Didn’t have a chance for a round-up yesterday like last week’s for the prosaic reason that my old printer gave up the ghost just as I was trying to print tickets for the Dracula screening at the British Library (bottom right). My friend Patricia and I went along to The Vampire Years: Dracula on Screen, a panel discussion chaired by Sir Christopher Frayling, with Hammer Archivist Robert J.E. Simpson, actor and author Jonathan Rigby and official Hammer historian Marcus Hearn. This was followed by a screening of Dracula (1958), which neither of us had seen in a cinema setting before. It was a great event: each panelist had been asked to choose a couple of significant clips from movies based on Dracula, talk about and show them. It was interesting to see a very clean cut clip of Nosferatu (1922), and useful to see it just before the full Hammer Dracula, in which we could see both similarities and differences. The challenges of creating any film version of such a long epistolatory novel were discussed, and Christopher Frayling remembered a conversation he had with the script-writer for Dracula (1958), Jimmy Sangster, in which he asked why Jonathan Harker was a librarian in the film rather than a solicitor. The answer was pragmatic: as the action in the film did not move back to England, the novel’s device of conveyancing property was not needed, and it made sense that Dracula might have hired a librarian.
Classes this week concerned the users’ experience of the catalogue – from card to OPAC to discovery engine. I began on Sunday updating my slides for cataloguing class, and ended today creating slides on the same topic for the University of Malta’s module LIS 3711 New Trends in Cataloguing, which I will be teaching in a couple of weeks. In both cases, it’s necessary to point out that the ISBD has introduced area 0 and changed some of its terminology since Practical Cataloguing went to press (photo: top left).
On Monday afternoon I accompanied half of INSTG012 Historical Bibliography to St Bride’s Printing Library, where Mick Clayton (pictured, top right) and Bob Richardson introduced some of the Library’s treasures, such as the Eric Gill collection, before leading a printing workshop, in which students had an opportunity to feel the weight of the printing presses, and get an idea of the physicality of the work that Gaskell and Eisentstein describe in their set readings.
In terms of small victories, I’ve almost finished my annual UCL office clearance (photo: bottom left). Just one big heap of papers left to go. Sadly, after my home printer disaster, my office here looks like a bomb has gone off in it. So I guess I’d better go and get on with shovelling all that up, before starting the week again, updating the slides for our plenary on Name Authority tomorrow.
Some student points of view this week:
- CILIP New Professionals Day 2014 [blog post] by George Bray
- Zoological Society of London Library Visit [blog post] by Sophie Rose
- “Great afternoon learning about printing at St Bride’s Library.” by Nikki Gregory
- “What a nice afternoon @stbridelibrary for Historical Bibliography class.” by Simone C.
- “Here’s Mick in action @stbridelibrary Thank you to both you and Bob for today. The printing industry is alive!” by Simone C.
- “Fascinating trip to @stbridelibrary today. Loads of interesting things to see (and do) … Go if you get the chance.” by Danny W. Smith
- “Enjoyed learning about the mind-blowingly good resources @ British Library. Thanks Jo Maddocks! Now to see the exhibition.” by Joanne McPhie
This year I’ve returned to blogging after a year’s break, so I decided to sign up to the 23 Things for Researchers programme run by Liz McCarthy and her colleagues at #OxEngage. It’s great that they’ve adapted the 23 Things concept for researchers, and are allowing people outside Oxford to take part.
It’s also very useful that they’ve grouped the Things into weekly sets of tasks, since I find it hard to make time outside the weekends, and I suspect that I am not alone in this, as hinted by my favourite social media feed for academics:
I’m particularly looking forward to Thing 13 (infographics) and to the 3rd Week (online networks), when perhaps I can be persuaded that there is a use for Linkedin and Academia.edu, on which I currently have very passive profiles. Facebook works well for me to keep up with people I know in real life, and twitter (@AnneWelsh) to engage with people I don’t know but who have similar interests.
At work, I’m encouraging my students to blog (@UCLDISstudents) and tweet (#UCLLIS). Reflective practice is an important skill for information professionals, and is encouraged not only by us but by our professional body, CILIP, through its Professional Knowledge and Skills Base and chartership scheme. Increasingly, new professionals are encouraged to use social media to establish or enhance both their identity and image.
It’s interesting to see who else has signed up for 23 Things: comforting to know I’m neither the only one who might have to fight to find the time, nor the furthest away from Oxford. It’s also nice to see a variety of blogging platforms being used – I like the design of This is Swyved on tumblr. There’s even a guide to procrastination which I am sure will come in handy, and an exhortation to “demand evidence and think critically,” which could, of course, be the mantra for librarians and library school lecturers. That said, my own mantra continues to be the words of the late, great Seymour Lubetzky, and I hope it won’t interfere with my resolution to follow the 23 Things programme:
23 Things for Research Week 0
Term is well under way now, and already I have fallen off the wagon when it comes to reflective blogging: Sunday evening I was too busy preparing for the week ahead. To be fair, this week has been pretty busy, so I had a lot to prepare!
In case I get swept up in “schoolwork” this weekend, as I almost certainly will, I thought I’d take a moment to share the headlines this week:
Monday morning saw the first full-on INSTG004 Cataloguing practical, in which students investigated the RDA Toolkit. (Many thanks to UCL Libraries for sorting out the new form of access we needed this year).
Monday afternoon I was flying solo with the new INSTG012 Historical Bibliography class, after Fred Bearman’s excellent introduction to book handling at UCL Special Collections last week. A seminar on Darnton; a lecture on ‘The Coming of the Book’ (whistle-stop tour from the birth of writing to the cradle of printing) and a practical session on printed bibliographies, which will set the class up for their upcoming sessions at St Bride’s Printing Library and the British Library.
Events for Current Students
Tuesday evening saw the launch of our Journal Club. This year we are discussing three articles on the theme of Information Literacy and three on more general topics. We kicked off with a piece on workplace relations between librarians and library technicians:
Hill, C. (2014). The professional divide: examining workplace relationships between librarians and library technicians The Australian Library Journal, 63 (1), 23-34 DOI: 10.1080/00049670.2014.890020
We circulated the eventbrite for our first speaker event, which takes place on 17 November. Dr Paul Ayris will speak about Open Access, which is obviously a popular topic as free tickets were snapped up quickly.
Events for Potential Students
The Department’s Open Day took place on Wednesday. In the picture, you can see UCL’s main quad, and also the door opening into our teaching room, where the LIS session took place. We started off with a lovely open horseshoe, but in the end had to fill in the central space with extra chairs. Kate Whaite came in to speak about LIS as a discipline and share her journey from MA LIS student to senior library assistant to PhD candidate. Naomi Percival spoke about work placements, and last year’s Lambeth Palace Library work placement student, Molly Kernan shared a little of her experience. Jo Maddocks arrived in time to answer some questions on how she found it balancing her full-time work with part-time study. It was also great to have some of the current students with us, especially for the reception.
This isn’t the only opportunity to visit UCL this year: our Faculty Open Day takes place on 19 November. I’m also taking part in events organised by CPD25 and the CILIP East of England / Cambridge Library Trainees Group (for which booking is open).
Research, Writing, Editing
Now that term has started, I’m finding some time to progress my own research, pushing on with a PhD chapter on the quantitative analysis of Senate House [WdlM] and writing up the paper I gave at CIG 2014. That section of the to-do list definitely needs a lot more attention, so I’m scooting back offline to get on with it.
To round off induction week, I organised a choice of four visits to libraries for the LIS students:
- Lambeth Palace Library
- The Royal Astronomical Society Library
- University College School Library
- The Zoological Society of London Library
Over the next few weeks, there will be blog posts by the students about these visits on the UCL DIS Student Blog. The first of these, by Verity Parkinson, with photos by Tavian Hunter, is available to read now.
Naomi Percival, Lambeth Palace Library’s Collections Librarian, will be attending our Open Day on Wednesday, to give a placement host’s view of the important work placement within the MA LIS, and Molly Kernan, who undertook the LPL placement last year will also be coming to give a student’s view. Several of this year’s cohort have also agreed to come along to the Open Day: while my colleagues and I know what it is like to teach on the MA LIS at UCL, the students know what it is like to learn on it – related but slightly different activities. Details of how to register for the Open Day can be found here.
Just a short reflective post this evening, as I want to get an early night for the first full day of teaching tomorrow: Cataloguing 10-1; my first office hour of the year at lunchtime; and Historical Bibliography 2-5.
This week has been all about introductions. I cheated in the session in which I introduced LIS teaching staff to the new students, and instead of introducing myself, passed some of my favourite books around the room. Well, it’s a sort of cheat. In a later session, my colleague Charlie and I used a rich picture methodology to encourage the class to tap into their thoughts about professional development by drawing rather than writing about them, and, in a sense, I think our book collections reveal a little of our subconscious in a way that our words alone can’t.
I can express some reasons I chose these volumes as emblematic of my professional identity, but it would take thousands of words to unpack their whole significance … and perhaps there are some signifiers within them that my conscious self can’t access entirely. Anyway, here are 5 reasons I chose these books this week.
1. I teach Bibliography – the book as object. There are deep-seated reasons why books, more than paintings, more than sculpture, more than anything else created by human hands speak to me and, in this context speak for me.
2. Some of the earliest books I remember reading for myself are Michael Bond’s Paddington Bear books. I still think of standard London townhouses as “Paddington Bear” houses and in my first visit to the capital, the statue at his namesake station was second only to the Round Reading Room at the British Library (still then at the British Museum) on my list of must-see tourist sights.
3. My PhD considers Walter de la Mare’s Working Library on his own writing. I’m lucky to have some nice copies of his work, all acquired quite cheaply – the Georgians are in an unpopular part of their cycle in the book trade at the moment.
4. Artists’ books, and particularly mass-produced artists’ books are a passion. I’ve been lucky enough to meet Tom Phillips at an event at the wonderful. Book Arts Bookshop and even luckier to pick up copies of A Humument at reasonable prices. This year, there is, of course, the exhibition in the Poetry Library, which runs this term – the term in which I teach Historical Bibliography, in which his books will feature just before Christmas.
5. I love things that push boundaries: from Lubetzky’s famous start to his seminal critique of the ALA Cataloging Rules – “Is this rule necessary?” – to fabric broadsides that disappear to form cloth lion dolls if their instructions are followed and so question their bookish nature, I adore objects that question their own existence.
Questions are always the best place to start new terms, and I’m looking forward to questions in Cataloguing and Hist Bib tomorrow.