In this blog, Barbara Allan talks about why she wrote her new book, Emerging Strategies for Supporting Student Learning
Why did you want to write a book on ‘Emerging strategies for supporting student learning’? A colleague asked me this question a few weeks ago and it prompted me into reflecting on my motivation for writing my new book.
Thinking about it made me realise how much I enjoy the process of writing a book and, in part, this is because I am very nosy. Higher education is under huge pressures at the moment and as a result many universities and colleges are going through radical change processes. In some instances, the whole undergraduate curriculum has been redesigned and redeveloped to bring it into line with the needs of current students and their future employers. In many institutions, everyone is expected to do ‘more with less’ and teams and individuals have risen to this challenge by introducing fascinating innovations to their approaches to learning and teaching. Sometimes, these changes have been supported through technology while others have involved working in new ways with colleagues from across their university or college. At the same time, new theories about digital and information literacy continue to develop.
Writing a book gave me an excuse (not that I really needed one) to explore current practices in supporting student learning in universities and colleges. This meant that I found time to talk to colleagues, visit institutions, constantly search on-line for new developments and innovations, as well as articles, and also network through conferences and professional events. One of the highlights of my research was my visit to the annual international LILAC conference in Newcastle in 2015. This friendly and accessible conference provided so many opportunities to listen to and talk with practitioners representing many different types of institution from across the world. Their online archive provided a great resource when I came to writing the book. The conference also gave me the opportunity to join a tour of the historical Newcastle Literary and Philosophical Society (the Lit and Phil – http://www.litandphil.org.uk) which is home to many scholars and authors.
Finally, I enjoy the process of putting it all together – the practice and the theory – rather like a giant jigsaw. Only, in this case, some of the pieces over-lapped and others were contradictory. I was fortunate enough to do much of the writing in Whitby and so enjoyed long walks whenever I got stuck or needed to think through my findings. Puzzling through my research and making sense of it was intellectually challenging and helped me to understand the current status of supporting student learning in higher education. It also made me realise how vibrant is the library and information profession and the willingness of colleagues to change and innovate.
Barbara Allan, author of the forthcoming Facet book Emerging Strategies for Supporting Student Learning, writes about supporting student learning with blended learning on the Information Today Europe website. Read the arcticle here.
Many libraries face serious problems stemming from the economic recession of 2009-2009 and its aftermath, as well as from the ever-changing information-seeking behaviour of their customers and the presence of information technologies that affect that behaviour. In some instances, fiscal problems predate the recession.
At the same time, there is an increased expectation that libraries demonstrate accountability, collaborate more with stakeholders and other libraries, and, in some instances, generate alternative sources of revenue.
How should libraries respond to such pressures?
Is it enough to continue to do the same things or, at most, incremental changes?
No, on the contrary, the times call for dramatic transformational change and the creation of a vision of the future that excites staff and stakeholders.
The mention of change management and the future of public, academic, or any other type of library suggests someone staring into a crystal ball or trying to predict the future.
The emerging vision, as commonly portrayed in the literature on scenario development, might assume hypothetical facts and extend the projection for thirty to fifty years, but without producing anything relevant to help libraries anticipate, prepare for, and manage change.
Reflecting on the Future of Academic and Public Libraries does not offer predictions; rather it offers portrayals of the future through shorter-range scenarios, stories projected a maximum of fifteen years ahead. These scenarios contain elements or threads grounded in the present that libraries or other organizations can use as they piece together a story that is relevant to local circumstances and can be linked to strategic planning and change management.
The goal is to help libraries produce a story that they can use to explore surprises and discontinuities in the planning process and to obtain staff and stakeholder buy-in to a vision that enables everyone to concentrate on the bigger picture.
The chapter of the book are:
- Change—Major to Minor
- Building a Path to the Future
- Transforming the Future
- Related Literature
- Future Views of Academic Libraries
- Perspectives on Trends and Scenarios: Academic Libraries
- Future Views of Public Libraries
- Perspectives on Trends and Scenarios: Public Libraries
- Preparing for the Future: Some Final Thoughts.
A further preview of the book can be found in this slide deck:
The slideshow below takes you chapter-by-chapter through the new Facet title edited by Deborah Shorley and Michael Jubb, The Future of Scholarly Communication.
Academic and public libraries are very different today than they were 15 years ago. With even bigger changes on the horizon, what lies in store?
Facet’s new book, Reflecting on the Future of Academic and Public Libraries, offers ideas to academic and public librarians about the future of library services. Editors Peter Hernon and Joseph R Matthews invite a raft of contributors to step back and envision the type of future library that will generate excitement and enthusiasm among users and stakeholders. Anyone interested in the future of libraries will be engaged and stimulated as the contributors:
- examine the current state of the library, summarizing existing literature on the topic to sketch in historical background;
- project into the future, using SWOT analysis, environmental scans and other techniques to posit how library infrastructure (such as staff, collections, technology and facilities) can adapt in the decades ahead;
- construct potential scenarios that library leaders can use to forge paths for their own institutions.
Peter Hernon is a professor at Simmons College, Graduate School of Library and Information Science, Boston. He is the 2008 recipient of the ACRL’s Academic/Research Librarian of the Year award, is the co-editor of the journal; Library & Information Science Research and is the author or co-author of 52 books.
Joseph R Matthews is a consultant specializing in strategic planning, assessment, evaluation of library services, customer service, use of performance measures and the balanced scorecard. He was an instructor at the San Jose State University School of Library and Information Science and is the author of numerous books.