Key findings from the inquiry:
In this inquiry we found that a high degree of differentiation exists within the FE sector making FE library services broad in scope and reach. This is evidenced by the many different partnerships and programmes (national and local) that UK FE librarians work on. In addition it was found that:
The role and interventions of FE librarians
- There was a consensus amongst FE librarians as to their main roles and responsibilities. This could indicate the existence of a core FE library service
- The main interventions were around resourcing learning by creating, updating, disseminating and managing electronic and printed resources as well as teaching information literacy and digital literacy and working to increase basic skills.
- As well as the more traditional roles, Safeguarding, e-safety, promoting “British values”, and PDHW (Personal, Development, Health & Welfare) type activities were seen by FE librarians, and the Principals who were interviewed, as core activities
- The promotion of reading for pleasure is a major way in which college libraries and librarians contribute to improving a student’s learning outcomes. The broader education ethos, of the library being a place where behavioural issues can be identified and interventions made, is another valuable role recognised by FE leaders.
- Actively promoting equalities and diversity, managing the college licences for TV, film etc and coach/ teach staff in creating content for the VLE, e-safety training, building Moodle courses for the curriculum, providing support to students to achieve their personal goals as well as academic, work with HE students especially helping with transition to higher level studies and help supporting English and Maths were all mentioned more than once.
- Change is a constant throughout the sector and FE library staff are finding innovative solutions to the various challenges faced by FE colleges. This includes partnership working with HE institutions and public libraries in particular.
Innovation of FE librarians
- The work of FE librarians is proactive. Thought is given to new activities which add value and not just to new ways of delivering existing interventions.
- The library is home to a vision of the broader objectives of teaching and learning encompassing personal development. In our survey this was referred to as “citizenship” and “British values”. This came through strongly in comments of “other activities” not specified under the 20 broad headings given in the survey and in comments by college principals. FE librarians develop networks and relationships both within the college and with external partners, particularly with public libraries and HE. The partnerships are not just around resource sharing but in recognition of the importance for students to have the transferrable skills necessary to continue their academic career.