Friday 17 January 2014

Chartership Chat - 16/1/14

Below is the Storify for the first Chartership chat of 2014. We hold these every couple of weeks on Twitter and everyone is welcome. Just follow the #chartership hashtag for more information:

Thursday 16 January 2014

Coming Soon - Reader Reviews

I've just signed up to take part in the Reader Review Program from O'Reilly. This gives me access to copies of various books that O'Reilly are looking to promote in exchange for sharing my feelings about them. I'm a big advocate of reading as part of professional development so I thought this program would be a good fit for me.

There are quite a range of titles to choose from but I decided to start with The Project Management Toolkit, as project management is something I've seen discussed a lot recently. Although not directed at librarians and information professionals specifically I think that books like this are still very useful. The selection also included books on leadership and various computer software - areas I'm keen to explore. I'm looking forward to getting stuck into the project management book and hope to have my thoughts out in a couple of weeks. There are a lot of interesting titles that I'm looking forward to reading - I just wish there were enough hours in the day to read all of them!

Monday 13 January 2014

Taking the Sexy Risk to Provide a Quality Service - Libraries@Cambridge2014

Last week in Cambridge we held the annual Libraries@Cambridge conference. As I was on the organising committee this year (something which needs a blog post all of its own!) I spent quite a lot of the day running around, but I really wanted to blog my thoughts on the keynote speech.

The opening speech was delivered by Frankie Wilson, Head of Assessment at Bodleian Libraries, and entitled Quality in Libraries - It's All About the People. Frankie stressed that putting the customer first is at the heart of providing a quality service for library users. Part of this is making sure that you're constantly assessing the service that you provide, both as a library and as an individual. It's not good enough to send out a survey once a year and write up the results, we need to be looking at the answers we get and really acting on them. This might sound obvious but I've seen it overlooked in more that one situation. Why not take each individual complaint as feedback rather than waiting for a formal survey. If a user tells us that something is wrong then we shouldn't be so quick to assume that it's their fault - maybe it's our process that needs looking at?
her thoughts on

Frankie also stressed that it's important to make the big changes as well as the little ones - the sexy changes as well as the vanilla! The HE environment is constantly changing and although it can be hard to stay ahead of the game it's important to try. You don't want to be the library who waits until everyone else has everything sorted out perfectly only to introduce a technology that's ten years out of date. Take a risk and even if it doesn't pay off I think that your users will respect you for trying.

A lot of this is down to changes in attitude, both at a management and individual level. Managers should empower their employees and make sure that the voices of those on the frontline are heard. It's all very well bringing in experts from outside and talking to those at other libraries but you mustn't ignore those who are serving your users, who know what your users want. These staff members are an untapped resource so make sure you use them. Part of this process is making sure that staff feel able to share their ideas. In order to do this they need to feel valued and be encouraged to innovate. This was something I was pleased to see being encouraged at the conference through an 'ideas wall' where librarians could make suggestions for service improvements.

Individual staff also have to take some responsibility in this change. It's all too easy to be undervalued and underappreciated and has certainly happened to me more than once. We need to change our attitudes as well. Try approaching your management with new ideas and explaining to them how you think things could improve. Don't be afraid of trying, you might be surprised at the answer you get! Frankie talked about setting our default response to "yes, not no because..." and I think this is an important point. You are representing the library to the user, to them you are the library. This means that ultimately you are responsible for improving the quality of the library service. One way to do this is by questioning the norm and changing your attitude to problems.

I think that the keynote stuck with me as this is an issue I've been thinking about a lot recently. We all have tough times in our careers but it's important to still offer the best service that we can to both our employers and our users. This means we need a fifty/fifty relationship; managers need to provide the mechanisms for staff to feel empowered, take on learning opportunities and share their ideas whilst staff need to take some action and not rely on everything coming from the top down.

The most important point I'm going to take away from Frankie's very inspiring keynote is this: taking a sexy risk is just as important as taking a vanilla one and learning to empower and trust your staff (and yourself) is one of the sexiest risks you can take!

(If anyone wants to read about the other sessions, or even a different point of view on the keynote, then the live blog is available here)

photo credit: alexbrn via photopin cc

Thursday 9 January 2014

A Library for Librarians

Created by Paul Cooke
Today, my colleague and I will be presenting a poster at the Libraries@Cambridge conference highlighting the Library Science Collection at Cambridge University Library.

The collection covers all areas of library science and archives including theoretical works, practical how-to guides, conference proceedings and major library science periodicals. We have titles from publishers such as Facet, the American Library Association, IFLA and Libraries Unlimited and we are constantly working on updating the collection so that it reflects current trends in the profession.

One of our first goals in terms of collection development is to make sure that we have a copy of all items on the core reading lists of the UK library courses. These are not always stored in the Library Science Collection but they will be available somewhere in the library. We want to make the collection the first port of call for library students from Cambridge (and elsewhere!) when they start their library course. We are currently in the process of tagging items on reading lists in the library catalogue to make life a little bit easier for students! Monographs from the main collection are borrowable for eligible readers but anyone with a University Library ticket can come and use the collection. You can follow our Pinterest board highlighting new additions to the collection below:

Follow Cambridge University Library - the UL's board Library Science Collection on Pinterest.

Another of our key aims is to provide advice on career development for those interested in librarianship. We have gathered together prospectuses from UK universities that offer LIS courses as well as information on various professional associations. The collection is stored in a quiet annex off the Commenwealth Reading Room which is perfect for browsing and finding some inspiration. Reading library science literature is a great (free!) method of CPD and can spark some great ideas.

Today also marks the launch of a website to promote the collection. We felt that it was important to bring together all of the information about the collection in one central place rather than have it scattered around the web. We also wanted to share the collection with the library community outside Cambridge. Even if you can't access the physical collection we want to give you some suggestions of new library literature that could be useful to you, either for study or professional development. The website link can be found by clicking the image below:

Please check it out and let us know if you have any suggestions for the future of the collection. As the title of this post says, it's a library for librarians and we really value your input. We very much hope that the collection is useful to librarians from both Cambridge and the wider library world so let us know what you do with it!