Winter wanderings

Filed Under (Built Learning Environments, General, Research) by ronan on 19-01-2013


View from MacMillan building carpark Bradford College 08:45 17 Jan 2013

As summer temperatures soar in Melbourne I’m back here in a snow covered Yorkshire looking at the short days of winter. Incredibly busy on my return from Australia with much to do on the £50m new build at Bradford College – specifically for me the library facilities more about that in a later post. Also organised a call for research and received 18 successful projects which are all up and running. The Bradford College application for Taught Degree Awarding Powers enters into its next phase with a resubmission being put together for June.

I have also been directing the XCRI (eXchange of Course Related Information) JISC-funded project which ends its 18 months in March 2013. Spending a short time on a project to evaluate the successor to BeCTA’s Generator which is being piloted by LSIS.

On a more personal note I am applying for the Higher Education Academy’s National Teaching Fellowship Scheme which is due at the end of March. My doctorate studies at the University of Sheffield enter into their second stage with the commencement of my thesis – more about this is a later post.

Learning for All – Day One

Filed Under (Events, General, Information Literacy, Professional practice) by ronan on 21-09-2012

On Thursday the first day of the “Learning For All” conference in Melbourne, I met a large number of interesting people and surprisingly was given a most concise and effective tour of the State Library Of Victoria by Andrew Hiskens – Manager Learning Services Division.
The papers presented during this first day of the conference were of a high standard and the debate generated for the plenary sessions was lively. Sue Roberts State Librarian of Victoria and formerly of Edge Hill University  gave a well focused and entertaining opening keynote presentation. The evening reception in the State Library culminated with a performance by the choir Off the Shelf an all female choir of librarians from Victoria formed to celebrate Australia’s first National Year of Reading 2012.

Visit to University of Melbourne

Filed Under (Built Learning Environments, General, Professional practice) by ronan on 21-09-2012

My visit to the University of Melbourne to look at learning spaces was hugely enhanced by  my host Peter Jamieson who was a wonderfully enthusiastic guide.  I certainly appreciate the time he took to show me all of the different areas on their campus. I was given a tour of really interesting learning spaces, and I will do a fuller more detailed posting about this later. Of immediate note was the plectrum-shaped table in the learning classroom which is something I would really like to investigate putting into our own learning spaces.  Also the use of plywood to make bespoke library shelving incorporating  a good finish and can be rather more attractive than expected. I think the most important aspect of my visit, and something that Peter kept emphasising, was the need to think more deeply about our students’ behaviour. Peter Jamieson is an authority on learning spaces and was an engaging, humorous and enthusiastic guide.  I greatly appreciate the time he took to show me the range of interesting and different views of learning.

Visit to RMIT – Melbourne

Filed Under (Built Learning Environments) by ronan on 20-09-2012

I visited the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT) Swanston Academy building a brand new piece of architecture on Melbourne’s Swanston street having opened its doors just 3 weeks ago. Dr. Sue Reynolds, Senior Lecturer at the Business IT and Logistics School gave me a tour of the new facility. In return I made a presentation to her postgradute Masters Level Library and Information Management students which was well received. My subject was the position of public libraries in supporting lifelong learning. It was exciting to be delivering a lecture in this iconic building – which incidentally was featured on the current issue (Sept-Oct 2012) of Architecture Austraila. It was also nice to be taken for lunch, by Sue and her team,  to a cozy book-themed restaurant in the basement of the State Library of Victoria and in the afternoon to visit the busy bustling City Library in Flinders Street. Thanks to Sue.

Arrival in Melbourne

Filed Under (Events, General) by ronan on 10-09-2012

The first few days of my visit to Melbourne have been very interesting and enjoyable. This photo of what I guess must be described as a sculpture is quite surprising as it looms up out of the pavement taking the map-reading tourist totally unawares. It is on Swanston Street just outside the Victoria State Library where my conference takes place in a couple of days time.

Extensive review of “From Lending to Learning”

Filed Under (General, Information Literacy, Professional practice) by ronan on 17-07-2012

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Tim Davies has written an extensive and pleasingly complimentary review of my book From Lending to Learning in the latest issue of ARIADNE (Issue 38 ) where it is described as “a spirited defence of public libraries, which tries to define their core purpose and which argues for a re-positioning of their place in society”.



Pizza packaging print !

Filed Under (General, Printing) by ronan on 16-07-2012

picture of print

Moonlit Churchyard

Using the polystyrene disc from the packaging of a frozen pizza as the support and a biro to “engrave” the image, this print was real fun to make.  The water-based ink took well to the polystyrene and the baren used was the back of a wooden spoon. The image itself is made-up i.e. out of my head – but the light, perhaps moonlight on the wet foreground, which is a result of the random inking gives a sense of atmosphere. Lifting the paper after printing is tricky due to the weightlessness of the polystyrene. Total time – from idea to finished print 50 minutes. Good result – and the pizza was nice too!








DREaM Conference another great success

Filed Under (Events, General, Professional practice, Research) by ronan on 12-07-2012

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Image of Ben speaking

Ben Goldacre in full flow

Getting the speakers, the venue, the content, the tone, the audience and even the food perfect for any event is a difficult trick to pull off. But this is just what the DREaM Conference which I attended Monday at the British Library in London achieved. And they achieved it with some considerable style.

Contributions from Professor Carol Tenopir, University of Tennessee; Dr Louise Cooke, Department of Information Science, Loughborough University were excellent and very well received. Star attraction who lived up to his reputation and gave a frank and fairly hard-hitting talk was Ben Goldacre who according to his blog:
“is a best-selling author, broadcaster, medical doctor and academic who specialises in unpicking dodgy scientific claims from drug companies, newspapers, government reports, PR people and quacks. Unpicking bad science is the best way to explain good science.”

The “One Minute Madness” was good fun with some deliveries timed to perfection – very impressive.

For futher details of the conference and the Coalition go to the Library and Information Science Research Coalition

P.S. —  I won a book in the raffle!  “Dale, P., Beard, J. and Holland, M., Eds.  (2011) University Libraries and Digital Learning Environments. Ashgate,  England.

Re-engaging with research: some thoughts from the Library and Information Research Group

Filed Under (Events, Research) by ronan on 26-06-2012

Find my blog post on the LIS Research Coalition Website by clicking  here

Structuring Knowledge: New visions for higher education

Filed Under (Events, General, OpenSource, Research, Technology Reviews) by ronan on 26-06-2012

Yesterday I attended the Society for Research into Higher Education conference at Lady Margaret Hall, University of Oxford. The three main speakers were excellent and the debates which followed each presentation were engaging and thought-provoking.

Ron Barnett who talked about structuring knowledge in an Age of Non-Structure made some enlightening assertions about the use (or lack of use) of the imagination as a key aspect of student life and more importantly a key aspect of critical thinking.

Tina Besley all the way from the University of Waikato, tackled the fairly controversial area of academic entrepreneurship – but not as I had expected from the “academic capitalism” position of Slaughter but from a new perspective of social and networked creativity that encourages new imaginative and innovative approaches to teaching and learning. She also teased the audience with some exciting images of Bangkok university’s new and slightly off-the-wall building programme – more of which I will post later.

Michael A Peters – of Open Science Economy fame treated us to an entertaining and wide-ranging overview of “openness” as a political economic and social concept. He was of particular interest to me because he had an inherent appreciation of the “library” and “librarianship” in all that is currently happening. He mentioned of course open access publishing and scholarly activity – but also noted the importance of metadata and nodded enthusiastically towards the future with references to the semantic web and quantum information theory.  I found his “informaticisation of biology” and his “biologisisation of information” to be an intriguing juxtaposition.

A very good day spent debating theories of knowledge in nice surroundings – well done SRHE for organising this pity I could only stay for the first day.