The concurrent sessions at m-Libraries this year were split into 6 streams:
*New Mobile Services
*Mobile Libraries for Learning
*Mobile Technologies Supporting Development
*Mobile Services For Distance Learners
I attended 3 sessions within the mobile users bracket, 2 sessions within the mobile services for distance learners bracket, 1 session within the mobile libraries for learning bracket (in which I also presented my own paper in this stream) and the final session I attended was in the mobile technologies stream.
The concurrent sessions were diverse in subject matter – from roving reference with iPods in America to changing m-learning models in Spain – everyone that presented was passionate about their ‘mobile’ area.
I have identified a few key sessions from each of the conference days…
Faye Jackson and Phil Cheeseman from Roehampton University, UK
One of the most unique sessions I attended was that presented by Faye Jackson and Phil Cheeseman from Roehampton University, UK who presented on a social learning space for faculty staff called the Green Room. This was the first time I’d heard of a university library providing a social space for ‘staff only’ in order that faculty staff can engage and experiment with educational and mobile technologies. Furthermore it allows faculty staff members to share ideas about how best to use such devices in academic arenas (over a cup of coffee in relaxing, chilled surroundings of course…!)
A key aspect of the sustainability of such a space is that the library initially ‘buys in’ specific technologies for staff to experiment with and trial, then, if the faculty staff see its educational value, they ask their faculty to buy in their own batch of useful devices rather than having to use the libraries. Furthermore, the success of the Green Room is as a result of faculty staff recognising the value of mobile technologies from their colleagues, which is more than the library staff could engender if they tried to run the Green Room as a direct service solely from library staff to faculty staff. The unique aspect of collaboration and sharing amongst faculties colleagues resonates well with this group of people.
Of note, the Roehampton team turned to the university learners of tomorrow (school children) to discover the ‘ideal’ learning space…this quote from one imaginative young soul is definitely worth a mention…
“We’ve got the MyPod, it’s like your bed, you fall asleep in it and in your sleep learning flows into your brain and its only £15,000,000!!”
I really enjoyed Faye and Phil’s session and genuinely feel such a venture would definitely be worth considering at LJMU, either instigated here within L&SS, or maybe even by the LDU…??
Fred Rowland and Adam Shambaugh from Temple University, USA
Perhaps most pertinent to my work at present was the session delivered by Fred Rowland and Adam Shambaugh from Temple University, USA who presented on their roving reference initiative. The results of a LibQual survey were a driver for this trial project which registered that there was a distinct dissatisfaction amongst their student body with regards to the library service provisions, furthermore changing user needs and expectations needed to be addressed. At Temple, the student shelver’s were asked thousands of questions a month and it was felt that such questions would be better answered by professional librarian. The guys at Temple had a set timetable for roving (4 hours per day, Tues-Thurs) which followed a specified route and would be facilitated by an iPod Touch device. Unfortunately the trial period produced extremely low statistics, and Fred and Adam made some very broad claims about how students don’t like being approached and that out on the library floor was a student occupied territory, they highlighted that very little browsing was evident and that the use of the library space very directed and intentional. I would have to say that I disagree with the fact that students do not like being approached, having roved here at LJMU I can honestly say that students really appreciate library help at their point-of-need, especially during assignment deadline and exam times, the key is to recognising which students need your help and which do not. I feel that it was maybe a lack of roving training in identifying tell-tale signs of puzzlement and readjusting your body language to show the students you are available to be approached without being overbearing…
I got the distinct impression that the guys at Temple viewed their trial period as a bit of a failure which is a shame as I have seen first hand here at LJMU how effective roving can be if it is done correctly.