Last week I did my first teaching session as a professional librarian. It… was ok, I suppose? I shared the teaching with my colleague as she’s more familiar with the sessions than I am, so it was an opportunity for me to ease into teaching before going it alone at the end of the month.
The session was about bibliometrics, which is one of my main responsibilities, and involved a mixture of talking to the students, demonstrating websites to them, and getting them to have a go themselves. I did a lot of the talking bits, while my colleague did the demonstrations. I’m feeling a bit ambivalent about my “performance”; there were a couple of moments where my mouth ran away with itself, leaving my brain to catch up, making some of my explanations of statistics a little bit more jumbled than I would have liked. I think I could have been a lot clearer about what exactly some of the things I was talking about actually were, to make it all sound a bit less confusing. My worst bit was when I forgot I was talking about the Journal Impact Factor, which is a specific number calculated in a specific way, and started to talk about characteristics of journals which can be measured and demonstrated (but not necessarily by using the JIF).
The feedback forms from the session were positive, though, which I suppose is the main thing. I think my problem was that this is the first time I’ve ever given a presentation that I didn’t write (or co-write) myself, and therefore I didn’t know the material as thoroughly as I usually do. I don’t think it was actually a bad session, it just wasn’t as easy or polished as I’m used to. It’s just reinforced to me that I really need to learn the material and make sure I’m 100% familiar with it in time for my sessions in a couple of weeks’ time. Wish me luck!
As I mentioned in my last post, I have a new job! I’m now a Research Support Advisor, which so far involves teaching PhD students about stuff like literature searching and research impact, as well as answering enquiries about bibliometrics or referencing. So far I haven’t had a huge amount of stuff to actually do, but now that things are settling down and I’ve learned more about stuff I should be able to start getting on with things.
The team is practically brand-new; they were only formed in July and only actually started working in the same office as each other about a month ago. My fellow Advisors were mostly faculty support librarians (aka subject or liaison librarians) before they came to this team, which was set up as part of a wider restructuring process. As a result of all this change, nobody has quite worked out how the team operates, or whether everyone’s carrying equal weight in terms of their areas of responsibility, so it’s possible that my role might change slightly as the year goes on. Certainly at the moment I feel like I have a lot less work to do than the other Advisors, one of whom oversees the institutional repository and the e-thesis repository, and another of whom carries out expert literature searches for medical research teams.
We are each responsible for providing teaching sessions to PhD students in our faculties; my faculties are Biological Sciences and Environment, and I’m scheduled in to provide several sessions for those students between now and Spring 2015. I’ve already sat in on a few of my colleagues’ sessions and I’m starting to get ideas about what I might do during mine – we are delivering the same content but there’s scope for adapting it to your audience if necessary (e.g. science students and arts students search for different types of literature in different places online).
I’m also going to be helping my colleague with the expert searching service she provides, and at the moment I’m practising running a search through several different databases, to familiarise myself with the techniques. Although I’ve got experience of working with medical databases and using advanced searching techniques, the work I’ll be doing is extremely technical and methodical and it’s important that I learn to do the process exactly right. My colleague gave me a three-week deadline which I had initially thought was very generous – but almost a week has passed and I’ve only got through a tiny bit of what I need to. For an example of the type of detailed search strategies I will be using, see the appendices to this Cochrane Collaboration systematic review.
Although I haven’t done much yet, I’m sure I’ll have loads to do as I settle in and become more established in the team. There are ideas floating about to revamp our e-learning offering, which will generate quite a lot of work for me, and when the team becomes more well-known outside the library I will start to get more enquiries from staff and students. For now, I’m just getting used to my new environment and trying not to get too lost!