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.

UKeiG prize highlights inconsistencies in conference places for students

April 25th, 2009

I was initially pleased to see that UKeiG were offering a student place at their annual conference, and then disappointed to see that I wasn’t eligible as the place is only available to those who are “not in receipt of another award, bursary or scholarship”. As my MA is AHRC funded this puts me out of the picture. My funding (unlike AHRC research degree awards) has no provision for career development within it, so I don’t think it is arguable that it should include conference attendance. I therefore assume that the UKeiG just feels that all opportunities should be spread evenly between Information Studies students. I don’t think this is an untenable position; however, I do think it highlights inconsistencies in the way student places on conferences are distributed.

Aside from my funding I’ve attended both the Research Libraries UK and LILAC conferences on student places this year, and I’ve applied for and failed to get other opportunities. I certainly intend to be proactive and enthusiastic, although the wording of the UKeiG email did, I’ll admit, make me wonder whether applying for all these opportunities looks greedy. I’d understand if UKeiG’s criteria were shared across the sector. However, there are noticeable differences between the conferences to which I’ve applied: LILAC, for example, allows any student registered for any library qualification to apply. I know that these are separate organisations, and standards don’t really apply, but I wondered what people thought was the ‘fair’ way to do things. Should students be restricted to only one set of funding over a year? Should opportunities be determined by merit alone? Please do comment and let me know what you think.

LILAC Conference

April 6th, 2009

Toy dragon reading the LILAC 2009 Conference PackAt the start of last week I went to LILAC, the Librarian’s Information Literacy Conference, for which I was lucky enough to win a student award. The growth of information literacy in academic libraries particularly drew me in, plus two of the key themes of the conference were emerging technologies and supporting research, which reflect my interests quite well. Overall, LILAC was a great mix of research and practitioner accounts, particularly in the HE sector, so was ideal for me to get a good understanding of best practice.

One of the most interesting themes of the conference for me was the idea of doing information literacy without saying information literacy. I think that generally people outside the information professions don’t really know what the ‘information’ in ‘information professions’ means. Whether we within the information professions agree with what it means is another blogpost entirely! More than one speaker (such as Jonathan Westaway and Moira Bent) mentioned needing students to acquire habits rather than skills, expressing that it’s not really the ability to spot the seven pillars that counts, but making effective use of information so automatic that it might not even be articulated. Keynote Melissa Highton suggested that maybe digital literacy might be a more inspirational phrase for non-librarians, and in the final session of the conference Claire Packham from the British Library mentioned that the major factor in increasing attendance at the Information Literacy sessions in their new reader education programmes was stopping calling it information literacy.

On the other hand, if we’re not saying information literacy we hide the message that certain key skills transfer across contexts. Perhaps the solution is to make the information professions synonymous with information literacy practices in the minds of the public so they automatically see new contexts of information use as under our remit. I think librarianship suffers from the idea that librarians are experts on the resources under the library’s roof (physical or digital). An awareness that we are experts on doing information literacy even if we aren’t saying information literacy requires us to focus on our practices rather than our products. Therefore the importance of the information professions acting as advocates and implementers of information literacy practices is what I’ll be taking away from LILAC.

Photograph of the Cardiff University dragon reading the LILAC 2009 Conference Pack taken by Katie Fraser. profiles Learning and Teaching Librarian

February 21st, 2009

Just a quick post because I haven’t seen this anywhere else, to say is featuring a profile of Katherine Reedy, Learning and Teaching Librarian from the Open University. I think this a really good example of a job where librarianship has changed a lot, with the Open University catering so heavily for distance learners. It sounds like just the kind of job I’d love to do, and I’m pleased she mentioned LILAC – it’s given me another positive view on attending.

I was actually quite startled to find out that a lot of the alumni who came to our recent careers’ evening had started applying for jobs around this time of year, so I’m checking job sites a bit more thoughtfully at this stage. However, it’s important to be realistic about how far I can travel from Nottingham, and while a couple of jobs I’d love are kicking around, there’s been nothing in the right region so far.