Thursday, 17 November 2016

Building a Library to Fit its Users

Below is a copy of the article that I recently had published in COLRIC's November issue of Quality Impact.

Building a Library to Fit its Users

Last summer I left Surrey after nine years of supporting approx. 10,000 students in an FE/HE college and moved to Norfolk. I now manage the library service at a sixth-form college of around 400 A Level and BTEC students. After settling in there were two things that struck me: the service did not feel like one aimed at a 16-18 demographic and the level of resources and support available were significantly lower than those available to equivalent students in a larger FE college. 16-18 education is a transition period, enabling students to transform their learning and develop skills to take them further, either in education or into the workplace. I felt our existing service, however, was not giving our students the potential to fully develop into modern, independent learners. Students were only able to search for or locate Library resources by browsing the shelves, they were unable to access the same level of resources as their counterparts elsewhere and, I felt, lacked knowledge about the different resources they could access and the appropriate skills to search for and analyse the quality of content online. With these key issues in mind I spent the last year implementing key developments and transforming the service.
If you walk into our Library you would probably think there aren’t many books. With a very small budget I am unable to regularly update stock. Instead, I have to find the most cost-effective ways of providing up-to-date resources and this has resulted in greater focus on print journals and online resources which stretch learning and provide access to regularly updated information throughout the year. It has the added benefit of helping our learners become more familiar with using alternative resources. To encourage their use I email monthly updates of articles and promote access to our online resources from home through our new College website.
The Library had been without a functioning online catalogue for a while and we desperately needed to upgrade our LMS. However, I felt the existing system was not age-appropriate and so made the case for moving supplier. Alongside this I undertook a weeding project to help make up-to-date resources more visible and began applying the Dewey Decimal System. Now, instead of relying on me all the time, I can train students in how to search for books and articles, make judgements as to appropriate resources and locate them on the shelves.
In addition I created an information literacy skills service. This includes class/tutorial sessions which I’m beginning to embed into different subjects and individual one-to-ones. These sessions focus on key areas and help learners go beyond the resources I can provide: planning research and effectively using/combining keywords; relevant resources available through the college; additional high-quality resources available freely online; and judging the quality of online content. Finally, to ensure I continue providing a service which meets learners’ needs, I have implemented an annual Library Questionnaire. I will shortly be running the Questionnaire for this year and am looking forward to Year 13’s responses to the developments they have experienced over the year along with suggestions from both years groups as to how we can take things further. Already, though, I am receiving feedback demonstrating the impact the changes have made:
Current Year 13 student Nesta James: ‘Booking a one-to-one session was incredibly helpful to my studies, particularly for the research I undertook doing my EPQ. Being able to be shown all of the resources that we have access to was so useful, and also being given help with how to reference was something I found really valuable.’
Peter Elphick (Head of Media): ‘The standard of my students’ research skills and their use of sources in both their Year 1 and Year 2 coursework components has improved markedly. I thought this was down to me (!) but on discussion with the students they confirmed that the library’s accessibility and Rachel’s organisation and clarity of message has been behind this transformation. … She has made the Library’s resources simpler to access and more professional in content and so the students are using them.’
College Director, Phyllis O’Grady: ‘Speaking from my experience as an EPQ supervisor, individual tutorials with Rachel to properly understand effective selection, use and evaluation of secondary resources along with correct referencing has been invaluable. Students’ reports have invariably moved up a grade and gone from decent A Level standard essays to works of serious academic quality. Students have expressed delight and confidence at having thoroughly mastered these skills a full year before starting university.’

Monday, 6 June 2016

Library Training

It is the first week back after the May half term and I am about to take on a new Library volunteer. She has approached me as she is keen to pursue a career as an academic librarian and would like to gain some relevant experience for the rest of this term and into next year - no pressure on me then!

This is about to plunge me into a new and third type of training experience.

My first experience came in my previous post where I played a significant role in training new staff members and, later on, Graduate Trainees. These each followed a training programme that we had devised with the ultimate aim being that they were competent in working in our Learning Resources Centres, be able to deal with the day-to-day tasks required of them, oversee the senior level tasks assigned to them where relevant and be able to handle the wide variety of enquiries we received.

My second experience began with my current post. At the beginning of the academic year, Year 12 students were given the opportunity to sign up to a wide range of enrichment clubs, groups and activities, one of them being Library Volunteers. Whilst three or four initially signed up I only had one student who was really interested and spent an hour a week with me until the Easter break. Whilst she showed enthusiasm, however, she didn't have a particular interest in working in libraries. Therefore I had the challenge of giving her a meaningful experience in just one hour a week where she could walk away with a selection of transferable skills that she could then outline in a CV and apply to other work. Ultimately, she was able to take away the following, to varying degrees - for example, we had very few shop sales whilst she was here and my link of how she had developed an awareness of the importance of the visual display of materials and how they are organised to maximise space by re-arranging the prospectus collection to one copy stored alphabetically and creating new box labels is a bit tenuous to say the least!

  • Contributed to raising the profile of resources, developed her attention to detail and ability to consistently conform to cataloguing standards by adding details of new journal articles into the Library Management System.
  • Developed an awareness of how national events can be linked to local organisations and activities by helping to promote National Poetry Day and encouraged peers to take part in activities organised by the Library.
  • Demonstrated an ability to follow set guidelines in order to identify resources appropriate for weeding. Developed communication skills by liaising with me to discuss relevance and an awareness of the important of recording details of withdrawn items for audit purposes.
  • Developed an awareness of the importance of the visual display of materials and how they are organised to maximise space by re-arranging the prospectus collection and re-vitalising labelling.
  • Contributed to the effective organisation of materials to aid retrieval by helping to devise a classification scheme for the IAG collection. Demonstrated communication skills further by liaising with me in order to classify difficult to place titles.
  • Developed an awareness of the importance of visual and verbal communication in restrained activities, i.e. how a poster needs to catch the eye and convey appropriate messages about the contents and benefits of the IAG collection and how to do the same through only a few lines included in a library welcome induction.
  • Developed use of Excel spreadsheets to record changing stock quantities and financial transactions.

My new and third experience of training is now going to contain elements of both - my new volunteer will only be committed to one hour a week and she will require specifically library-related tasks but without being trained to the extent that she could run the Library by herself.

To tackle this I have decided to think back to my time training new Graduate Trainees and devise a programme that includes all aspects of working in an academic library - from opening the Centre, daily duties such as scanning the newspapers, taking shop sales and issuing and returning to cataloguing new resources, helping me with my classification project and managing journals - approaching each as though I were fully training her but leaving some tasks at just an introduction in one session and not continuing them each week. This way, I hope, she will get a flavour of the entire range of work involved and be able to also be involved in longer term projects without being bogged down by small tasks repeated each week. I'll have to see what she thinks at the end!

Tuesday, 17 May 2016

Including Library provision in Ofsted ratings

CILIP recently published a news item in their May issue of Update entitled, ‘Plea to include library provision in school ratings’. In the article it explains how the Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ALT) has called upon inspectors to look at the quality of library services as part of their inspection. This motion backs up CILIP’s own view that Ofsted should update the scope of their inspections.
My personal view is in agreement with ALT and CILIP, particularly in schools and colleges delivering 16-18 provision. At Key Stage Five there is an important shift in the focus of library services. It moves away from primarily focusing on literacy development and reading for pleasure to developing information literacy skills and encouraging independent and active learning.
The 16-18 organisation in which I work receives its Ofsted inspection as part of the inspection of its associated high schools. However, the service that I provide for my students here is different to that provided for under 16s and links directly to the themes that Ofsted consider in their inspection, i.e. quality of teaching, learning and assessment and the personal development, behaviour and welfare of learners.
For example:
I deliver in-depth research skills inductions to A Level and BTEC students on information literacy. These inductions encourage students to think about how to plan a search for information, which resources might be most appropriate, how to effectively search and use online resources, including the internet (plus how to deal with the amount of information they find and refine results further) and how to judge the quality of information.
I provide and support the use of a wide range of information resources from printed books, academic and trade journals to online databases, improving digital literacy and developing students’ skills in being able to deal with information in a variety of formats.
I promote reading for pleasure through activities tied in to national initiatives such as National Poetry Day, World Book Day and World Book Night and provide and promote non-course related resources. These activities encourage further literacy development and a lifelong enjoyment of reading.
I offer the opportunity for students to volunteer as a Library Assistant helping them to develop a range of transferable skills including attention to detail, awareness of accessibility, promotion and customer service.
The majority of the learning and development linked to these services takes place outside of the classroom and, unless directly asked about the library services, a student speaking to an inspector may only focus on their experience of teaching and course-related enrichment. I believe the value of library services shouldn’t be underestimated. Being able to effectively prove our worth and impact on student outcomes can be difficult but at least being included in an Ofsted inspection would provide evidence of our influence where statistical or qualitative data might be lacking.
Furthermore it would help to identify and place emphasis on services where improvement was required. One of the significant things I became aware of when starting this post was the difference in the level of resources and services available to post-16 learners in an FE College (where I had previously worked) to those in my organisation. This was primarily due to budget and the skills and experience required of the post-holder. The choice of where a student goes to study their A Levels can make a significant difference in terms of library support. Where 16-18 provision occurs within a high school, school librarians need to provide both types of support – literacy and independent learning – in equal measure. In my experience (and I realise I’m making a sweeping generalisation here!) this isn’t always the case.
Those services that deliver fantastic provision should be recognised for their work and those that aren’t providing as much support as they could be should be identified. I feel that an excellent library service should be one that fosters student learning and development out of the classroom just as much as subject lessons do in and is just as important.

Thursday, 3 March 2016

Getting back into teaching

Almost any academic librarian nowadays will tell you that teaching is part of their role, usually delivering study skills or research skills sessions to their students. In my previous blog post (The reality ofdownsizing) I discussed how I’m hoping to build the reputation of my Library service as one that is at the heart of the College in delivering research skills support. I hadn’t delivered a research skills induction for several months since moving to my new post. However, yesterday I was back in the swing of things, delivering five back-to-back, 20 minute sessions on Advanced Research Skills to groups of Year 12 students who are thinking about starting their EPQ process.

The EPQ – Extended Project Qualification – is a stand-alone Level 3 award which allows students to develop and extend their knowledge of their curriculum subjects or pursue an area of personal interest. It is based on a topic chosen by the students and can take the form of a 5000 word report or an ‘artefact’ accompanied by a 1500 word report. It is an opportunity to show potential universities and employers that they have well developed, independent research, time and project management skills. Grades are based on both the final piece of work and the process which students record in their project log. Students are graded based on how well they identify and use resources, carry out research, develop their ideas to realise an outcome and then reflect on the outcome and the process.

My role was to prepare students for the secondary research involved in their EPQ process, whether they are still trying to decide on which topic to focus on, or whether they are looking for in-depth information to support their chosen title.

I planned my session around 6 main themes: planning your research; high-quality and reliable resources available through the College; tools and techniques to effectively search the internet; judging the quality of information on the internet; recording all sources for referencing; where to go for help.

It felt really good to be delivering research skills inductions again. As I was several months out of practice I did have to write myself a script to make sure I didn’t miss anything out but had prepared well so I wasn’t bound to it. I tried to encourage student engagement by asking them questions throughout but, as is often the case with this age group, I got very little response! I wasn’t too worried though as I noticed a lot of engagement and silent participation in the session with most students looking at me and making lots of notes.

Whilst I saw around 120 students these were only the Year 12s that were interested in starting the EPQ process. However, each tutor attended the session with their group and has seen the type of support I can offer so I’m hoping that further induction bookings will start to come in.

The only thing I didn’t prepare for was the afternoon slump! I was keyed up all morning as I worked through the sessions until lunchtime, however after lunch I couldn’t get motivated to do anything!

Wednesday, 3 February 2016

The reality of 'downsizing'

I have been in my new post now for five months having moved from a large FE and HE College to a small Sixth Form College overseen by the two local High Schools. There have been a few changes that I'm having to get used to.

Resource and service provision
The first thing that I became aware of was how service provision can greatly differ depending on where a student chooses to study their A Levels. If they choose to go to an FE College (like Kingston) they could have access to copies of their course textbooks and recommended reading, e-books and e-textbooks, a range of journals and journal databases, subscription online resources aimed at 16-19 year-olds, general interest materials, research skills inductions and the support of professional librarians. If they choose to go to a small Sixth Form College (like us), or continue at their High School, financial restrictions mean that the same level of provision simply isn't possible.

Knowing what students at Kingston were able to access I have been trying to introduce new services here. Whilst I am unable to subscribe to large journal databases, such as JSTOR or General OneFile, I am currently trying to encourage our English department to have a look at Literary Reference Center. The subscription cost is much more manageable and I know that our English Literature students are required to search for recent criticism on the texts they are studying. Whilst small, this database would at least provide them with access to appropriate material and give them an idea of how the type of database they might use if they go on to Higher Education could work.

One of the most useful resources for our students is the collection of Philip Allan Review titles. We currently subscribe to seven. Due to the discounts we would receive through our local consortium I could subscribe to the Philip Allan Online Archive and have access to all fourteen titles for less cost. However, the Archive does not include the current years' issues and so I would have to continue the print subscriptions as well to ensure that students continued to receive articles related to their current topics. Therefore, some subjects will continue to miss out on this excellent resource. Unfortunately I am just not in a position to be able to provide a useful online resource, accessible from home that supports the majority of students.

We have subscriptions (managed outside the Library budget) to five subject areas in Kerboodle and four of these provide an e-textbook. However, I am unable to provide any further e-book provision and the amount I have available to spend on print books is very limited. I recently did a little splurge as we're coming to the end of the financial year but could only include 11 titles - still very exciting when they arrived!

I am also trying to promote my services as a professional librarian. One of the key aims of the College is to produce independent learners and I am in a key position to help achieve this. Having gained positive feedback in my student library questionnaire I have begun to offer a bookable one-to-one service for students who would like help with finding high-quality resources or referencing their work (a requirement for those who choose to take the EPQ). This has not been picked up yet but it's still early days. In conjunction with this I am also promoting the induction service I can offer to tutors whereby I can come into their class and deliver a session on research skills or using our online resources. Again, uptake for this has been slow but I have begun to have discussions with staff in some subject areas and I plan to get myself into some departmental meetings in the summer term to try and build inductions into next year's course delivery.

Perceptions of the Librarian and the Library
One of the features of our College is that a lot of our teaching staff come over from the two local High Schools. Understandably, they are used to the service of a school library and the role of a school librarian. Beyond providing a traditional library service this usually involves a focus on literacy and reader development, not research and independent learning. The biggest challenge I'm facing, therefore, is to change the perception of the Library as a College-wide service and the role I can play in that. It was admitted to me on interviewing for this role that the College hasn't had a qualified librarian in post for a long time. Whilst this is not necessarily a negative thing it has meant that the Library hasn't gained a reputation for being a central College service for research and enquiry support. I believe this is one of the causes for the slow up-take in classroom inductions. At A Level, students need to be able to supplement their work with high-quality sources and know how to effectively search and deal with the amount of information they can access online. I am determined to work to place the Library at the heart of this College in terms of research support and make sure that every student has access to the research skills support that I can offer and, over time, prove the impact that the Library can have on students' results, despite the limited budget!

With all this in mind I have to say I don't regret the move at all. Even with these challenges, on a personal level, it's a great opportunity as I can work to improve resources and services, ground them into course delivery and then be able to say that I have achieved this, all on my own.

Wednesday, 20 January 2016

Student Views - running the Library Questionnaire

During two weeks at the end of November I ran the first of a new, annual Library Questionnaire with our students. At the moment our students don't really engage with the Library beyond using it as a study space. Few resources are borrowed, very few information enquiries are made and there is little course integration, for example through resource lists or inductions. The purpose of my questionnaire, therefore, was to gauge awareness, gain opinion and collate data that I could use with teaching staff and College management to help drive forward improvements. I also included a couple of questions supplied by COLRIC (Council for Learning Resources in Colleges) so that I can benchmark myself against other institutions.

My experience of questionnaire planning, delivery and analysis with the LRC team in my previous post had prepared me well for going it alone. So what had I learnt?
  • Each question must have relevance. It might be you want to find out something specific you can't get from your other statistic gathering. It might be you need to obtain some evidence to include in a review or proposal. Or you might want to use it to help raise awareness of a resource/service which then provides year-on-year data demonstrating your promotional success (or lack of!). Either way, if you cannot specify exactly how you will use the results then it is not a relevant or useful question.
  • Don't ask about something you can't change. If you know that there is no
    budget/space for new computers in the immediate future, for example, don't ask students whether they think there are enough. Instead, ask them whether they can always access one and then you can look at introducing or changing booking allowances. What's the point of asking if you can't do anything about it?
  • Encourage negative comments. It's great to know if you're doing things well but in order to make effective improvements you need to find out what your students aren't happy with. When applying an agreement scale to a question, for example, start with Strongly Disagree. That way students have to think about whether there is anything they're not happy about before they reach the options to agree.
  • Encourage details and give provision for follow-up. If you ask whether students want new resources it's not very helpful if you get an anonymous response asking for "more resources for biology". (Particularly if you have biology courses at several different levels.) Unfortunately, I was unable to go through my questionnaire with students as they completed it, encouraging further details, and so left myself open to ambiguous responses like this. It is therefore important to ask for more information about the student themselves (aside from any institutional equal opportunities monitoring), e.g. which course they are studying and what year they are in. This then allows you to follow up with subject tutors to find out about topics and resource requirements in that area.
  • Analyse your respondent demographic. As well as identifying trends across the questions as a whole it is also interesting to analyse your responses at a deeper level, looking at who your students are and how they responded to other questions. For example, are there response groupings, i.e. several responses of the same type coming from the same year group or course? This could then help you identify priorities in resource provision or promotion without the need being specifically requested in other parts of the questionnaire.
I have completed my first phase of analysis, identified the 'headline' results and drawn up an action plan. Despite planning well I did encounter some issues.

I had to leave students to their own devices to complete the questionnaire. The Library is
a silent study environment so I couldn't go through the questions with students. There are two other study areas in the College and I regularly replenished questionnaires there to increase responses. However, because I am a team of one, I was unable to spend a lot of time in these areas talking to students. The benefit of this is that students feel they can be more honest. However, this means that in future years I won't be able to guarantee a certain number of responses. Furthermore, I found that not all questionnaires were completed the whole way through and some respondents didn't take it very seriously. (I feel confident that the requests for me to change the Library into a spaceship, install a wood burner and swimming pool and introduce a trolley service I can safely ignore!)

To encourage responses I also created an online version using Survey Monkey and this raised issues of its own. Firstly, due to the limitations governing the number of questions you can have in the free part of Survey Monkey, some questions had to be arranged slightly differently and this may have affected the responses. More worryingly, despite setting the majority of questions as requiring an answer there were still several instances of questions being skipped. In spite of these issues I received 208 questionnaires back (121 paper and 87 online) - almost half of our student population - and so received enough full responses to make the results meaningful.

Having developed an action plan the final stage is to let your students know what you are doing. You asked them for their opinions so it is only right that you tell them what their contributions have resulted in. Inspired by my previous College's method I put together a 'You Said, We Did' announcement. I posted this on our website and social media and emailed a copy to all students. To encourage engagement it is important that your users know their input is valued.

For next year's questionnaire I will:
  • Sort out the issue with Survey Monkey.
  • Try and reduce the number of questions (this year I am implementing several new services which I wanted to gauge interest in. The number of questions - 16 - may also have been why some students failed to complete the questionnaire).
  • Possibly spend some time with students in the other study areas to go through the questionnaire with them and develop conversations.

Monday, 11 January 2016

A Period of Change

I have been out of social media in a professional context for a while. My last Tweet and blog post were both in July 2014! There have been a couple of reasons for this. During the first year we saw significant changes with regards to staffing in the LRC team which meant that I just didn't have the time to monitor my Twitter feed or compile new blog posts. Then, in the summer of 2015, I got a new job in a Sixth Form College and my husband and I relocated from Surrey to Norfolk! There were a number of reasons for the move but it's one I have no regrets about. Part of the reason it has taken another six months for me to get back into social media is that I am responsible for the College's Twitter presence. In my head that meant I - MUST - HAVE - THE - COLLEGE - TWITTER - ACCOUNT - OPEN - ALL - THE - TIME! I've now come to the realisation that, actually, I can alternate between the two during the day - what a revelation!

So, let me tell you about my new job. I am the Educational Resource Manager / Communications Officer at Dereham Sixth Form College in Norfolk. We are a small College - our current cohort is just over 430 students across Years 12 and 13 - and offer a number of A Levels, Applied A Levels and few BTECs including the BTEC Extended Diploma in Sport through DESA - the Dereham Education and Soccer Academy. We also offer the EPQ (Extended Project Qualification). I started just before the students returned in September and so have now completed my first term ... ... and I'm loving it!

As you'll see from my job title my role is divided into two areas. As Educational Resource Manager (still really excited about having the word Manager in my job title!) I am responsible for running the Library and its services. I am a team of one and so I man the enquiry desk for the majority of the day but also have the freedom to run and manage the service as I want. I am the first qualified librarian that the College has had in a long while and so there are many things I have been developing and implementing already (more on that later). As Communications Officer I oversee and maintain all publicity and communications from the College through parent emails, our website and its news area, Twitter and Facebook, the College newsletter and media relations. That sounds like a lot to try and be dealing with but, when your Library is a silent study space and your students are impeccably well-behaved (compared to previous experiences) my days are filled and stress-free.
My Library

There have, of course, been some changes it's taken a little while to get used to. In my old post I was part of a team of LRC staff comprising qualified librarians, graduate trainees and part-time assistants. Here, as I mentioned, I am a team of one. Dereham Sixth Form College is run with a small team of fixed, College-based staff, then further teachers come over from our two main feeder High Schools (which also jointly manage the Sixth Form) to assist with the teaching. Despite spending a lot of my day without much contact with other staff, I have never felt alienated from our core College team. They are all very friendly and have made me feel extremely welcome.

The other main change I'm dealing with is a change in organisation identity. Kingston College is an FE and HE College and so is run independently. Dereham Sixth Form College is run and managed by the two High Schools in Dereham, along with the management staff from the core College team. This means that we are not independent and we are not an FE College. I have a significantly smaller budget and therefore cannot afford the number of resources that A Level students at a larger FE College can access. In some cases, we are not entitled to access certain resources, such as the free Ebooks for FE collection through JISC, for example. The move has really highlighted to me the continuing difference in resource provision, and therefore levels of service, that an A Level student can receive depending on where they choose to study.

During my first term I have been getting to know the College systems and processes, the students, and the resources in the Library. I have also been implementing a number of changes and new developments:

  • The book stock is grouped by subject but has no classification system. I have begun a long-term project to classify the book stock with the Dewey Decimal System in conjunction with liaising with relevant teachers to complete an effective weed of each subject area.
  • I have inherited an old, no-longer-supported version of the Library Management System Eclipse. This has developed a number of bugs and is far more suited to a school library's collection than a Sixth Form. Furthermore, the online catalogue interface decided to give up long ago! I have put forward a business case to change our LMS to Heritage (which I used in my last post and IT have previously had experience of) and the College Director has given the go ahead.
  • Before Christmas I ran the first of a new, annual Library Questionnaire. My experience of helping to run a yearly questionnaire at Kingston fully prepared me so that I felt confident in the types of questions I wanted to ask, how to manage the questionnaire and how to deal with the responses and develop an action plan for responding to the feedback.
  • I am in the process of trying to get teachers on board so that I can develop and deliver a set of research skills inductions focusing on using our Online Resources, developing research skills and finding high quality resources and referencing. Furthermore, I am about to offer bookable one-to-one sessions for students on research skills and referencing.
  • Due to the timing of my start date the College Director was kind and didn't involve me with the new student induction programme. However, I am now in a position where I can develop an effective welcome induction to the Library along with some new Library cards (these were disbanded when Eclipse stopped reading the barcodes but, since the College does not issue ID cards to students, I want to re-introduce them to help me learn names quicker rather than having to ask all the time!)
  • I have significantly developed our Twitter account and our relations with the local press. This term I also created the first issue of our new College newsletter, The Sixth Former.
  • IT Support and I are combining my design skills and their coding skills to create a brand new, in-house College website. As part of my interview for this role I was asked to be prepared for a discussion on how I would develop and update the website so I already wanted to make changes in terms of re-defining our audience, re-organising content and improving accessibility. Now, we're getting to build one completely from scratch which is very exciting (rather than being limited to the format of our current site without incurring large re-design costs from our hosting company).

In addition, I have found myself working in a number of new areas. The College offers a range of enrichment activities and the Director suggested I take on some student library volunteers and be involved in running a book club. I now have one regular volunteer who comes to me once a week and is currently helping me overhaul the careers collection. I want to make her experience valuable so I'm making sure that each task I give her, whether it be collection management or cataloguing new journals, outlines clear, transferable skills that she can develop for the future. I've never been involved in a book club before - I found that analysing texts during my English Literature A Level put me off doing the same when reading for pleasure! We chose a couple of books to read between the group over the Christmas break (I've read The hundred year-old man who climbed out of the window and disappeared by Jonas Jonasson) and we have out first meeting this week. I'm leading the discussion of this book with the Director leading the discussion of the other title (Seeing stars by Simon Armitage). It will be interesting to see how I do! In my Communications Officer role I have found myself contacting a local business asking for support to raise sponsorship money for our Half Marathon Team, getting in touch with an exhibition space about the possibility of exhibiting A Level artwork and regularly working as a press officer at our events.

I have also found myself dressing up as a witch for Halloween, in spots and stripes for Children in Need and in a Christmas jumper for Text Santa!
 The change in post for me has meant a number of adjustments - a change in work duties and focus; a decrease in salary; an increase in accountability and responsibilities; a decrease in stress. All have been changes for the better, however, and I feel that I have seamlessly fitted into my role and College life. As one colleague said, "It feels as if you've been here for years!" All in all my first term has been full, varied and great fun!