Tuesday, 20 September 2011

To see ourselves as others see us ...

Woodlouse 04**

One of my Mum's favourite sayings quoted from Burns* invited us to see ourselves as other see us.  Do we organise ourselves to suit our internal needs or our organisation's needs or do we find out what meets the needs of our customers. 

When I worked at a sixth form college we had a central library with a large silent silent area which held the books, and three smaller resource areas.  The central staff had no idea that many of the students found the library intimidating until we had a video made about the bases where many students explained how much they liked the more approachable and less threatening environment of the smaller bases.  We couldn't close the library but did need to think how to make it a bit less threatening and value the smaller bases even more for their support for "library phobic" students.

Anthony Finkelstein writing as @ on twitter had a similar glance from the "customer's" experience recently "just returned from delivering my son to university of manchester, seeing university through eyes of parent, very instructive, also emotional"

Bohyun Kim (http://bohyunkim.net/) discusses the same thought when commenting on Netflix and their structural changes which have no apparent benefits to their customers - indeed making things more difficult in their internal streamlining.  She relates this to the separation we make between e-resources and paper ones.  "Searching an OPAC and jumping between an OPAC and an e-journal portal/a database list page/e-reader information page are not very pleasant or reassuring experience to library users."

It is even more confusing for HE students in FE who have two sets of resources to navigate - it confuses me half the time so how do we expect the lecturers and students to cope and think well of us and our services.

We are fortunate to have these glimpses and must hold them in our memories when they appear to remind ourselves where our focus needs to be. We can't change everything we would like to be but remembering the perspective will help us to prioritise things to suit the student (or lecturer, or researcher) rather than us.

*O would some power the giftie gie us to see ourselves as others see us.
(O would some power the gift to give us to see ourselves as others see us.)
Robert Burns, Poem "To a Louse" - verse 8
** http://www.soil-net.com/album/animals/Invertebrates/slides/Woodlouse%2004.html

Friday, 24 June 2011

Why Blog?

Right - 23Things or CPD23 Here we go!

Blogging Librarian http://flic.kr/p/sJrRj

The route to here

I've not been blogging for long, as you can see, despite good intentions for a while.  

  • Initially I didn't know what to say and couldn't imagine being useful/interesting to anyone else.
  • Then I discovered Twitter and dipped my toe in the water with just 140 characters at a time.  
  • Then I went on a course which several of us thought was going to be our Library's brand only to discover it would be about our own. I also discovered I have an alter ego who does pole dancing - anyone who knows what shape I'm in would find this nauseating/hilarious, but what about those who don't?
  • Then we set up a series of courses on Impact with CoFHE NW and JISC RSC NW and I felt I had something to blog about - hence the name.
  • Lastly I'm being made redundant, so thought I'd better give online presence a boost.  I haven't had the nerve to include the link in an application yet, but shouldn't be too long now before I do get up the nerve.

These are the reasons given on CPD23 blog about why it's a good thing to blog - can see this getting a bit circular before too long.

  • blogging about what you've seen or done is a way of incorporating reflective practice into your professional life. We'll be talking more about reflective practice in Thing 5.
  • more prosaically, blogging about events will help you remember them more clearly in the future, and that's useful for job applications and when working towards qualifications.
  • you will positively impact on other people's development by blogging your ideas and experiences - professional engagement isn't just about your development, but it's also about sharing what you know with others.
  • by sharing your ideas and knowledge you'll get to meet new people and develop a wider professional network.

I have definitely found blogging helps with reflection, and all the blog posts I plan about CoFHE11 (the CoFHE annual conference) should help with this.  This will also contribute to point 2 when I get the blogging habit better established.  As for point 3 that's for others to decide - I definitely get lots form other people's blogs.  And if Twitter is anything to go by I will certainly build the network.  The only problem so far is thinking of people as their twitter persona and nearly calling Jo Alcock "Joeyanne" when I met her!  I'm sure I'm not the first.  I can still be a bit shy about actually speaking to people I've been tweeting for ages - I nearly spoke to Smiley Librarian at a Mash event!

I've made a start on part two, but plan to do much more blog reading and following over the weekend!

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

CPD Twenty Three Things

This looks to be an excellent opportunity to develop knowledge & awareness of online tools.  Even though I use many of the “things” I’m going to follow the programme as there is bound to be lots of ideas to pick up from the team and other course members.  Looking at the programme there will be an emphasis on using the tools professionally, so hopefully we can a few that will have real impact.

The only issue is that they have got a university schedule in mind and so the last few weeks will cut across the busy time in FE libraries, but we can always catch up later!

Free CPD coming up!
23 Things for Professional Development is a free online programme open to information professionals at all stages of their career, in all types of role, and anywhere across the world.

Inspired by the 23 Things programmes for social media, this new programme will consist of a mixture of social media "Things" and "Things" to do with professional development. The programme starts on 20 June and will run until early October 2011.

Each week the CPD23 blog will be updated with details of the next thing to be explored. Catch up weeks and reflection weeks are built into the programme, so it's not a problem if you’re going to be away for a week or two!

Friday, 29 April 2011

Managing the ending

I've just been reading a couple of posts on ACRLog - the Association of College and Research Libraries. In the second Finishing Strong: Manage the Ending  the blogger, StevenB, discusses the impressions we leave after a skills session or dealing with an enquiry:

"When you design your next instruction session or presentation, or in giving thought to how you end reference transactions or consultations, consider giving as much if not more thought to your finish as you do to your beginning. They say you only get one chance to make a first impression. But your first impression will likely be less well remembered than the one with which you choose to end. So design and manage that last impression well."
This made me think of a few things:
  • Giving/sending our enquiry records is  a good close to a complex enquiry
  • The last message we give in inductions and skills sessions is to come and ask us for help - I want to keep this, but maybe need to reinforce it more strongly
  • I've tried a few times to get the team to ask people borrowing at the issue desks if they found everything they were looking for.  It often works for me in generating a further enquiry which we can then respond to, and no-one seems to mind being asked.  The team however, have revolted but I'm going to continue until hopefully they get it too!

Thanks to @cclibrarian for the recommending tweet to ACRLog. This was about the first post I read on the problem of knowing what to do while students are quietly working on their own research during information skills sessions - a discomfort I share.

Picture credit:  damaradeaella

Thursday, 28 April 2011

Rediscovering Streatfield and Markless

Rediscovering Streatfield and Markless and their work on evaluation, best value and impact of library services.
A few years ago I went on a training course run by David Streatfield and Sharon Markless on evaluating library initiatives. The course was great and gave me ideas about looking at measuring impact when something new was introduced - you identified your objective and related performance criteria and took before and after measures. I'm over simplifying, but I thinks this was the main thust. I remember being frustrated because most of what I wanted to evaluate was already happening - it was too late for a "before" measurement. I haven't heard much about these researchers since, even though they had a very high profile for a while. Yesterday I came across their site Information Management Associates which has two large sections on Best Value and Impact and Research Methods. These appear to have been last updated in 2000, but at first glance seem very relevant to the work we are doing
now on measuring and evaluating impact. Most of their research refers to Public and School Libraries, but I'm sure academic libraries can make use of this work too.
All I need to do now is to find time to "read, mark, learn and inwardly digest!" I'll post again when I've got some ideas on putting some of this into action.

Picture credit: #SaveLibraries by Phil Bradley

Friday, 15 April 2011

Logging enquiries

Record enquiry work, share it with the team to avoid doing stuff twice and hand the resulting information to the customer in one easy hit.

Dealing with more complex enquiries taking more than a few minutes is a significant part of our library’s workload. We’re too small to need a bespoke system, but needed an efficient way of both recording and sharing the work done and handing over information to the customer. I’d come up with a number of ideas – using a blog, a self carbonating form and a spread sheet (based on I think Fid Bleasdale’s idea presented at a CoLRiC conference years ago). None had lasted, but one of my team (Steve) suggested using OneNote. Inspired! Of course, that’s just the kind of thing it is designed for.

So we now have a template that has commonly used headings. These also remind team members that have a favourite source to think about the others too. I’m an online junkie and don’t always think about the books enough and at least one of my team wouldn’t think to use our online databases without a memory jog. Not every section will be needed, so the redundant bits can easily be deleted.

When the form is completed we can either attach the note to an email, copy and paste the content into the body of an email or print it out depending on what details we have. I printed one today even though it referred to online sources as I had also printed out the two documents concerned for the student. We have our contact details on the form, so the student knows who to ask for if they need something clarifying.

We also include the search terms we used (well the successful ones!) to guide the customer next time. Screen shots have also been included if the database is tricky to use. We haven’t written up any case studies yet, but that’s the next step towards the end of the year. We’ll pick one or two from each curriculum area, strip of customer names and contact details and then circulate them to the relevant teaching teams (and of course College managers!)

Making an impact on learning

In business it’s all about making an impact on the bottom line. In public service it’s all about meeting the needs of the service user. In education and training it’s all about making an impact on learning. Has learning taken place and has what we have done made that learning better/easier/wider/deeper in some way? I’m going to reflect on how we make those impacts and the bigger challenge of how we demonstrate those impacts in various ways.

(picture credit Wordle: Lasting Impact of Learning 2.0 mstevens http://flic.kr/p/7Bmf68)