coming in the top three of the national competition was a bonus - a real professional boost! I was awarded R10 000 generously sponsored by SABINET. I was also fortunate to have had some extra financial support from UCT Libraries.
I used this money to attend the 18th International Conference on Learning which was held from 5 – 8 July at the University of Mauritius. Ha! I hear you say … Mauritius, what a pleasure! And it was …
But I was only there for a week to attend the conference, so the only time for sightseeing was the Sunday and part of the Monday. I registered for the conference on the Monday and then took the opportunity for a professional visit to see MrCaderNunkoo, the librarian in charge
Cader is a graduate of the Mortenson Center’s Associate Programme at the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign. He was previously at Port Louis Library and had just been moved over to Rose Hill, which was in the throes of some building alterations (although you can’t see that in the photos). But what you will see see is that it is a small cosy library … next to the municipal building in a beautiful garden setting. Internet is not free in the library, but there is free wireless outside in the garden, provided by the Mauritian version of Telkom.
Here’s the venue for the conference - a really beautiful setting …
And another view … The conference attracted just under 300 delegates from all over the world, coming as far afield as Australia, Estonia, Russia, Malaysia, the States, Turkey, India, and of course Mauritius (and it made the evening news.)
There were a large contingent of South African academics from UJ, North-West, UWC, UNISA, CPUT, UKZN, UP, Rhodes and Wits amongst others.
And three of us from UCT - myself, one of our Master’s students, AdhitiHumna who is from Mauritius, and Prof Crain Soudien, one of our DVCs, who spoke at a plenary session.The conference provided a forum for talking about the nature and future of learning from early childhood, school, technical and vocational, university and adult education, where research and reflections on education were discussed.
This was a very full conference over 4 days, with each day starting off with a plenary session and then moving on to parallel sessions, with presentations constantly been added or moved around. So it took quite a bit of juggling, keeping an eye on the changes and moving from one room to another. There were some interesting practices at the conference that I hadn’t seen before. Obviously there was no opportunity for discussions and questions at the plenary sessions, but sessions called “Garden Conversations” were arranged where delegates could meet the speakers and have informal discussions. Usually outside - in the Garden!The parallel sessions comprised 15 minute papers with 15 minutes discussion and these sessions were
Chaired by Graduate Scholar Recipients – who had applied and received grants to attend the conference, in return for facilitating these sessions. And often, they were presenting as well. Workshops and colloquium sessions completed the rest of the physical conference line-up. It was also possible to do a virtual presentation - these weren’t broadcast at the conference, but are available via the Conference Youtube channel.Something that I hadn’t seen before was “Talking Circles” which were supposed to give people a chance to ointeract around key ideas away from the formalities. There were two facilitated sessions for each stream of discussion e.g. Technology in Learning or Adult, or Vocational, tertiary and professional learning. During the first circle, participants would introduce themselves and talk about common issues, and the second session would take the discussion further and come up with possible solutions and then later report back at the closing plenary. And these sessions could be informal or structured depending on the facilitator. Not very successful, because much depended on the facilitator … but an interesting idea nevertheless.
Presenters are encouraged to submit their papers to the International Journal of Learning, even those doing virtual presentations. Next year’s conference is in London - I expect that there will be librarians there!Quite a number of papers were presented on a variety of topics of interest to Higher Education - academic literacy, teaching teams, academic performance of first years, underprepared postgraduates and plagiarism in student writing. Food for thought for academic librarians …
It was very strange - but I do think that it was just at this particular conference that I was the lone librarian, as I have seen papers by librarians in earlier issues of the journal! So there I was, the only librarian at an international education conference! Many of these papers were presented by academics working in Academic Development Units or Departments/Faculties of Education or Writing Centres from institutions across the world. And in almost every one of these papers, libraries and librarians were not mentioned at all. I kept putting my hand up and asking … and got back, yes of course we worked with our librarian, couldn’t do it without our librarian, our librarian is the best …. But none of this came out in the papers. Are we really that invisible?So this set the bees in my bonnet buzzing and this is what I have come back with and want to ask and challenge myself and others….
What collaborations are taking place between libraries and unites like Academic Development Units and writing centres? Or are libraries in “splendid isolation” or “parallel universes” … I know we aren’t, we are involved, there are collaborations going on - so here’s a challenge to the academic librarians out these, if you are involved, please share these with your colleagues whether it is at seminars, workshops, conference presentations - and not necessarily just library conferences.
Thank you to LIASA, to sponsorsSabinet, for making it possible for me to attend the award through the prize money. Thank you to Joan Rapp, retiring library director at UCT, for additional financial support, and to my colleagues at UCT Libraries and elsewhere for their support.
LIASA SHOWCASE <br />Ingrid Thomson<br />2nd place runner-up <br />2010 LIASA Librarian of the Year Award<br />
With one of the Graduate Scholar Recipients …<br />Lutasha Ann-Louise Ndesi from UWC <br />(Note to Western Cape Members - No, not Bronwen Erasmus, but Bronwen’s twin sister!<br />
Presenters are encouraged to submit their papers to The International Journal of Learning.<br />Next conference is to be hosted by the Institute of Education, University of London from 9 to 12 July 2012. <br />
Bees in my bonnet<br />Academic Librarians are part of the Learner Support Services<br />Why aren’t we hearing about the role librarians play at our own conferences and education conferences? <br />Challenge to all of us to get involved “embedded librarians” and share, share, share<br />