Part of the role of Graduate Trainee Librarian involves undertaking a project of long term benefit to the library. Below are descriptions of the contribitutions from the 2011/12 Graduate Trainees, Roisin and Lucy.
Employability Skills: Helping Students to Decide, Pland and Compete for their Future
It took me quite a while longer than Lucy to decide on a project focus, but finally it’s underway! I’m working with academic skills advisors and learning technologists to create a webpage of resources. These will be dedicated to helping students evaluate and develop their ’employability skills’.
A suggestion came from Skills@Library that I investigate the links between digital literacy and employability e.g. what do employers want from a digitally literate graduate? What resources could we create to support students’ digital literacy development? etc. However, when I met with the team at Skills@Library the focus quickly expanded beyond digital literacy to employability skills more generally. Don’t ask me how that happened – I’m still not sure! I do however know why it happened.
Employability is the buzz word of higher education at the moment. The new fees regime and changes in undergraduate admissions criteria arising from the Higher Education White Paper, have forced Universities to market to students not only the value of choosing their institution, but the merit of a research-led degree in general. In essence, universities want to make explicit to students how £9,000 a year is an investment in their career; how it will not only be enjoyable but will make them employable.
As part of this, the Leeds University has developed an Employability Strategy including a three-part approach, helping students to ‘Decide, Plan, and Compete’ for a successful career. The message to staff is that every faculty and service across campus must demonstrate how their work contributes to a student’s employability. The Library’s contribution is the focus of my project and the output will be a webpage of resources entitled ‘Employability Skills’.
Skills@Library have a number of (now award-winning!) topic pages for students, lecturers and researchers covering academic skills like reading, group-work, critical thinking etc. The employability skills page will sit alongside those and will feature new content as well as signpost students to existing resources within and outside of the University, to help them:
a) identify their employability skills
b) reflect on how they have developed them in their studies
c) articulate how their academic skills increases their employability
Leeds places a strong emphasis on Leeds for Life and the accompanying personal tutoring system and I envisage these resources feeding into that model. Personal tutors may direct students to the appropriate content at relevant points in their course, to ensure employability skills are something that students are developing and reflecting upon while studying.
My role involves researching what content already exists in this area, whether it is suitable for us to signpost to, and work with the Jade Kelsall and Carol Elston, learning technologists at Skills@Library, to design new content if necessary. I’m working closely with Julia Braham, a senior academic skills advisor, to develop a plan of proposed content. Rather than duplicate effort and resources, our aim is to work collaboratively with other services across the university that have a stake in this area, and we have met with a Careers Centre representative, and liaise closely with the Employability Coordinator of the Leeds University Union.
It’s well under-way now, so keep an eye on the blog for updates!
Liddle Museum Objects: Digitising, Disseminating, Commemorating
I have to confess in my first few months in post I was so overwhelmed by the scale of the collections and the multitude of opportunities, it was really rather difficult to get a handle on what I could work on that would interest me and benefit the library at the same time. While being given a tour of our various store facilities I came across an enclave of First World War artefacts, squirreled away to one side of the rolling shelving . Finding decommissioned grenades where one is expecting to find PhD theses is enough to pique anyone’s interest and after investigating a little further it emerged that these artefacts were part of the Liddle Collection (named for Peter Liddle who began the collection, the Liddle Collectioncontains our holdings of manuscripts and printed books relating to the First World War). Effectively uncatalogued and lacking a handlist, the objects had been put into store as Special Collections simply does not have space appropriate to house them on site.
My project intends to make these artefacts available to researchers while reducing the amount of handling they are subjected to, disseminating and conserving the collection simultaneously. I have three main objectives:
- To produce a database of digital images of the items in the Liddle Museum Objects Collection accessible through the Special Collections web pages.
- To catalogue the Museum Objects Collection.
- To produce a hand list to accompany the collection to replace the current card index system.
This project intersects with multiple concerns which are current in the library. It takes advantage of our new digitisation resources and acknowledges the need to be able to disseminate our collections virtually as well as physically. The Museum Objects Section contains many visually exciting and evocative objects and as such seems an ideal candidate for road testing our new capacity for digitisation. It also ties in with the upcoming centenary of the First World War and would, when completed, provide a large demographic with tangible links to this monumental event. It also goes some way towards solving the problem of providing access to the objects in the collection despite not having a dedicated museum space; as the Liddle Collection is a designated collection, it feels important that every aspect of it is made as available as a resource for research as possible, as was intended by the donors of the material.
So, watch this space for regular updates on my project as I get to grips with cataloguing, try my hand at photography and wrestle with software cleverer than I am. I will also be uploading some of the images I generate as I go so watch out for sneak peeks of the finished product.