Photo of Katie Fraser

Katie Fraser's blog and website

I'm an academic librarian, working in the UK Higher Educational sector, supporting academics and students. Prior to this, I was a researcher, working with social and learning technologies.

My interests include the application of emerging and traditional technologies, research support in libraries, learning spaces, evidence-based practice and the professional development of library and information workers.

You can find out more about more about me from the links to the left. Note that the views expressed on this website/blog are mine alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of any other individual or organisation.

The 3Cs of Worksop Library: chartership, collaboration and cuts

January 6th, 2011

Worksop Public Library: view from upper floor

View from the upper floor of Worksop Library. Apologies for the blurriness: only had my camera phone!

In November I went on a visit to Worksop Public Library run by the East Midlands branch of CILIP, which combined a workshop on CILIP qualifications (relevant to my chartership) and a tour of the library.

It was good to meet people who were in a similar stage of chartership and the talk from Kath Owen was great. This was the first part of my plan to get beyond the ‘gathering evidence’ stage of my chartership and actually start putting together something which looks like a portfolio. As I’ve finally regained my free time after buying a house in September (hence the lack of activity on this blog since then!) I should have lots more opportunity to make that happen!

Worksop Library is newly built and only opened on 20th September 2010. It’s lovely: my photos really didn’t do it justice, so I’d recommend checking out the photos from the day on the East Midlands Branch Flickr page at It’s a beautiful rebuild.

What was really inspiring for me, though, was hearing all about how the library had gone the extra mile in embedding itself in the community since the reopening. The library had worked alongside community businesses to help open up author days and put on lots of community activities. They were also co-located with other services, including a registry office (and gorgeous little wedding chapel!) and a day centre for those with disabilities.

With my chartership hat on I was particularly interested in how the library has fostered relationships with the other services in the building. I think it’s often assumed that putting two services together will automatically lead to collaboration, but in my experience it’s far from that easy! For example, the Student Development team in the University are based in the library building at my current post, but we’re still working on ways to work together.

At Worksop collaboration and co-location seemed to have worked well: you could tell that staff from different services all knew each other, and day centre users were happy to wander out into the library and get books. I asked after the tour and the staff were keen to stress that it had needed a lot of personal commitment. Clearly something to think about doing more in my post (I’m a liaison librarian, after all!).

The only downer of the day was going into the staff room and noticing a newspaper clipping about library cuts on the noticeboard. It’s all the more heartbreaking to think about the impact of cuts when you see what a little investment in library services can do, and Nottinghamshire County Council is getting hit hard I hope the momentum Worksop Library gained when the new build opened isn’t lost completely in these hard times.

On blogging

August 12th, 2010

Screenshot of the blogs where I contribute

Screenshot of the blogs where I contribute

I currently contribute to two public blogs: the University of Leicester library blog, where I work, and this one. This one has been rather neglected since I started blogging all my professional development events over at uollibrary, with the exception of my recent contribution to the Library Day in the Life project. As events are one of the major points of focus of this blog I’ve not been driven to post here so much.

However, in my chartership plan I’ve indicated that blogging is one way I’d reflect upon my development. Why hadn’t this blog become a place of reflection? I’ve realised that I’d grown out of touch with blogs. I’ve been using Twitter quite heavily for some time, and I’d stopped using my feed reader and was relying on Twitter to point me towards blog posts of interest. About once every two months I’d visit my Protopage site and feel guilty that I hadn’t read anything. I’d try to catch up, but always felt I’d missed the conversation.

So I’ve made an effort to rejoin the conversation, by changing the way I read blogs. When blogs first came to my attention I preferred using a page-based feed reader, but then I was looking at blogs for entertainment, not professional development, and didn’t want to keep track of what I had and hadn’t read. But for my professional development it’s nice to be prompted to keep up-to-date, and encouraged to discuss and reflect. So I’ve switched to Google Reader, which keeps track of how many posts I have and haven’t read, and encourages me to keep up-to-date.

And lo and behold, three days later, here I am writing a blog on the process. Because it turns out that having read others reflecting on what they do prompts me to think about what I do. And reading others thoughts day-to-day prompts that far more than trawling through a backlog. Plus (for bonus points) Google Reader is really easy to access from my Android phone on the train, meaning it’s easier to keep up-to-date too!

From a wider perspective, I think it’s really interesting how changing the tool I use to do something really changes how I see it. I’m going to see if I can apply this elsewhere. Next step: changing the format of my presentations for teaching… and I promise to blog on how that goes too!

LILAC 2010: Part two – Reflections on Teaching

April 15th, 2010

LILAC Programme and Worksheet

LILAC Programme and Workshop Worksheet

Following on from my previous post on LILAC – LILAC: Part One – Workshop Presentation I wanted to reflect on sessions I’d been to discussing teaching. Over the summer one of my priorities is to think about the teaching I’ll be doing in my new job. LILAC started to help me with this, and there were a few sessions I wanted to pick out to share.

In her talk on librarians as teachers Claire McGuinness found librarians often seemed insecure in their teacher identities and covered some reasons why it’s been argued librarians are not ‘true’ teachers (e.g. not doing the same type of teaching as academics).

Claire’s discussion of teacher identify resonated with a talk I’d attended at the SRHE Conference in 2009 on The challenges for new academics in adopting student-centred approaches to learning by Ian Sadler. Ian found that unfamiliarity with material meant new academics were often nervous about experimenting with pedagogy. Perhaps the insecurity of librarians can be attributed to us being seen as ‘new academics’ as a profession, and I wonder if this has impact on the kinds of teaching we attempt.

Another aspect of teacher librarian development is training, and a session with Amanda Click and Claire Walker about on-the-job training was also helpful. They discovered that line managers of new instructional librarians are twice more likely to think they’re providing training than the instructional librarians themselves! There’s an interesting point there about making sure new teachers feel like they’re supported, and signalling when it’s appropriate for them to reflect and regroup.

A lot of the things Amanda and Claire found new teacher librarians had tried were similar to the teaching development section of my chartership plan, and it’s good to know that new teachers found reading and membership of professional groups beneficial. It was also great to hear the enthusiasm in the room for peer observation and review as a method for developing teaching skills during questions, and something I’ll definitely be exploring.

Finally, I already mentioned Andy Jackson‘s workshop on generic graduate attributes in my institutional blog post but also wanted to mention how empowering it was to realise how we can put information literacy teaching into a wider context, such as social and ethical responsibility. While still at De Montfort I sat in on a session discussing plagiarism run by a colleague, and was really interested to see students’ grasp of the issues behind such authorship and intellectual property. I really believe that getting students to relate their learning to what they know already is important in getting students to understand, remember, and apply information literacy skills. I guess therefore it’s vital to embed what we teach in a wider setting of ethics, citizenship and life skills.

What have I learnt? Being a better teacher is partly about practice and confidence. But attending LILAC has helped consolidate some ideas that have been swimming round in my head about the importance of pedagogy and contextualisation in making student skills useful and transferable. How can I make the ideas I cover in my sessions relevant to students, and is it even possible to make sure these ideas stick with students in future study, employment and lifelong learning? My next step is to actually try and answer these questions while designing my teaching: sounds like a process to document in my chartership portfolio!

After two years of attendance I can’t recommend LILAC enough. It seems to be a really great conference, the sessions are peer reviewed, and I always seem to come away with a new perspective on my professional development. I hope I’ll be able to go next year!