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Reading Symposium on the value of reading, 6th February 2020

Posted By Matthew S. White, 09 February 2020
I was recently invited to attend an event called ‘a reading symposium on the value of reading’ held at Kingston University on the 6th February. The event was organised by Karen Lipsedge, Associate Professor in English Literature and Pamela Osborne, Postdoctoral researcher from Kingston University. Karen provided a brief introduction and outlined the structure of the event. Alison Baverstock, Professor of Publishing and Director of the Kingston University Big Read gave the key note address on why reading matters. Alison’s background in the publishing industry and current career as an academic has enabled her to set up projects which have had far reaching impact on people’s lives. Alison talked briefly about two of these projects, Kingston Universities the Big Read and www.readingforce.org.uk, a shared reading initiative used to bring the families of armed forces personnel closer together. Although the idea behind the KU Big Read originated in the US, Kingston University has built and developed the idea into a successful outreach program of their own. The Big Read aims to make those coming to the university feel welcome before they arrive, and create links between them and the staff and students already there. On meeting their offer, each new student (undergraduate and postgraduate) receives a free copy of that year's special edition Kingston University Big Read title. The scheme has shown that creating a community through shared reading before students arrive, helps them feel welcome, settle in quickly and adjust to their new life as a student. The event continued with a short introduction by panel members about their work with shared reading and following this, an open discussion with the audience about the value of shared reading. Panel members included Dr Maurice Lipsedge, a retired consultant psychiatrist who spoke about his work leading a storytelling group at Southwark Day Care Centre for Asylum Seekers, London. Maurice spoke eloquently about the life of a refugee living in a state of limbo, and how shared reading tries to provide a sense of belonging and identity to a person living in a chaotic situation. Fiona Barnes from the Royal Borough of Kingston library services spoke about the reading schemes operating in the public library services. I spoke briefly about my role as reading facilitator volunteering with the Reader Organisation in Chelsea Library. Wendy Morris, spoke about her experience running Joel the Homeless reading group, in Kingston. Finally Karen Lipsedge spoke about her own Kingston University Reading Group which she uses to enhance all forms of equality and which helped Kingston University win the racial equality charter mark. Finally, the event finished with readings by Meg Jenson, Professor in English Language and Creative Writing at Kingston and India Hosten-Hughes. India is a writer and poet who explored what it means to be Black British Caribbean and dual heritage in her debut poetry collection, A Cup of Tea and a Tickle of Rum.

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A report from Bursary receiver, Amy Rippon (2019)

Posted By Nora Camann, 21 January 2020

"Thanks to a bursary from CILIP South East, I was able to attend and present at the Relationship Management in Libraries Conference at the University of Newcastle, 5-6 November 2019. I currently work as Academic Engagement Team Leader (job-share)/ Academic Engagement Librarian at the University of Roehampton. My roles have a strong focus on relationship management, working closely with academics to support the teaching, learning, and research activities of the university.

The RM Conference was brilliant and has given me many ideas to explore in my current roles. I found the talk ‘Articulating partnership and skills progression for maximum impact’ from Anne Archer and Louise Cowan (University of Newcastle) particularly interesting. They had explored ways to show academic departments the support offered by the Library whilst at the same time sought to help students better understand and articulate the skills that they were developing by attending Library training.

The Digital and Information Literacies Development documents have helped to engage departments, show them how to scaffold information literacy skills and embed these within curriculums. They also used the documents as a way for students to self-assess their own skills, and took care to link to employability skills to emphasise that the skills went beyond using the library. The opening workshop from Phil Jones (Coventry University) on ‘Nudge Theory’ was engaging and highlighted easy ways to transfer this theory into everyday work. ‘Nudge’ is a way of framing choices to influence the actions or behaviour of your users, for example seeing a message saying ‘only 3 rooms left at this price’ makes people feel that they’ll miss out if they don’t book immediately. ‘Nudges’ should be Easy, Attractive, Social and Timely (EAST).

 

Phil recommended the following book to explore these ideas further: Kahneman, D. (2013) Thinking, Fast and Slow, Mew York: Farrer, Straus and Giroux.

The workshop looked at simple ways to translate this approach to libraries, for example:
--Use normalising language: ‘have you seen your Librarian yet?’
--Make use of social proof: ‘these students are using this resource and finding it really helpful
with their assignments, you might too!’
--Utilise authority figures: get academics to deliver or repeat key messages to students
--Make sure your messages are where your users are – they won’t all already be in the Library

The talk ‘A spot of inspo: how we partnered with students to shape our services’ from David Brown and Martin Philip (University of York) was an inspiring look at how to really involve the student voice in shaping Library services. LibInspo was an innovation competition for students to suggest ideas for how to improve Library facilities, resources and spaces, and the winner would receive £1000 (yes, actually £1000!) and a promise from the Library to investigate making their idea happen. The Library received over 95 ideas, and drew up a shortlist of finalists in conjunction with the Student’s Union. The finalists were given mentors from professional services across the institution to help them prepare to pitch their idea to a panel of judges, including senior university staff. The winning idea was an app to show how busy different areas of the Library were at any time. But they also took on other suggested ideas and implemented those too. The Library benefitted as they got a better idea of what students wanted from their services, and the shortlisted students gained valuable employability skills. Whilst this might not be easily replicable (£1000!!) it showed how powerful the student voice can be in designing and introducing services.

The conference was a great opportunity to learn how other HE Libraries are developing relationships with their users and creating engaging services."

~Amy Rippon, Academic Engagement Librarian at the University of Roehampton.

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