I was very lucky to attend DARTS 4 (Discover Academic Research Training and Support) earlier in June. Set in the beautiful surroundings of Dartington Hall, the event was packed full with lots of interesting workshops for library staff supporting research.


Dartington Hall (yes it really was that sunny)

Dartington Hall (yes it really was that sunny)


You can see slides from the event at http://www.slideshare.net/ARLGSW/tag/darts4 as well as a  storify of the event at: http://sfy.co/pXUH

The event kicked off with Miggie Pickton from the University of Northampton talking about being a practitioner researcher. She started by talking about impact and the move to show economic and societal impact beyond academic impact in the HEI research environment. By considering why we research (Build own and inst reputation, benefit to service, benefit to career), plus the aims of practitioner research (focus on problem or need, pragmatic, investigative, inform practice, audience is colleagues) we could see why impact was important for practitioner researchers like ourselves (e.g.Funders (& employer) demand it, justify use of resource, demo value for money, attract potential partners), and Miggie encouraged us to think about Impact at every stage by considering a)what difference do we want to make and to whom, b) how do we ensure stakeholders benefit and c)how will we measure impact. Through examples and making us think about our own possible research project Miggie demonstrated that in our day job we are all practitioner researchers in some way and this served to highlight the research we carry out and how we implement it. In her slides is an example of a Reading List project which I think demonstrates really well how we are all practitioner researchers. I came away feeling enthused and already developing a few project plans that could be beneficial to the research support our Library Service provides.

Next to speak was Jenni Crossley from University of West England who’s talk was entitled Research Data Management, where are we now. Her talk looked at the current RDM and how it has changed since the publication of the RLUK report “Reskilling for Research”. The original report identified key skills that librarians would need to have to navigate RDM. Jenni had devised questions around these skills areas and you can see the trends in answers from the initial period, 15 months later and where we would like to be in Jan 2016. While s snapshot of the work going on, it does show trends that we are developing those key skills and the support we can provide researchers. Key areas for providing support for RDM were:- ensuring we have adequate staffing; engagement with the University from the Senior management team to the individual researchers; the need for policy from licenses to deposit agreements. During the talk, Jenni also gathered answers on the skills questions from the DARTS audience and it was interesting to see the difference between the DARTS attendees and workshop attendees which demonstrated to me that we still have some way to go to make sure our  staff from across the Library Service (not just those at the RDM coalface) are adequately skilled to support researchers in this new area.

To end the day we had a talk from Leigh Garret from the University for the Creative Arts about the challenges of Research Data Management in the Visual Arts. His talk outlined the work that had already taken place around research data management and visual arts and included great pointers for what we need to consider when setting up a service around research data. Not only was his talk informative his quote ” what is research data? Oh you mean stuff” really brought home how to address research data management in the arts but inspiring after all me notes from this session were “READ THESES SLIDES” but also Leigh set us a couple of challenges in the workshop of looking at research outputs for the Visual Arts  so we could appreciate the range and variety of research data behind these. One of the tasks was to consider Easy chair by Ernest Race, 1953. Not only did these challenges reveal the variety of data that may need managing, but the entire room was filled with budding chair manufacturers.

A thought provoking afternoon was followed by an amazing conference dinner.


Yummy lemon tart for pudding

Yummy lemon tart for pudding


The following day started with an inspiring talk was delivered by Sheila Corral. Her talk highlighted the challenges facing libraries to provide high level support to researchers when the relationship between libraries and researchers is becoming more distant. She identified several  research support trends including bibliometrics, digital humanities, e-research, lifecycle models, one-stop shop, scholarly communication, and space as service. I really appreciated the research which Sheila had collated into one presentation and has saved me many hours of work tracking this down as I consider our own research support services. I would encourage you to look at Sheila’s slides which feature lots of examples of good practice  for research support services and space for researchers within libraries. (and not only because it featured our very own Research Support pages which Sheila commended for the researcher viewpoint).

This was followed by a talk by Yvonne Budden talking about “Open Access at the Coal Face”. Her talk was about what University of Warwick have done to meet the open Access challenge, including switching off IP access to journals to highlight that the library pays for these and incentives for depositing in the repository.  This talk gave me loads of ideas for open access advocacy that we can easily put in place.

This was followed by an update by Neil Jacobs from Jisc on the work they are doing around Open Access and Scholarly Communications. Luckily Neil has saved me the job of writing this with the creation of a new Scholarly Comms blog . The recent posts neatly bring together all the work that Jisc are working on around Scholarly Communications and I would definitely recommend following that blog to keep up to date with all the projects Jisc are coordinating in this area.

In the afternoon we were tasked with a challenge. During the previous day we were all given the opportunity to submit the challenges we face as research support librarians. In this sessions we were split into groups to find solutions to those problems. This session was refreshing as you realise that some of the challenges you were facing were also being faced by others, but also the groups came up with some really interesting and fresh ideas. The challenges and their solutions are one of the slideshows in the slideshare link above.

Finally Katie Fraser and Nathan Rush talked about their project which looked at how to improve communication with research students at De Monfort particularly around library training.  Results from their project showed that research students needed to be acknowledged as researchers,  a sense of community, to understand the relevance of library training, Importantly it also demonstrated that timing was everything  “Information is only useful at exactly the time we need it” Pettersson 2002. The project created a timeline with crisis points for research postgrads where the library could intervene and reduce the crisis.


Overall the event was inspiring and I left full of enthusiasm for the work we do to support research. Most beneficial was meeting with librarians in similar roles and the time to discuss current thorny issues as well as compare practice, especially as research support librarians are generally sole practitioners orin small teams. I came away with lots of ideas not only for how we can support researchers at my own institution, but also support research librarians – more on that soon.

And if you want to see more photo’s from Dartington head over to Millie Moo’s Musings



That was then, this is now

So my last blog post was a long time ago and in that I wanted to make sure that I caught the 6.15 home, stay involved with professional groups and visit other institutions. Well a change of role  and institution has meant that I haven’t really managed to do those, although I’m glad to say I’m still involved with USTLG and newly involved with JIBS and I still hope to visit some more institutions to find out how they support researchers.

The new role has so far been very interesting, with a change of focus away from teaching to looking at all areas of research support, including open access, tools for digital researcher’s, reference management, and citations and bibliometrics.

With this comes a new focus for the blog, so I’ll be adding a few blog posts about relevant meetings and reports to help keep me on top of events and initiatives. I hope these maybe useful  to others as well. Would love to hear from you if you know of any more.



The year ahead

As this blog is called Librarycow’s Library Reflections it seems apt to reflect on 2012 and what it has meant for me.

What started as a fairly calm year brought unexpected events, most notable of which for me was a new role.

I’m now “acting up” as a team leader for the science subject librarians. While it’s not a role that I’ve been comfortable with all the time, I’m gradually becoming more confident in what I do. I won’t deny I’m still finding my feet , but I’m enjoying the adventure rather than being in a state of mad panic.

I finished my PGcert. The PGcert process has been an enriching experience for me. I won’t deny there were bad times (tears at 4am when I could find anything to write), but the overall experience did make the tears worthwhile. I found the overall experience far more rewarding than my Librarianship MA. The knowledge and experience it brought were far more relevant to my role. I also found the process of learning far deeper and reflective than the MA. Now this may be due to nature of the subjects, but to my mind it reflected what an masters course should involve :- a move to independent thinking that provides a bridge between undergraduate study and a research degree /professional qualification.

I helped organise the 2nd London LibTeachMeet, you can read all about it here. I had a great time and it was great to meet so many talented and passionate people with an interest in infolit.

I became more professionally involved with other groups as well, such as Information Literacy Group and USTLG, joining in with London Libraries Learning Research Reading Group. I gain a lot from these groups so I think it’s a good thing if I can give something back, even if it is only a small amount. Hopefully I can continue with this next year and perhaps even set a little bit more time aside for it.

So what will 2013 bring, well I can’t say, but I hope that I look forward to it and take up the opportunities that come along. I don’t really have any work based resolutions (it was interesting while reflecting on this year and thinking about next year that most of the resolutions revolved around family life).

My one firm resolution is to make sure that I catch the 6.15 train home. This will involve me working smarter, but it is one resolution I want to be able to tick off on December 31st 2013.

Otherwise I want to stay more involved, through groups like ILG/USTLG and joining in with the Information Literacy Journal Club. I would also like to visit some of my fellow professionals. I’m very interested in finding out how other institutions provide information literacy and hopefully during 2013 I can book in some visits to see how they do it.So can I come and see you?

I just made a new Voki. See it here:

After seeing the Voki on Festive 24 things I just had to give it a try. Unfortunately I wasn’t inspired to think of anything interesting to say, although useful as now don’t have to repeat myself.

Final Thoughts (Thing 23 – CPD23)

My 6 word summaries

Keep learning, keep trying, keep reflecting

Learn new “Things”, meet new people

What has CPD23 done for me?

I’ve met some fab people both online and offline. Through going to the Cambridge meet up I realised that there is a supportive network nearly on my doorstep. Plus through CPD23 I found even more people to follow on Twitter.

I have discovered that I really am not good at writing, I have found writing the posts difficult and not a natural process to me. This has been especially brought home to me by the excellent posts written by others that I’ve read during the CPD23 program.

It takes time to stay up to date. Even with a guided program like this, taking time out to try things and then write about them has been a considerable commitment but an important one to make. Hopefully I can maintain this effort and I certainly hope to keep records of what I do on this blog, from conferences I attend to interesting papers I read.

What’s next

I’d like to spend some trying some of the “Things” that I didn’t have a chance to try properly. My 2012 projects from this program are :- screencasting, sorting out my bookmarks, creating my CV database and improving my general web presence.

I think I also have to continue writing on my blog, with the hope that continuous effort improves my writing.

Huge thanks to everybody who organised this program for us all.

My CPD23 journey

Thing 1: CPD23: Thing 1

Thing 2: Meet the Neighbours (Thing 2 – CPD23)

Thing 3: Lynne the Librarian (Thing 3 – CPD23)

Thing 4: What is the difference between currants, raisins and sultanas? (Thing 4 – CPD23)

Thing 5: Mirror Mirror on the wall (Thing 5 – CPD23)

Thing 6:It’s good to tweet, or Thing 6 – Online Networks

Additional Thing 6: Additional to Thing 6 – CPD23

Thing 7: Bodie and Doyle aka The Professionals aks Thing 7 (CPD23)

Thing 8: Never forget (Thing 8 – CPD23)

Thing 9: Evernote = Everknit (CPD23 Thing 9)

Thing 10-11: The well travelled road and the not so well travelled road (CPD23 Thing 10 and 11)

Thing 12: Phew – are we nearly there yet? (CPD Thing 12)

Thing 13: Would you like my last Rolo? (Thing 13 – CPD23)

Thing 14: The battle of Zotero versus Mendeley (Thing 14 – CPD23)

Thing 15: Attending, presenting at and organising seminars, conferences and other events (Thing 15 – CPD23)

Thing 16: Speak up – I can’t hear you (Thing 16 – CPD23)

Thing 17: You spin me right round, baby, right round (Thing 17- CPD23)

Thing 18: Video killed the radio star (Thing 18 – CPD23)

Thing 19: Catch me if you can (Thing 19 – CPD23)

Thing 20: The long and winding road (Thing 20 – Library routes)

Thing 21: Promote yourself (Thing 21-CPD23)

Thing 22: Volunteering (Thing 22 – CPD23)

Volunteering (Thing 22 – CPD23)

As much as we all don’t want to work for free, there are good reasons to volunteer. The summer before my final year I volunteered to work in a lab so I could get work experience. I lasted a few weeks but didn’t make it all the way through the summer break. Lab work just wasn’t for me, however I still rate this experience as without it I would never discovered that I didn’t want to work in labs until it was too late.

I also do a fair amount of volunteering in my spare time, previously volunteering for my local NCT and now being a governor at my children’s local school. This has given me lots of transferable skills that I can use in my current role, e.g. event organisation, time management, dealing with data and people skills.

Would I volunteer in my local library if threatened with closure, that is the hard question. I would want to keep this invaluable resource open to all, but not sure I could replace the fantastic staff that work there. Not only because I believe the libraries need staff, but also because I am in awe of the work they do, to my mind it is the staff that work there that make that library brilliant.

So if you can spare time to volunteer I would say there are advantages to doing it, but I am also very glad to be paid for the work I do.

Promote yourself (Thing 21-CPD23)

Librarian Lynne during training

What do I like to do

I like training and helping people, especially the buzz you get from a good training session. I also like staying up to date with technology and with research into information skills. I’m normally a give it a go person as well. In my free time I like knitting and logic puzzles (probably explains why I like being able to track down hard to find items). Both of these probably lend themselves to working with the detail which I also get to do in my current role.
A CV database is a good idea. When I started in my current post I had a handover file which went through procedures, contacts etc. During my time in post I have edited and added to this basic document. It’s not that I expect to be given the boot at any time soon, but I think a document like this is still useful to me in my post as it provides guidance on what I am currently doing, notes new directions that my post has taken and indicates any areas that I may need to spend more time on. The same is true of my CV, which has been sadly neglected recently. I think it’s time to create a skills database.
I weirdly haven’t had that many interviews. The advice given in the post does ring true though, the interview should be for you as well, so if you aren’t gelling with the interview panel it may be best not to work there. I also liked the CAR advice, in the interviews I’ve had where I didn’t get the job it was because I had forgotten that basic piece of advice, so would urge anyone applying for a job to think of this. Also preparation is the key, know the workplace your applying to, know your own skills and experience and think ahead of the questions you may be asked.


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