DAY TWO – Tuesday 19th June 2012
My day started by meeting Sarah Lawson over breakfast, which was a delightful way to network and get to know someone purely by the chance of us both being the last ones down for breakfast and having to queue for a free table.
Catriona Kemp, (Hull York Medical School Librarian, University of York), kicked off the day’s proceedings by telling us about her experience of surveying medical school students and making improvements based on their feedback, as recommended by Dr Judith Broady-Preston on Monday afternoon. The medical students that she works with have to cope with two different university systems: York Uni and Hull Uni. They do not match up, and the students of course want just the one library service to meet all of their information needs. Students end up with lots of different log-in/access details.
As the two university libraries ask slightly different things in their regular user surveys, the HYMS library service needed one central data collection exercise, asking questions such as: What texts would you recommend we purchase? They bribed the students with £100 (Amazon voucher?) or a kindle as a prize, and got a 14% response rate, which was better than Catriona and colleagues had expected.
What made her survey different, to my ears at least, was that they got initial feedback to to the students within a week and a half of the end of the survey. They reacted to the survey data quickly and proactively. They also put up their responses on Blackboard: “You asked… We did…”, which is something that I saw at York St John University library as well, on their plasma screens on the ground floor of the library.
Catriona and her colleagues created Libguides to meet the information needs of their students, to have one place for the information and links that they need. There is also a mobile version of Blackboard that their students use to find information on the move. The best thing about Libguides, apart from how easy it is to create new pages etc, are the statistics and data to indicate which links the students click on (Cochrane Library? Etc), and how they find the Libguide webpage (from Facebook, in some cases!).
The library survey is a live document. They are still acting on the results (You asked, We did..). It’s given the library a voice, and has enabled them to bid successfully for extra funding to respond directly to student demands.
Next up: a consultation in 2013 to validate the changes they’ve made in response to the feedback.
The second speaker on Tuesday morning was Linda Ferguson, NHS NW Health Care Libraries Unit, speaking on Standards for NHS Library Services in England. This was also relevant to our library, as we serve both the university staff and students and our local NHS Trust staff as our major stakeholders. I sat next to Linda at the Dinner on Monday night, and jotted down some advice about writing my evaluative statement for my Chartership portfolio, so was already hugely in awe of her before she even spoke. She’s worked for the NHS for the last 22 years. Before that, she was in HE. She is the Quality Lead for NHS Libraries in the North West. Therefore… she cares about impact and value, and she knows a lot about demonstrating and measuring impact, value, quality etc of library services.
NHS library services are assessed on:
1. People – staff skills etc
2. Money/ funding/ budgets
3. Structure –strategic planning
4. Library service
5. Infrastructure and facilities
It’s all about self assessment and quality improvement. How does one library service compare to another, and how can they all be improved?
The third speaker of the morning session was Geoff Glover, Head of Health Sciences at the Higher Education Academy, who told us about the HEA and what he does. It wasn’t as relevant to my work and experience as the other talks, I must admit.
After a break, Helen Loughran (Planning and Marketing Manager, Libraries and Learning Innovation, Leeds Metropolitan University) talked about Customer Service Excellence and the CSE Standard. I am all for excellent customer service. I am a big believer in serving our customers to the best of our abilities, making sure we meet their needs and facilitating their use of our resources. Making sure they make the most of the library service and have a good time. If they have a good time, then they’ll probably come back to us and use our services again! It’s that simple.
The Customer Service Excellence Standard is a government award, although it is not known who “owns” it at the moment. Going for this Standard involves the following costs: staffing costs; project costs for surveys, focus groups etc; financial (etc!) costs of cultural change (time, effort, commitment); and the cost of the actual assessor, and running an assessment event.
Impact and Value:
1. Student experience
2. Enhanced services (What does this mean?)
3. Enhanced profile (Does this mean raising a library’s profile, promoting it?)
4. University library staff experience.
At Leeds Metropolitan University, they respect their students and listen to them, respond quickly to needs and demands.
Most interestingly, all staff at the university library service are recruited based on their “attitude not aptitude”, and all staff do at least one hour per week at the help desk areas, to get the customer care exposure and experience. I really like the sound of that. I think it is crucial for everyone to work with our customers/ readers/ library users for at least an hour per week, to remind ourselves of the value of our jobs and why we go to work: for the user. We wouldn’t have jobs if it wasn’t for them. As a result of this scheme, the library service has a very low staff turnover rate.
Last but not least, we had the TeachMeet session. Four presentations and Q&As in 50 minutes. Hold on to your hats…
1. Sarah Lawson (Senior Information Specialist (NHS Support), King’s College London) – They gathered narratives from a survey to gather qualitative data about the impact of the library service. They surveyed a range of user groups in 2009 (university, acute, mental health, community and hospice libraries), and this time just focused on the one question about impact. They offered a Kindle as a prize, and had over 700 replies from users of six libraries. It worked really well to collaborate with other libraries to gather many more responses. She broke down the data into themes: eg. clinical decision making; commissioning; costs; and creating and disseminating research. There was also a theme about the importance of space, eg. the library is “a fantastic space to work and think [in]”. They used the results in their publicity materials. Why a survey? The responses were used to bid for money; promote the service and raise their profile; and to defend the library services – to defend the use of space, and demonstrate a need to keep the space.
2. Lisa Flint (Subject Librarian: Biosciences, University College London) – She ran a course in a different way this year, and reaped the benefits. She runs post-exam sessions for first year biochemistry students every year. The sessions focus on MeSH, Boolean, how to search, methodologies etc, and she usually does the traditional thing: powerpoint, demonstration, hands-on session. This year, she had 110 students to teach in two sessions, back-to-back. She decided to have a change. She did some research, talked to colleagues, and came up with a quiz style teaching session. She had a few introductory ppt slides, then put the students into groups. Each group picked a famous scientist, from a choice of 11, and they had to go off and answer questions about their scientist, with a mystery prize to bribe them onwards. They had to answer questions about the Scientists’ major works (i.e. highly cited books), and it enabled her to watch the students working together in groups. She answered questions on a 1-1 basis. The students got very excited and competitive about the tasks. The next day, she attended one of their sessions and handed out the prizes. In feedback from their Moodle, students said that the session was “really useful”, and most people were satisfied. The students learnt new skills, got to work together, the librarian experimented with doing something in a different way, and all benefited from the experience. I really like the sound of that. I don’t know how I can get it to work with my job, and training sessions that I do for adults, but you never know!
3. Vicki Cormie (Senior Academic Liaison Librarian, Science & Medicine, University of St Andrews) talked about using Libguides with medical students. See http://libguides.st-andrews.ac.uk/medicine Libguides are easy to create, mobile-friendly, and you get lots of statistics from the package.
4. Wendy Stanton (Faculty Team Leader Medicine and Health Sciences, University of Nottingham) spoke last, about feedback from an online searching course which really did change someone’s life. Well, searching has that effect on people! When you can finally find what you’re looking for… magic happens.
After lunch, I went on a tour of the York St John University library. This has been recently refurbished, has three floors, and a plethora of plasma screens around the place to provide information to users. There are lots of open spaces to facilitate group sessions, PCs downstairs, and beanbags upstairs for quiet study. They also house the local NHS library. It was really nice to see a university library which has all the books in one place, even if they are shelved on different floors. You can browse different subjects, borrow a Jane Austen along with your healthcare research methods book, and enjoy seeing and talking to different students. Our libraries are larger, more specialist, and are slightly more intimidating and less accessible for people starting out in academia. I’ll get in touch with the librarians again when we get our plasma screen for the library, for tips and advice on what to put up on it and how to make the most of it.