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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.

USTLG Information Literacy Meeting

May 16th, 2011

This post is a copy of the original, hosted at the University of Leicester institutional blog at It is replicated here to preserve this blog as a central record of my professional development.

Programme for the day

Programme for the day

This Monday I attended the University Science and Technology Librarians’ Group (USTLG) Spring meeting on Information Literacy. It was my first USTLG meeting (regular blog readers will have gathered that we try and send at least one science librarian to each) and was at the University of Sheffield, where I studied for my MA in Librarianship. The full information literacy presentations are available on the USTLG website.

The talks fell into three themes: two on researcher support, two on outreach, and two on online tutorials, alongside a presentation from the British Standards Institution, which sponsored the lunch. I’ll tackle the talks in terms of theme, rather than in the order they occurred.

Researcher Support

Moira Bent, from the University of Newcastle, spoke about the revised version of the 7 Pillars model of Information Literacy. This model, well known in the library world, mapped the different skills an information literate person should possess. The revised model addresses some concerns which have been raised in recent years: it is no longer linear, the focus is not just on skills, and each ‘pillar’ has a simple name (Identify, Scope, Plan, Gather, Evaluate, Manage and Present).

To further increase the model’s ease of application, a ‘research lens’ has been produced: looking at which skills and attitudes researchers would find productive under each pillar. The lens draws some of its terminology from theResearcher Development Framework, the UK’s widely-endorsed model of researcher development, in order to ensure its relevance. Moira emphasised that she was keen to use other ‘lenses’ to more increase the accessibility of the model in the long-term, perhaps for schools, undergraduates, or the workplace.

Further pursuing this theme, Sheila Webber, from the University of Sheffield, spoke about the influence of PhD supervisors on information literacy. She related Brew (2001)’s model of conceptions of research and Lee (2008)’s work on conceptions of supervision to simply demonstrate how a supervisor’s views were likely to influence the types of training they directed PhD students towards. She also made the interesting point that information literacy might not look the same in every field: a small field might be relatively easy to keep up-to-date with, while other PhDs might require a broad interdisciplinary approach and need a student to access many different tools and literatures.


The two talks on outreach looked at science / technology librarians working with academic departments: one from Evi Tramatza at the University of Surrey, and one from Elizabeth Gadd at Loughborough University. Evi’s was a real success story, about the work she’d done to embed herself into the departments she supports using a focus on shared ground, pilot lectures and the support of the wider library to make sure she delivered on her promises.

Elizabeth talked about a more specific contribution she’d made towards improving teaching for a Civil Engineering literature review assignment. Elizabeth’s talk really emphasised for me how useful evidence can be in developing teaching: she’d used simple measures of the quality of the reviews before and after the teaching was introduced to demonstrate its impact, and was building upon this with other departments. You can see more of the evidence she used in Loughborough’s Institutional Repository.

Online Tutorials

Lastly, the two talks on online tutorials. The first was David Stacey, from the University of Bath, talking about the library’s role in creating an online tutorial on academic writing skills. This was a great illustration of how different specialists across the university (including the library and a Fellow from the Royal Literary Fund) had worked together to obtain funding to create this helpful resource. Unfortunately the tutorial is not currently accessible to those outside Bath (there’s some screenshots in his presentation slides) but they may produce an Open Educational Resource (OER) in the future.

The second, I already knew a little about, as Leicester is an observer on the project. This was the East Midlands Research Support Group (EMRSG), represented at USTLG by Elizabeth Martin from De Montfort University and Jenny Coombs from the University of Nottingham, who have been working together to produce a resource for researcher training. Again, this project was a triumph for collaboration, with four different universities – Loughborough and Coventry being the other key players – working together to get funding. I was really pleased to see how far the project has come since the last meeting I attended: they have developed a fantastic resource, with videos of senior researchers explaining core concepts and plenty of interactivity. Again, screenshots are available in the presentation slides right now, but the group intend to make an OER available in Jorum and Xpert in the future.

Overall, this was a great event, with good breadth, and plenty of practical ideas to bring back (particularly the focus on evidence and collaboration). I’ll look forward to my next USTLG meeting.

A Stealth Librarianship Manifesto: Some thoughts

February 14th, 2011

Blue skies over the library

Blue skies over the library. Maybe I should have had a shot of one of the departments here instead!

John Dupuis, author of the Confessions of a Science Librarian blog, recently wrote a fascinating post entitled A Stealth Librarian’s Manifesto (please do go and read it) talking about the need for academic librarians to insinuate their way into the communities they serve. There’s also comments on the blog about how this manifesto applies to other sectors. I was halfway through commenting on his post, when I realised that I had one of my own brewing.

The stealth librarian’s manifesto had me nodding most of the way through. We should become part of our users’ landscape. We should be integrated into research and teaching and we should be collaborative. With all these I agree. However, I baulked slightly at the separation from the information profession the manifesto encouraged in parts: “We must stop going to librarian conferences” and “We must stop joining librarian associations”? Yikes!

On reflection I think this reaction is partly about my background. As an ex-academic (at the PhD student level) and relatively new librarian (I graduated from my librarianship course just over a year ago) I’m very conscious of what I’ve learnt from the knowledge and expertise of other librarians. I’m wary of the danger of ‘going native’ – a concept from anthropological ethnographic research, where those studying a culture can come to identify with it so strongly that they become estranged from their own culture. I still think that there’s a lot I have to learn from other information professionals, and I don’t want to lose sight of the new ways of seeing the world I’ve learnt as a librarian.

However, this reservation isn’t meant to be a cutting critique of the manifesto. I can see how those who are more established librarians already feel confident within the profession, and see progress as pushing the other way and focusing more on the community they don’t yet know. There’s a perfect balance where librarians are embedded in both communities, participating in the lives of the groups that they support, yet secure of their own identity as professionals, secure of their own expertise.

I think maybe I’m getting to the stage where I’m secure enough as a librarian to start pushing the stealth angle a little harder. I’ve taken some steps towards becoming involved in the communities I serve, particularly in terms of conferences and social networks, which is where I’m comfortable. One of my next big aims in the role is to increase how embedded I am in the on-campus scientific community, where my liaison so far has been a little too reactive (as opposed to proactive) for either the manifesto or for my own preference. There’s other constraints here – I have found it more challenging to become a part of both library and departmental communities in my current part-time role – but that’s all the more reason to invest my effort in this area, and develop some stealth librarian skills.