News from member libraries

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News from member libraries

University of Birmingham


Diane Job has been appointed as Director of Library Services, effective 1 September 2009. Diane was previously responsible for the leadership of the faculty of medicine libraries at Imperial College London. Library services is one of six divisions within academic services.


The feasibility study stage of the main library refurbishment project is now well under way and is expected to be completed in autumn 2009. Initial planning is already under way for relocation and decant of services and collections during the period of the refurbishment work, which could take up to five years.

Special collections moves

Special collections, which had previously been part of library services, became a separate division within academic services in 2009. The university is currently in the process of developing a new facility for special collections, which will bring all the collections, public service and conservation facilities together into one purpose-built space spread over three floors at the heart of the main Edgbaston campus. The new accommodation is expected to be completed by autumn 2009 and includes exhibition facilities, a seminar room for up to 30 people and research space, together with an estimated ten years of expansion space for collections, two purpose-built storage areas for archives and rare books, a reprographics suite, staff accommodation and a purpose-built conservation studio. The new facility, to be named the ‘Cadbury research library’, forms part of a refurbishment of the iconic Muirhead Tower, one of the most easily recognizable buildings on the main Edgbaston campus.

Stock moves

A number of major stock moves were undertaken during the summer vacation 2009:

In the main library, stock was transferred onto mobile shelving in an area that had previously been occupied by special collections (see above). This has improved access to our printed collections, by easing shelving overcrowding and simplifying the arrangement of stock in certain areas of the main library.

Following a decision to transfer teaching for education courses from the Selly Oak campus to the Edgbaston campus from 2009/10, we have also been working to accommodate stock for these courses into our education library (and, to a lesser extent, other sites).

New guide for international students confused by library jargon

Aware that librarians are as guilty as any experts of using jargon that means nothing to anyone else, library services has produced a basic ‘jargon-busting guide’ aimed specifically at students whose first language is not English.

The guide, written in the special English used by the BBC World Service, is an A–Z listing of the most common words and phrases that students might see or hear when they are using library services, facilities and resources. Copies are available in all libraries run by library services and will be handed out to new students at the beginning of term.

Elizabeth Warner-Davies


Edge Hill University


Following a successful project to implement self-issue four years ago, the summer months have seen a further project to embed RFID technologies into the collections. With self-issue hitting the 95% target that was set, RFID has been chosen to improve stock management, ensuring that the library catalogue and the items on the shelf are a direct match.

Studies show that up to 12% of stock can be misplaced where RFID isn’t in use, meaning we can add an extra 10,000 books from stock to circulation this September (2009). The introduction of a returns chute and sorter and RFID self-issue will mean that queue lengths are reduced. We continue to work with 3M as our partner, and will be the first UK site to implement this new model of returns sorter.

Learning services web pages

A cross-service team has been working to completely remodel the learning services web pages. Code named W-ALTER (Web-Alter), a full review of learning services’ web presence was undertaken, looking not only at the student-facing sites but also at the intranet, blogs and wikis.

Due to launch mid-September, the new web site will offer a richer experience, showing video clips, blog posts, updated news feeds and personalised subject areas. In addition, a staff intranet has been developed to ensure that academic colleagues have access to everything they need through every stage of their teaching, learning and research.

Induction facelift

Edge Hill University is now one of the UK’s most rapidly expanding universities and with learning services’ student inductions more popular than ever, and in order to maintain high standards, we have given the programme a facelift.

Evaluation of our student experience as well as benchmarking with other universities has led to our developing a new induction model, where contact and interaction still remain critical for introducing and welcoming students to university life. A small team was created to review the induction process and ensure that these aspects are maintained and further developed to meet the needs of our increasingly diverse student population. A key aim is to avoid information-overload and yet raise awareness of the resources and tools available.

September 2009: what will the induction programme look like?

1 Registration will be our first interaction with students. Staff will be on hand to encourage and support students in logging into the network for the first time, using the information provided in their newly received registration letter.

2 Colleagues will then work with teaching staff to co-deliver a session that dovetails with their induction to their first module. We will provide an overview of learning services that will include video, slides and a quiz.

3 Drop-in sessions will follow in the second and third weeks of the semester.

4 The whole programme will be underpinned and supported by the learning services induction module in the Blackboard VLE.

Repository project (EROS)

The JISC (Joint Information Systems Committee)-funded EROS project is managed by learning services and will create and populate an institutional repository to improve the storage, preservation, retrieval and use of Edge Hill University’s research outputs. Starting with an analysis of user needs to help identify and procure the repository solution that is the best fit for Edge Hill, the project will focus on the cultural embedding of the repository, underpinned by workflows and policies which will facilitate use of the repository in line with Edge Hill’s existing practices and systems, wherever possible. The project exists within the context of previous repository start-ups and will draw significantly on the knowledge that already exists in the sector, as well as disseminating lessons learned at Edge Hill, to inform future repository projects beyond the institution.

The creation of a digital repository at Edge Hill is particularly timely since the university was granted research degree awarding powers in 2008. Our experience in preparing for RDAP highlighted the current lack of effective collation of research outputs and, given the increase in research activity that will follow the award of RDAP, creating a digital repository is a priority for Edge Hill.


SOLSTICE is one of the 74 national centres for excellence in teaching and learning (CETLs) established in April 2005. SOLSTICE is committed to enhancing student learning and the learning environment – for part-time and full-time students studying across multiple and dispersed locations – through technology-enhanced learning. Unusually for a CETL, SOLSTICE is managed within learning services and this is reflected in many of the CETL activities, some of which are described below:

It’s all in the blend?’ SOLSTICE CONFERENCE, June 2009

The fourth international SOLSTICE conference took place on 4 June 2009, welcoming over 150 delegates to Edge Hill University. The theme for the conference was ‘Innovation, research and development: enhancing learning with technologies’. Delegates had a choice of 38 sessions to attend, along with two stimulating and entertaining keynote speeches.

Dr Rhona Sharpe from Oxford Brookes University presented her keynote speech on the ‘Impact of learner experience research’. She assessed what has been the impact of learner experience research in the UK to date, what more could be done in light of the research findings and what we can learn from this experience about the tensions between research, innovation and development.

Professor Tara Brabazon from the University of Brighton entertained delegates with her keynote entitled ‘We’ve spent too much money to go back now: credit crunched literacy and a future for learning’. Tara offered new models and modes of teaching and learning by aligning information literacy, media literacy theories and multiliteracy approaches.

The aim was to show, through examples and applications in university assessment, how students can move from everyday competencies and skill development and into disciplinary and trans-disciplinary scholarship.  With public funding under threat, the time for ‘easy’ technological solutions to complicated problems in widening participation agendas requires renewed commitment to literacy, professional development and academic expertise.

The conference was a great success, building on previous conferences and establishing the SOLSTICE CETL as a key technology-enhanced learning event on the conference calendar. You can view the conference keynotes at and access the presentations and full papers delivered at the conference at

The ReFORM project – reuse and repurposing of teaching and learning content

Edge Hill’s ‘ReFORM’ project ( was one of 20 funded by JISC’s ‘RePRODUCE’ programme to test assumptions around reuse of teaching content in a real-world setting. Projects were funded to develop, teach and quality-assure technology-enhanced modules using at least 50% of learning materials drawn from outside their institution. All digital content produced by the projects would be uploaded into JORUM ( and made freely available to the higher and further education sectors. Creation and availability of high-quality open educational resources (OERs) is being heralded as a key component of sustainable and scalable higher education in the UK.

ReFORM redeveloped a dormant 15-credit professional development module, ‘CPD304: Dyslexia and specific learning difficulties (SpLD) in higher education – support issues’, aimed at support staff working within the higher and further education sectors.

The project has identified, reused and/or repurposed learning materials related to themes around learning support, such as writing, reading and memory, and created new multimedia objects which focus on dyslexic learners’ narratives. It was a challenge because there was no critical mass of content in the field of dyslexia support for us to draw upon. A positive outcome of this project is that we have been able to produce dyslexia-‘friendly’ open content in this important niche area. Development of the module involved a variety of specialists, as depicted in the SOLSTICE notion of ‘new academic teams’, in particular project managers, subject librarians, learning technologists, module leaders, copyright and IPR specialists and staff and students with dyslexia and other SpLDs.

Effective reuse of digital content depends upon deliberate planning for reuse at the design stage. Curriculum design using digital content requires a rethinking of traditional roles and an acceptance of new approaches using non-hierarchical, multiprofessional teams.

We have captured and distilled our new understandings and skills around content-creation into what we are tentatively calling ‘open content literacy’. We believe its incorporation into professional development and training will support effective practice in the sharing and reuse of digital teaching content within Edge Hill.

If you would like a copy of ReFORM’s final project report, contact

SOLSTICE seminar: ‘Creating and sharing digital content: promises and pitfalls’, 16 July 2009

The hot topic of creating and sharing digital content was presented at this seminar, hosted by SOLSTICE. Alison Mackenzie, SOLSTICE CETL director and dean of learning services at Edge Hill University, opened the day by placing the seminar in the context of current research and recent publications.

Five speakers with considerable involvement in sharing digital content presented experiences from their own work. The first keynote speaker was Professor Tom Boyle from the CETL for RLO (reusable learning objects), who demonstrated how to develop open educational resources using GLO Maker 2 (generative learning objects). Tom emphasised the importance of the pedagogical design underlying the GLOs, which provides the basis for reuse. The audience showed tremendous interest in GLO Maker 2, released on 21 August 2009.

The second keynote speaker was Melissa Highton from Oxford University, who presented the development of open educational resources through the ‘Open spires’ project. This project follows on from earlier projects, such as MOSAIC and Steeple.

Three presenters were from the JISC ‘RePRODUCE’ programme. Dr Carmel de Nahlik of Coventry University shared her work from the JISC ‘ROCOCO’ project on setting up a reusable common core for research-methods modules. The module is delivered online, to diverse groups, at three different academic levels and can be presented within a subject-specific ‘wrapper’.

Dr Peter McKenna from Manchester Metropolitan University presented the promises and pitfalls of reusability, using his experiences from the ‘Q-ROLO’ project (Quality – re-aggregation of learning objects) and resources. The pitfalls include IPR (information property rights) and legal aspects, quality, issues with repositories and lack of tracking of downloads or reuse.

Peter Reed of Edge Hill University presented ‘Is this a sustainable future?’, sharing his experiences from the ‘ReFORM’ project, which involved repurposing of suitable digital objects.

The delegates’ thoughts about what is working well and the next steps regarding reuse and sharing of digital content were summarised by Lindsey Martin, eLearning strategy and development manager (SOLSTICE CETL), to round off the day.

Delegate feedback indicated that the day had been a great success and that this is a hot topic for librarians as well as technologists and academic colleagues. Links to the presentations can be found at

Techno-savvy students join forces to bridge the digital divide

SOLSTICE and students from Edge Hill University, the University of Central Lancashire and Riverside College in Halton joined forces for a student-focused ‘Digital slam’ event held in May 2009 to explore the potential power of linking up a variety of different digital technologies and tools.

Armed with mini-camcorders, digital voice recorders, ultra-small laptops, standard PCs, mobile phones and digital cameras, the students put together a lively presentation for their colleagues. The process, known as ‘digital storytelling’, is an emerging, interactive medium that is fast gaining popularity in such fields as the media and education.

As well as exploring the power of new technology, the students also examined the phenomenon known as the ‘digital divide’, referring to the knowledge gap that can develop between people who have effective access to digital and information technology and those who don’t. In researching digital divides, students were introduced to the concept of information literacy and the need to think critically about information and online tools and resources. Lindsey Martin, our eLearning strategy and development manager, said:

It was great to see the students really getting into the technology. In many cases, what they were seeing was new to them, despite the fact that we assume that all young people are up to speed with every new gizmo on the market.’

The students who attended said the day had opened up their eyes to new ways of getting a message across. Pam Hampton, a student at the University of Central Lancashire, said:

It was a great day – very interesting and informative. I must admit I am a techno geek and I love my gadgets and the internet. I am pleasantly surprised to have learnt some useful stuff.’

The ‘Digital slam’ was organised by SOLSTICE in conjunction with the student learning and teaching network and guest lecturer Mark Roche from Manchester Metropolitan University.

Mandy Phillips


Lindsey Martin


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