Guest post by Steve McIndoe, Faculty Librarian for Arts and Humanities at the University of Sheffield.
Back in the heady, hazy days of June a team was assembled with the aim of working towards a common goal. While ultimate victory eluded them on the day, there was enough potential to suggest that – like Gareth Southgate’s England – there are plenty of reasons for optimism about the future of the University of Sheffield’s Library TeachMeets.
The afternoon opened with an icebreaker in which staff from the Library’s Faculty Engagement Team (FET) and Library Learning Services Unit (LLSU) shared experiences of teaching that had (and hadn’t!) worked. This was followed by a discussion – facilitated by Emily Wheeler, Library Learning Adviser at Leeds University – on the topic, “Are librarians teachers?”, for which everyone had been asked to read Emily’s article on the topic in preparation.
The rest of the TeachMeet focused on mapping current Library teaching to taught programmes, with each Faculty team joined by members of LLSU to review existing teaching and identify possible new approaches. The launch of the Library’s Information and Digital Literacy framework and the University’s Programme Level Approach to programme planning and delivery mean there is a great opportunity for the Library to promote its coordinated, subject- and context-specific teaching to students, alongside the teaching and support offered by LLSU through its tutorials and workshops open to all students.
While the work was limited to one programme per faculty, the exercise encouraged Library staff to take a more holistic view of the teaching offered to students over their whole university careers, to consider more innovative ways of encouraging learning and, most importantly, establishing a template for collaborating and sharing across teams with a view to making the best use of our varied skills, knowledge and experience. The process of working through the implications of major reviews of curriculum teaching across the University was informative and thought-provoking.
The next Library Teachmeet will be held in November, with a further session in March, and we hope to include members from other teams as well as to encourage librarians at other institutions to share their own thoughts and experiences of being “librarians as teachers”.