Librarians as Teachers – Calling all students, practitioners and wise owls

I am writing this post to put my feelers out really and find out what folk think so comments and feedback are requested please.

Since finishing an MSc in library and information management I have been considering doing a postgraduate certificate in education (PGCHE) because in my current role in an academic library I do some teaching but I have never had any teacher training.  The inspiring speakers at the Librarians as Teachers: The new professionals? event in May 2010 convinced me it was definitely something I should do for many reasons, a few of them being:

  • Let’s face it, what we teach is often quite dry. How can I make it more engaging and so become a better teacher?
  • Lots of employers are looking for teaching qualifications these days with some seeing them as important as a library studies qualification
  • A teaching qualification can garner increased recognition from academic colleagues and in turn raise the libraries profile (hopefully)
  • It will give me more scope for varied career progression

Teaching is also one of my favourite and most rewarding parts of the job and I want to be the best I can be at it.

So I applied and have been accepted on the PGCHE course held where I work. I start in September and I am a bit nervous because it is really a course that is geared towards academics who are already teaching and so my librarian colleagues who have done the course before me said they found it really hard to make the course relevant to their practice (this is a major reason why I was in two minds about doing the course initially). I also have to clock up 150 hours of teaching time in a higher education context over the period of the course which is A LOT if you are not running a specific course. I do tonnes of induction courses, some later follow-up sessions on journal searching etc. I train support staff employed to assist disabled students and I do sporadic one-to-one sessions with dissertation and research students throughout the year.  So it is a bit…um, well sporadic and so I am going to have to be creative if  I want to complete the course  Which is where all of you potentially come in!!

I have spoken to a lot of people in a similar position to me and the Librarians as Teachers event sparked a lot of conversation about the subject via Twitter. The event evaluation form asked for ideas of how the conversation could be continued. In response to this I am thinking of setting up a Wiki or something where anyone thinking about doing a similar PG Cert, anyone actually on a teaching course, those who have done the course and would be happy to give us the benefit of their knowledge, and experts in the area (such as the speakers at the event) could share ideas, experiences, and support. I for one would find that incredibly helpful. Even those not doing a course may find this a useful resource if their job involves teaching.

Let me know what you think. There is no point of me setting something up if no one is interested. If you are not particularly interested yourself but know someone who might, please point them in my direction. I suspect that there is a huge network of knowledge and experience out there waiting to be tapped.

I also have never set up anything like a Wiki before so any advice there would be welcome too.

(if there is something already out there and I am reinventing the wheel please enlighten me and I will stand in a corner and face the wall) 😀

60 responses to this post.

  1. Hi Jo, I’m interested and don’t know of anything similar – please keep me in the loop and let me know if I can help! You may be interested in the TeachMeet concept ( , we’re thinking of organising one in Cambridge (


    • Hi Niamh,
      Thanks for posting. I haven’t come across TeachMeet before. What a fab idea!(and the most recent one is being held in Cheltenham:) There is definitely lots of potential in it even if we do a virtual version with podcasts or something (distance may be a problem)…ooooh but I like it! And thanks for the offer of help I am sure I will take you up on that as I think it will be a lot of work on my own especially when I have started the course.


  2. Posted by Nicky on July 17, 2010 at 8:18 pm

    I’ve gone the other way – I trained as a teacher and taught for several years before becoming a librarian! I’ve been lucky enough to get a library position in the same school where I used to teach, so the staff there are happy for me to step in and teach when it’s appropriate (or when it seems fun and I feel like it!). Would love to be involved in the Wiki or anything else similar. I’m on Twitter and the lisnpn as stormfilled 🙂


    • Hi Nicky,
      Thanks for posting. Wow, sounds like you are in a great situation. Well done! I have heard loads of school librarians say they find it hard to get recognition from the teachers so it is great to hear that you are having such a positive experience. I was actually wondering whether to set up a space within LISNPN for this but I don’t know if it is the right place as it is not just new professionals that I want to be involved in it? (I am an admin on it, and my user name is “Johanna”….have just added you as a friend 🙂 Thanks for your interest. I will keep you posted. In the meantime, if you have any ideas or suggestions I would love to hear them.



  3. Congratulations on being accepted onto the course. I’m currently contemplating applying for PGcert at my place. Have already been told I need responsibility for teaching and assessment for at least half of a half course unit or equivalent and at least 50 hours teaching a year for the PGcert in Learning and teaching in higher ed, so not sure if I can go for that, though they do offer PGcert in adult learning and prof. development.
    Would definitely be interested in a Wiki, any help or advice I can get on applying for and completing the course would be much appreciated by me and would love to be able to contribute if I get through. I am nervous about this venture as been a few years since I applied for anything or even studied. (Unfortunately I am not a “new professional” -maybe there should be a group for the “not new professional but still enthusiastic professional”).


    • Thanks Lynne,
      I am just wondering what the equivalent of a “half course unit” is? I would not rule it out straight away if I were you. I have worked out that my 150hrs of teaching time I have to do works out at 3hrs a week. I don’t do that much so I know I am going to have to be creative and try to find teaching opportunities (may badger some academic staff to see if they can help. May be able to take some of their classes for them???) and promote myself a bit more to research students to try and get some more one-to-one or small group sessions. My colleagues from another campus has just completed the course and he was in the same position as us. I intend to quiz him and find out how he did it…which is partly why I am thinking of doing this Wiki thing as it would be good to pool similar experiences. I also have lots of staff training ideas I might rope my colleagues into signing up to as I think this will count towards my hours.
      Perhaps a support network like the one I am suggesting would make you a little less nervous? go for it! 🙂
      This definitely is not intended to be a group just for new professionals. My colleagues who have just done the course have been librarians for years so I would like to open it out to everyone….and am actually hoping that some people with lots of experience will get involved and share their knowledge.
      Thanks for your interest. And even if you are still undecided this group may help you decide. watch this space!


      • Thanks Jo,

        Have decided to go for it, just have the horror of the form to fill out. Think all the ideas mentioned Spruz, teachmeet/latmeet etc sound great and willing to give a hand if I can.

      • Oh ace! Good for you Lynne and good luck with the application. Wont it be fab if we are doing the course at the same time….supporting and exchanging ideas! Keep me posted 🙂 and thanks for the offer of help, I will keep you posted. brilliant! 🙂

  4. Posted by Library_demon (Twitter name) on July 19, 2010 at 10:41 am

    Hi Jo,

    I am in the same situation, am about to complete 2nd Masters in Information Studies, but do not have a teaching qualification, there are courses for teachers to be librarians but no courses for librarians to be teachers, unless we take up Bachelors/Masters in Education ! But nothing goes waste, as of now, we as Librarians need to acquire overlapping skills with teachers and technology experts to survive. Teachers are always more valued than Librarians and to earn equal respect in and Educational Institute, Librarians must have qualifications equal to those of teachers… go ahead……its a great investment !

    Best Wishes


    • Hi there!
      thanks for your post. You are right I think it is imperative that we acquire and develop these skills. I think I owe it to our students to deliver the best service I can for them which in turn leads to increased recognition I hope. At the moment I feel I am falling short due to a lack of these skills…. It is exciting to see so much interest I am definitely going to go ahead with this. Thanks for the encouragement. 🙂


  5. o hai! Like I said in our email exchange, have a think about setting up a Spruz. That way you can use the forum to discuss stuff, without having to edit a big page (like you do on a wiki) and put your initials next to everyone so you can see who wrote what etc…

    It’s got more scope than a wiki, as long as you dont’ exceed the limits of the free model – unless you get 100+ people involved you probably won’t exceed those limits.


    • Ace! thanks for your advice. I may be returning for more of it later on if you don’t mind. If I exceed the limits does it get very expensive? and is it fairly straight forward to set up? Exciting!! 😀


  6. It is really straight-forward – you just register and then spend half an hour or so tweakting it. The point is all you really want at this stage is a discussion space (is that right?) so as long as you have the forum ‘element’ you can get started right away.

    They’re changing the rules on Spruz but the two limits in question are: 250 members (should be okay) and 5gb data transfer. It’s the data transfer one that’s the killer… if you exceed it, the site will be offline until the end of the calendar month, then your 5gb starts again. The cheapest premium is $10 a month or so – worth avoiding!

    Basically a pbworks wiki is almost 100% risk free – there’s no charges, and no limits in practical terms. But they are less well set up for conversation. So it’s up to you if you go down the slightly riskier, slightly more functionality route or not… Stick a question on LISNPN and see what people would prefer!

    Are you on LinkedIn by the way? Fairly sure there is a discussion going now (probably in the CILIP group) about diversifying – choosing to learn more about management or teaching, and the qualifications involved in both, etc.

    By the way, great getting-comments-on-your-blog skills! Lots of people chipping in on lots of your posts, which is absolutely ace… 🙂


    • No I am not on LinkedIn but will check it out. Thanks for the tip. I am liking the idea of Spruz with a link to the wiki for documents I think Sruz looks far more appealing and would encourage people rather than put them off may be.

      tee hee – I am a shameless self-publicist. 😀 Seriously though, it all comes from Twitter! no extra work needed!


  7. Wow, go you! Congratulations on getting your PGCHE place, and thanks for thinking of the wiki idea. There are so many of us who are teaching/training and passionate about it – it would be great to tap into that knowledge. I’d also be really interested to follow your progress via your blog though, as I’d love to know what the course is like from the inside : )


    • Thank you! 😀 Excellent! All of the interest I am getting for this is most encouraging and tells me there is a gap there waiting to be filled! I am definitely going to do this. watch this space! I am way more confident about starting the course now already.


  8. Don’t forget to let anyone else who might be interested know 🙂 This is a great start though!


  9. There was the infoteach wiki set up by Chris Powis a few years ago , not sure it’s exactly what you mean but take a look (if you haven’t already). I think it was a struggle to get people to contribute, but perhaps the time is right to try again! I think a community around it through discussions would help.

    Interesting someone mentioned teachmeets – I’ve only just come across these too and recently I’d been wondering about something like mashlib for teaching/libraries, somewhere to exchange ideas and get creative. I can look to maybe setting something up with my JISC head on, but maybe they work best as something informal?

    And as for your course, I’d would go for it!


    • Hi Helen,
      thanks for your post and for directing me to infoteach. I was not aware of it. I was thinking of something similar but with more discussion/forum capability, infoteach looks like a great list of useful resources but seems to lack discussion. I think this might help people stay engaged maybe., which is why I was thinking of using Spruz a bit like LISNPN has done has done. As was pointed out by Ned (AKA thewikiman) in an earlier post the free version has quite restrictive data limits though so I was thinking of overcoming this by linking to a wiki for storing resources. (which would be something like infoteach…)
      I think something like mashlib is a fab idea! and I think that having a JISC angle would be great I’d be interested to hear any ideas you have on this. What does everyone else who has commented think? I am intending for the wiki/Spruz to be pretty informal and creative so I don’t think a slightly more formal aspect would be at all detrimental as long as it allows for people to continue to be creative and get involved. It may also get a bit more credibility coming from a JISC aspect.
      Thanks so much for the encouragement!


      • My view is, you can ALWAYS do something informal, but if you can get any kind of support from JISC that’s a fabulous opportunity…

    • p.s. I’d also appreciate the help with the “teachmeet” type thing as I don’t know if it would be something I would be able to take on on my own. 🙂


      • @theWikiman agreed! 🙂

      • Posted by Jess Humphreys on July 20, 2010 at 2:33 pm

        Would be interested in helping out with a “teachmeet” type thing too. 🙂

      • We’re meeting at the end of the month to discuss the possible Cambridge one, will let you know how it goes.

      • It would be great to have your input, thanks Jess. It might also be an idea to look at some type of online events too as geography might be a problem for many people. does anyone have any thoughts on this?…It is not an area I have much personal experience with so I don’t know how viable it is.

  10. Posted by Jess Humphreys on July 20, 2010 at 1:01 pm

    Congratulations on being accepted onto the PGCHE course – great news! A wiki sounds like a great idea – I know lots of librarians who would definitely be interested. We did look into setting up a #lat10 wiki using spruz but time got the better of us – when we had a look spruz it seemed really user-friendly and easy to use. Think you have definitely identified a demand and it would be great to see how it develops. Just writing up a report for the Librarians as Teachers event for the CILIP Seal of Recognition – people had lots of ideas on how we could continue the conversation – wikis and Twitter being several mentioned.

    The wiki would be great – go for it! 🙂 Let us know if you need any help. 🙂


  11. Hi Jess,
    thank you! 😀 and thanks for all the encouragement. Would there be any possibility that you could email the delegates and direct them to this post as they might be interested in contributing their thoughts. Or those that expressed an interest in continuing the conversation at least? I understand if not.
    I am definitely leaning towards the Spruz with linked wiki option.
    If you had any ideas with your Spruz plans that you want me to add please feel free to give me a shout (also I don’t want to tread on any toes so if you are still planning on doing it then let me know 😀 )



    • Posted by Jess Humphreys on July 20, 2010 at 2:12 pm

      No problem – will see what I can do with the email – but I am not too sure if we can – will try though.

      You are definitely not stepping on anyone’s toes – it would be great to see a wiki – perhaps there is potential for you to speak about it at a future Librarians as Teachers event. 😉 I like the mashlib idea too.

      Look forward to seeing what happens, let us know if there is anything I can do to help.


  12. I don’t really have any firm ideas, but I remember some comments from LILAC this year (I couldn’t attend unfortunately) that IL teaching needs more innovation and creativity and I think I was just pondering how this could be encouraged – the mashlib/teachmeet events seem to generate such enthusiasm that it seems a good idea to try out. I like the idea of an event to share experiences but also develop ideas too.

    I should clarify about the JISC side – it’s more that I’m enthusiastic and may be able to support something from here (JISC Netskills) – I’m not speaking on behalf of any JISC programme.

    So where to go from here? A name I think 😉 LibTeachMeets? infoTeachMeets? LaTMeets? (not sure if we can just nick TeachMeets!).


  13. I think it would be a good idea to keep the lat aspect, especially if there is going to be a lat11 it could all tie in really nicely. What do you think Jess? (and everyone else of course) EXCITED!!!


  14. Posted by Judy on July 20, 2010 at 11:56 pm

    Hi Jo

    Yes, definately go for the PGCHE. Teaching is where a lot of academic librarianship will be going in the future. As you know I’m now in Aus for a while and part way through a Graduate Diploma in teaching (Adult Ed) – most of my focus so far has been in teaching English as a second language for adults. However each module has a focus – assessment, program planning as well as teaching. Its great as I saw immediately where I had been going wrong when I was a librarian as teacher… too much teaching and not enough involvement of the students. With my 60 hour placement I learned so much about effective teaching from my mentor … this is where you could get some ideas, maybe sit in on a lecture from a lecturer who you know is effective and inclusive…I cant stress enough that theory is one thing, but learning effective teaching techniques in practice is the way to go. It turned my head around ..

    I’m not sure if the PGCHE offers that opportunity … you may be able to observe good teaching in primary or secondary schools.. ok information litearcy is diffferent, but is it really? It’s all about learner centred learning – forget about what you want to teach, think more about how you can engage learners in their own learning – context is everything, throw out the prepared lesson plan and respond to the class in front of you …

    Great to hear you are stirring everyone up .. great stuff ! And its summer over there as well!!!! 🙂


    • Ello Judy! Thanks for you post. Oh how I miss your enthusiasm 😦 ….but p’raps you can make up for leaving me by joining my network…? 😉 I think that your experiences would give us a unique perspective, which is what we need really…some outside-of-the-box thinking. It sounds like you are really enjoying the course. Good on you!
      I agree with the teaching observation idea. One of the speakers at the Teachers as Librarians conference (I am afraid I cannot remember who it was) suggested the same thing and said that primary teachers are some of the best teachers to observe as they really have to pull out all the stops to engage and keep the attention of energetic small children! I will definitely look into that. I agree with your comment on involvement of the students too. One of the speakers Geoff Walton (his slides and notes are here ) was big on this. Really inspirational. He bought practical examples with him which gave me some ideas on how we could engage our students more. Great stuff! I’ll let you know when my Spruz it up and running (I started it last night yay!) 🙂


      • I’m in a lucky position that I can go in and observe classes at my sons school and he has really good teachers. Did this a couple of weeks ago and it really inspired me to try something different with this years induction plans. I don’t believe info lit/library induction has to be dry and dull. Watching the teacher keep the class active, making sure the pupils were the ones doing the work, and responding/changing plans due to input from children was very informative. If you get a chance to observe a primary school teacher (especially a good one) then do it.

      • I am in a good position too. I support the Education courses who have links to loads of schools in the area so I am sure it would be easy enough for me to arrange some classroom observations. My sister is a primary school teacher also so she might be able to help.

  15. Posted by Judy on July 21, 2010 at 10:09 am

    Yes its all about balance – good learning takes place when there is effective teaching

    I guess we as adults want to learn something relevant and timely so our students are the same. Who would want to sit through a session where you have no control over the input or any acknowledgement of prior learning or what you want out of it .. I know I woudln’t!!

    Info Lit is no dryer than other content when you think about it, I have done 2 lessons with adult ESL students on referencing and plagiarism and it was fun .. they were in groups and ran through the quizzes and scenarios, .. having chocolate frogs on hand was good..

    So its all about engaging the students and letting them drive the learning.. not just ticking the box and saying, ok thats another library session done !


  16. Ok folks so this is it so far….it is just the bones as I registered it last night. whoop!


    • I’ve signed up. I have to wonder though if you wouldn’t be better setting it up as part of LinkedIn? How many networks are people realistically going to want to sign up to? I think NPN gets away with it because it’s targetting all new professionals, but don’t you think it might be mores sustainable if the LAT network was one part of a more established network?


      • I see your point but that is assuming everyone is already on LinkedIn? I set up this post with similar concerns as yours with the intention of establishing how much interest there would be and I think the enthusiastic responses indicates that there are several people already who would sign up to a new network….People are not going to sign up to everything, just the areas they are interested in and there appears to be quite a lot of interest here….especially in the Spruz idea
        what does everyone else think?

      • I also think it has the potential to have as wider scope as LISNPN as it covers all professionals, whatever stage of thier career, who are involved in teaching. Not just new ones. I’d imagine that is a lot.

  17. obviously I still have some padding out to do etc but it is a start.


  18. I reckon it’s worth having this as a seperate network, personally – you can always link back to or otherwise try and integrate with something happening on LinkedIn at a later stage.

    The thing about LinkedIn is lots of people don’t use it because they don’t want all their details in public like it has them, so having something that anyone can sign up to probably out-weighs the disadvantage of it being yet another thing to be a part of… Just my view, though.


  19. Hmmm, I find LinkedIn a bit overwhelming. Almost overload….but then that may be because I am not used to it as I have only just signed up to see what it is like. I also don’t like the way you have to be approved to join groups. I think Spruz is a bit less intimidating and more democratic…..I may be wrong though. These are just my first impressions. I notice there is a CDG group on there who were jointly responsible for the Librarians as Teachers conference so we can always link the site into that.

    Jess (one of the conference organizers) commented on this blog that after seeing the event feedback they had intended to set up a Spruz for the same purpose themselves but had not a time to do it, this also indicated to me that this would be the best way to do it.


    • I’m not a big fan of LinkedIn specifically myself, it was more of a general comment on the number of different networks there are, all requiring you to sign up. I agree that LAT is probably as broad in scope as new professionals – maybe even broader – but it may prove harder to reach them all to let them know about it. Not insurmountable, just something to bear in mind when publicising it.

      Speaking of which, do you want the word spread now or once there’s more on the Spruz site?


      • It is all food for thought 🙂 I am hoping that having a connection with Lat11 (Jess has already indicated she is interested) and all the interest gathered from Lat10 will help in spreading the word. I have already had over 150 hits and my record amount of comments on my blog post and that’s just the beginning so I don’t think it will be a problem. The power of social networking! 🙂

        I’d like to get some more on the site before promoting it but that should not take too long. If you have any suggestions for things you would like on there do let me know

  20. Posted by Helen Blanchett on July 21, 2010 at 12:03 pm

    I think it’s worth going with the Spruz for now – if it doesn’t work it can move elsewhere. Just need somewhere to get started and get discussion going!


  21. Posted by Rachel on July 21, 2010 at 12:47 pm

    I’ve joined the network, though I’m not actually a librarian yet – doing my MA Librarianship dissertation at the moment. I’m hoping to go into a liaison role in an academic library and am very interested in the teaching aspect of academic librarian roles, so I’d be interested to follow everything on the network until such time as I can contribute.


    • Hi Rachel, Welcome! this is excellent and exactly the kind of diversity I was hoping for. Please don’t feel you need to wait to contribute though because your thoughts will be as valid as anyone’s. In fact they may even give us a different perspective. So get involved where and when you like. Forgive the roughness of the site so far. It is just a baby..:) but I hope you will find it useful when it is up and running properly.


      • Hi Rachel, I’m just about to start my masters thesis and it’s never stopped me talking! Experience doesn’t only begin with the piece of paper 😀

  22. I’ve just arranged my first meeting with the PGCHE course leader to discuss some possible teaching strategies. EXCITED 9th August! The site will be up and running before then so I can let you all know what plans have been made and I might even get some feecback from you. 🙂


  23. so I have set up the website a bit more and have put a forum up where folk can introduce themselves and make suggestions on what they want to see on there (thanks for the suggestion Niamh) Please start spreading the word!
    I have also set up a twitter account for it. see you there I hope.


  24. Glad to see quite a few people interested in the TeachMeet idea. As Niamh mentioned above, we’re organising the first (as far as we know) Librarian TeachMeet in Cambridge. The wiki page has all the details here and I might try to contact some of you who specifically mentioned an interest to make sure you see this.

    We’re starting small to see how it goes and hope it will grow into something bigger, we’ve called it a (lib)TeachMeet and decided to stick with the TeachMeet way of doing things, though on this occasion the theme is a bit broader as it covered libraries and librarians more generally.


  25. Hi Celine,
    Looks great. Are you aware that Niamh has started a thread about it here It might be an idea to post updates there as I am pretty sure everyone here is on there now. That way people can subscribe to notifications of any developments if they want to. Feel free to post stuff there.


  26. Thanks Jo, yes I only saw Niamh’s thread on the LAT network after I posted here sorry!


  27. Posted by Gary Green on August 13, 2010 at 10:07 am

    Hi Johanna
    Don’t know if you’ve looked at the Cilip future report yet, but you might be interested in how many respondents see teaching as a current/future skill relevant to their role (pgs 37-38,41-42), just for info.


  28. Posted by Ruth Stubbings on December 16, 2010 at 10:18 am

    Hi Johanna,

    I wonder is you have heard of the CILIP CSG Information Literacy group? Membership is free. The group aims to encourage the sharing of effective practice in relation to teaching and information literacy. They have a:

    * discussion list
    * a journal called the Journal of information Literacy (JIL) the latest issue has just recently been released
    * the annual LILAC conference
    * they look after the Information Literacy website at



    • Hi Ruth, Please accept my apologies that I did not respond to this when you posted it back in December. I was not intentionally being rude I just got a bit caught up in library campaigning and this blog has been somewhat neglected -a poor excuse I know Thank you for all of these useful links. I knew about LILAC and the jisc discussion list but had not yet discovered the Information Literacy website. Thank you for pointing it out to me. I would love to go to LILAC one day but we have not had a training budget for some time and I can’t afford to go myself but when things get better I will definitely come along. I have heard many great things about it.
      Thanks again


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