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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.

Two new roles

April 1st, 2016

It’s been a long while since I updated this blog, but I’ve always liked the idea of it charting my experiences right the way through from my graduate traineeship, so I’m not sure I’m ever capable of leaving it completely. There’s been a lot of changes as well as time passed since my last post, as I have moved through two new roles at a new institution.

Room hosting Engineering open access drop-ins

One of my first activities as a research librarian: Open access drop-ins for Engineering during Library Research Week.

I started working at the University of Nottingham in September 2014, following a restructure of the Libraries, Research and Learning Resources department, relieving me from my 5 year-long commute to Leicester! As part of the newly formed Faculty and School Engagement team, my role involved strategic engagement with the Faculties of Engineering and Science. My time in this role was fascinating, if short, giving me lots to reflect on around on community engagement and library leadership. My team wrote a paper on our approach, which we’re still hoping to publish – I’ll share news here if it emerges.

An increasing demand for research support from the library here has meant another change in our structure, however, and I’ve just shuffled sideways into another new role! In March 2016 I became a Senior Research Librarian, focusing on the Faculty of Engineering, in an expanded Research Support team. It feels strange to leave behind Science, my ‘home’ faculty from my pre-librarian days, but I’ve been enjoying learning about Engineering disciplines since I moved to Nottingham, there are plenty of familiar and shared elements to Engineering from my research background and previous roles, and I’m happy that both Science and Engineering will now be getting dedicated support.

Since the latest changes, I’m enjoying being focused on the delivery of services again, and pleased to be an official ‘research librarian’, given my long-term interest and enthusiasm for library support for researchers. I’ve also been able to revisit my interest in bibliometrics, satisfying the statistician in me. I’m looking forward to seeing where my new role will take me.

Whatever happened to 2012?

January 3rd, 2013

Dear much-neglected blog readers

2012 was a bit of a whopper for me! I finally reached my goal of finding a permanent full-time professional post in February, and have spent the months since settling into my new role. Maybe ‘settling’ isn’t quite the word, mind. Quite a few changes in staffing across the year meant I took on additional subject support and activities I wasn’t expecting, and I’ve been kept quite thoroughly on my toes.

Each third of the academic library year has its own character: consolidation, development, and, finally, chaos. In February arrived to a flurry of meetings and orientation activities, and zoomed through what remained of the third that runs from January to April, pretty much skipping consolidation. Then I was up and running for development in the summer third, when academic libraries attempt a vast array of ambitious projects. To pick some significant examples, this year I developed eight subject resource portals from scratch, and helped overhaul the library induction trail, while learning about practice, pedagogy and publishing in umpteen new subject areas, and reworking my teaching approach to fit the new disciplines and systems of a new institution.

However, the first two thirds were (are always!) just an elaborate form of preparation for the autumn term, when chaos rules. This was a flurry of induction, teaching, meetings and, most critically, constant fire-fighting. I defy any subject librarian in a new post to remember this term as anything other than a blur, but overall I’m pretty proud of my work over the last few months, and feel like I’ve laid a good foundation for the academic year ahead. Writing this is the first time I’ve realised this, so yay!

Now here I am in 2013, back in the consolidation third, with an opportunity to actually do some consolidation this time round! There’s plenty more teaching and resource-wrangling to do this term, but I’m starting with greater knowledge of the university and its systems (and a bunch of familiar teaching materials to fall back on when needed).

There’s still a lot to do, however. I’ve got projects which need some attention: some research on learning spaces with an external partner, an internally funded project on our communication with PhD students alongside several colleagues, and my contribution to the development of our online postgraduate research training materials. My main aim for 2013 is to make sure I make the time for these developmental and evidence-based activities, now that I’m acting slightly less like a headless chicken.

I promise to write again, dear readers, when I’ve made good on at least part of that aim.

Library day in the life – Days 2&3 – 31/01 & 01/02/12

February 1st, 2012

Only at my normal part-time job for Tuesday and Wednesday this week, where I’ve been a science subject librarian for 2 years. On Thursday I start a new job, supporting social science at a different university, part-time while I work out my notice and then full-time towards the end of the month. It’s a week of big changes for me!

My pigeon hole

My pigeon hole on Tuesday morning: just a few Chemistry books to check

As part of preparing to leave, I’ve been updating the books in some of the subjects I support, and the new copies have just started arriving. Although I select and order a lot of the books, I rarely see them when they arrive, with one exception: when new editions of textbooks turn up, and I need to decide how many copies of the old editions to keep on the shelves. A constant stream of arriving Chemistry textbooks made editions checking a bit of a theme for these two days.

Tuesday had a couple of packed meetings. First up was a meeting between myself, my line manger, and the other Science and Engineering librarian. Lots to catch up on: notes from the College Academic committee meeting, handover documents for my post, online resources for a new course and potential licence issues, and book provision for the University’s only problem-based learning course. The second meeting was with staff from that problem-based learning course, really thrashing out the issues, and planning a pilot of a new book provision plan for the rest of this academic year.

End of Tuesday was spent finishing my preparations for a teaching session which took up Wednesday morning. This was my annual session with second year Geology students, giving them guidance in searching for literature to support their report on a type of ore (which they study at first hand) and the mine it came from. It’s a nice size of group to run a hands-on PC session with, and there’s lots of specific tricks they can use in the search, so it was quite a fun session to teach.

I finished early, as using up a part-day of annual leave, so just had time to catch up with email queries, chase a few ongoing issues, and meet and greet a new member of academic staff before I left. There’s a lot still to do before I go, and the clock’s ticking!