Instant Ideas and Collaboration

Feature #23b. A recent interview with a Librarian and her experience of collaborating outside libraries.

Our second feature article this month is Elaine Bean a Senior Library Assistant in Learning, Teaching and Research Development from John Paul II Library, Maynooth University, Co. Kildare, Ireland.

Elaine collaborated on a project involving students aged 15/16 years old. Below is a short interview with Elaine on this wonderful project and the value it brings to schools in and around the area of Maynooth.

Join us for the chat on April 7 at 6:30pm – 8:30pm GMT, April agenda is now up to add your questions to.

Our second exciting featuring article illustrates just how fun and possible it is to collaborate outside libraries.

 1. What gave you the idea for this collaboration project?

In Maynooth University we are very aware that first year students at third level education face significant challenges in adapting to a new information environment. I have been involved in designing and delivering training sessions for many years and was looking at ways to bridge the gap between 2nd and 3rd level education. Students are more familiar with rote learning and critical thinking or evaluating resources is new for most. We wanted to design a programme to help develop such skills. We had delivered an information literacy programme a number of years ago to be used in our local school which was aimed at 2nd year and 5th year students (14 and 16 year olds), however, as this involved a once-off session we were very limited with the amount of information we could include.  This new approach allows for three 70 minute sessions and, therefore, more time to cover key issues.

We designed this programme to expose transition year students to the skills and techniques of information literacy to support them in their future transition to university or the world of work. As such the programme goals include preparing transition year students (15/16 year olds) for experiences with information use beyond the classroom, towards continuing education, self-development and lifelong learning.

1Picture Courtesy of Elaine Bean

2.Who did you collaborate with and why?

We met with the Assistant Registrar and Admissions Office of Maynooth University to discuss how to select the school and this was a really valuable meeting. He gave us details of schools in the surrounding area, alerted us to think about where there was more than one school in the area and how to identify suitable schools for the project. It was also suggested that when we select a school we should look to speak with the Principal, in the past we had met with teachers but meeting the Principal meant the school would include it as part of their timetable.

3. Who did you first approach with the idea, a colleague, boss, or a friend?

My head of department.

4. What reaction did you get when you brought this collaboration project idea to others?

It was very positively received. The potential of such a project could be seen.

5. How did the group dynamic facilitate the project?

As the programme progressed it was interesting to see the interest from teachers and colleagues. Within the school, some teachers were asking to sit in on the classes, some gave us topics for their project, in one school, the Principal made a point of visiting the classes to explain the value of information literacy and we were invited to speak about the project to the parents at the end-of-year presentation. This gave us an opportunity to raise awareness of both Maynooth University and the value of information literacy to the parents.

6. How did it benefit the Library?

Working with the students didn’t just benefit the schools; it helped us to appreciate how students learn and what resources they are using.

While initially we delivered less complex content than we would typically use in our LIST Library Information Skills Tutorials aimed at University students, we have now added some of the content from the schools’ sessions into one of our LIST sessions. The 4th session of the programme is a visit to our Library. On this visit we give a tour of the Library. This gave other library colleagues an opportunity to engage with the various groups.

2Picture Courtesy of Elaine Bean

7. What advice would you give to anyone when building a project like this?

A project like this needs time both in the planning and delivery. Be realistic about what you can deliver. We have two members of staff delivering the three 70 minute classes. Be mindful of how many staff can help deliver the programme before committing to a number of schools.

It is essential to keep the content current so examples need to be changed on a regular basis. Also, each class is different so you need to be flexible in delivery from the content to encouraging the students to participate. Be prepared to debate your points especially if you want an interactive class. Lots of activities work well to keep the class engaged and this was evident in the feedback we received from the students. We agreed to provide online support material that the students and staff can refer back to when required. Again this requires time and needs to be amended for each school.

8. Why did your partners decide to collaborate with your Library?

The schools welcomed the opportunity to include an information literacy programme into their transition year programme and they had already worked with other departments within the University.

3Picture Courtesy of Elaine Bean

9. Would you do it again, and is there anything that you would do differently next time?

Yes, I would do it again – in fact the programme is continuing. What would I do differently?  I would ask more library staff to help deliver the programme. Three sessions delivered times in one school, twice in another and six times in the third was a lot for two people.  We are considering how best to approach this at the moment.

10. Were there barriers and how did you overcome them?

We had a few barriers but they were quite small

  • Equipment – we had a few technical issues in one school – sites blocked/sound not working
  • Fitting into the school timetable – they had a number of events already planned so we had to work around that

About siobhanmac

Loves Libraries, Books, and Sunshine!

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This entry was posted on April 1, 2015 by in Feature and tagged , , , .


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