USTLG Spring 2001 Meeting

Developments in Teaching & Learning - the library role

Wednesday 28th February 2001, Lanchester Library, Coventry University

Reports by Linda Graves, Sue House and Louise Graham, University of Glamorgan


The Hybrid Library Project at Leeds Univ – providing module specific library resources in a VLE

Claire Ryan, University of Leeds

Claire began by stating that the creation of Faculty Teams (teams of Subject Librarians who liaise directly with both students and academics) marries with the liaison based approach to Teaching and Learning Support fostered by Leeds University. She explained that a Liaison Group has been set up, which is a group of Faculty Team Librarians who meet monthly to discuss liaison activities. This "liaison culture" is developing at the same time as Leeds University is embracing the concept of the Managed or Virtual Learning Environment in creating the Nathan Bodington Building and the Virtual Science Park. (The Nathan Bodington building is a "virtual" building where each academic department has a "floor" on which "suites" of "rooms" are used to provide course materials, assessments etc to students. The Virtual Science Park (VSP) is similar to Nathan Bodington but is a University commercial venture where companies can purchase a "tenancy" in the Park). Both the Nathan Bodington Building and the VSP are being used increasingly by academics to support their students work as Webpages are used to deliver teaching/learning materials.

The Hybrid Library Project aims to build upon these newly formulated communication channels and links and makes use of the Managed/Virtual Learning Environment. It is envisaged that this will be achieved by creating integrated access to the appropriate traditional and electronic library services for some trial modules, across a broad range of subjects and levels.

It is intended that the Project will encourage close liaison with academic staff to provide library support for specific modules and to provide students with access to information other than course material, ie access to the "universe of information". Within this "universe" there will be, for example, links to the library catalogue, internet search engines and library staff contact details. Students will be supported within their own learning environment eg resources will be sited on a departmental website, a room in Nathan Bodington Building or a tenancy in Leeds VSP. In this way the library goes to the student rather than the student needing to go to the library.

After the above introduction to the Project, Claire outlined the background to the Project. She began by explaining that they considered at Leeds, that as users are increasingly able to use Library services without physically visiting the library, libraries need to reassess their role and what they are able to bring to the teaching/learning and research processes. E-lib funded Hybrid Library initiatives in vogue at that time were considered. It was concluded that as Leeds already had a VLE which supported undergraduate teaching and learning, this could ideally host the "Hybrid Library" with the caveat that academics would not be forced to use Nathan Bodington Building if already using webpages or the VSP. In June of 2000, Claire was appointed Project Officer and she is supported by part time managerial and technical support. The Project is funded internally for the duration of 15 months.

In describing the development of the Project Claire stated that liaison was considered to be the key to success. Initially, she acted as the link person between the academics who might be interested in participating and the Faculty Teams. It was envisaged however that the long term approach would be for Claire to distance herself and the Project to become embedded in the Faculty Teams and rolled out by them. For this reason it was important that the Teams were directly involved from the outset. During these initial meetings (or telephone conversations or emails) the "vision" for the product was discussed.

The Hybrid Libraries were either created from scratch or library resources were added to an existing Nathan Bodington Room/Webpage/VSP folder according to the preference of the academic. The components of the Library could vary also according to the preference of the academic. They could include:

Additionally, manipulation of the Resource Organisation and Discovery (ROADS) database and the application of Web Harvesting software have been undertaken to provide extra functionality. For example, using the adapted ROADS database allows for Library-approved websites and databases to be searched using terms more relevant to a particular module, ie "credit risk management" rather than a broad subject like "business" or "accountancy". The Webharvesting technology (which works in a similar way to Altavista) has been applied to make the Library’s subject-lists of websites more appropriate in the modular environment.

The evaluation strategy of the project aims to discover how the Libraries are used and viewed, or not, and the impact on students’ work. Evaluation is undertaken in a variety of ways:

Claire concluded her presentation by talking about the future in which she stated that a well planned exit strategy was vital for her to hand over to the Faculty Teams, though she did intend to retain some liaison between Faculty Teams and academics. Additionally, she envisaged the creation of a "template" or "toolbox" to enable colleagues to create their own resources. Her wish is that over time the Project can be given a higher profile and embraced more fully to become a key part of the library’s services.

The Powerpoint presentation, Web presentation and paper (in Word or PDF) format are available.


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