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.

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.

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.

LIRG – Marketing meeting

Filed Under (General, Professional practice, Research) by ronan on 20-01-2012

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Gordon Square, Bloomsbury

On Monday I attended the Library and Information Research Group’s marketing meeting at the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals (CILIP) in London. The area of Bloomsbury, with which I am linked through the Russell family, my great-grand-aunt, Fanny Gallaher, author, was for many years the personal secretary to the Duchess of Bedford aka the “Flying Duchess”, looked as splendid as ever in the winter sunshine. The picture here is of Gordon Square where the ‘Bloomsbury’ group met frequently. I discovered also that poet W B Yates lived at 5 Woburn Walk – a cut-through I use regularly on my way back to Kings Cross.

So what exactly does LIRG do? LIRG seeks to increase peoples awareness and understanding of research that relates to the library and information profession across all sectors by:

Increasing its profile and influencing its direction;
Promoting the dissemination of sound research methodology and results;
Assisting in the development of emerging researchers;
Enabling networking between researchers.

The activities of the Group are co-ordinated by an elected committee of researchers, research students, lecturers and practitioners in the library and information profession. More information about the group can be found through this link LIRG

The group also publishes 3 times a year its journal LIR – Library and Information Research found here LIR

Honorary Fellowship Award of Bradford College

Filed Under (General, Professional practice) by ronan on 08-01-2012

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Gerry Sutcliffe MP

Gerry Sutcliffe MP (left)

In December I had the privilege to write and officially orate the citation for the presentation of the award of Honorary Fellowship of Bradford College to Member of Parliament for Bradford South Mr. Gerry Sutcliffe MP. The ceremony which was most enjoyable took place at St.George’s Hall, Bradford. The full text of my oration can be found by following this link:

Typesetting and Printmaking class

Filed Under (General) by ronan on 28-10-2011

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Into my fourth week of this course and I absolutely love it. Designing, arranging and setting type has such an immediate connection with the words. Having handled books and print all my life and having written quite a bit, for me,  the processes of typesetting and printing now seem to bridge the gap – and uncover the mysteries.
In the language of galley proofs, upper and lower cases, terms such as “out of sorts” reveal a satisfying richness. Bradford College has one of the few remaining printmaking studios where this type of activity can be pursued. Looking forward to next Wednesday evening’s class.

From Lending to Learning – published

Filed Under (Built Learning Environments, General, Information Literacy, Professional practice, Research, Technology Reviews, VLE (Virtual Learning Environment)) by ronan on 29-11-2010

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Ahh – finally… my book which is now available – an extract from the opening pages:

“As I write this introduction a debate on BBC Radio 4 suggests that in order to effect public sector efficiency savings, volunteers should run public libraries along the lines of charity shops. There are regular announcements of this type in the media with yet more initiatives to change public libraries. To breathe new life into them, to put new energy into the service and to take new approaches that range from raising noise levels to the provision of coffee and chat facilities. At the heart of all such announcements lies a very important, yet simple, question: what are public libraries for?

Wander into any one of the hundreds of public libraries in the UK and you will see a range of services there that have evolved in a fairly haphazard way. This is not to say that there is poor quality of service, simply a lack of consistent strategy. One is tempted to ask some very obvious questions. Who looks after the public libraries of this country? Is the power to shape the future of public libraries in the hands of the central government, the regional assemblies, local authorities or made-up agencies, quangos, held together by the short-term thinking of hands-off politicians and civil servants? What are the reasons for keeping an institution such as the public library active over centuries – is it simply tradition? And, looking ahead, what might be the public library needs of our grandchildren?

In the chapters that follow I try to unravel the complexity and distil a logic that might offer a way to view the public library not simply as a national institution steeped in tradition, or as a purposeless place providing little more than popular glossy magazine titles, but as a learning space. Or, more correctly, a space owned by and dedicated to learners.”

Order this title now through your local public library – or buy it yourself, read it and send me your comments.

Rónán O’Beirne From Lending to Learning – The development and extension of public libraries. 2010 Chandos Information Professional Series Chandos Publishing an imprint of Woodhead Publishing Ltd., Cambridge. ISBN 9781843343882.  – 216 pages  234 x 156mm  paperback £45.00 / US$75.00 / €55.00