Learning Spaces – Education Conference 2018

On the 11th the Essex Business School hosted a conference exploring the relationship between spaces (of any variety) and learning. The event really made me question the way that spaces, in all their forms, directly and indirectly influence our thinking and behaviour. At one time or another all of us have been made aware of the impact classrooms have on our ability to learn. Noise, size, temperature, windows and lighting can all help or hinder our attempts us to function at our best capacity. As the keynote speaker Marty Jacobs noted in his talk, we tend to notice how a space is designed once it interferes with our intentions – the lack of acoustics in a lecture theatre that muffles a speaker’s voice or the rows of desks in a classroom that forces us to swivel around to talk to the person behind us.


Lecture Theatre at Essex Business School


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The Forum at Southend

One of the interesting things I was looking forward to whilst being a trainee was getting to visit different kinds of libraries. On a sunny day in December (no really), four library staff from the Colchester campus headed to Southend to visit our colleagues at The Forum.

The Forum is a partnership project, bringing together Southend-on-Sea Borough Council, the University of Essex and South Essex College. There are approximately 1000-1400 students from the university, within the departments of School of Health and Social Care, East 15 Acting School, the Department of Psychosocial and Psychoanalytic Studies, and Essex Business School. Having worked in both in public and university libraries I was interested to find out how an academic and a public library could work together. Would students revising for end-of-term exams be faced with the lively sound of toddlers singing ‘Here we go round the mulberry bush’ during a weekly Rhymetime? Or would academic library staff be approached by members of the public wanting to know how to renew their bus passes online?

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Jigsaws and the power of three – a term at the Albert Sloman Library

The Albert Sloman Library is the biggest library I’ve worked in so far, and the opportunities are many and diverse. However if pressed (and I realise no-one is asking) I would say the most important thing I’ve learnt this term is a better understanding of how different departments and aspects of library work fit together. I’ve wanted to learn more ‘behind the scenes’ skills of library and information work –  not purely out of intellectual curiosity, but because I think informed staff are better equipped to help. For example, even before the start of term I had some training on reading lists using Talis, and was therefore able to help a staff member who was having difficulties getting his list just right for the start of term.

Writing a blog post to cover everything from this term is simply not possible. So I’ve decided to posit ‘three somethings’ that may give some insight in to the trainee post so far.

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Albert Sloman’s 50th Anniversary

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One of the perks of being a trainee here at the Albert Sloman is the chance we are given to become familiar with the library secrets and stories that most users are unaware of.  We are then able to share this knowledge with interested visitors during tours on open days and library events. As part of the Albert Sloman’s 50th anniversary, a gathering for alumni was held on the 7th December where former students were able to meet, discuss their memories and take a look at collections and areas that are not normally on display. Because an entirely new section of the library was officially opened a few years ago there have undoubtedly been changes since many of our alumni last set foot in the building. A brand new library reading room with 24 hour access has been opened this academic year as well as the new wing from 2015 which has a great view of the surrounding parkland.

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Graduate Trainee Profile #2

Hi! My name is Eleanor and I’m another of the Graduate Trainees working at the University of Essex’s Albert Sloman Library.

My background

I am not a new graduate, having completed my BSc Psychology with Healing Arts at Derby in 2002. Since then I have worked in a few different jobs, whilst trying to figure out “what I want to do when I grow up”. I even enjoyed a brief 5 year stint being self-employed, but that’s another story. I had applied for library jobs in Derby with no success, and even worked at Derby College library for a brief stint, but it hadn’t really occurred to me that this could be a lifelong career. However in 2015 I gained a permanent job in the Northamptonshire public libraries and after a short time I was hooked.

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Applying to Library School 2017


On the 9th I journeyed down to Cambridge to learn more about applying to library school. Even though it feels as if the academic year has only just begun I know  next September always rolls around sooner than I expected. As a new trainee eager to learn more about university libraries I also feel it’s important for me to learn as much as I can before attempting to draft an application. I was excited to learn that the event was being held at the beautiful and historic St John’s College Cambridge which is definitely worth a visit in its own right. Present at the conference were representatives from Sheffield, UCL, Northumbria and Aberystwyth as well as a sizeable cohort of aspiring librarians. The conference included an informative and engaging presentation from the Programme Director at the University of Sheffield. The talk provided a brief overview of some of the courses available and identified key areas to consider when choosing a programme.

Module content, assessment, location and even the ‘feel’ of a place can all be important when deciding whether to spend a year or more studying somewhere.

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