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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.

Ticking along nicely

April 23rd, 2013

It’s all been quiet for a couple of weeks, but suddenly everything seems to be making good progress again.

Yesterday I received the applicants for the De Montfort Frontrunner placement who’s coming to help me gather data on use of DMU learning spaces on campus, starting next academic year. We’re going to shortlist for the post on Monday, but having had a brief flick through the applications I’m pretty happy with the state of the field so far. I was super excited when the applications landed in my inbox, much to the amusement of my team!

I’m also making some headway with organising a second focus group for our investigation into communication with PhD students. As we want to reach out to students from faculties that our first focus group didn’t cover, it’s allowing us to be a bit more targeted in recruitment, so hopefully that will pay off in the response rates and we’ll get a nice solid number.

Things should move pretty quickly on both projects from here. I’ll post back with updates as more happens.

Project Update

February 21st, 2013

About a month and a half into the new calendar year, and I’m definitely making better progress on my project work than during the autumn term.

The first big thing is that I’ve put together a proposal for a student Frontrunner to gather data on use of learning spaces around our campus. Frontrunners is a DMU employability initiative which recruits students to work on projects around the university (see the Frontrunners site). Fingers crossed that I’ll get the role approved: feedback on the application has been good so far. Either way, putting together the proposal has given me a much better overview of how the project will work, and putting together the role description and outline of skills which the student would learn was an interesting exercise, digging up some of my recruitment and selection skills from my old Occupational Psychology degree.

Our Library and Learning Services project on communication with PhD students is also moving along nicely: the focus groups are due to run over the next two weeks. I’m going to act as the notetaker for the first group, so I’ll get to see a colleague in the facilitator role. I’ve only ever acted as the facilitator before, so will be interesting to have a more detached perspective on the group. I’m sure I’ll be scribbling lots of notes! Next month we’re planning to go on some visits to other universities and see what we can learn from colleagues in the sector too.

This term has definitely seen me flip round from focusing on teaching, delivering a lot of sessions for the first time, to focusing on project work. However, the teaching hasn’t reduced much – I’ve just got a better portfolio of knowledge and resources to draw upon, and I’m delivering more familiar materials. It’s good to feel that everything’s starting to get a little bit easier, though!

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.