Imaginings Around Emerging Infoskills for Digital Librarians

Earlier this week, I had the privilege of leading a couple of sessions in the OU Library for Library staff on exploring the emerging digital skills terrain, and the extent to which it could, or should, fall to a new wave of Digital Librarians to support related service delivery and skills development.

The first session focused on supporting digital and networked researchers, the second on the sort of practical infoskills that I rely on a day to day basis that I get the feeling aren’t really being provided or developed as much as they should be…

Both sessions were structured in a similar way – I rambled on for too long with some background/scene setting talk, and then provided a set of “challenges” or discussion topics for the four groups of five or so to argue over for 30-40 minutes or so. A final plenary provided an opportunity for each table to report back on the outcome of their discussion.

The morning session opened with a too long presentation on the Social’n’Digital Researcher:

before opening up the following series of Social Researcher Challenges:

The afternoon session opened with a quick review of some of the things that I learned how to do over the last couple of months – The Digital Librarian:

before setting the following Digital Infoskills Challenges:

(OU LIbrary folk – I will post some solutions to the Library wiki at some point, I promise ;-)

It was the first time I’ve run this sort of event, and learned a lot from doing so, so if I ever get the chance again, here are some of the things I’d do differently:

1) talk less at the start;
2) do an icebreaker activity right at the start to set the scene for the scene setting presentation, with a view to: a) trying to find out some common assumptions about what folk are doing there and what they expect to get out of the session; b) start to (re)shape their expectations about what the event is about;
3) provide a short slide to be displayed throughout the activity to remind folk of what the challenges are designed to achieve;
4) be clearer about what the point of doing the challenges is/what they are designed to achieve from the very start…!;-)
5) have takeaway/follow up training material prepared in advance for anyone motivated enough to pick up and run with it immediately…

I’ll try to do another post summarising a bit more of the what the outcomes of the session were at a later time – but for now, I just wanted to get the posts archived here, along with notes-to-self about how to do it differently next time… if there is a next time…!

PS Richard Nurse has done a write-up of the sessions here: ‘Digital Librarians’

PPS I think this whole area is something that needs exploring, so if any other libraries would like to brave this sort of session, feel free to get in touch…

PPPS a couple of people expressed interest in Yahoo Pipes – there’s a Get Started tutorial here: Pipes Book – Imaginings

Author: Tony Hirst

I'm a lecturer at The Open University, with an interest in #opendata policy and practice, as well as general web tinkering...

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