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.

Communicating with postgraduate research students: some themes from the library literature

January 18th, 2013

I’m currently engaged in a project looking at our communication with postgraduate research students, along with other colleagues in Library and Learning Services at De Montfort University. In order to get an understanding of the literature on this topic, we each took an element to investigate. I was looking at the literature on communication in libraries and thought it might be useful to share an overview and some references.

The literature indicates that communication between librarians and researchers isn’t seen as perfect by either side (Brown and Swan, 2007), and there is some evidence (and some speculation) that face-to-face contact is the most effective method of communication and promotion the Library has (Sadler and Given, 2007; Carter and Seaman, 2011). The most common methods used for communication between liaison librarians and researchers are email, face-to-face, telephone, and web-based subject guides (Arendt and Lotts, 2012; Henry, 2012).

Although web 2.0 is seen as a huge international trend in library communications (Tripathi and Kumar, 2010), most library uses of web 2.0 technologies for communication seem to lack the two-way interaction that defines web 2.0 (Adams, 2011; Aharony, 2012; Gerolimos, 2011). However, using web 2.0 technologies could nonetheless reinforce a library’s innovative brand (Brewerton and Tuersley, 2010) and offer a convenient format for sharing advice and news (Adams, 2011).

If I was to pick one article to read on this topic, I’d strongly recommend Sadler and Given’s (2007) article (although I don’t quite agree with their definition of ‘affordance’). This highlights some of the discrepancies between librarians’ preferred communication channels and the channels to which postgraduate research students pay attention. They found that the library website and teaching sessions were used heavily by librarians to communicate, but the students had ‘tunnel vision’ when it came to reading the library website, and didn’t see library teaching as important or relevant.

Or, if you’re a librarian looking for a good excuse for a knees-up, then Strittmatter’s (2008) article on the use of cocktail parties as liaison tools might be more tempting…


  • ADAMS, R. (2011) Building a User Blog with Evidence: The Health Information Skills Academic Library Blog. Evidence Based Library & Information Practice, 6 (3), 84-89.
  • AHARONY, N. (2012) Facebook use in libraries: an exploratory analysis. Aslib Proceedings, 64 (4), 358-372.
  • ARENDT, J. and LOTTS, M. (2012) What Liaisons Say about Themselves and What Faculty Say about Their Liaisons, a U.S. Survey. Portal: Libraries & the Academy, 12 (2), 155-177.
  • BREWERTON, A. and TUERSLEY, S. (2010) More than just a logo – branding at Warwick. Library & Information Update, 9 (9), 46-48.
  • BROWN, S. and SWAN, (2007) Researchers’ use of academic libraries and their services: a report commissioned by the Research Information Network and the Consortium of Research Libraries [WWW]. Available from: [Accessed 18 January 2013].
  • CARTER, T.M. and SEAMAN, P. (2011) The Management and Support of Outreach in Academic Libraries. Reference & User Services Quarterly, 51 (2), 163-171.
  • GEROLIMOS, M. (2011) Academic Libraries on Facebook: An Analysis of Users’ Comments. D-Lib Magazine, 17 (11), 4.
  • HENRY, J. (2012) Academic library liaison programs: four case studies. Library Review, 61 (7), 485-496.
  • SADLER, E. and GIVEN, L.M. (2007) Affordance theory: A framework for graduate students’ information behavior. Journal of Documentation, 63 (1), 115-141.
  • STRITTMATTER, C. (ed.) (2008) If You Pour It, They Will Come: Hosting a Cocktail Reception to Promote Services to Faculty. Public Services Quarterly, 4 (3), 269-276.
  • TRIPATHI, M. and KUMAR, S. (2010) Use of Web 2.0 tools in academic libraries: a reconnaissance of the international landscape. The International Information & Library Review, 42 (3), 195-207.

CPD23 Thing 23: Reflection – what next?

January 26th, 2012

Lake reflection

Reflection in the lake

This blog is part of 23 Things for Professional Development, a course encouraging information professionals to explore online tools.

My last task in CPD23 is to reflect on what’s next. For me, CPD23 has been split quite clearly into its two areas of focus: online tools and general professional development. I’ll admit that I mainly got involved out of interest in the tools. It’s been good to have a push to look at some tools I hadn’t had the chance to look at, and also to review and consider the tools I’m already using.

Mendeley is the tool I’ve really picked up and ran with out of the ones I tried in the programme. However, I’ll also admit that I’ve been back to and started using Evernote since I purchased an Apple-branded tablet device in the autumn: the synchronisation has suddenly become a lot more valuable to me.

I’ve also enjoyed thinking about the wider CPD themes covered, and it’s those I mostly focused upon in the personal development plan I completed for this task. I was actually surprised how many concrete ideas I already had for what I wanted to achieve this year: writing them down has pointed out just how many goals I’ve been secretly setting myself! Having this record will definitely help me review what I’ve achieved. I think it’s quite nice to have a PDP outside my formal institutional development plan, as some of my personal goals don’t really tend to fit within that structure. Maybe it’s something I’ll do next year as well.

Many thanks to the organisers of CPD23 for arranging all these fun times.

CPD23 Thing 19: Integrating the ‘Things’

September 22nd, 2011

Lake views in Wales

This week is relatively calm.

This blog is part of 23 Things for Professional Development, a course encouraging information professionals to explore online tools.

So, Thing 19 is my chance to think about the tools I’ve looked at so far, and we’ve been given an extra week to tackle it, so I’m in no hurry! I’ve found the tools covered fell into three categories:

  1. Unknowns. Tools I’ve heard of, but never looked at.
  2. Could-do-better. Tools which I’ve signed up for, or am even using, but where I could be better exploiting the features.
  3. Knowns. Tools I’m using, and I love.

The could-do-better tools have been interesting, as these ‘Things’ have made me think about how I use and integrate web tools into my everyday life. I’ve made a few resolutions associated with these. Now seems like a good time to summarise them:

  • Make my website less stern-looking (I’ve made a bit of progress on this one, but still want to move my blog to the home page)
  • Keep an eye out for opportunities to use file sharing in my work (ongoing)
  • Try different tools to vary the delivery of my teaching (ongoing)

The unknown tools were my favourites to look at. Some of these I have loathed immediately (i.e.Pushnote!), others were more succesful. Mendeley is far away the most successful tool I’ve tried: I was always sceptical about trying it, as I’m not really bothered about its pdf annotation features, but so far it’s really working for me as a reference management tool, for my out-of-work research. In work, well, it’s a crying shame that I can’t use the desktop client, and this stops me from recommending it to students too.

Of course, there’s been a bunch of other themes and resolutions of a tool-free nature. I’m thinking I’ll come back to those as part of the final ‘Thing’.