Librarian, heal thyself

Lovely architecture student demonstrates sketching in Dublin

I got paid to go abroad and watch students sketch. Lovely.

In March, I was fortunate to accompany the first year architecture students on their week-long architectural study visit to Dublin.  I spent the majority of my time watching the students sketch buildings.  I quickly realised that the act of sketching, the doing, was how these students were learning. And I began to wonder whether this explained why they rarely retained the information seeking skills I tried to instill in them.

Now, librarian chums, do not fear! I’ve always insisted students do the old information seeking and evaluation bit. I even tie it to an assessed critical bibliography, which precedes their first essay submission. But, I was thinking, was this enough doing? And the right sort of doing?

I resolved to review my first year workshops for the 2011/2012 academic year.

My doodles

My doodles. Mostly of food.

So, with the 2011/2012 academic year almost upon us, when I’ve a spare moment, I’ve stared at the wall and awaited inspiration. I’ve doodled. I’ve re-read my last year’s workshop material. I’ve played with a new architecture database and its fun visual representation of results.

Yes, wall-gazing is how I, a librarian, usually approach finding new ideas for my teaching. I, a librarian, who expends obscene amounts of energy telling other people to research their topics using bibliographic databases. I, a librarian, who looks ruefully at people when they tell me there’s no quality information for their essay, or pictures for their design project. I, a librarian, when I need to find information, don’t do research and I don’t do databases…

Oh, and I usually return my books late and get library fines…

Anyway, a fortnight ago, two things happened that reminded me there could be some professional literature out there that could help me with the whole right sort of doing thing…

First of all, I attended a Social Media for Researchers workshop with Dr Alice Bell, wherein we were encouraged to set up a blog, register for and blog about a peer-reviewed article.

Secondly, a colleague from the wonderful Architecture Librarians’ Group recommended an article on the information seeking behaviours of architects. From a peer-reviewed journal, no less. What fortune!

So, armed with one peer-reviewed article that I’m currently trying to digest and potentially blog about, I’ve also tracked down other relevant articles using LISTA, the Library, Information Science and Technology Abstracts database.  And I’ve found information from Dr Andrew Roberts and Professor Andrew Baldwin on the Centre for Education in the Built Environment‘s website, about problem-based learning in architecture and civil engineering students’ information searching behaviour.

Do I have my new workshop materials? Not yet. But do I feel a little reassured that my approach to teaching preparation won’t be as erratic as usual? Yes.

So, is this librarian healed?

Um, probably not…


One thought on “Librarian, heal thyself

  1. Good on you Sarah, for putting in to words what a lot of us often feel. And amusing too, would expect no less from your good self.
    At work here in UL we have a Journal’s Club where we are encouraged to share good articles with colleagues in the library and meet to discuss it. We aim to do it once a quarter. . . . finding time is the most difficult thing.
    Your scribbles are most impressive BTW.
    – Michelle

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