UC&R and CoFHE Joint Conference post 2 – Super-convergence

12 07 2010

The conference opened with a welcome from Michele Shoebridge, Director of Academic Services at the University of Exeter and in this welcome she talked about the Forum Project which is bringing together all the university support departments of which the library is one. Michele also mentioned the student experience as being at the heart of what we deliver, which relates to this converging of departments to improve the student experience. Another thing that struck a chord with me was the message that we want to communicate to our users and the importance of that.

Each of these points featured in a workshop session I went to which was a whistle stop tour of the experience of super-convergence at Liverpool John Moores university (LJMU) with our tour guide, Planning and Business Manager, Leo Appleton. I’d met Leo at a branding workshop at CILIP at some point during 2009 and remembered him talking about the super-convergence happening at LJMU and thought, oooh, that’s interesting. Before working in the Library I was an Information Officer in Student Services and during my 4 or so years working there I heard much talk of the ‘one stop shop’ approach to student support, advice and guidance. To me this super-convergence of departments is just that on a massive scale! LJMU are holding a conference on this very subject on Thursday 7th & Friday 8th October, 2010 http://www.ljmu.ac.uk/lea/102786.htm which sounds super-interesting :-)

First off, what is Super-convergence? I’ve borrowed this definition from LJMU as it is just right:

‘Super-convergence’ as it is now known involves bringing together either structural or physical services such as: Library; IT support; Student Administration; Careers; Welfare; Counselling; AV Support; Learning Development; Study Skills; Student Finance; Programme Administration and so on. http://www.ljmu.ac.uk/lea/102786.htm [Accessed 12/07/2010]

They go on to introduce how super-convergence is emerging in HEI’s across the UK which is worth a read.

Second, why did I pick this as a key theme for me from the conference? Well, I’ve mentioned the one stop shop concept that I heard so much about during my time working in Student Services, it also fits into the concept of shared services which I blogged as another key theme for me https://librariansontheloose.wordpress.com/2010/07/12/ucr-and-cofhe-joint-conference-shared-services/

In addition, it fits with the idea of improving the student experience by bringing together all the student support departments and processes in an attempt to streamline these and make them more efficient.

I appreciate it’s difficult to get a lot into a one hour session, but Leo certainly got across the main points; what it is, how they did it and his role in the process. The session then looked at how information services keeps its own individual brand within this new department. I was interested to hear this as it looked at the same principles of the library brand as our session; Your Library Brand and the Student Experience. Although it made me panic about our session slightly, ok a lot, it was good to see that we had hit on the same things, the main ones being; what is your message? What do you want to get across to your users about your services? What do your services mean to the people using them?

I mentioned the student experience just then too. I’m all for making processes easier for students and it’s beneficial to staff to understand which systems can are integrated, which are stand alone, which department deals with what etc so we get a better understanding of the processes the students have to go through. If super-convergence of services improves the student and staff experience then hurray! I think we need to see more evidence of how things have changed when this happens before we can really know if it works.

I can see loads of challenges related to managing this sort of massive change, but unfortunately didn’t get chance to talk to Leo in detail about this. LJMU managed this process of converging departments in around nine months! Imagine that! Leo mentioned that change in staff and organisational culture comes back to values and remembering what we’re about and I agree with that, but I also see that it’s sometimes difficult to keep that in mind if a change like this seems to have an effect on your own role and responsibilities.

I can also see loads of opportunities here for example, getting staff to work more closely and in partnership across departments and by doing so gaining a better understanding of working practices and how everything fits together. I’ve already mentioned the potentially improved student experience.

All of this fits under the umbrella of the difficult economic situation we find ourselves in; the idea that we have to do more with less. Does super-convergence of departments help us to do more with less? Does it make for more efficient services and an improved student experience?

Once again I leave you with more questions! Sorry about that.

Ok, next post looks at user experience…

Librarian Sarah wins an award!!

14 06 2010

Hurray and Congratulations for Librarian Sarah who has won an ‘Excellence in Facilitating/Empowering Learning Award‘ here at the University of Brighton. This is really timely considering I recently attended the Librarians as Teachers event at Warwick and those of us working in education are seeing our roles with much more of a teaching and learning capacity.

Sarah was nominated for this award by the school that she works with and the judges decision was unanimous. It’s great for the department that Sarahs contribution to learning has been recognised and it’s great for us as her colleagues as we can get some best practice on the go. In a really selfish way, this is great for me as well, because I can learn from Sarah’s success and try out the stuff that has worked well in her teaching sessions and put it into my stuff. It’s also inspiring for me as this is something that I can aim for now I’ve got a bit of experience under my belt and I’m into my second year in this job.

One of my summer jobs is to look at the sessions in place for my students in the School of Environment, I mentioned this in the Librarians as Teachers post, so I’m going to make the most of having an award winning teaching librarian in the same library!!

Well done Librarian Sarah!

Using laptops for library workshops

7 05 2010

We deliver a programme of library related workshops across the University sites.

In our library we have a room to deliver sessions, but it is not equipped with computers which limits what we can do.

We’re thinking about whether we could use laptops for these sessions, for example, workshops about using Endnote Web,  and then we can be flexible with what else we use the space for.

So, I wondered if anyone else has had a similar experience or has a space that they use in different ways for running sessions.

Any ideas or experiences would be appreciated.

Sensational service delivery – we can absolutely do that!

23 03 2010

I started to write this in January! Imagine that. I need to get out of this habit of starting a blog post and not finishing it! Anyway, it’s still ever so relevant to what’s going on here at UoB, so I thought I should finish it…

First off for this post an article which I found really interesting, and timely for us here at UoB, from Jenny Cefai,  the Staff Learning and Development Manager at Anglia Ruskin University. This article was on the training page (p8) of the Gazette, (14/01/2010-27/01/2010) this is the online version. In the article Jenny tells readers why the staff at Anglia Ruskin university library went on a shopping trip and the intial outcomes of the experience. The main aim of the shopping was to see how the library could learn lessons from the retail sector when it comes to service delivery and good customer service.

This is really timely for us here at UoB, as after changes to the structure of the department and new management in place we are starting to develop a service delivery strategy across Information Services. So far meetings have been held across the sites to see how this can be developed and how staff can be involved (something which I think is essential if we are going to deliver some aces customer service and soemthing that Jenny touches on in her article) – ‘Motivated, enthusiastic staff are vital to the customer experience and therefore to the success of the organisation.’ Agreed!

A couple of meetings in and we’re starting to get a feel for what we can achieve in terms of service delivery here at the Moulsecoomb site. As well as the two main service delivery meetings here, we have had smaller meetings; the Information Advisers and our Learning Technologies Adviser discussed what the Information Services experience for staff and the Assistant Information Advisers and Assistant Librarians looked at the student experience. Resource Assistants also discussed our approach to customer service and following the example from Anglia our Resource Assistants went out and did some mystery shopping to get some ideas about customer service and how that compares to what we do.

We’re at a stage now where we need to bring all these discussions back to the main service delivery meeting to see where we go next. This is happening tomorrow. We’ll post again on any developments that come from that. Hopefully our service delivery plan will be starting to take shape.

Library day in the life, round 4, day 5

2 02 2010

Do you know what? I started this blog post on Saturday because I didn’t get chance to do it on Friday, now it’s Tuesday and I can’t remember what else happened on Friday!! How crap is that? Just goes to show that I need to write about stuff as and when otherwise it gets forgotten. Eeeekkk!!

This is a bit late, but Friday was another busy day :-)

So, what did I do?

First thing was a quick meeting with one of my colleagues about a photo competition we’re going to run as part of IS for you week. We’ve finally got our ideas down and we’re on way to publicity etc. So that’s good.

Desk session was pretty uneventful. Most unusual thing for that was the delivery of a new toilet seat and then trying to find which toilet it was for! Anyway that was sorted so back to the desk.

The afternoon involved a quick jaunt to see a lecturer about a DVD recording and a reprint, but not a new edition of a book.

I left work circa 4.30 to get to the London and South East Career Development Group (CDG) committee meeting at UCL. I was proper late for it though, which I was a bit annoyed about, but public transport is out of my control! Anyway, I arrived and there was some discussion to be had about what we needed to report back on to National Council on Monday/Tuesday. We had updates from the different officers in the group about what’s been going on and what’s coming up. The rest of it I’m going to have to catch up on in the minutes. This was followed by a couple of pops and then home.

I refuse to believe this is all I did on Friday! If I remember what else I will add to this post.

Forgetful librarian Emma

Library day in the life – round 4, day 4

28 01 2010

Is it really Thursday already? Yowsers.

I’m still at work as it’s my #latenightlibrarian duty until 9pm. I got here circa 9.15 today to discover my colleague had done herself a mischief tripping over and landing quite heavily on her hand. She was first aided, but ended up having to go to A&E just be sure she was all ok and just bruised rather than broken. Still, made things a bit trying for her today!

So,  I was  bit grumpy this morning for no particular reason, which generally makes me even more grumpy, because I can’t rationalise it! Idiot! Anyway, I had the usual start to my day- emails. Emails, emails, emails, emails. I finally sorted out the journals stuff for GY327 and the lecturer seems pleased, this was the start of his reply:

‘Wow, you are super-efficient in the library.’

Loves it! So, journal articles have been requested. Great.

I then did some more preparing for the recording for BURST and went over to Watts where we have a sound studio. Phil (the sound engineer) and I set things up and did some testing, testing, checking the levels and all that and we were ready to go. My colleagues arrived and we had a discussion about safe computing. This will feature in IS for you Week. One of my colleagues, Robert Schifreen used to be a hacker, so knows all about safe computing!! Recording went well and was fun too.

We had a break for lunch, desk lunch for me again, (which I actually hate doing, but have done twice this week I think, naughty) this gave a bit of time to catch up on emails etc. I then went back over to Watts and loaded the recording onto a computer with Adobe Soundbooth on, I would have preferred Adobe Audition, but that isn’t on the computer I was using, nevermind. I made a start on the editing, which takes a bloody age! I really enjoyed it though. I used to do internet radio stuff back in the day and this was a reminder of how much I did enjoy it.

Anyway, bits of editing done and back to the office to try and organise more recording for BURST with our SUVP for Education and Equalities and our Director of IS. Still need to schedule these in, but the SUVP for EE seems keen which I’m pleased about.

Freaking out slightly about the lack of time we have, but we’ll get it done. Sarah and I will be out and about harrassing students for their views and ideas about IS. I’m looking forward to that :-)

So, I’m now on the enquiry desk and it’s been a fairly busy session. Things keep breaking, well a phone and the printer credit machine, I’ve had to do a few more walk arounds than normal to try and keep the noise levels down as we’ve had a few complaints about that. For the most part though, people seem to respect others are trying to work, but there’s always a rowdy few!!!

Tomorrow is set to be another busy day with more IS for you Week stuff, this time a photo competition to discuss and get moving on. Then an enquiry desk and then I’m off to a Career Development Group London and South East Committee meeting at UCL. Phew!

I’ve got chartership activities that need attention which will have to be this weekend I think. Rock and roll!

Ok, that’s the end for today, just half an hour to go for Late night librarian Emma.

Library day in the life – round 4, day 3

27 01 2010

Mid week already and another busy day.

I was a bit later arriving to work today and finally started climbing the email mountain circa 9.30am. A colleague was off poorly, so we had two desk sessions to cover. I volunteered for the 1-3.15 slot as I wasn’t scheduled to be on the enquiry desk at all today. I ended up splitting the session with another colleague in the same position.

So, once emails had been done, I went and placed my votes on the names for the drop in sessions we will be running from February.
I had some follow up to do with a lecturer about a book, a DVD and copyright. The copyright issue took up a fair amount of time and we’re now waiting to hear back from the publisher as to whether we can have permission to photocopy under our licence with the CLA. Following this I did another bit of searching for some journal articles requested by a lecturer for a module starting next semester, there’s a fair few of them to get through and I managed to finish this today! Hurray!
I had some reservations to sort out and a request from another of our libraries for a book to have there for semester 2. That was sorted and sent over to them.

I then had a brief visit from my mentor Sarah Friend, who was dropping off two marantz audio recording kits for Sarah and I to use to get some material for IS for you week for BURST, which led on to some emails about that too. We’re organised to record the first piece tomorrow morning, so we’ll see how that goes!

I had some lunch at my desk while checking Twitter and the blogs that I subscribe to. I then went down to do my bit of the enquiry desk session. Back up to the office with a hot chocolate and a quick check through the latest reservations list. Sarah and I then met to have a go with the audio recording kits, which are great! We’ve figured them out, pretty straight forward to use, so we’re good to go tomorrow, hopefully!

I then attended an open meeting with the VC about the future of the university, it doesn’t sound great, but it seems we are in a better position that some other universities. There was the opportunity for questions and the idea of these open meetings on a termly basis seemed very welcome by staff. I’d be rubbish as a VC or any sort of managerial type!! The sector as a whole has it’s work cut out for the coming years. We’ll see how it goes.

The day was rounded off with preparations for the recording tomorrow. We’ve got the people, we’ve got the topic, we’ve got the equipment – this can only go well!!

Tonight is belly dancing, so I’d better get my shimmy on!
Librarian Emma


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