Author Archives: sarahcchilds
The idea for this chat came out of a conversation between @agentk23 and @sarahcchilds. We wanted to do a chat on something to do with customer service, but didn’t want to only cover old ground on being polite to customers and smiling nicely. We agreed that with an increasing number of library users accessing material virtually as well as physically, customer service is not just about empathy and interpersonal skills. It’s also about UX, web design and learning from and acting on user feedback and research. We hope the tweets in the chat have made you think about customer service and libraries differently! Please find a summary below – a full archive of the tweets from the chat is available here:
1 What is unique about your library’s user-group? What are their characteristics?
Most respondents to this question were from public or academic libraries, although we also had a prison librarian (@crdolby), a school librarian (@mariamernagh) and a polar librarian (@senorcthulhu)!
Even those coming from the same sector often had quite different answers e.g.
- We are rural, right beside a river, mostly lower middle class, many seniors & job seekers @shelmick
- I’d say our user group was not unique in a general way, but is diverse as would be expected for an urban area. We have large Asian and Polish populations as well as significant populations of Afro-Carribbean and Somali. @poetryghost
- Our users are predominantly academic usually looking for something specific. Users are usually students, academics, support staff and we also get some traffic from the local community such as local business people who want access to print materials and individuals who want to photocopy and browse stock @jackoliver40
- High-fee paying students so high expectations @priestlib
- Mostly foreign students and academics looking for foreign language material. @ludiprice
- I work at an academic art college. Images are very important @donnagrundy
- Students and academics, with very varied experiences of libraries and expectations of what we can deliver. @bookishkirsten
2. Have you undertaken any surveys or focus groups of your users? If so, did you change anything as a result?
Many librarians collected feedback via surveys, meetings, focus groups and suggestion boxes.
Discussion then turned to the actions taken as a result of the feedback:
- National Student Survey and Course meeting result: – faculty specialised software available in library PCs, convenient for students after lab closed @uowkwani
- We listen and action what we can, depending on what it is of course! an e.g. of change as a result of feedback through a user forum was to trial a brighter lighting in a specific study area@jackoliver40
- We take the annual round of Public Library User Surveys. This year’s was on Children and Young People. The results do inform the manager’s plans and ideas, but I’m never sure quite how much. Especially when, as last year’s adult one, for one reason or another the results were not published to the public @poetryghost
- We do a nearly annual survey, and make some changes based on results e.g. more plug sockets for laptops. We ask in survey if there are any books the library should have and doesn’t, and generally buy them. but some suggestions from survey we will always ignore e.g. for coffee machine in the library! @bookishkirsten
- Feedback is never same as “marching orders. ” We went to a 24/5 schedule after survey via easels of our undergraduate students about what they wanted. They wrote 24/7!! @donnalanclos
Ways of dealing with low response and lack of enthusiasm in providing feedback were mentioned:
- Both refreshments and feedback (actions taken post meet) vital to focus group success. @priestlib
- We have tried but responses were quite low. We do a lot of informal surveying over tea and adjust services @senorcthulhu
3. Do you think staff customer service training is effective in improving things for users?
The main benefit of training given was ensuring a consistent approach. However, doubts were expressed as to how much could be achieved via training due to its blanket approach and the fact that some had inherently good customer service skills and some did not. More specific training (e.g. mental health awareness) was suggested to remedy this.
The book Success at the Enquiry Desk by Tim Buckley-Owen was suggested as a great training tool. (@donnagrundy)
4. In your experience, what are the barriers to putting the user first?
Common issues mentioned included budget; lack of strategic direction, lack of support from management; staff shortages; lack of knowledge of users; resistance to change from staff; bureaucratic restrictions; laziness; poor communication and lack of creativity.
This question also sparked the following interesting points/discussions:
- Sometimes we think we know what the users want and so design our services from that instead of the other way around @jackoliver40
- Also mired in “we are a service” mindset but unwilling to reevaluate what “service” means @donnalanclos
- Deftly put – & I find an unwilligness and/or inability for staff to put themselves in user shoes @priestlib
- I find that less than just a sort of disconnect from the current crop of users. @donnalanclos
- How is ‘user’ defined? Does it include non-users that are part of target population? i.e. are non-users surveyed? @lolinthelibrary
- I always think it’s an odd Q. For me more interesting Q is “how do we *want* to define users?” @benymlee
5. What do you think are the good and bad bits of your library’s online UX?
- @donnalanclos said they had an in-house UX shop at her university. They constantly keep on juggling web pages, to make it quicker for find content
- OPAC allows you to expand your search to our partner libraries. I also like that we are starting out in social media – meeting users where they are in the way they want. @poetryghost
- We’ve just moved to LibGuides, more flexible & options for social media @databyatt
- Erm…not really having an online UX? We have a website that needs dramatic improvement! @senorcthulhu
- Ours is very 1990′s. Current WIP is moving to open source Kuali OLE @ludiprice
6. What are the barriers to better online user experience?
- Time to review. Resource, both financial and staff. Working with the technology that is available @jackoliver40
- Lack of professional web design in libraries
- A crippling reluctance to free libraries from straitjacket of parent org and let them create what users need @MyWeeklyBook
- politics (small p) @ludiprice
- Imagination @priestlib
7.What are the alternatives to surveys to find out user experiences? (avoiding survey fatigue)
- Getting out and talking to users informally. Engaging with the user to listen to what the issues are @jackoliver40
- Ethnography – and using already done studies as a springboard for policy, don’t need to reinvent wheel @donnalanclos
- I did ethnography of amateur web repository I am admin of, it was a fascinating insight into how users tick @ludiprice
- Secret shoppers & focus groups perhaps, inaction on Facebook and Twitter @databyatt
- I try to chat informally to library users & non users in our organisation. It always elicits useful feedback @jothelibrarian
- There is a lot of possibility with the web – pop up chat boxes on web pages, rate this page, blog post comments, etc . @libraryweb
- I’ve looked at data and stats from wherever I could get them reliably to help target specialist services e.g. looking at age of population across area to target home library service (some call this housebound library service). I essentially compared and contrasted diff electoral wards on age percentages. Added in care homes and also sheltered accommodation, looked for day centres etc. to give a pic of where elderly stuck at home are @poetryghost
8. Have you tried an ethnographic approach to finding out more about your users?
- Surely HE libraries could use anthropology students to help them with library studies? Could be a good dissertation project… @sarahcchilds
- I employ MA students in Anthropology and other social sciences as my research assistants @donnalanclos
9. How do you deal with resistance from some staff to improve service?
- Performance appraisals and performance management, one to one meetings, reminders, emails. Anything but losing your temper. @donnagrundy
- I think you really need to massively sell the benefits and have a coherent co-ordinated message. you also have to be very clear about the aims and what you are trying to achieve not just “better customer service” + listen to people’s concerns @poetryghost
- I’m not a manager, but I try to lead by example. Fortunately I work with fab super-motivated colleagues! @jothelibrarian
- Be persistent. Use evidence from user feedback. Keep repeating the message. Take action if needed @jackoliver40
- The better the organisational culture, the more it supports people to develop and improve service.
I write about my work/experiences on our intranet: makes good learning material & encourage others to share @jothelibrarian
- Um… Be contagiously enthusiastic, bat your eyelids and smile a lot???? @ludiprice
Highlights from our lively chat on change are presented below. You can access the full archive for the chat via https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/ccc?key=0AgyKBIR780pOdDhONUtNN0pmT0lCdkh3RXNVUjlaUUE&usp=drive_web#gid=0
1. What are the biggest changes you have had to face in your career in libraries?
Many changes were personal: changing jobs, moving sectors and moving countries. Physical changes such as moving the library from one site to another were also mentioned. Another major point of discussion for this question was the impact of technology in libraries, including changing LMS. The following exchange between Andrew Preater and Liz Jolly picked up on the idea that technology change is not necessarily new:
- Probably the unrelenting pace of change in technology and its influence on libraries in my sector (HE). in my view, the late 2000s saw a major acceleration. I would guess others longer in the profession would pick out some different timescale eg. late 90s was pivotal (I was an undergrad though!). @preater
- I think arguments could be made for several decades in the 20th century! @liz_jolly
- I pick late 2000s cos lots of the technological groundwork was done eg mature opensource software stack & things technically *possible* became more or less *pervasive*. @preater
2. How do you/your colleagues tend to react to change? What about your library users?
3. Do you feel on the whole you are positive about change?
Most people felt they were positive about change themselves but felt some colleagues struggled with it. e.g. @stevenheywood too often people want things to change so long as it doesn’t affect themselves. Natural but only up to a point…
Additionally, it was reported that users often find change harder than staff
Many very much embraced change and @clareangela felt this positive approach was essential for librarians:
- If you don’t like change you have no business being in this industry @clareangela
- Went to some training for new librarians where the presenter said “If you don’t like change, leave libraries” @sarahcchilds
- So true …libraries are about changing lives and if we can’t embrace change how can we effectively enable this? @liz_jolly
Issues with change included: the lack of genuine consultation, the significant cuts experienced in UK public library services and poor change management. Another common attitude is encapsulated in the following quote from @theangelremiel
- I’m guarded about change. Too often a whim is presented as a fait accompli. On the other hand, if it’s a good idea I’ll go to it all hands to the pump. I just need to be persuaded first. It’s also definitely true that poor change management can turn something harmless into a disaster
4. How can you keep colleagues open-minded, positive and motivated throughout the change?
The need for communication and engagement with staff was strongly emphasised as being essential to the management of change. Consultation was advised but many contributors passionately argued that that there needed to be at least a small possibility that staff input would actually be acted upon. @poetryghost mentioned the slogan “Inform, involve, explain and train.” Being honest, acknowledging concerns and explaining reasons for change were also highlighted.
@jwebbery also wisely stated “Change needs to be owned by all stakeholders”
An even wiser statement was made by @sonja_kujansuu “It’s important to continuously supply colleagues with biscuits and cake to keep them motivated throughout…”
5. How are library spaces changing? (Physical changes or the ways they are being used?)
Library space was seen as not just physical, but also online. Flexible study space was widely discussed, especially in universities – @saintevelin described HE libraries as “a venue more than a collection”
6, What skills do librarians need to successfully lead change?
Skills mentioned included communication, project management, empathy, having vision, leadership, staff engagement, acknowledging success and failure
@theangelremiel summed up his feelings thus: “Drive to make desirable/inevitable change. Strength to resist destructive/avoidable change. Wisdom to know the difference”
7. Change management. What are the dos and don’ts from your experience?
Some great dos and don’ts were offered by our participants (Nice to see more dos rather than don’ts -keeping things positive – Ed)
- DO understand range of appetite for change and emotions
- DO be resolute in implementation.
- DO have a clear reason for making change.
- DO Listen to your staff, communicate with them, give out information
- DO listen and respond. Sometimes you can make greater changes through consultation and engagement
- DO know how you will know if you’ve been successful. If you can’t define success you can only fail.
- DON’T let rumour take over
- DON’T just say change comes from your superiors, even if you don’t like it engage with it and make it work
- DON’T present change as permanent (if poss), inflexible
- DON’T fall into the trap of: ” We must do something. This is something. We must do this.” Do have a clear purpose.
- DON’T Keep all information close at heart
8. With all the changes faced by libraries, are perceptions of the profession also changing?
@liz_jolly said “Do we spend too much time worrying about this? We should develop our professional confidence, be clear about our value and impact to our communities and stop being so concerned about perceptions!”
Although others expressed the need for us to keep thinking about how we’re perceived in order to help us do our jobs better.
9. How are the information needs of library users changing? Are we meeting demands?
@libraryninja said [It's] more ‘how do we ensure people can find the right information from a trusted source?” So many don’t have a clue how to search etc.
@poetryghost expressed her view that “In a way it is the manner of supporting library user needs that is changing. We’ve always been guides and advisors about quality info.”
A couple of points were made about technology e.g.
Public libraries are struggling to keep up with huge expectations around fast, reliable Internet connection and up to date PCs. #nomoney @PaulTov
10. How do you keep colleagues and library users informed about changes?
Whilst new technology such as social media was mentioned, signage and good old-fasioned face-to-face conversations were also felt to be important.
11. How can library services change and benefit from collaborations with other sectors?
Convergence of professional services incl library, student services, learning development now fairly common in HE so skills relating to working collaboratively with others from different professional backgrounds also important @liz_jolly
12 What changes do you anticipate will occur in libraries in the next 10 years?
Growth of online resources was mentioned – and issues around it – such as information preservation and the continuing need for space for printed items .
I personally found these two tweets thought-provoking:
- We’ll see pervasive use of #opensource next-gen library systems and shared-services approach to same. At least in HE. @preater
- Bridging the widening gap between academic and public sectors will become ever more difficult. @mickfortune
For many of us working in libraries, both our workplace and the general world of information appear to have been in a constant state of change for the past few years. Open access, the changes in the use of library space…not to mention all the technological change…
Therefore, at #uklibchat, we thought it would be a great idea to do a chat on change – what kind of change you’ve come across already, how you deal with it and what change(s) you might want to see in the future.
As usual, we’ll be chatting on Twitter from 6.30pm-8.30pm UK time on the first Tuesday of the month: Tuesday 6th August 2013. If you’ve not joined #uklibchat before here’s our guide to joining in.
We are pleased to present a guest feature blog post ahead of our next chat on The Changing World of Libraries & Information (Tuesday 6th August, 6.30-8.30pm). Our author is Andrew Preater, who is Associate Director of Information Systems and Services at Senate House Library, University of London. Andrew tweets as @preater and blogs at http://www.preater.com
Dealing with change in LIS – a personal perspective for #uklibchat
I have to change to stay the same
- Willem de Kooning
For my library masters I studied various models for describing change and how to manage change. I won’t dwell on these in detail but to give one example to think about, Lewin’s model1 describes change as a three step process:
- Unfreezing: preparing the organization for change, building a case, dismantling the existing “mindset”.
- Change: an uncomfortable period of uncertainty with the organization beginning to make and embrace changes.
- Freezing: finalizing the organization in a new, stable state and returning to former levels of comfort.
I use this model as a way of understanding a traditional view, sometimes presented as a “common sense” view, of change processes though I find the underlying assumptions in the model itself quite manipulative – for example the idea that to create change, the transient pain of change must be understood to be less for the organization than the pain of keeping things the same. Other models have more steps and so greater complexity. Kotter’s eight step change model2 is one example; at that level of complexity it reads more like “Kotter’s tips for implementing change” rather than a theoretical model.
The main things I take from these models and work experience are that:
- The major challenges in implementing change come down to people rather than technology or machines.
- The period of implementing change will be disruptive and uncomfortable, as a manager you cannot ignore but must engage with this.
- Communication at all stages is key to a successful change process – including celebrating success afterwards.
At Senate House Libraries we’ve experienced a considerable period of disruptive change since the mid-2000s. One conclusion I’ve made from this is we are definitely no longer in the business of steady-state librarianship. Our “business as usual” now includes an implicit assumption that we need to constantly review and adjust our processes and services to meet changing needs and demands, hence my inclusion of Willem de Kooning’s wonderfully mysterious quote above.
This does not mean slavishly following every new trend in technology or being led by the nose by technology, particularly technology as repackaged and sold by library software and hardware suppliers, but actively maintaining current awareness and honestly evaluating the status quo as thoroughly as we do new ideas.
I say this because in some libraries I notice a willingness to subject the new thing in a change process to exacting and rigorous examination but not examine the status quo in the same way. There is an assumption here about the ‘rightness’ of our current approaches, whatever they happen to be. What I find troubling about this is the idea our way of working will remain ‘right’ for any length of time in a changing landscape. It is absolutely right not to try to fix something that isn’t broken or enact change for the sake of change, but this is something only knowable following evaluation.
For me the operational aspect of library service must inform strategic thinking and planning, as it’s those staff that are in constant contact with library members and understand the fine detail of the service. For this reason I involve my whole team in developing operational plans and contributing to strategy by identifying priorities for future work. My view is change shouldn’t just be something that ‘just happens’ to staff but something for all to take an active role in.
Personally I am influenced by approaches from IT as I have a systems background, and more broadly am influenced by application of researched-based and evidence-based practise in librarianship. To be clear I include qualitative research in this as an essential partner to quantitative research, adding much-needed richness and depth to our understanding of user experience and behaviour.
One change process at my workplace where I’ve used this approach is implementing a new discovery layer, or library catalogue, as part of our implementation of a new library management system, Kuali Open Library Environment (OLE). OLE does not have a traditional catalogue so a catalogue or discovery layer such as VuFind or Blacklight is needed.
To do this, we have built and developed the case for changing by:
- Presenting about the project formally at all-staff meetings and individual team meetings.
- Informal conversation with staff to answer questions and build awareness ‘things are happening’ around discovery.
- Involving staff in thinking creatively about discovery in a workshop environment (I blogged about this aspect a few months ago).
- Giving discovery the respect it deserves by treating it as a Web project that puts user experience at the core – and being seen to do so. This includes hosting a student from UCL Department of Information Studies doing ethnographic research on catalogue user behaviour.
- Answer technical questions quickly and with confidence, including in-depth questions about SolrMARC (really) and metadata issues.
The important point for me as the head of our systems team is so much of this is not about technology, it’s about surfacing opinion and including staff in conversation. For example we’ve set up a beta test VuFind 2.0 instance to provide food for thought, but it’s not core
By necessity this blog post is brief, but I hope this specific example and the more general things I’ve said above help seed discussion for uklibchat.
- Lewin, K. (1947) ‘Frontiers in group dynamics: concept, method and reality in social science; social equilibria and social change’, Human Relations, 1 (1), pp. 5-41, PsycINFO [Online] DOI 10.1177/001872674700100103 (Accessed: 27 July 2013)
- Kotter, J.P. (1996) Leading change. Watertown, MA: Harvard Business School Press.
1. Do you think your workload has increased in recent months or years?
- Definitely – fewer people in the team plus tasks get added at each appraisal but not often removed
- With new initiatives in literacy and the importance of reading for pleasure, school librarians have a greatly increased workload.
- So effectively – with increased interest comes increased workload?
- Yes. The increased interest is great but means we need to manage our workload really effectively to cope.
- Most definitely. Half the staff as last year and last remaining library assistant keeps getting moved by bosses to other roles
- Do budgets affect the workload in libraries? What do you think? Less money= less staff, more tasks each one?
- Definitely increased! Less staff, less money for labour-saving resources, more pressure to keep up results!
- Also find it frustrating that organisational culture is often anti productivity tools even free ones like http://t.co/wfOaJ0rn5f
- Nirvana has only limited free features I think – time management seems to be something people pay for
- Solo librarian – lack of budget for additional staff definitely increases workload, no-one to delegate to
- While volunteering at the national library association, I have noticed librarians don’t have time for extra activities and lately the lack of time grows into the lack of motivation.
- Yes! Now we’ve finally got more librarians after being denied the money for them for years I’m not allowed to coast! I don’t mind the extra work though as is all interesting stuff, apart from endless checking of reading lists. I think when I was doing ALL the cataloguing & a lot of desk work etc. it meant no time for other projects. Now I do
- I’ve always been able to cope with even a quite busy workload, problem though is stress, even with light workload. The key I think is a strong vision and set of goals (i.e. plan) for the future, based on good information
- I don’t mind the workload as far I know it is worth it.
- I would say my workload has changed rather than increased and become more variable. previously had far more control over my work, now I’m handed it down in projects from on high, if they run out, tough. Hate it
2. What is your biggest challenge in managing your workload?
- Managing the day to day with the strategic, reacting vs planning & still managing not to burn out a big challenge
- Setting priorities
- Having to spend so much time on the desk as no library assistants & being constantly in meetings & sorting out technology!
- Everything concerning customers. They must always notice that everything is working right despite huge workloads. Have you ever noticed the face of users when they see the circulation desk so busy? Some of them even say: Sorry!! Some users even apologised to me/staff for making me/us work too much!! I was surprised to see users who are so polite or “compassive”: “Sorry for all the work I made you do!!”
- Saying no to ‘extra-curricular’ things. I’m doing a lot of fun projects but lately feeling I’ve taken on too much
- Agree on that. It seems extra things are more fun and inspiring. But you really need to concentrate on your work.
- I think it is important to split time management skills for work and extra curricular – I use different skills at work to at home
- Biggest challenge is carefully mapping out my workload – then that all going out the window when an urgent request comes in!
- Being able to set daily goals and seeing the point of what you are doing
- Balancing interesting professional work with routine tasks essential to keep library functioning
- Biggest challenge to managing workload is making sure that there is time to fit everything in, and that nothing gets missed
- Estimating the time that project tasks will take. I have a tendency to underestimate and end up taking on too much at once
- Sounds familliar, especially projects with large team, depends on pace of others & politics, can be much slower than think
- Access to resources. Don’t get right tools for the job because rest of organisation doesn’t get what we need/do
- Prioritising, knowing when to say “no” and the never ending stream of emails (gah!)
- When to say no is difficult for solo librarian as no can mean poor judgement on whole service so its tough to say but need to learn
- It’s not easy, but better to do a smaller number of things well than do lots of things half-arsed
- Remaining enthusiastic for all aspects of the role not just new exciting things & allocating time accordingly!
- Got to stage where I have lots of beneficial projects to work on but routine desk stuff gets in way (and too few others to do it)
- Getting important but not urgent stuff done e.g. strategic planning, important administration
- Biggest challenge can be keeping track of multiple deadlines for multiple projects and sometimes all the work to do at once
3. Do you use any particular tools or techniques for managing your workload?
- I did use TeuxDeux for lists but they’re going to start charging for it, have gone back to pen & paper lists for the time being!
- A boring one, but: Outlook! Outlook 2010 in particular has some great productivity features: I use the task scheduling heavily
- Outlook calendar and task manager. Shared calendar makes planning much easier!
- Outlook Calendar is work default, also Evernote, but really like best good old fashioned notebook & lists!!
- I find a good old fashioned written to-do list at my desk works wonders! Especially when combined with post-its. And gmail calendar is invaluable – especially when synced across devices etc.
- I seem to have taken to writing on my hand rather than on Post It’s lately – can’t misplace my hand!
- Worth scheduling important work into your Outlook calendar as “busy”, so you don’t get meeting requests, etc
- Or…even better mark it “private appointment” – you are then pretty much guaranteed uninterrupted time
- No such luxury here and big open plan office so people interrupt if they see you sitting there
- How do you cope with colleagues’ conversations? Do you ever ask them to stop so you can work? (No worries if can’t say.)
- Headphones & music
- I’m very old school (not in the music sense) and need silence to work. Perhaps earplugs
- I hate noise. It gets me totally distracted. I can’t do anything if it’s noisy and loudly
- I wish I could find a good solution for this. Sometimes I find myself being talkative.
- The check-lists always help to have a feeling that your job is moving on.
- Also, worth keeping a list of what you’ve done, as it helps remind you that you are actually achieving stuff
- Like that idea – rather than getting bogged down in what’s not done – occasionally add done tasks to to do just to tick off
- As much as I embrace technology, paper and pen still beckon at times
- I use Omnifocus for task management
- 30 years of reading around the topic == good understanding of the Western approach recently looked at GTD, it works well
- At work I use Outlook and pen and paper lists, for study and personal life I use Remember the Milk http://t.co/lkcaRRGG3Q
- John Adair on time management; Manage Your Mind,- Butler & Hope (ch. on self-management); GTD works well under stress
- I use to do list software in my personal life but Outlook folders & paper at work
- You can even use a management/ business planning approach – psychology essentially the same as for self-management
- I find sitting down at the end of the day and working out what I want to achieve the next day really useful
- Really like Moleskine (or similar) weekly planner. Diary one side, ruled on the other for my to do list
- I also have a sort of GTD system with one of those expanding folders that can chuck everything in & review weekly
- Librarians would get an opportunity to put their their skills to good use with GTD managing the repository (a key component)
- Not forgetting the original classic (would be shot if did) – Ivy’s list http://t.co/47VxjxjT5f, https://t.co/RGwtj6tORu
- My favourite tool for managing my workload is the word “no”. As I age, I’m getting ever better at using this tool
- I never say ‘no’ to one of my students, though. Ever. I always prioritise their needs
- I’d say main tools used are my email calendar, reminders in said calendar and sometimes paper calendars. Also planning on paper
- So much better at prioritising workload after many years – not about who shouts loudest
4. How can you prioritise tasks?
- Strategic priorities with big impact, can it be done quickly?, is it fun? (important to enjoy your job!)
- Current approach is writing list of 5 (manageable) things I need to achieve that day and focusing on those – not too overwhelming
- Use GTD quite heavily to prioritise e.g. Importance, energy, time available divided by context
- I usually go with the importance/urgency/effort grid!
- Prioritise the customer first, then management tasks, then jobs outside job description I’ve been told to do, then extracurriculars
- Prioritise by importance – also get done first things that can be done v quickly
- But by postponing things you can’t do very quickly you get a large pile of them
- Agree, but if can get things done that only take 1 or 2 minutes then they are out of way and concentrate on bigger things!
- I always love to do things I can do in a short period of time. But it is not always the best option. Sometimes you just have to do at least one long-term thing first
- Definitely – ranking in order of importance/urgency all the way
- Depends on my schedule. Certain things are non-changeable scheduled tasks, like desk duty and meetings
- I’d like to find some time to look at Axiology (not done so far yet – could do with a good library
- Mainly I look at work in terms of urgency (nearest deadlines) and importance. Some is unconscious or practised choices
5. What do you do when you are asked/told to do tasks that are not part of your job either as a one off or permanently?
- Depends what it is! If it fits with my skill set & I can add value, I’d say yes. If not, then I’d try to push back if possible
- Keep a list of those jobs, as they could be used as ammunition later on for getting regraded
- Usually go ahead and treat it as good experience as long as doesn’t prevent job being done too
- My job description says: do your direct job duties + everything your boss says to do
- Because highly competitive teams exchange roles in order to get the goals of the organisation. – you must be flexible
- Difficult depending on who asks…I try to say no unless I have a good reason
- Depends on if it can add value to overall Lib & info service, if its a way to draw people in
- Depends: is it reasonable; do existing workload/targets/deadlines allow space/time; what’s in it for you?
- Usually say we’re understaffed so can you get someone else? Funny but that never works. Must learn to just say no.
- Generally try to be helpful, but depends on task (complexity, competing priorities, time involved etc.)
- With one-off things it depends on the capacity I have and how disruptive it will be to other work also who’s asking. generally if I can help with brief one off things I will, specially if it’s educating colleagues in how to do stuff.
- It can however be difficult if for example – I’m supposed to get a formal project sheet for every project.. If a manager gives me a project with no project sheet I’m not supposed to do it. But you can’t argue with a manager. However it means you don’t know what the remit of the project is or if you really can afford the time.
- With permanent duties fortunately I have the get out clause I can only do projects handed to me these are by definition my duties
- Good and bad sides to getting a reputation for being helpful: Draw the line at things that are unrelated/another department’s issue
- I find I learn to steer clear of people who offload work (not always easy though)
- It’s not people offloading so much as students/staff targeting for assistance with simple things
- I have always done tasks not part of my job and would actively encourage others to do same – if you want to move up that is. And I’m grateful to those who offloaded on me rightly or wrongly back in the day (or were just incompetent)
- If the task is challenging, then it’s OK. But if it’s only something the others don’t want to do.
- Agreed, but it’s important not to be taken advantage of, esp if other colleagues are capable of doing the work too
- Not sure I agree – it depends if the being taken advantage of leads somewhere good – sells your skill and competence
- I usually try to be flexible. I’d rather do it and learn from the experience.
6 Are libraries likely to create a multi tasking work environment where the staff are requested to do many tasks at the same time?
- In my case, a big YES as I was requested to multi task many times!!
- The front desk usually is anyway, it is wise to do one thing at once
- Nature of job is multitasking – dealing with enquiries/helping users while getting on with longer tasks
- On issue desk (often mistaken for reception) you can guarantee being interrupted doing one thing for another
- Already feel like I multi task quite a bit, lots of varied things going on especially on help desk
- If you´re a solo librarian -as I am- you already multi task. Multi tasking on balance good as long as you are not spread too thin!
- The time runs faster when multitasking
- I absolutely agree with those who are saying the enquiry desk demands multitasking. You can’t answer questions linearly
- The trick is to realise that the interruptions are as or more important than the task you’re doing between them!
- I think by default most librarians do many tasks at the same time and more so as there is a squeeze on budgets and staffing
7 Would you appreciate training on managing your workload, or do you think it is a skill you are born with?
- I’ve attended time management courses, but they’ve never addressed service-led roles. Someone please offer one!
- Decision making I think is a worthwhile underpinning skill to time management – a lot written on it
- I think it’s a skill you develop over time and with practice, though courses can hel
- Think it’s trainable…Can learn a lot from things like this sharing tips & ideas too
- Both. I also believe the values/education at home, school are quite important: clean your mess, put things back…
- Can know how to manage work load but lack of similarly skilled staff or poor organisation structure can still negative impact workload
- The keyword would be ‘self-discipline’
- I think it’s something you learn by doing, but training could give helpful ideas if new to it or having difficulties.
- Having managed heaps of people my observation is that some people are naturals, others have needed telling what to do and when
- I need a training in not-to-do-things-perfectly. It would save my time a lot.
- That’s an incredibly valid point! We’re trained in precision, yet to complete all tasks we must let that go. Is hard!
- I think training in planning can help but really it’s about devising the tools that work for you – be it calendars electric or paper or using excel, filing systems, project charts etc
Q 8 : What is the best advice someone has ever given you on managing your workload?
- ”If you’re juggling too many balls, it’s OK to drop some of them”
- I was once told to make both a to do and a ta da (ta da! thing done!) list. It works wonders!
- Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Sometimes other people are our greatest tool!
- Prioritising the tasks is the key–Get rid of menial tasks very quickly
- That Dilbert cartoon with the speck representing your job comparable with planet earth. Helped with perspective
- SO true. When you have that perspective, deadlines suddenly feel less “dead” and more “line”. Then they’re moveable
- I think that the maxim is that it is the journey that counts (not so much the destination)
- I’d say the opposite: remember that it doesn’t matter how you get there, make sure you remember what you want to achieve
- Also: still make time to have breaks, important to look after yourself and not burn out! or then nothing gets done!
- Not sure anyone’s given me advice I remember, really it’s about practice, planning and keeping yourself organised.
- also remembering you can’t do everything and sometimes one has to say no. I rarely do though.
- I’d say not just getting rid of menial tasks but sometimes getting on with what can be done rather than what can’t
Next Tuesday, #uklibchat will be on Managing Your Workload. What issues do you have with managing your workload? Do you find it difficult to get things done? Do you have any tips?
If you want to contribute to the conversation on this, #uklibchat will be running on Tuesday 5th March 2013 from 6.30pm – 8.30pm GMT. If you want to add questions to our agenda, you can do so here. A guide to taking part in #uklibchat is available here and you can always tweet us @uklibchat or email email@example.com with any questions.
We look forward to chatting with you!
#ukibchat has been the subject of a number of articles and reports. Click on the links below for further details.
A Snapshot of Priorities & Perspectives: UK Public Libraries
http://www.oclc.org/reports/uk-libraries/214758ukb-B-Member-Communication-Survey-Report-UK-public-web.pdf Page 4
In this report of a snapshot survey by OCLC, the #uklibchat Twitter account (@uklibchat) was one of the top three Twitter handles that public library staff follow, along with Voices for the Library (@ukpling) and CILIP (@cilipinfo)
20 Essential Twitter Chats for the Twitter Crowd
#uklibchat was listed as second in the “20 Essential Twitter Chats for the Library Crowd”
#uklibchat – Tweet All About It by Sam Wiggins
http://www.cilip.org.uk/publications/update-magazine/Pages/default.aspx February 2012
Sam explained what #uklibchat was all about to readers of the leading UK journal for library professionals – CILIP Update.
Twitter Chat: Instant Ideas and Collaboration by Sam Wiggins
E-books in Libraries by Sam Wiggins
Team member Sam Wiggins has written two articles giving brief summaries of two of our early chats – on e-books and library activism.
Hashtags for Information Professionals by Bethan Ruddock
#uklibchat is mentioned as one of the hashtags for information professionals by Bethan Ruddock – as one of the leading hashtags for structured conversations
#uklibchat, #ECRchat, #PhDchat, #Socialchat and Other Tweetchats by Brian Kelly
Brian, of UKOLN, discusses #uklibchat and other web chats
Michelle Dalton | Movers & Shakers 2013 — Community Builders by Library Journal
Michelle, one of 2013′s “Movers and Shakers,” mentions how #uklibchat influenced her founding #irelibchat
#uklibchat #ub13 by Sheila Webber
Sheila Webber, an academic at Sheffield University’s iSchool, reports on Ka Ming’s presentaton on #uklibchat at the CILIP Umbrella 2013 conference.
1. What kind of off-site users do you deal with in your job – what contexts are they in?
- University students and staff. Looking for e-content: e-journals etc.
- Work at an organization with multiple offices, both domestic and international – lots of different timezones!
- NHS staff on a different hospital site with no physical library
- Inter-library loan users – administered by email
- Librarians who are looking for career development e.g. working out career goals. In US and UK so via Skype, LinkedIn etc.
- Work for a large international tech-based company, we are remote from 99% of our potential patrons
- Not that many offsite users, but some PGCEs can’t come into the physical library very often
- Spanish Ask A Librarian service http://t.co/kW3SOuCS
2. What kind of issues do you tend to find come up when supporting off-site users?
- Not knowing what the physical collection looks like can impede assistance. Having photos of local collections is helpful.
- Resource access issues (error messages), authentication / login difficulties, pay wall messages (subscriptions)
- 1.Timetables 2.Opening hours 3.Reminders 4.Assistance 5.Checking personal records 6.Searching materials
- Problems may not be technical per se, users may not be clicking on the correct login links. Resource un-familiarisation
- Lots of points where things.can go wrong. Trying to figure out where it went wrong can be a task
- Often tricky to troubleshoot online access issues – sometimes a time difference involved
- Understanding the needs, culture, customs, etc of remote offices in order to service them properly. Know your patrons.
- Even people speaking the same language can have very different expectations/culture/etc
- As with onsite enquiries you have to employ a very logical process to resolve problems
- Social media logins are easier than library authentication processes. Have to manage users expectations.
- Logins, problems with websites that people don’t realise are usually accessed via IP recognition – requires explaining!
- And actually knowing and communicating exactly what is available
- If it’s a physical book they want then the time it takes for cross site transit might be off putting
- Trying to troubleshoot can be time-consuming & frustrating. Blogged on this earlier in the yearhttp://t.co/hkRNm3wS. Also blogged on resource usability & user-interaction http://t.co/93jCHvhO
- Meeting users training requests in more detailed skills such as literature searching. We’re working on the teleporter though.
- Having book covers displayed when they search the catalogue is useful
- I’d say it’s important to make the off-campus e-resource experience as close to the on-campus one as possible
3. What challenges do you face when supporting off-site users?
- Assisting someone on the phone and users getting into the library at the same time going towards the desk
- Replicating users’ problems when accessing from an onsite work PC. Login steps can vary greatly on / offsite
4. What skills do people need to support off-site users – same or different to onsite users?
- 1.Politeness 2. Patience 3.Good manners 4.Resourceful 5.Efficient 6.Calm 7.Aiming to help always
- Patience definitely. Trust in content providers to provide fix when access goes down
- 1. Common sense 2. The ability to think macro AND micro, but know which one is appropriate for problem-solving 3. Empathy
- Users get angry when you don’t have a book or something in the library and you can’t tell them other places to find it
- Extremely good communication & the deduction skills of Sherlock Holmes to decipher people’s issues (often access related)
- In higher education all our users are ‘offsite’ to some extent now. Even full time undergraduates usually have a job too. so skills sets are the same and continually evolving.
- Think you need the ability to be able to describe things clearly, especially if supporting over phone. And creativity.
5. What technology have you found useful in supporting offsite users?
- Have looked into using screencasts (e.g. Jing) – need to develop this troubleshooting tool
- Yes, remote access to assist via desktop is ace – utilize programs like Camtasia.
- Don’t have much access to many technologies, would love to be able to use options allowing us to visually walk through things
- E-mail for interlibrarian loans Phone.Many users still want face-to-face assistance. Don’t know about social media yet
- Details of the Bodleian Libraries’ Scan & Deliver service that we’re piloting here: http://t.co/0wcsUHoq. Currently about 40 requests per week. Hardly advertised though and the charge is quite high. We’re reviewing it next month.
5.a. How many libraries are using social media to support offsite users?
- We use Twitter & Facebook to provide real-time notifications if we know a resource is down/undergoing maintenance
- Facebook is popular among libraries since users & librarians can write long comments, add photos, videos, links. I think Facebook offers great options to libraries. Twitter is so limited to 140 characters but good for latest news!
- We use CoP’s, Online conferencing and Yammer. I’ve also started blogging to raise profile of services.
6. Do you have any ideas for ways to better support off-site users?
- Create patron-friendly wikis or pathfinders or other self-service modules especially for remote offices with big time differences as to not leave them hanging if they have an immediate need. Also, check in with remote users periodically to gauge needs.
- FAQs / guide for students & library staff to help recognise & troubleshoot general access problems
- We have also held an annual eResources showcase for past 4 years, Invite publishers to exhibit & students / staff to attend. The next one is widening from eResources to all library online services / systems
- Increasing staff or diversify them. One person can’t manage all!! And this is still hapenning in some libraries. Staff development is vital.
- Creating our own screencasts & linking to publishers screencasts from our web pages
- In HE perhaps we need to completely re-engineer services to more accurately reflect the changing balance between on- & off campus learners?
- We need to look to the future and be radical in order to provide better service
- I think creating video-tutorials would be wonderful and amazing!!
- I think our new UK-hosted EZ Proxy service could be of use to libraries looking to close the off-campus/on-campus user experience gap
7. How do you support off-site users who don’t contact the library?
- Q7 is almost like, “If a patron falls in a remote office library, do they make a sound?”
- Serious answer. As the saying goes, you teach them to fish so they can feed themselves, with quality instructional resources +avail to them like the aforementioned wikis/pathfinders/online support/etc. Key is to be responsive & helpful in time of need.
- Curious how many libraries know what their ratio of on-campus to off-campus e-resource usage is? For those libraries I know who’ve looked into it, on-campus usually accounts for less than 25% of all usage
8. What strategies do you use to best provide and market services to non-native speakers?
- I think the Tourism field could give us good ideas…try to provide materials in their language might be one…
- In HE international students registered with an institution have to have passed an English language test
- At #ili2012 @mreidsma recommended using http://t.co/AhC8rGr8 to check the reading level of library web site text and aim for a grade level of 8 or 9 (see http://t.co/Tz2IYpah for more info). Too often, lib stuff is much higher
9. Do you think librarians will be helping more offsite users in the future?
- Almost certainly as services are cut from peripheral locations and services either shared or centralised
- Yes, & they’ll be using a multitude of different devices (phones, computers, tablets etc) to access content
- I think the answer depends on the kind of institution you’re in. A company will almost always have remote offices
- Absolutely yes. Social media are spreading & spreading everywhere and thousands of people join them everyday
Other issues discussed:
How do you use Twitter?
- Twitter tends to be more for awareness raising, sharing links, commenting on issues, etc + few DM’s sometimes
- I generally work with UK people in the morning (US time, when it’s afternoon there) and US people in the afternoon
- We notice speed of response of some resources slows down when US comes online in p.m. UK time!
- Overcoming time zone issues: Try to auto-schedule emails or Tweets/etc to appear at the beginning of the remote office work day, even if it’s 3 am your time.
- Access troubleshooting – anyone using remote access to personal PCs? Or even quick screencasts to explain processes?
- Definitely – helped quicken the troubleshooting process. Raises staff morale as well, means we can help!
- We have a library laptop with a mobile USB connection which mimics remote use by students etc. Can test at work
- A laptop (or PC) with a USB 3G dongle makes it easy to test off-campus access problems whilst you’re on-campus and also handy for anyone doing telephone support for off-campus users, as you can see what they see
If you’re interested in how to help your library users remotely – whether that’s in another part of a university campus, or a user in some far-flung corner of the globe – why not join us for #uklibchat on Tuesday 6th November at 6.30 pm – 8.30 pm GMT. To view and add to the agenda, please click here.
To participate in the conversation use the #uklibchat hashtag on Twitter next Tuesday evening. If you are a Twitter or #uklibchat novice, please visit this page for advice on joining our chats.
If you have any queries please consult the uklibchat team via Twitter (@uklibchat) or email (firstname.lastname@example.org).
We look forward to chatting with you!
1.a. Do you have much interaction with publishers in your day-to-day job as a librarian? (and is it positive?)
1.b. If there are any publishers taking part, what are your interactions with librarians like?
- Running a book competition: http://www.managementbookoftheyear.org.uk
- There’s been a big strategic shift in mindsets and working practices in the last few years: Library audiences are now an integral part of publishers’ marketing & publicity strategies
- My publishers are small trade associations – positive experience mostly. But have problems with inconsistent bibliographic records for publications
- Publishers seek partnership with libraries to reach & build audience
- Libraries have staggering footfall, amazing network, most popular and well-used cultural institution. Book borrowers are buyers too. Another unique asset is library data
- Publishers have more money to get to know users better with!! But I guess libraries have the upper hand in being able to track usage
- I have very little direct contact with publishers – I have made requests but never had a response in terms of content
- Large part of my library work involves publisher liaison – email contact, phone calls, review meetings, conferences
- Host an annual eResources roadshow which allows publish reps to to meet & talk to library users & university staff. Hosted for past 4 yrs, wanted to do something to increase publicity of resources to students & staff. Looking to widen scope of show – include publisher demos/talks etc
- Have requested resources on topics to meet curriculum mainly via reps but no joy in the past!
- Have good relationship with one publisher, emails facilitate when distance too great
- Host 2 roadshows (speed-dating/networking workshops) – FUN! Allows publisher reps to meet & talk direct to reader development reps. Aims to build knowledge, direct contact & creative ideas, a process ‘often hampered by the suppliers’
- I haven’t had much experience with publishers in my job, but for my MA I took a module on publishing, was one of most interesting. Learnt more about publishers models, marketing etc. Got to go to Bloomsbury which I blogged about http://ow.ly/cNQsX
- Libraries are a vital component of reading ecosystem. Publishers recognise importance of reader/literature development
- My interactions with librarians are never enough and always interesting. Most useful & favourite part of my role.
- Also sit on the UKSG committee which is a great source of learning and interaction with librarians and intermediaries.
2. How could the librarian-publisher relationship be improved? (and does it need to be?)
- I remember my teachers at University saying that each librarian must know the publishing field well.I think both fields go hand in hand but libraries are, after all, the ones to decide what to buy or not
- Practices based on the interactivity between reader & writer. Important this work continues to flourish in tough times
- Librarians feel far removed from book selection process due to supplier selection. Publisher/librarian roadshows help build awareness
- Exploration of supporting social sci researchers with librarians showed some needs reunderstanding users http://dx.doi.org/10.1629/24183
- There is research which proves correlation between buying & borrowing by the Reading Agency
- Investment of time & energy needed in libraries sharing developments that work well. Could be a role for UKSG
- Also Uni IT depts are too siloed & could work together to share/ brainstorm solutions for understanding users to drive library value.
- Direct contact with users is v.important for publishers – library fairs/events/workshops can make this happen
3. What are your opinions on open access publishing?
- Pro OA especially in academic field where helps further research & knowledge; but don’t know much about it – have reservations
- There’s been a lot of discussion about open access recently because of the Finch Report http://bit.ly/RxQzoI
- Don’t know much about it. Surely a good thing for libraries? Is it a gamechanger?
- SAGE just announced this partnership.http://dx.doi.org/10.1629/24183
- SAGE work closely with University of Sussex Library via a partnership to help us both learn and support research. Exploring open access more next year
- In my specialist industry publishers would struggle with open access due to limited funds for research
4. Do subscription agents help or hinder the relationship between librarians and publishers?
- Publishers unable to navigate hugely complex library network; hence the brokering role of the Reading Agency. It’s different.
- Agents – my sense is that thy are busy diversifying to stay alive e.g. : getting into OA payment management; PPV token sales; offering customer insight tools
5. How do we overcome problems with multiple e-formats causing difficulties ?
- As a school librarian I can’t have multiple formats gotta to pick one and kinda hope it’s the right one and not a Betamax choice!
- Do people think there will ever be one format to rule them all? This problem isn’t going to be quickly solved
- Just encountered a document with DRM requiring software & licence to view, very problematic and not sure of solution
- May be a bit off the question but we do at least have things like Athens authentication to help with multiple different sign ins
6. What would be an effective forum so that publishers know about problems you have that they may be able to help with?
- We set up a unique consortium: 40 publishers, entire UK public library network, led by charity – The Reading Agency. IT’s called Reading Partners. It’s all about building audience & creating rich reading, cultural and learning experiences
- Definitely some kind of partnership, workshops, conference to get together and share with each other
- Dedicated events – maybe online, around a certain theme?
- Library advocacy very important. Publishers backing a number of initiatives with authors and media
- UKSG conference & others like it important for sharing between publishers & librarians. Sage has annual library Advisory Board meeting
7. What do you think will be the biggest development in publishing in the next 5 years?
- Looking back 5 years “What Is Most Important Advance Publishers Have Made in Past Decade?”
- Digital rights management
- I’ve heard vague things of academic institutions getting in on print on demand, publishing core texts with lecturer’s notes etc. http://ow.ly/cNXl4
- This is called Custom Publishing: click here for youtube video
- Cornell University is doing Print on Demand but not customising http://ow.ly/cNXDr
- Another factor is disappearance of government websites to UK National Archives, big problem for my industry. Some Department of Transport info is still current is now very difficult to find and /or search
8. How can we demonstrate the value of public libraries in e-reading?
- Need resources, e.g. e-readers, could run sessions showing people how to use them, what’s available. Library e-reading apps too?
- Librarian In Black’s response: here
9 ( How) has the relationship between library and publisher improved over the last 5 years?
- Publishers woken slowly up to importance of understanding challenges & solving problems. Not just flogging
- Services like journal usage statistics portal (JISC) can provide better & valued connections between pub & library. Staff time saved
10. Do you think partners such as The Reading Agency made a difference? If so, in what way? What more could they do to help?
- Anyone promoting reading is making a difference, and promoting reading promotes both libraries and publishers
11. What one thing can you share from your own experience that has effectively demonstrated the value of your library?
- Positive customer feedback when we provide publications before they knew they needed them
- Children’s summer reading challenges are always hugely popular at local library & must encourage a new generation of readers / book purchasers
- SAGE commissioned LISU library value report of research and survey available here: http://libraryvalue.wordpress.com/report/
Other points made:
- Some thoughts on digital preservation and citation of scholarly blogs: http://bit.ly/PFpBoX
- Data and its potential use was discussed:
- Another unique asset is library data - but how can libraries use and share their extraordinarily rich audience data to provide the customer insight better?
- I guess by sharing some of their unique data: help one another
- On knowing users, publishers may have access to different data than libraries & maybe more time. Ideally we should work together.
- There’s a big pot of Nesta funding available…One of the areas to cover is DATA