Passion for the Profession can be expressed in many ways

Our CILIP Chief Executive, Annie Mauger,  invited librarians via Twitter to ponder some controversial views expressed in a blog, ‘Deprofessionalisation and the blogosphere’  The article decried the standard of social media communication being conducted by professional librarians. Its author suggested that ‘the knowledge and skills that make up (professional expertise) should be our primary concern’ and argued that more journal articles and discussion of  content was what was needed. The article set me reflecting on our own situation in Scotland.

I think that while there is a place for considered and well argued journal articles, the social bonds engendered by participation in e.g. Twitter are equally important in encouraging a sense of community and common interest.  This can lead to debate but also activity and learning based around the profession.

One recent example of Twitter enabling this was the ‘tweetmeet’ organised by Anabel Marsh which led on to planning and participation in activities for National Libraries Day.   Activity has since grown into a semi regular event sponsored by CILIPS to encourage librarians from all sectors to meet up and share experiences while learning a little more about each other’s professional practice. (There’s another tweetmeet organised to take place at 6.15pm in the Bon Accord Pub, North Street, Glasgow, on 14th March if you’re interested in coming along).

As for the blogosphere there are some examples of writing  rooted in experience rather than theory and from which we can all learn. Here are a few blogs from Scottish colleagues you might care to sample:

 Nicola Osborne who works for EDINA is expert at liveblogging of events – a real skill – and she always posts something of use for those with an interest in social media and libraries.

Neal Buchanan from the University of West of Scotland posts on educational events and activities in which he’s involved – useful for anyone who isn’t able to attend in person.

Christine Irving blogs at  on the LIS DREAm project as well as what she has been up to professionally.

These are just three examples from Scotland but there are many more. What’s your favourite Scottish library blog?

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Post 16 Education Consultation Meeting

SLIC hosted a discussion meeting on 7th December to look closely at the Scottish Government’s proposals for Post 16 Education in Scotland and to help formulate the response. Entitled Putting Learners at the Centre– Delivering our Ambitions for Post-16 Education, the proposals could have far-reaching implications for libraries in different sectors. The summary of proposals was the basis of our debate, which was led by David Scott of Dundee College.

 The concerns raised included:

 Learners

  • This changes the demographic in colleges and younger learners need support.
  • Aspirations of the young people themselves will not be met by what is contained in the paper.
  • Colleges might not be able to offer courses as cheaply as private providers in education market but they offer other things like libraries, careers advice, additional support needs, etc, which the younger learners are even more likely to need that current learners.  Lots of voluntary organisations have pulled out of access level training because of costs and it is unclear if there is a market which is robust, quality and able to pick up slack.
  • Concern was expressed about the higher drop-out rate amongst young learners and the plans to penalise institutions if their retention rates slip.
  • Younger more vulnerable users will mean that libraries have a larger demand as the learners can’t buy resources for themselves and can’t necessarily study at home. It will cost the college more, for example, as they will need more liaison officers to keep students engaged and enrolled.

 Partnership working with other providers for adults

  • Structural changes and reduced capacity will have an impact on vulnerable areas and groups where previously they have been well-served by local authority community learning and development provision and this helps keep people in learning.
  • Need to look at the profile of 16-19 year olds on a regular basis to ensure that the real problems are being addressed and the type of library service who support these individuals may be very different from the types of services we currently plan to provide or do provide.
  • The vulnerable group of youths are the ones to have concerns about – they won’t go to college who don’t have skills or confidence and they will suffer disproportionately. They need a special type of support and they can’t be shoe horned into the wrong institutions or they will fail to survive and retention rate drops will be punished. The library staff are the ones who sit down with them to do a literature search or who work with them at a pace which suits their learning style better.
  • They lack confidence and skills and won’t go to local colleges even if it’s down the road because they don’t think they’re good enough. Strategies will need to focus on who the learners are.

 Regionalisation

  • Most people will travel for specialisms but this has an impact on people in terms of time and money. In many parts of Scotland learners are often local and take a pick from the curriculum because they are looking for a local solution.
  • Economic deprivation is a real issue because the transport costs aren’t refunded at a time which makes it possible for families to support the learners in the meantime.
  • Budget cuts are driving a regionalisation agenda and makes the delivery of curriculum and qualifications much more focused.
  • Progression routes of access to education at any age affected by this.
  • Non-certificated courses will be one area greatly affected, if this is introduced, and this is the starting point for many, before they develop the skills and confidence to progress into formal education.
  • The issues about IPR, copyright and licensing are considerable when sharing resources/VLEs across regions.
  • Teaching joint course might be an attractive option but it doesn’t necessarily mean a cost reduction and there are huge issues about support and quality.
  • The licensing models haven’t changed so it might be useful for Scottish Government to help pressure change by the publishers. SHEDL is a model but it is under pressure and expansion will be limited as the straightforward publishers’ content is already included and the licensing for other services/publishers will be much harder to negotiate.

 Learning

  • Concern as expressed about a narrowing of the curriculum and education is defined as narrow vocationalism.
  • Need for consistency of decision making about funding for the same courses across Scotland and there were example around the table of variation.
  • Capacity in colleges, the community, local authorities, private and third sector is all reduced, so clear routes and funding for those outside the main college focus need to have other alternatives.
  • This requires funding support for courses other than core skills or qualifications over SCQF level 6.

Rhona Arthur, Assistant Director

Improving Libraries for Learners

This week saw the launch of Improving Libraries for Learners, the third guide to self evaluation for school libraries in Scotland. It was the culmination of 17 months of work by some of the team who produced the predecessor document. They volunteered their time and intellect again, because it was initially thought that this would be a short re-work. However, a number of changes took place during the deliberations which extended the timescale of the project. The group decided to hold a series of consultation meetings in late 2008 so that a wider range of school librarians could contribute. This brought forward an array of case studies and added to those gathered by Ian McCracken for feature in the Times Educational Supplement. HMI are prioritising 5 indicators in their work, 3 of which are featured in the new guide. It is also worth noting that the group felt that QIs 5.6 Equality and fairness and 8.3 Management and use of resources and space for learning were very relevant and would encourage a retro-look at Libraries supporting learners for librarians examining their provision in these areas. The SLIC Information team has posted new material on Slainte and their contribution and that of the Working Group is greatly appreciated.

Key to all of this development work is not so much the process of self evaluation, although time out for reflection and backing up statements with evidence is useful, but the resulting improvements to the service for children and  young people.

Meeting with Learning and Teaching Scotland / Curriculum for Excellence

On Wednesday December 10th Christine and I, along with two of our Project partners, Cleo Jones, Principal Officer, Libraries & Resources at Edinburgh City Council and Ian McCracken, Learning Resources Centre Manager at Govan High School attended a meeting at Learning and Teaching Scotland’s (LTS) offices to discuss possible Project input to the development of the Curriculum for Excellence (CfE).  LTS was represented by Stuart Ritchie, Director of Curriculum at LTS, Fiona Norris, Team Leader, language and literacy and Ian Graham, Schools ICT Programme Director. Although we have been working with LTS for several years, including most recently the case studies of IL in secondary schools, this is the first opportunity we have had to engage with LTS staff at a policy level and the meeting opportunity was therefore very welcome.

We reviewed with LTS colleagues the work of the Project and Cleo and Ian explained some of their work which underlined the key role our partners play in our work. Fiona explained that she is keen to have a project involving school librarians.  Having reviewed what both sides have to offer and identified IL as sitting within the CfE Literacy team – Literacies for Learning, four action points emerged to be taken forward.

1.      A joint project is to be formulated with the CfE Literacy team. As a first stage Stuart and Fiona will discuss it and come back to us with firm proposals. Christine and I will meet with Fiona and colleagues early next year.

2.      We will work with the Literacy team on an IL proposal for presentations / workshops at the Scottish Learning Festival in September 2009

3.      There was some discussion about the presence of IL in different parts of the GLOW (the national intranet for Scottish schools) website which are not linked together. We will jointly look how at how Information Literacy should sit within Literacy

4.      Following a discussion on the need for CPD for teachers in IL we agreed that   online resources are required. Some funding will be available to support the development of this.

5.      A Literacy event is to take place at the Hilton on the 10th March, 2009 at which the keynote speaker will be Professor David Booth from Toronto. We will discuss Project involvement in this with Fiona.

 

We will hear more from LTS on the implementation of these plans by mid January. 

 

PS Thanks to Rob Westwood for giving the blog a mention in the current issues of CILIP Gazette. Apparently we are up there with the Prime Minister and Stephen Fry.

 

 

Scottish Learning Festival – CfE Science and Technology

New for 2008 at the Scottish Learning Festival was Topic Surgeries which according to the programme would faciltate informal discussions with presenters lasting 12 minutes. Having identified Joyce Henderson, Learning and Teaching Scotland (LTS) new Curriculum for Excellence (CfE) Technologies: The Draft Experiences as the one for me. I joined the surgery to find two teachers doing most of the talking about what they liked and didn’t like about the outcomes, leaving no time for me to get a word in, in the 12 minute allocated time. I did however manage to have a quick word with Joyce and her colleague about information literacy, it’s cross curricula relevance to CfE, the work of school librarians / learning resouce co-ordinators plus leave her with a copy of the national framework (Scotland).

Information I gleaned is that they (CfE) are going to be looking at skills, which will tie in nicely with the work we are doing and that following consultation / research carried out by Glasgow University (interim report is on the web) they are redoing the Science draft learning outcomes and experiences.