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