Welcome to my ramblings as a first year graduate (at 43) librarian. I wanted to use this blog to record my achievements, efforts and successes (and yes, I guess my failures too!) so that I would have some way of being able to measure how far I had (hopefully) come in my first year of full time work in nearly 18 years. You are cordially invited along for the ride.
At MPOW (My Place of Work – a very useful acronym I first saw on KG Schneiders ‘Free Range Librarian’ blog) I am charged with the somewhat vague task of increasing student patronage of the library and assisting with improving their academic English and information literacy skills. I also maintain the collection and manage circulations (after all, isn’t that what librarians do all day anyway?). Oh, and I am the Records Manager at the organisation as well – just for good measure.
This is not too onerous a task for a librarian – after all, isn’t this what I spent the last 9 years of my life studying for? (the length of time it has taken me to get my degree is a discussion for another time).
Let me add that MPOW is a small higher education institute with a student population of about 200, all of whom are international students, mostly from mainland China. Like most librarians, I have little or no training or experience in teaching or educating – let alone to ESL students. Do you start to get some idea of the challenges?
So, my days thus far have been filled with reading, reading and more reading. I understand the basics of information literacy training, I’ve been training my own kids for years for one thing. Bringing some of that experience, bits and pieces from other parts of my extensive background in administration and project management and dredging up memories of my library science subjects (finished long ago, it was the dreaded non-library major that took up most of the past 3 years) I managed to cobble together a passable effort and present a few topics to the students in my second full week on the job.
Well, so I thought anyway. I realised after the 3rd session, when we had a practical application lesson in the computer lab that they hadn’t understood anything I’d said and as I had failed to tie the sessions to any measurable outcomes, I couldn’t work out where I had gone wrong with them – at what point had I lost them? Welcome to the world of teaching I guess….
We have another intake of students starting in mid year – this first lot will have to be satisfied with the knowledge that my first experiments in teaching have yielded much that will benefit those to come after them! In the meantime, I have gone back to basics in an attempt to write a course from the ground up that will meet measurable outcomes and take account of the particular ESL aspects of teaching this stuff.
I have started with the obvious – the Australian and New Zealand Information Literacy Framework standards and a wonderful article from some library staff at the Waterford Institute of Technology, Ireland on the challenges of their pilot information literacy course with international students (Hurley, Hegarty & Bolger 2006). Over the next few weeks I am immersing myself in the world of outcomes and lesson plans as I attempt to get this right. I’ll be posting on this fairly reguarly – even if only to convince myself of my progress!
Hurley, T., Hegarty, N. & Bolger, J. 2006, Crossing a bridge: The challenges of developing and delivering a pilot information literacy course for international students. New Library World, vol.107, no.1226/1227 pp.302-320