Trainee to trainer?

One of the unexpected aspects of the trainee year for me has been the opportunity for user education.  I hadn’t really considered that during my time here I would go from being the new guy who asks all of the questions to someone knowledgeable enough to give training to our users.  When the new academic intake arrives each October, the Bodleian runs a series of tours around the library to help orientate students and familiarise them with relevant collections for their fields of study.  It’s a big site and the tour takes around 45 minutes with plenty of time to explain things like Closed Stack material, just where exactly the Gladstone Link is and that yes, Harry Potter was filmed in Duke Humfrey’s Library.  I’m also starting to help run ‘Making The Most Of (the Bodleian)’ sessions which cover the practicalities of using the library, from exploring the catalogue to the differences between electronic subscription material and electronic legal deposit.

The Divinity School – User Education since the 1400s

This month, I assisted in a Research Skills workshop for humanities postgraduates at the University’s IT Services centre.  Run collaboratively between the Bodleian Libraries and IT Services, students were able to move between work stations (and rooms) with different tasks on each table and the chance to learn about subscription resources which could aid their research.  It was a fun environment with the idea to change learning tasks every ten minutes.  The students were able to cover a lot during the morning and the on the spot feedback was very positive.  My role was supportive; being on hand to answer questions and solve any issues that arose during the sessions.  The university is fortunate enough to be able to subscribe or have access to an enormous array of electronic resources and at times it’s difficult, even as a staff member, to have even heard of every database – let alone be familiar with using it.  Often it’s about having a broader awareness of how that sort of resource works and being able to explain with a logical approach.

As digital resources continue to proliferate, the role of a librarian will increasingly need to cover user education.  There are always opportunities to help readers in new ways and at the same time, to learn more yourself!

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