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Information Scotland

The Journal of the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals in Scotland

ISSN 1743-5471

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August 2008 Volume 6(4)

Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals in Scotland

College Libraries

Progress at colleges

The 2003 evaluation toolkit for college libraries is being updated. Cathy Kearney explains.

The largest provider of lifelong learning in Scotland is the college sector, offering career-based education and training from basic entry level courses through to degrees. More than one quarter of higher education is delivered in colleges and with one in ten of the population enrolled in one, the importance of ensuring high-quality library services are available to learners is obvious.

In 2003 SLIC published Resources and Services Supporting Learning: a service development quality toolkit as an aid for college librarians undergoing the HMIE review process. SLIC has evidence that the toolkit is well used and remains relevant but would benefit from updating to take account of significant change. A new working party has therefore been set up to review these developments, examine new policy guidance and create an updated self-evaluation quality toolkit for college libraries.

The Working Party is chaired by Charlie Sweeney, former Manager of the JISC Regional Support Centre for South and West Scotland, and supported by myself, SLIC Assistant Director. Working party members are drawn from across Scotland: Hugh Beattie, Clydebank College; Fionnuala Carmichael JISC RSC-SW; Tony Donnelly, Glasgow MET; Kirsteen Dowie, Central College; Jill Evans, SCURL; Mark Glancy, Edinburgh’s Telford College; Carole Gray, Motherwell College; Craig Green, John Wheatley College; Jennifer Louden, Glasgow MET; Donald Maclean, Perth College; Tom Macmaster, Carnegie College.

So what developments will the Working Party address? The strategic context for colleges continues to be the Scottish Government’s updated lifelong learning strategy but there is also a policy framework which has encouraged efficiency, shared services and collaboration. As a result, shared service developments, college mergers and co-location of institutions have increased. This has resulted in a reduction in the number of colleges from 46 to 43 and the merging of the Further and Higher Education Funding Councils to create a unique and cohesive collaborative framework across the sectors.

The first of the colleges to merge in 2004 were Glasgow College of Building and Printing and Glasgow College of Food Technology – into Glasgow Metropolitan College. Adam Smith College was created when Fife and Glenrothes Colleges joined forces, and Falkirk and Clackmannan College merged to become Forth Valley College. Currently, the four Glasgow city centre colleges, Central, Glasgow Metropolitan, Stow and Glasgow College of Nautical Studies, are developing jointly a fully integrated city centre estate. In a joint venture with East Renfrewshire Council, Reid Kerr, Cardonald, and Langside Colleges are planning a new East Renfrewshire College and a new community library to be based in Barrhead and operated collaboratively.

Government funding has enabled major campus redevelop-ment and relocation which is transforming dated college estates. Both JISC[1] and the SFC[2] have highlighted the impact of use of space and learning technologies on the learning environment in publications featuring college case studies.

Campus redevelopment has been a catalyst for innovative designed libraries and learning centres increasingly being shared with other institutions or managed jointly. John Wheatley College entered into partnership with Culture and Sport Glasgow which delivers joint public and college library services at the Bridge, Easterhouse, via a service level agreement. Borders College and Heriot Watt University share a single service point in a new campus building in Galashiels, using a service level agreement with the University to deliver library services to the College. Dumfries and Galloway College decided to relocate to a new building on the Crichton Campus where the college library is shared with University of West of Scotland and Glasgow University.

Technological innovation in libraries has included an increasing emphasis on ICT and remote service delivery, portalisation, virtual learning spaces, e-resources, wireless technology, Web 2.0 services, RFID, repositories and an emerging debate on the future of library management systems. JISC continues to provide local advice and support for ICT developments through the Regional Support Centres and by organising user forums. Personalised learning and engaging students as partners in the design of their own learning is placing extra demands on the library.

The HMIE review framework on which the 2003 Toolkit was based came to an end in summer 2008. Following an appraisal by SFC of quality assurance arrangements in colleges, a new policy framework intended to celebrate the existing base of good practice and support its further development is being introduced.

Recent guidance issued by SFC[3] includes an explicit requirement to report on libraries. The same guidance also highlights service development and enhancement issues, suggests that colleges consider introducing some externality to the review process and encourages the involvement of learners in the quality process.

The task of the Working Party, therefore, is to update SLIC advice in the light of these developments and changes, and produce for the sector a new toolkit framed around the SFC guidance and the revised HMIE framework. The project is due to last a year with the new toolkit being published to coincide with the SLIC FE Conference 2009. In the meantime progress will be posted periodically to the LIBNET mailing list.

1 Designing Spaces for Effective Learning: a guide for 21st century learning space design. JISC, 2006
2 Spaces for Learning. SFC, 2006
3 Council guidance to colleges on quality SFC/33/2008

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Information Scotland Vol. 6(4) August 2008

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Last updated: 29-Aug-2008