Wednesday, 6 July 2016

#ARLG16 part 2: Attending

Last week I attended the ARLG 2016 conference, held at Conference Aston within Aston University. I attended for just one day, Tuesday 28th July, and this blog post will record which sessions I attended and the overall experience of being a conference delegate.

The morning keynote speaker was Peter Kilcoyne, ILT director at Heart of Worcestershire College. He outlined a large scale project regarding blending learning within FE. Colleges are encouraged to participate in blended learning as a means of combatting teacher shortages, but creating online resources on a mass scale is expensive and time consuming. HoW college leads a consortium, which colleges may join for a fee. The idea is all member colleges will create resources which will be shared amongst fellow members, thus saving time (and therefore money) in the creation of online resources. The project was outlined from IT and senior management perspectives rather than a teaching perspective and this was reflected in the content. Coming from a college background, I could see the value in the project and it was interesting to learn of it, but at times I felt this particular presentation’s relevance to librarians was limited. Saying that, it was good to see a keynote session coming from an FE perspective – the majority of sessions appear to be aimed at HE practitioners. 

The afternoon keynote speaker was Jo Webb, a visiting fellow at the University of East London. Jo spoke about the seven deadly sins of librarianship. I missed this session as I used the time to prepare for the workshop I delivered. Lots of people tweeted about this session so it looked a goodie!

Workshop 1: Off campus but in focus: delivering library services from Derby to the world. By Jacqui DaCosta and Jonathan White.
This session explored ways of reaching distance learners. Attendance was high, showing many institutions diversify into supporting non-traditional learners. The library focus was strong and that made this interesting, even for delegates like myself who don’t have distance learners. The library at Derby University reaches offsite learners by means of pre-recorded videos demonstrating how to use online resources. They hold inductions via webinar, so students are able to interact with library staff. They also utilise postal loans.

Workshop 2: Enquiries data making it count: ensuring we collect the most appropriate data and are able to use it to improve the UX. By Jackie Oliver and Denise Turner.
I had high hopes of this session and wanted to learn how university libraries gather information and record it. The session started 15 minutes late and finished quite early, meaning the overall duration was roughly 25 minutes. The main point I remember is that library staff were trained in ITIL principles and used this to record enquiry statistics. I found this interesting and the presenters were quite positive about the utilisation of ITIL within a library environment. I hope to look into ITIL to see if it is a course that would be of use to me.
Workshop 3: Personalising services for a cast of thousands: bookable consultancies at Newcastle University Library. By Lucy Keating.
This presenter was excellent! Very smiley, jokey and chatty. Lucy outlined the way librarians hold consultancies with students to help with dissertation research. Students use an online form to book a session and tell library staff of what the intended topic area. During the session, the librarian will show the student which tools are available to them and tailor example searches to their topic area. Library staff found marketing was key to increasing uptake levels and ran timely campaigns such as ‘spring clean your research’ during the spring months.

Workshop 4: The most wonderful time of the year: building on success in delivering online CPD with the 12 apps of Christmas course. By Andy Horton and Chris Rowell.
I attended this session purely for fun. For the past 2 years, an online course has been available, which encourages library staff to explore a new app every day for 12 days during December. The intention is that some people may then go on to use apps during library sessions with students. We didn’t discover which apps are included, but the course has been so popular it has been adopted by various universities for their own library teams. I hadn’t heard of this course before and hope to take part this year. 

I am one of those rare people who enjoy attending AGMs! (I think it’s because I’m nosey!) Changes on the committee mean it is in urgent need of new members. Many moons ago I used to be on the regional branch committee of CILIP and would quite like to join a committee again. Unfortunately, I don’t feel I am in a position to volunteer due to the restrictions of being a solo librarian.

My collection of conference freebies!
I followed the conference hashtag on Twitter (#ARLG16) and enjoyed reading about sessions I was unable to attend. (Before doing this, I didn’t realise I had signed a code of ethics by joining CILIP.) I tweeted from every session I attended and had a few mini-conversations with other delegates. I noticed that if people don’t mention the session topic, it can be difficult to understand the context of the tweet

Looking back, I enjoyed some of the sessions more than others. They were all of a high standard, but some were blighted by IT issues, which was unfortunate. I wish I could attend this conference every year - there are so many interesting topics shared. The thing I found most valuable was being with like-minded people. My library colleagues work at a different campus so this is something I don’t experience very often in my current job. The timetable of events was quite intense, but I ended the day at a ‘fun’ session to see me on my way home.

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