BETH are a European group of national organisations representing librarians working in theological college, seminary, Church and monastic libraries. Solo librarians or librarians working in small teams are characteristic of their membership, although there is also representation from University libraries. I attended their conference on the theme of Challenges facing ecclesiastical libraries in Cordoba, Spain on 30/9/23-4/10/23, to share a paper about partnership working between Church and University in New College Library.
BETH Conference 2023
What are the challenges for ecclesiastical libraries?
A number of recurring challenges were underlying themes for the conference.
The decline in religious vocations and in church membership and attendance, which is also linked to a decline in available funding for church libraries, as funding must come from a diminishing church populace.
The effects of war, military action and other political and social conflicts.
Delivering professional management of historic collections under both of these circumstances with the particular needs and financial demands of historic and rare collections.
How can ecclesiastical libraries be successful in avoiding crisis and collapse?Continue reading →
Everybody’s talking about AI and Chat GPT – what will they mean? I attended an event on 20.4.2023 organised by the Information School Sheffield University which explored this question for libraries.
Dr Andrew Cox introduced the session, reminding us that chatbots & AI have featured heavily in the news recently, and of course have existed in scifi for some time.
What might AI look like in the library?
From what we’ve learnt about AI it will have a wide and deep impact on library service and backend operations and library information literacy. We’ll see new features like library chatbots, text and datamining support and automation of systematic reviews. Knowledge discovery of collections will change, with a new paradigm of search : instead of giving a list of results, ChatGPT will give an answer. Users expectations of what a search looks like will change dramatically. There may be an impact on library jobs (although the decline of the librarian has been forecast for many years since the arrival of the internet, and librarians have evolved and thrived). Changes to the workforce will probably be complex and driven by sector.
Fundamentally we should remember that AI is only as good as the data it relies upon. Our library expertise in finding and managing data in a complex information landscape, and in determining the provenance and quality of data remains key. Also, libraries’ work in supporting sharing, openness and interoperability of data is vital as this data becomes available for AI to use.
Ruth Jenkins, SarahLouise McDonald and Christine Love-Rodgers at LILAC 2022
The LILAC 2022 conference in Manchester this April was a challenge and a pleasure to attend : my first real life, in person conference for two years! I put aside my laptop with the distraction of its constant stream of email to concentrate on being present in the conference and using my LILAC notebook and pen.
Alongside my colleagues, I was there to present papers about the projects we’d delivered in the COVID years, including LibSmart, our online information literacy course. We’ve developed LibSmart I to develop student information literacy skills to support student transition into the first years of an undergraduate course, and LibSmart II to support student transition into Honours and PG dissertation research. We had lots of great questions about the courses, and interest from Uppsala and Gothenberg Universities in Sweden who are keen to develop similar projects.
Student transitions in information literacy was a key theme of the conference. I attended a session by Paul Newnham on Information literacy and the transition to university education : Reflections and initial findings from Lancaster University. This research study aimed to understand student needs for information literacy and how the Library can support students with information literacy and critical thinking skills. Using qualitative data from groups in Blackpool Sixth Form College and Lancaster University, the study found that both lecturers and teachers thought that students’ ability to find information had deteriorated over the last 10-15 years. However there was wide understanding of the importance of referencing and plagiarism.
On 2-4 November I attended the LibPMC Conference (International Conference on Performance Measurement in Libraries). The conference content was really varied, including a focus on the needs of stakeholders and communities and actively using qualitative and quantitative data to improve services and the user experience. Here are some highlights.
But can it last? How the pandemic transformed our relationship with data. Dr Frankie Wilson, Bodleian Library
Knowledge is PowerBI: How data visualisation helped inform services during the pandemic. Elaine Sykes, Liverpool John Moore’s University
Using return on investment to tell the story of library value and library values. Prof Scott HW Young, Prof Hannah McKelvey – Montana State University
Assembling a Virtual Student Library Advisory Board during COVID-19. Prof Chantelle Swaren, Prof Theresa Liedtka – University of Tennessee at Chattanooga
Charting the Change: Analysing How Online Delivery Made A Difference to Who Is Accessing Academic Skills Programmes. Louise Makin, Academic Engagement Manager, Liverpool John Moores University.
Marilyn started off with a quote from Desmond Tutu “If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.” What can we do as librarians to be more than neutral?
At Goldsmiths, a Liberate our library working group was set up to look at this question. They started out by asking : do students see library spaces, books on the shelves, which looks like them? Do students see themselves when they come into the library?
When coronavirus restrictions began in March 2020, the University of Edinburgh had to close some libraries and change some library services. But Academic Support Librarians haven’t gone away. We may have been working from home, but we’ve been busy helping students to get the best out of the library. So what have we been doing?
Keeping you updated
From the start of lockdown the Library Academic Support team web editors have maintained the Library Updates page to provide an overview of the library services available to you during coronavirus restrictions.
Helping you to get the books and journals you need
Coronavirus restrictions made it difficult to access the print library collections for your courses. We listened to what you needed and worked with our Library Acquisitions colleagues to purchase new digital versions of texts you could access remotely. We couldn’t get everything we wanted – sometimes publisher prices were just too high (see this reported in the press) and sometimes what you needed simply wasn’t available as a library e-book. But we worked to spend hundreds of thousands of pounds on new digital content to meet student needs.
Giving help and advice for your dissertation research
We understand that researching your dissertation during coronavirus restrictions is a huge challenge. We’ve offered you help and advice on your library research by email and, if you needed it, a chance to meet online for a chat, with multiple librarian appointments available every week (we’ve met over two hundred students so far this academic year). Plus, we’ve run online Dissertation Festivals in October 2020 and March 2021 with events highlighting the wealth of digital resources available from the library and beyond to support your dissertation research.
Writing an information literacy online course
We want every student to have the digital skills they need to use online library resources, so they don’t miss out on any of the resources and support that’s available to them. So we’ve written an online course, LibSmart, to help you develop key information literacy skills to navigate the library landscape for your studies and succeed at university.
We’ve delivered over two hundred live information literacy classes to students this academic year, but during coronavirus restrictions we know that you can’t always make it to a class when it’s happening. That’s why we’ve created over a hundred videos, many of them bitesize, so you can find out what you need to know about the library, when you need to know it.
Christine Love-Rodgers, Academic Support Librarian
Pixabay License. Free for commercial use. No attribution required
Welcome to the Academic Support Librarians blog! You can find out more about the Library Academic Support team here.
We’ll be using this blog to highlight our generic information literacy activity, events and projects. We already have several great ASL blogs for individual Schools, but this will be a blog for every member of the ASL team. Above all we’re aiming to tell the story of the work our team does to support students and staff at the University of Edinburgh.