How to close a physical library and move online – Tell the VCs

I am lucky, I work for a university which puts it’s people first led by a VC who has shown amazing leadership this week. When I emailed my Student and Academic Services Director to say I wanted to close the service on Monday, the reply was “I agree but we just need to sort a few bits out (not least Halls)”. By Tuesday morning we were closing down all face to face Library and Archives Services by end of that day and every member of staff who was in on Tuesday was there voluntarily. (There are building issues meaning it wasn’t possible to close all spaces until 5pm Friday but more on that another time – the uni managed the close down amazingly well).

My amazing team have seamlessly moved online, the library hasn’t closed, we have moved online. 

Since then I have been contacted by countless friends and acquaintances across Academic Libraryland of all levels, other heads of service and directors, Academic Liaison, Content, Information Assistants and frontline who want to close. In most cases there is a block higher up which is preventing the physical closure of space. There are people tirelessly taking themselves into work because of good intentions around the students or because they feel bullied into going in. Library people are good people but the cost of all this on their wellbeing both mentally and physically is going to be huge. The outcry over the Coventry University Library Tweet about business as usual just shows the level of disconnect between some institutions and their teams. It is not business as usual. 


Now the buck has to stop with VCs if they are open then they are responsible for putting the health and wellbeing of every member of staff and every student not social distancing. People may well die as a direct result of these VCs actions.

There are different reasons why people are open (more below) but now the time has come to email or tweet (they will hate it being public) your VCs and COOs and use the following reasons to close (depending on your institutional culture). 

If we don’t close the effect on our reputation will be impossible to repair. We won’t be able to recruit the best staff or the students if we are seen to have ignored the needs of our staff and students.

If we don’t close now we will have a team of staff who will be unwilling to return to work, who feel unvalued and won’t be motivated when we reopen.

If we don’t close we run the risk of being sued (especially if people don’t feel able to wash their hands or use sanitizer).

If we don’t close people will die as a direct result of us being open.


These are the most common reasons given for staying open

We have students who can’t get home.

Every single university faced this, including ones with huge careleaver, estranged and international students cohorts. They worked their socks off last week to do managed shut downs and provide solutions. In some cases colleagues are staying in halls. There are solutions, you just have to ask the people who have done it. They will have worked things through so you can do it quicker.

We don’t want staff who are idling at home

If this is your culture then you need to use this time to take a hard look at yourself. None of my team are idling, they feel valued and respected (I hope) and have gone above and beyond to minimise disruption for students. They are doing what they do brilliantly in physical spaces online.

We are the only place for students to go

Do I need to spell it out? Social Distancing means we don’t want students to go anywhere. What makes a huge library which can hold hundreds of students a sensible place to be open? You are just encouraging people to mix together which is the exact opposite of what you should be doing. One library I have heard of had 100 students in at 7pm. 100. In one space. More than they usually have. 

The library is an essential service

It is and it isn’t. Yes students need access to resources and our expert teams but they can do that online. Our physical spaces now are dangerous, they are the opposite of essential. We were lucky – we had chat already going and a great online delivery anyway but all services have now had a week to sort this stuff out. Now is the time to demonstrate how essential library resources and expertise is not the just the spaces.

Chris Bourg explains this all better than I ever could here

We aren’t online already

We have moved our other Student Centre helpdesks online and go live tomorrow – this took us a week on top of everything else. It is do-able but only if you have a team who know you have got their backs. 

Contact the VCs

Remember now it is the VCs who need to be petitioned. Library Heads of Service and Directors need to make it clear to their colleagues that they would be closed and to call out the people stopping this happening.

Not a single academic library worker should be going into work on Monday fearful for their lives, they may not have told you they are but they are contacting me and tallking about it on social media to say they are.

Move online and keep safe.


Reskilling for Research Data Management : a Workshop for Academic Librarians

Research Bar

Last Tuesday I went down to UWE in Bristol for a day all about Research Data Management (RDM) and academic librarians. It was a really interesting day on something which I personally hadn’t thought much about but luckily lots of other people have! To be fair one of the points made was that the majority of institutions feel we are working with other areas over and above RDM but it provides a real opportunity for librarians, especially those working in liaison roles.

One theme that did run through is that librarians are not necessarily the people leading on this (i.e. writing policy etc) but they can be instrumental in success and education of researchers because of the cross departmental nature of liaison work.

So first of all … what is Research Data and why are we thinking about it?

Research data is the data created when research is undertaken.

It is basically the next big area to be looked at in terms of research – how is it curated, how can it be accessed etc

The UWE day came out of a JISC project: Managing Research Data: a pilot study in Health and Life Sciences

The Presentations from the day are available here.

One presentation interested me greatly. Using the RLUK Reskilling for Report and mapping the gaps. It looked at the gaps librarians have in their skills and how to fill them. The gaps were identified as:

1. Ability to advise on preserving research outputs (49% essential in 2–‐5 years; 10% now)
2.Knowledge to advise on data management and curation, including ingest, discovery, access, dissemination, preservation, and portability (48% essential in 2–‐5 years; 16% now)
3.Knowledge to support researchers in complying with the various mandates of funders, including open access requirements (40% essential in 2–‐5 years; 16% now)
4.Knowledge to advise on potential data manipulation tools used in the discipline/ subject (34% essential in 2–‐5 years; 7% now)
5.Knowledge to advise on data mining (33% essential in 2–‐5 years; 3% now)
6.Knowledge to advocate, and advise on, the use of metadata (29% essential in 2–‐5 years; 10% now)
7.Ability to advise on the preservation of project records (24% essential in 2–‐5 years; 3% now )
8.Knowledge of sources of research funding to assist researchers to identify potential funders (21% essential in 2–‐5 years; 8% now)
9.Skills to develop metadata schema, and advise on discipline/subject standards and practices, for individual research projects (16% essential in 2–‐5 years; 2% now)

The list fills me with a bit of dread but I can see how useful it is and also how important it is for future proofing the role of liaison librarians.

Luckily the afternoon introduced some tools to educate staff on Research Data Management.

First up were the RDMRose team:  According to their site they say:

Developing supportive spaces for researcher communities #researchspaces

The Vitae day on spaces for researchers was a really interesting event. The morning was spent hearing about the Hive at Sussex. This is a dedicated researcher space and one of the things it helped me understand is that it isn’t so much the space itself but what you do with it and the people involved in it. The Hive is swipe card access (swipe card access seems to be very important for these researcher spaces as it gives control and exclusivity) but otherwise is a fairly simple space with sofas, computers and laptop spaces. On the surface it doesn’t seem like anything special but the community that has built up around it, in no small part due the partnership with Sage, seems like a vital part of the researcher’s experience.

Sussex is working in partnership with Sage (who apparently want to adopt more universities …). Sussex get funding for things like the Hive Scholars and Sage in return get the opportunity for feedback from researchers far richer than anything they could get from surveys and other traditional research methods.

The Hive scholars are three researcher’s who receive a bursary for 6 hours work a week. They all work on things to promote the hive, utilising social media to great effect. Something they said echoed with what we did at Cass – using a variety of methods that interlink to get maximum liaison opportunities. The scholars reported how the Hive enriched the research community by providing a hub which allowed informal social events as well as more formal events to take place. These events then meant people who may have been doing similar research in different departments met and exchanged ideas. It is easy for researchers to be silo-ed but the library is a centre for all of them and therefore a sensible place for these hubs to be located.

A couple of great ideas they had were Shut up and write! (re


searchers meet in a cafe, have a chat then concentrate for a set period of time and then have another break) and advice written on the glass walls by more experienced researchers for new ones at the welcome event including “Read A lot”.

2012-12-13 12.55.572012-12-13 12.56.15


In the afternoon session we had a talk by Dawn Duke, Researcher Training and Development Officer, about the SPLASH area at Surrey and writing boot camps they set up to encourage researchers. One was a full on boot camp with people telling people off for not working and things, this was for full time Phd students because they identified a big problem with procrastination and that it usually had a cause. The bootcamp helped people identify causes, suppo

Finally we heard from Fiona Colligan, Warwick Research Exchange about how Warwick has introduced somethin

g akin to online dating for researchers called Research Match this built on similar set ups to the

Hive but has broken into some groups which didn’t interact so much with the physical space for examrt each other and break through the procrastination problem in spaces that suited them so if they needed quiet that was available but if they wanted to collaborate that was available. Surrey also identified a few issues about completion so they organised a retreat for part-time and distance students. This was more relaxed than the bootcamp. One thing the library did was source a collection of thesis so students who may not have seen a UK thesis before were able to see what this was. Two senior academics also stayed at the retreat for the whole weekend (students stayed on site for the weekend).

ple people in the hard sciences who have their own networks in labs etc but they have signed up to research match in large numbers. This sort of innovation really seems to come out of physical spaces.

By the end of the day I really felt encouraged to think beyond physical spaces for ideas that the library can be central to in the support of the researchers but also confirmed that a physical space dedicated to researchers, ideally controlled by swipe card, is a worthwhile idea but needs to be part of something bigger in terms of collaboration and student involvement. A room with a sofa and computers labelled “researcher’s space” isn’t enough.

I have stroyfied some of the tweets from the day below:

  1. Vitae_SE_Hub
    Hearing about the Sussex Hive, Surrey’s SPLASH and

    the Warwick Research Exchange. #researchspace

  2. sussexreshive
    The hive scholars are presenting at the ‘developing supportive spaces for research communities’ event in the library today #researchspace
  3. sussexreshive
    Looking forward to sharing our experiences as scholars and hearing about how other libraries support researchers #researchspace
  4. melon_h
    Really interesting to here from Joanna Ball about collaboration with SAGE over the Hive #researchspace
  5. sussexreshive
    Now hearing from Patrick Brindle from SAGE about how they benefit from their relationship with the Hive. #researchspace
  6. sussexreshive
    Patrick brindle: open access could potentially change everything for publishers #researchspace
  7. melon_h
    Patrick Brindle from Sage now talking about what the Hive does for SAGE #researchspace
  8. robwannerton
    Really interesting analogy of 92 Election on where information is being drawn from to make decisions in publishing #researchspace
  9. sussexreshive
    Patrick Brindle: a more meaningful relationship with researchers through the hive that gives better insight than surveys #researchspace
  10. melon_h
    value of Hive means that Sage don’t rely on polls and get deeper relationship and understanding with library and researchers #researchspace
  11. melon_h
    Really interesting hearing the hive scholars discussing the importance of networking as part of he Hive #researchspace
  12. joanna_ball
    Welcome event in @sussexreshive : five things I wish I’d known in my first year as a doctoral student #researchspace
  13. joanna_ball
    Hive Scholars: Shut up and Write events provide opportunity for researchers at all levels to share experiences. #researchspace
  14. BrindlePatrick
    Really like Sussex Hive #researchspace idea of ‘Shut Up and Write!’ sessions for @phd students overcoming writer’s block.
  15. sussexreshive
    Took participants on tours over lunch, people seem inspired by hive as both space and community #researchspace
  16. sussexreshive
    Now hearing from SPLASH at university of surrey – they offer intensive writing courses for researchers #researchspace
  17. sussexreshive
    SPLASH publication boot camp – 1 week from notes to first draft with ‘drill sergeants’ stopping procrastination and advising #researchspace
  18. sussexreshive
    This meant that researchers could talk through problems as thy arose. Supporting creative process of writing #researchspace
  19. sussexreshive
    This is inspiring, I want to go to a publication boot camp! #researchspace
  20. sussexreshive
    SPLASH at Surrey also ran a thesis writing retreat over a weekend aimed at part timers struggling to complete #researchspace
  21. sussexreshive
    They made a collection of 75 theses available at the retreat to give people a better idea of completion – this is so useful #researchspace
  22. sussexreshive
    The retreat gave the feeling of being ‘locked up’, short 15 min training sessions, one on one advice and a social function #researchspace
  23. sussexreshive
    Procrastination is never just procrastination – underlying cause #researchspace
  24. sussexreshive
    There were 900 research led events in the research exchange at Warwick in 2011-2012 !!! #researchspace
  25. sussexreshive
    How can a space facilitate interdisciplinary collaboration amongst researchers? #researchspace
  26. sussexreshive
    Warwick run an online ‘research match’ service matching research interests for collaboration. Amazing. #researchspace
  27. sussexreshive
    This has allowed new research networks and collaborations to emerge #researchspace
  28. BrindlePatrick
    RT @sussexreshive: Warwick run an online ‘research match’ service matching research interests for collaboration. Amazing. #researchspace
  29. pretty_curious
    Effective use of PGR ambassadors also works well to create community and peer support #researchspace
  30. pretty_curious
    But possibly you need some dedicated space to provide focus for events and study space that appeals to researchers #researchspace
  31. sussexreshive
    Great day, loads to think about and lots of ideas for future events and collaborations #researchspace

LILAC12 – a (not so) quick report #LILAC12

Having written a post about what it was like to present at LILAC I wanted to write up the conference itself (well the bits I attended).

Keynote 1 – Megan Oakleaf

Keynote 2 – Lord Puttnam of Queensgate, C.B.E.

Libguides tips and tricks: thinking outside the box – Eleanora Dubicki, Susan Gardner & Louise Gordon 

Playing Games and growing trees  Andrew Walsh Huddersfield @andywalsh999

Mobile technology and information literacy instruction: the McGill Library Experience. Maria Savova, Robin Canuel and Chad Crichton

Information literacy through inquiry: using problem-based learning in information literacy instruction Alan Carbery

Glasgow University
Glasgow – the conference wasn’t in this bit though!


I got a lot from attending. It was great to meet other librarians from across the world (there were lots of international delegates) and meet many faces from Twitter. I am really lucky to work somewhere that encourages us to attend conferences. It is such a positive experience and one I think is vital for us and our institution to evolve and stay ahead of the game. LILAC is  a big conference (by UK standards), but not so big that it feels overwhelming. Each day there was a keynote and then parallel sessions which meant there were a lot of things to choose from.

Glasgow was a nice place to visit and we did appreciate the free Caramel Log in our goody bags.

All the presentations that are available are here.

Keynote 1 – Megan Oakleaf

Play the ace: assessing, communicating and expanding the institutional impact of information literacy.
Megan’s impressive keynote looked at how it is important to demonstrate the value of the academic library to universities and how IL can be used to do this. She is the author of a US report: Value of Academic Libraries
Some points she made included:
  • Everyone loves library but don’t want to pay for it.
  • Focus on what collection enables people to do.
  • It is a good idea to define outcomes (learning outcomes) of what institution needs and wants. Could include employability, student retention.
  • What leads students to come to an institution? In US library second most impactful building. (learning spaces are first).
  • At Minnesota library instruction increases chance of re-enrolment year on year.
  • Acrl information literacy competency standards in higher education.
We did a great exercise where we used a grid called the Instruction Impact Map with Campus Needs, Goals and outcomes down one side and a list of things we do int he library along the top i.e. Tutorials, reference service etc. We then took one of the columns and rated how well it impacted on the campus need. This really made us think how we could connect the two things and really demonstrate how important what we do is.
Megan then suggested collecting evidence to back up our claims on the impact of our work making two important points:
  •  Authentic, integrated performance assessments.
  • Not surveys etc

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Libguides tips and tricks: thinking outside the box – Eleanora Dubicki, Susan Gardner & Louise Gordon (@louiselib)

The workshop delivered on Libguides was really useful. The major thing I took from it was the use of Libguides Polls.
Polls in Libguides
The poll before completion.
The results of the poll.
An example of which was used at the start of the session to see how many people in the session were using it and what we wanted out of the workshop.
The session was run round a guide:
We already use them at City but I hadn’t really thought of using them to base a whole session around but by using things like the polling and wallwasher they could be really interactive tools in our teaching as well as great support tools.

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Keynote 2 – Lord Puttnam of Queensgate, C.B.E.

I have to confess to having a bit of a fan girl moment when I saw Lord Puttnam as with my film-lover hat on I think he is an incredibly important figure in the British film industry. I now realise he is also an powerful voice in the world of Education two examples of his work are:
  • Founded future lab.
  • Sits on house communications committe.
The overarching theme of his speech was that what may seem radical to us now will not be in the future that People expect new form of relationship with world around them now. He gave several examples:
  •  Uni of Sunderland 24/7 opening radical in 1997. As was drinking coffee in library – keyboards so cheap irrelevant.
  • Www is just a click away.
  • Importance of libraries and schools.
  • Refreshing to see how quickly racists etc are brought to order on twitter.
  • Librarians help people steer towards right information.
  • Talked about unpredictability of what is to come I.e. Facebook buying instagram
  • Talked about the fact his parents would have thought 3 careers was bizarre but he can imagine his grandchildren having 6.
  • Huge levels of competition and complexity – unique challenges for us as educators.
The point that most people were buzzing about afterwards was:
Many currently in education will work with voice activated technology in working lives.
This means we will need a pedagogy to work with voice activated tech … Importance of voice and thinking. Keyboard skills will still be useful but not as important. Research and development is not put into keyboards. Money is in voice recognition both spending on research and in profit.
Apple, google and amazon all using this technology so children born today will think it is the norm. Essentially we will be working differently. Oracy (?) will be important. Teachers will have to be better at listening and students better at talking
and so strong spoken language skills will need to be developed. He said this isn’t that new, Aristotle’s The Art of Rhetoric is still a best seller but we will need to structure thought differently it requires students talk more but teachers less. 1975 Bullock report suggested teachers were so long winded pupils had 20 secs each to talk.
Currently there is disparity between how people behave with tech at home and how it is used in classroom. For example a surgeon from 1912 couldn’t work today. A teacher could because we aren’t using enough technology in classroom.
Need to understand students world, how they relate to it and we need to be aware of problems surrounding adopting technology i.e. digitising old practices isn’t the way forward. We need to consider what advances an entire digital pedagogy could be like. It is about digital not digitising.
He discussed the need for an undisputed education of women. World class education system underpins world class health and social system. Will not work other way round.
He ended with a quote from Stuart Brand “We are gods so we better start getting good at it”
There was then a great Q&A session:

Q: French children don’t learn to read and write until later. They develop oral and reasoning skills first.   – what about it?
A: Need to look at other countries. If you find yourself saying “this is the way we do it” stop doing it that way.
Q: Exam system doesn’t reflect digital technology.  IB allows it more than A levels with large piece of work.
A: most useful thing medical world could do is clone librarians as they have 19th century assessment process. It is out of step with technology and teaching. Lord Puttnam thinks International Baccalaureate is the way forward.
He then talked about the role of librarians:
  • Not what we do but branding is a problem.
  • Breadth width and importance of what we do needs to be promoted by us and others.
  • We aren’t gatekeepers.
  • Make sure title librarian isn’t trapped.
  • British library has done it brilliantly. It is vital and important.
Q: Cost question of technology.
A: Things you can’t afford not to have. If you are seriously concerned about child’s future you will forgo things to get them. Cost of slates in 19th century was crippling for a family but they did it. Education can’t be allowed to become unaffordable. TES – cheaper for them to buy £100 tablet and send it to all subscribers than the print copy as print costs £100 a year. Got to make tech vital so saying not do it because of cost is not relevant. IPad is as important as slate David Lloyd George learnt to write his name on.
Q: Issue around accent etc for google voice (and all voice technology)
A: technology will improve and be more forgiving. Recalling dictation from work in advertising. He learnt how to dictate a letter. You have to think in a particular way to dictate a letter.
Matrix of literacies
Being articulate is a life skill.
Q: Distance …
A: Cisco telepresence system on west coast of Ireland. He does lectures from home. 5 universities. Notion of distance is not relevant any more.

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Playing Games and growing trees  Andrew Walsh Huddersfield @andywalsh999

Lemontree Cake
Lemontree gave away cake on a stick

This session really appealed to me as I am interested in the gamification of learning. Huddersfield have done a lot of work on the connection between library use and student achievement. One of their findings was that the physical library didn’t make a difference. This meant they wanted more serious use from students who came in for social reasons by putting a game over top of library usage.

You can view the game here
There is also more information here.
 The game connects with Facebook and a lot of the social interaction is in Facebook. Once registered you don’t have to go on to lemon tree you can see what you are doing in Facebook.
As always data protection is an issue so they make sure people are happy to share data I.e. what books you borrow and under settings you can turn off what information is shared.
One of the key benefits appeared to be that it can be used to see what other people from courses found useful.
As is often the case as interesting as the game looks the thing that stuck with me (as I doubt we would be going down the game line) was the promotion suggestions:
  • Little cards including things like “playing the library”
  • No big worthy things
  • Low key and fun
  • One poster
  • Messages that appear on plasma screens
  • Has to be fun and inviting
  • Cards are being scattered
  • Put it in high demand books
  • Also put codes to reward in low use books.

Details of the presentation are here:


Mobile technology and information literacy instruction: the McGill Library Experience. Maria Savova, Robin Canuel and Chad Crichton

McGill library from the palm of your hand – delivered to librarians as wells as students and faculty
There were several good points made to be aware of when looking at the use and implementation of mobile technologies.
  • Have to establish what is possible on different ereaders etc (wifi or 3G or not)
  • Ezproxy helps use on mobile devices
  • Challenges – it isn’t clear from the catalogue if book can be downloaded
  • Also availability – can’t tell if someone has downloaded it already (some limits to number of downloads)
  • Ebsco – need to download PDF for use offline.
  • Problem PDF is a picture not text. Doesn’t work well on ereaders.
  • Reflowable text – ePub, amazon azw kindle format, mobipocket reader format – universal eBook Reader for PDAs
  • Science direct allows you to convert into ePub /Mobipocket
  • Calibre allows you to change formats (as long as not protected by digital rights)
  • Different devices have different structures i.e. file structure in Android is different to Apple.
New ways of searching for information
  • Voice search –
    Most mobile devices have voice connectivity
    Shazam / soundhound technology – biologists use it by capturing birdsong and identifying birds
  • Visual search – Google goggles – can not only identify things in images but also if you take pic of an image it will find other references to the image (for example a picture of a painting)
  • Context specific – Location aware search results – world cat mobile use it. Computer finder.
  • Barcodes/QR codes -QR codes – super easy to implement.
  • Augmented reality – point camera at reality around you, brings information in around you. Layar app – information about our campus, direct where,how to get to library.

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Information literacy through inquiry: using problem-based learning in information literacy instruction Alan Carbery

This presentation was probably the unexpected highlight of the conference. Unfortunately I was so gripped I forgot to make notes. This is the presentation:
I have used PBL a lot in my previous work  but not so much recently. Alan’s presentation inspired me to think about how I could use it in the future again.

Presenting at LILAC 2012

This year was not only my first LILAC but also my first solo presentation at a major library conference. I am pleased to say both attending and presenting are experiences I look forward to repeating.

Despite the fact that anybody who knows me knows I can hardly be described as shy and have never shied away from public speaking or giving  presentations I was nervous. I have delivered presentations to groups of 300+ but presenting at LILAC was by far the most nervous I have been before an event. I think this was probably because I was delivering a presentation to my peers. People I respect, who know a lot about Information Literacy and who all might have thought the “innovative” idea I was presenting was in fact old hat.

Before I get on to the presentation itself I’ll explain a bit about the process that I went through to get there. LILAC put out a call for papers in the Autumn with the themes for the conference. This year they were:

We welcome  proposals which address one or more of this year’s conference themes:

  • IL and the digital future
  • IL research
  • Supporting the research community
  • Transitions: from School through to Higher Education
  • IL and employability
  • Active learning and creative pedagogical approaches

We’ve been doing a lot of work at Cass on IL and employability so I instantly thought this would be a good strand for a presentation. However … the best idea wasn’t mine! So I asked my lovely colleague Carolyn Smith if she minded me talking about our Cass Certification programme as it was her idea. Luckily she said yes. I wasn’t entirely sure where to begin  with my abstract so I looked up some previous year’s and realised that there is a lot of variety in styles, some heavily referenced and some not so much.

I wrote a short abstract of 300 words (for a 30 minute presentation) which my manager and Carolyn both read and suggested a couple of tweaks. Then I submitted it and waited. I wasn’t sure I’d done it right so was very surprised when I received an email saying it had been accepted on provision that I made a couple of revisions. These were basically adding a bit more about why it was innovative and different and taking out some background.

So, I resubmitted and then forgot about it. April seemed a long way off in December but suddenly it was the last week in March and I need to get something done so I gathered all my points together and started working on a Prezi. Prezi really suits my way of thinking as I am quite a visual person and I like the way it works you through a thought process. For me it works a bit like a mindmap which I then reorder to make sense to other people (I hope).

So presentation done, I just had to make a few notes on Evernote so I could easily refer to them. These were basically statistics and a few points I though I must make.

I was ready to go! I was lucky I could get my session over with on the first day. At LILAC they run several sessions at once so people sign up for the ones they are interested in meaning there is a lot of variety to choose from. I had a good turnout and it was nice to see some familiar faces in the audience.

My main worry beforehand was I had misjudged the content and that it would all be over in 5 minutes or I would rush the end because I had no time and that would have been a bit awkward either way. I don’t like to over rehearse but I had mentally run through it a couple of time and in the end was pretty much on time. I had parts of the presentation I could have rushed or taken longer to talk about if I felt timings were out but it was ok and I had time for several questions which was good as it made me think about how library certification might work elsewhere.

This was a really good experience and something I hope to repeat again. I’d really recommend submitting papers and giving presentations to anybody. The worst is you won’t get accepted but there’s a good chance you will. I am very lucky to have very supportive colleagues and manager who encourage us to try to apply for conferences and submit papers.

This is a link to the presentation.

Fancy YouTube things – next year’s library video might be in 3d.


Did you know you can do lots of fancy things in YouTube including editing and adding “effects”?

You can:

These links were also in the Wall Street Journal (Boehert, K; The Wonders of YouTube’s Hidden Tools, Wall Street Journal Monday 24th October 2011 p.33)

Librarian Day in the life 7 Tuesday (#libday7)

I was doing a late night at Cass tonight so didn’t start work until 11 and started the day at the main site before walking to Cass mid-afternoon. Today was another bitty day. Unlike yesterday I didn’t feel I got as much done today but that happens, I started a few things like a help sheet and my post for next week’s 23things (I can’t reveal what on but it was fun researching!) and I ordered some books. Tonight I issued some books, answered a couple of queries and topped up a lot print credit. I also got slightly confused about what to do when closing the library (that phrase always makes me think of It’s a Wonderful Life when in the “how things would be if George Bailey had never lived” scenes to illustrate Mary’s singleness they show her closing the library).

Here’s my day as a pie chart –

Today Tamise and I continued to help the student from yesterday with Bloomberg. We looked into it before she got there so once she arrived we were able to show her exactly how to find the daily spot prices for natural gas in Europe over the last three years. She went away happy. Tamise and I then had a long chat about how we could turn all our FAQs etc into a searchable resource for students.

At lunch we had a very bizarre conversation about ukuleles and recorders which led to a few emails going around all afternoon (hence about 15 minutes of my afternoon taken up with ukuleles and recorders. The thing about librarians is they can find a you tube clip in seconds to illustrate almost any point so these discussions just refine our skills!)

Because I can’t tell you about next week’s 23things there’s not much else to say about today.

Librarian Day in the Life project 7 – Monday #libday7

This is supposed to be about what I do all day as a librarian – it’s not all books you know! Today has been a bit of a catching up day as you might see from my lovely pie chart of my day:

It’s a bit odd seeing it like that as several if those tasks were spread out through the day. For example I’m constantly reading emails and responding to them in between other tasks. I’m very much a multitasker with several things going on so most of those things will have been done mixed up rather than in blocks of time.

I had one student query, there are more in term time, from a student asking how to login to science direct. They were having problems because they were trying to get into science direct off campus and not from one of our links. I quickly recorded a screen grab of how to log on and sent them a link as well as written instructions. This took 5 mins at most and if anyone else asks how to log on I have the clip for them.

I also talked to Tamise the Senior Information Assistant at Cass to try and sort out a Bloomberg query she had from a Phd student. Thanks to Tamis calling Bloomberg’s helpdesk the student was helped and I found out they can send you a transcript of your phone query!

I’ve been filling out my first appraisal in this role and it’s taking longer than I’d like because you have to link it to various strategic goals which means reading a strategy which may be out of date but I’ve been given some help from the cass library operations manager which has speeded it up.

I also have been wrestling with the university’s cms to get my subject pages up, again a process which takes much longer than it should but not for much longer …

I had a couple of meetings today too. The first was with my colleague Mandy who is the subject librarian for Arts and Isabelle from the Centre for Language Studies . We were talking about Mandy and my plans for pages for International Students on the library website. Isabelle was really enthusiastic and is going to help us out with a few links to language resources, in return she’ll use some of our content.

My second meeting was quick and with Neil our digital repository manager. He told me a bit about what he was doing and I talked about Cass and my role.

I’m one of the members of the 23things City team which is a week by week course we’re running for our colleagues to show them various social media tools. Today I looked at a few of the 23things participants’ blogs. A few have taken an extended break after week 5’s reflection but I’m sure they’ll catch up, hopefully they haven’t been put off by the amount of things in week 6! Two of the prezis from last week were absolutely laugh out loud funny: Prezi on City University library and Prezi on 23thingsCity

So that was my day. Tomorrow I am working late so will have a different type of day …







My first Business Librarians Association Conference


I had heard many tales about the Business Librarian Association (BLA) conference in the past. All in all the general consensus was it’s a great conference and having attended my first this week I have to agree. I have come away with lots of ideas and inspiration plus put names to faces from Twitter. I think in today’s shrinking training budgets conferences are essential. They provide a unique opportunity to share ideas and be inspired and are a bit like a music festival – great way to see lots of new ideas at relatively low cost per session.

The theme of this year’s conference was “Making an Impact – demonstrating value.” Which is of course a big issue in libraries of all shapes and sizes. The first keynote was “A is for Advocacy” by Antony Brewerton, Head of Academic Services, University of Warwick. It was a great start to the conference as it was engaging, relevant and informative. I liked the way he took ideas from marketing and adapted them for libraries. I wouldn’t say it was revolutionary but he did make an excellent point in that a problem is that librarians think what they do is common sense but students don’t see it as being so obvious. A point worth being reminded of. Another point worth remembering is the key to our success is service. As he said “People don’t go to the pub for the ale but for the service.”

His talk reminded me what can be done with some simple ideas including something we did well at Brighton, templates so all documents looked the same. The helpsheets I’ve been doing for our Cass students have taken these ideas but maybe we need them across the board at City? It’s that buzzowrd Branding which came out of this keynote.

The first afternoon continued with two talks from a director and assistant director of the local universities. This was followed by an excellent Question Time session where members had been invited to submit questions beforehand and the panel answered them. One of the questions was on social media and a couple of good points which echoed my own thoughts came out of this:

  • Use it in the way students use it.
  • Do need to be where students are.

Plus an excellent idea – Ask students to write on blogs.

I won’t say much about the informal dinner, suffice that free wine is great and a quiz on Sheffield is a bit hard when it’s your first visit.

The next day had a mix of presentation styles which re-affirmed my believe that practicing librarians make better presenters than some of our academic colleagues. The surprise was that until Meg Westbury’s excellent presentation on Friday nobody used Prezi.

There was a presentation on strategy to kick the second day off at 9am, the main point I got from it was that strategies should be simple for people to understand them but I do have some references to look up.

It was then up to Huddersfield to make data interesting. They succeeded. The team talked about their library impact project. Amongst the things they mentioned were that they had been using library usage data to see if their was a correlation between library use and degree class. We had break out sessions to discuss some of the points raised. One of issues our groups discussed was the effect on library services if positive correlation is proved. Will it give us more clout? Will it effect subject librarians? Is their a positive correlation between information literacy and degree class? Some of the information is available in their repository and there’s a great blog about the project.

Chinese students and their experience of life in UK higher education was the subject of Dr. Bradley Barnes’ post-lunch talk. This really interested me as I’m currently working on pages for international students and have a bit of experience with them from INTO. He talked about using an equation to measure the students experience.

Perception (p) – expectation (e) = quality (q) if q is negative then what is perceived falls short of expectations.

What Dr. Barnes explained was that with Chinese students their cultural differences will effect their experience and the quality of that experience. For example they are surprised that our shops and services close at 5:30 and perceive this as lazy. It was interesting to have my own experiences confirmed.

The afternoon continued with a talk from the Norwegian Business School. It was really good to hear how things are done in Norway and the school looks great! They made a couple of good comments, one was that we should use QR codes partly because it looks technologically advanced and therefore impresses. The other was one echoed elsewhere – use students for induction videos.

Friday morning saw the AGM and then member sharing sessions which were really interesting and reconfirmed librarians as the best presenters. They were all really good and re-confirmed the belief that librarians excel at presenting. I was particularly interested in Meg’s explanation of how they built the Judge Business School Library Blog as one of my tasks for the next year is to work with Carolyn on our web presence and we had discussed looking at to do it. Meg’s prezi was also excellent and really showed how good it is as a presenting tool.

So, all in all it was an excellent conference. The hotel was great, Sheffield lovely and I really do have some great ideas to develop. If you work supporting business students then it is well worth the time and cost to attend.

Library Day in the Life – day 2

Today I had my corporate induction at City which was really helpful in mixing with other new staff, seeing who’s who and understanding what the university is about. That took up all the morning but went quickly. This was probably helped by the fact that my lovely friend Jessica started working at City yesterday and got herself on the induction. When we hugged goodbye outside I thought the other people might think the induction had been a really good bonding exercise!

After lunch at the induction (very nice sandwiches and vegetable crisps) I did some emails and tried to work out what to do about the web pages as it appears I can edit some other ones which I will be involved with but not the key subject ones. The others I can edit are exciting Information Literacy ones which were produced before I got there but I will be working on.

I then went to Grays Inn Place for a Web Development Group meeting. Grays Inn Place is a beautiful Inn of Court and where City Law School is. We only met 3 weeks ago but the main point of this meeting was to do a card sorting exercise with the FAQ section of the library website. It was really good to look at how they can all fit together and also whether the FAQs were answered obviously on the front page of the website.

I’m really enjoying my new role and can’t wait to head back after my operation and really get stuck in.

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