A review of the first two years of the role of Community Liaison Librarian and working with schools from the perspective of the Hive: Worcester’s Public and University library. The main focus will be the challenges of IL design and delivery; and the advantages of teaching at the Hive.
The role of Community Liaison Librarian is now a little over 2 years old. My remit is twofold: to develop and deliver IL programmes firstly to sixth forms and other students; and secondly to the wider community.
I do it within Europe’s first joint use, university and public library. Figures: 250,000 items of book stock roughly a 50/50 mix of public to uni visits ratio of public to uni patrons average 2,500 visits per day.
My sessions range from a 1hr session to a full day session. Active learning, emphasis upon making links between the real world and their search needs. Student centred, affective learning. Skills they already possess: online searching.
As a brand new role I had to start from scratch, devising and delivering IL has not been without its challenges.
Time - Working with schools means compromise. I’d like their students for a whole day. They’d like to come for an hour. Conversations about what they want and more importantly what I can offer.
School librarian experiences of transport bookings, risk assessments, getting cover staff and all the associated admin means schools are looking for value for time as well as value for money. Our sessions are free of charge.
Used to try and cram in as much IL as possible. Now I think about how long I’ve got and then prioritise what they’d like to learn vs what you think they ought to learn. e.g. ‘evaluating web info.’ is the first to go.
“Many librarians identified significant under-use of library resources by Key Stage 4 pupils, in spite of the increased importance placed on independent learning and extended reading across the curriculum. While many schools were aware of this and blamed what they saw as a busy and prescriptive examination system, few schools had begun to identify any strategies for countering this.” Ofsted, 2006
Too much too learn in too little time much of it literacy and numeracy – Even less coursework. Students still heavily guided, terms like spoon-fed often heard.
Deep learning not encouraged, students taught to exam thus creating surface learners with little opportunity to go off the beaten track. Always looking for the ‘path of least resistance’ not willing to meander.
Many issues faced by school libraries which contribute to the disconnect between school and HE learning styles. Emphasis on literacy in schools being a major factor and outdated notions of the school librarian’s role. Solution: We offer CPD events – this has come out of my time as a school librarian. Working with an academic librarian gives them more of an insight into IL requirements of students at HE level. Soon a ‘supporting your sixth form’ event.
Conscious message of support that the next step after using your school library is to come to The Hive it’s never a ‘use us instead of…’ message.
One thing that came out of the initial school librarian survey was information about the Extended Project Qualification. Tomlinson Report into 14 – 19 Reform 2004 suggested all students should undertake this. 11 years later still just an option. PQ & HPQ. Again National Curriculum, missed a trick.
When I found out about this ‘mini-dissertation’ instantly I realised what we could offer schools. 1st opportunity for students to get a flavour of HE study. Students have access to a wider range of bookstock
To help students satisfy the marking criteria sessions cover: Types of resources How to access them Searching efficiently Defining your topic Referencing
Dual role library opens up resources to users, specifically Our main benefit to students is the access to online journals that they have. We make over 45k journals available to the public. More often than not this will be students first experience of using them. I deliver a 1hr introduction to journals which introduces students to both print and electronic and some of the skills needed to search databases effectively. Introducing them to jargon that academics (and librarians) take for granted: periodicals, peer-reviewed, abstract.
An unintended benefit which could have been viewed solely as a challenge has been working with internal stakeholders. Not competing but collaborating.
Since Jan 2013 over 6500 students have visited The Hive, approximately 1 in 5 student visitors to The Hive has received IL training. Another benefit, one that will be capitalised upon in future years, will be to introduce younger students to principles of information literacy.
The Hive is a benefit to transition students as they have open access to a university library and get exposure to what is expected of them should they continue onto HE.
No. of students seen to date: 12/13 – 142. 13/14 – 376. 14/15 – 892.
So although we’re proud of those statistics, it took time to get there.
Working with schools – The Hive as the public face of HE - Natasha Skeen
Community Liaison Librarian
University of Worcester
Photo courtesy of M. Drew, Droitwich Spa High School. 2014
The Hive Worcester by Chris Allen under CC BY SA
Photo courtesy of M. Drew, Droitwich Spa High School. 2014
Overview of The Hive & the role
What I do
Where I do it
How I do it
Teacher v Librarian
concepts of time
Avoiding ‘Tyranny of
Photo by Michael Himbeault / CC-BY-2.0
Challenges: National Curriculum
Not geared toward
Pressure to achieve
willingness to learn
09 March 2015
Challenges: School Library Provision
Solo working is an issue
IL low on school
agenda/image of the
involvement Photo. Courtesy of A Jeffery. King’s School Worcester. 2014
Extended Project Qualification. What is it?
Worth ½ an A Level
5000 word assignment or
1000 word report and an artefact/performance on a
subject of the student’s choosing.
20% of marks awarded for critical selection and
organisation of resources
Benefits: Journals access
“A type of diary?”
Access to university
Including: The Hive
Barrett, L. (2010) Effective School Libraries: evidence of impact on student
achievement. School Librarian 58 (3) 136-139
Green, J. (2014) Library instruction for first-year students: Following the
students’ path. College and Research Libraries News. 75 (5) 266-267
Kaplowitz, J. (2012) Transforming Information Literacy Instruction Using
Learner-Centered Teaching. London, Facet.
Libraries All Parliamentary Group. (2014) The Beating Heart of the School:
Improving educational attainment through school libraries and librarians.
London, CILIP .
Ofsted. (2006) Good School Libraries: making a difference to learning. Ofsted,
Worcester News. (2014) The Hive comes out on top against online search
p_against_online_search_engines/ [Accessed 16 March 2015]